Arcana of the Ancients, a 5e science-fantasy sourcebook

Created by Monte Cook Games

Bring the wonders of Numenera, with its mysterious technology and weird science-fantasy elements, to your 5e campaign with Arcana of the Ancients.

Latest Updates from Our Project:

Arcana of the Ancients Heads to Press!
about 1 month ago – Thu, Jan 16, 2020 at 02:25:55 AM

Great news! Arcana of the Ancients goes to press next week. Layout is complete and in the very final round of proofing, and the book looks really great. Everything continues on schedule for an on-time March delivery!

We have some page spreads to show you, but first here’s some other news you might be interested in.

What about the Other Books?

Arcana of the Ancients itself isn’t the only project we’ve been working on. We’ve already moved ahead substantially on several of the other books. But since the other books rely on the mechanics and systems developed for Arcana of the Ancients, we needed to finalize it before we could do the bulk of the work on the others. So there will be a brief lull as those products move forward, but expect a flurry of releases as we head into the summer!

The Arcana of the Ancients deluxe edition will ship with the standard edition in March.

The next item we’ll deliver is the Jade Colossus Conversion Guide. Design work on this is largely done, so it heads into editing and layout soon. Look for it in June.

Beneath the Monolith brings the fascinating Ninth World setting to 5e. It’s scheduled for delivery in mid-summer.

Next up is Beasts of Flesh and Steel. It will be out in early fall, followed not too far behind by the final title you funded, Where the Machines Wait.

Everything is on track and on schedule, and we’re really happy with how it’s turning out!

 Arcana of the Ancients Free Preview (and Preorders)

As we close in on the release of Arcana of the Ancients, we’ll open it up for preorders next week. If you know gamers who would like the book, but missed out on the Kickstarter, this is their chance to reserve a copy and even get it before the street date. (We fulfill to Kickstarter backers first, of course, but typically we ship preorders before the general release as well.) Preorders will go live on Wednesday of next week.

If you like the page spreads we’re showing off below, and want a closer look, we’ll offer a free preview of Arcana of the Ancients next week as well. Just visit the MCG Shop, go to the Arcana of the Ancients preorder page, and you’ll be able to download it for free from there.

Announcing Ptolus for 5e!

If you’re a fan of Monte’s, or just a Fifth Edition player who loves richly detailed, highly creative settings tailored for the game, we’re making an announcement tomorrow that might interest you.

We’re bringing Monte’s legendary campaign setting, Ptolus, to 5e!

Originally published in 2006 for the d20 System, Ptolus is the massive setting derived from Monte’s personal D&D campaign, played over the course of several years with a veritable who’s who of luminary D&D and d20 designers at the table. It sold out almost instantly, and has held a legendary place in the minds of RPG gamers ever since.

Ptolus: Monte Cook’s City by the Spire will be released in two versions: one for 5e, and one for the Cypher System. Both versions, like the original, will be 672 pages long in a premium-quality hardcover. And like the original, they’ll also include loads of additional content in the form of physical handouts and digital materials, for a total of around 800 pages.

Sign up to be notified of the Kickstarter launch, and read more about Ptolus (including some of Monte’s thoughts on revisiting this seminal setting) in this article at the MCG website.

And Now a Peek inside Arcana of the Ancients 

Here’s a look at some page spreads. We’re just wrapping up final proofing this week, so these are unproofed. We’re really happy with this book—thanks for making it happen, and we hope you love it as much as we do!

Design Work Is Done!
4 months ago – Sat, Oct 19, 2019 at 03:07:48 AM

In our last update, the always-awesome Bruce Cordell talked about the design process for Arcana of the Ancients.

That work is now all done—Arcana of the Ancients is designed! The final portion of design and writing—an adventure by Monte—was completed last week. Arcana of the Ancients now moves into editing and playtest. If playtesting and early access is one of your rewards, you should have received an email from us last week with details on how to get started.

So where do we go from here? In broad strokes, here’s the process:

  • Arcana of the Ancients will be in the hands of playtesters for the next several weeks. At the same time, the editor is also going over it.
  • In November we’ll roll all of that feedback into the manuscript, and then it goes into layout. Words and art will combine with page design to make it all beautiful and easy to use.
  • Once we have a complete layout, the book will spend a few weeks in proofing.
  • And then it’s off to press in December!
  • Printing will take until about the end of January. Arcana of the Ancients will reach our warehouse some time in February, and we’ll fulfill it to you shortly thereafter!

So we’re on track nicely for delivery in March, as promised in the Kickstarter. In fact, it’s possible we’ll beat that commitment by a couple of weeks—though that’s not a promise. Yet.

A Couple of Other Things You Might Find Interesting

If you’re excited about Arcana of the Ancients, you might be interested in a few other cool projects we’ve been working on:

The new Cypher System Rulebook is now out. The Cypher System is the critically acclaimed game engine that powers any campaign in any genre. You may have heard of it as the system that drives the award-winning Numenera roleplaying game. Lauded for its elegance, ease of use, flexibility, and narrative focus, the Cypher System unleashes the creativity of GMs and players with intuitive character creation, fast-paced gameplay, and a uniquely GM-friendly design. It’s easy to learn, super easy to GM, and lets you run virtually any game you can imagine. And it’s available now!

If you didn’t catch the Numenera: Liminal Shores Kickstarter campaign, we have good news for you: BackerKit is now open, and you can make a late pledge and still get in on the awesome deals offered during the campaign. The titles funded through this campaign take you into the datasphere and to the edge of the sun itself, revealing many secrets of the prior worlds along the way. There will never be another chance to get in on these Kickstarter-exclusive opportunities. Hurry—BackerKit closes in a couple of weeks!

A Peek into the Design Process
7 months ago – Fri, Aug 09, 2019 at 11:54:39 PM

It’s August, and the entire MCG team has recently returned from Gen Con. It was a great show, but as exciting as The Best Four Days in Gaming are, we’ve been even more excited this summer to be delving into the design work on Arcana of the Ancients.

Arcana of the Ancients saw a bit of preliminary design several months ago, but with a few other projects cleared off the deck, the design team plunged into it full time at the beginning of the summer. We’re now designing at full speed.

For instance, in our last design team meeting, we kicked around the nature of cyphers, artifacts, and “cybernetics” as they would be presented in the book. We decided we had some leeway to make them more their own thing, rather than trying to narrowly define them within the pre-existing 5E magic item environment. We need them to work within that rules environment, yes, but we also want them to retain their unique and inscrutable “Ancients” character.

We also discussed the amazing array of art available for use in the book. The only issue, if you can call it that, is that we have so much great art that it’ll be hard to choose what to include. So we’ll put a little bit more art onto each spread. At 304 pages, this weighty tome promises to be not only incredibly useful, but also beautiful.

As you can imagine, the effort of conversion between two different game systems isn’t 100% straightforward. Some decisions have to be made about how a particular Cypher System/Numenera ability should be presented in a 5E context. And once they’re made, those decisions have to be remembered. That's why we also built a conversion style sheet, which is proving super useful not just for the main book, but also as we go forward to write the other books that follow Arcana of the Ancients. And it will prove vital, I think, to our editors, who’d otherwise be at sea without a guide star.

All of us on the design team agree: it’s fun to be back working on 5E-related material. We can’t wait for you to see what we create!

—Bruce R. Cordell

Numenera Reaches for Liminal Shores

Speaking of what we create, we have something new coming up. If you like what you see, click through!

BackerKit Closing Soon, Gen Con, and Other News
7 months ago – Tue, Jul 16, 2019 at 01:43:08 AM

It’s summer, and that’s always a busy time for us as we gear up for Gen Con. (There’s more on that below.) We have a bunch of new releases for Numenera, Invisible Sun, and even No Thank You, Evil! this month and next. And of course we’re also hard at work on the initial phases of Arcana of the Ancients

Speaking of which, BackerKit for Arcana of the Ancients closes next week. BackerKit is a critical part of getting your rewards to you—it’s how we get key information that Kickstarter doesn’t provide us. If you haven’t filled out BackerKit, please do so right away!

Check your email for your invitation—it was sent last month. If you can’t find it, go here and enter your Kickstarter email address to receive a new survey link via email.

While you’re there, if there’s anything we offered during the campaign that you didn’t back for, you can add it on or upgrade your pledge to include it. All the great Kickstarter deals and pricing are available in BackerKit, but once it closes they’re gone forever!

Numenera and Invisible Sun Are Up for Multiple Ennie Awards

Voting on the annual ENnie Awards is now open. If you like our work, you may be pleased to hear that the Numenera Discovery and Destiny Slipcase Set has been nominated for several awards, as has our other big release of last year, Invisible Sun. We’re really proud of both of these titles. (We're also gratified by nominations for Slaves of the Machine GodRuin DeckSecrets of Silent Streets, and even our organized play program, Cypher Play!) If you agree that they’re among some of the best RPG products of the past year, please make your voice heard and vote!

Going to Gen Con?

We’ll be there too! We’re running loads of great games (as we do every year) and exciting seminars (ditto). But did you know that this year, Monte and Shanna are both Industry Guests of Honor at Gen Con?

Stop by our booth and check out some of the rarities, new releases, and other items you might not be able to find elsewhere. Say Hi to the team, and maybe grab an autograph or two. And don’t miss An Evening with MCG! You can find all the details at the MCG website.

Preorders for Your Best Game Ever Close Soon!

Preorders for Your Best Game Ever are still open—but only for a few more days. This is a really fantastic book, penned by Monte with contributions from dozens of other designers from across the RPG industry. Check it out—there’s a rockin’ deal on preorders, but once they close next week, that deal is gone forever!

BackerKit for Arcana of the Ancients Is Open!
8 months ago – Wed, Jun 19, 2019 at 09:11:39 PM

We’ve opened BackerKit for the Arcana of the Ancients campaign! You should have received an email with your BackerKit link; if you haven’t done so already, simply click through to complete your survey! (If you missed the email with the link to the survey, you can go to Arcana of the Ancients on BackerKit, enter the exact email address you used to back the project on Kickstarter, and BackerKit will resend the survey email to you.)

BackerKit is a super-important way for us to get information critical to fulfilling your rewards—information that Kickstarter doesn’t provide us. Even if you make no changes to your pledge, it’s important that you fill out BackerKit.

Here are some other tidbits you might be interested in:

That’s a first-off-the-presses copy of Your Best Game Ever, a book that helps you unlock consistently awesome RPG experiences, whether you’re a GM or a player. You can find out more about Your Best Game Ever here.

Awesome Deals at the MCG Shop—Today Only!

Every physical product on the MCG Shop, excluding preorders, is on sale now—and you even get free shipping on domestic US orders! This is a great time to check out NumeneraThe Strange, the Cypher System, Invisible Sun, our family game No Thank You, Evil!, and everything else we make. All on sale, but it ends TODAY!

Your Best Game Ever Videos

Join Monte and other members of the MCG team as we take a deeper dive into some of the key sections from the forthcoming Your Best Game Ever. The Your Best Game Ever video series also lets you discuss your experiences, tips, and questions with the broader community in the Twitch and YouTube comments.

The series runs on Twitch on Tuesdays at 8:00 p.m. EDT (5:00 p.m. PDT). Come join us in chat, or watch the video and Twitch chat later on. The series continues weekly through July, with topics like worldbuilding, being a great player, character creation, adventure design, and more.