News for April 2009
The Dark Frontier, Part 2 12
Profit Factor, Endeavours, the Expanse, and More!
Rogue Trader | Published 24 April 2009

Hello again Rogue Trader fans!

Last week I talked about some of the background behind working on Rogue Trader. This week I want to continue that discussion, but broaden it a bit to also include some of the major influences on myself and the rest of the design team.

Ships of Wood and Steel

Naturally, some of the biggest influences on the design of Rogue Trader came from stories about thrilling voyages in space and on the sea. For instance, the crew dynamic of Mal Reynolds’ ship in Joss Whedon’s Firefly and Serenity influenced some of the decisions we made about character creation, and the fascinating loyalty and discipline of the Surprise captained by Jack Aubrey in the Patrick O’Brian novels had an impact on the ship roles.

From Horatio Hornblower to Shogun, the Conquistadors of Spain to the American Wild West, a number of stories, experiences, and settings made an impact on the overall design of Rogue Trader. Therefore, don’t be surprised if you find some familiar and timeless tropes within the book!

Into the Expanse

The Koronus Expanse is the core setting for Rogue Trader, a region beyond the Imperium on the rim of known space. The Expanse exists somewhere amongst the Halo Stars region, accessible through a (mostly) stable warp passage known as “the Maw.” In the Expanse, the Explorers can find numerous opportunities for both danger and profit!

When designing the Expanse, I knew we wanted to get the “feel” exactly right. It’s a bit of a mix of the Wild West with the “Darkest Africa” of many pulp adventures. It’s looking into a dark room from a well-lit hallway. The open door projects some light into the gloom (in this case, the door is the Maw), but the further one goes into the room, the surroundings become more uncertain and mysterious. The Expanse is a realm of legends, whispered stories of fortune and horror, and cryptic messages: “Here be dragons.”

Unlike the Calixis Sector in Dark Heresy, the Koronus Expanse is presented as a region not yet fully understood. There is plenty of uncharted territory ripe for a bold Rogue Trader to discover, and tons of unknown planets and systems. One region in the Expanse is known as the Hecaton Rift, an enormous nebula laced with bizarre flickers of warp-lightning. There are rumours of fantastic treasure within the Rift...but there are also uncounted stories of foolhardy captains who never returned from the Rift’s embrace.

I hope these tidbits have whetted your appetite for more information about the Koronus Expanse, because I plan to present an entire designer diary focused upon it in the near future.


Profit Factor and Endeavours

Another important issue that arose during the development of Rogue Trader is the concept of wealth on a grander scale. If a Rogue Trader owns a nearly-priceless starship, how do you handle whether or not he can afford a plasma pistol? How do you gauge the overall success of a Rogue Trader’s dynasty? How do you improve your status, and what are the pitfalls that can occur?

The answer to these questions lies in the system of Profit Factor and Endeavours. Profit Factor is a game mechanic that represents the Explorers’ wealth, power, influence and other resources. Profit Factor means that a Rogue Trader character doesn’t really need to track “pocket money.” The group’s Profit Factor determines their relative success, meaning that the players can track how far they have come, or discover how far they need to go to reach their goal. Naturally, the higher the group’s Profit Factor, the more resources at their disposal. Towards the higher end of the scale, the Rogue Trader dynasty may control a fleet of starships, own entire planets, or establish a legend that shall be remembered for millennia.

Now that I’ve given you an idea of what Profit Factor is, let’s talk briefly about Endeavours. Profit Factor can improve or suffer by degrees; but the most significant method to gain Profit Factor is to complete an Endeavour. An Endeavour represents a particular opportunity that the player characters can utilise to their advantage. Endeavours are very flexible elements in any particular campaign. They can be created by the players themselves if they choose!

Endeavours are broken down into two sections: the Requirements and the Objectives that must be achieved in order to complete it.

An example of a simple Endeavour might be: Recover the ancient space hulk Warspite from the Processional of the Damned.

Requirements: A chart of the Processional, access codes for the Warspite’s machine spirit, a trained salvage crew.


  • Find the Warspite within the Processional
  • Board and secure the Warspite
  • Awaken the Warspite’s machine spirit

Naturally, no Endeavour is complete without certain complications that arise! The capricious gravity tides of the Processional must be navigated, hostile xenos infesting the space hulk must be confronted and destroyed, and the Explorers must make some tough choices when they discover survivors trapped within a stasis field.

However, if the Explorers can overcome these obstacles, the rewards are truly worthwhile, encompassing not only a gain in experience points but also a large bonus of Profit Factor! The big advantage of the Endeavours is that the players themselves become the driving force of the campaign, selecting existing Endeavours presented by the Game Master or creating new ones of their own. I’ll talk more about Profit and Endeavours in a future design diary, so this taste will have to do for now!

Return to the Imperium

Well, I hope you have enjoyed your glimpse of the dark frontier! This designer diary turned out to be a lot more involved than I expected, but it was certainly fun to write. Stay tuned for further updates and designer diaries from the writers in the future!

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 (12)

Ordo Hydra
Published: 5/7/2009 11:15:55 AM

Brilliant stuff on the profit factor and endeavours!  Cant wait!

Sanzionita Magnus
Published: 5/4/2009 7:29:31 PM

My only fear is that it's gonna be a little bit too much merchant-oriented, I mean "I have to sell this in order to emprove my status" and the like...

Published: 4/27/2009 10:44:40 AM

Every update released on Rogue Trader makes me want to play more and more.  Keep up the updates and thanks. 

Published: 4/26/2009 11:01:58 PM

Cool. It sounds like there is no need to keep track of the Thrones, the higher you Profit Factor the easier it is for you to get stuff, rolling for a value based on how exotic it is, with the PF being a modifier. Just a guess.

Published: 4/26/2009 10:36:21 PM

This all sounds terrific. Since there's Endeavours, might that mean there'll be Enterprises (hoho!) too? Which is to say, something less like 'Quests' and more like... back home business, supply lines or even privately owned docks/space-warhouses etc? Or would that sort of thing still be represented by completing an Endeavour, merely closer to home?

Still, this really does sound good, exciting stuff.

Adeptus Stormicus
Published: 4/25/2009 7:02:43 PM

I think of Lost in Space as one of the first campaigns I would like to expound on. Contingent on more material being released, I already have in my mind to explore the Rogue Trader Role Playing Game. If it is anything like Dark Heresy, I will absolutely love the game.

Published: 4/25/2009 7:45:35 AM

The more I hear about this game to more I wish to buy it *counts up resources* .... *falls short* Damn between everything I need for dark heresy and when this comes out I may have to smuggle aline goods for many a years

Published: 4/25/2009 1:41:53 AM

The profict factor sounds all good to me. Something to be "looted" into a "success/trust" factor for "DH" to have hard mechanic to show the pc how there success/behavior afflicts the resources there master is willing to spend on them. Perhabs, this whole "coinage system" can be thrown out of the window all together. Like in "Vampire"


Published: 4/25/2009 1:25:55 AM

Interesting, I wonder how Profit Factor converts into Thrones for the one or two game masters that absolutely have to keep track of every cent and every bullet the party has access to.  The Endeavor system sounds interesting, a easy "side quest" generator for those GMs who need something quick for a game.

Published: 4/24/2009 5:35:49 PM

I wonder how many Profit Factor Levels will exist. I hope there many levels and it ain't a Level 0 to 10 scale, but I'm not worried since Warhammer 40k RPG line is in good hands.

Published: 4/24/2009 3:26:14 PM

Very intresting, but I didnt picture that rouge traders mainly was in nomans land, rather lawless individualls and pirates whitin the imperium

Published: 4/24/2009 2:32:09 PM

Interseting.  I'm particularly looking forward to the pofits and upgrading my ship/s.

Will a future suplement focus on the Imperial Navy?

Is the Koronus Expanse adjacent to the Calixis Sector?

Does it (the KE) bear any relationship to Kommonus the Dark Sun?

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