Perhaps one of the more interesting parts of RuneQuest is the role of Culture and Community in the lives of the characters. It is in this phase that we define the society where the character comes from, and the relationships they have with family and kin.
RuneQuest has four basic human cultures: Barbarian, Civilized, Nomadic and Primitive. The book goes into a detailed look into each of these, including an excellent section on the “voice” of each culture, lending insight to how they think and behave. Mechanically, each Culture also shows a list of skill bonuses and new skills appropriate to the character of that culture. These bonuses are applied immediately to the Standard skills.
Now that we’ve got the base form of Altan the Nomad scout in our previous article, let’s start applying the Nomad Culture to his character sheet.
The first step is to add +40% to both Customs and Native Tongue, which makes sense considering that the adventurer has to be somewhat socially capable in his society.
Next, I have to choose Three Professional Skills from the options offered in the Nomad description. For Altan’s case, I decide to go for Navigate, Survival and Track.
Altan also gets a pick of one Combat Sytle from the Nomad track. I decide to go for Horse Lord.
Finally, Altan gets to spend 100 points among the listed Standard Skills, chosen Professional Skill and Combat Skill. Each (and every) skill in the list receives at least 5 points, and a maximum of 15.
Given the listed Standard Skills and my Chosen Professional Skills, I decide to spend:
Endurance +5%, First Aid +5%, Locale +5%, Perception +5%, Stealth +10%, Athletics +5%, Ride +10%, Navigate +10%, Survival +10% and Track +15%
This leaves me with 30 points remaining, which I decide to spend on Altan’s Combat Style for a total of Horse Lord +30%
So for a quick look at his skills, Altan’s new set of skills are:
First Aid 30
Native Tongue 65
Horse Lord Combat Style +30%
At this point I can opt to roll for Background Events for Altan. This is an optional step, but I’ve always liked rolling for these types of things. Rolling a d100, I come up with a 33 resulting in:
“You have a favoured and beloved pet which follows you everywhere. It has no abilities or special powers, but offers comfort and companionship.”
Neat! No mechanical benefits, but it does add a bit of flavor. I think a hunting dog will do nicely as a pet.
Moving on to the community side of things, I roll another d100 for Altan’s Social Class and get a 37. Consulting the chart, that means that Altan is a Freeman. This gives me a Money Mod of 1 and tells me that Altan has his own mount and owns a yurt or similar accomodations, half a dozen livestock, weapons, simple armour and maybe a slave or two if his society has such.
Not too shabby.
I also get to roll for starting money. As a Freeman I multiply my result by the Money Modifier of 1, so no real change there. As a nomad, my roll nets me 450 silver pieces.
Now let’s take a look at family. I find it interesting that you have the option of shaping the background by rolling on tables. Kind of like the Lifepath system, come to think of it. Rolling on the family tables, the following facts surface.
Altan was raised by a Single Mother, and has a single sibling.
I decide to try the optional Marriage table as well and roll a 10, way below Altan’s Influence rating, which means it passes, it seems Altan’s a husband to some lady as well. Whether this is a happy marriage is up to the GM and the player’s collaboration however.
He also has 1 surviving grandparent, 1 Aunt or Uncle, and 5 cousins.
Despite being raised by a single mother, Altan’s family reputation is untarnished and is of excellent standing, granting him 3 Contacts or Allies.
The family also enjoys reasonable connections within its community. However this also yields them a single enemy, possibly a rival of some sort.
Now we move on to Altan’s Passions, these represent his emotional connections, the people, ideals and organizations that have his loyalty.
As a Nomad, I’d say that he would have the following Passions:
Loyalty to Tribal Chieftain / Khan (30+Altan’s POW + khan’s CHA)
Love for his Wife (30%+Loved one’s POW + CHA)
Hate for his Rival (30+Altan’s POW + rival’s CHA)
I have to admit that the sheer amount of detail put into the characters for RuneQuest fascinates me. Sure they’re all rolled, but the important thing is that almost everything after the skills is something that a GM can work with to turn into a hook in play. Just looking at Altan’s character sheet right now I can see that he’s got a lot of hooks that I can use to spin off interesting stories, whether they be about his sibling, his mother, his wife, his rival or his tribe.
Tomorrow we continue with Character Creation, and we get to find out what Career Altan had before becoming an adventurer, and how that shaped his skills even further.