Scratchbuilt Frostgrave Terrain: 4 Door Crypt

After a long time away from the tabletop, I’ve been lured back into gaming by Frostgrave. The setting (a recently thawed, 1000 year frozen city) and the small squad size (and cheap figures) along with quick game mechanics and simple progression had me hooked right from when I first heard about it.

To play Frostgrave you need a lot of terrain. It’s played on a 3 foot or 4 foot square board and works best on multiple levels. Oddly enough for a guy who makes terrain for other people I don’t have *any* terrain of my own so it was out with the craft knife and get building.



I want to make a bunch of themed pieces so my board feels coherent. The game manual also has a bunch of scenarios in the back, and one of them calls for a 4 sided crypt that a random monsters emerge from throughout the game.

I quick rummage through the stash and I pretty much had everything I needed to get started.

The Build

I’d already made a start on some 1 foot square road / street tiles and one of them is a crossroads. I planned the build to sit in the center of the crossroads with a door facing each of the cardinal directions. As it turns out it looks equally find set at 45°.

I measured up the available space (about 8 inches square). Decided on a central chamber and 4 small wings. Starting with central chamber/tower (about 4 inches square) I made 2 lots of identical sides (1 side has extra space to attach the walls) from 10mm thick extruded polystyrene foam I salvaged from a skip (This has the added bonus of being pre battered and textured 😉 ).

Everything is dry fitted and held with push pins at this stage so I can disassemble and texture the pieces individually once I’m happy with the fit.

I extended the sides to form alcoves and attached the front gables with some 6mm foam sheet. All the arches were cut using a card template to make sure they’re all the same size.

I cut some buttresses and attached them. Can’t have a gothic structure without buttresses!

That was pretty much all I needed for the structure so I pulled it to pieces and started to add brickwork. I precut each brick with a sharp no.10 blade and widen each cut with a pencil.

I didn’t want to have brickwork on every face to give the piece some contrast (and to save time, this is a prototype for making a lot of similar buildings) so I bricked the corners and just the front gables.

An hour later I had all the pieces prepped for assembly along with some large roof support beams made from balsa and textured with by dragging a razor saw across them.

I textured up the flat walls by pressing crumpled up aluminum foil into the faces randomly. One last dry fit…

.. and then the whole thing was glued together with Titebond.

The base followed a similar processes. Rough stonework outline, textured with tinfoil.

And a few cracked tiles.

I left the core to dry overnight because you don’t want it falling to bits in your hands. The next day I made a start on the roofs. I wanted the piece to be fairly dark so I originally envisaged a dark slate roof. In the end I went for a weathered wood look, but the build process was the same:

I assembled the balsa strips with superglue and then trimmed them to size against the model.

Much pinning later…

And I could make a start on the main roof. I made a paper template to get the size and angles of of everything:

I originally planned to have a tiled roof, so I used the template to make a stiff card base

And marked the direction the tiles would lay (it’s easy to get disorientated when fixing the tiles on!)

I cut out the tiles from sheets of embossed plastruct, glued them to the cardboard a gave it a test fit.

Didn’t look right to me. So I threw it all away and tried again using the same style I used on the smaller roofs…

I was much happier with that.

I tidied up the roof edges with small lolly sticks attached with superglue.

To stop rainwater leaking in at the edges. Real roofsmiths fill the gaps with lead strips. I had *ahem* a few gaps so used tin foil to achieve the same result. It’s a subtle detail but every little helps.

With that. I stuck the main roof on with titebond and left the whole thing to dry overnight again ready for painting.

The Paint

I started with a black undercoat of UMP primer shot through my new UMP airbrush! I cleaned it with UMP airbrush cleaner too! I’m turning into a UMP fanboy 😉

I wanted to find a simple / quick method of painting as there’s a lot of terrain to build. I picked out the flat stonework with Tamiya grey with my airbrush. I mottled the paint to give it some texture.

I then sprayed the brickwork with tamiya brown. I wasn’t super worried about overspray as I knew I would be weathering later but I still tried to stay inside the lines as much as possible.

Next the whole piece was given a heavy light grey drybrush.

Including the roof.

I let this dry and then applied green and brown acrylic washes trying to keep them mostly vertical and random but keep in mind green mould tends to grow up, brown deposits tend to flow down.

It’s easy to go overboard here. Remember to leave mostly light stone and stick to the edges and cracks.

I didn’t like the black roofs, so I decided to make them wood. I washed the roofs in a dark brown and left them to dry. I kept my wash brush strokes vertical to promote streaking.

This is what it looked like once it’d dried.

Once I was happy with the stonework, I started work on the foliage.

To my mind, Frostgrave being set in a massive thaw would be the perfect environment for mosses and the like to take hold.

I dabbed pva onto the stone in places where lichens would grow. They tend to cluster around cracks and the edges of things. I flocked it using a matt green flock. It looks a bit neon here but I’ll tone that down later.

I raided my static clump stash for something suitably moss like and stuck them on. Organisms tend to keep themselves to themselves so as to not compete so I spaced them away from the lichens. They are less inclined to grown on vertical spaces too so I concentrated them around the roofs.

I superglued a few stands of climbing plants to the walls to give a bit of variety and colour.

Time to tone down that lichen! I mixed up a dilute light brown wash and added a drop of dish soap as a flow improver. I dabbed it over the lichen centers allowing it to seep out to the edges. I left a few raw green areas for interest.

James May seemed very interested in my progress…

I left the washes to dry overnight and in the morning I pulled out a few pigment powders to finish off with.

In the end, I only used a dark brown. It’s easy to get carried away with pigments – less is definitely more here.

I used the pigments to streak the roof and dirty the walls and was done.

On a rare bright winters day in January, I took it outside for some photos.

The Result

“Hang on a minute! It’s not very wintery is it!?” I can hear you thinking. I’ll be snowing all the pieces at the same time to get a even look.

If you can’t get enough of Frostgrave, check out my Ruined Bridge.


I was very pleasantly surprised to get a very nice mention for this build in the April Beast’s Of War Community Spotlight 🙂





In the WIld

It’s absolutely amazing when people take something you’ve built and do their own thing with it. Reddit user Alephus’ take on my 4 door crypt is made from cardboard and achieves a look all of its own. Great stuff!

More pics over on Imgur.


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