The RogueWare Project

"Game Recklessly"

Quick Start Guide

New to FreeHolder?  Well you came to the right place.  

This page gives a brief overview of the game and links to first time manuals on the basics of FreeHolder.

You're welcome to just jump into the FreeHolder prototype and give it a go, but if you're totally new to the game or need help improving your play, you should check out the following guides:


Feeding Your Party

Main Screen - Tiles & Actions

Overworld Screen - Towns, Combat & Espionage (Partially Finished)

Villa Screen - Buildings, Processing Goods & Workshop (In Progress)

End Game (In Progress)

Main Objective

Every year the player must complete two objectives to hold onto their land:

  • The Romans require a significant wheat stipend every year.  This will increase by +100m per annum for each new tile Surveyed that can be used for Farmland. (i.e. aerable land - not Mountain or Lake)
  • In order to keep your escaped slave status secret, you worked out a deal with the Roman Census taker to accept a bribe on top of the required wheat to look the other way.  You find that he is getting greedier every year and requires a stiffer contribution for his silence as time passes.

These objectives lead to an inevitable choice, where you'll need to either break the deal by force with support from the Gauls and Belgae, or find a way to gain citizenship so you can legally prevent the extortion.  You'll still have to pay the wheat quota, but the extra money from not being extorted goes a long way!

It can take a player anywhere between 5 and 10 years of gameplay to get to this crossroad if they can survive that long!

Your current Wheat Quota and Required Bribe is due in March (Martius) and is always visible on the top right of the screen.

Character Creation

-First, name your character and choose their gender.


-Choose one of FreeHolder's seven basic Classes. You'll be starting the game with two other characters, Lydia and Gaius, who start as classless Farmhands, but will eventually level into a Class based on the types of actions you have them take in the first year of the game.  

-Your choice of Class also provides you with a starting bonus. Ex: the Rancher starts with 1 Pasture and Goat and the Artisan starts with 40m of stone.  There are currently 4 items you can choose to start the game with.  You can hover the mouse over these items for tooltip descriptions, among many things in the game 

-Lastly name your lands.

FreeHolder Basics

In each game of FreeHolder you start with 2 Farmlands, 1 Forest, and 1 Meadow.  You also start with 10 Silver Denarii.  Since the player above chose the Rancher, they also start with 1 Pasture and Goat.  Starting animals by default are pastured in your starting Meadow.

The Wheat Quota and Census Bribe goals are displayed on the top right.  Those will be due in Martius (March) in one year.  
Growing Conditions and Weather  are shown on the top left beneath the current month.  Growing Conditions are there to remind the player of winter frost, whereas the weather will let the player know if they've got clear skies or storms to contend with.  The effects of the current conditions can be found by clicking and holding either of the icons.

Every character in Freeholder starts each month (providing they're in good health) with 2 or 3 actions (denoted on the left hand side by the green boxes).  If an action costs one of these green boxes, it is referred to as a minor action.  If it costs 2 boxes it is a major action.  Note in the screenshot above, the third action is marked with 'Hu'.  Marked actions are special actions that each class gets based on their specialty action set.  So Ranchers get an extra Husbandry minor action every month, whereas the Artisan gets an extra Construction minor action every month.  Special actions cannot be spent to do any other type of action during the month.

Here's a quick overview of some of the things you can do with each type of action. This is not an exhaustive list:

Agriculture: Plow and Sow (i.e. plant) crops, water crops, harvest crops, bake bread, pickle vegetables, slash and burn
Survival: Gather lumber, chop firewood, hunting, fishing, surveying, smoke meat
Husbandry: Tend animals, handfeed animals, spin wool, tan hides
Construction: Gather ore, marble, or stone, construct buildings, craft items, build pastures, dig stone pits, smelt ore
Magic: Gather reagents, weave enchantments (Initiate only)

Frankly, for a first time player, there's plenty to get acquainted with with the four "work-type" Actions without delving into the more complex and risky Magic, but there's no reason not to give you a taste, in case it suits your fancy. For the moment, though, let's look at the most common icons you'll be dealing with on the main screen:

Watering Icon (Watered, Not Watered, Frost)

Fallow Timer

Gather Point

The first two icons are specifically related to farming, which you'll be doing a lot of. 

Watering Icon: The first green water drop indicates a field has been watered for the turn, the red means it hasn't. You'll definitely be wanting to water your crops without fail, as your harvest will take a huge hit if you fail to do so. Red = bad. Remember that. The third icon is groundfreeze, which occurs during the last two months of winter. Plants cannot be watered during this time and do not need to be, though any plants that do no resist frost will be thoroughly ravaged by it regardless. Groundfreeze also prevents plowing and sowing, though harvesting and cover crop are both still possible.

Fallow Timer: Fields without crops, i.e left "fallow," will naturally regenerate soil nutrients over time. Under normal conditions, this takes a year of uninterrupted rest. Cover cropping, usually with beans, and the Gardener skills Mulch and Soil Management can also speed and enhance this process. When the timer hits zero, the nutrients will be upgrade one level.

Gather Points: The main "currency" of non-Farmland tiles, these represent the total number of gathering-type actions that can be taken in that tile each month. Generally, this is limited to 2 points per tile, each point corresponding to a minor action such as gather stone, hunting, or gather lumber. Certain skills will prevent gather points from being consumed, like Pathfinder, for specific actions such as hunting, and other skills like the Initiate enchantment Dreamscape can add an extra gather point to a tile for a limited number of months. Managing these points is crucial for high-value tiles such as forests, since you are often faced with a choice of giving up your best hunting prospects in order to chop wood for the oncoming winter. 


-Surviving winter will require a substantial amount of firewood, so be sure to gather plenty of lumber throughout the year and chop firewood to make the most efficient use of precious resources.  Fail to keep your party warm and they will very likely fall ill, and frostbite will penalize the number of actions they get next month.

-Mind the weather. Events like blizzards can prevent characters from finishing actions, and Storms can ravage fields.

-Once frost hits your fields, you won't be able to plant until spring.  If you want a good boost for the following year, get lots of winter wheat planted by December. 

-Try to harvest crops or gather resources that are demand in the Roman-held town and sell them to make additional money, and do so in other towns if you clear the road or bribe your way through.

-If you have no idea what to do, go to the Villa and try crafting a Straw Overcoat, or Heavy Furs if you have some hides. Crafting useful items is a great way to spend spare actions, and will likely allow the character to level into an Artisan, who specializes in such things.

-Crafting most beginning tools and weapons will require stone edges, wooden staves, or both. Each can be crafted from their respective resource in the Workshop.

-Many foodstuffs in the game, besides wheat, beans, and goods preserved by various methods, are perishable and a certain amount of it will rot away each month. Fresh meat and fish spoil very quickly, so make sure to eat these first and eat as much as you can. Good hunts allow you to overfeed your characters, and what you can't eat will spoil. Also consider selling excess meat in markets.

-Crops are ready to harvest when their harvest timer reaches its maximum (i.e. 4/4). However, if you let the crops grow an additional month, they will receive a small bonus to their harvest amount. This is known as overgrowing, and should almost always be done with Rich plots to compound wtih the soil nutrient bonus.