What is RuneQuest?

This is one of the oldest articles from this sites origina incarnation published. While it had received small edits in subsequent years, it is presented here, in the state of its last version, circa I October MMVI, for posterity.

Please read the History of RuneQuest for a far more accurate account of the games history.

RuneQuest is a role playing game designed primarily for play in an “ancient” setting, such as Europe was in the days when the Rome was just a city state and Alexander the Great was busy conquering Asia Minor.

Avalon Hill - RQ 3rd Ed
RuneQuest Third Edition (Deluxe) – Avalon Hill

The game had its heyday during the 1980’s. In its time, many considered it to be one of the best role playing systems and Glorantha (The RQ fantasy world at the time) was considered to be the best, most detailed and fascinating world available.

Different editions have been published by various companies, but the most recent (and well known), is the third edition, published by Avalon Hill. Although this edition is now out of print, some shops still have copies of the game and its supplements in stock. The third edition is also the only edition we have ever played, so unfortunately we are not in a position to comment on the previous two editions (which many have said to have been very good).

The main game came in the form of a Basic Boxed Set or a Deluxe Boxed Set. In later printings, the Deluxe Box was reworked as a book. Several supplements came out in the forms of adventures and boxed sets. Many of these were dedicated to the world of Glorantha. Herewith a list of RQ products. (I have worked from memory, so if I left anything out, please e-mail me and I will add it.)

RQ Basic Box
Sufficient rules to wet your appetite but not enough to get any real role-playing done.

RQ Deluxe Box / Book
All the rules, if you want to play Rune Quest, buy this box. The Deluxe box is probably a better buy because the information inside is split into 5 booklets, which allows for use by more people at the same time. You also get dice and a map of ancient Europe with the box.

RQ Players and GM’s Boxes
The Deluxe Box split in two. Why, we don’t know! You have to won both if you intend to play, so rather get the Deluxe Box, it will work out cheaper in the end.

Vikings Box (Earth)
One of the best supplements, lots of information on Viking culture, some new monsters and magic, well worth the money.

Land of Ninja Box (Earth)
For adventures in Japan, or so we believe.

Glorantha Box
Pretty impressive. Detailed look at Generatala and what Glorantha is all about although leaves one wondering if Avalon Hill ever planned to cover other continents.

Gods of Glorantha Box
Contains inter alia a book listing all/most the gods of the Glorantha and more importantly a cults book which gives more detail about many of the important gods, cult spells etc. If you plan to play a priest,the book is invaluable. Even if not playing on Glorantha, certain cult spells can be associated with your own adventure world deities.

Elder Secrets Box
More information on Glorantha. Quite entertaining except for the poor artwork.

Trollpack Box
In Tony’s opinion, the best of all supplements. goes into great detail about trolls, what they are like, their history, culture and much much more. Especially liked the Thunderbreath Gobbleguts menu. Make mine a plate of batter fried pixies please.

Troll Gods Box
After buying the Trollpack, the Troll Gods will be a disappointment. Poorly compiled, poor art and more than a few unforgivable errors – as in text just stops half way through a sentence and doesn’t pick up anywhere else. Still, has lots of details on Troll Gods, so can be of use.

Monster Coliseum Box
Has plenty of pre rolled adversaries, so can be of some use. Probably the best feature was the chariot history and charioteer occupations. Also has a nice floor map of a coliseum.

Griffin Island
A boxed campaign. It is still in transit so no further comment available at this time.

Eldorad – The Lost City (RQ Gateway)
Nice maps, decent art but we didn’t really enjoy playing it. Will have to give it a second chance someday.

Daughter of Darkness (RQ Gateway)
Adventures and plots on a random peninsular. There could be valuable material here, but the names of some characters sound silly.

Apple Lane Module (Glorantha0
Some nice adventures, and interesting people. Haven’t played it but it looks like it could be good.

Snake Pipe Hollow Module (Glorantha)
We think that Snakepipe hollow forms part of a trilogy (With Haunted Ruins and Troll Realms). More information will be forthcoming once we own it.

Into the Troll Realms Module
Adventures in the troll realms. Bought this in 1996 and still haven’t played it. looks very entertaining though.

The Haunted Ruins Module
Further adventures in the troll realms. Looks like it could be very entertaining. Nice art.

Sun County – Prax Campaign (Glorantha
The first of the Prax campaign books. Very impressive with plenty adventure potential and nice artwork.

Strangers in Prax Module (Glorantha)
Assumable the follow-up to Sun County.

Shadows on the Borderland (Glorantha)
Another comparing journal set in or nearby Prax. Impressive artwork.

River of Cradles (Glorantha)
The last and apparently the best of the Prax campaign books.

Dorastor – Land of Doom Campaign (Glorantha)
Dorastor is a dangerous place full of nasties. If you want to mete swift death out to foolish parties, send them to Dorastor. Very useful and decent art.

Lords of Terror Campaign (Glorantha)
We think this is a book of chaos cults.

Glorantha Bestiary (Glorantha)
Lots of new monsters endemic to Glorantha. Also has a small section attempting to make Basic RQ more playable by providing Deluxe RQ information such as additional magic spells etc. Nice art and some really weird monsters.

RQ Cities
We know little of this although rumor has it that it is a RQ Badged version of Midkemia Cities.

Adventure Sheets – Human
No, Tony is not gullible. Just attempting to own the entire Avalon Hill Rune Quest collection. Unfortunately that means buying unnessiary, money making scheme items, like pre printed adventure sheets. At least, when looking at the numbers on the sides of the boxes, all will be there.

Adventure Sheets – Non-Human
As above.

GLORANTHA is now a separate game, published by ISSARIUS INC.

AVALON HILL was bought by HASBRO INC during 1999. To date there has been little news as to whether Hasbro intends to publish further RuneQuest items or to sell the game rights to another company. Word through the grapevine has RuneQuest being managed by Wizards of the Coast, a Hasbro subsidiary.

Updated I October MMVI MONGOOSE PUBLISHING has been licenced to publish a new version of RuneQuest, which includes Gloranthan material. This new version deviates somewhat from previous versions in terms of rules. Alternately known as RQIV and MRQ, only time will tell if it is successful.

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