Played Rogue Trader for the first time last night. It was Peter’s first time ever GMing anything, though frankly I couldn’t really tell during the game. His only problem was an obvious nervousness as to how far his notes would take us into the game. Seeing as we stopped playing at 2:30 AM, I’m thinking his notes were sufficient.
Our crew is a smaller one than in the D&D game. We have myself as Rogue Trader Ambrose Orthesian, Brett as Arch-Militant Vekk, Bov as Explorator Sebastian Machinehead, Spencer as Voidmaster Leo Gibson, and Kevin as Navigator Roland “Scarecrow” Notch. Ambrose is the brilliant but ridiculously impatient and arrogant Trader, Vekk is the epically strong Deathworlder with a burning hatred of orks and the fanciest goddamn hammer you will ever see, Sebastian is the slightly-power-mad borderline-heretical sniper, Leo is the hotshot pilot/gunner, depending on the situation, and Roland earned his nickname in-game based on his freaky mutant appearance (also: his desire to eat your memories). It’s a damn good crew, flying the best damn ship in the Merandus Expanse. We troll around the Expanse in the Profit’s Call, a Tempest-class strike frigate with a silver-plated hull, cloaking fields and shitloads of hidden systems. We rolled really well on the Complications/Past History tables during ship creation, and ended up with the traits Ancient and Wise (increased maneuverability because the ship itself is experienced, decreased hull integrity because it’s old) and Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing (ship is full of smuggling compartments, and we can hide three ship components from enemy scanners). With some reinforced interior bulkheads bringing the hull integrity back up and an empyrean mantle for cloaking the ship, what we ended up with is a ship that maneuvers like a raider but can actually take a punch, and which can hide from you the very fact that it can turn invisible to hide from you. We used Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing to hide the cloaking systems and the guns (one set of Mars Pattern Macrobatteries, which are kind of shit, and one set of Ryza Pattern Plasma Batteries, which will tear enemy ships in half if we can get them in range).
Now, the default location for Rogue Trader games is the Koronus Expanse. Instead of using that, Peter decided to make his own map, which honestly is what I probably would have done too. We started the game by entering the Merandus Expanse, unexplored territory home to pirates, orks, a small handful of Imperial colonies and God knows what else. The last vestige of civilization before entering uncharted waters is Port Ajax, an Imperial Navy station where we stopped to buy maps and shit. Got an invitation to dinner with the Commander as soon as we came aboard, too. Commander Byron Sai of Port Ajax turned out to be a very bored man, who invited every trader passing through to dinner so he could get some good stories. We didn’t really have any stories to give him yet, which meant we weren’t able to get any good information out of him. He did make a request, though, calling on the Imperial obedience that came with our Warrant of Trade. Apperantly some deathball of a planet called Kranbess was late with its tithes, and he wanted someone to stop by and check it out. We heard the word “tithe,” saw lots of gleaming coins in our eyes, and agreed to lend a hand. Dropping in on colonies to show the colors is one of the few duties rogue traders actually have, after all–the rest of the time the Imperium stays out of our way and lets us do our thing.
After some shopping–mostly buying helmets for those people who were inexplicably lacking them–we got back on the ship and hit the Warp. The Warp is full of terrors and demons and storms of hellfire and passing through it is complicated as shit, but our navigator is a boss so we got through all right. Six days in the Warp went without a hitch, but when we came out we ended up a little bit off-course. Wasn’t much, just had to fly a day in realspace,so we didn’t complain. Unfortunately, we forgot to turn on the empyrean mantle, so that day in realspace gave the two pirate raiders in the system a chance to plot an intercept course.
We didn’t know they were pirates at first, of course, though we guessed it pretty damn soon when it was pointed out that a colony like Kranbess wouldn’t really have a navy. We demanded Kranbess’ tithe from them anyway, on general principles. They refused to pay us for the privilidge of existing, the sons of bitches, and noted that we were “Really bad at recognizing pirates.”
“Guys,” I said, muting the mic and covering the camera, “I think these pirates might be really bad at recognizing pirates.”
So we blew the shit out of them. They didn’t even know that we had guns, and then suddenly the plasma batteries opened up. One raider vanished in a spray of plasma and macrocannon fire. The other got hit by a couple boarding parties that consisted of Ambrose himself and a whole lot of murder-servitors. We took out the engines and the sensors before they surrendered.
After the fight, we weren’t really sure what to do with the surrendered pirates. We made them transfer the contents of their cargo holds to us, of course, but after that? We figured we’d make them land on the planet and turn them over to the locals and figure out where to go from there.
MOVING ON. Took us the rest of the day to fly to Kranbess, with the pirate ship under our guns the whole time. Kranbess is basically a blasted wasteland, which was good as it meant we had plenty of room to land our ship (I may have forgotten to mention this–our frigate is a couple kilometers long and has a crew of a hundred thousand or so. And we’re poor, as rogue traders go. Imagine the shit we’ll have when we’re actually rich).
So we landed on this planet, and got the locals on an encrypted comm line. Got some sort of security chief first, who we convinced to connect us to the planetary governor. Unfortunately, the planetary governor was an astonishingly pompous douchebag, so we switched back to the security chief just about as soon as the formalities were over. When asked if he wanted a whole bunch of pirates (again, due to the size of ships in rogue trader, there were a lot of ’em–we estimated about 10,000 left alive), he mentioned that the planet could really use some new slave labor.
Long story short: we convinced the pirate captain to betray his crew and get them planetside, offering him a cut of the profits and a free trip to any planet of his choosing, and then when the Planetary Defense Force were taking all the pirates into custody we betrayed the captain and shot both him and his bodyguards with a multilaser turret. The security chief estimated that with the new slave labor they should be able to get back to full productivity and start paying their full tithe again, and we ended the session planning on manouvering this gift into a trade agreement to increase our profit factor a bit.
All’s well that ends well, eh? Maybe not so much for the pirates, but whatever.