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Why I Like RuneQuest 1st ed.


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I thought I'd pull this stuff out of the "I Want to Love Glorantha" thread because it isn't helpful to the original poster there, but it's still a subject I'm happy to continue to discuss...

I don't remember if I saw ads for RQ, or if I just found RuneQuest 1st ed. in my FLGS, probably mostly the latter. I looked through every new thing that showed up on the shelves there (and in 1978 there wasn't much, I think they had 2 maybe 3 36" shelves of RPG stuff with the magazines in a separate rack). So I bought RuneQuest 1st. ed and soon after Apple Lane and Balastor's Baracks. And White Bear and Red Moon. Between Apple Lane (and later Snake Pipe Hollow) plus WB&RM, I ran a Sartar campaign (and didn't really realize Balastor's Baracks was set in the Big Rubble). I had been playing mostly OD&D and actually in 1978 mostly Chivalry & Sorcery (though I ran some form of D&D on our cross country trip in summer of 1978), a bit of Metamorphosis Alpha, and I'm not sure what else. I had started role playing in October of 1977 with Holmes Basic D&D which we immediately outgrew. My early RQ play was pretty sporadic but soon Cults of Prax and Snake Pipe Hollow came out, and The White Dwarf had RQ content, oh and Trollpak and Griffin Mountain, but still I wouldn't actually start a serious campaign until the 1990s. But, probably due to college (which I started in fall of 1981), I didn't get Pavis or Big Rubble. I did get and try to run Borderlands in college. I also didn't get the Solo Quests.

I did start buying the RQ3 material and eventually used some of it in the 1990s campaign.

But all through that, I gravitated to treasure seeking monster bashing, pretty traditional gaming though maybe with a bit more characterization than with D&D, and certainly smaller "dungeons." And that's the type of gaming that still interests me. I initially bought heavily into Hero Wars and Hero Quest, but never played, and never got what the game was supposed to be like. It definitely did not look like what I expected Hero Quest to be like (and really didn't look like the Hero Quests Steve Marsh had written up in his zines published in The Wild Hunt). In the 2000s I went wild acquiring Glorantha material of any sort, but have since divested myself of some of it as it became clear that too much was too much, and especially much of the HW/HQ stuff was of little use to me.

I dunno if I'll ever get RQG. RQ1 (plus bits from RQ2 which I do now own as of 2005 and RQ3) is the game I want to play. I'm NOT sold on the newer style tribal centered play. I'm not sold on what I've heard about the RQG rules. But Glorantha is big enough for all of us. It's had enough gonzo and wacky stuff that it makes the way I play still "fit". And that gonzo and wacky stuff is part of the appeal to me. I like ducks. I like some of the silly stuff that shows up in Trollpak.

If people ask ME for MY opinion of how to get started, I'd say pick up RQ1 or RQ2, Cults of Prax, and Apple Lane. if that grabs you, look into Griffin Mountain or Pavis/Big Rubble for more extensive (and available) content, or pick up some of the newer Sartar centered material and make a game of it. Borrow from whatever source you want (I'm always borrowing D&D and other games content) or make stuff up on your own. But that's my opinion based on my interests. If you are looking at how to get started in Glorantha from a perspective of current support (official publications, fan publications, and fan discussion), go with RuneQuest Glorantha (which comes with some starter adventures) and if the adventures there aren't enough, pick up something official or from the Jonstone Compendium, but ask someone else for suggestions...

Originally I stuck with RQ1 because I wasn't going to pay $12 for a bunch of errata... Now at the time I didn't really realize how many differences there were. Recently I completed a paragraph by paragraph comparison which I had hoped to share, but it's impossible to do the idea justice without copying too much text to work under the fan license so I will be working with Chaosium (probably over the next year) to polish it into something that can be offered as a more official document.

Sometime between 1980 and 1995 or so, I did come up with some changes I don't like:

1. I don't like RQ2 armor, in part because of the AP stacking on the abdomen and chest, partly because I like to just say "this guy is wearing chain".

2. After playing with John T. Sapienza's unified weapons tables of the early days (published in The Wild Hunt and Alarums and Excursions APAs), I have come to prefer RQ1's quirkier weapons table over RQ2.

3. From the paragraph by paragraph comparison, I don't agree with all the spell changes.

4. While it is nice to be able to look up creatures alphabetically, I also like seeing the creature groupings in RQ1, plus I noticed a few changes (and since I use RQ1 I have the Ambush and Sense Ambush skills).

That said, I had never really looked at Shamans very closely, in part because RQ1 Shamans are sort of confusing. If I run Shamans now, I will use the RQ2 rules.

I have long used Protection as a variable spell instead of RQ1's Padding and Protection spells.

I wonder how many other folks in the world still use RQ1... Am I some weird holdout? Of course one might ask how many even still use RQ2, it seems like most folks migrated to RQ3 when it came out (or at least once it had decent Glorantha support).

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1 hour ago, ffilz said:

I wonder how many other folks in the world still use RQ1... Am I some weird holdout? Of course one might ask how many even still use RQ2, it seems like most folks migrated to RQ3 when it came out (or at least once it had decent Glorantha support).

I never knew RQ1 existed - already out of print/gone by 1982 when I discovered RQ.  While I ran some material solo using RQ2, I did not have a gaming group until 1987 by which point RQ3 had already been out 4+ years.  I ran RQ3 campaigns for 10 years before other real-life factors brought that to an end.

When I resumed running campaigns in 2015 (thanks to the power of the internet in allowing PbF games) it was with HQG (and still running that).  When RQG came out, I started running that as well (going on 3 years with that campaign).  I've enjoyed both HQG and RQG, and have had no interest in going back to earlier versions, though I do mine them for content and NPC stats. 

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11 hours ago, ffilz said:

I wonder how many other folks in the world still use RQ1... Am I some weird holdout? 

Well, yes, but we all are in our own ways.

It's all about what actually facilitates play of the game.

As @jajagappa described above, RQ1 had already moved into the background by the time my friends and I discovered RQ2.  When I really started taking over GM duty on our games and had amassed a backlog of boxed adventure material (Pavis, Big Rubble, Borderlands [thanks again, Cam!], and Trollpak) I was most put out to find that the new Gods of Glorantha boxed material, aside from being printed on the wrong sized paper, was for RQ3 and didn't mesh entirely well with our existing characters.  However, it was what was on the market, and it's what I could get people to play.  And we got really jazzed by David Dunham's "PenDragon Pass" rules that incorporated the Traits from Pendragon, which kept us going for a while.  The '90s Praxian Renaissance sealed us to that system.

Fast forward through Hero Wars/HeroQuest 1 & 2, in which we began to see Passions* and augments (and, again, what I could get people to play at the time), and we arrive at RQG, which is a call-back to the rules from RQ2 with my favorite bits from Pendragon (Traits) and HeroQuest (Passions) incorporated to express mythic spirituality.  Oddly enough, this is more or less the "home-brew" system I'd already been cobbling together from BRP and its relatives over the years, so hooray for me.

Hrm.  I haven't really added to your discussion of RQ1, primarily because I never played it (though I do have a copy of it right here).  I suspect that an "enchiridion" edition of RQG, minus most of the setting and flavor material, might dovetail with your 1st Edition favor.  That's not going to happen, though.  Ultimately, it's a matter of what game and system inspires you to GM, and inspires your players to show up at the table.  To this day I'm a devoted Classic Traveller Referee, and I can bring players old and new out of the woodwork using this long-"dead" system -- it works for me, and my enthusiasm attracts players to my table.  But I ain't trying to sell the thing to new buyers, and that's a skunk of a different stripe all together.

!i!

[*Edit: Right, Passions first appeared in KAP alongside Traits, but HQ is where I found them fully realised.]

Edited by Ian Absentia
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RQ1 debuted in June of 1978 and was totally out of print by some time in May of 1979. In all, according to company records, they printed 4000 copies of it at most. That means that less than 4000 GMs and their gaming groups played it for less than a year before RQ2 debuted in October of 1979. That was over 40 years ago. RQ2 really took the gaming world by storm in comparison. It outsold RQ1 within a year, especially when the boxed RQ2 set came out in October of 1980. RQ2 sold tens of thousands of units between 1979 and 1984 went it officially went out of print. I have only anecdotal evidence, but it is safe to say that the vast majority of people who stuck with the game they started playing in 1978 switched to playing RQ2 in 1979 or 1980. I have personally been to dozens of Gloranthan and Runequest themed conventions on 3 continents over the last 25 years. The only person I have ever met or even heard of that still plays RQ1, especially on any sort of basis beyond a nostalgic "one-off", is Frank Filz.

Frank, I officially declare, as President of the Chaosium, that you are the "iron-man champion of RQ1". 

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37 minutes ago, Rick Meints said:

Frank, I officially declare, as President of the Chaosium, that you are the "iron-man champion of RQ1". 

Not the "Official Weird RQ1 Holdout"? :D 

Either way, @ffilz you deserve to put this on a t-shirt!

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11 hours ago, Rick Meints said:

RQ1 debuted in June of 1978 and was totally out of print by some time in May of 1979. In all, according to company records, they printed 4000 copies of it at most. That means that less than 4000 GMs and their gaming groups played it for less than a year before RQ2 debuted in October of 1979. That was over 40 years ago. RQ2 really took the gaming world by storm in comparison. It outsold RQ1 within a year, especially when the boxed RQ2 set came out in October of 1980. RQ2 sold tens of thousands of units between 1979 and 1984 went it officially went out of print. I have only anecdotal evidence, but it is safe to say that the vast majority of people who stuck with the game they started playing in 1978 switched to playing RQ2 in 1979 or 1980. I have personally been to dozens of Gloranthan and Runequest themed conventions on 3 continents over the last 25 years. The only person I have ever met or even heard of that still plays RQ1, especially on any sort of basis beyond a nostalgic "one-off", is Frank Filz.

Frank, I officially declare, as President of the Chaosium, that you are the "iron-man champion of RQ1". 

Well, that's that then... 🙂

I guess I'm mostly not surprised. Certainly it was out of pure stubbornness and not having an infinite gaming budget (though with a paper route and no other need to spend money, I probably purchased some kind of gaming item almost every week, especially once I started going to MIT every Saturday to play games and hitting 3 game stores on the way in to see what was new. But RQ2 was too soon after purchasing RQ1, and more expensive, and it really did just seem like a bunch of errata. Then there was this Q&A from Rambling Runequestions (in WF #8, but I may have read it first in The Wild Hunt):

27. (p.29) The book says that some forms of armor protect more than one hit location. "These types can, as a rule, be overlapped. Thus, one can wear both a chainmail hauberk and chainmail trews.'' If so, then how many points of armor does the abdomen have, 5 or 10?

 

Basically, 10. This should not be allowed except in games where ENC is being played., In the case of chainmail, this would also increase the problems with moving quietly.

 

I didn't like that ruling at the time, and still don't. But if you don't deal with overlapping armor, you can't do full body armor in RQ. Of course most folks who didn't like the stacking of AP probably just ignored that part...

 

Now I have always, since shortly after RQ2 came out, used SOME things from RQ2. Being a penny pinching teenager at the time, I photocopied some pages so I had the quick reference sheets. I got the JG GM Screen and have always used the RQ2 fumble table. Back then, I played with various different weapons tables, but have since returned to RQ1's weapon list (with some additions).

 

While I have played more hours of other RPGs, RQ is definitely my most consistently loved game. I have NEVER had a falling out with it (like I have with AD&D 1e and D&D 3.x). I've never felt stuck and frustrated with how to make a campaign fun (like I have with Traveller). I'm sure most of the RQ die hards here have played more hours of RQ than me.

 

I'm also indebted to Chaosium for including RQ1 in the Kickstarter. I don't remember if it was originally included, but it is a nice bonus and makes it more possible for me to run my games (I point every new player at the availability, though if someone doesn't want to shell out the $10 but has at least RQ2, I'll help them along). I wonder how many post-Kickstarter RQ1 sales can be tied back to me, either from players, or folks who get interested in how RQ1 is different from RQ2 based on what I've shared over the years...

 

I hope my continued interest reminds people that the first edition of any game is a labor of love and represents something the designer thought was a good game, and hopefully was actually playing, and thus is a worthy game to play. The new editions may have fixed various awkward mechanics, added new options, shifted the focus to fit a new play style or any number of reasons. And if those reasons apply to you go for it. But also consider the original edition may be quite playable and produce many happy hours of gaming.

 

Frank

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