Conversion rules from previous Runequests to Runequest 6: a possibility?

Submitted by Mr Smith on Sun, 10/02/2013 – 14:04

Sirs (& Madams, I mean who knows, there might be some),

First of all, congratulations on the site, and the forums, and the recent explosion of creativity and publication on all things Gloranthan. The production values look amazing and certainly, at a cursory glance, all things Gloranthian and Runequestian seem to be in rude health.

My friends and I have been playing Runequest since the early 80s, initially RQ2, but swiftly adapting to RQIII – and apart from very occasional forays into the excellent Call of Cthulhu – both Runequest and Glorantha have been our game and gaming world of choice.

We did have a bash at HQ (the first version) but we never really connected. I could go into some detail as to why, but mainly it was the fact that there seemed to be no reasonable or logical way for us to transfer our campaign and our long-standing characters into another world of game-mechanics (and to a lesser extent, but still significant, another kind of Glorantha*). In short, there were no conversion rules.

So here’s the thing. I love Runequest and I love Glorantha. And I’m very interested in Runequest 6 and the promise of more exciting things to come: more supplements, more campaigns, scenario packs, the whole lot. Very exciting. But I’ll probably not bother if there isn’t a reasonable set of conversion rules for RQIII to VI. And by conversion rules, of course I mean, for converting Runequest III characters into Runequest VI characters.

That’s my question. Conversion rules for other systems (presumably from other systems too, not just RQIII) to RQVI.

“Why not roll up new characters?” No thanks. One character, being rolled up immediately on discovering Runequest (2) has survived to this day. Miraculous you might think – if you didn’t know what we know – the character is extremely risk averse. A kind of “unadventurer”. And yeah, our characters did start in ST 1621. It’s now 1676**. That’s a lot of investment in a character – and characters.

I look forward to your response. Thanks for your time! I do tend to ramble.



*Hmm. Heroquest, where everyone is a hero. This isn’t a selling point to dour realists. And furthermore, in Heroquest, the rare and extremely dangerous activity of Heroquesting (or at least that’s what it said at the end of The Elder Secrets Supplement I think, as well as ‘rules coming soon’) wasn’t, or rather, isn’t a rare activity at all in this game. Everyone’s doing it. Run out of Milk? Heroquest for the teats of bounty. Can’t find your shoes? Heroquest for the laces of luminous evidence! Etc… Etc.

** The reason that character is still hearty and hale is that he’s an elf. And in our gameworld the lunar empire is still exactly where it was – and doing what it was doing in 1621 – because by the time Mr Stafford’s Prince of Sartar fantasy history reader was published, we’d bypassed all that Battle of this, Battle of that, Argrath this, Argrath that, etc, etc… already. So maybe officially, whatsisface the beserk is King of Kaethela in the 1670s, but unless you’ve published a game supplement that places the characters there with King Harrek, then…. …. Well, to use a computer game analogy, do World of Warcraft*** players get extension packs to play, or just read about what their character’s missed in books?


And here was me saying that I was going to be brief. This must be how alcoholics feel at their first AA meeting. I’ve got an urge to talk to people who UNDERSTAND… sob…

*** And no. I’ve never played World of Warcraft. Be serious.

I know it isn’t the right

Submitted by davecake on Wed, 13/02/2013 – 07:31.
I know it isn’t the right forum, but in the interests of being helpful…

A Glorantha supplement has not been produced yet for RQ6, and it will likely be a while (certainly not in the next few months). Indications (from the Design Method forums) are that a few of the RQ6 base rules will be changed for the Gloranthan setting, so if there were conversion rules available now, they might not work 100% for your purposes anyway.

FWIW, my suggestions would be twofold – first, if you are only interested in RQ6 as a Gloranthan game (it is a fine set of rules for general fantasy gaming, I assure you!), you might want to wait a while. I do think it will be worth the wait.

And second, don’t raise your expectations too high about direct conversion. Any set of purely mechanical rules might disapoint – some things will be trivial (attributes, for example), but others will be very difficult (Sorcery and Animism have both changed significantly, for example). Some things that might appear simple will create subtle problems – the game balance implications of a given skill level, for example, have changed quite a bit. And in a minority of cases, what we know about Glorantha has changed significantly (the Lunars, for example, probably don’t much resemble their GoG version). So any set of conversion rules would be guidelines at best, and probably provide answers to the easy questions, but not the really tricky ones.

And my last bit of advice – there is a Design Method Glorantha forum, where there are plenty of people willing to talk about these sort of questions.

Where to get the answers that you need

Submitted by Charles on Sun, 10/02/2013 – 20:46.
Moon Design Publications is the publisher of HeroQuest game system and, in particular, the Glorantha setting.

RuneQuest 6 is published by The Design Mechanism. Please contact The Design Mechanism via their website at for further RQ6 related information.

Moon Design Publications sells the books on their behalf while they get their own webstore fully ready to operate.

It sounds like you have a lot of fun with your long running campaign. Keep up the enjoyment 🙂


Submitted by Mr Smith on Sun, 10/02/2013 – 22:49.

Thanks Charles!

I apologise for asking the wrong people my question! Bah. It was such a great question too.

However, please indulge me: what about HQ2?

Have there ever been rules for converting Runequest III characters to the HQ system?

In my original posting I did mention some disquiet about the different feel of the Runequest Glorantha compared to the Heroquest Glorantha, especially Runequest III that put such heavy emphasis on realism.

Whether or not it ever actually was realistic, it did however make an effort to simulate a world similar to ours, but with the addition of magic. Whereas Heroquest seemed to be a far more malleable, fluid world in which magic and the impossible was seamlessly woven into the everyday. Including the ever-present activities of heroquesters. Our RQIII Characters have been denied such a pleasure!

A nice touch with HQ rules (like I said, I bought the first deluxe boxed set of the rules) was the seamless transition between mortal and immortal. Skills could just keep increasing. This made sense of certain mythological events in Glorantha, such as the mortal Yanafil Tarnils (I don’t care if I’ve misspelled this, can’t stand you chaos loving moonies) beating his God, Humakt in combat. We as players in RQIII- and our characters sitting over mugs of ale in Karse – have spent plenty of time thinking “how the f*ck did he do that?”

Which ultimately brings me to my point: we have (some) characters that have fought our way to a RQIII plateau (and in RQIII, it’s not easy. It’s a tough world!), with no idea of “how to get up there” i.e. the Heroplane or the Godplane. HQ seems to be all about “up there”.

If there even was a way to be on the mundane plane as RQ IIIers, and then Heroquest as HQ2ers, then I’m sure we’d be happy! But…. We do need a fair and reasonable set of conversion rules and lots and lots of Heroquesting scenarios!

Over to you on this one!



HQ vs RQ

Submitted by Charles on Mon, 11/02/2013 – 02:44.
In Glorantha, it is possible for ‘ordinary’ people to participate in and even lead great magical events. It is possible for most people to become greater, if they are prepared to take the risks and make the ‘payments’ (which could be family, friends, possessions, or anything). Of course, there is a huge drop off rate, very few make it to be an acknowledged ‘Hero’.

As you point out, RQ as a system has a plateau, beyond which it is not really possible to progress within the RQ system. One group that I saw try had a lot of hand waving once the PCs got close to that level.

HQ tries to systematise the hand waving. It has a storytelling contest resolution system, rather than a combat resolution system. It makes an effort to model relationships within the game system. And it is scalable: as ratings go up, masteries cancel off. It pushes the effort to justify results towards story telling and away from the ‘crunchiness’ of a simulationist rules system (yes, your character cut off their own head, you rolled that fumble and watched as we followed the tables from the rules book and saw what it led to).

So the conversion rules are very straightforward, but challenging if you are used to mathematical rules for systems conversions. Write down the story of your character (or just the highlights for long running characters), emphasising how the character achieved results. Those ‘hows’ are the abilities of the character and may only be peripherally related to the RQ skills. A number of fighting related skills might be grouped into a keyword such as Warrior or Soldier. Similarly for Merchants, Scholars, Poets etc. The final step is for the player to assign ratings from a GM provided set, say, 10W, 5W, 1W, 1W, 1W and all others at 17 (do not pay much attention to this set of numbers, just made up at random without looking up the books).

The absolute level of these ratings does not matter too much apart from stroking players egos, as the HQ system has a mechanism to set the relative level of challenges, including making challenges easier after a series of failures and more difficult after a string of successes.

Submitted by Mr Smith on Tue, 12/02/2013 – 18:15.

“The absolute level of these ratings does not matter too much apart from stroking players egos”

I’m sure levels do matter, as you wouldn’t have bothered having the Mastery levels in the first place. And surely this is the strength of HQ compared to RQ: the continuous gradient between mortality and Godhood? And the hinterland between: where heroes live and act.

“…the HQ system has a mechanism to set the relative level of challenges, including making challenges easier after a series of failures and more difficult after a string of successes”.

And Runequest 2 & 3 also have a mechanism to set the relative level of challenges: a GM.


What I’m really asking for is some guidance for the ‘Master’ e.g a Swordmaster in Runequest, who will attain an ability in sword give or take his bonuses around about 100%. Feasibly, with training and experience, a character may attain mastery in such a skill at the young age of 25. Even if this character remains in good health to his 80s and dies in a gardening accident (and I don’t mean attacked by a Senior Aldryami), he won’t get any better at it – remaining 100% until the day he dies.

In HQ, not so. This fictional Swordmaster (let’s call him Barry, not enough Barrys in fantasy worlds) would reach – what 2W10? – when he’s 25 – and just keep getting better and better…

How many skill points would a character advance in HQ per year? That’s the nub of my query.

But to respond generally, I agree that HQ is a different gaming experience; and might be a bit too different when dealing with gamers who’ve spent too many years with encumberance tables, percentile bonuses and aging rolls!

What I’d really like is to find a way to combine both systems – and have a Looking Glass type of experience for RQ characters when they go Heroquesting in …Heroquest! But that may not be practicable or even realistic for these two kinds of Glorantha to exist together.

Anyway, many thanks for getting back in touch.

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