Each RPG features player characters exploring a world of magic and monsters that is threatened by the forces of Chaos. This month covers creating a personalized Gilead System using the core rulebook and supplements for Wrath & Glory. The core rulebook describes the system and gives the GM options and dials to choose and adjust to create a system uniquely her own.
Cubicle 7 kindly sent me a copy of the rules to help in writing this article. Before diving in, I want to point out something I really like about Wrath & Glory: the endpapers. Both have some details about the setting and black and white art. And after the front-end papers is a full-page full-color piece of art (one of many in the book). All this instead of just blank pages. Just something I noticed and appreciated.
Wrath & Glory was first published by Ulisses Spiele. Cubicle 7 then took over, worked on several changes, and this refurbished ruleset is the result.
One thing that surprised me is that there are no vehicle or ship stats, star maps, or ship combat rules. Three paragraphs cover travel as mainly being boring and only occasionally encountered. There are no Navigators. Rogue Traders get an Imperial frigate, but there are no stats, rules, or maps for one, and they don’t get the Pilot skill.
Wrath & Glory recommends skipping most travel altogether. The entire experience can simply be described by the GM. I can see this causing confusion with players wanting to use their Imperial frigate as more than just a taxicab. GMs will have to write their own challenges to cover ship adventures if they’re going to include that as an option.
Wrath & Glory could be used without ships to introduce D&D players to the setting. Because it focuses on ground combat, it will seem more familiar, and the players won’t have to learn about ships and ship combat. You could gain some new Warhammer players that way. Ship and events would be entirely narrative.
I think the game has excellent rules for PCs and their foes and some interesting campaign building tools. I am going to go over those and focus on the ground campaign from this point.
Wrath & Glory is a sci-fi game about war, Chaos, little-understood tech treated like a religion, dangerous locations, and grim danger. The game uses a d6 dice pool with one die of a different color called the Wrath die. High results lead toward success. The Wrath die can generate criticals and garner Glory or cause Complications. Glory powers greater effects. Keywords are a shorthand for a PC’s allegiances and connections. GMs have access to Ruin, which functions somewhat like Glory for the enemies of the PCs. The system has many other nuances for PCs and GMs to use.
The gamemaster structures her campaign around Frameworks: one or two sentence descriptions of the Gilead System and the campaign she is running. Frameworks work with Key Words, allowing or denying certain Keywords like Imperial or Ork. In the core rules, Rogue Trader Jakel Varonius has the Frameworks of Varonius Vanguard and The Deniables. These Frameworks vary wildly, with the first being Imperial forces serving in the Flotilla. The Deniables are dregs with implanted frag grenades to help in plausible deniability who do the dirty work. Lord-Militant Fylamon offers the Frameworks Cannon Fodder and Fylamon’s Finest. Fylamon’s Finest calls on more skilled individuals (no Scum and Tier 2 or higher) and provides better gear.
Just these two patrons open doors to four very different campaigns. The Forsaken System Player’s Guide offers 11 more patrons and 22 more Frameworks. In the Framework of Paper Punishers, the PCs are all members of the Adeptus Administratum and go on missions to execute heretics using forbidden Forms and track down those stealing office supplies and eliminate them. Some of these patrons are xenos, offering PCs the chance to play Aeldari, Orks, or agents of Chaos. And a GM can invent her own patrons and Frameworks.
Frameworks tie a Wrath & Glory campaign together, bind the PCs into a group, limit their options in a small but logical way, and compensate them with extra wargear. The system is an example of exquisite game design being simple to implement but with far-reaching impact and usefulness.
Archetypes are the building blocks of character creation. Archetypes are arranged into four tiers of increasing power. The Framework being used may direct the GM to a specific tier, or the GM may simply pick. Examples: Tier 1 includes Imperial Guards and Inquisitorial Acolytes, Tier 2 Rogue Traders and Space Marine Scouts, Tier 3 Tech-Priests and Tactical Space Marines, and Tier 4 has Inquisitor and Primaris Intercessor. Xenos are also an option for most tiers, although specific Frameworks do not include Xenos.
For GMs unsure where to begin, Litanies of The Lost offers a great kick-off for PCs with the Imperial Keyword. Grim Harvest is the first of four adventures that can be linked together. The PCs face a variety of enemies across several planets. The adventures expand the setting and include useful maps for some of the encounters.
The strength of these adventures is that no one side is necessarily on the side of right. PCs will have to make tough choices and carefully pick sides. There may be repercussions no matter what they do. In the violent and dangerous world of Wrath & Glory, this makes sense. Times are really hard, and life is cheap. The PCs will have to make a decision and live (or maybe die) with what happens after.
Wrath & Glory offers an interesting way to distil campaigns down from a universe of options. PCs have a variety of options for overcoming challenges. GMs and players together can use Frameworks to tie everything together to create the kind of campaign everyone wants.
Cubicle 7 provided books to make this article possible. Picture credit: Pixabay
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