As I work on the overall structure of the “RuneQuest Campaign” or the “Grand Argrath Campaign”, there’s some big differences between it and the Boy King campaign that I wanted to talk about. Like the Boy King campaign (aka the Grand Pendragon Campaign or GPC), it is divided into phases. During each phase, there are major changes to the setting – political, major NPCs, etc.
Lunar Occupation (1602-1621). This is the period of Lunar domination in Dragon Pass. The end of the phase has the Lunar Empire in seeming final triumph.
Rebellion (1621-1624). During this phase, the Lunar Empire suffers numerous reversals, while its foes seek new weapons against it.
Prince of Sartar (1625-1629). This is the default start of the Hero Wars campaign. The phase begins with the destruction of the Lunar Army in Dragon Pass with the Dragonrise. Sartar is liberated and Argrath rises to power. The phase ends with Argrath marrying the Feathered Horse Queen and becoming the King of Dragon Pass.
King of Dragon Pass (1630-1643). This phase sees Argrath as ruler of Dragon Pass. After nearly destroying itself with a civil war, the Lunar Empire desperately tries to recover its position but is defeated. In the end, Argrath adds the former Lunar Provinces to his empire.
Twilight of the Gods (1644-1655). The Lunar Empire strikes back with a vengeance, using Chaos and weapons taken from strange realms. Sartar is defeated, and a desperate Argrath performs a mad Lightbringers Quest that changes the world. Nightmares awaken, sheets of ice cover much of the world, and mutual enemies recognize themselves as mirrors of each other. The phase ends with the rise of the White Moon and the start of a New Age.
There are clear parallels with the GPC. As in the GPC, we have major NPC protagonists who drive many of the big events – Argrath, Red Emperor, Jar-eel, Harrek, and the Feathered Horse Queen. However, the RQ Campaign is less driven by a single NPC than the GPC, and even during the King of Dragon Pass phase, things are far less settled than in the Apogee of King Arthur phase.
There are of course events that are going to happen in any major campaign, and this is no different. However, the GM is free to change these events and nothing requires you to follow the campaign to its predestined end.
Also, the Runequest campaign is shorter than the full GPC. It runs from 1602 to 1655 – about 53 years from the fall of Boldhome to the rise of the White Moon. The full GPC is about 70 years (Arthur is awful old at that final battle!). Multigeneration play is still a possibility though. A character who starts play in 1625 at age 21 will be 51 years old when the Hero Wars end. A child born in 1626 will be initiated in 1641 and is ready for play in the Twilight of the Gods phase of play. They might not be as skilled as their predecessors but should have the advantage of inheriting their predecessors’ treasures and connections.
The ending of the RuneQuest campaign is much more open ended. The magic does not fade away – rather a New Age begins, one created in part by your characters’ deeds and sacrifices. Everyone’s Fourth Age is going to be different (and I am likely to ruthlessly insist on that!).
The default starting point for RQG is 1625, which is already more than 20 years into the full RQ Campaign. The reasoning for that is the same for why Pendragon’s default start is after Arthur becomes king – it makes sense that the default is when all the pieces are on the board!
A lot of the Twilight of the Gods phase could be spent hero questing, as the hero plane and the mundane world crash together.
The GPC ends with the enchantment fading away, the magic of Britain replaced with mundane history. The end of the Third Age is the end of OUR story, and the Fourth Age is what you take with you.