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So i've been reading around, and see many posts talking about space marine traits. Now i've designed my own army (paint scheme, name what ever) but am unsure how i pick the special rules or traits for my army. I have the newest space marine codex as well as an older one, and i can't find anywhere that mentions if or how to select the traits.
Is it just that i have to choose which space marine chapter my troops are from? ie, being ultramarines? then get all their bonuses?
The old trait system was introduced in the space marine 4th edition codex, but was later scrapped for our current 5th edition one. I think that the "traits" you may be referring too are bonuses offered in exchange for combat tactics by certain special characters, such as Shrike bestowing fleet or Vulcan twin linking flame and melta weapons, as well as master crafting thunder hammers. I hope that helps.
Ask me about the Black and White Space Marine on the Black and White Bike!!!
Sadly, the only way to manufacture "special" rules for your custom SM chapter is to use a special character. The traits system is no more. I can see why they did it: It was incredibly complicated, and required opponents to practically memorize the traits section if they wanted to keep up with every possible iteration of marines out there, which isn't entirely fair. With the characters, it's a bit easier, especially considering some of those characters are unpopular and not used much.
All the rules for space marines apply to your chapter, as already pointed out by others you get the use of special rules if you take special characters.
Some chapters like the Black Templars, the Space Wolves or the Dark Angels have their own codices. Those usually differ from the standard space marine chapters described in the SM codex.