Thursday, April 29, 2010

Good Novels for the Feel of Rogue Trader

Almost all of my players (and past players) have heard me rave about the book Eisenhorn.

As far as an introduction into the Warhammer 40,000 universe, I can think of no better. Essentially, the Omnibus describes the exploits of an Imperial Inquisitor. As I understand it, author Dan Abnett wrote Eisenhorn as a novel that could show readers how an Inquisition-based campaign might run. It's one of my favorite novels of all time. The best part of this book series is, however, that you don't need to know anything about the 40k universe to enjoy it. My wife, who is a non-gamer read it and loved it. So that's saying something.

Well, that's great and all for Dark Heresy. But what about Rogue Trader, however? Well, there is Rogue Star, which is a dedicated Rogue Trader novel. I don't know too much about it, but I may have to check it out.

Bu the novel series that I've taken a lot of inspiration from for my campaign is The Saint, also by Dan Abnett. The Saint is an omnibus of four novels, which are part of the Gaunt's Ghosts series of novels. The Gaunt's Ghosts series of novels follows the exploits of a particular division of the Imperial Guard. Basically, these stories read like Band of Brothers mixed with Horatio Hornblower in the 40k universe.

Now, this omnibus is a series of novels about the Imperial Guard, not Rogue Traders. But reading it, I really saw how someone could use these stories as an inspiration for a campaign involving the large scope of Rogue Trader. The Gaunt's Ghost stories features a large cast of characters. The main character, Ibram Gaunt, is a man who is in charge of managing all of them. While the over-arching plot is a massive crusade, the true drama is the interplay of the characters, how they relate, and how they change each other. It gave me a lot to think about in terms of what might happen on a Rogue Trader ship.

In the Gaunt's Ghosts stories, a single private can do something which alerts the entire course of the plot or battle, for which they are sometimes recognized and sometimes not. Sometimes survival is just enough. But it got me thinking about how to run Rogue Trader in my mind. It got me thinking about how the crew aboard the ship is going to react to each and every event.

For example, what if different and important crew members develop romances between each other? What if there is a love triangle? What about a love triangle that is totally outside of the player characters' circle, but they have to resolve it in order for the ship to run properly? What if there are rivalries or vendettas between the various NPCs on the ship? What if a mystery breaks out aboard the ship? For example, what if one crew member murders another? What if it was for damn good reason? What if one of the minor crew members turns out to be a heretic? What about a latent psyker?

All of these things also make me consider another kind of Rogue Trader campaign. What about a Rogue Trader campaign that was more intimate and gritty? If you wanted to play a Rogue Trade game that was a lot more like Battlestar Galactica, for example, you totally could. That kind of Rogue Trader campaign would be much more like a Shakespearean tragedy. But I digress.

To give a quick review of The Saint, the omnibus is divided up into four novels. Each is a quick and easy read. The first book, Honor Guard is basically an action-packed battle scene with some battlefield drama and politics thrown in. It's the weakest of the four, but still really worth it. The second, The Guns of Tanith, is more about a battle and then stealth insertion. Here, the characters become much more developed and we see their relationships grow and change. Straight Silver is perhaps the best of the four, being not only the most character-driven of all of the novels, but a fantastic science-fiction "What if?" Essentially, the novel asks, what would happen if 21st century Army Rangers went into the front lines of World War I? What would happen and how do those things interact when modern warfare is introduced to archaic attrition warfare? Finally, Sabbat Martyr gives a very satisfying conclusion to the series, full of "Hell yes!" and "Finally!" moments as well as some real tragedy.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Even More Terrain!

Aw, yeah. The plastic buildings have been treating me very well. Now that I'm done with my Witch Hunter project, hopefully I'll be able to get around to assembling the third building. As you can see here, I've now added the balcony to the basilica.

One problem with the balcony, there's a bit of gap at the bottom of it, which I'll use epoxy to fill up. And it's a tad tilted. But still, for my first Games Workshop building, I'll take it. All of the buttressing, which would have normally taken me possibly days to do or at least an entire afternoon were done in just a few minutes each evening with the help of my new best friend, glue accelerator. Now, I have to primer it and dry brush it. But I'll probably do that after I paint my Rogue Trader minis.

But even better than the finished basilica - a whole other building.

Here's the Manufactorm, on the left. I didn't follow the plan in the box and instead made this a three story structure instead of a two story structure. While it turned out okay, assembling the Manufactorum wasn't nearly as fun as when I followed a plan. There were a number of "oopses" and "accidents" that I had while putting it together.

But still, I was quite pleased at how it turned out. Here's a view from the backside of the terrain. You'll see more of this in the next post.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Character Journal 2 - H. Tiberius Holocene

Matt's character logs continue to impress. Here's his character log for our 2nd session. I love the opening headings and the correct dating conventions. Such things make me grin inwardly with geekdom.

Day 128, 813M41
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
  • Given leave to spread the light of the God Emperor to places unknown within Segmentum Obscurus.

Politics and intrigue. After encountering two other Rogue Traders, I realize now that I must be careful in what I say. The phrase silver tongued devil certainly comes to mind, and if I am going to succeed against such as these, I must be able to use every talent in my arsenal.

Footfall has shown that already this place, this Expanse does not operate under the same restrictions as the Imperium proper. However, just because law does not exist here in a traditional sense, it does not really give me leave to break my vows. Reputation seems to be as important, if not more so, than any amount of coin I carry, and I must ensure that mine remains intact, or this dynasty will soon find itself adrift.

I am honestly pleased with our trade agreement with House Kerin. While I am certainly wary of the prospect of them trying to extort us at some point, I know that they too have a reputation to consider. Moreover, my read of Nathaniel, their highest ranking member of their House here in the Kronus Expanse is of a person who is looking to do business and establish good relations rather than a cut-throat or a brigand. We will see in time if my hunch to form a trade agreement with them proves a good or bad decision. Still, we have, I believe, what weapons we need to start our colony, and have managed to procure at least basic versions of many of the supplies we will need to start it up.

I decided that it would be a waste not to look into the ruins on Vedic, the planet we're planning on settling. I have dispatched Sebastian and others to look into finding someone who will be able to take advantage of this, so that we might turn these ruins for a profit. Of course I dream of unique alien technology and relics either for our use or for sale, but there is something to be said about simply looking more closely into this seemingly extinct race. I find in this yet another joy of being out from under the oppression of the Imperium.

The encounter with House Narghast went, I believe, in my favor. The other Rogue Traders must know that just because we have been dealt a crushing blow, we are not fickle or weak, and I will not allow others to intimidate me. We still stand strong, and I will persevere. I will never trade for the "protection" that Lady Chorda was offering. While this might lead to hardships later, I know that the troubles we might face are nothing compared to being indebted to such as her.

House Ontiveros on the other hand was an entirely different encounter. I know our own Explorator was extremely interested in them, he did little to hide it. They have a sense of curiosity about them that seems like innocence. Perhaps this is their true nature, but I will, as ever, remain on my guard. Still, they seem trustworthy enough to deal with and perhaps work alongside.

The arrival of the Ghost Ship was something that caught everyone's attention. Honestly, I am glad that the Governor of Footfall had the three of us meet to discuss what would happen with it, because I do not think I would have come out on top of a skirmish, let alone a full scale battle. I am also glad that Admiral Balter accepted my invitation to appear. I would like very much to get a chance to catch up with him before he leaves in search of the Angvein fleet.

I was shocked at how easily I was able to convince the other houses that the ship should remain intact, and that I gained custody of it. I wonder what I really gave away with the deal with Chorda, and I fear that I won't know the true extent until it may be too late. As for Lady Ontiveros, I wonder what they knew when they said they would not help us in bringing the ship under our control. I only hope there is no animosity there, as I would enjoy forming an alliance with that dynasty if possible.

Now it is time to rally the troops in preparation for... well in preparation for anything. I have won the right to claim this ghost ship, now it is time to take her as mine!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Been Busy

So...I've not posted in a while. Been busy working on...things. We had our third session, however. I hope to post more soon.

Here's a peek at what I've been working on. As if you haven't already guessed.