15 December 2015

Hit Location Tables and Their Evolution

Note: I will restrict my post below to humanoid hit locations, which are anyway the ones I use most when I'm refereeing RuneQuest, as my favourite “monsters” are human opponents. I also believe humanoid hit locations are the ones that have been modified most in the various incarnations of RuneQuest and of the Basic Role-Playing System.

RuneQuest 2 had a simple universal hit locations table, which was applied to a humanoid target irrespective of whether the attack was via a mêlée weapon, a missile, or a spell. The table is the one in the first column (Mêlée) in the illustration at the bottom of this blog post. There were a few modifiers to be taken into account if the attacker was on horseback or riding a high llama (one of the bizarre riding animals used by the Praxian animal nomads).

RuneQuest 3 kept the same table as RuneQuest 2 whilst restricting its use to mêlée combat and adding a second, slightly different, table for the results of missile combat — which made perfect sense. Please refer to the tables in the first two columns (Mêlée and Missile) in the illustration at the bottom of this blog post.

The Basic Role-Playing System “Big Gold Book” (BGB) used the same exact tables as RuneQuest 3.

RuneQuest 6 has introduced a slightly different table, which is supposed to replace both the Mêlée and the Missile tables from RQ3 and the BGB; please refer to the table in the third column (Unified) in the illustration at the bottom of this blog post.

Personally, and in contrast to the latest outcries about Chaosium splitting the RQ fanbase again with yet another version of the RQ rules, I find the various incarnations of the rules sufficiently similar that I can use them interchangeably; e.g., I have recently run my RQ6 Swenstown scenario twice, and I've used the RQ2 hit locations both times... only realising whilst re-reading the various rules sets to write this blog post that they were actually different!

Anyway, my suggestion is to use a mix of the RQ2/3 and RQ6 hit location tables as follows: the first column for mêlée combat, the second column for missile combat, and the third column in all other cases (e.g., falls, spells) or if you only want to use a single hit location table.

Also please remember that a combatant in a superior position adds +1 to the D20 roll for hit locations.

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