ok, so I already breeze through warp travel as it is, but it seems like Port Wander to Footfall is supposed to be a challenge on its own. How can i add that challenge in?
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The Maw is just as terrible as the GM wants it to be. From the fluff, it's supposed to be a very tight, narrow passage. And, since the warp storms occasionally flare, there is a real risk of running into a warp storm. Think of it as navigating a wet-ocean ship through a narrow, shallow strait with lots of rocks in.
In game terms, you could add a penalty to the navigation: warp test or add extra rolls and/or penalties to the warp encounter table. How much depends on how nasty you're feeling.
"Thought begets heresy. Heresy begets retribution."
Just my 2cents but I think you are being way too nice, I make every group start at Port Wonder then make the journey through the passage, warp travel is meant to be harsh and the passage should be the first step in seperating any potential whiners from those that packed their big gurl panties for the trip. This should probably take up atleast the first whole session of gaming if not two or three as players acclimatise themselves to the expanse. Seeing Footfall on the other side eventually should be met with smiles.
It shouldn't matter if all the player dice rolls are spot on, even if they are monumentally lucky the players should make atleast 5 seperate course plots between Port Wander and Footfall which is more than enough opportunity to cause trouble, I haven't wiped any parties at the start like this but no group has never not had to burn atleast two fate points or escaped without gaining atleast a handful of corruption and insanity points.
Even with the very best possible rolls they still have to make 5 Warp Travel Encounter rolls, I would guess 10 is the average but I haven't kept count, I think the problem is that the encounters table is very abstract and doesn't go into any detail but you should treat even the lightest one as mind fraying with instant death for the ship and crew (or worse) for some of the others, ships have failed to navigate the passage for thousands of years, no shortage of event horizon style encounters to allow you to hand out insanity points left, right and centre and don't be afraid to drop in a dozen daemons into a bunch of random components to force the players to decompressurise compartments and lose crew and morale before they have made it through.
Warp storms are a lower roll in my opinion and on my chart as a failed roll here can mean no escape back to real space for a few centuries and/or the ships instant destruction if they are lucky (alternatives are far worse), players need to appreciate, respect and be in awe of navigators, things might be rough with one but let them imagine what they will face or have bad things would be without one.
Don't forget that everytime they drop back into real space to flee from some horror to make them roll again on the encounters chart after plotting a new course from their current position.
How you play the game is upto you, gaming with close friends will always be different to running a standard or competition game but I will always personally prefer to kill all of my players than have them feel they have gained an achievement they did not earn so feel free to remind them that their ship might be several megatonnes of armoured protection in real space but in the warp it's just a gilded coffin full of tasty snacks for the whispering hordes of daemons waiting for the gellar fields to fluctuate.
Fluff says of old it was terrifying and extremely perilous, and the Stations of Passage were very much a necessity. But the Navigators now know it so well that they can breeze through it without stopping, and the Stations have fallen into disuse. The journey is still seen as a rite-of-passage for Rogue Traders, though.
It's all relative, though, as all Warp travel is extremely perilous anyway. So I would say the Maw is very scary, but not as scary as it used to be. And of course it is unpredictable, and can throw surprises at you when it has a notion to.
The Navis Primer has a few new ideas in it for when bad things happen during Warp travel. Physical and Psychic encounters, warp incursions and such.
For starters I think that randomly making people roll until they fail so you can get your pound of flesh is bad gamemaster ship. It also severely devalue's navigators if no matter how good they are they can NEVER get a normal journey even in as well traveled area as the maw. The maw is certainly dangerous and it's likely a huge deterence for most Captains and Navigators who want a comfortable life, even on top of that whole "beyond the Imperium's borders" thing. But the simple fact is it sees a lot of traffic and is relatively calm right now.
Truth be told warp travel is never a care free experience having said that the maw should really be more plot device and atmospheric then something to bludgeon people with. It should be a part of life for Rogue Traders, never dismissed, never taken for granted, and also never feared.
Because ultimately The Maw is literally the gateway to adventure, it's demarcation between safe ports and Imperial Law and the untamed expanse where you go only by right of arms.
To me the maw is like rat hound. It keeps the vermin at bay, but it is not your pet and it will bite your face off at the slightest provocation.
Page 38 of the Navis Primer describes the Koronus Passage (The Maw), particularly that if the navigator rolls an odd number for Divining the Auguries, he leads the ship directly into one of the Warp Storms (with a -20 penalty to avoid it). With a starting navigator, (and a limited number of fate points) this can mean a very bumpy (and possibly deadly) ride.
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