Eighth Edition Zone Mortalis Rules

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As soon as I saw the new Necromunda Underhive tiles, I knew that I wanted to incorporate them into my ongoing 40k campaign somehow (more on that in a future post). While ship-based combat has been well fleshed-out in Horus Heresy with the Zone Mortalis rules, we’ve had little inclination of anything similar in 8th edition 40k, with nothing in the rulebook to suggest we’d even see it in the future.

So, I set out to fix that, adapting the Zone Mortalis rules to the 8th edition framework. I’ve tried to adapt them in ways that make sense and work for most armies, and based on the testing we’ve done in my group, the results are promising: ZM games are a hell of a lot of fun.

I’ve posted these before, but never had a good steady place to keep them, so I’m reposting them here. If you’d like to download my Zone Mortalis 8th Edition rules and use them for a game, feel free! You can get the latest version here:

Click this link to get the rules

If you do play with these rules, let me know how the games go — what worked, what didn’t, and if you had any issues. I’m always looking for feedback!


TheChirurgeon’s 8th Edition Zone Mortalis FAQ

Q: What is Zone Mortalis?
A: Zone Mortalis is a Warhammer 40,000 Battlezone that represents combat in tight quarters, such as boarding actions on starships, teams fighting in the sewers beneath massive cities, or fighting in the tunnels of massive fortress-monasteries. Games of Zone Mortalis are designed to be played on tiled 3×3′ or 4×4′ boards with lots of walls and doors. Foregworld makes a sweet Zone Mortalis board, but if you aren’t a multimillionaire, you can do what we do and use Necromunda underhive board tiles and bulkheads/doors.

Q: How big are games of Zone Mortalis?
A: Zone Mortalis games usually run 500 to 1,000 points, and should take at most a couple of hours. We can usually knock out 2 to 3 in a 3-hour span. There are also limitations on the way you build your armies–you aren’t going to see many vehicles rolling down the tight corridors of Zone Mortalis. Zone Mortalis games also use a custom detachment.

Q:  How do I incorporate this into a campaign?
A: Good question! My advice is to primarily use this in a narrative campaign sense–in our campaign, we use it when it would make sense for one faction to be trying to take out another’s base, or sabotage their ability to function. I’ll usually have the players play a game of ZM instead of standard 40k in those situations.

Q: I have feedback.
A: That’s not a question. But if you do have feedback, drop a reply in the comments below. I’d love to hear about your games.

Q: Can I get a version of this without a black background?
A: Goddammit, BuffaloChicken. Yes, I will eventually fix the background, but not until I make a new version. Blame GW for using black backgrounds on all their missions. I aim for verisimilitude with these things.


5 Responses

  1. The ICs Carl says:

    These look absolutely fantastic!

  2. TheChirurgeon says:

    Thanks! They’ve been fun to playtest. Always open to feedback

  3. The ICs Carl says:

    Why did you choose not to include the “Combatant” generic detachment for non-assault/defender type missions? I found most of my games of ZM in 7th were played primarily using this force org? (I mean it’s easy enough to lift from the original ZM rules – but it would be awesome to have it all in one glorious document).

  4. The ICs Carl says:

    Played with these today. Couple pieces of feedback – though these can always just be house rules.

    1. I think the catastrophic damage table shouldnt be rolled on until turn 2.
    2. I think the catastrophic damage table should be the roll+the turn number.
    3. Deep striking in Zone Mortalis used to be really dangerous in 7th ed. We used a rule that said any deep striking unit had to immediately make a dangerous terrain test when it arrived. This worked out well and added a nice pucker factor.

    I have found more often than not the table doesn’t come into play as is.

    I love the layout and way you put out these rules though. Super helpful! Thanks!

  5. TheChirurgeon says:

    Hey sorry for the slow response–been traveling this weekend. This is great feedback and I’ll probably make a second edition of these in a few weeks. Will be sure to incorporate your suggestions!

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