15 October 2018
Influential roleplaying figure created world of Glorantha
Greg Stafford, the hugely influential roleplaying game designer who created the fantasy world of Glorantha and founded long-running publisher Chaosium, has died.
Stafford began writing stories set in Glorantha while at college in the mid-sixties, imbruing his fantasy universe with a deep lore inspired by Stafford’s own lifelong interest in mythology, spiritualism and legends.
A letter of rejection for one short story led Stafford to create a Glorantha-set board game, White Bear and Red Moon. After struggling to find a publisher willing to take on the project, Stafford founded his own label – The Chaosium – in 1975. A second board game, Nomad Gods, followed, with a third part of the planned ‘Dragon Pass’ trilogy never completed.
Glorantha became the background to RuneQuest, the roleplaying game co-designed by Stafford and Steve Perrin in 1978 that spawned the innovative Basic Roleplaying system that would power Chaosium’s later RPGs such as Call of Cthulhu. At its peak, RuneQuest was second only to Dungeons & Dragons in terms of roleplaying game sales.
In the mid-eighties, Stafford developed his acclaimed Arthurian roleplaying game Pendragon, pioneering multiple gameplay aspects that he had originally considered for RuneQuest, including passions and personality traits. The elements would be integrated into later editions of RuneQuest.
In 1998, Stafford departed Chaosium to found another company, Issaries, in order to handle games set in the worlds of RuneQuest and HeroQuest, another RPG with links to Glorantha. After publishing some of his games through other companies, Stafford rejoined Chaosium in 2015.
Stafford passed away on October 11th in a sweat lodge at his home in California. He was 70. A statement from Chaosium said: “He died as he lived, on a spiritual quest of enlightenment.”
His last public appearance was at this year’s ENnie Awards, where he spoke on-stage about founding Chaosium and the growth of roleplaying games during the company’s four-plus decades.
We spoke to Stafford and Perrin for a celebration of RuneQuest's 40th anniversary earlier this year, where the designer considered the lasting legacy of Glorantha.
"After years, my vision has come true," he said.