“Ulterior Motives” : Red Herrings and secret objectives in Frostgrave

Original cover art for Ulterior Motives
by Osprey (2017)

Back in the olden days (i.e. in 2017) Joseph A. McCullough, the creator of Frostgrave, published “Ulterior Motives“, an expansion for Frostgrave.
By drawing a card (from a set of 40), players would be given an additional objective (or motive) for the game. If the player completes his (secret or known) task, he will earn a reward… otherwise, where would be the point? The objectives range from controlling terrain features, to slaying a specific creature or surviving some freak weather event.
The Ulterior Motives expansion relies on a series of recurring objects, that either serve as secret objectives or as Red Herrings in your Frostgrave games. The Red Herrings, false hints, are meant to distract the opponent and disguise the true objective of the wizard.

Frostgrave, the pandemic and solo games

I bought “Ulterior Movies” rather soon after release, but we never got to use it, since we focused mostly on playing the games in the rulebook or the scenario supplements.
Then came the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown. Like many wargamers, this meant an unwanted break in my wargaming activities and an unexpected venture into solo wargaming.

As the avid reader of this blog might have noticed, I am rather fond of Frostgrave and was decided not to let my expeditions into the frozen city to be hindered by some pesky disease. Even though Perilous Dark was published back in 2019, I mostly came up with my own ideas for small oneshot scenarios. Loot this, hunt that, escape from there… and so on…
At one point, I remembered my Ulterior Motives box. In order to add some randomness to my homebrew solo games, I decided to draw a Ulterior Motive Card and use it to add a secondary objective. Sometimes I had to tweak the rules a bit, but that was a minor detail 🙂

DIY Red Herrings and objective marker

For a while, I used appropriate elements from my collection. I recently decided to make a dedicated set of terrain pieces and token, that I would exclusively use as Red Herrings and secret objectives in Frostgrave.

The Pit:

The rules describe the pit 2″ in diameter and 3″ deep.
The problem I faced was to indicate depth. During the same period, I played Skyrim and at one point came along a low-walled well, covered with a metal grid. (If I recall correctly, it was the entrance to the thieves guild.) The inside was pitch black. The plan was very simple. I would indicate the depth by using mat black paint and playing with the shadows. I decided to make the opening a bit smaller (you see the rectangular opening in the planks) and hide the inner wall from sight.

The Sarcophagus:

I made the Sarcophagus out of some leftover styrodur bits and cardboard. The relief as made by pressing some beads into the styrodur. I made the sarcophagus stand out from my other graves and ruins by adding the vase and bowl (made of beads) and using a different colour.

The Zombie:

The Zombie comes from the Dungeon Saga set by Mantic.

The Runic Stone:

This is yet another relic from my bits-box. Many moons ago, I bought the GW-High Elf dragon set and it came with some terrain features in order to embellish the very large base of the dragon. Even though I lost the dragon (don’t ask me how I managed that) I still had this little pylon. So I coloured the pylon up, stuck it to a base…voila.

The Statue:

The Statue is an early 2000 Confrontation miniature. I found its outlandish look rather catching. I made the pillar of wooden buttons and cylinders.

The Gateway:

Now this is very experimental… the gateway is described as rather mundane. For some reason I imagined it as a bit more “magical”. I cut some bits of styrodur into odd angles and shapes. I painted it all black and only highlighted the edges red. The gooey red translucent “thing” is made of hot glue covered in “blood for the blood god”. I might replace this one eventually, since I am not fully satisfied.

The Trapdoor:

Lo and behold, the most generic build of them all. Cardboard, glue and colour. Done!

The Arcance disc:

Yet another element, that caused me some headache. This is the third attempt. Initially I wanted to have a disc covered in runes and paint them with OLS-effects. Fun fact: I really fail at OLS…
So I took another route. I used different colours for the “flagstones” and a glass bead in the centre, aiming to make the disk look like an eye. Maybe the sacred spot in an eldritch temple.

Final thoughts

Aside from the gaming aspect of this Frostgrave expansion, I found Ulterior Motives very encouraging to begin some small scale projects that actually have a purpose: the Red Herrings. Each project took no more than an evenings time to be finished.