Future layout/theme ideas for website and Youtube Channel

I’ve recently read some very insightful posts on the various online roleplaying communities that I am a member of, some of these have made me give thought to how good a job my own channel and this website do with communicating my aims to the audience, and what those aims actually.

So I sat down and thought about what the aim of this site and my Youtube channel is and I came up with the following:

To provide tips and advice for roleplayings, broadcast games showing that advice in action and highlight games that offer innovative mechanics or assistance to the GM.

Going forward I am going to make that phrase my mission statement and feature very little on my channel and this site that does not somehow help with that; luckily I seem to have been thinking about this on a subconscious level for a while, so a lot of my older stuff actually does this already.

There are also a couple of other things I like to do in the future:

  • Stick to a more regular schedule of releasing videos, at the moment I’m thinking Saturday each week.
  • Film a more vloggy un-edited video each Monday talking about RP stuff I’ve done during the week.
  • More clearly divide the various different shows (GM Tips, RPG Bugbears, etc) that I do.
  • Attempt to edit some of my actual plays to remove dead-air, shorten the videos and make them more watchable so that people can see the mechanics and running of a game in action without having to wade through so much footage.

 

 

Rogue Trader Campaign Log – Session 18: RULES BREAKDOWN

I’ve been asked a couple of times to give more details about the actually rules, etc used during the sessions, but since I didn’t want to break up the narrative I thought that i’d separate this stuff out into it’s own post, let me know what you think.
The original post can be found here.

With the second wave of enemy ships approaching Lord Admiral Black looked around at the ragged remnant of his fleet and took stock of the force that he has to take on the encroaching heretics, his flagship, the Venerus, was largely untouched (aside from some minor cosmetic damage), the Lunatic Pandorawas functional but had sustained heavy damaged and the Rod Hant was currently fighting off boarders from the first wave of the enemy, and they had only a couple of days before the mainstay of Lorgar Khan’s fleet arrived.

Each of the ships used in this combat had a series of stress boxes worth 1 stress and no consequences; medium ships has three such boxes, with larger ships having four and extremely large ships having five. The ships broke down as follows:
Venerus (players flagship) [] [] [] []
Lunatic Pandora (players) [] [] []
Clan ships (including the Rod Hant + the enemy clan ships) [] [] []
Dark Omen (traitor space marine battle barge) [] [] [] [] []
The Venerus has been established as having an elite crew previously in the game so received a +2 bonus to attack/defence rolls, the Rod Hant was severely damaged in the previous combat and so received a -2 to attack/defence rolls.
The Dark Omen is also crewed by elites and so received a +2 bonus to attack and defence rolls.

Over the course of the first day Admiral Black helped Captain Pak repel the boarders on the Rod Hant and eventually they succeeding in killing the last one, although a lengthy check for sabotage and explosives did means that they did not have time to fully repair the extensive damage that the Rod Hant had sustained in the previous combat. Realising that, in their present shape, they could not hope to challenge the mighty Battle Barge of the traitor AstartedLorgar Khan they concocted a desperate plan whereby they would use the ancient teleportarium aboard the Venerus to teleport a fire-linked collection of krak missiles and other explosives into the engine room of the enemy vessel.

The players were offered the choice of thoroughly ensuring that the Rod Hant was free of sabotage, but in return not having time to repair it (and taking a -2 penalty in the fight) or repairing it but potentially having some saboteurs or explosives on board (that may have been used for compels later); knowing that the fight was going to be a close one they chose the former option.

As they readied themselves for combat on the second day, Admiral Black sat on the bridge watching the approaching fleet, his wife at his side and placed his head in his hands; suddenly he was no longer on the bridge of the Venerus but was standing in the royal chambers on his homeworld of Telec Prime, groups of panicked medical technicians were running down a corridor towards a room that he recognised as belong to his father Macharius Black, almost without thinking the Admiral followed them. In the room Macharius, looking sickly, his eyes yellowed and his face (which bore a striking resemblance to that of the Admiral) pale, he was railing against the med-techs who appeared to be informing him that his treatments were no longer proving effective; shouting that there was none to take his place leading the family if he died, Macharius ordered them to send for his sons, there must be other technology out there that could preserve his life. 

One of the established character Aspects of Lord Admiral Fortunus Black is that he suffers from blackouts; the player was offered a fate point to reveal some of the plot using this Aspect and accepted leading to the above scene unfolding.

A voice called out to Admiral Black and he jerked awake in the command chair, his wife Lady Dominique Decusis-Black was shaking his arm and looking at him in a concerned manner, but he waved away her concerns saying that he was fine. Captain Pak had finished adapting one of the damaged murder servitors from the Lunatic Pandora and had wired it into the trigger mechanism of the bomb that they had constructed, as the first enemy ships entered range and began to open fire with macro-batteries Pak began to have the teleportarium chamber prepped for dispatch; Navigator York Benetec had been psychically scanning the area and relayed the coordinates for the likely location of the engine room about the enemy battle barge. 

The Venerus was discovered and salvaged in-game with an archeotech teleportarium aboard it, this has been modelled in Fate using a Stunt that once per game session allows them to teleport a small party (or the equivalent mass) from anywhere within the same system to the Venerus or from the Venerus to anywhere in the system (that they have the coordinates to). In desperation the players decided to use it to transport a large amount of explosives aboard the approaching battle barge, their tech (Captain Pak) was required to make some risky rolls to connect them all up without explosive results, but he easily passed them.

As his mind probed the area of space around them, Benetec felt another presence and, sensing that it was not hostile, allowed it to make contact with him; Benetec found himself on a prosperous world of fluted silver towers and happy people, the hazy psychic projection of the chaos sorceror Kantor Pilusfloating next to him. Pilus showed Benetec how his homeworld had been devastated by the Astartes after their leader had attempted to use forbidden sorcery to warn the Emperor of treachery from within, “although we were right, this was our reward” mocked the sorceror with a touch of sadness in his voice. Pilus attempted to persuade Benetec that if they just handing the ancient recording device to Lorgar that much bloodshed could be avoided, Benetec refused and broke off the psychic connection. 

York Benetec’s player was offered a fate point to reveal some of the plot (in a manner similar to the blackout earlier) and accepted; this scene was RP entirely sans-dice and was more about the choices that the player would make.

The space around Strive filled with escape pods and short range craft as the survivors of ruined ships on both sides sort to make their way planet side; the remaining enemy clan ship attempted to flee, laying mines to cover it’s tracks but it was destroyed by the Venerus, York Benetec was able to use his psychic powers to direct the ships mine defence lasers to target and take out the remaining mines. Meanwhile the Rod Hant had picked up a signal coming from an escaped enemy shuttle that was recognisably Adpetus Mechanicus in origin, moving to intercept, Captain Pak discovered onboard the rogue tech Vorl whom they had previously (on the insistence of the Vitanteur Syndicate) ferried to Footfall from Hiveworld Decusis; Vorl claimed to have been captured on an enemy raid and to have pretended to defect, in his gratitude at having been rescued he revealed Lorgar intended to use the ancient recording device to locate something in the system that would allow some sort of “rebirth.”

The actual combat was played out identically to a normal combat (using attack/defence rolls) with the two elite crewed ships going first and the rest following in no particular order (I generally went player ships first and then enemy ships), each point of stress taken ticked off one of the ships stress boxes. Players were allowed to spend their fate points to re-roll/boost their rolls for ships that their characters were on, as long as they had an appropriate Aspect; this mainly came into play with Admiral Black since his Aspects are mostly based around being a ship’s Captain and they pretty much allowed the Venerus to come through the combat unscathed.
Due to the speed of the vessels involved and the distances under consideration I did not use zones in this combat simply alerting the players when the enemy ships were entering range; the Venerus had moved to the other side of the moon to conceal itself, I had Admiral Black make a command roll against the command roll of Lorgar Khan, the players won and thus were not spotted until too late.
A fate point was offered for an additional complication and, when accepted, this lead to the pickup of the Adeptus Mechanicus signal from the rogue-tech Vorl and some additional information about Lorgar Khan’s goals being revealed. 

Relaying this information to Admiral Black, Captain Pak headed down to planet in a landing craft and began broadcasting a signal to draw any survivors from the Lunatic Pandora to them, as they began to arrive in dribs and drabs he was happy to see that Captain Polaris had survived (apparently after a crew member had knocked him out and put him in an escape pod); however the surface of the planet was rapidly coming a war zone as the survivors from both sides began to battle through the streets.

 Because it didn’t seem very interesting to just rule that everyone was dead (and as a lead in to the next session) I rules that a lot of people would have made it to escape vessels and would be heading for the nearby moon of Strive (where the player characters spent much of the previous session).
This nicely sets up a battlezone style scenario for the next game and allows for a more satisfying confrontation with the enemy other than just blowing up his ship (whilst still rewarding the players for their inventiveness with the teleportarium, since they have deprived Lorgar Khan of much of his mobility).

Rogue Trader Campaign Log – Session 18: Death in the Black

With the second wave of enemy ships approaching Lord Admiral Black looked around at the ragged remnant of his fleet and took stock of the force that he has to take on the encroaching heretics, his flagship, the Venerus, was largely untouched (aside from some minor cosmetic damage), the Lunatic Pandora was functional but had sustained heavy damaged and the Rod Hant was currently fighting off boarders from the first wave of the enemy, and they had only a couple of days before the mainstay of Lorgar Khan’s fleet arrived.
Over the course of the first day Admiral Black helped Captain Pak repel the boarders on the Rod Hant and eventually they succeeding in killing the last one, although a lengthy check for sabotage and explosives did means that they did not have time to fully repair the extensive damage that the Rod Hant had sustained in the previous combat. Realising that, in their present shape, they could not hope to challenge the mighty Battle Barge of the traitor Astarted Lorgar Khan they concocted a desperate plan whereby they would use the ancient teleportarium aboard the Venerus to teleport a fire-linked collection of krak missiles and other explosives into the engine room of the enemy vessel.
As they readied themselves for combat on the second day, Admiral Black sat on the bridge watching the approaching fleet, his wife at his side and placed his head in his hands; suddenly he was no longer on the bridge of the Venerus but was standing in the royal chambers on his homeworld of Telec Prime, groups of panicked medical technicians were running down a corridor towards a room that he recognised as belong to his father Macharius Black, almost without thinking the Admiral followed them. In the room Macharius, looking sickly, his eyes yellowed and his face (which bore a striking resemblance to that of the Admiral) pale, he was railing against the med-techs who appeared to be informing him that his treatments were no longer proving effective; shouting that there was none to take his place leading the family if he died, Macharius ordered them to send for his sons, there must be other technology out there that could preserve his life.
A voice called out to Admiral Black and he jerked awake in the command chair, his wife Lady Dominique Decusis-Black was shaking his arm and looking at him in a concerned manner, but he waved away her concerns saying that he was fine. Captain Pak had finished adapting one of the damaged murder servitors from the Lunatic Pandora and had wired it into the trigger mechanism of the bomb that they had constructed, as the first enemy ships entered range and began to open fire with macro-batteries Pak began to have the teleportarium chamber prepped for dispatch; Navigator York Benetec had been psychically scanning the area and relayed the coordinates for the likely location of the engine room about the enemy battle barge.
As his mind probed the area of space around them, Benetec felt another presence and, sensing that it was not hostile, allowed it to make contact with him; Benetec found himself on a prosperous world of fluted silver towers and happy people, the hazy psychic projection of the chaos sorceror Kantor Pilus floating next to him. Pilus showed Benetec how his homeworld had been devastated by the Astartes after their leader had attempted to use forbidden sorcery to warn the Emperor of treachery from within, “although we were right, this was our reward” mocked the sorceror with a touch of sadness in his voice. Pilus attempted to persuade Benetec that if they just handing the ancient recording device to Lorgar that much bloodshed could be avoided, Benetec refused and broke off the psychic connection.
Combat was erupting in the space around the moon of Strive, there was a series of explosions as the Lunatic Pandora buckled and then was torn apart amidst a hail of projectiles and lance fire; the teleportarium hummed aboard the Venerus and, as the large bomb disappeared, it looked for a moment as though the plan might not succeed and then a huge blast torn apart the rear section of the encroaching battle barge the explosion engulfing one of the other four clan ships that accompanied it. Macro-batteries from the Venerus made short work of two more but both it and the Rod Hant has taken serious damage.
The space around Strive filled with escape pods and short range craft as the survivors of ruined ships on both sides sort to make their way planet side; the remaining enemy clan ship attempted to flee, laying mines to cover it’s tracks but it was destroyed by the Venerus, York Benetec was able to use his psychic powers to direct the ships mine defence lasers to target and take out the remaining mines. Meanwhile the Rod Hant had picked up a signal coming from an escaped enemy shuttle that was recognisably Adpetus Mechanicus in origin, moving to intercept, Captain Pak discovered onboard the rogue tech Vorl whom they had previously (on the insistence of the Vitanteur Syndicate) ferried to Footfall from Hiveworld Decusis; Vorl claimed to have been captured on an enemy raid and to have pretended to defect, in his gratitude at having been rescued he revealed Lorgar intended to use the ancient recording device to locate something in the system that would allow some sort of “rebirth.”
Relaying this information to Admiral Black, Captain Pak headed down to planet in a landing craft and began broadcasting a signal to draw any survivors from the Lunatic Pandora to them, as they began to arrive in dribs and drabs he was happy to see that Captain Polaris had survived (apparently after a crew member had knocked him out and put him in an escape pod); however the surface of the planet was rapidly coming a war zone as the survivors from both sides began to battle through the streets.

Rogue Trader Campaign Log – Session 17: Changer of Ways

One moment York Benetec is standing in the crater when suddenly he is standing on a ship (that seems to be of Imperial manufacture) talking to a cruel, pale figure that he recognises from a previous psychic conversation as Lorgar; Lorgar tells him that he best not fail him and that they need to locate the holo-record, the information it holds could allow them to build anew. 
“You had best not fail me Kantor” – Lorgar Khan, Word Bearers Chaos Space Marine legion
In a voice not his own Benetec responds telling Lorgar that he won’t fail; looking down at his body York sees that he is clad in deep blue power armour with burnished golden trim, behind him stand five similarly armoured figures, motionless like automatons with no glimmers of a soul lurking behind the blak abyss of their helmet visors.
The vision changes and now he is in a fighter craft, looking out of the window he sees the guncutter piloted by by Jurgen shoot his fighter, pausing briefly to murder the all to human pilot by punching a fist through his chest York/Kantor jumps out of the falling fighter, mouthing strange words of power he conjures a mystical force field that protects him from most of force of hitting the ground. As the ground rushes towards him, York snaps back into his own body at the moment of impact.
“Beschütze mich vor meinen Feinden Tzeentch” – Sorceror Kantor Pilus of the Thousand Sons Legion
As York Benetec recovers his senses Admiral Black begins running up the crater with his power sword drawn; there is a sudden gout of blue/pink fire and the twisted body of Jurgen is thrown through the air over their heads and disappears down into the crater; Captain Pak grabs a piece of sheet metal to use as a temporary shield and begins following. A burnt circle of smouldering trees surrounding the armoured figure attests to the fires that the sorceror unleashed on Jurgen.
Admiral Black lurks around using the smoke of the burnt trees as cover, he sees the sorceror conjure a small flcikering flame in his palm and stare into it; he talks to someone, confirming his survival and asking for an extraction. Baldur ask Admiral Black to help save his people if anything happens to him, he produces the holo-record guarded by his people and gives it to Admiral Black before him and his men scream and charge, throwing their spears at the armoured figure now standing in a circle of charred trees. The spears ping off the armour of the chaos space marine who seems to regard them as little more than annoyance as York Benetec begins laying down covering fire.
Chanting the sorceror causes fire to rain down from the sky scorching Admiral Black, Benetec tries to use his psychic powers to shield himself but the fire penetrates it, burning him with warp tainted flames; he continues to lay down covering fire as Baldur’s men rush the sorceror, forcing him onto the ground, stabbing at him with primitive weapons. A gout of flame blasts Baldur off the sorceror, throwing his spasming body to the ground whilst the sorceror throws off the warriors and begins rising to his feet.
Admiral Black blasts away at the mighty figure with his plasma pistol, the weapon growing hot in his hands as he fires; Benetec senses the sorceror attempting to teleport himself and take Admiral Black with him, although unable to prevent the sorceror escaping York Benetec is able to use his psychic powers to stop the heretic taking Admiral Black with him. With a blinding flash of blue/pink light the sorceror vanishes.
Captain Pak examines York Baldur, the tribal chief is severely injured and unconscious with a huge hole scorched in his chest and his right arm ruined, Pak says that bionics might save the chief but that he needs the facilities onboard ship. York Benetec senses a warp disturbance as numerous vessels enter the system.
“I think the sorceror’s extraction has arrived.” – Navigator York Benetec
Admiral Black suddenly remembers Jurgen and runs back into the crater, finding the twisted, unconscious body of Jurgen lying in a stunted tree growing from the side of the crate; with the help of Captain Pak he gets Jurgen down but the pilot is unconscious. Benetec sends a psychic signal out into space requesting help and a few moments later the comm-link crackles, it’s Polaris, the Lunatic Pandor has entered the system and has picked up Admiral Black’s signal, they are coming to extract him.
Admiral Black tells them to send guncutters to pick them up in the village, directing Baldur’s men through gestures they take the two unconscious men back to town with Captain Pak doing his best to keep them stable; York Benetec tells Admiral Black that the chaos space marines are seeking the Drodd clan’s holo-record for some unholy purpose. Black suggests that Captain Pak take rulership of Clan Drodd whilst Baldur is incapacitated, Captain Pak says that he should be able to effect bionic replacements for Baldur’s damaged flesh once they get access to the facilities on one of their ships. Benetec suggests that instead they don’t tell the tribe that Baldur is injured, saying that he is taking the fight into the skies; Admiral Black agrees.
They meet with the priest Deacon Kiril, Kiril agrees to take their message to the Drodd tribe, but says that without word from Baldur they may not believe him. Coming under heavy fighter fire the Lunatic Pandora’s fighters are pursued by small enemy craft into the atmosphere, despite the enemy destroying one of their guncutters a couple of them are able to land. Captain Pak and the guncutter techs hook their Rhino APC up to the guncutter, they dive inside it and are buffetted around as the guncutter takes off, jinking to avoid enemy fire as they burst through the atmosphere and dock with the Lunatic Pandora (itself under heavy fire) from hostile clan ships in high orbit around the moon Strive.
Polaris greets them on the ship, he says that they warped into the system recently, having only repelled the boarders at great cost and only due to the murder servitors on board (although many were damaged or destroyed), they weren’t expecting to jump into a fire fight quite so soon and are ill-prepared. Benetec receives primitive astropathic communication, he suspects from Sjomann Amelie Klok, that shows her face, a golden eye and the sun of the Endeavour System, however he doesn’t know what it means; Polaris and Admiral Black move to the bridge of the Lunatic Pandora.
Sensors pick up two enemy clan-ships inbound, Admiral Black recommends moving between the planet and moon both in an attempt to shield themselves and to locate the Clan Drodd ships they believe to be concealed there; the med-techs are able to wake Baldur temporarily, long enough for him to order his ships to assist the Lunatic Pandora before he passes out again.
York Benetec goes to the navigator chamber where he finds Passacaglia Belisarius, looking extremely strained and worn out from continually broadcasting psychic static to make enemy ships unable to locate them; he requests that he be allowed to use the equipment in the chamber, greatful for a respite Belisarius staggers from the chair and allows York Benetec to take control. Benetec uses his psychic senses to perceive the surrounding areas and picks up on three incoming hostile clan ships.
Admiral Black orders fighters deployed and, although the small vessels are able to damage one of the enemy ships, they are quickly destroyed by the firepower of the larger ships, Polaris orders his ships to engage. As salvoes of macro-battery fire flash across the black voice one of their ships is destroyed, whilst the Lunatic Pandora and another of the clan-ships are damaged, with one escaping unharmed.
Captain Pak begins working on replacing the damaged lung of Baldur and his right arm with more efficient technological alternative; a comm-link sounds and they are relieved to hear that the Venerus has arrived, Lady Decusis-York Black is pleased to hear that Fortunus is well, but informs him that there are more enemy ships incoming. Admiral Black and York Benetec relocate to the Venerus (taking Baldur and Jurgen with them), Captain Pak heads aboard the Rod Hant ready to command his warriors in battle.
A fierce space battle erupts as three enemy clan-ships arrive, behind them floats a strange asteroid like ship with numerous silver towers rising from it, oink and blue fire crackles from the towers striking their vessels.
“It has been a pleasure serving with you York Benetec” – Admiral Fortunus Black, Rogue Trader
During the combat, the Lunatic Pandora is crippled and forced to withdraw, another Drodd clan-ship is destroyed along with the Solv Tann, whilst the Rod Hant is boarded although it continues fighting. Enraged by his ship’s inability to influence the fighting Admiral Black has the Venerus pour all of it’s firepower into the tower and the remaining enemy clan-ship destroying both in a conflaguration of plasma, although a small craft is detected fleeing the tower ship.
Benetec informs them that more enemy ships are approaching from the centre of the system but that it will take them a day or two to reach their position, things look grim as the various Captain’s begin consider their options, aware that the battle fortress of Lorgar Khan speeds towards them like onrushing death.

Planning a FATE Rogue Trader session

So, it’s nearly time for my monthly FATE Rogue Trader game again and, whilst i’ve been batting a few ideas round in my head since the last session, lack of time and free weekends has meant that i’ve yet to get anything conclusive down on paper; one of the main strengths of the FATE game in my opinion is that it supports (and to some extent even encourages) and somewhat ‘seat-of-the-pants’ style of games mastering, where a lot of the plot evolves organically from player actions, Aspects and such like. Despite this I am of the school of games mastering where I like to have some notes at the very least and preferably one or two sketched out encounters ready in reserve to minimise on the amount of time that I have to spend flipping through notes or looking stuff up on the computer during play.

Given that i’ve been reading a lot of posts on Google+ recently about session planning and people asking about it I thought that, as I planned out my next session, that i’d write a blog post about it to detail my thought processes as I went along.
IF YOU ARE ONE OF MY PLAYERS PLEASE STOP READING NOW UNTIL AFTER THE GAME
Where to start?
There are a lot of places where you can start when planning a session/adventure for a roleplaying game and lots more articles regarding crafting an adventure are available on the internet via a simple search; however, the way I prefer to start planning is to have a glance over my notes from the previous session and see if anything jumps out at me that requires resolution in the next session. Looking at my notes from last session (described here) I can see that the player party had just disabled two of the enemy vessels responsible for the recent destruction of an imperial supply train; Lord Admiral Black and Enginseer Prime Pak had used their teleportarium to transport aboard one of the vessels. Although the dice roll had been done at the time to determine that Pak had repaired the engines and stopped vessel tumbling into a gravity well, the details of what transpired on board had still to be discussed, so this gets added to my list.
The other player characters had been onboard the Venerus when Lady Dominique Decusis-Black had, in the absence of another authority figure, assumed command and overseen the bombardment and surrender of the second vessel.
Split parties

Always a slightly difficult issue for me is what method of GM-ing to use when the party splits up; generally I adopt the tactic of jumping between the two groups trying to keep them engaged and not leaving anyone sat twiddling their thumbs, doing nothing whilst the action unfolds. At the end of the last session we have the encounter with Admiral Black and Enginseer Pak on the enemy vessel to resolve, however, I don’t want to do this to the exclusion of the other two characters (York Benetec and Confessor Cornelius) who are currently aboard the Venerus.
As far as I see the situation, I have a number of methods to resolve this:
  1. Resolve the scene with Admiral Black as a quick talkthrough so that the party can be re-united as quickly as possible and the main action can continue.
  2. Create a scene aboard the Venerus involving the other two characters and then adopt my normal tactic of jumping between the two.
  3. Contrive some reason why the group from the Venerus go aboard the enemy vessel and join up with the other two players.
In this sort of situation I generally try and go for the decision that will result in the most interesting potential story or the most action-packed session time that we can get; looking at the options I have outlined above, option 1 would be the easiest to do however it’s not terribly interesting and (in my opinion) wastes a lot of the potential interaction and RP opportunities inherent in the party’s current situation.
Option 2 is doable, all it requires is that I create an appropriate scene for the the party members on the Venerus; this is eminently do-able and can possibly link in to some of the other unresolved plot threads from the last session (or before).
Option 3 is possible, although it is not terribly likely that the players of York Benetec and Cornelius would want their characters to go aboard the enemy ship and I have no interest in forcing/rail-roading them into this decision.
It would seem that option 2 is the most likely of the scenarios, looking at my notes from last session I can see that we still have unresolved the matter of the warp entity that caused York Benetec to have the Venerus drop out of the immaterium in the first place; when they stumbled onto the renegade vessels it was necessary for them to deal with the immediate threat and push all other concerns to the background. Given that Chief Confessor Cornelius is devoutly opposed to the blasphemous creatures of the warp and that the Navigator has psychic ties to the realm of the warp/immaterium this would seem a logical encounter for the two characters.
At the minute my list of ideas for the session looks like this:
  • Scene onboard the renegade vessel near the gravity well: Play through the scenario as Admiral Black and Enginseer Pak arrive on the renegade ship via the teleportarium; they quickly repair the engine and begin making their way towards the bridge in order to take control of the vessel.
  • Scene aboard the Venerus with the warp entity: Stirred into life by the use of psychic abilities and the clarion call of battle during the events of the previous session, the warp entity attempts to manifest itself on the Venerus; this scene should focus on how York Benetec and Cornelius deal with this whilst Admiral Black and Pak are aboard the renegade vessel.
  • Brief tie-up scene: Assuming that the player characters are successful in securing the renegade vessels and dispatching the warp entity in some fashion they now have an additional two vessels and only a limited supply of navigators (two on the player ships, York Benetec (PC) and Passacaglia Belisarius (named-NPC)). Question: Are the renegade ships capable of warp travel or where they bought here by the larger (now fled) ship? If warp-capable then they must have their own Navigators, can the players cajol them into service and use them to move the ships? Will the players try and sell or commandeer the ships into their fleets?
The player party was originally on their way to Footfall via the Endeavour system when the intervention of the warp entity caused York Benetec to drop them out of warp; assuming that the player party decide to continue with their previous plan then this adds the following two elements to my session planning list.

  • The Endeavour system: The player characters arrive in the Endeavour system, populated by savage space faring humans (only just warp capable, space vikings) divided into clans that are constantly warring with each other. Confessor Cornelius wants to travel here because the Imperial Missionary Deacon Samuel Kiril whom he previously met on Footfall was travelling here on a mission to set up an Imperial Colony and return the savage local populace to the light of the Emperor. Note: This may be a good place to use the new colony-building rules that I have been adapting from several G+ posts. This scene has the potential to expand and take up a large portion of the remaining session.
  • Returning to Footfall: The original destination of the player party was the Imperial Space station of Footfall, they are planning to return there to consult with the Adeptus Mechanicus regarding the Ancient Enemy and what action can be taken regarding them in future. Note: The most likely contact is Rha-Haz the senior tech-priest since he is already something of a mentor to Enginseer Pak.

This covers the basic list of scenes ready for the session and I have the majority of the significiant NPC notes prepared; however I like to create a couple of additional wrinkles or complication suggestions for each scene in my game since they suggest possible future avenues for the plot to follow or other ways for the player to engage with what is occurring.
Looking over my list of scene I come up with the following:
  • Scene onboard the renegade vessel near the gravity well
    • Repairing the damaged engine (although the roll for this has already been done it can still be played out).
    • Any members of the renegade fleet who have decided not to surrender but to go out fighting.
    • Who made the decision on board the renegade ship to surrender and were they sincere? [create appropriate NPC/s]
    • Is there a navigator onboard and can he/she be coerced into working with the players, and do they even want a renegade as part of their fleet?
    • How far does the corruption go?
  • Scene aboard the Venerus with the warp entity
    • What is the warp entity?
      • Given that the entity has been drawn by the conflict and violence of the combat it would seem that it is either connected to Khorne or Chaos Undivided.
    • What abilities does the entity possess?
      • Thus far the entity has shown the ability to plague the characters with phantasms and memories dredged from their past, all of them involving threats or violence.
      • The creature is a creature of fear and violence that is shaped by the murderous impulses and memories of those it preys on.
    • What does the entity want?
      • The entity may just want to cause violence and death if associated with Khorne.
      • Perhaps the creature feeds on the fear or violence.
  • Brief tie-up scene
    • Once the players have dealt with their respective scenes have a brief tie-up scene where they can meet up again on the Venerus and make plans/discuss what has just happened.
    • If the scene onboard the renegade vessel takes less time than the warp entity scene then Admiral Black and Pak may come aboard the Venerus whilst the hunt for the creature is still in progress and they may assist/become involved in this.
  • The Endeavour system
    • This scene assumes that the players still decide to stop off in the Endeavour System.
    • Deacon Samuel Kiril has set up a small colony and is working on converting one of the clans to the ways of the Emperor.
    • The clans have only just begun to discover warp-capable travel and fly smaller fighter craft, their technology is held back by the fact that they are constantly warring and raiding each other.
    • If Deacon Kiril can get some help to conquer/convert some more clans then an alliance may be able to win over/conque the rest – the only way that the natives will be converted is by the sword since their society emphasises respect through stength and conquest.
    • Some of the clans follow the Sky Warriors and have a great martial belief whilst others follow a darker god of vengeance and murder.
      • The followers of the Sky Warriors believe that they were bought to their world as a test and that when they have proved themselves worthy in battle the Sky Warriors will return.
        • In fact the clans are descendants of an ancient Space Wolves thrall ship that was cast adrift in the warp and crash landed here; injured beyond human endurance the only surviving space marine tried to pass on his knowledge to the surviving thralls before he died.
        • As he died the space wolf ascended into the sky, promising that his brothers would return.
          • In fact the space wolf climbed into a surviving fighter crafter and set the controls to autopilot, the ship ran out of fuel in orbit around Endeavour Prime where it became a floating shrine/tomb to the space wolf.
        • The followers of the darker god have been corrupted, the noble savagery that the deceased space wolf attempted to pass on has been lost and corrupted by an aspect of Khorne. 
  • Returning to Footfall
    • The players return to Footfall where they can meet up with Rha-Haz the senior techpriest in attendance; he will be most interested (although cautious) regarding what the characters have to say about the Ancient Enemy.
    • Rha-Haz will want to quarantine and conduct experiments on any samples of the Ancient Enemy tech that has been captured.
I now have a sketched out list of scenes to include and also a good idea of what NPCs to start detailing and how I can begin further detailing the scenes.

Space colonies

Settlements in Rogue Trader
Recently Conny Delshagen posted on the Google+ Traveller community about whether anyone had successfully used the World Tamer’s Handbook colonisation rules for Traveller: the New Era; although I don’t really play Traveller at the moment i’m always looking for science-fiction ideas that can be incorporated into my FATE-based WH40K Rogue Trader campaign ‘The House of Black’ which (as of the time of writing) is still running on a monthly basis. Reading the blurb associated with the World Tamer’s Handbook on RpgGeek.com it seemed to focus around star system generation and rules for colonisation; although i’m fairly happy with the Diaspora adapted rules for system generation that I have, setting up colonies and such like was not something that I had covered in much detail. I had previously looked briefly at the colony system presented in Fantasy Flight Games ‘Stars of Iniquity’ supplement but, whilst the system seemed very comprehesive, it was extremely detail orientated and (I believed) too complex to be a worthwhile addition to my RT game; I had switched to FATE to reduce the clunkiness of the rules, so adding in a massively detailed sub-system seemed counter productive.
It occurred to me that perhaps this would be a good place to use the Fate Fractal: for those not familiar with the Fate Fractal (or the Bronze Rule as it is also called in the FATE core rulebook) it states:
“In Fate, you can treat anything in the game world like it’s a character. Anything can have aspects, skills, stunts, stress tracks, and consequences if you need it to.”
I had already used the Fractal to a certain extent when defining my rules for space combat (see http://wh40krpg.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/testing-proposed-narrative-space-combat.html for my most recent post regarding narrative space combat) with the players ship treated as a character (having skills, aspects, stunts, stress tracks and consequences).
What sort of stats would a space colony have?
Taking a tip from my work on space ships I decided that colonies would have five Aspects in order to represent what the colony specialised in an potentially one or two Stunts, the colony would also receive 2 stress boxes and 3 consequences boxes (with the standard 2, 4 and 6 values) in the same way as a character (although additional Stunts could be taken to increase the number of stress boxes).
Some examples of Aspects might be:
  • Primitive
  • High-tech
  • Abundance of natural resources
  • Theocratic government
  • Wise sages

I envisioned that the High Concept Aspect would represent the dominant form of government on the colony and that the Trouble Aspect would represent some sort of challenge or impending danger the colony.
What benefits would players get from visiting a space colony?
In order to make it worthwhile instituting rules for space colonies (although these rules could also be used for space stations and other sorts of bases) it would be necessary to provide some story reason for the player characters to visit them; the most obvious reason for this is to purchase equipment or make repairs to ships/vehicles, etc.
Using the simple model above it would be simplicity itself to make the Aspects of the station affect what objects the PCs can get hold of, they would be able to invoke the colony’s Aspects as they would any other Aspect to improve Resources rolls along with any other actions as appropriate whilst on the space station; for example, if the players are getting a ship repaired at an orbital facility with the Aspect ‘Adeptus Mechanicus workshop’ then they could invoke this to get a +2 to the repair roll. However the reverse is also true that Aspects could be invoked against the players either by the GM or other players; for example if a character tries to get hold of a stub gun in a colony with the Aspect ‘Primitive’ then the GM could invoke this to apply a -2 penalty to their Resources roll.
Colony Maintenance
In any session where a particular colony is featured the GM should roll 4DF and note the resultant number (Aspects may be invoked on this roll as normal), if the result is a minus figure then the colony has suffered some sort of stress and the negative shift should be marked on the stress boxes/consequence tracker as usual (with any consequences reflecting the slow deterioration of the colony, for example: civil unrest).
If the result is a positive then the colony uses the positive shift to first recover from any stress or consequences it has sustained, if there is any positive shift left after this then add an additional stress box to the colony’s total to represent the colony growing.
Setting up a Colony
One of the great things about Rogue Trader is that the player characters are (unlike the majority of humans in the WH40K universe) powerful people with spaceships at their disposal and commanding vast resources; this means that feasibly the player characters may be instrumental in setting up new colonies and bases, any system that I was going to use would need to represent this possibility.
It is my current idea that, when initially set up a colony has only a single Aspect (which should reflect the colony’s initial challenges, no stunts, a single stress box and no consequences boxes); each session after a colony has set up until it has reached the standard beginning colony statistics it should make a maintenance roll (as detailed above), when the colony reaches a total of 2 stress boxes due to growth then it gains the consequence tracker and additional Aspects/Stunts as per a standard beginning colony.
These are just a few ideas at the moment and will no doubt see further development, however, i’d be interested in people’s thoughts/comments.

Space combat – what can my character do?

I received a Facebook message this morning from one of the players in my Rogue Trader game; he’d been reading my recent blog posts about space combat in my Rogue Trader FATE hack and wanted to ask the question:

“I take it each of us would be able to do some thing in each turn?”
This started me thinking; one of the initial problems that we had with the standard FFG rules for Rogue Trader was that, although the rules covered hundreds and hundreds of pages in numerous different books, the actual options for keeping all of the players involved in a space combat were fairly limited, this had lessened somewhat once the group acquired a second ship, however it was still very challenging giving everyone something to do in a space combat. Resisting the urge to dive straight back into my hack and start throwing out new rules like they were going out of fashion, I thought i’d take a quite skim through the core rules first and see what they were capable of delivering.
I suppose that, given how flexible the FATE system is, it shouldn’t have come as any surprise to me that what I wanted was pretty much already covered by the systems Aspect rules; as well as being one of the coolest things about the FATE system and having been adapted to all manner of circumstances and different functions in numerous hacks that are being published and made available over the net, the Aspects would do a great job for me in representing how the different characters could influence what was occurring in the main battle, even if they were not directly manning one of the ships stations themselves.
So how will this work?
Well, as discussed in my previous post on the subject of Ship Construction, each ship would have four skills:

  • Engine – used for maneuvres and initiative
  • Hull – used for defence rolls and affects the ship stress tracker
  • Trade – used for trading, maintenance and ship-to-ship diplomacy
  • Weapons – used to make attack rolls

A character manning one of these stations could substitute the following skill to make ship based rolls:

  • Engine – drive(spacecraft) 
  • Hull – crafts(tech use)
  • Trade – resources
  • Weapons – shooting

However a character who was not manning one of the stations could still get involved if they had an appropriate Aspect.
For example: If our Confessor Cornelius has an Aspect “Hate the Alien” and the vessel that he is onboard is firing upon a xenos vessel, Cornelius could use one of his fate points to invoke his Aspect, firing up the gunners with prayers and speeches of hatred for their foe, granted them either a +2 bonus or allowing them to re-roll their attack. Also if this was the case and Cornelius was the only character contributing the shooting then I would have him make the roll on the crews behalf.
This sums up one of the most enjoyable aspects of the FATE rules system for me is that the rules are detailed enough to provide a framework for the group storytelling necessary to create a good RP experience, but they are also flexible and broad enough so that often they will easily cover circumstances in ways that you hadn’t originally foreseen and, on the rare occasions when they do not they can easily be bent into a shape that does.

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.

Change of address for Rogue Trader hack

Since most of my other FATE stuff is handled via Google, you can now find my FATE Rogue Trader hack at the following Google Drive address:

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B3N7nFBlEi_7VXJBdUlNLXp3UFk/edit?usp=sharing

The old link will still work until I get round to re-organising my Dropbox account at which point it will no longer function.

More stuff added to Warhammer 40K FATE hack

Added some additional stuff to the my Warhammer 40K FATE hack and have set up bookmarks to aid navigation from the contents page…

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0ByVpAo4rxDGuTTNnVW5Sb0hJZEU/view?usp=sharing