In our sixth edition of Designer Diaries, co-designer Nicholas Yu informs us about the factionless mercenaries-for-hire in Dungeons & Dragons: Onslaught. 

Let’s talk sellswords! Alex pointed out that “sellsword” is a fancier and more flavorful way of saying “mercenary,” so we went with that instead for the faction name. The sellswords of Onslaught are characters who are unassociated with the other factions who can be recruited to fight for any team. In gameplay terms, you can have one sellsword character on your team (following other normal team composition rules for roles and team size).

Even though the sellswords aren’t an organization themselves, we still wanted them to have a bit of a faction identity. You’ll notice they tend to be a little more specialized within their designated roles with decent to excellent armor class but slightly lower hit points. That helps the sellswords all feel thematically consistent. We hope that people will use the sellswords to try out new and interesting combinations of teams, but by limiting it to one sellsword per team, you won’t be able to completely change your faction’s identity and composition.

Our first sellsword is Hangaku, the Kensei Monk. Do you like mobility and melee damage? She delivers! She has some ranged options to offer a little versatility, but her key feature is always ensuring that her damage goes through by ignoring damage reduction and her attacks have high to-hit modifiers. Rage? Blade Ward? Pft. Hangaku scoffs at your paltry defenses.

Next up is Kithra Coldforge, the Oathbreaker Paladin who specializes in throwing hammers. She is the slowest character in the game with a base speed of 3, but she has some of the best HP and AC for a ranged damage unit, and her Inflict Wounds can punish opponents who close in. Her effectiveness gets reduced when she’s bloodied, so opponents will have to make a choice on whether they want to try to focus down this durable ranged combatant or not.

Molly Farhill, the Knowledge Cleric, venerates the God of Wisdom, Oghma. We wanted to theme her abilities to showcase her versatility and foresight. I love this character so much because she touches on some new design space. Dispel Magic! Get rid of bad conditions affecting you or good conditions affecting your enemies. So useful! Her self-buff can either increase damage or AC, so you can adapt to the game state. But the real spice in the Molly Farhill pumpkin spice latte is her ability to exchange enemy initiative cards. Just the threat of that ability is enough to play serious head games with your opponent.

While Molly might be my favorite from a game design perspective, Dralm the Rune Knight Fighter is unequivocally my favorite sculpt in the entire Onslaught line. The existing Tortle miniatures out there are terrific, but many look like they’re busy teaching inner peace to overweight pandas. We wanted a rough and tumble Tortle bruiser who looks like he’s ready to throw down with slightly less than a fistful of adolescent ninja, and that’s exactly what the sculpting team delivered. Dralm has some tricky Rune effects, but his bread and butter is getting free hits off adjacent enemies who are Slowed and Rooted. One of his cooldowns can Root and he can Slow on a crit, but you’ll really want to pair him with teammates who can help inflict those conditions for him.

We’re excited to see how the sellswords shake up the existing landscape and see which mercenaries players choose to employ with each Faction!