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:

Let’s Go . . . Beneath the Monolith!
about 2 months ago – Wed, Jun 10, 2020 at 12:41:21 AM

In our last update, we mentioned that the next reward from this campaign—Beneath the Monolith—would be pushed back from its original June plan until at least July. Great news: we’ve been able to claw back some of the schedule delays, and we now have the book from the printer. We’re beginning the fulfillment process today!

The Ninth World is the setting of Monte Cook’s multiple-award-winning Numenera RPGBeneath the Monolith brings this critically acclaimed world to 5e. Explore the ruins of incomprehensible civilizations. Discover the numenera, ancient technologies so advanced that most people think they’re just magic. Encounter creatures weird, fierce, and dangerous. Open doors to new worlds and alternate dimensions. And, perhaps, unlock some of the mysteries of the prior worlds. Beneath the Monolith lets you run Fifth Edition adventures and campaigns in the fantastic science-fantasy setting of Numenera.

If it’s among your rewards, in print or PDF, watch for our email with instructions on redeeming your copy. (If you don’t get the email, you can simply log in at the MCG Shop, go to your My Account page, and click on Coupons. Click each coupon to add the item to your cart—or, if you have multiple rewards waiting for you, simply click the Add All Product Coupons to Cart button. Then go to your shopping cart to provide your shipping information and check out!)

Not One of Your Rewards?

If you didn’t back for Beneath the Monolith, don’t panic. Preorders are open now on the MCG Shop, and we’ll start shipping those as soon as fulfillment orders are out the door—in other words, you can still get it ASAP without waiting for its street date next month. 

What’s Next?

We are hard at work on Beasts of Flesh and Steel, the bestiary that brings weird science-fantasy creatures to 5e. In fact, writing and design work on this title is now complete, and it’s making the transition into editing even as you read this. As plans currently stand, it will be out in the autumn—but of course none of us are able to predict how the rest of 2020 will play out, so please be flexible. 

Check out this fantastic cover art for Beasts of Flesh and Steel, just in from the marvelous Mirco Paganessi!

A Great Adventure, with a Great Match for Charity

In separate news, this week we released an adventure for the Cypher System—and the proceeds are going to a great cause. Heist on Miracle IV was written by Dominique Dickey in their tenure as an academic intern at MCG. If you love hard science fiction, fast-paced heist action, and high-tech mysteries, you'll love this one-shot. We're donating all proceeds from Heist on Miracle IV to Black Lives Matter and matching the donation on the first 500 sales. Check it out!

Awesome, Kickstarter-exclusive Deals Are Still Available for Ptolus!

If you love detailed, immersive, imaginative fantasy campaign settings, but didn’t get in on the Kickstarter for Ptolus: Monte Cook’s City by the Spire, here’s some good news: BackerKit is still open, and you can make a late pledge to get in on awesome exclusive deals—including loads of unlocked stretch goals.

  • Pledge at RESIDENT or higher to get the massive, 672-page Ptolus: Monte Cook’s City by the Spire with its hundreds of pages of extras, along with all eight stretch goal products and a 2700-page library of existing Ptolus-related titles (a $250+ value) in PDF.
  • Pledge at HERO or higher to get Ptolus in print, plus the NPC Deck, GM Screen, Player’s Guides, Character Portfolios, and Ptolus: City of Adventure—and all the PDFs! It’s an amazing, Kickstarter-only deal.

Stuck at Home (Perhaps With Kids)?

Here’s a little something for gamers quarantined, under a shelter-in-place restriction, or just practicing some wise social distancing:

  • The entire No Thank You, Evil! RPG line, for families with kids as young as five, is 50% off.
  • So is the Numenera Starter Set, for grownups and older kids.
  • And for gamers getting into games online for the first time, the entire chapter on Playing Games Online, from Your Best Game Ever, is available for free. We’ve added it, in its entirety, to the downloadable free preview of that title.

We’ll keep this sale open for as long as conditions warrant (subject, of course, to product availability).

Arcana of the Ancients Is Out—and Other Important News!
4 months ago – Wed, Apr 15, 2020 at 12:24:22 AM

As you’re probably aware, we began fulfillment of Arcana of the Ancients last month. For a while, due to Coronavirus-related staffing shortages at our warehouses, shipments of rewards were going out a bit slower than we generally like, but we’re now all caught up. If you’ve received your copy, in PDF or print, we hope you love it as much as we do! If you haven’t, what are you waiting for? Look for the email we sent you on March 13th and follow the instructions there, and we’ll get your copy out to you!

(Missed or lost the email? No problem. Log into the MCG Shop using the email address you provided us in BackerKit, then click on My Account in the Store menu. Click the Coupons tab, and you should see a coupon for each available reward. Click the coupon to add it to your cart. Add all your rewards to your cart, then check out!)

Did You Miss Ptolus?

The Kickstarter for Monte’s legendary campaign setting, Ptolus: Monte Cook’s City by the Spire, came to an incredible end last month. But with all the uncertainty and anxiety of the growing pandemic, it’s no surprise that many gamers missed it. If you love detailed, immersive, imaginative fantasy campaign settings, but didn’t get in on the Kickstarter, don’t fret: BackerKit is now open, and you can make a late pledge to get in on awesome exclusive deals—including loads of unlocked stretch goals.

  • Pledge at RESIDENT or higher to get the massive, 672-page Ptolus: Monte Cook’s City by the Spire with its hundreds of pages of extras, along with all eight stretch goal products and a 2700-page library of existing Ptolus-related titles (a $250+ value) in PDF.
  • Pledge at HERO or higher to get Ptolus in print, plus the NPC Deck, GM Screen, Player’s Guide, Character Portfolios, and Ptolus: City of Adventure—and all the PDFs! It’s an amazing, Kickstarter-only deal.

COVID-19 and Monte Cook Games

These are difficult times for everyone, and many businesses are struggling to remain functional. While nobody can predict the long-term effects of this pandemic, we here at Monte Cook Games are fortunate. We are all healthy and safe, Monte Cook Games is operational, and we believe we’re in a position of relative security for the foreseeable future. Because we all work from our homes (except for our shipping warehouses), our internal operations have been largely unaffected by the pandemic.

Unfortunately, although our internal operations have been humming along, we’re seeing delays both upstream and downstream of our product releases. This means there will be . . .

Changes to the MCG Release Schedule

Our manufacturing vendors have slowed or stopped operations, and the hobby game distribution system has all but shut down as well. For these reasons, we expect to push some of our mid-year release dates back by at least a few weeks—and quite possibly more, if—as it now seems likely—factories and distributors don’t reopen within the next month or so.

What does that mean for your rewards?

At this point, there are too many unknowns to be certain. Beneath the Monolith, originally scheduled for release in June, will definitely be pushed back a month or so. We don’t anticipate longer delays at this point, but we don’t know how long our printer will remain closed.

Future titles, including Beasts of Flesh and Steel and Where the Machines Wait, will probably see similar delays, but it’s too soon to tell. It’s possible, should shutdowns continue for an extended period, that they will be delayed longer—but it’s also possible they may be released on or close to their original schedule.

We will, of course, keep you up to date as things progress. Be sure to read our Kickstarter updates and emails, and make certain they aren’t going into your spam folder. These are our only channels for getting critical information about your rewards to you.

We’re Taking a Couple of Weeks Off

We’re going to take advantage of this unplanned slowdown to take a little time off. MCG has given our entire staff a couple of weeks of extra paid vacation in April. The entire company is taking a break this week and next. For two weeks we won’t be responding to Kickstarter messages or comments, email, or other communications. We’re all going to focus on relaxing, keeping ourselves and our families safe and healthy, and generally unwinding in this very uncertain and anxious time. And then we’ll be back, at the end of the month, hitting the ground running!

Our warehouse will remain open during this time, shipping store orders and Kickstarter rewards.

Speaking of store orders. . .

Stuck at Home (Perhaps with Kids)?

Here’s a little something for gamers practicing social distancing, quarantined, or under a shelter-in-place restriction:

We’ll keep this sale open for as long as conditions warrant (subject, of course, to product availability).

Arcana of the Ancients Is Almost Here!
5 months ago – Wed, Feb 26, 2020 at 12:22:38 AM

Wow. Just wow!  

That’s a first-off-the-presses copy of Arcana of the Ancients. The print run is now complete and in transit to our warehouses. It’s not long before it’s in your hands!

For many backers, this may be the first reward you’ve received from one of our Kickstarter campaigns. So here’s a quick reminder of how the process works. Please remember that we don’t currently have the necessary data, so we can’t send you your rewards if you don’t follow this process. Fortunately, it only takes a few minutes.

  • In the next week or so, we’ll send you an email telling you that your reward is ready. It will contain a link to the MCG Shop.
  • You log into the MCG Shop using the email address you provided us in BackerKit.
  • On your Account page there’s a Coupons tab. There, you’ll see coupons for all the rewards currently available to you. Click a coupon, and it puts the reward in your cart. If you have more than one reward available (for example, if you’re getting Arcana of the Ancients in print and in PDF), put each one in your cart.
  • Then just check out, like you would from any online store! Your rewards will be free; you’ll just pay for shipping.

You’ll find these instructions in the redemption email, too, so don’t worry about memorizing them now.

We can’t wait to get Arcana of the Ancients in your hands. You are going to love it!

Speaking of Loving It!

If you love Monte’s work—or you just love great fantasy settings—we have something else going on that you may really like. Ptolus: Monte Cook's City by the Spire, the classic and much beloved campaign setting, returns for 5e and Cypher System fans. We're reissuing the entire premium product in two versions, one for each of these popular, critically acclaimed game systems. 

Explore a sprawling fantasy urban setting, presented in amazing detail and steeped in lore and atmosphere. Delve into the extensive dungeons beneath its streets. And maybe, when you're ready, ascend the Spire that looms overhead, the heart of an ancient and restless evil.

Ptolus: Monte Cook's City by the Spire isn't just huge—672 beautiful pages plus hundreds of physical and digital extras—it also set new standards for physical production. From its embossed cover to the multiple bound-in satin bookmarks, everything about Ptolus is premium quality. It's all designed to make things surprisingly easy on the GM—the original Ptolus pioneered many of the features commonly found in MCG products today. And Ptolus comes with roughly 300 pages of additional digital content. It's really an amazing product!

And to top it all off, most backer levels include an entire library of existing titles, including the 3e version of Ptolus itself, in PDF, delivered early. Get over $250 worth of products—that's 27 titles totaling 2100 pages. But only if you back the campaign!

Ptolus is coming to Cypher System and 5e. Don’t miss this legendary campaign setting or this exciting Kickstarter!

Arcana of the Ancients Heads to Press!
7 months 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!
10 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!