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Digital Subscriptions > Tabletop Gaming > July 2018 (#20) > Runequest

Runequest

Greg Stafford turned his teenage spiritual soul-searching into a remarkable fantasy world. When he found Steve Perrin, the result was a D&D-rivalling RPG that would change roleplaying forever

THE LAND OF GODS

“I was a troubled youth, frankly, trying to fix myself through any means.” As a teenager growing up in the mid-sixties, Greg Stafford turned to classic tales of gods and legends to discover the answers he sought.

“First I read books of stories, then books about the stories – and then the books I found in the footnotes of books about books of stories,” he says. “I pushed myself into adventures, some of them absolutely wonderful – being a hippy at age 18 to 20 was a very colourful and mind-bending experience. Some stuff was crazy, some dangerous, some stupid – okay, a lot stupid, some suicidal. But all of it was a search and, when I discovered people experimenting with magical and spiritual stuff, I dove in headfirst.”

As his fascination with mythology deepened, Stafford began writing his own stories to help him better comprehend his increasingly spiritual outlook. In 1966, while a freshman at Beloit College in Wisconsin, he spontaneously penned – “out of nothing” – a singlepage excerpt from a lifeboat’s log. It was followed by a fragment of a short story about a hero named Snodal arriving on the continent of Altinela. This grew into a longer story, charting the region of Fronela. From the pieces, a new world had been formed.

“One beautiful afternoon chatting with friends I looked out into space and thought of Glorantha – actually called Acos at that time – and the whole world opened up before me, a huge and wide vista without a lot of detail but vast breadth and depth,” Stafford recalls. “I was struck with awe and knew I’d be writing more about the place.”

The world of Glorantha would pass through its first age while Stafford was still at college, as he continued to write. A second age coincided with his later employment and recovery from hepatitis. The universe was evolving, but in private; it would be several years before the setting first appeared in print, in sci-fi, horror and fantasy fanzine Space and Time, which published some of Stafford’s earliest fiction. A letter of rejection for another short story would spur the writer to become a designer, eventually deciding to set a planned fantasy board game in Glorantha. Stafford would ultimately release 1975’s White Bear and Red Moon himself under the newly-founded Chaosium label after struggling to find a publisher willing to take on the project.

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About Tabletop Gaming

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