“Always be watchful of pirates and other ne’er-do-wells; seldom, if ever, are they unarmed, and even one who appears at your mercy may still have a trick or six left. A micro-stubber, a sneak-knife, a tox-mister or something more malicious still may lurk beneath sleeves, within hidden pockets elsewhere about their person.”
      –Chief Petty Officer Vincholo, addressing a new group of Armsmen aboard the Vengeful Martyr

Last month, we announced the upcoming release of Hostile Acquisitions, the next supplement for Rogue Trader. From new characters and equipment to creating nemeses and running games based on criminal enterprise, Hostile Acquisitions is an invaluable resource for players and GMs wishing to run a campaign on the far side of Imperial Law. Today, we’re pleased to present a preview by contributing writer Nathan Dowdell.

Practicality and Style

As any self-respecting Rogue Trader knows, employing the right tools is not merely a matter of practicality, but also one of style; swords, guns and armour serve as accessories for the discerning Rogue Trader’s wardrobe, each conveying a particular impression. For those Rogue Traders who flaunt the laws more than most, a far greater wealth of options exist, with obscene xenos artefacts and forbidden technologies of ancient days accompanying the more mundane bolters, power swords, and carapace armour.

This was the task I was given for the armoury in Hostile Acquisitions – to delve into the forbidden, the unholy and the immeasurably rare to provide an array of bizarre and illegal devices with which to equip more criminally-minded Explorers. This covers a wide range of items, from crudely fashioned devices produced by heretek artisans beyond the Maw, to the plundered artefacts of the Eldar and other species, to precious Archaeotech and blasphemous items the ownership of which is a death sentence. With weapons such as voidsuit-shredding Razorhail guns, counterfeit “Footfall-pattern” bolters, ancient microgrenade dispensers, devastating Rad grenades, bizarre Stryxis Aetherflare bombs, and the lethal grace of the Shuriken Cannon, ranged combat is well catered for. Of course, those who favour melee may find priceless Eldar Mirrorswords, vicious Zaythan Warblades, or the foul Curseblades of the Stryxis more to their tastes.

Aficionados of ostentatious or exotic armour are not overlooked either. A variety of suits exists, including repurposed carapaces normally used to protect crewmen working with heavy machinery, pressurised carapace armour designed for boarding actions, cunningly made clothing containing hidden mesh armour, and suits of chitinous plates ripped from the exoskeletons of vile Xenos beasts.

Less-than-Legal Equipment

To further emphasise the freedom that comes with disregarding the laws and traditions of the Imperium, I created lists of additional weapon and armour upgrades more suited to the forbidden experimentation of hereteks and criminals, as well as tools better suited to illicit purposes. Easily concealed micro-stubbers, shotguns with jury-rigged bolt shells, reverse-engineered human copies of xenos weaponry, powered exoskeletons for voidsuits, and concealed weapon mounts are just a few examples of what the upgrades section holds.

Additional tools can be found later in the chapter, from illegal gear such as Elseways Charts that tell of paths through the warp unknown to most (or Prognosticators that can guide a vessel without a Navigator’s aid) to piratical tools that project false distress signals across the void. Also included is a variety of drugs and poisons to be used or traded and an array of bionics such as the feature-concealing twitch-mask or the brutal servo-limbs used by menial labourers and augmented pit-fighters on countless worlds.

Whether you scavenge your gear from the ruins of ancient civilisations, steal it from the corpses of your enemies, or choose to create it yourself, there should be something of interest in Hostile Acquisitions ’ armoury.

The Wrong Side of the Law

“You have been accused, in the Emperor’s Name, of the crime of Piracy. You have the right to confess to your crime and seek absolution for your sins. Pleas for leniency will not be heard.”
      – Master Chastener Grigor Cardainn, levelling an accusation at the captain and crew of the Unhallowed

Those who defy the laws of the Imperium will, sooner or later, be confronted by the organisations who uphold those laws. In Hostile Acquisitions , an entire chapter is devoted to these forces of law and order, providing background and rules for a collection of adversaries – warriors and starships alike – who might have been allies under other circumstances.

Key amongst these are the Adeptus Arbites, the Imperial Navy, and the Adeptus Mechanicus, each of whom have their own focus when it comes to matters of law. The Arbitrators are concerned more with enforcing the Emperor’s laws upon His worlds. The Imperial Navy, on the other hand, patrols the void across the Imperium, watchful not only for Xenos invasions and Chaos incursions, but also for the pirates, raiders and smugglers that ply the cold, dark spaces between worlds. Patrol Group 686 serves as an example of these patrols, providing details of the Armsmen of the Imperial Navy, and a few of its vessels.

Deadlier still are the crimson-garbed priesthood of Mars, the Adeptus Mechanicus, whose fervour for punishing those who blaspheme against the holy machine or seek to keep technology from its rightful masters is virtually unmatched. Many pirates across the Calixis Sector and the Koronus Expanse are hereteks as well, for they operate starships away from the sanctified intellects of Tech-Priests and perform acts of hideous irreverence with the technology at their disposal. To combat such threats, patrol vessels armed with sophisticated weaponry and laden with Skitarii warriors and savage Murder-Servitors are employed by cruel, unrelenting Magi who will not suffer to live those whose heathen ways offend the Omnissiah.

These are not the only threats to criminally-minded Explorers – the Inquisition, the warriors and vessels of local Planetary Defence Forces, and even the supreme bureaucrats of the Administratum can all prove to be an obstacle between a Rogue Trader and his ill-gotten profits.

Thanks, Nathan! Keep checking back for more on Hostile Acquisitions, and look for in on store shelves in the fourth quarter of 2011!

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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