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Extravagant Frayed Knights Codex Preview Feature

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Extravagant Frayed Knights Codex Preview Feature

Preview - posted by VentilatorOfDoom on Sat 24 September 2011, 01:26:47

Tags: Frayed Knights; Jay Barnson; Rampant Games

As most of you probably know, Indie developer RampantGames is about to release the first part of their blob dungeon crawler cRPG : Frayed Knights: The Skull of S'makh-Daon. What can I say, I've asked Jay Barnson to tag team a preview feature with me. It's half preview, half Let's Play and half interview.

Despite the fact you'll get this pre-generated characters as your party, you're free to level them up as you like. They cover the basic RPG archetypes and while you can pick skills and feats not fitting their predefined role, I think it's at least dubious to do so, in terms of combat efficiency. Although nothing stops you from trying anyways. Unlike other blob crawlers the game doesn't feature a phase-based combat system but a truely turnbased one with initiative-rolls before every turn to determine the sequence in which the combatants are going to act, something I prefer over phase-based.
Staying true to cRPG traditions we start out with pretty much zero resources. Expect a potion of Negligible Healing, 2 potions of Liquid Nap (per person) and some sort of weapon, for instance a Shoddy Quarterstaff, which is almost as good as a regular quarterstaff, except it's not. Additionally, Chloe comes with 3 charges on her wand of Incendiary Crackleball, a spell that does almost nothing, but it does it to multiple enemies.
Read the whole thing here.

<h1><span style="font-size: small;">[Frayed Knights: The Skull of S'makh-Daon Preview]</span></h1>
<h3>VoD crawls the Temple of Pokmor Xang killing things</h3>
Somehow I managed to get my hands on a preview copy of Frayed Knights. I have rather harsh times at my job this week and thus haven't been able to put more than a few hours into it, so keep in mind that my impressions only cover the first ~3 hours of the game.
<p style="text-align: center;"><img style="border: 0pt none;" title="Temple of Pokmor Xang" src="http://www.rpgcodex.net/gallery/8812_500.jpg" alt="" width="500" height="281" />
Here we have our heroes. The warrior Arianna, the menstruation girl as I call her; she always looks like the incarnation of PMS. Maybe that's the reason she usually inflicts the most carnage. Then there's Dirk (Nowitzki), the party rogue who isn't afraid of anything. Chloe is a sorceress with a knack for ponies and blowing things up. Finally, Benjamin is the healer and proves that healing magic not requiring brains is a good thing.
Despite the fact you'll get this pre-generated characters as your party, you're free to level them up as you like. They cover the basic RPG archetypes and while you can pick skills and feats not fitting their predefined role, I think it's at least dubious to do so, in terms of combat efficiency. Although nothing stops you from trying anyways. Unlike other blob crawlers the game doesn't feature a phase-based combat system but a truely turnbased one with initiative-rolls before every turn to determine the sequence in which the combatants are going to act, something I prefer over phase-based.
Staying true to cRPG traditions we start out with pretty much zero resources. Expect a potion of Negligible Healing and 2 potions of Liquid Nap per person and some sort of weapon, for instance a Shoddy Quarterstaff, which is almost as good as a regular quarterstaff, except it's not. Additionally, Chloe comes with 3 charges on her wand of Incendiary Crackleball, a spell that does almost nothing, but it does it to multiple enemies.
<p style="text-align: center; "><img style="border: 0px initial initial;" title="Incendiary Crackleball" src="http://www.rpgcodex.net/gallery/8814_500.jpg" alt="" width="500" height="281" />
Speaking of Potions of Liquid Nap, those can increase your endurance and remove exhaustion which might come in handy because your biggest enemy early on, apart from pus golems, evil priests and cultists and brittlebone skeletons, seems to be your blue endurance bar. It's the same as a mana bar except it's called endurance here. You use it to cast spells and pull off your other combat abilities. Now the catch is, the game is not welcoming enough to just regenerate your endurance immediately after a fight. As far as I can tell it doesn't regenerate at all unless you press (R)est during a combat encounter. See, when in combat every action, like (A)ttacking, (C)asting a spell and so on requires a bit of endurance. When you rest instead for that turn you gain a small chunk of endurance back without immediately spending it on some combat action. That means I've found myself quite often casting "Invoke Snoring" (Sleep) on the last enemy and then resting my whole team for several turns while he was sleeping so they could get their blue bars filled up.
<p style="text-align: center;"><img style="border: 0px initial initial;" title="They have an Undead Problem here" src="http://www.rpgcodex.net/gallery/8817_thumb.jpg" alt="" width="150" height="84" />  <img style="border: 0px initial initial;" title="Pus Golems" src="http://www.rpgcodex.net/gallery/8815_thumb.jpg" alt="" width="150" height="84" />
Exhaustion is another mechanic. You will probably note that after a couple of combat encounters you maximum endurance (you can see it on the above screenshot) will keep on dropping. The maximum amount of endurance you can have will get smaller and smaller the more exhausted you become. So far I've found no place to rest in the temple so at some point when the endurance bars of your casters are cut in half the situation becomes heinous and you will probably be grateful to have this potion of Liquid Nap or to have a drama star ready for usage. You're going to get drama points all the time, when you open a door and run into an ambush, when you defeat a group of enemies or when you have Arianna drink from a poisonous looking fountain. Everything nets drama points and you can use the filled up drama stars to get certain benefits. It looks like you're going to need said benefits, so I refrained from reloading so far.
<p style="text-align: center;"><img style="border: 0px initial initial;" title="Drama Stars" src="http://www.rpgcodex.net/gallery/8818_500.jpg" alt="" width="500" height="281" />
Apart from the combat, of which there's a lot, your characters will have a conversation every now and then. You've probably heard that Frayed Knights attempts a certain comedic approach. I'm unsure how well this works in the long run. It's one thing to have a genuinely funny moment every once in a while, but it's a completely different thing to be funny all the time. Everything is supposed to be funny, names, item description, party banter. Well, I suppose it doesn't detract too much but to be honest I also wasn't rolling on the floor, laughing, so far. If you're trying to be funny all the time, things can become wooden or artificial if you get my drift. Here are two examples of party banter:
<p style="text-align: center; "><img style="border: 0px initial initial;" title="Party Talk" src="http://www.rpgcodex.net/gallery/8813_thumb.jpg" alt="" width="150" height="84" /> <img style="border: 0px initial initial;" title="Did he know his wands?" src="http://www.rpgcodex.net/gallery/8819_thumb.jpg" alt="" width="150" height="84" />
Anyway, after strolling around temple level 1 killing things for an extended while I managed to level up eventually. When leveling up, I mainly focused on attributes and feats which are supposed to improve the whole endurance-problem, for instance I've picked Effortless Casting which reduces the endurance cost of spells. There's a lot of different things to pick actually, different magic schools, some sorts of metamagic feats, passive enhancements, active combat skills and the like.
<p style="text-align: center; "><img style="border: 0px initial initial;" title="Leveling Up" src="http://www.rpgcodex.net/gallery/8820_500.jpg" alt="" width="500" height="281" />
After these brief impressions of mine, Jay Barnson will take you through a typical combat encounter turn by turn, to show off what Frayed Knights tactical combat is like. It's only one encounter and it's only ten turns but surprisingly it requires a rather lengthy description. 
<h3>Let's Play: Frayed Knights</h3>
We’re going to go through a sample of leveling up choices, and a sample combat against some goblin shamans in the basement of the Tower of Almost Certain Death. This is an encounter that can occur somewhat early in the game (during the quarter third or so), so our characters are only level 4. The game starts with them at level 2, so they haven’t had too much opportunity to customize, and haven’t gotten some of the most interesting spells yet. But that’s where we are. And, as I think you’ll see, combat remains quite interesting throughout.
At a couple of points, I have some designer notes. The game is in final testing and balancing, and a couple of interesting issues come up that may be changed before final release, and I make note of them here.

Let’s start by talking about how we’ve customized the characters so far as they’ve leveled up, and what kind of equipment they are using.

At level 3, Arianna takes Might +1, and the Quick Healer feat. Might is important for damage-dealing, and Quick Healer gives her bonus healing points when she is healed by magic.
At level 4, she takes the: Slam feat. Slam is a special attack that has a slightly reduced attack chance and damage potential, as well as small extra endurance cost, but it has a chance of knocking an opponent’s wind out of them (reducing their endurance), knocking them off balance (the stagger effect, which carries a small small penalty in their attack and defense) for a few turns, or even stunning them for a turn (making them unable to take action).

Arianna’s equipment includes a Chain Shirt, Helmet, Broadsword, Roundshield, 3 potions of negligible healing (not really useful in-combat, better for afterwards), a potion of resist acid (which grants … surprise! a resistance to acid-based effects), a potion of beefiness (which grants a +2 Might bonus temporarily), and a liquid nap potion (which restores endurance and removes a little bit of exhaustion as well).

At level 3, Dirk takes an increase in his Might - mainly so he can wield heftier weapons, and the Point Person feat. Point Person grants the character a chance to detect and avoid random encounters. This is very useful when you are going to be resting, searching, or picking locks in a dungeon. Which is pretty much certain. 

As a quest reward, Dirk received an additional +1 Might, bringing his Might finally up to a somewhat respectable 6. Finally, at level four, Dirk took a +1 bonus to Luck. The “Fade” feat (which comes automatically with the rogue class, but can be upgraded, and taken by other characters) gives the character a bonus to attack and a damage bonus equal to their Luck score, so this is really a preparatory update for future abilities. I have “Auto-Fade” planned, which starts every non-ambush encounter with the character in the Faded state.

Dirk is equipped with a Leather Jerkin, a fine estoc (sword), a potion of fireproof (grants resistance to fire), and a couple of potions of negligible healing for emergency or post-combat use.

Sorcery is based on brains, so at level 3, Chloe took a +1 bonus to her brains skill, and also took the feat, “Spell Homing,” which increases the likelihood of single-target spells hitting their target. It does nothing for groups of enemies, but that’s okay. At level 4, she takes “Augment Spells,” a feat that allows her to upgrade many of her spells by a small amount.

Chloe’s equipment includes Padded Armor, Mocassins of Sobriety (which grant a +1 bonus to her Brains score), nine basic spellstones (allowing her to cast some of her more powerful spells, including the ones that target an entire enemy group). She also has one charge left of her wand of Incendiary Crackleballs.
<p style="text-align: center;"><img style="border: 0pt none;" title="Frayed Knights: Inventory" src="http://www.rpgcodex.net/gallery/8800_500.jpg" alt="" width="500" height="375" />
<p style="text-align: center;"> 
At level 3, Benjamin took the Arcane Runes feat, which allows him to cast and learn spells from scrolls. He also took Effortless Casting, which reduces the endurance cost of spells. At level 4, he takes the “Goes the Distance” feat, which gives him extra endurance.  Since he’s not taken any increases to Charm (the attribute priest spells use for casting) or “Spell Homing” or “Spell Spread” feats, he’s going to have a tougher time getting his spells to “stick” against enemies than Chloe.

Benjamin is equipped with a Leather jerkin, an Iron Mace, eight basic spellstones, four potions of liquid nap, and a pair of storm crow eggs (which cause an electrical discharge to damage an opponent when used against them).
<p style="text-align: center;"><img title="Frayed Knights: Benjamin" src="http://www.rpgcodex.net/gallery/8799_500.jpg" alt="" width="500" height="375" />
<p style="text-align: center;"> 
The Fight Begins
We’re starting out with nine drama stars, which gives us a bronze star to work with. We are going into a fight at nearly full health, and full endurance, having recently come back from spending a nice, quiet evening at the inn in Ardin.

Arianna: Health 36 / 40, Endurance 46 / 46.
Dirk: Health 35 / 35, Endurance 43 / 43.
Chloe: Health 27/ 28, Endurance 49 / 49.
Benjamin: Health 28 / 32, Endurance 59 / 59

Yes, Benjamin has 59 Endurance. Remember how he took the Goes The Distance feat? Between that and Effortless Casting, he’s probably not going to be running out of endurance as quickly as Chloe.

We open a door (which gives us an extra drama point), and we encounter three goblin shamans - which start with Health 36, Endurance 50. Shamans don’t have the deadliest spells in the world. Most are nature spells, just like Benjamin casts. The goblin shamans are most dangerous when teamed up with some warriors, but they can still be a threat on their own, particularly if the player’s party was already pretty exhausted or wounded.

For each turn, I’ll announce the beginning of the turn, and then the initiative order of the party members. We don’t know in advance exactly when the goblins will get their turns, or in what order. That’s part of the challenge.

Turn 1: Dirk, Arianna, Chloe, Benjamin
Dirk goes first. He uses his feat, “Fade.” When he next attacks, he can attack from anywhere without penalty - in fact, with a solid bonus to both his chance of hitting and his damage.
Arianna is next, and attacks with her broadsword. She hits for 8 damage Goblin Shaman #1, knocking him down to 28 health.
Goblin #3 is next, and casts Blessing on Goblin Shaman #1. The Blessing spell is a divine magic spell that raises a target’s Might, Reflexes, and Luck slightly. It’s a powerful buff. This makes the targets hit harder, gives them more health, and more frustratingly makes them harder to hit with spells.
Goblin Shaman #2 casts Snakebite against Chloe. Chloe takes initial damage, and is down to 25 health. And now she’s suffering from a spell that does two points of damage every turn, and drops her Might score down by 2 (which also affects her health).
<p style="text-align: center;"><img style="border: 0pt none;" title="Frayed Knights: Chloe suffering from Snakebite" src="http://www.rpgcodex.net/gallery/8801_500.jpg" alt="" width="500" height="375" />
<p style="text-align: center;"> 
Goblin Shaman #1 goes next, and returns the favor for Goblin Shaman #3 by casting Blessing on him. Aren’t they nice and cooperative?
Chloe casts "Invoke Snoring" on the back goblin. Unfortunately, he's harder to hit with his blessing-increased luck score, so he dodges the effect.
Benjamin tries to reciprocate by casting Snakebite on Goblin Shaman #2. No luck, even with a 76% hit chance.

Turn 2: Dirk, Chloe, Benjamin, Arianna.
Goblin Shaman #1 gets to go first, and casts Tryptophan on Chloe to get her out of the way. This is the nature-based sleep spell, a little more powerful (and higher level) than the Sorcerer’s Invoke Snoring. This wasn't a good move, as the snakebite will wake her up immediately when she’s damaged at the beginning of her next action.  (Designer’s note: The enemy AI usually avoid casting damage spells on sleeping foes. But I don’t remember if I check to see if they are already suffering from a damage-over-time spell. Maybe I should check that logic...)
Dirk gets to go. He emerges from Fade, and does a whopping 13 points of damage on the first goblin. Too bad he doesn’t do a critical, as well. That would have been pretty spectacular.
Sure enough, Chloe's damage wakes her up as soon as it's her turn, so she does get to act this turn. She casts Invoke Snoring on the back goblin. This time the spell lands, putting him temporarily out of commission as he goes to sleep for a couple of turns.
<p style="text-align: center;"><img style="border: 0pt none;" title="Pesky Goblin Shamans" src="http://www.rpgcodex.net/gallery/8802_500.jpg" alt="" width="500" height="375" />
Benjamin casts Writhroots on Goblin Shaman #1 to make the goblin easier to hit, and hopefully taken out of commission faster. Unfortunately, the goblin dodges the spell.
Goblin Shaman #2 casts Tryptophan again, this time on Dirk. Dirk is now asleep.
<p style="text-align: center;"><img style="border: 0pt none;" title="Shamans and their spells" src="http://www.rpgcodex.net/gallery/8803_500.jpg" alt="" width="500" height="375" />
Now it's Goblin Shaman #3's turn, but he's asleep and is skipped.
Arianna finishes up the turn by doing a straightforward attack on Goblin #1. He's probably in too good shape to kill in one shot, but it's worth a try. She misses entirely.

Turn 3: Dirk, Chloe, Arianna, Benjamin.
Dirk's asleep, and misses his turn. The party doesn’t yet have any spells or magic items to wake him up, so I’m stuck with him sleeping on the job for … ugh. A lot of turns. Tryptophan lasts for 3 to 5 turns (in additional to the first-turn effect). We got (un)lucky with the maximum duration.
Goblin Shaman #1 goes next, and casts writhroots on Benjamin. The spell sticks. Benjamin is now easier to hit with melee attacks. Since he’s somewhat protected from melee attacks by being on the back rank of the party, and since the shamans don’t tend to rely on melee attacks very often, this probably won’t be a big deal.
<p style="text-align: center;"><img style="border: 0pt none;" title="Writhroots" src="http://www.rpgcodex.net/gallery/8804_thumb.jpg" alt="" width="150" height="112" /> <img style="border: 0pt none;" title="Acid Spray" src="http://www.rpgcodex.net/gallery/8805_thumb.jpg" alt="" width="150" height="112" />http://www.rpgcodex.net/gallery/8804.jpg
<p style="text-align: center;"> 
Chloe is next. She opens up with the Acid Spray spell. This is a powerful attack, much more damaging than other spells of its level, and thus requires spending a spellstone. Chloe has plenty. It does a substantial 14 points of damage to Goblin Shaman #1, so that he now only has four health remaining. He should be easy to finish off if we can get another hit in.

Goblin #3 gets to go now, but he's still asleep. He and Dirk are both snoring comfortably.
Now it's Arianna's turn. She stays simple on this one, and actually scores a critical hit. She does 14 points of damage, a nice overkill against Goblin Shaman #1. He collapses.
Goblin #2 casts Blessing on himself. So now he's finally buffed like his companions are. Er, were.
Benjamin finishes up the turn by casting Life Trickle on Chloe. This is a "healing over time" spell that should exactly counter the damage the poison has been doing to her. But it should also last longer than the Snakebite spell, so it should be a net positive later in the fight. Chloe heals slightly from the spell’s tiny initial effect, and goes back up to 17 health.
Turn 4: Dirk, Chloe, Arianna, Benjamin.
Goblin Shaman #2 starts the turn by casting Snakebite on sleeping Dirk. Dirk avoids the hit in his sleep. (Designer note: I said they tend to avoid casting damaging spells on a sleeping opponent. But sometimes they will, anyway. Sometimes I do, too).
Dirk keeps snoring away.
Chloe casts "Beefy Frostbiter" - an augmented Frostbiter spell - on Goblin #2. She misses, and is now down to only 7 endurance. She’s going to have to take a breather soon to keep fighting. We don’t want her to drop down to zero (or less) endurance, as that leaves her extra-vulnerable to attack as it forces a rest.
Arianna goes for a Slam attack. She connects, doing 7 points of damage, and attempts to knock the wind out of the goblin (reducing his endurance). The secondary effect fails.
<p style="text-align: center;"><img style="border: 0pt none;" title="The situation for Chloe is dire" src="http://www.rpgcodex.net/gallery/8806_500.jpg" alt="" width="500" height="375" />
<p style="text-align: center;"> 
Checking goblin three, we find he's only going to be asleep for one more turn, meaning he’ll wake up and be able to act on his next action. Chloe is going to need to take a quick breather soon - probably next turn - and probably doesn’t have enough endurance to try and put him back to sleep. Benjamin attempts to do so instead, casting Tryptophan on Goblin Shaman #3 in an attempt to keep him out of commission. The spell fails.

Turn 5: Dirk, Arianna, Chloe, Benjamin
Goblin Shaman #2 decides to go melee, and attacks Arianna. He connects (with a 64% chance), but only manages to do 3 points of damage. Arianna has 33 health remaining, so she's not in any kind of danger.
Dirk still has 2 more turns of sleep left. Rats! It’s really just one more full turn, as he’ll wake up on his action on the final turn. Still... he’s been out of the fight for a while now.
Goblin Shaman #3 finally wakes up, and casts Tryptophan on Chloe. Fortunately for us, the spell misses.
Arianna gets to go next. She again slams goblin #2. She scores a critical hit on the slam, doing 8 points of damage, and also manages to stagger him off-balance for four whole turns! Excellent. Stagger doesn’t reduce the goblin’s attack and defense by much, but every little bit counts.
Chloe is almost out of endurance, but she has enough to cast something simple. Just for grins, I have her cast Cheat Sheet. Now the monster journal is filled with everything we need to know about the goblin shamans.
<p style="text-align: center;"><img style="border: 0pt none;" title="Journal Entry: Goblin Shaman" src="http://www.rpgcodex.net/gallery/8808_500.jpg" alt="" width="500" height="375" />
For Ben's turn, he again tries to cast Tryptophan the back-rank goblin, but again the goblin dodges. As we expected when we leveled him up, he’s got plenty of endurance, but it having more trouble making offensive spells stick. Normally this isn’t a problem, as enemies do a lot more damage and keep him busy healing the party. But now that he gets to take more of an offensive role against tougher-to-kill opponents, we’re playing to his weaknesses.

Turn 6: Dirk, Benjamin, Chloe, Arianna
Dirk sleeps. So long as they don't re-sleep him, he'll awaken next turn.
Goblin Shaman #2 tries to soften up Dirk by Writhrooting him again. No dice.
Benjamin casts Snakebite on Goblin #3, but no luck.
Goblin #3 tries to cast Tryptophan on Arianna. It fails. The Blessing his buddy had cast on him back in the first turn finally wears off.
Chloe's turn.  She's low on endurance now, so she rests for the turn. The Snakebite spell that hit her in the first turn has worn off, but Benjamin's Life Trickle hasn't, so she's now slowly healing back up again.
Arianna does what she should have done earlier in the fight, and swallows the Potion of Beefiness. The +2 to Might should make her attacks more effective.

Turn 7: Dirk, Arianna, Benjamin, Chloe
Goblin Shaman #3 gets to go first. He casts blessing on himself, which had dropped last turn.
Dirk finally wakes up and gets back into the fight. He goes for a straightforward attack against Shaman #2, and lands a 6-point hit.
Arianna does the same - a straight-up hit, landing for 7 points of damage. The shaman is now down to 11 health left.
Goblin Shaman #2 now casts Snakebite on Dirk, poisoning him and reducing his Might. However, this took the goblin’s endurance down into the negatives. He'll be forced to rest next turn, and will be far easier to hit until then. It’s probably about curtains for him.
Benjamin rests to avoid the same fate as the goblin.
Chloe gained some endurance from resting, but now spends almost every point of it to hit Goblin Shaman #3 with Beefy Microvenom. This spell, augmented with her feat, should start wearing him down until Arianna and Dirk can get to him.
<p style="text-align: center;"><img style="border: 0pt none;" title="Beefy Microvenom" src="http://www.rpgcodex.net/gallery/8809_500.jpg" alt="" width="500" height="375" />
Turn 8: Dirk, Arianna, Chloe, Benjamin
Goblin Shaman #2 goes first. However, he's out of endurance, so he's forced to rest (hesitate). To make matters worse, his Blessing wears off. Losing the bonus points to his stats, his health drops three more points, so he has only 8 health remaining.
Goblin Shaman #3 goes next. Since his companion is nearly dead, he casts Palpable Healing on him. Goblin Shaman #2 heals 11 points to 19 health. Not great, but no longer in great danger of an instant kill.
Dirk gets to go next. The poison brings him down to 30 health. I chose to make him use his “Fade” feat. As soon as I do this, I realize I’ve made a small tactical error. While it makes him a little harder to hit, it won’t otherwise do me much good, and he’s nowhere near the point where I need to be protective of him.
Arianna now gets to act, making an attack against Goblin Shaman #2. She connects for 11 damage - exactly as much as he was healed by his companion - dropping him back down to 8 health.
Chloe has almost nothing left. Almost. But her Incendiary Crackleball wand has one charge left. It costs no endurance to use a magical item. Now is about as good a time as any. She uses the wand. Goblin #2 is hit by the explosion and killed. Goblin #3 is also hit and drops down to 29 health. Not huge damage, but it’s something. And he’s the only one left.
Benjamin casts Writhroots again to make the final goblin more vulnerable. This time, it sticks. Goblin #3 is now Blessed, Microvenomed, and Writhrooted.

Turn 9: Dirk, Arianna, Chloe, Benjamin
Remember how I said that might have been a tactical error to have Dirk fade? Fade fails if the character takes damage. Since Dirk is poisoned, he takes two points of damage and immediately drops out of fade. (Designer note: Hmmm, maybe it shouldn’t do that?) So now he goes for a straight-up attack on Goblin Shaman #3. The battle's nearly over by now, anyway. He does 7 points of damage.
Goblin #3 gets to go next. He takes 2 points of damage from the Microvenom, and takes a breather to restore his endurance. He's on the ropes!
Arianna goes next, and attempts a slam attack. The attack hits, for 8 damage, but fails to knock him off-balance.
Chloe is down to 3 endurance. It's time to take a rest. Or is it? We have one bronze drama star! We invoke it, using "Second Wind 1" on Chloe. Bingo! She's back up to full endurance, and only a fraction of exhaustion build up. No more being frugal with spells! She casts Beefy Frostbiter again. The goblin is frozen, taking some damage and is now down to only 5 health left.
<p style="text-align: center;"><img style="border: 0pt none;" title="Killing a Goblin: Hard Work" src="http://www.rpgcodex.net/gallery/8810_500.jpg" alt="" width="500" height="375" />
<p style="text-align: center;"> 
It’s really not worth it to cast a spell here. Benjamin wades into melee, swinging his iron mace. He only does 3 points of damage, not quite sealing the deal. But close enough...

Turn 10: Dirk, Arianna, Chloe, Benjamin
At this point, the goblin shaman will die on his next action from the poison. There's nothing he can do about it. He's only got two points of health remaining, but Chloe’s Microvenom will do 3 more damage before the goblin gets a chance to act. The battle is effectively over.

Dirk gets the first action, but there’s no sense wasting endurance on an attack. He rests.

Then it's the Goblin Shaman's turn. He takes 3 points of damage from Chloe's Microvenom, killing him. He collapses. The battle is won, a drama point and experience points awarded. And a little bit of loot found.
<p style="text-align: center;"><img style="border: 0pt none;" title="Loot!" src="http://www.rpgcodex.net/gallery/8811_500.jpg" alt="" width="500" height="375" />
<p style="text-align: center;"> 
As the combat ends, Arianna is still stronger than normal, for 7 more turns. Enough to get into another fight! Dirk has one more turn of poison afflicting him. After exploring the room, he takes damage one more time, and the effect fades. Chloe is up to full health from the Life Trickle, and is doing quite well on endurance thanks to the Drama Star “Second Wind” effect. She's ready for another fight, with only a single point of exhaustion (which she finally picked up after casting Beefy Frostbiter) slowing her down.

Benjamin is nearly out of endurance, but that's only a quick rest away. His exhaustion isn't too bad yet, so it's not worth taking a Liquid Nap potion. Dirk is damaged a little, but it's nothing that Benjamin's Life Trickle Spell can't resolve very efficiently over a short period of time.

On to the next door...

I should probably note that while the detailed play-by-play here is pretty lengthy, combats like this usually don’t take very long. Details are easy to gloss over as you keep track of the big picture, and combat turn usually takes about twenty or thirty seconds unless it gets pretty dicey. In this fight, it never really did.
Thanks to Jay for this in-depth description. In the best case scenario you now have a pretty good overview as to whether Frayed Knights will be able to cater to your dungeon crawling needs. I'd love to leave it at that but everyone knows that no official Codex feature is complete without asking the developer at least 1 or 2 hostile questions. Here we go:
VoD: At the beginning of the game the combat activity of the non-caster characters seems to  mainly revolve around pressing (A) to attack. It makes me wonder how viable picking up caster skills for, say, Arianna is? Especially considering she doesn’t really have the stats for casting, plus she easily inflicts the most pain despite only (A)-ing.
JB: Honestly - the game system isn't so flexible that Arianna can become your top spell-lobber (not unless you deliberately nerf Chloe). It's always going to be an uphill battle for her without the sorcerer class benefits, and with her initial stats not favoring offensive spell use. And it's always going to be a sacrifice of her potential as a warrior. Take your pick.

That being said - it's really in how you play her. One concern I've had during testing is whether or not she becomes *too* powerful when given (specifically) divine priest magic. Paladin-Arianna is kinda scary potent, especially if you use her carefully.  Divine priest has a lot of spells to be cast on friendlies, so you don't need to worry so much about her ability to get spells to 'stick.' And even the lower-level spells, up through level 6 or so, are reasonably effective at any level. And Shred the Dead is apparently more effective than most of her weapons at mid-level against undead. Having her  help out buffing before combat, and healing afterwards, becomes pretty dang useful.

So my answer is "yes," but with qualifications.

I still tend to play her more as a straight warrior build, and even at higher level I probably use a straight-up (A)ttack more than half the time. But by seventh or eighth level I have usually given her two or three active combat feats, so it's less of a limitation than a stand-by if I can't think of something more interesting to do.
VoD: As an Indie RPG developer, what’s your stance on multiple quest solutions? Is Frayed Knights all about crawling the dungeons eradicating all hostiles or is it possible to deal with your objectives in different ways too?
JB: My stance is that if you are gonna call it an RPG, you should have multiple quest solutions.

Or - and this is more frequently my approach in Frayed Knights - even if there is a single end-goal to the solution, your approach to it should be able to be varied. So it's less choose-your-own-adventure and more just how you want to tackle the game.
Yeah, they can be costly to create, especially for a story-based game. I understand how a lot of designers might be really worried about doing this, when you are guaranteeing that the player can't possibly see a quarter of the content of the game because of his decisions, and that the other half might be "optional" and bypassed entirely.

In the case of Frayed Knights, this results in a crapload of text. My dialogs tend to be pretty context-sensitive, and my testers - especially in alpha - corrected me for having dialogs that assume things that didn't actually occur. Quest goals can be achieved out of order.  Certain challenges can by bypassed. It was particularly annoying in a situation where I have a running gag throughout the game that's based on something that may never have happened, or not happened the "right" way I anticipated. So I had to write (and test) a whole bunch of variations for those dialogs, including boring ones with no back-references at all.

It's also a pain trying to have characters and journal entries point the player in the right direction, because there are a lot of variations on what the "right" direction might be. What has the player done so far?  What approach are they taking?

That's not to say that Frayed Knights: The Skull of S'makh-Daon is a big open-ended, multiple-decision nirvana or anything like that. It's a story-based game, not a sandbox, and there are plenty of choke-points that demand certain actions and conflicts. You can not  sneak or talk your way through even most of the game. And sometimes you, as the player, won't even recognize that a choice is there - it's been determined by previous actions. But I've tried to include plenty of variations and approaches to things big and small - even to the point of allowing you to skip the penultimate boss-battle under certain conditions if you choose.

Another way I tried to make things kind of "stick" is with the drama stars. You do X, and you find out, "Woops! Sub-optimal choice! I just made things harder for myself for telling so-and-so to bite me" or whatever. Sure, you can reload and try another approach to try and get the "best" one. But then you lose a small advantage - the drama points you've accumulated. Maybe it's worth it. But it's one small incentive for you to keep playing the ball where it lands.
VoD: The game is obviously nearing its release, what are the current plans for the final release date? Will there be a demo?
JB: If we're lucky, we release Wednesday.  There will be a demo. Those who remember the old "pilot episode" will find it familiar. Those who remember the pilot extremely well will find a lot that is unfamiliar.
Thanks again to Jay Barnson for his time and his cooperation and Good Luck with Frayed Knights.

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