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New Warhammer 40k RPG has “brutal” combat

Cubicle 7’s new Warhammer 40k RPG Imperium Maledictum promises decisive, deadly combat that players must approach with caution and planning

Warhammer 40k Imperium Maledictum combat - illustration by Cubicle7 of a combat between loyalist Astra Militarum and traitor cultists

Combat in the upcoming Warhammer 40k RPG Imperium Maledictum will be “fairly brutal”, according to senior producer Padraig Murphy, who Wargamer interviewed last week. He explained  the mechanics of combat damage and critical hits, warning that combat in the “grim and treacherous” RPG will be “very dangerous”.

According to Murphy, an average human character will start with around twelve wounds. “You can lose all your wounds and still be a fairly functional member of the party”, Murphy says, but from that point on any damage you take results in a critical injury.

There are critical injury tables for every body part. “You roll a d10 and add the amount of damage you’ve taken past your wound threshold”, Murphy says, giving an example: “if you’re on zero and you take eight damage you’ll roll a d10 plus eight”, which gives you a result on the relevant injury table. Crits range from a split lip or blood in your eye, to “serious injuries with lasting effects where you’re going to need augmetics”, all the way up to death. Unsurprisingly, headshots are much more likely than other injuries to be fatal.

Warhammer 40k Imperium Maledictum combat - illustration by Stefan Ristic of an Imperial preacher with a chainsword

Unless you’re careful you’ll be out of wounds and taking critical hits quickly, according to Murphy. “A lasgun does seven damage”, he says, adding that accurate attacks or burst fire will both increase that damage. Although damage can be mitigated by armour or cover it’s still likely that a lasgun will strip a character of half their health in a single hit – and a lasgun is one of the lightest firearms the Warhammer 40k factions have access to. “Lasguns are bad enough but once boltshells are flying people people lose their head pretty quick”, Murphy says.

This is all intentional: Murphy says combat is “designed to be fairly brutal”. Anyone who has read Warhammer 40k books about the Astra Militarum or Inquisitorial acolytes will know just how lethal combat is for unaugmented humans in the 40k universe. To mitigate the risk Murphy suggests players should “research your enemies, ambush them and try to never be ambushed”.

Imperium Maledictum released this Thursday – and if you’ve already decided to pick it up, we spoke to Murphy about Cubicle 7’s Imperium Maledictum supplement plans and how the firm will expand the game with books focusing on different factions.

The lethal combat in Imperium Maledictum is a lot crunchier than in Cubicle 7’s existing Warhammer 40k RPG Wrath and Glory, one of the best tabletop RPGs for fans of high-octane sci-fi combat. It has more in common with its fantasy sibling, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, and its predecessor Dark Heresy, available in the March 2023 RPG Humble Bundle.