Ever since the ancient wars of mages, the world has been a dark place. As to the Distorted Lands, regular folk avoid them like plague. Yet this is now your new home. Your magic powers bid disciples from all over the land to come look for you. Other forces are looking for you, too – and their intent is much darker.
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Release Date:
Q2 2019

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Early Access Game

Get instant access and start playing; get involved with this game as it develops.

Note: This Early Access game is not complete and may or may not change further. If you are not excited to play this game in its current state, then you should wait to see if the game progresses further in development. Learn more

What the developers have to say:

Why Early Access?

“With our previous game (Gremlins, Inc.) we already went through 6 months of Early Access ahead of the full release – and we loved it! The community feedback that we received, lead to new features and improved balance of the game.

With Spire of Sorcery, our plan is the same: we will release the game, publish the development roadmap, and then will adjust our development plans according to the feedback that we receive from our core Steam community – with frequent updates and regular blog entries.”

Approximately how long will this game be in Early Access?

“We plan that Spire of Sorcery will be in Early Access between 6 and 12 months.

However, as with our previous Steam release, we plan to keep updating Spire of Sorcery for many months (and even years!) after the full release. The day of the full release will be the day when we're confident that we arrived at version 1.0 of our game design objective; and then we will just continue updating the game as usual.”

How is the full version planned to differ from the Early Access version?

“In terms of content, the full release version of the game will have the bells and whistles that the Early Access version will not have at its launch date: unique icons and illustrations for different types of events and items; more music and more sound effects; more events in general.

In terms of game mechanics, the full release version of the game might have advanced levels of gameplay built on top of the core mechanics – depending on how we progress with the balancing of the overall player experience, and whether we find these extra layers of gameplay necessary.

In terms of user interface, the full release version of the game will definitely have multiple improvements based on what we discover during thousands of games completed by the community during the Early Access period.”

What is the current state of the Early Access version?

“When Spire of Sorcery launches in Early Access in 2019, the game will be fully playable at its core level: recruit disciples, teach them and discover their personalities and traits; upgrade your spire and manage your resources; send parties on quests across the global map of the world and receive reports; conduct research and otherwise manage your mage's time. Finally, the game will already have a final stage and you will be able to win (or lose) the main campaign.”

Will the game be priced differently during and after Early Access?

“Like with our previous project, we plan to increase the price once the game transitions from Early Access to full release.”

How are you planning on involving the Community in your development process?

“The close involvement of the Steam community is the sole reason behind our decision to launch Spire of Sorcery first in Early Access. During the Early Access period of our previous game, we already developed the tools that allow us to process player feedback and synchronise our development priorities with what the community feels might benefit the project the most – in a transparent way. We are used to releasing updates as often as every 2 weeks, in order to keep up to speed to the community feedback.

Our first game would not be the same without the many contributions (large and small) of dedicated players from different regions around the world. We know that we can design, develop and deliver a great original game – but we also know that we cannot predict all of the aspects that will make it truly enjoyable experience that will give players 100+ hours of terrific player experience, and this is where the involvement of our community is truly irreplaceable!”
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Available: Q2 2019

 

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March 18

#47 – FORESTS OF RUND



Earlier in the week, we celebrated the third anniversary since the release of our studio’s previous game, Gremlins, Inc., on Steam. In that time, we released nearly 100 updates with new content and new features for the game, as well as posted over 300 news stories.

With Spire of Sorcery, our plans are no less ambitious: we see the future launch of this game in Early Access (current expectations: some time before or around June 2019) as the beginning of the way rather than as the end of our development process.

As a somewhat seasoned developer (Charlie Oscar turns 5 years this year!), we have the knowledge and the skills to shape the game according to our game designer’s vision. But we also understand that with a complex design like that of Spire of Sorcery, there will be many more surprises and discoveries once the game is in the hands of players.

We’re pretty certain that a lot of truly great ideas will arrive only after the game enters its Early Access period, and we really look forward to that time!




REGULAR FORESTS AND ANCIENT FORESTS

The Cataclysm that marked the end of the Age of Mages, destroyed most of the civilization on the planet: cities turned to ruins, roads disappeared under the fallen ash. As the world lay abandoned, new forests took over any space that they could reclaim.

A few hundred years later, as the young Empire started digging itself out of the rubble and slowly expanding its reach to the west and to the east, it found these new forests useful for foraging and lumbering.

As to the forests that existed prior to the Cataclysm, they proved to be too difficult to traverse and too dangerous to explore. From the non-human dwellers of the past that still reside there to the century-old traps still set around ruins and monoliths, these ancient forests still keep – and protect – their secrets really well.


REGULAR FORESTS

This very first sketch of the Regular Forest biome.

Regular Forests cover most of the central part of Rund. Some of the larger animals that live in these biomes are Tasljuks, Forest Cats and Gigglers.

As we developed the concept of the Regular Forest biome, we experimented with different shapes and colors.

While Regular Forests may contain Monoliths, Idols, Ruins and even Sources, the chance of discovering such objects is quite low.


The final version of the biome that you will see in the game.

Regular Forests are a good source of berries and mushrooms, as well as of wood. Small and mid-sized game can be hunted for meat, hides and fur. Of the specific plants, one can find here belladonna, amanita and demon mushrooms, as well as hemlock, burnet and snakehead. All of these are useful alchemic ingredients.

These are some of the resources that you can collect in the Regular Forest, as well as some of the creatures that you may meet there.

Disciples of the Spire who travel through Regular Forests have a risk of encountering parties of hunters and lumberjacks, who may identify them as runaway mages and subsequently report them to the Inquisition in their home villages.


ANCIENT FORESTS

Some of the first sketches of the Ancient Forest biome (here they also show a dwelling of Mushroom-eaters).

Ancient Forests cover the eastern part of Rund, from north to south, ending only where Distorted Lands begin at the very edge of the world. Besides Tasljuks, Forest Cats and Gigglers, Ancient Forests are home to Blackpaws, Weepers, Bleeders, Weavers and Mushroom-eaters.

As we developed the concept of the Ancient Forest biome further, we experimented with different shapes and colors.

Ancient Forests hide Monoliths, Idols, Ruins and Sources.

Here you can see how we fine-tuned the colors in the final version of the Ancient Forest biome; the last image is what you will see in the game.

In addition to all the plants available in the Regular Forests, in Ancient Forests one can also find raven’s eye, hidden root, eye-flower, clathrus ruber and the deathflower tree.

This illustration shows some of the resources that you can collect in the Ancient Forest biome as well as some of the creatures that live there.

Traveling through the Ancient Forest takes significantly longer than traveling through the Regular Forest. There is a higher chance of accidents as well as the risk of encountering poisonous flora. Finally, disciples of the Spire who travel through the Ancient Forests may encounter not only non-human dwellers (who could be neutral or aggressive), but also parties of adventurers that are not bound by any laws of Rund and can take advantage of a weaker party.

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That’s it for today! As always, for updates on work in progress, please check the game’s official Discord server.



:summer_magic: Spire of Sorcery – Character Generator (Steam)
:summer_magic: Official Discord server
:summer_magic: YouTube recordings of the development live streams
:summer_magic: Twitter (game updates)
:summer_magic: Facebook (game updates)



:malice: Official Discord server
:malice: Twitter (game updates)
:malice: Facebook (game updates)
:music: Original Soundtrack on Spotify



:notebook: Charlie Oscar’s developer page on Steam
:notebook: Twitter (studio news)
:notebook: Facebook (studio news)
:notebook: "Behind the scenes" Instagram
:notebook: YouTube
19 comments Read more

March 8

#46 – CREATURES



It’s been another week of development here at Charlie Oscar in Vilnius Old Town.

Some issues that we solved were pretty straightforward – we added two more character states to the system, for example (“sleepy” and “lowered health”, both are meant to draw your attention to irregularities with those who display them).

Other issues make us sit back, pour some strong tea, and scratch our heads as we ponder on possible solutions – which is the case with the question of “how big should the forests of Rund really be?”.

On one hand, nobody wants to spend months finding their way out of the ancient forest where the Spire is located. At the same time, having the Spire placed within just a few days of travel from the nearby villages makes it dangerously close to the Empire, with a high risk of detection once we introduce military patrols and bands of adventurers.

Balancing issues like this can take days of on-and-off thinking, discussions and trials – such is the life of a game developer! But if we want to release a game that will make you happy, we need to ask ourselves all the hard questions before we release it. And so, we pour more tea, and we keep the discussions going…

Today, we take a break from talking about the features of the game to catch up on a few new creatures that our team has added to the game over the last few weeks –


THE PROCESS

When we start working on a new creature, we always start with the game design.

Our game designer’s strong suit is designing “systems” and in Spire of Sorcery each creature is a system of its own, with multiple functions.

At this time, we have a little over twenty different creatures already drawn and colorized, complete with animations and sound effects. At the same time, we have many more in the plan, and we keep adding them on a regular basis.

Once we select the next creature to be drawn, we discuss its history, the biomes that it inhabits and its functions in the world of Rund, and then Rita – our concept artist – proceeds with the first concepts. Normally, we create at least three different versions so that we can have more choice about which direction to take.



After everyone on the team agrees on the concept that we want to pursue further, the concept undergoes multiple iterations and fixes based on the feedback of the team until it's final. Some ideas are fleshed out pretty easily and for some it can take up to 10 different drawings while we search for “the right” look and feel.



Finally, once we settle on a finished sketch that we consider to be properly reflecting the nature of the creature, we move from concept to line art. Line art has many more details and offers a lot more depth. It normally takes 3 to 5 revisions before we are done with this step.



With the final line art (“approved”, as we say internally), we move to colorization. More often than not, one artist creates the concept and the line art and another works on the colors.

Coloring may sound fun! But actually, it’s a pretty challenging work, and may require as many as 30 (yes, thirty) different versions before the job is done.



What are we looking for, when we colorize creatures? A lot of things: the creature should look alive; the creature should fit the biomes that it inhabits; and, the creature should match the art style of all the other creatures that are already done by now. Working with multiple artists on the same project means that we have to create and follow quite strict stylistic guidelines.


WOOD WEEPERS



A long time ago, one of the mages used to turn his enemies (as well as some of his servants and disciples) into trees bound for hundreds of years of never-ending pain. Their souls remained alive and alert, and they could talk – but they could not move, nor could they escape their torture by finding a quick death. They became known as Wood Weepers.

Since then, hundreds of years have passed, and the original trees eventually rotted away and fell apart. But not before bearing siblings, which grew up knowing nothing except constant suffering as they continue to experience pain in every moment of their existence.



Wood Weepers are a source of “weeper’s blood”, an alchemic ingredient. They can also be negotiated with, since they remain intelligent as well as retain certain ancient knowledge inherited from their parents (which can prove valuable). Interaction with Wood Weepers is prone to make the other party depressed (unless that party is immune to empathy) since the worldview of Wood Weepers is colored in pain, and they mostly bemoan and complain about their lives.

Ultimately, one may learn how to release Wood Weepers from their prisons – either giving them a human form or providing them with a clean and painless death – but since such knowledge requires an extremely high skill, it may remain only a theoretical possibility.




EARTH LEECHES



Earth leeches are a hive creature with one collective mind. They inhabit wetlands – swamps, riversides and lakeshores. While the queen at all times remains in a protected underground nest, regular leeches sleep during the day and hunt during the night. Their size is roughly the size of a small cucumber.

Hunting in packs, leeches detect prey by heat and approach their victim by quietly moving under the ground. Mostly, their victims are sleeping animals or humans. The bite of earth leech is painless because of the special saliva. Depending on the strength of the victim, sometimes it would die because of the loss of blood – and sometimes it would wake up in the morning to a tough case of anemia.



The saliva of earth leeches is widely used in alchemy as a painkiller ingredient. Dried leeches are also used when preparing certain potions and powders.

Characters with strong travel skill and in particular characters with the secondary skill of survival normally can avoid the danger of setting up camp in an area that’s exposed to earth leeches. Otherwise, certain damage may be incurred; and if a wounded character is exposed, they may not survive the attack.




BLACKPAWS



Blackpaws live in packs and inhabit hollows and burrows. They prefer to sleep through the days as their sensitive eyes prefer full or partial darkness. They are omnivores and maintain a diverse diet. When feeling threatened, blackpaws sound a loud alarm that attracts the attention not only of their own peers, but also that of larger animals, including predators.



Blackpaws may be hunted for their meat and hides, though considering their medium size and their advanced agility, it generally is not a very efficient investment of a hunter’s time.

By their nature, blackpaws are attracted to bright, shiny things and they are known to steal equipment from camps and lone travelers. Because of this, some people specifically seek out the hollows and the burrows where blackpaws reside, often finding there valuable loot stolen by the creatures and accumulated there over the years.




GIGGLERS



Gigglers are scavengers, roughly the size of a dog, who live in small packs. Their name comes from the human-like giggling sounds that they produce when fighting for food. Generally, they pick up on the dead, but they are also known to attack sick or weak animals and humans.

The main risk posed by gigglers, though, is the many diseases for which they serve as a carrier. This is so well-known that “giggler’s head” is Rund’s universal symbol for a disease, often painted on the doors of the houses with incurably sick or highly contagious persons.



Certain parts of gigglers are used in alchemy (but with care, requiring a high level of skill to extract and apply such ingredient). If your party travels through the area inhabited by gigglers, you run a higher risk of getting infected; and if your party is small and has weak members, the risk of a direct attack can also be rather significant.






TREE BLEEDERS



Tree bleeders are parasites found in ancient forests. Their spiky external side mimics tree bark and is practically indistinguishable from a regular tree, except for a big yellow eye that observes the surroundings (sometimes people report “trees that are alive”, mistaking a tree infected with a bleeder for a tree that has an eye of its own). Their internal side is one big mouth, surrounded by small but sharp teeth.

Tree bleeders attach themselves to a tree, burrow a hole and suck the tree’s juices; once the supply diminishes, they fall down, roll into the like of a dry branch, and slowly move towards the next tree in the area. In dry seasons, tree bleeders are known to attack animals and even humans by shooting their poisoned spikes from the shell, as their thirst and hunger drives them to whatever can offer sustenance, be it a tree or a warm body of a walking creature.



The teeth of tree bleeders are used in alchemy as well as in setting up traps. The danger of tree bleeders is not only active (possible aggression during dry seasons when they shoot spikes), but also passive – even an accidental close contact with their spikes leads to bleeding and poisoning.





That’s it for today! As always, for updates on work in progress, please check the game’s official Discord server.

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:summer_magic: Spire of Sorcery – Character Generator (Steam)
:summer_magic: Official Discord server
:summer_magic: YouTube recordings of the development live streams
:summer_magic: Twitter (game updates)
:summer_magic: Facebook (game updates)



:malice: Official Discord server
:malice: Twitter (game updates)
:malice: Facebook (game updates)
:music: Original Soundtrack on Spotify



:notebook: Charlie Oscar’s developer page on Steam
:notebook: Twitter (studio news)
:notebook: Facebook (studio news)
:notebook: "Behind the scenes" Instagram
:notebook: YouTube
14 comments Read more
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OFFICIAL DISCORD SERVER



Spire of Sorcery has its official Discord server, where we share our work in progress on the project. Use this link to join the community – or click on the image above!

CHARACTER GENERATOR ALREADY AVAILABLE!



Spire of Sorcery – Character Generator, a free standalone companion tool for the game, is already available on Steam! Download it here, create your own characters – and share them with the community!

About This Game



In this original mix of strategy and RPG designed by Alexey Bokulev (author of turn-based strategy Eador. Genesis and digital board game Gremlins, Inc.), you will:

  • expand and upgrade your magic spire, balancing the needs to research, craft and defend;
  • choose and teach your disciples, discovering their personal traits and collaboration capacities when matched in parties and sent on quests;
  • explore the vast open world stretching from the Empire to the Distorted Lands, seeking new knowledge, resources and sources of power – as well as establishing relations with the locals.
But above all else, you will try to survive: the troops of the Inquisition are roaming the land, hunting for runaway mages; and dwellers of the lawless wild, human and not, are on the lookout for easy prey.

Yet your most powerful enemy is neither of those. It is the time itself – the approaching death from old age. Only one thing can save you: the elixir of youth. Several ancient manuscripts mention it in passing... There must be a way to learn the formula. There must be a way to obtain the ingredients... Before it's too late.

THE ANCIENT WARS OF MAGES


A long time ago, powerful mages ruled these lands. They moved rivers, they summoned monsters, they created new races of non-human servants for their own needs and pleasures... They also waged wars. It is one of these wars that brought the whole world to the very brink of collapse. Whole regions burned and mountains melted as thousands of souls screamed in torture. In the end, the great mages completely destroyed each other, and as they died, their final curses tore the land apart, creating anomalies that we nowadays call the Distorted Lands. Places that a few dare to visit. Places where abnormal is the norm.

THE INQUISITION


The suffering of the people following the last war had been so great that once the world cooled down from the violent storms, one of the very first groups to rise from the burning ruins was the order of the Inquisition. Said to be more powerful than the Emperor himself, this order is focused on controlling each and every person who possesses any magic powers – and on hunting down those runaway mages that seek to practice the forbidden skill. To the Inquisition, magic powers are a curse, and any practice of these outside of the strictly licensed guild is a sin punishable by torture and death.

THE EMPIRE


As the troops of the Inquisition were making the first arrests, a new state – the Empire – was proclaimed in the part of the world least touched by the war. Officially, the Empire stretches from the coastline and to the mountains, and, with a number of strongholds, provides protection to the population otherwise besieged by all sorts of rogues. Unofficially, the Empire's influence starts to fade even before you leave the capital's gates, and by the time you're in the wild lands, the decisions of local lords always count so much more than anything that the imperial court may try to impose.

THE SPIRE


Until recently, you were an ageing mage casting simple spells under the strict control of the Guild. As years passed by, this satisfied you less and less. You started to look for books that held secret knowledge, studying them when no one could see you... until the day of the surprise search in your rooms. Ever since, you've been on the run, escaping the Inquisition by moving to the only region which even they avoid: the Distorted Lands.

Here, on the edge of the wild lands, you cast the forbidden spell for Spire of Sorcery and, tapping into the source of power, erected your new home: a magic fortress bound to you alone. You and the spire are connected so close that when one falls, the other follows. This is the domain that you can never leave. Yet from here you can still explore the whole world – with the help of your disciples.

Build, upgrade and customise rooms of the spire: libraries and herbal gardens, classrooms and prisons, living rooms and monster kennels, laboratories and warehouses, treasury and caverns, observatory and watchtower – your priorities define the capabilities of your spire and shape your strategy of exploration and survival.

TEACH!


As you develop your spire, disciples start to arrive at your door. Some heard your magic Call; some just heard about you from their friends. At first, you don't know much about them except for their looks and what they choose to tell you. With limited number of living rooms in the spire, will you prefer to accept a farmer's daughter distressed by her own magic powers – or a dedicated student of arcane who yearns for new knowledge, even though his skill is on a lesser scale?

Some of these disciples come to you to escape repressions. Some seek the light of wisdom. And some come in the pursuit of greater personal power. As you accept and teach them, you will discover their true personalities and find them fitting roles in your spire. One will become a great explorer, traveling fast and surviving any hardships. Another will become a gifted gardener, and secure your supply of the rarest ingredients. Yet another will become a traitor, trying to poison you.

Select, teach and direct your disciples on the quests inside and outside the spire. Your choice of strategy may yield a few powerful young mages focused on deep research into the elixir of youth – or an army of simpletons excavating artefacts all over the land, looking for the books lost in the ancient wars.

EXPLORE!


Legends claim that back in the days of the powerful mages, there were spheres that could show you what happened all the way across the mountains – and that through them, you could even converse with others. Nowadays, one hardly knows what happens across the river, as the wild lands are overtaken by rogues and monsters. But perhaps one day you will re-discover these long-lost magic artefacts of the past?

With disciples ready to depart on the quests of your bidding, ancient ruins and abandoned mines will reveal their mysteries to those who survive the expeditions. By sending parties and setting their goals, you will map dwellings, points of interest and sources of power. Your disciples will meet rogues and vagabonds, settlers and lords, animals and monsters. Through the eyes of your students, you will discover the non-human races of the past as well as the few ancient creatures from the pre-war era who continue to prowl in the wild, accumulating greater and great powers.

Explore the open world created anew each time when you start the campaign, charting new lands and deciphering new secrets. Maybe your brightest disciples will go missing in the Distorted Lands, lured by the innocent-looking fluters; or maybe they will befriend the many-handed Librarian and unlock his treasure trove of manuscripts? The story of the campaign is yours to write.

SURVIVE!


Here in the wild lands, bandits and gangs are a fix of the local landscape. Looking for the weak, they will move to an easier prey once you step up your spire's defense. As to the local dwellers, not everyone appreciates a mage moving in, and quite a few may try to claim the contents of your cellars. Not to mention seasoned adventurers on the mission to raid a castle or two (and make it off with the artefacts).

As your spire gains notoriety, it will start to attract more visitors, including stronger private armies – as well as the troops of the Inquisition, who never forget or forgive. And as your disciples travel the world, other dangers will loom: from illnesses contracted far away on a quest and brought back to the spire by the returning disciples to dangerous spells triggered by the explorers, which can range from having a few ghosts to having to battle a full-blown death curse. Your old age is approaching, too, rendering you fragile... until one day you become too weak to defend the spire.

Survive the immediate dangers while looking for the formula and ingredients of the only thing that can offer you the truly lasting power – the elixir of youth. Whether you find it, craft it or trade it, this is the item that will decide the ultimate success or failure of your campaign!

System Requirements

    Minimum:
    • OS: Windows 7/8/10
    • Processor: Intel 2.3Ghz
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Intel Iris 5000
    • DirectX: Version 9.0
    • Network: Broadband Internet connection
    • Storage: 1 GB available space
    • Sound Card: Internal
    Recommended:
    • OS: Windows 7/8/10
    • Processor: Intel i5 / similar AMD or higher
    • Memory: 8 GB RAM
    • Graphics: GeForce 7XX / similar Radeon or higher
    • DirectX: Version 11
    • Network: Broadband Internet connection
    • Storage: 1 GB available space
    • Sound Card: Internal

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