By Kid Kyoto
Hey Sarge, notice something funny here?
Nothing special. This is just your standard issue ruined Imperial City. I mean over there's a ruined Basilica Administratus, next to it is a ruined Sanctum Imperialis and on top of that hill I can see a ruined Manufactorum. The walls have Imperial propaganda posters; I even see some broken dollhouse furniture. Nice touch that, you usually don't see that attention to detail in these ruined cities. Makes it look like people lived here.
Well that's just it Sarge, I mean I see lots of buildings, bunkers, some burnt out Chimeras and Rhinos, even a crashed Falcon even though we're fighting Tyranids and not Eldar…
You got a point private?
Well sir, where are the cars? The buses? The trucks? I mean this is a huge city with millions of people, how did they get around?
Um… That’s a good question trooper. I recon they walked maybe?
But Sarge, even if you figure the commoners had to walk, what about food, products, raw materials? I mean according to that burnt sign this Manufactorum was the Emperor’s Glorious Refrigerator Factory #4. How did they get the steel there? How did they move the finished refrigerators away?
Well you’ve stumped me trooper. Now let’s hunt up some cover, almost time for turn 1 you know.
Come to think of it Sarge, I see about 200 guardsmen here on our side and no more than 4 Chimeras. How did we get here anyway?
So, in the grim darkness™ of the far future there is only war.
Fair enough, who wants to play a game where you take the role of students and office workers commuting each day? But where there's war there's logistics. Soldiers have to eat. Vehicles need fuel. Weapons need ammo. Tanks need factories to build them, and factories need trucks and trains filled with raw materials and workers. Officers need a swanky ride to the Apotheosis Day reception. Man (and Battle Sisters) cannot live on Armored Fighting Vehicles alone.
But despite 25 years of terrain, resin kits and a huge range of plastic vehicles 40k has never had any civilian vehicles. They're often referenced in novels but rarely, if ever, seen in artwork and never in models. I'm seen many modelers produce detailed cities, factories and farms but leave out any sign of how people get around. Even GW produces some excellent roads but nothing other than tanks to drive on them.
So let's give this matter some thought.
A (very) Brief History
Rogue Trader had rules for ground cars but they've never appeared in later editions.
In the road-wheeler category Rogue Trader gave us the mighty City Car.
The City Car is "Inconspicuous enough for a bank raid – fast enough for a dash to the spaceport – common enough to re-sell with no questions asked". But design-wise it looks more like a generic futuristic car and really does not fit the retro-tech look of 40k.
But it does have a 10% chance of flight!
It also makes it clear that while technology can vary tremendously from world to world there are some common, popular designs that can be found across the galaxy.
One little known Rogue Trader book Citi-Block (a supplement for both the Judge Dredd RPG and Rogue Trader) offered some cardboard tiles with futuristic cars and trucks.
But the book was clearly using designs from Judge Dredd with the Warhammer 40k part tacked on.
Still there are some interesting blocky designs in there a scratch builder might look at.
Later the original Genestealer Cult rules by Paul Murphy, Bryan Ansell, and Nigel Stillman had armored limos for the magus and patriarch to ride around in style. But they didn't appear again and were never made into models.
In 3rd edition Tim Huckleberry's Genestealer Cult in the Citadel Journal list had armored limos with some nice conversions made from toys, Ork Trukks and the Vampire Counts Black Coach.
Later the Vehicle Design Rules specifically listed AV9 as the proper armor for civilian vehicles.
In the early 2000s Specialist Games' Necromunda Magazine had rules for adventures in the Ash Wastes. These rules came with some brilliant conversions for dune buggies using the Ork buggy and plastic tubing.
And for mining vehicles made from Sentinels.
Several BL books mentioned staff cars, delivery trucks and other civilian vehicles but never with much detail. Dan Abnett's novels have referred to the Cargo 6 and Cargo 8 (6 and 8 wheeled trucks) but that's the only name I've found.
Forgeworld has the Sentinel Power loader and some engineering/recovery vehicles but no trucks or cars for the less glamorous side of war. The Tauros and Ventator are converted civilian vehicles but they are more of all-terrain vehicles than common cars.
It's been suggested that Ork trucks and battlewagons are actually looted Imperial civilian vehicles but I've never seen an official picture of what the unlooted ones might look like (though I've seen some good conversions).
And that's about it.
(All this being said, I am not all-knowing, if you know of stuff I missed please let me know.)
Transportation in the Imperium
So here's my take.
On most worlds cars do exist but the situation is much more like the old Soviet Union than developed countries. Imperial Subjects need permission to own a vehicle and those with enough money or influence to get that permission are well off enough to have (and need) drivers and guards, they don't drive themselves. Average subjects having access to private cars is almost unheard of.
The Imperium does not like cars because limiting mobility helps keep people in line. In one of the Dune books the God Emperor outlawed wheeled vehicles because "it's much easier to control a society where everyone walks". Historically in Edo-era Japan the Tokugawa Shoguns made it illegal to build or maintain roads without permission since without roads no one could mobilize an army to overthrow them.
Cars would also be rare due to limited resources; the Imperium is constantly at war and is now being strained to the breaking point. Fuel and parts for civilian vehicles will always be a lower priority than military.
So the vast majority of the Imperium walks or takes some form of mass transit, probably big crowded dirty buses and trains.
But still you need to move people and goods.
While private cars might be rare you'd still have limos, trucks, trains and buses. Outside the city you'd have trucks, tractors and other agricultural vehicles. In more wild areas people would want some sort of armored vehicle, maybe even a rhino, for transport.
Some of these designs will be STC (Standard Template Construct) models that are found throughout the Imperium and have the advantage of functioning on just about any habitable world. Others will be local designs, that might be more primitive than the STC or more advanced but rely on locally-produced parts or fuel that are not easy to get off-world.
A gamer could go crazy with all sorts of scratch builds and conversions. BL books have mentioned worlds with skimmer cars and cargo walkers. But let's assume for the moment that most of the Imperium uses a standard design similar to other 40k vehicles.
And for Imperial subjects standard designs just make sense. Sure that Zephyr-Pattern air car might be great, until you find out that its anti-grav plates are made from a rare mineral only found on one planet in the sector. And that planet is besieged by Orks. And there's only one forge world that can refine the mineral. And it's besieged by Chaos. And in any case your anti-grav plates are being forcibly requisitioned by the Ultramarines who need them to maintain their land speeder fleet.
We also need to keep in mind that even a peaceful Imperial world is a lot closer to Baghdad than to Boston. There are regular riots, bombings and assassinations. Outside the cities we would expect to find bandits, cults and even xenos raiders. An Imperial VIP will want bulletproofing and armor at the very least. Even on a civilian vehicle a few discrete weapons would not be out of place.
Naturally the easiest answer is to just use modern vehicles, there's tons of 1/48 scale toy cars and models out there already. And that's a fine answer.
The problem would be that many modern vehicles don't fit the look of 40k. It would be a shame to create a dark gothic battlefield and then put a shiny red sports car in the middle of it. Most 40k military vehicles are patterned after WWI and WWII vehicles so that's the era I look to for inspiration on civilian vehicles. But common vehicles like the Willys Jeep may be too familiar to players and break the illusion of the game, so it’s to look for more exotic and unusual choices.
General Modeling Notes
With a subject as broad as 'civilian vehicles' there's a host of options available, 28mm gaming models, 1/48 (or even 1/35 if you push it) model kits, model railroad kits, paper craft models and toys.
I would recommend that you pick one option and stick with it. A board full of toys can look fine if it's consistent. But when you put toys next to military models, next to resin kits… it looks like a mess.
If you're using model kits you should stop and check out this article on scale:
Remember though you're looking to make sure your vehicles look good, not right. 1/48 scale is 'correct' but still looks undersized due to GW's heroic proportions and the simple fact that action-posed models on bases take up more space than a normal human being would. Also keep in mind that the details on military kits tend to be thinner than on gaming models, a proper scaled machine gun is usually smaller and thinner than a lasgun.
For 28mm gaming models there's 2 places to check out first, Ramshackle Games and Old Crow. Ramshackle makes a fine line of post-apocalyptic vehicles that look dirty, well-used and y'know ramshackle. They'd be fine for a more primitive world or one that's been at war for a while. Old Crow's stuff tends to be more high-tech and clean but has tons of options and would fit into a more peaceful or advanced world.
Other companies make useful vehicles; I particularly like Scotia Grendel's Void/Urban War/Metropolis line. Sloppy Jalopy's line of historic civilian vehicles is second to none. Westwind has both historical WWII vehicles and Weird War II stuff in their Secrets of the 3rd Reich line.
Before making this article I posted a thread on Dakka. I'd like to thank everyone who contributed, if you want to see it and see more crazy ideas go here:
If you want to see more images go here:
Here are some of the places I recommend throughout this article, there are more manufacturers out there of course but these are the ones I found useful.
Black Army Productions
Chapter House Studios
Tamiya 1/48 Models
Toy Soldier Depot
Scooters and carts
Even in the grim darkness of the far future people still have to move and bicycles, scooters and motorbikes and are among the cheapest and easiest ways to do it.
Many companies make civilian motorcycles including Ramshackle, Reaper, EM4, Urban Mammoth and Westwind. I'm particularly fond of Westwind's Roadkill line for bikers.
Scotia Grendel's Void Junkers line has 4 wheeled ATVs.
And Wargames Foundry even has bicycles.
In the real world motor rickshaws are common in India, China and other developing countries as a way to move both goods and people. In many Imperial cities I would expect these to be the most common motor vehicles.
Westwind has a neat personnel carrier based on the German Kettenkard. It's not hard to see it ferrying workers, farm hands or even guardsmen.
Ramshackle games makes a crude motorcycle cart, the Armored Toad.
And it should be easy to convert one from a Ork wartrack or a Marine bike.
Of course animal and human pulled carts would be common even on the most developed worlds where motor vehicles are available. The Imperium is an empire with a vast underclass and their betters would rather see them doing backbreaking labor than sitting idle and getting into trouble.
Cars, vans, SUVs and Pickup Trucks
While these vehicles make up most of what we see every day, in the grim darkness of the far future they'd be a very small category. Most Imperial subjects would never be able to afford one, and even if they were they wouldn't be allowed to have one. Once someone has mobility who knows what mischief they will get into.
The novel Faith and Fire mentioned a world where private cars were locked into a track system and only official vehicles have full freedom of movement.
Some of their practical roles, like deliveries, would be handled by carts. A lot of ordinary transportation would be done in trains, buses or trucks while the elite would want something with a bit more pizzazz than a normal car.
Which does not mean cars don't exist in the year 40,000 AD, just that they would be rarer than in the year 2012. There would be chauffeured town cars for petty officials, delivery vans and trucks for more prosperous merchants and unarmored pickups and SUVs for the more peaceful settlements.
So what would they look like?
As I mentioned earlier Citi-Block has some car designs but they're more along the lines of generic futurisitic cars and don't match the aesthetic 40k developed over time.
Even from Rogue Trader days 40k has looked to World War I and the period between the wars for inspiration on its Imperial vehicles (with some WWII and Cold War stuff showing up as well) so that seems a good place to start.
The late, lamented Mutant Chronicles game had a very similar look to 40k, complete with vast gothic cities, but unlike 40k the artists were always careful to populate the cities with busy roads and some interesting vehicles.
The game has been out of print for ages but this site has some good inspirational pictures:
There are many 28mm or 1/48 scale cars available as toys and models. Generally we're looking for boxier and somewhat retro ones over sleek modern sports cars. In fact cars should be restrained and drab, they're for petty officials and merchants not for the true upper class of the Imperium.
Outside cities some might be up-armored and armed for protection or for bandits to use.
Dakkite Eilif used a 1/32 die cast pickup truck to make this.
And Xenobond used a die cast toy to make this great wreck.
Other toys to look for are the distinctively retro London Taxi and New York’s Checker Cab, both of which are readily available as toys in souvenir shops.
3000 Toys and Diecast Direct have a rich selection of historical cars, but they're selling high end collectors items so they are pricey.
Tamiya makes some 1/48 WWII staff cars that work very well.
I’ve seen one turn up in a Genestealer Cult army.
Armorcast offers some pre-wrecked modern cars to dress up a city.
As does Ainsty Castings.
If you just want wrecks might look at the Plasticville line of cars. They're O scale railroad terrain and they have a nice 50s vibe. They're inexpensive on ebay but pretty basic, just a hollow body and wheels.
Combat Zone Chronicles has a nice tutorial on turning one into a wreck.
Jeeps, Hummers and Scout Vehicles
Off road vehicles are a common sight in any developing country where roads range from poor to non-existent. In the Imperium they would be vital for anyone who has to move around outside a city, or even into rough neighborhoods. Law enforcement, farmers, merchants and the military would all have a need for something that can go anywhere but is smaller and lighter than a tank or an APC.
The two iconic choices in this category, vehicles so famous they actually named it, are of course the Willeys Jeep and the GM HMMWV (Humvee or Hummer). Tamiya makes both in 1/48 plastic. Lots of folks make the Jeep in 28mm scale and Fenris Games makes a 28mm Hummer.
These might be too familiar though and make your table look more like a WWII or modern game than a 40k one.
Forgeworld makes the Tauros Assault Vehicle which they describe as "a common sight on many frontier worlds within the Imperium, where it is used as a utility vehicle."
There is also a very common conversion, the Land Speeder jeep (Land Runner?).
Even if the iconic Willeys Jeep is too familiar for us, WWII still gives us with a host of options like this one:
And several gaming companies make wheeled jeeps that look great for 40k.
Trucks are the lifeblood of any city or settlement. They move raw materials to factories, food from farms and haul the trash away when everything is over. Put some benches in them and they can move troops, prisoners or workers. It's hard to imagine how a city could function without them (maybe lots of pneumatic tubes? Conveyer belts? Servitors? But I digress).
Imperial trucks would follow the basic rules of all Imperial technology – big, ugly and dirty.
A full sized 18 wheeler would be about 18" long in scale but since Imperial cities tend to be cramped with narrow streets, shorter trucks would probably be more practical. And since everything in the Imperium is strained to its limits they'd be piled high and overloaded.
40k vehicles are also old and well-used. I imagine Imperial truckers like truckers in India and Japan might extensively customize their vehicles with religious images, skulls (of course!) and other personalization. Alternately they might belong to a company or trading house and kept deliberately drab to save money and so as not to attract bandits.
I use some die-cast toy trucks I found in China. They're old Soviet designs so they already have the big, ugly and dirty look we want.
There is a wealth of WWII and modern truck kits out there so we really are spoiled for choice. Most seem to be in 1/35 but with some work that scale can look OK in 40k.
West Wind also has some trucks in 28mm scale.
Company B has a good selection from WWI and between the wars.
If you're just looking to populate your terrain with wrecks Toy Soldiers Depot has toy trucks for as little as $2. They're cheap toys but for terrain they'd work fine.
For something a bit different Copplestone has a 50s era Snow Cat.
If you'd really like an unconventional design there's this bit of concept art from the video game Rise of Legends.
It would a difficult scratch build but certainly captures the Imperial aesthetic better than a WWII truck with a skull on it.
Old Crow also does a nice science fiction truck that's not too expensive.
Turning to conversions, Dakka's Captain Jack gave us this Necromunda skip truck (garbage truck to us Yanks).
I like how on Necromunda even the trash collectors mount a heavy machine gun just in case.
Eilif used a squished up Fisher Price dump truck to make this post-apocalyptic vehicle.
Larchiespaña created this Rhino-based truck.
Finally there are Ork vehicles which most players assume are looted from Imperial trucks. Dave Taylor, one of finest modelers around, converted Ork Trukks into spectacular Imperial troop trucks (a rare case of reverse looting). I really like how he made sure these could count as Chimeras in a game.
His templates for this conversion are here:
Engine of War has an 'unlooted' Battlewagon that serves as a tank transport in his army.
Buses are harder to find ideas for and it's tempting to just use trucks with some benches and call it a day. Like trucks I would imagine they are big, dirty, old and overloaded.
Sloppy Jalopy does an old London bus.
Yellow school buses might also work and there are plenty of toys around. They tend to be boxy and retro and once painted another color may not look out of place. Especially if you can cover the roof with luggage or passengers. The challenge is finding one in the right scale.
Ainsty Castings even has a wrecked one.
Most of what I said for trucks and buses would apply to trains as well.
In fact the Imperium probably likes trains better than buses or trucks since they're easier to control, you usually know who is on them, and they can only go where the tracks go. No wandering off.
Warzone artwork always included plenty of trains in their fictional cities.
And yeah, Imperial trains probably look a little like this.
I feel like I'm picking on India at this point, I'm really not trying to, it's just that's what keeps coming up when I Google overloaded vehicle.
So OK, they can also look like this Tokyo subway train:
Except the subway pushers would have shock mauls.
But for gaming, trains are problematic. There's plenty of models out there, 'O' scale is the closest to 28mm, that's not the problem. The problem is size. A 28mm train would absolutely dominate a board cutting it in two, and blocking line of sight. It could be an interesting set up but not for a normal game.
Still you could just have engine and a car or two to add some atmosphere to the game. Dakka's Rob_Jedi created this for Warmachine.
And if you've got some spare bitz, you could always make yourself one of these from the Apocalypse rule book:
But if you're looking for something off the shelf you can use Ramshackle Games makes this little number which can work on a track or as a road vehicle.
Ironclad has a more steampunk version with a car to pull.
But if you want to do it right, Company B has a full armored train for you for just $215.
Wheeled armored cars sit on the line between military and civilian vehicles. Imperial worlds are dangerous places beset by wars, riots, invasions and bandits. In a climate like that having a few armored cars around is just good sense.
They're used to deliver valuable cargo like cash or gold, they carry guards in convoys and motorcades, they travel through the dangerous wastelands between cities and they're used to suppress riots and insurrections.
Although these vehicles are usually armed and armored we should try to make them look a bit less military by taking off the turret and avoiding tracked or half track vehicles. Otherwise a player may as well use Chimeras and Rhinos and save a lot of trouble.
Dragon makes some Russian armored cars from between the wars that look perfectly Grimdark.
Sloppy Jalopy also does pre-WWI armored cars in 28mm resin
And Black Army Productions has several.
As does Company B
Mark Copplestone who created many of the classic Rogue Trader models, has his own line of historical figures including several armored cars.
Wheeled armored cars and APCs are a staple of science fiction as well so you'll find quite a bit out there as well.
Ironclad has a great line of steampunk armored cars and tanks.
Old Crow has an extensive line of wheeled APCs.
Scotia Grendel has a familiar-looking APC in their Grendel line.
And very nice one in their Void VASA line.
And Ramshackle has quite a few armored cars.
Finally you could just use Chimeras and Rhinos, just paint them with some sort of civilian livery ("Honest Ragnar's Wasteland Tours"), load them down with barrels and boxes and call it a day. If you want to do more, Chapter House has a conversion kit to put Chimeras on wheels. Leave off the heavy artillery and you'll have a practical-looking vehicle for traversing the wastes or the underhive.
While cars have comfort and armored cars offer protection, the elite of the Imperium want both. They cruise down through the streets in armored limos the size of a Chimera and with firepower that almost matches it.
The Imperium is not about subtlety or good taste, armored limos are covered in angels, skulls, family crests, banners, pipes and other excesses.
The original Genestealer limos are a good place to start and they'll only get more outrageous from there.
Yeah, something like that.
Or this one from Ramshackle.
For my Inquisition force (RIP… damn you Mat Ward!) I converted an Italeri 1/35 scale German armored car kit
And for the very highest ranks, the cardinals, the planetary governors, the rogue traders, things would get even more absurd. After all if the Bishop is showing up in a 20' long rolling shrine that shoots fire, surely the Cardinal will want a 100' long rolling cathedral that shoots plasma. That's just the way things are.
Kind of like this art from Rise of Legends.
A lot of the most striking 40k vehicles came about when Jes Goodwin or John Blanche saw a fortress, castle or cathedral and said "not bad, but wouldn't it be better on top of tank treads, a giant robot or a mile-long starship?"
The armies of the Imperium think it's a great idea to go into battle driving an ornate missile-shooting pipe organ on tank treads. So just imagine what they come up with when they're actually looking to impress people!
These ultimate luxury vehicles are literal palaces on wheels, two lanes wide, three stories tall, covered in statues, skulls, angels and eagles and towering over anything else on the road.
Since most construction vehicles are already big, blocky and practical it's easy to just use real world ones like this Tamiya model.
Which looks suitably oversized and crude to fit into the 41st Millennium.
However there is potential for all sorts of interesting science fiction concepts. Necromunda Magazine had some excellent ideas for the Ash Wastes including a walking work platform and Sentinels turned into construction vehicles.
And Forgeworld has the Sentinel Power Loader
Ramshackle has their own entry in the big, ugly and dirty sweepstakes.
Old Crow gives us this comparatively clean engineering tank.
Novels and other fluff regularly speak of huge vehicles like mining machines that can tear apart mountains but obviously can't exist in the real world.
Well surely that's much too big to model on the table-
Dang it. (model by Dakkite Saw)
The 40k universe is huge and while rooted in history it's still a science fiction universe with all the wonderful and irrational ideas that can produce. So don't feel restrained by real world vehicles and feel free to weave in some of the crazier models out there.
Forge World has the Arvus Lighter which makes for a great civilian cargo shuttle.
Dan Abnett's novels introduced the insectoid stalk-tanks and so far only Dave Taylor has been crazy enough to try and model them.
Veteran Dakkite Xanthos gives us this massive Ash Wastes crawler.
While Dakkite Klaus, Not Santa gives us this airship.
Scotia Grendel has some cool science fiction vehicles in their Void range. They're clearly military but could easily be stripped of the heavy artillery to become some kind of explorer or industrial vehicles.
Old Crow makes hover versions of most of their vehicles.
And Ramshackle, Ramshackle is just crazy.
Oddly enough it's a close match for this concept art from Rise of Legends.
Hereticus and Xenos
Since I'm sure someone will ask, here are some very quick thoughts about civilian (or at least non-combat) vehicles for the various Xenos races. Obiviously since the Imperium is a grimdark version of the real world it's easiest to come up with ideas for them but I can toss out a few ideas for the rest of the factions.
Chaos – Chaos Space Marines and the Lost and the Damned, like any other human force needs ammo, food and other supplies. This would be provided by a mix of slaves and dedicated cultists and the vehicles would be little different than their Imperial counterparts.
Daemons – As extra-dimensional energy beings who only adopt material forms for convienience, Daemons would of course would have no need for any supplies or transportation. They would have slaves, cultists and sacrificial victims of course and would transport them with mystic portholes, flying disks and other magical methods.
Eldar – The Eldar, both light and dark, are tricky to do. Like the Imperium they need all the supplies any other army does. And while they can use the webway to get to a planet, they may end up operating far from any porthole. In their Craft Worlds the Eldar probably have all sorts of pleasure vehicles to get around. In fact this old bit of Jes Goodwin art is the only official depiction of a civilian vehicle I could find! It depicts Rosepedal McSpaceElfson cruising for chicks on the Craftworld boulevard.
But Eldar vehicles should combine beautiful graceful aesthetics and technology so advanced it may as well be magic. In fact I would argue that the Falcon and Wave Serpent models don't really live up to that expectation, surely the Eldar don't need air intakes and antennas on their advanced vehicles? I would expect Eldar supply and transport vehicles to look like graceful flying ships, more magical than practical. Dark Eldar vehicles would look about the same. But with spikes and skulls.
Some of the designs from the old Dungeons and Dragons Spelljammer setting give an idea of what I think would work.
Some of the Covenant vehicles from Halo also work.
The Rogue Trader era wave serpent also captures the grace and magic look I expect. Unfortunately the old Armorcast model is long, long out of print and almost impossible to find.
Necrons – As with Daemons this is one of the more alien armies out there. They have no need of supplies and can teleport whole armies interstellar distances. Perhaps they might have some giant floating pyramids or other structures to open up the extra-large deluxe gateways they need for larger military operations.
Orks – Although all Orks are warriors they are supported by a huge infrastructure of grots, human slaves, squigs and others. Plus Orks need fuel, ammo and food just like any human army. Usually slaves would be marched or herded while Orks ride in style but sometimes even Orks have to bow to necessity. Slaves and supplies can be moved in huge overloaded trucks similar to the Indian trucks I showed earlier. These vehicles are even more ramshackle than the usual Ork vehicles and some slaves are always lost as they fall off or into the engine works.
Tau – Tau are in many ways closer to our 21st Century than the Imperium. They enjoy some level of freedom and have a consumer-based society. So the Tau is where you would actually find family cars and other common vehicles. Like other Tau tech these would be curvier and more 'futuristic' looking. The Tau would even have hover cars and other flying vehicles.
This air car from Scotia Grendel captures what I think they would look like.
Tyranids – Obviously there's no 'vehicles' here but they still need a way to move bio mass to breeding pits and mother ships. Various large insect kits or models from Mongoose's old Starship Troopers line might give you a good starting point for some Tyranid grazing bugs.
Rules for Civilian Vehicles in 40k
The quickest and easiest use is to have them count as something already in the game. Both my armored limo and Dave Taylor's trucks are designed to count as Chimeras. Many people have used jeeps as Sentinels.
Another easy idea is to make them terrain. Either model them as damaged or destroyed or just assume they are inoperable/out of fuel. Cars can provide some low cover for infantry models or even tanks. Trucks can block line of sight and become major obstacles. It might seem like a lot of work to make something a rock or wall could do but you'll find they add a lot to the typical battlefield, making it look more realistic and lived in.
They can also be characterful objectives. A supply truck is an obvious prize. An armored limo might have a valuable prisoner on board.
As a house rule or a special scenario you can have neutral vehicles either side can use. Give them stats and place them in neutral territory for either side to take advantage of. This might require stretching the fluff a bit; sure we can all see Guardsmen, Tau or Orks driving a car. Marines might have to rip out the seats or even the roof but I can see it working. Maybe the Eldar have a squad member who's been reading up on primitive vehicular technology. But daemons? Necrons? Tyranids? Who knows, maybe there's a civilian driver aboard they can intimidate.
Finally you can write them into a narrative scenario where a VIP or a convoy must make it to friendly lines.
If you play Fantasy Flight Games' 40k RPGs like Dark Heresy you'll probably find a need to include some civilian vehicles for the characters and their foes. This fan article has some ideas for rules:
Stats for Common Civilian Vehicles
Below are some thoughts on common civilian vehicles. These rules are not at all exhaustive but offer a starting point on how to use them. I've provided point values as a guideline for the two scenarios below or for your own house rules.
Although the 40k vehicle rules are pretty robust, accommodating everything from Ork buggies to Imperiator Titans but there are some small adjustments to make for civilian vehicles.
As the old Vehicle Design Rules notes they should have armor 9. Most will have armor 9 all around, but 'bulletproof' vehicles will have AV10 or 11.
Most 40k vehicles are tracked or designed for all terrain, they move relatively slowly (just twice as fast a jogging man) but cross broken ground and most obstacles with ease. Civilian vehicles are faster but generally need roads to perform at their best and get bogged down easily when going off road. Even an SUV or 4x4 is no match for a tracked vehicle when it comes to rough terrain.
And of course most civilian vehicles are not designed to accommodate armored warriors, soldiers in carapace or power armor won't fit in most vehicles.
So I used the following rules to simulate the flimsier nature of civilian vehicles.
Road Speed – This vehicle is designed to run on smooth roads where it can achieve considerable speed. On a road it may move an additional 2d6" (normally vehicles get a 1d6" bonus). Obviously it is capable of moving far faster but under combat conditions that represents the top speed anyone would dare to drive at.
On Road vehicle – This vehicle lacks the off-road and rough terrain abilities of other more robust vehicles. It is immobilized on a 1, 2 or 3 in difficult terrain.
Off Road vehicle – This vehicle has some off-road ability but is not as rugged as tracked military vehicles. It is immobilized on a 1 or 2 in difficult terrain.
Cramped – This vehicle is not designed to accommodate armored warriors and does not have large hatches. It may not transport any model with an armor save greater than 5+ or which uses a base larger than 25mm.
The Hermes Motors Towncar – 15 Points
Personal cars are an almost unimaginable luxury in the Imperium. The ability to travel anywhere (well anywhere you have a permit for) without being crammed among thousands of other Imperial subjects is a privilege reserved for only the powerful and their favored servants. The Hermes Motors Towncar is a common passenger vehicle used by mid-ranked officials from one end of the galaxy to the other. It whisks them from work to home in style and comfort. The oversized engine gives them a feeling of power while the narrow windows provide some protection against snipers, petrol bombs and other hazards of daily life.
Transports 5 models
2 access points, 2 fire points
Bullet Proofing (10 points) – A Towncar may mount additional armor for protecting the occupants. This improves the armor to 10/10/9 but the vehicle loses the Road Speed special rule and has no fire points.
The Iron Ox Armored Car – 30 points
Another popular vehicle in all parts of the Imperium is the venerable Iron Ox. This armored car is tough enough to withstand most small arms and has the space to transport both cargo and passengers through rough wilderness and rougher underhives. Properly maintained, an Iron Ox can run for centuries. It's not uncommon to meet a driver whose Iron Ox is not just older than him, but older even than his grandparents and great-grandparents.
It can be found on almost any world used to move passengers of every type. Fleets of Iron Oxen line up at spaceports and land train stations waiting to carry visitors to their lodgings. They serve as ambulances for the sick and injured or meat wagons for dead. Details vary from world to world but the basic cassis is as familiar to an Imperial subject as the Aquila itself.
Transports 10 models
2 access points, 1 fire point
Off Road vehicle
Turret (15 points) – An Iron Ox is often retrofitted with a defensive turret. For 15 points you may mount a turret with a twin linked heavy stubber, heavy bolter or heavy flamer. This reduces the transport capacity to 5 however.
The Royce Benz Salon Royale – 50 points
Across the Imperium there is one name synonymous with luxury and that name is Royce Benz. And their premier vehicle, the first choice for wealthy merchants, high-ranking officials and visiting off-worlders, is the Salon Royale. No other vehicle delivers the comfort, style and security of this armored limousine. The interior of rich Catachani leather brings joy to the senses, the fine Mordian engineering ensures a smooth and quite ride for the body, while the discrete pop-up turret brings relief to the mind.
Transports 12 models
2 access points
Turret – The Salon Royale is designed to offer the finest in luxury and security. All models are equipped with a discreet pop-up turret to deter bandits, assassins and rioters. The turret may be equipped with a heavy bolter, heavy flamer or multi-laser.
Hull weapon – As an additional deterrent the Salon Royale may have a front-mounted heavy bolter or heavy flamer for 10 points.
The Long March Truck – 25 points
One of thousands of 3-ton trucks found throughout the Imperium, the Long March is a rugged, versatile model used by PDF and Imperial Guard forces as well as civilian companies to move men, fuel, equipment and goods.
Transports 20 models
Off Road vehicle
The Fjord Motors Land Runner – 35 points
Fjord Motors is an ancient and revered manufacturing house whose storied history goes back before the founding of the Imperium, some say all the way back to Holy Terra itself. The Land Runner is a classic design capable of going almost anywhere and easily armed to defend itself. Land Runners are common vehicles in wastelands and wilderness areas and often seen in the service of PDF and Imperial Guard units.
The main limitations is the lack of space, the vehicle can carry two crew plus a third in the turret. Passengers are limited to two man on the running boards and three more on the rear platform but this is a very uncomfortable way to travel. The Land Runner is more suited for patrols or quick strikes than transportation.
There's a tutorial here:
Running Boards – The Land Runner may transport up to five passengers on the side and rear running boards but this is very hazardous in a combat situation. The Land Runner may not move more than 12" when carrying passengers.
Turret Weapon – The Land Runner has a turret in the center. It is usually equipped with a heavy stubber or grenade launcher but other weapons can be used. For 5 points it can be upgraded to a heavy bolter or heavy flamer. For 15 points it can be upgraded to a missile launcher or autocannon.
Pintle Weapon – Land Runners also commonly mount a weapon on the passenger seat. For 10 points you may add a heavy stubber, flamer or grenade launcher as a pintle-mounted weapon.
Passengers and Guards
Obliviously these vehicles need passengers to ride in them and guards to protect them. Here are some ideas for what they might look like. You may buy one unit of civilians per vehicle.
1-10 Road Guards at 5 pts/model
WS3, BS3, S3, T3, W1, I3, A1, Ld7, Sv 5+
Hard men who've led harder lives, road guards are the mercenaries who protect caravans and VIPs from the many, many hazards of travel in the 41st millennium. Often veterans of the local PDF or even the Imperial Guard they have the experience and skills to take on most bandits, cultists and mutants.
Wargear: Lasgun or shotgun
1 model in 5 may exchange his lasgun for a heavy stubber or grenade launcher for 5 points.
Transport: Road Guards may ride any civilian vehicle.
Bikes: One unit of 5-10 Road Guards may be mounted on bikes for 10 points a model.
1-20 Civilians at 3 pts/model
WS2, BS2, S3, T3, W1, I3, A1, Ld5, Sv -
Whether they are low-class slaves and hab workers or high caste guildsmen and scribes, civilians make up the vast bulk of the Imperium's population.
Wargear: CC Weapon
Any Civilian may exchange his CC weapon for a las pistol/auto pistol for 1 point.
Panicked: Civilians are not used to combat and will naturally flee from it. They may not move towards the enemy or charge into assault. If they run during the shooting phase they may roll 3 dice and choose the highest.
Transport: Civilians may ride any civilian vehicle except the land runner.
0-1 VIP at 10 pts/model
WS3, BS3, S3, T3, W1, I3, A2, Ld8, Sv 5+
In the Imperium high-ranking officials, clergy and functionaries naturally have some combat training, they would never have lived to reach that level without it.
Wargear: CC Weapon and laspistol.
VIPs may exchange their CC weapon for a power weapon for 5 points.
They may exchange their laspistol for a bolt pistol for 2 points.
Independent character: VIPs may join and lead units of Civilians and Road Guards.
Transport: VIPs may ride a Hermes Towncar or Salon Royale. They would not be seen in anything less.
Scenario 1 – Save the Caravan!
A caravan of civilians and their vehicles are caught between two opposing armies. One force must protect it, the other must destroy it. Who will succeed?
The fluff for this mission is quite flexible. Obviously the most logical scenario is when the defending player is an Imperial force trying to protect the God-Emperor's loyal subjects but there are other ways to read it. The caravan might be cultists looking to join their Chaos or Xenos masters. They might be traitors or rebels fleeing to enemy lines. Or they might be deranged fools who think the enemy force will save them. Whatever the case, the rules remain the same.
Army selection: Before the game both players should decide on a point limit and who will be the defender and who will be the attacker. In addition to his normal force the defending player should have 200 points of civilian vehicles and passengers who make up the Caravan. Since Land Runners are escort vehicles that do not carry much in the way of passengers or cargo you may spend on ¼ of your points on Land Runners.
The Caravan: The Caravan is a 200 point force of civilian vehicles and passengers. All models must be in a vehicle or on a bike. Each vehicle and its passengers constitute one civilian unit. During the game these civilian units are part of the defender's force and move normally. The defender must rescue as much of the caravan as he can.
Deployment: The defender deploys the Caravan anywhere on the table at least 36" from the defender's table edge. No other models are deployed initially. Infiltrate is not used, though outflank is.
Turn one: The attacker goes first. Roll for each unit, they may enter from the board edge on 4+. The remaining units enter as reserves. The defender's force enters the same way.
Escape: Any Caravan unit that reaches the defender's board edge may move off the board, they have safely escaped.
Victory: The attacker must destroy a majority of the civilian units in the caravan, the defender must save them. A civilian unit is only considered destroyed once the vehicle AND all passenger are destroyed. Once a majority of the Caravan has been destroyed or escaped the game ends. Alternately at the end of turn 6 add up the destroyed and escaped units to determine the winner.
Comments: I've not tested this scenario at all and would like feedback on it. I like the idea of a mission where the two sides are not trying to kill each other but trying to kill some poor weak civilians. The hard part for me was where the caravan should start. 24" seemed too close, 36" though seems too far from their goal. Maybe if they had more than 200 points? Maybe the defender should have to buy them out of his allotment?
Scenario 2 – Protect the Caravan!
Your army is shepherding a caravan of civilians to their destination when the enemy suddenly attacks!
Army selection: Before the game both players should decide on a point limit and who will be the defender and who will be the attacker. In addition to his normal force the defending player should have 200 points of civilian vehicles and passengers who make up the Caravan. Since Land Runners are escort vehicles that do not carry much in the way of passengers or cargo you may spend on ¼ of your points on Land Runners.
The Caravan: The Caravan is a 200 point force of civilian vehicles and passengers. All models must be in a vehicle or on a bike. Each vehicle and its passengers constitute one civilian unit. During the game these civilian units are part of the defender's force and move normally. The defender must rescue as much of the caravan as he can by getting them to the opposite short edge of the board.
Deployment: The defender deploys his force in the center of the board, no less than 18” from each long edge and 36” from one of the short edges. Basically in a box 36” long, 12” wide stretching from one short edge to the center of the board. The attacker may choose one long edge to move on from. The other long edge becomes the defender’s fall back destination. Infilatrators may be deployed normally.
Turn one: The attacker goes first and moves on from his long edge.
Escape: Any Caravan unit that reaches the opposite short edge may move off the board, they have safely escaped.
Victory: The attacker must destroy a majority of the civilian units in the caravan, the defender must save it. A civilian unit is only considered destroyed once the vehicle AND all passengers are destroyed. Once a majority of the Caravan has been destroyed or escaped the game ends. Alternately at the end of turn 6 add up the destroyed and escaped units to determine the winner.
Comments: I've not tested this scenario at all and would like feedback on it.