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Rogue trader powered by the apocalypse

Concept: The commanders of a mighty Imperial (trade) vessel in the 40k universe build eke out an trading empire in the grim dark expanse of the future.

The general idea is to try and better simulate a Rogue Trader by cutting down focus on dungeon crawling and personal skill and creating mechanics to encourage large-scale thinking and power plays (while maintaining the cool parts of having colossal ships filled with people travelling through space and the Warp).

This is at the moment a rough draft.

World building


There are two maps to create - the ship and the expanse.

The Expanse

Areas should be interesting, but probably won't differ much from map creation in Apocalypse World, with some considerations:

  • There should be a starting point, The Edge of The Imperium
  • Probably best to mark any notable star systems or clusters (rather than planets)
  • Outline any notable rival economic trade zone or zones (to promptly ignore whenever convenient)
  • Notable warp phenomena should be added for fun interesting times.
The ship

This is the captain speaking. This is a reminder to not enter section IV Beta Alma. Our last excursion team are still missing since their attempt last week.

In a perfect universe, all Imperial ships would be perfectly constructed and kept in perfect working conditions by the men and women on them toiling ceaselessly in the dark. In practice, your ship is a prized family artifact, like a grandfather's dresser, with its own… eccentricities. The captain and their innermost circle may control the most important parts of the ship with thousands reporting to them, but most of the 25 000 people aboard are directly or even indirectly loyal to them - some aren't even aware they're on a space ship. To wit, then, part of a Rogue Trader's mission is to keep up appearances, to present the intimidating exterior to others instead of the inner anarchy of a ship's guts.

Ideally, start with a silhouette of the ship. Place interesting places (“sections”) on the map containing with points of interest. For example:

  • Daemonic infestation in a that was never quite properly cleared out (as it is a 5000 m³ volume)
  • Two competing savage tribes who revere the ship speakers as their god
  • A train that carries the command across the ship
  • A cracked secondary reactor and its mutant guardians

Inspiration: The Good Ship Manatee lyrics

The ship should probably have its own playbook with traits and quirks to be marked and some special moves (e g teleportarium) but PC playbooks should have their own moves concerning the ship.

Ship-to-ship combat

- Sir! That last torpedo destroyed the connection to section IV Beta Alma! Should we send an emergency repair crew? … Sir? - I'm thinking about it!

Basically handled like normal AW combat if the ship is a playbook?

Character Playbooks

Moves should probably be large scale - everyone starting out with a small personal guard they can throw at problems, with some playbooks (e g Captain) having the option of commanding up to several thousands while others may recruit a few more.

Ideas for moves:

  • Captain/Bosun: The ability to recruit locals (humans [or xenos under special conditions]) for immediate minions
  • Weaponmaster(?): Intimidating smaller ships and planets with the ship, increased with ship acquisition
  • Captain: Ensuring personal loyalty from up to five thousand crewmembers
  • Techpriest things like retrofitting technology (optionally archeotech, xenotech, heretek)
  • Bureaucrat (Merchant?) trading goods, establishing trade routes, acquiring rare goods and technology, tricking Imperial Inquisitors
  • Cleric demanding absolute loyalty (for a short period?) to The Emperor (through themselves)
  • Psyker/Astropath: Cool psychic powers, may (rarely) accidentally cause daemonic incursion
rogue_trader_powered_by_the_apocalypse.txt · Last modified: 2016/12/12 21:35 by maxraven

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