In September, my gaming group will start its next campaign, using the Design Mechanism’s RuneQuest 6. If you’ve been reading this site recently, you probably have gathered I am immensely excited to get this campaign underway. But why RuneQuest 6, and why am I so excited for this campaign and system? I thought I’d try and share a few of the reasons in bite-sized form, so you can get an idea where I’m coming from:
1) Quality Writing
Here’s the thing: I was originally looking for a rules-lighter d100 system for the campaign we’ll be starting this fall. I was convinced I didn’t want anything too crunchy in terms of rules. If you look at games in the d100 family—OpenQuest, Legend, Renaissance SRD—RuneQuest 6 is definitely a bit more robust in terms of scope of the rules. Runequest 6 did not seem a likely candidate to be my pick. But you know, based off several very enthusiastic recommendations, and some of what I had heard of how combat worked, and the reputations of the authors, I decided to give it a read.
Am I ever glad I did, because it turns out RuneQuest 6 is written about as well as any RPG product you’re going to find. Section-by-section, the way the system worked, how it can be incorporated into the campaign, and how all the little pieces fit together into the whole were covered in a way that even a thick-headed individual as myself can put it all together. The more we read and talked about it, the more we appreciated how it all fit together, and the more ideas came out of how characters, combat, and resolution worked in the game. Before too long, we were well and truly sold on RQ6. I can see now why people have generally had nothing but good thing to say about the writing from authors Pete Nash and Lawrence Whitaker—it’s truly excellent.
2) d100 System
I’ll freely admit I was weaned on roll-under percentile skill systems (back in the days of Palladium Fantasy Revised), and roll-over combat systems like Rolemaster, as well. It’s easy to get an idea of just how skill a character is in a particular area, and I like the ease of use, be it a roll-under or roll-over system. It’s always been a favorite of mine, likely because I grew up in the hobby with it and it just inherently makes sense to me. With RuneQuest firmly in the former camp, I’m very comfortable with the basics of the system—and that means being able to move on to other parts that much quicker.
3) Character Creation
RuneQuest 6 isn’t a lifepath system per se, but yet it follows creating characters in a step-by-step process I really like. We’re talking about well-rounded character creation, complete with background events, culture, and careers that build towards a nicely fleshed-out character. Additionally, the Passions for each character give a guideline for driving motivation of love, hate, and loyalty. Working over this step-by-step with some of my players really got the ideas flowing, to the point where there’s some angst about which character concepts to go with. Despite the relative depth of character creation, it’s neatly laid out, and simple to follow.
Combat in RuneQuest 6 is very detailed, and to be honest, I was a bit worried in how well I would grasp it. It’s true it’s much more in-depth than our recent campaigns, but it is has a brilliant ace in the hole in its Special Effects mechanic, which makes adding such matters as bleeding, called shots, and even intimidation to the point of surrender immensely easy to add in. There’s no worrying about adding modifiers before an attack to see if the special effect goes off; rather, see how critically you succeeded (at attack or defense), and direct your damage and result from there. Battles will be bloody, uncertain affairs, but then again, shouldn’t they be?
5) Monster Island
It perhaps seems odd for a setting/adventure book to enhance excitement about a core ruleset, but I grabbed Monster Island last week at Gen Con Indy, and have scarce been able to put it down. Monster Island is not just an adventure locale for any number of genres and periods, it’s a monster book with some gruesome horrors, severe challenges, and no shortage of pure inspiration for the Game Master. I’ll be appropriate plenty of items and ideas from Pete Nash’s book for my upcoming game.
6) Post-Gen Con Enthusiasm
I was fortunate enough to have most of my gaming group in attendance at Gen Con this year, and several of my players were able to stop by the Design Mechanism booth and/or play in a RuneQuest 6 demo. The demo was a huge hit, with one of my players (who has never played a magic type) getting inspired to play magic user for the first time in any game. Chatting with my players, I think we’re all fired up and ready for this campaign. Gen Con allowed us to talk a bit more about RuneQuest, get fired up for the game, and grab some ideas, from the exhibit hall floor and beyond. With the crowdfunding for our Deluxe Editions of the game finishing just before Gen Con as well, anticipation is quite high all-around.
7) Goes With The Setting
Our campaign is set in the Middle Isles, which is my Greek Myth/Norse Legend/Earthsea mashup. It has a bit of a sword-and-sandal to it, as well as a healthy dose of the early Iron Age. RuneQuest 6’s default setting has a feel and setting not terribly far from my own, and I find that way it talks about backgrounds and classes aligns very well to the assumptions of the Middle Isles. When I’m making campaign notes or jotting down some stats, there isn’t that pause of thinking how it’s going to convert to my world. It seems as if it was almost designed to run this sort of setting—which, given RuneQuest’s history, is perhaps not so surprising.
So, there you have it--a list of reasons of just why I'm so excited about using RuneQuest 6 for our upcoming campaign. I'm sure I'll expand on some of these reasons at some point, but that should serve as a launchpad to explain just why this is so highly anticipated in my gaming group.