Characteristics are mostly rolled using the traditional 3D6: INTtelligence, STRength, DEXterity, SIZe... CONstitution is a measure of how tough your adventurer is, POWer is to do with magic, APPearance is sex appeal!
Skills are measured in percentages. Some have a beginning default value, thus Climb for humans starts at 40%.
Characters can be started at age 16 but it is normal to take 'Previous Experience', increases to skills which depend on the character's occupation and cultural background.
Skills are grouped into Categories (Agility, Perception, etc). Each category has an associated Modifier, which is derived from Characteristics. Thus as you might expect high Dexterity gives a positive Agility Modifier.
To use a skill add the Modifier to the base skill value, roll equal to or below this on percentage dice to succeed.
EXAMPLE: Climb 55, Agility +5, Fred needs to roll 60 or below to successfully climb the Standard RQ tree. The referee may rule that a tree is harder or easier to climb as he thinks appropriate.
A roll 20% or less of that needed is a special success. A roll 5% or less is a critical. The reverse of a critical is a fumble.
EXAMPLE: Skill 60% has Special 12%, Critical 3%, Fumble 99%.
Learning by Experience. If your Adventurer succeeds in a skill with a box next to it on the character sheet tick the box. After the current adventure you can attempt to improve the skill by rolling above the current skill value ignoring the Modifier.
EXAMPLE: Fred climbed the tree to escape the lion. He rolls 76, above his current Climb of 55%, so his climbing skill improves.
NB: This learning must be done in stress situations! Climbing the tree in Fred's back garden counts as Research, a different way of improving skills. The third way of improving skills is by Training.
Unlike other FRP games in RuneQuest anyone can learn Magic. There are three well known forms of magic: Spirit, Sorcery, and Divine. All spells cost Magic Points (MP), initially equal to POW and regained in 1 day.
Divine Spells nearly always work, but only Priests and Initiates can learn them. Spirit Magic is the commonest form, it is learnt from Spirits and has a POW*5% chance of success. Some spirit spells are 'Variable'.
EXAMPLE: Heal-2 restores two Hit Points, Heal-4 four HPs.
Sorcery spells are cast by magicians and have a skill rating. Sorcery and Divine Magic are incompatible.
Combat. There are Modifiers for Attack (A%) and Parry (P%) and skills for each weapon type. In combat each Melèe Round contains 10 Strike Ranks (SR). At the start of the MR each player declares what his character intends to do, each action requiring a number of SR to perform. Most simple actions take 3SR. Actions can be aborted in reaction to events.
EXAMPLE: Fred intends to put away his sword (3SR), take out his bow (3SR), string an arrow (3SR) and step forward for 1SR. Suddenly a Troll jumps out! Fred aborts (3SR) and defends against the Troll. With sword at SR 7 he just has time to hit the Troll at the end of the Round, but the Troll will get first strike and a surprise bonus to hit.
Damage is taken on specific hit locations detirmined by rolling a D20, thus for humans 1-4 is the left leg. A location at zero hit points cannot be used, a character at zero total hit points is dead. Armour subtracts from damage taken.
That's it! If you want to do something that could be done in real life then ask the referee, there is probably a rule for it or one that can be adapted to fit.