This is a work in progress. If it is ever finished, it will be a booklet containing the core rules of the RuneQuest III system – not the complete system, but enough of it to make the scenarios on this site playable, in combination with the RuneQuest help sheet.

Recent rumor has it that Chaosium is preparing to publish a set of rulebooks which will accomplish the same purpose. If so, I’ll be profoundly grateful – because I won’t have to finish this project.

Basic RuneQuest III Rules

RuneQuest is no longer being printed or published commercially in any form. This document has therefore been designed to allow newcomers to the system to play and GM using the RuneQuest system, and make use of the large quantity of RuneQuest material available online. In addition to the core RuneQuest III rules needed to play and run, some "homebrew" rules and options have been included. These additions do not change the basic form of the game; campaigns using these rules will be compatible with any RQ game.

The purchase of the official rules is recommended, since they include much more detail and options for unusual situations. For suggestions on ways to acquire the official RQIII rules as well as published RuneQuest supplements, please consult or your favorite search engine.

A RQIII Game Sheet has been included at the end of this document. It includes the most commonly-needed charts and tables needed for RuneQuest. When the sheet is referenced, the side referred to is noted. The "front" of the sheet is the one that says "RuneQuest III Game Sheet" along the top of the page. Also attached is the standard human character sheet. Both are necessary parts of this document.

  1. Characters
  2. Characters and all intelligent living creatures are defined by characteristics and skills.

    A. Characteristics

    All living creatures in RuneQuest posses seven basic characteristics: Strength, Constitution, Size, Intelligence, Dexterity, Power, and Appearance. These define the basic potential which the creature is born with.



    Normal Starting Human Range



    Strength (STR) Physical Strength 3 - 18 (3d6) Damage Bonus, carrying capacity, Agility Bonus, Manipulation Bonus, Attack Bonus, Parry Bonus Through training or research, up to 1.5 times original rolled value
    Constitution (CON) Health, endurance 3 - 18 (3d6) Hit points, disease resistance, carrying capacity, Perception Bonus Through training or research, up to 1.5 times original rolled value
    SIZE (SIZ) Height & weight 8 - 18 (2d6+6) Hit Points, Damage Bonus, Attack speed (SIZ Strike Rank). Affects Stealth Bonus, Agility Bonus, and Attack Bonus negatively. No.*
    Intelligence (INT) Memory, Learning speed, etc. 8 - 18 (2d6+6) Communication Bonus, Knowledge Bonus, Magic Bonus, Manipulation Bonus, Perception Bonus, Attack Bonus No.*
    Dexterity (DEX) Physical quickness & coordination 3 - 18 (3d6) Agility Bonus, Magic Bonus, Manipulation Bonus, Stealth Bonus, Attack Bonus, Parry Bonus, Attack speed (DEX Strike Rank). Through training or research, up to 1.5 times original rolled value
    Power (POW) Magical power, spiritual strength 3 - 18 (3d6) Communication Bonus, Magic Bonus, Perception Bonus, spell-casting energy (Magic Points), Luck Roll Special — by experience only. **
    Appearance (APP) Physical beauty 3 - 18 (3d6) Communication Bonus. Through training or research, up to 1.5 times original rolled value

    * - Cannot normally be increased. See "Non-Raisable Characteristics", below.

    ** - Can be increased through a special form of experience only.

    Increasing Characteristics: STR, CON, DEX, and APP can be increased through special training. The time needed is 25 hours times the characteristic. Thus a character with a STR of 11 would need to train for (11 x 25 hours) = 275 hours in order to get a chance to increase. Once the training is completed, roll 1D3-1 (0 - 2) to determine the amount of increase in that characteristic. Yes, it is possible to roll a 1 and have no increase.

    Training isn’t free, of course, and in fact is usually quite expensive. For the poor, research is also an option. To research a characteristic, a character spends exactly the same amount of time as for training it, doing various exercises to improve themself (lifting weights for STR training, for example). Cost on this is minimal, although the GM may choose to impose a "materials" cost. Once the research is complete, the player must make a special roll: he must roll over his current characteristic times 5% on percentile dice. A character with STR 11 would have to spend 275 hours researching, and then roll over (11 x 5%) = 55% for the research to be successful that is, he’d have to roll 56 - 100. If the research was successful, he may then roll the usual 1D3-1.

    Training Time Note: A normal character can spend about 50 hours per week training or researching. Of course, this takes time away from other activities. It is possible to train several different skills and/or characteristics in a week; hours may be divided as the character wishes, although of course training may not be available at all times.

    Non-Raisable Characteristics: INT and SIZ cannot normally be increased. Extreme magic, divine intervention, powerful alchemy, or unusual technology are the only possible exceptions to this rule.

    Increasing POW: POW may be increased through a form of experience. If a character (or NPC) succeeds in overcoming an enemy with a spell, overcomes a spirit in spirit combat, or (optionally) resists a spell cast by a more POWerful enemy, they gain a chance to increase their POW one week after the event. This is called a POW gain roll; a character records their qualification for this roll by placing a mark in the box next to their characteristic POW.

    The chance to increase is their maximum POW (21 in humans) minus their current POW x 5%. Thus a character with POW 17 would need to roll (21 - 17) = 4 x 5% = 20% or less on percentile dice in order to increase their POW. If successful, he may chose to either roll 1d3-1 OR take a flat 1 point. You must decide which option to use before rolling.

    Limits: It is not possible to raise POW through training or research. The GM MUST approve all POW gain rolls — they should not be abused. For example, characters cannot cast spells on each other in order to gain a roll. Likewise, a POW gain roll cannot be gained by casting spells on enemies who are too weak to be a real challenge; the character cannot be more than 9 POW higher than their target (in other words, if the chance of success was 95% or higher, it wasn't a real contest to begin with). Sincerity and risk are the essential qualities needed to increase POW. A creature cannot gain more than one POW gain roll per week.

    Some religions allow a POW gain roll or even an automatic POW gain to cult members who conduct religious ceremonies on holy days. These normally come once per year. A minimum number of worshippers is usually required for success.

    Characteristic Maximums: STR, CON, DEX, and APP may be increased to 1.5 times their original rolled value, rounded up. Thus a character born with a STR of 14 can increase their STR to no more than 21; if born with a STR of 15, the maximum STR is 23. Option: neither STR nor CON can be trained higher then the highest of STR, CON, or SIZ.

    POW can only be increased to the species maximum. Species maximum is determined by adding the lowest possible roll for that characteristic to the highest possible roll; for humans, this is 21 (3 + 18).

    Characteristic Rolls: In some cases a characteristic roll is called for. Luck is a common example. In order to make a Luck roll, the player must roll their characteristic POWer x 5%. So if Bob has a POW of 13, and an avalanche from a nearby mountain slope might bean him, he must roll 13 x 5% = 65% OR LESS to avoid being targetted by a random rock.

    The GM may require other types of characteristic rolls depending on circumstances. For example, when walking over slippery ice a character might have to make a DEX x 5% roll on d100. If the ice is also wet and he is wearing smooth-soled boots, his chance of success might fall to DEX x 3% or even less! On the other hand, he could improve his chances by (for example) throwing sand ahead on his path. This might raise his chances to DEX x 8 or higher.

    Opposed Resolution Rolls: When two characteristics are in direct opposition, an opposed resolution roll must be made. This is a core RQ mechanic. The chance of success is 50%. However, your chance is reduced by 5% for every point that the opposed characteristic is higher than your own. If your characteristic is higher than your opponent's, you chance of success is increased by 5% for every point higher.

    Example: Bob wants to arm-wrestle. His first opponent is a skinny 12-year-old, STR 10. Bob's STR is 14. He has an advantage of 4 points , so his chance of success is 50% + (4 x 5% = 20%) = 70%. On a percentile roll of 70 or less he wins the contest.

    The 12-year-old's big blacksmith father is his next opponent. The blacksmith has a STR of 20. Bob is at a 6 point disadvantage now; his chance of success is a mere 50% - (6 x 5% = 30%) = 20%!

    Opposed resolution is used most often in magic, to overcome a target with a spell (POW vs. POW). It is also use when resisting poison; the victim must resist the potency of the poison (POT) with their Constitution. In the case of poison, even success in resisting results in taking damage equal to half the POT of the venom (failure would have resulted in taking the full potency of damage).

    Other examples: DEXterity vs. the STR of a blowing wind when climbing down a mountain; INT vs. APP when resisting seduction; SIZ vs. STR when avoiding being knocked down.

    Extreme Contests: If one side in an opposed resolution contest has a 10-to-20 point advantage over the other, there is still a 5% chance of failure. In other words, even a very weak opponent will successfully overcome a greater force on a roll of 01 - 05. Likewise, even a dominant force fails on a roll of 96 - 100.

    However, if one side is more than 20 points higher than the other, the chance of failure drops to a mere 1%.

    The numbers in the white boxes represent the percent chance for the Active characteristic to overcome the Passive one.

    The Opposed Resolution Table
































    01 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 95 95 95 95 95 95 95 95 95 95 95 99
    02 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 95 95 95 95 95 95 95 95 95 95 95
    03 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 95 95 95 95 95 95 95 95 95 95
    04 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 95 95 95 95 95 95 95 95 95
    05 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 95 95 95 95 95 95 95 95
    06 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 95 95 95 95 95 95 95
    07 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 95 95 95 95 95 95
    08 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 95 95 95 95 95
    09 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 95 95 95 95
    10 05 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 95 95 95
    11 05 05 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 95 95
    12 05 05 05 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 95
    13 05 05 05 05 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90
    14 05 05 05 05 05 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85
    15 05 05 05 05 05 05 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80
    16 05 05 05 05 05 05 05 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75
    17 05 05 05 05 05 05 05 05 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70
    18 05 05 05 05 05 05 05 05 05 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65
    19 05 05 05 05 05 05 05 05 05 05 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60
    20 05 05 05 05 05 05 05 05 05 05 05 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55
    21 01 05 05 05 05 05 05 05 05 05 05 05 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50

    Strike Rank Modifiers: The length and weight of a weapon affect the speed of attack in combat, but higher DEXterity and a longer reach (i.e. greater SIZe) are also factors. These are expressed as Strike Rank Modifiers, "SRM" for short. Add the SIZ and DEX Strike Rank modifiers together on the character sheet to determine the Melee Strike Rank Modifier.

    DEXterity: 1 - 9 = 4, 10 - 15 = 3, 16 - 19 = 2, 20+ = 1.

    SIZe: 1 - 9 = 3, 10 - 15 = 2, 16 - 19 = 1, 20+ = 0.

    Movement: Movement for human beings is 3 meters per strike rank in combat (there are 10 Strike Ranks in a combat round, and there are five rounds in a minute). If running this rate can be doubled to 6 meters/SR. Of course combat is not possible when at a full run!

    For long-distance travel a character may hike up to 5 kilometers per hour, depending on terrain and weather. Of course magic, a mount, or a vehicle are usually quicker than hiking.

    B. Skills

    Skills are divided into seven categories: Agility, Communication, Knowledge, Manipulation, Perception, Stealth, and Magic. There are no artifical limits on skills; anyone can learn any skill. However, natural ability (characteristics) affects how easily skills can be learned.

    Skills are determined by adding the skill category bonus, the skill base, cultural additions (if any) and whatever the character has learned in addition through training and experience.

    Skills are percentile-based; they range from 1 - 100 (in extreme cases, higher). When a skill is used, the player must roll equal to or lower than that skill on D100 in order to succeed. If the GM decides that the circumstances are particularly difficult, a penalty may be assigned; for example, if a character is trying to climb a smooth wall, the GM may declare that the chance to succeed is minus 20%, i.e. 20% less than it would normally be.

    Example: Bob has a Swim skill of 67%. He finds a deep calm stream. As he jumps in (we presume he has taken anything heavy off), the player must roll 67 OR LESS on D100. He succeeds, and travels three meters. This is enough to get him across. If he’d failed, he would have stayed above water but not made any progress across the stream. If he had fumbled (see Criticals, Specials, & Fumbles below) he would have sunk to the bottom and started to drown.

    If Bob had insisted on trying to swim across while wearing his chainmail, however, the GM could assign a penalty of, say, 60%. This brings Bob's effective Swim skill to 17%. The player rolls a 98 (a fumble), and Bob sinks to the bottom like a stone. He will soon drown, although the GM may allow some additional Swim rolls to attempt to surface. Or, of course, he might have a chance to walk across the bottom of the creek—but it would be difficult, and there would be a chance of drowning.

    Skill rolls aren't always required. If a task is easy, no roll is needed. For example, no Climb roll is needed to climb a ladder. If the ladder is partly broken and someone at the bottom is shaking it, though, a roll would definitely be required—probably at a penalty! The GM decides when a skill roll is required.

    Use of a skill can sometimes be attempted again, at the GM's discretion. A second attempt may involve a GM-determined penalty. For example, if a character attempts to Sing and fails she can stop, clear her throat, drink a glass of water, and give it another shot. But her confidence may be down, and the audience less friendly...subtracting, say, 20 from her effective skill.

    Skill Category Bonuses

    Each of the seven skill categories has a bonus which is based on the characteristics which affect it most. A characteristic can affect a category in one of three ways:

    Primary: Each point that the characteristic is above ten adds one to the bonus. Each point that it is below ten subtracts one from the bonus.

    Secondary: Each two points that the characteristic is above ten adds one to the bonus. Likewise, each two points that it is below ten subtracts one from the bonus. Always round in the player's favor; for example, a character with a STR of 13 adds 2 to their Agility bonus, while one with a STR of 7 only subtracts one point from the bonus. If two different characteristics are secondary, their effects are calculated separately and added to the total.

    Negative: Like Primary, but in reverse. Each point that the characteristic is above ten subtracts one from the bonus. Each point that it is below ten adds one to the bonus. SIZ is negative for Stealth skills, for example, because the bigger you are the harder it is to sneak.

    A skill bonus can be negative, in which case its value is subtracted from the base chance for the skill. If the result is zero or less, the character cannot use that skill. This is a very rare situation. Of course if the appropriate characteristics are later raised, the character gains the ability to use those skills.

    Agility & Parry: skills which involve moving the whole body. Includes Boat, Climb, Dodge, Jump Ride, Swim, and Throw, as well as shield and weapon parries. DEX is primary, STR is secondary, and SIZ is negative.

    Communications: Includes Fast Talk, Orate, Sing, and Speak (languages). INT primary, POW and APP secondary.

    Knowledge: Purely mental skills. Includes Animal Lore, Craft (substance), Evaluate, First Aid, Human Lore, Mineral Lore, Plant Lore, Read/Write Languages, and World Lore. INT primary.

    Magic: Spellcasting and enchantment. INT and POW are primary, DEX secondary.

    Manipulation & Attack: Skills which mainly involve fingers, hands, and arms; body mass is not a major factor in their use. Includes Conceal, Devise, Sleight, and Play Instrument, as well as all weapon attack skills. INT and DEX are primary, STR is secondary.

    Perception: Includes Listen, Scan, Search, and Track. INT primary, POW and CON secondary.

    Stealth: Includes Hide and Sneak. DEX primary, SIZ and POW negative.

    Skill bases: All skills have a base chance: the number in parentheses next to it on the character sheet. This represents the basic chance that a totally untrained person has with this skill. Climb, for example, has a base of 40% for humans. The base is added to the skill category bonus to determine the character's starting skill. Of course it is possible for the skill to be raised higher than the base.

    Cultural skills: Certain skills are more common in some cultures; these are commonly weapon skills. Nomad cultures prefer bows to slings, for example, and someone born into a nomad culture has a higher base chance with a bow than the listed base. Cultural Weapons Bonuses can be found on the RQ3 Game Sheet.

    New Skills: The skills listed on the character sheet are not the only ones possible. Smell, for example, is an obvious Perception skill. In humans it might have a base of 15%, while in dogs it could be base 80%.

    [Box] Skill Example: Bob has an Agility Bonus of 8. If he has not improved his Ride skill in any way, his chance to successfully use Ride to ride a horse is 8 plus the base chance for Ride, which is 5. That adds up to 13. Bob must roll a 13 or less on d100 in order to successfully persuade the horse to move in the direction he wants. If he succeeds, he will gain a chance to learn something about Ride and improve his skill from the experience later. If he fails, the horse will probably not move. If he does particularly badly (see Skill Results: Criticals, Specials, and Fumbles) the horse will throw him off, and Bob will probably be hurt!

    Increasing skills: Skills may be increased through experience and training. Characters will also be created with some skills already above base through the character creation process.

    Experience: Every time a skill is successfully used in a meaningful situation, there is a chance that it may increase. This is called an "experience check", because when a skill has been used successfully the player places a pencil check-mark in the box on the character sheet next to that skill (which will then be checked. Pun. Sorry.)

    Meaningful in this case means that the skill cannot have merely been used because the player wanted an experience check; the GM is the ultimate arbiter if a check is deserved. Spurious use of skills SHOULD NOT be rewarded.

    One game-week after the check was made, the character has a chance to have learned something from the experience. The category bonus (but NOT the base) is subtracted from the skill to be checked. The player must then roll OVER that amount on percentile dice. The number to be beaten cannot be greater than 100 minus the category bonus, however. Example: Bob has an Attack Bonus of 7%. His Shortsword Attack is 44%. To increase it he must roll over 100 - 44 - 7 = 51. If his skill was 98, his chance to successfully increase the skill would still be 94 or higher (more than 100 - 7, in other words), since the category bonus represents the minimum chance to increase.

    If the roll is failed, nothing was learned—this time. The experience check is erased.

    If the roll is successful, the player must choose to either roll 1d6 OR take a flat 3 points. The result is added to the current skill total. The experience check is erased.

    Note: Not all skills can be learned through experience. Those skills on the character sheet which do not have a box next to them cannot be increased through use; for example, recognizing a rare type of plant will not increase your general Plant Lore. Such skills can only be increased through training.

    Skill Training: A skill may be improved by spending as many hours training as you have points in the skill. That includes base and category bonus! Training may be with a tutor or in a class, and generally is not cheap; costs vary by skill and location, of course. Once the necessary training time has been spent, the player may choose to either take a flat 2-point add to the skill OR roll 1d6-2 (yes, it's possible to go down when training).

    Skill Researching: A skill may be improved by spending as many hours researching it as you have points in the skill, including base and category bonus. Some material costs may be assigned by the GM, but these will generally be much lower than the cost of training. Once the researching is complete, the player must make an experience check roll; a d100 roll OVER their current skill, minus their category bonus. If they succeed, they may choose to either take a flat 1-point add to the skill OR roll 1d6-2 (again, it's possible to go down when researching).

    Training Time Note: A normal character can spend about 50 hours per week training or researching. Of course, this takes time away from other activities. It is possible to train several different skills and/or characteristics in a week; hours may be divided as the character wishes, although of course training may not be available at all times.

    Skill Results: Criticals, Specials, and Fumbles

    In addition to normal success or failure, it's also possible to have an extreme result when using a skill. This occurs if the die roll is particularly high or low. The Skill Results table in the upper left corner of the front of the Game Sheet lists the Critical, Special and Fumble rolls needed for all skill percentages.

    Critical: If the d100 roll is equal to or less than 5% of the skill, the result is spectacular success: a critical (or "crit"). In combat, for example, this results in a far more damaging blow (special combat results are detailed in Section X). The effect can be roughly three times the expected result or better. The GM determines the effects of a critical with a particular skill.

    Special: A roll of 20% (i.e. one fifth) of the skill percentage (but greater than 5%) results in a special success, or "special". The result is approximately 2 times the expected outcome. Again, the GM determines the precise effect.

    Fumble: A Fumble occurs when an extremely high roll is made—at least 96 or higher on d100. The higher the skill, the less chance of fumbling. Consult the Skill Results table to determine the Fumble chance for a particular skill. The chance to fumble is a roll greater than or equal to 100 - ((100 - skill)/20).

    When you fumble, you fail badly. If you're jumping, you fall and hurt yourself. If you bandaging a friend, you increase the damage. If you're singing for your supper, you anger or annoy the listeners and are egged or attacked.

    Automatic Failure and Success: Unless otherwise indicated, a roll of 01 - 05 on d100 is always a success. A roll of 96 - 100 is always a failure. This is in addition to whatever special skill result may apply.


    Most skills are self-explantory, but here are details for some skills:

    Agility Skills

    Skills which are used to move (including Climb, Swim, Boat, and Ride):

    Normal success: move a set distance (for Climb & Swim, 3 meters). If more distance remains to be travelled, roll again.

    Failure: no progress made.

    Fumble: Disaster! Fall, sink, crash, or be thrown. Damage is a strong possibility.

    Special success: Travel twice the normal distance.

    Critical: Travel four or more times the normal distance, with great style and panache.

    Communication Skills

    Fast Talk: Confuse the listener.

    Orate: Speechmaking.

    Speak Language: Normally no roll is required. Skill level indicates fluency. 30% is a basic ability to communucate; 50% is "normal" speech; at 70% the speaker sounds quite cultured; and 90% or more is an absolute master of the tongue.

    Knowledge Skills

    Animal, Plant, and Mineral Lores: Ability to recognize a type within the category, and possible uses, locations, etc.

    Craft (specific substance): Create an object from the particular substance. Examples: Craft Wood is carpentry & carving, Craft Hide is leatherworking, and Craft Metal is blacksmithing.

    First Aid: A successful use of this skill can stop bleeding in a round. Five rounds spent on First Aid will restore 1d3 hit points. A special success in this case cures 2d3 damage, and a critical cures 1d3 + 3.

    Human Lore: Identify ethnicity, assess general character and truthfullness, etc. These rolls are usually made by the GM, since the player should not know how successfull they have been.

    World Lore: Geography, general information about areas, and general catch-all lore.

    Manipulation Skills

    Conceal: Camoflauge

    Devise: Create a simple trap or snare, jury-rig a simple device, disarm a trap, pick a lock, etc.

    Sleight: Pick pockets, juggle, pick a card (any card!), etc.

    Manipulation Skills

    Scan: Spot something. For example, an ambusher peeking from behind that tree. Or a golden key half-buried in dust. The GM may secretly roll this for the players when appropriate.

    Search: Unlike Scan, this isn't something you do while strolling along; it's a deliberate attempt to find hidden items. It takes one melee round to search a 4-meter square area.

    Hit Points: Total hit points are the average of CON and SIZ, rounded up.

    Hit Locations: In addition to total hit points, areas of the body each have a number of hit points; this makes it possible for a specific location (or locations) to be disabled, maimed, or even destroyed. In humanoids, these are the seven hit locations: Right leg, left leg, abdomen, chest, right arm, left arm, and head. The hit points in each location are determined by the total hit points; consult the Humanoid Hit Points Per Location Table (top center on the front of the Game Sheet) to determine the hit points in each location.

    If you add up all the hit points in every hit location, the total is higher than the total number of hit points. This is because it is possible to die from accumulated wounds in several locations (no one of which is itself fatal), while other locations are untouched. In other words, the force needed to destroy every part of a body is far greater than that needed to simply cause death. Of course vital locations (the head, chest, and abdomen) can be mortally wounded, and it is possible to bleed to death from a single bad wound anywhere on the body. See Damage in the Combat section for more information.

    Hit locations are different for non-humanoids, of course. The number of hit points in a location is a percentage of the total HP, and depends on the proportional size of the location. The range is generally 25%, 33%, and 40%. For a human, for example, each leg has hit points equal to 33% of the total, the abdomen also has 33%, the chest has 40%, each arm has 25%, and the head has 33%.

    There are unusual creatures, of course. The legs of insects usually have 16% of the total, and perfectly round creates have 100% of their hit points and only one hit location.

    Damage Bonus: A high STR and SIZ allows a damage bonus in combat. Low STR+SIZ can reduce damage below normal (a negative damage bonus). Add STR and SIZ together and consult the Damage Bonus table (Game Sheet front upper right, below the Armor Table) to determine damage bonus. The damage bonus applies to all hand-held weapons. One-half of the damage bonus applies to thrown weapons such as javelins and sling-stones. The bonus does not apply to machine-propelled missiles such as crossbow bolts, bullets, and rays.

  3. Character Creation

There are many ways to create a character. The RQIII book offers a large set of tables for determining a character's starting skills. Buy the book if you want to use that method. Some other options:

Random Character Creation: Roll characteristics randomly, according to the method the GM prefers. Roll a d8 to determine the charact's starting culture (Character Culture table, front lower right). Then determine the character's age by rolling 2d6 + 15. The character then receives a GM-determined number of skill points for each year of age past 15. This amount might range from 20 to 50 points. Assign these points to various skills, raising no skill beyond a GM-determined maximum for previous experience (for example, the GM might decree that 1 skill can be at a maximum of 70, two at 60, and none of the others above 50. The player would choose the skills, of course). Discussion with the GM is encouraged during this process; for example, if a character starts out as a poor child in a civilized city, they might become a thief. In that case, they might add 5 points to Sleight and Scan, 4 to Climb & Dodge, 3 to Devise & Search, and 2 each to Fast Talk, Speak Own Language, and Evaluate (a total of 30 points). Depending on the world-setting, the chaaracter might or might not receive a chance to gain a spell each year (in a high-magic world, the chance might be their POWx5).

Character Design: There are many possible ways to design a RQ character. One is for the GM to have a discussion with each player about the type of character they'd like to play. The GM then designs all PCs.

Another (homebrew) method: Each player receives 200 - 500 or more character design points to spend on their character (the GM determines the amount). All characteristics start at 11 (for human beings). Characteristics may be bought up or sold down at the costs listed below:


Per-point Cost






1* special









* - SIZ cost must be paid for each point of adjustment, up or down (since there are advantages to being large OR small). Therefore you cannot gain points for selling off SIZ.

Characteristics cannot normally be increased or reduced beyond species maximums. If the GM wishes to permit exceptional characteristics, the cost is tripled for each additional point, i.e. to increase an 18 INT to 19 would cost 15 points. All characteristics must be approved by the GM in any case.

Skills: The remaining character design points are used to buy skills. The GM may chose to allow skills to be purchased on a point-for-point basis, or may rule that certain skills cost more or less (for example, if Dance skill is not likely to be extremely useful, the GM may decide that each character design point spent on the skill buys 2 or even 3 points of skill. Likewise, an attack skill might well cost 2 or three character design points per point of skill gained). Of course the GM should be fair; the cost of a skill should be the same for every player.

The GM should assign maximums for starting skills as described above in Random Character Creation.

Spells: Each spell that the character knows at the start of the game must be purchased with character design points. Any sort of magic system can be grafted onto RQ, but if the standard system is used, here are some recommended costs:

  • Divine — 4 points per point of spell

    Spirit — 2 points per point of spell

    Sorcery — 1 point per point of spell (but skill in the spell must be purchased separately)

  • The GM should set strict limits on the number of spells that a character may start with; as a rule of thumb, no more than one per year that the character is over the age of 15, along with any other system-specific restrictions (example: Spirit Magic and Sorcery users may only know as many spells as they have INT).

    Special/Other: Additional means of customizing characters may be introduced by the GM. Advantages and Disadvantages from GURPS may be allowed, for example; these are fairly easy to incorporate into the rules, and the costs usually translate straight over without need for modification.

    A character might be customized in any number of logical ways, too. For example, it might be specified that a character has an unusually pleasant voice (increasing the base chance for Speak, Orate, and Fast Talk) while being completely unable to carry a tune (eliminating the Sing skill altogether). A GM might rule this a fair trade-off, or require some character design point cost to be paid. Almost anything imaginable can be put into the system quite easily.

    Wealth and Social Status: Even if the GURPS Ads/Disads system is not being used, there should be a character design point cost for high wealth and social status. Likewise, particularly low wealth and/or status might return some character design points for the player's use.

    Possessions: Finally, character design points can be used to purchase starting equipment. The GM determines the buying power of each point to suit their economic system. If the standard monetary system is used, 40 silver pennies per character design point would not be an unreasonable amount.

    All character design points must be used up before the game begins. Points may NOT be saved up or transferred between players or characters.

    5. Combat

    Combat in RQ is based on realism and logic. Weapons do damage. Armor and shields absorb (block) damage. For example, a broadsword does 1d8+1 damage plus whatever damage bonus the wielder has. Hard leather armor has two "Armor Points" (AP), which means it blocks the first two points of damage. Example: Bob swings his broadsword at a leather-wearing troll. Bob's skill with broadsword is 70%, which means he must roll a 70 or less on d100 to hit. If he hits, he rolls 1d8+1. In this case he rolls a 5 (4 + 1). The troll's leather armor automatically blocks two points of that damage, which means that the remaining 3 points get through to damage the troll. This is usually not a serious wound.

    Time/The Round: Each combat round has ten strike ranks.

    Combat actions: In combat a participant may do the following:

    Attack - on their attack strike rank, normally only once per round.

    Defend - a defensive action. There are two defensive actions possible:

  • Parry - using a weapon or shield to attempt to block an incoming attack. If a successful Parry skill roll is made, the armor points of the weapon or shield are subtracted from the incoming damage. A special success with the parry roll increases the amount of damage absorbed by the item, and a critical success blocks all damage perfectly. This may be attempted whenever needed, but normally only once in a round; if you are attacked twice or more in a round you must decide which of the attacks you will attempt to parry before the attacks are made (in other words, you don't get to know that the first attack will miss you and the second attack will hit before you decide which one you were going to parry).

    Dodge - Successful use of the Dodge skill allows the character to avoid an incoming attack completely; they literally dodge out of the way. This may be attempted whenever needed, but normally only once in a round; if you are attacked twice or more in a round you must decide which of the attacks you will attempt to Dodge before the attack rolls are made.

  • Other - if you have enough time you may maneuver for position, move on the field of combat, cast a spell, etc. These actions take additional strike ranks to perform.

    Hit locations:





    Strike ranks

    6. Magic

    7. Customizing the system & building worlds




    1. Divine magic users can also use spirit magic. This is usually supplied to them by their church/cult. These do not normally cost POW to learn or cast. Probably generous donations of other sorts would be encouraged, though. :)

    It should also be noted that the variety of spirit magic spells available to a divine magician is likely more limited than the selection available to a "pure" spirit magician--particularly a shaman, since they can explore the spirit world and have access to ALL types of spirits.

    2. Whether or not a divine spell is one-use or renewable depends on your status in your cult:

    * Lay Members usually do not have access to divine spells at all; however, they would have the option to learn cult spirit magic, and the higher orders would possibly cast divine spells for particularly worthy lay members. Lay members are essentially ordinary worshippers.

    * Initiates are the next step up the cult hierarchy. They are full-time servants of the faith; the equivalent of deacons, perhaps, although I am not up on modern church hierarchies. They sacrifice a point of permanent POW to their god when they gain Initiation. For the most part, this allows them to sacrifice POW for one-use spells. They do this at their temple, in a lengthy ceremony. Once they have completed the ritual and sacrificed the POW, they receive the knowledge of the spell. They may cast the spell whenever they wish -- years later, if necessary. But they can only cast it once, and it is gone. Certain very powerful or special cult spells are not available to Initiates. Initiates also receive the support of their cult -- it will try to ransom them if they are captured, for example.



    In addition, Initiates receive a special consideration directly from their deity. If they make an appeal for Divine Intervention and roll percentile dice equal to or less than their current POW, they may effectively make a wish. That wish is highly limited; the deity cannot attack the worshippers of another god, for example. Typical Divine Intervention requests include resurrections of self (you can make a DI attempt at the end of the round that you were killed), or one other provided that the other was not a worshipper of an opposing deity; or transportation of a party to the home temple of the beseecher. Optionally, a one-point increase in a characteristic might be bestowed, or a vision or clue to the location of a magic item. Divine Interventions are dangerous, however. As mentioned, the requestor rolls d100 against their current POW. If they roll higher than their POW, there is no effect and they may not try again for a full week. If the roll is less than their POW, they receive their request (if possible, GM's decision), and immediately LOSE POW equal to the number rolled! In other words, if your POW is 14 and you roll a 9 for your Divine Intervention roll, you receive your request and immediately lose 9 points of POW -- bringing your current POW to 5. If you should roll exactly EQUAL to your POW -- 14 in the example -- ALL of your soul is immediately taken into service by your god. Your wish is still granted if applicable -- for example, your group could be transported to safety -- but you are permanently dead.

    * Acolytes are a step half-way between Initiates and Priests. They may be honored Initiates or retired Priests, for example. Acolytes gain REUSABLE divine spells. They sacrifice POW for their divine magic, but after they cast a divine spell they may regain the use of it by praying in their temple for a full day for every point of POW that they originally sacrificed for that spell. Thus a 3-point divine spell may be recovered through three full days of prayer in temple. Acolytes may or may not receive other special gifts such as the use of an allied spirit, depending on the cult, their general piety, and the GM's decision.

    * Priests lead worship ceremonies, receive reusable divine spells (same as Acolytes), and usually have allied spirits and other special benefits. Priests and the Chief Priest lead the cult.

    * Rune Lords are the living exemplars of the cult's highest ideals, the leaders of the active or warrior section of the cult. You can think of them as paladins, although this is not accurate for every cult. They are certainly the most visible and prestigious members of the cult. Achieving this status is difficult. They usually receive reusable spells and many other benefits.


    When an Initiate moves up in rank and becomes a Priest, any one-use spells which they have which they have NOT YET CAST become reusable. In some versions of the rules some cults include the requirement that an Initiate have sacrificed for at least 10 points of divine magic before becoming a Priest.

    Last edited: 08/03/2004