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Warhammer 40.000 Wrath & Glory Interview

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When Ulisses recently announced that they acquired the Warhammer 40,000 roleplaying game license I was blown away. This was great news for every 40K fan and the German roleplaying scene. Ulisses is slowly turning from one of the largest German game publisher into a global player. As you well know I love doing interviews with people from the RPG industry and so it will probably not surprise you that I immediately reached out to Markus Plötz, owner of Ulisses Spiele, and asked if I could get an interview with Ross Watson, the line producer for Wrath & Glory, the upcoming 40K RPG.

Luckily Markus had no objections and Ross Watson managed to answer all my questions even though he was quite busy between attending GenCon, RatCon, an moving to Germany. Thanks again, guys! Without further ado, here are the questions & answers:

Stargazer: At first I want to thank you for taking your time to answer a few questions for us. Perhaps we could start by you introducing yourself to our readers. Please tell us about your previous experiences as a game designer, and perhaps even how you got into tabletop roleplaying games in the first place.

RossWatsonRoss: Certainly. I started out playing RPGs as a youth when my father bought me the Metzner “red box” starter set for Dungeons & Dragons in 1983. I was hooked right from the start, but I credit my years in junior high and high school for really cementing my love of playing tabletop games. Just about every day, my friends and I would gather in the school for lunch to talk about games, create characters, or play some short scenarios. West End Games’ D6 Star Wars, Palladium’s Rifts and Robotech, and TSR’s Marvel Super Heroes were all favorites we enjoyed alongside D&D.

I got my start as a designer in 2000 when a local company (Citizen Games) decided to enter the D20 marketplace with some books for 3rd edition Dungeons and Dragons under the Open Game License. My work with Citizen Games led me to freelance with other companies like Fantasy Flight Games, Atlas Games, and writing articles for Knights of the Dinner Table magazine. This led me into a job as a copywriter for Games Workshop at the US HQ, and I got to write for White Dwarf and the Games Workshop website for two years.

Looking back, I think the highlights of my experiences as a game designer are working on big games like Star Wars: Edge of the Empire and the Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay Line, plus some landmark kickstarter projects like Savage Rifts and Torg: Eternity, and my many projects for Savage Worlds.

Stargazer: From what the FAQ page tells us, Wrath & Glory will use a completely new rules system based on pools of six-sided dice. This is quite the change from the last edition of 40K RPGs and Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay after which these games had been modeled. Can you explain to us, why you opted for a pool-based system instead of the traditional percentile dice mechanics?

Ross: Wrath & Glory is a new game, from a new company, set in a new timeline for Warhammer 40,000. It seemed like a perfect opportunity to go with a new system as well, one that is a better fit for allowing players to take on a wide variety of roles in the grim darkness of the far future.

Stargazer: After reading through the press release and the FAQ I got the impression that the upcoming core rulebook will allow us to play all kinds of characters from the vast 40K universe. Can you tell us a bit about the available player species (and classes if there’s such a thing) in Wrath & Glory? Will I be able to play Eldar, Tau, Space Marines, or Human Psykers just using the core rules, or will some character options be made available at a later date?

Ross: I can’t get into a great deal of detail right now, but the core rulebook for Wrath & Glory is aiming to be “broad and inclusive,” (a term I used often in my seminars at Gen Con and RatCon). It is safe to say that more character options will be available as we go with Wrath & Glory, including more species!

Stargazer: FFG’s 40K roleplaying game had a new core rulebook for each aspect of the 40K universe: one for Inquisition agents, one for Rogue Traders, another for Deathwatch space marines, and so on. Will Wrath & Glory take a different approach, or can we for example expect a Space Marine core rulebook in the future?

Ross: Wrath & Glory is taking a significantly different approach. We’re presenting a single core rulebook to cover the main rules for what you need to make characters and adventure in the 41stMillennium. We are adding to that focused campaigns that bring additional character options, deeper looks at parts of the setting, and a linked set of adventures.

Stargazer: Can you tell us more about Wrath & Glory’s mechanics? Will there be classes? How does task resolution work? Are there any interesting mechanical features you want to talk about? In essence, what sets Wrath & Glory apart from other d6 pool systems?

Ross: At this time I cannot get into detail about the mechanics for Wrath & Glory, but there are plenty of things that I think players are going to enjoy. We have a “high risk, high reward” system for psychic powers, for example, that reflects the dangers psykers face in using their specific abilities in Warhammer 40,000.

Stargazer: Is it correct that the game will be set in the new 40K timeline after or while the Primarch of the Ultramarines have been awoken? Will the meta plot be part of the game or is there a greater focus on the stories the game masters and players want to tell? Will there be an official campaign?

Ross: Wrath & Glory is taking place in the setting described in Warhammer 40,000 8th edition; the Dark Imperium. All kinds of things are happening! We are working closely with Games Workshop to reflect the story of this particular age of the Imperium. Game masters can, of course, tell any stories they wish, and we are also providing the linked adventures in each Campaign so that a Wrath & Glory group can immerse themselves in a particular focused event, region, or theme (such as the Imperium Nihilus, our first campaign).

Stargazer: Can you tell us a bit about what products aside from the core rulebook we can expect? Are there already plans for the first sourcebooks to be released? Will there be a starter box for introducing people new to roleplaying games in general to the game?

Ross: We are planning on releasing a beginner’s boxed set as well as the core rulebook. Also, we have plans to release the first campaign, the Imperium Nihilus, soon after that.

Stargazer: Last but not least is there anything you want to talk about, but which I forgot to ask?

Ross: Just that it is a very exciting time to be a fan of Warhammer 40,000, and Wrath & Glory is going to be a great way to get involved with the action of this awesome, grimdark future!

The team of Stargazer’s World thanks Ross Watson for taking his time to answer our questions and we wish Ulisses all the best with their current and future projects. It’s a shame that Ross couldn’t go into more details but I guess that’s no surprise given that they game was just announced. I am sure they’ll keep us informed about the ongoing development and personally I am extremely excited about this game.

“Please allow me to introduce myself…”

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This is my first post for Stargazer’s World. Some readers may have seen my comments on Michael’s and Sunglar’s articles in the past. Like most of us I guess I have been playing RPGs since the early 1980s starting with D&D basic set (red box in my case). I am a long term advocate of Iron Crown’s Rolemaster system but I also love really simple d6 systems.

Michael suggested I use my first post as an opportunity to introduce myself but writing about yourself is hard. If you start listing stuff you have done or written then it sounds really egotistical and if you don’t then you end up with a rather blank resumé. So I will just say that I have done stuff and I will probably mention it in passing in my future posts. So that is quite enough about me and now I will move on to RPGs which is why you are here in the first place and is not something I feel awkward writing about.

This year’s #RPGaDAY has had a lot of questions about game design, from a physical product point of view, the quality of the writing, the quality of the page layout, the art and so on. One of the things I do do is I run a fanzine. This means I am writing and publishing stuff for other people to consume every single month. During #RPGaDAY it was really interesting to take a long and critical look at many of my favourite games to see how they measured up against games being released today. I reached the conclusion that great design can make a game look so good that you want to play it even if the actual rules are not really either new or engaging.

It helps to have great art but it is not essential. For some game systems art can make too many suggestions about how things should be. My orcs and goblins could be very different to yours. RPGs take place in the mind’s eye and you do not need a picture for everything. On the other hand if you are looking for a Star Wars RPG then you want to see pictures of X-wings and light sabres. There, having the right art makes you want those things, it sells the setting.

For me one of the best presented games I have ever seen is FATE. Ironically, I think FATE is a terrible game and not one bit of it appeals to me. Maybe I just don’t get it? Not everyone can like everything, after all.

So is good visual design important? I think it is if we want to encourage new players into the game or if you are looking to revive and out of fashion game. Good page and book layouts can make rules easy to navigate and make play at the table run faster. Great art can enthuse readers into wanting to run the game even as a one off to give it a go. If you litter your game with iconic images from a particular time people will buy into it. Imagine a ‘modern day’ RPG and it is littered with images of Chopper bikes and Atari games consoles and it screams 80s. That lends itself to cold war intrigue. Take the same rules and game mechanics and add some psychedelic designs and flared trousers and a red and white Gran Tourino and you are in for a Starsky and Hutch campaign. Show me helicopter gunships hovering over the jungle and I am up for a rolling up a Vietnam vet as a character.

An example of this StarFinder. Same old rules but new imagery, new looking books and you have PathFinder in space. Is it any good? That is a matter of personal choice. Does it look good? It sure does. Will people give it a go? Of course they will. Who doesn’t want to battle space pirates?

Do I want to play it? Not really but on the other hand where is that bright red Gran Tourino? That is a game I would be interested in seeing!

Review: Tales From The Loop

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imageI don’t remember when I first learned about Simon Stålenhag‘s work. It might have been the article from The Verge in 2013, or a random blog post I stumbled upon while aimlessly surfing the web. What I remember is that I thought someone should create a roleplaying game based on these images. Simon Stålenhag’s art shows the ‘80s that never was. A world where the mundane reality of that decade meets the extraordinary. The protagonists in these pictures were often kids, perhaps 10 to 12 years old. Exactly the same age I was back in the mid ‘80s. Perhaps it’s what makes his art so compelling, he shows the years of my youth exactly as I wished they had been.

fokaltorn.1377628869

In 2016 Fria Ligan, the Swedish publisher behind games like Mutant: Year Zero and Coriolis, joined forces with Simon to create a roleplaying game based on his works. The Kickstarter campaign for the Tales From The Loop RPG was unsurprisingly highly successful. A lot of gamers had just watched the Netflix series Stranger Things which was about a group of kids confronted with technology gone awry, and a world stranger than we deemed possible. The time was definitely right for the Tales From The Loop RPG!

Disclaimer: This review is based on the digital edition which I got from Modiphius as a complementary copy. Thanks again, Chris!