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King Arthur
by Frank L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/09/2016 08:33:53

This is a fun book touching on some of the basics of King Arthur and his many legends. It is short, and nearly half the book covers the idea of searching for a historical Arthur. That part didn't appeal to me nearly as much, especially because the talk of his legends and stories stopped being referenced or expanded upon in this section. So all in all, a little light on content for 10 bucks, but otherwise a nice text.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
King Arthur
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Frostgrave: Into the Breeding Pits
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/05/2016 10:15:44

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second expansion to the cool wargaming/RPG-hybrid Frostgrave clocks in at 62 pages, minus 3 if you do not count editorial, etc., leaving us with59 pages of content.

This book was moved up in my review-queue due to me receiving a print copy of the book.

All right, let's begin this review with a kind of template, the most unique modification to the wizard you may achieve while using this supplement. The dungeons below Frostgrave, the eponymous breeding pits, were the haunting ground of the beastcrafters...and their tradition can be experienced in a novel manner: Provided the wizard finds the right grimoire, he may attempt to brew the elixir of the beastcrafter via the Brew Potion spell. In order to benefit from it, the wizard basically has to have 100 experience points for a level-up ready and expend these; an apprentice has to drink alongside his wizard. Successfully drinking the elixir nets you bonuses to cast certain spells and adds new Animal Companion options...however, you also take on bestial features, increasing the cost of all soldiers hired but war hounds. The elixir needs a minimum level of 5, with stage 2 and 3 of the transformation, with progressively better benefits increasing the minimum required level by +5 respectively. And yes, higher levels net special benefits like wings, scales, etc. The pdf also introduces two school-less beastcrafter spells and may only be cast by beastcrafters. Effect-wise, they allow for the temporary or permanent mutation/modification of animals.

Speaking of spellcasting: The book increases the dynamics of spellcasting significantly with so-called reaction spells; as long as the spell's conditions are met, it may be cast at any time...but upon the next activation, the respective spellcaster is considered to have already cast the spell in question. 5 of these are provided -and frankly, I wished we got more...and a new out-game spell of a now extinct magic tradition that allows you to penalize experience points gained. Yup, your foes will hate you for it. Yup, it is incredibly gratifying to cast. Now I already mentioned the eponymous breeding pits being subterranean...and this is basically what this is about: This book allows for DUNGEON-EXPLORATION!!!

Yep, you read right - a whole new gaming experience. The book concisely defines underground exploration: The effects or lack thereof from Crumble to Plane Walk are covered and setting up walls, doors and doorways and ceilings are concisely presented alongside restrictions of lighting. Burrowing creatures can make for nasty surprises...and speaking of which, the book presents rules for the vast amount of traps - a total of 20 unique and evocative traps are provided and yes, depending on the character affected, they may gain bonuses to resist the nasty effects of these obstacles. Traps are sprung, btw., when someone rolls a 1 on an initiative roll...and said player may CHOOSE who is affected by the trap! This can turn a dismal frown to cheers at the table and is extremely rewarding. From magic-cancelling waves to gaining a personal demon, they are very diverse and, more importantly, fun.

Speaking of fun - on the other side of the spectrum, rolling a 20 on an initiative roll means that the player's squad has discovered a secret passage. When any figure of the player's choice is activated, said figure may move THROUGH dead space like walls etc. - but only alone, unless used in conjunction with group activation. Cool: Both of these work in conjunction with both regular AND dungeon set-up, taking spells and options into account.

These two amazing subsystems also tie into the new soldiers: Trap Experts are superb at resisting traps and extends the "trap range" from rolling a "1" to also applying when rolling a "2", but only 1/game. Tunnel Fighter similarly extend the "secret passage found"-range to also apply on 19s, but only for the tunnel fighter. Costs and stats are well-balanced, considering the effect of these abilities.

The book also features new magic items, including a proper table - a total of 17 such items are provided and they actually leave the game better balanced than before, with e.g. chronomancy gaining some seriously cool options via items. A random encounter table for the breeding pits can be found herein alongside 12 critters - from hyena and gnolls to poisonous amplipedes, petrifying basilisks, the book has some classics, including nasty giant worms, minotaurs and hydras - the latter of which come with modifications that represent rare strains and rules for multiple headed hydras. Finally, there are devourers - huge, nasty and very powerful beetles that are harmless...until angered, when they become a superb force of burrowing destruction. In the hands of the right player's schemes, they can be utilized in game-changing manners.

Anyways, the book also features scenarios that make use of the amazing rules presented herein: The Moving Maze represents the exploration of a maze f fungoid structures - it's alive and the player with the lowest initiative may actually move terrain! This is exceedingly rewarding and can lead to amazing games. "Here comes the Flood" is similarly cool: Exploring a canal, there is a flood approaching; after a couple of turns, there is a chance every round for the flood to hit...with devastating consequences if you're caught...and yep, this can make for a perfect "RUN!!!"-moments. The Breeding Pit is less interesting - basically it is a random monster-spawn scenario, mainly here to get a Book of the Beastcrafter. "The Rats in the Walls" spawns giant rats near treasures and dumps them on characters instead of trap effects for a simple, but efficient tweak of the engine. My favorite scenario herein would be "Breeding Season" - basically, it's the devourer showcase - they get a modified "AI" and move towards one another...but when ANY of them is damaged OR when they get close to one another, they start berserking! This can allow you to royally screw over the other player...or have all wizard parties caught in a nightmarish fury of killer beetles!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, though not as precise as in the other Frostgrave supplements; I noticed a couple of small hiccups, but none pertaining the exceedingly precise rules-language. Layout adheres to Frostgrave's neat 1-column full-color standard and, once again, we get cool evocative flavor test in sideboxes. Artwork features both photography of full-color minis and excellent full-clor artwork. The physical version is a nice softcover with high-quality, thick, glossy paper. I can't comment on the electronic version.

James A. McCullough's "Into the Breeding Pits" is one phenomenal supplement; I mean it. If you get any of the expansions, get this one. Where "Thaw of the Lich Lord" added to the options, this one MULTIPLIES them. From the amazing trap and secret tunnel rules (which you can easily modify to happen more often, if you wish to) to the concise presentation of subterranean adventuring, the book is glorious. Reaction spells and the new soldiers add further tactical depth to the game and after you've added these rules, I guarantee you will never want to play a Frostgrave game without them ever again. This is a great game-changer for the engine of the game and superb in every way....though the RPG-dude in me wished it had a campaign. Then again, who cares? The scenarios, with one filler-exception, are fresh and cool and the book, as a whole, is worth every cent. If you play Frostgrave, then you NEED this book. My final verdict will be 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Frostgrave: Into the Breeding Pits
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Frostgrave: Thaw of the Lich Lord
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/02/2016 09:06:12

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The first expansion-book to Frostgrave clocks in at 62 pages, minus 4 if you subtract editorial, ToC, etc., leaving us with 58 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This supplement/expansion is the first big campaign for Frostgrave, and it is a cool one (pardon the pun) - but before we go to the linked scenarios, let's take a look at the supplemental material, shall we? The first of these would be the bard - at 100 gc, he clocks in at the upper end of the soldier cost-spectrum, and at Fight +2, Armor 11, he looks like a pretty sucky choice; however, he has a phenomenal Will +4 and conveys a +1 bonus to Will to all soldiers within 6'' of him, but only if they have line of sight. Nice: These benefits cannot be stacked. The Crow Master is just as expensive,, but has both Fight and Shoot +0, armor 11 and +2 Will...so why get him? Well, each crow master comes with a domesticated blood crow that has Move 9, flies, armor 14 and +3 Will...but only 1 Health. So yeah, deadly skirmisher-potential held in check by low Health...and by the restriction that your base needs to have one Blood Crow Roost per such soldier hired...and these restrictions better should be in place, for the blood crow does not count towards the soldier maximum.

Can't afford an archer or crossbowman, but need ranged capability? The javelineer, for only 25 gc delivers that. These guys can use their weapons in melee and ranged combat, but only have a range of 10'' and +0 Fight and SHoot - you get what you pay for, but a couple of these guys still can wreck your day. Finally, for 20 gold crowns, you can recruit a quasi-noncombatant with only a dagger and +0 in all relevant stats as well as armor 10. This would be the pack mule and his draw is that he may carry up to three items and hand them to other characters as an action. Wizards may use actions to take the item from the mule as well....or exchange it. All soldiers presented here have in common that they enrich the tactical options of the game in pretty interesting manners - Blood Crows can e.g. easily follow wizards abusing the Leap spell.

Speaking of spells - in that regard, the book offer three out-of-combat options: Witches may create homunculi; these miniature versions of the wizard decrease his health while in existence, but if he dies during survival checks, his homunculus grows to full size; this is basically an extra life. The other two spells pertaining the ascendency to lichdom; these guys are VERY powerful, but pay for that with increased experience point requirements to level...and, well, obviously, being undead. Thirdly, soldiers that died may be reanimated as revenants by necromancers...though that wrecks the reanimated corpse's Will down to +0.

The book also features a new treasure table alongside 23 new magic itens...some of which become relevant in the aforementioned campaign...while others simply allow for something pretty cool: Crystal Roses that help survival, a book that allows for the recruitment of a rangifier (think savage, undead-hating elk-humanoids introduced in the book's bestiary that are pretty badass: At M 7, F +2,A 12, W +3 and H 12 plus attacks count as magic versus undead and are made at +1.) or the eyes of amoto deserve special mention. The latter is a set of two amulets that allow the caster to cast 1/game through the line of sight of the wearer of the other amulet.

As already mentioned, the pdf does have a new bestiary, including random encounter table - the bestiary spans 10 creatures, two of which I have already mentioned; beyond death cultists (who have a REALLY good Will - +5!), the rest, surprise, would be undead of various powers...including zombie trolls or wraith knights. And yep, several are immaterial and may move through obstacles...which can be really painful. The most impressive creature here, obviously, would be the lich lord, though: His "AI", i.e. his priority list, contains no less than 9 conditions, which makes facing him surprisingly difficult. That being said, the book does suggest to get a player/GM-like entity to play the part of the monsters in the finale of the campaign and I get why.

Now how does the campaign play out? Are the scenarios worthwhile? Well, it all begins as ominous as it gets - in scenario 1, there is a timer running down towards a total eclipse that is accompanied by a significant surge in magical power...but which also limits line of sight while in progress, allowing for some cool tactics and gameplay - this one's mechanics can easily be scavenged and yes, there are bonus experience points for actually being on the table when the eclipse happens, so wizards have a reason to wait at least until it happens before vacating the premises. Scenario number 2 is slightly more complex in its set-up: It takes place on the Meregile, the frozen river; the first 6'' from the tables edge are land---beyond that, you have the river's unsure footing. From a barge on that river, a spellcasting servant of the lich lord sooner or later will emerge and taking the guy out before he can flee would be the primary goal here...though it's easier said than done in the nasty terrain. Scenario 3 is simpler: The PCs basically attempt to loot a caravan of death cultists that had bad luck and a broken down wagon; while reinforcements arrive, they proved to be not too big of a hassle in my tests.

Scenario 4 ups the ante and is called "Storm of Undeath"; not only is a magically charged snowstorm reducing sight, the goal is also risky - in the middle of the table, there'll be pylons with corpses. Each round, there is a chance for magic lightning to hit the pylons, with potentially lethal consequences...of, and the dead may be animated...but being in the area is also the way to gain the big experience points here. Just be careful to not die, or you'll have a revenant on your hands. In #5, the evocative rangifers are in the center - and they are deadly...and it's up to the wizards to prevent them being killed by a deadly wraith knight...problem is, that the rangifers are NOT nice guys...they prioritize destroying undead...but are not above splitting some wizard skull...

In Scenario #6, you best have a second table or cordoned area - the second are, ideally 1' by 1', represents a treasure room: Arcs and doors placed have a chance of teleporting those passing through to the second area, the fallen house's treasure room...problem is, you can also be teleported out of the game or killed by the attempt...risky and interesting. Oh, and if you botch it, you may well end up facing death cultists all alone in the room... One of my favorites in the campaign, however, would be #7, the "lair of the ghoul king": Situated in a vast underground chamber, the players are trapped in the ghoul king's throne room. On his throne are levers that may allow for escape...but you have to get there first. The chamber is also dark and limits sight and makes for an amazing playing experience. Scenario 8 and 9 are somewhat similar - they focus on one unique aspect: In #8, you have the Black Cauldron in the middle, which continuously spawns zombies: Tipping it over is the goal here. In #9, the center of the scenario would be a bone wheel with sacrifices to be in the middle; freeing these guys and getting the treasure is hard, as the wheel is ever turning...oh, and there are the banshees.

After all of that, the lich lord has had enough: Exerting his magical might, he lets his castle fly above the city, held in place by taut chains; escape is not an option and lethal (unless you have the amulet to slow falls...) and the lich lord is a deadly foe...oh, and if you kill him, a generous countdown's running down...be too slow and you die. Yes, DIE. This one has a very real chance of failure and is really epic in its feel. If the wizard persists, he does get bragging rights and cheaper recruitment from there on out, though.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches in either formal or rules-language criteria. Layout adheres to a beautiful one-column full-color standard and the pdf sports several evocative pieces of fluffy sideboxes. Artworks are the usual blend of amazing artworks and color-photographs of minis. I can't comment on the electronic version, since I don't have it, but the softcover is a nice little book with high-quality, glossy paper.

James A. McCullough's "Thaw of the Lich Lord" is an evocative expansion - the new soldiers in particular are great paradigm-changers and the scenarios allow for cool tweaks that can easily be combined, changed, modified - but it is also here that the campaign varies a bit in its set-up: You see, there are a couple of scenarios that play like truly unique, interesting experiences...while a few feel a bit more like filler or don't make maximum use of their modifications. The bone wheel is cool, but it's engine tweak could have, for example been expanded upon. The book improves the base Frostgrave, though, and playing the campaign certainly is a rewarding experience. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Frostgrave: Thaw of the Lich Lord
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Frostgrave: Fantasy Wargames in the Frozen City
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/01/2016 11:45:39

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This rule-book clocks in at 136 pages, minus 4 if you take away ToC, editorial and the like.

This review was moved up in my review-queue due to me receiving a print copy of the book in question.

So, what is Frostgrave? Well, in-game it was once the center of magics, a metropolis of ridiculous power, steeped in arcane might; then, the ice came and swallowed the city; winter had come and devoured it wholesale. For untold years, the powerful magics of the place had been kept below the grinding glaciers...but now, thaw has come, unearthing ever more of the labyrinthine ruins that make up the city, unearthing countless mystical treasures, rife for the taking for those foolhardy or brave enough to venture inside. From all traditions and lands, wizards and their entourages flock to the place, all hoping for supreme magical power...

So that would be the in-game reply. Out-game, Frostgrave can best be pictured as a beer-and-pretzels, quick-play hybrid between fantasy wargaming and roleplaiyng, one that requires no GM and yes, the game supports more than two players. So how exactly does it work?

Well, you need a couple of things to play, but significantly less than for similar games: You need miniatures...but not more than the average gaming group has on its hands; 28 mm miniatures are assumed as default. Per player, you cannot have more than 10 minis under your command, so the game's pretty tame as far as that's concerned. You also need dice - one d20 suffices, though one per player is better. Frostgrave can be played easily on most household tables; 2' by 2' is enough for quick games, 4' by 4' or larger tables allow for more impressive games, though. A crucial difference between Frostgrave and other games of this type is the emphasis on terrain - the game taking place in the frozen ruins of the eponymous city also means that the ruins are supposed to be crowded and maze-like; if you have a ton of terrain, well, perfect; if not, anything from clothes to books suffices. Heck, I once played a game with clothes and coins for a lack of minis (I always carry dice with me) and it worked.

So, the "avatar" and most important figure under the command of each player would be the wizard. The wizard is further diversified by his focus on one of ten schools of magic, specializations, if you will. Each of the schools has one opposed school, 5 neutral schools and 3 aligned schools - these represent the grades and ease with which you can cast spells beyond your school's field. Aligned schools increase the DC by +2, neutral ones by +4 and opposed school spells by +6. In case you're interested, the specializations are Chronomancer, Elementalist, Enchanter, Illusionist, Necromancer, Sigilist, Soothsayer, Summoner, Thaumaturge and Witch. For most people with any degree of familiarity with fantasy traditions, these should be pretty self-explanatory. When creating a wizard, you begin play with 8 spells: 4 from your own school; 1 must come from each of the aligned schools and finally, 2 are chosen from the neutral schools, but each must come from a different school.

This choice made, we must talk a bit about the stats: Creatures have 6 stats: Move (M) denotes how far a character can move per turn. Fight (F) is the character's melee capability. Shoot (S) depicts the ranged capability. Armour (A) represents the armor of the creature - natural or otherwise. Will (W) is the character's willpower and ability to resist spells. Finally, Health (H) is basically the hit points of the character. Fight, Shoot and Will are noted with plusses, denoting the modification to the roll - for roleplayers, think of that as basically the respective BAB or base save. In some cases, stats will be noted with splits, like +2/+3, for example - the first stat denotes the actual stat, the second the effective stat, modified by magic, items, etc..

A wizard's unmodified stats are M6, F +2, S +0, A 10, W +4 and H 14. All creatures in Frostgrave can carry items. Wizards can carry up to 5 of them, apprentices 4 and soldiers 1. Wizards begin play with a staff or hand weapon and may buy a dagger, two-handed weapon, bow or crossbow for 5 gold. Dual-wielding sword + dagger nets you +1 effective Fight. This would be the most important character all done...now let's assemble our warband.

I already mentioned the apprentice, who is the most important character beyond the wizard - you may never have more than one and the apprentice costs a whopping 200 gp. The apprentice is the only way to have a second spellcaster and his F, S and W-values are based on the wizard: The wizard's stats -2, to be more precise. Health is equal to the wizard's -4. They get the wizard's spells, but cast each spell at -2. The system also provides a total of 15 types of soldiers you can hire, ranging in price from 10 gp war hounds to the costly 100 gp veterans. The price for these guys, just btw., goes up exponentially with skill. The stats of these soldiers never increase via spells or magic items - they are basically your lackeys or mooks. The system does not distinguish between races - elven or dwarven soldiers use the same stats, though admittedly, you can easily introduce racial modifiers, if you so choose.

Frostgrave knows a total of 6 item classes: Daggers reduce damage by 1; two-handed weapons increase it by +2; staves come at -1 damage, but also decrease the damage received in hand-to-hand combat by -1. Bows have a maximum range of 24''; crossbows take one action to load and one to fire, but hit at +2 damage, with a maximum range of 24''. Finally, unarmed combat means -2 Fight and -2 damage.

Now, since I already talked about setting up the table, let me mention that, at the beginning of the game, after terrain has been placed, the players put 3 treasure tokens per player on the ruins, taking turns when doing so. The tokens must be placed at least 9'' from a player's table edge. After placing the tokens, you do roll which designated player side becomes your starting side...so just placing them close for convenience may fire back big time.

Ok, that covered, we have begun talking about actions, let's take a look at the structure of turns. At the beginning of each turn, every player rolls initiative, ties are rerolled and players act in sequence of the result rolled. Each turn is divided in 4 phases, which, in sequence, are as follows:

The wizard is activated (the term for using a miniature) first and may also activate up to 3 soldiers within 3'' of the wizard alongside with him. When a figure is activated, it gets to perform two actions, one of which MUST be movement. The other action may be a second move, fighting, shooting, spellcasting r any special actions eligible. A figure may only perform one action, if it so chooses or is otherwise handicapped. The use in conjunction with the nearby soldiers is called group activation. During the wizard and apprentice phase, soldiers within 3'' of the caster may be activated alongside him/her/it. The thus activated soldiers must all move in conjunction and the first action of group activation must be movement. All figures thus activated get to act. Once a wizard's turn is done, the next wizard may act. Yep, you don't have to wait through x phases to act - this keeps the game pretty dynamic. After the wizard phase, it's time for the apprentice phase - which follows the basically same structure. Then, it's the soldier phase and after that, the creature phase.

Movement is pretty simple in general: The first move is at the full Move stat in ''; any subsequent move takes half the Move stat; a character with move 6 could e.g. use both actions to move 9''. Moving over obstructions (you agree on those when setting up the table) costs 2'' per inch; rough ground similarly halves movement. Which brings me to one of the very few rough edges of the system - as you may have noted, there is some halving going on. The lack of a grid means that you don't have something and you don't round up or down. For people used to the metric system, this becomes slightly more annoying; at least alternate distances may have helped there and rounding guidelines would have sped up play; in my playtests, the lack of rounding up/down constitutes one of the few instances where the game did not play as smoothly as a well-oiled machine. When two creatures are in contact, they are designated as "in combat" and may not move. Why am I talking about this now? When a figure moves within 1'' of another creature, said creature may force combat, placed immediately next to the creature passing. Movement by spell etc. is btw. not considered to count as movement, but any creature using this that ends movement within 1'' is forced into combat.

Figures moving off the board are out of the game and may not be involuntarily be forced off the board. A creature can jump as part of the movement if it moved at least an equal distance prior to jumping - a creature with move 4 can e.g. jump up to 2'' after moving 2''. If a creature falls more than 3'', the critter takes 1.5 times the number of excess inches in damage.

Combat is simple: You spend one action and both figures involved roll 1d20 and add their Fight stat plus any additional modifiers. The figure with the highest number wins. After that, you subtract the armor score from the winner's roll. If the score is positive after detracting the armor score, the target takes damage equal to the remaining points. In the case of both rolls being equal, the combatants hit each other and cause damage to one another, allowing for double K.O.s. After determining damage caused, the winner can decide to either remain in combat or push back either figure by 1'', directly away from the opposing figure. Figures thus moved are no longer in combat, Combats with multiple figures are slightly more complex, but they are explained in a very concise and easy to grasp manner. The system, as you can see, is pretty lethal due to its swingy nature of opposing d20s - which means that it emphasizes tactics over strategy. You can, if you'd like to, also use a critical hit optional rules for even more lethal combat.

Shooting has two terms to keep in mind: In range, which means within 24'' and line of sight, which is self-explanatory. The comparison here is btw. 1d20 + Shoot vs. 1d20 + Fight., with damage being determined analogue to melee, though cover types and terrain hamper shooting with modifiers. Shooting into melee is random: You have a random chance to hit any participant. Creatures reduced to 0 health are presumed killed, unless you're playing in a campaign (more on that later); as an optional rule, characters reduced to 4 or less health are considered to be wounded, taking -2 to all die rolls and only gaining one move; I'd strongly suggest playing with this rule, it adds some neat drama to the games.

Spellcasting is handled similarly: You roll a d20 and compare that to the spell's casting number; on a success, you cast the spell. The game has a degree of failure system; the worse you fail the casting, the more risky it gets; on a failure, you can take damage. Spellcasters may empower spells, which is determined after the casting roll is made, but before effects are determined. The spellcaster may choose to lose health to increase the roll; if a spellcaster would, for example, fail a spellcasting roll by 4, he may sacrifice 4 health to still succeed. When a wizard colossally fails at casting a spell by 20+, he may empower spells to actually take less net damage. This is intended. The target resisted by the spell rolls 1d20 and adds the Will stat; if the target succeeds, he resists the spell. Spellcasters may empower Will rolls by expending Health on a 1:1-basis akin to how empowering spells work.

The game is about treasure, and a character next to a treasure token may use an action to pick it up; thereafter, it moves with the creature. If the creature carrying treasure is killed, the token remains there, ready to be picked up again. A character can only carry one treasure token. In order to secure a treasure token, the carrying figure must move off the board. Now, Frostgrave features more than just competing warbands - the ruins are haunted by various creatures. The system presents basically the analogue version of an AI for them; simple steps of handling them and priority sequences. So no, you do not need a GM, though obviously, it is possible to play the game with a referee/GM. A game of Frostgrave usually ends when the last treasure token has left the board or when one side has been completely wiped out.

So yeah, short instant games are fast play and can last between 10 minutes and an hour....but you'll get the most out of Frostgrave when playing a campaign. Ina campaign, a creature reduced to 0 Health is not considered to be killed, but out of combat, which means you get to roll on a survival table; wizards and apprentices have better chances to live...and yep, you can suffer permanent injuries; a total of 9 of which are provided with rules-relevant repercussions. After a game in a campaign, you award experience to the participants: Successfully cast spells, enemy soldiers, apprentices or wizards defeated and treasure tokens secured net experience per default. Every full 100 experience points for a wizard grants the character a level, which can be used to improve a stat, a spell (granting +1 to its spellcasting level) or learning a new spell. Each treasure token secured in a campaign nets a roll on the treasure table. There is also a potion table. Scrolls are one-use fire and forget spells; grimoires are books that allow a wizard to learn a specific spell and, if you choose to, you can determine spells randomly with a table. Magic Weapons and armor, magic items, etc. - there is a lot of material here - and yes, the magic items come with concise rules.

Gold crowns accumulated allow the wizard to replace slain apprentices, hire new soldiers, buy items, etc. However, in a campaign game of Frostgrave, the game adds another cool option to using your hard-earned gold: Namely establishing a base, which may contain labs, inns, breweries, etc. - the rules presented here are concise and have relevant repercussions in game. Kudos for that addition!

Now obviously, a game focused as strongly on spellcasters needs a massive magic chapter - and indeed, it is BIG. Some spells are out-of-game spells and happen "off screen"; other are self only, have line of effect, area of effect or a range of touch; each spell has a base casting number, as mentioned before...and that's pretty much already the extent of the framework's rules - concise, easy to grasp and elegant...with a couple of minor hiccups: The damage-causing elemental spells or poison dart are very powerful if a wizard increases the quickly, making the respective character a nasty arcane artillery. The other spell that is somewhat OP is Leap. Yeah, I know, I didn't expect that either until I started testing the system. Leap's benefits: Immediate 10'' move, not hindered by terrain. Considering table size, it's very easy to grab treasure and jump off the board with this one, basically grab and run. Having the spell scale with table size and nerfing it, may be a smart choice; similarly, including a caveat that you can't jump off the table would be appreciated - getting at least one turn to defeat the escaping wizard would be nice. As an optional spell-goal for campaigns, researching transcendence and successfully casting it can be used as a generic campaign goal.

Now, while campaigns make Frostgrave more rewarding, this also holds true for playing scenarios - these would be games with unique rules modifications. Creature spawns are very conservative in the default game and e.g. in "The Mausoleum", you get infinite skeleton spawns; Genie in the bottle unleashes a very powerful and nasty genie when picking up a treasure and being unlucky. Featuring a tower that kills all magic inside and has the best treasure. Libraries with limited exits; museums where statues may come to life, exploring an area where giant worms dwell, exploring a haunted house...pretty cool. Or what about the super-lethal well that also may grant health when drunk from? The keep with the teleportation arcs? These modifications, which may btw. be combined, greatly diversify the game - and they engender roleplaying...when you and your fellow player agree on the need to research and thus pit your wizards against one another in a library...it's an easy means of generating a bit of roleplaying. Speaking of inspiration and dressing - the book features a ton of small boxes that contain VERY evocative little quotes describing the wonders and horrors of the frozen city, acting as a great way to make the reading experience more inspiring and pleasant.

Now, I already mentioned creatures and the optional rule for very limited random encounters...but the book also features a ton of monsters that range from undead to animals and yetis/werewolves or trolls.

The book also contains handy spellcards by school and an easily used wizard sheet; speaking of which - I happen to have a nice, high-quality cardstock version of the sheet, which actually manages to collect the crucial rules of the book on this one less-than-GM-screen-sized sheet.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are excellent; I noticed no significant glitches in either the formal criteria or the rules-language criteria. Layout adheres to a mixture of a two-column and a one-column standard and is in full-color and aesthetically pleasing. The artwork is copious and features both pictures of neat minis in full color...as well as absolutely stunning artworks of the same quality as featured on the cover. This is, in short, a beautiful book. The hardcover I receives has nice binding and has borne the brunt of all my use well. I can't comment on the electronic version.

Joseph A. McCullough's Frostgrave is an amazing game. I came to RPGs from a wargaming background and this book should prove to be amazing for both types of gamers. Wargaming strategists that want to have an edge via placement etc. will not be too keen on it, but personally, I loved the swingy nature of the game here; Frostgrave keeps you on your toes and features these unique moments where victory is snatched from the jaws of defeat. The focus of the game is certainly PvP, but you can actually roleplay; wizards clashing again and again will enact feuds over campaigns and the game becomes particularly amazing when using more than 2 players, as alliances are formed and abandoned; if you have a passionate GM who likes making complex scenarios, you can bring a campaign up to a whole new level and increase the nastiness of the creatures featured; potentially, you can make scenarios where the wizards have to ally themselves against superior odds, etc. - in short, you can play this wargame like a wargame, like an RPG or like a mix. It's also very fast play: I managed to run a 10-game campaign in a single day without any problems and had a blast.

More important for a core rulebook, the Frostgrave-system used here is extremely simple. Anyone who has ever played a d20-based game will immediately get how to play this. Reading the totality f the rules takes about an hour, tops; you can explain them in 5 minutes to someone else, though. Frostgrave is easy to learn and the presentation of the rules is EXTREMELY concise and well-structured. At no point did I think I could have presented the rules in a more concise, stringent manner. That being said, as mentioned before, there are a couple of rough edges; the lack of rounding up/down guidelines was remedied by house-rule in my games after a few playtesting games. Leap and the wizard artillery spells can imho use a bit of a nerf and thus, balance is not always perfect; so tournament style gaming, admittedly not the focus of the system, is not something it does too well.

If you are looking for an atmospheric, easy to learn and play game that allows you to play a game or two during lunch break and scratch that gaming-itch, then this absolutely delivers perfectly. The game may not be perfect, but it is a good offering...though one that fully comes into its own when adding in more material...and yep, I have the expansions...so expect to see those reviews soon!

The core book, on its own, is a fun, evocative and easy to learn beer-and-pretzels style game with a ton of narrative potential. While short of perfection when played on its own, the core book as a stand-alone still manages to score an impressive 4.5 stars, though for the book on its own, I'd have to round down; if you want to get the game, I'd strongly suggest also getting at least one expansion; with more material (or a creative GM/players designing more), Frostgrave does become 5 star-material, though I can't represent that in the core book's rating.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Frostgrave: Fantasy Wargames in the Frozen City
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Frostgrave: Sellsword
by charles L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/30/2016 08:41:59

An excellent additon to the core ruleset with some interesting elements to the game - in particular the Captain giving the ability to customise and characterise a non wizard character. we will def be trying this out in our games.

Contents: Full rules for the Captain. "Wrong" "With magnetic Force" new scenarios - always welcome

Pits of Null inlcudes new anti-magic threats - which is cool

Pack rounds out with a new wizard/ warband sheet.

Good buy.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Frostgrave: Sellsword
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Bug Hunts: Surviving and Combating the Alien Menace
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/20/2016 03:15:57

If you've ever read the Colonial Marine Technical Manual you'll have a pretty good idea what to expect from this book. Although Bug Hunts: Surviving and Combating the Alien Menace clearly has a more general focus. Its 81 pages the first 45 of which are devoted to indepth studies of three bug species, a xeno-parasite, an arachnid type and a crab-like species, followed by a briefer look at six other species. The next 4 pages provide a timeline of the more infamous infestations. The last 30 pages are devoted to an in depth look at the forces and organisations whose task it is to deal with bug infestations, their organisation, equipment and some of the more well known personnel.

The book provides setting or backrground material only, there are no rules of any sort in this book. As a resource it is very useful and adaptable to pretty much any rules system you could think of. I'm a wargamer and roleplayer with a distinct preference for Sci-fi and I love it. The aliens are similar to, but clearly different from, some of the big franchise aliens out there. This means that the book material can be used with little modification to represent those franchises in your games. The same can be said of the forces deployed against them.

My preference is for sci-fi wargames and roleplaying games. Bug Hunts: Surviving and Combating the Alien Menace has become a valuable resource in my gaming. I'd recommend it to anyone interested in playing bug hunt scenarios in RPGs or Wargames.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Bug Hunts: Surviving and Combating the Alien Menace
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Frostgrave: Dark Alchemy
by Joseph b. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/14/2016 07:13:28

great addtion to the game . hope to see this game blossom



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Frostgrave: Dark Alchemy
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Frostgrave - Tales of the Frozen City
by Bart B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/18/2015 18:40:30

I purchased the rulebook last week, read it completely and got straight into this collection. The rulebook had little bits of thematic work, I found this collection really 'fleshed it out' and helped me understand the vision for Frostgrave. I chewed through the stories in one sitting, and enjoyed them. Being short stories, they were all about 'the twist in the tail' and they had some very clever twists. Well worth the price to help you 'get' Frostgrave.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Frostgrave - Tales of the Frozen City
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Ronin – Skirmish Wargames in the Age of the Samurai
by Scott F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/11/2015 20:22:50

An all around good skirmish wargame, but I question the history behind it, in light of recent archeological finds. Ninja (shinobi no mono), by way of example, are handled as a "hidden unit" amongst your models, rather than the infiltration and advanced scouting, demolitions and fire use against fortifications, they achieved in the five types of spy (from Sun Tzu's Art of War) and as Samurai or Bushi in their own right.. Otherwise, a simple and quick game, easy to pick up, and modify. I only wish there were more models available for this genre of game; but there are always counters. A good first edition. Hopefully Osprey will continue to put out quality products like these dealing with "out of the usual" genres of play. Otherwise, a complex enough game, rich with oriental history (like the invasions of Korea and Battles against the Ming Chinese), that can be learned in a minimal amount of time.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Ronin – Skirmish Wargames in the Age of the Samurai
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Orc Warfare
by Stephane G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/12/2015 16:59:26

I liked it. It can give a GM a new outlook on the Orc method of warfare. The GM can pretend to be an orcish commander or warlord and plan out their tactics and strategies in accordance to that.

A good read, and the flavour text is also entertaining.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Orc Warfare
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The Nazi Occult
by Alexander O. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/19/2014 09:39:48

It should be pointed out that this book is written as an 'alternate history', detailing a richly imagined and meticulously researched tapestry of Nazi plans, activities, artifacts and personas.

With that out of the way, this is a must-have for GMs who are planning to run games (or are already running ones) that are set in WWII with a touch of mystical / magical elements, weird science hints, or even Cthulhoid intrusions. It's also a treasure trove of origin hooks for superheroes or supervillains from the WWII / post-WWII era of comic book gaming.

Even a cursory read will clue you into names major and minor in the network of allied and opposed occult factions; a close read will give you a rundown of a multitude of Ahnenerbe activities around the world, major artifacts that passed through Nazi Occult hands like the Spear of Destiny, the Holy Grsail, the Ark of the Covenant (with a tip of the hat to our favorite adventuring archaeologist), Nazi mystical rites with occult significance with their exact dates in the timeline, and ties to locations like Agartha and to technologies like the Vril-powered Bell.

If you want to freak your players out with fantastic and horrific adventure elements strongly grounded in history, this is the book for you.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Nazi Occult
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Knights Templar
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/08/2013 05:59:00

A delightful pseudo-scolarly accound of the Templars, ideal for conspiracy theorists and fans of 'cod-archaeology, and written in a way that hangs together and makes it sound so real.

Presented as drawing on the papers of a recently-deceased (of course, questionably, was his death a suicide, poor driving or....?) academic, this work traces the history of the Order from its inception during the Crusades right up to the present day, mixing fact, fiction and outright speculation skilfully together. It's all there: the Roman Catholic Church, the Freemasons, plot and counterplot, with nods towards prominent works of fiction like Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code - presented as a cunning ploy to discredit the ongoing work of the Inquisition (which covertly runs Opus Dei) against today's Templars.

It all makes for a fascinating read, and like the best fiction, leaves that nagging thought that it just might be true.

For the role-player: Particularly if you like contemporary conspiracy games - Pelgrane Press's Nights Black Agents springs to mind, it would work with Spycraft from Crafty Games too - you will find endless plot ideas here.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Knights Templar
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Zombies: A Hunter’s Guide
by Andreas G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/28/2013 04:11:45

I really liked the book. It is a well written pure sourcebook that reads almost like a novel. The information given play well with truth and fiction, the books give some creepy facts and exaggerate them. That fits well with the background of this book. It suggests an urban fantasy setting where players embody zombie hunters, maybe as part of a secret society or (in)official governmentbranch. The setting is more or less suggested, so that it is also useful for almost every zombiescenario. It is a great read with some use for RPG and by the way a great introduction to different zombie types. It is not only of value for GMs, but also for players and even in-game use, as it is written asa real handbook on Zombies... For round about 3$ it's a virtual no-brainer...

I also wrote a longer review in german: http://neueabenteuer.com/zombies-a-hunters-guide/



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Zombies: A Hunter’s Guide
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Zombies: A Hunter’s Guide
by Steven H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/19/2013 14:36:06

This book is almost a zombie textbook. It guides the reader through the different types of zombies from Necromantic to Voodoo zombies.

It reads like a text book, only not as dry. It kept my attention the entire time, through 80 pages, as I read the book; even eating my meals as I read.

Some of the facts within the book are hard to believe, however, they are also just as hard to dismiss. The part about Jesse James is one of my favorite selections within the book.

This book should be required reading by any Gamemaster worth his salt, who runs games like "All Flesh Must Be Eaten". It will not only make him a better Gamemaster, it will make him a better player as well.

The part about how the military clears rooms is very nice and well defined, which gave me ideas on how to place my zombies in the game I am running. The book also made me rethink the types of zombies my Player Characters will be running into, as each kind has a different "birth" and type of "death".

Currently, the book is sitting at $2.99, instead of $17.95. The is a steal at only $3! Heck, skip a burger at lunch and invest in some prime Zombie knowledge, you'll thank me when you survive a Zombie assault!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The War of Horus and Set
by Alexander O. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/28/2013 00:22:18

First off, please note that this version is in ePub format and not in PDF.

With that out of the way -- this is a fantastic resource for RPG gamers. The writing has a nice balance between providing succinct summaries of the history and general flow of the myth and history of this particular focus area in Egyptian myth and in providing telling details about the variants and nuances of these conflated stories to provide a lot of game inspiration and adventure hooks for GMs.

The Chapter titled "Gods and Their Realm" gives a good grounding in the cosmology of Egyptian gods and a list of the major players in the pantheon.

In "The Jealous Brother", there is an sympathetic portrayal of Set before the troubles between him and his brother, Osiris, began the inexorable slide into generational family feuding and tragedy. Of particular interest is the scene where Osiris is tricked into a deadly trap in full view of an audience.

"The Vengeful Nephew", focuses on the war between Horus and Set from the revelation of what Set had done to Horus's father, through the various clashes overseen by the gods, right up to their final conflict. It is not bits and pieces of myth, but a fully described, flowing narrative.

The Chapter titled "History and Warfare" peels back the curtain behind the narrative to discuss the often contradictory sources and variants of the myths that have been woven together for this book, to elaborate on real world warfare that paralleled the unfolding myths, and to detail aspects of Egyptian warmaking.

"Enduring Legacy" talks about how these myths have influenced the modern day, crossing over into other religions or are echoed in other modern stories.

All in all a rich source of material for a GM and her playing group.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The War of Horus and Set
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