Rogue Trader Campaign Log – Session 15: To Strive and not to Yield

Captain Pak gathers the men that he bought with him from the Rod Hant, sturdy space warriors all, whilst Admiral Black musters a group of his men including Oberlieutenant Joergen Borsch of the 1st fighter squadron (nicknamed the ‘Void Krakens’) who wears a flight suit, bolt pistol and power sword; the sound of warning klaxxons blares throughout on ship, as the noise continues the crew begin to head to their posts with practiced efficiency whilst the Captain Pak and Admiral Black’s partys head towards where the alert has been triggered, the central mess room of the ship, stopping only briefly for Pak to leave some of his trusted tech-adepts in the teleportarium, ordering them to keep a lock on the senior officers so that, if they needed to, they could attempt to ‘port the officers out.
“Maybe the demon will eat the food and die?” – Oberlieutenat Joergen Borsch


As they draw closer the smell of blood fills the corridors and a strange humid, oppresive heat hangs over the area, in the distance there is a sound like a cross between a bull lowing and a man screaming; Pak suggests sending in the servo-skull but Admiral Black brushes his suggestion aside, hefts his power sword and charges into the main mess hall. The walls and floors of the mess room are splattered with blood, causing the Admiral to doubt his footing as he enters the chamber; in the centre of the room a large, crimson skinned demonic figure stands astride a pile of bodies and upturned furniture, it grips an obsidian weapon in one of its gore splattered claws. Admiral Black and Navigator Benetec both have a strange sensation that the blade itself is a seperate, hungry entity that cries out for the lives and souls of its victims; whilst the demon is intent on butchering the dying crew at it’s feet Black storms in, vaulting across the table and swinging his power sword through the air, however the tough, demonic hide turns aside most of the blows force, sending sparks cascading through the air. York Benetec runs in after the Admiral, trying not to slide on the blood drenched floor, striking it squarely with his crackling thunder hammer and causing the beast to give rent to an ear-splitting roar.
Still slightly injured from his previous exploits Captain Pak marshals his men around him and leads a coordinated support effort, the clan warriors flooding around the demon and stabbing at it with crude weapons, with the support of Pak’s mechandrite arm lashing out, they swamp the creature hack and stabbing at it. Oberlieutenant Borsch slides into the room and with a deafening boom discharges his bolt pistol, unfortunately missing the head of the beast and blowing a small crater in the floor of the chamber; roaring the demon throws off its attackers and stabs at Captain Pak with it’s hissing hellblade, his men grab their captain and pull him back trying to avoid the strike but the hilt of the blade strikes Pak on the side of his head, shattering the cappilaries in his eye and causing a large contusion to begin forming. The demon swings it’s blade towards Admiral Black who takes the blow on his own power sword sending flaming sparks spiraling through the air (setting fire to some of the furniture), the force of the blow throws the Admiral to the floor, winding him; picking himself up the Admiral gulps a lungfull of recycled air and charges back into the combat, determined not to let this evil creature triumph, swinging his sword he scores a shallow cut down the side of the creature, vile, hissing ichor sprays from the wound.
York Benetec pushes through the debris towards the creature, screaming his defiance of it and bringing down the thunder hammer he inherited from Confessor Cornelius, caving in the rib-cage of the creature, it struggles to stand for a moment, warp fire and bloody ichor leaking from its wound, before exploding in a shower of blood and gore, its deathcry fading in the air.
“FOR THE EMPEROR!” – Navigator York Benetec
Pak checks that there is no further combat or incursions taking place on the Venerus before organising for the mess hall to be quarantined and cleaned up, 
Benetec notices that the creatures sword remains, its blade embedded in the floor of the chamber, and sees that another crewman has also spotted it and is reached his hand out for it; mindful of the dangers of such warp tainted objects and with little time to react Benetec fires his pistol, shooting the crew member dead before his hand has chance to close around the handle of the tainted weapon. Admiral Black and York Benetec sense a distortian of the air around the blade as blood from the slain crew member splatters on the weapon, realising that it could still pose a significant threat Benetec says that he needs the area cleared so that he can banish the foul sword back into the immaterium.
Once the chamber is clear Benetec begins to drain the warp energies from the weapon, syphoning them through his warp eye and allowing them to disperse into the immaterium, as it flickers and fades the deformed Navigator feels a faint echo of the rage and thirst for blood once imbued in the blade; meanwhile Lady Decusis Black has contacted the Admiral from the bridge, she is relieved to hear that her husband is safe and tells him that she never doubted that he would triumph over the chaos creature, she also reports that Tulius is well on the road to recovery.
Oberlieutenant Borsch and Pak begin making plans to visit the, as yet unnamed clan ship, Pak suggests that perhaps Borsch could assume command, in the same manner that he himeself did on the Rod Hant.
“Are you kidding? Have you seen the turning circle of those things? It’s the size of a planet!” – Oberlieutenant Joergen Borsch
Sjomann Amelie is stood on the bridge as Admiral Black arrives there, guarded by an officer (presumably on the instructions of Lady Decusis-Black), he gives orders for the Sjomann to be taken to one of the vacant officers quarters. Two shuttles are prepared to approach the unnamed clan ship, the shuttle piloted by Objerlieutenant Borsch easily reaches the ship first and begins inspecting it for potential weaknesses; they both dock and use their vox systems to contact the ship and arrange to go aboard. The layout of the ship is very similar to the Rod Hant, one of the flanks of the ship is badly damaged but the crew has started to repair it; one of the Imperial troops that was left on the ship approaches looking concerned, he takes them through the ship to one of the weapons bays and they see that all of the crew are kneeling down as though in prayer all facing in the same direction, clasping a weapon to their breasts.
Borsch realises that the primitive clansmen appear to be facing towards where the Venerus is located; Sjomann Amelie says that although not part of this crew and thus not familiar with their rituals it is obviously one of their clan’s religious rites, the trooper points out that all crew members on the ship are doing the same thing, he has no idea what triggered it but it started with the Sjomann of the ship. Slightly worried, Pak contacts one of his servitors aboard the Rod Hant, the servitor in its monotone voice reports no change in activity aboard the vessel; Sjomann Amelie explains that, although her people try and remain above the clan warfare and their traditions, there are numerous deities that they worship and it may be any one of these that the crew are paying homage to. Pak contacts Admiral Black, as he is talking however the crew begin to return to their positions, the ceremony apparently concluded.
On the Venerus, York Benetec senses that the unnamed clan ship is attempting to enter the warp and stumbles into his sensorium chamber just in time to see a bright flash as the clan ship disappears into the warp, he immediately contacts Lord Admiral Black to inform him, the Admiral leaves Lady Decusis-Black, his wife, in charge of the Venerus before heading across to the Rod Hant with a contingent of tech-adepts, he plans to have both ships attempt to track and follow the unnamed ship (that still has Pak and Joergan onboard). Benetec warns that having a group of ships arriving simultaneously via the warp is unlikely, and he doubts the skill of the witch woman.
“There is a problem with this however, its already difficult enough for one navigator to follow a signal correctly, two is extremely difficult and I have no knowledge of the skills of this witch woman” – Navigator York Benetec
“Well, we’ll soon find out, wish me luck” – Lord Admiral Black
“I may see you in a few years Admiral” – York Benetec
Now on the Rod Hant, Admiral Black asks Sjomann Amelie whether she can follow the other ship through the warp, she says that with the appropriate rituals she will be able to follow the Solv Tann (apparently the name of the other ship) through what she calls the realm of the gods; watching the Sjomann begin her rituals, Admiral Black is struck by a strange, almost hypnotic pattern of bones and markings that she lays out around her as part of her ritual. Attempting to puzzle out the pattern the Admiral starts to see some sort of otherworldy pattern or connection between the objects, part of his mind seems to shy away from it, he can feel that the pattern is affecting his psyche and senses the opportunity for great power or destruction in the pattern. Steeling himself against all doubt and hungry for power, Admiral Black attempts to grasp the mind bending pattern laid out in front of him; unseen by the him his body begins a subtle serpentine change, retractable fangs and poison glands beginning to take shape below the skin of his jaw.
Admiral Black wakes up some moments later lying on the floor of the Sjomann’s chamber, from the humming of the engines around him it is obvious that during his convalescence the Rod Hant has entered the warp; both ships head for the Endeavour System but meet with resistance, a form of warp stasis around the system making it more hazardous to navigate there and lengthening the journey time; the Rod Hant and Venerus arrive almost simultaneously in the Endeavour System and quickly conduct scans, they don’t pick up any ships (besides themselves) in the vicinity, they assume that due to the vagaries of the warp that they have arrived before the other clan ship. Sjomann Amelie informs them that although many of the clans live on fleets of roving clan ships some of them live a more traditional planet-bound life on the large moon of Strive, she also explains that when the Sky Warrior returned, Clan Mord left their home amongst the asteroid belts (which they mined for minerals, competing with a clan of scavengers called Clan Kjempe) and went to join him; she explains that the main inhabitants of Strive are called Clan Drod and have a ship in orbit around the moon. Clan Drod are the only clan who refused to side outright with the Sky Warrior (although they didn’t openly rebel), she doesn’t know why but it was something to do with ancient writings preserved from their ancestors. The Sjomann cautions against approaching in ships belonging to another clan but says that they should be able to get hospitallity from them.
Admiral Black decides to visit the planet in a shuttle, taking the Sjomann and a small party with him, ordering the ships to wait for them, concealed in the asteroid fields of the system.
Oberlieutenant Borsch arrives on the bridge of the Solv Tann, he sees a hulking figure in the command chair barking orders in a growled primitive language; Borsch addresses him and is horrifed to see that the captain seems to have a twisted houndlike head, instinctively he fires his bolt pistol, punching a hole through the captain who is dead before his body hits the floor.
“Is there anyone else having a problem with surrendering?” – Oberlieutent Borsch
Borsch spots one other obvious mutant, a figure with ragged bat wings standing at one of the consoles, he kicks the Captains corpse out of the chair and sits down beckoning the winged figure over and asking him about their destination, the ragged figure replies “We return to our home system. Sjomann say it takes 35 Sjtel-links.” Captain Pak arrives on the bridge just as this is going on and, due to his greater knowledge of the clansmen, is able to estimate that 35 Sjtel-links is about 50 Imperial Days; frustrated Borsch puts another round in the old captains head for good measure.
On the moon of Strive, Admiral Blacks guncutter breaks through the slightly thin atmosphere of the massive moon; they locate a small valley amongst the monstly mountainous terrain, shielded by coniferous trees, about twenty miles away from a fairly large settlement. Landing they camouflage the guncutter whilst Admiral Black has the tech-adepts uncouple the Rhino APC from the ship and, with a churning of dirt, they begin heading toward the settlement.
“I wonder if this is where that Imperial Missionary went?” – Admiral Black
“Cornelius knew about that sort of thing and he’s dead, perhaps I should ask his thunder hammer?” – Navigator York Benetec
There is a permanent wooden city surrounded by a sea of hide tents, and the odd loose stonework building forming a strange melange of different building styles in the distance; as the APC approached one of the tech-adepts picks up an imperial power signature 50km to the west, Admiral Black orders them to head towards it and eventually they approach an old fashioned Imperial Shuttle, the outside of it bears the iconography of the Ecclesiarchy. Next to the shuttle are a couple of lean-tos that have been fabricated with materials of Imperial manufacture, as they approach a number of the primitive clans-folk start pointing excitedly and warily at the Rhino APC; as the Rhino pulls to a halt, an excited young native girl leads on old man wearing Imperial priest robes from one of the lean-tos, he’s a little doddery on his feet but he has a serene look to his face, he leans heavily on a gnarled walking stick with an iron skull and Imperial Aquila mounted atop it. The man introduces himself as Deacon Kiril.
“It’s good to see honest Imperial citizens in our little system” – Deacon Kiril
Admiral Black mentions Confessor Cornelius and Deacon Kiril is saddened to hear that Cornelius has died, the news hitting him heavily and forcing him to sit down on a cargo crate; in response to the Deacons queries the Admiral omits some of the details of Cornelius’ death but says that he died during a mutiny caused by the evil of a demon that penetrated the Venerus’ Gellar field. Deacon Kiril talks about the start that both he and his junior priests have begun bringing the clansmen back into the Emperor’s light, he says that it may even be possible that they are descendants of lost Imperial explorers.
“At my age, I believe it is possible I may never leave this world and our work may not be completed in my lifetime, but it is enough to know that we have started these people down the road to their own redemption” – Deacon Kiril
Kiril offers hospitallity to Admiral Black’s party, the Admiral accepts and explains that they are waiting for a ship that absconded into the warp with two of his crew, Sjomann Amelie explains that it was Clan Mord who absconded with the crew; the Deacon looks trouble and says that he’s heard some false religious figure has recently risen and has corrupted some of the tribes furthest from the Emperor. Although he hasn’t been off world to find out more of this, apparently a representative from this ‘Sky Warrior’ attempted to persuade the chief of Clan Drod to rally to their banner although the clan chief does not seem interested; apparently the more barbarous clans have flocked to the Sky Warriors banner.
Deacon Kiril shares a thick, hearty broth with the Admiral’s party, simple but nourishing fare and tells them that the planet is roamed by large mammoths that are hunted by the clansmen for their pelts, tusks and meat; there were once some great predators on the planet (including the dreaded Nak-tar) but the early clansmen hunted them to extinction either for food or as part of their barbaric coming of age rituals. Over the course of the next 20 days the Deacon explains that the clansmen build a lot of their ships in space, mostly in the asteroid belts and clusters throughout the system and that the chief of Clan Drod currently rules the planet, his clan being one of the few to maintain a permanent planetary presence; he believes that the religion of the clansmen is a primitive form of Emperor worship and agrees to arrange a meeting within the month between the clan chief and the Admiral.
Clan Drod have not come out in open opposition to the Sky Warrior (apparently because of some ancient writings that they have preserved from their ancestors) since if the other clans were to unite against Clan Drod (even though they are a large clan) they wouldn’t stand a chance; but he has made it clear that he is not interested.
“That Clan Drod has rejected this heresy speaks well of their reformation” – Navigator York Benetec
“It is my hopes that from the tiny acorns of this act the mighty oaks of righteousness my grow and that these people can be shepherded back to the Emperor, I fear the same may not be said of the other clans” – Deacon Kiril
One the Solv Tann, Borsch has discovered that Mikhil the winged is the first mate; Captain Pak asks him about the ceremony that they conducted shortly before entering the warp and the mutated crew member explains that the Sjomann had sensed the will of their patron deity Slaktin being made known in the world and they were offering him homage, he says that they faced the direction of where their God had entered the world and that his own wings were a blessing from the warrior God Slaktin, few aboard are worthy enough to carry such blessings. Oberlieutenant Borsch convinces Mikhil that he would like to assess the mightiest warriors and plans to gather all of those bearing the gifts of Slaktin in the cargo bay (actually he plans to slay the mutated crew).
Captain Pak begins to attempt to gain trust amongst the Clansmen onboard the Solv Tann, using his position as new Captain of the Rod Hant as leverage with the primitive crew; unlike the crew of the Rod Hant who accepted the leadership of Pak, the Oberlieutenant is forced to fight off challengers for his position as new Captain almost dailt, he is forced to kill about 15 members of the crew during the course of the challenges. As a method of trying to discourage this Borsch has the severed heads of his kills mounted on the back of the command chair. 
During the journey his sleep is troubled by dreams of conquest and blood, but he turns away from the dreams since he feels himself in danger of corruption as he takes the power of these others; he needs no-one else’s power or approval, only his own.
Many days later, on the moon of Strive, York Benetec wakes with a start when he receives an astropathic vision of the Solv Tann from the psychics aboard the Venerus.
“The other vessel has arrived.” – York Benetec
Under orders from Admiral Black Benetec transmits a vision to the astropaths on the Venerus showing their Imperial soldiers storming the Solv Tann and detaining the crew; in response to this the Venerus moves towards the Solv Tann, reinforcing the position of Borsch and Pak. Borsch orders the Sjomann to be bought to the bridge so that he cannot attempt to take the ship into the warp again, when he arrives the Sjomann is revealed to be a hulking brute of a man covered in blue tattoos with a top-knot, he aggressively demands to know why he has been bought to the bridge. Mikhil introduces the huge figure as Sjomann Nikolai; allowing Nikolai to see the severed heads of the captaincy challengers Oberlieutenant Borsch orders the Sjomann not to take the ship back into the warp without his instructions and then dismisses him.
Pak and Borsch are contacted by Lady Decusis-Black (aboard the Venerus) who asks them to join her onboard the larger vessel where she tells them about the Admiral’s current whereabouts, the two men take a shuttle and a compliment of crew down to the moon of Strive to join Admiral Black and his party.

Statting a Bloodletter for my Rogue Trader game

Those of you who have read the write-up of my last Rogue Trader session (available here for anyone who hasn’t read it and is interested) will be aware that the spaceship Venerus was being “haunted” by a warp phenomenon that was feeding off the fear and mistrust of those on board and using it to create illusions and phantasms that created more fear (thus beginning a vicious feeding cycle); during an aborted mutiny lead by Confessor Cornelius (Emperor rest his soul) the fear and distrust onboard rose to such levels that the phenomenon was able to pierce the barrier between the real world and the warp, summoning forth a Bloodletter of Khorne onboard the ship.
The Rogue Trader game (in my opinion) isn’t big on random combats and we try to make sure that any combats that do occur are part of the narrative or that relate to the stories/plots unfolding rather than being just random dice-fests; I had decided how the Bloodletter fit into the story before the last session but hadn’t anticipated the mutiny (and the resultant fear it caused) allowing a daemon to be summoned so quickly. With the session approaching I turned my thoughts to statting the creature.
Since the daemon is unlikely to be a recurring villain and they are portrayed very much as demonic footsoldiers in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, I decided to use the generation guidelines for Nameless NPCs from the FATE core rulebook and make the NPC of Good quality (since I want it to be a challenge. The guidelines in the book advise the following for such an NPC:
  • Aspects: One or two.
  • Skills: One Good (+3), one Fair (+2) and one or two Average (+1)
  • Stress: Two stress boxes.
Deciding on the Aspects was fairly easy, the first being the stock phrase of every Khornate cultists and creature the universe-over “Blood for the Blood God”; for the second I decided to create an Aspect that I thought could cover the resilience given to them by their God and the protection from sorcery, “Blessed by Khorne.”
The skills were pretty easy to decide on, given it Fighting +3, Physique +2, Intimidation +1 and Notice +1; however I also needed to consider what equipment I was going to give the daemon, reading through the details about them great mention is made of the creatures Hellblade which slices through armour and flesh alike. Consulting my Rogue Trader FATE hack I decided that the nearest equivalent for the Hellblade was to give a melee weapon the Power Weapon stunt (final stats Harm 1 Penetration 1); I also wanted to give some thought to armour for the creature, since one of the images that has always stuck with me when thinking about khornate entities is the image of iron and brass, and the ornate armour turning enemies blows aside.

I eventually decided to give the creature a standard armour +2 to defence but without any of the associated penalties and named it “Skin of Blood and Brass.”

The final stat block for the creature looks like this:
***
Bloodletter
Aspects: “Blood for the Blood God”, “Blessed by Khorne”
Skills: Fighting (Good +3), Physique (Fair +2), Intimidation & Notice (Average +1)
Stress: [] [] [] 
Weapon – Hellblade: Harm 1 Penetration 1 (functions similar to a power weapon)
Armour – Skin of blood and brass: Defence 2 Physique mod 0 Athletics/fighting mod 0 
***

Rogue Trader Campaign Log – Session 14: Fear Itself

Enginseer Pak & Admiral Black take four engineers with them across to the renegade vessel; stood in the chaos of the frantic engine room of the renegade vessel, Enginseer Pak realises there is heavy damage, pipes hang down everywhere with steam coming from them and there is an air of frenetic activity. Pak sees that the vessel isn’t off Imperial Manufacture (and doesn’t follow standard layout templates) but his trained eye can see that there are parts of the ship reminiscent of older Imperial technology as though their tech had the same starting point. The people running around are wearing little more than combat trousers and oil splattered aprons, Pak calls for the chief engineer and a huge man up to his elbows in mechanical parts with a huge chainaxe strapped to his back is indicated.

Pak can see that the engineer is trying to bodge the damage together, his skill is impressive but nothing like the Mechanicus, it reminds Pak of himself before he was inducted into the Adpetus Mechanicus. Admiral Black notices a statue in the corridor leading to the engine room that resembles a crudely carved member of the Adeptus Astartes; underneath he sees the legend in Low Gothic “In Death and Glory we Honour the Sky Warrior.” He also notices that the figure depicted has pronounced canine tusks and an animal skull on his shoulder pad.

On the Venerus Cornelius is chasing the Eldar ambassador, the Eldar ducks round a corner or the corridor leading to his quarters and disappears, he must have gone inside but the two guards still stationed on his door report that they have not seen him; on the floor of the corridor Cornelius finds a piece of the strange xenos metal and a power cell from the ship as though dropped haphazardly on the floor. Cornelius mentally speculates that perhaps the creature is trying to get power, he uses the shipwide vox system to contact Engineering and request one of the isolation containers built by Enginseer Pak, some engineers show up after a few minutes in response to his call and take the metal away.

Cornelius kicks the power cell away into the shadows at the side of the corridor, when the engineers take the metal he goes to retrieve the cell but cannot locate it.

On the renegade vessel the two teams of engineers bring the systems back under minimial power although more thorough maintenance at a proper facility will be needed in the long term; Pak goes to inform Admiral Black of his progress and sees the statue, he recognises the heraldry depicted as belonging to the Space Wolves chapter. Admiral Black demands that the primitives take him to the captain of the vessel and the engineer (who identifies himself as Jurgen) takes the two of them to the bridge. The ship is slightly smaller than the Lunatic Pandora, it has sacrificed armour and cargo space for speed and has forward facing weapons, it is obviously an attack vessel. Enginseer Pak tells Admiral Black that he thinks the ship could be adapted to their needs should he so wish, at this point the Admiral suddenly remembers that they still have a problem on the Venerus to deal with.

“Oh God, the entity!” – Admiral Fortunus Black

Pak realises the primitive ship is warp capable but he has seen no analogue to the Navigator’s sensorium chamber that they have on the Venerus; he realises that this civilisation must have only just started using warp technology. On the bridge, the captain is dead, pierced through the chest by a fallen roof beam; Admiral Black orders navigation to maneuvre the ship towards the Venerus. There is a bit of language issue since the renegades don’t appear to use the word ‘warp’ but eventually they are able to confirm that the ship can enter the warp under the direction of someone they call the Sjdomann, the language they use seems to be a pigeon-language adapted from Low Gothic.

Pak uses his tech implants to interface with the primitive spirit of the ship; he confirms that it is an attack/escort ship, looking at a schematic he finds a spherical chamber at the centre of the ship linked to the warp engine room. Psk establishes a remote link to the Venerus and begins transmitting the information on the renegade ship across.

On the Venerus York Benetec is in his sensorium when he becomes aware of a bright flare of psychic activity nearby; if the souls of normal people are flickering candles in the dark, the new activity is like a firework or brief explosion of psychic energy that flares up then dissipates; as the soundproof doors of his chamber opens he hears a female voice screaming in high-pitched agony from a few corridors away, York moves towards the sound. To his warp-born perception he can see a flickering green light shining from the corridor, in it lies Dana convulsing, green light shining from her nose, eyes and mouth. Benetec thinks either they’ve moved into an area where the warp and the real world are close together, or some sort of warp entity is attempting to possess her.

The Navigator unveils his warp eye, using the force of his formidable will to hold Dana in place, but he can feel a will acting against his own, trying to undo what he has wrought. Benetec attempts to pull the demonic energy from Dana and nullify it with his own Navigator training, surprisingly the woman fades away leaving York stood on his own in the corridor and the resistance to his will ceases, to his psychic senses it appears as low some sort of log hanging psychic fog occupies the corridors of the ship.

Cornelius is contacted on his personal vox by the haggard voice of Tullius Black who asks the Confessor to meet him in the medical bay, 
Tullius is lying in a bed with the left side of his face bandaged, he struggles to breathe but explains that him and his men were heading down to the engineering section when he claims to have been attacked by a particularly nasty hive vermin called a Gloomhaunt that has haunted his dreams since an unpleasant incident during his youthful Spyrer rite of passage on his homeworld. The creature wrapped around his head and the next thing he knew he was in the medical bay, his men claim not to have seen the gloomgaunt and that Tullius attempted to shoot himself in the head with his pistol, if they had not wrestled his gun of him and knocked him out he would’ve succeeded; as it was the shot destroyed the left hand side of his face.

Tullius lays his gambling and falling out of favour at the feet of a philosophy of life being entirely random, he blames the original experience in his youth with the Gloomhaunt; he then shows Cornelius a data-slate containing the camera footage from the corridor where the encounter occurred, it backs up the version of the story portrayed by his men. Apothecarians ask the Confessor to leave, saying that they need to sedate Tullius (who insisted on speaking to the Confessor before he allowed them to operate).

Cornelius tells Tullius to come and see him once he has recovered.

On the primitive ship, Admiral Black asks who is next in line for command, Jurgen tells him there would be a challenge to decide who would lead now Erling is dead; the greatest amongst them would become the new captain.

“This may not be a good time, but it is the way of our clan.” – Jurgen

The challenges would be overseen by the Sjomann, she is seen as a neutral party; since they have defeated the clan ship both Pak and Admiral Black have a right to enter the challenge, only the new captain can authorise complete surrender. As they move to the Sjomanns chamber they are joined by other people who plan to watch or participate in the challenge/trials.

A white haired woman with strange swirling tattoos and a bandana with an eye emblem on her forehead greets them as they arrive at the chamber, she introduces herself as Sjomann Amelie. Amelie listens to Jurgens explanation and agrees that a challenge must be held, she sits on a chair at the head of the chamber that has wires running from it; Pak recognises the device as a primitive form of the equipment that they use to help York Benetec interface with the Venerus.

“We honour the traditions laid down by the Sky Warrior and to prove ourselves worthy our leaders are chosen by a test of arms, in this way do we strengthen our people” – Sjomann Amelie

Jurgen, engineer for eight years, steps forward and Pak challenges him for command of the ship on behalf of Admiral Black.

“I am Jurgen, chief engineer of this ship, I killed the Nactar with my bare hands!” – Engineer Jurgen

Pak strikes Jurgen’s chainaxe with his power sword, sending an electrical charge down the axe and causing the bearded engineer to drop the weapon. Jurgen continues to try and fight with his fists, winding the Enginseer but getting close enough for the half-mechanical Enginseer to grapple him.

Staggered by a brutal headbutt from Jurgen, Enginseer Pak’s mind flashes back to the many vicious fights for survive he had to survive in the underhive, crawling his way up from the muck of the hive bottom. His face darkens with an unaccustomed look of rage and he crushes the life out of the burly engineer, finally snapping his neck with a brutal metallic headbutt and dropping the limp body to the floor.

Over the course of the next hour Pak sees off a number of challengers, narrowly scraping through to victory and is pronounced Captain of the ship by the Sjomann Amelie Klok; lost in the depths of his rage the Enginseer has slain at least five of his opponents, although oddly the crew seem to respect this more.

Cornelius contacts York Benetec and explains that he believes that is some sort of warp-entity onboard the ship and hopes that the Navigator can help deal with it; he believes that it is showing people things they fear. Benetec explains he has recently become aware of the entity and that he isn’t sure its an actual entity, possibly being more a form of event or warp-spawned phenomenon. Cornelius suggests informing Lady Decusis-Black but Benetec dismisses the idea.

“She may think that she is in command of the vessel!” – Navigator York Benetec

Exploring the ship with Cornelius he sees that the psychic mist seems to have spread throughout the ship, they meet a crewman who is terrified and believes they have been boarded; realising that this is undoubtably more evidence of the phenomenon but feeling slightly irked, York Benetec recommends that the man go to the bridge and inform the Captain’s wife. The two of them visit engineering where they talk to acting Enginseer Doric Cattilo; they find out that there have been no strange incidents occurring in the engineering system.

“There is no panic in the engine room Navigator, everything is nominal.” – Acting Enginseer Cattilo

Cornelius and Benetec go to the cathedral, the mist actually appears to be thicker there; Junior Priest/Acolyte Didius Julianus Fiscal reports an unusual amount of people at services, Benetec theorises that the increased amount of fear here may have caused the mist thickening. Confessor Cornelius has his priests begin clearing the cathedral and preparing to conduct a ship-wide blessing.

Enginseer Prime Pak continues to interrogate the machine spirit of the clan ship Rod Hant, the records are fragmentary and the clansmen don’t appear to record a lot about society. He continues to  establish himself on the Rod Hant clanship as Captain, they appear to follow a martial tradition and, now the challenge has determined that Pak is their leader the clansmen follow his order quite willingly.

Admiral Black talks to the Sjomann and finds out she is one of two Sjomann clans (hers being Clan Klok) who remain neutral in the warfare between the other five clans since their services are so valuable, together the two of them travel back to the Venerus.

Pak works out that the clansmen come from the Endeavour System, they were lead here by the Sky Warrior to claim spoils, the clansmen appear to be referring to some sort of embodiment of their god or a messianic figure when they mention the Sky Warrior. 

On the Venerus the Sjomann shudders saying that there is an ill-feeling to the ship, she removes the scrap of fabric to reveal a green glowing warp eye that she looks through, telling Admiral Black that she detects some evil magic at work onboard. Admiral Black gets on the shipwide vox system and asks to meet with both the Astropath and the Navigator.

Buoyed by the faith and chanting of his priests Cornelius begins to  move through the ship, blessing the chambers on his route, the crew seem comforted.

“No-one who truly holds the Emperor in their heart need show fear.” – Chief Confessor Cornelius

Benetec notices a slight lessening of the warp mist density in the chamber and, as Cornelius begins to intone a chant of exorcism and cleansing, the mist almost completely clears from the chamber although their are still traces of it onboard.

York Benetec and Cornelius receive a vox message asking them to meet Admiral Black on the bridge; heading there after completing the blessing they are met by a confused Lady Decusis-Black who demands to know what they’re doing on the bridge.

“The Admiral is onboard.” – York Benetec
“Yes I know, I have already spoken to him! I believe he is in C&C waiting for you!” – Lady Dominique Decusis-Black

Cornelius attempts to exorcise the presence using the central point of the bridge (the command chair), however it does little to remove the warp mist, lending credence to Navigator Benetec’s theory that it may be more of a phenomenon than an entity. As they turn to leave Lady Decusis-Black and three of the bridge security guards point autopistols at Navigator Benetec; Confessor Cornelius steps in the way of the potential barrage and orders them to stand down, explaining that whatever they are seeing isn’t real.

Lady Decusis-Black explains that the entity appears to have possessed York Benetec, as Cornelius turns he can indeed see York Benetec hovering in midair with green light spilling from his mouth and the cried of damned souls echoing round the bridge. Lady Decusis-Black uses the vox to call for security, sending out a general alert that Navigator Benetec has been possessed and must be restrained; Cornelius begins to announce a blessing and the false-vision of the possessed York Benetec fades away.

Admiral Black arrives, having heard the alert, and is greeted by his greatful (and now quite sheepish) wife; Benetec attempts to explain that the ship and people onboard are being affected by some sort of warp event that feeds on fear and is capable of creating illusions to further panic people. Upon seeing Sjomann Amelie, Navigator Benetec is able to identify some of the tattooed markings she has as being of the Belisarius Navigator family.

On the Rod Hant, Captain Pak is discovering that, rather than keeping a log the crew have a storyteller whose job it is to memorise their sagas and tales; Pak begins setting up the primitive computer system to record these tales. The clansmen on the ship belong to one of the seven clans called Clan Mord, along with the other clans they believe in the Sky Warrior who founded their civilisation and who recently, as prophesised, returned and united three of the clans and took them on a glorious quest. The other two clans were Clan Klok (a Sjomann clan) who follow a mythical figure called the Byggmeister (a god of secrets and mysteries) and Clan Blod follow a patron god they call Slaktin (god of warriors and fighting). Pak bundles up the information on deities and sends it to Chief Confessor Cornelius on the Venerus.

Cornelius theorises that the Space Wolves chapter of Adeptus Astartes must have passed through here during the mythical crusades in ages past and must have influenced this civilisation; Benetec recalls that the Belisarius family of Navigators provide a lot of their members to the Space Wolves battlefleet.

Sjomann Amelie offers to perform a cleansing to rid the ship of the presence, but that it will involve an animal as a blood sacrifice; Admiral Black has the ship Twistcatcher (mutant catcher) bring up a mutated animal from the lower decks, Amelie stabs it and begins daubing crimson runes on the doors and bulkheads. Cornelius is horrified and angered as he recognises the runes as being similar to those used to call upon the ruinous powers; he attempts to warn the Admiral but, keen to see his ship rid of the presence, Admiral Black dismisses these fears. Realising that there is little he can do to change the Admiral’s mind the Confessor leaves the area and begins whipping the first people he sees into a mutinous frenzy using his formidable oratory skills and the crews fear of the chaos gods; quickly a pipe wielding group of ten angry men join him and begin storming towards the Admiral’s position.

Ever wary of mutiny the Admiral seals the door and calls for a red alert.

“This is a shipwide alert, a mutiny has occurred, by order of Lord Admiral Black you will return to your stations – all mutineers will be shot.” – Shipboard vox system

Admiral Black contacts the Rod Hant and arranges for Captain Pak to send some of his warriors across to the Venerus to reinforce his positions whilst Benetec tries to explain to the Admiral that this action will only feed the warp phenomenon.

Confessor Cornelius accesses the shipwide vox system in an attempt to stir up the rest of the crew, preaching that the Admiral has been influenced by evil forces, however he is quickly cut off by Lord Admiral Black; whilst this is going on and everyone is distracted, Sjomann Amelie finishes daubing her runes on the corridor.

Admiral Black contacts Da’Duith Iath in his quarters warning the Eldar about the mutiny, however the Eldar is quite dismissive of the danger posed by some primitive humans.

The vox systems across the system crackle and a deep rumbling laughter that sends a shiver through the hearts of all onboard echoes through the corridors of the ship.

“We’ve done exactly what it wanted!” – Navigator York Benetec

As the laughter continues the Sjomann staggers, her nose pouring blood as she clasps her hands to her head; York Benetec is also staggered but manages to remain on her feet. 

Confessor Cornelius leads his fired up possé of men towards the Edlar’s quarters, the guards refuse to let him enter, however, with one swift swing of his thunder hammer the Confessor floors the two guards and smashes open the door to the chamber. A surprised Eldar fires a slim shuriken pistol into the mob that surges through his door, tearing flesh and bone apart, however the rest of the mob reach the alien and tear it to pieces; not desiring the corruption to spread any further Cornelius orders them back and torches the remains using his flamer.

Admiral Black is joined by Captain Pak and they begin discussing a way to use the teleportarium to capture the mutinous confessor; Navigator Benetec quietly slips away during the conversation, he notes that the mist level (that has been growing steadily thicker over the last few hours) disappears and the laughter from the vox ceases.

Realising that his cause is lost, Cornelius records a last message, hoping to mitigate the recriminations against those who helped him and dispatches it to Admiral Black via the vox system.

“Captain, i’ve done what I felt was necessary, I acting alone and without the aid of the rest of the crew. The Emperor go with you.” – Last testament of Chief Confessor Cornelius

Using the ships sensors to track Cornelius to the Eldars quarters, he also picks up a lot of gunfire coming from the central section of the ship; York Benetec locates the Confessor using his psychic powers and, concentrating greatly, creates a small warp tear that allows him to disappear and step out into the Eldars quarters.

Confused Pak, now picking up two signatures, turns to inform Admiral Black and they notice that Benetec is missing; meanwhile, Cornelius hands his thunder hammer to Benetec and with solemnity commends his soul to the Emperor before drawing a gun and discharging it into his own skull. Benetec contacts the Admiral on the vox to inform him what has happened.

“Captain his soul is the Emperor’s to deal with now” – Navigator York Benetec 
“You almost joined him, don’t pull any of that bullshit on me again!” – Admiral Black

The centre of the ship still echoes with gunfire, Pak locks on to half a dozen of the firing crewmen and teleports them into the glasscrete tube of the teleportarium chamber; they appear terrified and one of them appears to have been almost sliced in half with a large bladed object.

“We’re under attack in the crews quarters, we need help! It’s killing people down here…” – Junior Chef Forcius

The Admiral leads a party of men towards the sound of gunfire (ordering his wife to take control of the Venerus and seal the bridge), when Benetec receives a vox message that there is a problem with Dana; when he asks what a bellowing demonic voice like a sound from the depths of hell reverberates with painful force through the ship

“BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD! 
SKULLS FOR THE SKULL THRONE OF KHORNE!”

Making a better Demon in FATE core

As mentioned in my previous blog post (available here) one of the potential encounters for the 28/07/13 session is with the warp entity that is currently causing trouble aboard the ship; this will be the first time that I have designed/built a non-human (or humanlike) antagonist using the FATE core rules system and this blog entry details my thought processes during its creation.
IF YOU ARE ONE OF MY PLAYERS PLEASE DO NOT READ THE REST OF THIS BLOG ENTRY UNTIL AFTER THE 28/07/13 SESSION
First things first, I wanted to quickly review the information that had currently been divulged about the entity (mostly last session), so I quickly looked through my notes and came up with the following.
  • Possibly connected with Khorne or Chaos Undivided.
  • Can create phantasms and illusions based on a persons past to plague them.
    • This would suggest that the entity is capable of reading minds or somehow viewing the traumatic events in a persons past.
  • Is a creature of fear & violence (possibly somehow feeding on these emotions).

Reading up on the gods of Chaos
Since the entity is some sort of chaos beast or warp creature I leafed through my copy of Fantasy Flight Games Black Crusade to refresh my memory about the various gods of chaos; one of the things that struck me in particular whilst reading was the mention of societies worshiping the chaos gods as a pantheon rather than simply devoting themselves to a single one of the gods, this struck me as far more interesting than having a simple khorne berserker or the equivalent devoted to a single god. IMO whilst the iconic chaos ‘specialists’ are great for the WH40K miniatures battle game (and it’s easy to see why they were made like this for ease of use in a miniatures game) they seem a bit one-dimensional and flat as far as an RPG is concerned.
Whilst reading this it struck a chord with some earlier material from the WH40K universe that I had been perusing whilst I had been deciding on the chapter of the chaos space marine Lorgar Khan encountered in the previous session; eventually I had decided on the Word Bearers, since I thought their religious following of the chaos pantheon would provide a great contrast and opposition to the staunchly Imperialist views of Chief Confessor Cornelius.
A small diversion
As is often the case when I sit down to write notes for a session, I often end taking some twists and turns whilst on my to my eventual destination; my musings on the worship of chaos as a pantheon rather than as isolated entities lead me to considering the worship of the chaos space marine Lorgar Khan. Lorgar had been encountered for the first time in the previous session when his space marine battle barge the Dark Omen had fled attack at the hands of the Venerus and Lunatic Pandora; mulling this over lead me to ask myself one question, where did Lorgar flee to?
After looking at my notes for the various systems in the sector of space that we had created, the nearest system that made any sense was the Endeavour system; the Endeavour System was also the original planned stopping off point of the player party on the way to Footfall. The potential of the players and Lorgar heading to the same system gave me a chance to highlight one of the things I love about the Warhammer 40,000 universe, the uncertainty of travel through the warp; although two ships may set off from the same point and be heading towards the same destination, travel through the warp relies on the skill of a ships navigator and therefore the two vessels may not arrive at the same time.
Making the rolls for Lorgar’s travel through the warp I scored a result indicating that it would take 50 Imperial days for the Dark Omen to arrive at it’s destination (a copy of the imperial calendar that I use can be found here, although I have adapted the time scale somewhat to make it easier to manage); it will arrive on Imperial Date 062817M41, I jotted this down on my game calendar for future use. This means that, whenever the players make it to the Endeavour System (assuming that they still go there) I will know either how long Lorgar has been there (if the players arrive after him) or, if they arrive first (a possibility given the high skill level of Navigator York Benetec), how long it will be before the chaos space marine arrives.
This also raised the question of how long it took for the Lunatic Pandora to flee to the Endeavour System after it was boarded by renegades from the space marine battle barge in the previous session (it made sense for them to flee there since it was their only known rendezvous point with the Venerus); rolling a result of -2 meant that there journey would take 175 Imperial days and they would arrive on Imperial Date 0186817M41 (over 100 days after the Dark Omen arrives in the system. This creates the interesting situation of the Lunatic Pandora arriving in the system after their attacker (itself now also damaged) – potentially the Venerus may have already dealt with the Dark Omen before the Lunatic Pandora arrives, it also raises the question of how long (given that they have no idea when their sister ship will arrive) the Venerus will wait for the Lunatic Pandora before moving on?
Back to the Demon
Getting back to designing the warp entity, I wanted to make it more a focal point of the session rather than simply some sort of rampaging berserker that would challenge the players for a while before eventually being put down; a straightforward combat scene didn’t seem all that interesting as a main event for the session.
Thus far the demon had mainly confined itself to menacing the players (and some NPCs) with dreams of past conflicts, sometimes even bringing these visions into reality; I recalled reading a number of posts on the FATE G+ community about using the fate fractal (the idea that anything and everything can be created as a character if desired in FATE) to create scenes that challenged the players and actually giving the scene statistics with which to challenge the player party. Given that the demon was haunting the players with scenes and grisly dioramas this seemed like a great way to represent the demon in my Rogue Trader game; each player or small group of players would be challenged by a (semi)illusory scene designed to disorientate them and have them kill each other (feeding the creature in the process).
How to represent this?
Considering the matter further I decided against splitting the player party up and would initially have the two characters on the Venerus (York Benetec and Chief Confessor Cornelius) sucked into the illusion-like scene/diorama; if Admiral Black and Enginseer Prime Pak succeeded in their own mission and returned to the ship before the matter with the demon had been resolved then they would have a chance to shake their comrades out of the vision that had seized their minds.

    How will the entity first make itself known?
    Demons normally require some sort of focus or entryway into the mortal realm, normally an unprotected psychic or mutant of some kind (hence why the Imperium is so intent on tracking down and either destroying or training all psykers); in our game there are numerous astropaths working on both ships but all are trained to resist routine psychic assaults and demonic possessions, however there was one obvious candidate who had never been trained to make use of their (rudimentary) psychic talents – Dana, the young, blind verminspeaker that they had recruited and taken in during their adventures in the Decusis System on Hiveworld Scelus.
    How will I use the FATE fractal to represent the scene?
    Since the scene that will plague the character is largely illusory in nature I will come up with a simple set of stats that the demon can use during the illusion to vex the players.
    After thinking about it for a while I decided to use some of the Approaches in Fate Accelerated Edition:

    • Clever: Wrapping the player characters up in puzzles and conundrums.
    • Flashy:  Distracting the players with overt displays of opulence or powers.
    • Forceful: Confronting the players direct with visions of violence or combat.
    • Sneaky: Pulling off things without the players noticing and deceiving their senses. 
    How do the players end the “vision?
    The most obvious way for the players to end the visions is to cast out the demon or slay its mortal host (the girl verminspeaker Dana).
    What are the demons plans?
    The player characters will just be one group trapped in their illusions, the rest of the crew will be split into groups and will also be caught in strange dioramas; the demon hopes to use the scenes to have the groups attack each other, the mass deaths will allow it to open passage to the warp and bring forth more of its fellows.

    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.

    Rogue Trader Campaign Log – Session 13: Battles in the Black

    Having returned to the Venerus following their aborted mission Lord Admiral Black wants to speak to the Adeptus Mechanicus regarding what they have discovered and what possible plans may be required for the future; Enginseer Prime Pak plans to keep the materials recovered from the planet in a shuttle incase it causes any problems and needs to be emergency jettisoned.
    Lord Admiral Black consults his senior offucers asking for their council on how they are going to deal with the ancient enemy, tactful as ever Confessor Cornelius recommends holy fire and a thunder hammer, whilst Enginseer Pak suggests either returning to Port Wander or the Decusis system to speak to the Mechanicus; Admiral Black agrees and plans are made to return to Port Wander. Taking the Enginseer to one side Admiral Black asks Pak about his trouble with the Vitanteur Crime Syndicate; the Enginseer explains that they gave him private comm encryption protocol to contact them and that, in return for help, they would reveal the location of the previously unknown area of technology. The Vitanteur cannot legally salvage the tech, whereas a Rogue Trader can, they said that they would lead the fleet there (and forget about their grievance with the Enginseer) in return for a cut of the profits.
    Cornelius brings up the subject of the Imperial missionaries lead by Deacon Kiril who were going to the Endeavour system in an attempt to set up a colony and that the system is on their route back; he suggests a quick stop off to refuel and check on their progress, Admiral Black agrees to this and orders the Navigator to make the necessary preparations, Benetec estimates that the trip will take approximately two weeks in warp-space.
    Following his explosive experience with the Vitanteur Syndicate, Enginseer Prime Pak reprograms a ships servitor to act as a watcher to his quarters, building in redundancies to fool hackers into thinking they have disabled it but in actual fact they haven’t and it would keep recording the happenings in his quarters whilst pretending activity.
    “The Vitanteur don’t seem to be that subtle.” – York Benetec
    The end of the Imperial year is marked on the ship by wide-ranging  celebrations, lead by the ship’s Chief Confessor and ecclesiarchical authority Cornelius.
    “And the ship shall ring out with the sound of our faith.” – Cornelius
    About a  week into the journey (it is difficult to be exact because of the time distorting effect of the warp and the gellar fields blotting out the starfield) Admiral Black who, like a lot of his family line find the presence of the warp less discomforting than other folk, awakens suddenly in his bed; his wife is lying asleep next to him with her arm draped over his chest and everything is quiet. The Admiral feels uneasy but can’t quite put his finger on why and so pours himself a nightcap, as the spirit hits the back of his throat and he wakes up more fully he can hear a clanging sound like dragging something heavy and metallic along the ground outside his quarters.
    In his dressing gown the Admiral explores the corridor outside his quarters, the ship is largely deserted because it is during the night shift but he can’t see anything, however his resolves to continue to exploring the corridors.
    Meanwhile in the ship sensorium chamber the Navigator York Benetec is wide awake, his mutant talents piloting the ship through the terrors and dangers of the warp; he becomes vaguely aware of an unsettling influence somewhere on the ship.
    Admiral Black turns the corner and is confronted by a crowd of crewmen running in a blind panic down the corridor towards him, he warns then to halt but they pay little heed; he grabs one of the men and demands to know what is going on bu the terrifying crewman simply shouts “we’ve gotta get to the teleportarium and get off the ship, the ship’s going down” before struggling free and running off down the corridor. Admiral Black heads to the bridge determined to find out what is going on; 1st Officer Tullius Black seems unaware of any danger or strange goings on, he checks with the teleportarium but they’ve had no strange incidents – Admiral Black orders the guards doubled by the teleportarium chamber just in-case.
    Chief Confessor Cornelius is having a dream about when he was attacked by xenos forces years ago on an Imperial base, he has had the dream where he attempted to place a signal beacon to summon reinforcements many times; this time however when he runs outside with the beacon there is a redemptionist preacher standing there whom he recognises as Zane Cortez (the redemptionist originally from the Venerus, now serving on the Lunatic Pandora). Cortez says in a sorrowful voice “The geller fields have failed and are spawning mutations, we need to make our way to the teleportarium and save as many of the crew as possible.”
    Cornelius wakes up with a start in his bed, a fresh sheen of sweat covering his body; suspecting an unholy influence the priest chants communion prayers and calls upon the faith present on the ship (already heightened by the festival) and is rewarded by a slight lessening of the tension/foreboding in his chambers. Somewhat disturbed by this, but resolute in his faith, Cornelius makes his way to the ships chapel. At the same time as this York Benetec briefly feels a lessening of the strange feeling; he contacts the technicians manning the geller field and mentions the strange feeling, they say the field is fine but that the first officer has also contacted them asking if there were any problems and the Lord Admiral has ordered a doubling of the guards on the teleportarium.
    Enginseer Prime Pak powers up after his rest cycle to see a device attached to the inside of his door with a blinking red light, he quickly disables the explosive and calls in a fake alert to see if the guilty party will come to check on it. Whilst waiting for his trap to be sprung Pak accesses the memory unit of the surveillance servitor and sees his door open and a member of the Vitanteur he is familiar with from the old days (Ezekial Vitanteur) enter, plant the bomb and leaves.
    “Warning! Explosion registered in Sector 5!” – Ships computer
    A few moments later a disaster recovery crew arrive, and are puzzled to find no explosion; Pak turns to show them deactivated explosive and finds nothing on the table, he checks the servitor memory and finds no evidence of the previous footage; sees himself reacting to nothing. Shaken, but not wanting to show it infront of the crew, he explains it away as a drill to Recovery Crew Lieutenant Royston.
    Pak heads to the cathedral where Confessor Cornelius is preaching to the crew who are not on duty about how the Emperor and his Blessed Navigator will see them safely through the Warp. Pak sits down at the back of the chapel; when Cornelius spots him he hands over to one of his junior priests and leaves the pulpit to a smattering of applause and takes Pak to one side.
    Pak admits to being slightly troubled by the events of the evening and is seeking spiritual guidance.
    “Although you are not part of my flock I will always offer to spiritual guidance to those of other faiths sanctionned by the Emperor.” – Cornelius
    Pak explains to Cornelius about his past with the Vitanteur and how he used to run with them before he was selected to be part of the Adeptus Mechanicus, and how the Syndicate blames him for the loss of some recovered tech and several of their operatives to Adeptus Arbites force. Pak mentions that the Syndicate have made several explosive attempts on his life, that they are well connected and have numerous operatives on-board the ship.
    “There is no-one too well connected to be purged.” – Cornelius
    Enginseer Prime Pak then explains about the incident with imaginary/hallucinatory explosive and that this is what caused him to seek guidance; Cornelius tells him about his own dream and how he was able to counter it by calling on the faith of the ship. Pak calls in to see if anything unusual has happened and finds out about the doubling of guard on the teleportarium and that the Navigator has also made some queries although this isn’t anything unusual.
    Lord Admiral Black has been researching their destination, the Endeavour system, in the ships library- he discovers that the people in the system have warp capable tech, but that they have just started using warp for travel, it has a large white star and many asteroid belts making it slightly hazardous to navigate, the star also throws out radiation bursts in the inner-cauldron area of the system. A low gravity gas dwarf known as Endeavour prime is the largest planet in the system but it is on that planets moon (called Scrive) where most of the life in the system lives. The civilisation is a violent society of clans whose development is held back due to the constant raiding and violence they inflict upon each other.
    Fortunus ponders this problem and thinks that the system could do with a strong leader to unite them and rule them, Cornelius agrees that a leader who brings them back into the light of the Emperor’s grace would be indeed a worthy endeavour.
    “Bringing savages into the fold” – Cornelius
    Cornelius, Pak and Fortunus discuss Paks problem/recent issue and the difference between their two sects; the Emperor embodies both the divine principles and fates of both the ecclesiarchy and of the mechanicus. As they toast to the Emperor, Cornelius mentions how he saw the redemptionist priest and people running towards the teleportarium in his dream; he believes that a part of the crew of a ship remains with it and theorises about whether the ships long isolation in the Sycorax warp storm could have affected it in some way.
    In his sensorium chamber York Benetec meditations are intruded upon by a sound like a baby crying; meanwhile Cornelius, Pak and Fortunus discuss whether perhaps some form of entity has managed to pierce the Gellar fields of the Venerus and, if so, what their response would be. Benetec can sense that the sound is emanating from somewhere on the ship but that it is rebounding off the inside of the Gellar fields, he theorises that some sort of entity has become trapped on-board and cannot escape due to the Gellar fields. As the shift ends, the crying stops.
    Pak checks out the systems on-board  there have been a few glitches in the ships sensors; the odd glitch is not unusual, however during the last day there has been a dramatic increase in the number of glitches; he is able to see that the series of glitches appear to move through the ship during the shift and calculates that they will reach the bridge in the next two hours or so. Pak contacts Fortunus and tells him about something passing through the ship on its way to the bridge, they plan to divert as many of the bridges functions as they can to engineering until the entity/force has passed, hopefully minimising the effects on the ship.
    Tullius Black, a distant cousin of Fortunus who has been given his post as a second chance (he never really advanced previously due to his rogue-ish nature and fondness for gambling) is current acting as First Officer of the Venerus and is manning the bridge; Enginseer Pak contacts the senior officers on his vox-link and informs everyone about the entity affecting people’s dreams, he notifies Tullius that systems were to be routed through the engineering section whilst this threat was posed. Tullius asks whether they needed to evacuate the bridge, and agrees to relocate the essential bridge staff (himself included) to the engineering section.
    Navigator Benetec explains that he recognises the creature as some form of warp presence but he has been unable to examine it further since most of his concentration is required to pilot the ship; he explains that he planns to bring the ship out of the warp prematurely as a safety precaution. As the discussion continues there is a crackling on the vox-link and the sound of a crying baby; Benetec explains that he has heard the sound before.
    Tullius voxes in and asks about the noise, the other senior officers hear Tullius break off and begin talking to someone else, he seems surprised saying “How can you be here?” There is the sound of an impact and the vox-link goes dead. Pak contacts security and they say that Tullius’ last known whereabouts were Sector 5 near engineering and that sporadic gunfire has been reported, a security detail is sent and Lord Admiral Black informed.
    Benetec contacts Lord Black and explains that he is planning to bring the ship out of the warp due to the potential danger posed by the warp entity on board the ship; he suggests to the senior officers that, once out of the warp they could lower the gellar fields that are containing the entity onboard ship; however Confessor Cornelius is wary that doing so would simply release a warp entity to menace the world. During this conversation the ship drops into normal space.
    The Venerus (followed by Lunatic Pandora) has dropped out of warp space near a gravitational anomaly (the remains of a black hole); their sensors can pick up three other vessels moving through the area. The vessels appear to be of Imperial manufacture although they don’t have any Imperial heraldry, they don’t appear to have spotted the Venerus or the Lunatic Pandora yet, but as soon as the ships fire their engines to avoid being sucked into the gravitational well they will be detected.
    Lord Admiral Black orders the Auspex scanners to scan the other ships; he recognises the larger ship as one of the near mythical Adeptus Astartes battle barges that he has only heard of in the myths and legends of the Imperial Crusades; although this makes it doubly odd that they have no heraldry.  The two smaller ships are about the same size as the Lunatic Pandora and appear to be escorting the larger of the ships.
    The Venerus begins moving towards the ships slowly whilst the Lunatic Pandora fires its engines and begins circling around to the rear of the convoy; Confessor Cornelius makes his way to the chapel and begins preparing the vox systems within to broadcast prayers of battle and deliverance throughout the ship. Enginseer Prime Pak continues to prepare things in engineering whilst linking into the Vox system to ensure that the transfer of command functions is still going ahead; he dispatches his servo-skull to investigate the sounds of gunfire in Sector 5.
    Concentrating from the within his contemplation chamber York Benetec projects his consciousness out into the surrounding area, giving him a wide-ranging view of events occurring within the sector; he can see the floating wreckage of some destroyed spacecraft a short distance away from where they are, closer psychic examination reveals the wrecked ships to be the remnants of Imperial supply vessels. The supply train appears to have been annihilated by a surprise attack from the unidentified vessels currently near the Venerus and Lunatic Pandora.
    Benetec relays this information to the rest of the senior offiers just as the unidentified vessels pick up the fleet on the far range of their sensors and begin to turn to bring them more in range; judging that they have forfeited any attempt to parley due to their attack on the supply train, Lord Admiral Black orders his ship to begin firing on the main weapons of the battle-barge.
    From his overview of the scene York Benetec is able to get the drop on the approaching fleet and the great ship Venerus begins to move forwards; prayers of vengeance and fury against the traitorous dogs who would raise weapons against the Imperium of Man flood through the ships vox systems, spurring the crew to grip their weapons tighter and remain resolute in the face of danger. The Venerus weapons open fire on the largest of the enemy ships, there is an explosion from the enemy vessels as a salvo strikes their engines, unfortunately the Lunatic Pandora’s shooting proves largely ineffective. In response the battle-barge opens fire on the Venerus whilst the escort vessels shoot at the Lunatic Pandora blowing open the cargo bays and causing the loss of many materials before the emergency bulkheads slam shut.
    A burst of fire from the battle-barge crashes into the Venerus, causing the emergency measures to activate prematurely, across the ship bulkheads crash down, trapping the crew in whatever compartments they occupied; however Enginseer Prime Pak and his repair teams are quickly able to repair the damaged systems and bring the ship back under control.
    Relentless fire continues between the two fleets, a sudden cry goes up from the navigational array of the Venerus “Sir, the engines are firing, it’s like the ship is flying itself!” as the huge vessel moves forwards towards the enemy fleet unbidden by its pilots. York Benetec reels back in his sensorium chamber as he feels a murderous, bloodthirsty and ancient presence pressing down on him from deep within the roiling tides of the Immaterium, calling on his training the navigator breaks off with a scream as his psyché slams back into his own body.
    With their engines still firing the Venerus crew manage to fly over the enemy fleet, turning to present their most heavily armoured side to the enemy and thus sustaining minimal damage from the bursts of lance-fire that stab out from the enemy vessels. The two escorts vessels fire boarding pods towards the Lunatic Pandora, the pods grapple onto the hull and begin burning through; a slightly panicked communiqué from Captain Polaris on the Lunatic Pandora comes through on the ship-to-ship short range communications  “We’re being boarded, we can’t take much more of this Admiral!”
    Gritting his teeth Lord Admiral Black orders the Lunatic Pandora to make the jump into warp space and withdraw as soon as they are capable; with a tearing sound Passacaglia Belasarius the navigator of the Lunatic Pandora drops the ship into the warp, leaving the battle. The Venerus returns fire at the large enemy vessel, focussing their fire on areas of the ship that were damaged in the earlier attack on the Imperial convoy, scoring tears and rents across it’s hull.
    Commotion breaks out amongst the weapons crew as, halfway through a prayer exalting the Emperors presence, Confessor Cornelius becomes aware of a strange presence and he is driven to his knees, blood gouting from his ears and eyes, he recovers and staggers to his feet although the gun crew are clearly shaken by these events. The sensors from the Venerus, now at close range, report that the enemy vessel has a weak spot on its hull near the engines, presumably due to damage sustained when attacking the convoy.
    The navigator of the enemy battle-barge feels the presence of the warp entity closing around him, however he is still able to activate the warp engines of the larger vessel and disappear into the immaterium; the two smaller vessels continue to fire on the Venerus but cause minimal damage. Taking direct control of the Venerus’ sensor arrays Enginseer Prime Pak uses his tech-assisted intellect to zero in on the weak spots of the two small enemy vessels, picking out spots where the Venerus’ fire could do maximum damage; a salvo of fire damaging the weapon systems severely on one on their target.
    York Benetec reels as a deep gravelly voice appears to fill his consciousness, “You have made an enemy this day! You have not heard the last of Lorgar Khan!” He recognises it as a last message transmitted from a powerful psychic on the departing battle-barge.
    The sustained salvo of fire from the Venerus takes its toll on one of the remaining enemy as the ships munitions rupture, blasting fire and explosive gases into space. Realising that their weapons are destroyed the remaining enemy vessel with maneuverability begins attempting to flee the combat.
    Meanwhile Confessor Cornelius is exploring the damaged section of the ship, he thinks that he sees the Eldar envoy stealthily moving around the ruptured sections of the ship; thinking that by rights this xenos menace should be confined to quarters at a critical time such as this the Confessor gives chase. Eventually the Confessor is forced to return to his chambers, the xenos-scum having alluding him for now, but mentally he vows that one day there will be a reckoning.
    A devastating blast of macro-battery fire towards the fleeing ship destroys its engines; Admiral Black recognises from his considerable experience that the ship is now dead in space and will slowly be drawn into the gravity well and its own destruction. The crippled ship broadcasts a message of surrender, begging to be saved from their inevitable death in the terrible depths of the gravity well.
    Ordering Enginseer Prime Pak to the teleportarium aboard the Venerus the two of them take a contingent of men aboard the enemy vessel with the crippled engine, planning to take the ship, repair the engines and prevent its destruction within the gravity well.
    Aboard the Venerus Dominique Decusis-Black steps onto the bridge, seeing the chaos and lack of clear command structure following her husbands departure and 1st-Officer Tullius Black being reported as being in the med-bays following an injury (although it is not clear how or why), she takes control of the bridge.
    “This is Lady Dominique Decusis Black, wife of Lord Admiral Black; in the absence of any other authority I hearby assume command of this vessel. Return fire on the Enemy ship.” – Lady Dominique Decusis-Black
    “I knew she was trouble.” – York Benetec
    The Venerus fires at the enemy vessel not containing Admiral Black and Enginseer Prime Pak, tearing a huge gash down the side of the ship.
    “This is Lady Dominque Decusis-Black of the Imperial Rogue Trader vessel Venerus, stand down and prepare to be boarded. Surrender or be destroyed.” – Lady Dominique Decusis-Black
    With their master fled and seeing only death in the coldness of space as their future should they keep fighting the enemy ship surrenders and stands down.
    Back on-board the crippled enemy vessel Enginseer Prime Pak has managed to repair the engines (although the ship is still very damaged and its weapons are down), preventing the ship from tumbling down the gravity well.

    The quest for inclusive space combat continues

    So, continuing on from last nights post regarding how my game went, i’ve been giving more thought this morning to how I can improve space combat in my Rogue Trader FATE game, in order to get to the point I want the space combat in my game is going to have to meet two criteria:
    • The space combat should be short/quick enough so that any people not involved are not sat out of the game for an extended period.
    • It should involve a series of rolls rather than just a single dice roll.
    Dissecting what happened in yesterdays game

    When we were engaged in the space combat part of the session yesterday, the turn sequence ran as follows:
    • The navigator piloting the ship moving the ship.
    • The Lord Admiral making the shooting rolls.
    • The Enginseer making rolls to repair.
    • Alternating people making rolls for the other fleet ship (crewed by NPCs).
    I made an attempt to have players whose characters hadn’t acted in the last round roll dice for the NPCs to keep them involved, however, I can appreciate that rolling a few dice isn’t the same as having your character actually involved in the situation unfolding, the same level of emotional investment isn’t present IMO. There were occasions when people whose characters weren’t directly involved used their abilities or fate points to help provide bonuses to those people (whether PCs or NPCs) who were making the rolls.
    Gaining FATE points

    Another (very valid) point that was raised after the session was that when people were suggesting compels for their Aspects in order to gain Fate points, only the person gaining the fate point was actually benefiting, however, in a lot of cases the complications arising were affecting or stymieing the efforts of other players who were not benefiting directly from the accumulation of fate points.
    So what is the solution?
    My current plan is to distill the space combat down to a small series of rolls rather than an extended sequence of rolls; for example, i’m currently thinking that i’ll have a combat be resolved using the following rolls:
    • The ships pilots position their ships, this provides a modifier to the next stage for whichever ship gains the advantage.
    • Rolls are made for ships weapons, the number of shifts providing the total damage done to the opposing side.
    • Repair rolls are made, the number of positive shifts repairing the amount of damage done.
    • The amount of positive/negative shifts that each ship has remaining will be totaled and each side in the conflict will tally up their totals.
    • Total damage is allocated to the various ships by the commander of each side in the conflict.
    • The side with the least positive shifts in total is “Taken Out”, if they’ve taken a lot of damage then they may have been destroyed, or they may have been forced to surrender.
    This should allow a combat to be kept reasonably simple and short and on a narrative basis with a number of dice rolls that can occur simultaneously.
    In terms of Compels, I believe this is something that I can solve through my GMing by assuring that the complications arising from Compels are more personal and directed at the the character of the player receiving the fate point.

    So how did the game go?

    Well that’s today’s Rogue Trader session finished and the players all safely off home, it was the first try of my ‘simplified’ space style rules (as mentioned in this post) – so, sat here after the session has finished and the dust has settled I find myself asking the question “so, how do I think the session went?”

    Space Combat

    I think the simplified space combat was definitely a step in the right direction, it certainly flowed better than our attempts at using the original FFG rules space combat; however, despite my best attempts there were still moments when some of the characters were not involved very much in the events unfolding because they were limited in how much they could effect the space combat. I’ve had some frank discussions with my players at the end of the session and my current thoughts on the matter suggest the following options:

    • Expanding the repertoire of potential actions available to include more characters – this is one possibility but also involves adding an additional layer of complexity to the combat that I am keen to avoid.
    • Have the players who are not involved take over the parts of named NPCs who are influencing the combat – again a possibility although i’d really love to keep players as their own characters as much as possible.
    • Reduce the combat to a single roll or short series of rolls allowing all the player characters to contribute fate points – this is currently my favourite option since it reduces the length of combats meaning that players wouldn’t be sat out for so long but the potential of a single drastically bad roll would be mitigated by the potential fate point expenditures.
    • Run each space combat as a series of small encounters involving all characters, the result of each encounter adding to the overall success or failure of the overall combat.
    I have a month to think about it before the next session, so i’ll definitely be giving some thought to potentially using one of the above options when we next have cause to run some space combat.

    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.