Warhammer 40,000 has a rough history when it comes to tabletop RPGs. While there have been a lot of modules – Rogue Trader, Only War, Dark Heresy – they’ve all used the d100 system. Now, I’m an open-minded person when it comes to RPGs, but the d100 mechanic is absolutely brutal towards lower-level players. And don’t even get me started on the genestealer rules.
Wrath & Glory is a fresh start for 40k RPGs. Designed by a new company (Ulysses), and with an entirely new ruleset, it’s a great starting point for anyone looking to go adventuring in the 41st Millennium. The mechanics of the game are fairly simple, it relies on d6’s. Specifically about ten of them, to form a dice pool similar to the World of Darkness RPG.
The lore contained in the rulebook is current, which is to say that it includes the great rift and the destruction of Cadia. Right there is a storyline that has proven divisive among fans, and may put some of them off the game. But I’m of the opinion that it was a shake-up like this that the stagnant setting really needed. It hasn’t really changed anything, but it has added an increased sense of urgency to all stories of the universe.
There are five races to choose from in the core rulebook, with more potentially being added in the future. Those five are human, Eldar (space elf), Ork (but in space), Space Marine (supersoldier) and Primaris Marines (supersupersoldier). Those last two are pretty much the same, so the race pool is quite limited. Each race then has a number of classes they can choose from, most of which are limited to that race. A human may be a smuggler or a soldier, a Space Marine may be a librarian, an Ork a raging berserker, and so on.
Character creation is done through a points-buy system. if you want psychic powers, that’s a hundred points. To be better at guns? That’s fifty. There are hundreds of options, so this is really the only way it could have been done, but I’ve never been keen on points-buy, as they make players think in terms of mechanics rather than roleplay. For me, randomly determining your stats is the best way, but that’s not really possible here.
The main problem I can see with the game relates to how I play. Since I live in Wales on an isolated farm, I do all of my RPGs online, via the Roll20 site. This makes it very difficult to run character creation for people who do not also have the rulebooks. Especially when that creation is as in-depth as Wrath & Glory’s. But while that side of things is complicated, the actual running of the game is fairly simple. It’s a risk, having the most difficult part of a game right at the beginning, but I can see it paying off in the long run.
One final thing I should mention is that the art in this core rulebook is absolutely gorgeous. From the full-page illustrations to the smaller character sketches, each one is beautiful to look at. I think some of them have been combed from older 40k products, but the diversity of the art only improves the overall atmosphere.
If you’re familiar with 40k, this is a good way to get into the RPG side of things. If you’re new to the universe, then it’s a pretty good introduction.