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? ๐Ÿ™‚

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

Reboot the Future, Deep Setting Info

This post is the last of the preview posts, which describes the five design principles I had in mind when I wrote Reboot the Future, Deep setting info you can ignore if you want

The overall theme of Reboot is that everything is information. Literally in the form that the Universe that the characters exist in is at its root pure Information. Information is the treasure that the players seek to gain power and advance their characters.

Reboot the Future works on three levels of information. In a way, these are three information Worlds that coexist with one another, feeding into each other, but to the players may appear completely exclusive. One of the setting’s great โ€œWowโ€ moments should be the realisation that all three information levels are linked. If you are playing a Closed game where the Game Moderator has set up the setting in private, and the players have not realised this, make sure you donโ€™t give the game away and let them work it out for themselves.

So here are the three levels of information.

  • Level 1: Cyberpunks are Go! This is the standard reality of the cyberpunk, dealing with day to day stuff, and perhaps seeing how the corperations or some shady crime boss is manipulating the situation. But at this level the cyberpunks resolve the matter and live with the consquences and move on.
  • Level 2: Pushing the Hidden Agenda further. Here the curtain between everyday life the deeper world of the conspiracies behind the facade, starts to twitch quite heavily. Suddenly things are not so straight forward. The characters have to make firm choices, make thier own peace with the awful truths they discover, or be prepared to dig even deeper.
  • Level 3: Everything you know is wrong. This is where the final causes of the conspiracies are revealed, hidden behind layers of disinformation. This is where things really get weird, like in the Matrix series of films. There’s also a large dash of Ufology (well the game is set in space) at this level, that some players may not take to. I had a group where I had guided them thorugh levels 1 and 2 in a short story arc, but when I suggested we move the game up to level 3, and tour the Consortium in the UFO they had just discovered, they respectfully declined and we stayed at level 2 and finished the story arc naturually shortly after.

Music to Drive Starships to, Part 1 Classical

The first in an occasional series where I look at the soundtracks to my sci-fi imaginings.

Holst the Planets


In the 80s, my dad had a high-spec record player on which he would listen to jazz to escape my mother’s nagging and recover from the working week. On Saturday afternoons, when he was either out in the garden or creating his latest Curry Masterpiece, I would take over the record player and listen to this on heavy rotation. It was probably the first piece of music I bonded with at age 8 (approx) and still gives me goosebumps whenever I listen to it.

With the headphones on, I would drift off into space and go on an imaginary journey through the planets. Guided by each piece having a definite audio-theme. Favourite pieces are the more intense ones: the almost heavy metal Mars Bringer of War, the sad and mysterious Saturn Bringer of Old Age, and the triumphant and rather cheeky Uranus the Magician. But all the tracks are killer, no filler.

Obviously, it clicked with the idea of the Gods as Planets, and if I sat down and wrote a piece of gaming material directly inspired by it, it would be a Planetary Romance with each of the planets having a people and a living avatar of the God associated with it, running about causing all sorts of fun for the players ๐Ÿ™‚



Welcome To the Stars

Growing up Science Fiction, in the form of books then Film and TV shows were a big part of my life. More so than Fantasy, which was really just a huge blimp on the chart in my teens.

Yet when it comes to Roleplaying Games, Fantasy has dominated my gaming life. It only been recently in the last five years or so that I’ve questioned that, a subject that will crop up on this blog, and done anything to remedy that in my own publishing output.

As well as popular sci-fi in the form of TV series, Computer Games, and of course Roleplaying Games, I’ll be blogging about D101’s sci-fi rpgs, both those in print and in development.