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Monsters Are People Too: the old links between Chivalry & Sorcery and RuneQuest

Posted by Michael O'Brien on 9th Jul 2019

Following the recent successful launch of their Chivalry & Sorcery 5th Edition Kickstarter, ANDY STAPLES of Brittannia Games shares with us the resonant connections between C&S and Chaosium's RuneQuest, which go way, way back to the earliest days of Roleplaying Games, and begin with a mutual understanding of RPGs that was groundbreaking then and still powerful today...

ANDY STAPLES: It may surprise people to know of the old links between Chivalry & Sorcery and RuneQuest.


On the surface, the games are radically different - one a historical fantasy simulation grounded in the medieval period, the other a game of mythic resonance based in a unique Bronze Age world.

But both games share two foundational principles:

  1. No one exists in a vacuum. A character's place in society matters.
  2. Monsters are people too.

That's no accident.

Back when The Chaosium (as it was then known) was working on developing RuneQuest, its first roleplaying game, Greg Stafford invited C&S co-creator Ed Simbalist to visit and explain his views on what a roleplaying game should be.

Ed wasn't clear on the timing of this visit when he told me and the rest of the Brittannia Games crew the story over cigars after the Dudley Bug Ball games convention 17 years ago.

It's possible it was in the months between the publication of Chivalry & Sorcery and the publication of the first edition of RuneQuest. It may have been a little earlier - both Ed and Greg knew each other through the pages of legendary fanzine Alarums & Excursions.

The Chaosium

Ed found The Chaosium an odd crew. He hailed from the rather straight-laced Alberta prairies. In his view The Chaosium were California hippies. The smoke around The Chaosium's offices was, shall we say, fragrant.

But he recognised the shared vision, and he loved The Chaosium's vibrancy and passion. Roleplaying shouldn't be about killing monsters and taking treasure. It should be about the way characters make their way through the world and interact with the people around them.

One of Ed's most famous essays on gaming was called Monsters Are People Too. Is there a better expression of that idea than RuneQuest's Trollpak?

Nor is it a coincidence that Different Worlds, The Chaosium's gaming magazine, began its long series of articles exploring game worlds with Archaeron, Ed's own C&S setting, all the way back in Different Worlds #1 in 1979.

Different Worlds #1

Ed remained adamant: of all the game companies in the world, it was Chaosium he admired the most. He remembered fondly - and with pride - Greg's invitation to share his game philosophy with them.

Times have changed. Both RuneQuest and C&S have had their ups and downs over the years since the late 1970s. And Greg, Ed and C&S co-creator Wilf Backhaus are no longer with us. We stand on the shoulders of giants.

We at Brittannia Games remain fans of Chaosium and its games. Call of Cthulhu goes from strength to strength, and we - like the rest of the game world - recognise RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha as the best edition ever. Under its new management Chaosium has regained its reputation as the creative powerhouse of gaming. We're thrilled the mojo is back.

The Kickstarter for Chivalry & Sorcery 5th Edition achieved its target in less than 16 hours. We now have stretch goals we want to achieve to make this the best edition we can, to achieve the vision that Ed, Wilf and Greg shared.

Chaosium fans who recognise the shared vision, the old alliance from the dawn of roleplaying, may wish to help us. We are all Uz.

—Andrew Staples, Brittannia Games

The Chivalry & Sorcery 5th Ed Kickstarter campaign by our friends at Brittannia Games runs until July 31: