Designer Diary – Ascension
Greetings, readers! Today I’m going to pick up the thread from my December Designer Diary where I talked about the different Tiers of play in the Wrath & Glory RPG. Today’s designer diary goes hand-in-hand with that one, so I suggest you read it first.
In Wrath & Glory, the first step is to choose the Tier of your campaign. After that has been established, you can freely mix any characters of that Tier or lower into your game. How does this work? Characters with an archetype of a Tier lower than the Game’s Tier can Ascend.
It would have been simple to say something like, “A character of a lower tier spends a number of build points to equal the game tier.” However, that answer—while simple—lacks any investment of story in the character’s growth. It also can lead to some unusually restrictive situations. For example, Imperial Guardsman Tannenberg (a Tier 1 archetype) joining a Tier 3 game would still begin play with just his flak armour and a lasgun, which could lead to Tannenberg’s player feeling very under-prepared for the challenges of a Tier 3 campaign.
So here’s how Ascending works. A lower-Tier character buys an “Ascension package,” which gives that character three important things. First, the character gains a new Keyword to symbolize their journey from that lower Tier to the higher one. This keyword represents some allegiance, contact, or connection to another organization that the character acquired, and it comes with some bonus influence to indicate that the character is now more well-known. Secondly, the character gains either some points of Corruption or a memorable injury—typically some kind of scar or other reminder that the 41st Millennium is a very dangerous place. Thirdly, the character may select some additional gear of higher rarity than their starting equipment, and the value of that gear scales with the new Tier to which they are ascending.
Here’s the proper example of Imperial Guardsman Tannenberg joining a Tier 3 campaign. The player spends points to buy Tannenberg’s attributes, skills, and talents as normal for Tier 1. Then, the player purchases the Ascension package “Stay the Course,” (the basic Ascension package as described above). The player decides that Tannenberg spent some time working with the Imperial Inquisition after going through grueling interrogation in the wake of a battle against a rogue psyker (gaining the Inquisition Keyword). The battle was costly, leaving Tannenberg the only survivor of his platoon and bearing a permanent twitch in one eye as a souvenir (the player chose the memorable injury). When Tannenberg joins the Tier 3 warband, he walks in with a plasma pistol holstered at his hip and a sub-dermal armour augmetic implant. Lastly, the player then spends the remaining build points (after deducting the cost of the Ascension package) on more attributes, skills, and talents until they reach the starting total for a Tier 3 character.
Tannenberg is now formidable enough to meaningfully contribute to a Tier 3 campaign and not feel entirely overshadowed by archetypes that begin at Tier 3. The twitchy Imperial Guardsman may not be as strong or as tough as a Space Marine, but he has a lot of experience dealing with the Inquisition, influence amongst that shadowy organization (as well as the Astra Militarum), and a broad depth of skills and talents that he can bring to the table.
Keep an eye on the Ulisses North America website for more updates to come about Wrath & Glory!
-Ross Watson, Product Line Manager