I like Frostgrave. There are some rough spots but as a fun skirmish game with a fantasy twist, it gets a lot more right than wrong. One really hangup for me though was the damage system. I just really hated the idea of recording actual health points.
For Wizards and Apprentices, I totally get it. You need that gradation of health point pools. There is so much that revolves around it and the entire system of casting spells requires you ticking off those individual points. If you try to break it up using tokens or markers, it just takes too much away from the game.
But for soldiers and followers, well they are meant to be cannon fodder. I just didn’t get the idea why some other method couldn’t be used to record damage. I feel I’m just too used to other systems that have easier record keeping. So I decided to work on something similar for Frostgrave.
I’ll freely admit this makes the game especially deadly. Most grunt soldiers are usually going to be dropping in 2 hits. Also, you’ll be losing some granularity with damage due to using wound tokens instead of health points. Folks might want to consider just using it for creatures instead, but I find the easier tracking of health totals worth it.
So here are a few things I adopted for my games. Spellcasters (Wizard and Apprentice) suffer damage and gain healing unchanged from the rule book. But for followers and creatures, they no longer have point totals for health. Instead damage is tracked by wounds and possibly marred conditions. The pool of wounds that soldiers and creatures have is their health total divided by 4, rounded down. So a Thug with 10 health points would have a wound pool total of 2 (10/4 and rounding down).
You determine damage normally from combat or casting spells. But for for every 4 points a model suffers in damage, they take a wound removing it from their health pool. For every fraction of 4 (i.e. 1-3 points damage), they receive a marred condition. If a model has 2 marred conditions, those conditions are removed and a wound is immediately taken from their pool of wounds instead. Note that healing works the same for spellcasters, but for soldiers they only restore one wound of damage.
As an example, a thug is hit for 5 damage. One wound would be removed from its pool and it gains a marred condition. On the next turn, the thug is hit again for only 2 damage, giving it another marred condition. As this is the 2nd marred condition it has, it immediately takes a wound, removing the marred condition markers. Further, since the thug has a health pool of 2 wounds, its health has dropped to zero and is removed from the game.
I also introduced a handful of characteristics for soldiers and some creatures. The idea was to cover the bases with creatures that have less than 4 points of health and also add some variety with soldiers that straddle the line of between health totals in increments of four. A more detailed list of these rules can be found in the downloads section. I think they work pretty well and allow for a little easier bookkeeping during the game, but still captures the flavor of Frostgrave combat.