You can pre-order the Spire RPG here. If you’d like to learn more, read on!
Spire is a tabletop roleplaying game produced by Rowan, Rook & Decard – the creative force behind Goblin Quest, Unbound, One Last Job and Honey Heist, amongst other games. It contains rules for telling stories about desperate revolutionary dark elves caught up in a secret war against the high elves, or aelfir, who rule the towering city of Spire.
The world of Spire is a brutal one, and players can expect to see their characters suffer at the hands of their oppressors, or their rivals; bodily harm, psychological scarring and reprisals against their allies are commonplace. But for those willing to do what it takes, Spire is on the brink of full-scale rebellion, and you are poised to push it over the edge.
Spire is a mile-high impossible city, older than anyone can remember. Two hundred years ago, the high elves – or aelfir, strange and beautiful masked creatures from the far north – took it from the dark elves by force. Now, they graciously allow dark elves, or drow, to live in the city if they perform four years of service to an aelfir lord once they come of age.
Spire is crumbling from within and without; it is ancient, and has been built and rebuilt countless times, and at the centre of the mass there is a jagged, weeping hole in reality called the Heart. It is a nightmarish, dizzying place of perverse luxury and widespread destitution, where drow labourers toil in vast gardens and sweltering factories to produce treasures for their masters.
It is a place of gods, and magic: there are preachers on every street corner’ demonologists hiding behind the facade of research universities; and in the depths of the city, where space and time fear to tread, there are sects of magicians who have given themselves to a huge and alien intelligence, filling their bodies with sacred bees and turning their organs to wax simulacra.
Spire uses a straightforward D10 system to determine success or failure on risky actions; players gather a pool of between 1 to 4 dice, roll them, and select the highest – this gives an indication of success and the amount of stress incurred when attempting the challenge.
Stress covers any and all misfortune a character might suffer: from hits to reputation, to physical wounds, to loss of cover. Each time a character takes stress, there’s a chance that it might solidify into fallout. Fallout is concrete, ongoing consequences for their actions, whether that’s a broken leg that needs healing, a connection burned or betrayed, or increased police attention.
We’ve worked hard to ensure that all fallout pushes the story forward rather than blocking it or slowing it down.
We wanted the character options in Spire to reflect the unique world we’ve built, so we chose to make each class embody part of that world. While every character is a member of the Ministry, a forbidden paramilitary religious sect devoted to overthrowing the aelfir, they’ll have their own origins from somewhere in the city. Here are the classes available to players:
The Azurites of the Blue Docks are blue-clad worshippers of the god of gold, master dealmakers, and have a keen understanding of a person’s desires and motivations. Their abilities include “buying” abilities and allies from their god by sacrificing valuables in peculiar rituals.
The Bound are an order of vigilantes who defend the poorest parts of Spire; most notably the nailed-together shanty town of Perch. They revere the small gods that live in their clothing, ropes and equipment, as do most of the inhabitants of that godsforsaken district; unlike the others, though, they bind recalcitrant gods into their knives with forbidden rituals and force them to do their bidding.
The Carrion-Priests are a sect of heretic death-cultists who live atop the city of Spire in the twisting streets of New Heaven. They boast strange relationships with the beasts they have released into the district, and every ordained member of the clergy is entrusted with a personal hyena to act as a conduit to their god Charnel.
Firebrands are agent provocateurs and revolutionary leaders who encourage others to greater acts of righteous fervour. At higher levels, thanks to the strange nature of the city of Spire, their abilities allow them to channel the energy of the crowd into miracles – such as blessing mundane tools to sunder the armour and crack the skulls of their oppressors.
Idols are bleeding-edge artists and sorcerers who can twist and manipulate the minds of others with their glamour and charm; when they gain powers, they become too perfect to harm, and misfortune simply slides off them.
The Knights of the North Docks were once a sect of noble protectors, sworn to defend the rights of traders and merchants who sailed through the river docks of the city. That was about three hundred years ago; now, they’ve devolved into over a hundred different warring orders and spend their time swaggering around the docks, roughing up rubes for protection money and investing in larger, gaudier codpieces than their rivals.
The Lahjan, or “silvered,” are priests and priestesses of Our Glorious Lady, the only one of the three drow moon-goddesses not outlawed by the aelfir. They are mercurial and strange, able to see what others cannot, shift their bodies into shimmering moonlight, and reclaim drow from beyond the veil of death.
Ex-servants to the aelfir, the Masked are experts at subtle social manipulation and hiding in plain sight. As their abilities develop, they can craft and use magical masks, such as The Mouthless Mask, which bans all noise while worn, or the Mask of Many Faces, which contains cunning spiders that weave false silken faces over the user’s own.
The Midwives are spider-blooded protectors of unborn drow, each of them instructed in ancient magics that allow them to reform their bodies into arachnid shapes – growing extra legs, venomous fangs, eyes that can peer into the webs of magic that overlay the world, and so on. They are protectors, spies and diplomats, and well-regarded in drow and aelfir society alike.
The Vermissian is a grand failure – an attempt at a mass transport network in Spire by over-funded human retroengineers – that buckled the walls between worlds and fell into ruin. Now, in the mazelike tunnels and dead-end corridors, a sect of drow historians – the Vermissian Sages – are attempting to use the non-euclidean space to store information and relics of their home nations.
Spire will be published in spring 2018 as a full-colour hardback book which we’ve designed to last through many years of play. At present, we’re unsure of the precise page count, but the final draft of the document came to just shy of 99,000 words – it’s a sizeable tome.
We’re also offering a luxury edition of the book which includes: a slip cover, variant cover art with foil embossing, coloured end pages and a bookmark ribbon.
To create a coherent world, we decided to commission a single artist for the Spire core book. We’re proud to work with Adrian Stone, who has brought his unique style to our project; you can see his art throughout this piece.
We’ve also commissioned Tim Wilkinson Lewis to create maps for Spire, and given him free reign to fill in all the gaps with curiosities. He’s illustrated both the city itself and the vast undercity as separate A2 maps – both of which are available for pre-order alongside the book.