Ptolus: Monte Cook's City by the Spire
Explore a sprawling fantasy city, presented in amazing detail and steeped in lore and atmosphere. Delve into the extensive dungeons beneath its streets. And maybe, when you're ready, ascend the Spire that looms overhead, the heart of an ancient and restless evil.
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
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, 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.
An Immersive World
Ptolus isn’t just big—it’s alive. It’s a place you can inhabit—a place with atmosphere you feel. It’s fantastic, with page after page of amazing sights and ideas. It’s dynamic. Throughout Ptolus, wheels are in motion and new discoveries are being unearthed. But the story is yet to be told, and Ptolus is set up to make it your story.
An Amazing Product
Ptolus: Monte Cook's City by the Spire is an astounding 672 pages. And that's not all: It includes a packet with a poster map and dozens of handouts, plus another 300 pages of downloadable content—it's all included with the book. The layout is uniquely accessible and easy on the GM, with multiple indices, heavy cross-referencing, and quick-access tables and summaries. And premium features include multiple satin bookmarks, top-notch art, and abundant cartography.
The original version of Ptolus was released in 2006 for Third Edition and the d20 System. It was met with critical acclaim and intense praise for its depth of detail, breadth and volume of material, ease of use, staggeringly imaginative content, and groundbreaking production values. It sold out immediately and remains a highly sought-after collector's item. At the time, Ptolus was the most ambitious single-author RPG project ever—and that's still the case.
A single author means a singular vision. Ptolus: Monte Cook's City by the Spire was derived from Monte's personal campaign, which ran for nearly a decade and through the development and early days of Third Edition. The players (two groups) were all coworkers of Monte's—the designers, developers, editors, and marketers of 3e Dungeons & Dragons. With Monte at the helm, and so many inventive players driving the events of his game, the campaign showcased the most exciting and creative ways the game could be used to build a vivid, exciting, and unique fantasy world.
Historians measure Ptolus’s age in centuries, but every resident knows that the fortress atop the impossibly tall Spire is far more ancient still. Recently, explorers also discovered extensive catacombs beneath the city’s streets. When word spread of the treasures and magic to be discovered in this labyrinthine undercity, adventurers flocked to Ptolus. The enterprising folk of the city quickly adapted to this influx, adding a boom-town atmosphere to the age-worn streets.
But the dungeons aren't Ptolus's only secret. First and foremost 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 resulted from 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 will almost certainly encounter deadly danger as well. Perhaps you’d rather pursue intrigue and adventure in the city’s streets, alleyways, pavilions and temples—for there’s plenty to be experienced there. 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 certainly be the most epic of all—and it seems as if the road of any truly great hero ultimately points in that direction . . . .
Breathe the Air of Ptolus
Ptolus isn’t just big. It also feels alive. It’s a city you can inhabit—a place with an atmosphere you feel. Many places, actually, because the city itself contains numerous quarters, each with its own nature. And that doesn’t include the sprawling underground regions or the seemingly unreachable fortresses of the Spire. Every page of Ptolus—every district, character, faction, and location—is bursting not just with information, but with flavour.
The world of Ptolus was built with the assumptions of classic fantasy gaming in mind. Everyone knows that monsters and wizards are not only real—you might see one on your way to the market. Humans strolling down the street rub shoulders with elves, dwarves, halflings, and 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, 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 vast dungeons recently discovered beneath the city. These things have life—throughout Ptolus, wheels are in motion. But the story is yet to be told, but Ptolus's greatest story will be your story.
A Massive Resource—That's Easy to Use
Ptolus: Monte Cook's City by the Spire is 672 pages, available for both Cypher System and 5e—plus it comes with a packet containing dozens of physical handouts, maps, and props, and roughly 300 pages of additional downloadable content. The art, maps, and production values are astounding in their breadth and consistent in their top-notch quality.
But that's not all. That amount of content, in a conventional book, would be a challenge to manage. So Ptolus is carefully organised, and has dozens of thoughtful features, to make it easier to use than even a typically-sized game book. It has three bound-in satin bookmarks, as well as additional card stock bookmarks. Multiple indices and glossaries help you manage all the content. The margins contain page references linking to 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—you'll never be caught flat-footed when the PCs stop a random person on the street for a quick chat.
Throughout, careful design and thoughtful layout make everything easy to digest, manage, and access. And the unique presentation doesn’t just make it easy to use, it also imparts flavour to virtually every page—and every district, location, NPC, faction, and mystery.
Your Ptolus Adventures
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 organisations and 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.
Ptolus gives you more than enough material to take a campaign with starting characters all the way to epic play—and you'll have so much content left to explore you could go back and do it again.