Investigate Heretics & More In Warhammer’s Gritty New 40K Setting

Play a cog in the Imperial machine where heroes need not apply


While most other folks were learning to bake bread or knit, my pandemic project was diving into the world of Warhammer. Cubicle 7 has three excellent lines that have engaged me over the past few years. It surprised me, then, that they announced a fourth gameline set in universe and a second in the grim, dark future of Warhammer 40,000. Did they really need another riff on the d100 system that came out of the original Warhammer Fantasy Role Play that had been heavily supported by FFG’s run? As I looked at the review copy of Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay: Imperium Maledictum sent by Cubicle 7 I wondered what new tricks this old dog had in it. Is it worth digging into the dark future once again? Let’s play to find out.

The first thing that designers Dave Allen, Emmet Byrne, Tim Cox, Zak Dale-Clutterbuck, John Dunn, Michael Duxbury, Cody Faulk, Tim Huckelbery, D.G. Laderoute, Elaine Lithgow, TS Luikart, Dominic McDowall, Pádraig Murphy, and Sam Taylor did to carve out a niche for Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay: Imperium Maledictum was zoom in. This is not the game where players make movie trailer-style speeches about purging the xeno threat from deep within their power armor. This is about playing a few of the many, many cogs in the Imperial machine that keep it wheezing along despite so many threats internal and external working to bring it down. Players are spies and investigators working for a patron to further their agenda. Sure there are the usual threats like chaos cults and alien artifacts but this is also at the level where petty rivalries and ancient bureaucracy can be just as deadly.

Players create a team that comes from one of many backgrounds within the Imperium. While using the same underlying system as earlier Warhammer Role Play systems, this game does away with the career system in favor of setting up the player as a member of several factions. This mirrors the set up for Wrath & Glory but keeps it on a much gritter level. This isn’t a Marvel style team up of Space Marines and Rogue Traders; it’s more like the fragile alliances at play in Andor. It also broadens the story ideas from the most direct precursor in Dark Heresy. While players might go after heretics on a regular basis hey also might be investigating financial crimes or get caught up in Shadowrun style black bag runs against rival forces in the Imperium.

The players also create their patron and discuss why they brought this team together in the first place. Patron creation reminds me a little bit of communal ship creation in games like Firefly and Star Trek Adventures. They give players a safe space to plan, at least one ally they can safely trust and a few advantages in their work while also providing flaws that complicate the missions. These merits and flaws are often framed as personality traits which help to flesh out this central NPC. For example, Argumentative Patrons randomly upset different factions because they get into spats with people, but the penalty shifts to a new faction every game as they smooth over their differences and start up a new feud moments later. The game assumes players will be from different factions from each other and even their patron. The designers encourage it; all the more to introduce tests of loyalty and intrigue as other good citizens ask why a member of the Administratum is sniffing around the Inquisition’s data vaults.

Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay: Imperium Maledictum keeps the basic structure of previous D100 games while changing things up. Careers are gone, replaced by Roles which are more flexible and can be chosen in play. The game also introduces Superiority, which gives some mechanical heft to the type of information these characters gather through investigation and blackmail. Coming at a heretical Space Marine officer guns blazing is a bad idea, but if the players consulted a Tech Priest who knows of a malfunction in the marine;’s armor and sent off evidence of their chaos worship to get some backup, they gain superiority in their final conflict with the bad guy. The level of superiority interacts with the NPC’s resolve trait to help the GM determine when the NPC might fight, flee or cut a deal. It’s one thing to go out in a blaze of glory on a battlefield; but another to be brought down by a scandal and decide to take a quiet retirement instead.

The book offers the Macharian Sector as its setting which offers the usual collection of hive worlds and other exotic locations for the players to travel on their missions. The sector ties heavily into the personal history of its namesake Lord Solar Macharius. This general conquered so many worlds for the Imperium that his grave site has his battleship in geosynchronous orbit despite wasting fuel and millions in resources every day, which is the kind of detail I love about this awful setting. The worlds also get a decent amount of detail with each section wrapping up in a short adventure hook. I feel much more confident running this game out of the core book than nearly any other 40K RPG that I’ve read so far.

Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay: Imperium Maledictum offers a new perspective on the setting and a refreshing change to the d100 system.

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Rob Wieland

Rob Wieland


I like the sound of this, but how accessible is it to someone new to the Warhammer 40K universe? Is any background in the setting needed, or is it entirely self contained?

I like the sound of this, but how accessible is it to someone new to the Warhammer 40K universe? Is any background in the setting needed, or is it entirely self contained?
I'm not very deeply immersed in the lore and I think I could run this game from this book. Though it might not hurt to pick one one of those 40K novel/game humble bundles the next time they come out.


I like the sound of this, but how accessible is it to someone new to the Warhammer 40K universe? Is any background in the setting needed, or is it entirely self contained?
There is enough to run it as a gritty sci-fi adventure. The great thing about 40k is that it pretty much rips off every gritty sci-fi trope from Aliens to the Matrix so you can pretty much attack it from any angle.

However I would heavily recommend Dan Abnett’s three inquisitor trilogies. Eisenhorn, Ravenor and Bequin. They are the best the 40k universe has to offer and are told from a human perspective.

If you want more lore then Dark Heresy books (fantasy flights 40k rpg) are very good on lore. I would suggest Disciples of the Dark Gods is probably best, but there are lots of themed books too. They’re all
Available on PDF at DriveThru

I’m very excited to see what they come up with adventure wise. Cubicle 7 have excellent adventure writers… probably the best I’ve seen. Can’t wait to see what follows.

Super excited. I ordered IM and have been going through the pdf. I’m waiting for the beginner box to actually run it. If I were going to give it a go now I’d use the DH 1e for setting material and adventures.


I pre-ordered IM and like some of the rule changes but ultimately am disappointed.

I was hoping that careers would be included in the game as I think they're an excellent tool for introducing the game's setting (and is one of the much lauded things about WRFP) but alas, the developers decided on a different approach to creating characters. The system they've included doesn't draw me into the game like WFRP careers does, and in my opinion even the Wrath and Glory approach is better.

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