Wednesday will be a day of nervous excitement for me, for it is the day that Frostgrave: Sellsword goes up for sale. This mini-supplement for Frostgrave includes rules for hiring Captains, a new type of customizable soldier who gains experience and can learn ‘Tricks of the Trade’. It also contains three new scenarios.
I’m actually more nervous about this release than I was Thaw of the Lich Lord, despite the fact that it is only about a fifth of the length. That is because, unlike Lich Lord, Sellsword presents a more fundamental change to the game. While all of the rules for Captains are optional and wizards don’t necessarily have to hire them, I think it very likely that most players will want to use them. I think they will become ‘part of the game’ in a way that no individual item in Lich Lord is likely to do.
Okay – here is the reason I’m most worried – Captain’s don’t have skills! Not as such anyway.
In most of the discussions I’ve seen about captains in Frostgrave, both before and after Sellsword was announced, people have wondered what skills they would have. I suppose skills have become such an ingrained part of skirmish wargaming that they are almost assumed, but I wanted to try something different. I wanted to try something that would bring a bit more tactical nuance and a bit more decision-making to the game. So, I came up with ‘Tricks of the Trade’. Unlike the skills found in most wargames that are ‘always on’, Tricks of the Trade can only be used once each game. In general they can be used to modify one die roll. Thus a player really has to think about when to use it, and, while they certainly give a captain an advantage, they won’t be applicable all of the time.
This does, unfortunately, add another little level of complexity and record keeping to the game. I struggled with the decision, because I know the game’s inherent simplicity is one of its strong attractions. In the end, I thought it was worth it. Ever since I finished the first version of Frostgrave, I thought there was something missing, that one extra ‘named’ character that represented the poor, non-magical soldiers.
Well, I guess I’ll know if the players agree with me on Wednesday!