RuneQuest (1981)

I’ve never played RuneQuest. I didn’t even know it existed until recently, let alone the strange licensing history with Avalon Hill, or the ties to HeroQuest and the King of Dragon Pass videogame. It’s a brand new world of strange cults and anthropomorphic ducks for me. I love Dungeons & Dragons because I grew up with it, but I love RuneQuest because I didn’t, if that makes sense.

This is the second edition, the 1981 fat box. Aside of that stunning (if primitive) cover art, I’m not a huge fan of Luise Perrin’s art (though she gets lots of points for drawing a manticore without wings – if there’s one stain D&D has left on the world, it’s the belief that manticores can fly).

The real star here is the elegant skill-based rules system (which would form the basis of Chaosium’s Basic Role-Playing, which formed the foundation of all their systems) and the introduction of Greg Stafford’s fantasy world of Glorantha. The latter is probably the most important – Glorantha isn’t the first detailed fantasy world, but it normalized the idea, paving the way for Faerun, Krynn and the very notion that it was important to market the setting of a game as much as the rules. Perhaps more so.

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