BoLS logo Tabletop, RPGs & Pop Culture

40K Retro: 1987’s Rogue Trader

2 Minute Read
Dec 22 2016



Today we go WAY back to the origin of Warhammer 40,000 – 1987’s Warhammer 40,000 Rogue Trader.  Let’s go over the rules and weapons to start!

Welcome to the BoLS Retro Corner, where we take you on a time machine to the era of early tabletop awesomeness.  This week, the origin of the Grimdark.  Rick Priestley’s 1987 masterpiece: Rogue Trader – get ready for 1st Edition gamers!


Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader, sometimes just referred to as Rogue Trader, was the first core rule book for the Warhammer 40,000 game.

General Structure

The first rule book for the Warhammer 40,000 game, Rogue Trader was published in 1987 and written by Rick Priestley, and was quite different to future versions of the game. Largely a cross between Role Playing Games and Table Top Battle Games, rather than an out and out Table Top Battle Game, Rogue Trader contained much more background on the wider universe, races and technology found in the Warhammer 40k universe than later editions did, and for this reason is considered a prized collectors’ piece.

The book is considered much less imperio-centric than later editions, as it employed a much broader spectrum of views within the narration than was common in future versions and proactively encouraged mixed faction forces.


Rogue Trader had six sections –

  • Rules for combat
  • A scenario featuring Crimson Fist space marines against Orks on Rynn’s World
  • A section detailing equipment
  • A section on the backround
  • Special rules for advanced gamers
  • A summary including all of the charts in the book.


Part 1 – Rules

Part 2 – Weapons & Equipment
We will be back tomorrow with the original background sections covering the Imperium and Xenos. There have been some BIG changes over the last 30 years.
~ Who’s still got their copy lying around and what is your favorite bit of early Grimdark craziness?

  • Traitor Legions: Alpha Legion Tactica