Lt. Frederick Pike, of The Royal Barchester Regt. at the ready
One of the things I like about the Sharp Practice rules is the element of role-playing involved. Each Big Man has a number of dice-generated characteristics which lead to him developing a personality. This in turn leads to the gamer investing a deal of interest in him, which I think leads to more realistic handling of units under the Big Man's command.
I don't have the Terrible Sharp Sword supplement to Sharp Practice - yet - but the blurb promises the means to develop a unit from the ground up.
Terrible Sharp Sword includes a complete campaign system, allowing you to recruit your force, appoint officers and NCOs, equip and train them then take to the field. A range of scenarios and tabletop maps allows you to fight your war, to develop your men's skills and your leaders' abilities, to take your force from being greenhorns through to veterans and beyond.
All good stuff.
My initial games will be between a weak platoon of British infantry supported by a mountain gun, with a small RAMC contingent, against a tribe of natives, mostly spear-armed, supported by a small mercenary force armed with outdated firearms.
To lead them, here's the first cast of Big Men I generated.
British. The Royal Barchester Regt.
Lt. Frederick Pike. A fine fellah, he's an average stamp in terms of health. Unfortunately in terms of looks he has a face like a dog's arse with a hat on. Pike has never done anyone any harm, and comes from the humblest of beginnings - the workhouse. In spite of this disadvantage, he's an accomplished swordsman and shot, and an occasional horseman. A man of letters, he has a talent with figure-work and coding.
Sgt. Albert Harrington. A young buck, strapping fellow and a pleasant lookin' chap. A popular cove with an honorable disposition, he's a gentleman ranker from serious money, who has risen in the ranks through sheer ability. An accomplished swordsman, shot, and occasional horseman.
Natives. The Ukrazi Tribe & Allies.
Chief Bubbalazi. A jolly good chap in terms of influence, he's a sickly cove, with plain looks, and is universally detested. A nouveau-riche type, lion-hearted, and a good hand with a spear, honorable - up to a point - envious of success in others.
Sub-Chief N'Kwana. A cock o' the walk, average stamp, and a handsome, lecherous devil with an eye for the ladies. To the manor born, he has serious wealth. A fair spearman, he's also a cad and a lush. He has his eye on Bubbalazi's throne - and Bubbalazi suspects as much.
Sonny N'Sher. Mercenary. A young buck and strapping fellow, N'Sher has a face like a warthog. In spite of this, he's universally loved and his men will do anything for him. To the manor born, his family is in serious decline, so N'Sher lives in abject poverty. His life experiences haven't embittered him however. He's chivalrous, and an accomplished shot. A countryman, his expertise in reading sign is much admired.
So, a good cast of Big Men, with interesting characteristics, all randomly generated through dice rolls. On balance, the native leaders have a greater level of command influence than the British platoon's. How this will serve them against modern weaponry remains to be seen. I aim to play out an encounter between the two forces in the next week or so.