King of Dragon Pass

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King of Dragon Pass is a computer game published by the very-very small developer A Sharp (A#). The game is set in the past of Glorantha, the fantasy setting for RuneQuest and Hero Quest. The player leads a clan of bloodthirsty Orlanthi to dominance over the freshly colonised land of Dragon Pass by managing the clans economy, conducting its raids against neighbours and making other wise decisions as the seven-member clan ring.

The gameplay itself is a strange mix of strategy game, RPG and Visual Novel as the usual macromanagement of the clan is spiced by individual decisions of the nobility and story advancing choices made over nice pictures. Should Voskandora the war-leader engage her opposite directly using her axe and battle magic or try to keep herself safe behind her thanes? Should the clan pay the extra five cows worth of goods to try to find a wife for one of the ugly carls? These are all in the player's hand and might have seemingly unrelated long term consequences.

Even though it was published in 1999, the game has aged very well: there is absolutely no animation, only text and really good looking images. The latter are even emphasised by the ability of switching the text off revealing otherwise hidden parts. Its popularity surged lately due to the release of its iOS port in September of 2011.

Lots of RuneQuest tropes also apply here as a result of the same setting and sometimes even mechanics.

Tropes used in King of Dragon Pass include:
  • Action Girl: Worshipers of Vinga, the Orlanthi goddess of Action Girls. Kallyr is a particularly notable example with her own dedicated event chain. There's also a clan known for being led by Vingans.
  • The Alliance: What your tribe starts out as.
  • All Myths Are True: Particularly notable because if you alter a myth through a Hero Quest, you retroactively alter reality. Note that failing a Hero Quest and altering it aren't the same thing.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: The rest of your clan to Thadart, after he's captured and transformed by the Tusk Riders. As the clan leaders, however, you do have a chance to make sure that he's not just accepted, but respected and beloved by the rest of the clan.
  • All Trolls Are Different: Here, they are only one of the usual dangers a clan can face in winter. Until some nobles try to explore the far north...
  • Ambadassador: Any noble with high combat and bargaining stats is this, and is a good choice for long trade expeditions.
  • Artifact of Doom: The Pharaoh's sorcerers are armed with a few.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Given in a barbaric tribal society.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: Do everything right in the long game, and your leader becomes King or Queen of Dragon Pass.
  • Bad Moon Rising: The red moon in the northern sky is so Chaotic that good Orlanthi try not to even look at it.
  • Barbarian Hero: While they wear more clothing than is normal to the trope, pretty much any Orlanthi weaponthane counts.
  • Barbarian Tribe: The Orlanthi and their various tribes and clans, of course.
  • Bunny Ears Lawyer: Your ring members might be hyper-competent stat-wise but still exhibit certain eccentricities, such as an obsession with cows or an inexplicable hatred of elves.
    • Tricksters may also qualify. They're incomprehensible troublemakers most of the time, but Trickster Magic can be invaluable to the clan.
  • Chaotic Stupid: Tricksters are willful idiots with little grasp of dignity or proportion. Their schemes also tend to be Crazy Enough to Work, and they work magic that sane people can't. Placing one on your clan ring puts those talents to work... and makes the clan chief personally responsible for the fool's antics. Is it worth it? Who knows!
  • Deal with the Devil: You can sometimes choose to propitiate Chaos gods, rather than sacrificing to the Orlanthi patron deities. It's cheaper, but there's usually a long-term downside.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: The Orlanthi have a very tribal value system. Peace between clans typically means only occasionally raiding each other for cattle and goods, foreigners are never to be trusted (at least, not above your own people), and while secret murders are prosecutable crimes, killing openly only allows the wronged party to seek vengeance. The manual even says that to succeed, you must put aside your modern morality and think like an Orlanthi.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: You can send nobles on Hero Quests, wherein they step into the shoes of a god and beat the hell out of Chaos.
  • Don't Fear the Reaper: Humakt isn't the cheeriest god in the pantheon, but he's decidedly one of the good guys.
  • Early Game Hell: Stabilizing your clan in the first few years can be tough, especially on Hard mode. No one wants to trade with you, the gods don't want to share their secrets with you, the Horse Spawn like to come steal your horses and if your crops fail, you don't have any reserves to fall back on.
  • Egopolis: Eventually, your tribe will build a town with two others, and your clan ring often wants to name it after themselves.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Chaos has lots of these.
  • Elves Versus Dwarves: Both species are connected to the earth, but dwarves represent inorganic stasis, while elves represent life and growth. Somewhat more on-point, the dwarves can give you the treasure called Necklace of Axes, which "helps those who hate elves", and they describe that it "Kills Elfs. Dead".
  • The Empire: the Lunar Empire with whom the Tarshites go to war.
  • Everything's Better with Cows: This being an early medieval society, cattle is used as currency. The more you have, the richer your clan. But if your herd dips below 500, watch out.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: Earthshakers, dinos of the shambling, plant-devouring variety. It pays to be nice to them.
  • Everything's Better with Rainbows: Orlanth is the Storm God, so rainbows are sacred to Orlanthi. Seeing one increases your magic and provides opportunities for raiding or making friends.
  • Exclusively Evil: The forces of Chaos.
  • Fake Ultimate Hero
  • Fantastic Caste System: From lowest to highest, it more or less goes: Thralls (slaves), Cottars (freemen), Carls (landowners), Weaponthanes (soldiers) and Nobles. Not all clans take thralls, and carls and weaponthanes compete for influence.
  • Fantastic Racism: No-one likes the Beastmen, at least not at first. Your avian neighbors can nevertheless prove themselves worthy allies against the undead.
    • Some nobles will also have peculiar grudges against particular races, such as the elves, blaming them for everything bad that happens to the clan.
    • The Ducks prove themselves time and again as noble warriors who can best your even your elite combat leaders, but even when they earnestly seek alliance, lampooning their efforts is a perfectly valid option.
    • Your clan has to have a grudge against someone as part of the clan creation. These can be trolls, beastmen, the Praxians, elves, ice demons or the ocean.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The Orlanthi culture has Celtic/Germanic overtones.
  • Final Death: Your nobles can die in battles or random events, or of old age. There are circumstances where they can be resurrected, unless they're devoted to Humakt, the god of death.
  • Genre Roulette/Mix and Match: A blend of a resource-management Simulation Game and a Visual Novel, with some RPG elements.
  • Giant Enemy Crab: One memorable Chaos monster faced in a Hero Quest looks like a great big vaguely crustacean... thing.
  • Goddamn Orks: Your clan's traditional nemeses tend to show up a lot. To the Orlanthi in general, the Horse-Spawn fit this trope.
  • Good Old Ways:
    • Your clan's ancestors grant extra magic when you act in accordance with tradition. Tradition is ultimately one of the most important things to consider for the Orlanthi. If you hated dragons centuries ago, then you are expected to hate dragons now and forever. If you break from tradition, you'd better have a good reason to do so, and even if you do, you will be punished for it somehow. However, when the Orlanthi are presented with an entirely new situation (like the civilized duck people), they have no idea how to react, and it's one of the few situations where every option is perfectly valid.
    • To become King of Dragon Pass, you have to avert this and make new traditions.
  • Guide Dang It: It'll take a lot of experimenting to figure out how to play the first few times unless you have help.
  • Guile Hero: The Talking God Issaries and his followers. Also, Tricksters. Sometimes.
  • Honor Before Reason: Many Orlanthi live and die by this axiom. Luckily, you have often have a chance to take a reasonable and honorable third option when they bring their problems before the Ring.
  • The Hunter: Followers of Urox the Storm Bull specialise in hunting Chaos, and followers of Humakt specialise in hunting the undead.
  • Insufferable Genius: Lhankor Mhy, called the Knowing God by his worshippers and the Know-It-All God by his detractors.
  • Loophole Abuse: The Orlanthi are a highly legalistic people, but often have few qualms about exploiting technicalities in their favor.
  • Lost Forever: And of course, you will never know.
  • Morally-Ambiguous Ducktorate: The strange and puny duck neighbours, their more formidable cousins in the swamps and their extremely dangerous friends.
  • Nonstandard Game Over: You have a clan. It can muster raiding parties. Your neighbors have realms. They can muster armies. It's difficult to get warnings, but if they start, pay attention.
  • Not-So-Omniscient Council of Bickering: Your clan ring tends to end up as one of these. Your tribal council pretty much inevitably does.
  • Orphan's Plot Trinket: Both major heroes.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Intelligent, sly and ultimately evil. Not to mention very dangerous. There's a good reason no one's settled in Dragon Pass for hundreds of years. There's also their strange, humanlike relatives/larval forms, the dragonewts.
  • Order Versus Chaos: The main cosmological conflict.
  • Plaguemaster: Malia, chaos goddess of sickness.
  • Plotline Death: Destinies sometimes end with defeat.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Eurmal shows shades of this, giggling maniacally when he discovers he can kill people permanently with the sword Death.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: The goddess of rape is part of the Unholy Trio, right up there with the goddess of disease and the god of evil himself.
  • Relationship Values: With the farmers, with the thanes, with other clans, cults and of course with the Elder Races.
  • Resurrection Sickness: Through Chalana Arroy's Resurrection blessing, a hefty sacrifice and good luck, sometimes people can be brought back to life, but they're not quite the same as they once were.
  • Revenge Before Reason: One of your clansmen might demand recompense from another clan after they adopt two old men who killed his family years ago. While his hatred is understandable, your lawspeaker will point out that his case is rather weak.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: From joining in the clan's battles to leading trade expeditions, Orlanthi nobles certainly earn their keep.
  • Sacred Hospitality: Hospitality is a prime Orlanthi virtue, but there are a few loopholes in the customs that allow you to treat your guests like dirt without technically being inhospitable.
  • Spirit World: By physically reenacting a myth, your nobles can enter the spirit world and receive various blessings.
  • The Starscream: Nobles with high leadership may try to get the current chief deposed.
  • Token Jackass Clan Leader: Tricksters can get away with crimes that would get other Orlanthi outlawed. Unless, of course, you expel them yourself.
    • Eurmal himself is essentially a Token Chaotic Team Mate in the Orlanthi pantheon. He's tolerated because the results of his mischief are generally better for Orlanth than his enemies.
    • In gameplay, this works the same way. Sure, a trickster won't always give stellar advice, and will sometimes bring bad things upon your clan. They can also do fantastically against certain common event chains. Of course, most people take one for the fun factor.
  • Trickster Archetype: Eurmal and his followers.
  • Unwinnable: Even the manual advises to save a lot after the appearance of the Feathered Horse Queen. One wrong move, one failed test and you might not even realise that you are out of competition.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: Towards nobles. And Earthshakers.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: You can raid rival clans, take them as slaves, and sacrifice them to your gods.