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Friday 12 October 2018

R.I.P., Merlin

If you haven't heard already, Greg Stafford has died.

If you're some goddamn punk kid who doesn't know who that is, let me put it this way: the RPG hobby wouldn't be the same if it wasn't for Stafford. He helped make the Call of Cthulhu RPG. Then he went and made the Pendragon RPG, which was a masterpiece of design.

Then years later he published the Great Pendragon Campaign, which was the single best campaign setting book ever written.

Stafford was, like myself, a magician and a mystic; I don't know if he'd ever done a history degree but he was clearly an historian also.  So on various occasions, I had cause to exchange conversation with him over email, both about myth and legend and history, and RPGs, and the esoteric.  They were not many conversations, but they were always very interesting ones.

My own Dark Albion campaign setting would not have looked the same were it not for Stafford. It was his Great Pendragon Campaign above that taught me that it's dumb to dedicate huge sections of a setting book on stuff that already happened, and you should instead dedicate more space to stuff that might happen in the future.  So Dark Albion has a tiny timeline of the past, and a big timeline of the coming Rose War.  This was directly Stafford's method, and one I hope more setting designers figure out.

So yes, a giant has passed. Coincidentally, tonight is the night I play my current Lion & Dragon campaign, and it's set in Arthurian Britain, and of course I'm using a ton of Stafford's material as source material, because it's all excellent. So I'll be remembering him in gaming tonight.  If you don't already  know the stuff this guy made, you need to find it.


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Poker + H&H's Chestnut 


  1. Not forgetting Glorantha and founding Chaosium. For myself, Stafford and colleagues had a much greater direct effect on my gaming hobby than Gygax and Arneson ever did, I've been d100 for decades now. Pendragon, as you say, was a phenomenal game, every supplement a work of love, mechanics and theme working brilliantly together. The new version of Runequest has adopted Pendragon's passions and traits. Certainly a sad day, but looking at what he's left us over the years, also a day to celebrate (and roll dice!)

  2. Glorantha had a huge impact on my understanding of mythology, along the lines of John Campbell, as it fits into gaming in particular. And CoC was one if my old gaming group's favorite systems, and generated quite a few ongoing memories from our game play.