05 December 2015

Chaosium fumbles fatally with its plan for a new RuneQuest


Chaosium’s ‘new’ version of RuneQuest will not be based on RuneQuest 6.  Instead, it will be a modified version of RuneQuest 2. Thus there has been a divorce, so to speak, between Design Mechanism, which will continue to publish and support RQ6 (albeit eventually under a different name), and Chaosium.

I’ve known about this for a few weeks now, but had to keep my lips sealed until an official announcement was made. (Ironically, I received initial news of the split the day after my post on the bright future for RuneQuest 6 with Chaosium.)

Here is the official announcement from Design Mechanism:
As you may have heard following announcements and comments made at Dragonmeet today, it appears that the next version of RuneQuest (to be published by Chaosium) will be based on a new version of Basic Roleplaying using RQ2 as its underlying core, with some adaptations made by the Chaosium team. Pete and I cannot say anything ourselves about these developments, except to note that Chaosium’s RuneQuest will not use RQ6 to anywhere near the extent originally envisaged following the GenCon announcements back in August. 
We are delighted however, to announce that RQ6 will continue under a new name. We will be announcing that name in due course, but the game system you have grown to care about will live on – as will all the supplements we have created so far, and the ones we intend to release. Pete and I have no direct involvement in RuneQuest’s future per se and so will be devoting our energies to Design Mechanism products. 
I’m sure this news will raise many questions, and some we will not be able to answer – a fact that is simply beyond our control. However we can talk freely about the next printing of our rules and will be very happy to do so. 
We wish Chaosium every success with both BRP and RuneQuest.
Loz and Pete

This is, in my view, an absolutely horrible decision on the part of Chaosium.

Why would they want to split the RQ fanbase yet again? And why would they think it wise to go back to RQ2?

Now, I could see Chaosium opting to use the Call of Cthulhu 7th edition rules as its base for BRP and the new re-Glorantha-ized RQ (even though it's not as good a system as RQ6, and has been somewhat controversial amongst longtime CoC players). That at least would 'unify' all their RPGs under one system. But what they're doing instead is baffling.

I will continue, of course, to play and support RQ6. And while I prefer a setting-neutral version of the RQ6 rules, and so am happy that that version will continue in the future (with a new name), I do regret that RQ6 will not enjoy the additional exposure and distribution that it would have had it been part of Chaosium's line.

Ah well…

13 comments:

  1. Just another bad decision that Greg Stafford, in my opinion, has subjected the fans too. Why would this new version still be called RQ6?

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    1. I assume that it will be called something else. Perhaps RQ7 or RQG ("G" for Glorantha).

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    2. Even worse, they're considering RQ4, which is like a thumb in the eye of a very robust and respectful pedigree of game development. It's like saying L&P never existed.

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  2. ...or just Runequest. I think the Chaosium blog referred to it at RQ 4 somewhere.

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  3. They posted a further explanation here:

    http://www.chaosium.com/blog/some-qa-about-whats-happening-with-runequest/

    As long as the new system retains a lot of the cool features of RQ6, I'm excited for it.

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    1. I found that "further explanation" rather depressing, to be honest. Producing a 4th version of RQ in less than a decade just does not seem very savvy, IMO, for maintaining the RQ fanbase, let alone growing it.

      But more generally, it's clear that the "new" Chaosium is really just obsessed with Glorantha, and cannot conceive of why anyone would want to play RQ in a different setting. I think that's quite short-sighted of them, but it looks like the way they're determined to go.

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    2. ^ Yes. Golly, why would anyone want to play Call of Chthulhu in any era but the 1920s?

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  4. I am hoping they have some plan. Considering the history of the industry of having too many editions out at one time, they will try to avoid that problem of splitting the fan base with an edition war.

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  5. When IP companies make a decision that seems totally contrary to what they have previously done then there's usually a legal issue they want to keep under wraps.

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  6. Totally agree with your observations. What a waste, when what the fan base was really hanging in there for was new material, not a rehash of old.

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  7. You are of course welcome to voice your opinion about Chaosium's plans for the new edition of RQ. But what's with the OTT headline? Anyone reading just that could come away with the impression the company has been mortally wounded and is about to go under. Which is absolutely not the case. Not cool at all.

    Despite whatever "insider knowledge" you say you have, the ongoing relationship between Chaosium and TDM continues to be completely amicable: we are not just professional colleagues but long-standing friends. Someone's already posted the link to our Q&A about the new edition, which makes clear it is far from being just a "modified version of RuneQuest 2" and in fact retains many core elements of RQ6. Loz and Pete will rightly feature in the credits of the new Chaosium edition, and we have wished them well for the direction they are taking with the TDM successor to RQ6 (just as they have wished us well). While Chaosium and TDM have mutually decided to work on our own things for now, we all agree the door remains firmly open for future collaborations.

    MOB
    VP - Chaosium

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    1. Thanks for your comment, MOB. I've posted a reply here: http://akraticwizardry.blogspot.com/2015/12/chaosium-comment-confusion.html

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I'm a Canadian political philosopher who divides his time between Milwaukee and Toronto.