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RuneQuest Starter Set Design Diary #1: What to expect in the RQ Starter Set


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The Starter Set for RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha is coming! Between now and its release later this year, RuneQuest creative director Jason Durall's Design Diary will share insights about the development of this exciting new boxed set which will introduce the RuneQuest RPG and Greg Stafford's mythic world of Glorantha to all-new audiences. 

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@Jason D: Two years ago, in the center of Chaosium’s booth at Essen Spiel, the largest game convention in the world, I sat down with my colleagues Jeff Richard, Rick Meints, and Neil Robinson to plan a Starter Set for RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha. It was the middle of a long day full of meetings with international partners and working the booth. The Call of Cthulhu Starter Set was on sale and receiving a wonderful across-the-board response, giving us hands-on feedback as customers from all over the world bought it and looked through the display copy.

Design Goals

This enthusiasm made it clear that we needed to make a Starter Set a priority for RuneQuest and for the company as a whole. So sitting in a small table in the middle of the teeming exhibition hall, as thousands of game players wandered past, together we established the following creative and design goals:

  1. First and foremost was to make a wholly accessible product to newcomers, instilling in them an enthusiasm for the world of Glorantha and the RuneQuest game system and the confidence to jump right in and start playing.
  2. We would draw from the valuable experiences making the runaway bestseller Call of Cthulhu Starter Set and the Ennie-award-winning RuneQuest Quickstart & Adventure.
  3. The RuneQuest version had to appeal to new and old fans of the line equally. Many starter sets are limited in that regard: we wanted something everyone could use and enjoy.
  4. Under no circumstances would it be a throwaway product to be used once and discarded, after a short introductory play experience. It needed to have ‘legs’, as they say.
  5. Rather than a stripped-down or abstracted version of the rules, the system would be presented as closely to the regular game line as possible. We wanted this to be an easy step into RuneQuest and Glorantha, as compatible with other products as we could make it.

Once those goals were established, the next steps became clear, and it began to take shape in our minds. This would also be a deluxe product, staggeringly good value for the price ($USD29.99). But the most important aspect was that it be a manageable product, something that would let new players and gamemasters have an easy entry to one of the most well-developed settings in all of fantasy roleplaying.

As one can expect, though, the exact contents shifted back and forth over the course of development, but finally have focused into a product we’re very happy with and can’t wait to share with everyone!

Next Design Diary: Cover art reveal and what's inside the Box!

Also, in the latest of our Chaosium Interview series, Jason discusses more about what's to come in the RuneQuest product line including the RQ Starter Set

 

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Can Team Chaosium talk about this as an onramp to the full set of rules? That is:

  • What isn't in the Book 1: Rules?
  • Any thoughts about when or how to expand to the larger rules set?
  • What besides being "less" or "more" what is the advantage of either set of rules? In other words, could one keep playing successfully with only Book 1: Rules for some time? What would one be missing out on?

Thanks!

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12 hours ago, creativehum said:

Can Team Chaosium talk about this as an onramp to the full set of rules? That is:

  • What isn't in the Book 1: Rules?
  • Any thoughts about when or how to expand to the larger rules set?
  • What besides being "less" or "more" what is the advantage of either set of rules? In other words, could one keep playing successfully with only Book 1: Rules for some time? What would one be missing out on?

Thanks!

What isn't in the Book 1 rules: about 350 pages of the RQG rulebook. Book 1 is more than the Quickstart, though. Book 1 is designed to get you playing without having to absorb everything. Thus, most things are simplified. You get what we feel are the best parts of the rules to give you a taste of the full system.

How to expand to the larger rules set? There are no intermediate points we have set up for future releases. We don't have a "medium" rules set that is 160 pages, followed by a 240 page "advanced" set of rules that lead you to the full 440 page rulebook. It's not some sort of BECMI progression. If you like what you are playing in the Starter set you will most likely buy the full rulebook, maybe the slipcase set, and then start buying adventures (if you are the GM).

As for the advantages of either set of rules, that all very much depends on what sort of game you want to play. We could say that the starter set doesn't cover X, but if that's something you love you will only fault us for saying it's a good thing. You could probably play a lot of RQ with just the starter set, including many other adventures found in other books. The most important thing about the starter set is that it provides new players with a chance to start playing the game more quickly, and with a lower investment point. We have lots of material they can move on to after they have exhausted all of what they can play in the starter set.

As for what would you be missing out on? Without sounding trite, that's once again a VERY subjective question. If you told me EXACTLY what you like about role-playing in Glorantha I MIGHT be able to answer your question more specifically. Otherwise, it's more likely to be a situation of me saying you miss out on X and then you replying with "I don't care about that, I care about Y".

With all politeness and respect, you are asking questions newcomers might ask, when you aren't a newcomer. If you are trying to help your newcomer friends, encourage them to ask their questions here themselves. I wouldn't want to be the middleman in that conversation. 

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I ran the Quickstart for friends and we have enjoyed it. I have bought the slipcase and it seems like a lot. 

I was looking for more information about the product between the Quickstart and the full game.

And that was kind of weird.

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On 3/27/2021 at 8:23 PM, Rick Meints said:

What isn't in the Book 1 rules: about 350 pages of the RQG rulebook. Book 1 is more than the Quickstart, though. Book 1 is designed to get you playing without having to absorb everything. Thus, most things are simplified. You get what we feel are the best parts of the rules to give you a taste of the full system

...

As for what would you be missing out on? Without sounding trite, that's once again a VERY subjective question.

...
 

Let's ask some brass-tacks questions, then (rough-estimate answers are fine) -- 


Are the Homelands write-ups abbreviated?  By (roughly) how much (e.g. about half the size of the core; or 175 words max; or whatever) ?  Are any Homelands in the Core book NOT in the Starter Set?

Are there any deities in the RQG corebook that are not in the Starter Set?  How many are not?  Are deity write-ups substantially shorter?

Are there spirit-magic and/or rune-magic spells that are not in the Starter Set?  How many are not?  Do any sorcery rules appear in the Starter Set?

I'm sure other people will have other tacks to take... but I think those are a good start (so to speak).
 

On 3/27/2021 at 7:36 AM, creativehum said:

Any thoughts about when or how to expand to the larger rules set?

Without in ANY way attempting to speak for Team Chaosium, I'll take a crack at this one:


1. Play with the stater set, and get going!


2. Plan on getting either the GM Screen Pack (for the Clearwine setting & adventures) or Pegasus Plateau; or possibly some other product that may be released between getting the "Starter Set" and running out of that "SS" content ...

3.  ... But, get that next-step content in plenty of time for the GM to review it before playing, so they can choose which one(s) NOT to play (because that/those one(s) need non-Starter-Pack content); OR, plan to step up to the full RQG rule-set so that you can use any/all RQG content for your game.

Somewhere in and amongst 2 & 3, you may find yourself wondering again, and come to BRPC or FB or wherever, to ask the Tribe to help figure out if RQG is the answer you seek... or, you might Just Do It.

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7 hours ago, g33k said:

Let's ask some brass-tacks questions, then (rough-estimate answers are fine) -- 
Are the Homelands write-ups abbreviated?  By (roughly) how much (e.g. about half the size of the core; or 175 words max; or whatever) ?  Are any Homelands in the Core book NOT in the Starter Set?

Are there any deities in the RQG corebook that are not in the Starter Set?  How many are not?  Are deity write-ups substantially shorter?

Are there spirit-magic and/or rune-magic spells that are not in the Starter Set?  How many are not?  Do any sorcery rules appear in the Starter Set?

Let's start with a look at the ToC for the 64 page rulebook and for the 64 page Glorantha book:2129292180_ScreenShot2021-03-31at10_10_39AM.png.257ad9a7de4a46bdf7519389996aeb38.png1809579934_ScreenShot2021-03-31at10_13_33AM.png.fa488c4e6e7ef925fca03c3376f38663.png

The Homelands info in the starter set is in the Glorantha book. All of them are there, but they are 2 pages of info in total.

The core book has 21 cults described over 22 pages. The starter set has 20 cults described with 3 pages of overview.

The starter set has 37 spirit magic and 94 rune spells documented. Sorcery is briefly covered, and one of the pre-gens has 3 sorcery spells detailed.

Edited by Rick Meints
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5 hours ago, Rick Meints said:

Let's start with a look at the ToC for the 64 page rulebook and for the 64 page Glorantha book:

<snip>

Fantastic, Rick, TYVM!
Living up to your .sig (as you so often do!)



One further question, a minor point and... well, frankly more "amusement" than any burning need-to-know...

6 hours ago, Rick Meints said:

...

The core book has 21 cults described over 22 pages. The starter set has 20 cults described ...

So, which god is the poor schmuck who didn't make the Starter-Set cut??!?  😉


But again -- even if you ignore that last non-urgent bit -- THANK  YOU.  What you shared is (to me, at least) tremendously helpful!
 

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7 hours ago, g33k said:

Fantastic, Rick, TYVM!
Living up to your .sig (as you so often do!)
One further question, a minor point and... well, frankly more "amusement" than any burning need-to-know... So, which god is the poor schmuck who didn't make the Starter-Set cut??!?  😉
But again -- even if you ignore that last non-urgent bit -- THANK  YOU.  What you shared is (to me, at least) tremendously helpful!

Buy the Starter set when it comes out and find out... Who says a new one didn't get added and two from the core rulebook were omitted...

We are The Chaosium after all.

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2 hours ago, Rick Meints said:

Buy the Starter set when it comes out and find out... Who says a new one didn't get added and two from the core rulebook were omitted...

We are The Chaosium after all.

omg

a new cult: Cthulhu

with its subcult hero: Hawkmoon

and its spirit of reprisal: Gondolf  (yes a licence issue)

 

More seriously, I am very happy to see how many pages you provide for Jonstown (so now i don't know how much time I can stay without curse you for the delay... oups too late)

Is there any subtility provided in the first parts ( rules and glorantha) that we don't have in the core book or can I skip them without any risk to have a rule/lore expert answering me "starter set p xxx" when I will ask any question ?

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18 hours ago, Rick Meints said:

... Who says a new one didn't get added and two from the core rulebook were omitted...

We are The Chaosium after all.

😦
Curse you and your sudden, but inevitable betrayal!


(you are The Chaosium, after all!)

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 3/28/2021 at 7:28 AM, creativehum said:

I ran the Quickstart for friends and we have enjoyed it. I have bought the slipcase and it seems like a lot. 

I was looking for more information about the product between the Quickstart and the full game.

And that was kind of weird.

The Starter Set, as the table of contents shows, can serve as an intermediary between the Quickstart and the full rules experience. You get an abbreviated set of rules (based on the Quickstart rules, with more added), a great deal more of the setting, a solo adventure, more pregenerated characters, a starting hub for adventure, and three full adventures, plus seeds for more. 

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On 3/31/2021 at 8:23 AM, g33k said:

Let's ask some brass-tacks questions, then (rough-estimate answers are fine) -- 
Are the Homelands write-ups abbreviated?  By (roughly) how much (e.g. about half the size of the core; or 175 words max; or whatever) ?  Are any Homelands in the Core book NOT in the Starter Set?

The homeland writeups are very brief, just enough for you to get an idea of what they are and how they relate to one another. All are named. 

 

On 3/31/2021 at 8:23 AM, g33k said:

Are there any deities in the RQG corebook that are not in the Starter Set?  How many are not?  Are deity write-ups substantially shorter?

The descriptions are very short (a sentence or two). Deities who are not covered in the SS materials do not appear. You will not get a grand picture of RQ cosmology in the Starter Set, nor are there rules for promoting to Rune Master.

That's beyond the scope of an already pretty-expansive Starter Set. 

 

On 3/31/2021 at 8:23 AM, g33k said:

Are there spirit-magic and/or rune-magic spells that are not in the Starter Set?  How many are not?  Do any sorcery rules appear in the Starter Set?

The only spirit magic spells appearing are those possessed by the PCs and NPCs. Same with Rune spells. 

Sorcery is described in brief. Sorala is the only adventurer to use it, and her spells are summarized. The NPCs with sorcery have their spells named (for players/GMs with the core rules) but there is no need, in the Starter Set content, for the NPC sorcery spells to be defined.

If one of the NPC Lhankor Mhy sages is somehow out of their temple and throwing sorcery spells, you have gone beyond the scope of the Starter Set

We also don't provide rules for naval combat. 

 

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On 4/1/2021 at 8:32 AM, French Desperate WindChild said:

Is there any subtility provided in the first parts ( rules and glorantha) that we don't have in the core book or can I skip them without any risk to have a rule/lore expert answering me "starter set p xxx" when I will ask any question ?

The Starter Set is not a replacement for the core book. It's an introduction to the game and the world.

All rules and Glorantha content, other than Jonstown, are in the core book in a much more detailed form. 

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3 hours ago, Jason D said:

The Starter Set is not a replacement for the core book. It's an introduction to the game and the world.

All rules and Glorantha content, other than Jonstown, are in the core book in a much more detailed form. 

If i am allowed to summarise: What do fans get what they don´t have if they already own the RQG slipcase? 

"Book 1: Rules" (64 pages, includes nothing that isn´t already covered in RQG)
"Book 2: Glorantha" (64 pages, of which 25 are repeated/summarised info from RQG --> 39 pages are NEW content!)
"Book 3: SoloQuest" (60 pages, ALL NEW!)
"Book 4: Adventures" (three adventures in 84 pages, all NEW!)

Total of 272 pages in 4 booklets. 
89 pages reprinted info, 183 NEW STUFF!

+ 14 PreGens (7 old friends, and 7 NEW!)
+ empty chacter sheets in the new format!
+ Maps!
+ Strike Rank Tracker!
+ Short list about Runes
+ ...

I only see reasons to buy this box, no matter if i want to start playing RQG with this box, or if you are a RQ veteran. SOOO much new stuff!

And have i mentioned NEW ARTWORK?

Edited by AndreJarosch
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I really enjoyed the Quick Start adventure and format, but a few small things like the summary of parry vs attacks were slightly different to what ended up in the core. Whilst I understand the need to abbreviate rules, I don’t think this particular variation in the QuIckStart helped new players. In this instance, the core is no more complicated, and probably easier with the chart/table.

Will the starter set use the same basis as the core rules here?
 

 

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1 minute ago, Paid a bod yn dwp said:

... a few small things like the summary of parry vs attacks were slightly different to what ended up in the core. Whilst I understand the need to abbreviate rules, I don’t think the variation in the QuIckStart helped new players.

To be fair, the Quickstart came out before the core rules, and some refinement of the core rules happened in between. Whilst I hope that that has been addressed in the Starter Set, I would not be entirely surprised if something slips through. I don't think that would be the end of the world. I know some people want there to be One True RuneQuest With No Ambiguity, but that's not the Chaosium way, deliberately.

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8 minutes ago, PhilHibbs said:

One True RuneQuest With No Ambiguity, but that's not the Chaosium way, deliberately.

Yeah, I’m pretty flexible with the rules in game. But there’s a bit of a disconnect when you have a crunchy set of rules to learn with goal posts being moved from product to product. Nice to have a clear base line from which you can deviate if you want to, it also makes it easier for new players to assimilate the rules.

I expect this won’t be the case with the starter, and I agree the quickstart was before the final core rules were settled on. But just flagging up as it’s something I noticed from the QS. 
 

Definitely a case for abbreviation in the starter rules though, not arguing that.

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52 minutes ago, Paid a bod yn dwp said:

I really enjoyed the Quick Start adventure and format, but a few small things like the summary of parry vs attacks were slightly different to what ended up in the core. Whilst I understand the need to abbreviate rules, I don’t think this particular variation in the QuIckStart helped new players. In this instance, the core is no more complicated, and probably easier with the chart/table.

Will the starter set use the same basis as the core rules here?

The Quickstart rules were based on a still-in-development version of the RQ rules set. Some things ended up changing between that and the core book's release, just as we've had some errata and rulings that have changed since then. 

The Starter Set rules are an updated and expanded version of the Quickstart rules, but with all corrections and updates made. Aside from a few streamlined bits, it is current (and in some cases, slightly more accurate than) to the core book. 

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20 hours ago, AndreJarosch said:

If i am allowed to summarise: What do fans get what they don´t have if they already own the RQG slipcase? 
...


Something else that I think bears consideration, if you're an ardent fan but dislike "rebuying" the "same content" (I count myself in that category) :

Even if there's nothing for YOU to learn, an easier entre' for newbies (both mechanics and setting) are going to be *HUGE* assets at your table (unless you play only with grognards).

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On 4/15/2021 at 1:57 AM, Jason D said:

The homeland writeups are very brief, just enough for you to get an idea of what they are and how they relate to one another. All are named. 

...

We also don't provide rules for naval combat. 

TYVM, Jason!  (have you considered borrowing Mr. Meints' .sig, "Hope that helps"?)

But my Inner Snark now insists that I ask:  when will we see the rules for naval combat?
 

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10 hours ago, None said:

How sturdy is the box itself? I've been looking around a little but so far I've failed at finding if its been mentioned earlier.

It is one of the sturdiest out there, especially compared to other starter sets. It is made from 2mm stock.

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9 hours ago, g33k said:

Even if there's nothing for YOU to learn, an easier entre' for newbies (both mechanics and setting) are going to be *HUGE* assets at your table (unless you play only with grognards).

Also, a quick rules lookup is incredibly useful at the table. Same reason people who actually play RuneQuest love the Red Book of Magic - ease of handling.

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11 minutes ago, Nick Brooke said:

Also, a quick rules lookup is incredibly useful at the table. Same reason people who actually play RuneQuest love the Red Book of Magic - ease of handling.

But as the Starter Set is explicitly a simplified ruleset, one can never be quite certain if one has found the "real" rules or the "simplified" rules.

Arguably, it doesn't really matter.

Arguably, one could simply use the Starter Set *AS* your primary RQG rulebook (only cracking open the corebook if the SS has no answer).

Arguably,  [ grognards X social-media ]  =  infinite argumentation.

YGWV
 

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1 hour ago, g33k said:

But as the Starter Set is explicitly a simplified ruleset, one can never be quite certain if one has found the "real" rules or the "simplified" rules.

I'm not sure whether "simplified" means "different", or "subset". We shall see.

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