Monte Cook’s Ptolus: City By The Spier TPB by Canaan White
MONTE COOK’S PTOLUS: CITY BY THE SPIRE TPB Written by MONTE COOK
Penciled by CANAAN WHITE & LUIS LIRA
Cover by CANAAN WHITE
From the mind of Monte Cook comes an exhilarating adventure set in his groundbreaking world of Ptolus, the City by the Spire.Sheva Callister thought she was retired after a tough “treasure hunting” expedition went sour and claimed the life of her partner, Parnell. But when a high-ranking noble from the city of Ptolus calls on her to retrieve a special brooch, she’s willing to venture out on one last expedition… for the right price. Ptolus is anything but a straightforward city, though, and as Sheva works her way towards her goal, she finds herself caught in a web of deception and intrigue. And as she travels from the tombs of the Lich King Narros to the towers overlooking the City by the Spire, Sheva quickly realizes she must find the source of this misery if she hopes to complete her quest… or else the powers-that-be in Ptolus may put a stop to her adventuring forever. Written by Monte Cook, co-designer of the d20 gaming system and creator of the HeroClix battle system, Ptolus: City by the Spire is a wonderful introduction to the realm of “the world’s most deluxe campaign set,” with an amazing tale of swords and sorcery that’s sure to delight any fan of fantasy, thievery, or high-spirited adventure!
I’m actually going to give you one from a storytelling game, rather than a typical tabletop game – the first time I played Durance, which is a really cool storytelling game set on an unstable, dangerous prison planet, with the neat twist that each player plays two characters, one a representative of the Authority and one a convict. Honestly, the details of the scene aren’t even really the important part, but to set it up quickly: my convict character was Linna, leader of a gang of escapees; her son, Holace, was the captain of the planetary guards (and played by someone else at the table). As the plot developed over the course of the game, we ended up setting a scene between Linna and the leader of the convicts so they could negotiate what would happen to Holace during the upcoming armed revolt, and that scene just went really, really well. It was a quiet, calm conversation between two dangerous people with diametrically opposed goals, both of them trying to maneuver the other into making the first explicit threat – I didn’t realize it until we wrapped up the scene, but by the end of it the other player and I had both leaned waaaay into each other’s space and were aggressively holding eye contact.
I don’t know, I’m having a hard time describing this, because it really wasn’t the scene itself or anything specific I said or did that made it stand out so much – it was the way I felt, like Linna had come completely to life and I was just the conduit she was talking through. That’s what stands out to me. That’s what I’m looking for in a really, really great in-character moment.
20) The coolest item you ever got and how you came to possess it.
OH MAN LET ME TELL Y’ALL ABOUT MY THURIBLE FLAIL.
So this was in our Ptolus campaign, in which I was playing Sister Theresia, a paladin whose emphasis was very definitely more on the “justice of the Lord” side than the “mercy of the Lord” side. And she’d been traipsing merrily along for 6 levels or so, meting out said justice as she saw fit, when, alas… she died.
And then shit got weird.
Theresia had a long talk with the aspect of her god who dealt with death. He praised her for her work, and said she would be hearing from him again, and promised her great rewards in the hereafter — in an OOC conversation, we established that, basically, we were putting her on the path to sainthood (in story terms) and some sort of demigod status (in mechanical terms). And then he said, “But for now, YOU HAVE WORK TO DO,” and Theresia woke up surrounded by freaked-out party members and having acquired some unsettling new divine powers.
When she went and told her confessor (of course she had a confessor) about this incident, he went very wide-eyed, led her to the church’s armories, and said, “You’d better take this.”
It was a flail, with the haft carved from a saint’s thighbone and the ball pierced with tiny holes so that it could double as a censer/thurible.
I loved that fucking flail.
27) Your favorite setting or game location.
Oh, this is hard! Really, I’ve liked almost every setting/location I’ve ever played in. I am seriously un-picky, the only thing I demand from my game settings is ESCAPISM WHEEE and I pretty much always get it.
29) The best/worst character concept you’ve ever heard.
Aw, I’m not going to answer “worst”! (Partly because it’s unkind, partly because I have an irrational fear that the person I’d describe would somehow find this post and recognize themselves.) Best, though… hmmmm. I’ve played in a lot of games with a lot of cool characters, but taking “concept” to mean basically the one-line description that sells the character, I think I have to go with SENATOR VINDICTIVE, a supervillain with no powers at all, just lots and lots of goons. HIS POWER IS… MANPOWER.
(Although for the record I am also very partial to two of my own current characters: Taran, A Strong-Willed Glaive who Rides the Lightning – the Numenera system means that every character is built around a cool-ass one-line concept like this, which is nice – and Kinnie, Bad-Tempered Apprentice Witch.)
Sister Theresia was my longest-running D&D character, from a campaign set in Ptolus. So your fact is D&D-related: my fondest memory from that campaign is the time that our characters were investigating some jerk noble, and snuck into his house to look for evidence. Unfortunately he happened to come home at about that time, and caught our druid still prowling around his living room.
The druid’s solution:
Change into a bear.
Grab the nearest knick-knack off a shelf.
Newspaper headlines the next day read “BEAR ROBBERIES ON THE RISE IN PTOLUS.“
(Edit: I have reconsidered and it’s possible my actual fondest memory from that campaign was the time bartonstroud — who was DMing — created a villain who was SO PERFECTLY CALCULATED to infuriate our friend Evan that I really thought it might end in IRL fisticuffs.)