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Warhammer Narrative Game Rules

Overview

While most custom campaign rules that I’ve encountered tend to be based around map conquest or resource building, I’ve decided to focus this on the same element that Warhammer fiction focuses on: heroic characters, powerful relics, and compelling stories.
In this game, players will develop a narrative for their own armies and personalities for their own characters. Each army will have its own independent goals. Players will challenge one another to custom games of Warhammer 40k and craft a narrative around each game to further the story of their own army.

Calling a battle

Players can call for a game with other players at any time. There are no campaign turns or restrictions.
Each game should be focused around the narrative elements established by the players. Just come up with a story for why your army is attacking your opponent (or vise versa) and how this relates to your army’s goals. That’s it. Just make a story. If you are the aggressor, how does this attack bring you closer to your goals? If you are the defender, how will you get reprisal for this aggression? You can even specify that the winner of a battle acquires a specific relic or other reward, trading their narrative point reward for that (see rules below).
As for rules, just agree with you opponent on a point level and mission that fits the story.

Narrative points

Narrative represent your influence on how the events of the campaign unfold. Players will gain 50 narrative points for a winning battle, 30 for a tie, and 20 for a loss. Narrative points can be spent on a variety of effects, described below.
To receive narrative points you must post a battle report from your army’s point of view. This battle report should be more narrative than rules analysis. The way the battle influences the story is more important than the turn-by-turn strategies that were used. Joint battle reports are also acceptable if both players want to combine their efforts.

Named Characters

Every story needs heros. 40k fiction often focuses on the great commanders and warriors of the universe. In this game, you have the opportunity to craft stories for your characters and see them progress through the campaign.

Requirements

Named characters are any “character” that you have deemed central to your story. You can have any number of named characters, but you must have a written and posted backstory for each. Named characters need not actually be characters. They can also be buildings and machines that have become central to the story.

Named characters must meet the following requirements:

  • You must have an appropriate and unique model to represent each named character.
  • The model must be fully painted.
  • Named characters must be one of the following types: independent character, character, vehicle, flyer, walker, super heavy walker, super heavy vehicle, monstrous creature, flying monstrous creature, gargantuan creature, gargantuan flying creature, or building.

Some other restrictions apply:

  • Your first named character gets one warlord trait for free (see rules below).
  • You must have at least one named character in every game and your warlord must be a named character.
  • If you use a special character from a codex, it is a named character.
    • You are encouraged to craft a new persona and backstory, making the character your own.
    • Some special characters list a warlord trait on their profile. You do not get this for free. You must select the listed trait as the first warlord trait purchased for that character.
    • Special characters get any artifacts on their profile without having to pay for them with narrative points (see rules below).
    • Special characters are still unique per player (you can’t use two Dregos just because you named them differently). Multiple players can use the same rules for a special character, as long as each player crafts a unique identity for the character.

Leveling Up

Between battles, you can spend narrative points to give new warlord traits to your named characters. These warlord traits become a permanent part of the named character’s profile. Warlord traits cost 25 narrative points each. You can choose a trait from any table that the character’s faction would normally have access to. No character can choose one trait more than once.

Death of Named Characters

When a named character dies on the battlefield, it doesn’t actually die. Instead, place a token in the location where they died. This token represents the wounded character and should be of appropriate size. For vehicles or buildings, the actual model will work just as well as a token.

Recovering a wounded character

For infantry sized named characters, any friendly scoring unit in base to base with the wounded character token can pick up the wounded character in the movement phase. While carrying a wounded character, the unit cannot run, charge, move flat out or otherwise move more than 6” in a turn. Doing so causes them to drop the character.
Monstrous creatures, walkers, and vehicles can only be moved by units with strength 6 or higher, or vehicles. Gargantuan creatures and super heavies require strength 8 or higher or vehicles. Buildings cannot be moved.
If the wounded character is moved off the friendly table edge or carried by a friendly unit at the end of the battle, then it is considered saved and can be used in the next game.

Capturing a wounded character

For infantry sized named characters, any enemy scoring unit in base to base with the wounded character can pick up the wounded character in the movement phase. While carrying a wounded character, the unit cannot run, charge, move flat out or otherwise move more than 6” in a turn. Doing so causes them to drop the character.
Monstrous creatures, walkers, and vehicles can only be moved by units with strength 6 or higher, or vehicles. Gargantuan creatures and super heavies require strength 8 or higher or vehicles. Buildings cannot be moved.
If the wounded character is moved off the enemy table edge, or carried by an enemy unit at the end of the battle, then it is considered captured. The enemy takes any relics from the captured character. Captured characters can later be liberated, as fits the story. This is all about narrative.

Coup de Gras

A coup de gras can only be performed by a named character. The named character performing a coup de gras must be in base to base with the wounded character token at the end of the movement phase. The enemy named character must forgo any other action in the shooting, physic, and assault phases. The player performing the coup de gras must come up with a snappy one liner for the killing blow. The enemy takes any relics from the killed character.
The dead character an (obviously) not be used in any further games. This can be a huge blow to any player that has spent a significant number of narrative point on a killed character.
A coup de gras cannot be performed on a wounded character that is being carried.

Left on the Battlefield

Roll on the following table for each wounded named character left on the battlefield at the end of the game. Recovered, captured, or dead characters do not roll on this table.

  • 1. Dead – The character is dead.
  • 2. Captured – The character is captured by the enemy.
  • 3-4. Looted – The enemy takes any relics the character was wielding. The character is injured and can’t be used in the next battle.
  • 5-6. Injured – The character is injured and can’t be used in the next battle.
  • 7. Just a flesh wound – The character recovers immediately.

After the roll, players can spend any number of narrative points to gain +1 to the roll for every 10 points spent.

Lasting Wounds

It wouldn’t be grimdark if people didn’t get scars. While there is no game effect for being wounded, players are encouraged to describe the scars and wounds their characters suffered in battle and fit this into the narrative.

Relics

Nearly every codex lists some unique wargear (relics, artifacts, remnants of glory, etc.). For the purpose of these rules, we will refer to them all as relics. In this game, relics cannot be purchased with game points; they can only be purchased with narrative points. Relics cost a number of narrative points equal to their point cost.
Relics are unique and only one copy can exist in the entire game, even if two players are playing the same faction.

Some additional rules about relics:

  • If a relic is listed on the data sheet of a special character, it comes with that special character, but can later be lost.
  • If a different faction loots a relic, they can attempt to use it. It may not work like it does for its owners though. In these cases, we will need to come up with creative and fluffy effects for looted relics! What happens if an Ork gets a Necron resurrection orb? What about an astartes with a Tyranid norn crown?
  • Looted relics can only be used by any named character that can select relics from their own codex.

Influencing Battles

Players can also spend narrative points to gain a strategic advantage in a battle. Players can pay 5 narrative point to automatically win any of the following rolls. Purchasing these must be done before the roll is made. If both players pay, roll normally. You cannot pay more than one point to influence any one roll.

Rolls that can be influenced in this way:

  • seize the initiative
  • deployment zones
  • deployment order
  • night fighting

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