by Sam Stewart

Greetings, Rogue Traders!

This week I’m pleased to turn the Astropathic broadcast over to Rogue Trader writer Nathan Dowdell, who wrote—among other things—the Ork Freebooterz for Into the Storm !

Generic salutations! I’m Nathan Dowdell, and I’m one of the newest additions to the eclectic collection of scribes working on the Rogue Trader line. Into the Storm was the first book I worked on as a writer, but I’ve been involved with Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay for several years now, having playtested Dark Heresy in some of its earliest incarnations.

Now, I’ve a confession to make: I like Xenos. The aliens of the Warhammer 40,000 universe have always held an appeal for me, ever since the first time I read the descriptions in the Codex Imperialis book that came with the old boxed set. It’s been a great honour, then, to be one of the people involved with bringing playable Xenos to Rogue Trader .

‘Ere We Go! ‘Ere We Go! ‘Ere We Go!

Brave and foolhardy Rogue Traders can hire Ork Freebooterz to join the ranks of the Explorers, adding brute strength, incredible resilience and a complete lack of tact to any group.

Creating an Ork Freebooter character is, perhaps unsurprisingly, not too dissimilar to creating any other character. The biggest difference is perhaps the Origin Path, or lack thereof. From the outset, we knew that the standard Origin Path and Career Paths would not really suit the themes and backgrounds of Xenos player characters, and our first challenge was to find an alternative method.

In the end, simplicity won out, and the Freebooter is represented by a single ‘species’ entry, and an accompanying Career Path. Within the species entry, there are a selection of Origin options, adding some of the customisation and variability that the Origin Path provides for human characters. In the case of the Orks, these represent two elements that define Ork ‘Kultur’: the Klans, and the instinctive knowledge located deep within Ork genetics that produce their castes and specialists.

Now, the section is far from just rules. Playing any character is more than statistics and dice rolls, afterall, and Orks are no different. Indeed, something I took firmly into account is that playing an alien character requires a little more guidance than playing a human being. About half of the section is devoted to describing and examining what Orks are, how they act, and even how they think—conveying information valuable to anyone thinking about playing an Ork. I spent long hours poring over every piece of Ork information I could find, from their original depictions in Waaagh: The Orks and ‘Ere We Go! , through three iterations of Codex: Orks and anything else I could lay my hands on, in order to gain as broad and detailed an insight into the greenskins as I possibly could.

One thing I felt it was particularly important to convey was that, while the Orks are hardly the ‘noble savage’ or ‘proud warrior race’, they aren’t inherently evil, just extremely violent. An Ork does not, typically, hate his enemies—indeed, an Ork values highly any foes strong enough to match him—and wages war with laughter and enthusiasm compared to the loathing and grim necessity that so often fuel human warfare. This core value, above all others, is the single greatest defining factor of the Ork mindset, and the most important thing for anybody wanting to play an Ork to understand, in my opinion.

The Freebooter career itself covers a hefty chunk of an Ork’s normal lifespan, with the character growing larger, stronger and deadlier as it progresses, to the point where experienced Ork Freebooter characters can quite happily face even Space Marines in single combat. Freebooterz aren’t, however, the only option. Mekboyz and Kommandos also receive attention, represented by alternate ranks that allow Ork characters to gain abilities not normally available to them, be they advanced skills with technology, or the ability to sneak up on enemies and stab them (or blow them up) before they realise you’re there. There’s also a significant selection of Ork-specific equipment, and for those Orks who constantly feel “da need fer speed,” a Warbike can be found amongst the vehicle rules. Orks can even pick up Gretchen, Snotling, and Squigs, who serve as assistants and potential emergency rations.

In the end, an Ork Explorer is a unique character in Rogue Trader that can lead to new and interesting group dynamics in turn. It can also lead to interesting quandaries for the group, particularly if they need to leave the Expanse and return to the Imperium!

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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