RuneQuest 3 (Avalon Hill)

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Havard
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RuneQuest 3 (Avalon Hill)

Post by Havard »

RuneQuest Settings, RuneQuest Editions, BRP Settings, Elric & Eternal Champion, Call of Cthulhu, HeroQuest, Glorantha

The numbering of RuneQuest editions can be confusing, but that can be broken down in this thread. I started out with Avalon Hill's version of RuneQuest labelled RQ3. Although it did have some flaws such as the complicated Fatigue Rules and the apparently broken Sorcery Rules (we didn't use them much anyway), I never really understood why RQ2 had such a devout following. However, I recently learned more about the sad story about the relationship between Chaosium and Avalon Hill:
Greg Stafford wrote:Well, I told Avalon Hill I’d sell them the game, which was what they wanted, for a million dollars. And I would have, too—but Eric balked. So instead they discussed a license deal.

Back home we discussed the options, and decided that Avalon Hill might be just the right ticket to do the manufacturing and marketing for us. They were still one of the largest game manufacturers in the industry. Chaosium, meanwhile, would do the acquisitions, writing, design and layout — all our strong suits. Looked good!

We worked out a contract where they promised to spend such and such in advertising, etc etc. Looked great!

Of course, they wanted a new edition. We seized the chance to do a new edition and threw in every house rule we had, plus some more. The result was RQ3. One thing that I did insist on was keeping a close grip on the Gloranthan content. We didn’t license that to them. Thus the core game came out and was set in Fantasy Europe, a setting we planned to develop at length.

When we got the color proofs back for the first release of the game I hit the ceiling. In direct violation of the contract they’d taken the designer’s names off the box! I protested to Eric, who simply said, “We don’t do that at Avalon Hill. Want to kill the deal right now?” I should have said yes, but I chickened out. I backed down. Big mistake. From “dream come true" to “nightmare."

And from then on things just got worse and worse. They ignored our expertise and kept making demands that we tried to meet, and it never clicked. We made a set of character sheets, just to have a quick product. They demanded that they had to be in a box, and then they complained that it cost too much to make and sell. They demanded product come quickly, even if it was to be reprints, and then complained that they were reprints.

At one point Eric revealed he was going to have three RPGs available through Avalon Hill, and RuneQuest would be “the Cadillac” of the line. He sent me a manuscript of Powers & Perils and asked for an honest assessment. I told him it was awful, neither original nor well written. He accused me of professional jealousy. Go find a copy yourself and make your own mind up about which of us was right.

Relations got worse and worse. They weren’t spending the promised money on promotion, etc. Finally I told them Chaosium was going to withdraw from the deal. I sent a letter stating the contract violations they had committed, and we stopped working with them. They tried to do a new edition of RuneQuest, which never got into print for various reasons, but I had already forbidden them to use any Gloranthan content in their game.
Full story here: http://www.staffordcodex.com/the-chaosium-story/

It was pretty disappointing that Avalon Hill never did more with RQ3 and that the relations between them and Chaosium never worked out. I would have loved to see more done with RQ3. Anyone else here ever play RuneQuest 3?

-Havard

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Khedrac
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Re: RuneQuest 3 (Avalon Hill)

Post by Khedrac »

I've not read the above before, it explains a lot, but makes me wonder how they managed to do as much as they did achieve?

I love RQ3. Although gaming at school was mainly AD&D (1st) and BECM D&D the group of friends that did the BECM D&D also did RuneQuest 3 - set in Fantasy Europe as we mainly had the Games Workshop repackaging of the Avalon Hill rules (and some RoleMaster - only DM I know who ever made it flow fairly quickly).

I liked the RQ, but it was sort of so-so at the time. I then went to University (Liverpool for what it's worth) where there was quite a lot of RQ players, pretty much all set in Glorantha. The players were a mixture of RQ2 and RQ3 players so although the games were mainly RQ3 some RQ2 ideas got transferred in. Most of the games were fairly open, so whilst there were a number of ongoing campaigns, players could, and did, drop in on other games and bring a character with them.
This was the time when I fell in love with RQ3 and Glorantha properly. I managed to keep playing with some of my Uni friends for a few years after I left, but distance eventually killed that.

I have tried running RQ3 (or close to it - I also now have the "big gold book" of Basic RolePlaying) with my main D&D group, it sort-of worked but hit the issue that we tend to be 4 or 5 players + GM and most of the 80s RPGs (AD&D, D&D, RQ etc.) assumed party sizes of 8+ - and it makes for a very different experience unless one is very careful with scaling down combats (especially considering how lethal RQ3 combat can be). I did look at Mongoose RQ, but the first edition didn't work for me (probably because they had to re-invent the system as at that point Chaosium hadn't got BRP back from Avalon Hill).

Currently I am watching the Chaosium run-up to the new RuneQuest (which will be based on RQ2) with interest. I am not sure if I will buy it or not - I will probably never get to use it, but, it's *RuneQuest* so I want it.

(Current plan is to start up a BECM D&D campaign before I try re-starting a RQ campaign, and goodness knows when or if I will ever manage that!)

BTW, if you think the RQ numbering is confusing now, wait until the new version comes out - I don't think they plan to number it...
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Havard
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Re: RuneQuest 3 (Avalon Hill)

Post by Havard »

Khedrac wrote:I've not read the above before, it explains a lot, but makes me wonder how they managed to do as much as they did achieve?
Good point. They did give out a few supplements for RQ3 didn't they?
I love RQ3. Although gaming at school was mainly AD&D (1st) and BECM D&D the group of friends that did the BECM D&D also did RuneQuest 3 - set in Fantasy Europe as we mainly had the Games Workshop repackaging of the Avalon Hill rules (and some RoleMaster - only DM I know who ever made it flow fairly quickly).

I liked the RQ, but it was sort of so-so at the time. I then went to University (Liverpool for what it's worth) where there was quite a lot of RQ players, pretty much all set in Glorantha. The players were a mixture of RQ2 and RQ3 players so although the games were mainly RQ3 some RQ2 ideas got transferred in. Most of the games were fairly open, so whilst there were a number of ongoing campaigns, players could, and did, drop in on other games and bring a character with them.
This was the time when I fell in love with RQ3 and Glorantha properly. I managed to keep playing with some of my Uni friends for a few years after I left, but distance eventually killed that.

I have tried running RQ3 (or close to it - I also now have the "big gold book" of Basic RolePlaying) with my main D&D group, it sort-of worked but hit the issue that we tend to be 4 or 5 players + GM and most of the 80s RPGs (AD&D, D&D, RQ etc.) assumed party sizes of 8+ - and it makes for a very different experience unless one is very careful with scaling down combats (especially considering how lethal RQ3 combat can be). I did look at Mongoose RQ, but the first edition didn't work for me (probably because they had to re-invent the system as at that point Chaosium hadn't got BRP back from Avalon Hill).
Nice. Your experiences are not too different from mine. Although D&D (BECMI) and AD&D were favorites, we always played a wide range of systems and settings.

Some of the things I don't like about RQ are Fatigue, Strike Ranks and rolling for experience. However, I like the more gritty feel of the system. For some reason we used the random system for determining culture and careers early on which I found extremely frustrating, but thankfully we ditched that later on.

Overall I think Mongoose's editions were too crunchy, but I did like a few things such as Hero Points, removing the Special Result and the introduction of Resistance Skills (Removing the need for the Resistance Table).

I also like how BRP has removed the Hit Points by Location and replaced it with the Major Wound system introduced in Pendragon.



Currently I am watching the Chaosium run-up to the new RuneQuest (which will be based on RQ2) with interest. I am not sure if I will buy it or not - I will probably never get to use it, but, it's *RuneQuest* so I want it.

(Current plan is to start up a BECM D&D campaign before I try re-starting a RQ campaign, and goodness knows when or if I will ever manage that!)

BTW, if you think the RQ numbering is confusing now, wait until the new version comes out - I don't think they plan to number it...
I think the upcoming edition will be called RQ4. I am also keeping an eye on it, but the nostalgia for RQ2 is something that worries me.

-Havard

Aliases: Håvard Frosta, Havard Blackmoor, Blackmoorian, Dragon Turtle etc
Where to find me on the Web
The Comeback Inn - My Blackmoor Forum
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THRESHOLD Magazine - The Mystara Fanzine
My Articles at the Vaults of Pandius
Moderator of the Mystara, Blackmoor and Thunder Rift forums.
My moderator voice is
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