28 December 2016

Quick-ish RuneQuest Classic Edition Char Gen

Mike Hill over at G+ has suggested the following:

These are the set-up rules we use to quickly replace a character in play or when we don’t have the energy for the full-blown experience.

Quick Adventurers

Here’s a solution for the creation of new adventurers in a hurry; it’s not scientific but it produces a playable character that’s fairly close to the original training rules without taking half an hour.

1. Roll the dice to create your character and calculate the skill modifiers, strike rank, damage bonus etc.

2. Take 12 skill advances in accordance with the provisos below.

3. Take one weapon, including a shield, for each weapon skill that received one or more advance.

4. Select items of armour totalling no more than 3 encumbrance points.

5. Record one adventurer’s pack (2 ENC points), if they’re in use.

6. Select two 1-point battle magic spells or one 1-point spell and two Detect spells.

7. Accept 3,100 L in training debt, less 5% per point of CHA over 12.

8. If the adventurer has background funds they may be spent on additional gear now.

Skill AdvancesEach skill advance increases the base skill level by 5 points; the base level is the value printed on the character sheet plus (or minus) the skill category modifier (attack, knowledge, stealth etc.).

However skill advances may only bring the net skill level up to 25 points unless the base skill level is already 25 or greater, in which case a single advance is permitted.

For standard weapons, a single advance increases both attack and parry; an advance in a missile weapon or a shield increases only the attack or parry skill respectively. The referee may rule that weapons outside the cultural norm start with a base of 5 plus modifier rather than the value stated in the rules.

10 November 2016

Revolution D100 Cover Revealed!

It’s been announced (to backers) that the Revolution D100 core manual is being sent to the printer. If you live in the UK, you may want to know that Revolution D100 will debut at Dragonmeet on 3/12/2016 at the booth labelled “RPG Meeting / Wild Boar”.

02 November 2016

Short News From Crowdfunded Projects

I am sharing some short news about two crowdfunded projects I’ve backed: Revolution D100 (on the French Ulule crowdfunding platform) and 13th Age in Glorantha (on Kickstarter). Both are running late, so the news are extremely welcome.

Revolution D100
The core text is at the final proofreading stage; it will be followed by the proofreading of the text of the extra settings/universes.

13th Age in Glorantha
The latest update e-mail to backers has explained us that both the pre-layout manuscript of the 13th Age in Glorantha core book and the one of the systemless Glorantha Sourcebook are ready. As proof that this was no mere boasting, we backers have received the text-only PDFs of both the 13G rules and the 1627 sourcebook. The latter is of particular interest to us Gloranthaphiles because (unless I’m mistaken) I believe it is the very first time a canonic game reference book is set so late in Gloranthan history.

18 October 2016

THE KRAKEN 2016 Report

Schloss Neuhausen
Neuhofer Straße 20
19348 Berge, OT Neuhausen


The theory was that there would be a “gaming vacation”-type of Kraken on even years, and a shorter “gaming retreat”-type of Kraken on odd years. However, we’ve now had two “gaming retreat” Krakens two years in a row, and I am under the impression that it is going to remain like this... because apparently those who work in the industry find it convenient to have a “gaming retreat” the week-end preceding the Essen game fair. The biggest beef I have with this is that we’re all sort of used to the older version of the Kraken (which was longer), and we all get there with three or four RPG adventures that we’ve prepared, or piles of board games we want to try out with our friends, and, inevitably, we end up not being able to do everything we’ve planned. I feel this has particularly been true this year.

Anyway, I’ll stop ranting – here’s my report. Since there was so much to see and to do at the same time, I have written the report using both my notes and my friends’ – so thank you Éric Vanel and Runeblogger of the Runeblog for sharing your notes with me.

As always, the bad-looking pictures below are by yours truly, whereas the nice-looking ones are by friends, and in particular by Aliénor and Toumy, photographers extraordinaire!

FRIDAY 7 OCTOBER, late afternoon

We arrive at the Schloss after a stop and a good night’s rest in Nimeguen at Louis Kolkman’s place where we have retrieved he and his wife’s impressive Operation Market Garden giant wargame (see past posts about it). We receive our Krakeneers’ kits (less beautifully crafted than the earlier years) and accommodation keys.




21:00 – Opening Ceremony. This year is a slightly special edition of the Kraken:

50 yrs of Glorantha!
I tell Fabi he shouldn’t advertise the Kraken as a “gaming retreat” — but as a “gaming gourmet gathering”! The food is superb, and this year we have a choice of going full vegan! (so three different options at each meal: standard, vegetarian, and vegan). And, of course, the beer is free.

I watch people play a demo game of Khan of Khans run by Chaosium’s Michael O’Brien (aka MOB); the game is going to be launched at Essen. It is a nice and fast little family card game (it plays 2 to 5) in which each player is a Praxian khan who raids Dragon Pass for cattle; whoever has raided most cattle at the end of the game wins. A game lasts about 10 minutes. Most people are enthusiastic about it (Éric certainly is) but I have the impression that it is really a game designed for kids [note that I didn’t play — I just watched people playing]. Anyway, the illustrations are fantastic and perfectly Gloranthan-themed. More on Khan of Khans later.

Khan of Khans demo game

Sandy Petersen is also demoing his new boardgame: Planet Apocalypse. This time it’s not set in one of Chaosium’s licensed universes but in our own world, invaded by demons. Also contrary to both Cthulhu Wars and Gods’ War, it is a co-operative game. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to try it at all, so this is pretty much all the information I have at the moment. Based on how the pieces and the gaming aids look like, I believe the game is still in its early design phases.

Planet Apocalypse

Everyone had been expecting that Volume One of the Coming Storm by Ian Cooper would be available for sale at the Kraken... Unfortunately it is not. Still, I can peruse a physical copy of the book. It is a sturdy, full-colour, 148-page beauteous hardback book. (More about its physical aspect later.) In a nutshell, the book contains the following:
  • Clan description
  • Red Cow clan PC creation
  • Important clan NPCs (loads of them!)
  • Gazetteer of the Cinsina lands
  • Other Cinsina clans

Beateous Hardback

It's real, it's not been photoshopped!

Just like last year, I take advantage of the Kraken to playtest my board game, Gloranthan Realms, outside of my usual group of Parisian playtesters. I run two demo games leading to v3.4 of the rules, which streamlines the turn sequence and (hopefully) makes the game less frustrating for unlucky people who never draw the rune or the card they need. Also I run a game with seven players, which I’d never managed to do in Paris (maximum I ever got was six).

Gloranthan Realms cards

SATURDAY 8 OCTOBER, morning and noon

I referee several times in a row Odile and Louis’s ginormous wargame, Operation Market Garden. It’s really nigh-impossible for the Allied player to win. Now I understand why it took me so many games last year to eventually manage to capture Arnhem!

As a result of my refereeing the Operation Market Garden giant wargame, I miss the “Quo Vadis, Chaosium?” panel. Luckily the Runeblogger attended it and took notes that he’s shared with me; plus I watched the video recording on _THE_KRAKEN_’s YouTube channel.

The Chaosium: Neil, Jeff, Rick and MOB

So here’s the gist of the panel:

MOB & Rick: what is in the pipeline?

CoC pipeline

For Christmas 2016, two books for children: HP Lovecraft for Young Readers, and a Cthulhu colouring book. I think this is good news – there’s never enough Lovecraft and Cthulhu, and the sooner kids learn about the Great Old Ones, the better.

The upcoming gaming supplements are:

Doors to Darkness – 5 scenarios, full-colour layout.

Pulp Cthulhu (15 years in the making!)

A set of four Keeper decks (originally for the KS backers only; now generally available)
  • NPCs
  • Weapons and artefacts
  • Phobias
  • Miscellaneous (events, twists…)

Glorantha pipeline

The Coming Storm (Volume One) – This will feature the new look of all the future Gloranthan books: hardcover, bronzey feeling, colour layout, and the Chaosium logo on the cover!
The Coming Storm (Volume Two) is currently “in layout”.

The Guide to Glorantha is being re-printed, with a ‘50th anniversary’ slipcase, and will be sold to non-backers. It should be available in about three weeks’ time.

The next RuneQuest (definitely called RQ4 now) won’t be out this year (even though the rules are nearing completion) — Chaosium don’t want to have a rules book out without any supporting material, so the idea is to have 4 to 5 books out simultaneously: the rules, a bestiary, a GM’s pack, etc.

First RQ4 book (the rules): we can have a look at the Playtest book, which is really THICK (see the photograph below).
The book is 95% finished (only the examples of play are missing; Jason is working on them, the idea is to build a Rurik-like saga).
Art is being commissioned.

RQ4 rules...

Second book: Bestiary (also PHAT), set to look like the Petersen’s Guide to Cthulhu Monsters; will have rules for monsters as PCs.

Third book: GM’s book; rules on Chaos, rules on Illumination, some Lunar cults (Red Goddess priestesses as allies or as enemies), material on heroquesting, battle rules, a collection of statted encounters set in Dragon Pass...

A policy that Chaosium now want to enforce is: no more rulebooks without scenarios, so this is what they’re working on now: a fourth book, the Dragon Pass Campaign, which will span a year and a half of in-game time, starting just after the Dragonrise, and done as seasonal adventures. Some of it is straight from what Greg Stafford was working on before he eventually switched to working on Pendragon.

Secrets of future RQ supplements!

Mythic Iceland second edition; the book is stand-alone (no separate rules – the BRP line is dead), new magic (shamanic), rune magic re-worked, new scenarios…
It will also have a companion book, hence starting its own product line, with forthcoming scenario and setting books (like Vinland).

Board Games!

Khan of Khans, a Gloranthan family card game by Reiner Knizia (see above); will be KS’ed (5 tribes in the original box) with an expansion (5 more tribes).
Set in the plains of Prax.
Very cute art.
Doesn’t take much time to play.
Hopefully it will be a gateway to more complex Gloranthan games.

Khan of Khans prototype next to an iPhone - small game!

The new edition of Credo is still being worked on; the aim is to have shorter games.

Chris Klug is still working on the new Dragon Pass game; aim: being able to play the game in 2 hours but with the same strategic and diplomatic satisfaction as the original game from the 70s.
The hex map has been abandoned, it will be replaced by an area movement system (personal note: I am not surprised… the early prototype version I’ve playtested was 3+ hours to play, and that was the shortest scenario!).

Fiction Line

The fiction anthology Cassilda’s Song has been named as a finalist for two World Fantasy Awards, for the anthology itself, and for one of the stories in the book, The Neurastheniac.

Neil talks about fulfilment: European customers will now be able to order from the UK; all the products will be stocked in the UK. Also, Chaosium has joined the Brick & Mortar Initiative, see my earlier post.

Next European conventions Chaosium are going to attend:
  • Essen (13-16 Oct 2016)
  • Dragonmeet (3 Dec 2016)
  • UK Games Expo (2-4 June 2017)

Jeff talks about 13th Age in Glorantha:
It will be a very big book. Single biggest book that Rob & Jonathan will ever have written. Hence lots of art, by several talented authors.
The (system-neutral) Gloranthan sourcebook is going through layout & art; it’s sort of a shorter version of the Guide, with a major focus on mythology and with an updated timeline of the Lunar Empire. It also has MAPS!

Q&A session

Q: Are the battle rules in RQ4 going to be based on the ones in Pendragon?
A: No. Pendragon emphasises knight combat, whereas we wanted to take into account all kinds of characters, and especially those that use magic.

Q: How are you going to make your games appeal to Joe Average RPGers?
A: We are aiming at having games that don’t only appeal to grognards but also, for instance, women. We think the new RQ should appeal more to people who are bored with combat.
We are going to continue setting up ‘Organised Play’ (like we did for Call of Cthulhu) also for RQ4.
Also looking to have introductory scenarios, like the one Andrew Bean ran at the Kraken.

Q: Product schedule for the RQ Classic kickstarter?
A: We will resume working on the PDFs when we’re back from Essen…

11:00 – Horror Lottery. For the first time since I have been going to the Kraken, my name has been drawn! I play in Robin D Laws’ game on Sunday – which also means I won’t be able to play in Éric Vanel’s

Rick and Fabi

Just before lunch, I manage to squeeze in a Gloranthan Realms playtest game again, with the new sequence of play. It works really great!

Fabi with a present from my daughter

Lunch is home-baked pizza. The vegan one is so good the non-vegan Krakeneers are stealing our slices!


The usual perk of attending cons— I play a game of the French dark fantasy RPG Les Chroniques des Féals refereed by one of the designers herself: Camille Chiverne Guirou! The universe (which I didn’t know at all, nor did the other players) is quite rich and absolutely not your run-of-the-mill fantasy setting. The system is easy to grasp and plays nicely. It leaves us wanting to discover more.

Chroniques des Féals game
As explained in the introduction, the gaming sessions just override each other because there are so many; I have to cancel my Call of Cthulhu game. I’ll probably run it at the Eternal Con.

19:00 – Excellent and abundant Chaosium BBQ dinner. I chat with MOB. Fans of Tales of Mythic Adventure do not despair: he has seven episodes in the pipe.

Hillfolk game


I play in the secret playtest session of a brand new game by a French game designer well-known for his unconventional ideas. Sorry, super-secret, I can’t add much, except that I have had a blast and I can’t wait for the next playtest session!

During that time, Éric participates in the playtesting session of a future supplement for the Coming Storm. The adventure (DragonRise) should be one of several in said supplement. Lots of feedback for Ian from the players.

Just before going to sleep, I peruse the printout of the new Conan RPG by Modiphius. It just oozes love for RE Howard’s work from each page.

SUNDAY 9 OCTOBER, morning and noon

Sunday morning, lots of people are testing prototypes of new games, or trying out recently published KS’d games. The Runeblogger, for instance, playtests Planet Apocalypse.

Trollball prototype

Trollball prototype

Gods' War


Well, I do the same: I am refereeing for the very first time The Motherland Calls! my new role-playing game set on the Eastern Front during WWII. The idea is to have a fully realistic, non-supernatural game set in a period of time that, apparently, has attracted writers of fiction, designers of war games and board games, but not of role-playing games [yes, I know of Night Witches, but it’s focused on a particular type of missions]! My players are very nice to me (and to the imperfections of this early draft) and I have a great time. I will definitely develop it further and publish it in The Hanging Garden when it’s ready.

SUNDAY 9 OCTOBER, afternoon

New RuneQuest Seminar with Jeff Richard: Spirit Magic in the Upcoming RuneQuest
Focus on the shaman/spirit world/combat rules and their implications on the party (keep everybody adventuring together).
Chris Klug is basically rewriting the whole section to avoid the pitfalls from past editions.

Conan seminar with Jason Durall and yours truly.
We take advantage of the nifty audio/video facility in one of the large rooms of the Schloss. We show “Conan: The Rise of a Fantasy Legend”, a featurette from my Conan the Barbarian: Special Edition DVD set. It’s a nice 20-minute documentary about the life and times of RE Howard, and about the impact that Conan has had on the Sword & Sorcery genre. Jason (who is a bigtime RE Howard and Conan fan and amateur scholar) then comments the short film and tells a few anecdotes about RE Howard and Conan of his own. Since the projector is connected to the internet, we subsequently show an excerpt from The Whole Wide World, a 1996 biopic about Robert E Howard adapted from Novalyne Price Ellis’s autobiography. She was a close friend of RE Howard’s and she acted as an advisor for the film, although she was in her late eighties!

Conan/REH seminar

The problem with the Conan stories is that they were published in a haphazard order by pulp magazines, so we ask Jason which edition we should look at for a definitive text. Jason thinks the authoritative edition is the Del Rey one in 3 hardbacks, edited by Patrice Louinet — who is also an advisor to the Modiphius RPG, which is BTW at its final layout phase; it should be at the printers by the end of October.

All in all, a fantastic panel; I really feel elated. Unfortunately there aren’t many people attending because almost everyone is a player in the traditional Gloranthan freeform taking place outside; this year it is the one called “White Bear and Red Moon”. I am told they have barely stopped Chaos from entering Gloranthan reality (again).

SUNDAY 9 OCTOBER, late afternoon

Finnish pancakes galore by the incredible Risto “Lätyt” Welling. He has brought all kinds of Finnish seasonings but the best one is definitely the home-made cloudberry jam.

Advanced Gaming Lore seminar with Robin D Laws.
  • Suggests alternating core scenes with alternative scenes
  • Ask your players what your bad GM habits are, and try to avoid them in the future
  • Plus mucho specific HQ-related advice (e.g., the economy of Hero Points…)

Dinner: stuffed capsicums and rote Grütze. Rote Grütze is a northern German dessert that apparently stemmed from an experiment to have the highest-possible carbohydrate content per cubic centimetre in the world. After a small serving, I feel I have to drink a gallon of water. Yet some Krakeneers manage to eat several in a row. I know RPGers have a different metabolism to normal humans but still— wow!


Since we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of Glorantha, Fabi sets up a Skype conversation with Greg Stafford (who is in California) in the audio/video room. Greg tells us many anecdotes from the early days of Gloranthan gaming, especially about the Dragon Pass/White Bear Red Moon board game, and then we have a short Q&A session.
Scoop: Conan was the inspiration for Harrek the Berserk – which ties in nicely with the earlier seminar.

You could buy some 'forgotten' Dragon Pass counters

Robin D Laws HeroQuest game: The Secret of the Egg. The funny thing is that the game is the sequel of the game that Robin has refereed the previous day but using his Hillfolk system. Anyway, both games are set in the Dragon Pass area a few generations after the Dragonkill, and involve tough choices that will shape the future of the clan for generations to come. The best thing as always with Robin is his incredible skill as a referee and his versatility in impersonating NPCs… The adventure itself is a rough ride, the clan has to face impossible choices, but I guess that’s what clan-based adventures are all about. The interesting thing is that, out of 5 players, only 2 (Fabi and yours truly) are Gloranthaphiles, and yet everybody quickly captures the essence of living in a world where the gods are real and can be met in the hero plane, and in which you just don’t kill a dragon— you have to heroquest to find something to defend yourself against it. Kudos to Janet who played a very trickster-ey Eurmali character.

Robin and yours truly

During this time, Éric referees his Welcome to the Grazelands HeroQuest game. The PCs stop the ice demons who have appeared in the Grazelands during the Great Winter.

Late at night, I ran yet another playtesting session of Gloranthan Realms, again with the new turn sequence.

MONDAY 10 OCTOBER, morning

10:30 – Closing Ceremony (amidst much sorrow).

Yours truly in front of the Schloss

See you next year!

11 October 2016

13G Bison Rider

I love Rich Longmore's art. I usually prefer his black-and-white illustrations, but the following piece (that I received via the 13th Age in Glorantha kickstarter mailing list) is simply superb:

(it's the cover of the latest issue of 13th Age Monthly)

12 September 2016

RPG Review - Issue No.31

I have already blogged about the RPG Review, a most excellent free on-line Australian webzine devoted to role-playing games, with a good mix of game reviews, industry news, interviews, historical articles about our hobby, and short gaming aids.

The latest issue is an OSR special issue, and as such I believe it is of interest to readers of this blog.

I would particularly like to point out the following articles:
  • An interview of Ken Saint-André, the creator of Tunnels & Trolls and Stormbringer,
  • A long Tunnels & Trolls bestiary; unfortunately it is for the 5.5 ed.– I am sure the use of spite dice would have improved on the various special attacks of the monsters,
  • A RQ2 variant to add granularity to the results of skill checks,
  • A sneak peek on the upcoming John Carter role-playing game by Modiphius Entertainment.


06 September 2016

Chaosium joins Bits and Mortar

Chaosium has joined the Brick & Mortar Initiative — you may read the full press release here. In a nutshell, this means that whenever you buy a Chaosium product from one of the participating game shops, you get the corresponding PDF for free.

Here is the list of the participating game shops across Continental Europe:

Autre Monde (Liège)

Czech Republic
Mephit (Prague)

Dragons Lair (Odense)
Fantask (Copenhagen)

Philibert (Strasbourg)
Trollune (Lyons)

Atlantis (Hamburg)
Brave New World (Cologne)
Fantasywelt Tabletopshop (Eckernförde)
Otherland Buchhandlung (Berlin)
Trollheim Medienvertrieb (Herzogenrath)

Papercut Cybercafé, Comics & Games (Heraklion)

Labyrinth (Utrecht)

Alphaspel (Hägersten)
Collectors Point (Umeå)

For the UK and overseas, please check the online retail store locator.

29 July 2016

MoonQuest – A Teaser

I was intrigued (to say the least) when I saw the following announcement by Kyrinn S. Eis of Urutsk and Porphyry fame over at Google+:

“Using RuneQuest Classic, MoonQuest brings an alternate understanding of the canon of Glorantha while retaining its mythic relativism and unique flavour.
MoonQuest is a campaign add-on, a behind the veil look at the amazing and chaotic world so many have loved for decades. While usable as a stand alone setting, the more one knows Glorantha, the more this ... peculiar take will shake the established world view of the reader, and hopefully bring delight and excitement to the players.”

Despite my ugliest threats, Kyrinn wouldn't tell me more about MoonQuest, but  I have managed to have her answer a few questions for Timinits & Trolls:

Q: Kyrinn, I have stumbled upon your mysterious announcement on G+... “Using RuneQuest Classic, MoonQuest brings an alternate understanding of the canon of Glorantha while retaining its mythic relativism and unique flavour.”
A: Not really a question, but I suppose you want me to say more about this: I'll end up addressing each of these by answering your questions, but I will remain tight-lipped regarding the specifics, as it is too soon to show my hand; Glorantha was revealed incrementally in play, and tantalisingly few details were provided when the rulebook was released. If MoonQuest is taken on those same merits, it will have to be read in whole when it becomes available.

Q: “MoonQuest is a campaign add-on, a behind the veil look at the amazing and chaotic world so many have loved for decades. While usable as a stand alone setting, the more one knows Glorantha, the more this ... peculiar take will shake the established world view of the reader, and hopefully bring delight and excitement to the players.”
A: MoonQuest will, if I am successful, provide a new scope of adventure while still preserving the majestic sweep of Stafford's canon.

Q: Now, knowing your past work on science fantasy settings such as Urutsk and Porphyry, the first question that has sprung to my mind is: Is this some kind of science fantasy version of Glorantha? with space travel?
A: It is still RuneQuest in the Third Age, and all of the characters and creatures which have been created by Stafford (et al.) still exist as described from the given perspective of the Mortal realm regarding the Mythic powers as described in the RQC book. In later works, more information about the world opens up regarding how Glorantha functions, still (always) described to the PoV of mortals in their realm. The realms beyond the lozenge exist, but mortals cannot understand them without treading the Hero's path towards apotheosis. MoonQuest sheds light on this aspect.

Q: Are you just using Gloranthan tropes to give flavour to a setting out of your imagination, or are you really expanding on our beloved Lozenge, e.g., by adding a whole universe, with planets etc. or are you imaging something in the future of Glorantha (a 5th or 6th age?)
A: Glorantha isn't mine to create a 5th or 6th age. I am simply providing a different way of understanding the official canon; altering the mortal perspective to provide one way of understanding why we see places on a map mortals cannot access, granting an understanding of how both spells and chaos function, etc.

Q: Lastly, since this is an RPG, we all want to know about the ruleset you are going to use, and any modifications you are going to add to it.
A: RQC as just recently re-published via the Kickstarter; the very hardback I received in the mail not but a few weeks ago. As far as modifications: I hope to alter the flow of presentation regarding guilds and prior experience, so that they don't function as afterthoughts in the appendix, in other words, integrating them into standard character generation and training. Any additions will be clearly marked, as per the grey text boxes in the RQC edition. Existing characters and creatures will not be mechanically affected by MoonQuest, but their premise very well may be altered by the light shone upon the setting through this lens.

I think it is important to remind readers that the setting, history, and everything else mean different things to different cultures and each perspective, even while seeming paradoxical, are all equally true from the perspective of their holders: The Lunar Empire are terrible destroyers and subjugators of older cultures, but they are also peace-bringers and civilisers, etc.

MoonQuest is yet another, alternate, understanding to the established canon of the Third Age.

Thank you Kyrinn!

Note— If some of my questions sound completely stupid, it is because I sent all 5 questions before getting any of Kyrinn's answers!

25 July 2016

RuneQuest 4 - News From Chaosium

The latest news from Chaosium about the new RuneQuest are quite astounding. You may read them here.

For those of you who are lazy, in a hurry, busy– or who do not like to click links– or who are in a TL;DR mood, I have summarised them here in a nutshell:

1. Experienced game designer Jason Durall (he of the ‘Big Gold Book’ fame) has joined the new RuneQuest team to re-read the draft RQ4 rules and add “story of Rurik”-like game examples throughout the rules.

2. The new RuneQuest rules will be divided between three books:

  • The first book (the one whose draft Jason is reviewing) will contain the core rules, and in particular character generation and background, runes, passions, rune magic and cults (with almost 20 cult write-ups), battle magic, spirit combat, new shamanism rules, new sorcery rules (incl. notes on Malkionism, Aeolianism, and Lhankor Mhy sorcery)!
  • The second book is going to be a Gloranthan bestiary that will double as a sourcebook for nonhuman characters.
  • The third book is going to focus on rules for the referee such as heroquesting, Chaos, Illumination, Lunar magic, magic items, and on rules for advanced characters — in particular Heroes. It will also feature a few encounters, and three or four fully-fledged Gloranthan scenarios.

All in all, excellent news.

13 July 2016

RuneQuest Classic Edition Char Gen

RuneQuest 2 (henceforth referred to as RuneQuest Classic Edition) is my all-time favourite fantasy role-playing game. Its age, however, shows in some of its aspects, and in particular in how unorganised and convoluted character creation is compared to modern games: you have to go back and forth between several chapters to “get character creation right”, and some information useful at character generation is hidden within the sections about character improvement.

Also, we’ve been used to using “professions” and “cultural backgrounds” from later incarnations of the game and from its sister publications, and forgotten (at least it was my case) how deeply “Old School” the RQ2 char-gen was, with its focus on adventurers’ organisations and on repaying back debt by looting dungeons...

Anyway, I present you here for your enjoyment (and, hopefully, for actual use) a summarised RuneQuest Classic Edition Character Generation primer, perfected with the help of the jolly RQ2 G+ community.

STEP 1 – Characteristics

Roll the character’s seven characteristics according to their race (roll 3D6 for each characteristic for a human character; see Chapter VIII of RuneQuest Classic Edition for other races):
  • STR ⓘ
  • CON ⓘ
  • SIZ
  • INT
  • POW
  • DEX ⓘ
  • CHA

ⓘ: can be increased by training, see step 7 below.

STEP 2 – Abilities and other Derived Characteristics

STEP 2a – Abilities
Compute abilities according to section A of the Classic Handouts.
  • Attack (skill category bonus)
  • Parry (skill category bonus)
  • Defence
  • Hit Points (Total HPs + Hit Points per Location using the table in section A of the Classic Handouts)
  • Damage Bonus
  • Perception (skill category bonus)
  • Stealth (skill category bonus)
  • Manipulation (skill category bonus)
  • Knowledge (skill category bonus)

Note 1: the Oratory skill does not fall in any of the previous categories.
Note 2: Should any of the character’s characteristics be increased by training, please do not forget to re-calculate the character’s abilities.

STEP 2b – Other Derived Characteristics
  • Movement (always equal to 8 for humans; see Chapter VIII of RuneQuest Classic Edition for other races)
  • Maximum Encumbrance, average of STR and CON, but capped by the character’s STR
  • Strike Rank Modifier, per the table in section A of the Classic Handouts.

STEP 3 – Starting Money

Roll according to section A of the Classic Handouts.

SPECIAL – Creating a Shaman Character
Becoming a shaman is so time-consuming that the character cannot undergo any other training (i.e., skip Steps 4 to 7). Please refer to pages 44 to 46 of RuneQuest Classic Edition.

STEP 4 – Compute Combat Skills

STEP 4a – Starting Combat Skills
The basic chance of all weapon skills is 5%, except when indicated otherwise (see section A of the Classic Handouts).

STEP 4b – Get Credit
These skill increases may be bought using the character’s starting money. However, since this amount is usually very low (and thus insufficient), a character may obtain credit from the various guilds; the credit is equal to STR × 100L.

STEP 4c – Increase Combat Skills
See tables on p26, p30 and p31 of RuneQuest Classic Edition.

STEP 5 – Compute Non-Combat Skills

STEP 5a – Starting Non-Combat Skills
The basic chance of each skill is indicated in the various tables in section D of the Classic Handouts.
Note that alchemical skills are not expressed in percentages.

STEP 5b – Get Credit
A character may obtain credit from the Thieves Association; the credit is equal to DEX × 100L. This credit may only be used to purchase thieving skills. Other guilds/crafts do not offer credit, and require apprenticeship in order to receive credit for training during character generation (see Appendix H of Chapter X of RuneQuest Classic Edition for more details on this).

STEP 5c – Increase Non-Combat Skills
See section D of the Classic Handouts.
Contrary to combat skills, non-combat skills are only taught by some guilds, which may have special requirements:
  • Becoming an associate member of the Alchemists Guild costs 5,000L. This is a pre-requisite to learning any of the alchemical skills.
  • Becoming an associate member of the Armourers Guild costs 5,000L. This is a pre-requisite to learning any of the armourers’ skills.
Other guilds do offer training for pay to learn their skills but all payment is required in advance: the Free Sages, Players and Minstrels, Foresters, Maritime Brotherhood, and the Horsemasters’ Guild. Each of these guilds offers training in a different sets of skills, consult Chapter VI for more details.

STEP 6 – Purchase Battle Magic

Credit from cults for Battle Magic spell purchases = POW × 100L.
See section H of the Classic Handouts.

STEP 7 – Increase Characteristics by Training

STR may be increased by spending 1,000L per STR point.
CON may be increased by spending 2,000L per CON point.
Neither STR nor CON may be raised above the highest of STR, CON, SIZ before any modifications are applied.
DEX may be increased by spending 1,000L per DEX point.
DEX can be raised up to the racial maximum.

STEP 8 – Equipment

Starting equipment depends on the background rolled at Step 3.
What the character may purchase depends on the amount of money rolled at Step 3, and whatever credit money they have left from Steps 4 and 5.

PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE – Appendix H of Chapter X of RuneQuest Classic Edition presents an optional system of previous experience for player characters.

25 June 2016

RuneQuest 4 - First Impressions

So my friends and I were lucky enough to take part in the first worldwide open playtest of the new RuneQuest rules by Jeff Richard at Chimériades V.

The following is a modified and summarised translation of Grégory Molle's original French-language post about the new RuneQuest rules, with a few additional impressions thrown in.

At the last Chimériades convention, Jeff Richard refereed two games with the new RuneQuest rules. I played in the second game; I got to create a character, play a short two-hour game with four fellow players, and peruse the printout of the latest draft of the game.

RuneQuest 4 or 2.5?

By the way, what version of the game are we talking about, exactly? Jeff talks about RuneQuest 4, because he considers the game as a successor to the 3rd edition, the one that was created by Chaosium but published by Avalon Hill in 1984. This is tantamount to “erasing” the Mongoose editions from the 2000s and the one by The Design Mechanism a few years ago – not to mention the unpublished RuneQuest: Adventures in Glorantha by Oliver Jovanovic, Michael McGloin and Carl Fink that should have been published as a successor to RuneQuest 3.

This having been said, this new edition of RuneQuest is also sometimes referred to as RuneQuest 2.5. Why? Because it is sort of a step back from RQ3 that the new 2016 Chaosium consider crippled by now-obsolete rules (fatigue points) or clumsy ones (one-use rune spells, sorcery). The starting point of the new RuneQuest game is hence its “classic” version, i.e., the 1979 edition known as RuneQuest 2. The fans’ commitment to RQ2 has been showcased by the hugely successful RuneQuest Classic Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign in 2015 that raised more than $200,000.

However, since RuneQuest is back in a Glorantha-specific version, and not as a generic fantasy role-playing system, we might as well call it RuneQuest Glorantha. The game credits the following people as its authors: Steve Perrin, Greg Stafford, Sandy Petersen, Jeff Richard, Ken Rolston, and Chris Klug.

Character Generation: Pendragon and HeroQuest to the Rescue

Character generation assumes the choice of a homeland and of an occupation that will affect the values of some skills. The skill categories have not changed since the 1980s: magic, agility, communication, knowledge, perception, manipulation, stealth. The homelands available in the game are Sartar, Esrolia, the Grazelands, Lunar Tarsh, Old Tarsh, and five Praxian tribes: Bison, High Llama, Impala, Pol-Joni, Sable Riders.

Characters are defined by the seven traditional characteristics (Strength, Constitution, Size, Dexterity, Intelligence, Charisma, and Power), by their magic points, hit points (with hit locations), strike rank modifiers (Size, Dexterity), damage bonus, and maximum encumbrance (beyond which you undergo negative modifiers). This will all look very familiar to RQ grognards. The Defence skill from RuneQuest 2 has disappeared, and a new ability, healing rate, has appeared.

Where it starts getting groovy is in the top right corner of the character sheet, where you can spot two runic diagrams! Oh yes, RuneQuest has at last deserved its very name.

The first diagram is about the six Elemental Runes – Water, Air, Earth, Darkness, Fire/Sky and… Moon! You choose a main rune whose score is set to 60%, then three others that respectively obtain 40%, 20%, and 10%. These are the basic scores: further modifiers may come into play, so that Branduan, my Sartarite character, ended up with 60% in the Moon Rune (OK, he was a Eurmali skald whose paternal grandmother already was a trickster, see below), 20% in Darkness, 10% in Water but 70% in Air (after adding two bonuses, +10% and +20%, to an initial score of 40%).

The second runic diagram is reminiscent of the Pendragon personality traits table since it opposes five pairs of Power Runes – Fertility / Death, Harmony / Disorder, Truth / Illusion, Stasis / Movement, and Man / Beast – whose values are linked: the sum for a given pair must be equal to 100%. I don’t remember the actual procedure but I know that, with the choices I made, Branduan ended up with two pairs of Power Runes having scores different from 50% / 50%: Illusion (95%) / Truth (5%) and Movement (75%) / Stasis (25%).

Whether Elemental or Power, the Runes can be used to improve, via a set bonus, the score of a given skill, sort of like in HeroQuest. A successful roll under a relevant Rune, e.g., the Illusion Rune for a thief who is trying not to be noticed by their victim, yields a 20% bonus to their Sneak skill score. However, should the roll under the Illusion Rune fail, the inability of the character to attune to that particular Rune at that moment in time yields a 20% negative modifier to the skill. I’m not sure at the moment if the modifier is always ±20% but it definitely seemed to be the default value.

Moreover, just like in Pendragon, the Power Runes can be used to influence the player’s actions; for instance, acting in a way that is in contradiction with a given Power Rune in which the PC has a high score might decrease said score – or prevent the PC from acting the way they are.

That’s more or less all with regard to Runes. We have used them a lot during our two-hour game, meaning they are not there as a fancy addition, they are really part of the core mechanics of the new RuneQuest game. One must really weigh all the options at character generation, in particular in order to avoid redundancy among the player characters. While I was perusing the printout of the draft rules, I’ve also noticed that the description of the Runes assumed a host of symbolic associations: personality traits, senses (sight, etc.), skill categories, arms, colours, metals, animals and… body organs [editor’s note: this is all very reminiscent of wǔxíng in Chinese cosmology]. For instance, Moon is associated with the pineal gland, which the Grey Sage Wikipedius tells us plays a central role in regulating the body’s biological rhythm (waking/sleep, seasons), which is really close to what we know about Lunar Magic and its cycles. This gives plenty of food for thought about using Runes in actual gaming sessions.

Yet another Pendragon legacy: passions. You get them while defining the background of the character (see below) – but I reckon you may also acquire them as-you-go (during play).

Branduan hates:
  • the Telmori
  • the Orleving Clan
  • authority in general

He also:
  • is devoted to his cult
  • loves his family
  • is loyal towards:
    • his clan
    • his tribe
    • Argrath (very present in the new game’s background since it’s been moved to 1627+!)
    • Erik (another PC, whose bonded trickster he is)

I realise now, by re-reading the character sheet, that all passion scores start at 60%. It’s maybe slightly too uniform, there should be more variety or randomness. This having been said, these scores will change during play via the skill check mechanism.


The next phase is the determination of the PC’s background, and that’s where you’re in for a ride. The new RuneQuest asks you to answer a long series of biographical questions, up to your player character’s grandparents. The game is set in 1627 – much like 13th Age in Glorantha – you must hence go back till the Battle of Grizzly Peak in 1582 to know what happened to your grandparents – at least for a Sartarite PC, because the events tables vary depending on the character’s culture.

A succession of tables will enable you to travel through Gloranthan time – re-read Pendragon, it’s the same concept – down to the present time. Are your grandparents still alive? There aren’t many probabilities that they all are, and it’s actually interesting to know what happened to them, because that will have repercussions for your character. There’s a family tree of sorts that unfolds. Regarding my character, I’ve discovered that his paternal grandmother was still alive in 1627, but that was kind of expected since a trickster is supposed to avoid combat rather than risk their life and amass glory like a nice Sartarite.

At some point, the story focuses on the character’s parents: one can witness the whole history of Dragon Pass and of Prax between 1608 and 1626. Then the focus shifts to the PC themself, and one may discover what has befallen them between 1623 and 1626. Branduan, left for dead during a raid by the Orleving Clan, eventually sought and found refuge in Pavis, where his skills as a trickster led him to being spotted by Argrath and to adventuring at his side before returning to Sartar and to his clan.

All in all, this biographical phase provides characters that have a detailed past while establishing a few points of reference for players who are not familiar with the world of Glorantha (it has actually reminded me of the clan creation in Sartar: Kingdom of Heroes). It’s also a fantastic way to create bonds between the various PCs. In our case there were clearly those whose background had been strongly influenced by clanic or tribal conflicts, and those who had simply wandered throughout Dragon Pass and who had serendipitously met Argrath.

The most spectacular consequence was that the character background generation phase strongly informed the adventure that we played. Jeff might have had some hidden agenda, I’m not sure about that, or maybe he deviated from it; anyway, he simply started the game by asking us: “What do you want to do?”. The answer that we provided was directly linked to the characters’ background. I’m not going to tell you all the details, but it had something to do with a revenge and conquest plan against the Orleving Clan, against whom our own clan bore an ancient grudge. This led to an encounter with Leika, the tribal Queen of the Colymar, and then – on the basis of the PCs’ background – we eventually met Argrath himself, who was busy conquering some former Lunar lands in the north of Dragon Pass, so as to involve him in our petty squabbles whilst promising him our allegiance in the future and feeling that we couldn’t fully grasp his innuendos. All this in two hours of play. That was far, far away from the usual introductory scenarios of our teenage years where we’d fight three broo and a half to defend our village!

a portion of the background part of the character sheet

And Also…

We didn’t use it during this playtest, but when I had a look at the rules, I found that a PC could have a family heirloom that was a “special” thing. Among the suggestions, there was “a small sentient animal” or “an iron object” – which is pretty cool.

I’ve also noticed there was a fast-track chargen, for people who wanted to start playing right away. It is something that was already present in RuneQuest 3, if I remember correctly.

I thought I’d read that the Resistance Table had been removed, but actually no, it’s still there; it’s just been removed from the Spirit Combat section.

There’s also a whole chapter devoted to Sacred Time, which (yet again) strongly reminded me of Pendragon. The new RuneQuest has been devised so as to enable campaign game, with long campaigns that entail one or two adventures per Gloranthan year. During Sacred Time, the background of the PC, or of the whole party, or of their community (or actually a little bit of each of them) is affected by some events. Based on my perusal of the draft rules, I remember titles such as “events”, “heroquest”, “omens from last year” (there’s something similar in King of Dragon Pass, with questions such as Did you take into account the omens from yesteryear’s Sacred Time during last year?), “raids”, “invasions”, “harvest”, “family”, or even “character income”, based upon their profession.

There was also a chapter about heroquesting but it was still a mere collection of notes, and there was a mention of a book of heroquests. Note: the other group of players did a heroquest during their introductory adventure, so it’s definitely not something only available to ‘high-level’ parties.

Voilà, you have an idea of the new RQ rules. Now let’s be patient until we can get hold of them!

Jeff has also blogged about family background in the new RuneQuest on the Chaosium web-site.

17 June 2016

Revolution D100 SRD

Revolution D100's System Reference Document (SRD) is on-line and it is free! You can find it here.

Since this new, crowdfunded D100-based system by Alephtar Games hasn't been officially released yet, the SRD is bound to undergo further modifications, in particular based on playtesters' feedback.


20 May 2016

Back from Bacharach

I would've never believed that I'd write this, but two cons in a row, well— that's pretty exhausting! After having spent a few days in the Luberon, back to work for a few days, and then off to the Eternal Con (7th edition!) in Bacharach on the left bank of the Rhine.

A short lunch break whilst travelling to Bacharach

Now, the Eternal Con has always been a "family-friendly" con, but I had the impression, this year, that it was really, really more diverse than usual in terms of gender and age. We had lots of families, lots of kids (more than 25!). Lots of new babies this year too! And many events. As a result, I will only concentrate on the ones I managed to attend.

the Rhine

FRIDAY 13 MAY, 19:00, Grand Opening Ceremony

This was held, as usual, on Friday night. Just like last year, Franziska and Charlotte were our hosts and entertained us with their witty humour and a faux Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? quiz show that featured RPG-related questions. It was really all good-hearted and very funny, much like a reunion of old friends. I think at one time the organisers asked "who is here for the first time" and only two people raised their hand!

Opening Ceremony

FRIDAY 13 MAY, late evening, Friendly Gloranthan chat with Jeff Richard

Jeff gave us pretty much the same information as at Chimériades, so please refer to my Chimériades report here.
I'll concentrate on the extra details that we didn't get at Chimériades in this blog post. Jeff said, for instance, that the mammoth Gods War boardgame will be cheaper than Cthulhu Wars even though the miniatures are more awesome.
With regard to RuneQuest Classic: the books will be carried by game shops (yay!).
RuneQuest 4 (lots of extra news):
  • We all had a small discussion about spirits and spirit combat. Apparently spirits in RQ4 are going to be based on Stormbringer demons in terms of potential for customisation.
  • Rune magic is going to be available before rune level— actually right at the time of character generation. Rune level characters will simply get back their rune points much faster.
  • Sorcery is going to be based on four core skills, hence a high learning curve.
  • Also, the whole price system has been re-written.
Jeff and Ian

SATURDAY 14 MAY, 10:00, New Conan RPG Seminar with Jason Durall

Modiphius got the Conan licence two years ago. At the time, Jason Durall was working (with Modiphius) on the Achtung! Cthulhu: Assault on the Mountains of Madness campaign pack. Modiphius asked Jason to work on the new Conan RPG as the line developer, and Jason, who has been a huge Conan fan since he was 9 years old, enthusiastically accepted.

There have been lots of Conan RPGs in the past... So why a new one? Here are the design pillars of the new game, which Jason thinks make it stand out of the RPG crowd:

1- Inspiration.
a- The source material is pure Robert E. Howard, no pastiche, no movies; e.g., all the characters' names, locations, etc. were double-checked by REH scholars. Hence the exact name of the game: Robert E Howard's Conan.
b- It has been decided that the stories set in the same world as Conan but without Conan are canon source material. Even other REH works like the Kull or the Lovecraftian stories are!
c- Time-frame of the core RPG: about the time Conan 'enters the stage' (he's about 17 years old). The setting of the core book is centred on Cimmeria and the surrounding countries (Aquilonia, Hyperborea), and hence focuses on clan warfare, border skirmishes...
Later sourcebooks will cover later eras and more southerly areas (e.g., Zamora), thereby introducing different flavours of setting: the Zamora book is thief-oriented. A later book will focus on being a sea pirate. I think that's pretty clever.

2- The system will be strongly pulp-oriented. The idea is that the characters start heroic; rather than become more powerful with experience, they get more diverse powers.

3- The setting will feature exotic places, strange technology, mysterious ruins... all the ingredients of the sword and sorcery subgenre, of which REH is regarded as the father.


In parallel to the source books, there will be an adventures book, a magics book, a cults book. Jason said they were looking at something like 18 books, already funded by the kickstarter. Additional standalone adventure will be available as PDFs.

The System is called 'the 2d20 system'. You basically roll 2d20 and use the best one... sort of like the advantages system of other games, except it is always on! Skills give you extra dice, and you may trade automatic successes for "doom points" to the GM.

beauteous cover!

SATURDAY 14 MAY, 14:00, Conan game with Jason

We started as a ragtag mix of adventurers and Aquilonian soldiers in the Bossonian Marches, between the Black River and the Thunder River. I was playing Maeve, the Talented Archer (a kind of female Conan, really).

We only used d20s and d6s to play. The rules are heavily combat-oriented, with lots of "visual" manoeuvres that directly translate into dice-related effects (re-roll, add 1 die, etc.); it's fun and easy to learn, way simpler than RuneQuest 6 or Revolution D100. Not much else to add on the 2d20 system part... It really works well for combat! (and I'm the guy who's usually bored during combats), I would say slightly less so for non-combat skills. I only have two pieces of criticism with regard to the game mechanics: (a) We dispatched our opponents too easily, even the big fat sorcerer at the end of the adventure, and (b) You usually lose no vigour/health points during combat until a given threshold where all of a sudden you lose a lot of them!
Anyway, the system is still being refined. Note: Apparently the 2d20 system hasn't been created ex nihilo for the Conan RPG but it is a reworking of an early, already-existing system (from the free Drifting Through Space RPG – also by Modiphius).

And we had lots of "I hit it with my axe" utterances — proof of a good S&S game :-)
Conan game

SATURDAY 14 MAY, 14:00, German RuneQuest 6 seminar

There was a seminar presenting the German-language version of RuneQuest 6. I missed it.

SATURDAY 14 MAY, afternoon

While I was playing Conan, some people out there were having fun in a  Glorathan freeform!

Yanafal Tarnils cultist

Babeester Gor cultist

Classic Fantasy with the RQ6 rules

After the freeform, some of my friends played RuneQuest 6 in German while I went for...

SATURDAY 14 MAY, 19:00, HeroQuest game set in Japan

This was run by Robin Mitra himself, who translated HeroQuest in German, and it was in German! The game started with a lengthy clan generation questionnaire à la Sartar: Kingdom of Heroes. It was very funny and helped me get into the game (not that I don't know Sengoku Japan — it's just that I'm not used to playing in German).
The clan generation questionnaire and the adventure itself were full of cultural detail, and devoid of the usual anachronisms one finds in faux Japanese RPGs. Kudos to Robin. When one thinks that this was not a fully-fledged Japanese HQ setting, but a mere adventure from a book collecting 15 different adventures for HeroQuest... I wish it were translated to English!

Sengoku Japan HeroQuest Game

SUNDAY 15 MAY, 10:00, Trollball

This was the traditional Trollball game in the court of the castle. I missed it because I was playing downstairs in the castle.

SUNDAY 15 MAY, 10:00, Revolution D100 game

Simon Phipp, he of the acclaimed Merrie England RPG, demonstrated the brand new Revolution D100 rules. We had a very refreshing adventure set in 12th century England with much intrigue and little combat.

Morris Dancers Adventuring!

SUNDAY 15 MAY, afternoon, 1714: The Case of the Catalans boardgame

I had already noticed this game on the Saturday, but unfortunately couldn't play it. I managed to play on Sunday though, even if it was in the three-player version.

My, what a fantastic card-driven wargame~boardgame! There are so many cool ideas in it:

1) All the players are allied against the French (whose actions are driven by some of the cards) yet you're obviously vying against your "allies" to win — without being allowed to attack them. Intrigue, manoeuvring, and especially resources (whose significance I figured out way too late into the game) are of paramount importance if you want to win.

2) There are two possible outcomes: the French "win" (by taking Barcelona) or they "lose" (by losing too many troops); depending on the outcome, the victory conditions are different. So depending on what kind of victory points you amassed you are going to try and favour one outcome rather than the other. And you will never know, until the very end, how your VPs are going to be computed!

3) Each country has a 'Will to Fight' gauge. The more goals you reach, the more your Will to Fight decreases... and under a given threshold you're not allowed to recruit and to move armies any longer!

Anyway, this was probably the game I preferred during the whole con. I can't believe I'd never heard of it.

SUNDAY 15 MAY, 19:00, Chaosium seminar with Jeff (as creative director)

Since there had already been a Gloranthan seminar, this one concentrated on Chaosium's other products, mostly Call of Cthulhu 7th edition.

Jeff mentioned that Pulp Cthulhu was out next, and that there were lots of products in the pipe, in particular Sandy Petersen's Call of Cthulhu adventures (2 volumes).
More generally on the product themselves, Jeff explained that the level of art would be top notch from now on, at least the same level of art as in the French Sans Détour books.
What to expect in the future?
  • Lots of licences: Call of Cthulhu video game, Pathfinder supplements (!)
  • More co-operation with European companies (Sans Détour, Pegasus Spiele)
Mythic Iceland 2nd edition this year.

No non-Gloranthan HeroQuest products in the pipe.

Fiction line re-launched this year, done with more care, because it's important.

SUNDAY 15 MAY, 21:00, Closing ceremony

So sad.

SUNDAY 15 MAY, 23:00

Played the Operation Market Garden wargame that I had already played at THE KRAKEN.

Note: some pictures by Heini.