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.
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Adventure ‘Into the Upland Marsh’ was based on the notes found in ‘Dragon Pass and other adventures’, a collection of unpublished material by Greg Stafford, with notes from Sandy Peterson.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.