Welcome to Ptolus

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Welcome to Ptolus.

Welcome to Ptolus. A city of mysteries, secrets, and dark histories. Ptolus lies forever in the shadow of a towering stone spire reaching impossibly high into the sky, itself an enigma and a reminder of evil long past. And it sits atop a seemingly endless network of ancient dungeons that draw adventurers from all corners of the Empire.

In Ptolus, the supernatural is expected and treachery lies around every corner—or is it that the supernatural lies around every corner and treachery is expected? Either way, the city of Ptolus abounds with danger, magic, intrigue, and above all, adventure.

An Incredible Setting

Historians measure Ptolus’ age in centuries, not years, but every resident knows that at the top of the impossibly tall spire looms a fortress even more ancient than the city itself. Recently, explorers also discovered extensive subterranean catacombs beneath the city’s streets (although many now claim to have always known about them). When word spread that within this labyrinthine undercity lay ancient treasures and magic, waiting to be discovered, people flocked to the city. The enterprising people of Ptolus quickly adapted to this influx of adventurers and delvers, which created a boom-town atmosphere among the age-worn streets.

But Ptolus holds many secrets beyond simply the dungeons below. First and foremost among those secrets is that which hangs above every head in the city. The ancient fortress of Jabel Shammar was not built atop a rocky spire—in fact, the fortress came first. The vaunted spire is simply the very earth attempting to thrust the evil within that dread place as far from it as possible.

Care to come to Ptolus, City by the Spire? Dare to try your luck in the catacombs below the streets? You might find great treasure, but you might find deadly danger as well. Or perhaps you’d rather find intrigue and adventure in the city’s streets and alleyways, pavilions and temples, for there’s plenty to be experienced there as well. No matter what you choose, you’ll likely find something far more intricate and complex than you ever expected.

And should you survive it all, will you hone your skills and find power and knowledge that might allow you to explore the infamous Jabel Shammar at the top of the spire itself? Such an undertaking would be the most epic of all…

An Impressive Endeavor

Ptolus is a massive fantasy city setting. The 672-page book (which comes with hundreds of additional pages of handouts and extras) gives you an amazing amount of detail, but is carefully designed and laid out to make everything easy to digest, manage, and access.

Ptolus isn’t just big. It also feels alive. It’s a place you can inhabit—a place with an atmosphere you feel. Many places, actually, because the city itself contains numerous quarters, each of which has its own nature—and that doesn’t include the many underground regions or the spire that looms over the entire city which holds not one but two seemingly unreachable fortresses. The book’s unique presentation doesn’t just make it easy to use, it also imparts flavor to virtually every page—and every district, location, NPC, faction, and mystery.

Ptolus, and the world around it, is dynamic. Three different people lay claim to the Imperial Throne. A myriad of factions pursue their goals, often with secrecy and skullduggery. The Holy Emperor clashes with adherents to a multitude of other faiths. Merchants and cityfolk pursue their day-to-day lives, while delvers continue to unlock the secrets of the recently uncovered vast dungeons beneath the city. Throughout Ptolus, wheels are in motion. But the story is yet to be told, and Ptolus is set up to make it your story.

Finally, Ptolus as a setting was built specifically for the world’s most famous fantasy RPG. It’s a world that operates according to the game’s assumptions. Everyone knows that monsters and wizards are not only real, you might see one on your way to the market. The blacksmith down the road might be finishing a harness of full plate armor in addition to the normal tools and horseshoes. Humans strolling down the street rub shoulders with elves, dwarves, halflings, half-orcs, as well as leonine litorians, winged cherubim, and even centaurs and lizardfolk. Laws and traditions dictate when and how magic can be used in commerce, legal affairs, gambling houses, and other everyday transactions. These considerations aren’t tacked on to the setting—they’re baked into its foundations.

Ptolus is an urban campaign setting, but it’s also a setting of dungeon delving and subterranean exploration. Your own Ptolus campaign can run the gamut between dungeon adventures and urban adventures, in whatever mix you choose. The latter involve a surprising array of organizations and of individuals that live in this less-than-typical fantasy city.

In addition, this tome contains scores of creatures, magic items, spells, and character options that are unique to Ptolus. Along with new character species, such as the noble leonine litorians and the winged cherubim, plus rules for dangerous soul magic, the bizarre abominations of chaositech, useful innovations of technology, the fearsome wintersouled, and much more.

An Amazing Product

Ptolus: Monte Cook’s City by the Spire is amazing. It’s not just huge—672 beautiful pages plus hundreds of physical and digital extras—it also set new standards for physical production. From its embossed cover to the multiple bound-in satin bookmarks, everything about Ptolus is premium quality. Top-notch art and abundant cartography grace virtually every page. The extras packet contains handouts, player maps, and posters. The library-quality binding exceeds the standards of virtually every other RPG product ever published.

And that describes the original printing of the book, back in 2006. That’s the standard we’re starting with—who knows how we might improve upon that through stretch goals in this Kickstarter?

Rather than being an impenetrable tome, however, Ptolus has been designed with Game Masters in mind. Multiple indices and glossaries help you manage all the content. The margins contain page references where you can find more information about what you’re reading, or the map for the location being described. Quick-to-use tables and summaries indicate what’s in each district, who lives there, and even the mood of the place so that you’re never caught flat footed when the PCs stop a random person on the street for a quick chat.

In addition to the book itself, which includes a packet with dozens of physical handouts, including maps, player aids, a character sheet, and even props like a restaurant menu, permits, and a wanted poster, Ptolus also comes with nearly 300 pages of digital extras, including:

  • Two campaign journals that take you, session by session, through Monte’s own Ptolus campaign.
  • Saga of the Blade, a Ptolus novella.
  • Handy tools for making the book even easier to use and navigate, including an expanded table of contents, a massive searchable index, and a detailed key to the main Ptolus map that gives you locations for hundreds of sites.
  • This Week in Ptolus, a chronicle of the design and production process.
  • A Ptolus character sheet, in both printer-friendly and device-friendly, form-fillable versions.
  • And dozens and dozens of player handouts and game aids, including digital versions of the items in the packet with the book, plus scores more.

A Piece of History

The original Ptolus: Monte Cook’s City by the Spire was published in 2006 for use with 3rd Edition. At the time it was the largest RPG title ever produced by a single author—and that probably remains true today. That unique, singular vision shines through on every page. Today, though, our top-notch team at Monte Cook Games will make everything tailored for 5e and the Cypher System, and you get to choose which version to make your own—why not both!

The setting was built out of Monte’s personal, long-running D&D campaign. He ran it as he—and his players—developed the game’s 3rd Edition, and in the years shortly after that edition’s release. The players were all insiders: designers, editors, business and marketing managers, and creative directors for the game. Their influence touches almost every corner of Ptolus, and it’s fair to say that the Ptolus campaign influenced the development of the game as well.

Some of those players are now with Monte Cook Games. In addition to Monte himself (obviously), MCG designers Bruce R. Cordell and Sean K. Reynolds were both regular players in the years-long campaign. Other MCG staffers visited the city during the campaign’s run in tangential one-shot adventures.

The original edition of Ptolus: Monte Cook’s City by the Spire is one of the most sought-after gaming products ever. It sold out immediately following publication, and has been a high-value acquisition on the collector’s market ever since. It is currently available (in its original edition) in PDF and print-on-demand from DriveThruRPG, but we’re offering a new version to use with today’s gaming systems, and perhaps—with your help—additional extras never seen before.

Return to the Ptolus Kickstarter

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