Spire of Sorcery - Qfasa

Last week, we showed you how we create characters for the game. Many thanks for all your comments here and on Discord! It feels great to know that you also appreciate smaller details that are so important for us. And this week, we’d like to share our process behind creating the art for biomes.


When you play Spire of Sorcery, the whole world of Rund is yours to explore. You can send your parties to any point on the map, though some points will prove hard to reach (for example, Catacombs surrounded by Swamps) and some will prove too dangerous to explore (for example, Castles controlled by the Empire).

Once you explore a certain area, you can always hover over any of its parts to access basic information about the biome. Knowing biome types is useful when planning expeditions: cutting through Ancient Forests or Battlefields may take a lot of time, and also presents risks specific to these areas – so maybe traveling by road over Plains or crossing Hills on foot is a better solution, as even if such route will be longer, it still will be faster and safer.

We currently have 20 biome types, ranging from Forests to Waterfronts, and from Caves of Eternal Darkness to Black Pools. Each type must have its own artwork that communicates the atmosphere as well as delivers additional details of the lore.

Since Rund is an original world, for us it is extremely important to make sure that the biome art transports you to the right universe: for example, something as simple as a village can look rich or poor, idyllic or beaten up, relaxed or on the defensive, depending on how the villagers in Rund generally feel about their life and the threats of the world outside. And it falls to our concept artist Rita to express our game designer’s vision with each such piece. Let’s take a look at how we created artwork for one of these biomes – The Rusted Forest.


The work begins with a brief that our game designer writes. Some biomes prove more difficult to describe than others, especially those that are common to many worlds (forests, hills, caves), because with Rund, we’re looking for a very specific interpretation of these concepts. Other biomes are much easier – because they are unique to Rund (such as Distorted Lands) and have a wealth of specific details that we can fall back on.

With the Rusted Forest, the brief went like this:

Rusted Forest is an area inside the Distorted Lands. It’s a zone that used to surround the citadel of an ancient mage who developed sophisticated magic machines and mechanisms. This zone used to be full of traps, including huge metal spears that shot up from below the ground.

Currently, almost all of the traps lost their power, and the area is covered in rusted spears, often covered in remains of gigantic monsters who attacked the citadel before the Cataclysm. With time, these spears got covered in moss, while the ground became tinted orange with rust. Wherever cracks appear on the surface, one can glimpse parts of old mechanisms – gears, levers and other parts of once powerful machinery that powered the traps.


Based on the designer’s brief, Rita came up with this set of references:

A reference board is a quick way to align an artist’s vision to that of game designer: we keep looking at different pictures until everyone agrees that some of these are “relevant” to the new work that’s about to be created, at which point we lock down the reference board and proceed to preparing the first sketch.


The first sketch is equally useful for showing what we want to create, and for showing what we do not want to create: we try to eliminate unwanted elements from early on, as well as to identify that “something is missing here”. Here’s how the first sketch of the Rusted Forest looked like –

We liked the menacing feeling, but we found it lacking a few things:
  • Not enough overgrowth
  • Missing the remains of the gigantic monsters
The next sketch addressed these issues:

The team agreed that Rita was on the right track, and she moved to creating the first sketch in color.


Color is important to any art, and for Spire of Sorcery’s art style colors do carry an additional meaning: all of our locations have their “key colors” that help to differentiate one biome from another. Why? Because the global map shows all of these biome types to help you plan your expeditions, thus it’s important that you are able to immediately distinguish, say, Ancient Forest from a regular Forest, and Plains from Hills.

The first color sketch of the Rusted Forest looked like this:

We felt that it works well for the overall atmosphere: clearly, the place is abandoned, and bears signs of past attacks where monsters were confronted by mechanical traps. At the same time, we also felt that it would be hard to distinguish the Rusted Forest on a global map from other biome types that relied on blue as their key color: namely, the Ancient Forest and the Distorted Lands. And so, Rita went on to create another color sketch –

We liked it much more.


Following the color sketch that we all liked, Rita started to develop the final artwork. This involves adding many more details as well as balancing the overall colors. Here’s one of the versions, which we thought to be a bit too much on the red side:

One thing that you might notice, is that at this stage Rita also increased the exposure of the parts of trap mechanisms, which were less visible in the color sketch. After several revisions, we’ve got even more details:

With this version, everyone in the team was pretty happy – except for one thing: the horizon. In the game, the Rusted Forest covers a pretty big area, but here it looked like it ends pretty soon in the distance, and the empty horizon suggests a desert stretching behind. Thus, we made a minor (yet important to us!) change, making sure that the image represents the actual in-game area –


After creating the final version of the Rusted Forest, we had one more task left: making the artwork game-ready, which in this case means preparing this art to be used in combination with other assets.

In Spire of Sorcery, a major part of gameplay is about reading the reports of disciples who return from their expeditions. And whenever something happens – a meeting with another party, a discovery, or a battle – quest log shows the biome where it happened, the object that is present there, and the characters or creatures who interact with your party.

Rita had to prepare the Rusted Forest for a possible combination with other objects that could appear in the foreground. Here’s the first test that showed how objects may possibly fit on this background:

Picture 1 shows the Rusted Forest split into 3 areas: background, and two foreground parts. Pictures 2 and 3 show how the Ruins and the Death Altar may possibly fit (we used these to run the test, even though in the world of Rund, neither can be found in the Rusted Forest since it’s so deep in the Distorted Lands).

To make the art ready for being used in combination with other assets, artists often have to prepare versions that look like this (in our case) –

And here’s a combination of background and object that you may actually meet in the game: The Anomaly (something similar to our world’s black holes) tested against the Rusted Forest.


Lastly, what happens next is that we have one more issues to tackle: creating sound effects for each piece of art. All of the sound effects for Spire of Sorcery are created by our long-time professional partner Anna Fruit. Perhaps in one of the upcoming blogs, we can talk about the specifics of her work (she’s set to produce several hundred original sound effects for the game, after all!) – in the meantime, here’s how the Rusted Forest came to life:


With this, we end this week's dev blog, and as always, thank you for your interest in the game! Please join us on Discord if you would like to participate in the weekly Q&A sessions with our game designer, as well as to see work-in-progress materials that we regularly share there!


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Spire of Sorcery - Qfasa


Welcome to this week’s Dev Blog! This time, we’d like to tell you a little bit about the process behind the game, and specifically – about how we create our concept art for humans and non-humans of Rund.


We’re a small development team (currently 7 people), which has a lot of advantages. Amongst these advantages is the opportunity to use everyone’s experience to make our games better. Anything that we include in our released games, is the result of our teamwork. Everyone at Charlie Oscar makes suggestions and offers feedback, and what you see in our games is there because at some moment literally everyone agreed that this is the best that we can deliver.

At the same time, there are 2 areas where we change the approach: game design and server technology. We believe that these areas are so specific and require such special knowledge and experience, that the feedback that we provide to our game designer and server programmer is no more than just suggestions, and they have no obligation to respond or defend their choices. This is especially true for game design.

A big requirement for any of our games is the consistency of its creative vision. Sometimes it comes down to quite unusual rules, for example in our previous game (Gremlins, Inc.) characters can smoke cigars – but cannot eat food or drink liquids, based on its lore. And so when recently someone in the team suggested a card that involved characters drinking wine, it was shut down by our game designer.

With Spire of Sorcery, the impact of consistency in game design is tremendous: the world of Rund is a complex system, with everything connected to everything else, thus any change and design decision taken has multiple indirect consequences. Take mutants, for example: most of us on the development team know a bit about them because of the discussions that already happened; but if you ask us, whether or not you may meet a mutant while paying a visit to a nearby village fair, we’ll refer you to our game designer, who has the whole world of Rund in his head, and who will know for certain.

In this way, we combine the Occidental and Oriental approaches to team work: for most production issues, we’re running a leader-less team process, where every person’s opinion counts; and for everything related to game design, we’re running a “king and his servants” kind of system where we never question the vision of our game designer, but rather see our ambition in helping him to bring that vision to life.


Our designer’s vision for Spire of Sorcery is to build from scratch a new, original world – the world of Rund. This doesn’t mean that we want to have, say, flying dolphins or two-headed horses – those would be “exotic” rather than “original”. What we’re after is a world that is free from pre-existing conventions and concepts, while being both captivating and believable, in order to take our players all the way to Rund.

Because the world of Rund is original, every piece of concept art that we create carries a lot of weight: this is the window through which you, the players, will see that world, and we must try to make it as close to the original vision of our game designer as possible. And today we’d like to walk you through the creative process behind one such piece of concept art: the Alchemist.


The Alchemist is a human character, a trader in rare items, whom you are most likely to meet in towns and in villages, though sometimes you may encounter alchemists in the wild – where they forage for their ingredients.

Once we discussed this character, our concept artist Rita came up with these three ideas:

Option 1 resonated the most with Alexey, our game designer. At the same time, he did not like “the wizard hats”, as he called them: they were out of place in this context. While members of the Guild of Mages are required to wear easy-to-notice hats, alchemists are just regular traders. He also highlighted the fact that the life of alchemist is not an easy one, from handling all the weird stuff that he’s selling to traveling around, and so his dress should be more worn-out. Finally, our alchemist is supposed to be an old man, but in option 1 he displays a posture of a young man. So, we should deal with this in the next revision, too.

The next revision addressed these comments, and offered 4 options to consider:

The hat is gone, the look is more tired (both in posture and in the dress). Now is the time to discuss what exactly the alchemist should be holding up in his hands. The book (no.3) wasn’t a good fit because there’s a separate character, Bookseller, who’s trading in these. The orb and potions (no.1, no.4) were not a good fit to the lore, either. And thus, we settled on the jar of eyes and a small precious bottle from no. 4 and no.2.

This version of the Alchemist everyone loved, and so Rita moved from creating an “idea” of the character to creating the actual line art for the concept.

Next comes the question of color. For coloring, we work with a dedicated colorist, Sasha, who takes it very seriously. She started with a few options.

Everyone on the team liked no.3 the most, and so we went on to work from that image further. We asked for the following changes:
  • That the label on the small bottle (with precious liquid) be more like an old paper label, rather than a modern-looking full-color label;
  • That the basket be more like in no.1, while the small leather bag be more like in no.2;
  • That the eyeballs be less colorful, because while they may come from a wide variety of animals, they are still eyeballs in brine, and not snooker balls =)
  • That the legs of an octopus-like creature from the lower bag be more like a freshly-caught animal and less like a dried/cured one.
Meet the next version –

Here, wanted to correct a few more things:
  • The eyeballs became faded (good!) but we wanted a deeper color, as well as a more natural color to them;
  • We really wanted the amulet of the alchemist to stand out, and here it was lost against his dress;
  • The robe looked too simple in terms of color: yes, his dress is worn-out, and old, but at the same time it was really something when it was new – his profession is quite special, and he wouldn’t order just any regular dress;
  • Finally, we wanted a more “sea-like” look for the tentacles from the lower bag.
And so, another revision happened:

We loved the golden amulet, and we loved the new tentacles, as well as a “richer” robe. The only remaining issue? The eyes in the jar were still not really authentic.

After this has been addressed, we arrived at the final version of this character – hurray!


Some of our friends are making fun of us for going through all these multiple revisions, and for including into discussions every member of our development team: does it really matter for our players, or we’re doing this simply because we are having fun in the process? =)

Our answer is this: we believe that the visuals are super important for Spire of Sorcery, as they communicate not only a particular gameplay value, but also open for you a window into the world of Rund. We have chosen to create the game in the current hand-drawn style because we love details, and this style allows us to add a ton of them to every single piece of art.

From such a small thing as the color of the eyes in the jar that the alchemist holds, and to such a big thing as the banner of the Second Legion, we strive to deliver to you the amazing vision of our game designer to the best of our ability. Like many of our players, we love to dive into new worlds, and we feel that our work on small details is going to make a lot of you really happy on the day when you launch the game for the first time!


With this, we end this week's dev blog, and as always, thank you for your interest in the game! Please join us on Discord if you would like to participate in the weekly Q&A sessions with our game designer, as well as to see work-in-progress materials that we regularly share there!


ːsummer_magicː Official Discord server
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ːsummer_magicː Facebook (game updates)

ːmaliceː Official Discord server
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ːmusicː Original Soundtrack on Spotify

ːnotebookː Twitter (studio news)
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Spire of Sorcery - Sergei Klimov


Today, we'll talk about the goal of the main campaign of the game: getting access to the Elixir of Youth.


When you start the main campaign in Spire of Sorcery, you have multiple ways of addressing the challenges that the world throws at you:
  • building a stronger defense against a possible attack by the Inquisition;
  • exploring the distant corners of the world to obtain rare resources;
  • increasing the strength of your magic Call to attract more disciples;
…and so on. However, there is one challenge that stands out: your mage's age. Every day the mage gets older, and death from old age is the hard limit that the game sets for the main campaign. You may slow down the decaying health, but you cannot stop the onset of decay - unless you win the main campaign by accessing the elusive Elixir of Youth.


Since different players start the campaign with different characters (based on the initial text quest), the basic life expectancy of your mage varies. Just like some mages will have better skills than others, some will also have stronger health stat.

The other thing that affects the longevity of your mage is your decisions on his or her way of life. The following points have a strong effect on how fast your mage ages:
  • the sort of food that your mage eats;
  • the amount of sleep that your mage gets;
  • the frequency of mediation;
  • the mood of your mage;
  • the regularity of his/her overall schedule.


The basic thing than you can eat, is what your disciples can forage from the land: mushrooms, berries, roots and wild fruit. On the next level is meat and fish ("game") that your disciples can hunt.

Then comes the cooking: a basic ration requires resources and basic cooking skills, as well as time to prepare, and is more preferable to what you can forage. A ranger's ration is a ration that can last for a long time - so it's possible to prepare those in advance and store them; or use them during expeditions; but at the same time, this ration is not as good as the basic ration in terms of nutrition.

Finally, there's the special healthy ration that needs an advanced cooking skill to prepare: while it cannot be kept for a long time, it provides all the nutrition that a character needs. Eating these healthy rations will delay the decay of your mage's health.


Every day, your mage gets tired and needs to sleep to get back to shape. There is a physical limit on how long your mage can go without sleep - after certain time, any character just drops down from exhaustion and falls asleep no matter what you tell them to do; there is a similar limit also on how long a character may stay asleep - if you pushed character for all-nighters the whole week, you won't be able to just tell them to go and sleep for the next 60 hours; rather, characters have natural limits as to when they wake up.


There are several meditation techniques, all of which can be learned, that help your mage to regain stamina and improve body/mind balance. Regular meditation helps to delay the disintegration of your mage's health stat.


Stress and unsatisfied desires negatively affect your mage's health, while keeping him/her happy and providing the small pleasures that they desire has a positive effect.

Regular schedule

Every person in the Spire reacts well to having a regular schedule. Eating three times a day, sleeping in the night and meditating or exercising at specific times keeps people in a good shape. Waking characters up in the middle of the night, skipping meals to address urgent issues and so on, has a negative effect on the current health parameter.


Your mage doesn't really have any special "Life Clock" ticking away in his/her hall, that would show something like "You have 352 days to live". As the mage gets older, he/she is more likely to succumb to illnesses; you may approximate the expected lifetime that remains - especially if you've already played the game and developed an "intuition" for your mage's current state - but this is nothing more than a guess, since so many factors, internal and external, affect the outcome.

Technically speaking, every character in the game has a "current health" and "overall health (constitution)" parameters. With disciples, the value of "current health" is automatically restored with time. You get tired, you fall sick, you get injured… but there's always the cure that can set things right, and by default your characters will restore their current health with time. With the mage, though, this parameter is not restored on its own, and once "current health" reaches zero, the overall global health stat loses another point.

As you may remember, character stats in Spire of Sorcery are measured from 1 to 20. On this scale, 10 is the average value corresponding to a regular healthy person, 20 means "super-human" and 0 means "dead". Since we don't show specific numbers in the game, but rather an overall characterization - "strong", "frail", "very frail" - you will have a general idea of where your mage is, on this global scale, and you'll need to figure the rest based on your overall situation.


The Elixir of Youth should not be mistaken for the Elixir of Immortality. While there are known references to the Elixir of Youth as something that existed during the Age of Mages, the Elixir of Immortality is more a myth than a reality - in theory, it could be possible; but in practice, no one ever heard of, or read about, such a thing.

In the Age of Mages, the Elixir of Youth was used by powerful mages to restore their health and extend their lives. There is no single recipe for this elixir, as mages kept their discoveries private - some formulas resulted in another 100 years of life; some resulted in just 20; and some formulas were so risky that the mage who consumed them, may never wake up at all.

To win the main campaign of Spire of Sorcery, you need to, first, access, and, second, use the Elixir of Youth. It is not enough to find it somewhere - as it may get stolen on the way to the Spire. It is also not enough to produce it, and store in the Treasury - as you may end up being unable to consume it due to special requirements.

Important: once consumed, the Elixir needs years of undisturbed rest to take effect. Thus any mage that walks that path needs to prepare for the occasion by constructing a special chamber, where he/she - and only a few select disciples - may remain safe from the world outside for as many years as the elixir requires, while the other disciples are sent out into the world on their own, and the Spire itself is destroyed in order to hide the resting place.


There are two ways of getting your hands on the Elixir: finding it; and producing it.

In order to find the Elixir, you'll need an extremely advanced skill of Astrology, which may reveal the location of one of the bottles with the Elixir that remain from the Age of Mages; or a success in exploring the world, which may allow your parties to reach such remote places and uncover such information that would yield the secret knowledge.

In order to produce the Elixir, you'll need an extremely advanced skill of Alchemy - as well as a large number of rare ingredients. Like with any other potion, your mage's personal formula of the Elixir will be the same form one campaign to another - but as the properties of different world items change, so with every campaign you will be looking for a different set of ingredients.

Once you find - or produce - the Elixir, and prepare to consume it, you will enter the final part of the game: choosing the disciples who will be sent away and choosing the disciples who will remain with you in the sarcophagus. And here we'd like to reveal a special feature of the Iron Man mode: the disciples whom you send away at the end of the campaign, are able to cross the parallel universes, and come to the Spires of other players that are just starting their own campaigns in the Iron Man mode!

With this, we end this week's dev blog, and as always, thank you for your interest in the game! Please join us on Discord if you would like to participate in the weekly Q&A sessions with our game designer, as well as to see work-in-progress materials that we regularly share there!


ːsummer_magicː Official Discord server
ːsummer_magicː Twitter (game updates)
ːsummer_magicː Facebook (game updates)

ːmaliceː Official Discord server
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ːmaliceː Facebook (game updates)
ːmusicː Original Soundtrack on Spotify

ːnotebookː Twitter (studio news)
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Spire of Sorcery - Qfasa


In this week’s blog, we talk about a small group of people that has a huge impact on the life of Rund: The Inquisition.


The Inquisition is an independent organization that operates separately from the Empire. It was established by the former members of the Second Legion shortly after the Empire itself was founded, driven by one fear: that if people who possess magic talent are left uncontrolled, then eventually the horrible events of the Cataclysm will happen again – and the world as we know it, will be finally destroyed.

The central seat of the Inquisition is in Rund’s capital city, from where several hundred inquisitors manage its regional branches. Every big city – currently, 10 – has its own office of the Inquisition, numbering around 50 people each, with the overall current headcount of the organization standing at a bit over 1,000 people.

The Inquisition doesn’t have a single person at its head – rather, it is governed by The Council of Fathers, a group of 7 who attained the highest possible rank. Like the army, the Inquisition attracts bright youths with a promise of a brilliant career for those whose dedication to the cause is exceptional. It accepts recruits from all walks of life, though it’s a known fact that the sons of rich lords tend to become officers much faster than the sons of village blacksmiths – which you can blame on the lack of education of the second group, or attribute to a special protection enjoyed by the first group.

The Inquisition is focused on 4 big tasks:
  1. Managing the Guild of Mages
  2. Seeking out mages outside of the Guild
  3. Clearing out new lands from non-humans
  4. Performing special operations: catching runaways, and so on.


Among all the tasks that the Inquisition undertakes, managing The Guild of Mages is the task that requires the most effort.

First, the scope: there are offices of the Guild in every big city, plus more temporary housing in smaller towns. Every mage needs to be fed. Every mage needs to be protected. And every mage needs to be accounted for, least some decide to become runaways.

Second, the diversity of issues to be solved: from indoctrinating new mages to communicating with customers – lords or officials of the Empire – and then performing the allowed common magic, to collecting payments due.

It is true that the Inquisition is the only organization in the Empire that is not subject to any taxes. It is also true, that the Inquisition does not have any other sources of income, and so it fully depends on the Guild of Mages to generate whatever revenue it needs to support its structure and its ambitions.

Ironically, without the mages the Inquisition will not have the funds to control the mages.


Every day brings reports about people who are suspected to possess magic talent. It falls to the Inquisition to verify each report, and to bring the people who are confirmed to having been born as mages, to one of the offices of the Guild of Mages. There, these people will receive a basic education, and their magic talent will be put to use – strictly within the allowed limits, and to the financial benefit of the Inquisition.

Every day also brings reports about people who are suspected to use their magic talent outside of the Guild, practicing unlicensed magic – whether as undercover mages, hidden by some of the lords; or as wild mages, hiding on their own in the borderlands.

Since the punishment for practicing magic outside of the Guild is public burning, verification of this type of reports is more demanding: firstly, you need to send a whole group of inquisitors, so that if the suspect attempts to run away, then he or she is easily caught; secondly, your group should be strong enough to face, and win, a possible fight with the mage who is cornered and has nothing to lose.

Disappointingly, most such reports turn out to be false, and that can drive the morale of the lower-ranking inquisitors down. Having spent days on the road to a remote village only to discover that there’s no magic involved… they would sometimes get aggressive, just to send a message to the villagers – maybe beating the hell out of the accuser who made them come all the way, to prevent future false alarms. Occasionally, this creates a higher-level problem, as the families of the victims may seek revenge. But what can you do? That’s life.


Where an office of the Inquisition in the capital may look like that of a trading company, with the majority of people involved in management and processing of data and orders, an office of the Inquisition in the borderlands is much more similar to army barracks.

Here in the Wild Lands, the major task of the organization is sending out expeditions to destroy non-humans – considered to be dangerous remnants of the Age of Mages. Once the land is “cleared”, it is normally given to settlers or, more often, is transferred into the possession of the nearest big lord, who then sends there his own peasants.

As a few people in the capital have observed, sometimes the lords in the Wild Lands would blow the threat of non-human dwellers out of proportion, requesting expeditions into the lands that pose little strategic threat. Perhaps the true reason in these cases is their greed for more land, and the Inquisition becomes but a tool that they use to get it from the Empire – for free.


A runaway mage from the Guild is a rare occurrence, not the least because of the severity of the punishment: a public burning of the runaway as well as of every single person who helped them plan and make the escape. But whatever the risks, these things tend to happen from time to time, and when they do happen, nothing is as efficient as a special operations unit of the Inquisition that has among its ranks a number of mages who help them with tracing the escapee.

As to the other sorts of special operations, like putting down the invasions of non-humans and mutants – on these occasions, the Inquisition serves as consultants, with the Legion itself taking assuming control of the situation at large. The last time anything like that happened was a long time ago, when non-humans bread specifically for conflict got around to taking control over several nearby tribes, thus creating a real and tangible threat to the Empire (of course, they were smashed to pieces).


As any organization numbering in hundreds, the Inquisition is far from being a monolith where every person shares the same view. Generally, higher-ranking officers of the Inquisition work off a blueprint for Rund where mages and normal people co-exist.

However, there’s a secretive group of “hardliners”, whose vision is that of the world where every mage is killed. Their “big idea” is the belief that if you start killing off mages, then eventually the number of people who are born with a magic talent, will start to fall, until the day when no mages are born at all...


That’s it for today – and thanks for being a part of the community! Did you know that there’s nearly 1,000 people on the official Discord already? Every week, we run there a Q&A session with the game designer, answering 15-20 questions from players. You can join it here, or read the answers from the previous Q&A sessions here. See you around!


ːsummer_magicː Official Discord server
ːsummer_magicː Twitter (game updates)
ːsummer_magicː Facebook (game updates)

ːmaliceː Official Discord server
ːmaliceː Twitter (game updates)
ːmaliceː Facebook (game updates)
ːmusicː Original Soundtrack on Spotify

ːnotebookː Twitter (studio news)
ːnotebookː Facebook (studio news)
ːhypnoheartː "Behind the scenes" Instagram
ːfireappleː YouTube
Spire of Sorcery - Sergei Klimov


Earlier on, we spoke about Rund's lay of the land. Today, we take a closer look at the history, and the current situation, of The Empire.


Currently, the Empire enjoys a privileged position: its borders are secure, and there are no wars except for an occasional conflict with one of the barbarian tribes. It's easy to think that things have always been like this; however, in the Age of Mages the same stretch of land has been divided into many more domains of mages, fiercely competitive with each other.

Lay of the land, Rund.

Before the Cataclysm, the western part of Rund has been of secondary importance, with the most advanced domains being located in the east, where the concentration of Sources of Magic Energy is the highest. The current state – known as the Empire – was created about four-five generations ago by the Second Legion, one of the five armies of mage Nesturs the Wise, and the only significant military unit to survive the Cataclysm.


Nesturs the Wise was famous for going against the current: while other mages focused on bringing into the world elaborate magic creatures, he worked with the regular human material, year by year changing his recruits towards his image of an "ideal soldier".

He used his powers to create magically enhanced armor: light and comfortable to wear, protecting its owners from both regular and magic weapons.

He used his powers to create magically enhanced weapons: weapons that were able to destroy not only regular enemies, but also those special creatures that were created immune to most of the traditional weapons.

He used his powers to create magically enhanced shields: light and durable, they offered an oversized protection area since they actively attracted projectiles flying around, so that an arrow aimed over the shield's edge at the head of its wearer would still change its trajectory to end up stuck in the shield.

He also created other items with similar effects, such as The Flag of the Legion that made those around it immune to magically-induced panic attacks, and so on.

On top of this, he worked with the selection and enhancement of the actual bodies of his soldiers, creating a group of humans that were substantially stronger than the regular folk, and lived longer than others (some of these traits successfully passed from fathers to sons, and some didn't).

The Legions of Nesturs the Wise carried the flag that depicted magically enhanced human soldiers as its main force, ready to strike the enemy at once.


At the time of the Cataclysm, Nesturs the Wise had five legions. All except for the Second Legion were on the battlefield when the conflict got out of control; all perished in the fight. The Second Legion, though, was stationed at the barracks as the reserve, and thus survived with lesser damage, in the aftermath establishing the state that later became known as the Empire.

With the evolution of the Empire, "the real story" behind the Legion has also evolved. Now, over one hundred years later, the Legion's magically enhanced skills are explained as "the true blood of the original human race", which soldiers and their heirs managed to preserve - on comparison with the rest of the population, that was "weakened by uncontrolled magic". As to the magically enhanced items, these are described as "sacred", with their effects due to the glory of the Legion's earlier hero-soldiers - rather than based on magic spells.

A major undertaking of the Second Legion since the Cataclysm is their on-going campaign to "lay to rest the bones of our brothers and fathers", which is focused on finding, digging up and re-burying the remains of earlier legionaries, with their advanced weapons and armor taken away to the Empire's closely guarded armory. Since the artefacts are described as "sacred", these weapons and armor cannot be openly traded - if someone lays their hands on such items, they must immediately bring them to the armory of the Empire, where they are generously rewarded. Using such items for personal purposes outside of the imperial army is punishable by death.

You, or your disciples, may try your hand at locating and digging up such artefacts, even though there's a very little probability to find those in the east. As to venturing west, where the legions originally perished, this presents a significant risk: not only will your disciples enter the territory with heavy presence of the Inquisition, but they may also encounter on such quests the imperial parties that are looking for the same thing, and will be absolutely unhappy to see competition.

The flag of the Empire is the interpretation of the Legion's original flag: now the hand is open, offering help to those in need; the triangle represents the knowledge of the state, and its stability; and the crown shines its light on all of Rund, until there are no more dark corners left in the world.


While being a runaway mage is a crime punished throughout the Empire, catching such runaway mages is far from being a priority for the imperial army, which spends the majority of its efforts on securing the western border with the barbarian tribes as well as on preventing the stronger among the lords of the Wild Lands from becoming too independent from the capital and avoiding its tax collectors.

The troops of the Empire are well-equipped, and fast - its soldiers are among the few who have the right to keep horses (horses are a rare and valuable asset that attracts immediate attention; outside of the army, only lords have horses, while the common folk uses donkeys and oxen).

At the same time, even if the army became concerned with your case, it is unlikely that they would pursue it - until and unless your Spire becomes a major force that may actually threaten the territorial integrity of the Empire. For their main advantages - fast travel and impressive strength of regiments - are of little use in the Wild Lands that are covered by ancient forests and often lack even the basic roads.

It is the Inquisition that is responsible for the criminal cases that involve mages, including those who ran away from the Guild of Mages; and while the Inquisition is very enthusiastic about their agenda, they are not yet as powerful as to command the attention of the Emperor.

Yes, there is possibly a threat somewhere in the Wild Lands. Perhaps a mutant settlement that's growing too strong. Perhaps a lord that's hiding a son who possesses the magic talent. Or maybe a village that started to trade with cyclops, leaving food at the entrance of their cave and finding iron there a few days later. But this is still too small for the imperial army to become attached to the matter… until it starts to present a real and actionable threat to the state.

While the Inquisition portrays itself as the always-alert, always-present force on the forefront of the fight to keep dangerous magic under control, the reality is often different. The job involves extensive travel, and the majority of the reports about 'wild mages' turn out to be false. Down on the ground, serving in the Inquisition is mostly about routine investigations, and a bit of politics, rather than about actually confronting the real danger. Quite a significant number of people who serve in the Inquisition give much more attention to their own career opportunities, rather than to the main cause of the organization.


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Spire of Sorcery - Qfasa


Let’s talk a bit about how you can explore the world of the game – Rund.


The world of Spire of Sorcery is known as Rund. Nobody really knows where the name comes from. Some say it stems from “Runes” and some say it stems from “Ruins”, but no one is certain, because this name has been in use for centuries even before the Age of Mages.


We spoke earlier about the general layout of the world. And today we’ll talk about how you actually interact with this world. The global map features three kinds of informational layers:
  • Regions
  • Locations
  • Markers

Region: Ancient Forests.


Regions are what we internally call “biomes”: forests, farmlands, swamps, and so on. Each region on the map has its name: you’ll encounter Dark Woods and Dead Woods and Silver Woods, and many more variations of how the locals name their surroundings. These names come from a database. Each time you start the main campaign, the map is generated from scratch – and these names are assigned from scratch, too. So each player will have a unique experience as far as discovering the world is concerned.

There are many types of regions. We currently completed about a dozen of different types and will continue to add more, as we move towards the launch in Steam Early Access – and then between the Early Access and the Full Release periods. Some of the already finished region types are:
  • Farmlands
  • Plains
  • Hills
  • Mountains
  • Lakes
  • Rivers
  • Forests
  • Ancient Forests
  • Swamps
  • Distorted Lands
  • Rusted Forest
  • Battlefields
  • Black Pools

Region: Rusted Forest.

The type of region defines how fast your party can move through it when traveling: for example, moving through plains is very easy; while moving through swamps is harder.

The type of region also defines the range of visibility that your party has there: while traveling through hills, your disciples can see far ahead – and can be spotted from far ahead, too, if enemies are around. While traveling through ancient forests, though, the range of visibility is really limited.

The other thing that depends on the type of region is the sort of chance encounters that your party has there: traveling across farmlands may put you in front of a group of peasants going on their regular business (and hopefully, your disciples are able to disguise their magic talents). Traveling across ancient forests may lead you to meet a party of mushroom-eaters returning from a harvest. And traveling across battlefields may throw you face to face with the Bone Creature.

In addition to chance encounters, the type of region through which your party travels dictates the relevant travel risks: mosquito bites in swamps; poisonous air near black pools; dangerous animals in forests. These sorts of mini-events can seriously affect the health and even the lives of your party members.

Each type of region features a different set of resources to harvest: the types of herbs, berries and mushrooms, woods and minerals that your party can forage, depend on the type of region where you’re at.

Finally, the type of region specifies which kinds of dwellings you can find there: mushroom-eaters prefer to settle in ancient forests; cyclops live in caves and catacombs; mermaids are found in lakes and rivers; and so on. Think of it as this: not every ancient forest has a dwelling of mushroom-eaters; but when you find a dwelling of mushroom-eaters, it will be in one of the ancient forests.

Region: Caves.

And what does this all mean for the way you explore the map of Rund?

As you might remember from an earlier blog post, whenever you set up a quest for your disciples, the game will indicate for you the level of danger on that quest. If you’re about to send some weak characters across swamps and ancient forests towards Distorted Lands, you’re likely to see “red” – meaning one or more characters might die on this quest. If you keep the same quest, but change the characters in the party to those who are strong enough, and have the relevant survival skills – you might see the level of danger turn “green”, meaning no risk of death en route.

Your disciples have different advantages and disadvantages on specific region types. So getting to know your disciples better means becoming more efficient in assembling parties to go out to, and through, specific regions.


Locations are points of interest on the map that you can interact with. Here’s some of the more common ones:
  • Villages
  • Towns
  • Towers
  • Hermit quarters
  • Dwellings of non-humans
  • Mutant settlements
  • Sources of magic energy
  • Caves
  • Ruins
  • Catacombs
Some of these are straightforward: you visit the dwelling of weavers to negotiate, trade, fight or enslave them. Some contain sub-locations and sub-regions that you can explore.

For example, your parties may visit town multiple times, and trade there on the market. And then later on you’ll discover that there’s an alchemist store, or a secret book shop – impossible to access until you learn about it. The same applies to locations like caves and catacombs: explore the cave, and you might discover the dwelling of cyclops or pale ones; or buried treasure; or an old grave.

Sub-regions like caves and ruins do not affect visibility or speed of travel, but like the main regions, they define the type of resources you can harvest; the type of chance encounters you might have; and the type of risks associated with them, as well as the types of dwellings that are native to them.

Regoin: Swamps.


Markers indicate information that is tied to a specific place on the map, for example:
  • The place where your party is going to
  • The place where one of your earlier parties disappeared, and stopped communicating
  • The place where one of your earlier parties died
  • The place where something was sighted, for example – somebody’s camp site
  • The place where an event, often temporary, is happening, for example – a forest fire
You also get markers based on information that you learn, such as after hearing in town about a cave in a nearby forest, you’ll get a corresponding marker with this information showing up on the map in the approximate location of such cave.

Like locations, markers show you where you can take action: if this is a grave of your party, you can send disciples to explore the remains and find out what really happened; if this is an event, you can send disciples to discover the details; if this is information that your party learned second-hand, you can send disciples to check it – and so on.


That’s it for this week! See you on the forums, or at the official Discord server – which by now has over 750 players discussing the game in English, Russian, Japanese and Chinese languages!

ːorange_boxː Bonus content: in this video, you can see and hear the Ancient Forests of Rund:


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Spire of Sorcery - Sergei Klimov


It's been a while since we introduced a few of the creatures that you will meet in Spire of Sorcery. It's time to lake a look at some more!


Illustration 1: Tasljuk.

Tasljuk is a medium-sized omnivorous mammal. It eats mostly fallen fruits, and digs for nutritious roots – wherever those can be accessed easily. They inhabit forests, ancient forests, hills and plains. Tasljuks are generally not aggressive (unless they feel threatened or find themselves in the state of panic).

Tasljuks are hunted for food. Their fat is also sometimes used in alchemy, as one of the ingredients for various healing ointments.

Tasljuks can be domesticated. In the Wild Lands, it is quite common to see a number of tasljuks being a part of household animals. Moreover, tasljuks can be trained to search for Hidden Roots – a rare and expensive delicacy, which is a parasitic plant that grows wholly underground; because tasljuks love to eat them, they became extremely good at smelling these out.

A special characteristic of tasljuks is their symbiosis with Death Flower: tasljuks are immune to the hallucination-inducing pollen of this tree, but they enjoy eating its tasty fruits. Because of this, tasljuks help Death Flowers to propagate across the land, depositing its seeds in their poop, often miles away from the place where they ate the fruits in the first place.


Illustration 2: Death Flower.

Death Flower is a carnivorous tree that flowers and bears fruit all through the year. The trunk is rather elegant, covered by a thin layer of reddish bark. The leaves are quite intricate, often described as airy; the flowers are big, intensely yellow; the fruit somewhat resembles a large pear, and darkens when ripened.

The roots of Death Flower are thin and elastic. The tree can extract them from the ground, and uses them to immobilise and consume its victims (the movement of the roots is so slow, that an outside observer will be hard pressed to notice any movement at all).

The flowers of this tree offer a pleasant, sweet smell; their pollen contains a very concentrated hallucination-inducing poison (however, the fruits are safe to eat). When even a microscopic dose of this pollen is inhaled by an animal or by a human, the victim begins to observe a series of attractive mirages, seemingly emanating from the tree itself. In the state of trance, the victim approaches the tree and lays on the ground to sleep. During such sleep, the ever increasing concentration of inhaled poisonous pollen leads to a heart failure, while the roots of the tree pierce the victim's body in multiple points, to drink its blood.

Tasljuks are the only large animal that is immune to the pollen of Death Flower. They love to eat the tree's fruits, helping it spread across the land by depositing its seeds in their poop.

The fruits of Death Flower are an exotic, and very expensive, delicacy; the pollen of Death Flower is a rare, highly valuable ingredient used in alchemy.


Illustration 3: Forest Cat.

Forest Cats are a large predator with greenish fur that makes them difficult to spot in the woods. They inhabit forests and ancient forests, climbing old trees to build large nests that they make from skins and bones of killed prey.

Forest Cats are able to move almost without a sound, often stalking their targets for miles on end. Their preferred approach to attack is jumping from high trees, knocking the victim out before it can even begin to defend itself.

These animals pose a substantial danger to lone travellers attempting to cross forests on their own; however, they rarely attack groups of people, so most parties will be safe.

The skins of Forest Cats are a highly valuable trade item, and are easy to sell on any market. While their teeth find certain use in alchemy, they are neither a strong nor a valuable ingredient.


Illustration 4: Mermaids.

Mermaids are one of the dweller races that were created in the Age of Mages. They were made to tend to valuable underwater plants, and to hunt for larger types of fish. Mermaids live in lakes and rivers.

Their skin is of blueish colour, their bodies are a combination of a female torso and a fish-like lower part. They are viviparous hermaphrodites.

Mermaids are generally known as rather playful creatures, and will often engage in underwater games. One of their favourite pastimes is luring passersby to play with them, and then drowning them as a part of the fun.


Illustration 5: Creepers.

Creepers are medium-sized slimy creatures that have two limbs in the front, and a snake-like tail in the back. To get around, they use a combination of limb and tail movements. Their limbs are strong, ending with sharp fangs that come handy for digging tunnels. Creeper's head is on the small side, and is mostly taken up by a large round mouth surrounded by a number of mobile tentacles.

Some people say that Creepers were created in the Age of Mages for a long-forgotten purpose. Some say that they were created not for help, but rather as a pest – and set to attack the cellars of rival mages. Others think that Creepers were always a part of this world, and existed for centuries – before being disturbed and discovered in their underground tunnels that stretch below the land of Rund.

Creepers prefer humid spaces, from lakeside caves to swamp burrows. Nowadays, they are also found in sewers and cellars, often causing significant damage before being found out. "Complete eradication of creepers" is one of the bestselling services from the Guild of Mages all over the Empire.

Creepers are not choosy eaters. They would eat almost anything, as their gastric juice is able to dissolve even the hardest of materials. When Creepers are defending themselves, or going after a victim, they squirt acid, causing significant burns. In close encounters, they also use their fanged limbs.

The gastric juice of Creepers is used in alchemy as one of the basic ingredients for some of the more potent potions.


Illustration 6: Weavers.

Weavers are the race of dwellers created to produce top-quality cloth. Originally supported by the mages who created them, after the Cataclysm they managed to survive on their own – by using weaving skills to create traps for birds and small animals. With time, they further learned how to breed forest pigeons for their meat and eggs, and how to make poisonous bait in order to hunt larger wild animals.

The bodies of Weavers are generally the size of a rather large pumpkin. The head and the face are human-like, as well as two frontally placed hands. Like spiders, they are able to produce cobwebs, and turn them into cloth. Weavers also posses basic knowledge of alchemy, which allows them to make a large variety of dyes as well as certain poisons.

Weavers love bright colours and often decorate themselves and their dwellings with various coloured patches, flags, feathers and amulets. Their dwellings are typically made of ropes tied around a large tree. In the tree, they would create a hollow to be used as the alchemy lab.


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Spire of Sorcery - Sergei Klimov


In this week’s blog, we’re going to look at the events that preceded the rise of the current Empire and its loyal ally Inquisition: what sort of world has existed before the Cataclysm?


For thousands of years, the known habitable lands were the playground of the Great Mages. Each of these mages ruled their domain like a kingdom of its own, with vastly different laws and customs. With almost unlimited magic energy at their hands, they all focused on one thing they loved the most: creation.

Depending on the personal taste of a specific mage, you could find yourself in heaven – or in hell. And since these highly talented, powerful individuals were also very competitive, they would often engage in creating new creatures or structures not only because they wanted to see their own blueprint come through, but also to outdo their rivals in how magnificent their creations would be when compared to others.

When one mage would erect a Spire of Ice, another would soon beat her with the Spire of Fire, only to be looked down upon by the creator of the Spire of Chaos. When one mage would let into the world a new race that would treat him like their god, the other would breed a race that would go further in their worship, sacrificing their young at the gates of her Spire – impressive for a while, but only until the day when yet another mage would cast beings that needed their creator for their very existence, and would wane and die if denied the chance to see their master for prolonged time.

The Great Mages would often engage in creating new types of dwellers and animals not only because they wanted to see their own blueprint come through, but also to outdo their rivals in how magnificent their creations would be when compared to others.


As the Great Mages dived into the depths of world on their path of discovery, inevitably they had to interact with each other, whether for partnership – where several mages would exchange valuable knowledge in order to advance each other’s progress; or for rivalry –where several mages would come into direct competition for a particular resource or land.

This led to establishment of the first known Councils, where groups of mages would coordinate their efforts, trading off their previously complete independence for a more powerful position of the whole group. This time is known as The Time of Diplomacy.

Alas, some hundreds of years later the diplomacy of the Councils proved to be insufficient as the local conflicts escalated. The more ambitious the Great Mages became in their endeavors, the more magic energy their projects required, and all magic energy came from the same place: the prehistoric Sources, scattered across the land.

Earlier on, you could locate and claim a Source as your own. Later, with every Source in the known lands accounted for, you had little choice if you wanted to expand: you either had to send an expedition beyond the White Peaks or across the Great Ocean – or you had to take over another mage’s Source, based on cunning and, more often, pure force. This time is known as The Time of War.

Finally, the local conflicts flared up to the degree where deals were made between the strongest of the mages to form two super-powers, known as Alliances, that stretched across all of the continent. Where one powerful mage would be able to forcefully appropriate a part of her neighbor’s land, an Alliance wielded the power that could completely wipe out a selected domain and its ruler.

With this change, another shift occurred: all of the ongoing research of Great Mages began to focus exclusively on battle magic, with elaborate defenses and all-piercing attack capabilities consuming the entire pool of their magic energy. Consequently, as the result of this great arms race, local conflicts froze, since the risk of the retaliation for any small act of aggression became too big to gamble with. This time is known as The Time of Peace.

Each of the Great Mages ruled their domain like a kingdom of its own, with vastly different laws and customs.


This quiet period before the storm lasted for nearly 100 years. The earlier formation of the two Alliances speeded up everyone’s progress – as long as a specific discipline lent advantage in attack or defense, it’s been prioritized over pretty much everything else.

Generally, the Great Mages focused on three big areas: their capacity to inflict harm on others; their ability to defend from a threat posed by others; and, finally, the destructive potential of their “last gift”: a curse that would be unleashed immediately after the mage is dead (whether from a deliberate attack, or poisoning, or purely by accident, did not really matter).

Unfortunately for the world at large, most mages progressed the furthest with their attack capabilities, as well as with increasing the power of their death curses, for they believed that the shortest path to efficient defense lies through increasing the risks for the attacker. After a hundred years of this arms race, it was only a matter of time when some random event would trigger the chain reaction of mutual destruction…

Up to date, no one really knows what caused the deadly magic storms and eruptions that are referred to by the survivors as The Cataclysm. What we know, however, is that at some point one of the Great Mages must have been attacked, and with their death, the curse that she created as an insurance against just such an attack, consumed both the attacker and the victim’s domains. Within seconds, the whole world was burning, as simple folks sought refuge as far as possible from the densely populated areas, which became death traps.

After the Cataclysm, those who did not perish in the flames often died of hunger and sickness – or fell prey to more aggressive survivors.


As the ash settled upon the land and the screams of the dying subsided, the world found itself heavily wounded. From the Great Mages, none were known to survive. From the thousands of different races of dwellers and creatures brought to life by the Great Mages, only a hundred or so made it through: most were killed in the Cataclysm; some survived the original events but waned in the aftermath, lacking their masters the mages; and some committed collective suicides upon finding themselves godless.

Suddenly, people – the human folk – found themselves as the new masters of the world. Resigned previously to the role of trepid servants, villagers and townsfolk no longer had any standing orders… until the new power emerged: The Empire.

Curiously, the very foundation of the Empire lays in the peculiar interest of one specific Great Mage, who – seeing his neighbors create elaborate creatures – decided that his own path lies in the opposite direction: that of enhancing the power of human-staffed legions, rather than creating alternative races.

Over the generations, his research resulted in advanced spells and rituals that would lend his legions incredible defensive and attacking capabilities, as well as increase the speed of their travel across the land. And it was one of these legions, that managed to survive almost intact through The Cataclysm.

With distress and misery all over the place, the legion galvanized around itself a sphere of relative stability. In the time of suffering, they offered a chance of healing. In the time of chaos, they offered some protection. And so, with time, their camp became the capital of the new state: The Empire. As the Empire drew in more recruits, it started to expand, taking over surviving towns and their lords – and slaying whatever non-human dwellers they would come across, in the process.

During the Cataclysm, a large area in the east became drastically different from the rest of the world – and stayed that way. This area is known as The Distorted Lands.


Lastly, we must address the matter of the lands that may (or may not) lie across the Great Ocean and beyond the White Peaks. By now, you are already familiar with the official point of view, which states that no survivors are known to have come from these regions, hence no survivors must exist there.

In the recent months, there seems to be a bit of a disagreement about this between the Inquisition and the Empire: while the Empire refuses to spend any resources on the exploration of the faraway lands, treating the idea as a pointless, and even harmful, speculation, the Inquisition is becoming more and more concerned with the prospect of a possible unchecked threat that these lands may pose.

Some of the oldest books seem to imply that in the Age of Mages, there used to be a regular telepathic connection between the mages in the land where the current Empire stretches; and the mages from what was called “the other lands”. But for what it’s worth, there’s currently no way to confirm or deny this.

After a long deliberation, some years ago the Inquisition finally sent three ships across the ocean, under the pretext of exploring the Western Coast (populated by the barbarian tribes). Nobody, and no word, has come back…


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Spire of Sorcery - Sergei Klimov


In this week’s blog, we take a closer look at what exactly is the Guild of Mages and why would any mage firstly want to join it – and secondly, want to run away from it.


Magic is a talent that you’re born with. You either have it – or you don’t. And if you have it, you can possess it in different qualities, as is the case with any other talent such as art or poetry. However, tears flow like a river on the day when any parent discovers that their child has magic talent, for this only means trouble and pain for their whole life.

All magic is the representation of Chaos. When casting a spell or performing a ritual, a mage opens the gates from the plane of the real world to the plane of Chaos, becoming a conductor between the two. This is not without danger. If mage has no education and does not know how to protect themselves, they can burn like a candle. Sometimes the charred bodies of such unfortunate mages are found and their deaths are attributed to accidents. And sometimes the bodies are unharmed, but their souls are gone, so that they continue their lives in a vegetative state until some merciful relative strangles them in their sleep.

Because of these stories, leaving a child with a known magic talent at home, denying them the chance of joining the Guild of Mages in order to learn how to secure themselves during their practice, would be a risky decision.

Illustration 1: When casting a spell or performing a ritual, a mage opens the gates from the plane of the real world to the plane of Chaos, becoming a conductor between the two.

But a bigger risk is actually having them burn at the hands of fellow villagers before they can even cause the same with their own actions: all across the Empire, and especially in the lower social classes, magic talent is seen as a sort of sickness, with mages being responsible for pretty much any unexplainable (or inconvenient) community problems.

This view has been actively promoted by the Inquisition: from the rare history books that present the Cataclysm as the direct consequence of uncontrollable greed of the ancient mages, to the much more common everyday stories, and even special festivals, that directly connect mages and misfortunes of the population.

The biggest such festival happens at the end of each year, when the local Guild of Mages sends to town an unlucky student who then portrays the role of the ancient mage who wants to destroy the world and enslave the villagers. The villagers then proceed to capture and (symbolically) burn such mage, to everyone’s cheer.

Needless to say, festivals like this leave both sides hateful of each other, and occasional lynching of a mage – or someone suspected to be a mage – are not that uncommon. Which is another reason why for a regular mage, being a part of the Guild of Mages sounds like a pretty reasonable life choice.


It seems that the magic talent does not care about the social standing or heritage of a particular person: magically talented kids are born into every kind of family, in every region of the Empire. As everyone knows, mages are sterile (even though this does not affect their libido). For this reason, there are no known “dynasties” of mages, and even in the ancient days, there have been only “schools” made of followers – but never of direct descendants.

Illustration 2: Magic talent is not limited to any social or ethnic group.


The Guild of Mages is directly controlled by the Inquisition. Any person known to possess magic talent has the implied duty to report to the nearest office of the Guild (in the case of minors, the obligation rests with their parents). Failure to submit yourself is considered to be a pretty big problem, and may lead to being branded with hot iron.

Upon acceptance, every recognized mage of the Guild is assigned a bed, a meal plan, and a program of study, reporting to the head of local office that is also responsible for work assignments. Mages are strongly advised to remain within the walls of their local Guild quarters. In rare cases when they do need to venture outside, they must wear a big distinctively colorful pointy hat with a bell. Any mage found outside of the Guild quarters without such hat, is to be branded with hot iron on their forehead.

No spells or rituals can be cast without prior authorization. Generally, Guild of Mages is involved in practicing common magic such as keeping the pests away from the farm fields; summoning rains during the dry season; constructing stone ridges, burrowing tunnels and digging wells. Occasionally, a few mages might be assigned with the Imperial Army, where they work on healing and supporting the sick while on the march.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the main client of the Guild of Mages is the Empire. The money is collected directly to the head office of the Guild while the mages are expected to perform their work – or their duty, to use another term – without expecting anything in return. Rumor has it that closer to the Borderlands, lords hire local Guilds without as much as notifying the head office, and settling the payment directly, which turns out to be significantly cheaper than the standard rates – but who knows, if this is true?


While various dwellers that populate the Wild Lands do possess certain magic, they are not considered to be “mages” since their skill is born with, and not developed based on some raw talent.

As to mutants, they are significantly closer to humans, and you can indeed meet their own mages. Living outside of the reach of the Inquisition, mutant mages both benefit and suffer from this at the same time: there are more accidental deaths, and the learning progress is generally much slower. On the other hand, since mutant mages are able to collect the payments for their services directly, the few known mutant mages are all really well-off.

Illustration 3: Two (of the many) colour concepts of drowners, created to hunt, fish and harvest the swamps.


There is no easy answer to this, so let’s start with what everyone knows – and everyone knows that all the great ancient mages of the past who started the war that lead to the Cataclysm and the creation of the Distorted Lands, have been smashed by their own magic. If there were any survivors, then we don’t know how and where they manage to get by.

A popular theory says that if any of the greats survived, they would have already enslaved the Empire with their all-powerful magic, and since the Empire remains the ultimate ruler of the civilized lands, this proves that no great mages survived in the first place.

Sometimes (after a drink or two) people in the southern ports discuss the lands that lie beyond the ocean: what kind of people live there, and if there are people, then do they also have their own Empire and the Inquisition, or their lands are governed in another way?

But while a great deal of legends does mention “the lands overseas”, nobody currently knows the way to such lands – or has the means to explore, which makes the whole discussion irrelevant (as is the case with most discussions after a drink or two).


There are three on-going concerns for the Inquisition that it tirelessly works on:

1. To locate the runaway mages, of which there are quite a few. It’s been observed that while newly joined mages seem to be agreeable with their quarters and life routine, after they turn 40 or 50 years old, a fraction of them becomes relentless, often to the point of going rogue. What begins with practicing disallowed spells, may end with a whole group of mages disappearing into the night. The current punishment for running away: a public burning of everyone who ran, or helped others to run.

2. To identify and expose the undercover mages, which is a common thing out in the Borderlands. Undercover mages are mages kept by the local lords who, rather than being reported to the Guild, are hidden in their castles, and educated by unauthorized teachers. Having an undercover mage may save you a fortune since you won’t have to pay the Guild for any of the acts of common magic – whether it deals with crops or healing the important members of your family. The current punishment for keeping an undercover mage: a public burning for the mage and their teachers; a confiscation of all properties from the owner of such mage, except for life necessities; a loss of all Imperial titles and awards.

3. To discover and destroy the wild mages. Sometimes kids who possess a magic talent remain unreported for long enough that they have the opportunity to master their own skill. Maybe they are born too far away from any offices of the Guild, and the parents prefer to close their eyes on such a discovery – rather than spend a fortune transporting their own child to god knows where. Or maybe they are born to a family that out of personal experience despises both the Empire and the Inquisition, and does not want to see their kin submitted to one of their institutions. Such wild mages are a real danger since you never know what you can expect of them. The current punishment for harboring a wild mage: a public burning for the mage (which almost never happens as mages prefer to commit suicide rather than allow themselves to be captured for their public execution); a confiscation of all properties of the village or town or other settlement that did not report the mage to the authorities.

Illustration 4: Some of these creatures will become your friends, while others will cause considerable problems for your exploratory parties.


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Spire of Sorcery - Sergei Klimov


In this week's dev blog, we're going to talk about the "lay of the land" – that is, about the basics of the world of Spire of Sorcery that most of its dwellers learn as they grow up. What's the Empire? What happened with non-humans after the Cataclysm? Who lives in the Far West? And why the Watchers are deadly, even though they cannot move and have no teeth or fangs?


If we place the Empire in the middle of the map, with its capital at the centre, then to the north lie the White Peaks. As the elevation increases, there's snow, then ice, and then the peaks and ravines that are made impassable by the wind that blows you off the trail. Who lives there, and what lies beyond the mountains, nobody really knows. Life as it is right now, after the Calaclysm, is already hard enough, and there's no spare money to spend on any sort of exploration, especially if the region is as hostile as the White Peaks are.

Illustration 1: "The Lay of the Land" (a drawing by your disciple Mizegul, whose corpse is currently in the Treasure – awaiting the time when you learn how to bring dead to life).

To the west lie the lands populated by a number of barbarian tribes. On the extreme west, these lands reach the ocean. This region was always fertile, with plenty of fruit and abundant fishing grounds off the coast, which ironically meant that following the war of the mages, there hasn't been really a need for any sort of state to unite the dwellers: since people are able to survive by picking their food in the forests, they tend to go here and there depending on the season, and with their horses getting a plenty of grass wherever they go, they prefer to stay on the move. As such, they don't really have much to do with the Empire: occasionally, a tribe would trade, or fight, with a border settlement, but most times the barbarians remain uninterested in any sort of meaningful interaction with their neighbours.

To the south, the Empire borders on the same Ocean as the barbarian lands of the west. Some of the books – of course, forbidden from mass circulation by the Inquisition – mention lands that lay across that ocean, and visits of mages that dwelled across the water, but since these lands (if we are to believe such books at all!) are really, really far off, there are few means and no desire at all to send anyone to explore them. And what would be the purpose? Years ago, the High Council of the Inquisition debated the issue, and decided against any action in this regard, because of the risk of catching some deadly disease – or leading a potential enemy back home on the expedition's tail.

To the east, the Empire ends and the Wild Lands begin, which after a while merge into the Distorted Lands. The Wild Lands are populated by the mutants. To be honest, nobody likes mutants, and even one group of mutants generally dislikes other groups of mutants.

Illustration 2: A typical village at the edge of the Empire. People are mostly occupied with their own survival, with little time to spare to be curious about the world outside.

Mutants used to be humans who got too much exposure to the stuff of the Distorted Lands: not enough to kill them, but enough to affect their children, and their children's children. Their skills, and their looks, are different from those of regular humans. If they would have the courage to show up in the Empire, they would be murdered on sight, since most in the Empire believe that mutations are some sort of a disease, which can spread across entire villages. Occasionally, mutants would trade with the remote settlements, sending forward the folks that look _almost_ human – well, at least as long as they don't take off their coats or face masks, and if the times are tough or a deal is lucrative enough, the settlers would close their eyes on such a trading partner.

The other dwellers of the Wild Lands are the non-human races that were created centuries and centuries ago by the mages of the ancient times. Those of non-humans that managed to survive the Cataclysm, got attacked by the Inquisition that was looking to "clean" the world of the foul legacy of the mages, so the survivors generally moved north and east until they got out of the Inquisition's reach. What sounds like abomination in the capital of the Empire – say, asking mermaids for help, or buying iron from the cyclops, – tends to be seen as less of a scandal among the lords and villagers at the Empire's eastern border. After all, a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do to get by.

Illustration 3: The Distorted Lands defy description – for in the regular world, there's simply nothing similar to compare them to.

Moving further east and crossing into the Distorted Lands, things change considerably. From the animals that adapted to live in a totally different environment to, well, other things. Take the Watchers, for example. These look like some sort of columns. Sometimes pale, sometimes covered in brilliant colours of all sorts. They are common around Battlefields as well as Black Pools. Intriguing at first, they are in fact deadly – for they are hypnotic, and will put to sleep, and then suck out the living energy of any creature that falls within their range. If you see one (which is highly unlikely), the best thing is to run away as fast as possible, and don't you make the mistake of trying to save anyone in your party who falls prey to them.

The few adventurers who made it into the Distorted Lands and back, talk about something else: a race of intelligent creatures that seem to feel at home in that aggressive environment, called 'morphings' by the mutants. If you thought that mutants were 'different', then it's a challenge to come up with the correct word to describe these: they are highly intelligent; but almost impossible to interact with, as rather than speech or telepathy, they communicate by changing their shapes. Whether they are aggressive or not, is anybody's guess, since when parties disappear in the Distorted Lands, there's no one to follow in their footsteps to confirm the exact way that they have perished.


The Empire is the only state that came together, following the Cataclysm. It's centrally-managed, with the Emperor residing in the capital city and the army doing the rounds across the land. According to the Empire, its rule is built on the goodwill and thankfulness of the population. According to the population, the Empire's grip on power is built on pure brutal force: pay the tribute – or feed the crows with your corpse.

The Emperor presides over a number of regions, with a dual structure of power (though in theory, there's no provision for such duality): there are the Lords, who come from the local communities and represent the strongest families living in their high castles; and there are the Governors, who come from the capital at the appointment of the Emperor. On paper, the Governors preside over the Lords. In real life, it's a sort of a symbiosis: if the Lord denies the direct order of the Governor, the Governor may ask the army to step in, and hang the rebel; though oftentimes "the rebel" might be able to hang the Governor before the army arrives, which creates a delicate balance of the relationship between the Lords and the Governors.

In towns, there's also the institution of the Town Council: an organ elected by the wealthiest citizens to manage practical issues such as bridges, markets and town prisons. Town Councils tend to be very pragmatic and are known to go for some deals that the Governor or the Lord won't even consider – as long as these deals benefit their towns. The other party that can pursue its own agendas in towns is the Guild of Thieves, but little is spoken publicly about their structure since secrecy and exclusivity is at the heart of their success.

Illustration 4: The Inquisition is organised into different ranks, from the simple soldier monks and up to the members of the Council.

Finally, there's the Inquisition, which exists as a parallel structure. In every big town, there's their embassy, and in the capital of the Empire, there's the magnificent Holy City, the main seat and the centre of the Inquisition's power. The Inquisition was born as the response to the Cataclysm, and is seen as the only force that is able to prevent the destruction of the world by reckless, uncontrolled magic. They manage the highly restricted Guild of Mages, the only "ghetto" where anyone with a known magic talent is allowed to live and work – to the benefit of the Inquisition.


We promised to get back to the fate of your faithful disciple Mizegul, who died after contracting swamp fever. He was a long-time follower – but his health was very weak, due to being born to a very poor family and often going hungry when he was a small kid.

With his corpse safely stored in the Treasury, you can be certain that no rat (or worse) decides to nab at him while you progress with the Healing Magic far enough to learn how to Rise Dead. We must note that while rising dead is a way of bringing back the loved ones, they generally return with a few perks that are anything but nice; as well as with a crippled will to live, which may cause prolonged depression (and even a suicide).

Your experience with Mizegul goes back to your days at the Guild of Mages, when he got accepted as a younger student and you took him under your wing, seeing that he’s been in a bind. Already thinking that at some point you both will run away, you put a lot of effort into teaching him Battle Magic – something that is normally prohibited at the Guild.

What exactly happened to Mizegul before he got apprehended by the Inquisition, he did not like to tell. So you had to guess a few things to fill the gaps. Coming from a low social background, his childhood was anything but happy, and when he finally ran away, nobody really missed the extra mouth to feed at the table.

To survive, he resorted to stealing – using a few ‘tricks’ that were actually simple domestic magic, and was eventually caught. Luckily for him, the guards who got him saw him for what he was: an uneducated mage, and so instead of sending him to a dungeon, they handed him off to the Inquisition, which placed him with the Guild of Mages.

It’s quite a common theme for the kids born to poor families not to recognize their magic talent, which may have fatal consequences: if left untrained, these mages may hurt themselves in a bad way. Since mages are the conduits between the Chaos and the real world, they may burn like a candle when casting spells without protection.

You did your best to teach him how to properly practice magic, but you failed to take into account his weak constitution when sending him on that swamp quest… So now we’ll have to just wait a little, until you can rise him from the dead. He certainly won’t be the same old friend you knew before his death, but he might still be so much better than any new disciple who could take his spot at the Spire.


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