Iconic Game Designer Greg Stafford Passes Away
  • Iconic Game Designer Greg Stafford Passes Away


    Chaosium founder Greg Stafford passed away yesterday at the age of 70. An iconic game designer, he was known for the world of Glorantha, Pendragon, RuneQuest, the Ghostbusters RPG, and much more. Our thoughts and sympathies go to his friends, family, and co-workers.





    Stafford founded Chaosium in 1975. Chaosium report that he passed at his home, and that his passing was painless.

    Comments 22 Comments
    1. Kobold Boots -
      RIP Greg - one with the totem, one with the earth and sky.

      KB
    1. JeffB's Avatar
      JeffB -
      This is such a huge loss for me.

      Not just his own works are so amazing but everything his company did to take RPGs and supplemental material to the next level.
    1. Badvoc's Avatar
      Badvoc -
      Truly one of the greats of the RPG industry. His games are responsible for so many happy memories of weekend-long gaming sessions during my younger years.


      What an amazing legacy of work he leaves us.
    1. Von Ether's Avatar
      Von Ether -
      The passing of a legend and an era.
    1. Bluenose -
      May Issaries guide him home. R.I.P.
    1. Ed Laprade's Avatar
      Ed Laprade -
      A great loss. My first time GMing was actually with Runequest.
    1. Caliburn101's Avatar
      Caliburn101 -
      My childhood in rpgs started with D&D but really grew wings with RuneQuest when it was first released.

      Greg's passing makes me feel old, although, it must be said, he wasn't.

      The word 'visionary' gets overused in our world of Instagram hyperbole - but Greg invented the first skills based rpg with realistic combat and imagined a world like no other before or since in the form of Glorantha.

      He was a visionary.

      A truly sad loss for everyone who ever let their imagination and a handful of dice transport them and their friends to other worlds.
    1. Paragon Lost's Avatar
      Paragon Lost -
      Fond memories of playing Runequest back in the late 1970s. The man was creative and I loved that Runequest was the first table top rpg where we had an active combat system of parrying, dodging and blocking. So different from DnD at the time. What an interesting and creative person he was.
    1. TrippyHippy's Avatar
      TrippyHippy -
      Greg Stafford is a gaming god - the hobby wouldn't be the same without his influence on it. He will be genuinely missed.
    1. PabloM's Avatar
      PabloM -
      Sad news. I never played in Glorantha, but I played a lot RuneQuest. A great persons gone.
    1. Olaf the Stout -
      Wow, Im shocked.

      We lost one of the greats. Vale Greg.
    1. R_Chance's Avatar
      R_Chance -
      *sigh* Another one gone. Goodbye Mr. Stafford.
    1. Sepulchrave II's Avatar
      Sepulchrave II -
      This is very sad news. Stafford was a giant. Pendragon is a masterpiece.
    1. pemerton's Avatar
      pemerton -
      I've played a bit but not a lot of RuneQuest, but it's undoubtedly a great game.

      Recently I've been playing Prince Valiant - a truly brilliant RPG.

      Greg Stafford really had a vision of what a RPG could be beyond wargaming and funny voices.
    1. pemerton's Avatar
      pemerton -
      A follow-up post:

      I GMed a session of Prince Valiant this afternoon. The players each had a "Storyteller Certiificate" from the previous session, and the first episode of the session involved a very strong knight - the self-proclaimed "best in Britain" (I borrowed some dialogue from when Arthur fights Lancelot in the film Excalibur) - who would let no one pass on the road from Castle Hill to Norwich (? something like that, to the north on the Pendragon map) unless defeated in battle by a knight who he would then accept as his lord.

      The first PC knight had a go and was soundly beaten (but kept his certificate). The second had a go, and was persuaded by another player to use his certificate for a minor (but renewable) buff, and likewise was beaten. The third martial PC was in fact a mere squire, and weaker in combat than the other two, but (i) was able to persuade the NPC knight to knight him so that they could fight an honourable joust, and (ii) used his certificate to Slay a Foe in Combat, and so was victorious and won the NPC's horse and arms by his victory. This made him the first PC to have a full-fledged warhorse and heavy armour. He also gained a jewelled sword that grants a prestige bonus to appropriate Presence checks.

      The next episode involved aiding a damsel in distress, fleeing from robber knights - the third certificate got spent in this one to help secure victory, and the upshot was that the PC who started the session as a squire ended up being wooed by the damsel - daughter of the Duke of York - and marrying her: when they arrived at her castle, he found that he couldn't say no to her father, who was strongly in favour of the marriage (failed Courtsie check on the player's part). So the PC started the session as an under-equipped squire and finished it with the full arms and steed of a noble knight, the son-in-law of the Duke of York with the wedding gift of a fortified manor house, and a reputation as the one who slew the strongest knight in Britain.

      I'm coming more and more to enjoy a system (Prince Valiant isn't the only one, but is a good example) where we can get through that amount of content in a single session.

      Thank you Greg Stafford!
    1. Jay Verkuilen's Avatar
      Jay Verkuilen -
      RIP Greg Stafford.

      Quote Originally Posted by pemerton View Post
      A follow-up post:

      I GMed a session of Prince Valiant this afternoon. I'm coming more and more to enjoy a system (Prince Valiant isn't the only one, but is a good example) where we can get through that amount of content in a single session.
      It can be a delicate balance to strike with speed vs. detail level. A lot of games seem to really struggle with that and often end up far on the side of detail, partly because I think it's much easier to write detail and options than it is to design for speed. High level 3.X and 4E D&D were two examples of popular systems where slow speed really got in the way of the action. While their core systems were pretty lean, too many options, modifiers, etc., turned them into the RPG equivalents of ASL, although I think nothing in the RPG world outside of some fantasy heartbreakers really beat Exalted 2nd Edition for excessive detail. Of Stafford-designed or -influenced games, I only ran Stormbringer (with some options) for a while as well as having played some CoC. I recall it being fairly quick though in general active defense rolls are things that need to be watched for slowdown. I'm not sure the general Runequest/CoC system was particularly suited for Stormbringer, though, but that's another story. I doubt it would ever happen but I'd love to see a Modiphius 2d20 system version of Moorcock's worlds. I think it would do an admirable Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser, too. Threat-Momentum reads weirdly but plays very well and captures the dramatic setbacks of pulp-oriented stories very well.
    1. Jay Verkuilen's Avatar
      Jay Verkuilen -
      Quote Originally Posted by Sepulchrave II View Post
      This is very sad news. Stafford was a giant. Pendragon is a masterpiece.
      I never had the chance to play it it but it had a ton of good ideas.
    1. Jhaelen -
      One of the truly great RPG designers who was far ahead of his time. He will be greatly missed.
    1. Campbell's Avatar
      Campbell -
      Nearly every element that has kept me engaged in this hobby originates from or was inspired by Greg Stafford's designs. He showed us that role playing games could be used to play out more human, more personal stories. He showed us that you could focus on individual characters rather than just the group gestalt. He showed us that mechanics could address the emotional dimension as well as the physical. Thank you Greg Stafford!
    1. pemerton's Avatar
      pemerton -
      Quote Originally Posted by Campbell View Post
      Nearly every element that has kept me engaged in this hobby originates from or was inspired by Greg Stafford's designs. He showed us that role playing games could be used to play out more human, more personal stories. He showed us that you could focus on individual characters rather than just the group gestalt. He showed us that mechanics could address the emotional dimension as well as the physical. Thank you Greg Stafford!
      On the "emotional dimension" - in Prince Valiant there is a discussion of modifiers, like bonus dice for arms and armour, bonus dice for attacking from behind, all the usual stuff. And then there is also discussion of bonus dice for influence checks (eg from wearing fine clothes or carrying a jewelled sword). And then there is this, in the middle of the page in alphabetical order:

      MORALE
      Psychological factors such as love, hatred, faith, loyalty, hope, and even sheer desperation are important in real life. Such factors are reflected by morale modifiers in Prince Valiant, the Storytelling Game. The modifiers may be both positive and negative.

      Morale can affect both Brawn and Presence. Apply a modifier of 1 when the emotion or passion is strong in intensity. Apply a modifier of 2 for extremely powerful psychological factors.

      The players will enjoy the game more if their acting is rewarded with an occasional positive modifier based on morale factors. The Storyteller must use common sense and his instinct for drama to determine the morale modifier for a particular situation.

      For the purposes of storytelling, cowards, liars, and villains should often receive negative morale modifiers, representing guilty terror, apprehensiveness, and general confusion. Heroic characters should sometimes receive positive morale modifiers to represent love, confidence and faith, or other grand emotions.

      No angst about "metagame". No angst about "magical mind control". Just straightforward mechanics that put the emotional, the psychological, the physical, the dramatic, all on the same level from a system point of view.

      There are similar examples in other parts of the rulebook, but this is probably the clearest and most striking.
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