Roleplaying in the Mortal Realms
Morralri slides gracefully under the two-fisted swing of the grey-skinned Troggoth, her serrated blades cutting a razor-thin line down its forearms. The Troggoth's wound is knitting closed before it even begins its lumbering turn after the lithe Witch Aelf. Walter knew that she was being deliberately slow, when she danced with her blades, he could barely keep up with her movements, but she turned the Troggoth around, leading him. Morralri stopped, turning the face the looming monstrosity, her head leaning to one side, a look of disappointment and boredom on her smooth and terrifying features. The Troggoth raises its two massive fists, looking to smash Morralri into the ground. A low rumbling, like the sound of the earth before a quake gets the Troggoth's attention as its dull senses register the threat, it's head moves slowly to face Willow, the huge Kurnoth Hunter. 'Oh Laddie, the old bark isn't what you have to worry about,' as Nuzoum, the Duardin who looks more machine than flesh, announces his presence by burying his huge hammer into the knee cap of the Troggoth.
Warhammer Age of Sigmar Soulbound is the latest roleplaying game from Cubicle 7, the company behind the new edition of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (WFRP) and the Warhammer 40K RPG, Wrath and Glory.
In this preview, we're going to take a look at what's in the Soulbound Core Book as well as look at what Cubicle 7 has planned for future products in the Soulbound range.
For those coming from WFRP, the setting for Soulbound is slightly different from what you may already know, but for those coming from the Age of Sigmar tabletop game, you’ll already have a head start on the background.
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Age of Sigmar Soulbound is set after the destruction of the Warhammer Old World and takes place in the Mortal Realms. There are 8 connected realms and each has a characteristic that defines it, such as the Realm of Death and the Realm of Beasts. When the realms were first created, everything was kind of ok and there was balance, but recently there has been discontent, with Chaos gods looking to gain further power and the realms of Death and Beasts carrying out their own agendas. Into this world, our heroes come.
The player's character are a group, literally soulbound together to face the forces of darkness. The soulbinding process connects the characters, giving them the strength to fight against the evil forces that are gathering. The group has a shared Soulfire pool that can be used to gain maximum results on tests, recover health, or even cheat death.
The first part of any RPG is to create a character and in Soulbound, character creation is a very simple 4-step process with numbers, and then an equal amount of fleshing out the narrative details. Soulbound includes an impressive 23 archetypes to choose from, including Battle Mages, armored and flying Duardin, natures mighty warriors, the Kurnoth Hunters and 4 different Stormcast Eternals archetypes.
Once players have chosen their archetype, there’s some fine-tuning of stats, skill selection, equipment fitting, and then the rest is fleshing out the details for your character. The quick system still gives a lot of flexibility for builds but keeps the focus on narrative, rather than deep-diving into specific numbers.
This focus follows through into the core rules, where tests are quick and an abstract range system keeps battles flowing smoothly. The rules focus on getting rolls over quickly, to keep the narrative going.
Tests have 2 parts, difficulty, and complexity. The difficulty is the number you need to get on a D6, and the complexity is the number of successes you need. Most systems only have a single variable, with those requiring multiple successes having a set number to roll, and those requiring only a single success having a varying target number to reach. Having the 2 variables adds a quick narrative flow, once you get your head around it. Climbing a wall may be a simple task for your agile character, resulting in a single roll of 3 or more, but if the climbing of the wall requires circumventing some traps along the way, moving from different parts of the wall to another over a short period of time, could require 4 successful rolls of 3 or more.
Character creation and the rules make up just short of half the book. The rest is filled with a huge amount of lore and background, including a fantastic section on religion across the whole Mortal Realms. The Games Master’s section is light and mainly filled with a detailed Bestiary covering a huge breadth of beasts and enemies. The sheer amount of information in the book will give experienced GM’s a lot to work with in terms of getting the game going, but beginner GM’s might want to wait for the Soulbound Starter Set or the free adventure that is soon to be released.
Cubicle 7 has announced the release roadmap for Age of Sigmar Soulbound and to give you an insight into what’s planned, we’ve summarised the releases below.
Already available to pre-order are:
- Soulbound Core Rulebook - The pdf is available now, with physical copies shipping later.
- Soulbound Collectors Edition Core Rulebook - The fantastic looking Collector's edition comes with a faux leather cover and gold page edges.
- The Great Parch - An huge A1 (23x33 in) map of the starting realm for Soulbound.
- Soulbound Dice Trays - 3 Soulbound themed dice trays are available to pre-order.
The rest of the planned products are:
- Crash & Burn - A free adventure soon to be available to download.
- GM’s Screen & CIties of Flame Supplement - A handy screen for GMs to hide notes and also summarises important information on the inside screen. Cities of Flame contains 25 one page adventures in the Cities of Sigmar
- Soulbound Starter Set - A boxed set containing everything needed for your first few games of Soulbound including an adventure, quick-start rules, and dice. If it’s anything like the WFRP 4e Starter Set, it will be an incredible product.
- Shadows in the Mist - The first campaign setting includes a city guide and 6 adventures that will be released monthly.
- Champions of Order - Expanded player options with more archetypes, including the brand new Age of Sigmar tabletop faction the Lumineth Realm Lords, along with more talents and spell options.
- Horrors of the Mortal Realms - Contains an expanded bestiary to arm the GM with enemies to throw at the players.
- Steam & Steel - Engineering options for players and vehicle rules.
- Artefacts of Power - A book of magical artifacts and spell options.
Due to production issues by lockdowns around the world, the Age of Sigmar Soulbound rulebook is only available in PDF, which you also get by pre-ordering physical copies. Physical copies are planned for release later in the year, including the awesome looking Soulbound Collectors Edition. We're looking forward to getting into Soulbound when lockdown eases. Which archetype are you looking forward to playing?