Well Runeslinger almost did it to me with his latest post outlining his new campaign with Runequest’s 6th edition rule set. What do I mean by “did it”? well that S.O.B. almost made me buy another fucking game system (notice how I externalized blame to avoid culpability for my behavior, a classic addict move). It’s wasn’t like he was really even talking about the system as the series is more about the campaign he is developing, but just dropping the name and his subtle mention of hit locations was as good as dangling a crack pipe in front of Mayor Rob Ford. I thought there might be some danger when I read his initial post about the game, but like the newly sober clutching a one week chip I confidently dismissed any concern of a relapse. However, with each additional post the monkey on back whispering those sweet nothings got louder and louder. I haven’t broke yet, well not a full on snap, but I did open the link that he so kindly provided to the Runequest website where you can conveniently order the latest edition of the game along with lots of old supplements. After my hands stopped trembling and the cold sheen of sweat running down my back dried, I was able to close my browser. Safe for now.
Lately I am far enough along in my recovery and “summer of George” gaming experiment that I am not so easily swayed. I mean I have only bought one game book over the last year and I am not really counting that because it was the OSRIC rule system and I already own all the 1st edition D&D books, so technically I don’t think that counts, or at least that’s how I am deceiving myself. Runequest, however, holds a special place it my heart. I played it pretty much exclusively throughout high school and undergrad, way more than I had ever played D&D. We used the Runequest 2nd edition rule book and only that book; it was the special or limited edition version if I am not mistaken. Think about that for a minute, a decade of fun campaigns and shenanigans with just a single red book. It makes me want to kick my own ass when I get wrapped up in the business model of WOTC and their drop trow and shit out volumes of product approach.
The resolution mechanic revolves around the d100 (you want to roll low), which I found revolutionary at the time. Combat seemed more realistic in that you could attack and parry. There was individual hit locations with their own hp so you could hack off a limb or noggin, particularly if you went through a phase were you played barbarians with 21 strength and 21size who gravitated towards two handed weapons (I can only imagine what dynamic or conflict I was trying to work through), sometimes even cutting through an opponents weapon to do so. There was also special critical damage based on weapon type like impaling, crushing, and slashing. I read on the Wikipedia page that the combat system was an excellent simulation of battle more so than say AD&D but was ill suited for larger scale or mass conflicts involving multiple combatants because that said realism would be too time consuming. This made me chuckle as many of our sessions consisted solely of mass battles, standing back to back with my comrades in arms beating back the evil horde of the week. In our games a sea voyage meant two things: 1. Rolling to train and 2. Being boarded by pirates.
In terms of character generation, the system was classless allowing for a lot of flexibility in building whatever concept you had in mind. Although, I always felt that the system favoured more martial builds. Given my lack of creativity, my characters were usually based off of whatever fantasy series I was reading at the time. For example, some version of Silk from Eddings Pawn of Prophecy series was always lurking around ready to flow out of the shadows an impale your nads with his daggers. The skill system was pretty robust as well, especially coming from ad&d. We even used the map of Gloranthia (the default setting but with almost no info provided in the core book) for every campaign. The names of the cities always stayed the same but the inhabitants and culture changed based on whatever world we created. So in summary, Runequest was pretty fucking awesome back in the day and I can’t wait for my copy if the 6th edition rule set to….er I mean….ah fuck you Runeslinger ;)