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RuneQuest Starter Set Design Diary #2: Cover art reveal and what's inside the Box

Posted by Michael O'Brien on 26th Mar 2021

By Jason Durall, RuneQuest creative director

As outlined in my initial Design Diary post, we had several main goals with the RuneQuest Starter Set. First and foremost was to make it a wholly accessible product for newcomers to RuneQuest and the world of Glorantha. But another important goal is to make sure the Starter Set also has value to our already-established player base. Too many starter sets are throwaway items or are of no use to veteran players. Not this one!

Here's what you're going to get for USD$29.99:

The Box

We’re absolutely thrilled to have this as the first of many products with a cover by award-winning Ossi Hiekkala, a longtime RuneQuest fan and player whose work will be gracing many upcoming RuneQuest products. Ossi has been working with us for quite a while, but this is the premiere of his work on a cover (above).

Four Booklets

The four softcover booklets, interiors filled to the brim with new and select prior artwork, printed in full color. They include the following:

Book 1: Rules – A 64-page rulebook with all the rules you need to play the contents of the Starter Set, including skills, combat, Passions, spirit and Rune magic, and experience. Cover art by Andrey Fetisov.

Book 2: The World of Glorantha – A 64-page booklet with two parts, the first being an overview of the world of Glorantha, its gods and the Dragon Pass area, and the second half a spotlight on the city of Jonstown right in the heart of Sartar. Jonstown was chosen specifically to be a manageable city for players and the gamemaster to base adventures out of, and it has never been described before in this much detail. Inside this book are details of the city, its unique features, and an array of nonplayer characters, ranging from its important to its everyday denizens. Finally, rounding it out is a gazetteer of its immediate area. Cover art by Hazem Ameen.

Book 3; SoloQuest – This booklet contains Battle at Dangerford, a 60-page solo adventure designed specifically to teach the rules and introduce Glorantha. In it, the player takes on the role of Vasana, a bison-riding soldier caught up in one of the pivotal battles in Dragon Pass. No gamemaster required! Of all the pieces in this book, this one is a personal favorite. Cover art by Eduardo Gutiérrez García.

Book 4: Adventures – In this 84-page booklet are three full-length ready-to-play adventures. The first, A Rough Landing takes place immediately after the events in Battle at Dangerford. The second, A Fire in the Dark, is an investigation where the threat may not be what it seems, and the third is an update of the classic RuneQuest adventure, The Rainbow Mounds. The rest of the book is filled with adventure seeds, a rumors table, a section on city encounters, and a simplified calendar. Cover art by Andrey Fetisov.

Maps, Pregens and More!

Three Maps – RuneQuest has always been known for its maps, and the new edition especially. Rather than overwhelming players with a massive map showing the entirety of Glorantha, we chose to focus on the area spotlighted in the Starter Set. So inside are three full-color folded maps. They include the Jonstown/Sartar region, the city of Jonstown, and the Rainbow Mounds themselves, a two-sided map labeled on one side and unlabeled on the other.

Fourteen Ready-to-play Adventurers – While RuneQuest’s highly immersive system for creating player character adventurers is the absolute best way to experience the full range of possibilities for adventuring in Glorantha, it might be too involved for a Starter Set. It is not as suitable as a quick introduction, as it can require some careful decision making or planning by the gamemaster. So, we decided to use pregenerated adventurers as the default.

We have gotten tremendous feedback about the accessibility of our seven pregenerated adventurers—Vasana, Harmast, Yanioth, Vostor, Sorala, Vishi Dun, and Nathem—and wanted to make sure that we used them for the adventure. However, we also wanted to spotlight some additional character types and cults, so we created seven additional adventurers to round up the roster to fourteen.

We love the new presentation so much and think players will too, so we’re including a few blank character folios for those who wish to create new adventurers using this style of adventurer sheet.

And don’t worry, fans of the Gloranthan versions of elves, dwarfs, trolls, and ducks, a downloadable group of non-human adventurers will be made available when the Starter Set is available, suitable for immediate use with the materials within, in the same format.

Reference Sheets – One of the best compliments we’ve received about the RuneQuest Gamemaster’s Screen Pack is about the 8-page reference guide inside, specifically that “It is worth the price of the whole pack.” While the one in the Starter Set is only four pages long, it hopefully serves the same utility. Additionally, we’ve included a Rune Reference and a Strike Rank tracker sheet for gamemasters and players to help keep track of melee rounds.

Dice – Also included is a set of seven high-quality gaming dice, containing all the ones used in RuneQuest.

Online Materials – If you purchase the RuneQuest Starter Set direct from Chaosium.com or a FLGS that's part of the Bits & Mortar initiative the price includes the PDFs. The Starter Set’s release will also see additional free materials available online to enhance and continue the Starter Set experience.

And thus, of all the things in this set, the aspect I’m actually the most excited about is the package itself.

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