Designer notes #1: Codex Crusades

Codex: Crusades

As a life long fan of 40k, Thousand Sons and more recently, the pre-Heresy era (aka 30k), the coming of a full-on book, looking into the rich background of the Thousand Sons (in the self-titled novel by McNeill) is a very welcomed gift.

user posted image

The book has been hugely influential on us – I’ve seen dozens of people start up their pre-heresy TS armies recently. It’s also pushed me into starting something I have wanted to do for a long time now – my own interpretation of the Great Crusade, in a playable format. This project, as hinted by the image to the left, is spearheaded by the Thousand Sons. What better way to launch!

Writing your own rules for your favourite game is a very appealing project, but the reality soon hits you – this is hard work! To ease the development, offer you some insight and hopefully avoid some potential mistakes, I’m starting a series of articles explaining how I’ve gone about developing this project.


Every project starts with a problem to solve. For me, I wanted to try my own hand at writing a Crusade-era codex that I, and hopefully others, would want to play. There are at least 2 groups who already develop pre-Heresy rules (Tempus Fugitives and Bell of Lost Souls), so how do I not tread on their toes?

I’ve wound back the clock to the early stages of the Great Crusade, long before the seeds of heresy were starting to be sown. I would have taken it to a pre-Primarch stage, but the lack of information (and stability for a certain Legion) would make short work of my ideas. So, this project is intended to represent a time before other available rules.

Is that a enough to sit alongside other material by its own strength? I fear not, but it gives me an angle to work it differently.


The next problem I tackled was the environment for which this project can be used. Should this be a stand-alone codex that you can use in standard games of 40k? I found it myself answering both yes and no. Why limit myself? To this end, I’ve outlined 3 different levels to build into the rules:

  • Alpha
  • Beta
  • Gamma

Alpha level Crusades is a complete custom set of rules. This includes changes to the 40k core rules, new missions and extra options for the armies.

Beta level Crusades is a middle ground between custom codex and rules conversion. It includes additions to the rules, rather than modifying or rewriting them.

Gamma level Crusades is the lightest version, simply a plug-in codex to play within 40k, requiring existing marine codices for reference and army construction.

Offering 3 levels of game allows players to decide how much they wish to immerse themselves in the Crusades ruleset. Do you want to play a friend who hasn’t got an appropriate army? Plug in your Gamma list. Want to try some custom missions and your choice of optional rules? Try a Beta Crusades battle.


Foremost in my hobby, I like to build and paint models. I take building beyond the basic construction provided in a boxed set. As my tutorials have shown, I push it to a the next level and fully customise models to fit the theme. However, seeing a completed model without its steps of construction can quickly befuddle you into defeat. “How did you make that?!” is easily the most common question I am asked.

I appreciate not everyone enjoys this or even has the motivation and skill, but I feel that everyone is capable of doing so. To that end, I intend to provide a full hobby support section with every army release in this project. This website’s flagship resource is tutorials, I’d be silly to not make use of it in this project.

Like the rules? Love the background? Here’s how you can build the army!


So, you’re still reading and wondering when you can get hold of Codex Crusades. I won’t commit to a release date, you know how busy I am with projects (you are reading this right?), but it won’t be until late May at earliest. Simply put, I have a Terra to besiege.

The plan for release is modular. Part one includes the basic core of the Crusades system and the first army, Thousand Sons. Part two intends to include a second legion and a Xenos race, also adding to the core rules system.

At this stage, the first release is nearing completion. The rules are set down, the army list considerable. A long path of testing and tidying up the visuals of the release PDF are laid out before me… and if you haven’t noticed, the cover is done (thanks to Macabre Magpie)!


I appreciate any support. I have had offers of help from several people – I will be contacting you soon to take up your offers! If anyone is interested in play testing and providing art/tutorials, please contact me.

Thus concludes an introductory insight into this project. I’ll dish out some real information next time.

Rusty Dice

Aint nothing but a horn

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4 Responses

  1. Blademirage says:

    This sounds like a really cool idea, really looking forward to your spin on the pre-heresy crusades. It is always nice to see some other rule sets from this period of the 40k background ( haven’t really played around with the BoLS ruleset but have been along time user of the Fugitive’s ruleset (May is shaping up to be awesome)) so it is nice to see some fresh insight also like the idea of it being a true crusade era ruleset, as this is usually brushed aside for the whole galaxy burning stuff.

  2. Maximvs says:

    Very nice project! I have both rule sets (BoLS & TF) but I haven’t opportunity to try. Anyways, I really don’t like very much the set of TF beause is focused on the heresy and the assault of Terra, since I’m interested in the time just post-Primarch, when the Emperor was searchings his childs and conquering the galaxy.

    I’m very interested in this incoming rule set, but don’t forget the World Eaters nor the Night Lords! 🙂

  3. Rusty Dice says:

    TF have a progressing ruleset, which started at the late Great Crusade, but Ulfhedin doesn’t want the previous releases of packs maintained – some of us are fortunate to have a hard copy 🙂

  1. September 15, 2010

    […] have the same intentions, but a little more focus. Work is concentrating on the beta level (see the previous notes for information).  A thread over at The Great Crusade forums has been set-up to actively discuss […]

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