TaleSpire - Build Your Dungeons in 3D!
A Different Kind of TTRPG
Tabletop role-playing games (TTRPGs) have become extremely popular in recent years. In part, this is due to media exposure, such as the version of Dungeons & Dragons seen on Stranger Things. It's also due to the Roll20 and Fantasy Grounds platforms, which facilitate playing TTRPGs online with friends. TaleSpire is an ambitious new program that aims to provide a similar service, but with richly customizable 3D environments.
Existing platforms Roll20 and Fantasy Grounds offer the ability to roll dice and create 2D maps. TaleSpire also incorporates dice rolling - and it’s system-agnostic, so you can play any of the hundreds of amazing games out there besides D&D. However, TaleSpire’s real advantage is in its beautiful 3D mapmaking tools.
Concept - Build a 3D World for your Friends to Explore
TaleSpire works with a square grid. You add tiles to create a map. The tiles can look like floors, streets, or any of several types of outdoor terrain. You build up a 3D map with features like walls, furniture, rocks, trees, crates and barrels, and hundreds more. Light sources affect how much you can see from various angles.
The result is an enticing world that players are eager to explore. Players, in their turn, can customize and control their figurines.
Graphics & Audio - Create Anything You Want ... So Long as It’s Medieval
Where TaleSpire outshines other platforms is in its mapmaking. Game Masters can create gorgeous and elaborate 3D maps for their players to explore. In addition to dungeons, you can design cityscapes, forests, deserts, swamps, underwater scenes. All can be enhanced with dynamic lighting and stirring musical scores.
Game Masters can create gorgeous and elaborate 3D maps for their players to explore.
As of April 2021, TaleSpire boasts 750 tiles and props, 150 miniatures, and 50 unique audio tracks. That’s a lot, but a creative designer needs a lot - and we’re getting it! More are added every month.
One limitation to note: while TaleSpire is system-agnostic, it’s not quite genre-agnostic. The available tiles and tools lean heavily towards the medieval. Playing a modern or science-fiction campaign will require some creative interpretation of the assets. This may change in the future.
Gameplay - Both Planners and Pantsers are Covered
The basic mechanisms of TaleSpire work much like those of its competitors - you roll virtual dice and look at the results. However, TaleSpire has done a lot to include its 3D design as part of its gameplay. Bouncyrock Entertainment realizes that one of the big advantages that tabletop RPGs have is the potential for spontaneity. They’ve made the design interface smooth enough that it’s easy for the Game Master to add new elements to fit the story as it develops.
An Exciting but Pricey Way to Play TTRPGs with Friends
TaleSpire is still in Early Access as of April 2021. It’s enjoyable and functional, but some of its more exciting features are still in development. The ongoing addition of new elements continues to add more variety. Additionally, the ability for players to share maps promises a lot more exciting gameplay possibilities as TaleSpire develops.
Furthermore, replayability should be practically infinite with TaleSpire. Each game will be different because each game will be designed by you and your friends.
One caveat: To play, each player needs a copy. At $25 each, that does add up. Of course, this is standard in the video game industry. But for gamers who are used to Roll20, which has a free-to-play option, and Fantasy Grounds, in which only the GM needs a paid account, the price tag might be a shock. But for a game that looks this good, most tabletop RPG fans will find it very worthwhile.
If you're a fan of TTRPGs, TaleSpire is a promising digital board game adventure with gorgeous, endlessly customizable 3D maps and characters.