Null hypothesis

Wrath and Glory

gaming gm settings rpg scifi

I'm reading through the published adventures available for Cubicle 7's Wrath and Glory Warhammer RPG. Null hypothesis is an adventure for Tier 3 or 4 characters. The framework isn't specified, but the quest giver is a rogue trader, while the subject of the rescue quest is Imperium, so there's an argument to be made that anything goes. It would be unexpected to find, say, an Aeldari going on a mission alongside Adeptus Astartes, but I think with a little roleplay you could imagine a temporary truce necessitated by the Gilead System's isolation, or defector xenos.

This review contains spoilers.

A confusing start

The mission is simple. Rogue trader Jakel Varonius hires the player characters to find a "navigational artefact" among a cloister of Sisters of Silence. It sounds like it's archeotech, but the lackey detailing the mission has no information about it. This confuses me a little, as a Game Master, because it seems suspicious and stupid to send players on a mission to find a thing that nobody can describe. Also, the mission doesn't match up with what Varonius actually wants. This is a major spoiler, but what he really wants is the help of the Sisters of Silence, which is convenient because they want to join his flotilla anyway. In other words, I don't understand the point of the mission as delivered by the booklet.

A better mission, from my point of view, would be to go rescue the Sisters of Silence because they're under attack." Simple and direct, and accurate. But for some reason, the adventure has Varonius hiring the player characters to go find an artefact that doesn't actually exist because he wants the Sisters to come join his flotilla. But the preamble says they're already keen to join his flotilla. And how does sending people to go find a non-existent artefact end up with the Sisters hanging out on Varonius's ship? The best scenario I can think of is that the player characters go looking for the artefact, fail to find it, and then come back empty handed. There's no reason for the player characters to go looking for the artefact, fail to find it, and then come back with all the Sisters of Silence in tow.

It makes no sense. But I guess you could go with it, and send the player characters to Plinio with a false mission and then just let the adventure play out. It does work, and most players probably won't notice the failed logic of the premise. Alternately, you could just tell the player characters that the sisters are under attack, but Varonius has need of their assistance, and so he's hiring somebody to go rescue them.

Sisters of Silence

The Sisters of Silence are defenders of the Emperor who are, as the name of their order suggests, sworn to silence. But they are also psychic "blanks". They nullify any nearby Psyker's powers, and it's because of this unique trait that Varonius is interested in them. He believes that the Sisters of Silence might dampen the dangers of the Warp such that he would be able to travel through it, and out of the Gilead System. He's incorrect, but his hope is justification enough for him to hire somebody to drop in on them.

When the player characters arrive on Plinio, a moon of the planet Ostia, they find the sisters all but wiped out. They find a lone survivor, sister Desiel Klesp, wounded but willing to help once it's been established that the player characters are allies and not raiders. From that point on, the mission is very clear. Look for further survivors, and kill the baddies.

The big bad evil thing at the end is Taranax, a Chaos Sorcerer. As you can imagine, if the players have managed to keep Desiel Klesp alive, she's able to be a considerable help to them by dampening Taranax's powers. She's a walking Deny the Witch, essentially, so unfortunately she's quick to become Taranax's primary target. But with quick wits and strong hits, the player characters can bring the incursion to an end and, ideally, save the last two Sisters of Silence on Plinio.


Corruption tests come up a lot in this and in previous adventures, and the more it comes up the more I appreciate the mechanic. Corruption is a little like Insanity in Call of Cthulhu, or in theory even a little like Alignment in Pathfinder. It's a different measure, apart from health points, of character degradation.

The "problem" with a lot of RPG systems, or at least the way many of us play an RPG, is that health points are the only way a player can lose. That means that combat and traps become a Game Master's only tool to make a situation really threatening. Everything else is just a time sink. You can put puzzles in front of players, or social encounters, and while failure may lead to a different path than the one a player is aiming for, it's not a threat.

Corruption in Wrath & Glory is a threat. It's not something you can brute force your way past. You have to make a test against the powers of the Warp, or you fall prey to Chaos. That adds a new kind of excitement and tension beyond HP, and it's a great aspect of the game.

Simple action adventure

Despite the confusing premise, this was a good adventure. I think it's probably very much what a longtime Warhammer fan might want out of a Warhammer RPG experience. It's a high Tier, so you can play as an iconic Astartes or similarly powerful archetype, and the mission is pretty focused on a single objective. Go in, kill the baddies, extract the Emperor's faithful. What more do you need from a Warhammer 40,000 adventure?

All images in this post copyright Games Workshop.

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