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Designer’s Notes: Inquisition and Rogue Traders in Kill Team

Kill Team game Inquisition Rogue Traders Astra Cartographica designer’s notes

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These brief notes are intended to provide players with the background of how and why we developed the rules for using the Inquisition and Rogue Traders in Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team. If you haven’t already seen them, you can download the files at:

Inquisition: Standard / Unchained
Rogue Traders: Standard / Unchained

First, it’s worth understanding what we mean by “standard” and “unchained.” The “standard” rules are intended to be relatively conservative. We’re pretty sure that we offered more than Games Workshop is likely to give us in either faction (if/when they ever publish official rules for these factions), not least because one major difference was that we didn’t restrict model wargear options based on mono-pose models – our rules allow and encourage a level of conversion. The “unchained” rules are, as the name implies, much less restrictive than the “standard” rules, allowing far more diverse choices. The projects initially started as a single effort to develop standard rules, but we decided very early in our efforts that the source material allowed for far more than Games Workshop was likely to include, so we wanted to provide the unchained rules as a vehicle for that level of creativity. So we shifted our main development process to the unchained rules, focusing the majority of our effort there. Once we had the unchained rules to the point where we didn’t foresee major changes, we created the standard rules by cutting out all of the unchained material that we thought was beyond anything Games Workshop might provide.

Our efforts began with the Inquisition. In this, we knew that the current rules for the Inquisition as provided in the November 2019 White Dwarf Magazine were the basic foundation, with the rules for Inquisitor Eisenhorn having a strong bearing on the matter. From there we looked back at previous incarnations of the Inquisition in the Warhammer 40,000 rules, with a strong emphasis on Codex: Daemonhunters, Codex: Witch Hunters, and their Codex: Inquisition / Codex: Imperial Agents successors. We also looked at the early rules, however – Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader (1st edition) and the original 2nd edition rules for Inquisitors. More importantly, we researched the material from both the Inquisitor game and the Dark Heresy roleplaying game from Fantasy Flight Games (both editions). We wanted the Unchained rules to allow for players that have collected Inquisition models through the years to use those models in their games of Kill Team.

Once we had the Inquisition rules roughly developed, we used those rules as the basis for the Rogue Trader rules. There are many similarities between the two factions in terms of the individuality of the leading characters, their relative potency, and the diversity in their retinues (with considerable duplication terms of the types of individuals that serve them). There are some differences between them, though, and our initial efforts were in identifying those differences and making them clear. Rogue Traders have seen very little support in the Warhammer 40,000 game, with rules in 1st edition (which was named for them) and recent rules in 8th edition via translations of Blackstone Fortress and Kill Team models. Those rules, naturally, formed our baseline. We augmented these with material from the Inquisition game and the Rogue Trader roleplaying game from Fantasy Flight Games.

One aspect that is common to both factions is that, more than any other faction, these factions are really defined by the lead character – the inquisitor or rogue trader. Something we quickly realized was that, following the official examples (Eisenhorn, Elucia Vhane, Janus Draik, and Neyam Shai Murad) these models would only be usable if players were using the Commanders rules, and these rules aren’t often used by players. To counter this, we took pains to make their lieutenants, the throne agents (Inquisition) and seneschals (Astra Cartographica), miniature versions of them. These lesser characters aren’t quite as potent as their bosses, but they have a large number of options and customizability so that players can still use highly individualistic leaders in their regular games of Kill Team.

The “throne agent” name might not be recognizable to everyone, with some likely recognizing the more well-known “interrogator” and “acolyte” names. The lore has evolved over the years, often in contradictory manners. When the 3rd edition codices were published we were introduced to acolytes, which were the members of an inquisitor’s retinue. The Inquisitor game introduced a variety of types of acolytes, including interrogators, deductors, explicators, and others. The Dark Heresy game also brought us terms like agent and throne agent. We broke the Inquisition faction down into three basic types of models – acolytes, allies, and familiars/constructs. Allies are models such as the various chambers militant members and sanctioned xenos – beings that are not members of an inquisitor’s retinue, but which serve on a temporary basis. Familiars/constructs are animals and cyber-constructs that serve or accompany members of an inquisitor’s retinue, but which are limited in their potential. Acolytes are the loyal members of an inquisitor’s retinue, and those that are found most worthy might be chosen by the inquisitor to potentially become inquisitors themselves. These latter servants are the throne agents.

While throne agents have considerable customization options, we built in a method to further customize a throne agent via the Ascension rule, which allows a player to advance an ACOLYTE to THRONE AGENT. And this can further be used to create a unique inquisitor via the Path of the Inquisitor rule. In this way, a player might take a wider range of models to become an inquisitor. Neither of these rules is included in the standard version of the faction rules, however.

Similar to the throne agents, the “seneschal” name in the Astra Cartographica faction (rogue traders) might not be instantly recognizable. This term was derived from the Rogue Trader RPG, but where that class was very specific in that game, we broadened it a bit. Customizability for these characters was granted via the Void-Master ability (that name also drawn from the Rogue Trader RPG). In this, we also combined the concepts that were found in the Inquisition Sage model (which isn’t included in the Astra Cartographica rules).

Sub-factions were an important part in the development of both factions. The obvious sub-factions for the Inquisition were the ordos. We originally intended to develop only the three major ordos – Hereticus, Malleus, and Xenos. After some discussion, including some public discussions, we decided to create additional ordos minoris. We looked at a few and decided on four that we thought could be developed in distinct ways, allowing for even more divergent kill teams – Astartes (the ordo that watches over and disciplines the Adeptus Astartes), Machinum (the ordo that ensures that the Adeptus Mechanicus doesn’t withhold technology from the rest of the Imperium), Militarum (the ordo that watches over and disciplines the Astra Militarum), and Sanctorum (the ordo that watches over the disciplines the Ecclesiarchy). We did our best to make these hypothetical versions of these ordos distinct, though the Ordo Sanctorum and the Ordo Hereticus have a lot of similarities.

The Astra Cartographica posed a challenge in that there isn’t a large body of lore for the rogue traders. There are a number of known rogue traders and rogue trader dynasties, but we don’t really have any ideas about how they differ from each other in terms of rules. The lore about rogue traders, however, especially that from the Rogue Trader RPG, emphasizes how they might be given certain requirements in their warrants. We took that concept and created the mandates as the sub-factions, with those mandates shaping the types of forces that might additionally accompany a rogue trader. A late addition to these mandates was the Mandate: Denied, which allowed players to represent mutineers and pirates.

For both factions, the sub-faction rules affected certain allies they might take. Even though we’ve seen official GW material avoid the “chamber militant” term in recent additions, we used it in the Inquisition rules to allow the various ordos to use the appropriate allies. For example, an Ordo Malleus Inquisitor might include a Grey Knight in her retinue. We limited the numbers of these models, however, in order to preserve a focus on the inquisitor and their retinue – players wanting to use full squads of these chambers militant only have to include an inquisitor/throne agent in that kill team (since both have the appropriate faction keywords). For the rogue traders, the ability to take certain allied models was provided via their chosen sub-faction. For example, a Mandate: Explorator kill team (a rogue trader whose warrant requires that he assist the Adeptus Mechanicus in their explorator mission) might include some Adeptus Mechanicus allies.

All of the additional models available to these factions were drawn from the rules and background. Whenever a model had official Kill Team rules we basically copied them, although some had limitations imposed (e.g., Adeptus Astartes not taking heavy weapons). Points, too, were kept as close as possible to the points in the official factions (so a Deathwatch Veteran with a heavy thunder hammer in an inquisitor’s retinue costs just as much as a similarly equipped model in a Deathwatch kill team). In some cases, models couldn’t be found in an official Kill Team faction, but they had Warhammer 40,000 rules. An example of this is the Sister of Silence. In these cases, we did our best to translate them into Kill Team rules in a manner that followed the examples of similar models that had Kill Team rules. Similarly, weapons and wargear were generally identical to their Warhammer 40,000 counterparts, changing wording for the games (e.g., anything that affects a “unit” in WH40K affects a “model” in Kill Team) and doing our best to translate their points values in a balanced manner.

One set of rules that we developed that was unique (and limited to the unchained rules) was the adaptations and mutations. These allowed for players to create unique mutants, xenos, and creatures. We originally included abhumans in this (as an alternative to the xenos options), but found that we couldn’t accurately translate them, so we made them their own entries (beastmen, ogryn, ratlings, and squats). Players can still use the xenos (sanctioned xenos in the Inquisition rules and xenos auxiliary in the Astra Cartographica rules – they’re virtually identical) rules to create some of the more exotic abhumans such as felids. In the standard rules, we assume that players can just use the Armsman rules to represent these models (with their adaptations and mutations simply being cosmetic).

The adaptations and mutations allow players a great deal of customization options. For example, a rogue trader’s companion creature (a small animal that serves as a pet/mascot type of creature) might be given fangs and natural armor to make them more potent in combat. Or a sanctioned xenos that accompanies an inquisitor might be hulking with four arms and a prehensile tail. These options allow players to convert models, or to use models from other games and model ranges in making their kill teams unique.

We included the distinction between puritans and radical, with either choice affecting the types of models that may be included in the kill team and/or wargear that the inquisitor may take.

The overall development was very collaborative, with ideas serving as springboards for inspiration and rules development. We all had various ideas that were discussed, and most of those ideas were found suitable (those that weren’t suitable for these rules generally had alternatives that allowed for them to be used – keywords that allowed for models to be used in other factions or the simple expedient of narrative games). In this, while some of our discussion involved tempering creative ideas, most revolved around finding ways to implement those creative ideas in fun ways while keeping everything balanced. While each of the rules I linked above credits a number of other members that participated in these projects, I limited those listings to the members that actively participated in the rules discussions. Concurrent with those discussions, however, we also had a number of discussions in which members discussed the kill teams they were developing for these rules. Each of these members took things in directions that I never would have conceived, demonstrating both the versatility of these rules as well as the creativity of my fellow hobbyists. It’s fair to say that each of these discussions similarly influenced the rules, so the full roster of participants in both projects needs to be credited: apologist, BadgersinHills, Brother Tyler, Dosjetka, Grotsmasha, Inquisitor Eisenhorn, Iron Bars, librisrouge, Lord Marshal, Nicodemus Doloroso, N1SB, ninjasuperspy, Ryltar Thamior, Sandalphon, sitnam, Suspicious Blue Mind, The Observer, ThePenitentOne, TPS, and war009. I might have created decent rules for these factions on my own, but my rules would have been nothing near as good as what was possible with this group.

We hope that you enjoy these rules as much as we do. If you use these rules to create your own Inquisition/Astra Cartographica kill teams, we’d love to see pictures and read the background behind your kill teams (and we’ll be showing off our own kill teams soon). While we’ve endeavored to make things as balanced as possible, there are sure to be some errors and room for improvement. If you see anything wrong or have any ideas, please post them here so that we can continue to make these rules better for everyone.
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Brother Tyler

Brother Tyler


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I'm going to expand on a few of the things that Ioldanach mentioned above, providing my own perspective on things. Ioldanach did the lion's share of the work, but there was a lot of lively discussion between the members of the project - each of us brought our own perspective and interpretation on things. It was very interesting to see the diverse ideas that were presented; and the divergent ideas really helped us to exercise creativity in the rules so that hobbyists aren't constrained to a narrow view of the factions. A lot of effort went into providing rules that allowed for a great deal of creativity while remaining firmly based on official lore.


Aside from the Inquisitor/Rogue Trader and Throne Agent/Seneschal, the Armsman was one of the most important models that we had to "get right." This model represents any type of warrior that might serve an Inquisitor/Rogue Trader. We had to ensure that the basic trooper models of the Imperium (Astra Militarum, Tempestus Scion, Voidsman, Enforcer/Adeptus Arbites) were covered. In addition, we wanted to allow for things like hive gangers, desperadoes, bounty hunters, mercenaries, Frateris Templars, etc. were covered. Also, these couldn't just be shooter types (as the Astra Militarum), but had to allow for melee combatants. All of these factors were amply covered in the lore. There were two methods by which these were achieved. The first method was the Combat Training ability, which allows you to make the model either a shooter or a stabber (Armsman Gunners are clearly shooters, whereas Armsmasters are both shooty and stabby). The second method was the diversity in the wargear options - the Armsman has a diverse range of options, far beyond what is seen in other factions. This range of options allows you to use the basic models, but also allows you to use older models, models from other ranges (such as Necromunda) or games (a wide variety of 28mm-32mm miniatures can be used, not just those with a sci-fi theme), or even to convert unique models. The Armsman, after all, represents fighter types from across the length and breadth of the Imperium.


The abhumans, mutants, and xenos (sanctioned xenos/xenos auxiliary) also bear discussion. Our efforts here started with the mutants and xenos, and the concepts for mutations/adaptations were drawn from 1st edition Necromunda and the Inquisitor game. Originally, abhumans were an option with either mutants of xenos (I forget which one it was, but if you didn't take certain adaptations/mutations, you could replace keywords to turn the model into an ABHUMAN). One of the key differences between the two factions is in how many of these models may be included in a kill team. Cleaving more closely to the Imperium's policies about non-humans, Inquisitors can include fewer of these models in their retinues (RADICAL Inquisitors can include more). Free of the prohibition against consorting with xenos and controlling one or more ships with numerous menial crew members, on the other hand, Rogue Traders can include more of these models. The range of adaptation/mutation types also allows for a great deal of creativity. We've included a few very specific species such as the Aeldari, Kroot, and Jokaero, all supported strongly by lore and rules. The abhumans were the subject of considerable discussion, and we eventually changed them from a variation on the mutant/xenos into explicit choices (e.g., beastman, ogryn, etc.). Players can still represent some of the minor abhumans such as the felids (cat-folk) via the xenos rules, but the four main abhuman races all have nuances that we didn't feel were quite right for the adaptations/mutations (though we tried to see if that method would work first). Three of the abhuman species have strong templates in official factions and only had a few modifications to make them work in the Inquisition/Rogue Trader factions. The squats were a bit different in that we don't really have any modern rules for them other than those found in Necromunda. So we took those Necromunda rules and also looked back at 1st and 2nd edition rules for the squats. Lastly, we looked at the Duardin from Age of Sigmar for some options, rationalizing that many hobbyists might use those models for conversions. We had to tone a couple things down a bit, but we think we got the squats into something fun and usable (but not must-have). The Unchained rules, naturally, give much more diversity and freedom to use all of these models. Players can use most of these models in the Standard rules, though, through the simple expedient of the Armsman entry (so you can take that beastman armed with a great weapon as an Armsman).


The other area where the adaptations/mutations came into play was the attack beasts, companion creatures, and raptors. The first two are limited to the Rogue Traders (the attack beast is narrowed down to just a canid in the Inquisition faction, and the companion creature concept doesn't exist there. The concept behind all three of these is that the model has some sort of "pet" creature. While we had some of these concepts early in the development, the big impetus to expand them came from the preview of Lord Inquisitor Draxus and her pet dragonling. The main reason that we limited these for the Inquisition is that we felt that, as with the xenos above, Inquisitors would be more likely to use familiars of the standard variety - generally servo-skulls and cherubim (which the Rogue Traders can also take). The irony here is that our inspiration for all of this was an Inquisitor model, but we allowed for Draxus's type of "pet" via the raptor rules. The point here, though, is that we imagined Rogue Traders (and their crews) easily having a variety of exotic creatures as mascots and pets. These allow creative players to use a wide variety of suitable models - there are a few from the WH40K range, and quite a few from the Age of Sigmar range, not to mention many from other games and model ranges. Personally, I plan on converting up a space monkey as a companion creature for my Rogue Trader pirate (Mandate: Denied) kill team. I also have some gryph-hounds from AoS that are going to become attack beasts in a Rogue Trader kill team.


Overall, you'll see a lot of familiar model choices in both of these factions, but we wanted both of these factions to emphasize diversity. To that end, the Unchained versions are especially open for creativity. Most of these options are present in the Standard versions, too, however. The downside, naturally, is that homegrown rules aren't universally usable. Even if you're not able to use them in games, though, we hope that you might find inspiration to create your own unique Inquisition/Rogue Trader kill teams for the fun of modeling and painting enjoyment.


Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Kill Team game, Inquisition, Rogue Traders, Astra Cartographica, designer’s notes

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