Published by Chaosium in 1978, Runequest (RQ) was written by Steve Perrin as a system for the world of Glorantha developed by Greg Stafford. This mixture of the game system, known as the Basic Role-Playing rules, and the atmospheric and highly detailed, non-Medeval European setting turned the game into something of a radical departure from the more amorphous FRPG of Dungeons and Dragons. The BRP system pioneered the "classless FRPG" and Stafford's world explored the role-playing characters from rudinmentary adventurers to full-blown Rune Lords (Champions/Legends). Throughout its history, RQ has survived ebbs and flows of game sales for differing publishers, and to varying degrees always remained associated with its foundations in Glorantha.
Under Chasium's production, RQ can be said to explore what is now called "Sandbox Gaming" with works exploring Glorantha with massive sourcebooks like Griffin Mountain, Cults of Terror, and Trollpak. These works work on the creating a larger world around the player-characters of the RQ game, with only slight attention to the sceanario-driven publications of FRPG's of the late 70's and early 80's.
Around 1983-84 and throughout the 1990's, Avalon Hill took on publishing RQ's 3rd Edition. This publication stressed the game's mechanics focusing more on historical role-playing, such as the time of the Late Roman Empire or High Dark Ages with the "Fantasy Earth" series of supplements. Glorantha was there, but more as an significant afterthought in the appendix of the massive rulesbook and a single supplement.
Hasbro and Hero QuestEdit
In 1997, Avalon Hill was acquired by Hasbro, which shelved all plans for RQ, Gloranthan RQ-spin offs. In the new millennium, 2003 specifically, Greg Stafford through his Issaries Inc. was able to regain control of the RQ title, but mostly after focusing on the Hero Quest system to re-express his mythopoetic world.
Moongoose Publishing aquired the rights to produce a game system using the name Runequest (commonly referred to as MRQ), under licence from Issaries Inc, and using a d100-mechanic similar to Chaosium's original BRP. They released their game in August of 2006. Glorantha has figured pretty prominently in these products, in Glorantha's 'Second Age." The 2nd Age is much, much earlier than the works of RQ of the 80's and 90's. In 2010, Mongoose released Runequest II (MRQ II), which was greatly re-worked from their 06 release.
After Mongoose Publishing lost the rights to RuneQuest and Glorantha, they published a re-worked version of MRQ II as a generic fantasy game; Legend
The Design MechanismEdit
Mongoose Publishing lost the license to RuneQuest and Glorantha in 2011. A few months later a new company was formed: The Design Mechanism. The Design Mechanism consists of Lawrence Whitaker and Pete Nash; the same two people responsible for the reworked 2nd.edition of Mongoose's RuneQuest, and both having strong ties to the original licence-holder Issaries and Moon Design. They announced a new edition of RuneQuest, naming it RuneQuest 6th.Edition and further refined what they had started with MRQ II. RuneQuest 6 was released summer'12, and was well received. The game is a generic and comprehensive set of rules not tied to Glorantha. A slew of diverse settings (amongst them Adventures in Glorantha) and adventures are planned to support the game.
As part of the agreement between Issaries, Mongoose Publishing and the new licensee The Design Mechanism, the rights to selected supplements written for MRQ/MRQ II transferred to the The Design Mechanism.