Knightly Tales

Knightly Tales

This is a story about being a medieval king. No, not one of those sit back at home and have all his knights do all the dirty work for him sort of king; those sort of kings eventually die from cardiac arrest because they don’t get enough aerobic exercise. No, this is a story about being a warrior king, one of those who go out into the wilderness to hunt dangerous creatures like cockactrices, manticores, dire wolves, hobgoblins, poltergeists, necromancers, demons, fallen gods and so on. It’s a hard life, but someone’s got to do it.

More Le Morte d’Arthur than Dungeons & Dragons, but still more The Once and Future King than Le Morte d’Arthur, Knightly Tales is a light-hearted romp through a fantasy medieval setting. The player gets to build up his castle from the ground up, starting with just a Treasury but eventually building Barracks to house fighting men, a Forge to make new weapons, a Wine Cellar to begin alchemical experiments, a Kitchen to begin feasting your life away, an Embassy to entertain diplomats and maintain foreign relations and so on. Knightly Tales also boasts of a robust and sophisticated combat system with four different styles of combat (though only 3 will be unlocked in the first episode) and a whole range of supplementary combat options such as trapping, different terrains, potion use and so on.

I’m not really that into this one. The battle against the giant rat took up most of my actions, but I can definitely see how that could work out – a quest or two a day, gradually increasing your castle and level. What really got to me was the tone. It seemed a bit too modern for the time period, and it wasn’t to my taste.

It’s an interesting idea. I like the concept of building a castle as a story. The battle system is confusing…like Double Fanucci, Mornington Crescent confusing. I saw the tutorial, but spent my entire round of actions just randomly clicking stuff while fighting a level 1 rat to see what would happen. That’s some level one rat! Never mind even cockactrices, manticores, much less Fallen Gods.

There’s so many things going on in combat. Snares, and thrusts and swings and clear your head and being winded and advance and retreat…is this just a prototype to test the entire combat system? This complicated of a game should introduce the combat gradually. “Here’s a level 1 rat. Try hitting him. THWACK THWACK he’s dead, very good. Sense of accomplishment. Here’s a level 2 rat THWACK OUCH! So lets try blocking, here’s two things you can do…kill him. Here’s level 3 rat, attack, defend, and here’s a snare, look how it works!”

If you throw everything at me at once I’m overwhelmed and I’ve made no progress. If you imagine your game like a book…(in my humble opinion) you want to hook the player in the first play session instead of beating them up right off the bat. It’s not easy. Even Fallen London is daunting, but at least they give you a taste of success at the beginning.

Unless you mean for it to be a parody with overzealous combat systems. I understood what you were going for with the tone, but I’d still love a little more backstory besides “There was a king, blah blah blah…” I get the irreverent tone - good heavens I hope people like that cause I’m doing it too - but you have to earn a moment where the narrator skips things. William Goldman did this famously in THE PRINCESS BRIDE novel. I don’t get why the tone is flippant though. Could you write a scene to contrast the slacker protagonist with stodgy protocol so I know where he’s coming from?

The FB team wrote somewhere that the only real reward for your players is more text, so nail that, and explain the combat better and I think it will improve your game.

Thanks for all your replies folks! Appreciate the feedback, and keep them coming!

@CharlottePike: I’m sorry you didn’t like the tone! I was going for something flippant and not too serious; which is why the tone sorta drifts all over the place, with all the semi-modern references (e.g. calling the treasurer an accountant, calling librarians eggheads etc) peppered in here and there. If enough people feel that the tone is what puts them off the game, though, it’s no big deal for me to go through it all and change everything.

@Hanon Ondricek: thanks for the detailed feedback! As much as I love Mornington Crescent, welp, a Storynexus game really shouldn’t be like that. Did you happen to see the Combat Help card, and if you did, did it help at all? If you did not see the Combat Help card, how can I make it more prominent?

I like your suggestion of removing some elements and gradually introducing them back to the player, but I’m not sure how I should go about doing it. Managing your Disadvantages and Enemy Threat is a key part of combat, so I can’t really remove that. Would it help if I removed Traps and Lay of the Land management in the beginning?

I wasn’t really trying to do a parody of overzealous combat systems, more like just trying to make a functional combat system within the Storynexus framework that is fun, deep and engaging. It’s hard for me as the designer to distance myself from the complexity since, having built it up from the ground, I know it inside and out. This is why I appreciate the feedback. =)

Actually, I completely get what you’re trying to do with the tone. It’s narrated by a modern person, essentially, transplanted back into a fantasy world. He knows how ridiculous a lot of it is (I laughed aloud at the tavern designed for level 1 adventurers), and he doesn’t have much time for the conventions of the genre. It works for me, and I don’t feel the need for a back-story to justify it.

(Which just goes to prove, of course, that different people are looking for different things. Can’t please everyone.)

I do agree that the initial combat is a bit hard to understand, though. In fact, it’s just a bit hard - I’d expected to thwack it three times with a sword and it would be gone, but it’s much tougher than that. Perhaps you could have an easier initial monster which just introduces the very basic mechanics, and then a second one which starts to add Disadvantages and Enemy Threat.

It’s enjoyable, though. I need to rush off but I’ll play more later on.


I liked the tone also. It was entertaining to read. I wish I could play as a female, of course. My king was named “Ermentrude” haha:)

I admired the ambition of the battle system, too. Would you consider allowing players to draw sword moves from the opportunities deck? Currently the Always card gives four different sword moves, but they are all the same difficulty/risk. I kept failing the sword moves, and felt pathetically weak and helpless in the battle… I quit playing when I realized how long the battle would take.

In my mind, drawing a random “run through” or “pommel attack” from the deck would simplify the battle and motivate the player at the same time. That is, if the player can unlock more powerful sword moves by “leveling up”; instead of getting “dazed” and “winded” cards so often as I did. And sword moves drawn at random from the deck still provide the player with a sense of “you’ve found an opening, now attack” - which is what I think you were trying to go for. Kudos for that, because it makes the battle more believable when “finding an opening” is drawn at random. A good idea on your part.

If adding sword moves to the deck completely ruins your scheme, just ignore these suggestions! I thought the premise of the game was fun. Fun! Hope you polish soon:)

Thanks Morton and Alexis Seta, I’m glad you guys liked it! =)

@Alexis Seta: actually, that’s exactly what wielding a Sword + Shield would do! Depending on the stance you choose, you would have a varying number of increased attacks that are drawn directly from the deck. The more defensive your stance, the less additional cards you’ll have; the more open your stance, however, the more additional cards you’ll have. Build a Forge so that you can unlock those weapons. =)

Based on the feedback I’ve received so far about the complexity of the battle system, I’m currently in the process of making a tutorial battle where the player has his (or as in Alexis’ case, her) hand held the entire time, introducing the various aspects of the battle system directly to the player. Would that be better? This way the player gets to learn about the battle in bite-sized chunks without me needing to overhaul the entire battle system as it stands now. I’ll start with explaining how you need to draw Opportunities from the deck, then how to manage your Threat (after increasing it through the Opportunity) and so on. I would of course also lower the difficulty of the battle at the same time, to better ease the player into the whole thing. Would that be a good idea?

I also look forward to hearing all your suggestions about game balance. Do let me know if you think that certain parts of the game are too hard or too difficult! Is the income working out alright? Do you feel like you have to grind too much in order to get certain items in the game? Are some weapons too annoying to get, too expensive?

I’ve just had a thought. Right now, even if you fail the Skill test for the attack you still deal some damage; you just deal less. However, this is not immediately apparently. As such, would it be better if I made it so that it was obvious that you would always hit with the attack, and the Skill test just determines if you succeed on a “critical” hit? This way combat would probably move faster, and people won’t feel that they’ve just wasted their Opportunity on a whiff.

Yeah, I think the tutorial and hit success feedback are both good ideas. I didn’t know failing the sword moves still did damage - that would help a lot. It’s better to be generous with players at the beginning of a game, at least that’s what I’ve heard many game designers say. Good luck!
edited by Alexis Seta on 1/3/2013
edited by Alexis Seta on 1/3/2013

First, I’d like to say that I love the idea of this game as well as it’s tone. I was actually really hoping that the sportscaster announcers would continue through all the combat storylets.

The combat is a little obscure. I think having some text in the results of combat actions would help make it clear what is going on. As it is, everything seems a little abstract. I’m still not totally clear on what disadvantages wind up doing to you (other than eventually giving you a card to clear them in exchange for Enemy Threat). Mostly, my issue with combat is that when I’m choosing Maneuvers, I’m never sure if they’re going to give me Enemy Threat or Wounds or nothing. I don’t really feel like I have a strategy most of the time.

Also, I’ve found what may be some bugs:
-Terrain, Lay of the Land, and An Opportunity don’t go away at the end of a combat (currently I have 3 different kinds of terrain in my inventory).
-The Wandering Minstrel opportunity card “Chat with the Minstrel” choice sends you straight to looting the Cave Troll’s lair. When I picked that option, I expected it to just open up the possible quest. I’m not sure if it’s supposed to send me into immediate combat or just to loot the lair or what.

I saw the help card, but frankly the last thing I want to do when just starting a game is grinding to a halt to read the manual. Especially in a FailBetter game which by all rights most of us understand how to play.

I’d say make an entirely new setting outside the game and take the player there so you can completely control it. And I’m serious about how slowly to introduce elements. Since combat is very detailed in your game, I would literally start with “A fly is buzzing around your head. Draw sometimes cards to swing at it.” Then the next step “These ratlings you’re swinging at may fight back. Look out for defense cards in the sometimes deck to keep yourself safe!” Then something like “You’re sparring with your friend and he sis using a studly splayed-leg warrior position you can try, darn you look cool, and this gives you an advantage!”

The reason I (and others) suggest this is because there’s too many places to look and you need to point out every button on the dashboard before you let the player drive the car. Do I draw from the deck? Do I use these pinned cards? Do I use things in my inventory? Choreograph very dull sample fights showing the player a realistic sequence of how the fight should go. You may not even want use the actual engine - you can pretend with a training quality and triggering planned cards in a sequence.

The reason I asked if it was a parody is there is a precedent: if you’ve played Assassin’s Creed, at the beginning the game totally drops you in with every single weapon and every single ability and throws you in a fight with twelve guys that you’re meant to fail. They then take everything away (this is plot driven) and you have to earn everything back for how stupidly you did in the fight. There was so much going on in your “tutorial” fight that I thought maybe it was ironic that a level 1 training fight against one rat was so difficult and hard to figure out. I would even totally do that if it were my game since you’re going for a modern flippant tone: Let the player struggle agains this tiny rat and be dealt all sorts of epic damage and then have the narrator jump in and go “Welp, this is obviously not working out because you as the player are nowhere near as cool as I am. Let’s break this down…” and then take the player to the real tutorial.
edited by HanonO on 1/3/2013

Also something else I just thought of. Does the player really need to unleash battle stances and hiding and elaborate snares on a battle against one rat? How big of a rat is it? If it were me, I would just swing at him like a golf ball with the flat of my sword and send him 400 yards down the fairway.

@Hanon Ondricek: it’s about the size of a playful, overeager German Shepherd, except that it’s also actively trying to bite your leg off and beat you to death with it. Oh, and it has teeth the size of your gauntlets, so you may want to hold off playing golf with giant rats. =P However, I do hear you on the tutorial, so that’s next on the to-do list!

As a sidenote, I did play Assassin’s Creed, and that would have been a hilarious way to drop the player into the combat tutorial… if that was indeed my intention. Unfortunately, it was really just be being unable to see how complex the system is for new players and deciding, hey, let’s throw everything AND the kitchen sink at the new guy! I’m now going down the route of Bard’s Tale for the tutorial and have the player kill a single ordinary rat first, and letting him gloat about it… before introducing the actual giant rat to fight.

@Bobby Archer: thanks for the bug finds and suggestions! I’ve fixed all of the bugs, and those qualities should go away the next time you finish a fight. The Cave Troll option is supposed to send you into the fight, but I forgot to send the player into the combat area so you get sent straight to the looting instead. Oops. =P

Since you mentioned both of them in the same post, I just thought of a solution for the vagueness of combat card results: have the sportcasters Mike Mikleton and Bob Bobbison return for them! This wouldn’t really give you much information to plan strategy around though, so I’m also going to add in bracket text beneath each potential combat option so the player can always see, upfront, exactly what the result of their choices are going to be. That will be done once I finish the tutorial mission.

Thanks again guys! I’m glad that some of you are enjoying the game; that’s enough to keep me going on generating new content and what not. Keep the feedback coming!
edited by PostalElf on 1/4/2013

Currently Disadvantages only lock you out of certain options - such as the use of certain Terrain cards - and, as Bobby already mentioned, eventually clog up your deck by introducing a card to specifically allow you to remove them for some Threat or swap them out for another Disadvantage. They’re not really meant to be exceptionally crippling but, rather, just a convenient way for the player to gain some Opportunities early on. Once the player starts getting too many Disadvantages, however, he’ll have to start managing them and juggling them around to get other Opportunities. That’s the intention anyway: with some luck it’ll become more apparent when you guys play with the combat system a little more.

Apparently I should not have tried to fight a bandit, because I now can not do a single thing. Can’t buy anything, can’t do anything. I can go home, I can go to the wilderness. I have no opp deck anymore.

Come to think of it, I didn’t apparently loot it either.
edited by MidnightVoyager on 1/4/2013

[quote=MidnightVoyager]Apparently I should not have tried to fight a bandit, because I now can not do a single thing. Can’t buy anything, can’t do anything. I can go home, I can go to the wilderness. I have no opp deck anymore.

Come to think of it, I didn’t apparently loot it either.
edited by MidnightVoyager on 1/4/2013[/quote]

That’s strange. Can you either post or PM me your character’s name so I can have a look at what the problem is?

Edit: OK problem fixed!
edited by PostalElf on 1/4/2013

Now there’s a description! Did I miss this in the game?

Just a minor niggle, I noticed that all of the messages saying your Stranger quality has increased say the new value is 2…

Hmm, just killed the giant rat, clicked the finish it option, got the combat stats reset, and now have no options or text or decks - the bit under “(2 actions remaining, another in 4: 10 )” is completely empty.

@spiralx: the messages saying that the Stranger quality has increased to 2, no matter what the actual real value is, is a bug with the Storynexus system itself. I’ve since submitted it as a bug report and, hopefully, we’ll get it sorted out in a bit. =) In the mean time, though, am I right in assuming that you’re currently playing through the new tutorial? That one isn’t quite completed yet, which is why you’re running into that wall. If you’ve opted to skip the tutorial, though, and am running into this problem with the Giant Rat outside of the tutorial, can you please post or PM me your character name so I can look into it?