As I try to convince myself that I don’t need to jump into another roleplaying game, I find myself getting more curious about Age of Sigmar: Soulbound with every article I read. Fortunately, like one of my greedy Grots, I was able to claw some information from the fine folks at Cubicle 7 who are developing the system.
Q: Who are you and what do you do on the development of Age of Sigmar: Soulbound?
A: My name is Emmet Byrne. I’m the Producer on Soulbound, as well as co-designer with Dominic McDowall, our CEO here at Cubicle 7.
Q: For those unaware, what is Age of Sigmar: Soulbound?
A: Age of Sigmar: Soulbound is a tabletop roleplaying game set in the Warhammer: Age of Sigmar universe. It’s the first RPG ever for Age of Sigmar, so it’s pretty exciting to be a part of!
Q: How long has Soulbound been in development?
A: I’ve been working on Soulbound for close to a year now, but Dom and the team have been working on it for a bit longer.
Q: Did this project come as a proposition from Games Workshop to yourselves or did you seize the initiative and seek it out from them yourselves?
A: Games Workshop were already talking to us about taking on WFRP, and when they raised the possibility of an Age of Sigmar RPG as well we were very excited by the opportunities and scale of the setting.
Q: Give us a semi-brief rundown of what makes Soulbound stand out from other fantasy RPGs.
A: The big draw has to be the setting. The Age of Sigmar is one of the most unique settings out there in my opinion. It’s a blend of fantasy, magitech, steampunk, and post apocalyptic horror. It has this incredible creation myth that ties the whole setting together through eight unique realms (nine realms if you want to take your chances in the Realm of Chaos!). There are gods and monsters, demigods and demons, and then there are regular people desperately trying to survive in a cruel and brutal world. There is room for a lot of different kinds of storytelling in the Mortal Realms.
Q: My understanding is that Soulbound features a three-attribute system – Body, Mind and Soul. What was the decision to go with this smaller number of attributes as opposed to a more traditional, varied characteristics line? What would you say to those fearing it might come across as a little too simple or constraining?
A: A big part of our goal with Soulbound was to make it welcoming to new players. We wanted it to be appealing to people brand new to roleplaying games, perhaps coming over from the battlegame, and we wanted it to be appealing to those who are unfamiliar with the Age of Sigmar setting.
Having six, ten, twenty different attributes can be daunting to new players. When you layer skills on top of that, a lot of people might just check out. By boiling it down to 3 core attributes and letting the minutia come from Skills and Talents, we present what appears to be a simple system that also supports a lot of granularity. By starting with a “simple” system, we can layer on complexity — you can’t make a complex system simple!
Q: What has been the highlight for yourself on this project? Working out the mechanics? Getting to dive into the setting? World-building? Etc.
A: Creating mechanics is always fun because it becomes this intricate puzzle to solve, but I have to say the most fun has been exploring the setting. Every new battletome, short story, and book that comes out has incredible nuggets of lore and story, and we get to pull on these threads and see where they lead. Even just looking at the maps of the realms you can see something with an evocative name and your mind immediately starts coming up with possibilities.
At the moment I’m working with TS Luikart, who has a storied history with Warhammer RPGs (including WFRP 4), on our first big campaign for Soulbound. That is incredibly exciting to be working on as it’s our chance to show exactly what a Soulbound adventure campaign looks like. It’s early days yet but we’re hoping to share more details soon.
Q: You guys have recently taken the reins on Wrath and Glory, the Warhammer 40K RPG previously penned by Ulisses. That feels like two incredibly meaty systems and universes to be getting stuck into. Were you and the team a little intimidated to be tackling such large franchises at once?
A: I don’t think intimidated is the right word, it’s more of a giddy excitement! There is a weight of responsibility with these games and these universes, and we are lucky enough to be able to work on them and carve out our own stories to share with the fans. We also have a big team here, with multiple producers, designers, editors, writers, and artists, so we have the capacity to work on these big projects all at the same time.
Q: On the flip side of the previous questions, realising that you hold RPG projects for Age of Sigmar, 40K and Warhammer Fantasy, that would appear to exhibit a lot of trust from Games Workshop in what you guys do with their licenses and IPs. What have Games Workshop been like to work with alongside these projects? Do you get some stern creative limitations or are they fairly happy for you guys to weave as you will?
A: Cubicle 7 has been making outstanding quality products for years now, and I think the trust that Games Workshop has shown us is testament to that. Working with the team at GW has been fantastic. No-one knows these worlds like they do, so whenever we are stuck or unsure of something they are just an email or phone call away. There are always going to be some limitations — Games Workshop aren’t going to want us to suddenly decide that all Duardin have wings! — but it as always comes from conversation and discussion. We all want to make sure we are creating the best content that is true to Warhammer, whether it’s Fantasy, Wrath and Glory, or Soulbound.
Q: Do you think there’s something in Soulbound for players of your Warhammer Fantasy Battles RPG? Might there be a nice segway from one product to another?
A: I like to think there is, but a lot of it will depend on the type of game you are looking for. WFRP is grim and perilous, fighting for every scrap you can find. Soulbound on the other hand often sees you dealing with larger than life threats. There is still peril and horror, but it is on a different scale.
There are small, very personal stories in Soulbound, but it is always with the backdrop of the Mortal Realms hanging on a knife edge. I sometimes liken it to what you see in some of the Marvel movies, like Iron Man and Avengers: larger than life heroes, but at their heart they are still people. You can tell personal, harrowing stories, and still turn around and smash someone with a hammer wreathed in lightning.
As for a segway from WFRP to Soulbound, that’s easy: play up to the End Times and have your characters soul come back in the body of a Stormcast Eternal!
Q: What’s the more accessible way for players to get in to Soulbound? Might there be a Starter Set planned at launch? The Cubicle 7 Warhammer Fantasy RPG Starter Set looks to be a great attempt for first-time GMs and players; will a similar approach be taken with Soulbound?
A: Yep, we will have a boxed Starter Set for Soulbound. It will come with a 48 page adventure book to teach you the rules, as well as a 64 page guide to a brand new city of our own creation: Brightspear, which you can see on the cover art for the Starter Set. You’ll also get a number of pre-generated characters, rules reference sheets, handouts, tokens, and anything else we can squeeze into the box! Anyone who has picked up the WFRP Starter Set should have a good idea of what to expect.
Q: For me, I’m a fan of a big, packed bestiary. I love having a large selection of beasts, brutes and baddies to throw at my player characters. Might you be able to share any confirmed foes that players will likely be coming across in Soulbound?
A: I won’t share specifics, but you can expect creatures from each major faction. This means we’ll have Blades of Khorne, Children of the Horned Rat, Disciples of Tzeentch, Hedonites of Slaanesh, Maggotkin of Nurgle, and plenty of undead from the Legions of Nagash!
Q: We’ve seen some character archetype announcements from Cubicle 7 over the last few months. Might you have another one in store for us? Or some thing new and exciting reveals?
A: We’ve actually revealed almost all of our Archetypes now! We have a few more we’re holding back, but we will have more news soon. We’re deep in development on the core, Starter Set, and early development on our campaign, so as soon as we have more news we’ll share them through our website and social media channels.
Q: Whilst I’m aware that the game itself isn’t actually out yet, might there be a chance you could shed some light on what we can expect from Soulbound post-release? For instance, some supplements that may be in the works?
A: As mentioned, we’ll have the Starter Set and a campaign book. We’ll also be releasing a GM’s screen with a 32 page adventure supplement. After that initial wave we’ll be supporting the line with downloadable adventures, similar to those you see for WFRP. We also have plans for more adventures, player options, and of course adventures in other realms! So, there is plenty to come for Soulbound.
Q: Finally, when can the players expect to get their hands on Soulbound?
A: Soulbound will be out late Q1/early Q2 of 2020.
Well, please forgive my earlier claim of Grots and clawing. Clearly, Emmet was more than happy and polite to chat! Thanks very much to Emmet for his time and all the information put forward. I’m immensely keen to see how Cubicle 7 get on with Soubound. As always, be sure to keep checking back for news. Alternatively, follow us on Facebook to be kept up to date.