[Runequest] Drastically simplifying RuneQuest

Ravi Desai rdesai at chartermi.net
Tue Oct 16 11:54:27 EST 2012

So I use something a little like this technique whenever I'm working with a group that doesn't even know if they'll like roleplaying, and would like to try a session without all the headache of learning the rules.  Many times, they aren't into all the math, and would just a soon not deal with the specifics of character creation, or the mechanics of game play.  

There is just one game-mechanics truism that I've found universal; everyone likes to role their own dice.  Tell them in vague terms what to roll, and let them try to roll it.  Nobody I've played with wants the GM rolling for them.

We start out the first play session by just finding out what characteristics they would like in their character.  I find out 2 high and 1 low, and I let them roll all the dice I need them to.  I then assign the dice to whatever characteristics make the most sense (so as to produce something like what they were looking for) and turn the crank on a (partially computerized) worksheet that calculates skill percentages.  I'll let them roll for their background (sometimes I'll let them pick) and I make reasonable choices for starting equipment, money, magic, and whatever else rounds out the character.  I then tell then they've got a certain number of points to spend, and run down their list of skills and ask them to bump them a little, a lot, or not at all.  The more they say "a lot" they quicker they'll run out of points (a lot is +10, a little +5).  I usually just have them hang cash they have, and make them spend it in game.  With the GM making the minute decisions (that newbies don't really want to make anyway) you can roll a character in 10 minutes.

Any player that wants to manage their own character sheet, can do so  (why take it away from them, especially if it makes life easier on you)?  The ones that don't care about the sheet, the GM manages.  The player simply declares intent, the GM will tell them in vague terms what they're chances are, and the player can roll.  Every so often we play where the GM manages all the sheets, just for a change of pace.

The things we found when we play this way:
1. Nobody ever remembers how much money they have.  Tracking money found, earned, and spent is a hassle, and there is almost a constant cry from the players to remind them how much money they have.
2. If some encounter requires the players to make a decision about who should perform some task, they invariably want to know which player would be best at it.  Now you have to decide, do you just tell them, or do you make them roll play it out by choosing whomever they think will have the best shot.  Depending on the group, the players may feel cheated if you don't share the percentages of some rarely skill with them (especially if it would be something they could just see if they were managing the character sheet).
3. The players are very engaged - and since they are just rolling dice, the game will often move at a faster pace.  The GM then becomes the bottleneck, and if you are not on top of it, you can get buried.
4. Some stats it just isn't worth to hide from the players (damage, armor, etc).  It drives everyone crazy if they don't know if they need a heal 3 or heal 4 spell to completely heal that leg wound.  The game is still a game of integer values after all.
5. This style of gameplay cries out for an iOS (or android) app to manage the character sheets.  Done right each player could use their phone to see their stats while the GM could manage all of the character sheets from an iPad.  You could even have the app roll for you (give the phone a good shake - and it produces a random number).  I've started this idea once or twice, but could never find the time to clean it up enough to be generally usable.  Then you could play in a dorm room or sitting in comfy chairs instead of around the dinner table (although there's something to be said for KOTD).

Anyway, that's my experience.


On Oct 14, 2012, at 10:58 PM, Peter Maranci <pmaranci at gmail.com> wrote:

> 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.
>  If anyone has feedback on it, I'd quite interested to hear it!
> http://www.runequest.org/sheetlessrpg.htm
> ->Peter
> -- 
> 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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