[Runequest] Drastically simplifying RuneQuest

Lawrence Whitaker lawrence.whitaker at gmail.com
Tue Oct 16 04:29:59 EST 2012

I experimented with a sheetless Jorune campaign many years ago. It was
fun, to a point, but suffered from certain things others have alluded

1. It imposed a helluva lot of work on me as GM, even though the
system was relatively simple. In the end, it ceased being fun; it was
taking far too long in terms of upkeep and in-game book-keeping and

2. The players were mature and accepting, but they missed having a
character sheet and some interaction with the mechanics. For them this
was what made the game the most fun; the transparency and direct
interaction with the rule system.

3. They especially missed skill advancement. Being told they'd 'got
better' in one skill or another simply led to the question 'Well, how
much? How can I tell?' For them, noticable advancement was one of the
rewards for roleplaying and gaming. To not see that led them feel
something was lacking. One player put it bluntly. 'It like being told
you've the race, but the gold medal is invisible.' I think he was

In the end, we went back to a system driven campaign and agreed that
although good for a one-shot, it was difficult to sustain an ongoing
sheetless campaign that was fun and not exhausting.

One point in Peter's article that made my eyebrows raise was the
recommendation to take weeks to create the characters, and to
carefully vet the players beforehand. Wow. It seems to me that whilst
weeks spent in one-on-one discussions might be fun for one or two
players, take that up to five or six and the GM already has an
absolute ton of work to do before the game even starts. You'd better
have a lot of spare time, and patience, on your hands if you take this
approach. Furthermore, if you have to vet your players as part of the
process, you run the risk of ending up with...

a) No players at all
b) Players you regularly gamed with traditionally feeling pissed-off
because its judged that they won't 'fit' with the sheetless style.
Meaning the possibility of fractured friendships and distinctly fewer
players when you come to resume a more trad approach.

Plus, in my experience, players want to get their characters made
quickly and explore their motivations, fears, desires etc (BTW, all
are brilliant things to develop anyway) as part of the game rather
than via an intensive, extensive preliminary exercise that, as I read
it in the article, sounds like several weeks of counselling therapy.

I don't want to sound too negative or dismissive: I think there's a
definite place for this style of play and, indeed, I've done it
myself. However I do think that traditional, system-driven campaigns
can be every bit as immersive and intense as sheetless games. My
current Arthurian RQ6 game certainly fits this bill: its character and
motivation driven, with passions and ambitions dictating the flow of
the plot and game. But the characters still have their sheets, get to
interact freely with the rules, and enjoy seeing how their changing
abilities and passions translate (and can affect) other abilities they

YMMV, of course.

On 15/10/2012, Phil <snarks at gmail.com> wrote:
> Greg:
>>looking at hard numbers to crunch
>>their odds, is not how real life
>>decision making works.
> The player is not the character. I see this extra knowledge as part of the
> balancing for the extreme sensory depravation that players necessarily
> suffer in a roleplaying game.
> Phil.
> _______________________________________________
> Runequest mailing list
> Runequest at rpgreview.net
> http://rpgreview.net/mailman/listinfo/runequest_rpgreview.net

Will there be time enough and World for me to sing that song?

More information about the Runequest mailing list