Saturday, 31 December 2016

Frostgrave: Ghost Archipelago (2017)

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!

45 comments:

  1. This is a brilliant concept and I look forward to more updates!

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  2. Only got my first copy of frost grave last week and am already hooked on it. This is just more goodness to come.
    Looking forward to it.

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  3. Great news, thanks for sharing Joe!

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  4. will these be two completely separate games or will it be possible to battle a frostgrave warband with your warband from this game?

    Also.. anything pirate related and I'll there! I have spent the better part of the past 3 years amassing fleets of ships and minis to crew them!

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    1. The two games share the same basic mechanics, so it would be possible to fight a Heritor Crew versus a Wizard and warband; however, I have made no attempt to balance such a contest.

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    2. I was in since I read "Frostgrave", but I admit compatibility between both games are what attract me more. If Heritors could visit the Frost City and one of my wizard's warbands could explore the Ghost islands, the game would be bigger and (I assume) better.

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  5. Loving Frostgrave. I'm sure I'll love this too. All the Frostgrave books I own are so well written. A pleasure to read and play the game. Can't wait for this new theme/system.

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  6. Seems like more money coming your way! Can't wait for this.

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  7. Now is the time for the straw hats to rule and gain one piece. Wait i mean the pool of eternal power. :)

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  8. Now is the time for the straw hats to rule and gain one piece. Wait i mean the pool of eternal power. :)

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  9. This looks very exciting. I am looking forward to seeing what more of your work!

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  10. I really don't like pirates so I'm out. Good luck with your new game and thank you for all your hard work on Frostgrave :)

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  11. Fair enough, it's not going to be for everyone, but I should note that I use the term 'pirates' merely as a descriptor of the setting. Heritor's are not pirates (well, not most them anyway). There are no cannons or pistols. Basically it's just a fantasy game that has boats, lost treasure, and lots of islands.

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    1. ...Ok, that sounds more interesting :)

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    2. Yeah, I was getting more of a Sinbad-ey adventure-tale vibe from the description - ships, islands, lost temples, monsters etc, and all that.

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    3. How handy - I just happen to have made a big pile of boats for the Thaw of the Lich Lord second scenario. Looks like they will get a second outing.

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  12. you can always use something other than pirates..i for one am all in on this :)

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  13. Makes for an interesting concept Joe. With that being said, will there be crossover potential? As the wizards will be playing second fiddle to the Heritors, surely there is lost lore in all those ruins which will draw the wizards themselves!

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  14. New game and miniatures will be great, the thing I'm secretly liking is that you are expanding the fantasy setting you have in your head... I really hope this continues over the coming years in a variety of formats. The plastic miniatures are there... a mass skirmish style game in the same world should be in the 5-10 year plan.

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  15. Sounds so good! Liking the story premise. I've been looking for an inspiring game to get to paint some pirate figures and this one looks like it's poised to fit the bill! If this comes with a plastic pirates/buccaneerd box set, I'll be a happy man!

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  16. Sounds like an excellent idea, will look forward to playing this and I know my wife will do as well :-)

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  17. Work fast! Frostgrave renewed my love of fantasy wargaming.

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  18. Great!!! I hope that it will also be translated in French ^^ No more powerful magicians in commanders, but a real leader pleases me ... Finally, a pirate game that makes a real opening to the fantastic (and legendary sea monsters?) , But it would remain in dice with 20 sided? Personally I would find it wise to have 10 sided dices versus 10 sided dices, witch suggests more reasonable and interesting statistics, it seems to me.
    Thank you

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  19. It would have been a more interesting story if you were doing the dishes,had a plate slip and fall out of your hands, and the broken pieces lying in the water of the sink gave you the impression of islands in the sea and inspired you to create this new set of rules. :)

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    1. Good idea, I'll change it to that for the autobiography.

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  20. Crikey. Best I start saving my pennies.

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  21. Sounds great!

    On a separate note how about a definitive edition of the original Frostgrave!
    Include everything in one deluxe Hardcover.

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  22. Another reason to finish up my Atlantians...
    Excellent news.

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  23. Will this be Frostgrave meets Pirates of the Caribbean? Sounds intriguing!

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  24. Awesome! Looking forward to it!

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  25. If there were a reason for magic to be less usable, say it is being pulled from the area to create the Crystal Pool, or defend it...

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    1. For this kind of game, i like the lists of bands at several levels, which leaves to the players the choice of their level of universe. For example:
      - Historical, where the man has not yet found the pool.
      - Fantastic with the pool, voodoo magic and witchcraft of the West Indies (interesting history)
      - The Kraken level, integrating the above, and the fantastic monster

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    2. That is an interesting concept, do you see that as happening with the same list over time? Taking a group of adventures through as normals and moving on, gaining power, etc. or playing three separate lists? My gaming group tends to love the narrative style campaign, often adding whatever game we are playing into the narrative of our campaign.
      It makes me wonder about running Frostgrave:
      - without any wizards
      - with just a Captain
      - just an apprentice
      I would guess it depends on the scenario...

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  26. Interesting
    I'm looking forward to more teasers (and hope that I can faind the figures needed in the unpainted metal- and plasics-mountain)

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  27. This sounds like a wonderful addition to the Frostgrave world. I look forward to seein more on it (and hopefully cont. support for Frostgrave itself).
    I am curious though, will this still focus more on a single character's (and apprentice?) advancement, or will there be some kind of "crew" that progresses as well in som capacity? Thanks and good luck!

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  28. Terribly excited by this :) . Wizards are pretty cool but pirates are even better! I have painted many fantasy models over the years but having a justification to paint pirates and build a ship for them to sail is wonderful. I couldn't wait for the new models but hope the Black Dragon Tong figures for IHMN should give me a leg up on my new force of Asian styled pirates. I just need to build a junk.

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  29. Sounds great joe' heard about it yesterday first time. The more I buy and try new systems the more I come back to this game. It's so damm easy to use ' I just wish I wasn't just about wizards lol. Which this new game isent .

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  30. Reading this, the first thing that popped into my head was the imagery of the crew in the "Treasure of Tranicos" Savage Sword of Conan black and white monthly comic from the 1980s.

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  31. I am extremely excited about this product. For those of us thinking of gaming boards, is island hoping and travelling in ships during the scenarios a thing in this game? Still at 3' by 3' board?

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  32. There are rules for small boats, and yes 3 x 3 board.

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