I have been devoting as much time as I can to reading RuneQuest so I can play the game with my son (Ethan) and daughter (Courtney) on Sundays. It is a big book though and I am still not quite all the way through combat but I could hold off no longer as Ethan was becoming a bit irritated at having to wait and so I sat down with the pair and had a short game on Sunday and I found out some stuff about my kids and about RuneQuest so I thought I would give a run down of the game here.
I decided to set up just a short little game where the pair would team up and take a journey to a nearby city after Courtney’s character swindled the wrong member of the ruling class. The nearby city is across a border and I decided to run them along a back road to avoid the guards that may be sent out to capture them. I sat them down and wrote out their available actions in combat and explained how that works in RuneQuest (which I love by the way). I showed them the proactive and reactive actions and then explained all of the bonus actions that could be applied to an attack that hits and is not parried or in the event of a critical hit or fumble. Having it written out for them helped them a great deal and it is something they can look at in game.
I had decided that on the first night they would come across an abandoned farm and barn. It was not so abandoned though as a goblin had taken up residence and was using it as a larder of sorts for beasts and travelers that he caught on the trail. Ethan (playing Etzio the barbarian miner) and Courtney (playing Saxa the crooked merchant) took a look in the barn and finding it in bad disrepair they made their way to the house. The house was locked up and all the drapes were drawn.
They knocked, just in case it was actually occupied and circled the house knocking on all the windows. The goblin Torth was not currently in so no one answered and they tried to force the door. They first tried with brawn and they both failed and so Etzio tried to smash the door down with his hammer but found it made of stern stuff. Instead of pushing the frontal assault Etzio smashed in a nearby window and the pair entered.
They found themselves in a darkened family room with a foul smell and some rats. There was nothing of much note so they kicked open the door into a corridor. They could see nothing (it was night and they had no light source) and try as they did they just could not make a perception test. They could hear some creaking like the sound of sails in rigging and smell something disgusting, like rotted meat. It was not until Saxa walked into the legs of a hanging farmer that they realised what was going on.
The pair argued a little about staying here or in the barn. Etzio used to the outdoors was much more interested in sleeping in the dilapidated barn rather than stay in what possibly could be a haunted house. The merchant was much more keen to stay in the house as it offered much more protection from the elements. Saxa won out in the end and got Etzio to sit up and take first watch.
Etzio unfortunately almost fell asleep and so as Torth returned to the house he caught them by surprise and hurled his spear at Etzio. This is where I learnt how deadly RuneQuest is!
Deadly games with the kids!
Etzio got struck in the right leg with the spear and was impaled by it causing a serious wound. This essentially had him out of the combat for his next three rounds. The screaming woke up Saxa and she is no combatant by any means and immediately attempted to deceive Torth into believeing she could kill him easily. She did OK on that and told Torth that she had a goat she could trade for the life of her companion (as Torth saw Etzio as his capture now). Agreeing to the trade he removed the spear which took Etzio’s serious wound to a major wound and essentially his leg was near severed!
First encounter with a goblin was meant to be an easy one for them and it had become a life threatening issue. Saxa lucked a first aid roll and stopped the bleeding and got Etzio out of the building and back on the road. One attack had been rolled by an enemy and it had almost ended in tragedy for the group. I had read the rules and looked at the damage levels of weapons but it had not tripped just how incredibly dangerous this game is. I liken it to my time in the 1980’s playing Warhammer Fantasy Role Play which was the deadliest game about at the time. You just never want to get hit. I of course forgot to remind them in game about their luck points but as the game progressed I made it possible for Etzio to be healed.
In fact, the remainder of the game had the crooked merchant conned by a bandit and then they came across a Dwarven priest who healed Etzio’s leg (Etzio had used healing on himself and gotten the leg back to a serious wound rather than a major wound. From that point they made it across the border and reached the outskirts of the city where I left it for the day.
What did I learn?
Well, of course there is the fact that combat in RuneQuest looks quick, violent and incredibly dangerous. I had hoped to get a nice combat in so that I could thoroughly go through the blow by blow combat that makes up RuneQuest’s system but it looks as though I will have to be more careful in my planning and try that next week.
RuneQuest is also fun and intuitive. We did the entire game with around four encounters and some interesting role playing in a little under two hours. The kids came to terms with the system pretty easily (Courtney had no problem transitioning from a d20 game to percentile) and they even seemed to soak up the combat options with a good deal of interest.
Ethan, who is 10, has quite the little sense of role playing humour about him! He laughed long and heartily while cracking jokes about the in game shenanigans really well. He liked the game and handled the “adult” content (i.e. the hanging farmer body) well. He still wants to play Michtim as well, which is great, and is very happy to be playing a game that he can use his varied polyhedral dice for.
Courtney (16 years old) and Ethan regularly fight like orcs and dwarfs so it was great to see them working together. They role-played really well together, taking conversation into their characters as the need arose. they listened to one another as they tried to find solutions and it was generally a really fun game to play. I had thought running it was going to be difficult and that they would fight the entire way through but I was pleasantly surprised!
I have to strongly recommend bringing your kids into the game as soon as you can when they show interest. Courtney plays in my regular game and in time Ethan will make that transition too (when his bed time becomes later). It is really great to have something that most of the family can sit down and do on a Sunday, have a laugh and connect. Until next time, keep rolling!