28 February 2016

The New RuneQuest - How It Will Use Runes

The fourth instalment in Jeff Richard's design notes about the new RuneQuest is available on the Chaosium blog. This latest blog entry is mostly devoted to Gloranthan Runes and to how they will be used in the new RuneQuest.

In my opinion, there are two salient points: (1) Rune skills, and (2) Rune points.

Runes, much like in the short-lived RuneQuest Adventures in Glorantha by The Design Mechanism, will be directly expressed in gaming terms by straight percentile skills, and quite high-level ones too.

Apparently the player will have to choose three elemental runes and receive interesting starting scores in them; the example mentioned in the blog entry is Air 60%, Moon 40%, and Fire 20%. RuneQuest Adventures in Glorantha usually envisioned a single elemental rune at start.

The other runes (see my earlier post) function in opposing pairs; their total being always 100%, the worst score in one of them is necessarily going to be 50%. Not bad for a starting skill.

Apparently Rune Magic has been singled out as one of the weak areas of RQ2, what with sacrificing your POW for single use spells. Apparently a new mechanism will be implemented: Rune Points. RPs will fuel Rune Magic spells just like MPs fuel Battle Magic spells. They will still be ‘bought’ by sacrificing POW; however, it seems they will be easier to recover.


  1. i never had a problem with rune spells as played from in 1st-3rd ed - i even ran games with only rune spells and constant travel so nobody ever got a title or renewable spells - it was my best FRP game ever

    acolyte was a easier way to get renewable rune magic and could have been cleared up

    vikings box set had a way of having one renewable rune spell

    as a shaman Id just find another spirit
    players thought i was a pussy till i got killed and one spirit healed my corpse and another resurrected me and bam i was up and fighting again without any loss of power to me

    Im a big RQ3 fan id rather go back to RQ2 than anything new - i liked 2nd age history and the duck book from mongoose but not magic

    Sorcery took me years to understand and use - later early 90s books with sorcerer NPC's were main thing that helped me understand them (sandy variant was great for creating sects and extra manipulation skills) plus scientists who played in my group and like to crunch rules and numbers

    i think better examples would help people understand how to play and run magic not new rules

  2. Yeah, no new rune magic rules are necessary or wanted for me. I don't see room for any rewrites after RQ2, and I don't buy into the edition treadmill for any game. If the guys who run Chaosium these days reacted to the extreme success of their kickstarter to reprint RQ2, then that's the edition they should've stuck to. I bought nothing for HW/HQ (after throwing my money away on the initial Deluxe HW, with great misgivings), and now it looks like any adventures or supplements they eventually put out there will be useless to me as well. Hey, I hadn't seen RQ1 in decades, maybe this new pdf (132 pages to print out!) will give me more useful ideas than anything they choose to produce in the next ten years. Ah, this is what happens in any creative field. Groundbreaking original creations get re-milled forever into derivative pap. Fortunately I have all the gaming materials I'll ever need, and I grow and train my oen players. Thanks for the originals, guys.

  3. I usually don't buy into edition treadmills either... I had the sense to wait for HQ2 before buying the HeroQuest rules manual, and my D&D books are still the 1st edition AD&D ones.

    However, in defence of the latest Chaosium announcements, I must point out that the 'new' RuneQuest has been described as RQ2.5, and the backwards compatibility with the RQ2 reprinted material has been emphasised several times. I reckon the 'new' RuneQuest could be considered as a RQ2 variant after all, so probably no need to purchase it unless you want to see Runes as percentiles on your character sheets.

  4. With all those rune percentages in the char sheet, and all those changes to rune magic, I think it's much more RQ7 than anything like RQ2.5. Saying it repeatedly doesn't make it so. In fact, I'd think HQ3 is even closer. I don't need keywords in my RQ. But, as in every other niche game, the outliers are the only fans left. Old school RQers still play old school RQ. Oh, and 1st ed AD&D is still my edition, too. :-)

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  6. I must say, I never had any problem with the rune magic like in RQ2 either. It was a very rare thing, and I found it good so. It is said that it is reserved for exceptional cases to prepare missions for the temple, so GM allowing players to sacrifice as soon as they had enough POW have misinterpreted the rules. But YGWV.

    In our group, there was only one single one-use rune spell, and I was ok with it. This new rules will change a lot the access to rune magic for initiates. I'm not saying it's bad, only that it changes the game flavour, making godly magic more accessible and available to more people. I think they did it to be easier compatible with HQ:G. From my point of vue, I think the idea to introduce runes in the character sheet not bad, but I'm not convinced with this easy access to rune magic. I liked the idea of having it very exceptionaly granted to initiates and in a very limited fashion.

    There was an article about dragon magic working in a similar way, but the summ of both antagonistic runes did not start at 100%.

  7. I think they did it to be easier compatible with HQ:G.

    Well, at least to be compatible with the way most groups have been playing in Glorantha in the last few years, i.e., with more hero quests, more climactic confrontations, more Glorantha-affecting adventures... After all, one of the appendices of RQ2 stated that “HeroQuest, the frp game wherein the mighty of Glorantha may enter into the lands of legend and myth to participate in the Gods War” would be out soon. In the absence of a RQ-compatible HeroQuest game, I reckon the idea is that RQ2.5 will do the job!

  8. I like the changes they have announced, as I think they add a lot of flavour to Gloranthan games. However, I think the worst possible % you can have in an opposite set of runes is 0% (or possibly negative). That's when, for example, you have 100% in the Death rune, you then have 0% in the Fertility rune. They add up to 100%. Or maybe I have misunderstood something (?).