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Warlord Ascendant

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Warlord Ascendant is a wargame focused on small-scale battles, set in the world of Sacrifice: An Incense & Iron RPG. In it, you take control of a small warband; this can be anything, from a group of mercenary soldiers, to a horde of desperate peasants, or even an inquisitor with their retinue. Your goal is to grow more powerful and extend your influence over as much of No Man’s Land as possible, potentially turning you into one of the big names in the region.

Warlord Ascendant utilizes the Sacrifice: An Incense & Iron RPG rules as its basis, so if you’re familiar with that game, you’ll be playing Warlord Ascendant in no time. This means that all checks utilize a D20 for their resolution, and the character stats and details that most know from OSR games are present here. As a skirmish game, the focus on Warlord Ascendant is combat and tactics, and as such you will find that there is more detail here than in most RPGs, while remaining as fast and deadly as ever.

At the heart of your warband lies your commander. Regardless of who they are (an inquisitor, mercenary commander, or even a demonic warrior), this is the indisputable leader of your warband, and as such they bring to the table not only their combat expertise, but also their tactical know-how. This is represented in the game by Command Actions: a series of orders unique to each warband that can alter the course of any battle. This is of course pointless if you’ve already spent all your orders for the round and there’s nobody left to follow your leader’s commands…

With 6 different warbands to choose from (and more to come!), and each one offering their unique approach to battle, your options to create the exact type of warband you desire are almost limitless. Each character in your warband will grow and become stronger (unless they start accruing lingering wounds…), gaining access to new skills and perks as they level up, aside from better gear, either purchased or looted in the battlefield.

Warlord Ascendant Features:

  • An OSR D20-based ruleset compatible with similar systems. Warlord Ascendant works as a standalone game, or as a skirmish-focused expansion for Sacrifice: An Incense & Iron RPG. It even includes conversion guidelines to bring your Sacrifice characters into the bloody world of Warlord Ascendant!

  • A feudal, human-centric ruthless world with no magic but full of demonic evil and corrupted institutions.

  • A detailed warband creation system: recruit your warriors, pick their starting gear, Traits and Combat Maneuvers, and make sure your Commander has the right Command Actions for the upcoming battle!

  • Interesting and rich tactical combat, with critical hit and fumble tables, morale rules, exciting Combat Maneuvers, and more.

  • Meaningful tactics: while in battle, each warband can only activate 3 characters during their turn. But keep an eye open for the battlefield’s Strategic Point, because those who manage to capture it and hold it will gain the ability to issue extra orders… 

  • Small-scale skirmishes fully playable with any minis you want, on any terrain you prefer, but written to be played on standard square grid maps with tokens or standees.

  • Conquest system: Why would you fight, if there’s nothing at stake? Explore a randomly generated hexmap, expanding your influence and capturing locations that will grant your warband benefits and access to unique perks, gear and opportunities. But be ready to defend your territory when necessary, as others will be vying for the same limited resources!

  • Alternate between the Battle Phase, where you’ll face your enemies in combat, and the Management Phase, where you level up your warriors, equip them, treat their wounds, recruit new warriors, send explorers to find new interesting areas to expand to, and much more!

  • Play it solo, co-op, or player versus player! Warlord Ascendant comes with all the rules you need to automatize the enemy’s decisions in combat, or out of it!

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Reviews (2)
Discussions (5)
Customer avatar
Leo W April 25, 2024 5:15 am UTC
Very intriguing ruleset, especially for solo gamers!
Going through the rules, I have two questions:

About NPC and enemy actions during combat (p.66):
I don't understand the question for the AI player "Are there any objectives not under our control?" What are these "objectives" (it's the only place the term appears in the whole book)? If I understand the rules correctly, it seems that defeating all enemies is the only objective in the Battle Phase, and there are no other scenario types.

About the bestiary:
Many of the enemies have both melee and ranged weapons while the rules define their roles as "melee". Should they be "mixed" instead?
Customer avatar
Alejo T April 25, 2024 8:21 am UTC
It refers to the Strategic Point all maps have, as well as a way to make sure I don't need to change the enemy AI for when I decide to write scenarios with clear objectives. And yes, feel free to use the "mixed" AI for enemies equipped with both melee and ranged weapons.
Customer avatar
Samuli H March 29, 2024 6:50 pm UTC
I'm trying to understand the Feats (pg. 40--42). When can I take a feat? Do they have a cost? For instance, do I have to pay some feat points for the first tier feat Accurate? Then, what does it mean to unlock a Feat tier? By unlocking a tier do I also acquire a feat from that tier? If yes, then which one --- or can I choose? Or if not, then what is the cost to acquire a feat from that unlocked tier?
Customer avatar
Alejo T March 29, 2024 7:01 pm UTC
If you see the Advancement Table on page 41, you'll see that characters earn a Feat Point once per level. How you spend them is up to you, just keep in mind that a Tier 2 Feat costs 2 Feat Points, Tier 3 costs 3 Points, etc. Per the rulebook: "The Feat tables that follow consist of five tiers. To
unlock the second Feat Tier, you need to spend two Feat points, and to unlock the third Tier you need to spend three Feat points, and so on. These points can be allocated in any of the unlocked Feat Tiers."
Customer avatar
Samuli H March 29, 2024 7:31 pm UTC
Ok, now it's getting clear: a tier x feat costs x feat points. Thanks for the super quick reply! And huge thanks for the Warlord Ascendant itself too. I'm just itching to get my first warband going 8)
Customer avatar
Andrew W January 22, 2024 3:41 pm UTC
How do you gain control of a hex on the map? I assume you take control if you win a battle after declaring it, but it never actually says so in the rules, so I'm not 100%.
What about hexes that you discover but then don't have a battle for? Like the 1–10 events… Do you control the hex after the event?
If not, what happens if you get surrounded by explored hexes that you don't control and don't have buildings to take over? You wouldn't be able to explore anymore.
Customer avatar
Alejo T January 22, 2024 5:03 pm UTC
Yes, if you win a battle that takes place in a hex, you win control over it. As for hexes that don't have any location of interest for your warband, you can either ignore it or take over it, it doesn't really have any mechanical consequences (at least not for now). Just make sure to remember that if one of your hexes is challenged by an enemy force, it will always be one with a point of interest. Either way, you're always able to pass through those "empty" hexes, so you can send your men further to explore.
Customer avatar
Chris C December 27, 2023 4:29 pm UTC
I like so much this game!

What I didn’t get is how much a table size big is?
I’m playing on 11x7 square grid found in the zip file, but the letter one is 10x8.
Is the size of the table crucial to the game or it can be small/large as player want?

Also, there is a minor typo on pages 78 to 83 on Bestial rule, as it always refers to Drakes.
Customer avatar
Alejo T December 27, 2023 4:55 pm UTC
The game was playtested on anything from a single letter grid, to up to 4 of them all together. The large Lokke battlemaps are fantastic, the A3 ones. Ultimately, the size of the battlefield dictates how fast the game will be: a smaller size will mean less ranged attacks, more melee, and less time spent outside of combat.

I'm aware of those typos, thank you! They've been fixed on the PDF.
Customer avatar
Chris C December 31, 2023 8:37 am UTC
This time I have a question about Improving Characters - Xp and Feats tier (page 40-41):

When I have enough XP, am I supposed to “spend” these XP to obtain the new Level and Benefits as well, or these are automatically granted?
e.g.: my character has 4Xp, if I want it to be Level 2 with 1 feat point, does it “purchase” the level, then return to 0Xp? Or does it simply considered Level 2 mantaining its 4Xp?
Thank you very much!
I’m really enjoying this game!
Customer avatar
Alejo T December 31, 2023 9:05 am UTC
It's total accrued, so it's not spent, it works as a threshold of sorts, like it would in D&D, for example. At 4 XP you reach Level 2, once you earn 6 XP more (for a total of 10) you reach level 3, etc.

I'm glad you're enjoying the game, thanks for playing!
Customer avatar
Sean S November 06, 2023 5:47 pm UTC
Hmmm.... no .pdf available? Seems like a technical error.
Customer avatar
Alejo T November 06, 2023 10:03 pm UTC
It was, it's fixed now. Thanks!
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File Last Updated:
February 16, 2024
This title was added to our catalog on November 06, 2023.
Blackoath Entertainment
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