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Frayed Knights – Manual: Background

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.

The world of Frayed Knights is in many ways a typical fantasy world full of magic, monsters, mystery, and adventure.

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.

Filed Under: Frayed Knights - Comments: 12 Comments to Read

  • Jeff Sullins said,

    …must….have….this game….

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    Soon! Not soon enough for my tastes, but soon. 🙂

  • Maklak said,

    Good to know, You didn’t come up with a concept of “Evil league of evil” that regulates encounter levels with byzantine bureaucracy.

  • Hajo said,

    You know, the evil also have a reputation to maintain, and they lose reputation points if they attack adventurers of less than 3 levels below their own level.

    Actually everyone must have their level stitched in 10 inch tall numbers at least on the front at back of their outfit, so that random visitors clearly can judge if this is a honorable fight or just a pushover for the winning side. And everyone must have chalkboards to raise with the number of 1 to 10 to raise after seeing an encounter, so that they can immediately show they judgment of reputation, technical excellence, artistic impression and of course, dramatic moves.

    Then, the ever present squirrel spies of all important factions, leagues and guilds will run off to report the judgment to the scoremasters, pointkeepers and numbersans, respectively.

    Sorry, couldn’t resist 😀

  • Hajo said,

    Besides feeling embarrassed by the grammar and spelling mistakes in my last message (as usual) I want to say that I enjoyed reading the sections from the manual. Particularly the beginning, about the relation of adventurers and townsfolk.

    The wizard war is not really to my taste, but explain well why there are so many underground fortifications, so it’s good.

    The adventurers guild story almost begs for one or more competing organizations, even if that is not in the game and only mentioned as additional background.

    Actually the frayed knights section appears a bit weak, but I assume the real game manual gives a bit more in depth information about the four.

    But overall, nice and interesting to read, good work 🙂

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    I was trying for some minimal background for the player to get a feel for the big picture – though almost all of it is covered (in more detail) in-game in one form or another.

    There’ll be more information on Arianna, Benjamin, Chloe, and Dirk in the characters section.

    One thing I am *NOT* covering in the manual nor in this game (probably not until game 3, actually, when it becomes a very appropriate topic of conversation) is why all of the PCs start at level 2 when Benjamin is supposed to be such a n00b compared to the others.

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    BTW, if based on this background you are expecting a straightforward “Ancient Evil” Foozle… well, okay. That’s what you are SUPPOSED to expect. Which pretty much guarantees that it won’t be as simple and straightforward as that.

  • Maklak said,

    Would a DnD party of lvls 1-5 even work? I think not. Good to know they are not level 1, but in pilot they started at level 3 IIRC.

  • DGM said,


    “Actually everyone must have their level stitched in 10 inch tall numbers at least on the front at back of their outfit”

    Been playing a lot of Desktop Dungeons lately, I see. 😛

  • Maklak said,

    Back on topic: Introductory section of manual looks OK. It is not long, boring or anything, but maybe a bit to sketchy on the mages war. How did that Litch even loose a war if it conquered or killed everybody. Oh, and you wouldn’t want spelling and grammar checks from me 😛

    Offtop, DnD:
    I liked it that in Faerun there is a country where adventurers are regarded as little more than grave robbers.

    Some DnD modules and discussions actually tried to explain relations between a dungeon with intelligent monsters and neighbouring villiges. Sometimes the villigers didin’t mind having a relatively tame Ogre around, gave it booze and got protection from goblins. Sometimes things are not as simple as a band of evil fighting adventurers wants to see them.

    I like the idea of adventurers boosting a village economy to the point of atracting mogrants and merchants.
    – “Hello random merchant, haven’t we seen you in previous village?”
    – “Yeah”
    – “But now you are here. What a coincidence”
    – “I travel to where the money is. That means where the likes of you are. Do you need anything?”

    Another unpopular issue for adventurers to deal with are tax collectors.

    Having one dominant adventurer’s guild in the region makes sense to me, but there may be smaller ones, distant competing big ones or factions within the guild.

    You should include official name (the one, they use in negotiations) of the Frayed Knights group.

    > And the temple is not abandoned.
    In a game it never is. Actually imagine a broken quest in some “action packed” game, where you get prepared for a fight, but the level turns out to be empty, and all you have to do is fetch item from A to B with zero resistance. Oh, and the boss is already dead. People would while a lot, but it makes sense for some abandoned ruin to be empty.

  • Adam said,

    I liked the introduction to the Frayed Knights group. It’s short and information packed. It tells me who they are, what they’re like, what they want, and even gives me a concrete example of their “bad luck” in the form of the priest.
    I wasn’t really interested in the game before, but now I think I’ll give it a try, since you’re obviously a fairly capable writer.

  • Kyle said,

    Have you read the works of Terry Pratchett? (I would assume so, but figured to ask) He has a very similar take on Heroes and Adventuring. I like it, good stuff, here.