Hey all, today I have a round-up of all the news we have so far on the Warhammer Age of Sigmar Roleplaying Game (AoS RPG) from Cubicle 7. Cubicle 7 are the company behind the revived Warhammer Fantasy 4th Edition RPG, the One Ring and Adventures in Middle-Earth RPGs, as well as the Doctor Who RPG.
Today, Cubicle 7 released the fabulous new cover art by Johan Grenier for the Warhammer Age of Sigmar RPG as well as a whole load of more information which we will dive into.
The Age of Sigmar RPG project was announced with great fanfare last year, was delayed slightly by Cubicle 7’s office move to Ireland, and went through a quiet patch without many updates. That’s all now changed as Cubicle 7 have hired more staff and the Age of Sigmar team there have started a wave of engagement with the community. You can see that engagement across the Cubicle 7 Facebook Page, C7 Twitter, AoS RPG Reddit, TGA.community and the Warhammer Fantasy RPG Discord (which has an AoS RPG room). In particular, Emmet Byrne, the AoS RPG producer at Cubicle 7 has been lifting the curtain on the project’s development and engaging with new and veteran RPG players alike.
Now before we dive into the AoS RPG itself, if you are interested in the Age of Sigmar lore and background, I highly recommend The Mortal Realms and Track of Words for their coverage of the lore and Black Library fiction. Games Workshop also produced a handy primer video alongside the release of Age of Sigmar Second Edition.
And, as always, check out Dark Fantastic Mills for great 3D printed terrain perfect for wargaming. Its super versatile and light so worldwide shipping is inexpensive. Use the “aos shorts” discount code for a further 10% off the already decent prices.
Cubicle 7 set out with the goal to make an easy to play, welcoming RPG that allows for a tonne of customisation and personalisation for those that want it.
Accessibility for people new to Age of Sigmar
The Age of Sigmar RPG assumes that its players have no knowledge of the Age of Sigmar, nor the Mortal Realms. The corebook introduces the setting, its history, information on each of the Realms (although the RPG is mainly set in Aqshy to begin with), the major factions and what daily life in the realms looks like.
Age of Sigmar as heroic fantasy
Age of Sigmar is heroic fantasy, with some “post-apocalyptic steampunk horror”. High fantasy worlds, where you have your immortal warriors of lightning clashing with the innumerable and unending forces of darkness across across the Realms. However, these warriors are juxtaposed with the mortals of the Realms, heroes and otherwise, all just trying their best to survive with all the majesty and madness around them.
Beacons of hope against the darkness
The heroes are intended to be “beacons of hope” needed in the desperate times after the Necroquake when the forces of Order are stretched thin. You start as competent heroes. The comparison given was as if you started with a character from DnD 5e that was between levels 5 and 10. The question isn’t if you’ll win, its how long can you keep winning against overwhelming odds. The ravages of the realms will take their toll. The aim is for players to “help push back the darkness and their actions will affect how settlements and the lands develop and change”. As players you will be integral in the creation and growth of new settlements.
Order grand alliance heroes to start
In order to keep things relatively simple for new players, the Age of Sigmar RPG will launch with just Order grand alliance player characters. However, there is still plenty of choice, with at least one character option per Order faction, and as we all know, Order doesn’t necessarily mean “good”. Cubicle 7 have plans for “unconventional” heroes (or villains) but they won’t be in the corebook.
So far, Cubicle 7 have announced the following characters:
- Knight Questor and Knight Incantor from the Stormcast Eternals
- Auric Runesmiter of the Fyreslayers
- Aether-Khemist of the Kharadron Overlords
- Isharann Tidecaster of the Idoneth Deepkin
- Witch Aelf of the Daughters of Khaine
- Excelsior Warpriest of the Devoted of Sigmar
- Kurnoth Hunter of the Sylvaneth (“I am Groot!”)
- Skink Starpriest of the Seraphon
- The mysterious Realmswalker (a human character that has appeared in only one Black Library book so far, the Silver Shard, and the Malign Portents short stories) and
- Former Freeguild Soldier of the Free People’s (I.e. normal human)
There will be more choices in the core book – the cover itself also has an Endrinrigger flying around from the Kharadron Overlords too.
Growth of the characters
The Age of Sigmar RPG focuses on the personal development and interactions of the party – investigation, exploration, and intrigue – as well as “being a badass demigod made of lightning”. There’s also a huge element tragedy or sorrow to the setting, especially in the lost civilisations, so we want to let players tell those personal stories. You will be taking on the role of heroes who are tasked with maintaining hope in a bleak world.
The setting of the Mortal Realms
The Mortal Realms are wide, and practically infinite for the purpose of narrative development. With Age of Sigmar Second Edition, we got a detailed look at the realms that have been at the centre of the story so far. Maps are being filled in as settlements grow and we learn more about the (relatively) stable hearts of the Realms, as well as the more volatile realm edges.
Understanding ordinary life in the Realms
As with the WHFR, a big part of the role of an RPG game is fleshing out the world and lives of the people in the realms. The RPG focuses on how ordinary people survive, as well as introduce the main settlements, nations and more. To that end, Cubicle 7 have worked closely with Games Workshop, Black Library and the authors – in particular, David Guymer, Josh Reynolds and CL Werner. There are a number of narrative hooks that this setting offers:
- after hundreds of years of torture and pain, how did people survive?
- for those that did, what did this suffering do to them?
- what is the reaction of the realms’ inhabitants to Sigmar’s abandonment and then return?
- what happens to the people that don’t want Sigmar’s light and civilisation?
Not an encyclopedia or almanac
The various setting elements are not presented as part of an encyclopedia of the realms. That is not what Cubicle 7 is trying to create. Instead, the focus is on creating a basis from which stories can be developed through the role-playing. As Emmet has said:
“Maps can be great for looking at something and going “I want to go there!”. We take it from the point of view of an in-world cartographer. How would they see it? We aren’t going from an omniscient, almost satellite view, it’s the realms as the people there know and understand it.”
Primary focus on Aqshy
The adventures in the RPG will be primarily based in one realm, Aqshy, the Realm of Fire, but all are covered (and you can jump between the realms if you like – nothing like a good realmgate). We will be taken to locations that are familiar from the existing Age of Sigmar lore and background.
The RPG occurs after the Necroquake
In terms of timing, the game is set after the events of the Necroquake. There are some optional rules that will utilise some of the weirder/more fun stuff from Malign Portents. The tone of the setting will be similar to the Malign Portents short stories (I highly recommend you check them out if you haven’t so far).
The Age of Sigmar RPG has a brand new system distinct from the WFRP 4th ed system. The game system has been built from the ground up for Age of Sigmar.
At its heart, the game works off a D6 dice pool. You pick up a number of D6 dice depending on your Attributes and Skills. They are then subject to modifiers and you count the number of successes (rather than total up the score of the dice). On average you’ll be rolling 3 or 4 dice, with a max roll of maybe 10 dice (at the extreme end of the spectrum).
The aim of the system is to encourage players to combine Attributes and Skills in interesting ways to achieve their objectives.
The game also has a brand new magic system. There is arcane and divine magic, as well as the different lores of magic that we know and love from Age of Sigmar. The effects of the spells will be influenced by the Realm that your character is in.
Channelling is the catch-all skill for manipulating magic. Your Lore specialty is determined by your Talents. Some Archetypes have access to more Lores of Magic out of the gate.
The producers behind the game also want magic to feel dangerous – a bit like forbidden knowledge.
The designers have tried to strike a balance as to what they present to players and GMs and allow people to choose how they want to play. For instance, there are rules for purchasing from shops using currency (glimmerings), bartering or favours.
The game system is designed to be “plug and play” and also not require extensive referencing back to the rulebooks through the session.
As a rough guide, the Age of Sigmar RPG is pitched to be less-complex and more friendly to new players than D&D 5th edition. The initial starting options are limited, to prevent overwhelm, but the game quickly opens up. In addition, there are a range of optional extras that people can choose to use straight away if they wish on top of the simple core rules.
The AoS RPG supports both the use and absence of miniatures. You can choose to use them if you wish, but otherwise the game works fine without them.
In this section, I’m going to touch on the elements that go into making a player character. As mentioned above, the game starts with characters from the Order Grand Alliance.
Archetypes are the Age of Sigmar RPG equivalent of classes from other RPGs and are the foundation on which a character is built.
Your Archetype lets you choose from a select list of Skills & Talents, and the starter set comes with some pre-built or recommended examples. Some Archetypes have a Species choice, some have a designated one. Your species will give you a little bonus, your archetype defines who you are.
“Each Archetype presents your Species, your starting Attributes, your Core Skill and a number of other Skills to choose from, your Core Talent and a number of other Talents to choose from, your faction Influence, your starting equipment, and anything else that is important for your character.”
It gives you some starting skills and talents to choose from but once you gain experience the world is your oyster. It’s up to you how you build and develop your character. There are also optional rules for completely open ended character creation if that’s what you’re looking for.
Many of the Archetypes are tied to model types or prominent titles from the lore. However, others are new and more open ended to begin.
Species / Factions
Factions will play a major role in the game. As for something like a Shadow Blade, we have a number of Archetypes that come with preset or recommended abilities that help you build your character, but you’ll be free to create and advance them as you want.
Balance: How do you play a Stormcast with an ordinary human?
One of the potential issues with an Age of Sigmar RPG is how you balance the relative strengths of a Stormcast Eternal with those of an ordinary human or aelf. Now Cubicle 7 have acknowledged this and seemingly come up with a clever way of addressing it. In short, with great power comes great responsibility.
The game will incorporate both mechanical and external balancing effects, as well as a role playing and social balance in order to help mixed groups. Reading between the lines, it appears that there are limits on the free will of some powerful characters in particular circumstances.
Cubicle 7 have also indicated that the core book will also have notes on preventing imbalance (should it arise within your party).
Morality and Alignment
The Age of Sigmar RPG does not have moral alignments as a formal part of the character development process. However, you will be loosely aligned with a faction and choose to serve any god of the realms that you want.
All the starting characters are from Order factions, but as we all know from Age of Sigmar, the factions of Order do not necessarily mean “good”. The Order factions are simply those that choose to create civilisations rather than destroy them.
And given the RPG is set after the events of the Necroquake and the developing problems with Sigmar’s reforming process, there is plenty of opportunity to explore a Stormcast character going off the rails and slowly losing any connection to humanity. Characters can die and there are rules for being Reforged (although there are also situations where a Stormcast Eternal might die outright).
Attributes, Skills & Talents
As mentioned, player characters are built with attributes, skills and talents.
Attributes describe your innate capabilities such as physical prowess, intelligence, and strength of will, while Skills represent your competency and experience in a particular area. Each character has 3 Attributes — Body, Mind, and Soul — and can choose from up to 24 unique Skills. Talents are unique abilities and features that further define what you are capable of, such as spellcasting, aethercraft, or channeling the power of Sigmar into your strikes.
For an example of how attributes, skills and talents can be combined:
- Body encapsulates anything physical, strength, speed, balance etc
- Mind is deductive reasoning and awareness of surroundings. Book learning and street smarts
- Soul is your force of will, grit and determination, and strength of character
- So Soul + Intimidation (a skill)
- Or Body + Intimidation for a big bruiser
- Or Mind + Intimidation for a Hannibal-esque serial killer
Characters will be able to access both mounts and vehicles and there is even the possibility of followers and retinues. There are also options for crafting and creating your own spells.
AoS RPG: the adversaries
As you would expect with any RPG, there are plans for an extended bestiary of adversaries. The RPG will have the usual mix of mundane creatures as well as monsters: corrupted of chaos, daemons, undead, monstrous beats have all been mentioned. We may even see the addition of significant opponents such as the Mortarchs of Nagash (which have been described as “fair game”).
Where do you pick up the AoS RPG?
Cubicle 7 will be releasing the core book and an Age of Sigmar RPG starter set which will contain a short adventure and pre-made characters for you to try the game system. The release is expected in Q3 2019.
The books will be available for purchase through the Cubicle 7 website, and every purchase comes with a free PDF (which you get through DriveThruRPG).
After the initial launch, there is a long roadmap of continued support and development planned out by Cubicle 7. These plans include adventure books, campaign books and further supplements, new character options and more monsters.
So that’s it for now. Cubicle 7 have promised a lot more updates and reveals of the game system, setting and characters over the coming week. Otherwise, join the Discord group, follow them on Facebook and see the latest updates as they come.