Supplement Supplemental! (Beasts For WFRP, Vehicles For Wrath & Glory, and More Imperial Archives)

Time for another entry in my ongoing series of brief looks at interesting game supplements. This time, it’s a Warhammer special, looking at a clutch of supplements from Cubicle 7 for Wrath & Glory and 4th Edition WFRP.

The Imperial Zoo (WFRP)

Back in the era of 2nd Edition WFRP, the Old World Bestiary had a neat conceit where the first half consisted of bestiary entries on the creatures detailed therein, whereas the back half provided the actual stats, so you could have a gap between what was IC known about the monsters in question and what was true. The Imperial Zoo for 4th Edition WFRP takes this tradition one step further, by presenting the stats embedded in accounts of daring expeditions undertaken to study rare beasts on behalf of the titular zoo.

This is an unconventional way to do a monster book, but it’s certainly a flavourful one; if you need an alphabetical listing, after all, there’s always the index, and the approach gives the referee freedom to choose which aspects of the writeups are true and which are misunderstandings, whilst using the writeups as a basis for handouts and information the PCs can acquire by asking the relevant NPCs.

The book also provides extensive details on the harvesting of monster parts for making magic item, in suitably gruesome detail, as well as a handy summary table of creature traits which is useful for quickly figuring out what a creature can do. The book also reflects a tune-up in the way Cubicle 7 present WFRP monster stats, better optimised for helping refs quickly work out a creature’s capabilities with less cross-referencing, which is very welcome. The collection is rounded out with some sample player characters, designed to be especially suitable for a campaign based around follow-up expeditions building on the work of the Imperial Zoo’s previous parties of explorers, which would certainly be a way to get maximal value out of the book.

If you want an encyclopedic collection of WFRP adversary stats, this may seem a little thin – particularly since the emphasis here is very much on beasts (and perhaps some goblins and skaven here and there), not on a broader range of foes. On the other hand, The Imperial Zoo is an interesting and worthwhile experiment in rethinking what an RPG monster book can be, and I think it is richer for it.

Church of Steel (Wrath & Glory)

This is essentially the vehicles supplement for Cubicle 7’s revised version of Wrath & Glory. The original release of the game had vehicle weapons in the core book, but they were somewhat underbaked (as were other aspects of that slightly rushed project); after Ulisses North America gave up the rights to the line and Games Workshop tasked Cubicle 7 with the salvage job, the revised rulebook trimmed that back, in service of the bid to refocus the game around its’ system’s strengths. This supplement in essence provides a fully revised vehicle system, plus some fluff on the Adeptus Mechanicus and how various factions view and interact with their vehicles, plus a deep bench of example vehicles from a range of PC factions, and so on.

I’m usually not enough of a gearhead to want much out of vehicle rules in RPGs. To my mind, a vehicle in a game is there to eithe provide a means of allowing characters to travel from A to B, or to provide a situational or environmental modifier, such as in a chase scene. I’m particularly disinterested in having a fully-developed system of vehicular combat, rather than just using vehicles as modifiers to the baseline combat system; going further than this often gets quite wargamey for my tastes.

Fortunately, Church of Steel largely follows this approach. The rules for using vehicles are kept fairly simple, vehicle stats are kept terse, and the supplement includes useful guidelines and tools for running journeys on a narrative basis. If you want to go full gearhead, Church of Steel may end up disappointing, but if you just want a bit of system support for handling travel sequences or vehicular combat which doesn’t get too bogged down this will do the job.

Archives of the Empire Volume 2 (WFRP)

As with the previous volume of this series, this is a bit of a grab-bag of stuff. This time there’s a deep dive on ogres, including rules for PCs (a treatment which does an OK job of avoiding some of the more racist implications of earlier iterations of the lore), details on star signs and astrology, rules for making magic items and handling the exploits of PCs in battles, and an overview of the Grand Hospice.

It’s perhaps best to see the Archives of the Empire series as a sort of high production value, thick WFRP magazine – any particular issue is going to have a weird grab-bag of stuff, you may struggle to use all of it (and probably won’t want to), but there’ll likely be something which tickles your fancy.

6 thoughts on “Supplement Supplemental! (Beasts For WFRP, Vehicles For Wrath & Glory, and More Imperial Archives)

  1. It is nice to see Warhammer RPGs getting some love. I GMed three of the five 4E adventures of the Enemy Within campaign before giving up. The system was just too crunchy for me. Anyway, are you planning to write about the OGL drama?

    1. Perhaps eventually, but I want to wait until Wizards give their response before I do so. (They’ve tweeted that some form of clarification is coming.) It’s a very fluid situation, and I’d rather write a piece which remains applicable in the long term that write up a news post which will go stale quickly, particularly in relation to drama which has gone so widespread that more or less anyone who cares to pay attention to industry news is surely aware of it already.

      My immediate take: it’s a terrible idea on Wizards’ part and has already done a bunch of damage to the 3rd party supplement industry which it will be incredibly difficult to repair. Even if they backtrack on this now, the mere fact that they were contemplating doing some of the things which the OGL 1.1 involves means that nobody sensible will trust them to be sensible, reliable, fair-minded licensors in the future – everyone thinking of putting out an OGL product will remember this and think “But what if they decide to try this shit again?” and be more reluctant to proceed as a result.

      They spent 22 years establishing trust and have lost that in the space of days. The fact that their own statements, from when the OGL was originally published, suggested that the option to use old versions of the licence would always be available is the icing on the cake. (People would be well advised to look up the principle of “promissory estoppel” in this regard.) They are likely relying on the notion that nobody will want to (or have deep enough pockets to) fight a case on this, because I wouldn’t actually fancy their chances if that came to court; if you spend literal decades reassuring people that a licence can’t be revoked or deauthorised and then say “Nah, we’re deauthorising it”, that going to look arbitrary and goofy.

      I am particularly surprised by the range of communities coming out against this. YouTube is in uproar. Tiktok is furious. All the Actual Play people are looking hard at this. Forums with radically differing internal cultures are all angry about it. There’s been a lot of divisiveness in the community for quite a while so it’s quite something to see Wizards do something so monumentally and obviously shitty that everyone can agree it’s bad.

      I don’t think the effect on Wizards should be underestimated. Last time this happened, it meant that 4E had only a tiny scrap of a market for third party support, and Pathfinder became a thing. This time, the place of D&D in the market is propped up by the goodwill of the online community (like the Critical Role fanbase) much more than it was back then. And that community’s repulsed by this.

    2. Couldn’t agree more. 4e is ridiculously crunch. I ran it recently for a group who were very familiar with earlier editions, and a simple combat took well over an hour. Plus, the supposedly revamped Enemy Within isn’t nearly revamped enough for me. A large portion of it is still worryingly on rails.

  2. The Imperial Zoo, in its revamping of creature presentation and its provision (finally) of a skimmable reference list of Creature Traits, is third in an undeclared line of “here’s how we should have handled in the first place” supplements for WFRP 4. Up in Arms revamped injuries, Critical Wounds, the Shield quality, and Advantage, while Winds of Magic revamped spellcasting.

    I’m glad to get these improvements, but they only add to my feeling that the core rulebook really needs an Edition 4.5 do-over to sand out some of the rough edges and inconsistencies and to clean up the scattershot and bloviating presentation. (It’s got a lot of good ideas, but was published without sufficient playtesting and revision, and I think that shows.)

    1. Hm. “should have handled in the first place” was supposed to be “should have handled {some aspect of the game system} in the first place”. Apparently the comment software doesn’t like angle brackets.

    2. They do seem to be the WFRP equivalent of the Xanathar’s/Tasha’s/Mordenkainen’s trifecta of 5E D&D supplements. And perhaps they will do a revised core, once the existing stock runs short.

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