Greetings Rogue Trader fans!

This week you are going to discover part one of a two-part article describing my influences and “big picture” thinking for the development of Rogue Trader several juicy tidbits, facts, and teasers of course!

Being the lead designer on a huge project like Rogue Trader means that I had my hands in everything, start to finish, from the introduction through to the index. It also means that I relied upon a solid and talented team of writers and designers to build the game around the framework of my vision!

Rules, More Rules, and Playtesting

In this designer diary, I will make an attempt to try to give you, the fans, some insight into the process that makes a large-scale game like Rogue Trader possible. First, I’d like to talk briefly about the game system and the rules. One of my biggest design goals was to make Rogue Trader completely compatible with Dark Heresy . After all, there is a natural link between Rogue Traders and the Inquisition in Warhammer 40,000 —one notable example being Tobias Maxilla from the Eisenhorn  novel trilogy. In addition, I received a lot of comments from the fan community expressing an interest in bringing their Acolytes from Dark Heresy over into the new game and the new setting, and vice versa. This idea sounded great to me—I can clearly imagine a Rogue Trader performing tasks for an Inquisitor or agents of the Holy Ordos journeying aboard a Rogue Trader vessel.

However, the rules couldn’t just stay the same from Dark Heresy . I knew we would need new rules to cover things like starships, and vehicles, alien technology and the bizarre powers of the Navigator’s third eye. My philosophy is that before you get into the advanced stuff, you have to make sure your foundation is solid! With that in mind, I used heretical psychic powers to convince Managing Developer Michael Hurley to take on the formidable task of updating the Dark Heresy rules for Rogue Trader .

Michael took on his task with gusto, and I think a lot of Dark Heresy fans are going to be very impressed with the rules in Rogue Trader . Now, I want to be clear—it’s the same ruleset! What we’ve done is cleaned up some ambiguity, tightened up some language, provided plenty of new examples, and done all we can to give the ruleset a “tune-up” that will take the familiar game rules for Dark Heresy and provide an improved game experience.

Unsung Heroes

While I am on the subject of the game rules, I want to take a moment and publicly give some praise and encouragement to all the playtesters who have contributed to Rogue Trader . Whenever you have a big core rulebook like this one, playtesting it can be a real challenge—and with something like Rogue Trader , the playtesting needs to be especially rigorous! Never fear, the various groups in the Rogue Trader playtest have risen to the challenge like champions. Kudos!

The Navigator Career

During the design of Rogue Trader , I realized that having a Navigator as a Career would beg an important question: Navigators are vital for a ship to successfully travel interstellar distances by traversing the Warp—so what happens if the player character Navigator is hurt, killed, or captured? The challenge before me was to address this concern whilst still making the Navigator a cool and interesting Career to play.

The solution that I utilised was to explain that the uncharted regions of the galaxy (where most Rogue Traders operate on a regular basis) is a very, very bad place to end up stranded. Thus, being no fools, many Rogue Traders in the Koronus Expanse have made special pacts with various Navigator families—the Rogue Trader agrees to a slightly higher fee for the Navigator’s services, and in return, a senior Navigator is sent to serve as the vessel’s warp guide whilst several younger Navigators attend him, gaining valuable hands-on experience. In this way does the Rogue Trader benefit greatly, for not only does he acquire more Navigators to pilot his vessel should some misfortune rob him of one, he also garners younger, more adventurous Navigators to accompany him when away from his ship.

This way, the Navigator player character can choose to play an intrepid scion of his lineage—or an older, wiser Navigator who trusts his understudies to handle the ship under most circumstances whilst he himself indulges his adventuresome side.


I also have some special presents this week: a set of Rogue Trader wallpapers! Featuring art by Andrea Uderzo and the awesome Rogue Trader logo, now you too can announce your ambition knows no bounds on your computer screen. I want to give major thanks to Marketing Graphic Designer Extraordinaire Ryann Collins and Intern Nate Winslow for making these great wallpapers! You can find these wallpapers on the Support page for Rogue Trader .



Ahead in Part 2

Stay tuned for another designer diary next week, when I talk more about the setting for Rogue Trader— the Koronus Expanse, and about some in-game terms Rogue Trader players will get to know pretty well: Profit and Endeavours.

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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