The Navis Primer , a supplement for Rogue Trader , is almost here! Last time , we heard from Max Brooke and Ross Watson regarding philosophy behind Rogue Trader’ s use of maps. Today, Art Coordinator Mike Linnemann joins the discussion, delving into the process and psyche of the Navigator as he previews some of the art from The Navis Primer .

Rogue Traders make their fortune by traveling the cold gaps between the light of the stars. To do this, they require the assistance of Navigators, specialized, sanctioned mutants who use their pineal eye to guide vessels through the hostile Sea of Souls that is the Immaterium. Their ability is to see into the Warp, navigating giant ships across the universe for the Imperium. These practices are often too terrifying for most to even comprehend, let alone conduct without simply going mad. But the Emperor’s will shall be done, and the Navigators alone can make it happen. 

These men and women, though able to see and decipher the Warp directly, cannot simply lead a ship along a line to a destination. They need maps. Journeys can take months, years, decades, or even centuries with the best Navigators guiding a ship into and successfully out of the Warp. But their maps do not mark routes and destinations with linear distances or landmarks. Such things have no sway in the Warp.

The Warp is not like a highway, easily accessed from an onramp. It is not even like the Autobahn. Imagine it more like a stream. Imagine then, a Navigator guiding the ship through the current of Warp energy, fighting storms and undercurrents, and guiding the ship past the dread realms that swirl in the wake of the Chaos gods. Navigators cannot follow the canned instructions of a GPS past familiar landmarks; a Navigator must feel the planets within the Warp and knows that a storm is near, that a star has been passed, and that the ship is near its destination. Therefore the map needs to be emotional and turbulent, shifting and uncertain.

Art direction started with that foundational idea: one Navigator’s personal map.

This is not a painted representation; this is a living map, a thing that a navigator would paint and repaint dozens if not hundreds of times during a voyage, feeling the emotional tugs of relationships between celestial bodies. 

A Navigator’s Map of the Koronus Expanse

Click to enlarge.

Notice the vibrant color within the map. Planets are not circular masses but rather absences of Warp energy: holes in the fabric of the Immaterium. Through the hole, one can see the color of the paper that a Navigator is painting upon. Unlike on the maps in the first article, these planets are not presences in the darkness but are instead absences in the Warp. If you inspect the map closely, you will see the Navigator’s paint moving around these omissions, just as the Warp ebbs and flows around it.

Click to enlarge.

A Navigator does not see asteroid fields or massive storms. He or she sees the Warp disturbances that roil around the danger, like a section of rapids in a river. Something stirs the current into a churning frenzy from below and the Navigator, through practice, knows the difference between benign disturbances that arise around an asteroid field and rifts through which Daemons of the Chaos Gods can tear their way into reality, even through a Gellar Field. Through their training in the ways of the Warp, Navigators come to understand the emotional currents that flow through environments and organisms alike. When something lies beneath the surface, they simply know.

Thanks, Mike. Next week, navigate your way to your friendly local retailer; The Navis Primer is coming soon!

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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