Only War

“Men, we are the first, last and often only line of defence the Imperium has against what is out there. You and that fine piece of Imperial weaponry you hold in your hands is all that is keeping humanity alive. Most of you will probably not live to see your second year in the Guard and most of you will probably never see your homeworlds again, but I can guarantee you that when you do fall, with a prayer to the most high and mighty God-Emperor on your lips, you will have earned the right to call yourself a man!”      
   –Staff Sergeant Vermak, 12th Cadian Shock Regiment

Only War is a complete, standalone Warhammer 40,000 roleplaying game experience in which players take on the roles of soldiers in the Imperial Guard, the galaxy-spanning armies of the God-Emperor. Fully compatible with FFG’s other Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay titles, this comprehensive game system explores a previously unseen side of life in the Imperium of Man.

In the Grim Darkness of the Far Future...

On a million, million worlds across thousands of light years of space, humanity fights endlessly for his survival against aliens, heretics, and daemons. From the blood-drenched mud of frontier worlds to the cold depths of space, the innumerable armies of the Imperium of Man are at constant war with the galaxy, fighting threats from without, from within, and from beyond.

Some soldiers are forced unwillingly into combat by an uncaring bureaucracy, while for others, the defence of the Imperium is a matter of personal duty. Whether by choice or chance, these men and women are inducted into the God-Emperor’s armies, trained to fight and sent off to far flung stars and systems to hold the line against the coming night. Whatever their origins, whatever their reasons or training, they are the thin line that protects the Imperium from complete and utter destruction. Despite overwhelming opposition, or perhaps because of it, they are bound to each other by a code of brotherhood and honour. They are the Imperial Guard. 

Forged in Battle

As Imperial Guardsmen, your characters will be called upon to undertake dangerous missions deep behind enemy lines. Your squad might be ordered to infiltrate an enemy base to acquire vital logistical plans, or to quickly set up an ambush against an incoming xenos convoy. With missions as varied as the galaxy’s innumerable warfronts, you and your squadmates must often rely on nothing but your own grim determination and your faith in each other.

Take the role of a Guardsman with one of twelve distinct Specialties, bringing unique skills to your squad to complement those of your comrades. Will you support your team as its Medic, rushing headfirst into fire to perform life-saving feats, or will you draw on the energies of the Warp as a fearsome Sanctioned Psyker? Perhaps you’ll protect your squad with suppressing fire as a brawny Heavy Gunner, or become the team’s Commissar and “motivate” them to greatness at the barrel of a bolter. Whatever your function, you’ll be an important part of the Imperium’s efforts to protect humanity.

Bloodthirsty xenos and the foul spawn of Chaos are hardly the only threats to a soldier’s life, however. Throughout your adventures, you and your fellow Guardsmen will also contend with paralyzing bureaucratic apathy, a leadership that often views you as expendable, and the fickle political maneuvering of those far beyond your humble station. In spite of this, your squad must make the best of the situations you encounter, embodying the ideals of the Imperial Guard while punishing the enemies of the God-Emperor. A Guardsman must take the glorious fight to the enemies, and spread the Light of His Word to the darkest corners of the galaxy.

In the face of overwhelming opposition, Guardsmen fight against mankind’s many enemies for the very survival of their species. It is the very immensity of this challenge, however, that strengthens a Guardsman’s sense of brotherhood and duty toward his squadmates. Though you are just a few among a faceless multitude of your brethren, chance or fate has singled you out for some special purpose. Prepare to join the greatest fighting force the galaxy has ever seen!

What Is Roleplaying?

In a roleplaying game (RPG), you create an alter ego, a fictional character that is your avatar within the game world. Perhaps you will create a stoic soldier, a skilled medic, or an inspiring leader. Next, you and your friends direct your characters through a series of adventures. Imagine a crime drama, adventure film, or war movie—except that instead of passively watching the story unfold, you control one of the characters, making his decisions, selecting his actions, and even speaking for him. The decisions of you and your fellow players directly affect the events of the story.

How can you affect these events? How do you decide what happens? That is the role of the game itself. Roleplaying games such as Only War provide a framework of rules that describe how to design your character and operate him within the game. Rules can cover situations like shootouts, chase scenes, or investigating the records from a long-abandoned base. Often, the rules require you to roll dice when performing an action, with some results indicating success and others indicating failure. While the rules provide structure and guidelines in the game, dice add an element of chance. After all, success would not seem so sweet if there were no risk of failure! Jumping from one cliff face to another becomes much more exciting when the slightest misstep (or bad dice roll!) may result in your character falling into the abyss below.

At first, RPGs like Only War may appear to have a lot of rules. However, you will soon see that the rules are actually quite simple, easy to remember, and often very intuitive. To adjudicate these rules, each game has a Game Master (or GM). The GM is you, or one of your friends, chosen by the consensus of your group. He does not control a lone character during the game. Instead, the GM runs the game, presenting the story and the myriad situations that come with it. He controls the people your character meets in the game, controls the encounters and strange occurrences that shape your decisions as to your actions, and is basically both the game’s narrator and referee.

All of the other players control characters within the world around which the story revolves. These characters are known as the Player Characters (PCs). During the game, the players describe the intentions and actions of their characters to the GM, who then decides (based on the rules) whether those actions succeed or fail, and how the character’s words and deeds affect the game’s story.

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