Thursday, May 3, 2012

A Kickstarter You Can't Miss - Serpent's Tongue

I'm ashamed that I didn't pimp out the first time I backed a Kickstarter project for the new edition of HELLAS: Worlds of Sun and Stone, but thankfully, that awesomely original setting and rule set still easily met its funding goal in the last day it was open for pledging. I don't want to make that mistake again, so I'm going to talk a little bit about my second Kickstarter project I'm supporting: Serpent's Tongue. On a related note - does anyone else have a hard time actually writing about backing Kickstart projects with proper possessive pronouns, nouns, etc, or is it just me?

I'm really eager to back projects on Kickstarter. At this point in my tabletop gaming collecting habit, I have a pretty stable collection of books and games to play and read (mostly just read nowadays sadly). I don't find myself feeling compelled to buy a whole lot of new games being produced by the big companies. Now I'm just looking for things that really excite me. Serpent's Tongue looks to be a truly unique game. It's a combination of trading card game and role-playing game. That in and of itself is not entirely new, but when you take all the other cool stuff about the game - gameplay based on learning the actual language of spellcasting, playing out of a hardbound spell book made up of your spell cards, a design perspective that ranges from solo to cooperative to team-based player-versus-player combat - it looks to be a game without peers. Keep reading to find out why.

I've gone in pledging $45.00 for the game. The description for this pledging level was just too tantalizing:

"ADEPT Level = The Core Multi-player Set of the game (See Components List to the Left) including the 40+ hour cooperative campaign 'Out of Eden', Plus an additional 40 advanced cards, including higher level incantations, rare artifacts, and adept specializations. Plus 2 unique kickstarter specializations & 1 unique artifact only available to our KS Backers! PLUS your name worked into FUTURE source materials or campaign adventures. We want to put you in as a character in the Serpent's Tongue universe that players will hear about and even interact with or fight with, as soon as we can. You will be identified as an Adept in all Founder lists forever. All Rewards Include Domestic SHIPPING! International shipping is forthcoming."

Upon pledging, I received a (probably canned, but still a nice touch!) letter in my inbox from lead designer Christopher Gabrielson letting me know that he was happy to see another person pledging at this level as this was the level that "gives you everything you need to experience Serpent's Tongue, and to bring others along as well." He also added "In addition to the bevy of rewards the Adept level includes, feel free to start CALLING yourself Adept around town, at work, wherever. LOL. If anyone doubts you, just explain you’re a Serpent’s Tongue backer and have them call me ; )" I like the cut of this guy's jib.

And that's one of the facets of the game that stands out from other games, whether role-playing, trading card-based, or a combination of the both. Since you've got to speak the actual spells out loud to get the desired effect, there's a sense here that the game leads slightly toward live-action role-playing. While I'm generally uncomfortable with LARP'ing, for some reason, this sits just fine with me. I can actually imagine having a pretty good time at a convention meeting up and playing games with other mages who also speak the Serpent's Tongue. It's incredibly dorky, but I'm ok with that. I'm working on it.

Really though, there were two things that sold me on Kickstarting the game. First is how much crap they're throwing at me for a mere $45.00. You've seen the description above, now take a look at the picture below for the real goods:

The second part was this description of the creators' design principles for the game:

"Designed for Geeks like us AND the Rest of the World

The mission was to create an immersive roleplaying experience that could be played with cards, without a GM and picked up by new players in less than FIVE minutes. 

We accomplished this by having Adept and Magi level incantations take quite a bit of time to master, (with massive power payoffs) while Apprentice level spells can be cast out of the box within minutes of explaining the Serpent's Key, a cipher that Decodes incantations on the fly. 

An easy to understand Etheric and Physical division of spell interactions make strategic choices simple.... in the beginning. While balancing rules allow Magi level players to have a real challenge taking on 2-3 Apprentices."

I guess when it comes down to it, I just really want to learn this game and teach it to two or three other friends to duel them all at once with my superior Serpent's Tongue knowledge. I have no idea how this thing will play as an actual roleplaying game. It's not a terribly big deal though since I've got plenty of systems to use if the more RPG-elements of the game don't quite click for me. There's just something so intriguing about the solo/coop campaign and potential for future campaigns. 

As of this posting, the project's got 10 days left to Kickstart. Release date for the game is scheduled for July of this year, which is really quick turn around for a Kickstart project. It's well over it's original goal, and now it's only about $1,500 away from it's $75,000 fifth tier stretch goal. I want to see it reach this goal as it sounds like it's going to really allow Unbound Games to put some really nice finishing touches on the products. It's gonna be a thing - you in?


  1. It looks really good, and you get a great value for your money, but I've got no one to play a game with. Besides, there are just too many col kick starters these days ;)

    that being said, i expect a review up receipt :)

  2. Trust me, I get the prioritizing of both funds and concentration time. That being said, I'm super excited to get it and plan to do an in-depth look at the game when it comes - hopefully in July (and before the busy time of Gencon coverage).

  3. I've never contributed to a Kickstarter before, but I shocked my normally thrifty self and went in for $125--any combination I want of 3 core sets/booster cases. Maybe I'm a sucker for a slick marketing ploy, but I got very excited the more I learned about this game. Like you said, it seems very original. I could see it becoming a big deal, especially in a post-Skyrim (Dragon Shouts!), post-Harry Potter (Expelliarmus!) world. I'll start with one core set and tuck everything else away as a little investment.

  4. I really can't blame you. I was very tempted to go higher than my $45.00 pledge. It was a tough call, but I knew there would be other KS projects I wanted to back as well in the immediate future. Here's hoping you're right about the investment angle. As backers, we're going to be getting some pretty neat, unique rewards that will hold a lot of value if the game explodes on the scene.


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