Serpent Amphora Quickstart

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Tim Baker
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Serpent Amphora Quickstart

Post by Tim Baker »

The Serpent Amphora Quickstart is an unusual product. It not only includes an introductory adventure and pre-gen characters, it has a condensed version of the 5e rules. In theory, it's the only thing you need (other than dice) to run a game.

What do you think of this concept? How many people are coming to a new 5e product with no 5th Edition experience? Is it a good use of page space, or unnecessary? Is it a clever way to introduce players to Scarred Lands?

I thought it was particularly interesting that the pre-gens are from Vigilant, a Scarred Lands novel written by Ketinas.

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Re: Serpent Amphora Quickstart

Post by Ketinas »

Yep, I made pre-gens from Vigilant. The rest of the publication is based on the modules original text, so it doesn't match the novel 1:1.

I have an additional NPC if you want to run it closer to resemble the plot and characters from the novel:

Myriam Lenahr (human woman, commoner, mixed Ledean/Elzan heritage)
Myriam is the mother of Kane and Eochaid Lenahr. She’s in her mid-40s. She runs a small farm in the town of Trela.
Her family is well off compared to many people in the area: the farm has had many strong years in a row and Kane earns extra income in the off season by hunting. This affords them a few extra luxuries, like books and exotic foodstuffs from the traders that come through. Myriam is known for her friendly nature and is generous to her neighbors and even strangers, always there to lend a hand when someone is in need.
She’s a devoted follower of the goddess Madriel but worships her in secret. The village priest, Radraan, is a cleric of Belsameth (the patron goddess of New Venir), and Myriam worries that he would make trouble for the family were he to find out. Radraan has demonstrated a romantic interest in her, but so far she’s been able to politely hold off his advances. She suspects that he knows her eldest son left home to join the Veshian Vigil (enemies of the Calastian Empire and New Venir), so she stays friendly with him, hoping his interest in her will stop him from turning her family in to the authorities.
She worries that Calastian army recruiters will come to town someday and conscript her youngest son, as they threatened to do with her oldest before he left home. She has long-term plans to move north to join Eochaid in Vesh before that happens, but she is loath to give up the farm and start life over again.
She’s looking forward to the upcoming Carnival of Flowers festival. She has baked fresh pies and made wreaths of flowers from her own garden for the celebration.

If you pick it up, I hope you enjoy it!
Sarah L. "Ketina" Stewart
Author and game designer for the Scarred Lands by Onyx Path Publishing.
Vigilant: Book One of Through Shadows and Dreams can be found here
https://www.drivethrufiction.com/produc ... rs_id=4261 and my personal web site is at http://www.morelikethisindustries.com/.

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Re: Serpent Amphora Quickstart

Post by Tim Baker »

Ketinas wrote:
Sat Feb 29, 2020 6:53 am
Yep, I made pre-gens from Vigilant. The rest of the publication is based on the modules original text, so it doesn't match the novel 1:1.

I have an additional NPC if you want to run it closer to resemble the plot and characters from the novel.
Very cool. I didn't realize you created the pre-gens as well.

Thank you for the bonus content! It's fun to see Myriam Lenahr statted up here. :)

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Re: Serpent Amphora Quickstart

Post by TravisLegge »

One of my biggest hopes for the Quickstart is to bring in players who are fans of other Onyx Path Games, but maybe have not tried 5e yet.

I also just like having an indexed and easily accessed set of basic SRD rules around.

Furthermore, the purchase comes with INDD files, so other community content designers can pull from the SRD there without having to mess with the...poorly formatted...pdf from WOTC.

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Re: Serpent Amphora Quickstart

Post by Tim Baker »

TravisLegge wrote:
Mon Mar 02, 2020 6:47 pm
the purchase comes with INDD files, so other community content designers can pull from the SRD there without having to mess with the...poorly formatted...pdf from WOTC.
I suspect this along could make it worth the price for anyone working from the SRD. :)

And welcome to the Piazza! Please take a moment to introduce yourself in the Introduce yourself here thread, so the community can get to know you.

Also, you might want to add a signature to your profile, so each time a user reads one of your posts, they can check out the cool stuff you've created.

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Re: Serpent Amphora Quickstart

Post by Big Mac »

Tim Baker wrote:
Sat Feb 29, 2020 6:25 am
The Serpent Amphora Quickstart is an unusual product. It not only includes an introductory adventure and pre-gen characters, it has a condensed version of the 5e rules. In theory, it's the only thing you need (other than dice) to run a game.

What do you think of this concept? How many people are coming to a new 5e product with no 5th Edition experience? Is it a good use of page space, or unnecessary? Is it a clever way to introduce players to Scarred Lands?
That's kind of what a Quickstart is for any other RPG system. You can use all of them on their own.

There have been a number of Quickstart-like products from TSR and Wizards of the Coast. They have never really used the proper D&D rules and most of them are pretty hard to find. I've mostly found out about them, because a lot of them have tie-ins with campaign settings I am interested in. (One of them is a Spelljammer adventure, that starts in Karemeikos on Mystara. ;) )

Anyhoo. It's interesting that this has been done with the Scarred Lands campaign setting. Scarred Lands was the first ever third party publisher campaign setting to get out a product in the 3rd Edition Era, if I recall correctly. So Scarred Lands was published in a "learn 3rd Edition and learn Scarred Lands at the same time" period. Some of the Sword & Sorcery Studio products were generic ones, with that "import this into your own game" vibe, but even those mostly had Scarred Lands elements in them. (Scarred Lands was the first third party d20 System campaign setting I bought anything for and the first non-D&D setting I thought of "Spelljammerising".)

The original Serpent Amphora trilogy started off with some sort of freebie introduction adventure. I think that made it an easy way for people to get into the setting.

This Quickstart looks like it's another approach at making a low-risk way for people to get into Scarred Lands. (Hopefully they will consider putting it up as a Print on Demand version, eventually.)

I wonder how many people will use this product to do what the original Scarred Lands product line did, and learn 5th Edition rules via this Quickstart.

I suppose the disadvantage with Quickstart-like products (and the thing that always put me off of them in the past) is that once you have learned the starter rules, you still have to buy the big "hero" rules product and the starter rules are mostly no longer any use to you. (I hadn't thought of using the same Quickstart-like product with multiple groups in the past. That adds some extra value to it, that mitigates some of the disadvantage.)

With this specific Quickstart, you also get an adventure. And once you have run though that adventure, you should still be able to use some, if not all, of the locations and NPCs in the story.
Tim Baker wrote:
Sat Feb 29, 2020 6:25 am
I thought it was particularly interesting that the pre-gens are from Vigilant, a Scarred Lands novel written by Ketinas.
That's another interesting move.

I've not read any Scarred Lands novels yet.

I'll be interested to know if Vigilant has been retconned into the Serpent Amphora backstory (and then the characters put into this new version).

But, because I've not read it yet...and I might want to read it...I'll avoid asking for spoiler information about the novel (for now).
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Re: Serpent Amphora Quickstart

Post by Big Mac »

Ketinas wrote:
Sat Feb 29, 2020 6:53 am
Yep, I made pre-gens from Vigilant. The rest of the publication is based on the modules original text, so it doesn't match the novel 1:1.

I have an additional NPC if you want to run it closer to resemble the plot and characters from the novel:

Myriam Lenahr (human woman, commoner, mixed Ledean/Elzan heritage)
Myriam is the mother of Kane and Eochaid Lenahr. She’s in her mid-40s. She runs a small farm in the town of Trela.
Her family is well off compared to many people in the area: the farm has had many strong years in a row and Kane earns extra income in the off season by hunting. This affords them a few extra luxuries, like books and exotic foodstuffs from the traders that come through. Myriam is known for her friendly nature and is generous to her neighbors and even strangers, always there to lend a hand when someone is in need.
She’s a devoted follower of the goddess Madriel but worships her in secret. The village priest, Radraan, is a cleric of Belsameth (the patron goddess of New Venir), and Myriam worries that he would make trouble for the family were he to find out. Radraan has demonstrated a romantic interest in her, but so far she’s been able to politely hold off his advances. She suspects that he knows her eldest son left home to join the Veshian Vigil (enemies of the Calastian Empire and New Venir), so she stays friendly with him, hoping his interest in her will stop him from turning her family in to the authorities.
She worries that Calastian army recruiters will come to town someday and conscript her youngest son, as they threatened to do with her oldest before he left home. She has long-term plans to move north to join Eochaid in Vesh before that happens, but she is loath to give up the farm and start life over again.
She’s looking forward to the upcoming Carnival of Flowers festival. She has baked fresh pies and made wreaths of flowers from her own garden for the celebration.

If you pick it up, I hope you enjoy it!
Thanks for the bonus NPC Ketinas.

I've not read Vigilant yet, so I might avoid this for now and come back to it later.

One question, though: Does the new Quickstart version have any spoilers that would ruin the novel?

I lied. Here is an extra question: Is this anything like Dragonlance Chronicles, where there are adventures and novels telling the same story from slightly different points of view?
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Re: Serpent Amphora Quickstart

Post by Big Mac »

TravisLegge wrote:
Mon Mar 02, 2020 6:47 pm
One of my biggest hopes for the Quickstart is to bring in players who are fans of other Onyx Path Games, but maybe have not tried 5e yet.
That's very clever.

I don't think I've seen anyone else doing a 5e Quickstart yet.
TravisLegge wrote:
Mon Mar 02, 2020 6:47 pm
I also just like having an indexed and easily accessed set of basic SRD rules around.

Furthermore, the purchase comes with INDD files, so other community content designers can pull from the SRD there without having to mess with the...poorly formatted...pdf from WOTC.
That looks like it is an awesome bonus feature for other would be 5e Quickstart creators.

Are you specifically marketing it towards other 5e compatible content creators? I'm not sure I could tell it had that extra stuff in it.

Have you considered pulling that content out of the Quickstart, and selling it as a separate kit on DMs Guild? Maybe someone might make a Forgotten Realms Quickstart, Ravenloft Quickstart or Eberron Quickstart, if they had access to the INDD files.

(I wonder if Seethyr, from Maztica Alive, would create a Maztica Quickstart adventure. I'll give him a ping and point him at this topic.)
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Re: Serpent Amphora Quickstart

Post by Big Mac »

Tim Baker wrote:
Tue Mar 03, 2020 3:43 am
TravisLegge wrote:
Mon Mar 02, 2020 6:47 pm
the purchase comes with INDD files, so other community content designers can pull from the SRD there without having to mess with the...poorly formatted...pdf from WOTC.
I suspect this along could make it worth the price for anyone working from the SRD. :)

And welcome to the Piazza! Please take a moment to introduce yourself in the Introduce yourself here thread, so the community can get to know you.
You ninjad me, Tim! :lol:

We need to get Travis onto Havard's list of Celebrities at The Piazza

(I think it's time for Havard's list to have a "Scarred Lands" section. :cool: )

(EDIT: Havard added a Scarred Lands section!)
Tim Baker wrote:
Tue Mar 03, 2020 3:43 am
Also, you might want to add a signature to your profile, so each time a user reads one of your posts, they can check out the cool stuff you've created.
You might also want to clip a picture out of one of your books, and use it as your profile picture, Travis. A few other pros have done that.

(And you can always use The Wishing Well if you have any industry news - including Kickstarter annoucements - that you want to share.)
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Re: Serpent Amphora Quickstart

Post by Ketinas »

Big Mac wrote:
Tue Mar 03, 2020 4:15 pm

One question, though: Does the new Quickstart version have any spoilers that would ruin the novel?

I lied. Here is an extra question: Is this anything like Dragonlance Chronicles, where there are adventures and novels telling the same story from slightly different points of view?
The Serpent Amphora Quickstart corresponds to the novel's prologue. The novel doesn't spoil anything in the module, and the module doesn't spoil anything that you can't read on the back cover of the novel. The first half of the novel acts as a prequel to the second part of the module's cycle, The Serpent and the Fold. I'm curious to see how someone who's played / knows the Serpent and the Fold story thinks about it after they read Vigilant.

The novel ties together with the modules, but knowing one is not necessary to understand the other, it just adds a little more flavor. While we tried our best to write the book consistent with the (sometimes contradictory) lore, things like dialog certainly don't match 1:1. Several characters from the modules, and other Scarred Lands classic lore, appear in the novel as well.

The novel is told almost entirely from one character's point of view, Eochaid Lenahr, who has a very brief appearance in the Serpent Amphora mini-module / quickstart, as he kicks off the plot. The book is third person limited narrative, with a slightly unreliable narrator. He's got an INT of 16 but a WIS of 8, so he misses things a lot. :)

Funny, I did reread Dragons of Autumn Twilight when we were about 80% of the way through writing the book. I remember thinking "wow, our writing is a lot clearer and cleaner than this!" Dragons not only had multiple point of view, it sometimes switches the PoV in the middle of a paragraph! OMG, so confusing! We also use a lot more swears!

Vigilant is about a lot of things: A guy who joins the military in hopes of becoming a hero. The horrors of some of the more brutal places in the Scarred Lands. It's also about love, camaraderie, and friendship, and the impact a small group of people have on a really big story. And it has about 20 odd combat scenes!

It's also an introduction to the Scarred Lands and meant as a transition between classic lore and new updated lore. Occasionally narrator voice (who is an actual character) jumps in with a little world building information, but those are sparsely sprinkled in.

As you can probably tell, I love talking about the book. Thanks for the excuse. :D

Most of the reviews and feedback we've received have been from either friends who played in my Scarred Lands campaigns, or people unfamiliar with Scarred Lands and D&D. If you decide to read it, I'd love to hear what you think. And if you write and post a review, my co-author will write a haiku for you on any subject you choose.
Sarah L. "Ketina" Stewart
Author and game designer for the Scarred Lands by Onyx Path Publishing.
Vigilant: Book One of Through Shadows and Dreams can be found here
https://www.drivethrufiction.com/produc ... rs_id=4261 and my personal web site is at http://www.morelikethisindustries.com/.

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Re: Serpent Amphora Quickstart

Post by Tim Baker »

Ketinas wrote:
Thu Mar 05, 2020 12:52 am
The novel ties together with the modules, but knowing one is not necessary to understand the other, it just adds a little more flavor.
As someone who isn't familiar with the modules, I can confirm that I didn't even realize they were tied together until after I'd read the novel. I didn't feel like I was missing important content from elsewhere or even realize that there was content out there that might make the larger story richer.
Ketinas wrote:
Thu Mar 05, 2020 12:52 am
Most of the reviews and feedback we've received have been from either friends who played in my Scarred Lands campaigns, or people unfamiliar with Scarred Lands and D&D. If you decide to read it, I'd love to hear what you think. And if you write and post a review, my co-author will write a haiku for you on any subject you choose.
While I'm familiar with D&D, I haven't had the chance to play/run in the Scarred Lands. I read the original trilogy of novels, which is why I picked up Vigilant. While I like the setting, I haven't quite been inspired enough to want to do the heavy lifting to convert it to my favorite game system. That's not a bash against it – it's among other great settings that are in that same category. It's one of the drawbacks of not running D&D.

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Re: Serpent Amphora Quickstart

Post by TravisLegge »

Tim Baker wrote:
Tue Mar 03, 2020 3:43 am
TravisLegge wrote:
Mon Mar 02, 2020 6:47 pm
the purchase comes with INDD files, so other community content designers can pull from the SRD there without having to mess with the...poorly formatted...pdf from WOTC.
I suspect this along could make it worth the price for anyone working from the SRD. :)

And welcome to the Piazza! Please take a moment to introduce yourself in the Introduce yourself here thread, so the community can get to know you.

Also, you might want to add a signature to your profile, so each time a user reads one of your posts, they can check out the cool stuff you've created.
Thanks much for the warm welcome and the excellent advice all!

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Re: Serpent Amphora Quickstart

Post by Tim Baker »

TravisLegge wrote:
Fri Mar 06, 2020 2:42 am
Thanks much for the warm welcome and the excellent advice all!
I'm glad I could help. Could I convince you to also add a note on the Celebrities at The Piazza thread? That way, Havard can capture your information on our list of designers, publishers, artists, developers, and others in the industry.

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