Tuesday 13 September 2016

Frostgrave: A Diet of Worms!


Once again, we had 4 players for a game of Frostgrave.  Steve and his boy came round last Saturday and we ventured into the frozen city once more.  We also played a game of Pulp Alley - more on that another time (i.e. "listen again next week for another exciting installment of...The Adventures of Tarzan, Man of the Jungle!")

Anyway, Frostgrave...

The Worm Hunts

One of the scenarios in the base Frostgrave rulebook is called "The Worm Hunts".  It's basically an excuse to get a giant worm model on the table, though (like many Frostgrave monsters, I think) this isn't quite as terrifying a prospect as it might be.

We were playing with 4 warbands rather than the 2 for which the scenario is designed, so we decided that there would be twice as many treasures as in the basic description - and twice as many worms as well!  Since I only have 1 giant worm model, the second worm would only appear after the first one was slain, if indeed that happened!

The Warbands

Mysterio the Soothsayer

My own warband is led by Mysterio, with assistance from Little Annie.  I'm mostly using my recently-finished "blue" set of Frostgrave miniatures for this group, though Crom (the huge barbarian) and Edric (the halberdier) are from Black Tree Design.  Watch out for Quirrel, the crossbowman.  None of us had used crossbows before, so nobody knew what to expect from him!

Peltar the Goblin

Peltar's group is run by Steve; the warband consists of large numbers of archers and thugs.  They rarely seem to do anything with just one goblin, preferring safety in numbers (or "ganging up", if you prefer).   Oh, they have a pet wolf as well...

Some of the models are mine, but Steve is making progress with his own goblins and wanted to use them for most of the followers.

Baryn the Timeless

Baryn is a chronomancer, run by Steve's son (AH).  His band are a fairly motley and diverse crew; they've recently hired a goblin treasure hunter to replace some previous loss.  He also raised a zombie (not shown here) - just for practice, I think!

The massed archers, the bearskin-wearing barbarian and the yellow knight are worth watching out for during the game.

Ellie's Elementalists

In our last game, my son's wizard ("Malcolm Firestorm") was slain.  Rather than create a new warband, AD chose to promote his apprentice "Ellie" to full wizard status, albeit at somewhat lower rank than the rest of us.  She duly hired an apprentice of her own, who bore a striking resemblance to the deceased wizard.  I wonder if she passed on some of the old master's clothing and effects?  Other than that, her band was somewhat smaller than everyone else's due to a lack of money.

The Game

In the first turn, all the players rushed for the nearest treasure markers and grabbed them.  This was hardly surprising, but it did give a big bonus to the die roll which would determine if a worm appeared.  One such monster duly burst through the frozen soil, just in front of Peltar's goblin warband.  Well, I wasn't too unhappy about that, I can tell you: let it wreak havoc with someone else's followers, not mine!

To counter this, Peltar ordered his wolf to attack the monster.  The faithful mutt did as it was instructed and charged at the worm, snapping and growling.  However, the pet was promptly swallowed (whole!) .  Oh, dear...

Baryn's archers took several long range shots at the worm and wounded it, but didn't manage to kill the beast [hmm, I think I would have just left it for the goblins to deal with, myself!  Maybe AH thought he could kill the beast and claim the experience himself, though].

The coup de grace was administered by Peltar's apprentice with a well-executed grenade spell.  An extravagantly lucky combat roll meant that the enchanted missile didn't just kill the worm, it blew it to pieces!  I hope everyone nearby kept their mouth and eyes closed!

In a small, long range grudge match in the south, Ellie's archers shot at Mysterio's crossbowman.  They all missed, but he didn't...

There were plenty more treasures to be collected, so over the next turn or two all the bands advanced.  Although there were a few squabbles around the edges, for the most part this was surprisingly peaceful.  I guess that no-one wanted to be the first one to stir up any serious trouble!

Baryn and his apprentice had been steadily casting his signature Fast Move spell on all his followers, thus allowing his barbarian to run for the treasure near the felled worm.  2 of Peltar's thugs tried to double-team him, but the unnaturally quick barbarian barely broke a sweat as he carved first one goblin and then the other into little chunks!

Mysterio clashed with the goblins over one of the chests in the forest.  He cast Combat Awareness on Crom the Barbarian and ordered him forward to retrieve the treasure.  When the goblins interfered (and slew the archer standing beside Mysterio), the soothsayer retaliated with several very successful Blinding Light spells.  This put Peltar himself out of the game; all he could do was stagger around and hope not to bump into anything for the rest of the scenario.

Ah, but even more goblins, led by their apprentice, were coming to their boss's aid...

Further off, Little Annie was also successful in blinding an opponent.  Ellie had planned to attack the presumptuous apprentice and assist her bowman, but was distracted by a wandering bear.  Indeed, it took several turns for her to finish off the annoying creature.

However, when Little Annie ran forward to claim her prize, the blinded bowman managed to stumble into her.  Annoyed, she tried to fight him off but was knocked out when he lashed out at the nearby movement [Aargh!  After setting everything up so nicely, to be cheated by fate at the last moment is cruel!]

Back in the centre, another worm erupted in full view of most of the parties.  Once more, Baryn's archers plinked away at it and inflicted some injuries.  Once more, they failed to kill the beast.  Instead, the 100XP for that feat went to Ellie's apprentice, who manoeuvred himself to a position where he could see the creature and then unleashed a ridiculously overpowered Elemental Bolt at it.  Once again, the target was blown to smithereens and everyone close to ground zero was showered in gobbets of worm goo!

Baryn seemed to take this all rather personally.  He charged towards Ellie's apprentice and started batting at him rather ineffectually with his staff.  It didn't take long before some of his followers noticed the fight and came running on Fleet Feet to help their boss.  The red apprentice disappeared beneath a scrum of muscular archers and wasn't seen again.

In the north, the remaining goblins were interrupted from their posturings towards Mysterio by the appearance of a wandering armoured skeleton.  In typical goblin fashion, they rushed it as a mob rather than risk individual combat.  The undead knight couldn't handle the massed attack; it was quickly reduced to small fragments of bone.

Elsewhere, Ellie's last 2 soldiers played "king of the hill" with Baryn's knight.  Even though the yellow knight was outnumbered 2:1, he slew first the enemy knight and then the other soldier.  Obviously, Baryn's followers had eaten a proper breakfast before taking the field, even if the wizard himself was a bit feeble!

In the dying moments of the game, just as we reached our self-imposed turn limit, most of the remaining warbands started to disengage.  The goblins in the north gathered around their still-blinded leader to escort him from the field, whilst most of the other warbands had already left (or were knocked out!).

The exception to this was a much more aggressive than usual Baryn.  His archers strode forward and took shots at Ellie and at Mysterio's barbarian (who was diligently hauling away the chest that he had won off the goblins earlier).  Even though the range was long and the shooters had moved, both targets were felled.  A bit petty, I think - but then I would say that, wouldn't I; it cost me a treasure!


I think that everyone was happy with the result of this game.  All the bands got away with at least some treasure and those who got less often made up for it by scoring more experience points for other things.  When the recovery rolls were made, none of the major characters (and not many of the followers) died.

In addition, each of the wizards was quite successful with their spell-casting:
  • Baryn gave pretty much all of his followers Fleet Feet; he also used Fog to cover himself from attack by fireballs.
  • Peltar and his apprentice are proving to be dangerously effective with Grenade.
  • Ellie's sidekick got off a very telling Elemental Bolt (and as importantly, didn't suffer a long string of backfires - unlike previous games!)
  • Mysterio & Little Annie had a very good run of Blinding Light spells, as well as realising how useful Combat Awareness can be.  Mind you, every time that Little Annie attempts to Leap, she fails and ends up face-planting!
One last thought: adapting 2-player scenarios for 4 sides is difficult!  Any neutral resources (treasures, monsters, specific terrain) need to be scaled up in some fashion, else the scenario will be unbalanced and not offer the experience that the author intended.  Hmm, perhaps we really should have had 2 worms appear at the same time?


  1. Wicked BatRep Hugh, and good to see Peltar finish strong after the Worm appeared before him!! Love how you put these together and annotate the pictures with directions of travel etc. All fun stuff :-) Thanks for spending the time putting this report together.

    1. Well, Peltar did get help with *both* worms; neither really had a chance to do much damage! Glad you liked it, anyway.

  2. Great write up that captures the swirling action of the game.

    Probably our best game yet (and I say that in spite of a meagre haul and significant soldier deaths), with everybody dishing out and taking some magical pain.

    The trend for tougher soldiers saw my goblins outmanned at times.
    Meanwhile the evolution of specific magical styles is a fascinating aspect of the campaign.

    1. I didn't mention a number of things, such as the little fight between Baryn's zombie and a couple of wandering skeletons. But it's just not possible to fit every little detail into such a write-up (at least, not if you want it to be even slightly readable!)

  3. Given the Lutheran reference in the headline, Peltar responds with one of his quotations.

    “I am rough, boisterous, stormy and belligerent. I am born to fight against innumerable monsters and devils."

  4. Good report and easy to read thanks to the color code. Well done to all the players.

    1. Thanks. It does take quite a bit of effort to annotate the pictures with the colours and arrows, so it's good to know that the work is appreciated.

  5. Great report Hugh and the use of colour in the text & pics really helps

    1. As mentioned above, it did take a bit of effort to prepare this, so I'm very pleased if you find my style helpful.

  6. I'd definitely go with two worms!

    1. Thanks, Joe. But it's not quite as simple as "1 worm or 2", is it? There are questions around whether they should appear on the same roll (probably, though having only a single model is an issue)? Should the worms appear at the same *location* (not necessarily, I think)? How should the dice modifiers for the worm's/worms' appearance be handled (after all, there are 2x as many treasures in this game as normal)?

      Ah well, I'm quite used to acting as games master and scenario designer, so it was easy enough to improvise and adapt our game, even whilst we were playing it.

  7. Excellent wite-up and with added colour annotations making it a lot easier to read.
    For a four player game, I did think your doubling of everything was an easy solution but may need a little more consideration for the future - it's a bit like doubling the side of a square, but getting four-times the area.
    Have you considered having the four teams in you multiplayer games acting as two pairs cooperating with one another ? (just a thought).
    I find that whenever I read one of your Frostgrave aars I wonder if I have enough old DnD figures for a game! (Damn you)

    1. Thanks, Joe - glad you liked it! You're quite right: one cannot simply double everything and hope for the best (twice as many players, so twice as many treasures sounds reasonable. But what about twice as many turns?).

      2 pairs of teams is definitely an interesting idea; it's a mechanism that I've used in other games but hadn't considered for Frostgrave. A difficulty might occur because there wouldn't be any clear-cut victory conditions [i.e. all the existing measures of success in the game are really per-*player*].

      You probably have enough figures to play the game; it doesn't really need very many. However, you really need a lot of terrain as well...

  8. I really like your bat reps. The use of colours to identify gangs (and in the writing) individuals makes it very clear what is going on.

    Leap is one of my favourite spells and can be cast on other members of your crew. Great for getting treasure chests from the table.

    Elemental bolt in our games was a two edged sword, As it requires Line of sight It usually means the wizard (or apprentice) is exposed and WILL get shot at by gangs with SEVERAL Longbow or Crossbow men.

    But a good report and interesting to see how other players tackle the same game tactics wise.

    1. I've been trying to mark up all my battle reports in this manner. Now, whenever I read someone else's work I find it hard to follow what's going on :-( .

      "Leap" is great - if you know how to cast it effectively! The problem is that my wizards aren't very good at it :-) .

      Indeed, use of "Elemental Bolt" does require that one is prepared to accept return fire!

  9. I enjoyed that game so much that I can't stop thinking about it.
    I'm now coming up with all manner of wild and wacky scenarios.
    Perhaps I'll find time to sit down and share them at the weekend.

    That's a lot more likely of inclement weather keep me off my bicycle.