News for August 2009
Fortune and Glory 16
Owen Barnes Discusses Profit Factor and Endeavours in Rogue Trader
Rogue Trader | Published 28 August 2009

Greetings Rogue Trader fans!

I want to share with you some of the details about a concept near and dear to the heart of any Rogue Trader: making his fortune and wresting profit from the stars!

During the development of Rogue Trader, I asked two of my authors, Reason and Owen Barnes, to work on a system that would accurately represent how and why Rogue Traders operate. We needed a set of mechanics to represent the vast amounts of wealth that a Rogue Trader deals with, and we needed a set of mechanics to allow a Rogue Trader to pursue that wealth in any manner he chooses.

Owen Barnes is one of the primary writers for Rogue Trader, and I would like to share his thoughts on these elements of the game line below:

Profit Factor and Endeavours

A big part of Rogue Trader is the acquisition of wealth and power. So when Ross asked me to work up a system for representing this in the game I was very psyched to be involved in this integral aspect of the book. Having designed a lot of the core rules for Dark Heresy, including the monetary system (lifted pretty much as is from WFRP) this was kind of a second chance for me to implement a wealth system for the 40k setting. One that would capture the grandeur and scope of a Rogue Trader’s dynasty, but also at the same time be versatile enough to be applied to other settings.

Now, I am a fan of wealth systems for modern and sci-fi settings—especially in cases where the players have a lot of resources at their command. It just doesn’t make sense that you should be counting pennies to buy a bolt pistol when you command a legion of assault troopers and a billion ton starship. They create a nice abstract sense of money changing hands behind the scenes and wealth tied up in property, favours and loans. The trick of course is creating a system that has the scale to go from buying a combat shotgun to a small moon without lots of dice rolls or excessive maths.

So… how does it work? Well Profit Factor works much in the same way as a characteristic – rated between 1 and 100 (however, in the case of the very poor or the very rich, it can be higher or lower). The PCs start off ‘sharing’ their PF (since it represents the resources of their dynasty) but this can change later on and starting PF (modified by a few factors) starts between about 30-40, much like a characteristic. When a PC (or the group) want to acquire a new item, retainer or whatever they make a test against their PF and see if they get it—or if they have to wait—or it just isn’t available or out of their reach.

The real depth of the system, however, is in the modifiers, of which there are three kinds for every acquisition—Availability, Craftsmanship and Scale. The first two, of course, come straight from Dark Heresy (making the system compatible with DH equipment tables) while the third is simply how many of a certain item you are after. In this way buying a single lasgun is a negligible expense for a Rogue Trader and automatic (if PF is modified beyond 100, no roll to acquire the item is necessary) but buying 10,000 might require some expenditure of resources, and thus, a check.

So what does it all actually mean for a Rogue Trader PC? Well, a PF of 30-40 is very good by the standards of Imperial society and places the players quite a way above the vast bulk of humanity. This means that the players will start with pretty much all the top end personal equipment they want, with perhaps the exception of the extremely rare or well made things. But boltguns, plasma pistols, carapace armour, and other such items will all be readily within their reach. And for lesser items like common ammo, low end weapons and most standard gear these will simply be drawn from the dynasty holdings when and as required without the need for rolls or bean counting. Of course, in Rogue Trader, the real purpose of PF will be in the acquisition of things for the group; such as starships, mining colonies, well equipped and trained soldiers or specialist retainers. In much the same way as a Dark Heresy character may covet a bolter or suit of power armour, a Rogue Trader character will dream of Adeptus Mechanicus lance batteries, death cult assassin kill squads, and exclusive writs of passage.

So that is basically how Profit Factor works! However, the other big part of the system (and probably the core of much of the efforts of the PCs) is how to increase it or avoid losing it. This is where Endeavours and Misfortunes come in—basically two tools for the GM to award and remove Profit Factor from the PCs. If you imagine that Profit Factor is like experience points—a measure of power awarded by the GM to the players for their deeds—then an Endeavour is the guidelines for handing out those rewards. In addition to giving the GM an idea of when and how much to reward the players with PF, Endeavours also present the framework for many typical Rogue Trader-y activities, such as founding a colony, exploiting worlds, charting dangerous warp routes, aiding Imperial organisations like the Navy, and of course, trading and exploring. GMs are, of course, free to create their own means of awarding PF, but Endeavours present a host of ready-made examples and guidelines. Just as Endeavour show the GM how to award PF, Misfortunes show how to take it away—presenting some of the many perils that can attack a Rogue Trader’s wealth and how the PCs can try and fend them off.

Used together, Endeavours and Misfortunes create a system where the PCs will be constantly seeking to fill their coffers and increase their wealth, while at the same time fighting to retain what they have won. Such is the life of a Rogue Trader as his fortunes rise and fall amidst the uncaring stars.

Well that’s it for now—hope that gives you some more solid clues as to what to expect from Rogue Trader and you are looking forward to seeing it on shelves as much as I am!

-Owen

Rogue Trader is a roleplaying game set in dark gothic far future of Games Workshop's Warhammer 40,000 universe. Players take on the roles of explorers aboard a Rogue Trader's ship, searching for profit and adventure while discovering new alien cultures and threats in the uncharted regions of space.

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Comments (16)

Malkavianmadman
Published: 9/15/2009 6:38:51 PM
#16

With regards to the DH money system. You have to remember that your players are mere tiny cogs in the ordos machine. They aint gonna get massive amounts of cash for their use because most likely they are gonna die...HORRIBLY.

sinkarna
Published: 9/1/2009 11:25:08 AM
#15

Release it already!!!

Harlon Vau
Published: 9/1/2009 12:29:33 AM
#14

Sounds amazing! Cant wait.

arkangel
Published: 8/31/2009 6:41:30 PM
#13

It's not that the DH monetary system was broken.  It works for DH.  But think about this, does it really capture the wealth of the Inquisition?  The massive, multi-planetary wealth that is the Holy Ordos?  No, not really.  However, with the coming of RT it appears you get that feeling with the way profit works.  It truly represents MEGAWEALTH!!!  Rogue Traders command fleets and control planets, how can you possibly represent that with coin?

LETE
Published: 8/31/2009 5:19:40 PM
#12

Why si the DH monetary sys broken?  I've played it & have had no troubles!

Psion
Published: 8/30/2009 8:29:16 PM
#11

Again, this reminds me of the Wealth System from WotC's Modern.  While somewhat clunky, it also allowed players to play as incredibly wealthy individuals (billionare adventurers) without seriously unbalancing the game.

RocketPropelledGrenade
Published: 8/29/2009 11:41:25 AM
#10

Its actually an amazing system with all sorts of internally consistent sub-systems, from greasing the wheels of an organization to hiring or renting services.

Plakhovna
Published: 8/29/2009 10:32:39 AM
#9

If it is as messed up and inconsistent as the DH income system (Same guy) I will be disappointed, but not really surprised.

MILLANDSON
Published: 8/29/2009 8:11:33 AM
#8

Sounds awesome. Can't wait to get my hands on this! :P

vandimar77
Published: 8/29/2009 4:49:58 AM
#7

Sounds good. Now how about you release it hmm...?

khatre
Published: 8/28/2009 8:53:56 PM
#6

I wonder how GM's will show increase or decrease in PF when characters are trading on Influence instead of trading on credits alone. Going on misions for Inquistiors may not yield quite as much money but their influence can go a looooong way and open many doors.

Graver
Published: 8/28/2009 2:58:30 PM
#5

From what I've seen so far, I'm damned psyched about the Profit Mechanic! It sounds GREAT... though, I don't know if bragging about being the guy who designed the DH monetary system is such a good thing...

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