King of Dragon Pass

aka: Opal
Moby ID: 1119
Windows Specs
Included in See Also

Description official descriptions

In this turn-based strategy game, based on the role-playing game Rune Quest, you take control of a clan of Orlanthi (somewhat resembling iron age Scandinavians) in the magical world of Glorantha. Yours and many other clans have recently migrated to Dragon Pass, a rich and fertile yet vastly unexplored valley. You try to survive and thrive in this environment however you can, your basic means being crops, livestock, hunting, trade, war and exploration. You can raid or fight the other Orlanthi clans, trade and ally with them and explore the wilderness around you. As resources you have the land you live on, goods your craftsmen create, rare commodities that can be found via exploration as well as horses, cattle, sheep and pigs. Your clan consists of trained warriors, artisans and farmers.

The game is split into five seasons each generally allowing the player two actions, but also restricting them: Exploration during the dark season is not advisable and your clan will usually refuse to wage war during harvest time. Additionally you will be presented with many random events which will force you to make decisions. Every decision has its consequences and even the most trivial choice will have repercussions over time.

The clan is ruled by a Council of seven that advises the player on most decisions. The council is chosen from a group of potential candidates (basically your nobility); Picking your councilmen and -women according to their abilities and the gods they worship is crucial. Just as crucial is determining who to listen to in a given situation. A great warrior may not be a good advisor on trade and diplomacy, just as a healer may not be adept at matters of war. If a council member causes too much trouble you may have to remove or even outlaw him or her. There are other reasons for reorganizing the council, the most obvious one being the death of a member.

Goals of the game, other than mere survival and building a strong, rich clan, are relearning and reenacting all the myths of your gods (called performing a heroquest), forming a tribe from several clans and eventually uniting all tribes into a Kingdom under your leadership.

The game consists entirely of still images and selection screens, with a considerable amount of storytelling, requiring the player to read quite a bit. Player interaction is mostly limited to choosing by point and click.

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Credits (Windows version)

42 People (39 developers, 3 thanks) · View all



Average score: 64% (based on 21 ratings)


Average score: 4.0 out of 5 (based on 44 ratings with 3 reviews)

Perfect combination of strategy and RPG.

The Good
If you like strategy, strategy and management is what you’ll find here. As leader of a barbarian clan in a rich and detailed fantasy setting, take care about all military, economic, diplomatic and magical affairs to take your people to prosperity and later to supremacy, struggling for power with other clans. Detailed are the models, too: make policies about your crops and herds, explore, send diplomatic and trading missions, build shrines to get favor from the gods… But that makes KoDP more interesting is its RPG elements: you don’t play as the supreme leader of the clan, but as the entire ring of nobles who rule it. Each one has his/her unique abilities, religions and personalities, and of them depend success or failure in certain situations. You only have the information the clan ring may know; you’re not omniscient like in other strategy titles (although the final decisions are up to you), and that gives the game a particular flavor.

But the RPG feeling comes with the random events. Very often, certain situations arise and need you to make some decision: enigmatic strangers, internal affairs, monsters… literally hundreds of different events can happen, and better enough, making the correct choice depends on the current situation of the clan, on certain abilities possessed by your noble ring, and on luck, so the answer that worked once may not work when circumstances have changed, and the answer that seemed wrong once may be the best later. Also, you will be facing those events when exploring or sending emissaries to another clans, so choose well the leader of the expedition. RPG elements are found too in the way to victory, as you’ll have to complete some magical quests (presented in the above form) to become king or queen.

Each event, each answer to an event and each action you take have consequences. For example, ordering to build a stake perimeter for defense needs some of your people, who then cannot take care of the crops as efficiently as if they hadn’t to work in the defenses. Also, people assigned to craft trade goods aren’t in the same physical shape as hunters, so they are worse in battle. All those and many other examples are signs of a true designing work, a work than won’t be noticed when looking at the graphics, but that is much more important in a good strategic simulation.

The background is very detailed, as you can read online documents about your barbarian culture (called “Orlanthi”) and the mythical stories about your gods (these being very important in order to succeed in magical quests). The graphics are beautiful to see, and combined with the music create a very well drawn atmosphere.

The Bad
I do not consider the following bad. However, it can make the game much less appealing to many gamers: there aren’t any animations. All information and events are displayed in static screens, so you’re not going to see animations of any type. Battles are a matter of making choices about tactical formations and magic: there is no action. I say again: I do NOT consider that bad, but I’m sure it will discourage more than a gamer from getting this title. That doesn’t mean the game is not visually attractive, as I said: “paintings” are true works of art.

Sometimes, making choices in the “events” (and in battles) can become frustrating, as you don’t know exactly what failed (¿Poor ability? ¿Chance?). However, this is truer on magical quests. If you follow the myth associated with the quest, certain choices seem to work always, but others do not. Again, I cannot be sure about this. Perhaps is a personal appreciation, but… who knows? I think the game lacks more information on what affected success or failure of a decision; showing die rolls and chances, for example, even if it hurts somehow the atmosphere.

I miss also some multiplayer option.

The Bottom Line
Overall, KoDP is more a strategy-RPG hybrid than a strategy game, and they knew how to mix them well.

I’m not an Action fan (apart from Shoot’em ups, especially Japanese :)). 3D FPS (and RTS which are really action titles in disguise) that dominate the market today bore me. So, these lines are written from that point of view. I say: if you’re the type who prefers any of the above or the type who gets frightened at the sight of the simplest statistic table, stay as far as you can from this title.

However, strategy gamers who do not care about outstanding animations and appreciate the work that is behind the screen are advised not to miss this gem. A bluish gem, indeed. A piece of art of which there aren’t many these days.

Windows · by Technocrat (193) · 2002

Too complex for new players

The Good
The art
The fascinating backstory and mythology
Great writing
Interesting random events

The Bad
Too random
Too complicated for new players, with little explanation
Little feedback about how you are doing and what should you do next

The Bottom Line
The storyline, the pseudo-Norse setting and the writing are quite stellar -- for instance, the comments of your advisors in particular are pleasantly varied -- and the art is very good as well.

Unfortunately, the gameplay is uninviting and unfriendly to new players. Right off the start there's too many things to keep track of, and events just keep happening seemingly at random. There's too little feedback -- you don't have any clear idea what you have done wrong, how should you have managed your tribe, or what would have improved your chances. You feel out of control over your tribe's well-being.

Perhaps the game gets better later on, but personally, I tried playing it twice and both times bounced off. It's a pity the game doesn't have some kind of a "simplified mode" where there's not quite as many things to micromanage.

Windows · by Havoc Crow (29906) · 2019

Simply Beautiful

The Good
*2nd update.

Well, at least I know some developers out there still have soul..even if it maybe their undoing. King of Dragon Pass is one of those 'rare' games that is (unfortunately) fighting a losing battle against the majority 'graphic-priority based games'.

King of Dragon Pass is more like fairy tale your Grandma used to tell you when you were a kid. Based on the words, you yourself create the images surrounding the story, where the result is always beautiful and memorable. In King of Dragon Pass, even those simple graphics came true. King of Dragon Pass introduced a fairy tale story line of a struggling clan ambitious for conquest and survival.

Storyline, simplicity and art is what King of Dragon Pass is all about. This game is about making choices for your clan. Choices of which will dictate the course of your clan, making every game unique and 'almost' unpredictable.

Graphically, the game is very much appeasing. Oil paintings backgrounds and images that describe every story and even in the game does wonders to your imagination as the lack of graphical animation forces you to visualize what the graphics do not. The last game I played that had similar "oil-painting" backgrounds was "Darklands" and that was quite minor compared to this beauty.

The game play itself is very unique and original from most games I've played. You control your clan through a circle of elders: 7 heroes which make your council, each with their own characteristics and specialties for the benefit (or loss) of the clan. This means that this RPG is not centered to one character, and if one of your elders die, they can be replaced by the young, making this game virtually immortal (no time limit), if you choose to do so.

As mentioned earlier, every new game in this game is technically new. You can choose various choices in the game and still come up with new events you've never experienced before. Yep, this isn't a game. It's storytelling.

The Bad
Well, it was kinda 'too small'. I would have enjoyed it greatly if the map was bigger. There is also one point that if your clan gets too big, you have to give up some land for better management. A downside to my opinion.

The fact that is game is based on 'random' events that are set in advance, if you played the game for a certain period of time (e.g. your 15th time), a sense of repetition will arise as you've already memorized most of the events/stories in the game.

(Spoiler Warning!) Another downside in the game is that there is this "time-limit" in the game. When your small tribe expands and you choose to become a kingdom, there is a time limit you must fulfill or else the game will end (in a bad way ie. your not the ruler of dragon pass). I prefer approaches introduced by KOEI in their strategy games. They have time limits but the time isn't noticeable in what may seem like forever in gameplay. I really don't like to be rushed in my style of strategy gameplay and a time limit in any sort of game to me is always a negative aspect in a game.

The Bottom Line
The manifestation of pure excellence. They should make more games like these...although honestly it probably wouldn't hit 'big' in the gaming 'capitalist' market.

I don't recommend games that much. But this game regardless of genre, is #1 recommended on my short list.

Windows · by Indra was here (20750) · 2006


Subject By Date
RIP Greg Stafford Pseudo_Intellectual (66471) Oct 13, 2018
Now how do we sort this out? Cavalary (11448) Aug 4, 2015
Sequel was announced Alex Z (1856) Mar 28, 2015
KoDP Variants Indra was here (20750) Jul 16, 2014
Exploration SharkD (425) Jan 22, 2009



  • Independent Games Festival
    • March 21, 2000 - Best Visual Art


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  • MobyGames ID: 1119
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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Heikki Sairanen.

Macintosh added by Kabushi.

Additional contributors: Indra was here, Pseudo_Intellectual, Patrick Bregger.

Game added March 22, 2000. Last modified May 25, 2024.