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RuneQuest 6th Edition
$62.00 $25.00
Average Rating:4.8 / 5
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RuneQuest 6th Edition
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RuneQuest 6th Edition
Publisher: Design Mechanism
by Douglas N. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/03/2015 10:40:47
I picked this up after getting the Essentials version. It's not often that I can pick up a free version that fits the bill for 3 campaigns I had in my head, and then decide that I need the full version at $25 (pdf)

RQ6 is a great system. RQ is old, and the last time I played it was more than 20 years ago. Honestly, it felt like they decided to do 20 years of patch revisions to make the system better, not new. That I really appreciate. That means most all of the mechanics are fully baked, and things have been thought out. The book has nice sidebars talking about some of them.

Despite it's apparent complexity, it's actually a relatively simple system. Combat is nuanced, surprisingly fast, surprisingly deadly, and interesting, and real choices have to be made with weapons - damage, reach, defensiveness, unique abilities.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
RuneQuest 6th Edition
Publisher: Design Mechanism
by Brian P. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/02/2013 00:00:00
Like most early RPGs, Runequest was originally developed because someone was unhappy with parts of D&D. Originally it was pretty closely tied to Glorantha, but this edition has decoupled itself and is a more generic fantasy system, though a lot of Glorantha's setting assumptions still carry forth into the end product.

In contrast to most fantasy RPGs, which take place in a kind of nebulous Renn Faire-esque medieval/early Renaissance period, Runequest is designed to evoke more a Bronze Age or early Iron Age feel (though it doesn't have to, as the free firearms rules available indicate), and all the examples of rules or concepts in the text are illustrated using a Greek city-state expy called Meeros.

I actually really liked the stories about Meeros and the world around it, and I found it far more interesting than most examples of game fiction usually are. Cynically, rulebooks tend to be fanfic followed by stereo instructions--that was why I found Alternity so hard to read--but Runequest actually manages to be quite readable, even though it's very long and fairly dense. Maybe it's how the examples are sidebars next to the text instead of interrupting the text itself, or maybe it's just that I'm happy for a change to hoplites in formation instead of medieval knights. Regardless, I'd buy a Meeros setting book if they ever published one.

The system is percentile, and is pretty easy to summarize: skills are rated as percentages, roll under the percentage to succeed, on opposed rolls higher numbers are better. If you've ever seen Call Of Cthulhu or Basic Roleplaying, then you already know how it works, and there aren't too many tricks here. It's very much a "roll the dice and it fades into the background" type of system. One mechanic to deal with skills above 100 that I like is that the amount above 100 is subtracted from everyone else opposing the character in contests, so there's still a reason to raise skills when they hit 100 beyond the small increase in the critical threshold.

The book is mostly a toolkit, and there's heavy emphasis throughout on including the elements that fit the individual GM's world. This is most evident in the magic chapters (about which more later), but shows up earlier as well. Character creation is filled with options, advice on how to determine where the characters come from, how to tailor the available professions to the setting of the game, how to integrate social classes and the influence of culture, and so on. The skill list is somewhat fiddly, but it avoids the problem most games with fiddly skill lists seem to have by giving the characters about ~20 skills to cover the normal things the average person can do--try to persuade people, run, climb, swim, resist physical or mental assault, and so on.

Also, boating. I wouldn't think that's an innate ability, but maybe I'm an outlier? Anyway, characters are rounded out with "Professional Skills" based on their jobs, upbringing, and any organizations they're a part of.

In one really neat change from the way most RPGs deal with combat skills, Runequest doesn't have separate skills for various weapons. Instead, they have "combat styles" that draw several weapons designed to be used together and trained with together under the same skill. These are designed to be campaign-specific and GM-created, though there are some examples given. Anathaym, the character that illustrates most of the Meeros examples, has the Meerish Infantry combat style that provides training in spear, shield, and shortsword. She also learned Meerish Slinger during her girlhood running around the hills outside the city. Each combat style also has a special trait associated with it. The first lets her lock shields to form a shield wall, and the second lets her sling while on the run. There's a full list of traits provided. All in all, it's a great way to deal with fighting that prevents a proliferation with weapon skills while providing some useful context to how each character learned to fight.

Combat itself is a gritty, brutal affair. A good hit to a character will probably cripple or kill them outright if they aren't wearing any armor, combat is typically over in three turns or less, and much emphasis is based on footwork, flanking, ganging up on your opponents, active defense, and other tactical combat measures. Though movement is mostly abstracted, there is an option to make it more tactical at the end of the book, as well as GM advice for how to pace and set up combat so that the deadliness and long healing times don't cripple the game when they come up. Finally, there's a maneuver system, including disarming, tripping, grappling, flanking, getting inside an opponent's spear range (or keeping them on the outside of your own spear range) and so on, all of which are chosen after the dice are rolled, so it prevents the usual problem where players have to choose between doing damage and doing something cool.

The whole section was like catnip for me--I love gritty, grinding, brutal combat in TTRPGs, and Runequest is that with the maneuvers section on top of that base to make sure combat stays interesting. The combat rules made me immediately want to run a combat-focused game, which almost never happens. Even though too many combats might lead to players losing limbs and accumulating masses of tissue. Then again, I love WFRP, which has similar mechanics. Maybe it helps that I'm usually running the games instead of playing?

The section on magic is the longest single section in the book, but mostly because of the toolbox approach. In addition to a basic chapter on magic, giving GM advice on how to integrate it in the game and determine the power level and prevelance of magic, there are individual chapters for Folk Magic, which is low-power common effects like starting fires, cleaning utensils, making plows or swords sharper, creating light, and so on; Animism, involving making contracts with spirits and getting them to perform effects for you; Mysticism, which is new to this edition of Runequest and covers concepts like supernatural martial arts and asceticism; Sorcery, the classic sword and sorcery magic learned from tomes or demons or ancient organizations; and Theism, which is probably the highest-powered magic since the power comes directly from a spirit or deity, but has a limited ability for the caster to replenish their magical energy.

This takes up a lot of space in the book, but it's all designed to pull whatever elements are necessary to properly create the world. This is one place where the influence of Glorantha shows through pretty strongly, because talk about the runes and their influence is woven throughout the text. There's advice on how to determine a magical school's repertoire based on their runic influence, or how the runes influence spells, and also how to ignore the runes completely if that works better with the setting.

The magic is mostly template-based. For example, there's a "Teleport" spell under Sorcery, but the examples given indicate how to tweak the spells for setting context--one example is a group of air wizards who cannot teleport unless they're not in contact with the earth, and another is the secret of shadowmancers who can flit from one patch of darkness to another.

I especially like how Theism has a spell specifically for appeasing wrathful deities. Not too many fantasy worlds include the idea of making sacrifices to the storm god to prevent lightning strikes, or to the plague god to prevent epidemics. Usually worshippers of the plague god are sociopaths, but that's not really how historical religion worked.

After that, there's an entire chapter about cults and brotherhoods, and a lot of emphasis is placed on the social connections the characters form with other individuals and with other members of their culture. As before, there's a lot of examples of different generic organizations that can be tweaked to fit the setting.

There's the usual bestiary, some parts of which are suitable for PCs if it fits the setting. The usual elves, dwarves, and halflings--with a note about how their stats can be used for, say, humanoid ducks--are there, but there are also centaurs, hawkmen, panthermen, and lizardmen. The monsters are your standard fantasy mixture with a bit of a mythic Greek twist, featuring cyclopes, gorgons (snake-women, not the D&D rockbulls), harpies, and so on, and there's also spirits to populate the world and interact with Animists.

If I can digress for a moment, the inclusion of Animism and the focus on spirits is something I really like. A lot of fantasy worlds, especially those derived or heavily-influenced by Dungeons and Dragons, will have a pantheon of deities, maybe the ghosts of the dead and other spectral entities, but basically nothing in between. Real-world cultures, especially in the Bronze Age that Runequest takes as the inspiration, tended to have a variety of local deities, nature spirits, tutelary deities, ancestral spirits, and other inhabitants of the unseen world. I always think that's a huge blind spot in most fantasy worlds, and I love that it's explicitly a part of the world here.

On another note, I'd heard a story that part of the inspiration for Games Workshop coming up with the Warhammer world, and specifically with Chaos and the Beastmen it creates, was that it used to produce Glorantha miniatures but lost the license and needed to do something with the Broo miniatures that it had. After seeing the stats for the Chaos Hybrid (Runequest's version of Broo) and the mutating influence of Chaos in the game, that story sounds pretty credible to me.

The book ends with a bunch of GM advice. More on how to tailor cults, how to deal with combat in a system where a single hit can take a combatant out of the fight or even be fatal, how to adjust for slow healing times, a way to adapt the rules for crafting to social situations, ways to structure investigative games so resolving the mystery or discovering the secret doesn't all come down to a single die roll, and how to adapt the structure of magic to fit the setting. It's pretty general, but it wraps up the toolkit approach pretty nicely.

Runequest is quite long, but in being long it's extremely comprehensive, and the toolkit approach means that you don't need to use the entire book if you don't want to. It'd be entirely reasonable to ignore almost all the creatures in the bestiary and all of the magic and run a purely historical game set in the eastern Mediterranean Bronze Age, where the PCs are members of a Mycenaean trading group, or members of Sargon of Akkad's army. Nearly half the book would be useless at that point, but it's certainly possible.

All-in-all, it's fantastic. You could get years or decades of gaming from just this book, and I'm really excited to try to use it. Two thumbs up: d(^_^)b

[5 of 5 Stars!]
RuneQuest 6th Edition
Publisher: Design Mechanism
by Malcolm M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/19/2013 08:45:49
Almost certainly the best-written, best-organized core rpg rulebook I've seen in 20+ years of gaming.

While not a lot of support material currently exists for RQ6 -- as of this writing -- the transparent nature of the underlying Basic Roleplaying (BRP) game system means that materials from the Mongoose Runequest II line (e.g. the Monster Coliseum monster book), and even the Basic Roleplaying line (e.g. Classic Fantasy), can be adapted into RQ6 with a minimum of heavy lifting by the Gamemaster.

If you've ever wanted to give RuneQuest a try, start with this edition.

An excellent product in many, many ways. Full marks from me.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
RuneQuest 6th Edition
Publisher: Design Mechanism
by David F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/15/2012 13:53:11
I had played RQ2, RQ3, RQ: AiG, and my current Glorantha campaign uses Chaosium's Basic Roleplaying. The two versions of RuneQuest produced by Mongoose were intriguing, but they seemed out of sync with my expectations. I knew that RQ6 was going to be a part of that family, but I was hoping that the emphasis on streamlining the system, as well as a promise to return to the original feel of the game would result in something akin to the RQ2/RQ3/BRP progression.

It does not.

It feels a lot like MRQ and MRQ2, neither of which fit my tastes.

I don't want to go into detail because I believe it is, in fact, a subjective comparison. Fundamentally, I like my combat rounds to run in strike rank order. I like variable point spells. I like skills to have a culturally adjusted base chance rather than to have the base be the sum of two attributes.

I am sure that you can have a fine gaming experience using this rules set, but I was hoping it would feel like a modern RQ2 rather than a revision of MRQ2.

For now, I will stick to BRP with some bits from RQ3 and RQ: AiG thrown in.

[3 of 5 Stars!]
RuneQuest 6th Edition
Publisher: Design Mechanism
by Ralston G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/13/2012 15:29:52
Well written well put together pages are not to busy Ive enjoyed Rune Quest for years. I do miss not having a soft cover option.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
RuneQuest 6th Edition
Publisher: Design Mechanism
by David B. S. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/13/2012 08:51:21
Simply a well put-together rpg system that contains all a GM or Player needs in one pdf! Highlights include:

- A setting-generic system. Creative GMs can mold RuneQuest to fit just about any fantasy campaign idea they have.

- Immersive Character Creation. Being a huge fan of point-buy character creation, RQ fits the bill with a very in depth and fun way to create a character that oozes detail.

- Passions. A new way to add drive and goals to your character. Also easy for players to relate and express their character's goals.

- A revised magic system. Almost worth the price of admission alone! The magic is colorful and vibrant. Not just the "same old stuff" gamers have come to expect.

- Combat Effects. Instead of Maneuvers, we now have effects in combat. Same idea, but much better!

- Creatures. Not only do we get a decent creature section, but also guides to creating your own monsters!

Overall an rpg for "intermediate" players and game masters, but well worth the learning curve. For those who have yet to try the RQ rpg, now is the time to start!

D. Semmes

[4 of 5 Stars!]
RuneQuest 6th Edition
Publisher: Design Mechanism
by Oliver B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/11/2012 14:50:04
Well colour me impressed. When I saw that Mr. Nash and Mr. Whitaker were working on another edition of RQ I was frankly underwhelmed. Could they really change enough to make the rules worth buying? Obviously I was the one lacking in imagination. Having finished reading (or at least heavily skimming) the rules I am very impressed.

I quite like the changes made to character generation. Instead of getting specific points in a skill, say Stealth 10 for a Primitive character you get a pool of culturally relevant skills to add points to. You also get to choose three skills from a group of Professional Skills (ones you cannot have without training like Navigation). You then add 100 points to any of these skills. This allows you to focus your character on areas your interested in while still being believable from a cultural viewpoint.

Next you get to do the same thing with an occupation and then finally you get 150 points you can spend as bonus points on skills you already have plus you may have the option depending on the GM to add another combat style or professional skill.

The other change that I like is the additional of levels of difficulty which substitute for the old modifiers. So instead of saying it's negative 20% to hit a running target with a ranged weapon the GM can say it's Hard to hit a running target which imposes a 1/3 penalty to the shooter (i.e. 60% becomes 40%). There's also a set of fixed values for the difficulty grades if you prefer avoiding all that math.

They've also added Passions for characters so your character can love someone or feel loyalty to something. Or of course Hate an enemy. You can use these Passions to modify your skills or act as opposing skills. For example say you're representing the city you love but have to interact with someone you Hate. You could do an opposed roll of your Loyalty and Hate to see which Passion guides you.

I quite the changes made to the magic systems available as well. Common Magic is now Folk Magic and the spells have been somewhat reduced in power but the colour surrounding them has been increased. Hard to explain but now Bladesharp instead of adding X points to your skill and damage rolls sharpens your weapon so it goes up one die level. For example a shortsword goes up to a D8 instead of a D6 for the duration of the spell. And stays sharp after the spell ends. Nice. The other four types of magic look really cool as well.

As other reviewers have mentioned this is an extrememely well-laid out set of rules with lots of suggestions for the would-be GM. There are very few typos mostly grammatical in nature.

A very worthy successor to the RuneQuest line. Bravo!

[5 of 5 Stars!]
RuneQuest 6th Edition
Publisher: Design Mechanism
by Billiam B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/07/2012 06:16:44
This review might be a little premature, because I'm still at that excited-post-download phase when I'm feverishly clicking through the 458 pages.

I'll say again ...
Four-hundred-and-fifty-eight pages of RuneQuest goodness.

This definitely has the look and feel of an older RQ or BRP title. The mechanics and the writing style is very accessible, with the occasional black and white ink drawing.

The rules, setting and atmosphere (with a bent towards ancient, mystical, classical) is generic enough to adapt to different campaigns, whilst providing enough detail for interesting springboard points especially regarding character (and monster) backgrounds, magic, skills, "passions" cults -not to mention the gritty effects of chaos. As well as the dice mechanics, there's plenty of tips and guidelines and optional rules.

I'm also happy to say that it appears to be an "everything-you-need-to-play" publication. (I hate buying supposed "core" books only to find that there's no monster list or many references to "essential" accessories.)

As I type it's still $25 which is a good price for a volume of this size. I'm looking forward to seeing a hard copy -surely it will be a thick tome - so the PDF on a tablet will certainly be more portable for fast rule checking at the table.

Nice work, Design Mechanism! This is a respectable descendent of a noble line.

-Billiam B.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
RuneQuest 6th Edition
Publisher: Design Mechanism
by Alexander O. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/06/2012 18:59:28
This is the 6th Edition of RuneQuest, and it is something special -- a real thing of value. It's one of the few RPG books that have come out this year that I think should be enshrined as an example of good RPG writing.

This book will turn you into an expert on the game of RuneQuest, and I don't say that lightly. It talks not only about the system, but also about the history of RuneQuest -- its prior editions, its importance in the early industry, and its many twists and turns. But that's only a few pages. The bulk of this 456 page book is constructed with solid gaming goodness -- a complete Fantasy RPG to realize your favorite setting.


The meat of the book (the rules, character creation, magic, and so on) is written with succinctness and systematic clarity. For example, the section on Characteristics and Attributes follows the following pattern in its paragraphs:

-- differentiation of Characteristics (basic stats) and Attributes (figured Stats)
-- name of Characteristic / Attribute
-- short explanation of what the Characteristic / Attribute represents
-- general rationale for the stat
-- what characters with high values in this stat are like (roleplaying-wise and mechanics-wise)
-- what characters with low values in this stat are like (roleplaying-wise and mechanics-wise)
-- what happens when the value is reduced to zero

This approach is emblematic of the writing style of the game: in only 5 short pages, you're presented the rules for Characteristics & Attributes, the general game design rationale for them, their implication in terms of story and mechanics -- which includes tables for the calculated values of Attributes and the formulas for the basic skills whose starting values come from these Characteristics and Attributes!

Added to these pages is a nice one-page excerpt of the character sheet with various callouts that display tables explaining how the information for each field is to be calculated or filled in.

Added to that is Anathaym's saga -- an example of a character (and, later on in the book, her adventuring party) and how the rules in game system shape her life.

It seems that the writing, organization, and layout of the game was really done with an eye to reducing page-flipping back and forth between sections (though there are really useful sidebars that identify other pages with related rules, an organized and surprisingly detailed 1 page Table of Contents in the front, and a lovely 9 page Index in the back to help you if you can't find something).


RuneQuest is one of the earliest skill-based systems -- it's built around a character concept and random or limited resources to build that character concept. You can have a cantrip-casting warrior, a sword-swinging spirit talker, a martial artist wizard, and so on if you build it properly. This edition is no different, and in fact both streamlines and expands the options for character.

Chapter 1 breaks down the basics of Character Creation, tackling Characteristics, Attributes, and Basic Skills

Chapter 2 talks about Culture and Community, identifies different generic fantasy cultures lists the Standard Skills, Professional Skills, Combat Styles, and Cultural Passions associated with each. It also has a table for unique background experiences in a character's life, a table for generating Allies and Enemies, and an explanation of what Passions are (an optional rule that gives bonuses and penalties to the characer based on their drives, their loves and hates, etc.).

Chapter 3 tackles Careers and Development, hitting you first with 70 example (!) professions and their related skills, with a nice table showing how they're grouped by cultural background. It then talks about the impact of Age, gives a broad view of Equipment and Magic (which have their own chapters) for finishing off your character.

Chapter 4 talks, again in a very organized and succinct fashion about the nitty-gritty of Skills in terms of the types of skills, the different types of skill rolls in the game including reattempted skill rolls, augmenting skills, and opposed skill rolls.

Chapter 5 goes through not just Equipment, but Economics as well. It covers not just things that adventurers might buy, but also income and social class, bargaining and bartering, food, clothing, and accommodations, vehicles, and siege weapons.

Chapter 6 is the Game Mechanics section and, for me, shows that the game philosophy for RuneQuest is broader than mere combat (which gets its own Chapter, thank you very much), because it tackles a lot of things here beyond the typical character improvement rules, suggesting rulings for things like Asphyxiation, Blood Loss, and Falling, tackling the use of game resources like Luck Points, and a very important discussion of Action, Time, and Movement.

Chapter 7 is about Combat, is grouped into headings and sub-headings tackling the various combat topics, including: Components of Combat, Combat Styles, Weapon Size and Reach, combat ranges, hit locations, and special effects.

Chapter 8 talks about Magic in general, which you should not skim through lightly. It talks about what magic is, how they're tied to runes, and sets the basis for understanding the various magical traditions available in RuneQuest 6, such as: Folk Magic (Chapter 9), Animism (Chapter 10), Mysticism (Chapter 11), Sorcery (Chapter 12), and Theism (Chapter 13). Each of these establishes these various magical traditions, describes the 'spells' of each, and explains the various additional rules that really differentiate them from one another in terms of philosophy and game mechanics and game options.

Chapter 14 tackles the Cults and Brotherhoods that explain the organizations and movements that can provide formalized instruction in the the magical disciplines tackled in other chapters. It really gives you a lot to create your own factions, old dinosaurs, movers and shakers, and up-and-comers in your own setting -- and what these mean for your players and their characters.

Chaper 15 tackles Creatures and Spirits in terms of story and mechanics. There are rules here designing your own creatures, and rules on being able to have Player Character Creatures as well.

Chapter 16 is focused on the GM and Games Mastery, including the "Petersen Rules of Good Gaming" (from Sandy Petersen, of course) and lots of advice on running games, sticky situations for GMs, and different styles of play using the system.

Finally, we have a collection of Game Aids, including the character sheets, a series of tables for non-human hit locations, and a combat tracking sheet.


Just one last thing here: I purchased the PDF and was so intrigued by the system and the writing that I began to highlight and annotate my PDF using the default Acrobat Reader. I was surprised when I was asked to save the file -- and it asked me if I wanted to save it under another file name. When I did so, it began saving a lighter version of the file (optimzed for web browsing it said) that weighed in at around 40 MB, much reduced from the 104 MB filesize. I get to have a pristine version of my PDF & a highlighted / annotated version! Sorry, geek moment.

Also, the hyperlinking is very useful in the PDF, and makes the whole thing easier to navigate through and read.

I heartily recommend this book for Fantasy RPG enthusiasts looking for a detailed, but customizable system to help your create and realize your own setting!

[5 of 5 Stars!]
RuneQuest 6th Edition
Publisher: Design Mechanism
by Rory H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/05/2012 07:37:18
If anybody knows about the seminal history of RuneQuest, and realize the work and passion that has gone into the making of this version of it, it's an instant download. Best fantasy system ever designed in my view, and that isn't (just) fanboy hyperbole. If you are interested in realistic simulation, anthropological verisimilitude and anything to do with classic myth creation, then this game has a lot to offer. The cover is nice too, and the interior layout is very clean and readable, and all the bells and whistles in search engines and the like. Plenty of support to, as you can utilize all the old RQ, RQ2, Legend and to a degree BRP supplements with it with no difficulty whatsoever.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
RuneQuest 6th Edition
Publisher: Design Mechanism
by david f. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/05/2012 03:56:14
Beautifully laid out with evocative line art pictures. All black and white images, except the cover, so you won't waste expensive ink printing it. There is no irritating images behind the text making it hard to read on your tablet or a low res print outs. The text size is very readable on my android tablet. The pdf has useful bookmark, contents and page links, which go the correct place. I printed it on my 600dpi laser printer at 2up A5 size and it look wonderful, crisp and legible. I have not spotted and spelling or grammar mistakes so far, unlike in previous versions from else where. There have been many enhancement and improvements to the rules, some of them like the new difficultly rules may be controversial with some but work well in practice. The minor changes to combat create great effects like, spears being useful and dangerous, unlike in other game systems.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
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