News for September 2009
A Rogue Trader is Born! 16
Ross Watson Demonstrates Character Creation
Rogue Trader | Published 08 September 2009

Hello, Rogue Trader fans! This week, Ross Watson has graciously agreed to 'return' and speak on something near to his heart—creating a character in Rogue Trader. One could even say he wrote the book on the topic:

So this week, I am writing a guest designer diary for my good friend and fellow RPG producer Sam Stewart about character creation in Rogue Trader.

Character creation is a fun journey that takes your character from his humble beginnings all the way through to the profit-seeking, star-spanning, adventure-seeking Explorer that he was meant to be! The best way to illustrate the character creation process is to use a real character, in this case, my own player character for the Fantasy Flight Games Rogue Trader campaign, Sarvus Trask.

The first step in character creation is to generate your characteristics. In Rogue Trader, you roll 2d10 and add the result to 25 for each characteristic.

After rolling, Sarvus’s characteristics look like this: 

Now that I have my character’s characteristics, it’s time to take that journey I mentioned earlier...via the Origin Path.

If you want to know more about the Origin Path system, I’ve talked about it in a previous designer diary. The short version is that the Origin Path provides an easy way for a player to create an interesting backstory for his character and gain some cool bonuses along the way.

Now, I could start from either the top or the bottom of the chart, and there are a large number of ways to use the chart in any individual Rogue Trader campaign. For the FFG game, I wanted to start from the top and see what happens!

I see Sarvus Trask as a man who is used to being amongst other citizens of the Imperium. Therefore, I choose Hive World as my home world, meaning that my character has lived in the dense ultra-huge cities of the Imperium for most of his life. Being born on a hive world gives me some advantages and disadvantages. Sarvus can move about in a crowd without any trouble, but he has difficulties in a more primitive environment. I suffer -5 Toughness, but gain +5 Fellowship, and some extra starting skills. To generate my Wounds, I double my Toughness Bonus of 3 (equalling 6) and add 1d5+1 to the total. Lucking out, I roll a 5 and begin the game with 12 Wounds. In addition, I get a number of Fate Points. Another lucky roll means that Sarvus has 4 Fate Points, which is quite a large number! I’m off to an excellent start. 


The next row down is that of Birthright, meaning it answers the question, “what was your character like during his formative years?”

When I pause to consider, I like the idea of Sarvus being a man who values knowledge, and it is likely he was a scholar in his youth. Therefore, I choose the Savant selection. Being a Savant nets me the Peer (Academic) Talent and +3 Fellowship, but I lose 3 points of Toughness as well. Studying dusty old tomes isn’t good for one’s health, but it has taught Sarvus a lot about how to deal successfully with people.The next line of the Origin Path is the Lure of the Void, an answer to the question, “why did you seek your fortune amongst the stars?”

There is no hesitation for me, I immediately select Chosen by Destiny! Sarvus is already taking on a life of his own and demands that his Origin Path follow this course, and I am happy to oblige. Being chosen by destiny offers a number of secondary choices, from amongst which I select Fated for Greatness, again steered by the bombastic rumblings of the player character taking form in my imagination. Being so fated adds an additional Fate Point (bringing my total to 5!) but also carries a risk of madness...I gain 1d10+1 Insanity Points. Here is where my talent for rolling high works against me, and Sarvus gains a full 11 Insanity Points, well on his way towards making other Explorers nervous. Obviously, Sarvus is one of those characters that just seems “a bit off.”

Onwards, to the Trials and Travails line of the Origin Path. Here is where we will find out some of the challenges Sarvus has overcome leading up to the beginning of his journeys in the Expanse. Because I selected Chosen by Destiny, there are only two options open to me on this line: High Vendetta and Dark Voyage. One additional option for the Origin Path is for the GM to designate a row (or more) as a “free choice” row, meaning that there are no restrictions. In this case, however, Dark Voyage suits me perfectly! Clearly, Sarvus Trask has led an “interesting” life, and has no doubt encountered his share of warp-worshipping aliens, shadowy conspiracies, and other dangers of the Expanse during his life. Sarvus gains the Forbidden Lore (Warp) Skill, but also gains 1d5 Insanity Points. Curses! Once again, I roll the maximum, and now Sarvus is up to 16 Insanity Points. My character is moving out of “a bit off,” and into “quite unhinged” territory...

Moving on, the next row on the Origin Path is that of Motivation. It’s time to discover just what lurks in Sarvus’ heart, what drives him on into the unknown reaches of the Dark Frontier. For this character, there is no better way to go than to choose Prestige, for Sarvus hungers for power, wealth, and influence. This grand ambition nets Sarvus the Talented (Command) Talent, paving the way towards his fortunes by being a celebrated leader of men.

Although Sarvus Trask has acquired a disturbing tendency to speak to people who aren’t there, one step remains to complete the Origin Path. I must select a Career! From Prestige, my options are either a Seneschal, a Navigator, or a Rogue Trader. With an image clearly in mind of an ambitious, bombastic, and slightly mad Rogue Trader, my course is clear. With Sarvus's final stat-line (below), the Warrant of the Trask Dynasty has taken its first step towards greatness!

In a future designer diary, I will go into more detail about how to further personalize your character, from selecting your initial advances to choosing your starting gear to generating your starting Profit Factor and Ship Points. Keep your eyes open for Sarvus Trask to return in a future installment, and until then, may all your endeavours bear profit!

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)

Acolyte Davidian
Published: 8/19/2010 12:20:02 PM

Seems even the starting stats for rogue trader characters are 5 points higher than dark heresy characters. (Meaning the +25 instead of 20). Don't really know much about rogue trader but am looking forward to getting hold of the books. That and the imminent release of Deathwatch my library will be stacked with awsomeness.

Published: 9/15/2009 2:28:14 AM

I'm exited for the game for sure... but... these look like uncomonly good rolls here... I'm actually a bit Nervous now because I wonder if 'true' rolling will produce a character with limited options...


here are the rolls analized:


for Stats:

19/20     9/20     5/20     14/20     13/20     17/20     8/20     20/20     18/20

then a max roll for wounds  5/5

and a high roll for fate points.

so... we have 3 rolls that were below average, and 8 rolls that were above average... 6 of those 8 rolls were exceptionally high. 

thats pretty lucky... but also prety doubtfull that most characters will actually roll such a beast. 

Maybe I'll just make a house rule that gives max wounds and Fate Points and a bonus 33 points or something... they will be playing 'hero's' I suppose.  :-P

I'm just saying... the GM might wana check to see if Ross's Die lean to one side a bit.  :-P


zWolf -out.

Published: 9/10/2009 1:39:10 AM

Very nice. I like how it allows free choice but your still hamstringed if you don't have great dice like Ross seems to have.

Hopefully we will see that next designer Diary soon. I look forward to when we will be able to have the book in hand. And not just having to deal with drooling on our keyboards.

Published: 9/9/2009 2:39:52 PM

An interesting system that definitely fits the feel of Rogue Trader. Not sure if it would well for other games...I actually like the Dark Heresy character creation system the way it is. But it definitely fits in well with Rogue Trader.

Nice job, guys.

Published: 9/9/2009 2:48:30 AM

Looks interesting I must say! Can't wait to try it!

Published: 9/8/2009 9:26:57 PM

The more I hear the more I like I can't wait for this to for my PCs

Published: 9/8/2009 7:32:14 PM

As a GM, I'm loving the Origin Path. I'll be able to use it to tailor special events, NPCs, and adventures to the PCs. Nice, as most of my players don't create backstories.

Published: 9/8/2009 4:17:06 PM

I like this character generation system. It combines random generation (which makes for interesting characters) with a bit of decision making by the player (which diminishes the chances of a player feeling marginalized by the dice). I hope they'll use a similar system for WFRP 3rd edition.

Damn you FFG for publishing so many amazing games at the same time! Now I'll have a very hard time deciding which ones to play first... this one, Chaos in the Old World, Middle Earth Quest and WFRP 3rd edition all look fantastic... I hope I'll be able to get my hands on them at Essen in late october.

Published: 9/8/2009 4:15:33 PM

looks like it was just a it was changed. That was a fast edit!

Published: 9/8/2009 3:11:34 PM

No Rogue Traders from Death Worlds or Noble Born Astropaths unless your GM gives you the freebie. That is very appropriate in my mind.

This chart not only adds a sense of history and depth to a character who starts out very powerful and influential, but it also reinforces the personality types that gravitate (literally moving downward in this case like a ball in the Pachinko machine of fate) towards certain careers.

Looing good. This is looking to be the game I've wanted ever since I bought 40k Rogue Trader back in the mid-eighties (which will be put into service again with the release of the RTRPG)...

Published: 9/8/2009 3:09:28 PM

 Looks very good, the character creation actually leads to the career that is best suited for you.

Published: 9/8/2009 2:56:19 PM

Can't wait to make a character! Heck, I can't wait to get my copy! BUT...I am also wondering how it's possible to roll 46 wp if the max you can roll is 45. Is this roll/stat modified in some way? or is it a typo? or have I had one beer too many? the latter is very probable.... ;P

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