Tales of Mythic Adventure Episode 15 – the return of RQ2

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‘The eight hundred pound gorilla of Glorantha Supplements’ 00:00 – 3:20

It’s a cold grey December day outside Jeff’s Berlin bunker, but the start of summer MOB’s Melbourne, Australia and the weather is quite hot. But not as hot as the RQ Classic Edition Kickstarter, which is going great guns. After only four days the Kickstarter has raised about $85,000 dollars and is heading towards $100,000. Jeff notes this means that the RQ Classic is actually tracking better than the Guide to Glorantha, whose Kickstarter had reached $75,000 in the same time period.

The next stretch goal (at the $100,000 level) is the classic supplement Cults of Prax. This is Jeff’s favourite RuneQuest supplement (along with Trollpak). Trollpak is a stretch goal at $225,000, so Jeff subtly suggests what fans need to do to get this supplement re-released (“Pledge! Pledge! Pledge!) Sandy Petersen was a lead author of Troll Pak and MOB points out Sandy recently posted on his website that if it wasn’t for RuneQuest he would not have had a career in gaming (“this is the game that started it all for me”).

First Edition AD&D; Deficiencies of, according to unbiased observers 3:20-10:25

Jeff agrees about the seminal influence of RuneQuest on modern game design, recalling that while he and his friends started playing first edition AD&D they quickly came up against its limitations. There wasn’t actually a great amount to do other than roam dungeons, kill monsters, take their stuff, repeat. There wasn’t even that much to do with your money. They tried Traveller and never got past character creation. Then Jeff’s friend Michael Gibson brought over RuneQuest, set in the same universe as White Bear Red Moon, which they’d been playing. In RuneQuest you could be a Centaur, or even a were-pig, which somehow appealed to the teenage mind (editorial note: be careful when looking up images of were-pigs, because rule 34)

MOB’s experience was similar, also involving starting with the Basic D&D “blue box” with the Dragon on it, until his friend Trevor Ackerly (co-writer on Sun County) got his hands on a copy of the Apple Lane supplement. He and MOB tried to reverse engineer the RuneQuest rules from the supplement (no doubt setting themselves up for a career in game design.)

Jeff feels that the original RQ2 rules were very clean and simple. MOB feels that was a considerable achievement for RQ2 to have the rules and a taste of the Gloranthan setting all comfortably within 114 pages. After Jeff started playing RQ2 he doubts that he has played Dungeons and Dragons more than a dozen times since (apart from 13th Age). Instead he started playing the RQ2-influenced games that followed it such as Call of Cthulhu, Pendragon, Ringworld and Stormbringer. Jeff even played Elfquest (for reasons that somewhat escape him now).

Cults of Prax 10:25 – 16:35

While RQ2 had a fairly limited selection of cults, the supplement Cults of Prax made up for that in a big way. Cults of Prax was the second punch in playing RQ2, after the release of the initial rules. Every character now had a relationship to their gods, and unlike in the AD&D world where the Deities and Demigods had a very Marvel like air, the relationship with the Gods in Cults of Prax was much more like the actual way the Gods were worshipped in the ancient world. The Lightbringers Quest especially is a perfect illustration of Joseph Campbell’s monomyth. This gives RQ2 a source in real fantasy (Gilgamesh!) rather than another warmed-over list of Tolkien tropes (probably helped by Greg Stafford starting to write Glorantha before he read Tolkien). This means that Glorantha has its roots more in Jason and the Argonauts than Middle Earth, to the extent that Iron weapons are treated completely differently, as the world is mainly still in the Bronze Age. Louise Perrin’s classic ‘Burrito Monster’ RuneQuest cover shows the Glorantha warrior wearing bronze armour covered in runes, rather than a chain mail bikini.

Return to Glorantha 16:35-18:35

RQ3 was put out under license by Avalon Hill, and after that RuneQuest was decoupled from the Gloranthan setting. But capturing the spirit of the original RuneQuest is what Moon Design going for with the next edition, currently in development. The aim is to keep the rules that improved the game from earlier editions, while bringing the Gloranthan setting back into prominence.

Kickstarter Redux 18:35-28:35

So far in the Kickstarter (as at 4 December 2015) a number of stretch goals have already been achieved. These are the Fangs (for Funding Us!) booklet ($30,000) of pre-rolled characters, and the classic Apple Lane ($40,000), and then Snake Pipe Hollow ($50,000). This has attracted a good deal of comment regarding which of the three various covers should be used on the reprint. To Jeff and MOB William Church’s ‘giant fighting the snake’ cover is clearly the best.

Runemasters has also been unlocked ($60,000), the classic cult leader supplement. MOB reminds that the first half of that work is a very long and detailed discussion of how to play such high level characters.

Plunder is the treasure supplement ($70,000). And unlike in the ‘other game’ where treasure is one +2 sword is like another, all of the treasures in RuneQuest have a mythic relevance. One treasure that perhaps does not have a mythic resonance is Rhino fat, which can be smeared on to make high level armour. However if it has little mythic resonance it does have odiferous resonance, and MOB surmises, perhaps also explains why rhinos are endangered in Glorantha as well as earth…

Jeff’s favourite of the unlocked stretch goals is the RQ Companion. There has been some discussion of how much of this made it into the Guide to Glorantha, and while some material was re-used there is much additional material that hasn’t been re-used.

Next up on the stretch goals list is Cults of Prax ($100,000) and Cults of Terror ($120,000). The first ten pages of Cults of Terror is the best short introduction to Glorantha, and went virtually word-for-word into the Guide. At $140,000 it’s Griffin Mountain, the best sand-box campaign from RuneQuest 2.

In addition to the stretch goals there are a couple of special items that are only available to high level backers. These include the scanned RQ1 Playtest Manuscript and the two volume Unpublished Scenarios set. And next week Mr Suitcase himself, Rick Meints will be the guest to talk about these items. Where will the Kickstarter be by then?

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