Forging a Campaign: Heroes

What is a Warhammer 40,000 campaign? If you want a proper definition, a campaign is a linked series of games to achieve a final victory which is more important than victory in the single battles (you know, if you lose some battles it doesn’t mean that you are going to lose the war). If you want to hear my opinion, instead, a campaign is the most exciting and fun way of playing that could ever be devised.

We cannot make further generalizations, however, for beyond this family resemblance (so the philosopher Wittgenstein would have called it) there is an endless ocean of possible declinations. There are at least as many campaign types as there are people running a campaign, and surely even more, for most of us find it impossible to stuff all their ideas and themes in a single campaign. So, my posts on the subject will not try to give a proper, rational and schematic set of rules or suggestions, but rather offer an open toolbox from which to freely choose any element you like to modify and integrate it in your campaign.

Almost every campaign, be it node- or map-based, decision tree-like or narrative, has some degree of underlying story in it. I usually like campaigns where the players have a certain degree of freedom and can shape the events to come with their choices and actions, actually creating a narrative during the games and between them. No war story, however, is complete without a list of heroes, warriors who distinguished themselves for their actions, or from whom great deeds were expected. And no hero is truly an hero if he ends the story without struggling, growing and changing to achieve his objectives. In the last campaign I run, we used some set of rules to represent these basic archetypes. As their combined length would be way too much for a single post, I will split them in three. Today I’ll begin with the basic rules for heroes, while in the following posts of this series I will expand upon them with the rules for gaining experience and for serious injuries.

Obviously, I would be delighted to hear your feedback on them.

Heroes of the Campaign

Before the beginning of the Campaign, each player can select up to five Heroes for his force. These Heroes must be chosen from the faction of his main army. The player can select a single Hero from an allied faction (Battle-Brothers level), but only if he already selected at least three Heroes from his main faction. Every model with the (Character) subtype can be selected to become a Hero, be it a powerful Independent Character or a humble team leader.

The player must establish in advance the equipment end the option of every Hero, thus determining its point value. If the hero is a team leader, its point value will be a modifier to apply to the base point value of its squad. As a general rule, the Hero keeps its equipment and options unchanged for the whole Campaign, but there could be exceptions due to specific Campaign events. Its point value, however, won’t change even if the Hero becomes weaker due to a Serious Injury, or more powerful thanks to the Experience gained.

Heroes never roll on the Warlord Traits tables. When a player selects a Hero, instead, he chooses for it a Warlord Trait from any table on which it could roll (usually the four on the Rulebook, the one on its Codex and the one from the Kill Team expansion). If a Character has fixed Warlord Traits, keep them as they are. If it would have two or more Warlord Traits, you can choose all of them. The chosen Warlord Trait(s) cannot be changed during the Campaign, but a Hero can obtain further Warlord Traits thanks to the Experience gained.

A player is never obliged to field a Hero but, if he does it, then the Hero must be the Warlord of the army. If there is more than a Hero in the same army, the player can freely choose which one of them is the Warlord. A Hero from an allied faction can never be the Warlord in a game where there is at least a Hero from the player’s main faction.

A player should give names to his Heroes and write little backstories for them, even if this is not mandatory.

A Hero’s psychic powers, its Chaos Boons granted by Gifts of Mutation and similar random effects must be determined at the beginning of each game.

If a player chooses one or more Chaos Daemons Characters as his Heroes, and is summoning a Character model using a power from the Malefic Daemonology, he cannot summon one of his Heroes.

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