In Six Ages, you play generations in the life of a barbarian clan. Every decision becomes part of your clan’s saga, and echoes in the clan’s future adventures. Some choices have immediate effects, but others won’t come back to haunt you for years or decades.
You are mortals living in a magical world. The world is alive. Every river and rock has a spirit, as does your clan. These spirits sometimes share their magic with humans. The very greatest of the spirits are the gods.
And the gods are at war.
Generations ago, your ancestors had to leave Nivorah, the Golden City. Your clan just migrated yet again, and must make a new home. Your goal is to steer your clan to survival as the gods reshape the world.
Advisors: The seven faces at the bottom of most screens are the leaders of the clan, known as the Clan Circle. They can offer good advice, particularly if their skills are high. (To check their skills, click their picture.) Occasionally their advice serves their own agendas better than it serves the clan.
Advisors: Tap the face at the bottom of the screen. You’ll see the leaders of the clan, known as the Clan Circle. They can offer good advice, particularly if their skills are high. (To check their skills, tap their picture.) Your advisors have personalities, so their advice sometimes serves their own agendas better than it serves the clan.
Basic Info: The menu on the left of most screens switches between screens. It also shows important notes. Go to the Lore screen and poke around for information on your clan, its culture, and the stories of the gods which determine its fate. In game-initiated adventures, check the status of other clans and your wealth by clicking the Info button.
Basic Info: The Menu button switches between screens. The menu also shows important notes. Go to the Lore screen and poke around for information on your clan, its culture, and the stories of the gods which determine its fate. In game-initiated adventures, check the season, the status of other clans, and your wealth by tapping the Info button.
Time: Actions you perform (sending a mission, sacrificing, etc.) advance time. Events may occur after each action as time progresses. In the time it takes to perform two actions, a season passes. The agricultural cycle is important—avoid raiding when your clan should be sowing or reaping.
Art Without Text: Click a picture to see the game’s art without text in the way.
The Many Paths: There is seldom just one proper response. Many choices test the abilities of your leaders. Most have a chance of succeeding, but even the best choices have a chance of failing. If you fail the first time you try something, that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible. You can improve your luck by choosing responses that seem to best match your leaders’ abilities.
Roleplaying Your Clan: Although you can have a lot of fun playing Six Ages in a variety of styles, you’re not likely to fully succeed until you get into the spirit of acting like the chief of a Hyaloring clan.
Goal: We don’t want to spoil the plot twist by telling you your clan’s specific goal. And in any case, you can’t force victory. Keep your people fed, increase your prestige with other clans, and grow your wealth, so you will be able to take advantage of opportunities.
The game starts with a short interactive history of your clan. There are no right or wrong answers—you’re creating backstory. Each choice shapes the profile of the clan you will play. Doing well later on often depends on living up to the example set by your ancestors.
The first god your clan worshiped determines which sacred stories you know best at the start of the game. It can also matter when you’re visiting the Other Side.
What your ancestors did influences the skills of clan leaders. For example, if they helped the trade goddess Ekarna, leaders will have Bargaining skills slightly above average.
Clan ancestors learned tricks to fight their foes, whether they gained an enemy from the earliest days, or after leaving Nivorah. More importantly, your ancestors expect you to maintain the enmity.
This story explains why your people are called Hyalorings. By the way, the hero’s name is pronounced “HIGH-ah-lore.”
The lesser god your ancestors were able to bring from Nivorah will give you access to an exotic good such as glassware, or let you learn literacy magic.
Over the years, your clan divided several times. Your choice here means you’ll start the game knowing a relevant story, and have a larger herd, better clan mood, etc. For example, if your clan began as the most warlike people from the father clan, you’ll begin with additional elite warriors, and know the details of “Elmal Guards the Sunpath.” Or if your ancestors were originally the best magicians in the father clan, you’ll start with more clan magic and an extra sworn spirit.
The specific outsiders met, and how your ancestors treated them, will provide a bonus in certain situations. And you may start knowing another blessing. More importantly your ancestors expect you to treat other outsiders in more or less the same way.
Your final choice determines the difficulty level, which primarily affects the initial setup. We recommend “Easier than last time” (Easier) or “About the same as our last migration” (Normal) until you’ve won a game or two. You’ll begin with more resources and friendlier neighbors. At Easier, you’ll also be on the way towards building up the food magic you’ll need to feed the clan. The Hard level means you will have to be more concerned with managing your clan, though the story is just as important. At Harsh, it may feel like the gods are withholding luck from you.
To change a choice, click it to resume the questionnaire at that point. Otherwise, enter a name for your clan, and click Start.
If you like, you can limit your ability to restore the game. Some players find this an extra challenge, since your decisions are even more meaningful if you can’t take them back.
Each year ends with the Sacred Time, a two-week celebration in which every clan recreates the stories of creation in order to reaffirm the cosmic order and the clan’s place in the world. Your clan performs many sacred rituals, particularly to the gods Elmal and Nyalda. These rituals take place off-screen, but you must allocate magical power among them. Each ritual has specific effects (explained below), and also makes the clan more effective for related actions in the upcoming year. Usually it will take at least two points to make a difference in these cases.
The Sacred Time screen starts with a summary of the past year.
Your wise folk do their best to divine what dangers, blessings or opportunities the next year will provide. Dreams and visions often suggest special sacrifices to particular deities. Note that when the gods are kind enough to give you a glimpse of your future, they become sorely affronted if you ignore their information.
The Clan Circle
At Available by tapping the face at the bottom of most screens are the faces of seven advisors. This is the circle, the group of people chosen to provide advice and leadership to the clan. The composition of your clan council also influences the possible strength of the Sacred Time rituals available to your clan. For example, having a War god worshiper on the circle allows for stronger War magic. This bonus is not cumulative; if your circle includes two War god worshipers, you only get to allocate one extra point of magic for War rituals.
Every leader belongs to one of the Seven Families who left Nivorah with Hyalor. If each family is represented on the circle, the clan will have an extra point of magic.
Every point you assign has an impact. For example, every point of Fields magic brings in more food over the year. These rituals can also help during events, though it may take more than a single point to make a difference.
The explanations of the Sacred Time ritual categories below show the gods who allow another point for that ritual if you have one of their worshipers on the circle.
Increases the output of your crafters. Bringing Tepekos, god of bronze working, from Nivorah allows an extra point.
Aids emissaries you send to other clans, and helps keep up your reputation among the other clans of the Valley. (Ekarna, Hyalor)
Helps your explorers return safely, and while they explore. (Zarlen)
Provides extra food. (Nyalda)
Improves clan mood. (Hyalor)
Speeds the recovery of sick and wounded clan members. (Erissa)
Increases the fertility of all your livestock: cattle, goats, and horses. (Busenari, Gamari, Uryarda)
Increases the chance of success when sacrificing to the gods, including when crossing to the Other Side. A circle representing seven different deities allows an extra point. (Relandar, or a shaman)
Gives your clan luck in every battle you fight during the year. (Elmal, Osara)
Provides extra food. (Dostal, Inilla)
Various issues will be called out in the menu, next to the screen they most directly pertain to. (You might need to switch from showing divine blessings.) Usually an advisor can give you more of an explanation.
Some concerns are short-lived—your ancestors will eventually forgive you for disrespecting them. Others may last many years.
You’ll usually want to deal with any concern that’s under your control before it makes things worse. Or, take advantage of an opportunity—not all concerns are negative.
Some concerns might indicate a potentially worrisome trend, but if your clan mood is high, Morale Stress won’t be a high priority.
Nearly every challenge your clan faces pivots upon the abilities of its leaders. A few actions are based on the abilities of a lone explorer or emissary, but most challenges in Six Ages use the highest skill of a clan circle member as the basic chance of success.
Leaders with higher skills give better advice, too.
Your leaders slowly improve, particularly in the skill your ancestors showed an affinity for when they first helped the gods. Relandar’s magic and many Otherworld rituals also boost skills.
If a leader isn’t rated for one of the seven skills, their ability in that area is too poor to mention. Skills are ranked on the following scale:
Fair — Good — Very Good — Excellent — Renowned — Heroic
Leaders who attain Heroic skill operate at a different plane than normal mortals, and can be counted on to achieve results that exceed lower-skilled characters.
Vital in economic haggling and negotiation. Primary skill of traders, of secondary importance for emissaries and even explorers, since Bargaining can help you talk your way out of trouble when you would otherwise have to fight.
Expertise with weapons, toughness in battle, ability to survive wounds. Primary skill of warriors, also important in exploration and hunting.
How to deal with people outside the clan, or even foreigners. The primary skill for emissaries.
Knowledge of animals both domestic and wild, as well as crops and wild plants.
Ability to motivate others, and persuade people to see things your way by charisma and charm rather than guile or force. Vitally important for keeping your clan from coming apart at its weak spots, often important in inter-clan negotiations. Primary skill for chiefs, but also useful for emissaries and in battle.
Knowledge of the customs and laws of your people, as well as the world in general.
Understanding of the supernatural forces that shape and control the world, knowledge of the gods and the rituals that ask for their favor, ability to deal with spirits, perspective on the clan’s roots and the expectations of the ancestors. Primary skill for clan members performing special sacrifices.
You’ll find that your leaders have opinions and attitudes. This may color their advice, and sometimes affects their ability to perform tasks. For example, a pacifistic leader may not be the best choice to rouse passions for war.
When they’re initiated as adults, men and women are called by one of the gods. A few are called by the spirits, or even Raven.
Leaders represent their deity on the circle, particularly as chief. Their divine affiliation can sometimes give them an advantage when facing a challenge.
The first screen you see after every Sacred Time, the Clan screen provides information on the clan’s mood and the people’s health. Here, you focus your people’s activities and reorganize your clan circle.
The council represents the clan in a magical sense. A broken circle—one with a vacancy—provides one point less of clan magic every year. And a circle with no women or no men will generate less clan magic. On the other hand, a circle with all Seven Families represented is true to your traditions, and gives an extra point of magic each year.
Circle members also bring their own magical affinity. For example, a worshiper of Busenari, Gamari, or Uryarda (the animal goddesses) will allow an extra point of Pastures rituals during Sacred Time.
It’s a good idea to fill a vacant spot on the council as quickly as possible. If a member dies or is otherwise removed from the circle, reorganize soon to avoid hurting your clan magic, Sacred Time rituals, mood, and a dozen other factors. A circle member’s temporary absence (while exploring, wounded, or on a mission) slightly hurts the Sacred Time rituals, but won’t trigger the other problems associated with a broken circle.
The chief and other circle members are marked in dialogs where you pick a leader.
To pick a clan council, click Reorganize. This shows a dialog where you pick a chief and six other advisors.
The chief is the first position on the circle. To unseat a chief, click either checkbox. Then click the top checkbox of another leader.
Organizing a good clan circle isn’t necessarily as simple as just sorting through the abilities and choosing the highest-rated clan member in each. For mythic reasons, clans work better if all the circle members worship different gods. And the Seven Families all want to be represented on the council (if they are, the clan generates an extra point of magic each year). Don’t worry if you can’t balance all these factors, though it’s certainly a plus if you can.
Note that leaders offer comments when you click them.
Sickness & Health
Sick people are more likely to die of old age or starvation than healthy people. Sick and wounded people cannot work, farm, fight, go on patrol, produce crafts, or lend their talents to the circle.
A small portion of your population is liable to fall sick in any given season. If you have an Erissa healer on the clan circle or spent magic on Health rituals in the Sacred Time, such illnesses should pass quickly. If you don’t have a healer on the circle, sickness can become more of a problem, particularly if you have not yet learned Erissa’s Curing blessing.
Wounds occur in battles and other crises. As with sickness, wound recovery rates speed up when you have a healer on the circle, when you allocate magic to Health rituals in the Sacred time, and when you have the proper Erissa blessing.
When you sacrifice to Erissa for Healing, she mends wounded leaders as her first priority, warriors second, and commoners third.
Who is in your clan?
The population categories make no distinction between men and women. Both men and women herd, farm, gather wild food, fight, and serve as nobles responsible for the ceremonies that maintain contact with the gods.
Most people tend livestock, plant and harvest in season, forage or hunt for food, and craft goods. Many specialize, but they are all grouped together as Commoners.
The majority of your fighting force, called Bows because they prefer to fight as archers, are drawn from the commoners.
It takes fifteen years for a baby to grow up, become initiated as an adult, and become a commoner or noble. At Six Ages’s level of simulation, children play little role in the clan’s affairs.
The clan supports a number of full-time warriors, called Swords. They are equipped with armor, and wear a bronze sword. In battle they are five times as effective as a normal warrior, in part because Bows fear going up against a warrior who is so much better armed and trained.
You can raise more Swords on the War screen.
You will note that the Clan screen indicates that you have more nobles than the leaders in the Reorganize dialog… some of these extra nobles are the families of the leaders, or people too unskilled or too shy to take a leadership role in the clan. Others are priests or shamans unwilling to take a position of leadership on the clan circle.
The Clan Mood
The clan’s mood indicator gives a rough sense of whether the people are happy with the circle’s leadership or whether they fear they’re being led down the road to ruin. If the people are happy, problems that start small are more likely to stay small. If the people are already angry, ill feeling can spiral out of control. Clans can forgive their leaders for occasional unpopular decisions; it is repeated failure or clear signs of going against the will of the gods that are most likely to drive people to rebellion.
In descending order, from the happiest condition to the depths of the spirit, the terms used to describe clan mood are:
jubilant, splendid, happy, contented, optimistic, reserved, worried, dissatisfied, gloomy, ugly, and grim. Anything below reserved is a bad mood.
The Seven Families
Ever since Hyalor led the migration out of the Golden City, clans have been composed of seven families. Each is led by a male elder, though other men and women elders are important as well. As a player, you can help ensure harmony among the families by giving them all representation on the clan circle. (If a family has no leaders eligible or willing to serve, you don’t have to worry about their desires.)
Ventures are actions involving most of the clan, projects that break the normal routine. They require planning and coordination, and occupy people for a significant time, so you can only conduct one each year. Some ventures have additional requirements (for example, you can’t devote warriors to patrols if you don’t have enough).
The game treats them abstractly. Results are reported right away, even if the venture takes weeks of effort. If a benefit isn’t long-lasting (e.g. Defense lasts most of a year even if it’s not directed well), it’s applied without delay (e.g. Crafting adds any goods produced). In most cases, the exact timing doesn’t matter, so forgetting until the last minute won’t cramp you the following year. But you can’t start the same venture again for at least a year. The dialog marks ventures that are still occurring. An ongoing venture started last year won’t prevent you from starting a different venture.
As well as choosing a venture, you can pick the leader in charge. Click the Choose Leader button before clicking Proceed. A leader can only organize one venture at a time, though once it begins, they can leave the clan on a mission.
Some ventures supplement ordinary activities. For example, the Herding venture concentrates effort on herding, but your herders tend your livestock year-round.
You will eventually get the opportunity to improve your clan hall, which allows you to coordinate another venture each year. Nyalda’s Cooperation blessing makes many ventures easier and more effective. Her Hospitality blessing lets feasts be organized more efficiently so they don’t count as one of the year’s ventures.
The Magic screen lets you:
- • sacrifice to the gods for their blessings and sacred stories
- • build shrines and temples
- • bargain with spirits
- • review Sacred Time magic
- • see special effects
- • perform rituals
Clans that sacrifice wisely for blessings can improve all aspects of their existence. The gods on the Magic screen are the major powers of the Sky pantheon. There are other gods and other blessings, but deities like Shella (goddess of rain) and blessings such as Cheese-Making (from Busenari, the cow-goddess) fall below the scope of this game.
Your clan’s migration cut the priests off from much of their former spiritual power. Reforge your links with the gods by sacrificing to individual deities. Sacrifice for a god’s mysteries will either reveal knowledge of a blessing or increase your understanding of one of the god’s sacred stories.
Shrines, Temples and Great Temples
Once you learn a blessing, you can either build a shrine to gain the blessing on a permanent basis, or sacrifice to the god again to gain that blessing for a year. Once you know two blessings for a particular deity, you can build a temple and gain those blessings year-round. You can build a Great Temple to your culture’s main god, Elmal, if you know three of his blessings.
Blessings you know will be available in the Sacrifice dialog and usually the temple. A blessing connected to a temple will stay on until you change blessings or something happens to the temple. A blessing you sacrificed for will stay active for a year. Sacrificing for a blessing when it’s already in effect does not add to its potency, though you can Heal multiple times a year if necessary.
Use the Build button to create a shrine or temple for a god whose blessings you know, or to reduce that god’s temple if you no longer wish to support it. Your advisors will remind you that shrines and temples require annual sacrifices of goods and cattle, as well as worshipers. If you have too many temples, your clan will be spread too thin to support them all. If you can’t support all your temples in the Sacred Time, one of them will be reduced for you.
Sacrificing to the gods doesn’t always succeed. Your basic chance of success depends on your circle’s highest Magic skill. There are many other factors:
Size: Most gods accept both herds and goods equally happily. (Pacifistic Erissa is less pleased with animal sacrifice.) Sacrificing fewer than seven cows worth of herds and goods hurts your chances. Sacrificing double or triple that amount greatly increases your chance of success, even though there are diminishing returns.
Worshipers: Your sacrifice is more likely to succeed if at least one member of the clan circle is a devotee of the god you are sacrificing to.
Clan Magic: The higher the current magic, the greater the chance of success. A low magic pool is bad luck.
Sacred Time Rituals: Spending magic on Rituals in Sacred Time helps any sacrifice.
The world is filled with spirits. Many are hostile, but others are willing to swear oaths to help the clan. That help typically acts much like a divine blessing.
You’ll start the game with at least one sworn spirit, and can gain others by sending out a mission from the Map screen.
To get a sworn spirit to help, you’ll need to bargain with it. Use the popup menu to show spirits, select the spirit, and click Bargain. Most spirits have only one power, though a few have more. Persuasion works most of the time, to get the spirit power for a year or two. Offering clan magic or releasing the spirit from its oath will guarantee its cooperation and give a longer or more powerful effect.
Persuading a spirit is easier if you have a shaman on the clan circle. For this purpose, a follower of Raven is not considered a shaman. (They do have an advantage persuading Raven, however.)
Rituals (on this screen) are journeys into the timeless Otherworld of the gods, often called the Gods War since their conflicts are a common feature. A single individual—the quester—assumes the identity of a deity and attempts to recreate the deity’s actions. If the quester succeeds, he can harness huge supernatural powers for the good of the clan. If the quester fails, he risks death and bad consequences for the clan.
Otherworld rituals aren’t routine, but it’s harder to contact the gods via sacrifice if you don’t visit the Gods War every so often. It’s a good idea to perform a ritual at least every seven years.
You can repeat rituals, though if you have been rewarded, it’s hard to enact the same ritual for five years. And you can only conduct one ritual per year, whether it succeeds or not.
Learning how to do the Ritual
Sacred stories of your gods act as a rough map for their rituals. The basic summary of these are available on the Lore screen. To enact an Otherworld ritual, your clan needs to know the details of the story. (If you don’t, sacrifice to the associated god. Since Reladivus is no longer reachable via sacrifice, you can learn “Taming the River” from his father, Elmal.) The Lore screen shows when you have sufficient knowledge of a sacred story. Not all sacred stories have rituals associated with them.
Succeeding with Rituals
Otherworld rituals are major undertakings. All the adults of your clan help prepare the quester, donating as much of their personal magic and worship as possible. Count on expending a significant amount of clan magic as well. In some cases the quester will need to bring a magical treasure, particularly if it relates to the god in question.
You can ask other clans to help. Their refusal won’t hurt the ritual, but will have other consequences.
The quester embodies the god on the Other Side. Ideally, they worship the god. Usually they need to be the same gender. One exception is Osara: she’s the daughter of Elmal, so her female worshipers can perform Elmal’s ritual. And male traders can travel on the path of Ekarna, goddess of trade.
The quester will need skills appropriate for the challenges the god faced in the story. The Ritual dialog lets you preview potential questers before you start.
You will sacrifice to propel the quester into the Gods War. As usual, larger sacrifices help, and clan magic devoted to Rituals helps with this sacrifice.
On the Other Side, the quester will follow more or less in the footsteps of their god. Sometimes the story you know is incomplete, and there will be new or different challenges. The Gods War itself sometimes changes, as the gods continue to clash. And no human is as powerful as a god, so even when the god succeeded, the quester may be unable to. But gods have many aspects, so choosing a path that’s easier for the quester may be as valid as a story your clan knows. Choices that relate to the first famous event of your ancestors are sometimes easier.
Failing at one part of the story doesn’t usually doom the entire ritual, though in some cases a quester might decide to ride for home rather than keep making things worse. On the other hand, if your quester fails badly at one challenge, only barely succeeding at others may not be enough.
If the quester is more successful than not in reenacting the story (or making a new one), they can ask for a reward from the god. Sometimes these are tangible treasures, sometimes they’re benefits that can last for generations. Gods may offer different rewards based on decisions the quester made.
The final portion of the Magic screen lists various magical benefits that aren’t a divine or spirit blessing. Rewards received from an Otherworld ritual often show up here. Note that not every benefit will be visible here. Some may be appear in the menu, and others may be happening behind the scenes or are difficult to describe concisely.
The Map screen shows in color where your explorers or emissaries have visited at least once. It also indicates places that are safe to explore. Small yellow gems mark missions in progress.
If you need to see the underlying geography, you can turn off clan labels.
The map shows two major rivers: the Black Eel, which you live near, and the Oslira, which flowed through the heartland of the Empire before the ice came. These rivers can be significant obstacles to exploration, as well as diplomatic or trade missions. River crossings aren’t routine until you’ve tamed the river with an Otherworld ritual.
The Explore button actually lets you send out four types of missions: Capture Horses, Explore, Forage, and Search for Spirits. For each you’ll pick a leader and an escort, then click the map so the red gem shows where the mission is headed. As with trading missions and emissaries, circle members will have more success than others of equal ability.
Other than exploration, missions need to stick to known lands.
You may want to avoid lands claimed by a clan, so these are highlighted in red if your mission is being sent there. A mission to your own clan highlights it in grey.
All these missions are potentially risky, even if they stick to the relative safety of your own lands. A leader who worships Zarlen, Ekarna, or Dostal knows magic that makes them safer. The Pathfinder blessing is even more helpful. And clan magic devoted to Exploring rituals in Sacred Time affects all the missions.
If you have Hyalor’s Horsebreaker magic active, you can try to capture wild horses. Don’t expect to find untended horses on another clan’s lands.
Exploring lets you learn about new lands, filling in the map. But you can explore anywhere. It’s quite possible to find something new in a place you’ve been to before. This even goes for your own clan lands.
A side benefit of exploring is that it can make the valley safer. If you don’t explore, the threat of bandits or monsters can increase.
Another benefit is that you can let other clans know what you’ve discovered (via the Ventures dialog).
This mission sends your foragers outside your lands to find food. It’s best to avoid other clan lands. You need to stick fairly close to home—foraging missions can’t be sent more than about a season’s travel away. This is a concentrated effort, in addition to the normal gathering on your own clan lands, or the Foraging venture.
Searching for Spirits
This mission sends your clan shamans to locate wild spirits. The leader should have a high Magic skill, but doesn’t have to be a shaman. A shaman (including a Raven shaman) will find it easier, however. And a shaman may discover additional opportunities.
One of the first things you’ll want to do is check the Relations screen to find out about your neighbors. Clans that share a border with your clan, or that are only one clan away from your clan, are marked with an ‘N’. These nearby clans are the ones you’ll have the most interaction with.
The Relations screen tracks the attitudes of the other clans in the valley, the names of their chiefs, whether they owe you a favor (or if you owe them) and if you have a formal relationship with them, such as an alliance or a feud. The list also shows which clans are Hyalorings, Charioteers, or Vingkotlings. Click a clan in the list to see any notable facts about it. (Some may change during play.)
Other clans have a rich set of relations towards yours. They like and fear you on a continuum. For example, winning a raid against a clan will make them like you less but fear you more. When clans are sufficiently friendly, they’re said to Like you. The flip side is Hate. If a clan truly respects your might, they Fear you. The opposite is Mock. The total number in each category is shown at the bottom of most screens. (Many clans will have values in the middle.)
Your advisors will remind you about other factors, such as specific promises made.
Clan names on the map provide a color-coded summary of approximately how the leaders of the other clans feel about yours. The colors range from the bright blue of allies to the red of your enemies, the clans you are feuding with. This summary doesn’t consider Fear, and does not entirely account for grudges which the common people of those clans may have accumulated against you. Feuds generally start when the people of another clan have had enough of your slights against them, a response that does not always correspond to poor relations with the other clan’s nobles.
Feuds represent formal declarations of animosity that suspend many of the norms of courtesy and proper conduct extended between clans. A feud is not quite the same as a war. There can still be friendly (or at least non-hostile) interactions between feuding clans, including trade, offers or requests for magical assistance, and even marriages. But if the normal state of relations between clans in the valley amounts to armed readiness, feuding relations may be understood as hair-trigger expectancy. You expect a feuding clan to stab you in the back. Feuding clans may raid your herds, kill your livestock, send curses against you, try to destroy your property, and even kill members of your clan whom they can catch without adequate protection.
Rider clans have migrated every few generations, so few of their social relations are permanent, not even their worst feuds. Many things can end feuds, including marriages, extreme generosity, Otherworld rituals, and emissaries laden with gifts offering peace.
Feuding clans expect you to behave the same way towards them, so you can sometimes make peace by treating them better than they had expected. If such strategies fail, be prepared for your people to resent the fact that you appeased their hated foes.
Feuding clans are counted in the Hate total, even though they may otherwise have a favorable opinion of your clan.
Alliances are declared friendships. Unless relations go sour, you can count on an ally to:
- • support you in negotiations with other clans
- • send warriors to help with raids
- • look more favorably on requests for repayment of favors
- • provide you with favors even when they don’t owe you one
- • refrain from sending full-scale raids against you, though they may occasionally hit you with a small herd raid if you are careless about guarding your herd
Your allies expect similar considerations, and may be offended if you treat them as if they were just any other clan. Despite the formal alliance, they can still dislike or Mock you.
Anyone can worship at an ally’s shrines (which is handy for devotees of the less popular deities). This is one of the reasons you can’t just befriend everyone in the Valley. After about three, it starts getting tough to juggle your commitments to your allies. However, if you send an emissary to all the Rider, Wheel, or Ram clans, you’ll be able to support another alliance (which doesn’t have to be from the same culture).
Allied clans are counted in the Like total, even though they may actually have an unfavorable opinion of your clan.
Click the Emissary button to send a diplomatic envoy to another clan. You can preselect the clan you want to send an emissary to by clicking on the clan list or the map on the Relations screen, or pick in the Emissary dialog.
When you send an emissary, the game will choose your most qualified leader. You may have reasons to send a different emissary, in which case click the Leader button. In general, the best emissaries have high Diplomacy, but may also need Leadership, Bargaining, and Lore skills. Due to the rituals that make them representatives of your clan, circle members have more success as emissaries, traders, and explorers than non-circle members.
The paths and trails in the valley are dangerous. If bandits don’t get you, feuding clans will. You’ll want to send several Swords or Bows with your emissary, particularly if she is carrying rich gifts. Each Sword provides as much protection as five Bows. How many escorts will your emissary need? That depends on how well you’ve kept down bandits and how many enemy clans you have. In general you’ll want to send at least two or three Swords as guards, more if you want to be sure to avoid trouble.
Clan members sent away are temporarily subtracted from the population. You get them back if they return alive. Such temporary absences may cause Sacred Time recaps to say that your clan shrunk when in truth many members are simply away on missions.
To get proactive about your relations with other clans, instead of waiting for them to come to you with problems or opportunities, send emissaries with gifts to improve their attitudes towards you.
Gift-giving proves that your clan can afford to be generous. Early in the game, giving generous gifts is one of the best means of raising your standing. It can still take concerted gifting to make a noticeable difference, however.
If you are feeling impoverished, and don’t want to send a large gift, it might be better not to bother. No one approves of stingy gift-givers, so sending gifts worth less than a dozen cows might have no effect.
Ask for Favor
A clan which is said to owe you a favor may owe you more than one favor. Similarly, a clan that you owe favors to may come asking for many favors before the debt you owe them is fully repaid.
Favors track which clan is more indebted to the other; there’s never a circumstance in which your clan will simultaneously owe a favor to another clan and be owed a favor by that same clan. If a clan that you owe favors to says they will owe you a favor, the truth is that you now owe them one less favor.
Allies may be willing to aid you because of the bonds between your clans, even if they don’t owe you a favor. This can come in particularly handy if your clan is running out of cows or food.
Generally you can only repay favors when another clan comes asking for repayment. But if you are extremely generous in giving gifts, some clans will accept the gifts and consider them payment for favors they expected to receive from you later.
You’re a more appealing ally if you are clearly wealthy or militarily strong. It’s generally wise to send gifts at the outset, though you may also end up giving gifts during negotiations.
Ending a feud isn’t easy. Generosity helps. Gifts chosen in the dialog are ignored. Instead, you will get an option to use a go-between, and may want to give them gifts as well.
Demanding tribute from another clan is difficult. Annual tribute is even harder. It helps if your Swords and Bows outnumber theirs, if you have beaten them in battle a lot, and if you are near enough to enforce your demand. They will, naturally, resent annual tribute and plan to weasel out of the arrangement at the first chance they get.
You can send an emissary to a clan that’s already paying annually to stop tribute or try to increase the amount.
If you want to renegotiate tribute you were forced to pay, it will be easier if you have a strong military and have fought well.
The War screen allows you to:
- • review how many warriors are unavailable
- • recruit Swords
- • build fortifications
- • raid other clans
- • track the clan’s recent military history
The details of combat are discussed later.
Swords are dedicated warriors whose responsibilities are to fight, patrol, and guard their clan-mates from attack, either at home or while traveling through the valley.
Swords expect better food, and regular gifts. In return they are willing to fight in most battles, perform special acts of derring-do, guard emissaries, look after trading missions, and go exploring. Not to mention die. An awful lot of them die.
So you will need to click the small Swords button frequently to recruit more of them. Usually, there are Bows willing to become warriors or Swords can be recruited outside the clan, from neighbors and immigrants. Outsiders will be more likely to join your ranks if you offer extra gifts.
In a few circumstances you might want to use the Swords button to dismiss full-time warriors.
Able-bodied Hyaloring men are expected to fight as a mounted archer. Many women choose to do so as well. Given enough warning, all your Bows will muster to fight off an enemy raid.
Herd raids require an urgent response, too quick for the Bows to gather. Riders who can quickly arm themselves to respond to enemy aggression or to launch a quick attack are known as the short-call. Along with the ever-vigilant Swords, short-call warriors also stand ready to guard traders, emissaries, and explorers.
Auxiliaries are noncombatants (usually but not always women) who accompany the warriors, cheering them on and supporting them with healing magic. Normally this is routine, but occasionally they will be threatened.
Your warriors often end up wounded. You’ll be unable to call on them until they recover, either as time passes or you ask Erissa or a spirit to heal them.
Fortifications cost goods to build but do not subtract further goods for maintenance.
Most fortifications reduce the amount of wealth lost if enemies defeat you in battle and plunder you. They also reduce the number of casualties your forces suffer when you choose Survival as your battle objective (see below). Fortification effects are cumulative; a stone wall and a ditch are better than just a stone wall.
Two fortifications have special functions:
- • a watch tower increases your chances of spotting raids and herd raids
- • a stake perimeter offers extra protection against horse-using foes
When to Raid
During Sea season, the farmers are planting, and may refuse to muster for a raid. When you do manage to launch a raid anyway, the farmers will have to ignore some of their work and the harvest will suffer. On the plus side, your enemies do not expect to be raided in Sea season (or in Earth season, for that matter) and will be easier to surprise.
In Fire season, the warriors expect to raid and be raided, since the weather is fine and the crops need little attention.
Every hand is needed for the Earth season harvest, and your farmers are unlikely to be willing to raid. If they do, some of the harvest will be left in the field.
Dark season is usually too cold to embark on a raid.
Storm season is a reasonable time for raiding, although the weather changes unpredictably.
Nobody raids during the Sacred Time rituals. It’s far more important to properly perform the ceremonies that renew the world.
Stealing your neighbor’s cows and goats is a tradition dating from soon after your ancestors left the Golden City. Ideally, a small group of raiders sneaks onto another clan’s land and drives home a small herd, unnoticed. In practice, the target’s patrol often spots the raiders, and either chases them off or engages in a small battle. If you never seem to succeed in getting away with the enemy’s cows, you’re probably sending too many warriors.
You can only launch herd raids against nearby clans. Herd raids are quick strikes that attempt to take advantage of another clan’s lax patrols; the idea is to get in and out without fighting a pitched battle.
When herd raiders are forced to fight, the resulting confrontation is treated like any other battle, with two exceptions. The combat will be much briefer than usual. And any plunder seized by the cattle raiders will consist only of animals stolen from the herd, not goods taken from houses.
Raids are determined attacks deeper into another clan’s land, usually in search of plunder. Unlike herd raids, raids always force a battle with at least some of the defending warriors, even if the raid manages to slip past the defending patrols.
The normal targets for raids are nearby clans. But you can also raid feuding clans, no matter how distant. There may be other situations where you can retaliate against a distant clan. It’s generally not possible to raid non-humans or distant foreigners. Their homes are remote, secret, or too well defended.
Outside of planting and harvest season, a clan that is allied to you or that owes you a favor may send warriors to help your raid if you ask. These warriors will be a mix of Swords and Bows, and will demand a share of the plunder if you win. Win or lose you will owe their clan a favor.
The more warriors you take, the better chance you have of winning the battle. As in most other military situations, a single Sword fights as well as five Bows. If you take all your warriors on a raid, other clans may seize the chance to raid your cattle while the herds are undefended.
The War screen shows your last seven raids and the last seven raids against you. Icons indicate the results:
|A battle you won|
|A battle you lost|
|A successful herd raid|
|A herd raid against you, or yours that failed|
|You extracted tribute|
|You bought off the raiders by paying tribute|
The Wealth screen lets you:
- • keep track of your valuable goods
- • keep track of your livestock
- • keep track of your stores of food
- • keep track of the clan’s magical treasures
- • keep track of the clan’s trade routes
- • keep track of the success of the clan market
- • send trading missions to other clans
Goods are an abstraction for desirable material resources that are over and above what the clan needs just to get by. Goods are valuable items that the gods, neighboring clans, or enemy warriors would be happy to possess. They can include raw silver, finely worked gold, building materials, gemstones, fur capes, and so on.
One good is worth one cow.
Clans throughout the valley measure wealth by how many cows they have.
Although they aren’t as prestigious, the clan also has large flocks of goats, typically double the number of cows. Events may deal with cattle or goats, but for simplicity, the game just tracks Herds. (Herds values shown at the bottom of screens or in sliders represent cows, but involve goats as well.) One cow is worth two goats.
The clan needs to have about the same number of herds as people.
Horses are what make your clan Riders. A prosperous clan has enough horses that every adult can ride. A poor clan has so few horses that they can’t send all their warriors off to battle.
A horse is worth four cows.
You don’t need to be concerned with the details of food production—farmers, herders, hunters, foragers, and their children are always busy. But you do need to worry about keeping the clan fed. As the gods clash and the world grows colder, your people won’t be able to produce enough food without magical aid. This can be in the form of rituals performed during Sacred Time, or divine blessings such as Bless Barley. You can think of this as the equivalent of our modern fertilizers and mechanization. Without magic, you’ll only produce about 90% of what you need.
Most food is produced during the Earth season harvest. This is added to the clan reserves, and eaten as needed. Stockpiled food will spoil after a year.
When there isn’t enough food, people will go hungry, first falling sick and eventually dying. Needless to say, clan mood will suffer too.
The Agricultural Cycle
Herders, foragers, and hunters produce food throughout the year. Sea season is when Milk Blessing contributes, though there is no wild food. It’s also when farmers sow the fields, which will be harvested in Earth season. Every able hand turns out to get the barley in before the weather changes.
To get a reminder of this, point to the current season or the season button in the menu. This also indicates if you’re on the season’s first half (“Early”) or second half (“Late”).
Treasures have magic powers that can help your clan thrive while you own them. Some treasures are more powerful than others. Some are mysterious, and won’t tell you exactly what they do, but you can generally be assured that the mysterious treasures are among the most powerful in the game.
If your explorers have discovered any unusual raw materials that can be crafted into goods, they’ll be listed here. Exotic goods make it easier to establish trade routes. Some also allow for specific ventures.
The basics of sending a caravan are the same as for sending an emissary.
Unless you’re buying or selling a treasure, you can try to trade any assortment of food, goods, herds, and horses. You get to choose whether you are sending a small, medium or large caravan. The appropriate quantity of trade-stuffs is subtracted from your holdings as soon as you send the caravan, hopefully to be replaced with stuff you’ve traded for upon the trader’s successful return. (You may end up with goods to round out a trade that involves food or horses, since they aren’t equivalent to a single cow in value.)
Skilled traders backed by magic may get deals better than the standard values mentioned above. Circumstances can also impact the trade value of a cow or food.
When you opt to trade or buy a treasure, other commodity trading choices are not available. Treasure trading takes precedence over normal trading patterns. To buy both more horses and a treasure, send two missions.
If you try to sell a treasure, you’ll have to choose one for your trader to take along. Selling a treasure will get you goods. To buy a new treasure, you’ll either have to bring a treasure of your own to trade or pay in goods or herds once your trader has arrived at her destination. If your first mission to buy a particular treasure fails, a later attempt might succeed.
Trading Partners & Trade Routes
Some caravans are principally concerned with establishing new trade routes. Clans with a trade route between them are said to be trading partners. Every trade route increases the amount of goods that your crafters can find markets for.
To try to set up a new trade route, click the Caravan button, then choose a clan you do not already have a trading partnership with. When you click the Establish Route radio button, choosing specific trade-stuffs will be disabled. You will still be able to choose whether you want to send a large, medium-sized, or small trade mission, since there will be a small amount of side-trading taking place even when your trader is focusing on setting up a trade route.
The Clan Market
Your market represents other clans coming to you to trade instead of you having to make special missions to trade with them. As the strength of the clan market improves, your traders will be able to generate more goods for the clan. In general, what’s good for your trade is good for your market.
This is where to find stories about the deeds of the gods, the history of your clan, and notes on the Rider culture.
We’ve already discussed how sacred stories guide rituals.
The map covers most of the world of Glorantha (the distant south is not shown). Your clan is beneath the sun, north of the Spike.
The saga is your clan’s history after the latest migration. It also summarizes clan lore (chosen in the Clan Questionnaire).
This screen also lets you restore to the end of any year. Scroll to the bottom to access the Restore button. (Restore from the Lore entry to restart after your migration.)
While you can control overall sound volume using the operating system or buttons on your device, this screen lets you decide whether certain sounds are played at all. Background Music plays in the various management screens. Adventure Music is associated with the various crises. And Sound Effects relate to dialogs.
Guides are context-sensitive tips. You can turn these off, or click Reset Tips to show those you’ve already seen.
Crises and Adventures
As you go about running your clan, things happen that demand your immediate attention. You’ll know when because the screen will change, and you will be in a place where you must make a decision. There are many, many of these stories in the game.
There is no way to duck an event in progress, except by deciding what to do about it. There is seldom just one right answer to these events. Some answers will end the situation, others may delay consequences for a while, still others will cause more events in the future. As in other screens, your advisors have their own opinions as to the best course of action. Despite their opinions, they will pursue the course of action you set for them. Success depends on your circle member’s skills (and sometimes their personality traits), on luck, and on paying attention to what your advisors have to say.
Few if any situations are so critical that a negative outcome will doom you. However, you may need to prepare for the consequences of failure.
Pick your highest priority response, the action you want to focus on. Sometimes you’ll be able to choose a second option, especially if the first doesn’t resolve things.
You can click the More Info button to see a list of clans. This also shows horses, food, and treasures, and lets you review your saga or the manual.
Some situations won’t have an illustration or advice, but you’ll need to make a decision.
At various points, you’ll be shown some types of immediate consequences, such as gaining goods. This is cumulative. If one aspect of the situation improves clan mood and another aspect reduces it, you’ll just see the net difference.
In many crises, combat is very abstract. If you raid or are raided, the game goes into a little more detail.
Spending clan magic will give you a combat bonus, as will any rituals you’re able to perform.
Your overall objective influences casualties (e.g. choosing “Kill as many as possible” makes that a priority), and may impact available combat options. Survival tries to take advantage of your fortifications.
Combat is a series of rounds. Both sides pick an option. Clans that fear you will tend towards more cautious combat options. Conversely, clans that mock you are more likely to choose risky options. And their chief will also influence their choices.
Each round of combat tests the skills of your war leader against your enemy’s. Magic and various circumstances affect your odds.
Once the two sides close, you’ll have a different set of options. Combat continues until one side has accrued a significant advantage, or the other collapses. The display at the bottom shows both the relative advantage of each force (based on the position of the symbols), and how close they are to overall success (the line beneath).
Some options work better against others. For example, it’s simpler to advance than to maneuver, so the side that picks Advance has a bonus. But a successful Maneuver gives that side a bonus for the next round. Likewise, it’s hard to Evade if your foe is Charging.
Close the distance by advancing at a normal pace.
Close the distance by charging headlong into the foe.
Your forces whoop and perform daring acts of riding in order to cow the opponent. A side that loses morale won’t be able to choose riskier options.
Close the distance by carefully choosing your position, setting up an advantage.
Send a herald to talk to the enemy. If you’re raiding, you can try to extort tribute in exchange for not attacking. If you’re being raided, you can try to pay off the attacker. Taunting the enemy can influence morale on either side, though it’s more effective if a clan fears you.
This option places one in seven fighters into a reserve force. You will be weaker, but will later get a bonus when you commit the fresh reserves.
Perform a combat ritual that will influence subsequent rounds. (You need to have clan magic at the start of combat, or devoted to War during Sacred Time, to be able to use this option.)
Loose arrows at your foe.
Once the two forces engage, combat options typically have a degree of ferocity (how many casualties you will deal) and risk (how many casualties you will take). And some options are more likely to succeed, or bring you closer to victory if they are successful. For example, waiting for opportunities means you’re less likely to win a round, but if you do, you’re more likely to win the overall battle. The chart summarizes this.
|Conserve your strength||–||––|
|Hold your ground|
|Press the attack|
|Take risks to win||+||+|
|Wait for opportunities||–||+|
You can also try to withdraw from combat, and will have options that are relevant if you have a reserve or your morale is shaken.
Sometimes you’ll have the chance to use an unusual combat option. Or one of your leaders will have to make an important choice. The results of these can be significant.
Since you just migrated to new lands, you will need to finish clearing fields and pastures, and complete your quickly constructed houses. This will take success with the relevant ventures over several years.
You may want to rearrange your clan circle.
Try to establish a few trade routes, learn some useful blessings and build shrines or temples to activate them. Explore your own land, and make sure you have enough Swords. Send an emissary to give gifts or make alliances.
After several years, you’ll want to perform an Otherworld ritual.
Don’t forget to check what all your advisors have to say. If nothing else, you may learn a little of their personality.
Your decisions are usually executed by a council member. If they were unable to pull off the results you wanted, they often offer insight as why they failed.
You can initiate two actions per season. Though you will have crises and situations that come to you, time will pass only when you initiate an action. If you cannot think of any good thing to do, but want to move the game along, click the season button to force time to pass.
Six Ages saves the game automatically when things change, so you don’t have to worry about getting interrupted or running out of batteries. If necessary, it will restart before an interactive scene.
All the saved games are shown when you click Play from the main menu. If a game has ended (in victory or defeat), you can still open it to read your saga, or try replaying. There’s no limit as to how many saved games you can have. The Edit button lets you manage them.
Six Ages lets you create an epic story. Your goal is to chart a course to survive in a hostile world, not simply defeat clan enemies. The way may not be clear at times, but it’s OK to experience the game rather than trying to beat it.
As mortals living in the world of the gods, you will need to be mindful of their struggles. Your story will have to interweave with theirs.
The logic of tribal cultures in a world with living gods drives the game. Think like a Hyaloring, and you’ll be able to respond more appropriately.
Don’t lose sight of the basics of keeping your clan fed, with a reasonable level of livestock. You can’t win if your clan starves. And more wealth (both herds and goods) means you can handle more crises and opportunities.
More About Glorantha
Learn more about the mythic world of Glorantha, and the tabletop games and comics set there, at glorantha.com.
Our game King of Dragon Pass also takes place in Glorantha, years later.