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Ross Watson talks Wrath & Glory!

I got to ask award-winning lead game designer Ross Watson over at Ulisses North America about Wrath & Glory, the new Warhammer 40,000 RPG releasing next month at GenCon 2018! Ross is a veteran when it comes to the grimdark future, leading the teams on Dark Heresy, Rogue Trader, Deathwatch, and working on several different iterations of play in the Imperium for card games, miniature games, and video games as well. Wrath & Glory is taking bold new steps away from these past RPGs however, embracing all of the God-Emperor's IP instead of just humanity in a more seamless manner than the books preceding it (you can get the gist of it, see the cover art, and pre-order a copy via Angus' article last week).

Congratulations on a sumptuous initial outing for Wrath & Glory with Blessings Unheralded (free for the rest of July by using that link)! There’s a new age of gaming dawning with the world of streaming—was that something you considered while putting the system together? What things were on your design palette while crafting this next RPG installment for Warhammer 40,000?

Streaming, online services, and PDFs have been with us for a while, I think I definitely had such things in mind when we’re working on our products—most game designers do, I would imagine these days. However, I consider those concerns to come second to designing the system and working with the rich lore of Warhammer 40,000. My primary design goals were to make Wrath & Glory fast to learn, easy to play, and put as much information in front of the player as possible to keep looking things up in the book to a minimum. Over all of that—the first principle, if you will—was that the game had to feel like Warhammer 40,000.

You’ve adopted a new preamble for this supplement! What’s up with that?

The preamble in Blessings Unheralded is essentially the same as the preamble for Warhammer 40,000 8th edition! That’s our guidepost for working with the grim darkness of the far future.

Blessings Unheralded has 5 human (or astartes) pregenerated characters, three of which are women, and it’s fantastic to see something other than dudes in the grimdark future. One of them is Sororitas (with power armor!) and another is a commissar, but there are numerous minor groups and organizations in Warhammer 40,000 that are ripe for expansion—the Assassinorum, the Cognitae, and countless other examples. What are we going to see in Wrath & Glory products that we haven’t seen before?

I remember that you’re a fan of the Assassinorum, Mike! I agree that there’s a ton more to explore in Warhammer 40,000—we’ve just really hit the tip of an immense iceberg full of great opportunities for adventure. I think it is fair to say that the core rules cover a great deal of player character options, but there are many, many more out there just waiting for the right sourcebook or campaign set for us to detail further! Some things that haven’t been seen before include the Primaris Marines – the new Space Marines provided by Belisarius Cawl for Roboute Guilliman’s Indomitus Crusade. And, of course, we have plenty of plans for more awesome stuff on the horizon—but I’m limited to what I can talk about this far out.

Aside from some role-derived abilities (like the healing Imperial decree of Pater Nemoris or Vicoria Linn’s fearsome respect) the introductory adventure shies away from psyker witchery. How will they work in Wrath & Glory?

The quickstart, Blessings Unheralded, has only so much room! We just didn’t have enough space to include psychic powers, but rest assured that we do cover those in-depth in the Core rules. The short version is, Wrath & Glory uses a “high risk, high reward,” system. Psykers can choose to add additional wrath dice to their Psychic Mastery test—this adds potentially more power, but also increases the risk. Any complication (a “1” result on the wrath dice) results in a roll on the Perils of the Warp table (or a draw from the Perils deck, if you’re using those cards). Every additional complication makes the danger grow even higher. Naturally, psychic powers have a baseline effect that can get stronger depending on how many shifts you put into the power’s potency (a shift is any result of “6” that you have over the number of raw icons you need to succeed at the power to begin with).

The Mechanicus are also playable in Wrath & Glory but the blessed of the Omnissiah didn’t get a pregen in Blessings Unheralded. What are some of the game mechanics tech-oriented players will be getting their mechadendrites on this August?

Servants of the Machine-God are absolutely playable in Wrath & Glory! We’ve got some special cybernetics and talents just for the Adeptus Mechanicus, both Tech-Priests and Skitarii alike. These characters get a lot out of the Tech skill, plus they have unique abilities related to their individual archetypes. On top of that, there’s particular wargear—armour, weapons, and other devices—that is restricted based on the Adeptus Mechanicus keyword. Thus, characters with this keyword have access to a lot of cool things that other Imperial characters won’t.

One of the big teases thus far has been about xenos adventuring alongside humans and space marines—but they too are bereft of a pregenerated character in the introductory adventure. With some of the veil lifted away now what new details can you reveal for what it means to be an eldar, tau, or ork in Wrath & Glory?

Eldar and Orks are in the core rules for Wrath & Glory! Each of these xenos races has their own species entry in the book, gaining some benefits—and some drawbacks as well. There are Eldar- and Ork-only archetypes, of course, ranging from the Ork Kommando to the Eldar Warlock. These xenos have their own background charts for what challenges they’ve overcome in the Dark Imperium, plus they both get species-specific talents as well. Not to mention their own individual wargear and keywords, not unlike the Adeptus Mechanicus I mentioned earlier. T’au are definitely something that we’d love to get into later on in the game line—perhaps after we get into the Imperium NIhilus and Doom of the Eldar campaign sets…

Armaments are among the most delicious bits of Warhammer 40,000 and previous roleplaying games set in the grimdark future are rife with critical hit tables, damage properties, and a wide variety of firearms and mechanized blades. In Blessings Unheralded there’s some foreshadowing of what’s to come (staged qualities like Toxic [x]) but what all can we expect to see for weapons in Wrath & Glory? What else did previous editions get right that you want to carry over into the new game?

One thing we wanted to bring in was the idea that different weapons have different qualities—a chainsword should feel different than a powersword, for example. Wrath & Glory has a wide selection of weapons, armour, and other gear your warband will need to survive the Dark Imperium. One thing I really like is the Brutal trait—weapons with this trait add 1 to the damage roll result, meaning that rolling a 3 becomes a 4. In Wrath & Glory, results of 4-5 are one icon, while results of 6 (also called exalted icons) count as two. Thus, the Brutal trait makes chainswords and bolt weapons feel just a bit more devastating than getting hit with a lesser weapon.

The visual style of Blessings Unheralded is gritty, bloody, and dark—very fitting for Warhammer 40,000 but a marked step away from the elaborate gothic overtones in the codexes and past roleplaying game iterations. How did you settle on this different visual tone for Wrath & Glory and why?

Again, Warhammer 40,000 8th edition is our guide for the setting—we used a lot of art straight from Games Workshop to help capture the tone and feel of the 41st Millennium. Wrath & Glory does have its own visual style, one that comes not just from any one source, but from the artists and graphic designers who have worked with me to create our signature look. That doesn’t mean that art from previous 40K RPGs might not show up from time to time—there’s some great art for the setting that I love to showcase, both old and new.

Crossing the chasms of the cosmos isn’t addressed in the preview for Wrath & Glory but what rules are in the core book for space travel and spaceship combat?

We definitely talk about both space travel and voidship combat in Wrath & Glory—there’s rules for a small selection of vessels as well! Travel in the Dark Imperium is far more dangerous and costly than anywhere else, of course, meaning that the heroes should think carefully before taking such a journey.

Warhammer 40,000 has a deep, rich lore and the product line for Wrath & Glory is focusing on adventures—what’s on the docket after the core rulebook? Will we be visiting an Eldar Craftworld or just take a few trips through the webway? Are the ork-centric adventures painted red and meant to play faster than tau incursions?

Right now, I’m hard at work on the Imperium Nihilus campaign set. This is the first expansion for the Wrath & Glory line—it is a campaign set that has a series of linked adventures, a book that expands on wargear and vehicles, and the main campaign book has a lot more player character options as well. After that… we’re planning on doing a lot with the Eldar, and I guarantee it will be more than just visiting a craftworld and taking a few trips through the webway!
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Mike Myler

Mike Myler


the space marine makes sense but the weird high-heel ninja S&M cyborg? maybe because she has skulls on her and some priest like things hanging that makes her 40k? Like I said I use to follow 40k but that was like 15 years ago so I dont really know if this is how the new 40k is


First Post
Most of the Wrath & Glory art has been very underwhelming so far. Static poses, bland facial expressions. It lacks the action, grit, and characterof the prior art. It's also very cartoony. No offense to the artist, but I don't think they are a good fit for 40k.


First Post
the space marine makes sense but the weird high-heel ninja S&M cyborg? maybe because she has skulls on her and some priest like things hanging that makes her 40k? Like I said I use to follow 40k but that was like 15 years ago so I dont really know if this is how the new 40k is
If it sets your mind at ease, she's a faithful illustration of a Death Cult assassin model released alongside 'Codex Witch Hunters' in 2003. Here's the model. Believe it or not there was a predecessor model for Death Cult Assassins in the earlier Inquisitor tabletop game which was even more provocatively attired.

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