For 10,000 years, endless war has engulfed the galaxy. From the decimated ruin of Cadia to the war-ravaged battlefields of Armageddon, and from the Hive cities of Necromunda to the Aeldari craftworld Iyanden, a billion billion souls have been lost to the eternal conflict.
In Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay: Wrath & Glory from Cubicle 7, you will be taking on the role of one of the pitiful souls who inhabit this universe, one where the fascist cultic dictatorship of the Imperium comes into conflict with servants of the dark gods, mindless war-hungry orks, mindless Necron automatons, or a littany of other alien races just as horrible. 40k is a world where there are no good sides. Everyone is despicable in their own special and unique way.
The previous version of 40k roleplay by Fantasy Flight was broken down into multiple books depending on what flavor of 40k you were interested in, separating Imperial Guard from Space Marines from Inquisition, and only allowing you to play as either a member of the Imperium or, in the case of Black Crusade, the forces of Chaos fighting the Imperium. In Wrath & Glory, the rules cover all of those, as well as playing as the Aeldari and Orks.
Let’s take a look at the rules.
Every campaign begins with a framework. This is essentially a group template, where the table decides what they want to play as in the universe. Do you want to all be Imperial Inquisitors? Hive gangers? A squad of Aeldari rangers lost on a planet at the edge of the galaxy? It’s important to set up the group’s framework, so you don’t end up in a game with a Space Marine, an Aeldari Howling Banshee, and an Ork Loota with no explanation as to why they’re all in the same party. In addition, because your stats are determined by spending XP, you’ll choose whether the characters will be Tier 1 through 4, which will give you different amounts of XP to spend at character creation. If you really wanna play as a Space Marine, you can do so, but you’re unlikely to be playing alongside an Inquisitorial Acolyte or Ministorum Priest. Here, more than in most RPGs, setting the expectation for the campaign is very important.
Whereas the FFG rules utilized a percentile system assembled from the WHFRP and Inquisitor rulesets, the ruleset here is the same as C7’s Age of Sigmar Roleplay: Soulbound. You roll a pool of D6’s, trying to get a certain number of successes above the target number, with the difficulty of scoring each success determined by the complexity of the test.
Here, you have three stats that will fluctuate throughout the session. Wrath, Glory and Ruin.
When rolling your D6’s, one die should be a different size or color representing your Wrath. A 1 or 6 on the die can activate specific effects. When you roll a 6, add 1 Glory to the group’s total. In addition, a successful check that also contains a 6 on the Wrath die is a critical success. When you roll a 1 on the Wrath die, you now have a Complication. This is a modifier to the final result, making it a “yes, but,” or a “no, and,” depending on whether the overall check succeeded or failed.
Wrath Points represent your character’s inner rage, fire and wrath. You can spend these points to reroll dice, claim narrative control, and restore shock.
You’ll note that there… well, there doesn’t seem to be any relation between Wrath Points and Wrath Dice. I’m not sure why a different term wasn’t used, as it could be pretty confusing for players during the course of a game. I asked Cubicle 7, and they said it’s a holdover from the original system.
Glory is a group resource. Your party always begins with 0 Glory at the end of the session, and represents the group’s determination and grit. These points are spent to add dice to a pool, make criticals more severe, and increase damage. Glory is gained from rolling a 6 on your Wrath die, as mentioned above, or you can shift a die from your pool. This means that when you roll any other 6’s, you can choose to remove that die from the dice pool (presumably seeing you succeeded without that die) to gain Glory. You can also shift in order to gain info, speed up the process you’re rolling for, or improve the quality of the test.
Ruin is a resource that the GM gets to use against the players. Whenever the players fail a fear or corruption test, or the GM rolls a 6 on their Wrath, Ruin rises. The GM can use it to reroll failures, or activate special Ruin actions that powerful enemies possess.
Psychic powers work how they do in most 40k games, in that failure causes horrible Perils of the Warp, strange happenings that make things very interesting. An optional rule exists that lower-level NPC Psykers and any bystanders fail any checks from Perils of the Warp, meaning horrific things happen around Psykers, making them always strange, wierd and dangerous.
The star system detailed in W&G continues the traditions of Calixis Sector (detailed in Dark Heresy), Scarus Sector (detailed in Eisenhorn), and Caligari Sector (detailed in Inquisitor – Martyr). It’s a new region given great detail. In this case, it’s a VERY busy solar system with multiple worlds of various types. With the terrible perils found in warp travel, you likely won’t want to leave the system, so it’s nice to see that you could easily run multiple campaigns here. There are Space Hulks, two bizzare worlds known as the Membrane Worlds, Hive Worlds, and Shrine Worlds. There’s a lot to see, and a lot to invent on your own.
This game is fantastic. It’s a really dynamic system that’s definitely set up to make the players feel like the anti-heroes everyone in 40k is, while still keeping the pressure on them and making them feel like they’re always one step away from destruction. If you’re a 40k player, I definitely recommend it, and if you aren’t, embrace the dark far future. It’s a terrible place, but it’s OUR terrible place.
[4 of 5 Stars!]