08 August 2015

The future of RuneQuest and the Call of Cthulhu

The dramatic recent developments at Chaosium, and its new relationship with the Design Mechanism, generated a fair amount of discussion on a number of RPG discussion boards (e.g., RPGnet, BRP Central, and the DM forum).  Overall, though, I think that these changes clearly bode well for the future of both the RuneQuest and the Call of Cthulhu games.

The biggest downside to the new arrangement, in my view, is the likely disappearance of an in-print setting-free version of RuneQuest one year from now.  That’s a real pity.  I worry that baking Glorantha into the RQ core book will create a barrier for potential players who are interested in RQ – say, for their own settings, or for those supported by the DM (e.g., Mythic Britain, Luther Arkwright, Classic Fantasy) – but not in Glorantha.  I have nothing against Glorantha.  (It’s not really my cup of tea, so it’s unlikely that I would ever run games in it myself, but I’d be fine with playing in a Glorantha campaign.)  I just think that everyone would be better served with a setting-free version of the RQ core rules and a separate campaign book for Glorantha.  It’s early days, though, so perhaps a setting-free version of RQ (even simply the ‘RQ Essentials’ PDF) might survive.

That complaint aside, though, having RuneQuest distributed alongside Chaosium’s other games will be a great boon for the game and its community.

As for the Call of Cthulhu, the print version of the new edition has been stalled for far too long, and the PDF version needs to be cleaned up.  Getting the 7th edition rules finished up and in stores is key to keeping the game and its community healthy.  Right now one can purchase modules that use the 7e CoC rules in game shops, but not the rule books for those modules.  Fixing up, publishing, and distributing 7e CoC is the top priority for the ‘new’ Chaosium, and rightfully so.  Whatever one thinks of the 7e version of CoC (I think it’s fine, though I thought 6e was just fine as well), it is time to get those wheels turning!

In short, with the new leadership at Chaosium, and its new relationship with the Design Mechanism, the future for the two premier ‘BRP’ (‘d100’) games – RuneQuest and Call of Cthulhu – looks very bright.


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  2. As a retailer, I have a few problems with the whole thing. Moon Design stuff wouldn't succeed if it were distribution based. No offense to them, but Glorantha can't support itself without the fans ordering direct, and has never been a mainstream success. And Chaosium wasn't exactly setting the world on fire when Greg ran it, from a sales POV. To me this arrangement simply throughs all that Moon Design and Design Mechanism under a bus.

    I HOPE it works out. But I worry we are about to enter another dark age for RuneQuest.

  3. I kinda feel the same way....RQ is about to go from a vigorously supported product that reflects that primary user base (which is not interested in Glorantha) back to where it was pre-1983 as a Glorantha specific setting. Very few today are playing RQ for its Glorantha roots.

    On the plus side, I do think CoC 7E needs to come out soon, and if the rules changes are well received I think BRP could benefit from a revision as well.

  4. I am also a fan of the non-setting specific RQ but if there is a new book focusing on Glorantha, it's likely to be super slick in terms of graphic design, and if DM handles the writing, it will be awesome. I see it as just another campaign book for RQ6 that will happen to have the rules along with it. Beyond that? I'd love to see more campaign setting books like Mythic Britain.

  5. I don't see any good news coming out of this other than the possibility of PDFs of the Chaosium back catalogue becoming available again *if* they manage to rescue the CoC7 Kickstarter. And that's just doing what they should have been doing for years.

    Charlie may have let the company run down, but none of the other parties have that impressive a business record. Greg and Sandy step in, then Moon Design come on board (presumably with the finances to bail out CoC7). They are gamers at heart, as evidenced by the snap decision to re-Goranthafy RuneQuest by a team whose main interest just happens to be Glorantha. No-one has been able to point out a sound business strategy behind that move. Ben got put in charge of BRP development, then we hear that BRP will be a low priority. Then Rick is President, not Greg.

    There is also the lack of official communication on things, apart from one or two posts in obscure locations (The Acaeum? Really?). So things haven't improved much on the communication front.

    I am biased, as I am mainly a fan of BRP and RQ without the baggage of Glorantha and its ducks. Even so, I don't see the benefit of squishing RQ6 and AiG into one book when Glorantha fans could have had AiG this year. 320p max for the combined book, without making the RQ6 rules incompatible, and it's "not a new edition".

    No, none of the above fills me with confidence.


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