“Warhammer 40.000 Roleplay: Wrath & Glory” is an RPG, written and produced by Cubicle 7 and published in Italy by Need Games, set in the bleak and dark warlike universe of Warhammer 40.000. The following manual is necessary and more than sufficient to play any kind of adventure, from a simple investigation to a raid by a group of Heroes against the forces of Chaos, and provides an adequate introduction to the Warhammer 40.000 universe for newbies. From the first readings of the manual, of fine workmanship and excellent layout, it will be clear how the system itself is light and adaptable to different situations (and environments) and how the regulation lends itself to different levels of depth. In 2020 we can only appreciate a system that can satisfy all palates, from the most strategic and methodical to the most narrative.
Having recently reflected on the lack of female Space Marines, let's launch into this great title.
The proposed setting is that of the Gilead system, a bulwark of imperial power which, following the opening of the Great Rift, has been cut off by a large part of the Imperium and the glory of the Emperor. The importance of such an event is comparable only to the beginning of the Age of Strife. We are in a new millennium, more precisely in 41.002, and things have changed a lot. The Great Rift has essentially divided the empire in two, denying a good half the light of the Astronomican that allows you to travel the Warp "safely" and cutting all forms of communication and supply.
Three years after the opening of the Great Rift in 41.002, Corsair Merchant Jakel Varonius arrived in the Gilead system with his fleet, taking control in exchange for supplies, news and armed reinforcements. Broad-minded, like most of the Corsair Merchants, Varonius has decided to secure the system by any means, even at the cost of coming to terms with the Xenos.
The Gilead system is made up of five Central Worlds, some of which have several moons, a Frontier area where all that is xenon and chaos thickens and two worlds spat out directly from the Great Rift. Players will find everything they need for every type of story, from ocean worlds to volcanic worlds, from agricultural worlds to anthill worlds.
The Trials system in Wrath & Glory
Central Mechanics, as brilliantly described in the chapter dedicated to the rules, is quickly explained: take as many D6s as indicated by the sum of Statistics + Skills, calculate any bonuses and malus by adding and subtracting D6, one of these dice is replaced with one of a different color (the Ira die) and you roll. All 4 and 5 results generate an Icon while all 6 generate 2 (Glorious Icon). You have to overcome a difficulty class established by the master and evaluate any 1 and 6 on the IRA die. The 6 obtained on a die other than the latter can trigger additional effects through the Swap mechanic.
The die of Ira
The Wrath die in Wrath & Glory is a different die from the others, although remaining a D6, which must be rolled often and willingly together with the others and which can lead to extraordinary results or complications. Rolling a 6 on the Wrath die is the same as a critical, especially in combat, although it doesn't always mean the check is successful. A critic of Rage is in any case a positive result, which can be linked to a failed test. The example given in the manual is “you can't land the vehicle, so it crashes, but you jump out of the wreckage and attack the enemy with your weapon”.
When the Wrath die shows a 1, however, it's time to add a complication to the scene. Often presented in the form of a “Yes, but…” or a “No, and…” it is an excellent moment in which the scene can have depth and is a narrative opportunity not to be wasted.
The points of Wrath, Glory and Ruin
Each player starts with 2 Wrath points, representing "inner fire, the desire to win and the Emperor's light shining on the Character", which can be used to roll back failures, add narrative elements to the story and recover Shock. Especially the second point can be fundamental to get out of thorny situations or moments when the party crashes. The element added to the story must be agreed with the master, who has the final say on the matter. The master awards additional Ira points according to his judgment and criterion.
Glory is a group resource and each Session begins with a score of 0 Glory points. Each player can draw, with or without the permission of the others, from this reserve and can replenish it. Each die with a 6 can be exchanged for 1 Glory point and each Rage Critic generates one automatically. The maximum of Glory points that a group can have is given by the players + 2. Glory points can be spent on: increasing the pool of D6 before a test; to increase the damage of an attack by 1 point; to take the initiative, stealing it from someone.
Ruin points are the union of Glory and Wrath points for the master. The master starts the session with an amount of Ruin points equal to the number of players and can accumulate up to double, obtaining them when a Player fails a Corruption Test, when he fails a Fear Test or when the master rolls a 6 on a die. 'Anger. Ruin points also activate special threat abilities during combat, regardless of the initiative turn.
The importance of Exchanging
Once the D6s have been rolled during a Trial and obtained a minimum number of Icons sufficient to pass the trial, it is possible to exchange the Glorious Icons (therefore the dice resulting in 6). This exchange is possible only if the number of icons remains sufficient to not make the test fail and causes benefits to it. Exchanges can be used in creative ways, and the handbook suggests some of them: getting information; improve the quality of an action; increase the speed of an action; exchange for Damage or Glory. Also in this case, the collaboration between the master and the player is fundamental to obtain a compelling and incredible story.
The importance of tiers and archetypes
Before character creation, the master and the players should decide in session zero (or even thanks to DDi) what kind of story they want to play. Wrath & Glory lends itself very well to adapting characters and difficulties to the story thanks to the Tier and Archetypes system. 4 Tier of power are presented, in ascending order, which identify the cut that you want to give to the story and also the level of power reached. Each Tier corresponds to something and helps keep characters and adventures believable and consistent. You too will agree that having a Primaris Space Marine investigate any rebellion is a bit overkill compared to the same situation played by an Inquisition adept who has just arrived in the system. Similarly, an invasion of Chaos will be bread for the Space Marines and not for petty thieves.
Each Tier “unlocks” character Archetypes, which can then be adapted by the player according to his needs. The general rule is that a lower Tier archetype can be used in a higher one but not vice versa.
The possibilities of character creation
Much like in several aspects of this rulebook, Wrath & Glory offers archetypal crafting and advanced character crafting. Archetypes serve as guides for new players and are varied and well differentiated across factions, but may not meet the whim of the individual player. To overcome this problem there is the advanced creation of the character, longer but absolutely free. Everything in Wrath & Glory is paid for in experience points and the initial ones are provided by the Tier itself, granting the characters the freedom to form themselves according to the cut of the story.
Growth, experience points and move to the next Tier
As written above, in Wrath & Glory everything is paid for in experience points. Since character creation, stats and skills are increased through PX spending. The manual suggests rewarding each player with about 10 experience points per session, thus guaranteeing the possibility of "tier passing" (if history provides) every ten sessions. In fact, the manual specifies that every 100 experience points the characters are theoretically ready, upon purchase of an ascension package, at the higher Tier. This can be an important storytelling opportunity for a character and each of the players should work with the master to create a great story about it. Some characters may also change archetypes in the passage of Tier, an example of all a Space Marine who first conquers the armor and then becomes Primaris.
The importance of keywords
Keywords are keywords that each character acquires over time or creation based on the archetype and faction chosen. They can modify the difficulty of a test, even substantially, or give access to several further possibilities during the story. They can be a requirement in Wrath & Glory to access certain Talents or to receive equipment of a certain type. The manual offers excellent advice in this regard and is to report to the master every Keyword of your character that can change the situation in which the party is.
The Fight in Wrath & Glory
Just like many aspects of this rulebook, Wrath & Glory combat allows for different levels of depth. The corresponding section describes different combat maneuvers, the importance of cover, different types of attacks and how to use stealth in combat. Born from a game that has the war part and battle strategy at its heart, it is more than normal that Wrath & Glory offers both a more narrative and a much more strategic approach. As the possibilities are endless, masters and players are advised to talk in session zero about the type of depth to give to the fight and how much time they want to spend on it. With over thirty pages of fighting rules, I believe all palates can be fully satisfied.
The Bestiary of Wrath & Glory
In a game that may seem human-centric, there is no more pleasant surprise than finding human threats at the very top of the bestiary. Unlike other RPGs, which limit the list of threats to what is plausible in the setting, Wrath & Glory offers an absolutely more complete and interesting bestiary, dividing threats by both type and number. The satisfaction for the storytellers will be absolutely guaranteed with the part that concerns them, located at the bottom of the manual, which thanks to excellent advice will help them set up a campaign.