1-D-6 RuneQuest Glorantha (Play Test)

This weekend I attended my first ever UK GamesExpo in Birmingham, now confirmed as the third biggest games convention in the world. One of the many highlights of the experience was the opportunity to participate in a game of RuneQuest Glorantha using the play-test rules. Andrew Jones (AKA @dimbyd) was working from a PDF, in draft format, of the core-rules to create an adventure for 5 brave warriors wishing to enter the Hero Wars.

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Before I give a brief play report, there’s a couple of things to bare in mind:

I haven’t read the rules. I gave them a cursory glance in the bar, and it went something like, “what have they done with the sorcery rules then?” before Andrew took it away and said, “There’s no bloody sorcery in the game we’re playing.”

My perspective is from the point of view of a player and my thoughts on some of the key points that came out during the game and from my character.

Also, the adventure we played was one of Andrew’s own devising, and not the Quick Start scenario that’s due to hit participating FLGS on Free RPG Day 17th June ’17. I managed to speak briefly with Rick Meints on the very busy stall on the Saturday; he confirmed that 7000 copies of the Quick Starts have been printed. The PDF will be available from 1st July. I saw a copy and it looks a very smart, well presented production, that recalls some of the classic products from back in the day.

I missed the seminar talking about the release of the game, but it looks like the it will be available before the end of 2017.

So, in the usual format, this is five highlights and a final fumble.

The Adventure ‘Into the Upland Marsh’ was based on the notes found in ‘Dragon Pass and other adventures’, a collection of unpublished material by Greg Stafford, with notes from Sandy Peterson. Thanks to strange chaotic encounters we were urged by the Storm Kahn to venture into the Upland Marsh to the place known as The Howling Tower to break the source of the disturbances.


The handouts provided were maps drawn by Greg and the original type-written manuscripts, which added to the feel of an old school, new school mash-up.

The Characters The characters were enhanced by a rich biography which was generated during the character creation process. The rules weave the character background into key events are constructed around their personal heritage such as the activities of their grandparents.

The core attributes are the same however the character’s association with runes are significant and expressed as a percentage also, the formative experiences of the characters shape their passions. The level of devotion, hatred, and loyalties, for example, is also expressed as a percentage.

It’s possible to invoke passions to modify certain situations and enhance your chances. It can have an effect on the choices you make too. We encountered a fleeing Lunar war-band, the passions of some of the party meant that we HAD to attack, when a more tactical avoidance may have been more appropriate.

Combat The very first encounter was a horrific zombified broo which we set upon with relish. Within moments one of the characters, Mirava ‘no-nose’, had been hit hard in the left leg (yay!) and fumbled parrying, so hit herself in the face with her shield.

Many of the elements of combat remain much the same – blow-by-blow, descriptive and lethal.

Old school pedants may be interested to note that Defence modification is replaced with ‘parry’ being a catch-all term that covers the ability to avoid being hit, but strike rank is much the same as RQ 2e.

The broo unleashed a SIZ 70 Giant through a warp hole.

Ducks! Andrew didn’t have a copy of the bestiary, so the encounters were taken from various sources (including FANGS), which confirms its backwards compatibility. We headed to Duck Point and encountered the Death Drake named Cracked-Beak.

It was at this point that the player who had never played in Glorantha before, crinkled his forehead permanently.

Cracked-Beak was a great NPC who was willing to help with advice in-between revealing his obsession with finding and destroying a zombie Killer Whale known as Moby Duck.

Magic It was the application of magic that was the most significant difference. Healing is more readily available for one thing, which is much better than depending on someone learning Healing 6 to reattach limbs.

All characters had access to Rune Magic and were able to use elemental runes to enhance situations. There was a pick list of spells that could be used as long as they were associated with your character’s Rune.

In the giddy excitement of choosing something interesting, I forgot to apply the old faithful ‘BladeSharp 4’. It didn’t matter, as I rolled a crit at the crucial moment when the zombie Wyverns were attacking.

Thanks to my enhanced damage from my blessed sword I managed to do double-double damage. I know! It was an incredibly satisfying moment.

From what I’ve seen, magic feels magical and very Gloranthan in this new edition.


Sneezes A big thank you is due to Andrew for running the game, especially since he had been cursed by Malia and was ill in the run up and during the Expo.

I’m not so grateful that I rolled a CON fumble and now have a stinking cold.

Author: Dirk

Host of The GROGNARD RPG Files podcast. Talking bobbins about Runequest, Traveller, Call of Cthulhu, T&T, AD&D and others from back in the day and today.

10 thoughts on “1-D-6 RuneQuest Glorantha (Play Test)”

  1. Thanks Dirk – So defence has been replaced by parry, and the new “parry” is an amalgamation of RQ3 parry & dodge? Is the new parry rolled, or used as a modifier to attacks as defence was in RQ2?

    Magic sounds flavourful, and the new passions and background sounds good too.

  2. Nice report, thanks for the info. It just makes the wait for RPG Day that much worse!

  3. A little late to this particular party but having been a player in Andy’s (@dimbyd) game using the RuneQuest 7 Quick Start rules on Free RPG Day – I wanted to give my thoughts (without giving spoilers!)

    I’ve only ever played Runequest once before and that was in the late 80’s when a particularly sadistic gamist GM ran myself and a couple of friends through Snakepipe Hollow. A grotesque meat-grinder of a scenario that resulted in a TPK just inside the entrance and an experience which I found hugely disappointing. Sadly, that has been my abiding memory of RuneQuest for about 30 years and that’s a real shame because the Quickstart scenario and characters were absolutely superb.

    I don’t know how much has changed between previous versions of RuneQuest and 7th but I get the distinct impression that the clans have been given an overhall. From what I’ve seen in my research done since playing the Quickstart, the tribes previously felt like straight-forward Celtic tribes. The characters we played felt, if anything more Mesopotamian. I got a real Conan feel from them to be honest. My character, Vasana leapt off the page as a cross between Xena and Wonder Woman. She felt experienced and capable and effective. I don’t know if she was a starter character or had been designed at a higher ‘level’ but even though she ultimately didn’t survive the scenario, she felt rounded and was a joy to play.

    Indeed, Just reading the characters’ backgrounds before we started playing, I immediately fell in love with Glorantha. I loved that the characters had a backstory of glorious battles and a family heritage. This, apparently is all part of character creation and it gave me a real sense of motivation, duty and loyalty.
    I loved that the setting was more Bronze age than D&D’s usual Dark Ages/Medieval – that slight Conan slant gave it the refreshing edge I needed after spending three years solidly playing D&D5 (as much as I like D&D5).
    I loved that everything was saturated with magic. Everyone knows spells. Every item is painted with runes that have magical properties. people are tatooed with runes as well. Fabric is woven with them. It’s fab.

    The rules, I can’t really comment on. As I’m not familiar with previous versions. It’s Chaosium’s BRP system, though and as a fan of Call of Cthulhu (5th) I’m perfectly okay with that and in play they worked great. One thing I will say, however is that I’ve warmed to random hit locations. Previously I was against that kind of granularity, finding it slowed play unnecessarily but in actual fact, as it was a simple D20 roll along with the damage dice, it flowed along smoothly and resulted in giving a much more vivid visual idea of the fight at hand. You hit someone in the left thigh, you can immediately see the swing and the impact in your mind’s eye. I’m definitely a convert!

    Will I buy RuneQuest 7? Hmmm… not sure. The problem is that I am very unlikely to ever play it. That said, I adore what little I’ve seen of RQ7’s Glorantha that I’m tempted to own a copy just to read it and pore over the illustrations.
    So, we’ll see.


  4. I was lucky to play in @dimbyd’s RuneQuest quick-start game with Wayne on FreeRPGday.

    It’s fair to say we all really enjoyed the new RuneQuest. Wayne has nicely summarised many of the things that made the game so much fun, including the rich background, and the pre-gen characters.
    The adventure was rich with atmosphere and was ideal for a one shot, I recommend it. Theres a very welcome move by Chaosium to return Glorantha to its more ancient Mesopotamia/Assyrian feel, away from the saxon/Viking/celt dark age stuff that started to slowly creep in with RQ3.

    I like what the new RuneQuest does. It plays very much like RQ2, but has some nice changes/additions to the rules, like Passions and Runes, which are a mechanism for tying your characters to the Glorantha world. In what is a very gritty game, passions and Runes can give the opportunity to attain the heroic through inspiration. The Quick-start is very much an abbreviated version of the main rules. Despite that it manages to give a very full game experience. Combat is deadly and vivid thanks to the hit locations. Magic is rich, but not too complicated. I really like that the casting of Rune magic is now tied directly to the Runes for added flavour.

    Its my understanding (after digging around on the BRP forums) that there are some refinements to come to the rules as presented in the Quick-Start. I like how the new rules appear to be opening up the game play. For instance parry & dodge in combat are now much more flexible then they were in RQ2/3. Apparently a bit more like Storm-Bringer, which will probably make Dirk happy. I’m really looking forward to the release of the core rules in November, the only problem is the wait.

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