Tales of Mythic Adventure Episode 05

Guest: David Dunham

Thirty Seven Years of Glorantha 0:20-8:30

Introduction to David Dunham. David used to be Jeff Richard’s neighbour in Ballard in Seattle, where they were both members of the gaming group known as the Seattle Farmer’s Collective.

The name “Seattle Farmer’s Collective” was originally meant to be uncomplimentary; as it was felt that the members spent as much time in their games doing farming to get points as they did on manly questing. This actually became a point of honour, and David felt that it gave a feel akin to the Icelandic sagas, where you will go off a-Viking, but then have to get home to get the harvest in.

David’s first exposure to Glorantha was in 1977, with games mimeographed on the Greg Stafford mimeo graphic machine. David came up with the “Pendragon Pass” rules, using Pendragon mechanics in Glorantha. This had an influence on the later King of Dragon Pass game. They share a generational aspect (again, akin to the Icelandic Sagas) where the deeds of your father or mother are something that you have to live up to – or at any rate avenge!

King of Dragon Pass (“Don’t mess with the Ducks”) 8:30 –24:30

The original King of Dragon Pass game was a PC and Mac game developed between 1997 and 1999. Original boxed games are now collectors’ items. The original CD game has been converted to a download and is available from gog.com.

However, that is the original game – the IOS and Android versions have considerable new content. To David the perfect medium for the game is on a tablet, giving the feel of holding a real book. The game is a great introduction to Gloranthan mythology. The clan background system was based on Greg Stafford’s Epic system, but with the rules interface being made transparent and reduced to a series of choices, that “can come back to bite you years later.”

Robin Laws was the writer for the game, with Greg Stafford as an ongoing consultant. Rob Heinsoo acted as quality assurance consultant, and many others contributed including Elise Bowdich, David’s wife.

Jeff asks what David’s favourite little story snippet in the game was. In David’s opinion, this is the “Kallyr the Hero” story, when a mysterious woman turns up with a baby on a shield. This gives a clue to the new ending… at which point David totally clams up.

MOB asks if the original game was ahead of its time. David feels that the game was well reviewed, but there were considerable issues with distribution back in the pre-Internet age. Interestingly, in Finland, where gamers were used to asking their stores to order games in, the original KODP was a top ten game.

Six Ages (“Glorantha is more than real”) 24:30-49:15

Michael asks about David’s game in development, Six Ages, which David is working on with Robin Laws. This is a successor to KODP, with a projected release date some time in 2016.

While MOB tries very hard to drag some descriptions of the game, David is very cagy. He says he wants to build on the strengths of King of Dragon Pass, but perhaps make it a little bit easier to play.

MOB tries to drag more details out of David, who remains enigmatically vague. He will confirm that it is set in Glorantha, which is not the greatest of spoilers. There is a development blog however, with some concept art: http://sixages.blogspot.com/

There is a discussion about the Bronze Age references used for the concept art, which allowed David to buy the entire Osprey books set of ancient armies, and rightfully claim the cost as a tax deduction. This discussion gets slightly sidelined into a discussion about the Bronze Age Sea People, although David disclaims all interest in the words, and just wants to see the funny hats.

David feels that Glorantha is probably the most detailed setting ever invented. It is real because it is deeply developed, but is not the real world so there is scope for innovation. And it is more that real because it is explicitly a world of myth. It ties into the parts of our psyche that are nourished by myth.

David feels that while KODP was a precursor to the current indie game scene, it was more of a small studio effort, and more of a parallel evolution of games development.

David Dunham Maximum Game fun questions 49:15 – 52:55

Q: One thing David Does better than the average gamer?

A: Keep his mouth shut

Q: One thing he does worse?

A: David is not a gym junkie.

Q: One thing everyone knows about him.

A: That he made King of Dragon Pass.

Q: One thing they don’t know.

A: How few games he plays.

Final word: “The Seattle Farmer’s collection was a once in a lifetime thing….”

Products mentioned

King of Dragon Pass – available from:

Six Ages …. coming in 2016