Thursday, 17 August 2017

Frostgrave: Ghost Archipelago Demo

I wanted to share a shot of the complete Ghost Archipelago demo that I am running at GenCon. Not a bad set-up for the small table available. The really cool wooden platform terrain is from Death Ray Designs (although I can't find it on their website at the moment). The set includes some much bigger pieces that I didn't have room for, and you can set each platform at one of three different heights. The mat underneath is from Cigar Box Battles. It's actually a mat they made specifically for some Frostgrave scenarios set underground, but it actually works well as a watery base.

The first day went poorly for Vasha. I can't say I'm hugely surprised; he's the more subtle, and thus harder to play, Heritor, especially in a demo. That said, people seem a bit shy about having him throw knives, which is something he's really good at! He make my favourite move of the day when he leapt up onto a box and kicked the Wind Warden into the water!

Big Red has been having a better time. She showed just how deadly she can be, once inflicting a massive 16 points of damage on a Fight Roll of 17! That poor little archer was not recovered...

All-and-all, it has gone well today. Thanks to everyone who has come by to take a look at Ghost Archipelago or just talk about Frostgrave. It's always good to hear that people are enjoying the game.

I've only seem a bit of the rest of the convention. After waking up at 2:30 this morning (thanks, jet-lag) and then spending ten hours in the dealer hall, I am completely shot. Which is too bad, if I wanted to, I could go see They Might Be Giants, who are playing at GenCon, and still have plenty of time to make it back for the Pathfinder games that are starting at 2am!

Trocket, Archer

Providing the Heritor, Vasha Tune, with covering fire is Trocket the Archer, constructed from the Ghost Archipelago plastic Crew set that will be released at the same time as the game. Since I’m using such small warbands for the demo, I suspect he’ll also be used to pick up treasure tokens.

Ghost Archipelago has a slightly different (and I think better) set-up with regards to treasure tokens. In Ghost Archipelago, one treasure token is placed in the centre of the table. This is known as the 'central treasure' (original, I know) and it grants bonuses to treasure rolls. Each player then places two additional tokens. Unlike Frostgrave, where there are generally three tokens per player, which has a tendency to create ‘ties’, Ghost Archipelago will always have an uneven number, including one that is better than the rest. This tends to make the games more competitive and gives players more reason to really fight it out. This is a change that I will probably implement in Frostgrave when the chance presents itself. Also, unlike Frostgrave, when the game ends, the remaining player does not necessarily recover unclaimed treasure tokens.

The other difference with treasure tokens is they just aren’t as lucrative as in Frostgrave. The Ghost Archipelago is filled with treasure, but not to the extent of the Frozen City. Players are going to have to work a little harder to build their treasuries and grow their warbands (although this is somewhat offset by free standard crewman).

I await feedback on both of these changes!

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Covis, Earth Warden

Supporting Vasha in his adventures in the Ghost Archipelago, is the Earth Warden, Covis. For Covis’s four spells, I chose Projectile, for offensive punch; Earthen Wall, to cut lines of sight; Earth Blood, to aid everyone in the warband; and the Water Warden spell, Amphibious, because, well, there is a lot of water around…

Water plays a large role in Ghost Archipelago and is chiefly encountered through two rules, swimming and small boats. Swimming comes into play any time a figure activates while in deep water. That figure must immediately make a Will Roll, with penalties for wearing armour or carrying shields or treasure. If the role is failed, the figure receives no actions and will take drowning damage. Otherwise, he can activate as normal, swimming around and fighting with penalties. Of course, if the figure is somehow amphibious, it does not need to make the roll nor does it suffers any penalties.

Now, most Ghost Archipelago scenarios are set completely on land, but there are a few that involve deep water. In these scenarios, the players are often given the option of putting their figures into small boats. These boats can generally hold up to 6 figures, and have their own rules for movement and fighting. So, while larger ships are handled in the abstract, these smaller boats are on the table in the fights!

None of these rules are revolutionary or overly complex, but I think they go a long way to help giving the game some of its feel and to separate it from Frostgrave

Friday, 11 August 2017

Vasha Tune, Heritor

I suspect that this will be one of the most popular figures in the Ghost Archipelago line.

Meet Vasha Tune, the second Heritor who will be battling it out in my GenCon demo. Unlike his opposition who was an unsubtle combat monster, Vasha specializes in fighting on his own terms. For his stat advance, I gave him +1 Move. As Frostgrave players will know, that extra move can make a big difference. For his Heritor Abilities, I gave him Burning Eyes, which will help keep away the minor threats, and Evade to get him out of any fights he'd rather not be in. He also has Shadowfold, so he's difficult to shoot at. Finally, he has Leap, so he can get around even quicker, and Deadeye, which makes him scary when throwing knives. 

He would likely lose a straight up fight against Big Red, but she has to catch him first - and dodge a bunch of incoming knives! 

In the rulebook, there are thirty different Heritor Abilities to choose from. I have also made a table for those really 'old school' players who want to roll for random Abilities. This lead me to a problem - do you know how difficult it is to create a table with 30 equally probable outcomes using nothing but a 20-sided die. Go on, try it! In the end, I cheated slightly, and some Abilities have a slightly higher probability than others, but there you go.

The irony is that while I was working on this, my friend gave me a pack of 'unusual dice' that actually includes a 30-sider. I was sorely tempted to put the table in there using the d30, just so we would all have an excuse to have one!


Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Oren, Archer

Here is the last member of Collandra's little band. In the demo, I'll only be using four figures a side for the sake of brevity. Full Ghost Archipelago crews will be 10 figures, and since standard crewmen are free, there really isn't much reason for a player to ever have less than that, unless dictated by a scenario.

Oren, here, was made from a test sprue of the Ghost Archipelago plastic crewmen. If you like swashbuckling adventurer types, you are going to love this sprue...

Sorry about the poor photo quality. I just finished painting this guy, and most of my equipment, scenery, and what not are packed up for the move. He seems to have come out a much darker purple than he actually is!

In Ghost Archipelago, shooting works pretty much the same as it does in Frostgrave. In fact, there are only two, minor, difference and neither relates to the actual mechanics of shooting. The first is that 'quivers' are now items. So, an archer must have a bow and a quiver to shoot. This makes no difference at all to the crew, but for characters like Heritors, it means they have to devote 2 item slots to having a bow or crossbow. This is a balancing mechanism, to make shooting more 'expensive'. It didn't matter much in Frostgrave, where magic was the main thrust, but it matters a lot in a game focusing on warriors. The second, related, difference is that I have included 'throwing knives' as a weapon. This is essentially a one-shot ranged attack, that can also be used as desperation back-up weapon. I honestly don't know how important an addition to the game that is, but it is fun and cool so I wanted it in there!

Next time, we'll take a look at the opposition!

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Frostgrave: Ghost Archipelago - It exists!


I am interrupting today's scheduled blog to show off this, that just arrived by post!



And now I can throw away the huge print out that I have been using as a reference!




Monday, 7 August 2017

Verith, Wind Warden



The next to join Collandra’s band of adventures is Verith, the Wind Warden. How cool a figure is he? A blind archer with no bow!

It was important to me, when I started work on Ghost Archipelago, that Wardens have a different feel and purpose than the wizards of Frostgrave. I decided early on that I would make the Wardens animists, that all of them would have some tie to nature. This fit well with the setting, as the Ghost Archipelago is such natural, alive place (as opposed to the dead, artificial city of Frostgrave). So, I invented five different branches of Warden magic, and gave each branch 6 different spells to choose from. A starting Warden chooses three spells from their own branch, and one from a different branch. Wardens have significantly less spells that the wizards, partly because they are meant to be less powerful, but also because, with players already having to keep track of their Heritor Abilities, I didn’t want the game to get too confusing! However, the good news for Wardens is that they never take damage from failing to cast spells, also, on average, their spells have lower casting numbers.

In this way, I hope, Wardens become more of the supporting pieces they are meant to be. Powerful individuals, but not as dangerous or as dominate as the Heritors. Also, I think players will be happy to hear, Wardens gain experience and levels independently, thus giving players essentially two ‘characters’ that can grow over the course of a campaign.

So, what about Verith? He’s a Wind Warden, so I gave him three spells from his branch: Windblast, to push people around; True Flight, to support any archers, and Dust Devil for a little damage potential. I also gave him the Wave Warden spell: Water of Life for some potential healing when things go wrong!

Friday, 4 August 2017

Portock, Freebooter


Following on from my last post, this is the first of ‘Big Red’s support team. Portock is a Freebooter who carries a big axe!

For the most part, the ‘crew’ in Ghost Archipelago are very similar to the soldiers in Frostgrave, despite having different names in most cases. There is one large difference though. Crew are now divided into two categories: standard and specialists. Standard crewman are basically thugs from Frostgrave except the player has a few options on how they are equipped. The critical thing about standard crewmen is that they are free. In this way, even if you have a terrible game in which all of your crew are killed and you recover no treasure at all, you can still go back to your ship, get some more crewmen, and still have a full complement of fighters for the next game.

Specialists are crew that you’ve hired specifically to help you on your adventures, and tend to be warriors of various types, not sailors – such as the Freebooter here. You can only have four specialists in your warband, so you have to think pretty carefully about which ones you take. Which do you value more, long ranged firepower, or staying power? Also, specialist crewman are not so easy to replace. To hire new specialists requires a trip back to the mainland, which is an expensive proposition.

Thankfully, whenever you lose a specialist, you can replace them with a standard crewman until such time as you can make the journey home

* * *

In the last post, a couple of people asked about a creature list for Ghost Archipelago. While I'm flattered that people want to get ready to play the game in advance, I don't think it would be right for me to give out a creature list before North Star and Osprey Games have put the official figures up for sale. While I have, and continue, to encourage players to use whatever figures they want for the game, I think it is only right that the producers that directly support the game (and it's author) get the first chance to tempt you!

More notes in the next day or two. 

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

The First Heritor!





























In a few weeks, about four days after I move house, I am off to Indianapolis for GenCon. I’ll be spending much of my time on the Osprey Games stand, where I will be running mini-demonstration games of Frostgrave: Ghost Archipelago. With that deadline looming, I figured I’d better get some figures painted up to play! Also, it is probably about time I started talking about the game.

So, here is the first Ghost Archipelago figure I have painted. It’s actually an advance resin sample, not one of the nicer metals that will be released. It was sculpted to match one of the great Burmak art pieces in the book.

I’ve dubbed her Collandra, although her friends all call her ‘Big Red’. She’s a Heritor from a long line of powerful warriors. When creating a Heritor, you get to pick one ‘stat advancement’. In this case it was a pretty easy decision to increase her Fight. More difficult was picking her five starting Heritor Abilities. After a bit of thought, I selected Crushing Blow and Fling, which gives her a choice of nasty things to do to her enemies when she beats them in hand-to-hand combat. The rest of her abilities are more defensive. Spellshield to protect her from pesky Wardens. Mitigation to soften the blow of powerful attacks, and Standfirm so that no one can push her around.

In truth, she’s a pretty straightforward ‘tank’; there is not a lot of subtlety to her game, but that is often the best idea when running demos where you don’t have a lot of time, space, or quiet to go into the finer details. Just to make her point clear, I’ve equipped her with a two-handed weapon, a back-up hand weapon, and leather armour.

Now, she just needs a Warden and a few loyal crewmen to follow her in her adventures in the Lost Isles!