"Come now my child, if we were planning to harm you, do you think we'd be lurking here beside the path in the very darkest part of the forest..." - Kenneth Patchen, "Even So."

THIS IS A BLOG ABOUT STORIES AND STORYTELLING; some are true, some are false, and some are a matter of perspective. Herein the brave traveller shall find dark musings on horror, explorations of the occult, and wild flights of fantasy.

Friday, October 12, 2018


I MET GREG STAFFORD just a handful of times.  The most memorable for me was a RuneQuest convention in Baltimore, around 1994 or 95.  I somehow lucked into having drinks with him and Sandy Petersen, two people who had immeasurable impact on my adolescence.  The next day, having gotten myself into the final round of the "Orlanthi Storytelling Competition," Greg gave me second place, quite rightly calling me out because the story I was telling was a disguised version of an old Welsh tale from the Mabinogion.  I had put it past all the other judges, but not Greg.  That man knew all the stories.

We had talked about Pendragon, he and I, and that other favorite game of mine Prince Valiant.  We also talked about Mircea Eliade and Georges Dumézil.  I should have told him, but I didn't, how he had shaped my life.  I was a graduate student at that time majoring in mythology.  All of that was because of him.

In junior high school, having run Dungeons & Dragons in the fifth and sixth grades, I joined the D&D club.  Only the boys in the club weren't actually playing D&D, they were playing something called RuneQuest.  I'm a writer, but I struggle putting into words what encountering that game meant to me.  

You see, Stafford was utterly unique not in having created a fantasy world--lots of people do that--but in the way he decided to share it.  He didn't put Glorantha into a novel or a script.  He made his world a "do it yourself novel."  To understand what Greg did, imagine George R. R. Martin creating all of Westeros and Essos, detailing the seven kingdoms, and then letting the fans write A Song of Ice and Fire themselves.  The generosity of spirit in that act is almost inexplicable.  Not everyone can create a world like Glorantha, so Greg did it for us and then gave it to us as a gift. 

As an Indologist, the closest thing to Glorantha I have ever found is the epic poem Mahabharata.  I say this because unlike the Iliad or the Odyssey the Mahabharata is still very much living tradition.  It is told and retold, and changes every telling.  Martin Singer brilliantly called it a literature that doesn't belong in a book.  I can think of no better way to describe Glorantha.  Putting it in a book would have been selfish.  Instead, always the shaman, Greg Stafford went to the Magic Place and brought Glorantha back for us.    

Because I played RuneQuest, because Greg Stafford introduced me to the Iliad, the Aeneid, and there blessed Mahabharata, I eventually studied classical Greek and Sanskrit, I studied comparative religions, I became the person that I am.  This blog, a weird fusion of mythology, gaming, and ritual magic, owes everything to him.  Recently, I have had the great pleasure of getting to know some of Stafford's successors.  People like Jeff Richard, Michael O'Brien, or Nick Brooke.  I barely know these men, but we are instantly family because we all share the same passion.  Stafford did that.  Stafford created a tribe.

Stafford left us today.  I am sitting here at 5:30 AM trying to process that.  I am trying to understand how I can feel so much loss for a man I barely knew.  But what can I say?  Greg was my shaman.  Greg was our shaman.  

You gave us so many gods, Greg.  I pray they all watch over you tonight.      



  1. Thanks for this - Greg deserves people like you who can translate the sadness into words

  2. Thank you, Logan, that was a high tribute to give.

    I remember that convention very well - it was the 1994 Glorantha-Con, in Columbia, Maryland. I also participated in the storytelling competition (Vinga and the Cloak of Snakes). It was my first time meeting other Gloranthan fans, and playing in a freeform.

    That truly sealed my love affair with Glorantha, and Greg Stafford's universe. My husband-to-be had introduced me to RQ and Glorantha in 1983, so I was already a Gloranthan veteran, but this was on another scale altogether!

    I can't thank Greg enough for all the friends I've met through his world-creating, and the good times we have had with them over the last 30-odd years.

  3. Greg touched so many lives, and was a great source of creativity and wonder. Thanks for this.
    ps. I took first place. ;-)