Greetings Rogue Trader Fans!

This week, I have a guest designer diary from Owen Barnes. Owen is a prolific writer who has been deeply involved in both Dark Heresy and Rogue Trader from the very beginning. Owen’s guest designer diary this week is all about “Into the Maw,” the introductory adventure in the Rogue Trader core rulebook.

However, I would be remiss if I did not first remind you all about Free RPG Day , coming up Saturday, June 20th! You can pick up a free copy of another Owen Barnes-crafted adventure for Rogue Trader , the 24-page full-colour booklet Forsaken Bounty !

With that out of the way, let me present Owen in his own words...

Across a Storm-wracked Sky

Another of my roles in the creation of the mighty tome that will be Rogue Trader was to create the introductory adventure. So here is a brief look (without giving away any plot!) at what you can expect from what will be for many a first taste of the game.
Writing an adventure for a new setting or system is always tricky. In addition to the usual task of creating a balance between a good strong plot and flexibility for the GM and his players, it also needs to encapsulate the background and showcase the rules—essentially giving a snapshot of what kinds of things it is capable of.

Having worked on several Dark Heresy adventures, I initially approached the writing of this adventure in a similar way. However, I quickly discovered that the “go there, do some investigation and crack some skulls”-style did not really fit a game where the players should be more in charge of their own destiny. Though it is not a Rogue Trader quote, but rather something from Battlefleet Gothic , I think this best sums up the difference between the scope of Dark Heresy and Rogue Trader :

“What is a Space Marine without a ship to carry him? He is an insignificant insect crawling in the mud of a single world. But what is a Space Marine with a fleet to carry him? He is death from above, a harbinger of the gods who walks the stars seeking battle.”

I always liked that quote… and though the PCs are not Space Marines I think it fits. Because the players have the freedom to make their own choices, travel their own paths and are in command of a mighty warp-capable vessel with the firepower to level a city (making ‘let’s nuke the site from orbit’ a likely PC tactic), it naturally changes the playing field for the GM. So the adventure had to take into consideration the resources at the players’ disposal and consider their potential actions. Will they shuttle down to the death world in classic Star Trek style taking only the Rogue Trader and his most important bridge crew? Or will they assemble a regiment of armsmen backed up by some combat servitors and arrive themselves only when all ‘resistance’ has been dealt with? Both options, plus everything in between are of course possible and bring with them their own set of consequences and outcomes.

With these considerations in mind the introductory adventure for Rogue Trader presents a fairly simple premise—the search for an ancient treasure ship lost during the time of the Angevin Crusade—and then adds a host of adversaries and options for the GM and players to explore along the way. In this way the players can pursue the main plot—the hunt for the wreck of the treasure ship and its overflowing holds—and still experience the freedom of being masters of their own fate. There are also several ‘sandbox’ areas where the players can explore a locale, such as a star system or world, in whichever way they choose.

As part of offering the players’ options, the adventure also makes use of Endeavours—profit-related side quests that can be discovered and exploited by the players by talking to certain NPCs or going to certain places. Some of these will run parallel to the main plot, allowing them to ferry cargo or passengers or chart routes to places they are already going. However, most will present a choice between acquiring wealth and influence and either making foes, losing time or taking extra risks.

The other really exciting aspect of this adventure, and the thing that makes it stand apart from Dark Heresy , is of course the introduction of warp travel and space battles. Something I really wanted to make clear in this adventure is that warp travel is dangerous, and really, an adventure in itself. This means that there are times when the players will face such things as warp storms, empyreal rips and temporal whirlpools which can be just as dangerous as an Ork boarding party or Wolfpack raider.

This of course leads me to space battles, which I had a lot of fun designing; making them as interesting and diverse as any personal combat encounter. When you have a whole system as a battlefield—packed with celestial phenomena like asteroid fields, gravity rifts and radiation clouds—things really start to get interesting.

Overall however, I hope that this adventure gives players and GMs alike a taste of what is possible in Rogue Trader , and a sign post to further adventures in the 41st millennium!


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.

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