Wrath and Glory on Humble Bundle + Thoughts on Warhammer 40 K roleplaying

This one has snuck onto my radar and was nearly missed by me during the holiday period. All the Wrath and Glory books released by Cubicle 7 so far, except the Starter Box, are on Humble Bundle in pdf form.

This is the D6 system, more in tune with the Wargaming version, set in the Warhammer 40K universe.

I’ve been a casual fan of the setting (as opposed to a fantastic one) since the first release of Games Workshop’s Warhammer 40 K Rogue Trader in the 80s. Hopes were high that this would have been the Sci-Fi equivalent of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 1st Editon, which my friends (and the whole of UK RPGdom) and I were absolutely nuts about. We were also big fans of the Judge Dredd Roleplaying game, which was sort of WFRP light, which had whisked us off effortlessly to 2000 AD’s Mega-City One. Initial signs via advert features in White Dwarf were good. The same sort of grim psychedelic fantasy but sci-fi, with a bizarre mix of space elves and dwarfs and Space Knights (the game’s Space Marines), seemed to be on offer. Oh, and Space Orcs gave the game a nice and deadly sense of fun. If we get to choose those as characters, well, I’m sold. Imagine the disappointment when the game drops, and it’s a wargame that leads into a very expensive hobby (W40K pretty much defined the term gamer-crack).

Throughout the 90s and 00s, I watched the setting develop away from the brightly coloured mega-gaming fun of its first edition and get progressively darker, grimmer, and gothic. It’s very much Science Fantasy now, and some fans have described it as Dark Fantasy with guns, the workings of which are more like magic to the setting’s inhabitants.

Finally, a Roleplaying Game emerged from Games Workshop’s fiction arm, Black Libary, called Dark Heresy. Put together by my mate Mike Mason (who now looks after Call of Cthulhu at Chaosium), it focused on the assistants of an Imperial Inquisitor, who are responsible for rooting out supernatural threats that have taken root in the worlds of the human Imperium. It was a D100 system, and you could see its DNA coming from WFPG, which was nice and familiar. While I wasn’t an immediate fan of the setting – because I was catching up with 20+ years of lore with a very, very dark tone, which wasn’t my thing at the time, it was an amazing game. Which did very well sales-wise and then got cancelled by Games Workshop’s Accountants the next financial quarter.

The game, and its numerous splatbooks, moved over to Fantasy Flight Games, who put out similar standalone games, each focusing on one area of the W40K setting. I picked up Deathwatch and a couple of its splat books from a friend because you can play Space Marines, stomping around in heavy metal armour! I played a fair bit of Dark Heresy and found it a bit clunky in play. The starting characters were woefully underpowered, and sometimes it took lots of rolls to get things done, and the text-heavy nature of the rulebooks, on a dark page background, put me off, as a casual fan, from exploring the game more. Also, it was at a time in my gaming life when I was already massively invested in Glorantha, which is an equally lore-heavy RPG setting.

Wrath and Glory is the latest attempt to bring W40K to the masses and takes a different approach than the FFG games. The core rules have everything in one book. So Space Marines, Eldar, Imperial Guardsmen, Inquisition, and Orks are all playable character types. There’s also a method of creating an adventuring party so the characters have something in common with each other. The big change from the FFG games is that the main mechanic is around D6 dice pools, like the wargame. I’m currently reading it, and it’s a nice read, and nicely presented. Lots of great art for all the character types against a nice white page background. In short, it’s a lot less dense text-wise, which the FFG were really bad at (to the point I’d say there was a lot of text padding and rehashing the bleeding obvious). So far, It covers all the bases I need as a casual pick-up and play fan. I hope it won’t get too crunchy when I hit the rules section. But if it doesn’t, there’s a good chance I’ll run a one-shot convention game or a short series of linked adventures. Does anyone fancy an all Orks game? 🙂

One interesting post-script, Cubicle 7 has just announced that there is a D100-based RPG being developed by them.