Greetings, Rogue Trader fans!

This week I am pleased to present a guest designer diary by scribe Sam Stewart, the author of the Starships chapter in Rogue Trader .

Sam Stewart Speaks!

So the other day, Ross asked me if I could put together a designer diary going over how to construct a space ship in Rogue Trader . Well, I’ll take any excuse to write about Rogue Trader ’s starships, so I pulled out a fresh sheet of parchment, fired up the ol’ auto-quill, and got to work.

The first thing to determine is the ‘budget’ I’m working with. Rogue Trader has rules for determining your starting Profit Factor and Ship Points, with more of one meaning less than the other. To find out how much of each you start with, you roll a single 1d10 on Table 1-5: Starting Profit Factor and Ship Points (found on page 33 of the core rulebook). There are five possible results, ranging from wealthy Rogue Traders with small, modest ships, to impoverished Rogue Traders who still cling to the mighty vessels their dynasty possessed when it was wealthy.

I rolled a “7,” giving me an average amount of Profit Factor and Ship Points. Apparently, the dynasty I’m building this ship for is a relatively new player on the galactic stage, with lots of resources to draw on. Those resources mean I have 50 Ship Points to play with when constructing this vessel. Now that I know how many Ship Points I have, I’ll turn to Chapter 8: Starships to actually build the ship.

First I have to decide what kind of ship I’m going to build, and that means selecting a hull type. There are five different types of hulls, from slow and lumbering transports, fast and fragile raiders, multi-purpose frigates, long-range light cruisers, and heavy and powerful cruisers. The ship’s hull is also what I’ll be spending the most Ship Points on. A complete list of hulls can be found on pages 194-196.

I decide to go with a Sword-class frigate, a venerable mainstay of the Imperial Battlefleet. It has a good balance of Speed, Manoeverability, armour, and potential firepower. It also costs 40 Ship Points, leaving me 10 to purchase Components to augment the starship with. As we’ll see, 10 Ship Points will be plenty to construct this starship (I would always make sure I have at least 5 left over after selecting a hull).

Before I go any further, I have to see what my new ship has gone through before ending up under my pen. That entails rolling on the two Complications tables found on page 197 and 198. The first table, Machine Spirit Oddities, determines some of the quirks my ship’s machine spirit has picked up over its many years of service. There are 10 possibilities, and I roll “Resolute.” My frigate is a bit slower than other ships, but is tougher and easier to repair.

Next, I roll on the second table, Past Histories. Starships in the 40k universe are very old, often owned by many owners, and rebuilt and refurbished countless times. This table suggests some of the activities the ship (and its crew) has been involved in in the past. I get the result “Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing,” meaning this ship has sophisticated masking systems to conceal some of its weapons; perhaps it used to be a pirate vessel, or served time as a Q-ship in the Imperial Navy.

Next, I have to pick out my ship’s Essential Components (listed on page 201). These are things the ship needs to run, like life sustainers and a bridge. There are seven categories of Essential Components, and every ship needs one Component from each category (no more, no less). However, since every ship is expected to have them, most Essential Components do not cost Ship Points. I will have to keep an eye on my ship’s available Power and Space, however. Each component will take up some of each of these resources (which are provided by the ship’s Plasma Drives and Hull, respectively). I’m starting with 45 Power and 40 Space, but my Past History takes up 2 Power right off the bat, and things like my Void Shields and Warp Drives take up even more. Most of the Components I select are the most basic, bare-bones versions, but I use a little extra Power, Space, and one of my remaining Ship Points to upgrade my Bridge to a combat oriented bridge, and buy a more powerful Augur Array. At the end I have 9 Ship Points, 14 Space, and 16 Power left over.

Now comes the really fun part—adding the Supplemental Components. These are things like cargo holds, augmented systems, and (of course) guns. Not essential, but you’ll be glad you have them. (A list of Supplemental Components is found on page 204.)

First, weapons. A Sunsear Laser Battery and set of Mars Pattern Macrocannons for my two Weapon Component slots means my frigate hits hard at long range, and even harder up close. To beef them up even more, I’ll install a Munitorium packed full of laser focusing crystals and macro-warheads. All three Components combined take up 12 Power, 9 Space, and 4 Ship Points. (As a side note, my ship’s Past History will allow me to conceal all three Components from prying scans, giving my opponents a nasty surprise!)

Next, I’ll take a Cargo Hold and Lighter Bay to ensure my frigate can participate in trading endeavors. I’ll also add a Librarium Vault and a Trophy Room. The Librarium is full of accumulated lore on any number of topics, and what Rogue Trader wouldn’t want a grand hall dedicated to his accomplishments? Finally, in the lowest reaches of the ship, I’ll install a set of cryo-pods to store a cadre of Murder-Servitors, invaluable when conducting hit-and-run raids on other ships.

That’s the last of my Power, Space, and Ship Points, and I’m left with a credible and dangerous ship to explore the Expanse with. All I need now is a name, and in honor of the brilliant novels by Patrick O’Brian, I think I’ll call her the Surprise (it’s certainly fitting).

And there you have it: a new ship ready for some plucky Rogue Trader to take into the Koronus Expanse.

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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