If you fancy playing a Warhammer 40k RPG with lightweight, old-school-DnD-inspired rules, look no further than ‘Into the Hive’. This lightweight expansion to Chris McDowall’s indie RPGs Into the Odd and Electric Bastionland, published on the blog Bugbear Slug, lets you quickly generate characters from various Warhammer 40k factions, ready to die for the Emperor of Mankind.
Our Into the Odd review found it was a beautiful, streamlined RPG, that could be off-putting for newbies because it expects the GM to run the game using judgement and imagination rather than exhaustive rules. Into the Hive is similarly much lighter than familiar DnD character creators, with just a few dice rolls needed to build a wretch from the grimdark Warhammer 40k universe.
If you want to get a feel for Into the Odd, check out this lets play series by YouTube channel TellingTales:
You can find the Into the Hive expansion on the Bugbear Slug blog. The blog says the expansion is supposed to show the Imperium of Man as “a terrifying institution” by highlighting “the horrors of civilian life in the dark millennium — imperial insanity pushing men and women toward the damning influence of Chaos”.
You’ll randomly generate a character by rolling for their Origin, with options like a Feral World, the mid-levels of a Hive World, or the reputed paradise planet Krieg; the Association they’re part of, be it smuggler, pest-controller, guilder, or something else; and their Death Sentence, the thing that means Imperial society wants them dead.
The worse your stats are in Into the Hive, the more cool powers or gear you receive. If your Death Sentence is Unsanctioned Psyker (telepath) and you roll a dreadful Willpower score of four, you’ll also get the ability “nO OnE DiEs” which immediately resurrects you after you die for the first time.
At each stage of creation you can pick whether to gain more or less HP: claiming +2HP as a Kriegsman will leave you Deprived whenever you’re not in a fortified position, while taking +0HP lets you dig through solid rock with a humble shovel.
If you like the idea of “40k meets Into the Odd” but want more wargame and a little less RPG, our The Doomed review dives into Chris McDowall’s first wargame, which absolutely drips with the aesthetics of Warhammer 40k
If you’re looking for official Warhammer 40k RPGs you’ve got two options, both published by Cubicle 7. Wrath and Glory focuses on heroic action, and has a place on our guide to the best tabletop RPGs. Imperium Maledictum is far more grounded and low powered – in Wargamer’s play-through with the game’s senior designer, we made tax auditor characters. We had a blast!