They call Ptolus 'The City by the Spire' but just what is this Spire? This book, firmly reserved for DMs only, spills the beans. What everyone knows is that it's the most foul and evil place in the entire world of Praemal (if you've located Ptolus in your own campaign world, there may be nastier places, but it is quite unlikely!). This work is to be found in the main Ptolus sourcebook as well as a part of the series of Ptolus PDFs that have been released separately, and is cross-referenced for both for ease of use.
The Spire is home to two fortresses. At least I suppose that's the best term for them. They might be lairs. Or the sort of strongholds a Bond villain might have if he lived in a fantasy world. One is Goth Gulgamel or the 'Castle of Darkness'. It is a place of evil and rather a lot of power, and is rumoured to contain evils so ancient that nobody remembers them any more. The other is Jabel Shammar, right at the top of the Spire, and it's plain nasty... and strangely, is even older than the Spire itself! For each, there's loads of background telling how it came to be and who's there now, and atmospheric material to help you get a feel of what it's like for those crazy or brave (or both) enough to visit... if they can. Apparently you can climb the Spire and will find that the doors of Goth Gulgamel are actually unlocked. However, nobody who did that has ever come back.
Both locations are mapped and described in detail, along with their denizens. There are many 'DM tips' pointing out game mechanics that are applicable and other hints for running any visit to best effect. There is immense power here, most of it malignant (especially for good-aligned folk), quite mind-warping and corrupting if you are not careful. It recommended that Jabel Shammar is used as the ultimate climax to a campaign... for a start, a party needs to be very high level to even contimplate going there. The very forces of evil operate here in vile forms. Don't even think about trying to clean it out - even the Gods themselves could do no more than sequester it from the world, containing the evil within. There are things that can be done by a party powerful and determined enough, however... if they survive.
Make no bones about it, these are two tough dungeons to visit, and it will take powerful, high-level parties to survive. Yet for truly epic and climatic scenes, that's precisely what you need.
Return to Ptolus: The Spire page.
Reviewed: 4 February 2018