Rogue Trader Campaign Log – Session 12 : Tomb Guardian

Murmurs of dissatisfaction have been rumbling through both the Venerus and the Lunatic Pandora regarding the presence of an alien onboard the flagship of the fleet; meanwhile Confessior Cornelius has been preaching about the danger inherent in the touch of the xenos, his message is well received by those carrying the undercurrent of dissent around the ships. After one of his sermons Cornelius is approached by a familiar face wishing to give confession, Maron is the cleaning for the murder servitor pens on the Lunatic Pandora; since the Confessor’s aid with a crisis of faith the cleaner has had a high opinion of Cornelius and has made his way across from his ship to give confession.
Maron admits to being uncomfortable with the presence of an alien onboard the ship but  Cornelius explains Captain is listening to advice from alien and that the confessor is monitoring him to make sure that Lord Admiral Black is not corrupted by the Eldar; he tells Maron that the Captain believes they can get more information from them by being nice but that eventually the alien will be handed over to the appropriate authorities for interrogation and death. Maron seems much more comfortable with this revelation and tells Confessior Cornelius that there is a meeting being held on the Lunatic Pandora by Huron Marsters (third gun deck commander) of people not happy about alien presence, Maron apparently found out about the meeting from Marsters second in command.
Confessior Cornelius doesn’t like aliens being on-board but allows it because Lord Admiral Black is a sanctioned Rogue Trader, but he settles Maron’s mind with the words “you are created in the Emperor’s image, you are of the divine race and as such we shall conquer”
Marons mind set at rest, Confessior Cornelius assigns a junior priest to handle the rest of rhe days confessions and contacts Lord Admiral Black to inform him about potentially mutinous meeting; he proposes going to the meeting incognito to investigate how dangerous this situation might actually, Lord Admiral Black approves his plan.
A junior navigator knocks on the door of Lord Admiral Black’s quarters, he carries the days scroll containing route navigational info ready to be passed to the Navigator York Benetec, he asks Lord Admiral Black for the ship’s destination. Admiral Black orders the ship to get underway, heading for Caliban Secundus in the Sycorax system (the same planet where they had previously planted a sensor in orbit); because there was no travel in warp space the coordinates straight to the engine room.
Enginseer Pak hears that there are some excited murmurings amongst the mechanics because they know that there is an Eldar on-board and that they are one of the more technological/older races. Although the technology of the xenos is heretical, it doesn’t stop the various technicians on-board from having a detached interest. Pak attempts to keep the technical crew inline, however there is little he can do to stop the speculation of the crew (although it is unlikely the technical crew will interfere with the alien); the younger tech-crew are more excited because they’ve not seen xenos-tech before, however the older crew are more cautious, knowing that “academic interest is all very well but beyond a certain point it becomes hazardous for your health.”
The ship departs for Caliban II and Confessior Cornelius takes a shuttlecraft to the Venerus’ sister ship the Lunatic Pandora.
Lord Admiral Black notices a few mutterings amongst his command staff but nothing that seems mutinous, although his immediate staff is far better informed than the majority of the grunts on the ship and so are not as likely to speculate.
Confessior Cornelius disguises himself as a general crew member and, after helping out unloading cargo as part of his cover, begins mingling with the other crew members; an announcement from Captain Polaris on the ship-wide vox system relays the receipt of orders to head towards the planet Caliban II and orders all crew to report to their stations. Cornelius mixes with the rest of the crew, casually hinted at how much he hates the xenos and slipping in some of the more inflammatory stories from his past (making sure to remove references to the Ecclesiarchy). Later in the mess hall an engineer sits down next to him and loudly expresses dissatisfaction that the Lunatic Pandora is no longer the flagship and at the presence of the hated alien. Having heard Confessior Cornelius’ stories he mentions that a meeting is taking place on the 3rd gun deck to decide on further action, he slides a piece of parchment across the table containing the department number of the meeting before he leaves. Turning over the paper Cornelius sees that it says “Compartment 24B Gun deck 3.”
Cornelius heads to the murder servitor pens and, after checking to make sure that he is alone, he opens his personal vox unit and contacts Captain Polaris who is alone in his quarters, having just finished a staff briefing; after a little preamble Cornelius tells Polaris about the potentially mutinous meeting, asking Polaris to put together a team of trusted security officers in case he should require backup, he tells Cornelius that his inner-circle was personally vetted and that they’ll be ready at the Confessor’s signal.
Meanwhile, on the Venerus Lord Admiral Black is holding an informal meal/Q&A for his officers; the nutrionists onboard have done their best to turn the unpalatable ration packs into something more appetising with only ‘modest’ success; Enginseer Pak is sat in the corner eating rancid food that is reminiscent of hive slop from a small metal mess tin, having specially requested the rank fare from the ship nutrionists. At one end of a long metal table sits Lord Admiral Black and facing him at the other his wife Lady Dominique Decusis-Black, York Benetec is at his right hand; Dominique is not entirely happy with her proximity to York Benetec but the Admiral attempts to smooth it over by loudly mentioning the many years of loyal service that the Navigator has provided.
Admiral Black addresses his crew, “many of you have served me for years on the Lunatic Pandora however some of you have only worked for me for a few months aboard the Venerus; I thought to take this opportunity to see if you have any questions regarding our mission?”
In response to the question the Head of the Armouries, expresses concern regarding the acknowledged presence of one, possibly two xenos species in the area, asking if there is any more information regarding this potential threats. Lord Admiral Black explains that the purpose of their mission is to discover the extent of the threat posed by the race known only as the ancient enemy, the Eldar envoy Da’Duith Iath has pointedly not been invited to the meeting. The Head of Armouries says that it has been a while since they have resupplied and that it would be a good idea to stop off soon to recover more ammunition and make sure the ship is at peak fighting proficiency.
Lord Admiral Black asks about the Temperance system and is informed by Enginseer Pak that system has a large blue white star, three planets, gravitational shearing effects that made navigation difficult and that the star throws out irregular radiation bursts, however he is unaware of any civilisation currently occupying the system, there are rumours that he has heard through the Mechanicus that it was once occupied. Enginseer Pak discusses with Master of Armouries having the fighter craft on regular patrol if they travel to the system in order to help scout out and counter the shearing effects.
The two main stable warp routes from the Sycorax system are Malus and Temperance.
Confessor Cornelius and about 12 other people attend the meeting on gun deck three, sitting on crates and boxes; Cornelius stations himself at the back of the room listening to the other people murmuring amongst themselves. A large figure wearing the uniform of a gun deck officer stands up on a box and says “Friends, crewman, you all know me, I’ve worked alongside you for many of these years, from the time we were the flagship of this fleet, since we left our homes. Never once in all that time has my faith in my superiors wavered, no matter what was thrown at us, I had my faith in our superiors and the Emperor.
But what happens when those two things are no longer the same? What happens when my faith in the emperor tells me one thing and my faith in the Admiral tells me another thing? I ask you now, since that time is here; our superiors have allowed a vile, xenos abomination aboard the flagship. My faith in the emperor tells me that we must hate and fear the alien, not allowing it to turn us away from our destinies.”
Cornelius can tell from the man’s speech that he is fairly well educated, as the gun deck officer continues to speak, “My faith in the Admiral tells me that they must be doing this for a reason and that they are justified in collaborating with this fiend in human form that is on their ship.” People start to get riled up and Confessor Cornelius goes along with crowd so as not to seem out of place.
“Worst of all, when we ask for re-assurance we are told to continue with our duties and that everything is fine, my friends, how can everything be fine when such a creature is allowed to walk unchallenged on one of the Emperor’s vessels? How can such a thing be right, and if it is right, then is our faith wrong?
Greater than my faith in our superiors is my faith in the Emperor; I ask you, what should we do?” At the back of the room someone shouts “throw the scum out of the airlock!”
The gun deck officer continues, “Listen, I’m sure there is nothing wrong with the majority of our command staff, our ship hasn’t been corrupted by the touch of the alien, we are still pure; what should we do? Should we turn against our own? I say no, but we must remove this unhealthy influence from our sister ship.
I do not believe that a member of the noble House of Black would allow such a creature on his ship lest it had some unholy grasp on his mind; the only way to free the Admiral is to remove this creature and shatter the hold it has on his mind.”
Cries of agreement sound it the back of the room and someone fires off a couple of shots in high spirits before a person asks “But what can we do Huron?”
Marsters proposes that as a group they are stronger than any threat and that they should take their demands to Captain Polaris; Confessor Cornelius stands up on crate and throws off his hood speaking in commanding tones, “Brothers, i agree with you, but your plan is foolish.”
People begin to shout him down, but says Huron “the time for action is now my friends! What would you have us do?!”
Confessor Cornelius tells them that they’ll be arrested, instead suggesting that they move people into position aboard the Venerus so that they can act when the time is right, he continues “We will get our people in place ready to deal with the xenos filth.”
Huron Marsters replies “Your words have a certain amount of truth, what do you suggest? Let him speak”
Confessor Cornelius says that the Eldar is on the ship because of a worse threat, they are trying to play the aliens of against themselves, “is it not better that two xenos races annihilate each other with no loss of human life? And once their strength is expended we can then deal with them”
A few people in the crowd begin to nod and see the wisdom of the Confessor’s words, the leader of the rabble asks “That’s certainly true since human life is precious, what is your name?”
Standing up tall Confessor Cornelius reveals his identity, he hears several people gasp and look quite nervous as he continues to speak, “If I had my way this thing would’ve been chucked out of an airlock as soon as it came aboard, however the Admiral believes it can be used to serve the Emperor’s will, I will ensure that no-one is corrupted by its foul ways, and if they are then I will deal with it.”
Huron seems comforted by these words and offers Confessor Cornelius help if he ever needs it, Cornelius speaks to him after the meeting and gives Huron his personal vox frequency, people begin to drift away from the meeting, returning to their stations.
Confessor Cornelius contacts Polaris and tells him to stand down and that he believes the problem has been dealt with; Polaris is grateful and arranges for Cornelius to be shuttled back to Venerus.
On the Venerus a vox alarm sounds to alert the Admiral that the ship is nearing Caliban II; scans of planet conducted by Enginseer Pak, register a large planet, with high gravity and a slightly toxic, thin atmosphere. A network of tunnels runs from the crater left by the departed xenos ship under the surface of the planet.
Lady Dominique Decusis-Black asks her husband if there is anything she can do but the Lord Admiral tells her that the planet “may not be any place for a lady.”
Scans of the surface reveal no life-signs and, as Lord Admiral Black laments his lack of drop pods, the crew begin preparing the breather masks required for normal people to walk on planet; such things are not required by the largely mechanical Enginseer. The detachment taken down to the planet consists of 50 marines, some technicians, half a dozen servitors, Confessor Cornelius, York Benetec, Enginseer Prime Pak and the Lord Admiral himself.
Upon arrival on the planet Enginseer Pak martials his servitors and directs then to build a  temporary base of operations whilst Confessor Cornelius explains about the averted mutiny to Admiral Black, who explains his view on the Eldar, “They are a dwindling, weak race, they barely have a presence in the system and pose little threat.”
Confessor Cornelius expresses his opinion with the simple statement, “However they are xenos, and therefore scum Sir.”
York Benetec offers to conduct deals with the Eldar since the crew don’t like him anyway and it won’t affect his relationship with them; he walks to the “ambassadors” quarters and knocks on the door with his staff. It slides open to reveal Da’Duith Iath wearing the form fitting androgynous, bejewelled armour of an Eldar warrior.
York begins to speak “As I’m sure you are aware we have arrived at Caliban II”
“I have not left my chambers since my arrival how would I be aware?” asks Da’Duith Iath in a matter of fact tone
“Consider yourself informed, Admiral Black will shortly be departing to the planet and requests your presence”
The Eldar accompanies Benetec into the presence of Lord Admiral Black who asks the Eldar if it has enjoyed its stay, the Eldar responds “It has been satisfactory. I take it you have already performed whatever scans your ship is capable of?
The departure of the alien ship has revealed a larger complex below ground; I had hoped to put my notes in a form you’d better understand but time has forced my hand. The ancient enemy hid their ship here where it expanded into the surrounding area and slept awaiting a time when they could rise again.
They are not creatures like us, but of living metal.”
Lord Admiral Black asks how they can be destroyed since they are very tough, the Eldar says that at the height of its power his race didn’t manage to destroy them completely, he hopes that the fore they face is a mere echo, if so then with luck human technology might be able to defeat them.
Confessor Cornelius noted a metallic tang in air as the servitors busied themselves constructing the hab dome and the troops went about securing the perimeter; the pit was incredibly deep with tunnels/corridors set in the sides of pit, Enginseer Pak estimated that the corridors were approximately two metres by two metres, he begins construction of a wheeled riot barrier with gun slits that could be pushed ahead of the party. Getting slightly carried away the tech-priest mounted swivel lights on the barrier and covered it with prayers to the machine god. The troops were mostly armed with auto guns but had a few rocket launchers between them that came loaded with krak missiles.
Lord-Admiral Black picks a tunnel at random and the group begins moving down it; the tunnel is made of a smooth almost organic looking metal, there is dust everyway but otherwise the metal is undamaged. Enginseer Pak takes a small metal sample and puts it in an isolation box for examination when they return to camp; Enginseer Pak and York Benetec see a part of the wall peel back and a glowing green protuberance emerges silently, pointing at them, lightning flickering around it, the Eldar identifies it as some sort of intruder detection system.
Ignoring the danger York Benetec turns to Da’Duith Iath, “You’ve not actually been to one of these ships before have you?”
“No,” replies the Eldar in an unemotional voice
There is a load hiss, followed by an explosion as Lord-Admiral Black shoots his plasma pistol at the protuberance, the melted remnants dribble slowly down the wall; Enginseer Pak examines the wreckage using his servo-skull, it is a focussing lens, mounting smaller versions of weapons seen possessed by the other ancient enemy troops encountered, but no signs of wires or an interface are visible.
“Why of all your people did you decide to join us here?” asks Benetec paying no heed to the explosion nearby
Da’Duit Iath responds, “I was one of the few members of our species willing to tolerate your kind for the period of time necessary to accomplish this mission, that and my knowledge of human languages and customs.”
“So you’re an unusual member of your species?”
“Unlike your species we do not fear that which is different and encourage our people to pursue many different paths to enlighten.”
York Benetec replies “As you may have noticed I am not like most of my species. My experiences in the wider universe have lead me to believe that there are other ways of looking at things.”
“How very progressive of you” replies the Eldar.
As they continued down the corridor it started to become darker, the lights on the shield were turned on and soon one of the troops cried out “Sir we’ve got something up ahead!”
The corridor widens into long, large chamber, with hooks hanging from the ceiling, a battered form resembling a ragged metal skeleton with dark eye sockets hung limply from one set of hooks; Enginseer Pak realises that the other hooks must once have held other warriors, despite the dust thrown up by the ships departure, he can tell that some activity took place in here recently.
Lord-Admiral Black asks whether the Eldar has any suggestions to activate the warrior so it can be returned to the ship for study, Da’Duith suggests not activating it in the first place and cautions that they have no way of knowing if interference will trigger any additional defences. Pak’s servo-skull moves in close to the skeletal warrior and scans it, detecting no energy signatures but registering extensive damage to its right side. Enginseer Pak hypothesises that the defective warrior was left behind when the others left on the ship.
Da’Duith Iath explains that the ancient enemy were once mortal but found a way to transfer their souls into mechanical bodies of living metal, they would power down on long voyages and then their systems would awaken them when needed; York Benetec mentions that they have previously encountered the creatures only as implants set in biological race, the Eldar replies that this is not consistent with what they know of the ancient enemy. Benetec describes the small beetle-like halo device they encountered and the Eldar envoy says that it sounds like a repair device used by the armies of the ancient enemy, a swarm of living metal that carpets the battlefield repairing damaged warrior units.
Enginseer Pak hypothesises that the scarabs have perhaps adapted to survive on other races in the absence of their old masters to become the halo devices of human legend, perhaps even controlling creatures at the will of their masters. Lord-Admiral Black orders Enginseer Pak to collect the repair unit as a sample, he detaches a small side strip of metal from the blast sheet and prods at the hooks attached to the warrior but it doesn’t react, he pushes one of the unattached hooks onto a non-damaged part of the warrior and it melds with it creating a seamless join.
Enginseer Pak estimates that there must have once been 50 or so warrior units in the chamber, he suggests damaging the section of wall containing the attached hooks so that they detach from the warrior unit; Confessor Cornelius tries to lift the warrior unit off the wall, one of its eyes lights up and it reaches for his throat before it once again deactivates, he extracts himself from it’s now limp grasp and lifts the lifeless warrior unit off the hooks.
Lord-Admiral Black sends some of the marines back to basecamp with the warrior unit; Pak instructs them to put it in an isolation unit; Swivelling the light upwards the group can see what appears to be a larger version of the Scarab attached to the ceiling, but instead of legs it has the hooks upon which the necron warriors were mounted descending into the room. Pak notices that, as they proceed, comms are becoming worse with basecamp; they leave some of the troops behind as a relay with a spare comms unit to keep communications with basecamp and move on.
Enginseer Pak sees footprints in the dirt, seemingly left by the departure of the necron warriors, suddenly one of the marines alerts them that they’ve lost comms with basecamp and the relay squad.
The party heads back towards where the relay squad was left, finding a charnel scene of carnage and destruction, the comms unit is smashed beyond repair and the slaughtered bodies of the crew are liberally scattered around the corridor; Cornelius looks for shell cases and finds that the crew were killed before they even had time to crack off a shot and that the gun chambers of the men are cold. Enginseer Pak checks comms and from this position is able to get through to basecamp, they confirm that the warrior unit was put into containment and warn the base to remain on high alert due to potential hostiles in the area.
Confessor Cornelius begins re-assembling the bodies and saying last rites, he quickly realises that the bodies were sliced up very cleanly by a large curved blade; meanwhile Enginseer Pak begins looking around to see if he can see where the tracks have gone, but he can’t see any trails, there are several round indentations in the dust around the murdered bodies; he theorises some sort of tripod like creature.
Da’Duith Iath draws an ornate gem encrusted laspistol as though some extra sense tells him that trouble is about to find the party.
A loud scream sounds from one of the troops at the front of the party as a large scythe blade phases through the wall and bisects the soldier in two, his body falls in seperate pieces to the floor; the Eldar pulls out thin bladed power sword that flickers blue and hums gently.
Confessor Cornelius draws his thunder hammer, it begins to crackle and rumble as its power begins to build.
York Benetec prepares to flee and the rest of the characters follow, another soldier falls to the floor with his leg severed as the scythe blade phases from the floor and severs his leg at the knee; Confessor Cornelius tourniquets the wound with his belt, hefts the man on his shoulder and begins carrying the man away as his leg gushes blood, Enginseer Pak uses his power sword to cauterise the wound, the man shrieks and passes out.
The party runs back into the hook chamber, their progress comes to a rapid halt as a large metal centipede creature phases through the ceiling and drops into the corridor, two glowing green weapons are mounted on the creature. Benetec fires his hellpistol at the creature but it does little damage, seeming to glance of it’s carapace. Lord-Admiral Black runs underneath the creature as it rears back, stabbing up with his powersword, scoring a shallow cut along the underside of the silent creature.
Enginseer Pak opens fire with his hellgun destroying one of the guns on the side of the creature, the Eldar also fires his laspistol destroying the creatures second gun, as the soldiers pour fire and missiles into the creature, a krak missile strikes the creature with a loud explosion. In response the creature lashes out with one of its scythe blades, striking and winding Lord-Admiral Black, backhanding him across the corridor; he lands near the rest of the party with the breath driven from his lungs.
York Benetec uses his psychic powers to move one of the krak missiles through the warp to a position directly underneath the creature, exposure to the energies of the immaterium causing it to detonate as it emerges below the tomb guardian, he briefly feels the normal resistance he has encountered when facing the ancient enemy although it is much lessened (presumably because the tomb is mostly abandoned); there is a huge explosion and the rear of the creature is sheared away by the blast of the krak missile. The creature continues trying to scuttle towards the party but it has been severely damaged; Confessor Cornelius smashes his mighty hammer on what passes for the creatures head, destroying the tomb guardian in a blinding flash of light.
Confessor Cornelius picks up injured solider who is delirious and dazed, Pak suggests taking metal from creature although Benetec is not keen on the idea; the Enginseer secures a small scraping of metal.
York Benetec councils caution, saying “We already know these things don’t die properly.”
It is night when the group makes it back to basecamp, the Admiral directs the camp to pack up and make ready to return to the Venerus; as they do Lord-Admiral Black instructs that the beacon around the planet be changed so that it no longer scans but submits a warning/quarantine message to warn any future ships approaching that they should not land on the planet.
Looking at the details they have on the enemy ship they realise that the ship was heading towards the edge of known space.
Enginseer Pak returns to his quarters on the Venerus, as he enters he finds an blinking red device on his table, before he can react it gives out a small explosion, just beyond it is a data pad containing the message ‘that’s the only warning you’re going to get.’

Examining the disabled cameras around his quarters Enginseer Pak is able to establish that the device must have been planted by someone on-board with knowledge of the ship and his schedule.

FATE warhammer 40K hack – complete

Well it’s taken a fair few hours but i’ve got my FATE Warhammer 40,000 Hack to a completed state where i’m pretty much happy with it; there are a few bits and pieces that could be fiddled with and I expect that i’ll make minor tweaks and changes to it, but it’s pretty much done.

Hope it’s useful to people who want to run 40K games using the FATE rules system 🙂

Link to file

FATE warhammer 40K hack WIP

At the moment in-between re-organising my notes for my FATE powered Rogue Trader campaign i’ve also, on and off, been working on assembling the collection of rules and hacks that I use into something vaguely resembling an organised document so that I can have all of the information in one place and make it available to other people.

Currently the hack focuses on the most pressing issues in my own game:

  • Purchasing items.
  • Space combat.
  • Travel through the warp.

    I plan to add to the hack in the future as I go along, eventually making it into a useful reference for people who want to play 40K RPGs using the FATE rules system.
    The current hack is available here.

    Planet and NPC sheets

    Having created my system sheets to record information in my game, ran a short session yesterday that seemed to go fairly well (will be posting a write-up once i’ve had chance to listen to the session recording); i’ve now had time to create my planet and NPC worksheets.

    You can find links to them below:

    Format of Information

    So last night I sat down, having already done most of the system generation in the FFG “Stars of Iniquity” rulebook and with my notes in hand ready to write them up in a more formal fashion so that I could put them in the box file that is going to be housing all of my session notes henceforth; some sort of standard layout would make it easier to record information, so I eventually decided that I would need the following sheets.

    • A star system sheet – this would contain details of features in the system, along with basic details of any threats and planets.
    • A planet sheet – this would contain detailed information on the various planets (plus any moons orbiting them), resources and territories to be found there and basic information about what civilisations could be found on them (if any).
    • An NPC sheet – this would hold detailed information on an NPC, including their stats, there homeworld and any forces under their command, it would also contain details about their personality, like and dislikes.
    After a few minutes of tinkering I had a suitable star system sheet prepared, you can find a version of it here.
    A couple of hours later i’d detailed the Ariadne, Catan, Coppernicus, Decusis, Endeavour and Footfall systems using the sheet that I had designed; a filled in version of the sheet for the Catan system can be found here.
    I’m pretty happy with the systems at the moment, i’m hoping to get the rest of them written up over the weekend and make any final tweaks, alterations that I think the game calls for.

    Stars of Inequity

    Okay, so tonight i’m going to be putting down on paper as many details as I can for the main NPCs of my game; inspired by a number of youtube videos/channels that I have seen on the subject (including woodwwad‘s channel and others) and the free-flowing explorative nature of the Rogue Trader game I have decided to detail out as many of the core systems (the basics of which were already generated as described in my post on system design using the Disapora rules) in the sector of space where our game takes place as possible.

    Some of the planets in the system have already been detailed (see my Hiveworld Scelus Prime and Catan II posts earlier in the blog) but this still leaves vast swathes of the gaming area either very loosely defined or not at all; recently reading Fantasy Flight Games Stars of Inequity book for the Rogue Trader system has spurred me into wanting to define these areas in more detail since it provides detailed systems for using this that will allow me to create worlds and detail the star systems more closely (although i’m sure that I will tweak them to fit the tone and established “facts” of the campaign). The charts in the book are largely system independent or can be used quite easily with a few little alterations, so that it won’t take a great deal of struggle to port these details over to the FATEcore rules system that we are currently using in the game.

    One thing that I have also gained from watching woodwwad‘s youtube channel is an appreciation of the fact that, paradoxically, in order for the game to give the players a sense of freedom and the ability to explore as their whims dictate, it is very much necessary for a gamesmaster to have put a lot of work in detailing the sort of people and societies that they are likely to meet, in order to convincingly and consistently portray these non-player characters in the game. Whilst I have been enjoying the game tremendously and the players seem to be doing likewise, most of the action has, at the moment focussed around a couple of key areas, not really capturing the exploring, go anyway, feel of default Rogue Trader; my plan to help deal with this is to detail as many of the key-NPCs that the players are going to meet as possible, providing them with character sheets, backgrounds and goals (a lot of this work has already been done on key npcs already but i’m planning to standardise my NPC information).

    Having located at home a large box folder my plan is to generate (or note down) the following:

    • Character sheets & backgrounds for the named NPCs encountered so far
      • These will also contain details of the NPC goals plus any fleets or forces that they command along with their strengths and weaknesses.
    • A one page write-up for each system containing details on the planets and any other astronomical anomalies in the star system.
      • Currently I am also considering adding some areas of unexplored or wild space to the map where there are no established warp routes but that players can explore if they wish, there would be a small chance of the players encountering a habitable system (that would then be randomly generated).
      • This does pose the issue of how to prepare for these random systems, however, no more than one is likely to be explored per session so it would be easy to prepare a number of NPCs that could be bought in when an appropriate star system was discovered.
    • A one page write-up for each planet of interest containing details of the prevalent societies or main dangers and encounters likely on those planets.
    Next session I intend to begin with the Eldar envoy Da Duith Iath giving a small briefing containing the details that his race are willing to share about the ancient enemy that has returned, then I intend to pretty much hand the session over to the players and let them do what they want; with all of the NPC and star system/planet information that I have generated, it should be easy for me to respond to whatever they want to do.

    Recording Game Sessions

    As stated in my previous posts, I made a recording of my previous session; just to clarify for anyone who may be concerned

    • NO video recording of the players was made
    • Once the recording had been made the audio file was stripped out and the video (which mostly showed me since the laptop was facing me during the session) was deleted
    • The recording WILL NOT be used in any way beyond assessing ways to improve the session and enhancing my note taking ability.
    • Any recordings made WILL NOT appear on this blog or any other set up by myself.
    • The ONLY session reports that will appear in this blog or on any other I set up will be written reports that do NOT feature the names of the players.

      My main purpose of recording my sessions is because I don’t want to hold up the action whilst I furiously scribble notes and (unfortunately) my memory isn’t all that great, however making skeletal notes and listening to the sound file afterwards has already enabled me to write a much fuller report of last session.
      It has also enabled me to highlight areas of possible improvement for the game.
      • OOC chatter: An awful lot of OOC chatter went on during the session (I myself was as guilty of this), I intend to re-organise the playing space and have a couple of breaks so that we can confine OOC chatter to these breaks and keep more IC during the sessions.
      • Rewarding good RP/selling other characters: The sound file makes it easier for me to pinpoint areas of exceptional RP that deserve reward.
      • More detail required: It has become obvious that I need to put more detail into the areas and NPCs to give them more verisimilitude, it is my intent to begin this as soon as possible.

      Rogue Trader Campaign Log – Session 11 : An Ancient Enemy

      A week after the wedding of Lord Admiral Black to Lady Dominique Decusis the celebrations had finally died down on the Hive World and life was slowly beginning to return to normal; with the blessing of the Imperially appointed rules of the planet Lord Corith Decusis enough additional crew members had been recruited from the hive city to provide the refitted Venerus with something approaching a full compliment of crew. Enginseer Prime Pak and Confessor Cornelius were placed on the Venerus (under the command of Lord Captain Polaris Black) and took it back to the Imperial port of Wander, on their way the Enginseer took the time to examine the scarab like creature that he had captured down on the hive city and had held in isolation every since; although the creature stubbornly refused to give up many of it’s secrets the Enginseer was able to establish that the creature seemed to be made of some sort of metallic alloy that shared several similarities with living tissue and that it could interface with/control mechanical apparatus using twin wire-like proboscis that it could project from the “head” end of the creature.

      Upon their arrival at Port Wander, Confessor Cornelius, pleased that Lord Black was now Admiral of a fleet (albeit a small fleet of two ships) decided that it was only appropriate that the occasion be celebrated, purchasing two bottles of rare terran vintage wine, a box of cigars and commissioning an especially fine black and purple suit with silver embroidered trim; in addition he collaberated with the Enginseer to obtain a swagger stick topped with an Imperial Eagle and containing a shock capacitor (provided by the Enginseer) built into the other end to act as a surprise weapon. Following his work on the swagger stick Pak visited the Adeptus Mechanicus outpost on the station and was met by senior techpriest Rha-Haz, the same member of the order who originally recruited him into the mysteries of the Omnissiah; he explained about the almost unstoppable meldings of dead flesh and machinery that they had faced on Hiveworld Decusis and about the heretical xenos technology encountered, in response Rha-Haz showed Pak footage from one of their monitoring posts on the outskirts of the sector of an unknown vessel moving towards the rim at tremendous speeds, Pak recognised the same ship that he had witnessed leaving the Sycorax system.

      Enginseer Prime Pak discussed the possible setting up of a Mechanicus outpost on Hiveworld Decusis, he was also asked by Rha-Haz to enquire about whether or not Lord Admiral Black would investigate whatever remained of the old Mechanicus base in the Sycorax system, since most of the explorator fleet were on deep patrol searching for the xenos vessel. Rha-Haz strongly hinted to Pak that in return, the order would ensure that Pak’s request for additional shuttle and landing craft would be pushed through the system.

      Meanwhile the Lunatic Pandora was still in orbit around Hiveworld Decusis, Lord Admiral Black was showing his new bride Dominique around the ship, she seemed thrilled by the image of her husband, the brave Rogue Trader exploring the stars with his fleet, however a meeting between the two nobles and the surly Navigator York Benetec threatened to sour the situation when Lady Dominique took a clear disliking to the mutants lack of manners and appropriate etiquette; despite Lord Black’s best efforts to smooth over the friction, it was clear that the Lady had already developed a strong dislike of the twisted, hulking Navigator. Escorting his wife to their quarters, Admiral Black bid his Navigator make the ship ready for their journey to the Sycorax system. Upon arrival in the system they were able to navigate the Sycorax warp storm using the knowledge that they possessed from their previous trip of a safe route through, along with York Benetec’s ability to factor in the warpspace drifts over time; an automated probe was launched to scan Caliban II whilst the ship itself continued into orbit around the jungle planet of Caliban IV.

      Taking a squadron of troopers and his Navigator, Lord Admiral Black took a small landing craft and began to skim the surface, searching for the area where they had previously encountered the strange almost human xenos creature; unfortunately the area that they had cleared of vegetation had grown back making it almost impossible to locate, however, something just beyond the physical tugged at Fortunus Black’s awareness and he was eventually able to guide the lander to roughly the same area that they had journeyed to previously. Using his ability to peer into the warp Navigator Benetec was able to see that the huge double tree at the centre of the clearing was actually some kind of artificially made entrance into the immaterium that was surrounded by strange, elegant symbols – they appeared to be of the same construction as the symbols seen on the metal xenos creatures although obviously not actually the same language.

      In a small cantina on Port Wander, Enginseer Prime Pak was approached by the grimey, dirty figure of the criminal Thomas Vitanteur; tensing slightly (Pak had hoped that they had seen the last of the criminal when they had dropped him and his accomplice the rogue-tech Vorl on Port Wander) the Enginseer felt a thrill of fear when Vitanteur admitted that he had recognised Pak as a person who had double crossed the syndicate prior to his induction to the Adeptus Mechanicus. Vitanteur made Pak an offer, his rogue-tech Vorl had located a potentially new source of technology on a world in the system, technology that a Rogue Trader could legitmately claim as salvage, in return for a share of the profit Vitanteur would provide the coordinates and would forget to report Pak’s identity and whereabouts to his superiors in the Syndicate; Pak agreed to take the idea to Lord Admiral Black.

      Meanwhile Confessor Cornelius had visited one of the many cathedrals in Port Wander that issued forth praises to the Emperor, he was surprised at the level of bustle going on in there as people rushed around preparing provisions and items for some sort of expedition; introduced to Deacon Kiril, Cornelius discovered that the old Deacon and some of his congregation were making a missionary expedition to the Endeavour system, a violent and primitive world that did not know the Emperor’s light. The two priests briefly gossiped about scandal in the past of the Black noble family, although Cornelius was careful to play up the virtues of Fortunus Black by comparison to some of his more infamous relatives and parted on good terms with the Deacon, promising to look in on the Endeavour system if he could during his travels.

      Deciding that it was time to rendezvous with the Lunatic Pandor at the Sycorax system, Navigator Passacaglia Belisarius charted a course through the immaterium and over the next three months they travelled through the warp to their destination; during these three months Lord Admiral Black had his men survey the planet and had, amongst other things discovered a tree sap with a potential anaesthetic properties that was potential harvestable.

      About a month and half into their stay Navigator Benetec began to experience chronic headaches, as did the young girl Dana who had joined them on the planet to advise them on the native animal life, these headaches culminated when Dana appeared to go into violent spasms and had to be restrained by the huge bulk of Navigator Benetec. Outside, Lord Admiral Black and the troops had surrounded the strange “tree” when it had begun to glow, faintly pulsing at first and then bursting into a blinding flash that, when fading, revealed an armoured troup of slender figures lead by an enigmatic individual in some sort of ceremonial robes and helmet, each of the aliens wore figure hugging armour studded with gems and carried strange rifle-like weapons. Lord Admiral Black’s initial attempts at friendly conversation were rebuffed in halting common tongue when the leader of the aliens stepped forward (removing it’s helmet to reveal a pale, chiselled, beautiful face) and laid the blame for the awakening of an ancient evil squarely on the bumbling interference of the original Adeptus Mechanicus explorers of the system, claiming that the only reason this sector still existing was because the enemy had not truly awakened.

      Offering to help against the ancient foe, Lord Admiral Black persuaded the aliens to send an observer/advisor to one of his ships, an Eldar called Da Duith Iath was chosen for the mission; although the news of a xenos advisor onboard did not go down particularly well with Confessor Cornelius.

      Using FATE Core Rules 31-03-13

      Overview

      The 31st March session was my first Rogue Trader system (using the FATEcore rules) to have all of the players present; following a discussion on one of the G+ RPG communities that I am signed up for, I used my laptops webcam to record the audio from the session, this has (as well as being great fun to listen to) helped a lot with filling in some of the gaps in my written notes. A write-up of the actual session events will go up on the blog in the next few days, but I thought it worth putting up a post about how the FATE rules worked within the game.

      Overall the rules seemed to work really well, there was an initial few minutes with me explaining the basics of the rules and handing out character sheets to people – for the sake of jumping into the game quickly, I had translated the players characters from the Rogue Trader rules to FATEcore myself with the proviso that the players could tweak them as they saw fit (with my approval) after they’d seen how the translated characters played under the new rules set. For the first session with the full player complement I wanted to ease the players into the new rules so it was kept fairly combat-lite and had plenty of opportunity for the players to make basic skill tests, become familiar with fate points and get used to how aspects work.

      Aspects & Fate Points

      Most of the players seemed to have no problems getting to grips with this and were soon spending fate points with merry abandon to utilise their aspects, the discussion about tagged aspects onto scenes and gaining fate points for having plot-complications arise connected with aspects was a little longer, after a short while though the players got the hang of it and were soon suggesting complications to earn fate points (two of which lead to the new wife of Captain Black taking a strong dislike to the socially crude Navigator York Benetec and to the final session encounter with the Eldar guardians of Caliban IV).

      Skill rolls

      This seemed to go fine, the game using words to represent different levels of skill seemed in particular to be enjoyed.

      Stunts

      Generally worked very well, with the player of the Navigator making use of his psychic stunt (allowing him to substitute in his Will score in certain tests) at various points to increase his chances of success, as yet the Enginseer has not really made use of his stunt (that works in a similar way).

      Additional

      One other aspect of the game that worked far better than I could have hoped was the use of the time scale taken from Diaspora to determine travel times through the warp (as discussed here), this particularly highlighted problems with having a fleet (albeit a small fleet of two vessels in this case) travel in convoy through the warp. Our player character Navigator York Benetec was at one point able (due to his high skill and good roll) to cut the travel time of the ship he was on down to three hours, however the NPC Navigator with a slightly lower skill was only able to cut their trip down to three months creating some interesting interpersonal RP whilst the players discussed what they were going to do as the second ship caught up to them.

      Next session

      Next session i’m planning to start bringing in the combat rules to introduce players to those, and also to start exploring the advancement system listed in the FATEcore rules.

      Warp travel times in Rogue Trader FATE

      I’ve been looking at the times that I would use to travel through the stable warp corridors on the system map that we had generated for the House of Black Rogue Trader game (a copy is printed below for convenience).

      Originally I had planned to make it so that  each line on the map took 3 months, however looking through the Diaspora rules I decided to use the Time Track that was presented on page 10 of the book.

      The time track runs something like this:

      • Instant
      • A few seconds
      • Half a minute
      • A minute
      • 3 minutes
      • 15 minutes
      • 30 minutes
      • An hour
      • 3 hours
      • 12 hours
      • A day/24 hours
      • 3 days
      • A week
      • 3 weeks
      • A month
      • 3 months
      • 4 months
      • 6 months
      • A year
      • 3 years
      • 10 years
      • 50 years
      • +each step beyond this adds 50 years
      The first thing that I wished to resolve was that several of the measures listed were slightly nebulous so I defined them further (changing ‘a lifetime’ for ’50 years’ for instance); I decided that the for a distance of a single line on the map the normal time taken would be 3 months, each additional line traveled would add one step on the time track (so a journey of 3 lines would take 6 months by default).
      This time period can be modified by the ship’s navigator making a Fair Will roll on 4DF with each degree of success or failure adding or subtracting from the timescale as appropriate.
      So if our ship was making a non-stop journey from Sycorax to the Undred Undred Teef (a journey of three lines on the map) then the standard distance would be 6 months; our Navigator York Benetec has a great (+4) Will score meaning that he already has 2 degrees of success before rolling the dice, lowering the time taken to 3 months before making the roll.

      If York rolled +4 then this would give him a total of 6 degrees of success and lower the time taken to 3 days; however if he rolled a -4 this would give him a total of 2 degrees of failure, raising the time taken back to 6 months.