General Rant. I Love RuneQuest..

From: S.Phillips@Glasgow.UK.AC
Date: Wed 02 Jun 1993 - 19:26:08 EEST

Hello from Sam Phillips.  

Campaign Settings, RuneQuest, Glorantha, Gygax! & Love.


Our campaign has predominantly been based around Dragon Pass, Sartar, Prax & Pavis. We spent a short while in Balazaar but found it a bit on the grim side and so left.  

We started in Apple Lane over ten years ago. I played a Issaries Centaur Trader (We didn't realise how uncivilised they were then!). This caused a few problems when it came to getting lodgings etc. I spent a lot of nights in barns, days standing outside pubs, hours doing deals through shop windows, minutes before I was asked to leave as I was putting the locals off their beer. Still it was fun and it had its up-points (kicking the Johnstown Barracks doors in for one!). These were the salad days of Runequest II when all we had was a scrappy copy of the rule book, a treasured copy of Cults of Prax, the old pamphlet that was Apple Lane and a lot of photocopies of Harry's old GM's notes from when he played in Dublin the year before (Including his version of Johnstown -- with Y-shaped Lankhor Mhy temple).  

Trollpack hit us like a thermo-nuclear blast. And suddenly a new realism took us. We ditched a couple of power-players who we no longer saw eye-to-eye with and set off into Dagori-Inkarth. Many splendid adventures followed.  

With the arrival of borderlands we set off across Prax. To seek fame & fortune.. Pavis Pack, Big Rubble, all served to keep us in this neck of the woods. Then back to a grimmer more realistic Sartar where we became freedom fighters complete with a secret hide out. Then, our bought adventures all played out (or those that fitted with the campaign) and our GM a little tired of making his own storylines up (you can only play the Robin Hood scenario so many times before becoming thoroughly sick with it), we were badgered into heading to Balazaar. It meant new characters for most of us but it seemed about time we retired some of our big guns. Balazaar was grim though. It seemed to lack the colour and excitement of Prax and by now was a little old fashioned compared to what we had taken on board since.  

Thus the big guns came out of retirement, went into Snakepipe Hollow (finally) where they met their allied spirits and finally became RuneLords/Priests. Then back to Pavis where trouble was brewing. Then the Cradle adventure. Which we thought was *splendid*. The atmosphere especially captured some of the feelings that I hadn't felt since I first started playing or at least since playing Borderlands. Real tears of emotion were spilled by players over this - not seen since Dane was killed (Borderlands) - not counting player character deaths (few, actually, in 10yrs play).  

Then retirement again.. The big RQ void had returned. No new adventures, no new packs. Nuffin..  

So we gave up Runequesting. And it was shelved for years while we took on new and wonderful games that had arisen only because of but had in many respects surpassed our humble RQ. Cthulu, Vikings, Twilight2000, StarWars, CyberPunk etc. We played them all - trying to regain some of the magic we had lost. We didn't. In fact none of them had the sheer charm and satisfaction of RQ. TW2000 was as grim as hell. 4 or 5 times as grim as Balazaar. Vikings was limited by the material. Call of Cthulu is held back by the subject matter too - you can't really get to know and love your characters as they will be bumped off soon, and there is also the big - 'what the hell are we doing' aspect of it - you pretend you don't know what you are investigating - but at the same time you can't walk away in disbelief (like anyone normal would) because it would ruin the game. So you walk in like headless chickens - see something horrid, then go mad and die.  

RQ has purpose. In RQ you can explore yourself as well as Glorantha. RQ cults were the best thing that ever happened to RPG's. They stopped RPG's from being Wargames and made them into ROLE playing games. No longer were you just striving for treasure. You had purpose. Then when it was time to move on to another character you could experiment with another way of life. In our first ever RQ game we had an Issaries and a Chalana Arroy as two of the key members of the party. We had just given up D&D and were craving for something like RQ. Something with FEELING.   But now we are back on the RQ wagon. Things seem to have taken off again. RQ had returned to Glorantha and the feeling seems to be back in it. We still haven't had either Cults of Prax re-released or something of its quality and depth of feeling released but I feel it won't be long.  

Hopefully a Prax pack will do this. As far as I am concerned RQ isn't a game about stats and spells, strike ranks and weapon lengths. It is a ROLE playing game where what matters is the depth of background and role-play opportunities offered. Gods of Glorantha was great for GM's as was the other new RQ packs. The content was wide ranging, vague and contained a hell of a lot of info. But for players it was of little use. The cults in COP contains enough different Cults to suit players of all types from the power-monger to the peaceful-underdog. But what was needed was the cultures. They were hinted at but never filled out.  

TrollPack did this - For trolls. Another GM pack unfortunately being none of us were playing a troll at this time.  

But this is what we need. A troll pack for players about Gloranthan people. With descriptions of the towns, the tribes, the cultures. What you would know if you were a praxian or a sartarian. COP told us what you would believe but very little about who you are.  

Who ARE the Lunar?. What do they want?. Do I know about Giants, or elves?. How do I fear Chaos?. How do I respect a Storm Buller?. Where would I never go?. Who are the ordinary people who stay at home?. How unusual am I that I have left home and gone wandering?.. Do I know all the other cults listed in GoG? Do I know all about magic? The spells and their names? What do I wear?... etc.  

I would be nice, wouldn't it.  

But I am rambling. This started off as a little description of our campaign and has ended up as an outpouring of pent up emotion. -- You see I love RuneQuest. I loved it from the beginning. We had a trial separation but we soon realised that we needed each other. Yes, I know I slept around a bit - but I was looking for gratification - not love. I had love already.  

But now there is talk of a RQIV. And I have seen it. And yes It's quite good. In places it is very good. In places it isn't. But then so were RQII & RQIII. I appreciate the time that people have put into it. I rejoice that people still have such passion about RQ to be undertaking such a project.  

But do we need RQIV. Is it really desirable. Should we be writing new rules?. EXTRA RULES?. We have loads of rules already. Rules for nearly everything. We have shelves of rules we have never used. But we only have one battered old copy of Cults of prax.  

Please! - stop rewriting the Rules. I know they are not perfect. They never were. But in this search for better rules the beauty of RuneQuest has been forgotten.  

We need to sell RQ as a ROLE playing game. Something for the WarHammer generation to aspire to when they grow up and realise that White Dwarf was once a magazine in its own right and that Chaos parties with goatee heads weren't invented by Games Workshop. That Gygax! is a swear word in another language and ...  

You get my point.  

RQ is, I'm sure, in good hands - the Garhound contest is probably the BEST beginners' scenario I have ever seen. We introduced two new players with it. They learned the whole essence of RQ in a few game sessions. Brilliant. So if the new stuff continues in this vain we have no worries.  

Keep lovin' RuneQuest..  

Sam Phillips.
Not Scotland But Sartar. x

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