White Dwarf Issue 493: Book and Blade – The Tome Keepers Crusade Rules

When 10th edition rolled around and updated Crusade, it pretty much tossed out all the White Dwarf content which had been released over the past three years. The good news is that at least some of that content is getting an update. White Dwarf 493 gives us new and updated Crusade rules for the Tome Keepers, so you can play with your creamy-coloured bookish space nerds as they traverse the universe in search of overdue books and deliver divine punishment to heretics who dogear pages and break the spines.

Tome Keepers Crusade Rules

They’ve kept things fairly simple; if you’re using an Adeptus Astartes Crusade force, you may choose to represent your milk-coloured mooks as Tome Keepers. Doing so means you cannot use any other Chapter’s Crusade rules but still retain access to the generic Adeptus Astartes Crusade rules in the Codex Space Marines and any other publication. Currently at the time of writing this article we are unaware of any other Chapter-specific Crusade rules, so right now this is all upside. Generally though it’s very nice to see they’ve planned for future codex and White Dwarf articles.

Beanith: So no future plans to allow for Blood/Dark Angel or Deathwatch etc shenanigans with essentially melding some horrific Assault Intercessor Death Company riding a Ravenwing bike whilst howling at the moon? I’m almost disappointed, now excuse me whilst I go do the Snoopy Shuffle with glee.

TheChirurgeon: Technically no, but there’s nothing stopping you from running your Ultramarines as Tome Keepers right now – except for the fact that it’s incredibly lame. Still, I expect to see lots of sudden Tome Keepers at the GW Narrative in three weeks.

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Agenda: Through Knowledge, Victory

This is a nice, simple Agenda which very may well be an auto-include in every battle the chalky chumps take part in as Through Knowledge, Victory will grant you 2XP every time a unit finishes off an enemy unit that was tagged as your Oath of Moment target that round.


We’ve got two brand new Requisitions on offer and unlike the Through Knowledge, Victory Agenda which states “If your Crusade army is using the Tome Keepers Crusade rules, you can select Agendas from those presented here,” these are technically available to all Adeptus Astartes units. This is largely useless with regards to Shared Insight but it does make Martial Scholar a bit more available then we would like.

Beanith: I’m going to assume they left out the restriction by accident and as this is a White Dwarf article, you will almost never see this addressed in an FAQ, I would recommend to those running campaigns to restrict these Requisitions to those running around with their off-brand cut price Deathwing Tome Keepers.

  • Shared Insight for 1RP allows you to choose two characters with the Istrouman Cognisance Battle Trait. Both models will share the Learned Foes ideally giving your Warlord more opportunities at possibly gaining a CP.
  • Martial Scholar on the other hand is quite useful to the point where we kinda don’t like it, this Req weighs in at 1RP and it lets you change a Battle Honour of an Adeptus Astartes unit for a different Battle Honour.

Beanith: I’m mostly down on Martial Scholar as if you’re doing Battle Honours correctly, you’re rolling for them and you don’t always get what you really want but that’s ok as it still gives you more options. Whereas this allows you to bypass it and perhaps remove a useful shooting skill that was on your Scout but you’ve since been promoted all the way to the 1st Company and you may want to exchange it for something more swingy. It takes away from their history.

TheChirurgeon: Martial Scholar is a nightmare waiting to happen. When I first saw it my immediate thought was that it was going to break work we were doing in Administratum because it would allow you to swap out a Leviathan skill tree trait you’d already earned, potentially creating broken trees. But then I realized that for some reason, Leviathan Traits aren’t technically Battle Honours anyways and got even angrier. But generally I’m not a fan of this ability for lore reasons, either. You get what you get and if you want other stuff, make a new unit.

Battle Traits

Once again we are faced with two sections missing the clause locking these Battle Traits and Relics to Crusade army using the Tome Keepers Crusade rules. So get ready to see a lot of Adeptus Astartes Librarians running around with some fantastic Battle Traits and Relics very soon.

Beanith: Again, White Dwarf so no FAQ. I don’t think they’re too overpowering but I might still be tempted to restrict them to Tome Keepers as it’s still early days in 10th and not everyone has all their fun toys just yet. Again, not our call of course but perhaps discuss it with your group first.

TheChirurgeon: To be honest I think the “Tome Keepers only” restriction is intended to apply to the chapter as a whole for all of these sections. And I’d just say as much in a campaign and also tell people running established chapters to kick rocks if they tried this. It’s Crusade and not a GT, people.

Character Unit Traits

Two traits on offer to Adeptus Astartes Characters, the slightly situational Istrouman Cognisance, which should get slapped onto your Warlord. It lets you learn from failed battles against a particular faction so when you face them again, they’re considered a Learned Foe which means you roll a die at the start of the game and on a 2+ you start with an additional Command Point. As mentioned with the Share Insight requisition, you could have two characters with separate Learned Foes sharing it so you don’t have to change up the Warlord each game.

Beanith: I can see a use for the Istrouman Cognisance/Shared Insight combo where your old Warlord ends up with enough Battle Scars, you could let them retire to a nice safe corner of your Order of Battle and let the new guy benefit from his years of losing to every other faction?

TheChirurgeon: I think this is a neat ability, though the 2+ rider is just dumb (and I’m generally not a fan of 2+ rules).

The other trait is In Preparation, Victory which lets you target this unit with the Heroic Intervention Stratagem for 0CP even if you have already used it on a different unit that phase. A crafty foe will hopefully remember you telling them your character has this to try and stop a second Heroic Intervention but sometimes a lesson must be harsh.

TheChirurgeon: This is really nice and something I’d want to have on a melee unit. Yeah you probably want to warn an opponent but also Heroic Intervention in 10th edition is so much worse that I’d be fine just telling an opp at the start of the game and letting them walk into it later if they forget.

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Battleline Unit Traits

  1. Acquirers of Knowledge – Unit gets to re-roll hit rolls of 1 while they are within range of an objective.
  2. Empyric Tutelage – Models in this unit have a 4+ invulnerable save against [PSYCHIC] attacks.
  3. Perceptive Tacticians – When targeting this unit with your own Stratagems, roll a D6 and on a 5+, gain 1 CP.

TheChirurgeon: These are fine. Aquirers of Knowledge is probably the best of the bunch, though it’s giving you an effect you already get through Oath. Still, a good way for your midtable brawler units to get the most out of their attacks.

Psyker Units

  1. Amplification (Psychic) – In your Command phase, select a friendly unit within 18” of your magical lad and roll a D6, on a 1 get Rekt son and suffer D3 mortal wounds; anything else will increase the targeted unit’s Objective Control characteristic by 1 until the start of your next Command phase.
  2. Mentor – If this model and the meatshield ‘Bodyguard’ unit it was hiding in are alive and kicking at the end of the battle, the Bodyguard unit gains D3+1 XP
  3. Precognisance – Once per turn you can re-roll one Hit roll, one Wound roll, or one saving throw for this model.

TheChirurgeon: Amplification is pretty great. Suddenly having a unit of OC 3 guys with a banner can be nuts – just ask Grey Knights players, and stealing an objective from an opponent out of nowhere is always fun. Realistically Mentor is your acceleration key, since on a Phobos Librarian that just ramps up the XP the unit will get hiding away as lone operatives.


Three shiny toys for your Adeptus Astartes characters to tote about as they traverse the battlefield.

The Journal of Artax is a fancy Artificer relic that boosts the Strength and Damage characteristics of any [Psychic] weapons the bearer is equipped with.

The Antiquity relic, The Armour Memoriam, are dozens of purity seals each bearing the name of past Tome Keeper heroes. It is the lessons you learn from all of these heroic individuals and not the 5 extra kilos of wax and paper that grants the bearer a 5+ Feel No Pain.

Beanith: If anyone is playing Tome Keepers in a campaign I manage and shows up with a Space Marine character festooned with dozens of Purity Seals, they can have a 4+ Feel No Pain for their commitment to the bit. As a treat.

Lastly the Legendary Relic is The Chronicle of Istrouma to which Beanith can only surmise to be a pamphlet on making terrible life choices by taking this over say a Vortex Grenade. It also lets you change out your Bonus Oathsworn Agenda mid battle for a different one from the same table during your current Oathsworn Campaign. The bonus being you get to keep any Honour already gained from your current Oathsworn Agenda.

Final Thoughts

Beanith: I’m a fan of this, White Dwarf has done a decent job of writing some very tasty rules and lore for their own Chapter who totally didn’t start out as a Deathwing army until they painted the wrong units in all their Boney coloured glory.

They started out strong too with restricting the rules to the less ‘Characterful’ marine chapters and outlining those restrictions in the Agendas. Sadly they then beefed it by missing that same clause in Requisitions, Battle Traits and Relics. You could certainly make the argument that it is covered under the first section in Tome Keeper Crusade Rules but why only mention it again under Agendas specifically and not everywhere else.

Again I’m mostly only nitpicking and throwing empty shells from the peanut gallery. Nothing is absurdly broken or overpowered, it just seems a little unfair though for all of the Adeptus Astartes to get some fun new toys this early in 10th. I’m excited to see what else the White Dwarf has in store for us.

TheChirurgeon: These are pretty cool. I agree nothing’s beyond the pale here and they’re pretty flavorful, though yeah I wish there were more guardrails in place in 10th edition to prevent people from just taking the rules for other chapters. I get what GW was going for with removing chapter rules and potentially opening things up for players, but it’s the opposite of what I want to see for Narrative play. That said, the rules here hit the right balance between interesting and fun while also being playable, and that’s pretty great.

One more note – we published a well-timed tutorial on painting Tome Keepers today – go check it out.

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