Champions of Order is the first player orientated supplement for Age of Sigmar: Soulbound, the RPG from Cubicle 7. Weighing in at 144 pages, this book is stuffed with new options to flesh out your characters. You’ll find new archetypes (including a new faction), new rules for sub-factions, new talents, miracles, spells, and new endeavours. If it’s a character option, then you can probably find more of them here.
Archetypes and sub-factions
The headliners. These are the new additions that are likely to grab the most attention. For those that don’t know much about Soulbound (in which case, why not check out my review of the core rulebook?), each player will choose an archetype to form the basic chassis of their character. Each archetype is part of a larger faction which lines up generally quite nicely with the different factions from the Age of Sigmar miniatures wargame (it’s almost as if they’re linked).
Champions of Order adds a new faction to the RPG: the Luminth Realm-Lords. These magically attuned Aelfs tend to be arrogant and obsessive, which has caused great internal strife in the past. Since then, they have worked to achieve some measure of balance in their lives, though they still seem to channel their inner Spock as they favour logic to emotions. This faction comes with 4 new archetypes: spell casters in the form of the Alarith Stonemage’s and Scinari Cathallar, but also the well-disciplined warrior-mages of the Vanari Warriors and the hammer-wielding bulwarks that are the Alarith Stoneguard (with their magnificent helmets). The Lumineth Realm-Lords continue the trend of Age of Sigmar, where they take pretty standard fantasy tropes and shake them up in exciting ways to make them their own.
However, this new faction doesn’t get all the attention as there are also new archetypes for the factions found in the core rulebook.
- Daughters of Khaine: Khainite Shadowstalkers, elite assasins specalized in moving rapidly through shadows.
- Fyreslayers: Grimwrath Berzerkers, who have undergone painful trials to be able to fully unleash the power of the runes carved into their flesh.
- Idoneth Deepkin: Isharann Soulrenders, malgined and eerie users of soul-magic.
- Kharadron Overlords: Aetheric Navigator, wayfarers and cartographers essential to the functioning of the sky-fleets.
- Stormcast Eternals: Knight-Zephyros, experts in guerilla warfare used to operating independently.
- Sylvaneth: Spirit-Revenant, tortured manifestations of nature’s wrath that invoke fear where they go.
These new archetypes tend to compliment the existing ones well, providing new playstyles for their faction. The only faction that doesn’t have a new edition is the ‘Free Peoples’. While I enjoy the idea of including average citizens in a binding, the Free Peoples already had the largest number of options (with 5 archetypes) in the core rulebook, so, understandably, the others get a bit more love here.
Each faction has also been fleshed out with “sub-factions”, representing the different cultures within the same faction. Each sub-faction gets a brief description, allowing you to flesh out your character’s backstory a bit and break up the monolithic nature of each faction. Mechanically, each character gains the equivalent of a new talent at creation, representing the particularities of the culture that they come from. This means that all characters are now slightly stronger than they were before, which leans in happily to Soulbound‘s drive to make your characters as impressive as possible.
Some of these provide combat bonuses, while others are helpful in social situations, and others still provide advantages during downtime activities. For example, the Free People from the city of Excelsis have minor divination abilities, Kharadon from Barak-Nar are good at public speaking, and the Zaitrec Lumineth ignore the normal limitations on learning spells. Some are even more exotic, with the Kharadon of Barak-Thryng keeping their own list of personal grudges against enemies in the campaign that have wronged them, while the Lumineth of Illiatha have a clone-twin, meaning that you can officially pull of the ‘here is the sibling of my old character’ trick when you die.
The nuts and bolts
In addition to the flashy additions of new archetypes, Champions of Order also brings with it a slew of new options for your characters in the form of talents, miracles, spells, and endeavours. These aren’t headline grabbers and probably won’t be what first draws you to the book, but they’re quite possibly much more impactful overall.
Soulbound archetypes are just that, large archetypes with a few general characteristics that you can then customise quite a lot through your choice of talents and skills. You’ll be choosing a lot more talents than you will make new characters (unless you’re playing a particularly grueling campaign).
While many new talents are linked with the new archetypes, nothing stops another character from taking them as long as they meet the requirements. Only the Spite-Revenant can take the ‘Unbridled Malice’ talent, for example, but any Sylvaneth can take ‘Natural Weapons’, and ‘Executioner’ is available to absolutely everyone.
In addition to talents, there are new Miracles that can be picked up for all of the different Deities listed in the core rulebook, as well as the addition of Miracles for two additional divinities: Grungni and Teclis. The former rotate around buffing allies and crafting, while the latter take on a more arcane nature, seeking to study, understand, and bolster magic.
In the same vein, your mages will also find additional spells for all the different lores of magic in the core rulebook, as well as the addition of a new lore of magic close to the Lumineth (the new faction): High Peaks Spells. These spells take their roots from the tall mountain peaks of Hysh and often revolve around notions of stone, wind, and harsh conditions.
Rounding out this grand list of new goodies, there are a few pages of additional equipment, often thematically linked to the new archetypes or certain sub-factions. There is also a flurry of new downtime activities (known as endeavours in Soulbound). These range from the mundane ‘Brawl’ to the more exotic ‘Greater Loyal Companion’, which allows you to attempt to tame impressive and dangerous beasts (many of which can be found in the bestiary) such as a magmadroth.
I want to highlight the ‘Succumb to Despair’ endeavour, which has no positive impact, will make things harder for the part, and still takes up your downtime. It exists purely to provide a mechanical representation of a dramatic roleplaying moment. The text even calls out that many groups will never use it and that it should only be done if everyone at the table consents, but I still love that Soulbound is willing to implement suboptimal choices to improve the game’s narrative.
If all of this isn’t enough for you, there are two additional sections that I feel are very welcome additions, despite not really being necessary. To start with, the Allies and Contacts section provides a list of NPCs that the party might befriend, notably through taking the ‘Contacts’ endeavour. While you can simply provide them with any contact, this section cuts down on the work required by the GM in most cases, as they can choose an appropriate one from the list or adapt one that’s close enough. They also provide a template for allies that the party might pick up, with a simple list of attributes, skills and talents, and then a couple of benefits that they might provide the character.
Next, in the appendix, five new pre-generated character sheets use the new archetypes and are perfect for a party to pick up and play with. There is even a little backstory about the origins of this particular binding, which can help show an example of the sort of goals that they might have.
Speaking of building up a backstory, Champions of Order also has you covered. The background chapter provides an array of tables allowing you to quickly flesh out (or inspire you) your bindings back story and its short-term and long-term goals. There are also individual tables, based on faction, for your characters to link to the binding and their own goals.
These sections are really orientated towards cutting down on the work for both GMs and players. Even if you don’t want to roll randomly on a table, these sections are bursting with inspiration that should help you if you’re stuck. It feels like Soulbound is definitely making an effort to lower the barrier of entry to try the game out and make it seem like less of a daunting challenge.
Unless you have a player desperate to try out one of the new archetypes, Champions of Order isn’t likely to be a must-buy. However, this is due more to the strength of the Soulbound Core Rulebook rather than any weakness with Champions of Order. It’s an incredibly solid book, that will provide much more depth to any character, both mechanically and narratively.
A lot of the novelty and excitement in the book can be found in the gritty details, such as the talents, new spells, and endeavours, that any character will be able to enjoy and not just the (admittedly very exciting) new archetypes. These details might not be the reason that you first looked at Champions of Order, but they will be the reason that you keep coming back to it for many campaigns to come.
Images via Cubicle 7 Entertainment
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