Writing out my NPC details – Part III – Breakdown of Details

As talked about in my previous posts (here and here) i’ve recently been attempted to create personalised and filable index cards to store the NPC details for my FATE powered Rogue Trader game; one of the things that I gave a lot of thought to (and discussed with several people on Google+) was what these index cards should include.
Here is an example (please click on the picture for the full size version):
Picture/graphic

It was very important for me to include a picture or some sort of representative graphic on each of the cards; i’m a firm believer of the adage that “a picture paints a thousand words” and, even if I wasn’t just showing the picture to the players, a graphic would help me get a sense of the NPC and maintain consistency in my descriptions of the NPCs without having to resort to lengthy text descriptions on the card.
Pictures were fairly easy to come across with a little time on Google image search and various Warhammer 40K sites across the net.

NPC name

Obviously important and, since it would be how I would be filing the NPC cards (in name order) I decided to make the name big and bold across the centre of the index card so that as I flicked through them I would be able to find the NPC I wanted with a minimum of fuss.

Aspects

A great piece of advice that I got off Robert Hanz on the FATE core G+ community was to include as much of the character history and description as I could within the Aspects, saving duplicated effort and also creating more interesting Aspects in the process.
In the example card, Rha-Haz has the following Aspects:
  • Praise the Omnissiah! – Reflects Rha-haz’ position as a senior and very devout member of the Machine Cult, could be invoked to provide a bonus to his technical knowledge or the religious fervor with which the Mechanicus view technology.
  • The incautious pursuit of forbidden knowledge would lead to mankind’s downfall – Shows that Rha-Haz is a staunch traditionalist who takes a dim view of experimenting and dabbling with new technologies, he is very much aware of the dangers that such tech could pose to mankind as a species and deems that the risks outweigh the potential benefits.
  • Pak has a great future within the Mechanicus – Rha-Haz recruited Enginseer Pak (one of the PCs) into the Machine Cult and sees great potential within the Enginseer, adopting the role of a father figure/mentor for him.


Stress and Consequences

The standard stress and consequence trackers used in my game, modified by skills, minor characters will only have one or two stress boxes and no consequence trackers; this follows the gamesmaster advice regarding the relative story importance of NPCs as provided by the FATE core rulebook.

Skills

Standard skills used in the game rated from Average (+1) up to Superb (+5); NPCs that were allies or neutral would have roughly similar skill levels to the player characters whereas those intended to provide a long-term threat would be rated slightly higher so that the characters could grow over the course of the campaign to challenge & eventually defeat these foes.

Extras/Stunts

This section of the card was used to include Stunts or any additional information that might be useful for the portrayal of the NPC during the running of the game; in order to portray the NPC of Rha-Haz as an older version of Enginseer Prime Pak (his student) I gave the NPC the same mech-arm and servo-skull Stunts possessed by Pak.
Also, when Rha-Haz had been described previously, he had always been flanked by a number of bio-mechanical servitors who aided him with his tasks; using the mob rules out of the FATE core rulebook I gave the two servitors the following stats:
Aspect – Tech servants.
Skills – Craft (tech use)(+2), Fighting (+1).
1 stress box each (2 total)
Teamwork – +1 to craft/fighting rolls when both working together.

Writing out my NPC details – Part II

Following discussion with Robert Hanz about the differences between Aspects and descriptions when it comes to creating NPC descriptions I decided to have a go at knocking up some customised NPC index cards.

A few of the NPC cards are shown below.

Writing out my NPC details

Having read suggestions on NPC contacts as rewards and note organisation on Rick Stumps blog (http://harbingergames.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/when-is-treasure-not-treasure-npcs-as.html) I decided that it was about time to write up my NPC notes on index cards and file them properly.

How would I note them down?

I decided to adopt the Fate Accelerated Edition (FAE) method of writing down NPCs to keep it simple and ensure that the information fit onto the index cards; I would write down a few Aspects and Stunts for each NPC and then give them a number of areas that they were good at (receiving +2 on these rolls) and a number of areas that they were poor at (receiving -2 on these rolls). This method was relatively quick and could always be expanded later if necessary.

Warhammer 40K game: Rogue Trade
The House of Black

Name: Black, Darius
Description: Cousin to Fortunus Black, one of his eyes appears to move independently of the other.
Aspects/stunts: Noble, roving eye.
Good (+2) at: 
Bad (-2) at: 

Name: Black, Dominique Decusis
Description: Wife of Fortunus Black, twin to Corith Decusis. Has traditionally shaven head and dislikes the uncouth York Benetec. Marriage arranged by brother, loyal to husband.
Aspects/stunts: Noble, haughty, beautiful.
Good (+2) at: Shmoozing, social functions, commanding.
Bad (-2) at: Keeping temper in check.

Name: Black, Gillam
Description: Uncle to Fortunus Black.
Aspects/stunts: Noble, nervous tic.
Good (+2) at: 
Bad (-2) at: 

Name: Black, Macharius
Description: Patriarch of the Black family, appears in his early 50s due to (quasi-legal) life extension treatments, although they have resulted in him having grey hair and yellow eyes.
Aspects/stunts: Noble, longevity treatments, cyber implants.
Good (+2) at: 
Bad (-2) at: 

Name: Black, Polaris
Description: Captain of the Lunatic Pandor is a dourly loyal figure who served as Fortunus’ 1st office after Fortunus found him languishing in a bar and helped him clean up. He was promoted to Captain when Fortunus took command of the Venerus.
Aspects/stunts: Noble, ex-alcoholic, fiercely loyal.
Good (+2) at: Command
Bad (-2) at: 

Name: Black, Tristan
Description: Cousin to Fortunus Black, exposure to warp following a Gellar field failure resulted in the young mans hair turning stark white.
Aspects/stunts: Noble, touched by warp, ship captain. 
Good (+2) at: Forbidden lore, commanding ship.
Bad (-2) at: 

Name: Black, Tullius
Description: Inveterate gambler and 1st officer of the Venerus, distant cousin of Fortunus; never advanced due to his lack of discipline, promoted as a ‘last chance.’
Aspects/stunts: Gambler, noble, blustery, black sheep.
Good (+2) at: Gambling, fighting.
Bad (-2) at: Resisting temptation.

Name: Cortez, Zane
Description: Redemptionist preacher of the Lunatic Pandora; originally priest of the Venerus & was held in stasis due to a teleportarium malfunction until accidentally released by Pak. Now works as Chief Confessor aboard Lunatic Pandora.
Aspects/stunts: Redemptionist, xenophobic.
Good (+2) at: Purging heretics, fiery sermons.
Bad (-2) at: 

Name: Criute
Description: Spire Chef on Scelus hiveworld (Decusis system); a muscley shhaven head man who worked his way up from nothing. Down to earth cousin of Dana, enouraged her to join the PCs and better her life. Sends money to support his family in lower hive.
Aspects/stunts: Commoner come good, family man, tough guy with heart of gold.
Good (+2) at: Cooking, fighting. 
Bad (-2) at: 

Name: Da Duith Iath
Description: Eldar envoy & goodwill ambassador; androgynous armoured figure assigned to assist PCs with dealing with the Ancient Enemy, took job since, unlike a lot of Eldar, he doesn’t mind humans.
Aspects/stunts: Eldar.
Good (+2) at: Human customs, shooting, stealth.
Bad (-2) at: 

Name: Dana
Description: Blind verminspeaker. A young girl who grew up caring for sick mother, eventually discovered an ability to tame beasts. Cousin to Criute, cautiously optimistic about her future.
Aspects/stunts: Psychic, blind, weak, mutant.
Good (+2) at: Commanding animals, first aid.
Bad (-2) at: Physical strength.

Name: Decusis, Corith
Description: Noble ruler of Decusis system (Hiveworld Scelus), lives in glittering hive spire; has ritually shaven head to honour ancestor who joined ecclesiarchy. Mainly concerned with advancing his family.
Aspects/stunts: Noble, diplomatic, paranoid. 
Good (+2) at: 
Bad (-2) at: 

Name: Erdman, Proctor.
Description: Ruthless Adeptus Arbites precinct commander; was once an arbites on Paks homeworld, Erdman didn’t approve of Pak being taken into the Mechanicus because he saw it as him evading justice.
Aspects/stunts: Adeptus Arbites, Ruthless.
Good (+2) at: Law, intimidation, fighting.
Bad (-2) at: 

Name: Farah, Dorath.
Description: Slimey senator to the Decusis family, the thin wheedling man is mainly concerned with his own fortunes & riding on the coat-tails of the Decusis family.
Aspects/stunts: Noble, criminal connections (Vitanteur syndicate).
Good (+2) at: Flattery, feigning sincerity.
Bad (-2) at: Courage, fighting.

Name: Hardecker, Tacitus.
Description: Planetary governor of Catan II, Tacitus is a grizzled bearded man with a cyber hand & eye who was ‘promoted’ to ruler of the system after being instrumental in repelling cultist/demon forces from an orbital las-battery.He chafes at his retirement & longs for active service.
Aspects/stunts: Military veteran, system governor, retired too early.
Good (+2) at: Commanding, fighting, resources.
Bad (-2) at: 

Name: Kiril, Deacon Samuel.
Description: Aged Ecclesiarchy missionary who is a kindly old man seeking to help found an Imperial colony in the Endeavour system.
Aspects/stunts: Old, faithful.
Good (+2) at: Sermons.
Bad (-2) at: Fighting.

Name: Khan, Lorgar.
Description: Word Bearer chaos space marine captain.
Aspects/stunts: Chaos space marine, captain, devout, merciless. Power armour.
Good (+2) at: 

Bad (-2) at: 

Name: Maron.
Description: Cleaner of the murder servitor pens; Maron is a nervous man whose family sold him into service to pay for debts, when he left his mother cried (Confessor Cornelius assured Maron that these were tears of joy at his future service to the Emperor).
Aspects/stunts: Nervous, devout, gullible.
Good (+2) at: 
Bad (-2) at: 

Name: Marsters, Huron.
Description: Gun deck officer aboard lunatic pandora, a faithful career military man who despises xenos and mutants.
Aspects/stunts: Xenophobic, faithful.
Good (+2) at: 
Bad (-2) at: 

Name: Rha-haz, Senior tech priest.
Description: A serious red robed priest whose face is little more than writhing tech-tendrils and coloured lenses, the mechanically voiced priest recruited Pak into the Mechanicus after realising that the (then) criminal tech showed great promise.
Aspects/stunts: Cold, calculating. Mech arm (can use crafts instead of other skills), Servo skull (can do so at range).
Good (+2) at: Tech.
Bad (-2) at: Emotions, social interaction with non-Mechanicus members.

Name: Vitanteur, Tomas.
Description: Gang leader in the Vitanteur Sundicate.
Aspects/stunts: Gang leader, criminal connections.
Good (+2) at: Criminal activity, violence, intimidation, leadership.
Bad (-2) at: 

Name: Vorl, Rogue Tech.
Description: This robed heretek has ties to the Vitanteur Crime Syndicate, the PCs helped Tomas Vitanteur smuggle him off Hiveworld Scelus (Decusis system).
Aspects/stunts: Rogue tech, criminal connections (Vitanteur syndicate).
Good (+2) at: Tech use. 
Bad (-2) at: 

Initiative and Escaping from Space Combat

Having not long finished work on my post about ways to simplify space combat rules in my Rogue Trader FATE hack my thoughts started turning towards how initiative would would in the posited three zone space combat and how people would actually leave combat if they decided to flee rather than fight to the “death” (although obviously, the ship being “Taken Out” would not automatically mean death, more likely they have been boarded or are spiraling towards the surface of a planet, something more interesting like that).

Ships in WH40K (certainly human ships) tend to be huge blocky constructions, as you can see below in these images from the Comic Vine and WH40K Wiki websites:

The two ships (Lunatic Pandora and Venerus) commanded by the player characters would be about the size of a Hazeroth Class Privateer and a Dictator Class Cruiser respectively (as shown in the image above) and, despite not being as vast as the hugest of the ships commanded by the Imperium of Man, they are still fairly massive vessels (coming in at a length of 1600m and 3500m).

Initiative

This was fairly straight forward, the ships would make rolls using their Engine Skill or (if a PC or named-NPC was crewing that station) their Drive(spacecraft) Skill and then would take their moves in turns from highest to low, these could be modified as usual using Aspects or (if appropriate) Stunts.

For example: someone might have an Aspect of Advanced Scanners and spend a fate point to add +2 to their initiative because they’ve been able to pick up the other vessels and react sooner.

Escaping from Space Combat

The most likely way of fleeing the area completely in a WH40K space combat (IMO) would be for the ship to activate its warp engines and and drop into the Immaterium; with this in mind I decided that any ship that did not have an enemy vessel in it’s zone could make a Fair (+2) Engine roll (or, if crewed by a player or named-NPC the Navigator could make the same difficulty Will roll) to enter the warp and leave the combat.

Planet Spotlight: Catan II in the Catan System

Technology: +2 (warp use)
Environment: +3 (some garden worlds)
Resources: +2 (one significant export – grox meat)

Aspects: Grox exports & Imperial agri-colony.


A lush green planet covered in shallow rolling hills and grassland, from the Imperial Butcher city of Pulon experienced herdsmen farm the vast herds of  lizard-like Grox using mechanical quad-bikes and shock pikes; following regular schedules some of the grox are herded to the single city where skilled craftsmen butcher the animals, some of the meat being taken for local foodstuff and other being shipped off to the neighbouring Decusis system. The planet is under the charge of Commander Hardecker, a grizzled ex-Imperial Guard Captain from the shrine world of Omicron IV who lost an eye defending his post from servants of the ruinous powers; as a reward he was granted custody of the Catan system, although some see it as a form of enforced retirement.

Following the destruction of a number of Ork space vessels in high orbit by the Rogue Trader Fortunus Black, fragments of the ships form a debris field of space wreckage.