You are a dark elf. Your home, the towering city of Spire, was occupied by the high elves two hundred years ago. Now, you have joined a secret organisation known as the Ministry, a paramilitary cult with a single aim – to overthrow the cruel high elves and restore the drow as the rightful rulers of the city.
What – or who – will you sacrifice to achieve your aims? Will you evade the attention of the authorities, or end up shot in the street like so many before you?
Spire is a 220-page book which contains:
- A quick and easy D10 system that lets you tell stories of brutal rebellion
- Details on the districts, factions and personalities that make up Spire – the frozen high elf kingdom of Amaranth, the lawless undercity of Red Row, the mysterious Mortician sect and the bleeding hole in reality known as the Heart
- Ten character classes, including the vagabond Knight, the sorcerer-artist Idol and the arachnid nurse Midwife
- Multiple extra advances to sculpt your character, allowing them to learn the hidden magicks of the Ministry, fall back on their military training, or devote their existence to a mad cannibal king who lives under an abandoned warehouse
- A gamesmastery chapter, written with an eye to help you craft conspiracies and power structures that your players can topple, subvert or be consumed by
- Over fifty illustrations by the tremendously talented Adrian Stone
You can purchase Spire as a downloadable PDF, or in standard hardback or luxury, limited special edition.
Kyle Willey –
Disclaimer: I backed Spire’s Kickstarter campaign.
Spire is a fantasy-punk (for lack of a better genre) roleplaying game designed by Grant Howitt and Christopher Taylor. The game is beautifully dark, focusing on cadres of drow forming resistance cells against high elf (aelfir) authoritarians ruling the titular Spire.
Ultimately, some of the difficulty of adequately reviewing Spire is the complexity of its narrative and the problem with putting it into words without stripping away the wonder and joy of a first experience with the setting. Spire’s setting is wonderfully complex, a thinking person’s setting with both massive systemic struggles between authority and resistance and small personal battles on every front.
Every part of the world feels interconnected, but each has its own distinctive feel to it. Reality around Spire is warped and distorted, and the world’s pantheons are innumerable. The result is a setting with surreal elements that does not overwhelm. Familiar tropes and conventions are played with, ignored, subverted, deconstructed, and played straight in ways that encourage explorers of Spire to find themselves in sublime and beautiful places.
All of this happens in a world that feels so deep you will have a hard time believing that Spire is as short a document as it is (and plans for future content are out there). Character creation builds the setting; characters are tied into their struggle with the choice of durance, a sort of indentured labor to the aelfir. The advancement is class-based, but the experience is far different from what you would find with D&D.
Rather, classes advance largely in a narrative fashion. Advance occur when characters accomplish acts of changing the world (for better or for worse; unintended consequences are a pivotal point in the game). Each advancement can come with a direct impact on the character’s attributes, but almost all come with more significant story-related consequences.
The core mechanic is complicated enough to allow characters to feel quite diverse; a player rolls a number of d10’s based on how skilled they are (minus a penalty for very difficult action), and want to receive the highest result possible to avoid taking stress.
The result is a system that feels incredibly natural and smooth to play. Not only is success instantly recognized (without having to consult any references to tables or mathematics), the system actively creates a healthy amount of risk to any dangerous action.
This is a game that’s fun to play, easy to learn, and gets out of the way of the storytelling when it needs to. The writing is sublime, and the art creates a mood and tone that is, to my knowledge, unrivaled in any other tabletop roleplaying game. The designers suggest looking to Fallen London or Sunless Sea for inspiration, but I feel that Spire has surpassed its inspirations and source material.
This game is a work of art. I have reviewed hundreds of games, and only rarely have I been able to make that statement wholeheartedly. It is one of very few games I can suggest without reservation. It is worth every cent of its price.
Dylan Malenfant –
Spire is a beautifully designed game in that its mechanics feed back into the fiction seemlessly. The classes and their abilities have clear places in fiction, and every ability has a huge amount of flavour so no choice feels boring or wrong. The game does everything it set out to do in a fantastically evocative way.
The game is not the best part.
The world of the Spire is written so that any individual game lives in the gaps. A huge amount of world building is done so that everyone should have a clear image of the world upon reading the setting material, but enough is left to fill in that no two people will have an identical city. The details are perfect, and the missing pieces are exactly where they need to be so that plot hooks generate themselves as you read.
Spire is a joy to play and amazing to write for.