Saturday, 20 June 2015

Runequest Fantasy RPG (1980's)

Runquest 2nd Edition Cover

It just happened one day in the early eighties for no apparent reason. I took the usual route home from school through the Chapelside precinct in Spondon, Derby and past the village model shop which had lots of Airfix model kits of aircraft, battleships, tanks, soldiers and other stuff to do with the military.

Where the model shop used to be back in the eighties.

But that day something a bit different caught my eye. on display in a cylindrical glass carousel were Model figures of all kinds of fantasy creatures. Dragons, skeletons, Elves, Dwarves, Goblins, Trolls and other things that I didn't even know the name of yet brought to life with some amazing artwork.

An impressive display.

I found out that people were using these models for their fantasy role playing games. I'd heard of Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) and had seen it introduced briefly on a kids tv show but i didn't really understand it. At the time I wasn't sure it was for me but seeing these amazing lead figures in all their glory pushed me into looking into it further. 

Various blister packs from Citadel Miniatures.

It wasn't long before me and a small group of friends became friends with a new guy in school called Patrick Gilimore who was from South Africa. He was into role playing games and in particular one called Runequest (RQ).

Runequest 3rd edition Basic, Advanced and Monsters Books.

So we got invited round to his house and played a few games. The game was just a bunch of rules to govern your imagination and creativity. It was the outlet I needed. I was interested in maps, plans, stats and fantasy. It could not have been more perfect.

Character Sheet, Tabletop and Gaming Dice

The awesome map from the Runequest 2nd Edition Book.

What made RQ particularly good was the fantasy world had quite a deep backstory already involving many unique creatures not found in the other role playing games. Scorpion Men, Broo and Ducks to name a few.

Skills were seperately defined and the percentage chance system was easy to understand. Much better than the D&D levels system.

Each part of the body had it's own hit points and armour which was more rewarding than the total hit points and armour class system of D&D. You could aim for an arm, a leg or even cut off a head.

Finally almost all the characters were capable of magic. It was not limited to certain classes of character. Again like in D&D. I'm comparing RQ to D&D often as they were two of the big three RPG's at the time. the other being Traveller which I never played.

Dragonewt, Manticore and Elf

It was fun to be the dungeon master (DM) in RQ. I liked to create fantastic adventures, with traps, treasure and monsters. You could use your imagination and creativity before even starting the game. But it was even more fun to be a player and play in someone elses creation. The amount of social interaction about something that was not even real was ridiculous. It certainly beat playing a game on your own. We didn't use anything fancy. A sheet of acetate with hexagons on which we drew outlines of rooms and caves in washable marker and lead figures to represent players and monsters. All the fancy stuff was in our heads.

Elf, Troll and Dwarf adventurers.

Soon the local model shop just didn't stock what we needed with regards to miniatures and the big chain store of model shops, Games Workshop (GW), wasn't even in our home city. So we had to catch the train to Nottingham to visit the GW they had there. It was a real pain but fortunately it wasn't too long later that a GW opened in Derby. I used to buy White Dwarf magazine for the sole reason of getting inspiration for new adventures. The rest of the magazine didn't really interest me at all. Having said that most of it was geared up for giving idea's to people like me when it wasn't flogging citadel miniatures.

Baboon, Pixie and Duck adventurers.

After I'd finished school I started playing it with my colleague friends. We played often whilst we found it easy to arrange meetings. Jimmy Cheung used to give us all a lift to Jazz's house even though he wasn't interested and drove off, he had businesses to attend to apparently.

Anyway all my college friends seemed to get into RPG's even more than me. I introduced them to it but they all got bitten by the bug big time. Most of them were better at painting the models too. They got interested in other games like Warhammer 40k, Blood Bowl, and some I don't even remember anymore including D&D (Yuck!) which I'm trying to forget. I bought a Lord of the Rings RPG, I think it was called Middle Earth Role Playing System (MERPS), Call of Cthulhu, based on H. P. Lovecraft stories, Rolemaster which is what MERPS was based on and many 3rd edition RQ books including an advanced book.

Other RPG's that I owned and read but never played.

They were all great reads but by this time I was getting a bit lazy when it came to creating adventures. I had many adventures planned out but just never got around to doing them. Other things just seemed to get in the way.

As friends were finishing up in college and Uni and getting jobs it started to impact on the frequency of our get togethers. Also the advance in computing and I.T. meant that when we did get together it was for LAN games of Counter Strike and Battlefield 1942 instead of RQ.

They then moved onto Paintball and Airsoft which I didn't mind, I went a few times, but for me that was all about tactics and action. The fantasy, imagination and creativity aspects were non-existent. If Spondon village model shop had only stocked military stuff back in the day I never would have looked in the window in the first place and my love of RQ may never have happened. I was just not interested in the military as a teenager and I'm still not even now..

Wyrm, Centaur and Griffin

But RQ was fun while it lasted and I'll never forget some of the great times I had playing it.

I remember the time I cheated so blatantly and I just didn't care. The conversation went something like this after my tiny duck character got smashed with a huge weapon which dished out massive damage.

"It bounces off, no damage". "No damage, how?", "Chainmail", "chainmail? CHAINMAIL??!! how'dya f*ckin get chainmail?"

Basically i just wrote down on my sheet that I had it. Realistically my duck couldn't even carry it let alone wear it. Funny for geeks only maybe. You just had to be there.

Broo, Scorpion Man and Dragonewt

Other great moments included crap wars where everyone decided to throw crap at each other and it actually did damage.

I also remember melting down some of my ugly lead models just to make gorps. Pools of acidic mess. Just think of The Blob.

Gargoyle, Tuskrider and Troll

Finally I will always remember an NPC (non-player character) called Glome, The little b*st*rd child of Gollum that we could never kill.

I'm pretty sure this is just the tip of the iceberg but my memory is no where near what it once was. Still I do feel a warm glow inside whenever I think about Runequest. It was the best of times.

Orcs, Trolls and Goblins

No comments:

Post a Comment