Overall review: It was pretty fun. It would be more fun if we were better. It should be even faster to start.
We created characters. I chose a big brute with a battle-axe named Hranulf (the brute, not the battle-axe), though it turned out that I was also the only one to take any healing skill. Eli called late, and we offered to make a character for him. He asked to be a "charming rogue". So we gave him much lower combat skills, and made him a generalist, with all the skills that no one else had. (Like reading, for example.) We figured that Sigurlidi was the geeky guy that none of the rest of us understood, but took care of anyway.
I started running the first encounter from "Crouching Wizard, Smashing Hammer". There were a few opportunities for carousing and gaming, and then the Red Wizard showed up, and we launched into combat with his ice wights.
This is, of course, a very combat-oriented game, so the combat is probably the most important part of the experience. Plusses and minuses of the combat:
+ The high variance of the die system (1d10, exploding in both directions) made it very possible to have extreme rolls, which added to excitement.
+ I kind of like the way you calibrate the opposition to the party. The fact that foes are calibrated to the second lowest stat makes an interesting prisoner's dilemma-ish situation.
- I was focussing so much on combat mechanics that I didn't do much description of the marauding ice wights.
- I found the accounting a bit much. I am very math-inclined, but I sometimes felt bogged down by the mental addition.
- The fact that initiative changes every turn, coupled with the fact that the ice wights were indistinguishable, gave me some problems tracking which wight was doing what.
- There were more combat options than we were really capable of handling right then. We kept forgetting about details--or at least, I did. We should have stuck with the stuff in the jump start PDF.
Overall, I think the combat would have been more fun if we were more familiar with the combat system.
It turned out that my battle-axe bearing badass battle badger (sorry, I got carried away with the alliteration) was the clear star of that combat. The rules seem to favor carrying the biggest damn axe you can wield. (In which the game continues to be clearly focused on its target.)
I was definitely the winner of that encounter, for a couple of reasons:
* two of the characters were near death, but no one actually died (big points there)
* I got half of the points that Hranulf racked up, and he did about as much damage as the other three heroes combined.
It may be that I won largely because I was running the encounter, and if we rotated the runnership, that would have evened out.
The competitive aspect didn't come into play much. I did consider kill-stealing, but I wasn't actually playing any of the heroes, and it wouldn't have been very easy even if I had.
Overall, a fun game that would be more fun with more experience.
I did have a couple of thoughts about the game, though:
* Normally, I strongly prefer designed character generation to random character generation. But for this game, where everyone starts out more or less the same anyway, I think random character generation might be a good thing to get people playing quickly. It might also help if the random character generation tended to produce characters who tend to do well. (Perhaps a random character generation that was comparable to the random encounter generation the book offers...)
Similarly, I think it might be nice for newbies if there was a way of spending victory points that was more limited--I'm thinking of something like "roll three times on this random table, pick the result you like best." (Though there would still be the question of 'when', since the current rules allow you to spend points at any time.
* I had been thinking that I'd rather play a Rune one-shot than an ongoing campaign. But actually, I think that this might be pretty cool as an ongoing campaign, for a special reason:
These days, after every session of the GURPS campaign I'm playing in, I come home afire with ideas for new things I can do with my character, cool ways to spend a few more points, and so forth. But there's not that much I can do with the character--I don't have that many points to spend from session to session. But with an ongoing Rune campaign, I could spend some of that geeking energy on encounter design, with substantial freedom for tweaking. And that would be pretty cool.
I'm not sure that I want to make the time for a monthly Rune game--I'm less sure that I have a group of friends who want to make that time. But I could imagine it being fun.