Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Frayed Knights: Casting Hellacious Fireballs

Posted by Rampant Coyote on April 16, 2010

Time for another development-diary update on Frayed Knights, the indie RPG that takes the “kool” out of “old skool.” Oh, wait, that’s not right…

Anyway, the last couple of updates have been a little “fluffy” talking about background info, so I wanted to get crunchy and talk about more game rules this time. That’s also because I have been knee-deep in code for a bit, and so that’s what is on my mind. This last week was better than the previous week, partly because I wasn’t spending every night adding new (and not-so-new)  games to the website.  Still, it was a hard slog. I mostly worked on scrolls, spellcasting, and working on dungeon levels.

Ya wanna know what nifty stuff I learned this week? I learned that I had a lot of stubbed / throwaway code in my spellcasting system and item usage system. Yep. A bunch of stuff thrown in there to get the pilot out the door way back when. And it all had to be re-written. Groovy!

But now the item-usage system has been significantly re-done. It’s now (I think) working as expected.  Expect lots of items with weird activated magical abilities in the future, as I try and exploit all that work I did to its maximum potential.

Oh, and combat. The old combat system (in the demo) didn’t actually have the concept of turns. You took an action, and then had a delay (based on the action) to when you could perform the next action, in “phases”. Slower actions took more phases.  That led to a nice, fluid system of actions based on character speed, action timing, and a bunch of other features. It was also pretty confusing, and made balancing kind of a pain. Especially when I had effects that lasted in terms of “turns” (which I’d defined as 10 phases… the average length of time of any action). When it became too confusing and difficult to balance for me, it was time for a change.

Combat is now broken up into distinctive turns, and most actions simply take “a turn.” However, some weapons are slightly faster, and there are spells that speed things up. So there is still something of a phase system underneath the turn-based combat, but it is mainly used to calculate whether a character gets to go twice (or three times) in a turn or not. I’m pleased with the new system. It seems to include the best of both worlds.

Next – scrolls. I wanted scrolls to be a Big Deal. And now, I think they are. Scrolls are used for two things: To learn new spells, and to cast spells directly with a minimal endurance cost. Either usage “uses up” a scroll. Not all spells need to be learned from scrolls – some spells are “common” and are immediately understood once a character with the correct spellcasting ability (Sorcery, Divine Magic, Nature Magic, or Profane Magic) and feats is of high enough level to cast the spell. But at least half of the spells in the game are only available via scrolls… so you have to hunt them down a bit. But once you memorize them from the scroll, they are yours forever.

The other nifty thing about scrolls is that they will let you cast spells that are somewhat beyond your current ability. So long as you have the needed “feat” to cast the class of spells (Sorcerers and Priests automatically got ‘em!), you can cast a spell off a scroll that is a few levels higher than you’d be able to cast normally.

Now – even if you haven’t been especially enterprising hunting down all the available spells for your level, you aren’t going to have to suffer with just low-grade spells. Frayed Knights also has five “Spell Upgrade” feats that let you cast some lower-level spells with either enhanced effects (mainly for damage spells), or enhanced durations. The upgraded spells are cast at a slightly higher level, and have a significantly  higher stamina cost than other spells of that level.

Damage / Effect spells can be upgraded (from least to best) to the following variants: Beefy, Massive, Mondo, Hellacious, and Uber.

Durations can be upgraded to the following variants: Extended, Durable, Prolonged, and Protracted. Yeah, only four levels for duration right now. Especially for combat spells, any longer than protracted (which will generally last longer than the combat itself, sometimes even through the next combat) was just plain silly.

And yes, I had lots of fun with a thesaurus on these names. I’m not sure they’ll be the final names, but I wanted adjectives that conveyed meaning without sounding too serious. But mainly, I just wanted to have Chloe cast Hellacious Fireballs.  And Beefy Hotfoots. Or is that hotfeet?

Right now, the spell balance is such that the upgraded spells will cost more endurance and actually be slightly more effective than their “natural” cousins of the same level. But there will be other differences between the spells besides endurance cost, and many of those other spells can also be upgraded…

I hope that this will be a fun addition and make spell selection an even more interesting aspect of the game.  Again, my goal with Frayed Knights is to create a game that could stand on it’s own and be entertaining and challenging even as a plain-vanilla serious fantasy RPG. The humor and silliness is really just there to make it more of a party.


Filed Under: Frayed Knights - Comments: 4 Comments to Read



  • Scotticus said,

    Thanks for the update. I really enjoy these “peeks” into the mind of the designer. When I first ready about this game, my reaction was somewhat “meh”, but reading these entries is definitely upgrading my opinion to “must buy!”.

    Please do keep sharing these and the other such quality posts. At the moment, I’ve also been enjoying the games which influenced you series.

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    Thanks! I’m glad they are providing entertainment for someone other than myself. But if nothing else — I appreciate people being willing to be used as a sounding board. It’s important to have people to bounce ideas off of, and though I do have a few people I work with on this game, we’re not really a full-time “team.” So being able to talk through ideas, have people respond and make suggestions, and maybe correct my wrong-headed assumptions is super-valuable to me.

    And I’ve been kinda surprised how well people have been responding to the RPG influences articles. I felt kind of embarrassed about them, because of the assumption that anybody would be interested in how these games affected ME. Who cares about me? But I discovered that they weren’t about me. They are about the games, told from one person’s subjective viewpoint. We all have our own views of these games, and we enjoy hearing other people’s stories of these experiences that we indirectly shared. That’s fun stuff!

    Anyway, thanks for your comments!

  • Calibrator said,

    Sadly your preview pics aren’t clickable to magnify them this time.
    I’m not exactly a graphics whore but I can’t help noticing that the graphics have become way better over the past months. Good work!

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    Ah, well, I’ll eventually replace ‘em with better screenshots.

    Mainly I have people with real artistic / level-building talents working on the dungeons, now, instead of just doin’ my programmer art thing all the time. There’ll still be some of those in the final game, I’m sure, but the most important areas will be done by the other guys.

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