Monday, 13 August 2018

Everything Frostgrave


After nearly four years of continuously working on the world of Frostgrave, there is a lot of stuff out there. To help those who might be a bit confused, or fear they might be missing something, I have compiled this list, which I believe contains everything I have worked on that is currently available. (Please let me know if you seen something I have missed). This list is always available on this blog by clicking on the Frostgrave tab in the bar above. I will do my best to keep it up to date!

All Frostgrave products currently available:


Frostgrave: Fantasy Wargames in the Frozen City (Main Rulebook)

Frostgrave: Thaw of the Lich Lord (Campaign and Expansion)

Frostgrave: Into the Breeding Pits (New Rules for Underground, Beastcrafter wizards)

Frostgrave: Forgotten Pacts (New Rules for Demons)

Frostgrave: The Frostgrave Folio (Rules for Captains, A solo/co-op campaign, a couple other campaigns).

Frostgrave: Ulterior Motives (Card Deck with 40 Secret Mission / Side Quests)

Frostgrave: Maze of Malcor (Some Rule Updates, New Wizard Types, Big Campaign)

Frostgrave: The Grimoire (Spellcards - Includes all Spells from all Supplements)

Frostgrave: Tales of the Frozen City (Fiction Collection - Not by me!)

Frostgrave: Second Chances (A Novel by Matthew Ward contains an exclusive scenario written by me)

Frostgrave: Oathgold (A Novel by Mathew Ward contains an exclusive scenario written by me)


Spellcaster: The Frostgrave Magazine

Issue 1 (Black Powder Rules, Horses, Knightly Orders, Solo Scenario, Mini Campaign)

Issue 2 (Rules for Dragons, Traps in Ghost Archipelago, Frostgrave Mech War)

Issue 3 (Rangifer Warbands, Rangifer Solo Campaign, Ulterior Motives in Ghost Archipelago)


Freebies!

Arachno Assassins in Frostgrave (Stats for a great set of Reaper Miniatures)

Standing in the Eye! (A charity scenario)

Troll Hunt (A scenario for wizards who think they are so tough...)



Magazine Articles

The Frostgrave Auction (Wargames Soldier and Strategy Issue 83)

   Extra Content for Above Article (Posted on this Blog)

Scenario: The Bridges of the Mal Dreath (Tabletop Gaming Issue 3, Reprinted in Spellcaster 2)

Skeletal Archers in Frostgrave (Wargames Illustrated Issue 341)

The Cuelebre (In Spanish - Falcata Issue 1) [Rules for a dragon-like creature]

The Failed Breed (Tabletop Gaming Issue 6)

Planar Storm (Miniature Wargames #405 [Scenario for use with Forgotten Pacts])

Designing Ulterior Motives (Miniature Wargames #410) [Two exclusive Ulterior Motive cards]

The Belfry (Miniature Wargames #421) [Scenario that was cut from Maze of Malcor]

Campaign Days

The Lost Formula (written for Wargames Illustrated Frostgrave Campaign Day)

[The link for this on the Wargames Illustrated Pages seems to be broken at the moment.]

The Catacombs of the Evrenbright (In Spellcaster: Issue 1)


All Frostgrave: Ghost Archipelago products current available:

Ghost Archipelago: Fantasy Wargames in the Lost Isles (Main Rulebook)

Ghost Archipelago: Lost Colossus (10 Scenario Campaign Expansion)

Ghost Archipelago: Gods of Fire [September Release] (Creating New Tribes, 3 Campaigns)

Ghost Archipelago: Accessory Pack (Contains Blood Burn Die and cards for Heritor Abilities and Warden Spells)

Ghost Archipelago: Tales of the Lost Isles (Fiction collection, include exclusive scenario by me)


Magazine Articles

The Floating Hulk (Solo scenario in Wargames Illustrated 361)

The Fire Swamp (Scenario based on The Princess Bride in Tabletop Gaming 13)



Friday, 10 August 2018

Ghost Archipelago: Gods of Fire

Look what just landed on my desk! It’s an advance copy of Ghost Archipelago: Gods of Fire, due for release next month.

The first thing that is noticeable about this supplement is its size. At 96 pages, it is significantly longer than the previous supplement, Lost Colossus. I suppose I should know, since I wrote nearly 50% more words for this one. This is actually going to be the size of all of the Frostgrave supplements going forward. Personally, I find it much more satisfying, not just because it is a thicker book, but because it gives me a lot more room to play around with things and include fun stuff.

For example, a large section of this book is devoted to creating different groups of Tribals. This centres around a long list of positive and negative attributes, that include everything form armour weavers and death worshipers to poor tool makers and herb addictions. Using this system of attributes, there are hundreds of distinct tribes that can be created, each with their own unique rules.

This is especially important because Tribals play a much greater role in the scenarios in this book than has previously been the case for any group. Some of the scenarios are played twice, with one side bringing their Heritor and the other bringing a Tribal warband. Other scenarios are a more traditional player vs. player, but with each player bringing some Tribal allies. In each case, players can create their own tribe when fielding these troops (or just use one of the sample tribes provided).

I also wrote a few new rules concerning small boats, including  capsizing, using canoes instead of small boats, and for mounting a ‘swivelbow’ in your small boat. Oh yeah, who doesn’t want a swivelbow!

The new scenarios are bunched into three campaigns, one with two scenarios, one with three, and one with five, and as mentioned previously, a couple of those should be played twice. So, plenty of adventure found in these pages.

Finally the book includes new treasures and new monsters, including rules for the Kraken! (Am I the only one who thinks ‘Kraken’ should always be capitalized, even if it is one of many and not a unique monster?).

As you may, or may not, have heard, Osprey Games and North Star will also be producing a set of plastic Tribals to accompany the book. I’m not sure of the exact release date on those, but I have seen a mock-up of the sprue and can confirm that it contains optional masks for all of the figures!

Monday, 30 July 2018

Tales from the Miskatonic University Library


With the recent enjoyment I received from reading Cthulhu 2000, I have been on the look-out for other weird tale anthologies I might enjoy. Recently, Tales from the Miskatonic University Library came to my attention, and it intrigued me for two reasons. One, being a bibliophile, I am attracted to books that have books as one of their central themes, but also, being a bibliophile, I was interested because the book comes from PS Publishing, an England-based, small-press publisher specializing in fantasy and science-fiction.

Long story made short, I bought a copy. So, let’s take a closer look.

The book is 6” wide by 8.5” tall, making it just slightly shorter than average hardback novels, and about the same dimensions as Cthulhu 2000. It comes with a dust jacket with appealing (if not ‘attractive’) cover artwork. This artwork is repeated, without the text, on the front and back covers of the book, an interesting and slightly unusual choice. Normally I prefer cloth boards, but I like this. I even briefly considered ditching the dust jack, but this left a blank spine, which doesn’t look so great on the shelf.

The paper is of a nice, high quality; the printing is excellent, and the text is extremely readable. The book was printed and bound in England (by T. J. International). This is somewhat unusual as British printers usually can’t compete with foreign printers, and probably speaks of a small print run.

I was slightly disappointed the book did not have head and tail bands (these are the little bands on the top of the binding, inside the spine). It’s a minor point, but it’s a very easy, and not overly expensive, way for publishers to increase the quality feel of their books.

Overall, I was very pleased with the look and feel of the book. At £20 for 200 pages, this seemed a reasonable price from a small-press publisher.

Now, to the actual contents! The book features 13 short stories, from 13 different authors. One of these, Harry Turtledove, I would put as a ‘big name’. Of the remaining dozen, several are well-known within the weird-fiction/pulp/Lovecraftian subgenres.

Of the tales, I probably enjoyed about half of them. I don’t generally care for humorous, or tongue-in-cheek weird tales, and this anthology includes several. These may be great stories for those who are into such things, I’m not really qualified to say.

There were, however, a few tales that really stood out for me.

The first of these, and the first in the book, is Slowly Ticking Time Bomb by Don Webb. This is a terrific little tale about a pair of used/rare book dealers, a lost city, and a very odd book of magic. It’s a really inventive story, and covers a lot of ground in its 14 pages. Although it’s a horrific tale, there is a really nice heart to the story. Definitely an author to keep an eye on.

In the middle of the book comes Will Murray’s A Trillion Young. I’ve encountered Will Murray’s name many times before, but usually when writing about pulp heroes such as The Shadow or Doc Savage; this is the first time I’ve seen his Lovecraftian fiction. In truth, I didn’t expect to like the story, which opens up with the Necronomicon being digitized and released onto the web, but Murray drives it forward with such relentless energy that I couldn’t help but be pulled along. It’s basically an ‘outbreak’ story with weird tale trappings, but it is thoroughly enjoyable.

Probably my favourite story in the whole collection comes in the second half with The White Door by Douglas Wynne. This is a relatively simple tale about a book that moves itself from library to library. I think the amazing thing about the story is the ending. Douglas shows off some real writing skill in presenting an ending that is as horrific as any imagined by Lovecraft, and yet manages to put just the tiniest glimmer of hope in there. It’s rather refreshing in a genre with its clich├ęd ‘but it wasn’t actually dead! endings’.

While several others stories were enjoyable enough, those were the stand-out tales for me. In truth, I would have hoped to enjoy the whole book a tad more than I did, but, as I said, a chunk of the stories were not of the kind that would ever appeal to me. Others may find more to love.

Combining the text with the book itself, however, I am impressed by the offering from PS Publishing. The book's quality was high, the editing was terrific, and it contained some really good writing. I would happily order other titles from them.

Friday, 27 July 2018

I Cracked – The Fall of Gondolin


I am a weak. For most of my life, I have operated a strict ‘no pre-order' policy. Although this means I sometimes end up paying a bit extra, and on rare occasions, miss-out, I think it has stood me in good stead.

I have found, through long life experience, that I tend to enjoy an item less when I pre-order than I do if I purchase it when it is already available. My interests are extremely varied, and tend to flit from one thing to another very quickly. Thus, if I pre-order something I’m interesting in at the moment, it is possible, likely even, that I will be significantly less interested by the time it arrives.

But…a few rare things are so close to my heart, that I am confident my interest will be high whenever they arrive. And thus, I have pre-ordered The Fall of Gondolin by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Readers of this blog will long be familiar with my love of Middle-earth, so I don’t think it is worth elaborating upon. I do believe, though, that this book has a special place. I am pretty confident that it is the last time we will get a book, with a Middle-earth story, written by J.R.R. and edited by his son Christopher. And not just any story, but one of the true epics of Middle-earth.

I have no doubt the Tolkien estate is going to continue to make money off Middle-earth after Christopher Tolkien is done (in fact, they already are with the sale of TV rights to Amazon), but I really doubt that anyone in the future will treat the original writings with the same respect, love, and devotion that Christopher has shown in a lifetime of editing his father’s work.

So, in some ways, I think this is it. It is not something I want to miss, and I know it is going to be a book I want to sink into as soon as it is released. Also, I know I'm going to want it in hardback, and not just because of the gorgeous Alan Lee artwork on the dust-jacket!

I am weak, but occasionally, just a little bit of weakness can be fun.

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Snakeman Mercenary and Ancient Stone

Another miniature (or two) has fallen before my brush. This time it is the snakeman mercenary sculpted by Bobby Jackson to accompany the release of Ghost Archipelago: Lost Colossus. While I intended to paint this guy merely for use in random encounters and what-not, I am so pleased with him, he might have to join up with a crew for some adventuring. He certainly looks more like a great hero than a run-of-the-mill fighter.

Once again, the contrast really works here; the green skin nicely off-setting the white skirt and the gold armour. It’s such a clean sculpt, it was extremely easy to paint. In fact, it was so easy, I felt comfortable trying a little freehand on it, as can be seen in the blue edging of the skirt with its golden decorations. (Actually, the decorations seem to have gone white in the photo, I guess from reflecting light.)

Whenever I’m working on a miniature, I like to keep a couple of extra little ‘bits’ on hand – scenery, or treasure tokens, or the like. This gives me something I can work on if I’m waiting for paint (or more often a wash) to dry on my main miniature. So, while I painted the snakeman, I also painted up this ‘runic stone’. This stone comes from the Frostgrave Ulterior Motives Red Herrings set. Something like it is necessary for use with Frostgrave: Ulterior Motives, but it is also the kind of thing I frequently include in scenarios as an objective of some sort. Even if it isn’t specifically needed for a scenario, it’s just adds a bit of visual interest to any tabletop.

I based the stone for use in Ghost Archipelago because I have recently written some Ulterior Motives cards for use in the Lost Isles. These appeared in Spellcaster:Issue 3.

Even outside of the world of Frostgrave, I can see this stone getting use. It’ll look good on any Middle-earth or even Dark Age battlefield.

Since my wife was out when I painted this, I had to keep one ear glued to the baby monitor and thus I was unable to listen to anything.

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Kai Lord / Middle-earth Ranger


This miniature has been languishing on my lead pile for nearly two years. It’s not that I don’t like it, quite the opposite in fact. It’s just that I never had a handle on how to paint it.

The figure is the Frostgrave assassin, and I think it is one of Giorgio Bassani’s best sculpts in the range. However, my thoughts about the figure have always been ‘coloured’ by the artwork upon which it is based. In the artwork, the woman is dressed all in grey (as makes sense for an assassin), but I just didn’t think I could pull that off.

Recently, I was having a flip through the Lone Wolf Adventure Game by Cubicle 7 (based on the premiere series of fantasy adventure books of my childhood), and I noticed how closely some of the depictions of the Kia Lords in that book were to the figure. So, instead of grey, I painted the figure a combination of brown and green. As I’ve discovered many times in the past, it is often contrast in colours on a miniature that really makes it a success, and I think that is the case here.

I love how she came out. She’s ready to go fight giaks in Magnamund, orcs in Middle-earth, or maybe even gnolls in the Shadow Deep…

***

I painted this figure while listening to Blood of the Daleks Part 1 and Part 2. (It really is just one story). It’s an enjoyable Doctor Who adventure, if not ground breaking. The story kicks off a full season for Paul McGann’s eighth Doctor, and I am hoping to listen to the whole thing in time. Paul McGann is definitely one of my favourite doctors to listen to on audio.

Monday, 23 July 2018

Cthulhu 2000


During a recent trip home, that mostly consisted of visiting friends and family and watching minor league baseball, I had time to go through some of my old books that are still lingering in my parent’s attic. Among these half-forgotten tomes, I found one entitled Cthulhu 2000, which I don’t remember purchasing. It comes from Arkham House, that legendary publisher of the weird.

I had been disappointed by the book I had brought with me to read, so, despite the miserable title, which makes it sound like ‘Retro Cthulhu in Space!!!’, I picked up this anthology instead. The first story, ‘The Barrens’ by F. Paul Wilson sucked me right in. It’s a fantastic example of a modern Lovecraftian story, and opens with a couple of the best opening lines I’ve seen in a long time:

‘I shot my answering machine today. Took out the old twelve gauge my father left me, and blew it to pieces’

In fact, I would rate the whole book as an above average collection of weird tales. Most are ‘Lovecraftian’ in one way or another, but not all of them. There are a few duds, as there always are, but a few real gems as well.

More important than the stories themselves, was the effect the book had on me. For a while now I have been feeling the urge to write some fiction, and reading Cthulhu 2000 helped kick me into gear.

Last week, I wrote my first fiction story in several years. Okay, it’s a piece of flash fiction that doesn’t even make it to 500 words, but that is of no matter. It is a complete story, and I am proud to have written it. Now I need to start looking for places to submit it so I can start collecting rejection letters again! Because that, more than anything else, is how you really know you are writer!

Anyway, although my copy of Cthulhu 2000 is an Arkham House hardback, I see the book is also available as a cheap paperback. I didn’t realize that Arkham House licensed their books out for paperback. Anyway, if you are in the mood for some weird fiction, it’s got some good reads.