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Warhammer 40,000 quietly announced a wide reprint of its first ever rulebook

The largely roleplay-focused Rogue Trader looks very different from modern Warhammer.

Warhammer 40k: Rogue Trader cover art
Image credit: Games Workshop

Warhammer 40,000 is going back to the miniature wargame’s roots by reprinting its very first rulebook for a limited time. Rogue Trader will be available as a print-on-demand physical book for a limited time as part of a 40th anniversary deal.

Publisher Games Workshop hid the announcement at the bottom of a fairly massive spree of teasers, previews and upcoming products - a notorious behavior for the Warhammer Community page. Also typical for a Warhammer product, Rogue Trader will only be available to order within a limited window that opens on October 14th through the 23rd. Saturday marks the official Warhammer Day and a kickoff to the company’s wider celebration.

At 288-pages, Rogue Trader will feel like a fairly standard entry in Warhammer 40k’s massive portfolio of published books, but the interior doesn’t quite match the military sci-fi wargame we know today. It was first released in 1987 as a counterpart to Games Workshop’s existing Warhammer Fantasy Battle line. Rick Priestley reportedly wrote the majority of the book along with Andy Chambers, along with input from other designers within the company.

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Rogue Trader leaned more into the roleplay element of Warhammer 40,000’s world as opposed to the dice rolls and measuring tapes that modern audiences understand. Players embodied the eponymous Rogue Traders, trusted mercenaries hired by the Imperium to scout new planets with a contingent of marines in tow. Much of what exemplifies 40k’s universe today - Chaos, the seemingly endless variations on Space Marines, and many of the alien species - weren’t yet implemented into the lore. Some additions, such as Space Slann and treating technology as if it were marvellous wonders, would be excised or changed in later editions.

Games Workshop first launched Rogue Trader at a Game Day event and carried that tradition by previously selling limited numbers of copies during the annual Warhammer Fest fan convention. Even limited, this print-on-demand run will be the best chance many players will get at snagging an odd piece of Warhammer 40,000 History.

Fantasy Flight Games published a standalone tabletop RPG book called Rogue Trader in 2009 that used the Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay’s system first developed for 2008's Dark Heresy. One player acted as the captain of a ship exploring the edges of Imperium space, while everyone else depicted members of their crew. A similar computer game called Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader is currently in development by Owlcat Games (the studio that produced Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous) and should be launching in December of this year.

More information about pre-ordering Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader can be found on the Warhammer Community site.

Update: The article now correctly lists Warhammer Fest as the annual fan celebration where Rogue Trader is sold, and the system used in Fantasy Flight Game's Rogue Trader RPG has been clarified.

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