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TaleSpire is a massive, beautiful building tool for your next tabletop RPG

Dwarven Forge-style dioramas on your desktop

Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

One of the reasons for the incredible resurgence of tabletop role-playing games is the ease of playing online. All you need is some decent voice-over-IP software and you’re off to the races. Alternately, you can use virtual tabletop software like Roll20 or Fantasy Grounds for a flexible and satisfying two-dimensional experience. But none of these solutions replicates the truly lavish kinds of miniatures and terrain sets that tabletop fans drool over. TaleSpire, a new virtual tabletop platform on Kickstarter, wants to change that.

TaleSpire is the brainchild of a small team of developers at Bouncyrock, based in Norway. With a background in modding isometric role-playing games on PC, they know a thing or two about creating and manipulating digital assets, and they’ve put all of that experience into the interface for TaleSpire. I spent the morning tinkering with an early alpha of the system, and discovered that a lifetime spent using the WASD keys and a traditional mouse was all I needed to quickly throw down a dungeon and fill it with monsters.

A group of adventurers in a tomb inside an early alpha of Bouncyrock’s TaleSpire virtual tabletop software. Bouncyrock

But where TaleSpire differentiates itself is with its scale. According to Bouncyrock’s Kickstarter video, the goal is to build a system robust enough to create some of tabletop gaming’s most iconic cities. Imagine downloading a player-made map of Waterdeep, complete with sound and lighting effects, for your next campaign.

Bouncyrock’s campaign just started, and has 43 days left to go. With a modest ask of $127,185, they’re already more than a third of the way there. Stretch goals include a customizable rule system ($225,000) and cyberpunk-themed assets ($275,000). The campaign runs through Gen Con, the nation’s largest tabletop gaming convention, and ends Aug. 8.