In July of 1978, the Origins Game Fair was held in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Over 3500 people attended what was the largest gaming convention in the US at that time. In the main hall gamers could pick up the latest games from all the major publishers: Cross of Iron by Avalon Hill, Atlantic Wall by SPI, and The Hall of the Fire Giant King module by TSR. In one small booth near a corner you could also purchase RuneQuest, the first Roleplaying game published by The Chaosium, a quirky 3 person company from the Bay Area. It sold out over the weekend, and every print run continued to do so for the next several years.
This is the second edition of the RuneQuest rules in its final form, with all errata incorporated into the text. Additional material has been added to the appendices at the end.
RuneQuest took the young world of roleplaying games by storm; it cast aside many of the approaches most other games took. It had no character classes, no experience points, no levels, and far fewer restrictions on how weapons, armor, and spells could be used. Instead of a D20 it uses a percentile 01-100 system. It also has the built-in fantasy world of Glorantha.
During what many consider to be the golden age of roleplaying, RuneQuest enjoyed its greatest popularity, second only to AD&D in sales. It won numerous awards, starting in 1978 with the Strategist’s Club Award for “Outstanding Miniatures Rules”, which may sound quirky, but that was because the industry had yet to create award categories specifically for roleplaying games.
With RuneQuest you enter a world of high adventure and death-defying excitement, where good and evil meet face to face and weapon to claw. Every step of the way you’ll be aided by rules that are carefully explained and sequentially structured – you’ll find what you need when you need it. The game system’s realism parallels its logic of presentation: characters develop freely and fully, just as they do in life, and no rule prevents the use of weapon or magic in any tight spot.
Combatants melee by using the strike rank system (as developed by the author’s long acquaintance with edged weapons), which is based on actual weapon size and design.
Characters have skill with particular weapons, and they can learn from experience; as they battle and scheme their way across continents, they’ll become toughened veterans of dozens of fights and escapades. Based on your decisions and your motivations, your characters will take on astonishing life and reality as they learn magic, improve their weapons use, develop ties with the gods, and explore the amazing universe around them.
EASY TO LEARN - all decision rolls are determined by a single roll of percentile dice. You need only read the rules and supply the dice.
ORGANIZED - the book is clearly arranged, with a logical teaching progression. The table of contents is complemented by a cross-referencing index.
COMPLETE - this one book contains all you need to play (except dice). Rules, monsters, treasures, maps, encounter tables, character sheets are all provided.
EXAMPLES - follow the entertaining examples of play illustrated by the adventures of Rurik the Restless as he makes his way from dice-rolls to Rune Lord. The examples show how as well as what.
TIME-TESTED - this edition has been updated to provide corrections, refinements, and additions to previous publications.
FLEXIBLE - develop your character or world as you wish, without artificial restraints or character classes.
Character Creation - how to turn numbers into characters, with explanations of the why’s as well as the whats.
Basic Mechanics – tells what dice to roll when, and what it means. These early chapters show the secret workings of the “world machine.”
Combat Skills - contains information on use, cost, training, and problems with weaponry. It provides a unique combat system free of ambiguity.
Battle Magic - everyday spells available to all characters. You can enhance weapons or armor, detect items, or combat spirits.
Other Skills - available in a wide variety are such useful personal skills as Riding, Tracking, and Picking Pockets.
Rune Magic - provides spells which deliver the power of the gods to their devoted followers; also discusses the cults which channel such powers and the deadly tribal shamans.
Monsters - from Aldryami to zombies, this extensive chapter gives stat’ guidelines for a menagerie of beast (dumb and smart), which can menace players and make life difficult.
Treasure - there are complete guidelines for compiling treasure which is commensurate with the comparative “toughness” of the monsters to be dealt with.
Referee Notes - useful guidelines for the novice or professional referee, including optional rules.
Charts and Tables - included are play-aids for running a campaign in the Dragon Pass area’ among others are encounter, reaction, and experience tables.
Convenient Pull-Outs - the center sheets of the book make up a digest of the most important charts, tables, rules, and procedures, which can be lifted from the book for easy access. [Note: These are included as a downloadable handout]
What the Critics Say
"Second only to Dungeons & Dragons in the fantasy roleplaying pantheon, RuneQuest cemented Greg Stafford’s world of Glorantha as one of the tabletop’s most imaginative creations and introduced innovative mechanics that would go on to become staples of RPGs for decades to come, most signifi cantly in other Basic Roleplaying titles. Its unique approach to advancing skills and the percentile system used to resolve attacks and actions are still as clever today, while the expansive Glorantha continues to draw in adventurers looking for an immersive and vibrant setting."—Tabletop Gaming (UK) 150 Greatest Games of All Time (RuneQuest ranked #9)
"Almost forty years later, it's rather easy to see why RuneQuest became a classic... a piece of history in your gaming library at a minimal price."—Antonios S. review, RPGNet.
"Almost 40 years after its debut, it’s easy to forget how important RuneQuest was in the early days of the RPG hobby. RuneQuest was the one of the first RPGs to achieve both artistic and popular success by tossing out D&D’s tropes and conventions, rather than mimicking them. Its innovative, percentile-based game system, its characters without class or level, and its richly-imagined, bronze-age setting of Glorantha, proved that an RPG didn’t need dungeons or d20s."—Print and Play Gamer.