Tuesday 12 April 2016

Frostgrave: Let’s Talk Experience Points

Frostgrave has been out for about nine months now, and in that time it has received more ‘play testing’ than I could have ever dreamed. Thousands of games have been played, and I’ve done my best to read, watch, and analyse as many as possible. From that, I am confident in saying that there is nothing in the game that is ‘broken’, that is, there is nothing that makes the game unplayable. However, I do believe there is plenty of room for improvement.

Probably the most controversial aspect of the game system is experience points. There was a lot of shouting about them right after release, and I suspect it is the most commonly house-ruled element of the game. That’s wonderful. I love house rules, and it is great that people like the rest of the system enough to spend the time modifying the game to suit their needs. That said, as a rules-writer, it would be better if I could come up with an official system that kept game balance while making the vast majority of players happy.

I am now beginning that process, and I’m asking for feedback! So please comment below.

Currently there are four main ways for wizards to earn experience points in Frostgrave, and these are my thoughts on them.

1. Killing Stuff

This is the main point of controversy. Since wizards only receive xps for stuff they kill directly, it stands to reason that wizards who are better at killing things will receive more xps. There is some internal balance to this, but perhaps not enough. If I were writing the game now, I would definitely lower the killing stuff xp rewards. In fact, I would probably take it all the way down to a flat 25xp for killing a wizard, apprentice, or soldier. I know there are some people who have done away with kill rewards altogether.

In most of the scenarios in The Thaw of the Lich Lord campaign, wizards are given xps for all servants of the Lich Lord killed by anyone in their warband. Although this doesn’t make strict sense, I wonder if players would prefer this system where the reward is just for the kills and regardless of who exactly does the killing?

2. Treasure

When working on the game, I don’t think I fully grasped how the recovery of treasure in a game was a double reward. First you get the xps and then you also get the treasure. I don’t think this is a major issue, and since grabbing treasure is still the point of the standard game, I wouldn’t want to change anything too drastically. I would probably take treasure recovery down to 35xp. This would mean in a tie game, where each player gets 3 treasures, they would each gain a level. Or, if a player sweeps the board, they still only gain two levels instead of three from treasure.

3. Spell Casting

If other xp rewards are going to go down, this is the most logical one to put up. When I first wrote the game, the plan was to give 25xp for each different spell successfully cast by a wizard or apprentice during a game. I can’t remember why I changed it, and I have always been slightly disappointed that I did. This system would give more reward to wizards who used a variety of spells during a game, which is more in keeping with the theme. It also means that wizards that had a bad spell casting game and only got off one or two spells would still get a descent xp return.

4. Scenario Goals

While not used in a ‘standard game’, I think most people generally play scenarios. I think most people will agree that xp rewards for specific scenario events (such as drinking from the Well of Dreams and Sorrows) add a lot to the game. However, the more scenario rewards that are available, the less xps should be gained from the above three sources. In a future supplement, I am planning on introducing a table of ‘subplots’ that players can roll on before the game to generate scenario rewards, thus turning even standard games into more specific scenarios. So, it might be a good thing if xps from killing, treasure, and spell casting actually go down.

5. Misc

There are a few other ways to gain xps. The most obvious is the Absorb Knowledge spell. This spell exists partly to offset the advantage of killy wizards. In retrospect, I think I should have made its casting cost a bit higher, probably a 10, but I don’t think it is a major issue. I suspect, even with all of the possible modifications above, it would still not be a major issue. Yhere are a few other ways to gain bonus xps. I think these can be fun, but I don’t want too many of them out there as combined they could get out of hand.

So, those are my thoughts on experience points at the moment. Now, I really want to hear what you, the players think. I don’t know when, if ever, I will make an official change to the rules, but if I do, I want to make sure they are ones that both I, and the vast majority of players, are happy with.


  1. I think the way XP works at the moment, it certainly rewards fighty wizards more than anything, which does lead to some warband builds being very killy.

    I've concocted a campaign for me and my friends, and for it have tweaked the XP table (and other things) to try and mitigate the players who will just come out and try to wipe the opposition of the board.

    I like the idea of subplots as well as scenarios, so you could play one scenario with a subplot that the wizards are old rivals (more XP for killing a wizard that game) and the next game you could have the same scenario, but this time the subplot is the treasure is very rare so is worth double XP.

    This would allow you to play different styles of games, with the added variance of XP each time

  2. First of all, thanks for the game. Secondly I think the biggest problem with getting XP for kills is how it's a compound problem.

    Wizards with a spell selection that favour murder don’t just rack up XP faster than support wizards. They’re also encouraged to actively exterminate opposing warbands, not just for XP but because wiping the enemy warband out means taking all the treasure on the board home.

    This means that an aggressive wizard stands a good chance of murdering himself a good chunk of XP and getting his hands on most of the treasure while the losing wizard has to deal with injuries, death and by comparison relatively little in terms of reward to show for it. Over the course of a campaign it can create a snowball effect in favour of killy wizards.

    To add insult to injury, a supporting wizard’s best option to keep up with murder wizards is by claiming lots of treasure. But carrying treasure is a hugely penalising act for a model meaning that attempting for treasure in the face of aggressive warbands without the support of spells like Leap is more likely to get people killed than reap rewards.

    All in al it means that wizards are encouraged to select spells that are either very killy (elemental blast, bone dart etc.) or take out much of the risk in treasure looting (Leap) with many of the other spells seeing relatively little use.

  3. Jan van der Steen12 April 2016 at 06:06

    Dear Joe, I like your take on this. Here are my thoughts on the matter: I like your thought on boosting xp for different spells cast. I also think that the xp for wizzard kills should be downsized. Getting a reward for getting rid of critters is also nice. The thought of getting xp reguardless of who does the actual last hit is great. On the whole we only play scenario's so yes the scenario specific goals are a great motivation. One last point I want to address is the captain. I think his current progress is to slow and I would up it either by doubling his current xp gains or by adding a +10xp per treasure for him. Also some sort of underdog xp bonus for fighting warbands of higher level would be for the good.
    Personally I love how interactive you are in the community, It's a great game and any improvements are welcome.

    1. I like the idea of captain progression.

  4. my group has been playing for around a month now, the only thing we have changed is allowing the captain his own phase. i could see possibly scaling the amount of xp per level so each level gets a little harder to obtain.

  5. Nice ideas.

    I think the "XP for whatever you kill" would make a nice addition to wandering monsters since they wouldn't be only annoying, but also be a target.
    I would not take down the XP for treasure to enforce that goal of getting treasures of the table.
    I would love the idea of subplots that earn XP.
    The idea of xp for each different spell would also be nice and enforce the creative use of different spells.

  6. I like the points you already made for lowering kill rewards, treasure rewards, and LOVE the spell casting idea. Every game I've played (admittedly only two) ends with both players' Wizard and/or Apprentice sitting in a nook by an exitaable edge, casting heals or whatever other toolbox spell they can just for XP.

    As for a different thought, the game is built to be a campaign, which is awesome. But it's a very fun looking game due to all the terrain, and quickly catches the eye of new players. It's very difficult to hop into a campaign as the only new wizard behind a wizard with even only 2-3 games under his belt. The magic items his or her men have, more expensive mercenaries, and easier spell casts almost guarantee the more experience wizard will rake in the majority of treasure on the table, and further expand the experience deficit. I think a "new challenger approaches" rule would help. In a campaign group, a new player bringing in a new wizard gets some XP and/or treasure to bring him up to par. Maybe match the lowest level wizard already in the campaign, or half the highest wizard, and a roll on a special "newcomer wizard" treasure table.

  7. I do agree with the xp for killing, too much for the wizards and apprentices and I like the idea of doing it a warband wide reward, not just the wizard. It may develop new "play styles", with some guys in charge with treasure recovery, others bodyguarding your wizard and an execution force (maybe lead by a Captain).

    I do believe it's fun to level up after every battle, even if you did horribly, but it's the same fun to level up one level or three, so that can be balanced. Scenario XP is always good and I'll look forward to subplots!

  8. It's great that you want to improve things, but it's even better that you're looking for the communities opinion:) My thoughts would be:

    1. Killing Stuff

    The Meta in firestorm didn't find this overly powerful, although it's a good way of gaining XP most of the time we only took 1/2 blasting spells each (can only cast one per turn after all) and we found that the wizards without summons and support spells often did well on XP, but poorly on treasure collection. That said- killing an enemy wizard or apprentice can severely de-stabilise a campaign with the big boost to XP, so I think lowering it to a straight score as described is a really good idea. I don't like the idea of getting XP (or much XP anyway) when grunts kill stuff, as that would take away part of the games uniqueness.

    2. Treasure

    Reducing Treasure XP is possibly a good idea, the only thing to be aware of here is that it can already become a game where you grab your own treasures and leave, and I have seen several games with little to no conflict. Can I suggest that perhaps you reduce the XP gain from any treasures you place yourself, but leave it the same for those placed by your opponent? this would encourage players to place their treasure a little more tactically?

    3. Spell Casting
    This is a great Idea, although I would add that if you do make this change, you'll need to think about OOG spells and how XP affects them- an elementalist with 5 blasty spells will have a potential 125xp up for grabs, but a witch with create potion and summon familiar only has 75xp. This is only an issue when players start off, but I think to counter it you would need to either reward OOG spells, or put a cap on the max xp gained from spellcasting. (A cap may not be a bad idea anyway, as a high level player with 10 different spells could blast them off in 5 turns and level up twice more regardless of how the game goes)

    4. Scenario Goals

    More scenarios/subplots= win. the basic game can be too evasive at times, but the scenarios really make it.

    5. Misc

    If every scenario/subplot had just one 'special' way of gaining XP (be it killing monsters, interacting with something, casting a certain type of spell etc) and that way was worth the risk, I can see a much wider range of games being played and wizards taking a wider range of spells:)

    overall I think XP works fine as it is, but your tweaks may change the playstyle of some people and offer them a new experience:)

  9. I really like all your thoughts. Alot. I would like there was a small reward for killing random encounters. So when 4 monsters spawn on your table edge, and your wizard and victory is in danger, you actually get something for the effort. Might actually go monster hunting. I am not sure I like the dip on treasure, but I understand that you have to turn something down and something up.

    I don't mind the XP for killing with your Wizard, as that make him come forward and play a bigger role. What I would like to see, is a revision, where you DON'T get to tale all the treasure for wiping the board. The game simply end and only the ones carried are kept. All other, lost to the snow. Except for 1 guy, we don't play like that. But it would make sense to simply wipe your opponent. It means XP for kills, and alle the treasure. Annihilation is encouraged, but it doesn't feel very Frostgravy.

    Also: Awesomesauce = Frostgravy

  10. All those changes above seem pretty fun to me. Overall though, I think gold is WAY more of an unbalancing factor than levels. In our group, after we reigned in the kill xp (we changed kill xp into a flat kill = 20xp regardless of who does the killing and who is killed), everyone stayed within 5 levels of each other. I think that is pretty telling of the existing campaign level balance.

    I know there needs to be SOME drive for conflict. But that can be done narratively too. My favorite scenario in the Lich Lord campaign was the final battle. Due to the monsters, and a very limited area to exit the board, it was more player vs. scenario, as opposed to player vs. player. That was refreshing.

  11. The thing I have the biggest issue with is Leap and treasure carriers......they become extremely prevalent and hard to counter

  12. This might be too big of a change, but I like the idea of one player running the monsters and the other player running their wizzard. But that would require balancing out wizzard level vs monsters, and different scenario conditions. But it would tend to the runaway - where the leading wizzard gets way more powerful than any of the others.

  13. Another thought for the mix. How about awarding xp to wizards who are taken out of the game? Different xp could be awarded for surviving a game with all health (bit like Captains), being knocked out of a game but suffering no injuries, niggling injuries and then more xp for serious injuries - varying by severity of injury.

  14. Wonderful questions Joe! Since you are in a place to receive positive feedback for your fantastic game, and since I've demoed and played it now with well over 100 people, newbies and vets alike, I do have some ideas gathered for a revised system of experience and gameplay. I will think through my thoughts carefully, compose them and email them to you shortly. What a great game! And what a great thing to have an author of a game who is willing to listen to his community! Excited! -Elijah Kellogg

  15. First off I absolutely love your game and that you’re continually releasing fun and exciting expansions for it. Frostgrave has become nearly the only game my group plays these days. I love the idea of having subplots and mini-scenarios as it’s fun from a narrative and game play aspect. It will also take some of the emphasis off of the stab-and-grab game play that tends to be the norm for the game.
    As for the experience system by game three it was the first aspect of the game that we home ruled. We didn’t like that only the wizard could gain experience for kills and things he did. We found it encouraged aggressive killy builds over support builds. We decided that we would reward the wizard with experience for anything the warband or apprentice did. This would allow for more than aggressive spells to be truly effective for quick leveling and allow for more experimentation with game play.
    From a narrative stand point we figured it showed the wizard barking our commands to his hirelings and apprentice in the heat of the fight. He gains from the experience of being an effective leader to his warband.
    We reward the experience as follows. (Chart posted below) Wizard gets full points, anything the apprentice does is at half points and all hirelings give the wizard experience at 25%. We left successful spells and treasure taken at the same points for the whole warband.
    Experience Table (wizard/apprentice/Soldier) (100/50/25) %
    Wiz/App/Sol Achievement
    +10 For each spell successfully cast (by either wizard or apprentice)
    +40/20/10 For each enemy soldier taken out of the game
    +80/40/20 For each enemy apprentice taken out of the game
    +150/75/40 For each enemy wizard taken out of the game
    +50 For each treasure recovered by any member of warband

    We’ve found that it is balanced and allows for more diverse wizard builds. Some of our best games have come from a wizard that focuses on buffs and movement spells for his group as he still gets some experience for what they do and they are more successful at fighting or getting treasure due to his support. Since the wizard still gets the experience at a reduced rate it evens out with the killy wizards who get more experience per kill but whose warband tends to be more neglected. We’ve played many games and we all consistently level up at about the same rate of 1-2 levels per game. Very rarely do we get less or more then that as it has made all builds more viable and stayed very balanced.
    As an added bonus it allows for a bit more emphasis on the warband as a whole since they will support the wizard with experience. It also makes me feel more connected to them and I feel devastated when a favorite hireling bites the dust as he helped my wizard out so much.
    We have started toying with the idea (but haven’t fully implemented it yet) of rewarding experience for killing monsters at 10pts for tier 1, 15 for tier 2, and 20 points for tier 3 monsters. Makes fighting them a little more rewarding and less of a bother. Plus from a narrative stand point why wouldn’t you gain experience for fighting something that scary. ;-)

    Thank you for such an amazing game. I will play it for life. :-)

  16. sorry my format got a little squashed together. i swear it had more line breaks in there when i wrote it up. ;-)

  17. Thanks for this great game. :)

    I like the idea of 25 xp for each different spell cast.

    I like the idea of reducing xp for killing stuff, though I would give
    xp for killing wandering monsters. And still only for the Wizard.

    And I would like to see some more scenarios where Wizards can band together against an EPIC opponent. ( like in TotLL )

    Treasure is okay imho.

    Zellak level 52 Summoner..... :)

  18. I fear my personal Frostgrave campaign experiences differ greatly from many other peoples. The Elementalist in the campaign was KILLED 2 games in a row. He kind of lost hear after that.

    There was a player with Offensive "Majic Missile" type spells. But as you need LINE of SIGHT to cast them you must either move to see the target and then cast OR be in a position to cast them and then move. Either way the wizard is exposed and if the majority of your team have missile capability they will get shot at the casting wizard either before they cast or after. Much use of "Wall" and "Fog" happened to stop the offensive Wisards and to restrict their lines of sight.

    However I would agree that the same XP given to any kills is valid as this would stop people trying to wizard snipe just for XP.

    Also as long as you are strict about any wizard being taken out of the game gets ZERO xp. Offensive spells can loose their potency as players adapt tier tactics to get more and more Archers in their crew (Move and fire as opposed to crossbows Move Or Fire).

    Overall though like the game but would have preferred an ancient Egypt setting!

    Just my 2GP feel free to ignore
    Cheers Clint

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  20. I am fine with the experience as is. Tracking each spell would be annoying. Not having to track what the soldiers do is nice. Killing an opposing warband member is it's own reward. Weaker warbands go for treasure, stronger ones go for the knockout.
    If you feel a need to change it, then make level progression harder: level 1-12 as is, 13-18 250 exp per level. 19+ 500 exp per level. That way new players get to tweak their wizards and most warbands float in the 13-18 range for a longer time.

    1. We play with modified versions of the Just play rules from the lead adventure forums.

      No XP for Kills
      20 XP per spell
      25 XP per Treasure

      The idea was one of our player's 'Gauss Wizard' wouldn't snowball as much as they had initially, and the reward for getting Treasure is the Treasure itself!

      The warbands have become a bit self regulating, so it works pretty well, but there's a definite reliance on a single spell for some of our wizards... So:

      I like your Idea of Increasing XP for the first casting of each spell.

      And a flat XP for killing any enemy (and creature) no matter who kills it, would be good, but I would keep this to a real minimum (10xp?) in our campaign, as The reward for killing enemies is the other warbands spending GCs replacing their thugs instead of saving for that Templar they really want...

  21. Hi Joe, interesting comments & as our small group is currently playing through the original scenarios...another this Sunday, we have adopted a few house rules as well, from gaming with other groups.

    1) We don't currently see an issue with xp as is. However it is often discussed about xp for the apprentice & soldiers. I see several have commented in somewhat the same way.
    2) We also give the same xp for killing random encounters as we do for an enemy soldier. This is really where you want your scattershot to shine!
    3) We also have 1 guaranteed encounter each turn on top of potential for picking up a treasure. The location is determined by a d12, the corners each counting for 2 of the numbers. Encounter would then proceed across the board to the opposite side unless something or someone is encountered. Something else I have been thinking about is tying the spawn activated by the picking up of a treasure to a random direction & d10 inches from it. This could create all kinds of fun!

    4) The current 10xp for successful spell is fine as is. Lord knows I have more success slaying myself with miscasts than with successes. We also give the xp to the apprentice...in case I mis-read it somewhere.

    Looking at the comments & chart by Wayne from 12 April I may try out his xp chart this weekend if the players agree & will be posting the results after my game Sunday.


    1. We use a wandering monster appears on a 1-5 (D20) and roll once on turn 1 twice on turn 2 etc. It rewards bugging out, and means just being last man standing doesn't work.

  22. We play with modified versions of the Just play rules from the lead adventure forums.

    No XP for Kills
    20 XP per spell
    25 XP per Treasure

    The idea was one of our player's 'Gauss Wizard' wouldn't snowball as much as they had initially, and the reward for getting Treasure is the Treasure itself!

    The warbands have become a bit self regulating, so it works pretty well, but there's a definite reliance on a single spell for some of our wizards... So:

    I like your Idea of Increasing XP for the first casting of each spell.

    And a flat XP for killing any enemy (and creature) no matter who kills it, would be good, but I would keep this to a real minimum (10xp?) in our campaign, as The reward for killing enemies is the other warbands spending GCs replacing their thugs instead of saving for that Templar they really want...

  23. Nice suggestions Joe. What about 25 pts for any caster taken out and 10 pts for anything else. I would like higher rewards for taking out some of the nastier monsters, but I'm not sure how to do that without making things lots more complicated. I hadn't heard of the experience for each different spell cast idea before. The more I think about that one, the more I like it.

    I love the idea of side plots, but make sure and give them some serious playtesting first. I played around with them but some were way to difficult and the group lost interest.

    My group has treasure generated creatures show up d6 inches in a random direction from the treasure. Starting on turn 3 we also roll for a random monster coming in from a table edge. We add the turn to the dice roll, and if it is 17 or higher a creature shows up.

  24. As part of Tim Peaslee's group, what I have done when playing at my place is using some of the experience rewards from Sellsword, but it applies to the entire Warband (which includes Wizard).

    If anyone in your Warband kills a spellcaster...20 xp*

    If anyone in your Warband kills an enemy soldier or neutral creature...10xp*

    Successfully casting spells, getting Treasure offboard, and scenario specific objectives still award same experience points.

    *If a Captain does this, they get the XP, not the Warband.

    I did this to balance out the offensive versus support type wizards by having the entire Warband contribute to earning the experience points. It makes the soldiers more valuable, both for what they can now contribute as well as what it can cost if you only use them as meat shields.

    Another thing this does is to reduce 'Wizard Sniping' for the big XP reward, which some Wizard classes had an easier time of accomplishing. Although the experience awards are not as great for taking out a wizard, the caster now has to be wary of all the soldiers that may get 'ambitious.' You can still get 150+ XP for taking out the enemy wizard, but now you have to take out those protecting them to do it (which is what your soldiers other job is besides protecting you and grabbing treasure).

  25. Heya!!! Let's talk about xp. In many games the further you go the more xp is required,let's start here. Every level you buy increases.
    But wait what do I mean.... say you buy a spell, 1 point is 100xp cool. The second point in that spell is now 200 xp, d ones this mean another spell costs more? No.
    The points are a sliding scale, the more you increase a specific attribute / spell the more it costs.

    As per gaining xp... I've read a lot of great suggeations. I agree on lowering the points received per kill but not really per spell. As its a game for wizards you should be able to progress without actual combat, allowing you to gain xp for this would be fantastic!

    For example illusionists or thamaturgy should get bonus xp for not killing enemy players or minions (undead not included) just to reward alternative playstyles.


    Ps see if this works don't want to rewrite it again. Hate you Facebook browser.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  26. Thanks for taking time to ask for, and read the feedback Joe.

    Killing stuff- not a bad tweak, but what about this--
    If Wizard , Apprentice or any Warband member kills...
    enemy spellcaster 20-25xp
    enemy warband member 10xp
    random monsters 5xp

    Treasure- 35xp is fine, but does not address the 3 each and no combat that some people have reported.
    I read a great suggestion somewhere else-- to only use 5 treasures for standard setup, with one always placed dead center of the board, and make it worth 2 rolls on the treasure table to force the action.
    ALSO-- you should be required to get the treasure off the table for the XP and gold reward. Maybe if you get them from wiping the table then you get no XP, and/or a smaller set amount of gold- say 50 or so.

    Spellcasting-- how about 20-25XP per SCHOOL that you successfully cast a spell from during the game. This illustrates a Wizard practicing all magic, broadening their knowledge and power.
    It also forces choices, do I spam 1-2 spells to play a more powerful but limited strategy, or do I broaden my spellcasting to reap better XP?

    scenarios/goals-- YES PLEASE!!!
    misc-- no other issues I have found.

    thanks again. I cannot wait to see where this game develops, and whatever else you write in the future.

    David from Columbus, Ohio USA

  27. I was going to suggest the following to my gaming group to address the "killy" vs. "support" Wizards: If a Soldier makes a kill during the Wizards group activation the Wizard gets the xp. He directed the attack vs. made the attack but should still get xp.

  28. We see a tendency that "killy" warbands are preferred over others due to the fact it is far more rewarding to just kill all enemies and get all remaining treasure.

    I for one would reduce xp for killing and increase or keep the current xp for claiming treasure.
    Additionally i would also add some rules about unclaimed treasure, i think this might even be a more house-ruled part of the rules than the XP table. (e.g add a turn limit + unclaimed/treasure not picked up is lost)
    All house-rules we have implemented are based on the fact that "killy" wizards are just more rewarding. We have had to stop a lot of campaigns early on because the "killy" wizard just had gotten too strong, too fast.

    I like the idea of getting XP for each different spell cast a lot.

    So my suggestion would be to not only look at the xp table but also the treasure claiming mechanic and make "supporting" wizards equally rewarding as the offensive ones.

    Also, We love the game and it has revived a lot of players in our group.

  29. Interesting comments...

    Here is my pennies worth...

    1. Hunting down Wizards is lucrative but also dangerous. This should be the highest XP bonus available BUT the XP should be based on the targets level - say 25xp per level. This would encourage Wizards at higher levels to go after each other. Both apprentice and Wizard could earn this experience.

    2. Casting different spells in a game is positive for the game...so 20xp for each different spell cast successfully. In many names my Elementalist only uses Wizard Eye and Elemental Bolt - great combo but rather boring.

    3. We do award low level Wizards bonus XP's taking on higher level Wizards. For each point of level difference the lower level Wizard gets 20xp. This helps to accelerate the lower level Wizards to a higher level quickly.

    4. We also give XP for killing random monsters


  30. I got an Idea, a Wizards Duel. This is why only the Wizard gains the xp, cause when Wizards fight it is like a highlander duel, there can be only one. Maybe have some special rules where no on can interfere and special wizard combat spell that is a will roll between them to cast it an instantly knock out the losing wizard.

    example, both wizards enter the duel by casting the 'Duel' spell. If one fails the spell they will have one more chance but takes 3 wounds to do so. If a wizard fails twice they loose the duel and are out of the game. Then it is will rolls that can be empowered. When it is a Wizards activation that is participating, both wizards make a will roll and compare higher wins, ties the combat goes on. When a Wizard wins, the losing Wizard can choose to empower the will roll to only tie, not beat the opposing Wizards roll.

  31. Thank you Joe for sharing your thoughts about the game with us.
    A lot of valuable comments here. I only want to add a house rule we apply in our games: different xp for creatures according their danger. 5 xp for a giant rat or an skeleton, 10 for a ghoul, 25 for a werewolf or vampire, 35 for a frost giant and so on.

  32. Hello!
    My thoughts are to remove Kill XP altogether and increase casting XP.
    Simple, and removes the need for an all out kill-fest.
    People can still have their kill-fest as they try to stop each over getting treasure, but stops heavy combat focused wizards from spcifically wizard hunting opponents wizards for XP. my 2pence.
    Also! Great Game!

  33. I run a shooty wizard.
    In order to give everyone a break and to reduce the area control effect of 360 visiblity archers, we have increased the amount of scenery and ensure there are no individual towers with a commanding view, this is a simple way of mitigating their effect. I was going to say without house rules, but I guess in a sense that is a house rule :).

    I like the idea of xp for every first successful cast of a spell. This will stop people spamming a spell end game, though it's not been our problem.
    I might even suggest xp for faling to cast a spell, after all most of us learn through mistakes/failure maybe 1/5th of xp, until the xp from fails equals what you'd get for casting it succesfully. Max xp for a spell in one game will equal one successfull cast.

    I'd also increase xp for spells, after all it's all about magic, reduce xp for kills, but give xp for team kills not just the Wizard, and include NPCs not just other warbands.

    We've started placing four treasures each, then place our men, then roll a d4, to choose which treasure becaome a wandering moster. Stops people placing a single model near a treasure for a quick run and grab.

    Regarding thoughts about needing more xp per level, for example it might be 100 to lvl 2, 120 to lvl 3, etc, and I know this happens with online gaming [I play WOW], However you get more xp at higher levels for doing the same thing. As this is not the case in Frostgrave then I think charging extra xp per lvl is not appropriate.

    Do give additioanl bonus XP to a low lvl wizard when playing a higher level one. To do this you might multiply the XP gained by 10% for every level over 2 more than your own.

    Level 3 Wizard gains 120xp from casts and one treasure but as competing agains a level 7 wizard get bonus xp. 7-3 = 4; levels 4-2 = 2; 120xp x(2x10%) or some such.

    Great game and a real club unifier as many different interests are all playing the one game

  34. I've got some thoughts on each of your points -

    1: Although it seems like there are a lot of groups eliminating experience for kills, I'd still like to see some support for 'Killy' wizards (even though I don't use the stratefy myself). Reducing xp rewards seems like a good way to balance this, though I'd still like to see some extra reward when killing a wizard or apprentice; just, perhaps, not as much as there is now.

    2: 35xp per treasure seems like a great idea. I'd like to add at this stage that my experience of FG so far suggests that accumulated treasure is a bigger problem than a moderate difference in level, and further, that the recent suggestions of having 5 treasures on the battlefield (with one worth double) seems like a great way to encourage conflict, and means that it would be less common to see players settling for 3 treasures.

    3: Although I like this idea, introducing a cap on xp gained via spellcasting seems like a better idea to me. This way, a higher level wizard gains a large advantage if they get the opportunity to learn new spells, and also penalises other wizards who might have a higher proportion of out of game spells - this, though, is easily solved by allowing out of game spells to count for experience.

    4: I think this is a fantastic idea, for three reasons. It balances the reduction in xp from other sources, while giving players another factor to consider. It allows players to generate random scenarios. And finally, multiple goals would allow extra levels of difficulty to be added (such as giving bonus xp if a wizard can step through all 4 teleporters in The Keep, or stand on top of the Silent Tower).

    5: I don't feel this is an issue at the moment.

    I've also sent a message to your facebook account Joe, with a document attatched that I hope will be of use.

  35. Studio Tomahawk (the french Studio who did the Frostgrave translation in french) has created a pdf with some optional rules. It includesa new experience table (modifications about experience for casting spells: less xp for easy spells and many other tweaks).

    Pdf is available there: http://www.studio-tomahawk.com/dl/fg_regles_studio_fr.pdf

    It's in french but google translate may help you to translate it in english.

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  37. Killing Stuff - I would prefer the reward is just for the kills and regardless of who exactly does the killing
    Treasure – I like the XP as is. It's currently the main mechanic for leveling
    Spell Casting – I hate the concept of XP ONLY for casting different spells. It encourages the meta-game of casting spells that aren't suited to the situation, for optimal XP gain.
    Scenario Goals – I love the scenario XPs, but they aren't always obtainable. They are a nice bonus, but not nice enough to nerf general XP.
    Misc - The Absorb Knowledge spell is fine at 8. The casting modifications for other schools make it high enough.
    It's XP trap to advance it all.

    In my experience, you grab 3 treasures, cast a few spells, do some objectives and you walk away with 2-3 levels of advancement. It's a good pace.

    Good/Lucky players, or players who play more games, will ALWAYS eventually outpace Unlucky/Novice players, or players who play seldomly. The mechanic of only advancing a trait once per game is the BEST thing we have for balancing this.

    Frostgrave is NOT Chess. The forces are never truly equal, even at warband creation. The players choices matter in warband creation. Their actions in game, and the dice rolls, dictate success and failure. Those who survive become more powerful.

    Player skill is a large part of it that people do not discuss often enough.

  38. Also, I think the rules for new scenarios are the best place to implement XP concepts.

    Most players aren't going to be happy buying the Frostgrave rulebook and finding out the included rules for XP are outdated/errataed

    1. Good idea, although I do like all my rules in one book. Maybe a consolidation in 2nd edition and/or free pdf of new rules like the errata pages.

  39. Hi. Thanks for the game design. I have had a quick run out at it. Overall I like the game system.
    Only thought I had reguarding experience is that the experience gained for casting should be relative to its casting roll. Harder the spell more the experience points. Not played enough to contribute more than that.
    Have to say I would love to see some special abilities to make the creatures a bit more unique. Bit of detail. Lots of creatures/Demons with wings about but not much rules for wings an flying. ect. I like what there but just more please lol :-)

  40. Reading all the comments thus far, I can also echo that the "machine gun" wizards tend to advance quicker. Using a blanket 20xp per spell cast works, but I've started to see a small issue there were a player will get a spell tweaked to a casting target number that's "guaranteed" (due to bonuses, treasure, etc) and spam it to max XP gain.
    I do like the bonus for each school cast from. That limits the bonuses as each school can get the bonus once and some are harder to get off, like opposed schools.
    An idea im surprised i havnt seen yet, how about you get XP for a spell equal to the casting value. Spamming spells has reduced value, but more likely to get it. Then it also rewards the risk of the harder spells with higher casting values.

    I agree with rewarding XP for kills no matter who in the warband gets them and reducing the amount the kills are worth.
    I do not agree with XP for henchmen. Only the wizard. I also do not like the idea of percentages broken down for different troop types. The game shines due to its simplicity. We don't want lots of math and more record keeping than nesscessary.

    We think treasure XP is fine as is, but we implemented the 2d10 roll on the treasure chart to help prevent a couple of lucky rolls making a warband shoot out too far ahead with treasure. We also use the "Here's what's for sale today" by rolling three times on a vendor's chart and that's all you can buy for this visit.
    I like the placing 5 treasures ideas. Or placing one in the center or one of the six randomlly being picked as a wandering monster. Great ideas to prevent the "settling" for three that seems so common.

    Thanks for the game and all the support and expansions!

  41. First off, I don’t think there is much broken, though perhaps a little tinkering wouldn’t go amiss. Taking your points as they came up.

    Killing Stuff
    Perhaps something does need to be tweaked, Kill Wizards are annoying but plenty of terrain helps. There are lots of suggestions as to how this might be addressed, good luck sifting through them.

    I’m happy with Exp for collecting treasure.
    The amount/value of treasure can be an issue with everything being available but I also, think it’s a valid mechanism to help even things up if you can buy what you like.
    Perhaps add in some higher cost base additions or stuff for Wizards to spend their money on? Higher level Henchmen might also, soak up any spare cash that is sloshing around. These could include specialists who won’t work for anyone though, only established Wizards with a certain reputation (Level) and wanting a share of the cash like a Captain. You could even introduce one for each school so a Necromancer could hire/create a Death Knight (super Zombie in armour, the share of the treasure is to keep the thing in good repair), a Thaumaturge could hire a Demon Hunter/Paladin (an improved Treasure Hunter or Knight perhaps), an Elementalist a sprite/elemental (Demon/Construct cross) and so one.

    Spell casting Exp
    I think this is fine in general, I can see the argument to up it.
    Our group does allow Exp for Out of game spells, it makes a small difference and helps out the bookish types, perhaps worth considering.
    I quite like the idea of Exp for spell = Cast number, though if the emphasis of the game needs to shift towards more casting less killing this would need to be balanced with the kill Exp.
    Scenario Goals
    Good, sub-plots also good, these could have quite long term goals over a number of games and/or be one offs. A need for a special ingredient, observing special rituals based on school.

    Absorb knowledge is nice, never used it so not much to say except 50 Exp for this and 0 Exp for all the other Out of Game spells seems nice for a those with it and a bit harsh on someone who is summoning a Familiar say.

    Thanks for asking, JohnDSD2

  42. Re Flying monsters.
    Nice idea, how about treat as 40k jump packs, can jump intervening terrain, no penalty for vertical movement, if landing in difficult terrain 1-4 on d20 = wound. Like leap, flying can not bring you into combat.

  43. I'm running a small 4 person campaign where we do a 4 person free for all every game. We do 3 treasure per person and sometimes 2 per person if the scenario has a lot of treasure.

    As for xp we removed kill xp completely and double spell xp to 20 per spell cast.
    We also made every creature kill 10xp.
    We set a turn limit of 6 turns with a potential 7th on a dice roll.
    We kept treasure at 50xp and all xp fit treasure on the board at game end is divided out and applied per player.

    The killing xp removal has caused us to be a bit snatch and go although recent games gave gotten more violent.
    The monster xp makes the monsters with killing for everyone. The unclaimed treasure xp does further encourage trying to prevent other players getting their soldiers off the board.

    1. We do 20xp for creature kills that had more than 10 health.

      I would definitely be interested in less xp gain in exchange for more scenario and "mini mission" type xp. Individual rolled for objectives that Grant xp would be awesome.

    2. What happens to the treasure on the board after turn 6?

    3. Perhaps you should go with an uneven number of treasures on the board to promote more conflict?

  44. I'm definitely seeing a trend. A fair amount want a wizard duel... so I say make that a scenario. One treasure for every additional player. Ie 1 treasure 2 players. Makes it fast paced.

    Another one would be king of the hill, control the pillar. Pillar is 2" diameter and 9" high ( can be higher but on a platform) the pillar is in a pit or has raised structures around it.

    The core mechanics don't need to be changed for enticement to combat or less combat. Just balanced to allow players to get the most out of their choice of play.

    Added scenarios will make the best of enticing combat or a more competitive game.


    1. The problem with the wizard's duel is that some wizards are just flat out better at it! That said, something like that could certainly be worked into a scenario.

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  47. We give 20 points for successful spell casts, no points for kills on other players or random encounters, 50 exp points for treasure and limit the games to 6 turns. I would favor 20 exp points to the head wizard if he kills the random encounter creature. Once the exp levels get in the 20s the games are no longer fun. If you chose poorly and dont get gold or lots of experience the "wrong"
    schools of magic spells are hard to win with

    1. Dashetal, There is certainly a situation that I have seen a couple of times wherein certain wizards are just really bad when trying to compete with certain others. It's not that they are bad characters, just that for whatever reason their selection of spells just doesn't compete well with a specific enemy. This can be a problem when you have a small play group where you play against the same warband time and again. In those situations, I would probably allow players to create a new warband and let them level up a bit to catch-up (maybe play through the Dark Alchemy campaign?)

  48. Pretty much agree with all the tweaks you suggest Joe - we dropped the XP for killing pretty quickly and replaced with 20XP/spell cast but this is too much so would suggest 25XP for the first casting of an individual spell in a game and then 5XP for every casting after that

    1. Glad you like the thoughts. A 25/5 xp for spells makes a lot of sense. I do worry that it might be a little too much paper work for some people (I personally like the granularity that is more like an Old School rpg, but not every does!).

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  50. 1) I think the modification should be where either the wizard, apprentice or summoned creatures that kill stuff get the xp. If there is too much micro-management, just do with wizard and apprentice.

    Reason being an apprentice is pretty much pegged to the wizard, so whatever he does, does in some way increase the exp of the wizard. Could be justified that the apprentice managed to do it successfully thus justifying the wizards "teaching" ability. Also, since summoned creatures are under the control of the wizard or apprentice, they should help increase too by a similar logic as stated above.

    However, again if there is too much micro, just the wizard and apprentice would do :)

    The other reason why the rest of the warband doesnt attribute to the exp count is because they are hired soldiers. Fairly indirect in that sense. Also, this adds a lot more strategic planning as would one risk sending the wizard out to make the kill for the exp and perhaps die trying, or simply stay back and play it safe.

    WAY more strategic eh? hahaha

    2) Yes, please dont change it. Treasure hunting is a very good mechanic. It is fine beacuse the treasure has a random element where it contains has to be rolled for

    3) I would say to add both types. Every spell cast is perhaps 5xp and the first time a different spell is cast, 25xp. Definitely to push players to use different spells. (Most games are currently, bone darts and elemental bolts flying everywhere).

    However, to take away the xp for every spell successfully cast, it is a tad bit dampening especially when we've started out gaining xp that way

    4) I love the idea of subplots but having to reduce xp from other sources depending on the rolled scenario would be too much micro-managing.

    5) Yep this gives diversity to the players. Else the game would just be a hack-n-slash, and worse of all GRINDING game. Grinding is exactly why we dont play mmorpgs! (in my humblest of humbles opinion hahaha)

    OVERALL: I feel that reducing the xp to a fixed amount with a balance of subplots would be good but please keep in mind that for people who dont play that often, say.. once a month, leveling can take a LONG LONG time.

    Other than that, you are one the most responsible and passionate game designers out there. I mean... to still think about improving the game after its been out (and overall well-received), it makes us players really happy that we always have something to look forward to since nothing will be stagnant.

    Thanks Joe. Awesome stuff

    1. I'm sure there are lots of really passionate game designers out there, I'm just lucky to have a game where people care what changes I make! But thanks for the kind words. You are probably right that experience for killing stuff should be earned by the Apprentice as well. Summon creatures would make sense too - although I fear this distinction is murky... fIn the main, I wouldn't want to change the rate of advancement very much. I think most people like the quick levelling!

  51. The biggest problem I've seen is that during a campaign is that is you get off to a good start, you can basically keep that going, leading you to a situation where the one or two wizards at the top keep winning and keep getting better. As more time progresses you get a leader board where everyone gets further away from everyone else.

    So, A bonus exp for a wizard surviving against a higher level would help fix this. Something like +10 xp for every level difference after the first, so a level 10 wizard would get 0 bonus xp surviving a fight with a 11, but 10xp for a 12, 20 for 13, etc.

    Additionally you're apprentice could give you 5xp for each level, or 10 for every two.

    This just means you can play safe when you draw a fight against a current leader and still stand a chance of keeping up with the pack.

    1. I think the problem actually has more to do with the wealth level difference between warbands than the actual experience level and I'm not completely sure how to address this, but I think some kind of handicap system could appear in the future.

  52. Joe,

    I've been trying to reply for a while but a firewall seemed to stop me.

    I think your ideas pretty much nail many of the issues with gaining XP.

    I really like HR. Rohde's idea that you DON'T get to take all the treasure for wiping the board. The game simply end and only the ones carried are kept. All other, lost to the snow.

    One other thought is to scale the XPs for level, so that more experienced wizards and "killy" wizards are pegged back. How about, instead of a common 100XP to level up you made it 100XP + 10XP per current level. So 100XP to level up to Level 1 but 500XP to get to Level 41!

  53. ...carrying on from above having checked it'll publish from this laptop.

    When ever we play we do adjust the treasures to 3n+1 or 3n-1 where n is the number of players. This way it avoids the you have that 3 and I'll take the others that was creeping on.

    The other thing we have done that works really well is to have small, medium and large treasures. Medium treasures are exactly like the rulebook. Small treasures represent a purse or scroll case that only reduces movement by 1 inch BUT gives a -5 on the Treasure table. Large treasures represent large chests that need to be broken open back at base. They take two characters to carry at half speed BUT generate either a +5 roll on the treasure table OR 2 rolls on the Treasure table. However, each treasure gains the same amount of XP. This offers players more of a risk/reward decision plus it mixes things up more, especially where there are wizards of different levels.


  54. Paddy, if I were writing the game now, I think I would definitely go with a 2n+1 formula for treasures as it seems to create more actually fighting! I like the idea of different sized treasures, and will have to think on that some more. It might be a little more detail than some players want, but I can see how it could also make the game more tactical.

    1. "I really like HR. Rohde's idea that you DON'T get to take all the treasure for wiping the board. The game simply end and only the ones carried are kept. All other, lost to the snow."

      We play that, and it's excellent for stopping "wipe out games" along side a turn timer (most of our games run to six-seven turns or so). You have to make a decision to use someone to grab the loot and run instead of fighting and hoping to pick it up if you beat the enemy in time. Nice added tactical choice which doesn't slow anything up.

      It also kind of helps balance low to high level warbands - even a Thug/Thief is as good as a Treasure Hunter/Knight if all their doing is running treasure off table!

      We're broadly happy with XP as is, as "blaster wizards" have tended to lose out on treasure somewhat to "snatch and grab" movement/control wizards, whilst it not being too hard to pick a blast spell for most Schools that's easy enough to cast to be useful for the odd assassination shot.

      On top of that the "blaster wizards" have had to tend to play very aggressively to get their kills in, which has lead to a very high turn over of wizards, apprentices and soldiers in their ranks which thins out their gold quite nicely :D


    2. It may have been from me simply misreading the rules when we started, but we've ALWAYS ended the game when one there is only one warband left on the table, and you only get treasures that you've removed from the table up to that point.

      A tactical player can grab their share of treasure and get off the board with them to deny the opponenet any treasures still on the board.

      It discourages Wizards from going completely on the offensive and ignoring treasures. I encourage you to add that rule to your games as it increases the tactical play.

  55. Great to see your thoughts Joe.
    I've been playing in a group of 4 for over a year.
    Experience and levelling up are our greatest motivator, but there's some interest in trying to balance the other purchases (mainly soldiers and base upgrades).

    We adopted a turn limit to avoid the incentive to annhiliate.
    Most games start with a dash for the easy treasure, then the tougher soldiers and the casters manoeuvre and battle for the contestable stuff.

    We haven't reduced XP for kills, through it seems attractive.
    Shooty wizards do enjoy faster progression, but do have to expose themselves to shoot, most warbands now have 3 or 4 bowmen, who serve to keep heads down.

    Our best mechanism for balance is that there are 4 players.
    If one guy looks like getting too many levels ahead (especially if he starts playing the bully), the lower ranked players have conspired to make his life more difficult.

  56. The game and the xp system are fine as is. I've never experienced an issue with it and I play in 3 different campaigns. Raising the xp for successful casts would only create more of a disparity if one wizard was having a bad casting day, while the other was not. I've had great games where I gained near 4 levels at a clip, and others where I barely gained 1. Some days you're the windshield, others you're the but. This is the nature of the frozen city and I love it!

  57. This is a totally orthogonal idea to the (many excellent) ideas above, but it occurred to me that even though Frostgrave is pretty much a free-for-all, the wizard guilds wouldn't be keen on having their members slaughtered. Perhaps after Wizard X kills his second enemy wizard, the Guild's highly trained, magic resistant assassin team would show up to ally with the other side. Especially if they'd kept up on their guild dues.

  58. I do not like XP Points for killing. I really think this is one of the main unbalacing factors in the game. The best point of the game is that it is quite easy to learn and play.