Games Workshop got its start in RPGs as the UK importer for D&D. Later, after TSR set up its own UK office, GW issued UK versions of several Chaosium games like Call of Cthulhu, RuneQuest and Stormbringer. They’re high quality (well, except for the spines) – the GW version of the third edition of the Call of Cthulhu rules was actually my favorite until 7E came around. The third edition of RuneQuest, though, not so much.

This is, admittedly, a star-crossed RQ, the one licensed to Avalon Hill (and then re-licensed by AH to GW). The AH RQ is…not the greatest? It is overly complicated and split across two versions (a standard and deluxe), with a confusing, revamped magic system. It also removes Glorantha as the default setting and was generally too expensive. They were nice looking books and boxes though. Most of this remains true of the GW versions, except the GW versions are also…kind of ugly.

I’m being a little unfair. What I mean to say is that, aesthetically, these books mostly adhere to Games Workshop’s established style. While I enjoy that style, I find that it rarely works for RuneQuest. Your mileage may vary. The bigger problem is that most of these books seem like dumping grounds for random art that didn’t make it into Warhammer Fantasy books, or are reprinted from White Dwarf magazine. That gives them the overall feeling of those 80s books that collected genre paperback art and tried to make them into a vaguely cohesive narrative, like the Tourist’s Guide to Transylvania I covered a couple years ago, or the Terran Trade Authority books. Those books are awesome, and jam packed with amazing art, but they feel like  what they are: collections of art from different stuff, duct taped together. The same is true of most of the GW RQ books. I find Ian Miller’s presence particularly confusing, for instance, so strongly do I associate his work with WFRP and Tolkien. And that Broo totally looks like a repurposed WFRP chaos beastman (which was no doubt originally inspired by RQ, which kind of adds to the, um, chaos). 

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