|Rogue Trader | Published 10 September 2009|
By Rogue Trader Developer Sam Stewart
Hello, Rogue Trader fans! I’d like to take a little time to talk about one of the core experiences of Rogue Trader—constructing and completing Endeavours.
Recently, Owen Barnes ably explained two key concepts of Rogue Trader, Profit Factor and Endeavours. He explained the best way for Rogue Traders to raise their Profit Factor is through pursuing Endeavours; colonizing worlds, mining asteroids, exploring undiscovered star systems, trading, and—of course—making war.
An Endeavour is basically a framework for how the players can accomplish their goals and gain profit, while having glorious adventures and taking perilous risks. However, one important aspect of Endeavours is that they can be a collaborative effort between the GM and the players. When a GM presents a potential Endeavour to his players, they are able to work within the framework he has created to complete it. To illustrate this, let’s look at an example group, the raider Cerberus and her crew.
Trading With the Heathens
The Cerberus’s captain, Sarvus Trask, has quickly made a name for himself in the Expanse as an ambitious and slightly mad Rogue Trader whose star is on the rise. Upon his return to the void station of Footfall, the GM places a risky Endeavour in front of Trask, discovering a stable trade route to the distant frontier world of Mallanus Minoris. Only one other Rogue Trader has ever been to this world, and has brought back stories of Ork Freebooterz in the system’s asteroid belt, and a population hungry for Imperial technology.
Endeavours are classified as either lesser, greater, or grand, depending on how ambitious they are and how much Profit Factor they will net the players. The GM decides that establishing a reliable trade route to Mallanus Minoris is a Greater Endeavour, and will award the players four Profit Factor should they complete it successfully.
The Endeavour’s scale also determines how many Achievement Points will be needed to complete it. Achievement Points are the GM’s way of keeping track of the party’s progress, and are awarded whenever the party completes one of the Endeavour’s objectives – milestones in accomplishing the Endeavour that have certain keywords associated with them depending on what they involve. As this is a Greater Endeavour, it requires 1,200 Achievement Points to complete. The GM determines there are four objectives in this Endeavour. The players must locate the Mallanus Minoris system—an exploration objective worth 300 Points. They must bring at least one cargo to establish trade with the native humans—a trade objective worth 400 Points. They must wipe out the Ork Freebooterz infesting the asteroid belt—a military objective worth 400 Points. Finally, they must convince the native humans to trade exclusively with Trask—a trade or creed objective worth 100 Points. All four objectives will earn 1,200 Achievement Point total.
First, the Cerberus’s crew decides to purchase a cargo of lasguns and Sentinel walkers to trade to the natives, weapons to help them defend themselves. The ship’s Seneschal procures five hundred crates of weapons from a fellow trader at Footfall while the Arch-Militant reaches a contact in the Imperial Guard and convinces him to ‘lose’ sixty walkers plus spare parts. Cargo secured, the ship sets out to find Mallanus Minoris.
The trip is long and harrowing, into the outskirts of the Unbeholden Reaches. Eventually, the ship’s Astropath Transcendent contacts a fellow astropath on another vessel and learns of a ill-scouted route past a warp storm blocking the Cerberus’s path. Working with the ship’s Navigator, the players soon find themselves on the outskirts of the Mallanus Minoris system, successfully completing the objective and earning 300 Achievement Points. In addition, their ship has an Augar Array Component granting them an additional 50 Achievement Points when they complete exploration objectives, netting them 350 Points total.
The players find the planet Mallanus Minoris under attack by Freebooterz vessels, who are bombarding the surface and sending down raiding parties. Instead of attacking directly, the players decide to trade their goods first—after all, they are sure to be in high demand! Sneaking to the other side of the planet, the Rogue Trader and Seneschal work together to set up a deal, trading lasguns for precious metals. The trade objective is accomplished, and since the Cerberus has a cargo hold granting them 50 additional Achievement Points when completing trade objectives, the players’ total jumps to 800.
Eight hundred points is still not enough to complete the Endeavour (nor should it be, while Orks still prowl the trade lanes!) The players decide to attack each of the Ork raiders in turn, in a series of surprise attacks. Thanks to the superior gunnery of the ship’s Voidmaster and the tireless work of the Explorator in keeping the ship repaired, the Cerberus hunts down three Ork raiders and forces the rest to flee the system. The third objective is accomplished, and though the Cerberus does not receive any bonuses, it still earns 400 Achievement Points, granting it the needed 1,200 total.
Although the fourth objective is not completed, the players have earned enough Achievement Points to complete the threshold as a whole. the GM decides that the population of Mallanus Minoris is grateful enough to grant the Cerberus exclusivity without prompting. Had the fourth objective been more vital to the Endeavour, the GM could have required his players to complete it anyway (and then turn their ‘extra’ Achievement Points into additional Profit Factor).
Now, however, it’s on to the next Endeavour. The ship’s Missionary is already asking the Rogue Trader to begin a mass conversion of Mallanus Minoris’s population to the Imperial Creed...
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.
It seems to be that there would be Rogue Traders out there that DO solely rely on thier minions, servants and employees to do the job for them. Then there are the adventurers, the explorers and the thrill seekers. Interesting campaigns are about those type of Rogue Traders.. not the boring ones that stay on the ship and never take any risk.
I mean, why do people climb mountains, or do anything dangerous? For some it is human nature...
You can't make an interesting campaign about boring people.
Well, think of it this way. In star trek why did kirk and his fellow non redshirts always go to the planet (accompanyed of course by red shirt targets)? cuse its awesome
also if your players arent going to leave the ship let the problems come to them. Boarders, cultists, nids and crons. All these can gfet on their ship and well mess them up.
Thats correct. We have this point pool and this point pool (and other mumbojumbo boardgame mechanics) but the game lacks on player motivation to adventure. If you are that superrich trader that you can afford and operate such a giant vessel, why not letting your servants and administrators do the job? It seems that the only reason that you do the adventure yourself is some urgent wish to throw any plausibility over board and to metagame. :)
My biggest question for this game, is what mechanics does it have to keep the players at risk and as the stars of the adventures? Why not sit tight in the ship and send out minions and rake in the profit from safety? In other words, what will create the conflict and drama that makes an RPG exciting?
Roguer Trader's lil dark secret: it's an eurogame in disguise!
If I understand correctly, the idea behind the system is to help allocate profit (gained in this case, at risk in the case of misfortunes). So it's basically a treasure system, except scaled up for a game which is based around accumulating resources to build up your ship and crew (or more generally, your capital in the economic sense) rather than your individual players.
In the end, all these mechanics are nothing more than guidelines; if the GM feels like doing it that way, there's nothing to stop him from cutting out the cruft and going, "Right, this is what you need to do to complete this Endeavour, get to it," and "Great, you did it, good on you, here's your Profit." On the other hand, there are some groups out there that really like quantifiable rewards, and those are the sorts of groups that would go, "right, so we've got 750 points, plus another 50 for the Empyrimystikal Thingamahoosit, now we only need another 400 to complete the Endeavour." I know my group falls into the second category, and for groups like that, a system like this is really nice.
I am starting to agree with LuciusT. I was very excited about WFRP 3rd and RT but the more I read the more I wonder if all these mechanics are nessecary in an RPG. The gamemaster can determine success or failure of a story, they don't need a points meter to tell them that. Just seems that it can get in the way of roleplaying.
FFG has yet to disappoint me yet, though. Can't wait to actually get this in my hands.
Aye.. cough up the dang book FFG.. We're dying here ;)
Sounds like an interesting mechanic, but I find myself seriously wondering how this translates into a regular table-top roleplaying session.
Agreed .... Please ... by the Emperor (and/or all the Chaos gods if that'll work!) .... send me my book!
Sounds very cool though :D
urgh...its getting more and more painful to read those without having the physical thing to read!!! daammmnn!!!