The Gen Con debut of Into the Storm , the latest supplement for Rogue Trader , was a great success. For the thousands of fans not among the lucky few who picked up a copy, we're happy to present this designer diary from Jason Marker, one of the writers of this exciting title.
Hey everybody! My name is Jason Marker, and I'm one of the newest members in the stable of Rogue Trader freelancers. When my assignment came for Into the Storm , which entailed expanding rules for social interaction tests, profit factor, and designing new Endeavours, I was honoured and excited. So, with my new copy of Rogue Trader in hand, a group of 40K fanatics as friends, and the sure and helpful leadership of Ross [Watson] and Sam [Stewart], I dove straight into the assignment.
First off was an expansion of individual interaction tests using both Fellowship and Lore skills. In Rogue Trader , only Fellowship skills, like Charm and Command, can be used to manipulate the outcome of an interaction with an NPC. What I wanted to do was expand the rules already in game, and allow for the use of Lore Skills in social situations. See, I figured that winging it in a fast-talk situation is one thing, but a Rogue Trader who can use a Lore Skill to give themselves a leg-up in a negotiation is even better served. A successful Lore Test would give the player some kind of information about the NPC that make the players job easier. Think of it as using context clues in a conversation, like knowing the significance of a medal worn by an Imperial functionary, and using that knowledge to distract him. There are also some new modifiers that affect the final difficulty depending on how the final outcome of an interaction test will affect the NPC. In other words, it's easier to get someone to do something for you when it's beneficial to all parties, not just to you.
Next on my list was creating rules for social interaction challenges. Now, as those of you who already play Rogue Trader know, when a group of players want to pool their skills in the course of exploring the unknown, the GM can construct an exploration challenge. What Sam wanted was a similar game mechanic for social interactions, the ability for characters to pool their social skills during parties and negotiations to further the interests of their Rogue Trader. This would allow one player to talk shop with a friendly admiral while another spoke at length with an important functionary and charmed his pants off... all the while racking up levels of success or failure toward completion of the party's stated goals. In designing these rules, I wanted the success or failure of each member of the party to have very real consequences on the outcome of the Interaction, as is the case with the Exploration Challenges. Negotiations are a tricky thing, especially with a number of strong personalities at the table, and it's easier to ruin a negotiation and scuttle a trade mission than it is to bring one to a successful completion.
Once the Social Interaction part of my assignment was through, I moved on to new endeavours. For Into the Storm I designed two new types of endeavour: the Meta Endeavour and the Background Endeavour. A Meta Endeavour, an early example of which was first seen in Lure of the Expanse, are essentially huge, time and resource consuming endeavours made up of the standard endeavours found in Rogue Trader. Massive, galaxy-spanning affairs, they allow a GM to build a whole campaign filled with goals and rewards for his players. Background Endeavours, which were probably my favorite thing to work on, are endeavours that players start and leave to their “people” to finish. They run in the background while the players are off doing something fun like blowing up Orks. Their success or failure is determined by some secret rolls made by the GM, and if the wheels come off while the players are off gallivanting around, well, that's their problem for not making sure proper steps were taken to ensure success.
Lastly, I did some work expanding the Acquisition and Influence Rules. Mainly what I did here was put the brakes on rampant spending by Rogue Traders within game. You can't just roll into, say, Footfall or Port Wander and start flashing Thrones around without attracting some attention. While some is good, the appearance of wealth being every bit as important to a Rogue Trader as his actual wealth, it can also attract unwelcome attention. Spend enough and you can attract attention from all manner of criminals, pirates, and crooked officials, all of whom more than willing to separate an unlucky Rogue Trader from his money. For influence, I added a number of modifiers that make it more difficult for a Rogue Trader to use his reputation to help him get what he wants. Honestly, the further away from your usual base of operations you are, the less likely it is that anyone's heard of you, and there are plenty of benighted, backward little corners of the Koronus Expanse that haven't seen a visitor in millennia.
In all, the whole experience working with Fantasy Flight and the Rogue Trader setting couldn't have been better, and I'm looking forward to more upcoming releases!
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.