Checking Out RuneQuest 2 and Glorantha as a Grizzled Glorantha Newbie


In the dark ages prior to the internet, learning about new games was extremely challenging. If no one in your circle was familiar with a game you depended on magazine reviews, advertisements, or your own purchases to learn about new games.

My circles did not have anyone familiar with RuneQuest. There was a lot D&D and its variations and some people I knew played a lot of FASA Star Trek. I found my way to Chaosium games through a roundabout journey. The March 1985 issue of Dragon magazine featured "The Dolphins of Known Space", detailing Dolphins for Chaosium's Ringworld game. I was unfamiliar with both the game system and its setting but was intrigued by both and wound up checking out both the game and the novel. 

I was curious about the RuneQuest, which I'd begun hearing about. In 1986 my uncle got me a copy of the 3rd edition of RuneQuest for Christmas. I found it an interesting game but not really one appropriate for the gaming I'd been doing at the time. I was unaware of any controversy surrounding Glorantha no longer being the default setting - the first I ever heard of Glorantha was in the Glorantha book included in the game.

I've been something of an odd man out when it comes to Glorantha. I came back to RuneQuest several years ago for a Vikings meet the Lenape in North America game I played for a few months, using the second edition of the Mongoose Publishing version of it. I tried checking out Glorantha via the HeroQuest incarnation of it but the feeling I got was that of drinking from a firehose.

With its new management, Chaosium recently did a classic RuneQuest Kickstarter for the reprinting of the 2nd edition of the game, the one that seems to be the most definitive. I was leaning towards supporting it but with so much money sunk in the (as of then) still unfulfilled Cthulhu 7th edition Kickstarter, I decided to hold off - I tend not to support Kickstarters from companies I''m still waiting for badly overdue products. 

Having received my Cthulhu rewards at long last I decided to check out the RuneQuest 2nd edition PDF. Flipping through it, I better came to understand how people so tightly associate RuneQuest with Glorantha - the rulebook definitely carries throughout it the general assumption the game takes place in Glorantha. Would it be possible to move the game to another setting? I think the answer would be "it depends". To move it to a medieval style RPG akin to D&D, A Song of Ice and Fire, etc. would be a little bit tricky but using it for a Conan or Lankhmar inspired game would be a lot easier - the game assumes a Bronze Age level of civilization and technology and steers fairly clear of fireball-blasting wizards. 

I am finding RuneQuest 2 to be a better introduction to Glorantha than many of the infodumps I've encountered in the past. I'm still working my way through it (and wound up picking up the Guide to Glorantha PDFs as well) but I am finding it some rather interesting reading. The game does suffer from the editorial standards of its era but there's definitely a lot of fantastic ideas in there - I can see why so many people found it appealing in the early 80's. I'll definitely keep reading through it with it as a potential post-Icons game (albeit competing with many other ideas such as Call of Cthulhu). I'll try to periodically post my impressions of the game and the setting.

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