Greg Stafford

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Greg Stafford
Greg Stafford.jpg
Greg Stafford in Helsinki, Finland on July 21, 2005
Francis Gregory Stafford

(1948-02-09)February 9, 1948
DiedOctober 10, 2018(2018-10-10) (aged 70)
Nationality American
Occupation Game designer

Francis Gregory Stafford (February 9, 1948 – October 11, 2018), usually known as Greg Stafford, was an American game designer, publisher, and practitioner of shamanism.

Americans Citizens, or natives, of the United States of America

Americans are nationals and citizens of the United States of America. Although nationals and citizens make up the majority of Americans, some dual citizens, expatriates, and permanent residents may also claim American nationality. The United States is home to people of many different ethnic origins. As a result, American culture and law does not equate nationality with race or ethnicity, but with citizenship and permanent allegiance.

Shamanism A practice that involves a practitioner reaching altered states of consciousness in order to perceive and interact with what they believe to be a spirit world

Shamanism is a practice that involves a practitioner reaching altered states of consciousness in order to perceive and interact with what they believe to be a spirit world and channel these transcendental energies into this world.


Stafford is most famous as the creator of the fantasy world of Glorantha, but he is also a prolific games designer. He was designer of Pendragon , he was co-designer of the RuneQuest , Ghostbusters, Prince Valiant and HeroQuest role-playing systems, founder of the role-playing game companies Chaosium and Issaries, designer of the White Bear and Red Moon , Nomad Gods , King Arthur’s Knights and Elric board games, and co-designer of the King of Dragon Pass computer game.

Glorantha fantasy world created by Greg Stafford

Glorantha is a fantasy world created by Greg Stafford. It was first introduced in the board game White Bear and Red Moon (1975) by Chaosium, and thereafter in a number of other board, roleplaying and computer games, including RuneQuest and HeroQuest, as well as several works of fiction and the computer strategy game King of Dragon Pass. The Gloranthan world is characterised by its complex use of mythology, heavily influenced by the universalist approaches of Joseph Campbell and Mircea Eliade, its Howardian ethos, its long and distinctive history as a setting for role-playing games, its community development and expansion, and its relative lack of Tolkienesque influence.

<i>RuneQuest</i> Tabletop role-playing game

RuneQuest is a fantasy role-playing game first published in 1978 by Chaosium, created by Steve Perrin and set in Greg Stafford's mythical world of Glorantha. RuneQuest is notable for its system, designed around percentile dice and with an early implementation of skill rules, which became the basis of numerous other games. There have been several editions of the game.

<i>HeroQuest</i> (role-playing game)

HeroQuest is a role-playing game written by Robin D. Laws first published as Hero Wars by Issaries, Inc. in 2000. It has its roots in Greg Stafford's fantasy world of Glorantha, but was designed as a generic system, suitable for, but not tied to any particular genre.

Gaming industry career

1970s–: Chaosium

Greg Stafford began wargaming after picking up a copy of U-Boat by Avalon Hill, and in 1966 as a freshman at Beloit College he started writing about the fantasy world of Glorantha. [3] :82 After rejection from a publisher, Stafford created White Bear and Red Moon set in Glorantha, and after three different companies were unable to publish the game he created Chaosium. [3] :82 He derived the name partly from his home, which was near the Oakland Coliseum, and combining "coliseum" with "chaos." [3] :82

Avalon Hill board game company

Avalon Hill Games Inc. is a game company that specializes in wargames and strategic board games. Its logo contains its initials "AH", and the company is now often referred to by this abbreviation. Before its takeover by Hasbro, it was known as The Avalon Hill Game Company and the initials TAHGC. It has also published miniature wargaming rules, role-playing games and sports simulations. It is now a subsidiary of the game company Wizards of the Coast, which is itself a subsidiary of Hasbro.

Beloit College Liberal Arts College in Beloit, Wisconsin

Beloit College is a private liberal arts college in Beloit, Wisconsin. Founded in 1846, while the state of Wisconsin was still a territory, it is the oldest continuously operated college in the state. It is a member of the Associated Colleges of the Midwest and has an enrollment of roughly 1,402 undergraduate students.

<i>White Bear and Red Moon</i> board wargame

White Bear and Red Moon is a fantasy board wargame set in the world of Glorantha, created by Greg Stafford and published in 1975. Stafford originally started the game publishing company Chaosium to produce and market the game.

White Bear and Red Moon (1975) was Chaosium's first published game, [3] :82 and was also Stafford's first professional game. [4] Stafford designed the board game Nomad Gods . [4] Stafford also designed the wargames Elric (1977) and King Arthur's Knights (1978). [3] :82

Nomad Gods is a 1977 board wargame published by Chaosium.

Elric is a 1977 board wargame published by Chaosium.

Stafford wanted the world of Glorantha to be part of an original role-playing game; this ultimately resulted in Steve Perrin's RuneQuest (1978), which was set in Glorantha. [3] :83

Stephen Herbert Perrin, often simply known as Steve Perrin, is a game designer and technical writer/editor.

Stafford and Lynn Willis simplified the RuneQuest rules into the 16-page Basic Role-Playing (1980). [3] :85 He designed the miniatures game Merlin. [4] Stafford considers his Arthurian chivalric role-playing game King Arthur Pendragon (1985) his masterpiece. [3] :88 [5] He co-designed the Ghostbusters role-playing game (1986). [4]

Lynn Willis was a wargame and role-playing game designer, best known for his work with Metagaming Concepts, Game Designers' Workshop (GDW), and Chaosium.

<i>Basic Role-Playing</i>

Basic Role-Playing (BRP) is a role-playing game system which originated in the RuneQuest fantasy role-playing game. The BRP standalone booklet was first released in 1980 in the boxed set release of the second edition of RuneQuest. Greg Stafford and Lynn Willis are credited as the authors. A percentile skill-based system, BRP was used as the basis for most of the games published by Chaosium, including Call of Cthulhu, Stormbringer, and Elfquest.

Pendragon (role-playing game) role-playing game

Pendragon, or King Arthur Pendragon, is a role-playing game (RPG) in which players take the role of knights performing chivalric deeds in the tradition of Arthurian legend. It was originally written by Greg Stafford and published by Chaosium, then was acquired by Green Knight Publishing, who in turn passed on the rights to White Wolf Publishing in 2004. White Wolf sold the game to Stewart Wieck in 2009. Wieck formed Nocturnal Media, which has since updated and reissued the 5th edition originally published by White Wolf.

Stafford designed the Prince Valiant roleplaying game (1989), which featured a strong storytelling basis and other innovations. [3] :90 Stafford decided to produce a fiction line for Call of Cthulhu after he realized that many Lovecraft fans of the early 1990s had never actually read Lovecraft's fiction but were only familiar with him through Call of Cthulhu. [3] :91 Stafford co-designed the computer game King of Dragon Pass (1999). [4]

1998–: Issaries

Stafford left Chaosium in 1998, taking all of the rights for Glorantha, and founded the game company Issaries. [3] :94

Stafford approached Robin Laws to create a new game based on Glorantha, which became known as Hero Wars , published in 2000 as the first fully professional product for Issaries. [3] :361 Stafford published the second edition in 2003 under the name he always wanted HeroQuest , as Milton Bradley's trademark on the name had lapsed. [3] :362 Stafford moved to Mexico in 2004, bringing production from Issaries to an end. [3] :363

Later years

When Hasbro let the RuneQuest trademark lapse, Stafford picked up the rights to the game and licensed Mongoose Publishing to publish a new edition in 2006. [3] :363 After White Wolf acquired the rights to Pendragon , it was republished in 2005 by White Wolf. Their ArtHaus imprint published The Great Pendragon Campaign (2006), in which Stafford detailed the massive RPG campaign from the years 485 to 566. [3] :228 After Nocturnal Games picked up the rights to Pendragon, Stafford created a 5.1 edition of Pendragon (2010). [3] :230

He moved from Berkeley, California to Arcata, California in 2007, having lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for some years. [6]

In June 2015, it was announced that Greg and Sandy Petersen had returned to Chaosium Inc., Stafford taking the positions of President and CEO. [7]


Greg Stafford's interest in roleplaying and gaming originated in his adolescent fascination with mythology. During his adolescent years he read anything he could find on the subject, and when he exhausted the libraries, he started to write his own stories in his freshman year at Beloit College, in 1966. This was the start of the world of Glorantha.

Stafford's 1974 board game White Bear and Red Moon had featured the violent struggle between several cultures in the Dragon Pass region of Glorantha. The heart of the game was a conflict between the barbarian Kingdom of Sartar and the invading Lunar Empire, a theme which has remained central to Gloranthan publications since then.

As Stafford was founding his company Chaosium, the game Dungeons & Dragons (and the concept of tabletop role-playing games) was gaining great popularity. Role-players were keen to use the White Bear and Red Moon setting in such games. So Chaosium published RuneQuest , written by "Steve Perrin, Ray Turney, and Friends". Stafford left Chaosium in 1998.

For some years, Stafford slowly wrote several novels set in Glorantha. Novels that he is known to have been working on are Harmast's Saga, Arkat's Saga, and his "Lunar novel".

He was one of the designers on the Glorantha-based video game " King of Dragon Pass ". [8]

Stafford was a practicing shaman and member of the board of directors of Shaman's Drum , a journal of experiential shamanism.[ citation needed ] He had some short articles of Arthurian interest published.[ citation needed ] Stafford lived in Mexico for 18 months, tutoring English as a foreign language, and exploring places of archeological and shamanic interest.[ citation needed ]

Honors and reception

Fantasy author David A. Hargrave pays homage to Stafford in the Arduin series of supplements, the most widely known example of this being the Stafford's Star Bridge 9th-Level mage spell (Arduin I, page 41).[ citation needed ]

Stafford was inducted in the Origins Award hall of fame in 1987 [9] .

In 1999 Pyramid magazine named Greg Stafford one of The Millennium's Most Influential Persons, "at least in the realm of adventure gaming." [10]

Stafford won the Diana Jones Award in 2007, for The Great Pendragon Campaign, published by White Wolf [11] and in 2015 for Guide to Glorantha, coauthored with Jeff Richard and Sandy Petersen and published by Moon Design Publications [12]

He was honored as a "famous game designer" by being featured as the king of hearts in Flying Buffalo's 2011 Famous Game Designers Playing Card Deck. [13]

Related Research Articles

Chaosium Inc. is one of the oldest publishers of role-playing games still in existence. Established by Greg Stafford in 1975, its first title was the board game White Bear and Red Moon, set in Stafford's fictional fantasy gaming world of Glorantha. Over the years Chaosium has published many acclaimed and award-winning games. These include the roleplaying games RuneQuest, set in Glorantha, and Call of Cthulhu, based on the stories of H.P. Lovecraft.

Robin Laws Canadian writer and game designer

Robin D. Laws is a Canadian writer and game designer who lives in Toronto, Canada. He is the author of a number of novels and role-playing games as well as an anthologist.

Role-playing game system Set of game mechanics used in a role-playing game

A role-playing game system is a set of game mechanics used in a role-playing game (RPG) to determine the outcome of a character's in-game actions.

RuneSlayers is a free role-playing game first published in 1998 by its authors, J.C. Connors and Christopher Lawrence. The game was originally developed as RuneQuest: Slayers, a follow-up to the third edition of RuneQuest by the publisher Avalon Hill, which owned the RuneQuest trademark at the time. In 1998 Avalon Hill was acquired by Hasbro and the project was canceled. The authors then published the game on the Internet as a free PDF file, under the title RuneSlayers.

Issaries, Inc. was a game publisher incorporated in California in 1999 by Greg Stafford to control and manage products using Stafford's fictional world of Glorantha. It partnered with Moon Design Publications to develop the flagship roleplaying game HeroQuest which was first released in 2000 as Hero Wars. In 2003, it acquired the HeroQuest and RuneQuest trademarks from Hasbro, which led to the licensing of a new edition of RuneQuest. The company's last statement was in 2013 and is now listed as Dissolved.

The Tentacles Convention was an international role-playing game convention held annually at Stahleck Castle in Germany on Pentecost. Tentacles was dedicated to games set in Glorantha such as HeroQuest and RuneQuest, as well as Call of Cthulhu, Stormbringer and Hawkmoon.

Steve Perrin's Quest Rules (SPQR) is a role-playing game system created and sold by Steve Perrin.

Different Worlds was an American role-playing games magazine published from 1979 to 1987.

Rudy Kraft III is a game designer who has worked primarily on role-playing games.

Michael O'Brien is a game designer who has worked primarily on role-playing games.

Rick Meints is a game designer who has worked primarily on role-playing games.

Moon Design Publications are publishers of Roleplaying game books set in Greg Stafford's world of Glorantha.

Trollpak is a 1982 role-playing game supplement for RuneQuest published by Chaosium.


  1. Greg Stafford's biographical timeline, by himself on his personal website (archived)
  2. Michael O'Brien (October 12, 2018). "Vale Greg Stafford (1948 - 2018)". Chaosium company blog. Archived from the original on October 12, 2018. Retrieved October 12, 2018.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 Shannon Appelcline (2011). Designers & Dragons: A History of the Roleplaying Game Industry. Mongoose Publishing. ISBN   978-1-907702-58-7.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 Stafford, Greg (2007). "Kingmaker". In Lowder, James (ed.). Hobby Games: The 100 Best. Green Ronin Publishing. pp. 164–167. ISBN   978-1-932442-96-0.
  5. Interview with Greg Stafford Archived 2009-07-19 at the Wayback Machine on Phantasie website. URL checked 2008-02-13.
  6. Greg Stafford. "About me". Archived from the original on October 13, 2018. Retrieved October 18, 2018.
  7. Stafford, Greg (June 2, 2015). "GREG STAFFORD & SANDY PETERSEN REJOIN CHAOSIUM INC" . Retrieved June 3, 2015.
  8. Review of King of Dragon Pass, URL checked 2011-01-14.
  9. "Hall of Fame". The Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design. Retrieved October 17, 2018.
  10. Haring, Scott D. (December 24, 1999). "Second Sight: The Millennium's Best "Other" Game and The Millennium's Most Influential Person". Pyramid (online). Retrieved February 15, 2008.
  11. "The 2007 Award". The Diana Jones Award for Excellence in Gamig. Archived from the original on April 11, 2018. Retrieved October 17, 2018.
  12. "The 2015 Award". The Diana Jones Award for Excellence in Gamig. Archived from the original on March 23, 2018. Retrieved October 17, 2018.
  13. "Poker Deck". Flying Buffalo. Retrieved February 11, 2014.