Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Runequest - Ducks.

My first encounter with the most unusual fantasy race in Runequest, if not any fantasy game, was with the Duck. These strange chaos tainted creatures that inhabited the world of Glorantha were always guaranteed to split a group of players.
A Duck Guardsman.

Our long standing main GM, Rob, would never put up with such nonsense these days but it is probably thanks to him that my odd obsession with anthropomorphic ducks (and intelligent Baboons) first began.

It was at one of our early RPG sessions at the school games club back in the 80's - Robs brother Andrew (the Zombie Master) was one of the first people I know that was into RPG's and had obviously influenced Rob into getting into the hobby. For this reason, he tended to be the main GM for any of the earliest games we played, and though we all run the occasional game now its something that effectively continues to this day. Anyway, we were a few sessions into one of the first RPG's I had ever played that went by the name Runequest. This is still one of my favourite fantasy settings - Glorantha was a strange world with a unusual but convincing pantheon of Gods and a refreshing set of creatures that inhabited it, such as the man herding Morokanth, the belligerent Scorpion Men and the faintly magical Dragonewts. I still think the Broo are one of the finest monsters in any game. More on them another time.

I remember my first character, who had become a Storm Bull initiate (after I read 'Cults of Prax') joining a party of adventurers. In one of the scenarios we had entered a small town called Apple Lane (the legendary boxed set scenario book) and had become involved in assisting one of the local store keepers, Gringle the pawnbroker. Gringle was having issues with a local group of intelligent Baboons who wished to take back an item of some value they insisted belonged to them. I remember thinking, I like this, that's interesting, intelligent Baboons...
The Apple Lane Map.

It was during negotiations with Gringle that we first met his devoted 'manservant' Quackjohn. At this point Rob explained that Quackjohn was a Duck. He was apparently likeable and chatty. He sung when drunk, was a superb cook, and never questioned his master's ways. He had worked with Gringle since they settled in Apple Lane some 37 years before. I can vaguely remember being really amused by this - a duck? In a fantasy game?? I went with it and Quackjohn proved himself in the ensuing action.

Apple Lane Scenario Booklet.

I don't remember the exact details anymore but suffice to say we had a desperate combat against some very angry Baboons led by a fierce armoured one named Kochaz, tearing their way through the shops roof and windows followed by a suprise attack by a Dragonewt, Xarban, and his motley band of followers. This outlaw band had apparently signed up to assist Kochaz on the promise of some spoils from the shop. Among them were a big centaur, a couple of smaller Dragonewts and another Duck! We ultimately managed to fight off the attackers and reap the benefits. The short campaign eventually faded but I was left with a lasting interest in these odd little characters.

Duck Tower.

Several Duck characters appeared in later games (mainly with another GM) usually as sidekicks to the main adventurer group. There were such legendary folk as Delbourne, a Duck trader who thought of himself as something of a noble and then a favourite of mine, Svendrake, the Humakt worshipping, slightly overly aggressive bodyguard and assistant to Rex Troya, a Human Praxian Runepriest. Ducks and Baboons also made an appearance in our Warhammer campaign. Two notables include Quackbill Featherwing, a Duck adventurer and his faithful friend, Ragill the Baboon, who obtained kinship with the Dwarfs of Aruk Khabar and later a place in the court of King Dumin Ironbeard after helping to save Stonebrow Palace. Others were Blazemane and Darktail.

I have made a few Runequest 'Duck' related purchases over the years and one of my first was the Duck Tower book above. I never had the chance to use it but enjoyed the read. My favourite purchase of all is below - being a fan of Runequest figures I picked up a few of the old Citadel boxed sets of miniatures. One of my favourite figures was always the Duck Adventurer, who went on to represent most of the characters mentioned above. Over time I somehow managed to get hold of more of this figure and now have four! My proudest purchase was the Runequest Hero Duck that was originally a promotional item. I must get around to painting them all...

Svendrake the Duck and his bodyguard.

Ducks still seem to make the occassional appearance in Gloranthan stories. The last Mongoose Publishing version has them refering to themselves as Durulz and they certainly seem to have a less 'Howard the Duck' look to them. Will they ever make another appearance in one of my games? Who knows. It would depend on the players to start with but I like the idea of revisiting an old Runequest haunt to see what happened to old Quackjohn...

"Runequest Ducks look like the most perfect form of sentient life ever created by the gods."

3 comments:

Rudy said...

Hehe, I remember both scenario's well. We have done a rerun of apple lane only recently using the MRQ II rules. There is also another scenario featuring ducks, where Fazzur Wideread offers a ransom for Ducks killed, and the party has to escort a band of Ducks to safety.

You have quite a few Duck models unknown to me, I assume they are from long ago? I have the mongoose set and a few others from Ral Partha from back in the day, but I love the Svendrake bunch.

Mongoose as well as Sceaptune published a nice background book on Ducks, making them much more than Evil Howards: Essential for stopping the undead threat from the Marshes, in control of most of the river trade and transport, tendency to live in Duck gettos, and often attracted by the thief profession, that's how we play them. On top of that a bad temper, and a total inability to tolerate banter, so they get in trouble all of the time, never a dull moment with them :)

wardy-la said...

Yes, excellent scenario, I am trying to get my group interested in playing RQ again using the MRQII rules as you do. I gather there will be a new version of RQ out next year - I will not be able to resist!
I really like your groups take on Ducks - its just how we always played them :)
The Duck figures are all from the old Citadel Runequest boxed sets(occasionaly they turn up on eBay) apart from Svendrake himself who is a VERY rare Citadel freebie given away back in the 80's when the boxed sets were first released - he is my prize possession!!
I will be posting some more of my old RQ stuff soon, such as my Broo and Baboon warbands...

Rudy said...

Yup, I have been following discussions on the new version by the MRQ II authors, Pete Nash and Laurence Whittaker, on thedesignmechanism.com. Mongoose is also rereleasing the rules, but has lost the Glorantha license. Their incarnation will be called Legend, and the idea is to make it a small format budget release. TDM, on the other hand, are ironing out all the wrinkles, and making sure they'll deliver 300 pages of rule goodness, due out early 2012, and I'm very excited as well. I like MRQ II, but it still needs to much 'player common sense' :P