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Subject: Talking about Serpent's Tongue rss

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I thought this would be a good place to talk about some of things we are excited about for Serpent's Tongue.

Personally, I love components, I'm really looking forward to putting my hands on what look like really nice shiney's. My current favourite pieces are the books themselves... the pictures are almost big enough to decipher some mysteries, can't wait to read them!
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Mitchell Corey
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I know! those books were a major selling point for me, not only do they look amazing but they have really interesting secrets built into them.
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Nathan Morse
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I love that they seem to have taken some of the basic premise of Sorcery!, and expanded on it. Not only do you need to memorize incantations, but the more powerful, the more involved they are to memorize. Of course, they're shooting for a big win on the components….
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brian sakall
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i think what i like most is simply that the random card draw factor has been removed...i don't know if that is entirely unique to card games or not, but it works great in this system...you have access to all the spells in your book, to cast when you like, so complex sequential strategies can be used without having to wonder if you'll pull that card you need. combine that with the need to actually speak the spells properly and it has the perfect tone for a magical dueling game.
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Nathan Morse
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That's an excellent point, Brian, although I keep wondering how exactly this will work in practice: I'm a little worried that the quality of competitive play will be 93% dependent on the players' personalities and immersion in the the roleplay. I am consoled by their offering of collaborative play… and downright encouraged by the purported possibility for solo play. I really can't imagine how that's going to work for the incantations, but it worked for Steve Jackson's Sorcery!… until they decided to short-circuit it. I loved having a separate spellbook, and nothing better to do than memorize spells and their applications. I'm really hoping I can get some others sufficiently interested to give this a proper go and make it worth my money.
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Tiwaz Tyrsfist
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Personally, I'm most interested in the Co-op and RPGish play styles.

I can't wait for more previews to go up (I'd really like to see at least one artifact so we have SOME idea what they do and how), and to see the over funding goals.

I'm still liking this game for hitting 300-400% over funding, I think it has what it takes to make a big splash.
Also, Ponymancers. They are a core component of the game, we need them. Honest. A day without ponies is like a day without sunshine. Ponies ponies ponies ponies PONIES!!!!!1! Okay, I'm done now, honest.
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Ray Smith
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(UN)HOLY CRAP, does this look cool!

Definitely not your usual rehashing of a dueling wizards game (cough, Mage Wars Arena). ST not only provides whatever spells you want to cast, but you also need to actually recite the spell! Quite a unique game mechanic!

The art is fabulous, and is reminiscent of a huge favorite of mine, The HellGame.

Best of luck, and much success. thumbsup




BTW, how do you win?; how is a game ended?; how many "hit points" does it take to eliminate an opponent?
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christopher gabrielson
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Woah that HellGame looks sick! Some of that art is just fantastic. How does it play? Well?

Thanks for all the positive feedback on the game so far. I appreciate all the comments.

NICE! Someone noticed that there is no randomization - I think this is a huge mechanic, and it was very refreshing in playtesting. Shuffling cards, and dealing them out takes one out of the game-world because they are inherently game 'abstractions'. Which are necessary, I know, in order to make most games work and avoid turning them into a pure chess match. But Im glad that we found a way to transcend this necessity.

Plus whenever I have RPG'd a spellcaster - part of the experience is usually selecting a specific spell, chosen for the situation, out of your full compendium of knowledge. I wanted that in Serpent's Tongue.



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Ryan Full
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I have a few questions:

1. Where did the inspiration for the spells/art come from? Looking at the Kickstarter page a few of the line draws look really reminiscent of some of the alchemy woodcuts that I have seen in my copy of the Golden Game. http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/517TZDW2M2L._SL500_AA3...

2. What exactly are the Inscription packs? I see the individual cards referred to as inscriptions. Then when I look at the differences between the 45$ and 85$ levels I see one difference is the 85$ level comes with "Inscription packs." Are those random boosters from an expansion? Random boosters of the core set of cards so you could have duplicates?

3. In a Core set that has enough cards for 2 players - are there duplicates of each card so two players could play with identical codices? Can you double up on spells in your particular codex?
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Ray Smith
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More questions:
With players constantly flipping through their codex, and removing spell cards from it, how is the book on durability? I foresee the page pockets getting easily ripped. Or, are the pages plasticized or reinforced in some manner?



And yes, The HellGame is awesome not only visually, but to play too. Very highly recommended.

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christopher gabrielson
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Greetings, good questions. I appreciate them cuz I can talk about Serpent's Tongue allllllllllllll day. Hopefully I wont over do it.

The art as with the backstory and metaphysics of the game world have taken inspiration from throughout time, drawing strongly from Hermetic Alchemy, Order of the Golden Dawn, and Kabbalah. (These were the traditions most familiar to our resident Occultist, Brando McKeehen.) As we expand our art library with Kickstarter funding we will draw also from Sufi, Taoist Alchemy, African Vodun and other mystic traditions.

Most incantation cards attempt to show the actual effect of the incantation rather than a scenario or scene of it being used. We found this helps keep players IN the game. Rather than casting an incantation that shows a Magi healing someone, we wanted the players to BE the Magi, and the card shows the regeneration energy they just cast. This has held strong for the entire Canon (The core set of cards). We wanted more realistic imagery for this and are utilizing a lot of different digital photography merged with illustration.

Specializations will feature more traditional styles of art by showing a representative of the class. while artifacts will feature either the artifact itself or its inventor.

CARDS: The core set will come with 4 of most cards, its important to have multiples of the same incantation because they can be combined to form rituals that increase their power level.

You can actually have as many of the same type of incantation in your Codex as you wish. If you want 33 Flame Eternae's, go to town. But your allies better have some defenses, and Etheric based attacks. Serpent's Tongue strategy encourages players to balance between specialization and versatility. Playtesters sought out ever more obscure incantations that were less likely to be planned for by their opponents.

There are two Sets of cards, the Canon and the Obscura. The bulk of apprentice and adept level Canon cards come in the core set. Magi level Canon cards and all of the Obscura cards are only available from Inscription packs or by exchanging what are called Avak'Shar ranks online.

The game is fun & playable with just the Canon, they are effective and versatile. The Obscura just opens up more options, and interesting combinations, often at the price of less versatility.

You can read more about the Canon and the Obscura at http://www.becomemagi.com/components/inscription-packs/

There that wasnt so long.
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christopher gabrielson
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rdsmith wrote:
More questions:
With players constantly flipping through their codex, and removing spell cards from it, how is the book on durability? I foresee the page pockets getting easily ripped. Or, are the pages plasticized or reinforced in some manner?



And yes, The HellGame is awesome not only visually, but to play too. Very highly recommended.



Our most updated playtesting sets did not experience any problems of wear and tear at all, BUT we want to be certain about the long haul. My brother Brian and his trusted contact in Hong Kong who handle sourcing are reviewing final specification tweaks from the manufacturer that will reinforce the pockets beyond even our playtesting Codices.


What our real goal is, and we have not announced this as a stretch reward on KickStarter yet, because its just a possibility, is to revamp the Codex AND the Cards before launch so that they will be magnetic. Yep magnetic. the Cards will have a micro-thin glyph made of metal on the back which will lock into embedded thin magnets inside each page. We have made a prototype and theres something truly sweet about it. No pockets... your incantations just float there on the page securely but detach easily with the right amount of force. But that is about a $100k stretch reward.
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Ryan Full
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So the Canon will basically be the starter decks (or Core set) and they will be the lower level spells.

Then all the booster packs will be the Obscura and they will be a random assortment (standard CCG style) of more powerful cards.

So if I get the 45$ Core set then I will have enough for two players to play with low level spells. To get the upper level spells I would have to buy boosters and do the standard chasing of rares? Is that basically correct?

Will boosters be sold on your webstore? I assume this won't be the thing I can go to my FLGS and pick up a pack or two.

You also hinted at sects within the game and a metagame... Is there going to be some kind of metagame where individual players ally themselves with some mystic sect and their wins do something on a larger level tracked on the website? Is that where the matchmaking thing comes into play?

And yes, I spent a bit of time today reading every single bit of the website to try to puzzle these things out. Ended up with more questions than answers. :lol: The website though is exceedingly well designed!
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Tiwaz Tyrsfist
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So, I could be wrong, but my understanding is that they intend to sell the game through normal distribution channels, and so you SHOULD be able to go pick up an inscription pack or two at your FLGS every so often.
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Ryan Full
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TiwazTyrsfist wrote:
So, I could be wrong, but my understanding is that they intend to sell the game through normal distribution channels, and so you SHOULD be able to go pick up an inscription pack or two at your FLGS every so often.


Well that is fantastic to know. Since they were going the Kickstarter route I thought they were self-publishing and therefore might not be in the normal distribution channels.

Happy to be wrong. MtG sells like crazy at my local shop and FNM is also huge. I imagine if I could get a few people playing this when Magic folks are about it would pique some interest.
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christopher gabrielson
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miyu wrote:
So the Canon will basically be the starter decks (or Core set) and they will be the lower level spells.

Then all the booster packs will be the Obscura and they will be a random assortment (standard CCG style) of more powerful cards.

So if I get the 45$ Core set then I will have enough for two players to play with low level spells. To get the upper level spells I would have to buy boosters and do the standard chasing of rares? Is that basically correct?


Yes thats about it. Except with the core sets you get a solid selection of Apprentice AND Adept level spells. So you have room to grow your codex in power and complexity. Moving from Adept level spells to Magi level spells tends to be the resistance point that separates moderately intense players from die-hard players. Which is okay because you can still play competitively and cooperatively with each other. Either through training handicaps, an additional Apprentice or Adept, or by adjusting the difficulty of the campaign.

Yes, you can procure Magi level Canon incantations and any of the Obscura through Inscription packs. But you can also single out the cards you need and purchase them through Avak'Shar ranks, which, yes are obtained from inscription packs but also from the core set, and varying forms of participation.


Quote:

You also hinted at sects within the game and a metagame... Is there going to be some kind of metagame where individual players ally themselves with some mystic sect and their wins do something on a larger level tracked on the website? Is that where the matchmaking thing comes into play?


Right on point Mr Full, thats exactly where the matchmaking thing comes into play. Not at launch of course but we have a very clear vision and step by step plan to implement an immersive and persistent world of Serpent's Tongue at the local level, including Player ran Cabals, and specific missions to defeat opposite faction-ed Magi in your area, or to cooperate with aligned Magi against encounters hosted at Game Centers.

Because consistent local and regional events are key to developing these gameplay aspects we will be stressing distribution to every game center based store in the US, to start.
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There is a lot of talk now about card sets and randomization and it has made me wonder about combination balance. In some collectible games it becomes a question of finding the one two punch of combination cards. I'm just wondering if that was a design consideration and how early play tests have balanced. I'm very curious about this 2 vs 1 function.
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christopher gabrielson
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Master Lore,

Important question! Serpent's Tongue is less dependent upon rarity of cards to help balance its gameplay than most TCG's we've played.

This is because our true balancing element to the game is the Language itself. Incantation levels are divided between Apprentice, Adept and Magi levels. But even within those levels when an incantation does a little more, or is a little more effective it will also be a little more difficult. Just adding 2-3 syllables to an Apprentice cast phrase that has multiple effects can makes it much more difficult to master or decode. The playtesters who stocked up on these slightly more powerful spells were prone to miscast them much more frequently.

Rarity can still be a factor however, (sometimes a card is rare BECAUSE it does more without much increase in difficulty) but not anything close to what its like in MTG, and less of a factor than the Language.

But to respond about the possible 'Sets Stretch Reward' - If KS Founders receive entire sets of Serpent's Tongue cards, they will have some advantage in Codex building. What can I say? Its good to be a Founder.cool I really like the idea of the Founders breaking onto the scene, with some killer Codices, and advanced Mastery of Serpent's Tongue. But despite that pleasant imagery the possible stretch reward of complete sets will really be more of a convenience to them rather than an unfair advantage.


Regardless I am positive this advantage will not have any cataclysmic or far reaching impact on future tournament play. Yes there are all sorts of powerful combos, even 2-3 punch super combinations, but even those can be prevented, mitigated, interrupted, & out-willed at the beginning of an encounter when a Magi is fresh with Willpower, free of negative status effects, and has a Codex full of incantations.

While unprepared or depleted Magi can be ripped apart in just a few turns. Thats how it goes - these incantations can be vicious and deadly, and destructive magick in the world of Serpent's Tongue can be gruesome.

Lets talk about Gameplay showcasing 2 Adepts vs a Magi, or 2 Apprentices vs an Adept and other combinations tomorrow.
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Ryan Full
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Any chance you would give us an idea of what Cabals/Sects you have in mind? Typically I find things like that pretty engaging (the houses in Harry Potter, the sects in Mage the Awakening, etc.).

Although more than anything else, I would really like you to clarify the online bit. Will you be able to play the game online? I would love some method to do that since it wouldn't depend on my having any players local but I completely fail to see how it could be implemented since it appears the game relies on spoken pronunciation. And by online play, I mean have a match against someone - not a metagame like I play against someone locally and that victory claims territory on some online board/map for my sect.
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Nathan Morse
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Lord Gabrielson, I noticed that the two $85 kickstarter rewards offer 5 and 4 exclusive cards, respectively. Do I infer correctly that if the latter appeals to me more, that I must simply do without the fifth unique card?
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christopher gabrielson
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No Nathan, the extra cards were upped after we posted the rewards which are not changeable once they are entered into the KickStarter site. All Magi Levels include 3 KS specializations + 2 KS Artifacts and since it looks like we can hit our first stretch reward, the bonus artifact: Shroud of Min'Ith.

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Nathan Morse
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Excellent….
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Nathan Morse
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OK, time to ask The Big Question that jumped straight to mind when I heard 4"×6" card dimensions (101.6mm × 152.4mm) — at least after I put my eyes back into my skull: Do you already have arrangements in the works to provide card sleeves to protect these beauties? e.g. with UlraPro, Mayday, Fantasy Flight…. I'm already terrified enough to play with Dixit cards unprotected, and they are merely 80mm × 120mm.
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Tiwaz Tyrsfist
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Ah, but will the cards even need sleeves, SINCE THEY WILL NEVER BE SHUFFLED! (Bum-bum-BUUUUUM!)

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I would concur with Tiwaz, I don't sleeve my Ancient One cards from Arkham Horror because they aren't shuffled and dealt... my only concern is about the 'casting stands'...again I'm think of how the Fantasy Flight Games stands crush, tear and chew their cardboard pieces.
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