Wednesday, June 12, 2024

GenCon Report: Cubicle 7 Is Giving Tabletop Classics A Fresh Coat Of Paint

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Cubicle 7 Games is planning for their biggest year ever. Already one of the UK’s biggest publishers of tabletop RPG’s, their recent move to Ireland and expanded roster has got them set to bring some stellar titles to stores around the world. Best known as the home for the Doctor Who Roleplaying Game and its many spinoffs and additions, as well as the official home for licensed Middle Earth roleplaying, it has also published games that draw on the Cthulhu mythos, other British media like Primeval, and worked with other companies like Arc Dream Publishing as publishers and distributors in the UK. At this year’s GenCon, they were showing off their newest license, one as distinctly British as Doctor Who or The Lord of The Rings: Games Workshop’s Warhammer series. In addition to their work with Age of Sigmar, Cubicle 7 has announced a Starter Set for the Warhammer Fantasy RPG (which is different from Age of Sigmar for reasons I can’t get into here). They also revealed their new edition of The One Ring, the official RPG of Tolkien’s Legendarium, as well as new additions to Adventures In  Middle Earth, which lets players adventure in Middle Earth using the Dungeons and Dragons 5e system.

I got a chance to check all of this out, and more, when I stopped by their booth at GenCon for a chat.

Just Because It’s Grim, Doesn’t Mean It Isn’t Fun

If you’re not familiar with Warhammer Fantasy, often referred to simply as Warhammer, it’s sort of the grandaddy of of the Warhammer franchise, debuting in 1983 and setting the stage for over 30 years of wargaming dominance by its creator, Games Workshop. The tabletop version, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, is only ever so slightly younger; debuting in 1986. Both predate the arguably more famous Warhammer 40k setting, which took the grimdark and violent fantasy of Warhammer, sent it to space, and cranked everything up to 11 and beyond. The wargame of Warhammer, the one with the little minis and things, was discontinued in 2010 and replaced by Age of Sigmar. But its tabletop RPG has chugged on valiantly, with a new edition released last year by Cubicle 7 after getting the property from Fantasy Flight Games. One year later, they’re welcoming new players into the fold with their newest release:

Warhammer Fantasy Starter Set

The starter set concept is becoming increasingly popular, with at least five debuting at GenCon for a wide range of RPG’s (you can see another example here in the Starfinder Beginner Box). Cubicle 7’s version, however, may be one of the coolest I’ve seen. It’s intended to be a resource for players who are new to Warhammer Fantasy, as well as players who may be new to tabletop in general.

Like most starter sets and beginner boxes, it contains the basic tools needed for a Warhammer Fantasy campaign. Maps, characters, tokens, dice; all are accounted for here. The thing that sets this box from other is the production value behind it, as well as the ingenious ways Cubicle 7 has produced each component. As you can see in the above picture, the box itself doubles as both GM screen and dice rolling tray, with a map and quick rules references printed on the interior. The dice that come with the game are extremely neat, ivory colored d10s inlaid in black and printed with a gothic font straight out of Ubersreik.

The pre-generated characters are all extremely well fleshed out, with goals, flaws, relationships, and adventure hooks all included to help players and GMs integrate them into the world as well as create drama as they go. Each are rendered in a gorgeous illustration and come with a character sheet on the other side of their card. But the possibly coolest part is that the character cards are all trifold, meaning players can prop each one up in front of them like their own screen if they wanted to. The players also have all the information a GM needs to make them NPC’s, meaning you don’t need a large group to interact with them all.

The art for the Warhammer Fantasy Starter Set reflects dark renaissance aesthetic of the world in beautifully gruesome detail

The included literature for the game are where things start to get interesting. “The Adventure Book” includes lots of basic info for brand new tabletop players who don’t know an armor check from a wisdom save, but the real meat is in the adventures themselves. There’s a starting adventure for new groups, as well as 10 scenarios that GM’s can use to develop a story as the game goes along.  The adventures are easy to connect and are meant to work as springboards for original campaigns, showcasing new characters and locations to the players.

“The Guide To Ubersreik” is a fairly comprehensive guide to the dirty old town of Ubersreik, including its history, culture, and citizens. Not only does the book help flesh the world out, each entry to the book comes with two adventure hooks. That gives a GM at least 200 different ways to begin and adventure or spice things up with a new addition. Combined with “The Adventure Book,” a GM can keep a group quite content for a long time before ever having to invest in anything else.

All of the maps in Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay are hand drawn and incredibly detailed

You can currently pre-order the reprint of the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay on Cubicle 7’s store, where it’ll run you $30.00 and ship this fall.

Rough Nights & Hard Days

For more experienced groups, Cubicle 7 has also released a brand new adventure book from Graeme Davis, one of the OG designers on Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay way back in 1986. The new book focuses on a classic RPG adventure setup: a mundane event or meeting that quickly becomes a much bigger problem thanks to the inherently chaotic nature of the world. Players will see operas gone bad, balls turned into battlefields, a wedding gone wrong, and more. You can play them as separate stand-alone adventures or as a long term campaign that sticks players in between two warring noble houses. The game also includes some flavor for GMs with the inclusion of pub games that players can partake in at the inn, as well as the introduction of the mysterious Gnomes as a playable race.

You can pick up Rough Days & Hard Nights on Cubicle 7’s store, where it goes for $34.99 and includes a free PDF.

How Can You Tell It’s Dark If You’re In Space?

Warhammer 40k: Wrath & Glory

After a promising buildup for its release, Warhammer 40k: Wrath & Glory ended up being pretty underwhelming under its original creator Ulisses Spiele. Now licensed to Cubicle 7, the game is getting a complete overhaul to its readability and layout, as well as streamlined character creation developed by longtime 40k designer Ross Watson (Dark Heresy, Rogue Trader). Unlike the d100 system of previous Warhammer RPG’s (including Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay), Wrath & Glory features a more accessible d6-based system that emulates the one used by the Warhammer miniatures games. It’s set in the “present day” of 40k, in a time when the galaxy is split in half by a massive Warp Storm that has made the Forces of Chaos more powerful than ever before. Imperium of Man has launched a crusade to regain their territory lost in the split, the Eldar are trying to fix things, the Tau are taking advantage with new expansion, the Tyranids blind and mostly harmless, and the Orks enjoying the chaos of it all as only Orks can. The chaotic nature of the galaxy means that players will not be as limited in their character selection as in previous 40k RPG’s, meaning players can have Eldar Psykers, Imperial Commissars, Tech-Priests, and Ork Nobs all on the same team. It will also have a broader approach to the world, allowing your ragtag team of doomed mortals to travel all over the galaxy as they desire.

In the grimdark world of the future, nuns are really freaking metal

The PDF edition of the Wrath & Glory Core Rulebook will release in September, with the physical book coming out in November. Cubicle 7 also has multiple supplements planned for release starting early next year. You can still pick up the books released by Ulisses Spiele, including a Starter Set, that will be fully compatible with the new edition of the game.

Role For Precioussss

Why play other tabletop games that are merely inspired by the writings of JRR Tolkien when you can play the real thing? Set after the events of The Hobbit, The One Ring lets players explore the world of Middle Earth for themselves, visiting iconic locations like Mirkwood and the Mines of Moria while battling the dark forces of Sauron. The first edition cleaned house at awards shows when it released, particularly for its art by John Howe (the man who, along with Alan Lee, shaped how most of us view Middle Earth.) In the eight years since its release, thirteen lore books have been released that deepened every corner of the world and added tons of new adventures for players to take part in. Soon after, they began to produce Adventures In Middle Earth, which has all of the lore and production of The One Ring, but in the more familiar d20 based system of Fifth Edition D&D.

The One Ring: The Lord of the Rings Roleplaying Game

The biggest news out of Middle Earth was the debut of the new edition of The One Ring, now retitled The One Ring: The Lord of the Rings Roleplaying game after years of confusion on the part of the gaming community as to what the game was. With the new name comes a complete re-work of the games rules in order to iron out some of kinks and streamline elements of play, as well as incorporate some of the successful additions made after the first Core Rulebook released. Some of these include the change of the “Body” stat to “Strength,” new rules for Weaknesses and corruption, and a shift in setting forward about twenty-five years. This places the game nearer to the events of The War of The Ring, and moves the action further East and South into Gondor and beyond.

Pre-orders for the Collector’s Edition of The One Ring: The Lord of the Rings Roleplaying Game began on the 22nd of August. It features a faux-leather cover inlaid with silver leaf and stamped with the Ring Inscription in both the Tengwar and translated Westron. It also fits into a black slipcase decorated with a UV varnish map of Middle Earth. The whole thing will run you about $119.99/£99.99, and includes a PDF version to be send out before the 2020 release. The standard edition of the game will be announced at a later date, and it will run for $59.99/ £44.99.

Adventures In Middle Earth: Erebor Adventures

If you, like many of us, still need to wash the memory of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy from your brain, Erebor Adventures might be a good way to do that. This expansion to Adventures In Middle Earth, adapted from The One Ring’s “The Laughter of Dragons“, lets you explore Laketown, the newly rebuilt city of Dale, and Lonely Mountain itself. You’ll also be able to meet the surviving members of Thorin’s Company,  drink with the newly crowned King Dain II Ironfoot, and explore the toy markets of Dale with Bard the Bowman. It contains six interconnected adventures that can be played as stand-alone scenarios or as a campaign that unfolds over time. While the Lonely Mountain Region Guide is not essential for these adventures, Loremasters who want to flesh the game out more would do well to pick that book up as well.

Here there be dragons

You can pre-order Erebor Adventures on Cubicle 7’s store, where it retails for $39.99. The complimentary PDF is available immediately, but you’ll have to wait til the later part of this year to get your hands on the physical copy.


We’ll have more news and reviews of all things Cubicle 7, Warhammer, and The One Ring, so keep an eye here!


All images via Cubicle 7 Games

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