fantasy objective marker

Objective markers for Fantasy games

In many scenarios players are required to claim, investigate, or interact otherwise with a specific object or part of the board. Sometimes these game elements are associated with a certain element of randomness. If the latter is the case, we have to distinguish one from another.
Let’s say, your scenario requires the heroes to be teleported from one magical platform to another. You roll a die and … behold! … there is your target platform. (You may find an example in our Frostgrave-The Keep – Scenario.) In those cases we traditionnaly, rely on numbered paper chitties, fancy acrilyc token, or your traditional cardboard marker as objective marker.

Despite their nostalgia, said marker don’t really improve the overall look of my gaming board. Consequently, I wanted to find a way to represent numbered objective marker in a more “ingame” way.

Numbers without numbers

The most simple method coming to my mind, was to represent the number by a certain number of objects or image elements. I wanted to craft several sets of marker “numbered” from 1 to 6. For no apparent reason, I thought this was a good range. Indeed, I cannot recall ever using more objective marker or points of interest. Should such a situation occur, I still can use the odd chitty or cardboard whatnot to complete the range.

series of objects

Below you may find the easiest way to indicate numbers: number of items = token number.
I chose skulls, books, weaponry and other items, and crafted two sets. I used regular round 25mm miniatures bases. Initially I wanted to use thin and flat bases, but I feared the marker would not be very visible due to the small scale of the items.

Creating the skull-themed marker was a no brainer. But since I had a limited number of skulls at hand, I only managed to craft four marker. Admittedly, token 3 and 4 are less distinguishable than I’d like.

Since piles of random objects might overburden the base, I had to add some symbolism to them.

  1. a pile of books
  2. a pile of books and a pot
  3. a sword, a helmet, and a shield (the three yellow lines indicate a 3 too)
  4. a backpack, a parchment, swords and a rope
  5. a shield ; the five white dovetails (correct term?) act as number
  6. a shield with a white chevron (letter V) and a sword –> VI

When I was done glueing the shields, I thought imagined heraldry would also make for fine “numbers”.

Incidently, the above objective marker make also very fine treasure token for a certain frosty game, that I like to play.

iconographic elements

This time, I decided to use two dimensional representations. I continued an old project and crafted a set of six samesized stone platforms. I wanted them to look like magical platforms, runic stones or somethng similar. As platforms, I used leftover bits of styrofoam and then drew elements that represented the numbers on them. It took me some thinking, but I managed to find appropriate (hopefully) symbols.

(a) Token 3 and 4 were prototypes and the stone has a slightly off colour, since I did not get the mix right for the rest of the set.
(b) OSL is hard … it was an experiment -_-‘ … lessons were learned

fantasy objective marker frostgrave runic stone
runic stones/magic platforms
  1. stargate symbol for earth
  2. two intertwined circles; one orange, one blue
  3. three random interconnected symbols
  4. four shapes :square, triangle, cross and circle in different colours
  5. alchemical symbols : earth, water, air, fire and spirit. (green and yellow are not distinguishable on the picture)
  6. symbol for Saturn, 6th planet of our solar system

the pièce de résistance

Next to the runic platforms, the below example is my favorite.

I decided to create my own pantheon of dice gods. And everybody knows, deities need to be represented as statues or idols.
I took a set of old polyhedral dice, glued them on pillars and similar objects, before painting them in stone colours. The number shown on top would represent the marker number. (With the exception of the D20, which shows a -20- and counts as the first marker… I won’t tempt fate and fix a D20 permanently on a -1-.)
This example technically uses numbers, but in a more creative way.

objective marker fantasy frostgrave pillars
Marvel the glory of the the dice gods!

final thoughts

In the end, it does not matter, what method you use, as long as you stick to a certain convention and (obviously) are in agreement with your opponent. If you only need one set, you may combine different ways to indicate the number.

Having several sets of objective marker, ranging from 1 to X allows the player to combine them in different ways and to create an interesting board.

I crafted my sets mostly for fantasy games (which is my prefered niche after all), but similar principles may be applied for modern or sci-fi settings :

  • computerscreens or data pads with numbers on it
  • series of cans, boxes or other household goods …
  • one grenade, two rockets, three ammunition crates, etc…
fantasy objective marker setup dungeon
a example setup 🙂

A project like this is a welcome distraction from larger projects or tedious mass army painting. Furthermore it allows you to experiment. I grasped to opportunity to try some OSL and to test those new Army Painter Fanatic Paints everybody keeps talking about.

happy crafting

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