Game: Rune Companion
Publisher: Politically Incorrect Games
Series: Rune Stryders
Review Dated: 29th, August 2004
Reviewer’s Rating: 8/10 [ Really good ]
Total Score: 8
Average Score: 8.00
Rune Stryders is one of those games that comes off the shelf often. Even if the game isn’t being used as the campaign world or system mechanics it is great for inspiration. Rune Stryders is a sui generis fantasy roleplaying game. It tries to sidestep the old clichés that haunt typical fantasy campaign worlds. One of the ways Rune Stryders shakes free from the done-to-death fantasy ideas is to avoid traditional variations of the magic system and use a vocabulary of runes. Runes can either be written or they can be inscribed. The runes are inscribed on huge suits of armour then you end up with the “fantasy mechs” called, you guessed it, Rune Stryders.
So yeah; runes are rather central to Rune Stryders. Rune Companion does as you’d expect (always an important check in any review) and gives you more material on runes to use in the game. If you’re used to fantasy games with pages and pages of spell lists you might be surprised to discover that there are… eight new runes. Eight. We have two control runes and six effect runes.
Later on Rune Companion takes us through considerations in creating our own runes for the game – even naming them. One of my pet grumbles about certain supplements is that they introduce something so fundamental to the game that new elements are conspicuous by their previous absence. In this case – why hasn’t anyone been using these runes before? It’s a good question and Politically Incorrect Games do as well as they might to provide answers. In this case the best answer is that the runes aren’t used or known widely in the part of the world the PCs are in. Hmm. That only works in some adventures but it’s a good angle to use when it could work. The success here is that the supplement actually discusses options. Rune Companion goes one step further than most supplements. It helps you create your own addition to the game and then helps you add it to the game.
The two control runes are Ex and Ett. That’s “defend with” and “shape, manipulate”. Both are similar to other established runes but different enough to be important additions. More importantly these two new control runes brings the total number of control runes up to five. There are six new control runes. Shrai, “time” from the prime school, Khet, “shadow, darkness” from the elemental school, Frei, “thought” from the sensory school, Dron, “unliving things”, from the life school, Blei, “worthless, cheap” from the conceptual school and Grei, “motion”, from the Spatial school of effect. We have every combination – such as Shrai-ex (defend with time) – for these six. We have this for both written and spoken variations for each.
There’s value for money in Rune Companion. In addition to having the Ex and Ett controls given to the six new runes the supplement we’re given the full run down of Ex and Ett with every rune in the Rune Stryders book (which, I feel like noting, is available in paper as well as pdf – rare for Politically Incorrect Games). I don’t imagine there are going to be very many more supplements along the lines of Rune Companion but I do think it will get tricky to go through each and every effect rune whenever there’s a new control rune added.
I must admit when I opened up Rune Companion I knew I would have to go back to Rune Stryders and consult with it for the fine details of the rune system. I’ve played Rune Stryders quite recently but Rune Companion is the sort of add-on that invites scrutiny of the original rules. To its credit, the Rune Companion revisits these rules itself. This simple little addition really boosts the value supplement. Rune Companion doesn’t reprint the core rules but with the revisited rune rules in it the supplement is as self-contained as anyone could hope for.
Rune Companion is a good supplement. It’s especially valuable as it shows PIG will be supporting the Rune Stryders RPG. There’s very little reason not to spend the mere US$5 and toss a copy into your electronic shopping cart if you’ve a copy of Rune Stryders.