Wednesday, May 5, 2010


In this post I give some thoughts on Runequest (namely the 2nd edition) and some thoughts on my ideal RPG. Here on Knight-n-Knaves I expand on those thoughts during a discussion about the OSR. At one point I make the comment that there is no reason why Runequest can't work with a d20 roll high system.

For example if Rurik (our favorite RQ sample character) has a Shortsword skill of 55 then on a d20 roll high system he would have a +11 bonus to a d20 roll. If he rolls 20 or higher he succeeds. If you look at much of Runequest much of the bonuses and calculation are divisible by 5. This just makes it easier to convert over to a d20.

The reason for this exercise is to try to roll back Runequest more to it's D&D roots. Runequest originally started out as the Perrin Conventions a set of house rules for D&D popular on the west coast of the US. The transformation to Runequest came about because the players were SCA players (medieval reenactors) and found the abstract combats system unsatisfying for visualizing their fights. The work was combined with Greg Stafford's Glorantha setting and the result was Runequest.

By taking Runequest back to it's D&D roots it is my hope that a system can be built that can easily use the wealth of material published for older editions of D&D. Such a RPG would not feel the same as playing a game of D&D. It purpose is appeal to those that wants more realistic combat, and being able to customize their characters through the mechanics of the game. Yet still take advantage of perfectly good D&D material.

By converting a Runequest character over and use a d20 roll high system it become obvious how a D&D monster COULD be used directly. To take Rurik +11 with a shortword we see that we can simply say that to hit a S&W Red Dragon with a 17 ascending AC he will need to roll a 6 or better with on a d20.

Now the numbers are little out of whack here. A D&D fighter that is as experienced as Rurik probably would have a reduced chance here. If we say that 5th level is equal to a starting Runequest (this is a number off of the top of my head) then the D&D fighter has only a +2 to hit and needs a 15 or better to hit that S&W Dragon. We could fix this and say that in combat involving Runequest characters add 10 to the AAC giving the Red Dragon a 27 AAC. Now Rurik needs a 16 or better to hit the dragon. Runequest damage is roughly compared to D&D damage so we can just apply the result to the Dragon's hit point.

I have to put in some thought on how the Dragon would hit Rurik which I will do in a later post.

The end result is that I think it is possible to design a RPG that has more realistic combat, more character customization options yet be able to use the bulk of older edition material. I will keep you posted on my thoughts on this. I got a few more projects, (yes I know Tim shut up) to get out of the way before I start worrying about designing my own RPG.


Hakdov said...

hmm... have you taken a look at the Classic Fantasy book for BRP?

Robert Conley said...

No but I plan too.

Paladyn said...

I appreciate your work and most of all the connection you spotted, but myself I'am against such conversion. Perhaps it is, because I've enough of d20. In my opinion it is too complicated, too tactic and rules too much "violate" rpg-only space. IT is also why I bought MRQ II (okay, it was nostalgia too, as I began my adventure with RPG with RQ). So, for me now, RQ and d20 are complete opposition.

Robert Conley said...

@Paldyin I was not talking about importing the d20 system. But using a d20 instead of a d100 but using the same rules or similar rules to that of Runequest. Then relate that back to older editions of D&D through some simple conversion rules.

Evan said...

There are not words for how much I would like to see this done.

Leo Knight said...

Some years ago, I ran a long term Runequest campaign, using the second edition rules. It ran long enough for most PCs to have primary skills in the 95% plus range. At this level, combat between evenly matched opponents can take a long time, since each only has a %5 chace of failure. One player in particular got very frustrated with this. He compared it to an Errol Flynn movie duel, hit, parry, hit, parry. I told him that's why I liked it.

As time went on, and my prep time diminished, I tried to streamline the rules. First to go was hit locations. I used the 'major wound' rule from "Elric": if you take half your hit points in damage in one blow, it's a major wound, and can incapacitate you.

I kept trying to streamline the skills though, along the lines you're thinking. I got as far as a D20 roll under, essentially RQ percentages divided by 5. This was before D&D3e came out, but when it did, I was amazed at how close the skill system resembled my thinking. The rest, though, was a mess. Our group has tried, and abandoned, about half a dozen attepmts at 3e.

As far as the percentages, the one that best lines up is the resistance table. There, each difference of 1 point directly equals a +1/ +5% bonus. Skills don't match up exactly. My two attempts were:

1.Any RQ skill of 50% or less goes away. Any skill of 55% or more gives a +1 for each extra 5%. In your example, Rurik would only be +1. I didn't like it for that reason.

2.For every 10% in an RQ skill gives a +1 bonus. Any non-10 remainders are tallied and spent on other things. Rurik would be +5, with 5 points he could spend on something else. Exactly what and how? I'm working on it.

Paladyn said...

@ Rob: I get it. now :). Interesting idea but little trouble-creating, isn't it? As for me, I'd keep (A)D&D and RQ separate things, just to have to ways of entertaining, instead of one.

Robert Conley said...

@Paladyn - it isn't to make a better or different D&D but to make it easy to use the mass of material for D&D.

Tenkar said...

For those looking to give Runequest a free look google "OpenQuest". It uses the runequest SRD and the OGL to present a free version of the rules.

Roger G-S said...

I remember in the 80's my friend ran a Runequest game with converted D&D spell lists, cast against POW. But he couldn't bring himself to let go of the "hacking of limbs in loving detail"...

Peter Leban said...

This is exactly what I'm thinking of these days!
Arnold over at Goblin Punch has some cool house rules. For example, contested rolls are made like: Score - (Opponent score-10) = success if rolled under on d20. If you do Score rolls on Roll High, then Score + d20 should be 20+. The chance of success, I think, is the same. (D&D scores were meant to be used with Roll-under mechanics in the first place anyways)
What I'm trying to do now, is mix Arnold's Goblin Doctrine with RQ 3rd ed. and a bit of LotFP (Logan's Morbidly Encumbered in particular), with a pinch of WHFRP 2nd ed. I hope I come up with a PDF or something soon enough and if/when I do, I can share it with you if you wouldn't mind?
The reason I love Rune Quest so much is that it is so gritty and combat seems very articulated unlike combat in D&D. I also love RQ's magic. Oh, and those HP per location seem nice as well.