Return Of The King Of Dragon Pass: Six Ages

We recently published our first ever article about King of Dragon Pass, a feature in praise of the cult favourite tribal management game. If you haven’t read it, you should and if you haven’t played the game, you should probably do that as well. Originally released in 1999, it’s one of the strongest examples of emergent storytelling built around a strategic framework. Now, fifteen years later, members of the original team are getting back together to make a spiritual successor, which makes me think we should start writing about more games that deserve a sequel to see if we can control the fates again.

Little is known about the game, which will be called Six Ages, but the initial announcement suggests it’ll be similar enough to King of Dragon Pass to deserve more than a passing comparison. Here’s David Dunham, one of the designers of the strategic storytelling masterpiece.

Unfortunately, I can’t tell you much. Partly that’s because development is still in the early stages. Mostly it’s because Six Ages is an ambitious project, and won’t be released for well over a year. A lot can change in development. And right now, there’s nothing interesting to show anyway.

But I can say that the game will consist of meaningful story choices tied together by the economic challenges facing a small community. It will be set in Glorantha and draw from its rich cultures and mythology. And it’s intended to be highly replayable.

Glorantha is the world of Dragon Pass, which is one of tribal folklore and hard living. There are gods and magic, but the latter is more likely to take the form of a harvest or hunting ritual than a fireball.

Although the game is over a year away, returning members of the original team seem to be confirmed.

I’m excited that I will again be working with writer and game designer Robin D. Laws, and artists Jan Pospíšil (who did illustrations for King of Dragon Pass) and Pat Ward (who I worked with at Shenandoah Studio). And when the game is further along, Liana Kerr will again be doing QA.

We’ll be watching the development blog very closely.

From this site

62 Comments

  1. klops says:

    Yyyessssss!

  2. mattevansc3 says:

    So these games that deserve a sequel, will they be purely staff chosen or will us mere peasants get some input? ;-)

    • acoff001 says:

      “Many good games have been made through Kickstarter, but some have been bad also.”
      “Our ancestors never used 3D or cut scenes in their games.”
      “Our weaponthanes think the game should be an FPS so we can take revenge on the Newb Campers tribe.”
      “When Orlanth was beaten in a game by Eurmal, he ragequit in fury.”
      “I don’t care what sort of game we make as long as it involves KILLING THE ELVES.”

  3. Lobotomist says:

    And its 75% off at GOG
    link to gog.com

  4. Defiler says:

    I’ve bought KoDP on iOS some time ago and absolutely loved the game. Awesome and very deep world in vein of fantasy-like Scandinavia, very challenging gameplay. The most thing I liked is that this world is almost lacks of typical modern fantasy cliches and sticks to original beliefs of european guys. No fireballs, no fairies with huge swords, just materialised ancient peasant’s understanding of Inapprehensible. It’s like you are writing Holy Bible of your own tribe, describing all adventures your tribe engaged. In addition to that I really liked illustrations in game, so now when original game designer and illustrator are in place, I’m really excited, hyped etc. and looking forward Six Ages!

    • Haplo says:

      I think one of the coolest little setting details about KoDP is that a lot of the magic is rooted in three basic ideas:

      Everything magical comes at a price;
      You gain power to pay (some of) that price by staying true to your nature;
      And changing something through supernatural circumstances is not a case of you gaining any inherent ability to do so; rather, change through supernatural circumstances is almost always brought about by you beseeching a god to intercede on your behalf.

      It lends the game a curious immersive feel, in that in reinforces that you really are a member of a relatively small clan of people who don’t entirely understand all that much about the world around them.

    • klops says:

      The setting of KoDP is a big, big thing for me also. Since I know the Glorantha setting only from KoDP I’d like to know if it is usually so… “different” could be the world. unique?… compared to other sword & sorcery settings. Or did Dunham and his crew make their take on Glorantha somehow more interesting than Glorantha rpgs and books and whatever in general?

      • Charupa says:

        Glorantha, the setting is very different to other fantasy worlds. For me is that its set in a bronze age equivalent rather than a romantic view of the high middle ages like most fantasy. The clan itself feels like how I would imagine a Celtic tribe mixed in with elements of classical Greek myth. Do a search on Glorantha and you will find acres and acres of lore, maps, stories and details, although for me Dragon Pass and The Orlanthi is definitely a highlight.

        • klops says:

          Celtic tribe. Now that you said it, yeah. Very celtic. Cattle raids and fertility magic and lotsa redheads.

  5. icarussc says:

    I want to know if something is being done about the ducks. I was super enthusiastic about KoDP until I met the ducks.

    … actually, I was still pretty darn enthusiastic. But still, those ducks were ludicrous.

    • Charupa says:

      Ducks are an integral part of Gloranthan mythos, sorry. In KODP they represent a moral quandary, here are a people that are weaker than you, occupying land you may want, with resources you can extort. They are not of your tribe or religion so that seems like it could be a good idea to bully them around, but should you do it…….

      The different races are some of the great bits as well, Elves, Dwarves Trolls are all pretty mundane and humane in most fantasy settings. In Glorantha they are alien and strange and to be feared

    • Jake says:

      Yes, I raided the ducks mercilessly for a bit because I’m not keen on ducks and their duckly ways. This came back to bite me in the arse.

    • Lokik says:

      The ducks are awesome and I wish I could play as them. I always make them my buddies and try to get them into my tribe, but it’s damn hard.

  6. kikito says:

    KODP is the only game I play on my Android recently. Jolly good. I feel bad for the cows though.

  7. strangeloup says:

    Worth noting that KoDP is 99p or regional equivalent on GOG for the next 3 days.

    If you haven’t got it, now’s the best chance.

  8. FlopsyTheBloodGod says:

    Hopefully we’ll now see a vast genre of similar games inspired by KODP, like we should have when the original was released. If in a couple of years RPS isn’t moaning about the endless cascade of rich, well-written RPG/management games with splendid writing and distinctive mythology I shall be very disappointed in you all. Really, I may have make the whole industry go and sit in the corner to think about what you done.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      I really doubt it. I haven’t played KoDP myself (did just get it from GoG, though), but from what I hear it’s very in-depth. I suspect it’s also not that mainstream in terms of attracting huge amounts of audience. Combining those two factors makes for a game type which requires a lot of effort and passion with the chance there will be a relatively small reward. Hence, why we’ve seen so very little games coming out for various more niche genres (pre-kickstarter, at any rate).

  9. tormos says:

    Personally I hope that mr. Dunham is prepared to complete the Orlanth Remakes The Beloved Game heroquest. While completing it would bring glory and wealth to his tribe, failure in this heroquest can have disastrous consequences. If he fails, his reputation might be as bad as that of Bad King Urgrain!

  10. Zeewolf says:

    I’m calling it right now: This will not come to the PC.

    • klops says:

      That’s what bothers me as well. But it is a good excuse for finallly getting a smartphone.

    • mouton says:

      There is no practical reason for it not to come, really. I mean, it is static graphics and text. For it to be iOS exclusive, it would require serious ideological bend on the part of the devs or serious technical incompetence.

      • klops says:

        The dev said that Kickstarter is hard for iOS products which is the easiest development platform for KoDP. The game also sold much better in its revitalised form for tablets and smart phones than in its original PC form. It seems that a non-PC version would be their main concentration by that information.

        Of course, they don’t necessarily have to do a Kickstarter (yeah, right…) and concentrating on iOS does not exclude a PC version.

        • sinister agent says:

          The PC version sold poorly because it got utterly shafted by publishers and retail. The latter is no longer a factor, and the former is far less likely to be fatal, even if things somehow go wrong.

        • mouton says:

          The original PC release was 1000 years ago, way before Steam, indie boom, digital distribution, etc. The reason why the patched version from tablets did not come to PC was the original code was apparently some kind of a monster. Hell, devs for a long time opposed the idea to get KoDP (PC) on GOG, because they thought it would not be feasible, but the GOG team proved them wrong.

          This time around, if they decided on platforms before development stars and use appropriate framework thingie, it should be relatively easy to bring it wherever.

      • Hex says:

        I would hope — and hopefully this isn’t heresy — that they move away from static pictures and text. A game that plays like a simplified Banished with similar visuals, but has a clan ring (and weaponthanes!) would be a lovely evolution, I think.

        • Lokik says:

          This would be such a disappointment to most KoDP fans. I want beautiful paintings and tons of cool and crazy lore to read.

          • Hex says:

            I don’t think the concepts are mutually exclusive. I would just like to see a development of the tula-view, and more visual feedback as your clan/tribe progresses. And maybe visual representations of raids and trade-routes and expeditions.

          • sinister agent says:

            That’s a pretty interesting thought. My initial reaction was “no! Must be stills and text!”, which tbh isn’t like me at all. But maybe you could have a Banished-esque view of your village, and still have some random events pop up with illustrations and text and that as well. Or it could be a 2D animated thing, like the Settlers or what have you.

          • Hex says:

            Right — I certainly wouldn’t want to infringe on the heart and soul of KoDP. But it seems like it wouldn’t necessarily be too taxing to include a bit more environmental feedback for the player.

            (I also have a mental image of seeing little squads of warriors being lead by weaponthanes rushing other clans, and seeing a visual representation of the upsets so frequently described in those text boxes. Driven off by a fyrd half the size of the attacking force?! How? Ah well, at least it was fun to watch, etc etc.)

            There’s no reason the text results of all of your quests, raids, events, yadda yadda couldn’t still be present, and the artwork for important occurrences would be welcome. For some reason having a god’s eye view of a bunch of carls and cottars going about their business through the seasons appeals to me, is all.

  11. derbefrier says:

    Fuck yeah. Its an awesome game. Had the gog version for a while after seeing some commentors here talk about it and then bought it for my tablet about a week ago to play on breaks at work. A truly unique game and it will be fun to see what a modernized version will look like. This is a nice unexexpected surprise.

  12. Superpat says:

    This is great news! Their website is crazy plain though :P

  13. psepho says:

    Am I the only person who dies a little every time they read the phrase ‘spiritual successor’?

    Maybe I’m profoundly cynical, but every time I read I read it I wonder whether there is a freelance marketer who goes around knocking on the doors of old-time devs asking them to read out pitch videos in exchange for instant Kickstarter cash…

  14. Jac says:

    Anyone else seriously struggling to come up with games that deserve a sequel/spiritual successor that haven’t had one?

    Other than extremely recent games can only think of:

    theme hospital
    Star trek birth of the federation
    the adventures of bayou Billy
    body harvest
    Grim fandango

    Then dishonoured, fez.. and I’m out

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      Terra Nova.

      I am going to keep saying that at every remotely appropriate opportunity until somebody takes notice.

      • Jac says:

        And just when you think you have heard of all the games. Had to look that one up looks pretty interesting cheers for the tip. Is it available to buy anywhere? Wouldn’t mind checking it out.

        Maybe RPS could consider it for the “Have you played” treatment?

        • Kaeoschassis says:

          To the best of my knowledge, no. Not unless you grab it second-hand. But I’m not bitter about that at all, no sir!

          I’d love to see it get the RPS treatment but I’m not sure how they’d feel about doing that for a game you might not be able to actually… y’know, buy.

      • protorp says:

        Terra Nova was great, and on reflection from now-times positively amazing.

        There are many more I can think of, off the top of head:

        Emperor of the Fading Suns
        Steel Panthers (yes I love me my hexes)
        Cannon Fodder
        Descent
        Ground Control
        Magic Carpet

        • Kaeoschassis says:

          Cripes, how could I forget Magic Carpet. Give that internet-person a medal.

  15. Emetivore says:

    I purchased this through GoG after reading your review and found it very fun. That’s rad that your story sparked a remake, nice job rps ;)

    • klops says:

      Isn’t it convenient that there’s a promotion piece in RPS from a new writer for a 15 years old game and in two weeks time from that the devs announce that they are making a successor after all those years?

      What a huge coincidence!

      -EDIT- I was wrong. Big time. Sorry.

      • Jac says:

        Edited because I’m a buffoon.

        Thought the post above was serious, didn’t actually read the post it was responding to oops.

        • Supahewok says:

          With all of the ongoing internet drama, it gets hard to tell what’s serious and what’s not. I don’t think that jokes in that vein are very prudent at the moment.

          • klops says:

            But I was serious… So don’t think you’re a buffoon. I didn’t mean to take sides in any internet drama though.

            It is just that the timing of the article and the announcement of a new game are so close that it smells like a promotion for the upcoming product. I like this site and I love the game and I liked the article, but it still feels like a promotion article. It could be a coincidence, of course (and I say this in a sarcasm free way).

            Isn’t that quite logical thought pattern when considering the media in general?

          • sinister agent says:

            Oh wait, man I really need to read the whole thread before commenting. I thought you were joking. In case it’s not clear, I wrote the KODP piece a few weeks ago. It was one of about a dozen pitches I sent to RPS in a single email. After it went up, I found the KODP twitter account, and a few hours later was sent a private survey about the remake they were planning.

            I also found out that it was released in updated form on ios a few years ago too (I really should have known that, admittedly), and a quick googling says it was ported to Android this summer too, so the company’s obviously been active. It’s had several years of work to re-release and port it, so it really shouldn’t be that surprising that a sequel was on the cards. A good game happens to get an unexpected review, and the devs take advantage of the attention by announcing a sale and the sequel they were thinking about. It’s actually a lot more far-fetched to imagine that RPS suddenly decided to pay an unknown stranger to act as a shill for a company that almost nobody has ever heard of.

            I mean, granted, the idea of a site or writer acting as a shill is plausible, of course, but I would be pretty staggered if that happened on RPS, for an obscure game, on my writing debut, without my even knowing about it.

          • Supahewok says:

            Oh, the KoDP retrospective was yours? Nice job! It was another reminder that I really should give that game a spin as soon as it went on sale.

            Which it has. So I am.

            Er, anyways, good job!

          • sinister agent says:

            Thank you! It was a fun experience, and I’m glad people enjoyed reading it.

      • sinister agent says:

        My review of klops is going to be devastating.

        • klops says:

          I can’t reply to your long post, but I’ll answer here.

          Ok. I believe you. Sorry for doubting that your article was a promo work (in a sarcasm free way). I didn’t think RPS paid an unknown writer for acting as a shill but thought that they liked your article and you were somehow connected with the devs. Not too far fetched in my mind if you think how media and games media work.

          But yeah, accusing someone for being a paid promotion writer without any proof is not good.

          Sorry about that.

          • sinister agent says:

            No worries, and to be honest, I’d much prefer that people actually considered that possibility rather than ignore it. It’d ultimately mean a better industry and better games for us all.

            Also it didn’t occur to me that you meant the other way round – that it was me who was working for the devs. That’s actually more plausible than RPS (or any other big site) being on the take, now that I think about it, and again, it’s probably better for everyone to be wary of the possibility.

  16. Dirt5oh8 says:

    One of our barley fields has begun to whisper forbidden secrets during the night:
    “Dooooon’t suuuucccckkkk”

  17. Hex says:

    Dammit RPS, I’m not spam!

  18. Deviija says:

    I wish the emoticon 8O could sum up my wide-eyed and surprised expression upon reading this news. I must have this! I’m excited already.

  19. statistx says:

    might be relevant to someone: The Android Version is 50% off on the Google Play store. So it’s around 3-4 bucks.