Frayed Knights: The Skull of S'makh-Daon Review

There hasn't exactly been a lot to see lately as far as review coverage for Rampant Games' Frayed Knights: The Skull of S'makh-Daon goes, so it's certainly pleasant to spot another write-up about it, coming via RPGamer, even if it's not exactly an enthusiastic one, awarding it a middling 2.5/5 and criticizing what the reviewer perceives as an excess of randomization. Here's a snip:
Battles are time-consuming because, in the grand tradition of games that emulate pen & paper role playing a bit too much, Frayed Knights employs invisible dice to determine the success of every action in combat. This means that attacks can, and do, miss the enemy with alarming frequency. Though enemies are also affected by the invisible dice, the result of this is usually to drag combat on for a long time, with particularly painful moments coming when spells that affect multiple targets and have a chance of hitting in the low nineties miss everything, which does happen. When characters do manage to hit the enemy, the damage they deal is also randomized, and while a certain mindset might find it funny when a priest inflicts considerably more pain than a warrior on some turns, such unpredictability just makes fights take even longer. Weak enemies that are no threat to the party still take at least a couple of turns to eliminate, though equipment and levels do alter the danger zone.

Frayed Knights sets itself aside from the dungeon crawling pack with its Endurance mechanic, which replaces the standard use of magic points. Doing anything, from basic attacks to complex spells, takes away a bit of endurance from a character. If that character's endurance reaches zero, he or she is compelled to sit out a round in combat to replenish it a bit. The option to rest and recover endurance is always available, though doing so in combat doesn't replenish very much and doing so outside battle might result in some enemies barging in on the slumbering party. The catch to endurance, which in some respects is preferable to a standard MP system, is that its maximum value decreases over time. The only way to get endurance back up to its optimal level is by returning to town and sleeping. Keeping endurance at its highest level fortunately isn't necessary, but trying to finish a dungeon is quite aggravating when multiple turns in battle require characters to rest instead of contributing directly toward the demise of enemies.


The Skull of Smakh-Daon undoubtedly delivers exactly what it promises. Amusing dialogue and situations aplenty will be found wrapped inside a laborious dungeon crawler that tosses invisible dice around to determine everything inside of battle. The application of excessive randomness has never pleased me, so this element outweighed everything else, particularly considering that dungeon crawlers require very large doses of combat. Conceivably it might strike some out there as the greatest thing since sliced bread, and anyone like that should flock to Rampant Games' site in order to buy the game immediately.