|Wind Warden by Dmitry & Kate Burmak. (c) Osprey Games|
There is big news for the world of Frostgrave in the second half of 2017. Most people already know about the two expansions: The Frostgrave Folio and Ulterior Motives. Now, rumour is starting to spread about a new game called Frostgrave:Ghost Archipelago. That’s right, not an expansion, a new game. (You can read the official blurb by following the link, but the 'cover' shown there is just a place holder).
Back in the early days of Frostgrave (all of two years ago), my editor (hi, Phil!) asked me how I might want to expand the game, suggesting that I might use the same rules, but set the game in an different environment – such as the Sandgrave and Junglegrave that I have seen jokingly used by some players. Initially, I wasn’t that keen on the idea, figuring it would just be new scenarios and monsters, both of which I could do just as well, if not better, in the Frozen City.
As it has turned out, the game sold well enough that I was able to do several expansions set in the Frozen City that have included loads of new scenarios and monsters, along with other material. However, I never completely forgot about the idea of a new setting.
Then one day, while I was washing the dishes, everything just came together in my head. I realized, that changing the setting wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to expand the world of Frostgrave further, and, more importantly, give players a new and different gaming experience. Suddenly, I was no longer thinking of an expansion; I was thinking about a new game with familiar mechanics.
I always knew that if I used a new setting, it must be one that combined pulp and pirates, a setting that allowed me to bring my love for Robert Louis Stevenson and Robert E. Howard together on the tabletop. Then, the Ghost Archipelago appeared in my thoughts, just the way it reappears every few centuries in the Southern Ocean in the world of Frostgrave. A dense maze of shifting islands, the Ghost Archipelago is covered in the ruins of lost civilizations that are hidden deep in the jungles and rocky mountains. More than one intelligent race calls these islands home, and scores of deadly animals hunt in the swamps and forests.
So, I had my setting, but I still had two major questions that need answering. Why would anyone go adventuring in such a deadly place, and what kind of characters would the game focus on. I knew that if I wanted to make the game distinct from Frostgrave, I would have to push spellcasters down to a supporting roll, but what would take their place? It would need to be some kind of equally powerful group to capture the limelight!
Thus were born the ‘Heritors’. Here’s a little bit about them from a draft of the book:
Over two hundred years ago, the last time the Ghost Archipelago appeared, a group of adventurers discovered a pool of crystal clear water somewhere in the labyrinthine depths of the Lost Isles. Everyone who drank from that pool was filled with a mystical energy, a power they could call upon to perform superhuman feats. After these adventurers returned, they all became legends in their own time. Some became great heroes, others notorious villains. Ironically, despite their incredible strength, speed, toughness, and other superhuman abilities, nearly all of them eventually died violent deaths.
Before their deaths, however, most of the adventurers who drank from the Crystal Pool sired offspring. Their children inherited many of their parent’s abilities, as did their children’s children, and so on. These descendents became known as ‘Heritors’ for they had inherited some of the power of the Crystal Pool. Yet, with each passing generation, the abilities of the Heritors became slightly less, and every time they used their mystical abilities they suffered from a pain known as ‘Blood Burn’.
Today, most Heritors are nine or ten generations removed from their ancestor that drank from the Crystal Pool. While the abilities that they inherited still set them apart from the general population, those abilities have grown unreliable, and the pain that accompanies their usage quickly grows unbearable. Thus most Heritors use them sparingly and only in short bursts when they are required.
No one knows how many Heritors there are in the world, but the number is probably in the high hundreds if not the low thousands. A few are well known warriors, but most choose to keep their abilities hidden. Regardless of where they are, or how they choose to use their abilities, all of them felt a great tug when the Ghost Archipelago returned. The Crystal Pool calls to them, tempting them to come and drink from its waters and gain the powers that once belonged to their ancestors. Many have so far been able to resist this call, but many more are already making their way to the Southern Ocean.
So, there you have the basic premise of the game. There is a lot more to it obviously, and over the coming weeks and months, I’ll be sharing more.
The best news, I think, is that all of the major players behind Frostgrave: FantasyWargames in the Frozen City have returned to work on this game with me: my editor Phil Smith; Dmitry Burmak, who provided all of the gorgeous artwork, this time accompanied by his equally talented wife, Kate; Nick and the gang from North Star are once again working with Osprey Games on a range of miniatures, Kev Dallimore will be supplying his painting and photography skills, Stewart Larkin will be leading the layout and design work. There is no doubt it will be a beautiful book, so there is plenty of pressure on me to make sure it is a good game!
I'll share more when I can!