Wrath & Glory Designer Diary – June 2018

The Campaign Model

When I was offered the opportunity to craft the Wrath & Glory game line, I jumped at the chance. One of the reasons I was so excited about the prospect was that I could approach Wrath & Glory in a brand-new way. This idea started with the concept of a single, comprehensive core rulebook that would give players the basic rules they would need to play a wide variety of experiences in Warhammer 40,000. From there, I wanted to branch out using a specific, targeted model for the game line that I called “campaigns.”

The idea of a campaign was to provide Wrath & Glory players with a focused, in-depth experience that encompassed different aspects of the Warhammer 40,000 universe. Unlike a game line such as, say, Rogue Trader, we would not present dozens of books about a singular place, time, and core activity in the 41st Millennium. Instead, we would use about four books to cover one such experience, covering roughly 4-6 months worth of regular sessions. A discrete, finite campaign that would have a linked set of adventures, detailed setting material, and additional rules and player character options—all of which would be tightly themed to the material. And then we would do that again. And more, and more, allowing us to present several widely different roleplaying experiences in the grim darkness of the far future!

Here’s some of my reasons why I believed in this approach:

Commitment: I’ve found that many gamers find it easier to commit to a campaign if there is a set timeframe. Starting up a new campaign can be easier if you say “This is what we’ll play for the next four-six months,” as opposed to “This is what we’ll play for the next two years.” A clear expectation of how many sessions are going to happen helps people decide whether—and if!—they can join in.

Freshness: Even a genre as broad as “space fantasy” can grow stale if the experiences are too similar to one another. Changing up the themes, tropes, and context of the campaign you play every so often (as my good friend Aaron Allston was very fond of doing!) can keep the game feeling fresh and new.

A Planned Climax: Many campaigns can die out thanks to lack of direction or loss of momentum and interest. If you plan your campaign with an end point in mind, you can include several engaging and memorable story arcs—with the overall arc coming to a satisfying conclusion in the end.

Building a Community: Several gaming groups include GMs and players that participate in events held at gaming stores, conventions, and other gamer gatherings (including websites like Meetup). Using a finite campaign can be a great way to reach out to these groups of players and be appealing to new folks entering the hobby.

Shared Experiences: One thing I love about roleplaying is that players always enjoy sharing stories about their adventures. Often, something that is timeless to the hobby we all love is the idea that you can ask your friends this: “How did you deal with the challenge of X, Y, or Z?” This is usually followed by a reply of: “Well, we did it THIS way!” Detailed campaigns promote shared experiences, and although it is a relatively small thing, I find enjoyment in the idea that we can build on our great gaming memories by discussing them with others who understand just what we mean when we say things like: “Did you jump in the daemon’s mouth?”

-Ross Watson, Product Line Manager

15 thoughts on “Wrath & Glory Designer Diary – June 2018”

  1. Henri says:

    Could you add a bit more information on what sets this concept apart from, say, a Pathfinder Adventure Path? Does the additional material and player options factor in significantly, or it is more like adding an archetype appropriate to an inquisitorial campaign?

    Perhaps to complete the analogy, how does a campaign relate to the Pathfinder products Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, and Player Companion? (For example, 70% AP, 20% Setting, and 10% Companion.)

  2. Henri says:

    Also: is Dark Tides the first such campaign; or is that a thing onto itself?

    1. Eric Simon says:

      More details will have to wait for the future, but Dark Tides is a smaller version of this. The larger campaigns are coming later.

  3. Thelesis says:

    Hello Mr. Ross.

    First of all I would like to thank you and your team for great work. I hope this will be Wh40k rpg system we waited for so long.

    I pre-ordered All-in package and I have big hopes for this system. But I also wish to say that I would like to see all rule/classes or other mechanic based extension separated form adventures.

    From point of GM that for almost twenty years I lead my team form all Warhammer rpg systesms created I must admit that there is nothing worse then every book hiding some piece of rule. It’s hard to manage such system and for me and my groups rules are much more important then adventure books.
    I fully appreciate all that work on any adventure ever created by writers. They provide lot of value and lore for our games. But rpg is mostly for freedom of play. Every team is different and not every adventure is fitting for all party setups and tastes.

    We, GM’s like to create and throw our teams on our own adventures. Sometimes based on you plot hoocks, and sometimes completly new ideas. For me there should be separate line for rules/additional options for players and adventures.

    From this point I’m almost certaint that this is not your vision and more player options will be provided piece by piece in every “campaingn” book. I only hope I’m wrong and at least all new rules and player options will be provided in only one book per campaign.
    If you are planning to create campaign for other races or Imperial institutions for other future releases then please try to keep new options tight together.

    Best regards for you and whole your team!

  4. Keiffer Wactor says:

    As a GM I prefer more of a campaign settings that I can craft my own stories in.

  5. Allan says:

    I’d just like to add my two cents to those who have already voiced concern over this. I don’t use pre-written adventures, I find them to be restrictive and not really conducive to an enjoyable game (at least for me as a GM). If setting and rules material gets spread across multiple adventure books rather than a single campaign setting book (or an arms and equipment guide, creatures book, etc) then it’s going to result in me not buying those books, or possibly the RPG itself. I wan’t a tool kit with which I can create my own stories, I don’t need reams and reams of someone else’s.

  6. Henri says:

    In contrast to some of the recent comments – I’m very much in favor of pre-written adventures. I find it easier to dance outside the confines of the written adventure (if needed) than to create a story of that depth from scratch.

    However, I do agree that it would be a hassle to have player crunch as part of an adventure book. It would be hard to give players a book and say “go wild” if the book actually contained the encounters and challenges as well as the player crunch.

    But, for example, if a “campaign” is actually
    1. a setting + player options book
    2. an adventure book (or books)
    3. a set of aids such as maps for major encounters, possibly card decks specific to the campaign
    …then I’d be quite keen for the complete set.

    I can see that some GMs/players may want “only” the setting + player options. In which case I’d suggest allowing purchase of individual PDFs, but selling physical copies only as a complete set.

  7. Mr. Servo Skull says:

    I think it’s awesome that new rules and options will be added in campaign books. But it would be nice to also get these rules in compodiums that consolidate this extra material so we don’t need to go digging around so much for these additional rules and options. 🙂

  8. Ben says:

    An example of how this will work would be fantastic! Knowing how viable these will be as toolkits would go a long way. I don’t run pre-made adventures but I do mine them for a variety of bits, often repurposing story parts for my own campaigns.

  9. Charles Lord says:

    Wait…wait…You know Aaron Allston-Sama?

    THE Aaron Allston Sama?

    WRITER OF X-Wing: Wraith Squadron?

    THE LOST PRIMARCH OF LITERATURE?

  10. Lagarto says:

    I do not use written items, but I like the books of rules, player and everything what contributes new rules and background.
    I prefer book of rules and book of adventure separately, but well.

    A greeting!!!

  11. Lagarto says:

    I do not use written books of adventure, sorry.

  12. Corradon says:

    Ok, based on the info presented here, I am not too keen on that kind of line development.

    Every group has different playtimes and intervals – what you assume to be 4-5 months is like 1 month for some groups and over a year for others (yeah some people meet up 2-3 times a week, others every month or so), and each play interval needs a different pacing, which the GM nees to adapt to his group. I can’t focus on an interaction for 2 hours if the group meets every 4 weeks, I need to move things along more. If the group meets more often I can focus more. Pre-made adventures rarely take that into account.

    Additionally, every GM/group has preferences regarding bought adventures – some play them them religiously as written, others just use the source to make their own adventures. I for my part *do* use pre-made adventures, but I like to intertwine them with my own creations or modifiy them to fit my interests, the interests of my group and our play style. And focusing your line development via campaigns, runs the danger of having people not interested in that particular setting and, as others have mentioned, “shotgunning” the rules in every book – often very frustrating if you need to find a particular rule quickly. I can’t understand why developers haven’t learned from the mistakes of others.

    The thing with WH40k is that the setting allows for so many different focuses and play styles. From huge space battles to detective like stories, from non-stop action to machiavellian-like complex scheming plots. FFG got it right in that you need to split those experiences into themed lines that appeal to certain kind of adventures, where they *did* make a mistake was that those lines had varying power levels, so combining them was really a pain in …erm… I mean, was really cubersome.

    What would work best imo: a basic rulebook with everything basic (small and large scale combat, psykers, space combat,..) in it, and focused books on settings and expanding on them, while keeping them interoperable, and let people decide how much they want to intertwine the various aspects (Space Marines, Inquisition, Space Combat, Empire Building, etc.).

    For example, just basic rules for space combat in the rule book, and if somebody wanted to delve more into that buy the space empire focused book with all the rules in it for that, without the need to reference the basic rules in the core book. If not, he buys, lets say, the intrigue based book with secret organizations and their interactions, and if space combat comes up he can handle it with the quick and easy rules of the basic book.

    My group and me like the Rogue Trader based game the most. They offer a lot af variety with the added bonus of empire building. You can introduce every aspect of WH40k into a campaign based on a Rogue Trader. Yet, others might enjoy a more focused play style, playing the bad guys, an Eldar Corsair team or Adepts of the Inquisition that root out the heretics. Releasing campaigns like you described constricts all this, especially if the campaign focus presented doesn’t interest a particular group.

    You have a chance here to move away from the old game system that keeps WH40k RPGs in their throes since WH Fantasy 1st Ed, and reshape the WH40k experience, and I urge you to really think of all the implications for gamers, and not just how you think it would be most convenient for you to release, or how you *assume* players play.

    I have all the FFG Books of the Dark Heresy and the Rogue Trader Line (and some others), so I still have plenty of source material to go through with my group. If you want me to dedicate myself to your game line you need to offer me something that improves upon my current play material. Substantially.

    1. Charles Lord says:

      Carradon…In my opinion you have gotten it in the reverse. You’re saying they need to “Change 40K’…by doing exactly what they did in a previous line. Furthermore? You say they need to “Do more then just one style”…

      While also missing out that a Campaign model is DESIGNED to do that exact thing. You can have a campaign showcasing different aspects of each area…and then have each campaign book include information on setting, allowing people to have their OWN stuff, and using that ‘campaign’ as an intro.

  13. David Vershaw says:

    From what I have seen the system for the new Warhammer 40k is faster and scales better. Akso in the core book there are around 34 archetypes and 4 races. 5 Tiers have play. Space Marines are Tier 3 of 5. So in single book can do what the whole line of FFG books did and more. The campaign books cover certain topics like the imperium or Eldar and are one book versus many. So once again fewer books than FFG. This is what sold me. Already ordered 3 players bundles.

    D

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