I'm currently reading through RuneQuest 6. One of the things that initially drew me to RuneQuest is that I've always heard that its advancement system is organic, where advancing a skill is accomplished by using it—something like, when a skill is used it's checkmarked, and at the end of a session/adventure you test each checked skill to see if it increases. Ironically, I now know this has been removed from RQ6 and replaced with what's effectively an experience point mechanic.

I'd like to know which edition or editions do use the organic advancement method I keep hearing about, so I could get a copy to evaluate it for porting into RQ6, which is otherwise very much to my taste. It's unfortunately not as simple as just implementing the brief outline I gave above, because the new XP system hooks into other parts of character improvement that don't have obvious organic-advancement replacements.

I've looked at OpenQuest and Runic SRD (Mongoose RuneQuest II / Mongoose Legend), but those skill advancement systems are nearly identical to RQ6.


RuneQuest 2 and 3 used a percentile skill system where each skill had a score and each group of skills had a bonus/penalty based on the character's characteristic scores. Having never seen an edition earlier than RQ2, I can't comment on that.

On a successful skill roll on percentile dice, players would tick a box next to the skill score. At the end of a session or whenever the GM decided the characters had some down-time, for each ticked skill, the players would attempt to increase their skills.

In RQ2, roll below (100-skill percentage including the bonus/penalty)+Intelligence-based learning bonus/penalty, but the chance of advancement is never lower than the raw Intelligence score.

In RQ3, roll above their skill percentage, not including the bonus/penalty, or above 100-(bonus/penalty) if the skill minus the bonus/penalty was greater than or equal to 100.

Should this check for skill advancement succeed, (RQ2: 5%) (RQ3: 1D6% or 3%, player's choice) would be added to the skill score. In RQ2, any skills could exceed 100% if the character is a Rune Lord, and in RQ3, skills could exceed 100% if the relevant bonus/penalty was positive.

A "Special" result was achieved if the player rolled 1/5 of the skill total including bonus, and a "Critical" result was achieved if the player rolled 1/20 of the skill total. A roll of 96-100 was always a failure, and a roll above 100-(skill/20) was a "fumble". This rewarded characters who could increase their skills in excess of 100%, as it increased the probabilities of a better result.

The Avalon Hill RQ3 is probably the best of the two systems, and probably the most available. See http://www.waynesbooks.com/runequest3rdEdition.html for a list of all the materials that were printed. Most of it should still be available, if only second-hand.

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    \$\begingroup\$ As a player of both editions, I too miss the organic growth element of RQ3 in the newer RQ6. Tracking and awarding those ticks was subjective and a large cognative overhead though, however, and in practice people are spending there experience rolls in RQ6 on skills they use regularly (and, where they spend the odd one-or-two rolls on a skill they didn't "use", we assume that's because they were practicing that skill off-camera through the mission). So whilst I thought I would miss RQ3 ticks more, in practice they might have just been excess bookkeeping. \$\endgroup\$ – Phantomwhale Jul 7 '14 at 4:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Phantomwhale That's a helpful perspective; gives me something to ponder that I hadn't realised, and maybe I'm worrying for nothing. Thanks. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jul 7 '14 at 4:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ My pleasure - I've been playing a lot of Savage Worlds, which has a wonderfully low amount of bookkeeping, so whilst I'm loving being back in the crunchy rules world of Runequest again, I \$\endgroup\$ – Phantomwhale Jul 7 '14 at 5:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ You can find the core of the advancement method you are looking for in any edition of Call of Cthulhu, and in the BRP 'Big Gold Book' if you have any of those available. It's a short paragraph of text. In the end, though, as noted earlier by Phantomwhale, the experience in play is the same: You can improve a number of skills by a small amount. The difference is that there is slightly more latitude in RQ6 (now Mythras) for where Experience Rolls can be applied, and more guidance for implementing character improvement. \$\endgroup\$ – Runeslinger Jan 1 '18 at 16:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ Adding for completeness – RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha also uses an 'improves through use' mechanism for skills. \$\endgroup\$ – Erik Schmidt Jun 18 '18 at 4:32

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