Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Making Frostgrave Mysterious Again [Gaming]

This tidbit from awhile back when my Frostgrave group was testing out some homebrew rules. Essentially we had grown weary of the standard linear concept in Frostgrave of running out to grab treasure that we already knew the location of. Often in a frantic panic to grab enough treasure to advance our wizards we would end up striking deals with each other like “I won’t kill X number of your warband that I easily could do if you let me have that treasure right there.” This would go on for a few sessions and we ended up deciding that a return to the mysterious dungeon feel was needed.

 So we decided to spice up our games with a bit of random treasure hunting and peril. On small 20x20mm red paper tokens, numbers were placed corresponding to a list which can be seen in the picture to the right. Anything from traps, monsters, and treasures were listed out and prior to the game.

We decided that vice printing on the token what it represented like we had seen some other Frostgrave players do, it was easier to have numbers so that all we would have to do is change the list of numbers vice all the tokens. This would prove useful over a few sessions as come to find out 3 wraiths spawning on top of you really was a buzz kill (reference my poor hobbit thief  in the picture and his wounds after he was cornered in the ally by the three ghastly ruffians).

Some numbers on the list were more common than others. This was decided on a basis on how hard we wanted to play and how many benefits we wanted our wizards to be able to find. We started out with 15 #9s (treasures), added 3 tokens from the 10-15 range (treasures and gold) picked at random. Then we added 10 blank tokens to that 18 to just give a bit of disappointment mid game, and as luck would have it I would turn up a bunch of these. We mixed all 28 tokens up and then only randomly selected 17.

In another pile we took 30 tokens from the 1-8 range (traps and monsters), we mixed them, and then selected 20 from the top the mixed pile.

We combined the 17 blank/treasures with the 20 traps/monsters and mixed accordingly. We then evenly distributed among all 5 players, and without looking at the cards placed them 3" from each other and 6" from the edge.

It was very exciting running our warband up to these unknown token on our turn and flipping them over. It often would be the most exciting thing to try and match the number to the spreadsheet we had to see if we had found something valuable or we were going to face a dreaded ice giant. The board was quite full which made every turn an opportunity to face a random encounter or treasure, but lots of disappointment ensued as skeletons or wraiths would pop up unexpectedly. I of course had the luck to turn up an ice giant. But was able to quickly teleport my caster and warband away to avoid being trampled, leaving another player to deal with my problem.

In the end once the game was over, we figured out that 10 treasures made it through the shuffling and mixing, 7 blanks, only about 6 traps and a bunch of monster encounters which were super fun. It prevented the standard "Race" to grab 3 treasures each. Instead everyone had to be really calculated and tactical about how they searched the ruins.

Terrain as far as the printed buildings was all done by my friend John B.

 It was a fun game  and I would  definitely  recommend trying out similar rules to your game. Never hurts to change it up.


  1. A really interesting idea. Garenteed to spice things up a bit. I particularly like the idea of saturating the board, so there is something (or nothing) around every corner. It sounds like quite a lot of prep work though, I wonder if there is a way of cutting down the number of steps.

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  3. Great article! I really liked what we did to mitigate the race to the known treasure spots every game...even though I uncovered more deadly traps than treasures. The game play was significantly more intense, right down to the last two tokens. During that game, having seen both the good and bad results of previous token reveals, there was a lot of curiosity and trepidation about taking the effort and risk to grab the last two tokens. As I recall, there were some bloody battles in the area around them and in the end, essentially a standoff where nobody was willing to expose their remaining wounded characters to a possible blank or trap (even though they both could have been treasures). So we called it a game at that point with the two tokens still on the board. This greatly increased the feel of a dungeon/cityscape exploration. A little fine tuning in the ratio of treasures/blanks/traps/monsters might be worth exploring to increase or decrease the difficulty or rewards. I got extremely unlucky on my token reveals and even though I revealed 8 tokens, only one turned out to be a normal treasure. Others in the game did much better with the same number of token revealed. But that is part of the risk you take and I would still take that kind of system over a standard game where everyone nearly always gets their 3 treasures and runs away. I have to believe that over the course of several games in a campaign, the inequity of good to bad reveals will equal out for everyone...but then, if I didn't have bad luck, I would have no luck at all. :-) John B. PS: I think the last two tokens in that game were a blank and something bad.

  4. A few people suggested having just generic tokens and having a deck of cards with “monster” or “treasure” on them. So you dont have to make different tokens. This may be the best idea I have heard to make it less labor intensive.