Frostgrave: Fireheart - Design Diary

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Return to the Frozen City! The award-winning Frostgrave series has another supplement coming this month from its acclaimed creator Joseph A. McCullough. With an expanded ruleset, bestiary and all-new scenarios, Fireheart fleshes out the history and lore of constructs. Read on to find out more ...

THE IDEA

Constructs have been a key part of Frostgrave since the beginning. I mean, the idea has plenty of fantastical precedent, but really it comes from my thoughts about what kind of creatures would be wandering around the frozen ruins of a magical city. Something that didn’t age, that didn’t feel the cold, and that could theoretically be frozen for 1,000 years and then continue to operate. Constructs seemed to fit the bill perfectly. Of course, constructs were just one aspect of the game, and when writing those original rules, I didn’t have the time (or inclination) to delve too deeply into them.

Then came the first Frostgrave Nickstarter – a fun pre-order program run by North Star Military Figures where the more people that ordered, the more free stuff everyone got. It was a huge success, and I got so caught up in the fun that I agreed to write a free mini-supplement for it. This gave me a chance to look a little closer at constructs, and I wrote ‘Hunt for the Golem’, which is now part of the Frostgrave Folio. This includes a three-scenario campaign where the wizards hunt a specific construct through the ruins. The mini campaign also presents some specific construct upgrades that could be purchased.

Since then, constructs have continued to be a fun part of the game, but usually in a secondary role. Specific types of constructs show up here and there, such as the Collegiate Porters in The Maze of Malcor and the Ballista II in Perilous Dark. But never again have they been the focus of a major work. That is about to change!

Frostgrave: Fireheart includes a big chapter called ‘Advanced Animation’ giving wizards several new things they can do with the Animate Construct spell, including adding a host of modifications to their constructs. Hopefully, when this supplement is released into the wild, we’ll see a lot of personalized and modified constructs following their wizards into the ruins!

 

Frostgrave: Fireheart miniatures image

 

THE PROCESS

Do you know how I generally start working on a new Frostgrave supplement? I stare out my office window, thinking ‘what would be cool’. When I think of something, I write it down. If that’s a new magic item, or a soldier, or a spell, I go ahead and write out the complete rules as they occur to me in that moment. I don’t worry about balance – I just worry if it sounds fun!

That’s how I approached working on the new options for Animate Construct in Frostgrave: Fireheart. I thought – here’s this really interesting spell, Animate Construct, it just seems like it could do more. I mean sure, creating life from a bunch of spare parts is pretty cool in its own right, but what other cool stuff could it do?

The obvious choice was that it could be used to modify existing constructs. As things stand, there are only three types of constructs that wizards can easily add to their warband: small, medium, and large. Considering how varied the wizards of Frostgrave can be, it didn’t seem right that constructs were so limited. So, included in Fireheart are 40 options for modifying constructs to give them extra capabilities at a slight cost. Modifications such as smoke release, mystic reservoir, thought command channel, and even demonic portal!

Then I started questioning the very nature of constructs. I mean if you could animate anything… Such thinking led me to the idea of animate prosthetics. I mean, if a wizard lost an arm and couldn’t use magic to grow a new one – might he or she not build a new one? And if they did, and they animated it, would they stop at just a normal arm? Or would they want to add an extra, say, fighting claws, or a hidden projectile weapon, or a gem of power? Working on these new upgrades and animate prosthetics created all kinds of ideas for new and specific constructs that might have been made in the days of Ancient Felstad.

Eventually, I had to take all those scribblings, beat them into shape, and give them rules that are –more or less – balanced with everything that has gone before. Hopefully readers will worry less about the specific rules and just focus on the fun and coolness of creating weird and unique constructions!

 

Frostgrave: Fireheart is out July 21st. Pre-order your copy today.

 

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