Posted by Rampant Coyote on July 28, 2011
Here’s another update on Frayed Knights: The Skull of S’makh-Daon. Today I’m posting a short section from the manual presenting the basic background / backstory. While much of this material is revisited in the game, making this purely optional reading, it’s hopefully an interesting set-up to explain the world and the adventurers in it. And pokes a little bit of fun at a few tropes, as well. Those of you who have been reading these blog posts for a while – or played the pilot – should be familiar with a lot of this information. Either way, I hope you find it entertaining. Please post any comments with thoughts, errors, or questions.
Perhaps a little too typical.
In a world full of dungeons filled with gleaming treasure and ancient artifacts of power, adventuring is one of the most profitable (and risky) professions. Where there are rumors of adventure and rewards to be had, adventurers swarm in like heavily armed and armored flies. Competition can get fierce between adventuring parties. But sometimes the camaraderie can be equally fierce. Over time, they have formed a subculture with their own (loose) code of ethics, terminology, and legends. Their high mortality rate contributes to their lifestyle of living for the day.
Many townspeople resent the coming of adventurers – and for good reason. They stir up trouble. They can be loud and boisterous, and dismissive of non-adventurers. They often pester townsfolk for things they call “quests.” However, some enterprising townspeople realize that adventurers come bearing plenty of silver, a hearty thirst, and downright stupidity for the price of anything that isn’t combat gear. A sudden influx of adventurers can turn a small village into a boom-town almost overnight.
The Wizard War
The Wizard War ended nearly three hundred years ago, but it is far from forgotten. The arch-lich Nepharides – an undead wizard of incredible power – gathered a force so powerful that he nearly conquered the entire world. Those cities he didn’t conquer he destroyed. He laid waste to those castles that followed the traditional design of being well-protected from the ground but nearly defenseless from the air, driving his enemies into deep underground fortresses hastily constructed by magic.
The war spanned over a generation. When it was over, little remained of the previous world’s civilizations and kingdoms but ruins. In the decades that followed, humankind and allied races have partly recovered, but it may be many more generations before they return to their former glory.
And what of Nepharides? Was he truly destroyed, forever? In spite of brave and confident talk that this is so, the secret terror is that one day he will return, an army in tow, and finish the task of destruction.
The Adventurer’s Guild
As the ranks of fortune hunters swelled, exploring the ancient ruins of past eras and fighting off the swelling ranks of evil creatures – some descended of those that served Nepharides in the war – some adventuring groups decided to band together in a spirit of cooperation. This group, led by legendary adventurer Argus Stormhammer, would share information, coordinate their adventures, trade equipment and treasure with each other, and keep tabs on each other to provide help or rescue when necessary. While this had been done informally in the past, the new “adventurers guild” quickly grew to become an international organization that gave a real advantage to its members. But even now, as then, the Guild is best known for who it excludes than who it includes. Membership doesn’t come easily, and only those who have proven their mettle on their own are allowed to join.
The Frayed Knights
One particular group of adventurers – referred to (behind their backs) as the “Frayed Knights” – has consistently failed to meet the quality profile recommended by the Adventurer’s Guild, and has had a run of rather embarrassing bad luck. To top it off, their previous priest recently suffered a nervous breakdown and retired from adventuring, forcing them to replace him with a beginner to the profession.
But things may finally be turning around for them. They have finally managed to secure an official quest from the Adventurer’s Guild. Success will mean a recommendation for membership, not to mention a tidy sum of silver. And so the unlikely heroes have answered the call, on a quest to obtain the cryptically-named Eyes of Pokmor Xang in an ancient, evil, thought-to-be-abandoned temple.
This is their shot at the big time. Failure is not an option.
And the temple is not abandoned.
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