Most recently, Ulisses sent out the second Wrath & Glory newsletter (the first was administrative).
Wrath & Glory Designer Diary 1: Archetypes
For me, designing Wrath & Glory is at once both a path I’ve traveled down before and breaking new ground. On the one hand, I’m very familiar with the grim darkness of the far future, having worked on many games placed in that setting. In addition to that, I’ve done a lot of design work in roleplaying games over the years…but on the other hand, that design work was never quite like what I’m attempting to do with Wrath & Glory.
This game is a brand-new approach to Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay, and that means it has all the challenges and advantages of building an entirely new system of game mechanics to help drive the experience. A big part of that involves a complex balancing act, designing depth while trying to avoid over-complication, embracing simplicity while trying to add meaningful choices, and many other choices along the way. One of the most important things about designing for Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay, however, is steady as a rock:
The game must feel like Warhammer 40,000.
There are many ways to approach that goal, but one of the first that came to mind when I set out to work on Wrath & Glory is the idea of archetypes. The 41st Millennium is home to many iconic character types: Commissars, Space Marines, Tech-Priests, Psykers, Sisters of Battle, and Inquisitors, just to name a handful. The idea of these archetypes goes beyond just the bare definition of their role in the galaxy. Indeed, these archetypes are powerful, living examples of the main themes of the setting itself.
And that is what makes them perfect player characters.
The idea of an archetype and what that means in a roleplaying game has had many iterations, from the “Smuggler” in West End Games D6 Star Wars to the “Street Samurai” of many editions of Shadowrun. Sometimes, an archetype is simply a name attached to a specific build of character options. Other times, an archetype has its own particular identity expressed in the mechanics of the game, often through a special ability or mechanical effect that is unique to them.
For Wrath & Glory, I knew that I wanted the archetypes to trend closer to the latter than the former on the spectrum. There’s something great about being able to express what an archetype represents within the game system, something that can meaningfully add to a player’s experience in the game. I like to believe that these things can, in many cases, lead a player to greater immersion in the game, in the setting. I think this also leads to greater verisimilitude.
So what does all this discussion mean for Wrath & Glory? I wanted to give people who are fans of the game and the setting a glimpse into my design philosophy. Know no fear…not all my designer diaries are going to be so introspective! We will be discussing more concrete details about the game in the future, including looks at artwork, specific mechanics, and other parts of this project. Thank you for reading, and rest assured I am hard at work refining the construction of the Wrath & Glory RPG!
-Ross Watson, Product Line Manager