News for March 2009
Engines to Maximum 15
A guest designer diary about starships in Rogue Trader
Rogue Trader | Published 11 March 2009

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Greetings Rogue Trader fans!

This week I tapped Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay: Rogue Trader writer Sam Stewart to talk about designing the starships chapter. Naturally, starships play a big role in Rogue Trader—it's how the characters travel through the galaxy, it's a second home-away-from-home, it's a home base, trophy room, and mansion rolled into one.

Ever a dutiful servant of the Emperor, Sam agreed to provide his perspective on these powerful vessels.

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 Hi, I’m Sam Stewart, and in this designer diary I’d like to talk a little bit about starships in Rogue Trader.

Ever since watching the opening scene from Star Wars as a kid, I’ve been fascinated with spaceships and space combat. Games like Games Workshop’s Battlefleet Gothic only served to whet my appetite, so naturally, getting a chance to work on the rules for spaceships in a game like Rogue Trader was a dream come true for me.

The challenge was to create a rules system that was compatible with the Rogue Trader rules and relatively simple, while at the same time doing justice to what spaceships and space combat are in Warhammer 40,000. The smallest interstellar spacecraft in the Warhammer 40,000 universe are more than a kilometer long, with thousands of crew. Combat between two of these leviathans is a nightmare of megaton explosions, guns firing shells the size of cars, and energy beams that can destroy cities. This had to be portrayed in the starship rules.

Starships in Rogue Trader will be customizable through Components—which can be anything from plasma drives and macrobatteries to luxury passenger quarters and temple-shrines to the God-Emperor. By selecting the Components to install on their ship, a Rogue Trader can end up with anything from a combat-focused warship to a cargo-hauling trading vessel, or anything in between. However, we wanted to do more than just make starships equipment. We wanted starships to have unique ‘personalities’ all their own. That’s where Complications come in.

Complications can represent a starship’s sordid past, strange habits of its crew, or odd quirks of its machine spirit. The starships in Warhammer 40,000 are ancient vessels that have been modified and repaired over the millennia until no two are alike—and between Components and Complications, no two starships in Rogue Trader will be alike either. 

However, some people may be less interested in building their starship, and more interested in setting sail into the perilous void as quickly as possible. That is where quick-start ships come in.
The idea behind quick-start ships is to present players with several vessels that are complete and ready to play. There are several different quick-start ships, each with its own unique history, advantages and disadvantages, and specializations. One ship will enable players to trade cargos of valuable goods between star-systems (and have a few nasty surprises for would-be pirates), while another is better suited for exploring the dark reaches of the Koronus Expanse (the setting for Rogue Trader) for years at a time. Whatever a group of would-be Rogue Traders wants to do, there should be a ship that can accommodate and facilitate their goals.

My personal favorite, however, is the Sovereign Venture. The Venture is a cruiser, a truly gigantic ship usually found amongst the ranks of the Imperial Navy. There are cities with a smaller population than the Venture. Needless to say, only the most affluent Rogue Traders will be able to afford her.

However, for those willing to commit the resources to own her, the Sovereign Venture will not disappoint. Her armoured prow and multiple void shields mean she is all but impervious to lesser foes, and her macrocannon broadsides can devastate an opponent in a few well-aimed salvoes. However, the Sovereign Venture is more than just a warship—she is a five plus kilometer long emissary of the Imperium to the Expanse. Her hull is covered in statues and engravings of the God-Emperor a hundred metres high, so that all who see her knows where her captain’s allegiance lies. Alongside her cargo holds are Ministorum temples and barracks capable of transporting an entire regiment. When the Sovereign Venture arrives over a heathen world, its rulers are left with a stark choice: submit to the rule of the Imperium, or be destroyed. 

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Comments (15)

Lars Wodensson
Published: 4/26/2009 11:11:31 AM

The ship design and customization and ship to ship space battles will really set this setting apert from Dark Heresy . Not to mention the new roles as privateers instead on inquisitors. I think there could be some potential for crossover of the two settings as has been suggested, where the Rogue Traders could have acolytes on their ships to safeguard the crew from heresy and mutation and the threat of Xenos influences.

Published: 4/17/2009 8:31:42 PM

sounds alot like what they did for the serenity RPG

Ashen Victor
Published: 3/27/2009 12:41:15 PM

But, Where is the Koronus Expanse?

Is in the Halo Stars? Is close enough to the Calixis or Scarus sector to link DH and RT properly?

Published: 3/20/2009 7:41:10 PM

Nojo509 wrote:

"So, would the players normally be able to design their own ship? Or is that a GM role?

I can't wait. I'm having a blast with Dark Heresy, and this looks like the next game for my RP group."


I know that i would make the design of the ship a compramise between the players and the GM.  They get a few things they want but there are quite a few they can't get, or maybe even some they don't want at all.

I can't wait for this to be released, i've also been loving Dark heresy.

Published: 3/14/2009 5:08:46 AM

 Looks really good! Especially the parts about the quirks. Otherwise it's just exactly the "ship business" that I'm a bit worried about - it can be troubblesome to make sure that every character feels a part of the action in say a space battle.

Wolfe Rabalius
Published: 3/12/2009 3:01:11 PM

Can't wait for this to be released!!

Looks awesome and the story possibilitie with Dark Heresy are endless.

Good work guys keep it up:-)

Published: 3/12/2009 2:51:09 PM

I can't wait till the core book hits so that I can mix it into my DH game... I hope that in these upcoming books we will be supplied with a better floor plan of the layout of Imperial ships.

Published: 3/12/2009 12:22:11 PM

mmm i really intrested to see which direction they take rouge trader

Published: 3/12/2009 10:49:03 AM

"aaargh, CRAP! As soon as this hits the shelf, my players will not be willing to play DH with me any longer. Why toiling for the =I= when you can be in it for fame and profit? "

Well. . .  Then you get to play Rogue Trader when one of your players buy the book and runs his own campaign !  :-)

Published: 3/12/2009 10:48:41 AM

Gregorius, have you thought of the possibility of having a rogue trader work with your acolytes? Or having them be a rogue trader working with the inquisition?

Well, I'm sure gonna get this when it hits the bookshelves.

I always wanted to do space combat for 40K, never bought Battlefleet Gothic.

Published: 3/12/2009 8:55:12 AM

I am looking forward to the release of Rogue Trader, having been a fan of Battlefleet Gothc for many years it will be nice to have more detail available for ships. All those pesky boarding actions can now be realized in roleplay sessions with my gaming group!

I really like the ship design options too, its nice to have some ready to play options as guides but so much better to be able to tailor a ship and make it a "character" too.

Published: 3/11/2009 3:53:49 PM

As far as it has been revealed it looks that RT ship-making wil be similar to this from 7th Sea.

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