It’s time to party like it’s 1999, because the once and future tribe-building game King of Dragon Pass has returned like settlers to the kingdom of Sartar. What was once a beautiful computer game without a category has joined the handheld era as a game for iPhone and iTouch, also playable on iPad. Get ready for hours of addictive play as you advance the unique history of your Orlanthi clan, straight from Greg Stafford’s classic world of Glorantha, as also seen in RuneQuest and HeroQuest. Decide whether to build your cattle herds, or raid the cows of clans weaker than yours. Learn the secrets of the Orlanthi gods, entering a sacred realm to recapitulate their myths and gain their power. Puzzle out the agendas of helpful but disparate-minded advisers. Deal with crises ranging from concupiscent poets to angry beast men. A single game will more than justify the price—though you will likely fall prey to its compulsive replayability.
I was fortunate enough to work on this project as a scene writer; when my scenes started showing up with numbers in them, my credit was upgraded to designer. I’m told I wrote 450,000 words, which for comparison’s sake comes out to about three Ashen Stars or four and a half novels.
For this new iteration, A-Sharp supremo David Dunham has leavened the formerly cruel economic model, in which one could undergo the notorious herd size death spiral, with a dramatic rhythm. This furthers easier, more entertaining game play. My role in the port has been of a eagerly anticipating spectator. I’m happy (and addicted all over again) to revisit those scenes. Hint: be harsh with the ducks, but not too harsh.
The game’s core format, alternating resource shepherding with scenes of crisis management, is one I’d love to see explored with other settings. You could do a great Hollywood studio game with much the same framework. The one I’d really love to see would follow the history of the mob in America from before Prohibition to the present day. Here’s hoping that the game will finally get its commercial due in the new format, possibly allowing such blue-sky thoughts to inch closer to reality.
The original game became a phenomenon in Finland, for cultural reasons that seem both obvious and elusive. Now that a new era of gaming has dawned on portable devices, it’s time for the rest of the world to catch up and get building their shrines to Lhankor Mhy. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a feud to prosecute against the accursed, dog-loving Herani…