[Runequest] Latest on RQ rights

Peter Maranci pmaranci at gmail.com
Fri Jun 10 22:53:18 EST 2011

Actually Chaosium is the only company that *didn't* rip off the RuneQuest
mechanics. They own the copyright to the text of RuneQuest III, and I'm
pretty sure they own the copyrights to RQ 1 and 2 as well. That's why they
were able to produce the monograph editions of the RQ3 rulebooks; if you
check those editions, you'll notice that they are the exact text of the
published RQ3 rules, with the word "RuneQuest" replaced throughout with
"Basic Roleplaying", and with all references to Glorantha removed (I'm
pretty sure there were no references to Glorantha in the basic rulebooks

As far as I know, they did that because Stafford got the trademark rights
for the *name* "RuneQuest". It's a confusing situation; you can trademark a
name, but you can only copyright the specific text of a game system - which
makes it open season on game mechanics. Neither Stafford nor Chaosium has
said anything much about this situation, but since they aren't working
together to produce a Glorantha-based RuneQuest system system we're free to
draw our own conclusions.

As for Chaosium's multi-genre BRP, that's not a ripoff either. It's based on
various iterations of the BRP/RQ rules, from games such as Call of Cthulhu,
Superworld, the Eternal Champion games, etc.. I'm not 100% sure if it also
drew on the RQ3 ruleset, but it certainly could have because Chaosium still
owns the copyright to those rules. In any case, the result was a system that
does indeed capture the best elements of the RQ system (IMNSHO, of course).

One point that never occurred to me before: Who came up with the NAME
"RuneQuest"? What was their intention? Runes were never the primary focus of
the system, nor (arguably) of Glorantha. So why that name?


On Fri, Jun 10, 2011 at 5:42 AM, Phil Hibbs <snarks at gmail.com> wrote:

> >In other words, it would be easy to write a "RuneQuest" system with
> > the serial numbers filed off, but doing so would require that someone
> > thought it would be financially attractive. If it were (and I have my
> > doubts), the extra licence fees for the RuneQuest name would
> > probably be a small portion f the costs, and should pay for
> > themselves in terms of name recognition.
> That's exactly what Chaosium did with BRP; also OpenQuest, and a number of
> more diverse variants such as HarnMaster. So the market for
> YetAnotherRuneQuestVariant is limited, without the brand name to get it
> started, it would be hard for another publisher to claim a significant part
> of the market. Clearly Mongoose think that they can do it, but they gained a
> starting fan base partly through having the RuneQuest name. I don't think
> there is space in the market for YARQV.
> Phil Hibbs.
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Peter Maranci - pmaranci at gmail.com
Pete's RuneQuest & Roleplaying! http://www.runequest.org/rq.htm
The Diary of A Simple Man: http://bobquasit.livejournal.com/
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