Category Archives: Frostgrave

Golem Night (Frostgrave at Scrummers)

Saturday night (just past) was the Second Saturday of the month and therefore, a Second Saturday Scrum night. I was asked by the regular gang last month to put together a Frostgrave game for the upcoming session. I have a decent amount of Frostgrave stuff, having run the game for the past three years at Game Camp, and I thought I could come up with something. ūüôā Having only a very limited knowledge of Ghost Archipelago and almost none of the right terrain for it, I opted to stick with the familiar and created an entry level scenario for old fashioned, Frozen-City-of-Felsted Frostgrave.

Felsted in all its frozen glory…

Frostgrave Figures I have plenty of– almost one each of Northstar’s initial run of Wizards and Apprentices (except Witches, I believe). I also have a healthy amount of supporting cast players, goons, soldiers and warband fodder. I usually bring a box or two of Saxons and Vikings to backfill any Soldiers and Goons.

Warbands and Wizards: We had six players.¬† I created 6 warbands in advance in case anyone there didn’t want to go to the bother of creating one.¬† I made a Chronomancer, an Elementalist, an Enchanter, a Necromancer, a Summoner and an Illusionist.¬† There were two level 3s and 4 level 2 wizards.¬†¬† I created them using Ash’s Warband Manager on table top space.¬† I love the utility as it prints up some nice warband sheets and does most of the mental work for you.¬† Unfortunately it also has lot of options to add stuff from ALL of the supplements that have been published so far, so I ended up blithely adding Javelineers and Crow Masters without really knowing what they do or having any reference to them– I just thought they would be cooler than the standards thugs, thieves and archers everyone uses their first time.

Summoner and goon approach the ruins of Felsted with caution…¬† Photo by Joe

So it probably would have behooved me to at least download the myriad PDF materials I have purchased as supporting material for Frostgrave to my tablet reader¬† that explains all the new stuff.¬† As a backup… Live and learn.

Rival treasure seekers square off in the ruins..  Photo by Joe

Frostgrave is probably optimized for four players maximum because it actually plays better in a small space.¬† When you have lot of space on either side, the players tend to not get to grips with the opposing players and instead run in, grab treasure and exit immediately.¬† One of my frequent opponents gears his warbands specifically for what I call “the smash and grab” approach– lots of spells that move players and treasure quickly and efficiently to the board edges, and not much else.¬† That’s definitely an approach, but not one I relish.¬† I like mixing it up with other players.¬† So that’s why I created.. GOLEM NIGHT.¬† I came up with 1 major victory goal for each player– which I called “Cheap plot devices” during the game.¬† Most of the action was centered around artificial constructs (aka, Golems) and I had a goal for a Clay Golem (who has a magical strip of bark rooted on its back that could be used for healing) two goals were for an Iron Golem (one was to collect its head, another to collect a wand it was carrying).¬† A (rather disgusting looking) Flesh golem had a famous anti-command dagger stuck in its side.¬† Another was a giant Stone Golem which was just there to confuse people.¬† I also added 2 smaller quests about drinking the waters from the Amphora of Wisdom and three books and three keys, but that really didn’t get anywhere.

The Enchanter Party, using one of the new supporting characters (Pack Mule), managed to make it to the center rubble pile in the circle, before retreating to board edge.

The cast of characters included Joe Procopio (our host), Jared Smith, new guy Rich McKee, John Sears, and Garrett O‚ÄôHara. I played to balance the numbers a little, but kind of went easy on the goals and victory conditions because.. erm.. I knew them in advance. As it turned out the cheap plot devices didn’t really pan out well– nobody accomplished their goals except me– I drew the Dagger of Chaos (stuck in the Flesh Golem). Garrett and Rich actually killed the Golem and I bribed Garrett for the dagger from my store of money. So, ironically, I was the guy who achieved his victory conditions, by bribery– not valor.

Here comes a Flesh Golem!¬† What’s that stuck in his side?

Mostly we collect Victory Points by counting treasure points and adding spells cast and opponents slain. Since we played one side of the table, roughly one group of allied Wizard schools against the other group, I can state categorically that the other side won on points. However, we did outright KILL two of their Apprentices, which is nothing to sneeze at. Our problem was that the treasure just wasn’t abundant on our side of the board.

FREE AT LAST!! AFTER 1000 YEARRRRRSS!¬† (there were some genuinely comedic moments, as we see here when Garrett’s party had an unexpected and nearly fatal surprise).

So all told I’d say this was a great night, even if it didn’t unfold quite as I had planned. Since I tend to be a tough self-critic I’ll say this– I didn’t give the guys the option to create their own warband, and probably should have– I just think it’s a time-waster. Secondly, some wizards (like my own) had very few spells that worked offensively (e.g. had the power to cause another person or group harm). I was in a hurry when I created the warbands and probably should have seen this problem coming. Live and learn. Also I probably should check to see if flunkies are described in the core rulebook before adding them to warbands. I thought it played reasonably well once we got started and created a lot of potential for laughs. Thanks go out to Joe P. as usual for providing a nice location for our evening entertainment.

You cannot defeat this foe!  Photo by Joe

HERE is my Flickr album of pictures from the game, mostly taken with a Samsung, but some taken by Joe and Jason and posted to Facebook. ¬† Since I was organizing this game I didn’t take all that many.¬† HOWEVER!¬† Please visit Joe’s SSSC Blog for his report on the event, complete with lots of lovely pictures taken by Joe’s wife Ellen.¬† I love the filter she used to sort of give each picture a crispy, just-snowed atmosphere.

parts of My warband– an Elementalist and his apprentice, whom the warband manager called “Elizabeth”, so what the heck, I made her a female from my Viking victims.¬† (photo by Ellen P)

Just a couple of the golems queuing up for GOLEM NIGHT.  Photo Ellen P.

I had a great time as usual, this is a great group for Frostgrave!


Game Camp 2017 Day 3: Frostgrave, extended, & Cosmic Encounters

Previous: Day Two-Frostgrave

Day Three dawned with a continuation of FROSTGRAVE by request of the campers. ¬†The older kids love it; they like the super tactical feel, the way spells can totally mess up a plan, and the “spatial” feeling a three dimensional tactical game can be with miniatures. ¬†You can’t get that same feeling on a flat screen.

Naturally, any game I can leave set up and not have to worry about setup times is a game I’m going to like, too.good

Right off the bat, both sides came on aggressively. The Good side got ensnared in the right corner with fending off the evil Sigilist and Elementalist (aka Johnny Flamehands). Our side was facing him with a good Soothsayer and a good Illusionist. The Illusionist somewhat dominated the right middle of the table. specatularly failing to cast a Poison Dart repeatedly so much that he was down 4 points. He redeemed himself when he was the second crew to visit the temple of Fundamental Evil in the dead center. Johnny Flamehands, the Elementalist, tried earlier in the game, and encountered a being so vile, so disgusting.. well, I’ll let the evidence speak for itself.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you! Anyway, there was indeed a Type III demon who was so messed up looking he caused everyone he came in close contact with had to check their Will at a big minus or run in fear. The Illusionist had a Transpose spell– he had tried it before with his Wizard and failed badly, so he tried it again with his apprentice and this time he rolled very high. By carefully placing himself to eyeball the contents within, he could see both the Type III demon blob and the Zombie that was standing behind it being controlled by the Elementalist.
Bam, ZIP! Guess what happens?

One EXTREMELY ANGRY, PEOPLE HATIN’ CRAZY DEMON who likes darkness transposed into the sunlight with a very confused zombie being blinked back into the temple! RUH ROH! Bad news for that Elementalist and his crew who happened to be standing right next to him, mouths gaping in shock and unspeakable horror!

We laughed for about 15 minutes.

That kind of changed the classification of the game from “Maximum Haul” to “Grab what we have and GIT!” Team Evil started leaving the left side of the board rapidly. Team Good had more distance and more leisure. We ended up calling the game and rolling up the treasure.. quickly, as the buses were coming. Team Evil won the day, but by less than ten points, surprisingly.

We also played the hands down, don’t argue with me BEST GAME IN THE UNIVERSE, Cosmic Encounter— you can tell I’m a bit biased. I sat in on this six hand game with Red Menace, Green Machine, Blue Meanies, Yellow Peril and Orange Crush. We create nicknames for our aliens by color (as you can see) so we had to settle on White Blight for me, since the cards came from an expansion set. I engineered a four way win (hey, I’m not ashamed) and it was a great time indeed.

and a little documentary evidence about how canny these little dealmakers were getting by end of game.

Day 3 was great!  A most satisfactory continuation of Frostgrave and an epic game of Cosmic!

All Frostgrave Photographs

All Cosmic Photographs

Tomorrow: Big Danged Boats, my own 15mm fantasy naval game.



Game Camp 17 Day Two: Frostgrave!

I chose FROSTGRAVE as my second game of the week for gaming camp. Frostgrave (by Osprey Publishing) is a game of Wizardly Looting of an ancient sorcerous city just beginning to emerge from a century of being frozen. Players play Wizards and their apprentices leading a small team of hired thugs and treasure takers into the city in search of gold, magic items and items of lore. The rules are pretty simple and easy to teach, the game is fast and ultra tactical. Naturally Frostgrave appeals to both youngsters and oldsters.

There was also a hue and a clamor to play Room 25 again, it’s a big hit.

We had a new camper join us today and he fit right in. ¬†Frostgrave is a big hit as well, so much so that the kids requested we hold Frostgrave over for a second day. ¬†I’m always flexible, that’s not a problem with me.

So tomorrow will probably be MORE Frostgrave, Cosmic Encounters and maybe half a day of Big Danged Boats!

For a slide show of today’s activities, click here.

Onward to Day Three: More Frostgrave and Cosmic Encounters!

Small Wars: Vikings and Frostgrave

Since I’ve been somewhat hampered in my hobby pursuits by having my house almost destroyed, all my study packed up and the walls demolished, I haven’t had ready access to things that I traditionally spend the Winter on, like painting up miniatures for gaming projects.¬† I’ll live, of course, but I have a need to bump up my forces on a few nearer term projects, such as running a gaming camp this Summer.¬† Fortunately, my friend John Montrie, being retired, has been around to provide a brush for hire, and he’s helped bump up my forces when I’ve had to exchange money for time for the past few years.¬† And thank the Deity for that, too– I don’t think I could have gotten Big Danged Boats or Frostgrave off the ground without his timely assistance.¬† As he’s off to China for a few months I thought I’d pop up to Rockville and visit, eat some Mexican food and pick up some troops I had him working on.¬† Needless to say, I’m pretty pleased with the results, or I wouldn’t be posting about it!¬† At Fall IN I had picked up another pack of Frostgrave Soldiers (the standard 28mm semi-medieval Soldiers, 22 figures, plastic, Northstar Games).¬† I also picked up some newer Frostgrave specialty figures– the Lich and Apprentice, The Crowmaster & Javileneer, and the Elementalist II & Apprentice.¬† All in pewter, 28mm, Northstar Games.

First off, the Goons.  These are the troops that make up the retainers and followers of the wizard figures in Frostgrave:

I gave John very little guidance.. if he has a fault at all, it’s that he tends to use the same four basic primary colors (red, green, blue, yellow) as uniform highlights. I don’t mind that so much, it allows me to cluster the henchmen in handy groups.¬† Still, I wanted something different so I asked John to focus on darker colors and purples.¬† He delivered!

Here are the new major characters in pewter:

Crowmaster and Javelineer

I understand what the Javelineer does.. he tosses Javelins.¬† What the Crow Master does I’ll have to read up on.¬† Maybe the Crow flies around like another set of eyes and spies on people.

Beast Crafter and Apprentice

This looks somewhat obvious- the Beast Crafter is some form of shapeshifter that can transform himself  into animal shape.

Elementalist II and Apprentice

This is the second form of the “Elementalist” Wizard from Northstar.¬† I think I might like the older figures better.. more dynamic.¬† Eh, what the heck, they’ll make good thieves.

Lich and Apprentice

I don’t know what a Lich is in Frostgrave terms.. I always thought it was the animated dead body of a powerful wizard– and usually appears as a skeleton in wizard regalia.¬† This looks more like Elric of Melnibone all tarted up or something.. no matter, it’s a cool figure.

That brings me up to 44 Soldiers from two packs, 22 cultists.¬† With the Dark Ages Vikings and Saxon figures I have painted up for SAGA and Battle Troll, I have something on the order of 120 figures I could use for “Goons” for Frostgrave warbands.¬† I’m still going to get the barbarian pack(s) and I’ll probably add some variety figures in there too (like a couple of all female warbands, a dwarf warband, a Chinese Warband, and an elven warband), but I have enough soldiers and wizard figures to comfortably run games of 10 players or more– maybe even a dozen.

Viking Looters

Another project I’d like to start running this summer is the venerable VIKING LOOTERS game.¬† This is a venerable convention game designed by the great Jim Birdseye years ago.¬† The scenario couldn’t be more simple – you are a Viking and need to get back to the boat first with the most loot (represented by pennies spraypainted gold). Your movement rate is based on the amount of loot you carry. All players start at the same distance from the boat. The fun comes in that each player is dealt several cards. Each card represents an event, usually bad for someone, usually the Viking himself.¬† The cards cause an opponent to drop pennies, fight battles, become pursued or otherwise delayed from returning to the boat. A turn consists of each player deciding whether or not to play a card on an opponent, or passing (not playing a card). Once all cards in a turn are played (face down on the table), the GM reveals them in an order that makes sense.

Yes, the “screw the opponent” factor is high.¬† I know I have plenty of fighting Vikings on board– about 44 of them.¬† However, I don’t yet have enough of regular people doing regular things– like the Saxon villagers, herdsmen, wenches, old women, and various random characters you meet in the game.¬† I’m still working on the villagers, but found a pack of Old Glory “Revenge” line Viking looters in smaller 28mm.¬† These are Vikings doing what¬† you associate with being vikings– raiding, drinking and taking stuff.

Most of these were crafted to have open palms for adding “stuff” to them.. like chickens, weapons, gold and jewelry, etc.

You can see there are some villagers in there– I also have some clergy. I am getting some sheepherders done and I still need some wenches and stock animals. Pretty much standard Dark ages figures.

I plan to run this game at camp.¬† As you already know, I have a great Viking Ship I built from a kit that I can use for a prop.¬† Scenery is pretty minimal.¬† I’ll add in a swamp that surrounds the ship except on the River side, with just one plank leading up to the boat and a big ship guard trying to rob you as you come on board– you can’t make it TOO easy!

Anyway, I love Frostgrave and always wanted to get Viking Looters off the ground, so that’s going to be my new project for the year.

Frostgrave Sunday!

We had a short window last¬†Sunday to get in a game of Frostgrave at the Comics and Gaming Store in Fairfax, VA. We were contemplating doing a published scenario, but didn’t have the right figures for it. So we did a free form Frostgrave game, my ad hoc level 4 Chronomancer versus level 5 (not sure.. maybe a Witch)?

I wanted to make the playing field dense. In Frostgrave, it’s far too easy to nail someone from the far side of the table, if there are no intervening terrain pieces to modify the shot (usually arrows). Also, the backstory of Frostgrave is Felstad (which the city this is supposed to be) is described as a dense urban environment, with narrow streets and all sorts of nooks and crannies.

We alternated putting out treasures, as per the rules. ¬†There were four pieces that were relatively close– A, B, C, and D (see above). ¬†E was a “lure” set in the “Orb of Power” which was a spell amplifier of sorts. ¬†I figured I could score A, B and C from my entry point, even with Archers in the far area of the square. ¬†I added a lot of standing terrain bits to break up line of sight. ¬†When I play Subir, I can be certain of a few things; He’ll focus on spells that teleport, telekinesis, leap, or jump away from competitor gangs– or he’ll take option 2 and select spells that block me, like Walls. ¬†One thing that he’ll always do is put a couple of archers up on a second level, where he can enjoy line of sight and pepper away as an annoyance. ¬† He was true to his patterns– this was a night of Leap, Telekinesis, Teleportation and Archers set up high.

Subir’s fantasy sniper team.

I split into two teams, one lead by the Chronomancer and one by his Assistant. ¬†My Chronomancer and his team hit the tower to retrieve Treasure B (above), and easily nailed C, but D was going to be hard to get to unopposed and E almost impossible. ¬†There was also a treasure in the fountain behind the tower (not shown) that I’ll circle around to.

This is the Orb of Power, which is a Games Workshop Numinous Occulum model, repurposed (I have one too). ¬†If the wizard stands in the Orb, he can cast spells with big pluses– think of it as a magic battery pack. ¬†It was closer to Subir’s starting point than mine (point E in the photo above), so I didn’t really think I would get a treasure there, nor could I make use of the Orb.

My two groups moved close to each other and supported each other. Subir was much more spread out. I think he had the better idea.  Being a level 3 guy, I had some good hirelings.. A Man at Arms, two Archers, two Thugs, One Infantryman, one Thief.  A good mix of muscle and smash and grab.

The apprentice easily converged on Treasure C while the Chronomancer took Treasure A in the tower. ¬†There’s another one in the fountain in the background.

he wanted to show off.

Or course, Subir would try a little razzle dazzle.  He telekinesed the treasure from the Orb of Power dome, and then LEAPed this thug (position A) to the second floor balcony where treasure D was.  He got to the treasure first, before my Infantryman could stop him (position B), crowed a little, and LEAPed out.

My Chronomancer basically did what Wizards do in this game.. got under cover, got up high, and got behind an Archer who provided cover. ¬†My accompanying Thug moved the treasure to the map’s edge, as did the extra thug near Treasure C.

We did run the game with a rule I like to use– whenever you pick up a treasure, you roll on the Random Monster table. ¬†This didn’t create a lot of distractions.. well, mostly, until…

No, it’s not Cthulhu. I don’t have a worm figure, and that’s what Subir rolled. Bad luck for him!

As Subir and his gang cowered behind some rubble, I tried something silly. I had placed a WIZARD EYE on the flat side of the wall, near that balcony Treasure D was on. I had STEAL HEALTH which works “In Line of Sight” to a target. So by extending Line of Sight, My Chronomancer was able to steal health from the Worm itself, from across the board. I even had to sacrifice a couple of hit points, to make a spell roll work, and immediately got it back from the demon! Now that’s a hoot! My attempt to intercept treasure D on the way off the board, which caused me to lose my Man at Arms, sadly, pincushioned with arrows.

Well, sadly, an urgent call from home cut our game shorter than I would like, or I would have nailed the treasure in the fountain, too. As happens a lot with Frostgrave, the game tied up 3 treasures to 3 treasures. I don’t collect warbands like Subir does so I didn’t roll for the treasures. I did lose a guy to an Archer attack, but that’s life, warbands are kind of expendable.

A great time, I only wish we could have played longer.

Stone Golem for Frostgrave

I have plans to run the Hunt for the Golem scenario published as an e-doc from Osprey Publishing.  As a scenario, it’s not overly ambitious, which is fine– I can handle 3 scenarios as a series of connected games.   It was harder than I thought finding a perfect stone Golem figure, though.  I’m not crazy about the construct figure from Northstar.  I wanted to go with a more classic formed golem look, as if out of Jewish tradition.  I couldn’t find anything from the old D&D miniatures line either.   However I did find something in the Bones line from Reaper miniatures.. paradoxically, it’s their version of a stone golem.

I like the look of this thing.. not exactly Judaic, but kind of Egyptian looking, which works, pretty much.

As with all Bones figures, you have to put the prep work in. I soaked it in water overnight, and wiped it off the next day to get rid of the mold release residue. Then I undercoated it in GW’s “Stone” color (really just a medium gray). Then I sealed it with a brush on dullcoate, and applied dark ink to capture the 3D, and a light off white drybrush to establish highlights.

The results are pretty nice! I might add a little moss and gunk on the legs, as I anticipate the golem has been stationery for a long period, and maybe draw some runes on him in places with a thin pen, as the golem is described in the source material as being covered with mystic ancient runes.

I’m liking Reaper Bones stuff.. definitely a useful line at an affordable price.

Frostgrave Wizards & Warbands added to my collection

My friend John Montrie just came back from a trip to China. He took some of my¬†¬†figures to paint with him on the trip. As if things weren’t busy enough in China! Anyway, he’s back, I picked them up today, and they look just lovely.

And a bad of Frostgrave generic medieval soldiers, of which this is just a sample.

FUTURE: At this point, I have purchased almost every wizard in the current pantheon from Northstar Figures. I don’t have their Illusionist but I have some Reaper Bones figures that will make excellent replacements (see previous posts). I don’t have their Witch figure because I want to go with a more traditional Witch figure and not the African/Voudron style figure Northstar is using. Not pictured is my Necromancer and Apprentice (FGV105) and Summoner and Apprentice (FGV108). I’m okay for Wizard types for a while, but I will be getting the aforementioned witch and that’s about it– some of the Reaper figs I have been painting lately could make excellent Illusionists. From the semi-official Northstar line, I will probably still pick up specialty hirelings and another box of Frostgrave Soldiers. I have enough skellies, but might want to invest in the Gnolls once they are retailing.

I’m Using 28mm Reaper Bones figures in Frostgrave

Given that individual pewter figures are getting pretty dear, I thought I’d give Reaper Bones figures a try recently, and although my first results at painting were not to my liking, I did end up developing a method where I arrived at results that I could use.

BONES, if you don’t know, is a line of plastic figures created from REAPER miniature molds.¬† I have no quibbles with Reaper’s sculpting, it’s almost always top-notch.¬† However, I don’t much care for the plastic they use– it’s the rubbery kind, not too dissimilar to the plastic used in “Clickie” Collectible figures games.¬† It wasn’t holding paint very well.¬† I had heard you could paint them right out the box.¬† That is incorrect.¬† Spray priming with Testor’s primer was a bad idea– the figure was tacky/sticky for days afterward.¬† Don’t do this.¬†¬† I went back to basics and just soaked the figures overnight in soapy water, and rinsed them off, blotting them and rubbing off and mold release residue.¬† Then I painted each figure with a thinned coat of some neutral primer color, like base gray.¬† After drying overnight i mounted them on craft sticks and started painting.¬† The results were very positive.¬† There are so many great fantasy personalities in the Bones catalogue that I can add a ton of wizards and fighting men into the mix for a lot cheaper than pewter figures, and they match the Northstar metal ones in scale.

Here are some of the figures I’ve done so far.¬† Click to enlarge.¬† I have a man at arms figure (good for specialty infantry types), an Illusionist, a Sigilist (looking very Gandalfian), an Elementalist shooting a fire spell, a very commanding looking Enchanter from the Pathfinder range, a Demonic looking Summoner, and a big Death-dealing looking barbarian.


(L-R Enchanter, Summoner, Barbarian)

(L-R Man at Arms, Illusionist, Sigilist, Elementalist)

That’s about what I have done now.¬† My painting method seems to be repeatable so I’m going to go with that method for a few more lines.¬† I also have a small horde of skeletons painted, a couple of demons and other creatures, and now I am getting some mercenaries primed up.

Just another frozen walk in the ruins, Part 1 (Frostgrave Fiction)

And now, a little experiment with a fiction post. I’ll break this up into probably 3 long posts, divided by a few days each
Just another frozen walk in the Ruins… PART ONE
by Walter O’Hara

Minty the Apprentice whistled as he poked his little fire, trying to keep it warm enough so the Master’s fingers wouldn’t freeze up on him in the upcoming scavenging expedition. Today they were heading to the interior of the Resident’s section of the old city, a place yet to be mapped by anyone of reputation. For his part, Fleebus, his master (also known as Fleebus the Good, Fleebus the Blessed and Fleebus the Kindly at some point in his past), was nodding tiredly into the soup Minty had prepared and appeared to be in danger of decorating the front of his dull red robes with broth. It had been a long march inland to the little Temple on the fringes of the great City that served as their expedition headquarters, and Fleebus had insisted they pack heavy and be ready to go at first light. Thus, the small party clustered around the fire was still stamping their feet to keep warm and energize themselves for the day’s work. Minty coughed, delicately, and kicked Fleebus’s boots. The Thaumaturgist blinked twice and opened his eyes wider.. “Eh?” Minty nodded knowingly at the small circle of men sitting and standing around their fire. It would not do to see their employer doze off into his breakfast on the first day.

Fleebus and Minty (from Northstar magazine)

Fleebus started, then put his can of soup down, blowing on his fingers. “Right! Men.. and ladies…” nodding at the giant archer to his left, who vaguely looked female- “As you know, we are engaged in an expedition to search for artifacts and treasures from the Ancient Frozen City beyond us there” he said, gesturing in a direction vaguely towards the ruins behind him. “I have worked with some of you last season and some of you are hired on for the first time, so I’ll educate you on our plan of attack for this season.” Fleebus gestured to Minty, who hurriedly unrolled a larger scroll, with a crude map of the city drawn in brown ink, with notes and arrows added later in red by Fleebus. Fleebus gestured with one shaking finger. “As you can see, our base camp here is on the Southern outskirts. I chose this location because it gets some traffic from the outside world and is still reasonably safe from attack from the Undead creatures that infest these ruins, a byproduct of being sacred ground.” The crew nodded and muttered, some of them touching holy symbols they had on hand. “Sadly, most of the Southern outskirts and suburbs have been rather systematically picked over in the last few years, and I fear we will make few discoveries there. Therefore, my plan of attack is to approach along the Canal leading into the City, cross over the Marketplace and approach the Northern Residential area from the Cathedral gallery. This is a relatively pristine area to search and I hope to be in and out in a day, without stirring up any trouble. Questions?
“Sir”, said one of the more articulate hirelings, a sword and shield-man from Karth and rated as pretty intelligent, by and large .. “What about wandering Skeletons and Zombies? The approach you are describing takes us two blocks East of the Catacombs. That area is infested with them” “A very good question,” replied Fleebus. “As you know the ambient temperature has dropped greatly in recent weeks.” This was accompanied by nods, grumbles, and stamping of feet. “According to the scroll Malius Malefractum, second half, governing necromantic or summoned creatures, zombies, skeletons and the lesser undead slow down grievously in low temperatures. During the short window of this cold snap, we will be uncomfortable, that is true, but we will also have our freedom of limbs, freedom of our minds, and speed to carry out action. Why, we’ll run rings around them, Sir! Any other questions?” “Um, sir?” began one of the new hirelings, a short second story man from Trevilian. “I heard from the boys that there may be, erm.. competing expeditions in the ruins this time of year. What should we expect?” Minty stared meaningfully at Fleebus, who chose to ignore the hint. “There are no reports of competing bands anywhere nearby, nor do we expect any” Fleebus, said, somewhat ill at ease. “Now, gentlemen (and ladies)..” (The vaguely female shaped archer rumbled, and nodded) “we are wasting precious daylight and precious time. We need to be past the catacombs by the 11th hour of the morning. Let us depart!” Quickly, the camp sprang into action, dousing the meager fire, strapping on packs full of bags, ropes and other accouterments of treasure hunting. Minty took his place at the front of the marching order, with Fleebus beside him. Minty raised his voice and said, in a level tone, “Arlo the treasure hunter, scout ahead. Archers behind us, Quarg the War Dog runs ahead. Everyone else, behind them. For Fortune and Glory, we march!” “Fortune and Glory!” the crew repeated tiredly, and they almost managed to sound cheerful.

Fleebus grinned as they stepped¬†out at a brisk pace. “No competitor bands, master?” Minty muttered out of the side of his mouth. “I didn’t tell an untruth, exactly– I haven’t detected any… technically“.. Minty sighed, and shrugged, and the band moved out confidently. Ahead, Arlo and Quarg the War Hound scouted a safe path for the party to advance into the ruins.

In another part of the city, a very different band had already started marching, or more accurately, were engaged in halting, as they clustered around an unlucky soldier collapsed at the base of a pillar in the Leather-worker’s district. Ozick, otherwise known as Ozick the Nasty, Ozick the Indifferent, and Ozick the Defiler, glared down at the wounded treasure hunter in his employ. “Can you move?” he said, in his funereal tone. “errrgh… Nossir, GAH, the pain! M’leg was gnawed sumpin terrible when I was ambushed by giant rats come up from the sewers! I got ’em though, sir!” He hawked and spat, and continued to groan, piteously. Ozick stared at him, unblinking, for a solid minute. “Pity“, he said, and turned away. Squeebles, his apprentice, approached nervously. “Er, masssster? What about our treasure hunter?

Ozick the Defiler and Squeebles
(also from Northstar Magazine)

“Dispatch him” said Ozick, quietly, so the rest of the band couldn’t hear. “It would be … a kindness, lest he catch the foaming rot from those creatures” then strode away, stopped, and turned back. “And Squeebles?Yesss, ssssir?” “Don’t waste the body, if you take my meaning“, he said, looking intently from under his bushy dark brows. Behind him, he heard a Schnick! and sickening thud, as the job was done.

Ten Minutes Later, the company of Ozick the Necromancer set out again, this time accompanied by a brand new zombie recruit, which slowed them somewhat– this would become meaningful later.

Two Hours Later, Arlo the Treasure Hunter’s lean, rangy frame could be spotted from the lookouts, heading back toward the party in a frantic run. Minty looked worried. The new route had not gone well. They had lost two men-at-arms to a sudden attack from a swarm of skeletons that had emerged from behind some rubble at a bad moment when they were constrained by an alley they were sneaking through. Skeletons that were not exactly nimble, per se, but there were a lot of them blocking the way out of the alley. With one dead party member and one grievously wounded to the point that they had already expended a healing potion on him and sent him limping back to the Temple base, Minty was hoping for no more unpleasant surprises on this trip. Perhaps Arlo was bringing good news. “Yes, and Owlbears can fly” Minty thought.

Arlo came highly recommended, and he demonstrated his reputation (and extra cost) now, pulling out his treasure-hunters chapbook and laying it out on a collapsed fence so that Minty and Fleebus could follow along. In it was a hurried sketch of a circle, with several boxes noted along its arc, many with a darker black “X” marked on them. “About three blocks over, there’s a traffic circle of some sort. There are many small row houses and single houses with lawns, collapsing into themselves. I scouted about ten possible targets for salvage where you see the X marks. The good news is that this seems to be a very undisturbed neighborhood. There’s little evidence of looters, if any– the buildings are collapsing, but mostly from the elements. There was a fire in this neighborhood at some point, but it was more than a decade ago from the looks of it, and probably started by lightning”. Fleebus nodded approvingly and asked.. “You said good news. People who say “The good news is..” usually have bad news?” Arlo looked serious. “I couldn’t be sure from my position, but I swear I heard people shouting, somewhere. We can’t rule out the presence of one or more parties in the surrounding neighborhood.” Minty was alarmed. “Sir, we’re really not in a good shape to actually fight another party. Our spell collection is not very aggressive. As you have told me many times, a Thaumaturgist isn’t in the business of hurting people”. Fleebus chuckled, but they could see his concern. “Then we shall have to be quiet, good Apprentice. Pass the word, muffle weapons, keep conversation at a bare minimum, and for the God’s sake, touch nothing. If the Gods are with us, the other party, IF there is another party, might just pass us right by.”

About 10 minutes later, and 5 blocks North…

Ozick, pressing his wounded side with one hand, leaned against a post and closed his eyes, concentrating on a spell… he felt the dark energy growing inside him, to the point of release, then touched one of his wounded crew on the head, and said in a murmuring tongue: “Iocanthus Mortem“. The wounded hireling gasped, his eyes leeched color into a milky whiteness, and he pitched over backwards. Ozick looked down. The wound was no longer bleeding. Instead, he felt a rush of vitality that he had stolen from the dead man. It felt great. “Maaaassster?” asked an anxious Squeebles at his elbow. “We are running low on ssstaff, we only have sseven more left!” “Very well, Squeebles, I didn’t want to waste a potion, but I may have to at this rate. We’ve met with unexpected opposition.” That was one word for it. A rogue witch and her band of gnolls had suddenly attacked from the supposedly deserted part of the city to their East. They could only have been traveling underground (somehow) to avoid detection this easily. Unfortunately the witch had a veritable mob in support and Ozick was feeling decidedly over-matched. To begin with, she had a larger crew to start with– sure, they were humanoid (orcs and bugbears), and thus rather stupid, and difficult to reincarnate. Worse than that, though, was the sense that there was a heavy hitter she had in play that he had not seen yet. Not anything definitive.. just a dark mass lurking in the background, and the hint of glowing red eyes. “If she has a real demon up her sleeve, we will retreat as soon as feasible– I don’t have any minions of comparable strength, and nothing to counter that with”, Ozick thought to himself.

Almost simultaneously, 15 minutes later at the Plaza of Light and Shadow:

Arlo was busy pointing out targets to Fleebus in his chapbook, so they didn’t see the much-depleted party of Ozick the Defiler enter into the Plaza, but Minty did. “DOWN”, he hissed, pushing a startled Fleebus and Arlo behind a ruined garden wall. He quickly pointed at the oncoming party. They were not, at first glance, impressive. Ozick’s men were lean and hungry looking, dressed in rags and piecemeal armor, mostly leather bits. “Either cheap, or a necromancer”, thought Minty to himself as he frantically gestured for two of the archers to get up high and lay down some suppressing fire on the oncoming party. Minty cringed as he heard a bolt whistle overhead and impact against the fence behind him. “You, you.. and YOU..” he snapped at a crossbowman, an archer and a thief. “With me, we’ll circle left. Stay under cover!”
Across the circular plaza, the Defiler was also directing his men to fire into the oncoming party as he got behind cover and concentrated on a spell. There were few clues to deduce the power of the opposing wizard. “Red Robes. That means exactly nothing. The only thing I see summoned is an Animal Companion, all that tells me is that he’s neutral to the Witch’s School. He’s not Summoning anything, I would have felt that.. no, wait he’s touching one of his fighters… ” The distant wizard’s hands glowed for a second as he chanted, then the fighter’s clothes glowed briefly, as well. “That’s a shield, or I’m a rat..” Ozick chuckled to himself. A Thaumaturge. It wouldn’t do to get cocky, but Ozick already sensed victory. There was nothing a Thaumaturge had in his bag of tricks that he hadn’t seen already. He was far more concerned with the Witch Party they had fought a running battle with for five blocks. Where were they now?

Arlo the Treasure Hunter climbed up to the second floor of one of the residential ruins to delve into a promising heap of sacking that had congregated in one corner. Instantly two black feathered arrows sped towards him, and swerved around him to bury in the wall. Arlo quickly flashed a thumb’s up to Fleebus, sheltering in the lee of the broken wall below. The shield was working. Excellent. As Arlo dug through the mass of rags and rotted timbers in the attic of the house he was, he felt a telltale hollow space in the timber give below his probing pick, and a tiny hatch was revealed. Inside was an oblong rectangular box about a foot long, covered with leather and sporting two silver clasps. Arlo’s hands shook. A grimoire! Possibly. “Guess who’s getting a bonus, old boy!” Arlo whispered to himself. A thin quivering shriek disturbed his reverie. Arlo’s head snapped up.. What was that? The shriek was followed by distinctive growls, barks, and the guttural sound of the Dark Speech coming out of the wrecked buildings North and East of the Circle below him. “Uh oh, that’s not…”

“GOOD!” shouted Ozick as his last crossbowman neatly put a bolt through the left eye of one of the hired thugs from the party of the doddering old mage across the alley. “Try to heal THAT!” he said to himself.. now sure that he was pitted against a less aggressive wizard, very likely a thaumaturge. Ozick wasn’t a tactician. When he was locked in battle, he didn’t maneuver. He brought everything he had, as fast as he could, against his opponents, and so he was doing now. Squeebles was crouched behind a pillar, making the somatic gestures for The Dart of Bone, the most basic spell a Necromancer can cast. Of course, it was ruined by the dolt being in a crouching position. Ozick strode up to Squeebles, heedless of the two arrows that passed behind him, and hauled Squeebles up by the collar. “Idiot! You can’t fire that spell bent at the waist!”
“Sssssorrrry, Masster! They have archerssss!” mumbled Squeebles, and then his last thief, a Coast bravo whose name he couldn’t pronounce, was at his elbow. “Master..” he said, bowing, and presenting a small amulet. Ozick was no good at reading auras or divining artifacts, but he had seen this kind of thing before. An amulet of protection? Possibly. “Not bad. Was there anything else?” “Coin, a fair amount” the thief replied in heavily accented Common. “A fair job! Take it out of here to the Safe House via the safe route, even if you have to go around for a few blocks. We’ll regroup and do the counting as soon as we are clear of this.” The thief nodded silently, and faded back into the shadows, swiftly getting as far away from the escalating fight as he could. At that moment, Ozick heard the screech and growl of something large and massive moving in his direction, punctuated by the crashing sound of collapsing walls. Ozick looked at Squeebles. “Whatever that is, it’s…. ”

“HUGE!” yelled Minty from across the alley, where he had a clear view at the collapsed fountain in the circle ahead, and several tantalizing objects laying around out in the open. “It’s a huge, damned THING! Likely a demon! And I can hear what I think are Gnolls.. they have that high, yippy kind of language that’s hard to make out!” Fleebus called back. “It would appear that the party is about to be joined by another hopeful! Can you make out what kind of Wizard?” “Not from here, no.. he or she is staying under cover behind the buildings yonder. They are so close together we can’t really track their movement.”

HERE ENDS PART ONE (Stay tuned!)

copyright 2016 Walter O’Hara

A quick post about Frostgrave Terrain

Continuing with the Frostgrave theme, here’s some recent structures I put together for Frostgrave or other skirmish games. Here are three ruined village buildings originally sold as Normandy scenery sold as “Bold Action 28mm Ruined Hamlet” by Warlord Games. These are three identical house kits that can be put together in any kind of way you want to put them together– which is a strength. I find that you kind of have to start with the largest corner pieces to have a second story, so all of mine kind of look similar. No worries, it’s easy enough to make them look different.

I assembled the pieces, primed them grey, went over with a medium shade of gray to bring out the details, glued them to small craft wood bases. Then did a small wash with dark tone to bring out the details. After the glue dried I sprayed with a fixative and sprinkled some white flocking on it to give it that snow fall look.

Hovel 1, with a big Octopus sigil on the second floor. That’s a little piece from Hirst Arts that I painted red and black.

Hovel 2 on a nifty round base. This one will take up less space.

Hovel 3.. I added the dollhouse bench as a nice detail. I like the way the snow is on the bench, too.

Here’s Hovel 3 with an Ice troll and a construct for scale.

The ice troll is a Pathfinder Miniature. I figure it fits with the theme of the game and I can stat it out eventually.

I wouldn’t want to use these for the internal part of a city but they will work great on the outskirts. The basic philosophy of Frostgrave terrain is to block line of sight to avoid long shots from across the table. These will help!

Review: Frostgrave Cultists, by Northstar Miniatures

Plastic soldiers, 28mm scale, sold as sprues that are assembled into a variety of poses
Created for the game FROSTGRAVE (Osprey Publishing) but can be used for a variety of skirmish games in the 28mm scale. Not really a good addition to historical army, the fantasy theme is very pronounced.

I picked up a box of Frostgrave “Cultist” figures at the recent Cold Wars convention. This is a big box of assemble it yourself plastic figures– and I mean big, you can make 20 figures with this box. The intent of the plastic soldiers is to quickly give a Frostgrave player suitably Winter-themed troops to rapidly bulk up warbands. I’ll stress up front they aren’t required to play the game– you can play Frostgrave with anything that seems to fit the scale and setting. I got them because they looked pretty good (I love pointy headed cultist heads), they are in scale, and there’s a lot of them.

The Box Cover. Click to enlarge.

Details: There are 4 sprues with 5 body variations on them (I think). Essentially a mixture of cloth, leather armor, maybe some studded leather. There are many head variants in this box, most of them with pointy hats, helmets or hoods. Only two bare headed head variants per sprue, I used those sparingly. There is also a few weapon variants sculpted to represent skull heads and skeletal arms. Decent variations for possible weapons– a two handed knobbed club, a bow, a crossbow (two handed), several variations of hand weapons, mostly a Kopesh, a small sword, various daggers, a couple of target style shields, a spear etc. There are some hand-only variations and nice extra bits (like quivers, pouches, sheathed knives etc) to add to the figures to increase variation. Sculpting is excellent here– very detailed and weird looking cultists with a variety that really sells it. The best part of this set is just how well the two-handed weapon sculpts fit on every body type provided, every time, with minimal glue. The plastic type is hard gray styrene, you will need a Testor’s style glue to construct them. Every body provided comes with a matching styrene circular base.

And here’s my first batch of cultists. I actually did make 20, one of them broke and was drying after a repair job. Click to enlarge

I only have them primed up at the moment but they will take a coat of paint nicely. I’m very pleased with my first “war band” purchase from North Star. I would give this a 4 out of 5, for a few minor nits about weapons choices (I would have liked to have a longsword carried by a human arm, and larger shields so we could indicate Men at Arms types, but that really IS minor).

If you purchase these, and North Star’s other warbands, they should mix very well with the regular soldier types and the follow-on skeletons. Don’t throw away the sprues whatever you do. I had to fix some broken weapons pretty quickly– be sure to use a storage system with some padding as the swords can be a little fragile. Scale wise they mix perfectly with 28mm pewter from the same company, but would also work with Warhammer Fantasy (although they might be a tad chunky in comparison), Reaper miniatures, even older pre-painted monsters from the D&D Miniature and Pathfinder miniatures lines, although the latter may lack detail in comparison.

I’m glad I bought these cultists, they will be very handy going forward with Frostgrave games.