[Runequest] Game balance in different editions

lev at rpgreview.net lev at rpgreview.net
Tue Sep 4 17:43:17 EST 2012

> 	Game balance is an interesting question when you have complex rules
> systems like RuneQuest. What is 'balanced' depends so much not just on
> how you define balance, but play style. And rules interact in complex
> ways. There are definitely issues that you will only find in playtest,
> and not necessarily then. And once a 'problem' is found, how do you fix
> it?

Addressing this single issue, I agree with you concerns and there is two
ways of looking at it.

Balance by limiting: Which, if I read it correctly, you're claiming that
RQ6 does (except for animism and mysticism where it goes a little wild).
Basically by ensuring that magics don't stack etc, that the PCs remain at
a relative disadvantage to some of the big nasties.

Balance by smoothing: This is a lot harder. It allows for PCs to increase
in potential and significantly so to the point that the hero who slays the
dragon etc, is not impossible. However, this is really difficult to do in
practise because if there is one trajectory that leads to a relatively
high powered solution relative to other characters then this leads to an
unbalanced game.

I'm going to also suggest a third alternative:

Balance by aggregation: This is where I go into my weird mode and suggest
that RQ3 sorcerers were balanced, but in aggregate. Rather like their D&D
equivalents they were not very handy at low-power levels (they were
underpowered) but quite powerful at high levels (they were overpowered).
In aggregate they are balanced, but at any one point in time they are not
balanced with their peers.

It is arguable whether you want this third alternative in a game.
Personally, in terms of campaign style, stretched out over an entire story
told over a few years, I consider this acceptable. For one-off games or
even short campaigns, it's probably not such a good idea.

I would have to give it a second look, but do you think that RQ6 animists
and mystics might fall into this category? Or are they unbalanced from the
word go?

> 	I've been looking at some old RQ3 material. RQ3 never tried to 'patch'
> the rules after creation, even though it was clear that some parts of it

Oh, they did, they totally did. Just not that extensively. The RQ Deluxe
book has a set of patches/errata in the back of the book. I believe a
separate document was produced as well by AH for those who had the boxed

All the best,


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