[Runequest] Drastically simplifying RuneQuest

Peter Maranci pmaranci at gmail.com
Mon Oct 15 13:58:44 EST 2012

I recently posted an article on my website about sheetless roleplaying -
that is, running a roleplaying campaign in which the players don't interact
with the game system directly, but instead play their characters as people
rather than statistics while the gamemaster handles all the numbers. It's a
pretty advanced and hardcore approach; it does seem to carry a greater risk
of psychological breakdown for some players, but the games are incredibly

Any system can theoretically be used for a sheetless game, but RuneQuest is
particularly well-suited to it because it maps so well to the real world.
You don't want to have to justify limitations on action which are based
solely on issues of system design or game balance during such a campaign -
it ruins the suspension of disbelief! And with RuneQuest, such limitations
are rare or nonexistent.

That said, since the gamemaster handles ALL the paperwork in a sheetless
campaign (including the paperwork which would be handled by players in a
normal game), it helps a lot to reduce that paperwork as much as possible.
I've tried to do this by using a greatly simplified version of the
RuneQuest system for such games. Since the players aren't aware of
mechanics, and in fact are encouraged NOT to think about the game in terms
of numbers and rules, the GM has much more latitude for handling issues by
fiat and off-the-cuff decisions - as long as they can do so in a
reasonable-seeming manner, so as not to strike a false note for the players.

Skills are collapsed into the seven skill categories, with the possibility
of breakouts for skills which are defined during character creation or play
as being exceptionally bad or good. A single combat skill replaces the
usual attack/parry skills (for all weapons); players get a compensatory
degree of control over their actions in combat by intelligent use (or not)
of terrain and other tactics, along with a set of five differing approaches
to combat which can be changed every "round": all-out attack (attack skill
doubled, no defensive actions possible), aggressive stance (50% bonus to
attack chance, defensive chance halved), neutral stance (obvious),
defensive stance (attack skill halved, defensive skill +50%), and all-out
defense (defense skill doubled, no attack possible).

Just curious, has anyone else experimented with anything like this? Here's
a link to the full article. I'm pretty sure that I'll continue to revise
and expand it now and then. If anyone has feedback on it, I'd quite
interested to hear it!



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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