Strata: a Spire RPG sourcebook

Created by Grant Howitt

Pre-order Strata, a Spire RPG sourcebook - and get access to our other upcoming products too.

Latest Updates from Our Project:

Backerkit postage update and clarification
about 1 month ago – Mon, Dec 10, 2018 at 02:11:39 PM

What an exciting title!

I'm gonna hand you over to Mary, our project manager, for this update. Some of the pricing around shipping in Backerkit is a bit confusing, so we've got her to spell things out for you:

SHIPPING.

There are a few things that make it complicated to calculate exact shipping costs up front: we don’t know yet (a) how much everything will weigh; (b) what the final counts for items will be; (c) whether we’ll have any direct distribution deals; or (d) what’s going to happen with Brexit. In addition, Backerkit unfortunately doesn’t let us automatically combine shipping costs between Kickstarter pledges and add-on items, which makes it impossible to show an accurate shipping cost if you’re a backer who wants more items.  

So here’s what we’ve done, and here’s what we’re planning, for each of those issues.  

If you backed and added physical add-ons to your order, we will reduce your shipping before charging cards. We’re happy to do this on an estimate basis now, if you get in touch with me - PM @newsmary on the Spire Discord or email admin@rowanrookanddecard.com, and I can give you a better estimate on your items and add that as credit on the back end now. I will be going through every combined order manually before we charge, so you’ll see costs come down regardless.  

Once we have final counts and weights, we will be going out to our suppliers for new quotes. At the moment, after getting multiple quotes, the most economical option is to ship everything from a single UK supplier, as we did for Spire. That could change, especially if we’re able to make a US or Australian distribution deal, so we’re going to hold off on finalising anything until we’re certain.  

No fees are being added to shipping costs. We set up shipping in Backerkit rather than Kickstarter to make sure that shipping could be kept as close to cost as possible; we’ve made sure that no additional processing fees will be applied to any shipping costs. Because we’re in the UK we do need to deal with VAT and other sales taxes applied to shipping; when we have close-to-final orders (and Brexit has potentially happened) we will run our calculations again to make sure we’re not charging out anything for customers who shouldn’t be liable for these.  

We won’t be charging cards until we’ve finalised shipping costs. We want to make sure we get shipping that’s going to protect the books, but that’s as low cost as possible, and that means holding off on charging anyone until we’ve done everything we can to bring down the costs. You’ll get an update alerting you to shipping changes before we charge cards, and you’ll be able to change your basket of items if you’ve ordered add-ons at that point, too. 

We have a contingency fund for customs fees in the case of a very messy Brexit. Unfortunately, on this one, if our production schedule does run past March 29, we might be in a position where we need to pay customs fees for EU backers, or all sorts of other potential shenanigans. We have set aside a significant contingency fund for this, so that if something hideous does happen we will definitely be in a position to ship your books to you regardless. And, if the worst doesn’t happen and things go well, we should be in a position to reduce shipping costs across the board.  

---

Hope that clears things up! Feel free to drop us a line or leave a comment if you have any questions not answered here.

- Grant

Backerkit imminent; All scenarios received!
about 2 months ago – Thu, Dec 06, 2018 at 05:15:55 PM

Two things:

ONE: The Backerkit is authorised now, so we're going to do a smoke test and send it out to a limited number of people - and then, assuming that's all okay, we'll send everyone their invites and get it started. Thanks for your patience on this!

TWO: The scenarios are all submitted, and they're really neat! Work is complete on four of them, and we've received the first draft of the other five. They contain: a hyena with a knife, murderous Morris dancing, Neighbourhood Watch midwives, computers made out of shackled drow minds, non-elective plastic surgery, dark miracles granted by a cannibal madman god, and much, much more besides.

We'll put up a link to the pre-order page on here when it's all live - until then, speak soon!

- Grant, Chris and Mary

DONE!
2 months ago – Fri, Nov 16, 2018 at 01:07:28 AM

Okay, we're done! We'll stop yelling about this now. 

Many thanks to you all for your incredible support - we get to write a sourcebook for Spire, and publish it ourselves, and it's generating something close to a living wage for Chris and I, and we get to commission awesome writers and artists whose work we're really excited about, and and and. It's brilliant. Dream job stuff.  

It can take up to 14 days for Kickstarter to process your payments - once everything's gone through, we'll set up a Backerkit page that you can log into to manage your address, postage, and add-ons. We'll let you know when it's live.

I have spent today writing about drow biotechnological implants to calm myself. It has almost worked.

Yours,

- Grant

Masks, Goats, and THE FINAL DAY
2 months ago – Wed, Nov 14, 2018 at 09:41:43 PM

GOATS AND MASKS

We've unlocked two stretch goals over the last few days! First up, we're going to adopt and (if possible) name a goat for someone that really needs one in a developing country. In addition, we're going to take a break once the fulfilment is over - the stretch goal is also to cover the cost of the time off. With this goal, you've pushed Grant and Chris ever closer to earning a living wage for writing roleplaying games, which is really exciting.

We've also (perhaps more excitingly) unlocked THE BOOK OF MASKS, which is an in-character brochure of the finest masks available on the market. Some of the masks will have abilities associated with them, so players will be able to take them as advances and make a mechanical impact on the game. The book's going to be illustrated by Iguanamouth, who does incredible stuff - she worked with us on Goblin Quest, and we're really excited to get her involved again.

DAWN OF THE FINAL DAY

It's the last 24 hours of the campaign! So, in a naked attempt to beg you for your assistance - please, share this project, tell your friends, write "STRATA" on your pets and set them loose in the neighbourhood, hire an extremely accurate skywriter to etch the url in the streets over Manhattan, anything. It's a weird business model but we rely on the support and kindness of you, our readers, to succeed. Thank you so much for all you've done already.

Also, just a note - we still have five Cults remaining at the high levels, so if you want to be a part of the city of Spire, now's probably the best time to make that investment. Just sayin'. 

Right. This time tomorrow, we'll stop yelling about this. 

Speak soon,

- Chris, Grant and Mary

Eye of the Beholder interview, One Week!
2 months ago – Thu, Nov 08, 2018 at 09:23:31 PM

We've got less than a week left on this project, and it's been incredible to watch it grow from the start - we've been blown away by the support that the community have put behind Strata. We really weren't sure if we had the market for a hard-copy sourcebook for Spire and, well, you're definitely proven that we do.

This is an exciting time for Spire, and for us as a company in general. The success of this Kickstarter has already allowed us to move towards paying Chris and Grant a living wage for their work, and it's opened up the prospect of more content in the future for Spire (and the Resistance system in general). 

Pictured: us
Pictured: us

Thank you all, again, for your support - especially all of you who've shared Strata with your friends, reviewed Spire on their website (we haven't had a bad review yet!) and yelled about how much they enjoyed the first book. Without you, this simply wouldn't be possible.

Anyway. One of the core scenarios in the game is Eye of the Beholder, a grim story of body-modification, cruelty and bravery. We spoke with the author, Christine Beard, to get some more insight on what players and GMs can expect to see.

EYE OF THE BEHOLDER

You've had many RPG credits in the past. Tell us about them; and, more importantly you. 

 Well, I've been writing for as long as I can remember, and gaming since I was a teen. My dad actually got me my first game book ever as a Christmas present, the D&D 3.5 Player's Handbook, and I never really looked back after that. So about three years ago, when a friend of mine mentioned a project he was working on needed a few extra authors, I figured I had nothing to lose by putting my name in. That project turned out to be Onyx Path Publishing's Changeling: the Dreaming 20th Anniversary book, where I actually got to bring dark elves into the setting by writing the "nightmare" version of the sidhe. They're one of my favorite creations so far, because drow have always been my favorite fantasy species. I won't lie, with every sourcebook I work on for Changeling, I try to expand on them a little and work them into the setting! 

 Since then, I've branched out to work on some of their other game lines, mostly within their Chronicles of Darkness setting. I've also had a lot of fun working with John Wick Presents on some of their newer 7th Sea books, bringing some new ideas to the myths and legends of Théah, their rules on fate magic, and the other continents of Terra. Getting to contribute something to Spire has been amazing, because it's unlike any of the games I've worked on before, and I get to explore such a riveting setting with my favorite fantasy culture. 

Eye of the Beholder is a sandbox scenario in the heart of Amaranth. Tell us a little about it and why you chose to set it where you did. 

 One of the things that immediately caught my attention while I was reading through Spire was the aelfir's need to "beautify" everything around them. Pair that with the durance the drow go through, and it seemed like only a matter of time before some aelfir would start trying to improve drow. That's the initial concept I was working with when I wrote up the main antagonist, who takes the dark elves in her service and surgically modifies them to be more appealing (by aelfir standards, anyway) before showing them off as "dolls". I wanted to explore the relationship the drow have with their colonizers and highlight the radical difference in the perception of the two groups; the aelfir think they're doing the drow a favor, but the dolls in question are being ripped away from everything they know and left to the mercy of their masters, who don't always realize when they're being unspeakably cruel. Setting the scenario in Amaranth throws everyone into a world of inscrutable etiquette and propriety, and shows just how different things are at the top of the city, but how much they're still the same. 

 You chose to focus on some fairly dark themes and motivations; is this something you relished exploring? 

 I'm a horror writer when it comes right down to it; I spend a lot of time exploring the darker areas of the human mind. Throw in the aelfir's lack of understanding of ethics, and there's a lot to work with within Spire. For me, there's a lot of darkness going on in the real world, and a game like this makes it really easy to reflect that in a setting people can control; there's a certain safety in exploring these truly horrific, make-your-skin-crawl themes when you can step back and decompress for a moment. The core concepts of the scenario (cultural appropriation, dehumanization, objectification) reflect a lot of things that are happening around us every day, and I did enjoy incorporating them as actions that are unquestionably wrong and cruel. 

 What new elements are you bringing to Spire? We were especially taken with the idea that Drow could be worn as “masks.” 

 The masks! When I first came up with the idea of "dolls", they were just that - playthings, novelties, something you'd display. As I was writing out the scenario and developing the motivations of the characters, I wanted to add in something extra to really set Anessa, the primary antagonist, apart. The concept of "pets" already existed, so just showing drow off wasn't anything new, but the idea that to use them as such a central piece of aelfir culture hadn't been touched on. I've described her before as 'the embodiment of cultural appropriation': she quite literally takes someone from a different culture, changes them to suit her liking, and says "this is a central part of my life, and represents me". In the adventure, she's offering up a number of drow for other aelfir to "wear", and it's just as uncomfortable and cringeworthy as it sounds. But in the so drastically stratified society of Spire, it's easy to believe that its something the aelfir would do, without even realising they're reducing the drow to literal objects. 

 If you could be asked any question by us during an interview, like what’s happening now, what would that question be? 

 Maybe "what's a dream project of yours?" I have an investigative cyber-noir setting, tentatively titled "Cloud", on the back burner. Somewhere between The Matrix, Bladerunner, and the view of a rainy window though a haze of cigar smoke, it's coming together in bits and pieces. I love the juxtaposition of bright, flashy neon and dark, foggy streets, and a world where there's mystery even with humanity's collective knowledge at your fingertips. I've never written my own game from the ground up before, but one day I hope to get it out there!  

---

That's all for now! If you'd like to chat with the other members of the Spire community, you can join our Discord here: https://discord.gg/MSMsV9e

- Chris, Grant and Mary