Tag Archives: runequest

Free is the new standard

There are several big names in the roleplaying games industry which have easily get players into buying their products. Many people know the game system, there are lots of published material, you can easily find games in conventions, etc.

Independent publishers have grown a lot in recent years thanks to the self-publishing trend and the tools developed for it. It is not that difficult to create a new game system, or a setting, and put it on sale at DriveThruRPG or RPGNow.

Quality however was a different matter. When it is very easy to publish your work, the quality filter is in the market. And that means the market is getting veeeery cautious before spending money in an unknow game system.

So independent publishers have opted for providing their game systems (or a basic subset of rules) for free. You can try it and pay if you want for the complete rules, hardcover editions, adventures, settings, etc.

But when Wizards of the Coast decides to provide D&D for free, the hobby is turned upside down. If the most popular lowers its entry barriers to a free PDF, the rest have to move quickly to lose all the new gamers…

Dungeon World

Dungeon World

You have to try this one. Developed by Sage Latorra and Adam Koebel, this game is fast and fun. You can check the official web, or download the free version from github or its web version.

The key concept is that you describe what you want to do, and the DM decides which “move” fits better your description. That is what should happen in all rpgs, but in this actually does.

You play to see what happens, making questions to the players to fill the background of the adventures, creating continuous challenges to make the story advance… everything with the classic fantasy props.

Adventures are structured in a wonderful way, with lots of blank spaces to fill but all the needed resources for the DM. You can buy the famous Dark Hear of the Dreamer or join the kickstarter of Servants of the Cinder Queen, both with very good prices and great reviews. The blog Points of Light also provides great advice.

New D&D Logo

D&D Basic

Spring 2014 brought some very surprising news to the hobby. All our ranting about the new prices for the Next edition ended when they made official the D&D Basic rules will be available for free.

Next month, July 2014, they will publish the pdf, with the races and classes, and in August they will expand it to contain a full set of basic rules.

The most popular roleplaying game, with a huge company backing not only this game but a full array of publications (computer games, board games, movies?). Now free. It is certainly a very powerful call to the industry.


Runequest Essentials

The last system to join the free trend. Wizards decision of publishing D&D Basic for free has hit hard many other popular games. New gamers are going to look for the famous games, and obviously try the ones with lower entry barriers. So now Runequest needs a free version or they are loosing players fast, specially new players.

That’s why Design Mechanism has decided to release the RuneQuest Essentials edition in a “pay what you want” offer. As I already commented in another post, the entry price for RuneQuest is way too high, specially considering there are very similar alternatives like OpenQuest.

Now you can play the latest, and probably best of the official iterations of this game. Base in the d100 mechanics, it is a game without levels. If you have played Call of Cthulhu or the old Runequest editions you already know the basics. This edition has streamlined most of the system, although keeps some cumbersome mechanics (in my opinion): extended skill list and combat styles.

Runequest 6 in Spanish

Runequest was the first roleplaying game I owned. It was the third edition that JOC published in Spanish in 1984, which I bought almost ten years later. At that time we played the Lord of the Rings (MERP), Star Wars (WEG d6), and Dungeons & Dragons (AD&D). Runequest had a very different feeling from those other games. It was deadly, there was no fancy fantasy with lots of magic swords and dragons, and limb amputation happened (at least once 🙂 ).

Some great memories

I will never forget a game at my parent’s. There were too many players for that little cramped room, but we sat on the carpet, prepared the characters, and tried to assault the infamous telmori lair. Those primitive hunters heard the heroes coming from faaaaar away, so they got their shields on the entrance and readied their bows behind.

The first inspection of the cave mouth resulted in a fleeing bunch of heroes, including a crawling priestess with a wasted leg. After patching the injured heroes, they spent more than an hour (real time) trying to figure out a way to get inside the cave and get revenge. After that time, the best idea they found was to cut down a tree and use it as a ram. The priestess would sat on the tree as they charged, so she could use her spells…

Of course they never reached the shield wall. When arrows began to rain down on them, moral began to fail. The first one who received an injury decided to run back to the forest. The rest had to lift more weight and moved more slowly. When the second one got hit and ran away, the rest decided it was time to change tactics 😀 . They dragged the poor priestess as the ran for the trees.

They finally defeated the telmori guarding the cave, and slaughtered everyone they found inside. But the truth is I can only recall the details of the assault 😀 .

We played many more adventures, and the heroes were hunters, scribes and healers, but I certainly remember them as heroes.

Runequest 6 cover
Runequest 6 cover

What since?

We changed games, the group dispersed when we went to university, and probably many of them cannot even remember what was it all about. However the game kept changing, was bought by different companies, several editions were published, and last year we finally got to the sixth edition.

The history of Runequest is not simple, and I won’t get into the details.  If you are really interested, Carlos de la Cruz wrote in his blog (in Spanish) an awesome series of posts about it: La Historia de Runequest y Glorantha. Apart from these posts I recommend you to read his blog.

All of the editions from the third I owned were published only in English. It is fine for me to read those manuals, but when I need to get people to play it gets harder. It makes me translate almost everything, or cope with complaints about the language.

What now?

Runequest 6 is an update of the old Runequest 3 we played. Some rules were removed, some added, but the basic d100 concept is still behind. Magic was certainly streamlined, and some of the most annoying rules were fixed.

And this year a small publisher decided to launch a crowdfunding project to make a Spanish edition of Runequest 6. And I’m not joining. And this is why…

You can read the description of the project in the Spanish crowfunding platform Verkami: Runequest 6 in Verkami. It looks like a crowfunding project, but it is just a publisher looking for cheap distribution and lowering risks.

  • For 145€ I get 3 paperback copies, but if I’m a shop owner, for the same pledge I get 5 copies. For me that is totally unaceptable. My money is worth the same as a shop owner’s. They are supposed to be looking for funding.
  • 45€ for a paperback copy obviously includes a good margin. There is no discount for helping funding, the final version at the shops will have the same price. They are just bypassing the distribution channels and keeping their margin.
  • Just Runequest 6 translated, what is not bad, but has some design decisions I don’t like. I can no longer find a playing group for a game with extensive skill lists, most of them totally useless.
  • There is another update of the old game system, which looks better to me, called OpenQuest. An online SRD version will be available in July, and a printed copy is 30€.
  • No Glorantha, the setting which make Runequest famous. It will be published in a later book called Adventures in Glorantha. I’m certainly more interested in this setting that in a revision of the same game system.

There is also a German translation done looking for a way to publish it.

Anyway, I’m waiting for the online SRD of OpenQuest to see if I want to buy it, and wait for Adventures in Glorantha to deliver the setting book I’ve been waiting for.


In the heroes we trust

Modeling reputation of a party in any role playing game is tricky. You can give it a number, and use it for interaction with any faction, but then it is not the same a good reputation or a bad reputation, being famous or unknown, being known for your strength feats or for your magical skills. When all is said and done, we DMs need a stat to track the reaction of NPCs, or set a standard for the effects of the party fame in the village they just arrived to.

So how could we handle it? A good option is tracking trust. Apart from the difficult social interaction trust involves, the neurobiological structure of the brain and the chemicals inside may also play an important part. So modeling trust into a role playing game seems like a terrible idea, a cumbersome bookkeeping work with little benefit… let’s give it a try!

Guluk and Treb were exhausted. The two barbarians had finally found a nomadic settlement after several days wandering through the dessert. They didn’t really expect to be welcomed as heroes, although killing that nasty chaos beast which ate shamans for dinner certainly had made them famous in the region. Those goat riders however seemed to be in a less than friendly mood…

You can obviously simplify trust to the minimum (following the KISS principle), and treat it like any other ranked stat. This approach seems to have pleased many readers of ENWorld (http://www.enworld.org/forum/content.php?825-Steal-This-Rule-Trust), and it has some ideas worth mentioning. The article is very weak, the ideas being the usual ones for a reputation system, but I will try to squeeze some juice from them.

Circus man throwing knives at a tied woman
Trust me!

A goal in itself: Trust is a bidirectional relationship, so you just need to keep track of the trust of each NPC or organization. Before meeting, any NPC will have a standard trust rating according to the reputation of the party, higher if it is in line with the NPC moral, or lower if it is against it. In addition, if the party does not show trust to a NPC, that NPC will lower its trust rating towards the party.

Guluk and Treb were sated. Their god Orlanth should be really pleased to treat them with those servile nomads. Scaring a few predators of the dessert was the job of the day, got their unfair part of the share, and now they were sleeping with all their belongings tied to their bodies, just in case…

Stay where you are trusted: There are some benefits to a trusted hero. You know… discounts, free meals, friendly guides, and those kind of things. Getting trust may be a goal itself for the party, but after all the effort it takes, the party will be willing to get some return on their investment. This helps the DM to develop a community and recurring NPCs to give more depth to the campaign.

With a great trust comes a great responsibility: People who trust the party will ask them for help, try to get their services, or even choose them to rule their organizations! If they refuse, they will lose part of that trust…

Guluk and Treb were exhausted once again. Those ungrateful goat riders on their hideous mounts were hunting them! Did they really thought the two barbarians could take on a full broo raiding party? What if a couple of tirbesmen were killed, Guluk and Treb had saved all of them several times!

Well, I know, you can obviously do all this without a trust rating. As the good DMs all of you are, I’m sure you have already implemented some of these ideas. So what’s the point of this article? For me, the key part is to remember all the things that make the villagers begin to think in hiring some trolls to fight the adventurers out of their home.

Distrust generates distrust, ignoring people needs generates distrust, and boredom in small villages generates huge amounts of distrust towards everybody else… Players are usually do-gooders and expect everybody to love them. Offer them the benefits of trust, and begin to turn it against them if they grow too comfortable.

The shaman sat in silence. His people trusted him, his spirits would haunt the barbarians, their cries of pain would be heard from miles of distance, they would pay. Fair or not, it is what the tribe trusted him to do, and he knew trust is a dangerous thing to test…