Looking Back at The Red King

Now that we’ve finished playing through the campaign in Frostgrave’s The Red King, I figured I’d share my thoughts on it. While we’ve played two other Frostgrave campaigns, this was the first one we’ve run using one of the expansion’s narrative campaigns rather than just a selection of stand-alone scenarios. We had a lot of fun with it and having the ongoing narrative was a nice shift from our previous campaigns.

Initially we started out rather antagonistic trying to fight both the monsters and each other’s warband, but after dealing with enough barbarians and demons in the second and fourth scenarios, our strategy shifted towards cautious cooperation for the rest of the campaign. We were rarely attacking each other and instead just competing in a race to be the one able to safely claim treasures from monsters.

The overall structure of the campaign was nicely done. Each scenario had rules to provide a different experience than the others, and throughout the course of the campaign, the shift from barbarians to demons as the primary rank-and-file enemy kept battling them from becoming too monotonous. In addition, the solo scenarios were a fun departure from the structure of the normal battles.

The ragged warband rules for the campaign’s second half were a good way to add to the narrative sense of the city being under siege. We were more worried about losing warband members, but when we did, we at least managed to get a few fun and notable random recruits. The place the rules ended up hurting the most was when my apprentice died in the tenth scenario and I was down to just a single spellcaster for the last two games in the campaign.

My favorite scenario was the final one – Ringworld of the Red King. It was a fitting climax for the campaign where we felt challenged throughout the whole battle, but in the end managed to secure victory by destroying the Key-Masters. Being able to move between the two sides of the ring was a great special mechanic that really made us think differently about how we were dealing with the monsters.

My least favorite scenario of the campaign was Ethereal Tethers. While we were playing it, it just felt impossibly difficult. Trying to destroy the pylons felt like it required such high rolls, and we kept ending up with fresh demons appearing near them. It might have just been really bad luck on our side, but it ended up just making us feel like there was no chance to actually succeed. That scenario also was the only one where we had major questions about setup since it didn’t seem clear exactly where the pylons should be in relation to the strings marking the planar boundaries.

If you’re interested in running the campaign, I’d recommend extending it with some additional scenarios. A handful of games before starting The Red King would give your wizards a chance to gain a few levels and be better prepared to deal with the difficult scenarios. Then I think it would be fun to add a scenario or two using the reality cracks rules between each act of the campaign. We did not use the black market optional rules for this campaign, and I definitely think that was the right choice. The ragged warband rules already block out shopping for the second part, so it was good to have an open marketplace during the first part to balance that out.

Campaign Battle Reports

By Scott Boehmer

A game enthusiast and software engineer.

One reply on “Looking Back at The Red King”

[…] Looking Back at the Red King @ Scott’s Game Room – Having not played any Frostgrave since second edition dropped (and having only played first edition a long time ago, around the time of the initial release) I’m not really up to speed on the expansions, like Red King. This is a nice rundown of the author’s experience of playing through that campaign. The most interesting part is the change of focus that the players experiences early in the campaign, switching from all-out conflict to a more semi-cooperative experience, based on the threats presented by the scenarios. […]

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