(Warhammer 40,000 (White Dwarf 93))
WARHAMMER 40,000 ROGUE TRADER
What is Warhammer 40,000?
Well for starters it isn't just a science fiction game although it is set in the far future: 40,000 years more or less... you guessed! We call it a fantasy game set in the far future... a sort of science fantasy.
The marines moved forward, plasti-steel boots leaving a trail of foot prints in the dust. Moments before, the dust had been a squad of orks, warriors of the alien invasion force which conquered the planet five short years ago.
Brother Tork powered down the multi-melta and slung the weapon on its carrying strap. Two blasts had dealt with the target. He watched his brother marines advancing before him, their steel-grey power-armour suits enwrapped in the snaking mist that rose from the remains of the enemy.
He felt the warmth of the ground despite the heavy insulation built into the soles of his boots. He had fallen behind. The rest of the squad stood a score of paces to his front, their grey forms shimmering in the heat-haze. Beyond them the jungle thickened once more, an obscene growth of orange foliage rising as tall as a drop-ship. The trees arched their huge fronds towards the south where the second sun was rising.
Were Brother Tork foolish enough to remove his helmet, the powerful rays of this alien daylight would destroy his sight within an instant. He gave thanks for the protection of the suit's auto-senses, the witch-machine that conveyed unblinking images directly to his mind.
They began to appear out of the forest, at first in ones and twos, then in small groups. The children and old-folk followed as best they could. The first of the creatures drew close. Five years ago these creatures had been human settlers, before the ork invasion force broke their plexi-shelter domes and cast them into the weird and hostile forests.
Tork loosened the strap on the multi-melta and the other marines levelled their bolters. Captain Dolenz motioned the company to remain in position. His voice rang through Tork's auto-sense.
One of the once-humans was saying something to the Captain, kneeling before him, crooning something inaudible, caressing the marine's armour with hands grown scaly and black. All were blind; all had the pearly white eyes possessed by so many beggars in Jubal. the only human settlement which had survived. Tork could hear the man's croaking voice. Perhaps the words were 'Save us! Save us...'
They live In the Imperium, an empire whose boarders are delineated by the shifting tides of warp-space. Within its boundaries, the affairs of humanity are administered by the multitudinous layers of the Adeptus Terra, the priesthood of Earth and servants of the Emperor. Considerable attention has been given to developing the background and unusual feel of the game.
'Their eyes,' whispered Brother Nesmiv. 'They're blind!''
Tork watched the wretched creature that pawed at the Captain like a dog at the feet of its long-lost master. The others began to edge forward. Their ragged clothes were dirty and scant, their faces slavering, vacant, sightless. And then, glistening mandibles emerged from their mouths...
Captain Dolenz turned quickly, his orders came clearly over the auto-sense.
'Aboriginal Population Irreparable Genetic Damage Terminate.'
Nesmiv's gun spoke first, spitting a hail of bolts into the first creature. Its body ruptured as the charges hit. The creatures turned and ran for the forest edge. Abandoned infants, the sick and the old were trampled. It was too late. The rest of the squad opened fire.
Liberation had come at last, mercifully administered from the gun barrels of the Space Wolves Chapter of the Space Marines.
Needless to say, an extensive range of miniatures is the first priority for any tabletop game. The initial release covers humans in depth and introduces the first of the alien races. Subsequent releases will provide even more human types and new aliens, including the larger and stranger aliens.
The Captain ordered a halt while Brother Joens probed the jungle for hostiles. Psykers like Brother Joens were rare amongst the ranks of the Marines. Few of them were able to withstand the mind-wrenching horrors unavoidable in the line of duty.
No-one spoke, not because to do so might have disturbed the psyker's concentration, but because the battle-brothers were accustomed to silence. Silence saturated the cavernous halls of their fortress-monastery on the planet Lucan. Its stones remained eternally ignorant of levity or chatter. Its worn and ancient flagstones remembering only the contemplative tread of soft leather.
Tork recalled the sun shining through the airless atmosphere and the stained glass of the library-dome. Soon he would be home again... Unless the gods should favour him with a hero's death.
The galaxy has been dominated by mankind since the Age of Technology. But that era is now long gone, a semi-mythical time from which come half-understood and popularly feared ideas and machines known as the old science. The creators of the advanced technology that launched a million voyages of colonisation have been dead for over twenty thousand years. Fragmented over the entire galaxy, human civilisations developed and fell in pan-human wars, interstellar strife, social division and religious fanaticism.
Then, ten thousand years ago, one man began the slow and painful process of rebuilding humanity. He was the Emperor, the first of a new race of psychically powerful humans and the most powerful of his kind. Ten thousand years later, the Emperor still lives, his immobile carcass held together by pure force of will, his great mind bent to the service of humanity. Guided by his psychic powers, human spacecraft brave the seas of warp-space; human agents seek out the enemies of the race; the warriors of the Emperor destroy his enemies. Assailed by psychically attuned aliens the survival of the newly emergent race of human psychics remains in doubt. Only the constant vigilance of the Emperor shields humanity from the thousand perils that threaten its destruction.
The Warhammer 40,000 background is an extension of the Warhammer game series, linking the Warhammer Fantasy Battle and Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay games into a complete background. The rule book looks in detail at the Imperium and the Adeptus Terra, the vast organistion that runs it. Rules are provided for the fighting arms of the Imperium, the Adeptus Astartes (Space Marines), the Army, the Adeptus Custodes (the Emperor's personal guard) and the Adeptus Arbites (the Imperium's judicial warriors). There are also sections on the psychics of the Adeptus Astra Telepathica; the Adeptus Astronomica, the corps responsible for maintaining the Astronomican, the psychic beacon of the Imperium; the civil service Administratum; the Adeptus Mechanicus and its technician members; the Navigators - the warp-space pilots; the lnquisitors, the Imperium's body of investigative agents; Rogue Traders, who are galactic privateers operating on the unexplored eastern edge of the galaxy and beyond; Imperial Syn-skin assassins; and the independent Imperial Commanders (planetary governors). Players have the opportunity to command not only ordinary humans but the various abhuman morphs including squats, ogryns, beastmen and psykers.
Players whose tastes run to more alien extremes have the opportunity to field armies of degenerate orks supported by their even-more-degenerate gretchin allies.
Players with more refined sensibilities may wish to command the forces of the Eldar, an ancient race whose sub-light space-cities float upon the cosmic winds.
If your preferences are for large powerful creatures the warriors of the hive-fleets should meet your requirements, strange six- limbed monstrosities capable of bending biological material to their will. Warhammer die-bards will recognise the Slann and learn more of this once great race and its pivotal role in the history of the galaxy. More exotic aliens afford players the opportunity to use special powers, such as the weird Enslavers who have the ability to take over the minds of enemy troops, Crawlers which burrow beneath the ground surface, and the fearsome Catachan Devil.., which just bites yer face clean off.
In Warhammer 40,000 technology takes a definite backseat, but that doesn't mean that there isn't any to be found. In fact, there's a whole range of advanced weapons, armour types and equipment. The range of technology available reflects the diversity of humanity, ranging from the primitive crossbows and slings used on feral worlds to the barely understood digital and force weapons carried by rich and powerful individuals.
Technology permeates the society of the Imperium despite the mystic aura associated with it. Warp-engines propel spacecraft into the fluid medium of warp-space whilst the Technomats of the Adeptus Mechanicus preserve the sacred knowledge of centuries etched upon the engineered memory cortexes in their brains. Warhammer 40,000 has all the hardware you'd expect in any futuristic game, but interpreted in a radically different way. Gamemasters can utilise what technology they wish to pose different tactical problems for their players: drop-ships or teleporters, dreadnought armour or flak, agile flyers or lumbering crawlers - the opportunities for new permutations are almost endless.
Warhammer 40,000 is a tabletop game with plenty of scope for different kinds of action.
You can fight straight confrontations between humans and aliens, opposing groups of aliens, rebellious humans, or any combination against dangerous animals or plants. With all the galaxy to choose from, scenery can vary from dense jungles to towering cities. It can include such diverse features as lava flows, spongeweed, rubbermoss, magnetic fields, meteor strikes, spawn seas and pancake amoeba...
Helpful advice is given on how to set-up tabletop games and how to make your own scenery such as alien jungles and futuristic buildings. Full provision is made for aerial troops and vehicles, as well as the more unusual subterranean creatures and vehicles which appear in the game.
Combat follows the tried and tested Warhammer Fantasy Battle system with suitable allowance made to incorporate the deadly weapons of the future. In the face of bolt-guns, plasma bombs, chainswords and other extremely powerful weaponry, the role of armour becomes that much more important. Two broad types of armour are dealt with: armour energy fields and physical armour.Energy fields envelop the wearer in a protective force which can cause energy fire
to dissipate or refract, or which absorbs the impact of physical objects. Other types act like small warp-engines, displacing the wearer and avoiding the hit, or else turn the energy of the shot into light, potentially blinding opponents.
Physical armour ranges from the humble flak armour (a pneumatically padded jacket), to full dreadnought armour, in which the pilot is suspended in a life preserving amniotic jelly from which he controls suit functions via a spinal link. Unlike in Warhammer Fantasy Battle, hits are targetted individually and results worked out in the same way, affording a far greater level of personal and character involvement. This becomes important when using weapons with variable damage, area effects, following fire or any of the other special attack modes unique to Warhammer 40,000.
Psychic powers play an important role in the affairs of the Imperium. Psychics (or psykers as they are known) are employed throughout the imperial hierarchy, including the army, the marines, and within the Adeptus Terra.
Psykers are also dangerous.
The emergence of immature, underdeveloped and inexperienced psykers amongst the human race acts like a honey-pot to the countless psychically-attuned monsters and intelligent creatures that live In warp-space. To protect those psykers unable to look after themselves, the lmperium maintains a close watch upon its population, ruthlessly hunting down and recruiting psykers into one of its organisations. Of these the most notable are the Adeptus Astronomica, the component- guardians of the psychic battery called the Astronomican. This psychic beacon is used by Navigators guide their ships through warp space.
All inter-stellar communication is the preserve of another body of psychics, the Adeptus Astra Telepathica or Astropaths. Details are provided for over 100 psychic abilities ranging from psychic shields to creating whole scale geological upheaval! Full descriptions are included for a range of psychically aware monsters, including warp entities, spectres, vampires and the gruesome psychneuein.
Warhammer 40,000 is the latest hard-back book from Games Workshop, following the format which has made Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, Call of Cthulhu and Runequest III so popular. The rules themselves are illustrated with numerous black-and-white diagrams for maximum clarity. Hardware and creatures are represented by technical data drawings and appropriate top-quality black-and-white art.
The book also includes a short introductory fight, Battle at the Farm. A comprehensive summary section and bound-in playsheet help speed play once gamers are familiar with the main rules.
Warhammer 40,000 also includes numerous photographs in black-and-white and colour, illustrating Citadel models in action on the tabletop and providing a wealth of painting and conversion detail. With additional colour and black-and-white scenic art commissioned and scrutinised by the fastidious John Blanche, we reckon Warhammer 40,000 has to be one of the best illustrated games ever produced!
Amongst the citizens of the Imperium they are known as Angels of Death. To the billion-strong bureaucracy of the Administratum they are the Adeptus Astartes. The name whispered by their foes is Space Marine. By any name, they are the most feared of all servants of the Emperor. Marines are recruited during routine raids amongst the hardened scum of the city-bottom. Prospective Marines, or battle-brothers, are subjected to the most advanced forms of training, indoctrination, psycho-surgery and bio-chem. Many initiates do not survive this process, but many more become full battle-brothers and members of the most honoured fighting organisation in the Imperium. There are a thousand different Space Marine Chapters including such renowned names as Spacewolves, Crimson Fists, Dark Angels and Silver Skulls. Each has its own base, or fortress-monastery, whose exact location is often a well-kept secret. Here the Marine Chapter has its weapon-forges and its harbours, as well as its training ground and armoury.
The savage race known as Orks was probably the first alien civilisation encountered by humanity. That was a very long time ago. It is said that when Ork and Man first met upon some airless world over twenty- thousand years ago, each took along hard look at the creature it had discovered, drew pistols, and simultaneously shot the other dead. Things have not changed very much in the ensuing millennia. Most Ork warriors don't care too much who they happen to be fighting for.., just so long as they are fighting. Humans (ughhh spit!) are the Orks favourite enemy, especially unarmed civilians, women and children. Space Marines (arggh spit!) are another matter... and they don't even roast good. If they can't find humans to fight Orks will resort to fighting each other.