Tales of the Rampant Coyote

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Frayed Knights – The Manual: Magic and Spells, Part One

Posted by Rampant Coyote on July 20, 2011

The latest counts in Frayed Knights: The Skull of S’makh-Daon put the number of base spells in the game at just under 150. Yes, ONE HUNDRED FIFTY base spells. I guess there’s no kill like overkill – I’m a little stunned by the count myself. Plus, many of them can be upgraded with the spellcasting upgrade feats as well — and these upgraded versions can be used by enemies and traps as well.  That’s nearly six-hundred variants on top of all this.

I may have gone a little overboard on these.  But I think the testers can attest that the variety is a lot of fun.  And often, necessary.  The right spells – cast directly or through the use of a special item – can turn an overwhelming fight into an easily manageable one.

This week, I figured I’d post up most of the draft version of the Magic and Spells section of the Frayed Knights manual for your enjoyment and exploration. I don’t think I am going to list every base spell in the game here (See?!?!? I can be taught! Maybe there is such a thing as “too much”), but I’ll give you a nice sampling to give you a feel for things. Much of this information will be familiar to people who have followed this blog for a while, but hopefully you’ll find it interesting to see how things have evolved.

Here’s part one:

Magic and Spells

The Frayed Knights have two spellcasters in the party at the beginning of the game: Chloe (a sorceress) and Benjamin (a priest), but any character may gain the ability to cast spells. In addition, there are several items in the game usable by any character that mimic the effects of some spells, such as potions. Enemies may use spells and spell-like special abilities against your party. No matter how you slice it, spell usage is a major part of the game, so you are going to need to know how to use it effectively, and how to defend against it.

The Four Categories of Magic
Magic spells are broken into four categories: Sorcery, and the three priest categories: Divine Magic, Nature Magic, and Dark Magic. Characters with the appropriate feats can cast the spells from that category. There is a little bit of overlap (especially among heal spells), but otherwise the categories are pretty distinct.

Sorcery spells are fueled by the caster’s will exerting its influence over the forces of the cosmos, and are trickier to cast – especially in armor. Priest magic is less direct, requesting the spirits of nature or godlike elder beings to influence reality on the caster’s behalf. Priest magic isn’t inhibited as much by armor, but as the gods are somewhat jealous, and demand that their casters only use one category of priestly magic.

Monsters don’t follow the gods or philosophies of humans, and may use combinations of spells denied to human casters and their allies.

Casting Spells
<Section under construction>

Spell Requirements
In order to cast a spell, a character needs to meet the following requirements:

  • The character must have the appropriate feat (or inherent class ability) to cast the spell.
  • The character’s level must be equal to or greater than the spell level. In order to cast a level 5 spell, you must be at least level 5.
  • The character must know the spell. See the section on “Learning Spells” below.
  • The character’s spellcasting attribute (Brains for sorcery, Charm for priest spells) must be equal or greater than the spell level. In order to cast a level 5 spell, you must be at least level 5. There are some feats that allow you to cast spells slightly higher than your attribute level, as well.
  • The character must have enough endurance to cast the spell. A spell’s endurance cost depends on its level relative to the caster’s level (it gets cheaper as you increase levels), its endurance cost modifier, and any character feats that reduce the cost of spellcasting.
  • The character must have enough spellstones of the appropriate type to cast the spell, if the spell requires spellstones. See the “Spellstones” section below for more information.
  • The spell must be appropriate to the circumstance: some spells are combat-only, a few can only be cast when the party is not in combat, and others can be cast at any time.

Those are a lot of conditions, right? Fortunately, the game takes care of all that for you. Only known spells of the appropriate level and condition are displayed in the selection menu. Spells you could normally cast but lack the spellstone or endurance requirements are grayed out but visible.

Learning New Spells
Most spells are commonly known among spellcasters. These common spells are known immediately by any caster qualified to cast them.

But there are also rare spells that must be discovered by casters to be added to their arsenal. This is often done by studying scrolls containing these rare spells. If a character uses a scroll containing a spell he or she qualifies for but doesn’t know already, you will be asked if you want them to learn the spell. This action consumes the scroll, but the spell will be permanently added to the character’s available spell list. Only one character can learn a spell through a scroll. If you want two characters to learn the spell, you will need two scrolls.

Another way to learn rare spells is to be taught – by a computer-controlled character or artifact. When your party is taught a spell, it is now permanently “known” by all party members – even if they cannot cast it yet. If they ever gain the skills and meet the requirements to cast that spell, it will be available in the spellcasting menu.

Most spells only cost endurance to cast, like any other ability. But many of the more powerful spells – particularly those that affect multiple targets at once – require spellstones. These are gem-like stones that contain small amounts of raw magical energy. They come in different types, with the more powerful (and expensive) ones fueling more powerful spells.

The spellstone is consumed by the spell when it is cast. Spellstones can be found as loot, but may also be purchased from some merchants. A caster must have the spellstone in their personal inventory to cast the spell. Base-level spells require only a single spellstone. Spells upgraded with the “Escalate Spells” or higher-powered upgrade feat require two spellstones to cast.

Spellstones may also used to power some magical devices. But only certain skilled artificers know the secrets to using them in this way. Which is a round-about way of saying there may be other uses of spellstones to be found in the game.

Spell Upgrades
A sorcerer or priest can get along quite fine with the standard sets of spells, particularly if they hunt around for those rare ones that aren’t taught in the schools.  In theory, that’s all you’d ever need. But in practice, magical effects aren’t evenly distributed across all spell levels. When your most powerful damaging spell at level 6 might be Deep Fat Fry, but you find yourself facing a creature immune or highly to fire spells, you may find your spell array lacking its usual wallop. Or you may find yourself in a long and drawn-out battle that may require you to re-cast your protective spells in the middle of things. Or you may find yourself in a sticky situation where conserving your energy isn’t nearly as important as getting the bad guy dead as fast as possible.

Those situations – and more – are what spell upgrades are for. There is a progression of five feats that any caster can obtain as he or she levels which spells to be cast at more powerful levels. There are five upgrade feat, which much be obtained in the following order: Augment Spell, Enhance Spell, Escalate Spell, Maximize Spell, and Overcharge Spell. Each upgrade increases the effective casting level of the target spell, along with a corresponding upgrade in effect or duration, endurance cost, and potentially spellstone cost. In general, an upgraded offensive spell might not be quite as efficient as a natural spell of the equivalent level, but it may prove more effective in the short term.

When you choose a spell from the spellcasting menu, the final screen will display upgrade choices (if any) for your chosen spell. By default, no upgrade will be selected. You can click the upgrade level buttons to see the impact on the spell’s endurance and spellstone cost (if any) before committing to casting. To see the upgrade’s actual impact on effect … well, you’ll just have to cast it and find out.

Hitting Enemies
Friendly spells automatically land on all targets. Spells targeting an enemy have a chance of missing, based upon a number of factors: The difference in levels between caster and target, the target’s luck score, the target’s feats, the targets inherent magic resistance, certain kinds of equipment, and so forth.

For spells that target an enemy group, each member of the group is targeted individually, and may miss several. In general, spells targeting an enemy group have a slightly lower accuracy than spells targeting a single opponent.

Duration-Based Effects
Multiple uses of a duration-based spell on a target do not have a cumulative effect – only the spell with the longest duration is maintained. The same is true of status effects – you can’t go “more blind” with multiple blindness attacks.

Spell Effects
Spells may have one or more effects. Some (like Cheat Sheet) are special cases with effects that are unique to the spell. Most spell effects are of the following types:

Damage: Does the given amount of direct damage. Damage has a subtype, which may be affected by vulnerabilities and  resistances (natural and temporary). Special case: For sonic damage, 1/4th of the damage is applied to a reduction in endurance, not hit points.

Damage Over Time: Does the given amount of damage immediately, and then repeats the damage each turn on the character’s action until the duration expires. Like Damage effects, this may be modified by resistances or vulnerabilities.

Healing: Heals target by the given number of points.

Healing Over Time: Heals target by the given number of points, and then repeats the healing each turn on the character’s action until the duration expires.

Cause Status Effect: Causes the given status effects. The points represents the duration of the effect, in turns. (Even if the spell itself has a duration, it does not re-apply the status effect each round).

Defense Modification: Raises or lowers the target’s defense by the given number of points.

Armor Modification: Raises or lowers the target’s armor rating by the given number of points.

Accuracy Modification: Raises or lowers the target’s accuracy by the given number of points.

Haste: Increases the target’s haste level by the given number of points. 1 point of haste gives the target one extra attack every ten turns. A haste of 2 would give the character an extra action every 5 rounds, a haste of 5 would give the target an extra action every other turn, etc.

Recapacitation: Restores a character from incapacitated status. Target will have only one hit point, one point of endurance, and will be at maximum exhaustion when restored, however.  Note that in Frayed Knights: The Skull of S’makh-Daon, the only spell with this effect is above the level cap, so it can only be used via magic items.

Negate Status: Reduces the duration of the given status effect by a number of turns.

Modify Attribute: Modifies the given attribute by the given amount.

Resist Damage: Resists damage of the given type by the given number of points.


Filed Under: Frayed Knights - Comments: 3 Comments to Read

  • The Former Muriel Ironsort said,

    Um. Would it be possible to include the full list of spells in an appendix or something? Or is that info at least available in game as part of a civilopedia kind of thing? Not everyone might want that kind of data, but a lot of people will, I think. (Some for the collector perspective, to make sure you find all the rare ones out there, and some just for the knowledge of what they do.)

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    The full list will probably be in the manual. I’m not sure whether or not to include the rare spells. But I’m working on stuff this week to make all that information available in-game for all spells.

  • Maklak said,

    About Duration-based effects: If there is a dispel, then DnD approach would seem good. Identical spells stick, but only the strongest one is in effect. In case of dispel all are affected separately, so stacking is marginally useful. In case of DoT and HoT maybe the effect should be cumulative.

    Ah, so there is a haste spell, and it is potentially stronger than feats.