Homemade’ Rules
Throughout my time playing Warhammer 40,000 I have felt the need to create my own ideas and fluff, and sometimes one of the many ideas running, flying, and awkwardly lurching around my head actually makes it onto paper. When they do, I often feel another need, a need to apply rules to these new creations.


Now, doing this raises a lot of questions: what rules should they have? What should they be better than? How many points should they cost?

These questions make rules creation complex and arduous, especially when considering that final question. When I recently started writing new rules this prompted other members of the club I attend to do the same. Their efforts ranged from writing rules for a single model from a novel to creating an entire new army and codex. Upon reading these rules, I was struck by another important question: what should drive the creation of new rules? Because what I found with my friends’ rules is that they seemed driven by what would make a powerful model with which to wreak untold destruction, rather than the need to give additional shape to a character with an already formed look and background.

See, I personally feel rules should be made to fit a model, rather than having a model made to fit the rules. For me, following the latter path is simply an excuse for creating an overpowered monster,with which to crush inexperienced opponents who have little idea of the model’s true power (obviously, I am sure this is not always the case, but it is just what I have found with my limited experience). This doesn’t seem to fit in with the spirit of the game, and evidently Games Workshop feel the same way (as it is widely known that they put the models before anything else).

Personally, I always come up with the idea for a model first, fitting them with a background, history and fate before even writing anything down. Only then do I contemplate how they will work on the tabletop, and by this time I probably have an idea of what they will look like. Take this as an example: one of my most successful creations has been an Ordo Xenos inquisitor. I was inspired by John Blanche’s unique style with inquisitors and warbands, so actually developed the model first, establishing background as I did so.

The model went very well, and once it was finished I started writing rules. These rules were largely influenced by the look of the model, and more unique rules came from the history I had created. However, despite my best efforts, the human and human-sized model still ended up at 300 points, and carved his way through a Hellbrute and Chaos Terminator squad in his first game (I have since ‘nerfed’ him a little, and he now sits at a mere 280 points).

As you can see, it is too easy to get carried away with rules writing. And this is the snag. How can we monitor ourselves, so that when writing rules we don’t get carried away? And how on earth can we then try to use them in games, with the opponent’s consent? Who are we to judge how many points an indestructible avatar of destruction must be? In my case, I feel that the rules I gave my inquisitor were more or less justified by his history and appearance, after some chopping and changing (eventually I removed a Horus-like ability at accurate teleportation, and more recently took away the Rampage special rule from the inquisitor’s profile). But perhaps the model and background were the problem? Have I unintentionally created a god? Only time will tell.

As you can see, there are limits and criteria, requirements and restrictions and dos and don’ts when writing your own rules. But do not let this put you off. I’ve just tried to outline some of the key pitfalls and considerations that should be taken into account, and have lent my own opinion to the mix.

As long as you hold the best interests of the hobby, and have the consent of your opponent, you should be able to write anything: that is the beauty of the game. Sure, it is difficult (I personally find points costs a nightmare: always over-price is my advice, as your opponent is less likely to complain at a 300 point model than they are at a 250 point model when it kills Mephiston in a challenge), but being able to field your own, unique creation alongside your existing collection makes it worth it. It is ingenuity like this that keeps Warhammer floating above the sea of lawsuits, dissent and price hikes that seem to have become the fashion of late, making it something truly special.

Now, it’s over to you: what creations have you brought to life? What ideas have you had? Let us all know in the comments. Happy hobbying!

My name is Michael, and I live in the UK. I have played Warhammer 40,000 for about 5 years, and as I am still in my teens (so sorely limited for cash and roomspace) I have only the one army (Tyranids) plus many conversions, including half a dozen Fallen and a WIP inquisitorial warband. I live in one of those areas where the majority of players are my age or younger, which has become tiring and led to me leaving my weekly club (that and the £4 entry fee). I have made a large amount of rules and background, including a World Eaters warband and a mysterious chapter of spess mahreens (no copyright infringement intended), which I will not go into due to my intense paranoia and fear of mimics (hence the lack of images).



For More information on guest writing for Faeit 212 in the "This is Our Hobby" series, please follow the link
http://natfka.blogspot.com/p/this-is-our-hobby-guest-articles.html

21 Comments:

  1. I have tried my hand at such things as well. I too have run in to these same questions. One idea that I have tried to play around with, is a race that has been following tyranids from galaxy to galaxy, trying to wipe them out. They have successfully eliminated the tyranid threat from their own galaxy, and have many benefits against tyranids (much like the grey knights against daemons). I'm always happy to hear feedback on such things. Some of my ideas have to do with kinetic armour, that improves with the more hits or higher strength used on it. This armour would have been developed specifically by this race to fight the tyranids, as they often would have had to deal with mass amounts of claws or big shell cracking crushers.

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  2. When it comes to points, I try to dissect already in existence items, such as if I wanted to make a vehicle have a 5++ it would cost the de upgrade. if I wanted additional toughness on an ic, i would charge the mark of chaos. I try to limit the abilities to 4 and the weapons to 3 Using the base costs of the model type of an hq. if I give it anything else, it needs a drawback.

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  3. GW Used to have a guid to creating Units. For example higher Toughnes or LP Models Pay more for servo armour. High WS or I Models Pay more for Attacks. And there was a Limit of how many Buffs you Could do. So spend 5 points max on statline Buffs.

    There are prob a Ton of Guides on the Web for Unit creating. Ofc non will be Balanced :D

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  4. My friends, there is a way to play this game that I think would be totally fun. First rule: you can NEVER, under any circumstances, steal anothers success.

    -To Roll Modifiers to Hit - no stupid cover saves.
    -To Wound against toughness as normal
    -You must bypass the armor. For instance, all you have to do is reverse the chart. Marines would have Armor Strength 4. Terminators 5. If you beat that number, then you wound. Remove the model. AP values would be higher, and ignore the save. AP 6 = = AP 1. Invunerable saves you just have to beat, AP is no consequence.

    - then there is the experimental ruleset from Battle Missions where you move, your opponent shoots, then you assault, and then vise versa. I like this!

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    1. This is essentially how Battlefleet Gothic Works.

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  5. If you really want to keep your creation save, simply use a "counts as". There are hundreds of profiles in the BRB, and looking here and there you'll sure find any character that fits your desires... even being from different dexes right now you can even include it with allies rules. If you simply don't care about being "fair" and want to laugh with your friends, put some "weird" rules, giving your character some little "handicap" (the possibility of COMPLETELY failing and being autokilled will always guarantee good times and lots of laughes!. Whenever I play our reaction to my termis squads getting a mishap error or my sarg killing himself with his plasma pistol is the best part!!

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  7. We have had only one custom rule. If you ever roll an explodes result on a hellhound, it explodes 6, every time. (was actually the guard players idea because his hellhound looks like a chimera with a septic tank on the back of it.) xD

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  8. Well the Night fighting rule is stupid. So we came up with an idea to make it more logical and simple, with a single D6:
    1. NF on the first turn
    2. NF on the first and second turn
    3-5. No NF
    6. NF on the turn 5 (and 6-7 if need be)

    This way you can tactically use the Night in your favor.

    After all, it is pretty stupid that you would roll a 4+ on turn 5 and 'A Wild NIGHT suddenly appears!'

    If you go to war, you WILL know at what time you attack and when the night falls.

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    1. Though now that i think of it.. Maybe it would be better if 1-2 would be NF on the first turn..

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    2. Personally the night fighting rules make perfect sense. It represents the chance that you either catch your enemy before dawn, or your struggle spans the day and risks spilling over into the night.

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  9. I'm a big fan of the creative side if 40k. After a couple of years of having the fun beaten out of me at tournaments, I've realised that I just don't find competitive play that enjoyable.

    40k is many things to may people - and despite the very vocal minority of tournament players (< 5%, believe it or not!), the vast majority of gamers are model-makers, fluff-players and the like. It's a shame that our hobby is dominated (on the Internet at least) by that vocal minority, as there is SO much more to the game than just picking the most powerful units from the latest flavour-of-the-month codex!

    There are loads of great home-grown fandexes out there - Adeptus Mechanicus, Exodites, Grots; the list is only limited by your imagination.

    I have been working on a Squat codex for the last year or so (as I have plenty of old models on my collection). I am basing it on the Epic version of Squats, however, and not the leather 'n' bikes pastiche that 1st and 2nd edition portrayed them as. Loads of big war-machines, airships, big cannons... that us what I think they should be. And the great thing is, is you don't like it, you can always try your hand at creating your own! It's not a competition, it's a social hobby.

    I started by deciding the 'feel' of the race. I wanted them to be a mid-range defensive army who sit back in strong (but immobile) forts , invite the enemy in and then counter-attack with a flurry if short-range fire. To give the army flavour, their 'USP' would be their Termite transports' ability to strike from below ground, and their slow-moving flyers (airships and gyrocoptors) ability to hover low to the ground and make pop-up attacks. When designing, simplicity is always key. One good, fun, unique mechanic beats a dozen overpowered special rules every time!

    Anyway, I've published three pages (from a work-in-progress of 150+ pages) here:

    http://40kroguetrader.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/sneak-preview-codex-squat-stronghold.html?m=1

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  10. Now that thrown 'nades are back, why not revamp the entire combat closer to 2ed?

    - AP becomes Armour Save Modifier. Eg. AP4 = Sv-3. Suddenly, autocannons and heavy bolters start eating MEQ's for breakfast because they now have only 6+ save against them.
    - Unless a weapon has "ignores" rule, you will get a cover save (if any) against shooting attacks and invulnerable save (if any) against all attacks on top of armour save (the weapon does have to pass the armour, cover, and forcefield/magick/cloud of flies/neckbeard - of course, cover does not help in CC except reduces the charger's I).
    - To balance this, allow select CC units ('stealers, DE) charge from DS
    - Buff invulnerable saves. Why not give Terminators 2++ so that they could literally walk through a hail of fire like in the fluff?
    - Of course, existing point values are now completely broken (IG heavy bolters being probably the most undercosted) as is the meta, but you cannot make an omelet without breaking some eggs
    - Because nothing short of a Terminator or GD survives in the open anymore, extend game length in turns to encourage more tactical manoeuvering instead of the current standard of zergrush

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  11. I am currently creating a 40k version of the Warhammer lizardmen armies book. I have always loved the history of the war in heaven ever since I first read the original necron codex and I also like how the fluff in the lizardmen armies book albieit tenuously connects the WFB and 40k universes.

    I'm not a fan of the old rogue trader Slann models or the fluff for them so I have developed my own based on the two above sources. I've also tried to avoid the need for excessive conversion work so the weapons and wargear in the codex are basically the WFB but with 40k stats.

    I am currently play testing the codex with my gaming club and getting good feedback

    I can appreciate what natfka is saying about the pit falls of rules creation as I have currently revised various entries, rules and points costs 10 times (giving a 18" SX AP- assault 2 blow pipe rending rather than 4+ poison was a bad idea lol)

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    1. Just to be clear, this is a Guest Post Series.... "This is Our Hobby".

      It gives people a chance, especially those that do not blog, to talk about their projects and ideas to give them voice.

      Michael is the author of this, as it says above

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  12. We usually just patch the BRB. Things like you don't get precision hits from snap fire, you can assault out of any vehicle but its always disorderly/through difficult terrain unless its an assault vehicle. We got annoyed at just because that piece of shrapnel in the smoldering crater of slag USED to be an assault ramp you can magically assault out of it but you can't assault out of a rhino that's perfectly intact and you disembarked mere centimeters from the enemy.

    Also throw in if the "fluff fits" for what army can have what models, like genestealer cults and (pre-death from the skies) any marine faction can have Storm Talons/Ravens, Raven Guard has furiosos etc.

    We're currently working on making deny the witch less cheesy. I say cheesy because a unit that needs double 1's to regroup can still muster enough willpower to DtW on a 6+. We thought it could be argued that they are in compete denial and sheer fear did it, but denial means you dont accept it even when its true. So not accepting the lighting melting your flesh off makes it grow back? Nope. Dead. The "Deny" part of the rule is misleading. They aren't in denial, the witch was denied a power because target unit willed it to fail, not because they are in denial. So as of right now we're thinking a Leadership test that you have to pass by X to get a 6+ plus any other modifiers from other psykers or gear and playing with the idea of "Anti-Psyker Training" purchase option to allow DtW for basic troops. Certain races can't DtW either, like Necrons(they are my main army and I came up with it because even I think its cheese). Warriors are not going to muster any willpower to DtW. That's why we have gloom prisms which essentially DtW on a 4+.

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    1. You don't need to patch the precision shots rule for snap firing. Under the section of Precision hits in the Character section of the BRB 9page 63 if I remember correctly), it states,

      "Note that Snap Shots and weapons that scatter, or do not roll to hit can never be Precision Shots"

      With regards Deny the Witch, you could make anything up for it. Instead of a unit that is running away gathering the willpower to fight of a psychic attack, you could always assume that the unit that is running away is concentrating so hard to stay alive that their it creates a collected psychic aura that can forms a psychic shield against any incoming psychic attacks. After all the warp is but a mirror and receptor of emotion and thought, so a terrified unit that is completely broken and running from the battlefield could create a local disturbance in the warp that makes it difficult for powers to be manifested against them.

      Either that or you just assume that the powers of the warp are fickle, or that that the unit has some higher power protecting them, or are fated for some other destiny, hence why the flesh searing lightning misses doesn't work against them, or misses them completely due to their "Deny the Witch".

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    2. That's good for Precise shots.

      For DtW not everyone is psychic, and even then have various degrees of power. The Warp and powers feed off emotion, if anything it would make them stronger. At this point its getting too far from table top if you start to take in destiny and divine powers etc. Not everyone can be, or can be argued not to even have a chance to be, touched by the fates otherwise everyone is special and shouldn't lose. That's too close to an RPG. It is just a table top game after all. When you purchase a troop unit of cultists they're all nameless stat clones(barring upgrades and such but for the sake of simplicity we'll say they are) I think the problem with the rules is that its trying too hard to be an RPG, novella and tabletop game. Heroes can be snuffed by a human with a lead pipe and cultists can slay terminators with said pipe. Table top is too far removed from what I can "Reasonable Realism"(I.E. yes there are aliens and laser cannons etc but there comes a point). Giving DtW to everyone including mindless shells of Necron Warriors or Tau who are all but removed from the warp is, IMHO, trying too hard to make things cinematic. That's what pen and paper RPGs are for and vastly cheaper. Table top games are usually just one shot battles that dont actually affect the plot of anything. Im all for awesome battles and memorable moments,but they should be from hilarious goof ups or amazing tactical moments that the players create, not from (I'm not meaning to attack or be mean but I have to be honest imho)"Well they were probably destined to succeed." when we will never know of their future exploits. When I spent time and effort and points(and money -_-') on a powerful psyker in terminator armour afters rolling the test and to hit has yet another way to get shut down Cultist Carl it immediately removes me from the "battle" and "cinematic" feeling. Not that I dont like the epic feel that happens sometimes its just after this battle that squad of cultists wont go on to bigger and better things, they wont get upgrades, they wont get more xp, they will be right back to where they were last battle and probably just outright die. I dont think that merits "destiny" or anything of that sort.

      I feel like the tabletop game is becoming too subjective in allowing for so much narrative. I blame it on GW for trying to make the be-all-end-all game with the best everything. If you want intimate destined battles play a skirmish game, if you want large units and epic sized battles play those. Having one rule set for both I feel like it detracts from both and ultimately takes away from experiences sometimes. I want it to work out well and have epic moments but sometimes I feel the rules get in the way or the dice do.

      All that being said if HQs and certain elites had DtW that would be fine.

      I also still love to play the game and will continue to, but I will never enter the competitive circuit because I feel like it doesn't belong there.

      Hobby First, every time for me

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  13. Yeah, you have to know your limits and exercise caution, you just cannot go around unintentionally creating gods all the time.

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  15. One simple one is the "Waaagh Tank!" special rule. It basically applies the "Waaagh Plane" rule to all ork non-walker vehicles. So now your battlewagon, trukk, and looted wagon can shoot all it's assault weapons twice when you declare a Waaagh!.

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