EDIT: Six Ages is out on the iOS app store.
For those of you not in the know, King of Dragon Pass is a cult classic town management/roleplaying/diplomacy/cow management simulator game from the far off year of 1999, set in the venerable fantasy world of Glorantha, once (and now again) the setting for RuneQuest, it’s a mythical Bronze Age world where the sky is an actual dome and the sun is a jerk and also dies and is reborn everyday and spells have names like “Dig a Hole Very Fast and Get in It.”
The original game was very unique. You lead a clan of Orlanthi hill barbarians who are settling in the land of Dragon Pass. You appoint a clan ring, conduct religious rituals, build temples, trade cows, deal with the politics of Dragon Pass and other clans as well as those of your own. Sue ghosts, divine the nature of talking rocks, find some ugly guy a wife, raise dinosaurs, do community rituals to send local heroes to the Godtime to bring back divine knowledge and magic for your people!
One of the most unique features of the game are the scenarios. Every few turns a scenario will occur, usually something to do with what I mentioned above. In these you are given multiple options to deal with a number of problems. You can consult your clan Ring, appointed by you (though you are not actually a character and all decisions are framed as consensus, one of the Ring members is the clan chief), in these (and all other) affairs, and they all have their own skillsets and personalities to take into account when considering their input.
A sequel, Six Ages, has been in development since late 2014. It is finally coming close to completion and a short trailer was released not long ago.
Hey look Waypoint’s own editor-in-chief follows their account on twitter!
You can find the original game on Steam, IOS/Android, and GOG. Both the original 1999 release and the Android/IOS update with additional scenes and cleaner UI are on GOG. The updated PC versions have some minor gameplay differences, namely some information that you would otherwise have to work for is given to you from the start. I can’t speak to how much that changes the gameplay experience for a first timer.
The original game did an excellent job of immersing you in this world. When you make decisions you will get immediate reactions if it makes sense, but you are never given a chart of pluses and minuses that show what values changed. You can gauge the mood but otherwise the raw numbers you track make sense: food, goods, cattle, sheep and pigs, pasturage, farmland, woodland, population. You have to put yourself in the shoes of someone from this culture, though that’s less rigid than it sounds. Generally you have to think like a person of influence in a decentralized society of hillfolk who’s primary object of trade and measure of wealth is cattle, and who practice seasonal raiding of one another as a matter of fact. Orlanth says “Violence is always an option,” Ernalda says “There is always another way.”