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TM

® ®

CORE RULEBOOK

TM

ROLEPLAYING IN THE GRIM DARKNESS
OF THE 41ST MILLENNIUM

CREDITS
Managing Art Director

Fantasy Flight Games

Andrew Navaro

Only War Designed By

Art Direction

Andrew Fischer
with additional concepts by Mack Martin and Sam Stewart

Andy Christensen

Production Management

Lead Developer

Eric Knight

Andrew Fischer

Licensing and Development Coordinator

Credits

Writing and Development

Deb Beck

Owen Barnes, Max Brooke, Nathan Dowdell, John Dunn,
Matthew “HBMC” Eustace, Tim Flanders, Ian Hardin,
Andy Hoare, Jason Marker, Mack Martin, Charles May,
Brandon Rospond, and Sam Stewart

Executive Game Designer
Corey Konieczka

Executive Producer

Based on Dark Heresy, Designed By

Michael Hurley

Owen Barnes, Kate Flack, and Mike Mason

Publisher

Editing and Proofreading

Christian T. Petersen

Graham Davey, Alex Davy,
Matt Harkrader, and David Johnson

Games Workshop

Graphic Design

Edge Studios, David Ardila with WiL Springer

Licensing Manager

John French, Andy Hall, and Owen Rees

Cover Art
Sam Wood

Head of Licensing
Jon Gillard

Interior Art

A.L. Ashbaugh, Alberto Bontempi, Matt Bradbury, Sam
Burley, Jon Cave, Mauro Dal Bo, Javier G. Ureña, Diego
Gisbert Llorens, Zach Graves, Ilich Henriquez, Nikolaus
Ingeneri, Michal Ivan, Jason Juta, Anton Kokarev, Mathias
Kollros, Sam Lamont, Simon Lissaman, Jorge Maese, Marco,
Morte, Sean Andrew Murray, Ameen Naksewee, David
Auden Nash, and Mark W. Smith

Head of Licensing, Legal and
Strategic Projects
Andy Jones

Head of Intellectual Property
Alan Merrett

Special Thanks to the Playtesters
See page 397 for a full list.

FANTASY
FLIGHT
GAMES

Fantasy Flight Games
1975 West County Road B2
Roseville, MN 55113
USA

Copyright © Games Workshop Limited 2012. Games Workshop, Warhammer 40,000, Warhammer 40,000 Role Play, Only War, the foregoing marks’
respective logos, and all associated marks, logos, places, names, creatures, races and race insignia/devices/logos/symbols, vehicles, locations, weapons,
units and unit insignia, characters, products and illustrations from the Warhammer 40,000 universe and the Only War game setting are either ®,
™, and/or © Games Workshop Ltd 2000-2012, variably registered in the UK and other countries around the world. This edition published under
license to Fantasy Flight Publishing Inc. Fantasy Flight Games and the Fantasy Flight Games logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Fantasy
Flight Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved to their respective owners. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or
transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publishers.

ISBN: 978-1-61661-469-0 Product Code: IG01 Print ID: 1405NOV12
Printed in China
For more information about the ONLY WAR line, free downloads, answers to
rule queries, or just to pass on greetings, visit us online at

www.FantasyFlightGames.com

2

Contents

Foreword ..................................................................................6

Introduction

Contents

War Without End ....................................................................8
Blood-soaked Stars and Broken Worlds............................ 10
Worlds at War ....................................................................... 13
The Calixis Sector and Spinward Front ............................ 13
Hammer of the Emperor ..................................................... 14
Born in Battle ....................................................................... 14
Chain of Command ............................................................. 15
The God-Emperor’s Armoury............................................. 18
Mobilisation for War ........................................................... 19
Auxiliaries and Support Forces ........................................... 21
Anatomy of a Regiment ...................................................... 24

Chapter I: Playing the Game
Game Dice ............................................................................ 28
Characteristics ...................................................................... 28
Characteristics and Characteristic Bonuses....................... 29
Tests ....................................................................................... 29
The Core Mechanic ............................................................. 29
Skill Tests .............................................................................. 30
Characteristic Tests .............................................................. 30
Degrees of Success and Failure .......................................... 30
Extended Tests...................................................................... 31
Opposed Tests ...................................................................... 31
Test Difficulty ....................................................................... 32
The Role of Fate................................................................... 33
Using Fate Points ................................................................. 33
Burning Fate ......................................................................... 33
Gaining Additional Fate Points .......................................... 33
Movement ............................................................................. 33
Structured and Narrative Time ........................................... 33
Climbing ............................................................................... 34
Jumping and Leaping .......................................................... 35
Swimming ............................................................................. 36
Carrying, Lifting, and Pushing Objects ............................ 36
Lighting................................................................................. 37
Flying..................................................................................... 38
The Effects of Gravity ......................................................... 38

Chapter II: Regiment Creation
Anatomy of a Regiment ...................................................... 40
Choosing a Regiment .......................................................... 41
Cadian Shock Troops .......................................................... 42
Catachan Jungle Fighters .................................................... 44
Death Korps of Krieg .......................................................... 46
Elysian Drop Troops ............................................................ 48
Maccabian Janissaries........................................................... 50
Mordian Iron Guard ............................................................ 52
Tallarn Desert Raiders ......................................................... 54
Vostroyan Firstborn.............................................................. 56
Regiment Creation Rules .................................................... 58
Creating a Regiment ............................................................ 58
Choosing a Home World or Origin .................................. 59
Commanding Officer........................................................... 63
Training and Doctrines ....................................................... 64
Standard Regimental Guardsman Kit ................................ 68
Finishing Touches ................................................................ 70

Chapter III: Character Creation
Creating a Guardsman ......................................................... 72
Stage 1: Generate Characteristics ....................................... 74
Stage 2: Choose Speciality.................................................. 75
Heavy Gunner ...................................................................... 76
Medic ..................................................................................... 78
Operator ................................................................................ 80
Sergeant ................................................................................. 82
Weapon Specialist ................................................................ 84
Commissar ............................................................................ 86
Ministorum Priest ................................................................ 88
Ogryn .................................................................................... 90
Ratling ................................................................................... 92
Sanctioned Psyker ................................................................ 94
Storm Trooper ...................................................................... 96
Tech-Priest Enginseer .......................................................... 98
Stage 3: Wounds, Fate, and Spending Experience .........100
Wounds................................................................................100
Fate Points...........................................................................100
Starting Experience............................................................100
Aptitudes .............................................................................100
Characteristic Advances.....................................................102
Skill Advances.....................................................................102
Talent Advances ..............................................................103
Stage 4: Giving Characters Life ..................................104
Stage 5: Generate Comrades .....................................110
Creating a Comrade................................................ 110
Losing and Replacing Comrades ....................... 110
3

Contents
Chapter IV: Skills
Using Skills .........................................................................112
Skill Tests ............................................................................112
Untrained Skill Use ............................................................113
Specialist Skills ...................................................................113
Skill Descriptors .................................................................114
Gaining Skills .....................................................................114
Skill Descriptions ...............................................................116

Chapter V: Talents and Traits
Using Talents ......................................................................136
Gaining Talents ..................................................................136
Talents .................................................................................140
Traits ....................................................................................154
Trait Descriptions ...............................................................154

Chapter VI: Armoury
Regimental Logistics..........................................................161
Logistics ..............................................................................161
Standard Regimental Guardsman Kit ..............................163
Mission Assignment Gear .................................................165
Equipment Craftsmanship.................................................166
Weapons ..............................................................................168
Weapon Special Qualities..................................................169
Las Weapons .....................................................................175
Solid Projectile Weapons ............................................177
Bolt Weapons ...........................................................179
Melta Weapons .....................................................179
Plasma Weapons ...............................................180
Flame Weapons .............................................180
4

Low-Tech Weapons ...........................................................181
Launchers ............................................................................182
Grenades, Missiles, and Rounds .......................................182
Exotic Weapons ..................................................................184
Melee Weapons ..................................................................185
Chain Weapons ..................................................................185
Power Weapons ..................................................................186
Force Weapons....................................................................186
Low-tech Weapons.............................................................187
Weapon Upgrades ..............................................................188
Weapon Customisation ......................................................190
Ammunition ........................................................................192
Unusual Ammunition .........................................................193
Artillery Shells ....................................................................194
Armour ................................................................................195
Force Fields .........................................................................196
Wargear ...............................................................................197
Clothing and Worn Gear ..................................................197
Drugs and Consumables....................................................198
Tools ....................................................................................200
Cybernetics .........................................................................204
Bionic Replacement Limbs and Body Parts ...................204
Implant Systems .................................................................205
Imperial Guard Vehicles ....................................................210
Vehicle Types ......................................................................210
Vehicle Speeds ....................................................................210
Vehicle Traits ......................................................................212
Imperial Guard Vehicles ....................................................215

Psykers in the Imperial Guard ..........................................222
Psychic Powers in Only War ............................................223
Psy Ratings .........................................................................223
Using Psychic Powers........................................................223
Psychic Strength.................................................................223
Focus Power Test................................................................225
Psychic Bolts.......................................................................226
Psychic Phenomena ...........................................................226
Psychic Powers ...................................................................229
Power Format .....................................................................229
Biomancy ............................................................................230
Divination ...........................................................................231
Pyromancy ..........................................................................233
Telekinesis ...........................................................................234
Telepathy .............................................................................237

Chapter VIII: Combat
Narrative Time vs Structured Time ..................................240
Narrative Time....................................................................240
Structured Time ..................................................................240
Combat Overview ..............................................................240
Using Actions .....................................................................242
The Attack ..........................................................................249
Unarmed Combat...............................................................251
Two-Weapon Fighting ......................................................252
Combat Circumstances ......................................................253
Injury ...................................................................................256
Wounds................................................................................256
Fatigue .................................................................................257
Characteristic Damage.......................................................257
Conditions and Special Damage ......................................266
Healing ................................................................................268
Comrades in Combat.........................................................269
Cohesion .............................................................................269
Performing Orders .............................................................270
Comrades Being Attacked ................................................271
Vehicles................................................................................272
Driving a Vehicle ...............................................................272
Vehicle Combat ..................................................................274
Damage & Repair...............................................................281
Repairing Vehicles .............................................................281

Chapter IX: The Game Master
The Role of the GM ..........................................................288
The Basics ...........................................................................289
Running an Only War Game ............................................290
Themes in Only War .........................................................290
Styles of Play ......................................................................291
Non-Player Characters ......................................................292
Rewards ...............................................................................292
Experience Points ...............................................................292
Fate Points...........................................................................294
Medals and Honours .........................................................294
Missions...............................................................................296
Briefing................................................................................296
Objectives............................................................................296
Mission Archetypes ............................................................297
Mission Complications ......................................................297
Debriefing ...........................................................................298

Campaigns ..........................................................................299
Designing a Campaign ......................................................299
Running Massive Battles ...................................................301
Interaction ...........................................................................303
Interaction Skills ................................................................303
Dispositions ........................................................................303
Interaction and Groups......................................................303
Fear and Damnation ..........................................................304
Insanity and Corruption Points ........................................304
Fear ......................................................................................305
Insanity ................................................................................305
Corruption ..........................................................................308
Using Only War with Other Games ................................310
Conversion Rules ...............................................................312

Chapter X: A Galaxy of War
The Imperium of Man .......................................................315
The Masters of Mankind ...................................................316
The Emperor’s Wars ...........................................................318
The Calixis Sector ..............................................................322
The Koronus Expanse........................................................324
The Jericho Reach ..............................................................326
The Screaming Vortex .......................................................328
The Spinward Front ...........................................................330
Sins of the Fathers .............................................................330
The Green Tide Rises ........................................................335
Total War.............................................................................335
Worlds of the Spinward Front ..........................................336
The Periphery Sub-Sector .................................................336
Kulth ....................................................................................336
Ganf Magna ........................................................................340
Sisk.......................................................................................340
Sinophia ..............................................................................341
Cyclopea ..............................................................................342
Kalf .....................................................................................342
Waaagh! Grimtoof..............................................................343
Avitohol ...............................................................................344
The Severan Dominate ......................................................346

Chapter XI: Adversaries & NPCs
Chaos ...................................................................................350
Chaos Vehicles....................................................................354
Dark Eldar...........................................................................356
Dark Eldar Vehicles ...........................................................361
Orks .....................................................................................363
Ork Vehicles .......................................................................370
NPCs ...................................................................................371

Chapter XII: Against the Savages
Adventure Background ......................................................376
Adventure Summary ..........................................................377
Skrynne Gazetteer..............................................................378
Arrival ..................................................................................381
Meetings and Assignment .................................................383
Through the Jungle ............................................................386
At the Refinery ...................................................................388
Holding the Facility.........................................................391
Wrap-Up ......................................................................... 392
NPC Appendix ............................................................393
Index .......................................................................... 394
Character Sheet ..................................................... 399
5

Contents

Chapter VII: Psychic Powers

Foreword

I

Foreword

n 1987 Games Workshop released a sci-fi miniatures
rulebook called Rogue Trader, and captured the imagination
of gamers across the world with their depiction of a
grim, dark future among the stars. For two decades, fans of
Warhammer 40,000 clamoured for a roleplaying experience
set in this deep and engaging setting. Then, five years ago,
Games Workshop delivered DARK HERESY, the first of what
would become a full line of roleplaying games set in the
Warhammer 40,000 universe.
DARK HERESY allowed players to assume the roles of Acolytes
in the service of powerful Inquisitors. With unhindered authority,
Acolytes explored the deepest, darkest corners of the Imperium
of Man, rooting out heresy from the bowels of monumental hive
cities to the spires of glorious shrine worlds.
After the release of DARK HERESY and its first few
supplements, the Warhammer 40K Roleplay line was licensed
to Fantasy Flight Games. We picked up right where it left
off, and took the next big step with the release of a new
core rulebook in the line: ROGUE TRADER. This game gave
the players complete freedom to explore the 40K universe
as they wanted. Empowered by their Warrant of Trade, the
players set off into the dark void to explore, fight, and even
steal their way to great success and profit.
The third game line to be released for Warhammer 40K
Roleplay took on the challenge of encapsulating one of the
most iconic aspects of Warhammer: the Adeptus Astartes. In
DEATHWATCH, the players embark on dangerous missions as
members of an elite group of xenos-hunting Space Marines.
Empowered by genetic implants, elite training, and the best
equipment the Imperium has to offer, the players fought
vicious enemies to decide the fate of not only entire worlds,
but entire sectors of space.
After DEATHWATCH, we decided to take Warhammer 40K
Roleplay in a bold new direction, allowing players to take
on the roles of the very heretics they have been working so

6

hard to fight. In BLACK CRUSADE, players broke free of the
bonds of the Imperium, and searched out a glorious destiny
amongst the broken stars of the Screaming Vortex. For the
first time, BLACK CRUSADE allows players to take on the roles
of characters of a variety of different power levels. Heretics
and sorcerers fought alongside mighty Chaos Space Marines,
all for the same goal of launching a devastating Black Crusade
against the Imperium of Man.
Each of these games in turn raised the stakes for what
the players were capable of in the Warhammer 40K universe,
taking them from inquisitorial acolytes to power-armoured
super-soldiers empowered by the Dark Gods. It was at this
point that we decided to take a step back. Many of the
game lines gave players power far beyond that of mortal
men; whether it be influence, technology, or unimaginable
psychic abilities, players had the power to bend the universe
to their will. Instead, we wanted players to experience what it
would be like to be a normal human in the Warhammer 40K
universe, thrust up against the same horrors Space Marines
face every day, but with nothing but their wits, their lasgun,
and their compatriots to survive to see the next day. To this
end we began development on ONLY WAR, a book entirely
devoted to the Imperial Guard.
ONLY WAR originally started as a DARK HERESY
supplement. As the most gritty, brutal, and low power level of
our game lines, it seemed like the perfect place to integrate the
Imperial Guard. However, the more we worked on the book,
the more we realized there were simply too many awesome
elements to explore in a single supplement. As ONLY WAR
grew into the core rulebook it is today, we worked to craft a
system that captures the feel of being a mere mortal, forced
to contend with the greatest threats of the 41st millennium,
yet maintaining hope and camaraderie, even in the face of
seemingly insurmountable odds.
So strap on your helmet and grab your lasgun, soldier. It’s
time to take the fight to the enemies of the Imperium!
Happy Gaming,
The Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay Team

Introduction

It is the 41st Millennium...
For more than a hundred centuries, the Emperor has sat immobile
on the Golden Throne of Earth. He is the master of mankind by
the will of the gods, and master of a million worlds by the might
of his inexhaustible armies. He is a rotting carcass writhing
invisibly with power from the Dark Age of Technology. He is
the Carrion Lord of the Imperium for whom a thousand souls are
sacrificed every day, so that he may never truly die.
Yet in his deathless state, the Emperor continues his eternal
vigilance. Mighty battlefleets cross the Daemon-infested miasma
of the warp, the only route between distant stars, their way lit
by the Astronomicon, the psychic manifestation of the Emperor’s
will. Vast armies give battle in his name on uncounted worlds.
Greatest amongst his soldiers are the Adeptus Astartes, the
Space Marines, bio-engineered super-warriors. Their comrades
in arms are legion: the Imperial Guard and countless planetary
defence forces, the ever-vigilant Inquisition and the Tech-Priests
of the Adeptus Mechanicus, to name but a few. But for all their
multitudes, they are barely enough to hold off the ever-present
threat from aliens, heretics, mutants—and worse.
To be a man in such times is to be one amongst untold billions. It
is to live in the cruellest and most bloody regime imaginable. These
are the tales of those times. Forget the power of technology and
science, for so much has been forgotten, never to be re-learned.
Forget the promise of progress and understanding, for in the
grim, dark future there is only war. There is no peace amongst the
stars, only an eternity of carnage and slaughter, and the laughter
of thirsting gods.

7

War Without
End

Introduction

W

ar is the fire upon which the Imperium of Man
burns and the madness from which it was born.
On a million, million worlds across thousands
of light years of space, man fights endlessly for his survival
against aliens, heretics, and Daemons so that humanity may
continue to exist. From the blood-drenched mud of frontier
worlds to the cold depths of space, humans are at constant war
with the galaxy, fighting threats from without, from within,
and from beyond. Numbering untold billions upon billions
of souls, the Imperium of Man sprawls across the stars under
the watchful eye of its God-Emperor, its worlds unstable and
its glory days long gone. It has sunken into a long twilight
from which it may never emerge. Powerful alien empires
strike at the Imperium from all sides, those that would claim
the galaxy as their own, or are merely bent on mankind’s
annihilation. Man has no place in his realm for such races, and
to be alien is to be counted
as an enemy of humanity
and another foe to be
destroyed. Within the
Imperium, man turns upon
man and thousands of civil
wars rage constantly, as the
armies of the God-Emperor
work endlessly to stamp
out sedition and heresy from
within its own worlds. Yet still
men and women turn against
the Imperium, either through
discontentment and rebellion against
oppressive overlords or because they
have been tainted with impure ideas and
vile alien philosophies.
Beyond the Imperium lurks the Warp, the
otherworldly realm of madness and Chaos that
ships must use to cross the vast distances of space
and which psykers use to draw power for their
unholy gifts. From this eldritch realm, monsters
and Daemons emerge, forcing themselves
through rents in the fabric of reality to bring ruin
and death to the living inhabitants of whole worlds.
Only through endless conflict, brutal struggle, and
the lives of countless soldiers does the Imperium
of Man endure at all. It is the blood price for an
empire which is ten millennia old, created at a
time when man’s light was waning, poised on
the edge of the abyss and the eternal darkness
of the void.
Never in its existence has the
Imperium known peace. From the dark
days of its inception, when entire
sectors of space made war upon
each other, to its grim and
dark present, the Imperium
has always been aflame with

8

conflict. While individual worlds and systems may often
know times of relative safety and stability, this is only at the
cost of thousands more teetering on the brink of oblivion,
their populations sacrificed to preserve the greater domain of
mankind and the rule of the God-Emperor. With such danger
and so many terrible foes besetting mankind, only the most
brutal and disciplined of empires could hope to survive. The
God-Emperor sits at the apex of such a realm, His teeming
hordes of servants and His vast armies enforcing His will upon
the inhabitants of the Imperium, ensuring their obedience
and their loyalty. This is what holds the Imperium together
and keeps it alive when an open mind and a weaker soul
would invite utter destruction from enemies which live only
to feast on the bones of men. Only its size and ancient power
prevent the Imperium’s complete destruction; that it may lose
a hundred systems or a world of a billion faithful citizens and
continue to fight on. Even so, it is slowly dying—the GodEmperor’s armies clinging desperately to
what is left, as systems crumble


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