Growing Up With The Gods War

masthead-runequest

For more information about The Gods War, visit www.thegodswar.info

A couple weeks ago I grabbed Ed’s attention by tweeting that “I grew up hoping to fight the Gods War, and now we can back it on Kickstarter.”

Glorantha has been my favorite game world since the early days of RuneQuest. Greg Stafford’s deep understanding of myth-as-competing-realities spoke to me when I was a teenager figuring out where I stood relative to my family’s religion. In fact, the piece of RuneQuest that probably changed my life was its bibliography of myths, Icelandic sagas, archaeology, and comparative religion. I dug into that reading list and didn’t stop digging until I had a social anthropology degree.

But there has been a secret irony in saying that Glorantha is my favorite game world. I did a lot of thinking about Glorantha, and a lot of planning-of-games, but until I got involved with David Dunham’s King of Dragon Pass project as the QA guy, and eventually as a contributing writer, I hadn’t actually done much game-playing inside Glorantha.

It would have been more fair, through all those early years, when I was hiding the Cults of Prax cover from my family (cults were verboten!) or writing an academic paper about Glorantha in my Classical Mythology class (not well received by my traditionalist professor!), to say that Glorantha was my favorite fantasy world. Period. Not so much a game world, since I actually wasn’t playing much RuneQuest, but definitely the fantasy world that changed the way I perceived our world.

The wars of creation and destruction between the competing pantheons were part of what drew me in. Orlanth, god of Air and Movement, kills Yelm the imperial sun god, which plunges the world into darkness. The sun sinks into hell, which is already populated by people of darkness (later called trolls) who can’t stand the burning light and move up to the now-dark surface, and the Rube Goldberg machine of well-intended action and disastrous consequences rolls on, up to the explosion of the great Spike of Law which held the worlds together, allowing Chaos to rip in through the breach . . . until the goddesses and gods of the oceans hurl themselves into the hole . . . and so on!

That’s not just a fantastic myth. That’s a sequence of cosmic events that would make a wonderful game. And now Sandy has done it. The highlights I typed out are part of the mechanics of The Gods War, including the cycle of madness and destruction that eventually leads to the explosion of the Spike and a shift in the surviving gods’ priorities.

There are a lot of good Gloranthan games. I play the ones I love. Alongside King of Dragon Pass and 13th Age in Glorantha and soon Six Ages, The Gods War looks like it’s going fulfill the original promise: Glorantha, the favorite fantasy world of my youth, is finally also my favorite gaming world.

  • Rob Heinsoo
    Q&A guy and heroic battles author on King of Dragon Pass
    Co-designer of 13th Age and 13th Age in Glorantha
    Future garage-studio organizer of full The Gods War games

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