News for March 2009
Ship Roles in Rogue Trader 18
With great power...
Rogue Trader | Published 27 March 2009

Greetings Rogue Trader fans!

This week I want to talk a little bit about something cool and new coming up in Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay: Rogue Trader. What I’m referring to are “Roles,” positions of command responsibility on board a starship that can be filled by the player characters. Some Roles are weighty and traditional in all Imperial vessels, whilst others bear many names and emerge only out of necessity. Put simply, the Ship Roles are a means by which a player character group can take more control over the functions and activities of their own ship, should they choose to do so.

So what is a Role aboard a spaceship? Roles are a separate category from Careers; a character’s Role defines his place, duties, and his powers aboard the vessel. Each Role brings with it the benefits and obligations of rank: subordinates who will accept orders, but whose well-being and protection is an obligation, the recognition of the Rogue Trader's dynasty, and a pledge of fealty that may require much toil to uphold.

I came up with the concept of Roles when I realised that a character’s Career wouldn’t fully encompass the idea of being the Lord-Captain of a ship. In addition, I wanted something that could be added on to a character’s Career, which would allow almost all the Careers (even those from Dark Heresy!) to have several choices determining how they could contribute towards the overall welfare and operation of the starship. Some specific Careers are limited to the Roles they can occupy (such as Navigator and Astropath Transcendant), but most Careers are not automatically locked into only one role on board the vessel.

Roles are entirely optional; if a character chooses not to fill a Role on the ship, that Role should be filled by an NPC under the Game Master’s control if and when it becomes needed. The players and Game Master should discuss whether they want to flesh out these NPCs with their own personalities and motivations: how much of a focus on the Rogue Trader's crew and internal machinations do they want in the game?

In Rogue Trader, taking on one of the Ship Roles has both an in-character and in-game effect. For the former, a character who has chosen one of the Ship Roles has great responsibilities and powers aboard the vessel—he may command thousands of men, or he may have a position that impacts the entire crew complement. The choices and challenges before such a character take on an entirely new dimension when he is in such a position of awesome power.

All of the above exists alongside the in-game benefits of a Ship Role. During combat between ships in space, characters who have a Ship Role may take certain Extended Actions that can affect the course of the battle. These Extended Actions ensure something I am very keen on—that every character has the option of doing something during a space battle that may effect the outcome!

Rogue Trader will present many Roles that a character may select from, many more than are presented here. Below, I’ve chosen four particular Ship Roles to showcase as a teaser (including a handful of example Extended Actions commonly associated with those Roles!):

Lord-Captain
If a starship is a mighty fortress, its Captain upon the command throne is a feudal Lord who accepts pledges of allegiance and fealty from his advisors, the commoner crew, and their elected spokesmen. The Lord-Captain is the ultimate decision-maker on matters of strategy, void-law, and negotiation, responsible for the lives and souls of all who pledge to his banner. The fate of thousands hangs upon his decisions, though a wise Lord-Captain takes council with his advisors and bridge crew, and considers their words before giving his orders.

Extended Action: Hail
The character contacts one ship using his ship’s vox systems. He may use social Skills to accomplish certain goals, such as the Intimidation Skill to convince an opponent to surrender.

Ship’s Confessor
The Ship’s Confessor is the uppermost hierarch of the shrines and clerics aboard the vessel, responsible for their scriptural purity, and by extension the spiritual well-being of all aboard. The God-Emperor protects the righteous who abide by the holy laws of Ministorum and Imperium, and it is His will that keeps the warp at bay and guides weapons to strike true against foul xenos. The Ship’s Confessor pledges to uphold the faith and courage of the crew against all adversities, and so make the void-ship a true cathedral of the Imperial Creed, echoing with the prayers of the holy and blessed in the God-Emperor's sight.

Extended Action: Put your backs into it!
The character makes a Challenging (+0) Intimidate or Charm Test. If he succeeds, he can choose to add +10% to a Ballistic Skill Test to fire a Weapon Component, an Emergency Repairs Action, or an attempt to put out a fire made during this turn. He may aid an additional BS Test, Emergency Repairs Action, or firefighting attempt for every three degrees of success.

Ship’s Chirurgeon
The Chief Chirurgeon is master of the void-ship's medicae wards and their staff: doctors of physik, medicae, alchemists, and a horde of apprentices. Accidents, maladies, and agues of a thousand varieties afflict common voidfarers, and a crew unattended by medicae and physik will soon enough lapse into illness and the safety of the vessel will be at risk. The Chief Chirurgeon pledges his talents to maintain the crew’s spiritual wellbeing, and further to make of his wards and supply vaults a scourge upon disease, injury, and sicknesses of the mind.

Extended Action: Triage
The character makes a Difficult (-10) Medicae Test. If he succeeds, he reduces any damage to Crew Population by 1, plus 1 for every degree of success to a minimum of 1. Triage may only cancel out Crew Population damage suffered during the previous turn.

Master of Whispers
Men and women are wilful creatures, given to secrets, deceit, disloyalty, and subterfuge. The Master of Whispers inhabits this realm: they seeks out and purge the crooked timbers and weak spars in the Rogue Trader's crew. Their agents hunt for the very same elements in rival Rogue Trader missions—but for the purpose of advantage and deception. Spies pledged to the Master of Whispers roam far beyond the void-ship's bulkheads in search of precious knowledge, untended resources, and hidden weaknesses that can benefit the Lord-Captain's mission.

Rogue Trader is a roleplaying game set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, the grim darkness of the far future. Players take on the roles of Explorers aboard a Rogue Trader's ship, searching for profit and adventure in the uncharted regions of space.

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Comments (18)

Cat that Walked by Himself
Published: 3/27/2009 5:44:42 PM
#6

everything, everything, everything is better with Pirates. That's why RT will rock :)

Mazinkaiser
Published: 3/27/2009 4:04:24 PM
#5

 Wow, its sounds AWESOME! I can't wait to give this a spin... being in command of a huge crew of people sounds like crazy fun! :)

Gregorius21778
Published: 3/27/2009 1:55:31 PM
#4

Now THIS is a nice one. Still, I fear my player will abandon DH for it. Poor poor Inquisition. But never the less, I am glad to get some more information about the internals of a void ship. Very fine!

Vespers
Published: 3/27/2009 11:49:20 AM
#3

Almost immediately I have an image in mind of a clash of wills between Inquisitorial Acolytes and the Master of Whispers. I love it.

FFG Ross Watson
Published: 3/27/2009 10:40:35 AM
FFG Staff
#2

 It is, in fact, a secret!

Oan Mkoll
Published: 3/27/2009 10:36:34 AM
#1

Oh, where is the Master of Whispers extended action?

This all just makes me more excited for the game.

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