Share this project

Done

Share this project

Done
Join the dark elf resistance against their cruel high elf overlords in this urban fantasy-punk tabletop RPG.
Join the dark elf resistance against their cruel high elf overlords in this urban fantasy-punk tabletop RPG.
1,483 backers pledged £71,708 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

Spire RPG project video thumbnail
Replay with sound
Play with
sound

£71,708

1,483

Artist's impression of the finished book
Artist's impression of the finished book
You are a dark elf. The touch of the sun burns your grey skin, and you hide from the light in twisting corridors, crumbling temples and the lawless undercity of the metropolis known as Spire. The high elves, rulers of the city, alien and capricious, allow you to live here as an underclass forced to beg for scraps.  

Your religion, your culture, and your people are being destroyed all around you. You have seen your fathers, your mothers, your grandparents subjugated by the high elves, and you have had enough. You have joined the resistance: the ministry of Our Hidden Mistress, worshippers of a forbidden goddess.  

You have sworn in blood that the high elves will fall, that you will destroy them through subterfuge, and insurrection, and terror.

STRETCH GOALS

£27,000 - FUNDED! Secrets Kept From the Sun. A tome of elven opsec and spy-versus-spy skullduggery in the Spire, written by Chad Walker, author of Cryptomancer. This PDF will explore how the Ministry communicates secretly under the hateful gaze of the Solar Guard and maintains a resistance community resilient against their enemies' infiltration and decapitation strategies.

£30,000 - FUNDED! More art. We'll pay Adrian to create more art for the book, which we think we can all agree is a Good Thing.

£33,000 - FUNDED! Grim tidings. Something dark writhes at the heart of the Spire and Jordan Shiveley of Dread Singles will bring it slithering onto the pages of a splatbook, downloadable as a PDF.

£36,000 - FUNDED! Subterranean cartography. Tim will map the blighted undercity of Spire - the smoky murder-pits of Red Row, the dank rot of Derelictus, some vague assumptions about what's in the unmappable Heart - in exacting detail, downloadable as a high-res image. (We'll look into getting it printed post-campaign as an add-on, too.)

£40,000 - FUNDED! Echoes of the Spire. We'll commission Tim Roven of Tabletop Audio to compose and perform seven loopable 10-minute tracks specially designed to reflect different parts of Spire, suitable for playing during your games.

£45,000 - FUNDED! Defenders of the unborn. We'll detail the arachnid midwives, protectors of drow genealogy who can channel their ancestry and transform into terrifying spider-creatures, and release the class as a PDF.

£50,000 - FUNDED! Breaking new ground. We'll hold a community vote to decide on an additional district and give it a full write up as a downloadable PDF.

£60,000 - FUNDED! Black Magic. A tome detailing the occult underbelly of Spire, with rules for the Blood Witch, the Hunger Witch, and the Deep Apiarists as well as a selection of spells that are entirely too dangerous to ever cast, released as an illustrated PDF.

£75,000 - The Pocket Guide to the Vermissian. An illustrated PDF featuring in-character pitches describing the old grandeur of the mass transit network - and also full descriptions, rules and NPCs that reflect the fact that it is a thrice-cursed, collapsing mess that's slightly out-of-sync with reality. Contains full details on all of the many stations that exist and some that don't.

ENDORSEMENTS

"Grant Howitt's games are always strong on play experiences. With Spire, he and Chris Taylor have carved out a compelling space for us to play in, too -- a dark, desperate setting that nonetheless has room for hope and beauty, and looks very different from the familiar worlds of mainstream roleplaying games.” - merritt k, host of Woodland Secrets, designer of Vin Diesel DMing a Game of D&D Just For You 

"I'm so glad you guys are creating another game together." - Rob Heinsoo, lead designer on D&D 4e and 13th Age

“Spire deals with skills in a way that makes every check as interesting and as much of a threat as combat, the world feels huge and unique, and the classes are just beautifully ridiculous.” - Dylan Malenfant, playtester  

“Spire is a tinderbox of evocative potential weaved together to form the most compelling setting I've read this decade. It features the kind of resonance Neil Gaiman aims for on a good day.” - Sean Smith, author of Exuviae 

"This setting is really dazzling. I want to try out these characters!" - Jason Cordova of The Gauntlet podcast

 "So you're telling me one of the classes just comes with a hyena? 'Core abilities: Hyena' is what you should put on the cover instead of review blurbs." - General Ironicus of the Six Feats Under podcast

 

“I've never said 'I want to use that' so many times as when making my Spire character. Every word reinforces the eerie setting, and the mechanics fizz with a perfect blend of weirdness, power and risk.” - Clare Jones, playtester 

"Grant Howitt always seems to be involved in the kinds of games that make me wish I had more time to play games – and more time to write games. Always inspiring and challenging. The Spire is no different, with a strong focus on storytelling, the mechanics geared towards great roleplaying in a world that offers something we’ve not seen before. The sort of game experience that’s not just fun, but actually rewarding to play." - Gav Thorpe, author of Inquisitor and, like, half the Warhammer 40k universe

WHAT IS THE SPIRE?

Spire is a new stand-alone roleplaying game from the designers of Unbound and Goblin Quest. It’s like D&D crossed with Unknown Armies, or Gormenghast crossed with Necromunda: a city-bound fantasy horror game of terrible decisions, hard choices, and deeply personal loss. 

Spire is a city of a thousand gods: Our Glorious Lady, the light of the moon, beloved of the drow (and her sisters, the dark side of the moon and the eclipse, whose worship is banned by the high elves); the Solar Pantheon, great and terrible, who dominate the city from glittering cathedrals; the ravenous Hungry Deep that slumbers beneath the city; the laughing carrion god Charnel, whose hyenas prowl the bloody streets of New Heaven. Worship of these gods can grant miracles to the faithful - player characters included. 

It is a place of industry and profit: human retro-engineers arrive with armfuls of arcane technology dug up from forgotten dungeons of a lost civilisation, then hotwire them into life and sell cheap copies down in the lawless undercity. There are acres of underground lakes brimming with algae; dark farms where the dead hang from spidersilk, their bodies dotted with fungi; and the vast, cursed, never-completed Vermissian, a failed attempt at a subterranean travel network. 

It is a place of horror, too: bloodwitches return from the Heart, the rotten hole in reality that is the centre of Spire, carrying mystical blood diseases that rewrite men’s minds; spider-skinned midwives sprout additional chitinous limbs to defend unborn drow; magic masks are sutured to unwilling faces; hearts are plucked out and stored in jars, so that the owner might have eternal, strange life at the hands of the Morticians. 

The book contains: rules for creating, advancing and playing a character; reams of setting information loaded with hooks and plots for your campaigns; advice on how to run a game of Spire (whether you’re a first-time gamesmaster or a seasoned storyteller); loads of evocative art from Adiran Stone; and a smaller variant of the full, A2 map of the city. It's a beautiful book, too - we wanted to create the nicest possible thing to house our ideas. 

What's more, if you back us at a level that allows access to additional content past the core book, you'll be able to immediately download our quickstart adventure, Blood and Dust. Blood and Dust comes with all the basic rules, five sample characters (with some room to advance) and an adventure that should last around three individual sessions of play.  

Having run two previous Kickstarters, we've learned that shipping costs are almost always higher than you initially expect. In the past, we've gone with cheaper shipping options only to run into issues with delays and damaged products, so this time we've tried to find an option somewhere between hand-delivering every book ourselves, and throwing them out of a plane and hoping. We're using Mail Workshop in Nottingham for fulfilment, and they will be shipping out international packages using Airmail, in die-cut boxes with bubble wrap to minimise potential damage. We're making no profit on shipping, just covering our costs - and it means we can guarantee that shipping and fulfilment won't cause issues with the finances or with the delivery of the final products.

 THE RULES 

Spire uses a straightforward D10-based system to resolve conflicts. It focuses on storytelling over simulation: the more skilled and knowledgeable the character is about the action and the location it takes place in, the more D10s they roll, and pick the highest. Generally, rolling higher is better, but most of the time - succeed or fail - characters will accrue stress as part of the action. 

The more stress a character has, the more chance that it will hurt them in the form of fallout - serious repercussions that they’ve earned for pushing their luck too far. (Or simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.) Spire doesn’t weigh physical, mental or emotional damage differently - they’re all treated the same, and they’re all at stake when you work for the resistance. 

 HOW IS IT DIFFERENT FROM OTHER GAMES?

Spire offers players a chance to take part in a fantasy revolution, and to fight back against those who oppress you. Unlike many games, the monsters aren’t out in the wilderness; they’re living above you in obscene luxury, dominating your people in the aftermath of a brutal war. Spire tasks players with changing the city, whether for good or ill, and that’s how they gain experience and new abilities. 

Spire has a unique setting, and the rules have been written from scratch to embody the fiction at all times. You don’t just play a Ranger: you play a Carrion-Priest, a hyena-worshipping death cultist. You’re not a Rogue: you’re a Bound, and you pray to the small gods in your ropes to stop you from falling off the side of the city. You don’t just play a Fighter: you play a Knight of the North Docks, a member of a long-fallen order of nobles who once upon a time defended the honour of traders and travellers, but who now swagger about in flashy quarter-plate and operate an alarmingly wide variety of bars. 

We’ve taken the common tropes of D&D (and other fantasy mainstays) and adjusted them to mesh with our own world, so while there’s plenty that’ll seem familiar to any seasoned roleplayer, there’ll be something in there to surprise everyone, too. 

WHO ARE YOU? 

We are Mary Hamilton, Grant Howitt and Chris Taylor, and our business name is Rowan, Rook & Decard. This is the third Kickstarter that we’ve organised, and both previous projects - Goblin Quest and Unbound - funded well-over budget, and we delivered our products to people both online and in physical forms. 

Grant’s solo work includes Honey Heist, The Witch is Dead, Royal Blood, One Last Job, Warrior-Poet and a wide variety of short-form, story-focused RPGs. He was also in the team that co-wrote the latest edition of Paranoia. Spire is his first opportunity to be part of a team writing a full original setting and the system to support it, and he’s excited to share the results with you. 

We’re working with seasoned professionals who we know well. Adirian Stone  is creating the art, Alina Sandu is handling the layout, and Harry Goldstone is doing proofreading. They all did a fantastic job on Unbound and we’re happy to work with them again. 

We’ve also teamed up with Tim Wilkinson Lewis, illustrator on Goblin Quest, to create an A2-scale map of Spire itself; every centimetre of the paper is crammed with detail and hooks for your stories. 

This is Tim's map of Spire; as you can see, there's an absurd amount of detail here
This is Tim's map of Spire; as you can see, there's an absurd amount of detail here

 

 

We understand that the content of Spire mirrors real-world political, social and racial struggles, so we’ll ensure that the manuscript is checked by several sensitivity readers. 

Tim's also in charge of creating the exclusive newspaper clippings that come with the higher backer levels
Tim's also in charge of creating the exclusive newspaper clippings that come with the higher backer levels

We’ve decided to commission a UK-based printer and fulfil from a single location this time. Our experience with Unbound showed us that distributed printing, while cheaper, comes with risks, and we want Spire to be the most beautiful book on your shelf. We’re hoping to print with CPI, who have lots of experience with short run projects like this and are the printers working on Cthulhu Dark; if the game sells really well and we need a longer print run, we’ve lined up Belmont, who print books for Games Workshop. 

 WHAT AM I PAYING FOR? 

The rules of Spire already exist, and we know that they work. We’ve written, rewritten, tested, re-tested and designed a game we’re genuinely proud of and that we think is beautiful. You’re paying to make that game into a physical product that’s as beautiful, dark and interesting as the rules and the world it contains. 

Primarily, you’re paying for the cost of art and layout, which we like to pay fairly for. You’re also letting us access the economies of scale available when we order larger print runs of books. Finally, you’re paying for Chris and Grant, the writers of Spire, to earn significantly less than part-time UK minimum wage, but still some money, for their work, and Mary, the producer, to take a small cut too. 

Risks and challenges

As ever, unforeseen events can slow down or impede the progress of the game, but we’ve done our best to leave room in our plan for them. This will be our third project on Kickstarter, and Mary has steered us successfully through bringing the previous two to fruition.
Throughout Unbound, our previous Kickstarter, we worked hard to be transparent with our supporters and communicate with them to outline the ongoing status of the project, and we don’t want to work any other way. We’ll be updating you with news as and when we get it so you can stay abreast of what’s going on with your book.
We’re also running a Discord channel for backers who pick a deluxe package, so that you can talk among yourselves and also get access to sneak peeks, updates and new info as we go along. The rules and setting information sections - the bulk of the book - is entirely complete, and we’re just putting the finishing touches to the GM section as the campaign runs. Just under half of the art is complete.

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ

Support this project

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge £15 or more About $20

    Digital

    You'll get a downloadable PDF of Spire.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    98 backers
    £
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  2. Select this reward

    Pledge £22 or more About $29

    Digital Extra

    You'll get a downloadable PDF of Spire. You also receive: immediate access to the Quick-Start adventure and the Spire discord channel, a high-res image of the complete map of Spire, Directors' Commentary audio files from Grant and Chris and PDFs of every unlocked stretch goal.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    420 backers
    £
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  3. Select this reward

    Pledge £35 or more About $46

    Hardback

    You'll get a beautiful, full-colour hardback physical copy of Spire, as well as a downloadable PDF.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    276 backers
    £
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  4. Select this reward

    Pledge £42 or more About $55

    Hardback Extra

    You'll get a hardback physical copy of Spire, as well as a downloadable PDF. You also receive: immediate access to the Quick-Start adventure and the Spire discord channel, a high-res image of the complete map of Spire, Directors' Commentary audio files from Grant and Chris and PDFs of every unlocked stretch goal.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    444 backers
    £
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  5. Select this reward

    Pledge £75 or more About $98

    Luxury Edition

    You'll get a beautiful, limited-edition print of Spire complete with a slip cover and a foil-printed cover. You'll also receive an A2 map of Spire and a selection of newspaper clippings from the city's publications loaded with plot hooks.

    And, of course: a PDF of Spire, immediate access to the Quick-Start adventure and the Spire discord channel, a high-res version of the complete map of Spire, Directors' Commentary audio files from Grant and Chris and PDFs of every unlocked stretch goal.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    151 backers
    £
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  6. Select this reward

    Pledge £115 or more About $151

    Secret Luxury Edition

    As Luxury edition, plus:

    - Access to secret newspaper clippings from the banned pro-drow news-sheet Liberate!, also loaded with plot hooks

    - An art print of your choosing, to be selected when all the art for the book is complete

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    53 backers
    £
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  7. Select this reward

    Pledge £165 or more About $216

    Make a Mark

    As Secret Luxury Edition, plus:

    - You will be immortalised in the game as a hapless rube for the player characters to take advantage of, complete with a brief backstory and a suitably changed-up Spire name. We'll work with you to make the NPC as gullible as possible (subject to final approval by the creators).

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 3 backers
    £
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  8. Select this reward

    Pledge £230 or more About $301

    Open a Tavern

    As Secret Luxury Edition, plus:

    - You will be immortalised as a bar owner somewhere in Spire: the feudal North Docks, the smoky firepits of Red Row, the gaudy streets of the Silver Quarter, and more. We'll help you name your bar, fill it with regulars, and outfit it with a hook or two to lure the players in (subject to final approval by the creators).

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 4 backers
    £
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  9. Select this reward

    Pledge £350 or more About $459

    Become a God

    As Secret Luxury edition, plus:

    - You will be immortalised as a god. Adi Stone will draw you (in whatever divine form you take) for inclusion in the book. We'll send you an A3 poster of your likeness, too.

    What's more, we'll help you define your congregation and commandments, and also write a list of extra abilities that players can access if they perform your rites. (Subject to final approval by the creators.)

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 9 backers
    £
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  10. Select this reward

    Pledge £7,500 or more About $9,826

    Drow Opera

    As Secret Luxury Edition, plus:

    We'll write you a drow opera, although not in the original drow language, because you wouldn't be able to understand it. We will then attempt to perform and film it.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 0 backers
    £
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.

Funding period

- (30 days)