CHA4028 RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha – Chapter 07 Combat Q&A pages 206-225

Official Answers by Chaosium

This covers Chapter 7, pages 206-225


    Part 1: Chapter 07 Combat Q&A pages 191-206

    Part 2: Chapter 07 Combat Q&A pages 206-225

    Weapons (page 206-216)

    Explanation of Headings (page 207)


    STR/DEX: The minimum necessary STR and DEX required to handle the weapon. An excess of STR makes up for a lack of DEX, on a 2 for 1 basis. Thus, an adventurer with a 10 STR and a 12 DEX can use a rapier (which requires a 7 STR and a 13 DEX). If either/or STR and DEX are below the requirements, all attacks and parries with the weapon are performed at half skill.

    Weapon Types (page 207)

    On page 203 Weapon types listed are Thrusting, Cutting, Cut and Thrust and Blunt.

    On page 207 the Weapon types are listed as Crushing, Cut-and-Thrust, Hand-to-Hand, Impaling and Slashing. Which is correct?

    Blunt= Crushing
    Thrust= Impaling
    Cut= Slashing
    Hand-to-hand= Fist / Kick / Grapple / Headbutt

    Axes (page 210)
    Axe, small (page 210)

    It refers to its use in both melee and as a hurled weapon, no mention of a separate skill. Axe, Throwing even refers back to Axe, Small.

    Separate skills. 

    Swords and Daggers (page 210)
    Parrying Dagger (page 210)

    Is the Dagger, Parrying, a different skill than the dagger (melee)?


    Why is the bastard sword missing from Runequest in Glorantha? It was present in both my RQ2 and RQ3 weapon lists. Bronze greatswords exist, so the issue can’t be one of metallurgy. Why the deletion?

    Bastard Swords (hand-a-half swords) were dropped as they are pretty much a rules construct. 1D10+1 damage instead of 1D8+1. Greg was never particularly happy with them. Originally we were going to drop greatswords (or two-handed swords), but they were far more popular with players and writers (and much easier to justify). So that’s fine – at some point in the Second Age, the Shadowlands had their human bronze workers make two-handed swords for their great troll slaves. Some humans use the weapon, although it is nobody’s cultural weapon.

    Hammers, Maces, and Clubs (page 210)
    Mace, Heavy (page 210)

    Mace, Heavy: A haft with a heavy weight at one end; the weight may be spiked or flanged. Price: 20 L.

    Spears (page 211)
    Javelin (page 211)

    There is no mention, in the Javelin description on p.211, of the Throwing Javelin skill, I would have expected the same comment as the above quote in that context. Does someone with a javelin use the same skill for both melee and throwing then?

    Separate skills.

    Spear, Long or Short (page 211)

    It refers to its use in both melee and as a thrown weapon, no mention of a separate skill.

    Separate skills.


    What are the rules for Tridents?

    See Weapons & Equipment, pages 62 & 67.

    Would it just be a shortspear? or should it be different to that?

    They are treated as 1H (2D3+db) or 2H spears (2D3+1+db) each with their own skill.

    Missile Weapons
    Thrown & Melee skills for same Weapon

    So, in general, are there separate skills for throwing and for melee with the same weapon?

    Yes. It’s not explicit.

    Cultural bonuses. Some weapons receive separate cultural bonuses as melee and missile weapons, they don’t receive both.

    eg Sartarites get a Cultural bonus of 1H Spear +10% and Javelin +10%, So (Thrown) Javelin (10) +10% = 20%, and 1H Spear (Javelin) (5%) +10% = 15%.

    Note that a Throwing Axe is the same weapon as 1H Axe, small (not a Battle axe). Only Sable riders can receive a cultural bonus to 1H Axe, and if they choose small axe, add the bonus to thrown axe as well.

    Occupation or Cult skill bonuses. With these, you add the bonus to the melee and thrown weapon value.

    Customizing your adventurer. Assign those points to either the melee or thrown ability (you may add points separately to both).

    If it is the case, do you get half-skill with the other method (say if you have 80% with the melee skill, do you get 40% with the throwing skill)?


    Rates of Fire (page 211)

    S/MR rates of fire by DEX SR (unengaged)
    DEX SRReloadFirst AttackReloadSecond AttackReloadThird AttackNext Round
    DEX SR0
    PreparedDEX SR0 so
    SR1+5SR =
    SR6+DEX SR0 =
    SR6+5SR =
    SR11+DEX SR0 =
    (DEX 19+)Unprepared +5SRSR5+DEX SR0 =
    SR5+5SR =
    SR10+DEX SR0 =
    No reload possibleNo 3rd Attack possibleUnprepared
    DEX SR1PreparedDEX SR1 so
    SR1+5SR =
    SR6+DEX SR1 =
    SR7+5SR =
    No 3rd Attack possiblePrepared
    (DEX 16–18)Unprepared +5SRSR5+DEX SR1 =
    SR6+5SR =
    SR11+DEX SR1 =
    No 2nd reload possibleUnprepared
    DEX SR2PreparedDEX SR2 so
    SR2+5SR =

    SR7+DEX SR2 =
    No 2nd reload possibleUnprepared
    (DEX 13–15)Unprepared +5SRSR5+DEX SR2 =
    SR7+5SR =
    No 2nd Attack possiblePrepared
    DEX SR3PreparedDEX SR3 so
    SR3+5SR =
    SR8+DEX SR3 =
    No 2nd reload possibleUnprepared
    (DEX 9–12)Unprepared +5SRSR5+DEX SR3 =
    No reload possibleUnprepared
    DEX SR4PreparedDEX SR4 so
    SR4+5SR =
    No 2nd Attack possiblePrepared
    (DEX 6–8)Unprepared +5SRSR5+DEX SR4 =
    No reload possibleUnprepared
    DEX SR5PreparedDEX SR5 so
    SR5+5SR =
    No 2nd Attack possiblePrepared
    (DEX 1–5)Unprepared +5SRSR5+DEX SR5 =
    No reload possibleUnprepared
    Unengaged rates of fire per DEX SR for S/MR

    Considering Vasana’s DEX SR 3 and Composite Bow. How many times can Vasana fire her bow over multiple rounds of combat?

    If prepared 2 shots in the first round, then 1 thereafter. However most GMs and players would not do two shots in the first round, so that they reload and be ready to fire on SR3 next round. DEX SR0 & SR3 are problematic as at the end of each round, if you start prepared or unprepared, you always end unprepared.

    See the S/MR rates of fire table above.

    Range (page 213)

    Is there a minimum range for thrown weapons or missile weapons, or can you attack an opponent in melee with a ready weapon?

    This is a GM call at your table depending on the current situation. All of this should be covered in a statement of intent.

    Realistically there is a minimum – when is jabbing with a javelin more effective than throwing it? A Javelin is 1.5m long and given arm lengths I’d say it would be hard to throw at less than 3m (and you would have lost your weapon). How close does someone have to be before throwing stones at them is ineffective? (Slings do have a minimum range.)

    If you can, does this count as shooting into a melee?

    This is a GM call at your table depending on the current situation, but If the target is in front of you, no. 

    Bows and Crossbows (page 213)
    Crossbow, Repeating

    How long does it take to replace/refill the clip of a repeating crossbow, once it has been spent?

    Prepare a new weapon, reload a missile weapon, spell, or ready a missile (arrow, sling stone, crossbow bolt, etc.). +5 SR

    RQG, Strike Rank Modifiers table, page 193.

    A mostali takes +5 SR.

    For the whole clip, or per new bolt into the clip?

    (I’m not sure whether it has replaceable clips or whether you load bolts into the clip.)

    5-round clip

    RQG, Crossbow, Repeating, page 213

    Don’t confuse clip with magazine, a clip is a group of ready assembled ammunition, that is a way of quickly loading a magazine. They are likely similar to en bloc clips for firearms, however mostali are smart so there could well be stripper clips too. Either way it’s +5 SR to load a clip into a Repeating Crossbow magazine. Some versions may allow the magazine to be filled with individual bolts, but that would be slower.

    Javelins, Spears, and Darts (page 213)

    It states “Using an atlatl makes a javelin slower to use (it must be reloaded)”.


    This is not reflected in the actual rules (same speed for Javelin and Atlatl, 1/MR).

    The Javelin category also includes darts which are S/MR, becoming 1/MR.

    Actual Javelins are slower as you would attack later in the round: DEX SR + 5 SR to load.

    Is this an oversight?

    No. An Atlatl is better (longer range, more damage, but harder to wield (different skill, need to get ready). Atlatl skill is not transferable to Javelins and vice-versa.

    Thrown & Missile Weapons Damage Bonus (page 213)

    Can you clarify which Thrown & Missile Weapons receive half Damage Bonus?

    • Bows & Crossbows do not receive any Damage Bonus
    • Javelins, Spears get half Damage Bonus
    • Thrown Weapons get half Damage Bonus
    • Slings, get half Damage Bonus

    Also clarified in Weapons and Equipment, page 70.

    What about Atlatls? They are in the “Javelins, spears, darts” section, but so is Blowgun and I don’t think that it would. Is the +1D6 instead of a half damage bonus, or in addition to it? I would assume that if it’s added to the Javelin damage, which is D10+½db, then it would be in addition.

    This is clarified in RuneQuest – Weapons and Equipment, page 70: This is an extra damage bonus.

    So for a Javelin & Atlatl D10+½db+1D6

    Armor (page 215-219)

    Armor Table, page 215
    Chest12CuirassLeather **11100
    Abdomen & Chest9–11, 12HauberkLeather **1(2)200
    Abdomen9–11SkirtsLeather **1(2)100
    Abdomen & Legs9–11, 1–4, 5–8Pants/TrewsLeather **1(2)100
    Legs1–4, 5–8Greaves Leather **1(2)150

    Part of Second printing corrections

    Arms13–15, 16–18Vambraces Leather **1(2)100

    Abdomen & Chest9–11, 12LinothoraxQuilted **21200

    Shields (page 217)

    Explanation of Headings (page 218)

    • Damage: The amount of damage the shield does when used offensively. Damage bonus is added to this.

    Shields as passive armor

    Can you bear a shield with, let’s say, a Great Axe or a Bow, although you can not parry, in order to get some kind of “passive defense” against missiles, or, otherwise,  what is the meaning of the expression “A shield may not be ready for use when the adventurer is using a two-handed weapon” in p. 219

    Here’s where we get into some crunch, based on how realistic you want to go. In the real world, shields usually require a hand to hold onto an interior strap or handle so they don’t get in the way or slip around. Part of a shield’s virtue is being mobile enough that it doesn’t take hits directly, angling them away from the defender when possible. 

    These straps not like Captain America’s magical shield that has grips tight enough for him to wield it like a weapon AND then slip over his shoulder with backpack like straps. (Comics version Captain America, in the movie he has some sort of magnetic harness.) That’s not super-fun, though, and fantasy art and fiction is full of characters with a shield slung over one arm loosely while using a two-handed weapon like a bow or great axe. 

    So if as a GM you want to allow it, we suggest using this ruling: 

    • The adventurer will receive no benefit from the shield unless against melee or missile fire that happens to strike that or an adjacent hit location (see p219) AND comes from a direction that would reasonably have a chance of hitting (gamemaster discretion). In this case, the shield will protect for half its usual armor points (as per the rules for a slung shield on the back, p219). 

    For example, an adventurer is using a bow, holding it with their left hand and drawing the string with the right hand. The shield is affixed to the back of the left arm. An attack comes from the adventurer’s left and rolls the left arm hit location. The shield, being between the attacker and the arm in question, protects for half its normal value. Later in the same combat, an attack comes from the right/front or back and rolls the left arm hit location. The gamemaster decides that the arm is exposed and that the shield isn’t between the attack and the arm, so the shield is useless.

    Does a shield protect the left arm passively in a melee ?

    No. Although your GM may rule otherwise. 

    I mean: the defender fails the shield parry, the attacker hits the left arm. What is the damage ?

    Looking at the Attack & Parry Results table on page 199

    Assuming a normal attack and a failed parry: Attacker rolls normal damage. Defender takes damage.

    Roll for damage location, gets left arm. Defender takes damage to the left arm, armour protects.

    A successful parry puts the shield between the Attacker and the Defender’s weapon.

    A failed parry does the opposite, it puts the shield in a place where it cannot protect the Defender, in this case their left arm. 

    same for missile weapons?

    Missile weapon cannot be parried, thrown weapons can.

    Shields can protect against missiles: 

    However, a shield can be used to provide coverage against projectile weapons, if it is not used to parry that round.

    An adventurer may specify in their Statement of Intent (page 192) that they are holding their shield in one place, covering specific hit locations instead of parrying.  Use of Shield Against Missile Weapons, page 219

    For example a player states that they are not parrying with a large shield, but using their shield against incoming arrows, and protecting their left arm, chest and head. If an arrow successfully hits, and when hit location is rolled, strikes one of those three locations, they get the full value of the shield’s armour

    So if I want to actively protect myself with a shield,  do I get 100% of its hit points as protection?

    Yes if it strikes the stated protected location.

    when it is a “passive” protection it provides half its points…but only if it is slung on the back ?

    Yes, and only against chest hits.

    For example, if an adventurer is riding away from an archer, with a slung shield on their back, and the archer makes a successful attack and rolls chest, the shield acts as 50% of its armour.

    what about the arm for example (and the loop to the “passive” protection in my melee question)

    Your GM may rule this possible in a specific case of an adventurer presenting their back to an attacker and happening to have a slung shield.

    Notes on Shield Use (page 218)

    Any damage taken by the shield above what the shield can absorb in one blow is inflicted on the arm holding the shield hit location originally rolled in the attack.

    Shield Attacks (page 219)

    If you make an attack with a shield, do you only loose the parry of  the shield, or do you also loose the ability to parry with a weapon held in the other hand?

    You only lose your shield parry, having shifted it into an offensive position vs. a defensive one.

    Shield & Weapon Attack

    Can you make an attack with a shield and a weapon held in the other hand in the same round? RAW – weapon and shield use appear to be excluded from Two Weapon Use rulings page 225.

    If you decide to give up any parries with the shield that round, you can use it as if in two-weapon fighting. Basically your shield is now an ungainly disk-shaped club.

    Dodge & Shield Attack

    Is dodge restricted (like parry) if you make an attack with a shield? 

    No. And again, only shield parrying is eliminated. 

    Why would anyone use a shield? 

    You can’t parry missile weapons with a hand weapon, though your GM may decide to let you try at some astronomically low chance of success. (Maybe a Martial Arts roll?) Shields are also more durable than most weapons, and offer passive defense, even when slung. You can also do mass combat formations with shields. 

    If you choose to attempt a knockback attack with your shield, you attack on SR 12 and can’t parry with it that round.

    Mounted Combat (page 219-220)

    The Lance (page 219)

    The Lance: A lance can be used in a charge, a straight run of 20 meters or more. If a target is hit during a charge, the damage bonus of the animal ridden is used, not that of the rider. If the adventurer using the lance has had no training in its use, they can use it at 1/2 their normal attack chance with a one-handed spear, unless their Ride skill is below that. It can also be used as a one-handed spear if the adventurer has the necessary STR and DEX to use a long spear one-handed.

    Fighting in Phalanx Formation (page 222-223)

    If you get a (Enc 2) weapon impaled in a shield, the shield becomes useless. But what exactly does “useless” mean here? Simply that the guy to your left doesn’t get the shield cover from it? If you drop from six people to five in a (very small) shield wall, does that means the formation breaks up as it’s no longer legal?

    You no longer get the passive bonus from the shield for the purpose of phalanx formation, as you now have a big long heavy pointy thing sticking out of the shield, making it difficult to maneuver to keep in line with other shields.

    As the GM you can adjudicate whether this breaks up the shield wall or just makes it less effective.

    If you get a javelin (Enc 1) impaled in your shield has no effect when you’re in a phalanx, as it halves your skill, which is immaterial while in a phalanx.

    Combat is full of crazy events, and the rule about half-skill applies if additional guidance is needed. 

    Supposedly, two ENC 1 weapons lodged in your shield should count as ENC 2 for shield purposes?

    Use your best judgement. Clearly two daggers (ENC 1 each) are not equal to a two-handed sword or battleaxe (ENC 2), they don’t stack unless they really begin to add up.

    Other Combat Rules (page 223-225)

    Attacking From Advantage or Disadvantage (page 223)

    What are the SIZ bonus/penalties in combat. We just had a fight with a really giant boar (SIZ 50) and ended-up using RQ3 rules.
    What about other modifiers? Attacking from rear, for example?

    There is a noted bonus for attacking prone opponents (“Anyone attacking a prone opponent adds +40% to their attack chance.” p147), but I don’t notice many others.

    Use bonuses or penalties along the lines of augmenting ability rolls (core rules, page 145) for appropriate conditions or situations.

    For example, attacking an unaware opponent from the rear might be a +50%, or +30% if it is somewhat aware, and maybe only +20% if it is aware and actively trying not to be attacked from behind.

    Grappling (page 224)

    If you want to parry someone’s grapple attack with a grapple parry, do you need to have your hand or hands free?

    yes. It’s about grasp.

    Knockback (page 224)

    Can knockback attacks be dodged or parried?


    The adventurer must then make an attack with the weapon, shield, or part of their body they are intending use for the knockback attempt. If the attack is successful… 

    Knockback, page 224

    The initial attack can be dodged or parried. Use the Attack & Parry Results as usual, with any level of attacker damage allowing an attempt at knockback. Note that the knockback does not cause damage.

    Two Weapon Use (page 224)

    First bullet changed to “…may use them for two attacks or attacking with one and parrying with the other, as desired.”

    Part of Second printing corrections

    Please note that this has been superseded below.

    Two-Weapon Fighting

    Part of Rune Fixes 2

    Two-weapon fighting (dual wielding) is another of those issues that seems clear enough on paper to the designers and yet confounds many players and gamemasters. Here are the rules for two-weapon fighting (RuneQuest, pages 224–225).

    Can you fight with a weapon in each hand?

    Yes, assuming all the following are true:

    • Each weapon is a one-handed weapon.
    • The adventurer is trained in its off-hand use. (Adventurers are assumed right-handed but can favor either hand, at the player’s discretion.)
    • The adventurer has adequate strike ranks for both attacks (add the strike ranks of each together).
    • The adventurer meets the STR/DEX requirements for each weapon. Pay attention to the note about the secondary weapon’s required DEX being 1.5 times (round up) what is normally needed (RuneQuest, page 225).

    Do I keep track of off-hand skills separately?

    Indeed! That’s what those blank lines on the adventurer sheet are for (among other things). The off-hand chance begins at either half its normal chance (if the adventurer has that skill) or the weapon’s base chance plus the skill category modifier.

    What if my adventurer uses their off-handed weapon in their primary hand?

    The chance is either the default skill with the weapon in their primary hand, or half the off-handed skill, rounded up.

    What if my adventurer has more than 100% in a skill and wants to make multiple attacks with multiples of the same weapons?

    There is nothing preventing an adventurer from doing so, assuming all the following are true:

    • The adventurer is armed in each hand with the same weapon (two daggers, two shortswords, etc.).
    • The weapon (primary and/or off-hand) is 100+%.
    • The STR/DEX requirements are met (see above for DEX in the off hand).
    • There are enough strike ranks for multiple attacks.

    Should these all be true, the adventurer can attack at full skill chance for each weapon, once on the weapon’s normal strike rank and again on the off-hand weapon’s strike rank.

    Or the adventurer can split attacks even further: perhaps making two attacks with a divided skill and the other at full; or even splitting each skill to make four separate attacks at the divided skill rating. The only real limit to this is strike ranks, as each attack requires its own strike ranks.

    What if my adventurer wants to use a melee weapon in one hand and a missile weapon in the other, or two missile weapons?

    If the missile weapon is one-handed (none of the bows or crossbows are, so this will inevitably be a thrown weapon), then figure the strike ranks and rate of fire accordingly (one at SIZ+DEX and the missile at DEX) and act as guided above. Keep in mind the higher DEX requirement for the off hand and the requirement for a separate skill.

    If trying to throw two weapons in the same round, one held in each hand, use the rate of fire rules. The adventurer can always try to draw and throw another weapon in this time, if the strike ranks and rate of fire permit.

    Isn’t this too much of an advantage?

    Far from it! Unless the second weapon is a shield, the adventurer is forsaking the chance to parry missile weapons and must instead Dodge them. Not great against arrows!

    The increased number of attacks in a round also increases the chance of a fumble or a result that ends in damaging or breaking one of the two-weapon user’s weapons with a devastating parry. As weapons are generally more fragile than shields, they will thus break with more regularity.

    End of Rune Fixes 2.

    Missing word added in second sentence.

    With two weapons, one in each hand you can attack with both (subject to strike ranks), and parry with both (though only 1 parry allowed per attack) and subsequent parries (in a combat round) are subject to the -20% cumulative penalty, regardless of which weapon is used to parry.

    Any adventurer using a weapon in each hand may use them for two attacks, two parries, or one attack and one parry.

    Two Weapons Use, page 224

    I can figure out  that two weapons allow for two attacks if you have the strike ranks for them, that two parries allow to avoid the 20% malus on the second parry. But one attack and one parry? Maybe I am mistaken (possibly so and then it will solve all my problems) but a parry doesn’t require SR if the weapon is ready, so you can parry with an attacking weapon (maybe that’s where I am wrong) so you could still get one attack and one parry with only one weapon. Or do you get a malus if you attacked already? Otherwise what would be the benefit? A second parry without malus? But then that would fall into two parries because you could still attack.

    What is the real meaning of one parry and one attack as opposed to one weapon fighting.

    Rune Fixes 2 addresses two-weapon fighting in some detail and hopefully addresses your questions adequately. 

    But ultimately you still take a cumulative -20% penalty to multiple parries after the first, even if using two weapons. 

    What is the disadvantage of using 2 weapons? I feel like it’s way more advantageous to dual wield 2 weapons and have the option to attack twice (plus defend normally) than carrying a shield, where all you get is maybe some passive defense for missiles? 

    Hand weapons can’t parry missile / thrown weapons, and they have lower HP than shields.

    Why would anyone use a two-handed weapon vs two weapons? 

    Two-handed weapons do more damage on average, have low SRs, have more HP, and are much more likely to penetrate armor. 

    I hope that clarifies everything. For those who want more grit in the system, you can blame me. The subdivision of weapon skills into attack/parry and RH/LH is, to me, a overly crunchy level of detail that adds nothing to the facilitation of gameplay. 

    By all means, if those are desired details, add them right back in. Your RuneQuest will vary.

    Notes on Combat (page 225)


    Armor saves lives. Heavy scale completely protects against the average arrow damage; but even light scale greatly increases an adventurer’s chance of survival. Don’t forget defensive magic can increase armor points. Casting 3 points of the Shield spell is the equivalent of wearing bronze plate!

    Related Pages