Why not Runequest?

I’ll do this totally from memory, no cheating and looking things up on the internet. 

My first exposure to Glorantha was with the GW imported RQ2 back in the early 80s. I’d not been in the hobby for very long, but even then I could get a sense of elitism. RQ was more serious than D&D (and a lot more than Tunnels & Trolls). I got a feeling it was for and by grown ups. This sense was heightened by White Dwarf, which was my only real view of the wider RPG world (apart from going to the Virgin Megastore on Oxford St). In WD, Glorantha looked mysterious and exotic. It got it’s own departments in the mag, with contributors like Oliver Dickinson and Dave Morris (later of Dragon Warriors fame). I read the Griselda stories and thought they were pretty cool. Grittier than the world TSR presented, almost Leiber-esque.


So a plunge was taken and I stumped up for the box set. As a 12(?) year old that’s a pretty big purchase. I thought it was well worth it, purely on quantuity of material. There were the rules with that female greek looking warrior fighting a lizardman. Great pic. On the inner covers was loads of errata. I took that as a good sign, and it added to the ‘grown up’ feel I got. The book was cool enough, and I enjoyed the saga of Rurik the Restless, but I didn’t get any sense of excitement of vim from it. Glorantha itself was described in really broad strokes IIRC. I liked the idea of it being a lozenge. The cults sounded weird, like they were for dirty old men. (I never got any of the old Satanism vibe from D&D, but I almost did from RQ).  

It was the maps that blew me away. First the world map which had a tiny boxed out area. That referred you to the map of Sartar and Prax towards the back. Pure distilled awesome. They still stand up today. It made my imagination spin, and at the same time I was intimidated by it. What was the Block? How would I find out? Certainly the core book didn’t give me any help.


The rest of the box had clues. There was FANGS, a set of monsters that were done on a dot matrix printer I think. I remamber Walktapus, the Jack O Lantern, the Broo, Scorpion men, and Aldryami. And Dragonewts and Trolls. They were very ‘Harryhausen‘ to my mind. No pictures that I recall. The Monster Manual had it beat.


Then, the scenario. I’ve always used published scenarios. I use them to help me get a grip on the setting and to help me understand how to put together my own adventures. Apple Lane was awful. The Village of Hommlet was bare bones, but Apple Lane seemed almost childlike in it’s sketchiness. The nearby dungeon was the Rainbow Mounds. It had corridors with turns so sharp you could cut yourself. Fling. 

I didn’t mind the ducks. I was reading Howard the Duck comics back then so I could visualise wise cracking feathered characters. I rolled one up and called him Killmallard. 

I still own that boxed set, and I’ve never, not once, played Runequest. 

I think many people did go down the RQ route, maybe ending up with Stormbringer, or Cthulhu or whatever. I think Glorantha left me cold, or intimidated by it’s scope, one or the other. But I chose the other fantasy path, the one with hit points, not hit locations. I think I made the right decision.



Filed under RPG

4 responses to “Why not Runequest?

  1. I’ve tried playing RQ several times. I did… however, I just never really got into it. The magic system confused me, I didn’t know why I wanted to be a Rune-Lord, really, and while I like BRP (Especially after Chosium released Elfquest), The world that RQ is in just left me really cold. It was not the kind of story that I wanted to play.

    We do have a lot to be thankful for that little boxed set, though, and even if I don’t like the game that started BPR, I did enjoy a lot that later came along that had been inspired by it.

  2. Arbanax

    Wow that was a walk down memory lane. Not only for the talk about RQ but the Virgin Megastore and its wonderful games section in Oxford St. I remember when there was a games shop between the megastore fronts and you went into this basement area where they sold games and scenarios.

    I never played RQ but like you got my exposure from WD. I knew one guy who raved about it and our mutual gamer friends just gave me a look as if to say, “Never again.”

  3. Wow, the virgin megastore on Oxford street must be a bit of a gamer’s mecca.

    I’m not even from ol’ blighty, but every time I’ve been to London on holidays, I’ve always made time to visit 3 locations: Hamleys (even as an adult), GW Oxford Street and the Virgin megastore.

  4. Arbanax

    Yeah there was at first a games store between the two virgin stores, then I think virgin took it over and the finally they brought it within their megastore. In fact if memory serves it was actually one store, but had to entrances with two fronts – but they were some 100′ apart hence they looked like two shops. The game store I refer to was between them and I think in a basement of some sort, before Virgin took em over toward the late 80’s early 90’s rpg boom time.


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