Greg and I started discussing doing this after the Guide to Glorantha came out, so around 2014 or so. But work really started on it in 2017. Originally it started as Cults of Dragon Pass, but pretty quickly we realized we really needed to bite the bullet and write Greg’s BIG LIST of major cults.
I had done this before with the HQ materials, and had all of Greg’s notes and unpublished drafts, as well as the Orange Book, Belintar’s Book, and more, coming out to thousands of pages of material. However, it was very fragmentary and incomplete – although we could see the basic structure, a LOT needed to be written. The goal was to give a magical and mythical foundation for Glorantha, like with Cults of Prax and Cults of Terror, but extending beyond Dragon Pass into the Lunar Empire and beyond. Enough of a framework could be provided that missing cults could be slotted in with future publications.
As I wrote, I kept track of which cult had access to what, built a relationship table, and kept a book of every special Rune spell, which got spun off in 2021 into the Red Book of Magic. Each cult writeup was an iterative process – I’d write an initial version, which I would revise as new cults were added, which would cause new rounds of revisions, etc. New discoveries in one cult might cause a cascade of revisions. Things were linked together far more than in the Guide to Glorantha (which was ultimately a smaller undertaking).
What I had originally envisioned as a single 256 page book became two volumes the size of the RQ Core rules. Finally last year, sanity asserted itself and the decision was made to break this into a series a books, each organized around a primary cult – Orlanth, Ernalda, Yelm, the Seven Mothers, Magasta, Primal Chaos, Horned God, etc. The introduction to Mythology and Magic was made its own book as well. That broke the logjam, and in my opinion is a far better project as well.
In the process of writing this, Greg passed away, and other people came and left the project. But in 2020 I was ready to bring on who became a key co-creator – Loïc Muzy.
One of the stranger memories putting this together was writing the first set of cults while staying in Prad am Stilfser Joch, while on a ski trip with my father-in-law. Each day we’d head up the mountains to ski, and then each evening I would furiously write. It was astounding how productive I was on those trips – if people want me to be able to really churn out material, they should take me on long ski trips.
The project was intensely personal for both Greg and I, as mythology forces us to look at the ugly as well as the beautiful. Death, hatred, and fear are as much a part of myth as life, love, and knowledge. But fortunately the Lightbringers Quest was always there to guide us out of the Darkness.
Even though most of pantheons are around a single Rune, it became really obvious to me that the first pantheon in the series would be the Lightbringers (and not Air or Storm). The Lightbringers myth is simply beautiful, and the more I worked with it from different perspectives, the more I am convinced it is Greg’s masterpiece.