So one of my pet peeves in Stonehearth is the randomized stats when forming your party. Another is that you have to wait for people to put down or stockpile the tools you brought before you can promote them. A third is how limited your item choices when you start out actually are (not being able to purchase multiples of the same item). In general, how limited the departure flow is. I love the “Band of adventurers from…” part of it, but I hate the second part.
And lightning has just struck my brain: I know a good way this could be fixed. I’m more literate than I am artistic, though, so no pictures. Sorry.
Firstly, you have an amount of gold that’s more than the current value, so you can customize your people a bit more with it. This should be in the order of about 250 gold, allowing you to recruit a few exceptional people, or bring some resources, or just generally customize your embark a little more than just bringing a trapper.
In this reusable part of the flow, you select the stats you want for your hearthling: either Balanced, or selecting a stat on the stat hex (as displayed on the hearthling list: this guy). If you choose Balanced, they’ll get stats equally split, and if you choose a stat, it will be allocated a higher value, with the stat clockwise from it getting a middle value and the final getting the lowest. You might also have a gold button to pay a little extra to get a higher stat value (+1 to all three stats for 50 gold) representing searching for an exceptional recruit.
The stat values would be either 3/3/3 for Balanced, or 5/3/1 for selecting a stat. Bump these to 4/4/4 or 6/4/2 for exceptional individuals. Remember, these hearthlings represent capable individuals looking to start a new life, not regular average joes from home - those are your immigrants, who will be every bit as random as before.
After you’ve chosen their stats, you can then choose a profession from the tools available to you - so for the Ascendancy, you have a free Carpenter’s Saw, and you can buy a Trapper’s Knife for 150 gold, a Training Sword for 50 gold, a Farmer’s Hoe for 50 gold, and a Weaver’s Spindle for 50 gold. These will cost gold, same as normal when bought here, but the hearthling will already be promoted to this job when you arrive.
The third part is to select their gender: this displays a male and female portrait at the bottom, with a dice button in the center to re-pick their appearances and reseed their names, and when you select the male or female portrait and hit done it’ll return you to the hearthling list screen with your newly recruited adventurer in their slot.
When you’ve selected your nation, biome and difficulty, you’ll then immediately be thrown into the recruitment screen for your leader. This screen will be slightly different to the norm, in that you can’t bump their stats up by +1 using the gold button (it shouldn’t be displayed). They automatically are exceptional, and use the higher values. They go in the top slot, which would be centered, and perhaps come with a free bonus item depending on what profession you allocate to them (a Worker has Worker’s Clothes, a Footman comes with a Bronze Mace, a Trapper comes with some jerky and furs, a Farmer comes with some crops, crafters come with all their benches plus some materials).
Your leader goes in a centered slot at the top with the banner next to it, and your remaining six hearthlings are in a 2x3 grid below them. A slot you haven’t yet recruited for simply has a plus in the center and you click the slot to start recruiting for it. Display the icon of the hearthling’s profession on their card, and allow the player to click a hearthling to alter their parameters freely (via the recruitment display, with their parameters preselected).
Once you’re done recruiting (which could be before you have seven hearthlings, if you want! Just warn the player before they embark) you can also buy items. Rather than items all just being checkboxes, have tools be unique (the way items are now) and give other items a quantity entry. Support buying resources (5g/unit for Stone or Wood, 10g for Cloth or Leather, 10g for food items) as well as the other tools - show the free tool at the top, selected by default and unable to be deselected, as well as the other tools.
Then embark away! Any items hearthlings aren’t already using go in a large crate or large vase (depending on faction - a 32 slot container, basically) that’s deployed near your starting point. So obviously, you can only take 32 items maximum. Probably display that somewhere too.
I feel that overall this would allow for a much more customizable embark experience, but more importantly mitigate the annoyance of constantly rerolling hearthlings trying to get at least a couple with the stats you want. I also think it might make people a little more attached to their starting hearthlings (maybe not feeling any more strongly about them is just a me thing, though. I could just be a psychopath).
Anyway, my apologies for yet another long rambling description of an idea, desperately lacking in demonstrative imagery. Thank you for reading on the naive assumption that you did.