Monday, April 16, 2018

Voyages of a Rogue Trader

Waaaaaaay back in January I started a Rogue Trader campaign. We were supposed to start in early January... but life happened and we didn't get to playing until the second last weekend of the month when we made characters. The game is to run on alternating weekends with Bob's Numenera campaign running the other weekends. The first weekend of February we finished up characters and sorted out some more background stuff and started with a brief encounter with the Imperial Commander of a Planet at the very edge of Imperial space... and that's been it so far. Every other weekend we were supposed to play the games has been cancelled for one reason or another up until now - actually this weekend's game very nearly got cancelled (and probably SHOULD have gotten cancelled, but I was determined to forge ahead, regardless)....

Dramatis Personae
Lord Captain Lukas Trask - Rogue Trader - played by Bruce
Isis Mijistri - Navigator - played by Bob
Odette Ramsay - Void Master/Flight Commander - Played by Amanda
Thanatron - Techpriest/Expolorator - Played by Finnegan

In the previous game the group had been invited to the palace of the Imperial Commander, had dined and then spent the night. In the middle of the night, the Navigator  had been summoned to the Imperial Commander's bedchambers. It's not what you're thinking; She's well over 500 years old, though she's been rejuvenated to look not a day older than 53, and at this point in her life was really just looking for a good foot massage and had noted at supper that Isis (I know, it's a weird name for a dude) had very strong, but soft-looking hands (he moisturizes!).

So this game picked up just as Isis was leaving the Imperial Commanders bedchambers in the wee hours of the morning. He gave a nod to the guards posted outside her door. They gave a knowing look to each other. Then a BIG FREAKING EXPLOSION went off in her bedchamber!? The guards gave each other a less-knowing look to each other, more of a WTF-sort-of-look and stormed into the bedchamber where they were shredded by a storm of bullets and energy beams of various types and calibers.

More guards came charging down the hall way. A massive firefight ensued. When the dust settled dozens of the Imperial Commanders guards were dead - and nearly as many insurgent-cultist-types that had entered the Imperial Commander's chambers through a hole they'd blown in the floor. The Palace was in disarray.

The Rogue Trader stepped in and offered his services. As soon as they were awoken by the firefight they had contacted the ship an arranged a strike team that was waiting onboard a dropship to on their vessel to make planetfall. They chased the Cultists down the hole into the caverns beneath the Imperial Commanders palace.

Into the tunnel they went...

I love this setting, but I don't love FFG's Rogue Trader RPG system. I find it a bit clunky for my style of gaming. I've been messing around with different ideas for how we might proceed with this campaign. I might just reboot the whole mess at some point. For this evening, I kind of translated their characters into Warhammer 40,000 8th Edition and we played a straight up skirmish game.... with some slight modifications...

I'd set out a table full of my cavern terrain on the kitchen table before everyone arrived and covered them all with card stock paper - so they'd have no idea of the layout of the caverns. I was going to give them a time limit, but then decided not to...

As they moved into areas where they could conceivably see into the next square, I removed the card from it and placed any units that were there.

First Contact! One mob of cultists armed only with Brutal Assault Weapons (on the left), the others (on the lower right) have a mix of firearms.

This mob with the Brutal Assault Weapons charged in and pretty much wiped out the first (of three) Strike Teams. I was a little worried I might have over-powered the bad guys or under-powered the PCs and their allies!? Then the rest of them took care of these and the other squad of cultists pretty quickly and I was a little less concerned.

I mean, Chaos Cultists are pretty much as weak as you can get in 40K!?

Continuing their exploration...

They totally took ALL the wrong turns and ended up THOROUGHLY exploring my caverns... If I had put a time limit on it, the Imperial Commander would have been so dead, and the whatever nasty business the cultists were up to would be done, and whatever thing they were probably summoning would have arrived!

They totally refused to split up... yeah, I should have put a time limit on it... to install a sense of urgency.

More Baddies show up.

Finally, the last corridor..

STILL more baddies!

Working their way up the corridor...

Almost in grenade-chucking/close-assault range!

Around the last bend!

The final showdown More cultists, their master, the Imperial Commander (which everyone kept referring to as "The Princess"!?)

It came down to these last few. The Leader of the Baddies was a Chaos Sorcerer right out of the Index: Chaos. They had him down to his last wound, but he deals out some serious hurt and took them all out in the last round. TPK.

As it was, I said at the end of the game: "As he stands there gloating over your unconscious bodies he wearily raises his power sword to deal you a coup de grace when the blade of a chainsword bursts through his chest. He looks down at it in disbelief and slowly slides off of it as he falls to his knees. The last thing he sees as he turns and falls to the ground, dead, is the stern, blood-spattered visage of Mordecai Holt glowering down at him..." (Mordecai is a Missionary played by Aaron who couldn't make it. He'd been part of the initial landing party, but as Aaron wasn't there on Friday, we said Mordecai had stayed behind at the Palace... as they'd been so close to winning, I figured I'd save their asses with him... because... NARRATIVE!!)

The Chaos Sorcerer could manifest TWO Psychic Powers per turn and I gave him Smite and Infernal Gaze. He really only needed ONE of those and had I not given them both, they probably would have beaten him.

I am really looking forward to the release of Wrath and Glory - I hope there is some way to port characters from that into regular 40K (that is one bonus that FFGs system had - is had the same stat names and could - sort of - be translated into tabletop 40K stats if you wanted to play out a larger action with miniatures).

I've been seriously tempted to pick up the new Necromunda as I've heard it's broken away from the standard you-go-i-go of all GW games before now... a little more crunchy than straight up 40K... might work as a combat system for a tabletop RPG..? I wish it was available as a hardcover rulebook, not just in a big box set...

Coming Soon to Tim's Miniature Wargaming Blog:

We got in another game of 40K on Saturday as well. Hopefully I'll find some time to post another short game report of that (brief) action - continuing the adventures of Inquisitor Arndol Fornath of the Ordos Xenos and the 222nd Guaiacan Commandoes.

Also, more Boardgames!

I've finished up a few of the Sisters Battle Squad, the rest just need a few finishing touches before the weekend! Stay tuned for pics of those!


  1. Tha looked like fun; dangerous, but fun. Love you carved caverns.

    1. It was, thanks!

      Dangerous is definitely the word for it! Ordinary humans are just so... frail... in this game. The universe is dangerous and full of terrors... This totally would have been a job for Space Marines... Or Terminators. I could have thrown all sorts of stuff at them and not had to worry.

  2. What a stunning teble Tim, wonderful atmosphere!

  3. This is so cool, and that cavern terrain is SO AWESOME. Did you make that??? Holy smokes!!!

    1. Thanks Greg!

      Yes, I built it over the winter. There's a bit about it here:

  4. That's unfortunate about Rogue Trader, I was so looking forward to the character development side of things & being able to use any & all space type figures to play in it. However your game looks as great as ever & of course people won't do what you intend them too hehe.

    1. Oh, he ain't dead yet! They were all down, but not out. Then Mordecai Holt (The Missionary) showed up and saved the day! There will be more adventures! Stay tuned, Terry!

    2. Oh, you mean about the role-playing game system... meh... there can still be "character development" within the narrative of a campaign without necessarily having to quantify it with a specific rule saying they've gotten slightly better at loading bullets into a combi-weapon-bolter magazine or whatever...

    3. I'm sure other people would totally dig the system. At another time I would have totally dug the system. Nowadays I like stuff that's light on rules and more open for just making shit up as you go... I can't be bothered to read a 300 page rule book and a dozen 200 page supplements anymore..

    4. Likely why I enjoy Frostgrave & Pulp Alley so much. Congo is a big hit here as well

  5. In the roleplaying games space marines are terrifying they should be. The wargame really has marines as a standard that everything is measured against (MEQ) so it removes some of their glamour from what should actually be an elite unit.

    My biggest problem with Rogue Trader is that there is often little story reason not to have the characters stay back and send wave after wave of mooks from their ship to deal with problems. Or to lance it from orbit. Or teleport in murder servitors. The relative power level of protagonists vs antagonists is very tricky to match.

    1. It's interesting you should mention that, as there was some some discussion about that amongst the players "is this something we should REALLY be doing?" If they're the most important people abroad the Rogue Trader vessel - should they be the ones leading the charge into the dark caverns below the Imperial Commander's Palace? Of course not! ESPECIALLY the Navigator, who, let's face it, is a bit of a wimp, and absolutely vital to the ship and irreplaceable!

      I kind of take a bit of inspiration from the original Star Trek series in running this game. Should Captain Kirk and his bridge crew been the first to go down and meet whatever challenges the universe had to offer? Maybe not. But they did! There was a sort of machismo to the series, with its leader leading from the front. I even thought of starting off this post with the following:

      Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of a Rogue Trader Vessel. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and new civilizations and EXPLOIT THEM. To boldly go where no man has gone before and exterminate all xenos encountered!

      Try playing Imperial Guard for a bit - everything looks terrifying - including those Space Marine glory boys.

    2. Ha, yes. I pushed around IG for a little bit and appreciate how squishy they are. You don't know true terror till you have a marine hunting your experienced party in a tunnel though.

      My buddy who runs a lot of 40k got around the issue a bit by making the crew part of a larger flotilla. They have a boss to answer to. Secure THIS planetary system. Explore THAT strange signal. We are leaving you HERE to get this colony up to speed, the ship will return in 10 years. That sort of thing. Hilarity ensues when your navigators get kidnapped and ransomed in exchange for destabilizing actions on an imperial fringeworld.

  6. Great looking game and it sounds like fun was had in spite of everything,at least you got a game in!
    Best Iain

  7. Hi Tim,

    I know you used to use Savage Worlds for some stuff, and it seems like it would handle this fairly well. You seem to have moved away from it lately, so it may not be your cup of tea.

    Another option might be those 'Game Of...' systems, as they seem to have provisions for both tabletop and RPG.

    Regards, Gordon