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Unlike Dungeons and Dragons simple paradigm of go into dungeon kill monsters, and  a host additional premade adventures to run, Runequest is a bit harder.  How do you run and design adventures and scenarios for runequesy

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TLonger answers I'm sure will be forthcoming, but here are two brief passages from Runequest 2nd ed. that I have always found compelling when thinking about this question that address the matter directly and concretely. Starting from the instructions below will send you off in the right direction, I believe.

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PURPOSE OF THE GAME

The title of the game, RuneQuest, describes its goal. The player creates one or more characters, known as Adventurers, and plays them in various scenarios designed by a Referee. The Adventurer has the use of combat, magic, and other skills, and treasure. The Referee has the use of assorted monsters, traps, and his own wicked imagination to keep the Adventurer from his goal within the rules of the game.

 

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An adventure area, whether it be section of forest, cave, old ruin, river, etc., should provide the player with the following opportunities:

  1. Experience in the use of his skills
  2. Opportunity to obtain treasure and thereby purchase further training
  3. The chance to die in pursuit of the above
  4. Enjoyment while doing all of the above.

Also, here is a full thread from nine years ago discussing this topic. (I know about the quotes from RQ2 because of this thread.)

Edited by creativehum
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Mechanically I generally proceed like so:

  1. I decide what the location and/or theme of the starting zone should be. 
  2. Read up on it.
  3. Often I work something up in writing for the players, "Stuff everybody knows" sorts of things.  This goes triple if no one is familiar with the rules and/or setting.
  4. I read the rules, to make sure that I've got everything down.
  5. Read up on the starting setting one more time, and try to "script out" a couple of basic initial encounters to set the tone.  This is often extremely important to get right.
  6. Have everyone roll up characters and play!

So pretty much a couple of homework sessions and two written assignments.  One is a handout to the players, the other a quick set of notes to myself.  My experience has been that once the players hit the ground running trying to actually do things, as opposed to figure out the core rules, the world quickly becomes very dynamic and I have to ready for any sort of wonderlust that may or may not strike the group.

Having strong NPC's, including villains, mentors, community leaders, and even hapless fools is really critical, even if the players seem to be mainly interested in become strong enough to topple Orlanth himself by whatever means necessary.  Lifting heavily from all sorts of fiction (myth, film, novels, sagas) helps put things into narrative focus.  Taking the time to flesh out a character for them to interact with is hit or miss.  Often they just shrug and move on.  Other times the NPC becomes beloved and should return frequently.  But as long as the depth of character is there, and the situations are interesting, it pretty much tends to go well.  Some groups are more self-starter than others.   These days I see a lot of "where is the question mark above the NPC's head?" type looks, but YMMV.

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7 hours ago, PhilHibbs said:
  1. ...
  2. ...
  3. Fall about laughing when everyone dies.

As I've recently observed in another thread, stupendous catastrophe in play is often the sign of a resoundingly successful session.  After X number of decades of roleplaying (X being greater than 1 and less than 100), I can recount plenty of adventures gone horribly awry, but not so many of the ones that went according to plan.

My best advice for RuneQuest is don't sweat the canon. Play it like you're learning a new video game.  Let the mechanics guide you at first, run loosely with your general impressions, make a little mayhem in the process, then course-correct once you and your mates take a genuine interest in the setting itself.  That's more or less how they made the game back at the beginning in the '70s, and if it worked for them it'll work for you.

!i!

Edited by Ian Absentia
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I feel the biggest paradigm shift for new players is to abandon the 'murder hobo' mindset. Your characters are an integral part of a community, be it clan and/or cult. The passions are the rule mechanic by which that effects play, but when writing scenarios think about these wider motivations. Kill the tusk raiders because they are threatening YOUR village, partake in a hero quest so YOUR family benefits, find the Headpiece of Frin  so YOUR cult becomes more powerful.

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10 hours ago, Ian Absentia said:

My best advice for RuneQuest is don't sweat the canon. Play it like you're learning a new video game.  Let the mechanics guide you at first, run loosely with your general impressions, make a little mayhem in the process, then course-correct once you and your mates take a genuine interest in the setting itself.  That's more or less how they made the game back at the beginning in the '70s, and if it worked for them it'll work for you.

!i!

This is by far the most important point. Trying to cram Glorantha down a bunch of player's throats will only drive them away.

My game is based in Pavis. Pavis was created as a giant dungeon with a city outside, and dungeon adventuring is a career. Little by little the players get used to Pavis, and start to care about the city, the people, and their own social and political position. Let that happen naturally.

If you need resources, get yourself a copy of Moon Design Publication Pavis and the Big Rubble. (or Pavis: Gateway to Adventure). Rubble-running in Pavis will give your players a comfort zone of dungeon crawls, while allowing you to introduce them to Glorantha gently, and naturally.

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8 hours ago, Psullie said:

I feel the biggest paradigm shift for new players is to abandon the 'murder hobo' mindset. Your characters are an integral part of a community, be it clan and/or cult.

You can play RuneQuest that way. Perhaps you should play it that way. But you don't have to play it that way. If murder-hobo is your group's idea of fun, then it isn't wrongfun to be forbidden.

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36 minutes ago, PhilHibbs said:

You can play RuneQuest that way. Perhaps you should play it that way. But you don't have to play it that way. If murder-hobo is your group's idea of fun, then it isn't wrongfun to be forbidden.

True, but I find there are other rulesets out there better suited for that style of play

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19 minutes ago, PhilHibbs said:

You can play RuneQuest that way. Perhaps you should play it that way. But you don't have to play it that way. If murder-hobo is your group's idea of fun, then it isn't wrongfun to be forbidden.

@Psullie is on the nose, though, that the Passion and Rune mechanics in the latest version of RQ will help define what kind of murder-hobos your players are playing.

Like I was saying above, let the mechanics guide your initial play, like when you're trying out a new video game for the first time.  You really don't understand how your actions fit into the programmed game world -- you're just trying to understand how the mechanics let you break stuff.  After a while, the mayhem becomes more nuanced.  Either you move on to a new character, or you retrofit your existing character to make sense within the canon.  Or...you retrofit the canon to fit your characters.

Along these lines, let me further suggest that new GMs and players consider the character creation option on p.29 of RQG, "Skipping the Family History".  The Family History section provides a very programmed and rather narrow approach intended to anchor your characters to specific events and places within the current canon, which may or may not help explain the setting to your players, and may be inappropriate if you're playing outside of Dragon Pass.  Players may get shorted on skill, Passion, and Reputation bonuses that would otherwise accrue from random chart rolls, so give them a few extra percentages to make up for it beyond what the rules suggest.  See also, "Additional Experience" on p.81 for characters older than 21, which you can reverse-engineer for younger characters, too.

!i!

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3 hours ago, PhilHibbs said:
11 hours ago, Psullie said:

I feel the biggest paradigm shift for new players is to abandon the 'murder hobo' mindset. Your characters are an integral part of a community, be it clan and/or cult.

You can play RuneQuest that way. Perhaps you should play it that way. But you don't have to play it that way. If murder-hobo is your group's idea of fun, then it isn't wrongfun to be forbidden.

RuneQuest is an awesome murderhobo game.

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I have only ran the Broken tower adventure and half of Six seasons in Sartar so I'm still a beginner, but I think that it helped a lot to play with child characters (the PCs in SSIS are so). It helped my players, as they take the role of gloranthans who don't know really much about the world, and that way I can introduce a lot of thing little by little, and also they have a very "mundane" experience, learning the very bases of gloranthan culture. Also it helped me, as it gives me time to learn about the lore on the go, as I know they are not going to ask me to make an experimental heroquest to resurrect Belintar out of nowhere. And making the PC grow together really creates a group chemistry like few other things. There are downsides OTOH, as children are less adept in combat and more vulnerable to getting killed by a bad roll, so you might have to fudge a little to not get a group of traumatized boys. 

Besides SSIS (where PCs are colymar children) there is another campaign where PCs are of a tribe I think mixed of elmalites and horse orlanthi, it's on Johnstown compendium. 

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so, let me stir the pot.  As a VERY long time RPGer (i've gamed with Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, as well as Chaosium guys), there is sort of one fatal flaw in all RPG.  The GM has got to calibrate the game, somehow, to the level of the players.  And the real flaw with RPG is that advancement is such a key part of the game.  Its no fun for a party of new Runequest characters to try to establish the Temple of the Wooden Sword in the middle of Dagori Inkarth.  They just become troll food.  And sending your party of RuneLords and RunePriests to hunt down Whitey isn't much fun either.   But I know that DMs figure out how to balance.  Pursuit of advancing so dominates play that it sort of detracts, and creates some levels of NOT realism that have always bothered me.

Lately, we've been playing a lot of Chtulhu.   We find there doesn't need to me wide variance in skills due to advancement. Set up the characters, play the scenario. By making the main advancement "knowledge' and just "experience" of dealing with this weird stuff, you can develop characters in a nice RPG way without constantly re-leveling the opposition for the players.

IN the end, it seems many GMs run the type of campaign THEY would want to play in.  You hope that's what your players want too!

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44 minutes ago, CharloixBrooKiller said:

it seems many GMs run the type of campaign THEY would want to play in.

The only way you can GM for a long time is to run the type of game/campaign that you enjoy.  If you enjoy it, hopefully you find players that enjoy that style too.  If you don't enjoy it, I think it's hard to maintain interest in it for yourself or the players.

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1 hour ago, jajagappa said:

The only way you can GM for a long time is to run the type of game/campaign that you enjoy.  If you enjoy it, hopefully you find players that enjoy that style too.  If you don't enjoy it, I think it's hard to maintain interest in it for yourself or the players.

I would also add that my most successful GMing was when I also enjoyed the characters themselves. Too often I have allowed characters that I was not too enthused about and it always ended being a chores...

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I'm running a lot of RQG right now with people very new to Glorantha and RQ. Ignore Ian Abstentia and start right away with the Family Background. That is a 30+ minute crash course in the setting for that character. You learn the history that matters to that character, develop friends and enemies, and acquire all sorts of hooks for playing your character. Ground the group in clan and tribe.

Then start with an easy scenario that lets you get the hang of the system. Broken Tower, Cattle Raid, the Pegasus Plateau - grab one, Let the scenario end with loose threads and consequences. And then throw something else at them. Repeat until there are enough loose threads that the players start weaving their own adventures. Then throw some big external event at them to screw up all their plans. Repeat! Pretty soon it will be like an improv jam session with players interacting with each other and with their familiar NPCs, friends and enemies alike.

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To second what Jeff just said. 

I'd take care over character creation:- Get the players linked up. They don't have to all be the same clan but it is a good start place. Then run a few pre written adventures from GM pack, TSR or PP or the free downloads. Then you've got a TON of plot threads to run with

 

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On 7/14/2020 at 1:34 AM, Jeff said:

Ignore Ian Abstentia and start right away with the Family Background.

Ouch.

The Family History is clearly the default, but the optional rules included as a call-out in the main body of the text are suggested for games or players who want to jump right in (the text of the call-out itself admits that Family History is optional and "can take quite a while" -- in my experience decidedly on the "+" side of "30+ minutes").  The OP referred to the simple paradigm of other games -- I suggest using them as an option for players who're feeling their way into the game first and the setting second.

!i!

Edited by Ian Absentia
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16 hours ago, Jeff said:

I'm running a lot of RQG right now with people very new to Glorantha and RQ. Ignore Ian Abstentia and start right away with the Family Background. That is a 30+ minute crash course in the setting for that character. You learn the history that matters to that character, develop friends and enemies, and acquire all sorts of hooks for playing your character. Ground the group in clan and tribe.

I would echo this. The first time I used the family history/background, it left me with a sense that I had a character with a rich backstory with hooks and story opportunities. Possibly after many characters are created through it, it becomes repetitive (I am just guessing) but from the start, it works great.

The other aspects that grounds a character into the setting are the runes. In one stroke it defines your personality, how connected you are with your god and how strong you can potentially become in magic. Good stuff. 

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15 hours ago, Ian Absentia said:

Ouch.

The Family History is clearly the default, but the optional rules included as a call-out in the main body of the text are suggested for games or players who want to jump right in (the text of the call-out itself admits that Family History is optional and "can take quite a while").  The OP referred to the simple paradigm of other games -- I suggest using them as an option for players who're feeling their way into the game first and the setting second.

!i!

I can see it both ways.

The Family History section is a good way to get steeped in Gloranthan history and it's fun to figure out what your ancestors were up to (it's fun in Pendragon as well, which is presumably where they got the idea). My group used a variant (the previous history rules that can be found in the JC) to start my Prax game set in 1615 (which unfortunately I'm having to abandon, as one of my players and long time friends passed away, and none of us feel like continuing that campaign without him). I will likely be using the normal rules to start a new campaign with Six Seasons In Sartar this weekend.

On the other hand, there is something to be said for the "jump right in" approach that gets your character creation out of the way ASAP so that the Gloranthan stuff can be absorbed organically. Again referring to my Prax campaign, none of the family history that was created really "mattered" once the game started. Though let's be fair, the extended family history, while an excellent resource, is not geared towards the Sartar 1625 setting the way that the core rules are, so it's reasonable to argue that's more my fault (as the GM) than any fault of the rules.

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9 minutes ago, GAZZA said:

I can see it both ways.

The Family History section is a good way to get steeped in Gloranthan history and it's fun to figure out what your ancestors were up to (it's fun in Pendragon as well, which is presumably where they got the idea). My group used a variant (the previous history rules that can be found in the JC) to start my Prax game set in 1615 (which unfortunately I'm having to abandon, as one of my players and long time friends passed away, and none of us feel like continuing that campaign without him). I will likely be using the normal rules to start a new campaign with Six Seasons In Sartar this weekend.

On the other hand, there is something to be said for the "jump right in" approach that gets your character creation out of the way ASAP so that the Gloranthan stuff can be absorbed organically. Again referring to my Prax campaign, none of the family history that was created really "mattered" once the game started. Though let's be fair, the extended family history, while an excellent resource, is not geared towards the Sartar 1625 setting the way that the core rules are, so it's reasonable to argue that's more my fault (as the GM) than any fault of the rules.

If you chose to set the game in a different setting from all the current published material (such as setting things in 1615 instead of ten years later), that obviously will take a lot of the resources we've presented off the table.

My advise for starting Runequest is to start in 1625 Dragon Pass or Prax. That makes all the material I suggested instantly accessible. If you later want to game in a different part of the setting, go for it, but start there.  

Edited by Jeff
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25 minutes ago, Jeff said:

If you chose to set the game in a different setting from all the current published material (such as setting things in 1615 instead of ten years later), that obviously will take a lot of the resources we've presented off the table.

My advise for starting Runequest is to start in 1625 Dragon Pass or Prax. That makes all the material I suggested instantly accessible. If you later want to game in a different part of the setting, go for it, but start there.  

I presume future supplement based in other areas will offer a family background specific to said area. Would be a shame if it wouldn't!

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1 hour ago, DreadDomain said:

I presume future supplement based in other areas will offer a family background specific to said area. Would be a shame if it wouldn't!

I would think so, it's a lot of work to make it slick and keep the page count down (such as cramming multiple cultures on conflicting sides into one table), and also to keep it consistent with, and dig up the more obscure parts of, known Gloranthan history. That's actually quite a high bar set for anyone developing their own cultures.

I was wondering the other day whilst watching Jeff's campaign on YouTube, how did they do the Ygg Islander's family background. I guess you just pick Harrek's side for each event that they could reasonably have taken part in.

Edited by PhilHibbs
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