Frequently Asked Questions
So I thought I'd start a little compendium of some of the questions people have been asking and the answers provided. I do not claim this is an exhaustive list and it is likely to be quickly replaced by a better one on the game's website, but for now it hopefully saves people some scrolling. Most of the Answers are provided by game designer Christopher Gabrielson but all of them come from the creation team.This looks like more than a card game, like it could be used in a LARP or RPG.
Yes! I thought from the beginning that this could translate to LARP style gaming. I dont know how well it would translate to like Amtgard. But LARP sounds perfect, perhaps with some slight tweaks. There's not a lot of game components to put on the table actually.
We tried to design it so the players focus is predominantly on each other and on their spell codex's rather than on a table of game components. Between two master players who know Serpent's Tongue well, and can do a bit of mental juggling - they could play without a table and possibly without even having to throw down cards - thus making it truly mobile.
In response to a convention message: YES, convention and tournament support is a clearly defined vision and goal for Serpent's Tongue. Supporting local game centers and large tournaments and conventions with demo games, rare bonus cards, prizes, custom Spell Codex's etc... will be key to creating a cool community of Serpent's Tongue Speakers, just as it was in some way for Magic the Gathering.I want as large a community as possible, because.... I want to have as many people to play this with as I can.
What is international shipping going to be?
Brian Gabrielson is working on a solution for international shipping right now. We will have him focus on UK and Korea this weekend. But what we really want to sort out is a European and Asian drop shipping point that will lower costs tremendously. Rather than having Serpent's Tongue shipped to the US and THEN overseas, as is often the case.Brian: I have some news on international shipping. Right now after our $10 discount, shipping will be around $48. Our goal is to get shipping down to $25-$30! I'm working on several different methods for this and I'm confident we can lower the cost for our international pledgers. Also don't worry if you live in a location where it is cheaper to ship to, we will definitely take this into account.
So the spells are composed of a new language? What about cheating?
Yes exactly - the 18 words of creation form new combinations when altered by the surrounding syllables. But the language of Serpent's tongue is actually being revised right now by a constructed language expert. So specific words and syllables will inevitably change a bit before final launch. He is making sure our advanced level grammar and syntax will be elegant and consistent.
Codex peeking (Cheating): Through playtesting - cheating has not been any issue at all. Its very hard to disguise the movement necessary to reveal the activation words - but more importantly Serpent's Tongue strives to invoke a high level of honor amongst its players, which is why we have an entire supplement - "The Gentleman Magi - A modern guide to magickal etiquette" included in the core set.I remember how vicious some of those MTG tournaments got, so we want to cultivate a higher level of consciousness & comraderie in PVP and Co-op play. So that when you rend the very souls of your opponents, you do so with grace and aplomb.
Another point on language. Language puzzles and challenges are included the campaign as well, where Magi must use their Serpent's Key or their general knowledge of Serpent's Tongue at certain points for a variety of reasons. The Nam-Shubs involve piecing parts of language together - while opponents can de-construct them by using other parts of language. Since some Nam-Shubs are instant victory, a whole battle can ensue where Magi never fire a single incantation at each other. It becomes a language battle. So, yeah. It CAN be very integral. Or you can just blast those linquists apart with a Level 4 ritualized Spatial Rift.
You sure you don't want to add a few more speakers/Prodigies?
Line for Life level at $295 was a first week special - Revenue on top of the COGS and Shipping were actually shaved close to 0 on those. (Shipping is excessive on this heavy game of ours!)Unfortunately Prodigy is closed for now. We MAY look at opening up a couple more as we incorporate our current Prodigies into the world and see that we have a little more room, but at this time I can’t promise it.
Are you guys planning on releasing in card binders/folders for our extra inscirptions and spells? Or do you at least have a suggestion of something that would be around the same size as the cards that I could use to store my cards?
Thats a debate that has raged for over 12 months amongst the team, polarized between the logistical and thematic perspectives. The core game as it stands right now will have an elegant felt 'falking' making up compartments in the box you can use to categorize and store your cards, with room for approximately 500 cards. (more than the Core Game and a case of inscription packs). These are compartments sort of like a higher quality Dominion Box if you've seen that game.BUT: one of our early stretch rewards of approximately $40,000 may allow us to afford an improved form of packaging. The upgraded packaging will be a binder that looks like a book... is a book actually with large sized sleeves to store your extra incantations, artifacts etc... Whats nice about the Binder packaging is that you can use it as an extra codex in a pinch!
Will a name like Gareth Thomas fit the game world?
Yes Magi Thomas fits into our theme great. Serpent's Tongue is set very much in OUR world, with your character's back-story going back thousands of years and many lifetimes. Its this back story that you will experience and participate in through the cooperative adventure 'Out of Eden'.Each ACT moves you through your various incarnations, from the ancient to the modern.So Magi Gareth Thomas is alive and well in our time, but exists simultaneously at many times throughout history. Its this 4th dimensional bridge that allows a Magi to re-access the power cultivated in previous incarnations. This is the journey of a Magi's soul to God-hood
What’s a Nam-shub?Nam-Shub: (1) An incantation, chant, poem, or speech thought to have magical power in Sumerian texts. The most famous example is the nam-shub of Enki, in which Enki creates a nam-shub that causes others to lose the ability to speak, and which may be a source for the later Hebrew legend of the Tower of Babel
In the game world of Serpent's Tongue, Nam-Shubs are complete re-writes of reality. They are powerful incantations tied more directly to source that have a permanent effect on our shared perception of the world. It is powerful Nam-shubs that keep the majority of the world Mute to the great language, and overwrites their ability to perceive its workings. Nam-shubs are used by the different factions to control, manipulate and protect the underlying foundation of human civilization.
In game mechanics this translates to Grand Castings - that often require a whole team of Magi to complete, by building the Nam-Shub out of multiple incantations - drawing from their keywords to construct a longer and more powerful Incantation that will either immediately resolve a conflict, 'win the match', or set you up to do so shortly thereafter.Nam-Shub 'recipes' are included in the Spell Codices, as well as in the Obscura Set. They play as long casting rituals that require juggling of Serpent's Tongue from multiple cards, and often the investment of focus, will, resonance and essence. Opponents can deconstruct your Nam-Shub by invoking incantations that use Polarized words on the Serpent's Key.We were heavily inspired by Neal Stephenson's SNOW CRASH for this aspect of the game.
Will there be more adventures available?
WE are absolutely continuing adventure campaigns. Some will be available as expansion campaigns that should be modestly priced. And we also have projected weekly online text-based campaigns and challenges that will earn you Avak'Shar ranks and keep your skills sharp, while slowly moving you through an adventure
.If I purchase an inscription pack case will I be getting every card?
Nah the inscription pack cases will not be guaranteed to include every card of the Obscura set. Although it will get people really really close if not all the way when they cash in Avak'Shar ranks later down the line. What we are trying to figure out is whether we can give a complete set of every card in the game (or almost every card some are only available through Avak'Shar ranks), in lieu of inscription cases as a stretch reward it would still be approximately 275 -300 cards, but rather than having them all randomized it would be set. Still not sure how that will pan out just yet, cause of minimum manufacturing restraints, so we are just collecting everybody's feedback first.
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.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.
Where did the inspiration for the spells/art come from?
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.
What can you tell us about component durability and if the codex pockets will tear?
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.
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.
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. 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. T
hats how it goes - these incantations can be vicious and deadly, and destructive magick in the world of Serpent's Tongue can be gruesome.Last updated:
We are going to subsidize shipping costs to Canada (approximately $19) by the amount dedicated to US Shipping.
The shipping surcharge to Canada is $9 for any level of backing.
Thank you for the extra level of support!Last updated:
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