UPDATED STRETCH GOALS
Up to $1600 expanded content and bonus rewards
Up to $2000 increased cartography budget
Up to $3000 increased art budget, plus I'll start purchasing art and maps for Slayers II
To the Edge of the Map is the first installment of a classic fantasy adventure series called Slayers of the Great Serpent. This series of adventure modules draws inspiration from H.P. Lovecraft's Dreamlands stories, the fairy tales of Oscar Wilde, the works of Romantic poets like Coleridge and Byron, and the myths and folktales of cultures the world over.
The vision behind the Slayers of the Great Serpent series is about creating a story about heroes and their great deeds, but also about making a world that is majestic and awe-inspiring. What I envisioned was a quest that requires the party to travel far beyond the lands known to them and cross half the world, witnessing many bizarre and spectacular sights and facing many dangers.
This adventure module is intended for characters of 1st-4th level. It has a projected page count of 90-100 pages, and will be published in softcover and PDF format.
I: To the Edge of the Map
The unlikely heroes learn of a terrible menace that is about to awaken when a messenger arrives at the royal court with a warning of apocalyptic magnitude. The adventurers learn that heroes are needed to cross the ocean and travel to the distant east in order to search for the lair of a gargantuan snake known as The Destroyer and The Eater of Worlds. These heroes must travel far from their homes and try to find the country where the Great Serpent lives. Very little is known about this land, save for rumors that it lies to the east of distant Xi, a strange and romantic kingdom on the other side of the ocean. Nothing will be certain on this journey, not the final destination of our heroes, or the incredible dangers that they are sure to face. If no one can find this monster and lay it low before it rises from its torpor then the world will fall into an age of darkness and become transformed into a nightmarish hellscape of misery and death.
The majority of this adventure takes place while the adventurers are traveling; they must contend with both the everyday hazards of life on the road as well as cowardly plots initiated by an agent of the Church of the Destroyer. Before they can think about crossing the ocean, the adventurers must first find and reach the coast of their own continent. The first task they will need to accomplish is to leave the borders of The Kingdom by the Sea and then cross the dangerous Iron Ridge Mountains. On the other side of these mountains the adventurers will encounter a violent and lawless region known as The Outlaw Kingdoms. Should they make it across this land and yet live, they must still face the unknown dangers of the enchanted Forest of Night. It is here that the adventurers will brave a final showdown with the mysterious agent that has impaired their progress from the start. During the confrontation, the cultist summons a horrific Nightmare Snake, a living fragment of one of the Great Serpent’s dreams.
The Story of this Tale
The project had its conception as a campaign that I was planning to run with my long-time gaming group. I wanted to do something daring and unexpected, but also classic. It was an entire twenty-level campaign done as a single marathon quest: an effort to find and slay a terrible, world-shattering monster before it awakens. I wanted to make a story about humble would-be heroes taking on a daunting and seemingly impossible challenge, knowing only that they must set themselves to the task and find some way of accomplishing it. After splitting the campaign into five parts, I began to work on all of them simultaneously. At this point I was mostly worried about working the kinks out of the story, making sure that the obstacles that the party faced would have enough variety to fill twenty full levels. I also wanted the players to always feel as if they were making progress toward their long-term goal when they faced a short-term challenge. The idea wasn't to have a bunch of random encounters and strung-together incidents; the idea was to build a compelling narrative about people on a quest. It was at this stage that I realized that a larger-than-life storyline does not have to be complicated. Simple stories can be the most compelling of all. The Odyssey is about a man trying to get home to his wife. Star Wars is about a young knight who rescues a princess from the black knight's fortress. Tolkien wrote volumes about a group of people dropping a ring into a volcano. My story would be about killing a REALLY big snake.
However, it was not until I began crafting the world of this campaign and writing the read aloud text for the different adventures that I really felt as if I was on to something special. I attempted to write read aloud text that captured the language of a classic novel or narrative poem without sounding cheesy. You know what, I think I did it. I still wanted to run the campaign for the guys in my group, but mostly to playtest the five modules and improve the product. I had decided at this point to share the campaign with the wider world. I started a kickstarter because I was determined to create the best possible campaign possible, one that would be breathtaking and memorable for the groups that played it.
The money being raised to fund Slayers of the Great Serpent will go towards all of the nuts and bolts of publishing.
Editing and Layout$150
Fees + Rewards$500*
*Exact numbers on this will not be known until I know how many of each reward type to produce. Any leftover funds will be added to the art budget or used for promotion.
A TALE OF TERRIBLE DANGER
The exhausted rider stumbles into the great hall and takes a cup of water, greedily washing it down. The water is quickly followed by a goblet of wine that disappears in like fashion. The stranger addresses the room and says, "I apologize for interrupting your festivities and riding up to your gate in such a dramatic fashion. My men and I are on a mission, one I adopted from another knight, a woman from a distant land who was a stranger to me. She was the last of her party, and near death herself when we found her. I knew nothing of this woman. Nonetheless, by the conviction and fear I saw in that knight's eyes as she lay dying, I knew that I must carry on her mission, carrying the brave knight's message as far as my will can carry me."
"I will tell you of this valiant knight's herald, but first I must ask that children and the faint at heart be removed from the room at once, for I have come to tell you of an evil so powerful that merely to think of it is enough to invite it to haunt your nightmares. Speak its name in vain, and it will send plagues of vermin and dangerous creatures to torment you. If you should actively work against this evil, the very beasts of the world will assail you with shocking viciousness and unnatural creatures will seek you out."
He pauses to catch his breath, wearily the foreign knight continues, "I have come seeking heroes. That was the lady knight's message. I have come to warn you of the evil that is known as the Destroyer, the Great Serpent, and the Eater of Worlds. From prehistoric times the serpent has come, yet even after untold millennia, its actions still scar the cultures of the Eastern tribes and among pagans snakes are still worshipped to this day. Indeed, there are those who claim that this foe is a dark and terrible god in its own right. Another legend that the knight told me spoke of an ordinary snake that happened upon a hidden vale where the gods were reveling, and stole from them the secrets of the universe. Being a simple creature, it used this knowledge to form a simple plan; eat and grow larger. It then consumed many creatures in blood sacrifice, a ritual meant to ensure that it would never stop growing in size and power. The legend said that it was not long before the snake was of such might that nothing could stop it from eating at will."
"Some legends claim that the terrible serpent consumed the lost city of Urx, others say that it was the cause of the great calamity that destroyed the Empire of the Sun Priests. In the eastern lands, many are such legends that speak of the great beast, and all note how it sleeps in an unknown country, one that lies far to the east of fabulous and mystical Xi, a legendary land that is said to be on the other side of the Quartz Ocean. These folktales never fail to mention the seven signs that are sure to arise to mark the awakening of the beast, a time when the Eater of Worlds should once again cause the very earth to tremble with its might."
Solemnly, the road-worn knight bows his head and drops his voice to a mere whisper. "When the signs of the Great Serpent's return began to appear, when reports from the east began to match the ancient prophesies, a party was assembled to seek out the Destroyer and strike it dead while it still slept. The knight whose burden I now bear told me how a prince of the Spice Islands brought together a band of warriors, including veterans of foreign wars who knew well the jungles surrounding distant Xi. Also with him were experienced hunters of dire beasts, along with many porters, craftsmen, and sailors. Over a century strong were they when they left port in three mighty ships, fully outfitted with rations and material for the journey."
His voice goes even deeper as he continues, "She said the people waited over a year for their return. Finally, long after all hope had been lost, a merchantman flying the colors of Xi docked in the Spice Islands. There were only a handful of survivors. It is said that some of them took one look at the beast and went blind, and now they only speak of a endless desert waste that no life can tolerate. Others among their number have gone mad, and now rave ceaselessly about the end of the world."
The messenger stands up and thumps his mailed gauntlet against his breastplate. "I come seeking heroes! After the failure of the Spice Island party, messengers were sent in every direction. Word is being spread by land and sea. Brave and hearty souls are needed to cross the vast ocean, travel to the distant and exotic east, and from there seek the location of the mysterious country where the Destroyer dwells. Heroes are needed to find this monster before it wakes and strike it dead!"
Risks and challenges
Whenever you contract work out to other people there is a chance that something could go wrong. A collaborator might have a medical or family emergency that delays his or her part of the project. Knowing this, the key is to keep in touch with everyone you are working with and to have contacts with other artists who can jump in as needed.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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