Thursday, 14 December 2017

Rogue 40,000 "R40K" (Rogue Planet)

The Warhammer 40,000 universe is a great setting for miniature wargaming and I've enjoyed playing the same using the Rogue Planet rule system.  I've taken some time to capture and share some of the details relating to the integration of the two great franchises.

Ever since my first exposure to Rogue Trader, way back in High School, I've always loved the Warhammer 40,000 (W40K) setting. Speaking of Rogue Trader, I remember begging to borrow the rulebook, taking it home for the night and then spending hours drawing (mainly) beaky Space Marines before having to reluctantly return it the next day... wow, that was about a billion years ago.  I wonder where those pictures are now...

Anyway, when I got it in my mind that I'd take up the wargaming hobby again, W40K was always lurking in the back of my mind. Not that I've ever played a full session of the game* - Epic, Space Hulk yes - but the models, I've coveted them from afar for many a year.  Now there are countless W40K conversions when, in all likelihood, the game itself is probably great, but I haven't seen anyone else share their Rogue Planet take on the game and its factions.

*Actually, early 2019, I had my first true W40k experience - it was good fun!

I've spent a little bit of time trying to strike something of a balance between keeping true to the W40K meta whilst refraining from introducing 101 additional weapons, skills etc into the Rogue Planet published resources. Speaking of balance, when playing a non-scenario specific game, it is really useful to have a point system that helps/assists with determining (for example) just how many Chaos Space Marines should be pitted against how may many Necrons to make for an enjoyable game of pew-pew. If and when I crack that, I'll let you know 😉 Fortunately Rogue Planet's point system seems to work pretty well i.e. it's pretty much background agnostic.

How does it work?  Example Games, Battle Reports and Scenarios

There are a few things that make Rogue Planet a very different game from the likes of Warhammer 40,000.  For starters, Unit movements aren't actually measured.  Add to that Counter Actions (you're Shooting?  I'll Return Fire), a variable number of Actions per Turn and a common/universal skill check/damage resolution mechanism... be prepared to learn some new tricks.  But is it complicated?  No.  Just VERY different from most established, commercial games.

The Defense of Libuscha Prime is likely the best place to start.  It details a contingent of Imperial Guard encountering some Necron.  It describes in detail various Rogue Planet mechanisms and I've been informed that the write-up provides a real sense of how the game plays.

Heresy's Eye was a Battle Report describing a Commissar supported by two Tactical Space Marines engaging a group of Chaos Cultists.  I really enjoyed that game (I actually played it solo) and some of the tactical play, especially the use of Actions and Counter Actions, is something that just isn't a feature of a standard W40K game.

Cerebus QJ is another solo game, using some slightly different Skill Check and Turn activation rules (my own variation).  I call this one 'micro skirmish' on account of the tiny board, but don't let that fool you, there's plenty of action to be had.  Imperials defending an objective against an Eldar Kill Team - lots of fun to play.

The Mantle of Time has an Inquisitor's band trying to beat the Eldar in securing an ancient artefact (why are they always ancient?  Those Eldar are so retro).  Not only does it describe many Rogue Planet rules in action, I've used it to explore some alternate, variant rules I've drafted.

The Battle at the Farm was my R40k take on the classic Warhammer 40,000 Rogue Trader scenario.  I've included both a Battle Report (I GM'ed for two of my mates) and links to all the player briefs and force options - here's nothing stopping you running the game yourself.

No Stone Unturned is a light after the battle report describing some Inquisitor-style action played at my local game club Axes & Ales.  Again I GM'ed the game for two mates.  It also includes the details/stats of the Inquisitor and his Team.

Firebase One-Five Libuscha Prime details Orks and Imperial Guard both trying to secure the same building before the battlefield is blasted by artillery.  I've provided the scenario details and some commentary relating to the two consecutive plays of the game - once with my sons and later with a mate.

Ghost Farm was an objective target-type scenario with Chaos Marines versus a mishmash of humans.

The Assault on Krystyna's Rest has the Imperial Guard against a Lizardman warband.  It's not particularly detailed (not blow-by-blow) but I think it gives a sense to how Rogue Planet's rules can readily provide for the drama we're all looking for in a 40K setting.

If you're still after more, check out the Battle Report tag/label on the blog and  (as we say in Australia) go for broke.

R40K Factions

Who says they's no room for Lizards
with spears and axes in the far future?
I'm not pushing the Faction publication throttle too hard: I like stat'ing up a unit as much as the next guy, however, I've set myself a rule of sorts: only publish stats once (1) the models are painted and (2) the cards are ready.  So the following list of factions references both things that are done (e.g., Imperial Guard), things I'm doing (e.g., Eldar) and things that I intend to do (e.g., 'Nids).
  • Imperial Guard faction details and game aids last updated Feb18
  • Lizardmen last updated Feb18
  • Space Marines last updated Feb18 - these are both Chaos and Imperial + Terminators
  • Orks last updated Apr18
  • Necrons last updated Jul18
  • Eldar - Last updated Dec18.  There are LOTS more to do in this space and they continue to be  my favourite faction.
  • Cultists and Heretics - last updated Aug18
  • Tau - waiting for me to stat them up + I still (!!!!) need to paint up a  finish my dedicated Leader/Hero
  • Inquisitor and retinue - Last updated Sep18
  • Tyranids - got the models and even painted a horde of genestealers from Space Hulk (Oct18)... might be a while yet
Like any gamer, I've got a whole box of shame that's lurking in my man cave, so as and if more is painted (here's the link to my workbench), then more Factions and unit details will be added.

Note: R40k doesn't infinitely scale-up.  What do I mean?  Well, if you wanted to play an Apocalypse-type game, R40k is not for you.  I recommend games where you're employing 3-6 independent Units per side.  E.g., 3 Marines verses 6 Cultists or something like that.  It is worth mentioning that an Independent Unit in Rogue Planet can be a single miniature or a 'Group' of four models.  I mentioned 3 Marines verse 6 Cultists?  Yeah, we're talking 3 Marines verses (5x4 troops + one hero) ~21 Cultist minis.  So it can certainly provide an entertaining spectacle if that's what you're after.

The "Game Aids" included in each of the above faction links are decks of Unit Cards that you can print (A4) and utilise during your games.  You can see a partial picture of one such deck above.  Each Card details the Unit's Stat line describes their kit, summarises weapon and gear-related rules/modifiers (space permitting) and details of the Unit's Rogue Planet point or "Credit" cost.

Here's the link to my dropbox of Faction-based Rosters, Warbands, Retinues etc that I've used over time.

How does R40k differ from vanilla Rogue Planet?

Well, to be completely honest, not much at all.

I  had experiment with various rule tweaks in an attempt to get the Factions to play like they read in the various Codex, White Dwarf Battle Reports and Black Library novels etc.  How to do so, without resorting to a host of new rules, point cost bonuses/penalties and exclusive gear is challenging! 

There are a few things that I've done to inject some of the fundamental W40k features into some of the factions, including:
  • Rules to provide for in-game regeneration/reanimation with Necrons in mind.
  • War Spider's Warp Jump - it could likely be adapted for Jump Troops as well.
  • Providing for Focused Actions - these can make all the difference during crucial points in a game by exchanging Actions for increased odds of success. 
  • I found that the game can get 'sticky' when Units were engaged; so now I use the following tweaks to the Disengage Action (i.e. breaking away from melee).
One line of experimentation was Faction Doctrines.  I had big plans for this originally, but have found myself gravitating back to smaller, shorter and simpler games.  If I were to play a series of more competitive games, I'd likely look at these again.

Yep, that's about it - the published Rogue Planet game rules seem to cover everything I really need.  There's not much left to do but play.

R40K Weapons and Gear

Rogue Planet already has quite a sandbox of weapon types that can be legitimately combined to reflect the majority of W40K weapons. E.g., want a sniper rifle? Combine a Carbine + Scope. I've recorded some combinations related to the troops I field and as I field more, I'll likely add to and/or refine my lists.  That list includes one rule which has performed particularly well in our games, that being (variable) FX Ranged weapons, which I've primarily used to model various handguns.  BTW I don't tend to employ Rogue Planet Blasters... they seem wrong for my gaming.

I have also played the Powered Melee Weapon rules a little differently, dialling up the effectiveness of such iconic weapons as Power Fists and Chainswords.  Given the cost of a Chainsword (33 Credits) is more than the cost of a Lasgun and Bayonet equipped Imperial Guardsman, it feels only right!

Members of the Enlightened Fire Cult
Most of the gear that matters can be readily reflected in Rogue Planet rules/games simply by stacking the existing gear or tinkering with Unit Traits and Pawns.

Regarding other enhancements, unit traits etc I've included half a dozen here but to be honest, I haven't had to use any of them bar the Warp Jump for Warp Spiders to date.  I'm thinking I might keep them in reserve for playing some Inquisitor-type gaming.

Moving Units (No measurement folks!)

A tank I painted for my son Charlie
I've only found a few things that I've tweaked in the published Rogue Planet rules to provide me with what I'm looking for in a grimdark, future-themed skirmish game. For a while, I was including measured Move actions in my games, but now I am finding that the pure Rogue Planet 'no measured movements' is really hitting the spot.  Here's a link to some of my thinking about the same and it should give you a sense of how the whole Initiative-Action-Counter Turn Sequence actually plays.

Rogue Planet also provides some great opportunities for sophisticated tactical play, more so than many other systems I've tried.  This particular post describes how Units can be used to screen one another and how the Command Action can be exploited to its full effect.

Wounds and Energy

For a while, I had tweaked the Rogue Planet rules to deal with wounds, but now I'm back to more pure Rogue Planet wound and Energy Point treatment of the rules. Why? Glad you asked: my thinking is detailed here.

During December 2018 became aware that I had been playing a particular rule incorrectly - dealing with damage calculation vs Light armour and Critical and Total successes vs Medium armour.  Damage in such instances is the absolute difference between RAT and DEF else CQ and DEF - that means low stat'ed Units might (very difficult) cause many points of damage when attacking high-stat'ed targets. I wrote more about that particular rule here.  FYI I may end up revisiting some of my Unit profiles...

Psyker and Warp-like Powers

Spells/Psionics/Warp Powers Link - includes links to downloadable/printable cards I created.  I took a lot of inspiration from other's work and deliberately tried to keep the sheer number of spell-like effects down to less than 20.  Why?  I'm basically lazy and can only deal with so much complication in my life.

As it happens I haven't really played that much with spells and psionics.  Frankly, there's plenty going on in my games such that I rarely feel like their inclusion is warranted.

Scenarios, Campaigns and Turn Sequencing

The published Rogue Planet Rules and (official) House Rules include lots of mechanisms to assist with the generation of a scenario (including Plots, Deployment Options and Extra Circumstances).  I've also been experimenting with Rogue Trooper's (no relation 😊) Engagement rules and they're feeling promising.  I've captured my initial thoughts on the same, along with an illustrative example/application here.  Who knows, I might go one step further and re-jig them some more?  Do let me know if you think it's worth the effort.

One challenge in the game is the variable length of Turns.  In most games, players have a decent notion/expectation that the majority of their forces will perform something each Turn.  The same can't be said for Rogue Planet - a Turn could have as few as 2 Actions performed or in excess of 20!  That can make Turn-base scenarios problematic.  One thing I've had some success with is Time-based scenarios e.g., playing to a 30-minute limit.  The game's rules play that fast that it's not as crazy as it sounds.

Mind you, I have been experimenting with some alternatives that are looking promising.  Changing the default from 3 to 4 Actions subtly alters the odds and makes rolling for Actions that bit riskier.  You can read about it in this battle report.


So there you have it.  I intend to periodically revisit this post and update it so don't be surprised if you find things change every now and then.  

If you feel that the above doesn't provide you with the entirety of Rogue Planet's mechanics, well that's quite deliberate. I'm leveraging others' IP here and I'm not in the habit of giving their blood, sweat and tears away - it's simply not mine to re-publish.


Rogue Planet is Brent Spivey's intellectual property and if you'd like to experiment and play the game, do him (and ultimately us all) a favour and just purchase it - in the scheme of things, it's hardly a huge outlay; most of my workmates spend more in a given day on coffee and lunch! You get an ebook, various summary guides, house rules and more for one low price via Wargame Vault.  It's a great deal. If you want some real details describing how the game actually plays, you might find this Rogue Planet Battle Report, set in a W40K-styled setting, scratches that itch.

Warhammer 40,000 - one of many Games Workshop titles - is IP on another scale altogether. We've got a dozen or so Warhammer-related rulebooks, Black Library novels (thanks to the generosity of my Dad), heaps of miniatures and once upon a time I even worked in retail (Logical Choice, Canberra) selling the stuff. Go on, give it a shot, I don't think you'll be disappointed.


  1. Thanks for popping over to my blog to point me here, I'm still part way through reading the first battle report and I'm already sure this is right up my alley to play.

    I went back to my DriveThru account and downloaded the rest of the items. There wasn't a Derelict Planet Edition when I first purchased it way back (I somehow missed the update in my library, probably more absorbed with RPG's at the time).

    Now to convince some of my gaming buddies to give it a shot, or possibly solo it to try it out.

  2. That's great to hear and thank you for taking the time to drop me a line! Derelict Planet Edition looks great; however I am pretty sure the rules are carbon copies of the ebook version. Make sure you watch this space - I've got a "Rogue Inquisitor" homebrew project happening in stealth (maybe slow?) mode and will be sure to drop details as they feel adequately developed.