Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Here's an Earth-sized planet. To scale!
Just one or two makes all the difference. And the fun part is - the math works out!
Here, we see the battle with the Tau as it began. The Tau were in orbit around an Earth-sized planet, while the far moon was about as far away as our Moon is to us. And the cut-outs were to scale. Kind of neat to see it in scale before you.
As the battle joins, the fast Tau ship was able to cross the difference swiftly. Kitsune's ship hid behind the berth of the ringed moon while the Ferral Wolf gave chase to the Fel Hand.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Investigating the system of Lucin's Breath
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Matt, our Rogue Trader player was kind enough to contribute to the blog once more. This time with words from the dynasty's former Rogue Trader....
This letter, penned by my uncle, was given to me three days before his death at the hands of Ork raiders. I still wonder if he knew or sensed something, a preternatural awareness of his impending death that caused him to officially, albeit secretly, hand over the Holocene Warrant of Trade before his demise. The original copy of this letter, hand written on parchment instead of coded into a dataslate, rests with the Warrant. I transposed it here for… well, for rather obvious reasons.
Let me begin with pride. The man you have become certainly instills within me that emotion. My sister, your mother too would be proud, were she here to see you. As much as my arrogance would enjoy taking credit for your upbringing, I must admit that you certainly are your own man. This is good in our kind; you will be often required to make difficult decisions, and while advice and wisdom will help, in the end never forget that you are the imperator of this dynasty, which brings me to the reason for this letter.
Our once great house has fallen nearly into oblivion. It is up to you to ensure its survival. In some ways I envy you; you will begin the greatest adventure that any in our dynasty has ever attempted, save perhaps Hester Nathaniel himself. At the same time, even for the same reason, you will also face the greatest challenges.
I will not tell you to be careful or safe. I pray you understand the weight, the importance of your position; not just as a Rogue Trader or as the Archon of House Holocene, but as the terminal hope that keeps our name from extinction. That, however, does not mean to always be cautious. You will be required, at times, to make bold decisions. I place my trust in your judgment in this.
I offer only three things to leave you with, wisdom I have gleaned from just over two centuries as a Rogue Trader. First, consider thoroughly the man you wish to become. This dynasty will follow in your footsteps. If you are a brigand, a traitor to your word, so will this House be named. Infamy is easier to achieve, it always has been; but do not mistake it for greatness. The name Holocene has long been synonymous with honor, will you continue that tradition? It will be easy, especially in this time of unrest, for you to turn toward unscrupulous behavior. I hope, for the sake of both your soul and our dynasty, that you will not succumb to this temptation.
My second piece of advice is this: question every decision you make. Allow for doubt and listen to the advice of those whom you trust. Analyze possible outcomes and understand that your decisions affect the lives of thousands today, and perhaps the lives of untold billions as time progresses. However, once a decision is made, let it be made. There are things that cannot be undone once done. Sometimes we simply must live with the consequences of our actions. Greatness is not the same as perfection. Learn to live with the mistakes you will make.
Finally, I leave you with our secrets. As a house descended from Inquisitor Holocene himself – I would warn you that our Dynasty and the very ship that you inherit possesses many. I will not enumerate them here, as words transcribed can be read by others. No, what I have to tell you is for your ears alone. And we will speak true when the time comes.
I know you have the potential for leading the Holocene name back to the glory it once held. When all else fails, remember that I willingly placed this dynasty, along with my trust, in your hands. You have always had about the mark of terrible purpose. The Holocene Name needs such a man at this hour of twilight.
Swift and True shall she venture, so long as your heart is pure.
With greatest affection,
Monday, November 8, 2010
How do you incorporate a pirate crew into your Rogue Trader dynasty?
Monday, October 25, 2010
Wake has an importance second only to Footfall in the Koronus Expanse. Its importance is due primarily to the fact that it forms a gateway into Winterscale's Realm, the most settled, colonized, and frequented sub-sector within the Expanse. The most travelled and well-known warp routes all pass through Wake. It is a strategic place to stop off for supplies as one travels further into the Expanse.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Sunday, October 17, 2010
So this session precipitated, for me, an epic moment in roleplaying. A single moment that encapsulates with Rogue Trader is all about. That epic moment deserves its own post and will be discussed at greater length there.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
It's a large card that I gave a colored border to and filled with text, describing an innovation that the Explorator recently came up with. It's a sort of "ion grenade" which makes technology go amuck by messing with the machine spirits. I guess I could have just emailed him this info or wrote it down in my notebook, but what I'm learning in this campaign is that that stuff often gets lost. You forget about it. We've all been there, right? Ten sessions later, the GM or the player perks up and says, "Hey! Remember my thingamajigger?" This helps as a sort of reminder. A placeholder that says: "Hey there, I have this now."
What's interesting is that in the campaign, out in the depths of space, the Explorator can do these sorts of things. In a Dark Heresy or Deathwatch game, innovating or inventing would be strictly prohibited. That said, I suppose that a tech-priest could always "rediscover" old technology.
Class: Thrown; Range: SBx3; Damage: Special; Pen: 0; Special: Blast (2)
Upon detonating near a technological device, roll 1d10
1 grenade fails, no effect
2-3 machine spirits confused - device is unreliable/operates erratically
4-5 machine spirits panicked - device operates continuously on current settings for 5-10 rounds
6-7 machine spirits frightened - device very difficult to use or control, -20 to -40 on rolls
8 machine spirits scared - device locks and will not activate for 5-10 rounds - this is the *intended* result
9 machine spirits maddened – device continuously one and rate/speed of operation increases and at the end of operation, the device is damaged or destroyed; machine spirit may be permanently affected (GM's discretion)
10 spectacular/bizarre event, GM's discretion
Sunday, October 10, 2010
One of the most fun aspects of a game is when it takes on a life of its own for me. The point or points in which I have completely let go of the reins and am only reacting to what the players do is pretty much the high point of any campaign that I run.
- Set-piece 1 was a fire-fight with some pirates, who were using the chaos of the moment to hopefully reap vengeance on some of the Explorers.
- Set-piece 2 was a scramble across suspension bridges to a shuttle craft so they they could escape, all the while being fired upon by a flyer.
- Set-piece 3 was a space-battle as the PCs tried to escape Footfall.
Friday, October 8, 2010
Wizard's new ad for D&D:
And now here's where it's from - a short from the 2006 D&D movie competition:
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
I have found over the past 8 months, with the addition of a new child, my prep style for games has radically changed.
The thing I used to do was put in a massive amount of prep work up front. I'd build the world, create NPCs, build plot lines, and have everything in near-publishable format before we took off. I'd even create stat blocks and tab monster entries. Then, after the game got started, I let the world take care of itself. Because I had put so much time and effort into the NPCs and the world, I created whenever the PCs did something, it was very easy to figure out how my world and cast of characters would react. My session prep, then, was to just take a few notes about what the various factions of my world would do.
Now, it's much different. Now, I literally can't put in the intensive prep work up front. So it has to be spread out over the course of the campaign. Plus, there is a lot of re-reading the rules and refining my knowledge of how the game works.
Something new for this game...I now extensively email my players about their characters' agendas and what they want to get done. This sort of happened on its own. The Rogue Trader player, Matt, started emailing me with orders he was giving to their entourage. I would respond back and then we would see his orders carried out during the course of the next session.
One more thing, and this is big: I am constantly prepping certain big scenes or big reveals in my head. Cutscenes and set pieces, if you will, that will come up later in the game. I even have them set to music. I don't know when they will come up, but when the PCs do something that I think warrants the big reveal, then I'll whip it out, perhaps tweaking it for their specific actions.
Friday, September 17, 2010
A Sister of Battle and a High Priest! Long live the Emperor!
And what makes this year so special? Well, I got shanghaied into being the game programming director at Dragon*Con. That means I was in charge of game panels. Things like Dungeon Design 101, How to Make a Better Character - things like that.
Here's the presentation that Mike was at just before he joined me at Dragon*Con.
Friday, September 10, 2010
Here's my fleet. Three chaos battlecruisers and four escorts (frigate class).
Here you can see the real thick of it. Ships right on top of each other. Blast tokens creating that spontaneous terrain that I'm talking about. If Chaos is going to go out, what better way to go out?
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
After a successful raid of the Space Hulk, our intrepid Explorers then made the rest of the journey to Footfall. There, they picked up their new Astropath, who happened to be a new player.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Log of Events
Ferral Wolf, comissioned 389M34
Captain H. Tiberius Odysean Holocene
Warrant of Trade # RV-426-G7-96-BFN4Y2
Granted to Rogue Trader Hester Nathaniel Holocene 623M35 327M31
Given leave to spread the light of the God Emperor to places unknown within Segmentum Obscurus.
How do you measure the value of a life?
It is a question that every leader worth his salt must face, even Rogue Traders. I have sent men to their deaths, lost soldiers in battle. I have even left people to die and made decisions that cost the lives of thousands of souls. I tell myself that the sacrifices are necessary; sealing off a burning compartment on my ship might kill hundreds, but save everyone else, tens of thousands of people who rely on me to make the right decision. I have commanded warriors to stand and fight in futility or to advance straight into corruption. But I will never be able to forget the screams of those burning alive, or the sight of men being ripped to pieces at the hands of an Ork horde. Despite these memories, I have always been able to remind myself why I do these things.
How can I let the fate of one life, or even a thousand lives stand in the way of destiny?
I am the progenitor of the Holocene Dynasty. Sending men to their deaths is a part of that. The decisions I make will someday influence entire star systems, billions of people. I will not fail my ancestors, I will not allow our line to fall into oblivion.
Losing Sitara was a hammer blow. Though I rarely had opportunity to express them, I cannot deny the feelings I had for her. Love is probably too strong a word, but there was caring and compassion to be sure. She smiled only rarely, but when she did, it brightened my day. Watching her get ripped to shreds by the... thing under the city was devastating.
Suddenly my understanding of my destiny was cast into shadow. If her fate meant so much to me, what of the fates of all the rest who serve under my command, who toil for the name Holocene. How can one man be held responsible for so many? How can I continue to choose to send men into battle, or one of a hundred other gruesome ends?
I wish, for a fleeting moment, that I were someone else; a lowly serf. Riches and fame seem ill-equipped to offset this price, this burden I must bear.
I find myself unsure as to my next course of action. This is unnerving to say the least. I know that I am still tasked with leading this crew, this dynasty. What if I make the wrong choice?
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
A buddy of mine, who happens to be a player in my Rouge Trader game went to Gen Con this week and picked up Into the Storm. So, here's my review of the new book, after having it for only three days.
If you don't know what Into the Storm is, it's an upgrade book or "player's guide" for the Rogue Trader game. So far, this book seems to me to be what The Inquisitor's Handbook was to Dark Heresy. And that is certainly a good thing.
Chapter One: Advanced Origins
One of the more innovative things I enjoy about the Rogue Trader system is its Origin Path system for character creation. It's a real help because it helps focus character backgrounds and creation in a massive universe of options and realities.
Chapter One greatly expands upon the Origin Path system and keeps it backwards compatible by introducing alternate origins at each station. For example, instead of starting out on a Death World, you can start out on a Death World or a Frontier World, which gives different benefits and penalties. Moving down from that, you could pick Scavenger or Fringe Survivor, etc. And on top of that, each of the new origin picks has three different variations to choose from as well. If you choose to be a Fringe Survivor, you could be a Survivalist, Heretek, or Pit-Fighter. (Warhammer Quest anyone?)
All of these new Origin paths do cost xp, however. So people looking to go crazy and power-mad are reined in a bit. I'm going to certainly offer these new Origin Paths retroactively to my players, because many of them are much better fits for their characters.
Another row of Origins is added as well: Lineage. Lineage is an Origin aspect which describes your family and their reputation.
Another cool edition - an Origin path for the Explorer's Warrant of Trade. This is very neat. In this section, the players and GM sit down together and decide the general history and background of the very Warrant they hold. Doing so determines the group's starting Profit Factor and Ship Points.
Chapter Two: Koronus Careers
This section of the book contains information the both expands on the initial Rogue Trader classes and introduces new elements to the game. I will tell you right now that this is the section that introduces the Kroot and Ork Freebooter races to the game. Unfortunately, neither race is given its own Origin chart, and they are stuck with a single career choice - Kroot Mercenary or Ork Freebooter. They do, however, have a slew of Talents and other abilities that set them off from humans. The Kroot, for example, can gain hit points by eating their slain opponents.
Thereafter, the book describes Alternate Career ranks. Just like in Dark Heresy, alternate career ranks are special ranks which can be taken instead of the next level on the line. After your alternate rank, you go back to the ranks in your regular career. Some of the alternate ranks are more specific than others. For example, the Acquisitionist can be only taken by the Seneschal. Some are very setting specific, like the Drusian Adherent. However, many of the alternate career ranks are open - able to be taken by any of the career paths.
The end of the chapter features a few Elite Advances. Two of them are are open to most careers, while some like the Rite of Duplessence and the Sanctioned Xenos are career specific.
Chapter Three: Extended Armoury
This chapter features, as you might expect, a lot more weapons and equipment. I didn't know how much they could expand the weapons list from the Inquisitor's Handbook, but they did it. Noteworthy are the expanded types of grenades and ammunition; as well as a fair number of xenos equipment.
Chapter Four: Starships Expanded
This section offers a brief write up on ship life and then goes into expanding the ship options in Rogue Trader. More hull types are present. Many should seem familiar to fans of Battlefleet Gothic, like the Firestorm frigate or the Lathe-class monitor cruiser. Also added are ship background packages. You can buy these with ship points, and are like backgrounds you can pick for your ship, rather than roll for.
There are also ship upgrades like better Warp engines, additional Void shields, or different ship weapons like missile batteries. Finally, there are interesting ship upgrades like giving your vessel vaulted ceilings (morale increase) or even buying an atomic weapon. But you can only buy one nuke at a time.
Chapter Five: Vehicles
This is perhaps the most valuable portion of the book, since it gives stats and rules for vehicles, something missing from both Dark Heresy and Death Watch. There is an old web book out there with vehicles and vehicle rules for Dark Heresy, but those rules were much more on the narrative side and sort of filler for a gap in the rules.
The vehicle rules are not unlike the rules for ships, though obviously they work on different scale. Each vehicle has a degree of armor and structural integrity. When it starts taking Structural Integrity damage, it starts taking critical wounds, much like a character.
Chapter Six: Expanded Psychic Powers
This section includes new Navigator powers as well as new Astropathic powers. None of the powers that I saw in my quick glance seemed to be redundant, as can happen in systems of this nature. There is also a new psychic school, which is Theosophamy - a school which focuses on manipulating the Warp itself for its own sake. The powers included allow the psyker to do such things as attempt to banish daemons and the like (it's not easy), or make one's weapon into a Warp Weapon.
Chapter Seven: Enhanced Game Mechanics
Chapter Seven is almost an appendix, with a number of rules upgrades or mechanics ideas in place for GMs to use or not. There is a small section on Social Interaction challenges, not unlike an Exploration challenge.
The book also introduces Meta and Background Endeavours. Meta Endeavours are large, campaign-spanning Endeavours which are meant to be either an outline for your campaign or something close to it. I rather liked this write up. It shows how Endeavours can be used to outline an entire campaign, even if you run it sandbox style.
The addition of Background Endeavours is nice as well. It allows the PCs to set up long-term tedious tasks to be accomplished by NPCs so that the party can go do exciting stuff.
This chapter also introduces ideas to make Acquisition Tests and Profit Factor more interesting. For example, if the Rouge Trader group keeps on spending extravagant amounts of money, they can attract unwanted attention.
Finally, there is an expansive look at then different roles on a Rogue Trader ship, what they do, and where they operate. I also enjoyed this section, because ship-board drama is something I wanted to cover in my campaign, and this section is great for ideas for just that.
Chapter Eight: Port Wander
Obviously, this is a detailed write up on Port Wander. Footfall, of course, is covered in Lure of the Expanse.