The classic that founded an industry - An entire fantasy role-playing game in one book
Freshly reprinted from the successful Kickstarter!
In July of 1978, the Origins Game Fair was held in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Over 3500 people attended what was the largest gaming convention in the US at that time. In the main hall gamers could pick up the latest games from all the major publishers: Cross of Iron by Avalon Hill, Atlantic Wall by SPI, and The Hall of the Fire Giant King module by TSR. In one small booth near a corner you could also purchase RuneQuest, the first Roleplaying game published by The Chaosium, a quirky 3 person company from the Bay Area. It sold out over the weekend, and every print run continued to do so for the next several years.
This is the second edition of the RuneQuest rules in its final form, with all errata incorporated into the text. Additional material has been added to the appendices at the end.
RuneQuest took the young world of roleplaying games by storm; it cast aside many of the approaches most other games took. It had no character classes, no experience points, no levels, and far fewer restrictions on how weapons, armor, and spells could be used. Instead of a D20 it uses a percentile 01-100 system. It also has the built-in fantasy world of Glorantha.
During what many consider to be the golden age of roleplaying, RuneQuest enjoyed its greatest popularity, second only to AD&D in sales. It won numerous awards, starting in 1978 with the Strategist’s Club Award for “Outstanding Miniatures Rules”, which may sound quirky, but that was because the industry had yet to create award categories specifically for roleplaying games.
With RuneQuest you enter a world of high adventure and death-defying excitement, where good and evil meet face to face and weapon to claw. Every step of the way you’ll be aided by rules that are carefully explained and sequentially structured – you’ll find what you need when you need it. The game system’s realism parallels its logic of presentation: characters develop freely and fully, just as they do in life, and no rule prevents the use of weapon or magic in any tight spot.
Combatants melee by using the strike rank system (as developed by the author’s long acquaintance with edged weapons), which is based on actual weapon size and design.
Characters have skill with particular weapons, and they can learn from experience; as they battle and scheme their way across continents, they’ll become toughened veterans of dozens of fights and escapades. Based on your decisions and your motivations, your characters will take on astonishing life and reality as they learn magic, improve their weapons use, develop ties with the gods, and explore the amazing universe around them.
EASY TO LEARN - all decision rolls are determined by a single roll of percentile dice. You need only read the rules and supply the dice.
ORGANIZED - the book is clearly arranged, with a logical teaching progression. The table of contents is complemented by a cross-referencing index.
COMPLETE - this one book contains all you need to play (except dice). Rules, monsters, treasures, maps, encounter tables, character sheets are all provided.
EXAMPLES - follow the entertaining examples of play illustrated by the adventures of Rurik the Restless as he makes his way from dice-rolls to Rune Lord. The examples show how as well as what.
TIME-TESTED - this edition has been updated to provide corrections, refinements, and additions to previous publications.
FLEXIBLE - develop your character or world as you wish, without artificial restraints or character classes.
Character Creation - how to turn numbers into characters, with explanations of the why’s as well as the whats.
Basic Mechanics – tells what dice to roll when, and what it means. These early chapters show the secret workings of the “world machine.”
Combat Skills - contains information on use, cost, training, and problems with weaponry. It provides a unique combat system free of ambiguity.
Battle Magic - everyday spells available to all characters. You can enhance weapons or armor, detect items, or combat spirits.
Other Skills - available in a wide variety are such useful personal skills as Riding, Tracking, and Picking Pockets.
Rune Magic - provides spells which deliver the power of the gods to their devoted followers; also discusses the cults which channel such powers and the deadly tribal shamans.
Monsters - from Aldryami to zombies, this extensive chapter gives stat’ guidelines for a menagerie of beast (dumb and smart), which can menace players and make life difficult.
Treasure - there are complete guidelines for compiling treasure which is commensurate with the comparative “toughness” of the monsters to be dealt with.
Referee Notes - useful guidelines for the novice or professional referee, including optional rules.
Charts and Tables - included are play-aids for running a campaign in the Dragon Pass area’ among others are encounter, reaction, and experience tables.
Convenient Pull-Outs - the center sheets of the book make up a digest of the most important charts, tables, rules, and procedures, which can be lifted from the book for easy access. [Note: These are included as a downloadable handout]
- Hard Cover Reprinted RuneQuest 2nd Edition with an updated layout. It contains all the 2nd edition text, and with all the errata incorporated where it belongs. Additional material has been added to the appendices at the end.
Free twenty page printed players handouts. You can download them here. They are also part of the PDF download you get included.
Order the classic fold-out maps on Redbubble!
We are unable to add the classic fold-out maps to our printed products. We have made them available to you through our Redbubble store in a variety of formats. Remember, PDFs of the map are included with the bundled PDF purchases.
What The Critics Say
"Second only to Dungeons & Dragons in the fantasy roleplaying pantheon, RuneQuest cemented Greg Stafford’s world of Glorantha as one of the tabletop’s most imaginative creations and introduced innovative mechanics that would go on to become staples of RPGs for decades to come, most signifi cantly in other Basic Roleplaying titles. Its unique approach to advancing skills and the percentile system used to resolve attacks and actions are still as clever today, while the expansive Glorantha continues to draw in adventurers looking for an immersive and vibrant setting."
— Tabletop Gaming (UK), 150 Greatest Games of All Time (RuneQuest ranked #9).
"Almost forty years later, it's rather easy to see why RuneQuest became a classic... a piece of history in your gaming library at a minimal price."
— Antonio S., RPGNet.
"Almost 40 years after its debut, it’s easy to forget how important RuneQuest was in the early days of the RPG hobby. RuneQuest was the one of the first RPGs to achieve both artistic and popular success by tossing out D&D’s tropes and conventions, rather than mimicking them. Its innovative, percentile-based game system, its characters without class or level, and its richly-imagined, bronze-age setting of Glorantha, proved that an RPG didn’t need dungeons or d20s."
— Print and Play Gamer, GMs Day Top 10.
"One of the true greats of the role playing genre. Ground-breaking in its design, and still in business!"
— Lace and Steel, YouTube Review.
“There can be no doubt that RuneQuest has been deeply influential in a way that few games other than D&D itself were.”
— RPG historian Shannon Appelcline, Designers & Dragons, R IS FOR RUNEQUEST.
Physical Product Settings
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Lulu Product Name: [RuneQuest Classic - Softcover - POD]
Lulu Product Link: [/runequest-classic-softcover-pod/]
Is PDF Available: [Y]
PDF Product Name: [RuneQuest Classic - PDF]
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- RuneQuest 2nd Edition
- Year Released:
- 1978, 2016
- Black and White Hardcover
- Page Count:
- Steve Perrin, Ray Turney, Steve Henderson, Warren James
- Cover Artist:
- Luise Perrin
- Interior Artists:
- William Church, Luise Perrin
As an RPG nerd I really enjoy studying (and, if possible, running and playing) systems of past ages. Seeing how RPGs have changed ever since 1974 when original D&D was released can give you a sense of how (relatively) old this hobby is. At the time of writing this review I am playing in a campaign of AD&D1e which was released in 1978 - the same year original Runequest was released, and I must say, if I were to choose between D&D and Runequest back then, I would have chosen runequest no doubt. Although this book is a reprint of RQ2e from 1980, I believe not much have changed between 1e and 2e, as back in the day "edition" often simply meant "revision and clarification", and I will be speaking of them as one edition for the purposes of this review, for which I apologise if it is a jump into conclusions. Runequest is where I believe modern RPGs have begun - yes, D&D was first, but prior to TSR being bought by WotC, D&D was pretty unstructured in its rule-writing: very ambiguous wordings, inconsistent ways of making checks and noting chances, and sometimes overly complicated mechanics (especially the combat ones), and not even using proper dice notation (for example, in AD&D1e weapons' damage is not listed as a die like 1d4+1 but as a range of numbers you can roll like 2-5, forcing you to figure out what roll is that yourself) which led to many players house-ruling some things in and some things out, making everyone play the game sometimes very differently. Runequest is none of that for the most part- it is VERY consistent (d100 for every skill, combat, and attribute check) and its rules are clear as day. My biggest complaint is regarding the combat mechanics, specifically Strike Ranks - when they are first introduced in the book they're introduced as a way of measuring initiative order - one who has the lowest strike rank goes first - but then strike ranks are also described as a way of measuring how much can one accomplish during their turn when not fighting in combat. It's not that complicated, but may meddle in one's head at first. Another complaint I have is how some rules are scattered across the book - for example all skill check bonuses except oratory are covered on pages 9-11 (I am sorry for the unfortunate alignment of numbers), and you will not find how to determine your oratory bonus until page 51. Although it is understandable that it won't be used that often so it's fair to put it later in the book, but it is still a little annoying. But on a positive note, I love the fact that Glorantha's languages are grouped into families that can mutually understand each other to a degree - I am also a language nerd and I always include stuff like that in my games! Overall it's an amazing system that not only, in my humble opinion, caused a positive change in the world of RPGs (by paving the road to modern rulewriting), but also became the progenitor of one of my favourite RPGs of all time - Call of Cthulhu! If you want to play an old system, but don't want to struggle with unclear phrasings of old books, I recommend you runequest classic!
Happy to have this on my shelf