Sunday, October 24, 2010

Session 12.5 - Epic Moments in Role-Playing

Build to the Awesome
When last I left off on the blog, Rob's Astropath, Zachariah was seething with rage against the pirates who were now accompanying the Rogue Trader fleet.

Here were the very people who enslaved him and also caused him to lose his arm. So what does he do? He has a meeting with the Rogue Trader of the fleet explaining his desire to vet the pirate captain of the other fleet. After all, can a pirate captain be trustworthy?

However, in a complete breach of protocol, the Astropath marches up to the bridge of the Ferral Wolf and hails the captain himself, summoning Pirate Captain Tor to his own personal chambers.

This highly irregular breach of procedure and protocol caused the captain to give pause. But he relented all the same. Tor then left his ship and docked inside of the Ferral Wolf, bringing his entourage along with him.

What then happened was a series of tense, show-down type moments, as the security team of the Ferral Wolf scrambled to receive this very unexpected guest. (Remember, the Astropath didn't give the Explorers any warning. He just said, "Get your ass over here!")

The pirate captain arrived and was escorted by the Explorers' own armed guards up to the Astropath's chambers. Just before entering the chambers, however, Tor turned to the Seneschal, who was present. He just basically laid it all out there and said, "So...what is this about exactly?"

Now, all the while, the pirate captain had set up a secret vox transmitter on his person and had it sending blips over to his ship. If vox transmission stopped for some reason (due to the captain's heart stopping, or simply a loss of signal), then the pirate ship was poised to ram the Explorers' ship as well as open fire.

Bringing the Awesome
For me, this was an epic moment for the campaign and one of the things I wanted to get out of Rogue Trader. Here was the ship's Astropath, bent on revenge, seething with anger. Here was the pirate captain, wanting to do right by his crew and ship. Because this was so momentous, I paused for a moment and really shone a spotlight on the event.

Think about it. You have two frigates lined up beside each other. Each one manned by close to 30,000 people. And all it would take for these two massive ships and populations to start firing on one other is for the wrong person to panic at the wrong time or for the PC Astropath to want too much vengeance.

I described in that moment what it would take for two such ships to go to war. In that moment, dozens upon dozens of fighter craft were powering up their engines and arming their missiles. Massive macro-cannon batteries were plotting firing solutions. Enginseers were preparing to fire up void shields, boost power to the sub-light engines, and divert power from non-essential systems. Basically, 60,000 people were all on edge, all preparing to go to war, all because one person needed his pound of flesh. But that is the world of Warhammer 40k. War in the grim darkness of the 41st century is often fought for far less.

Ultimately, the Astropath did not melt the pirate captain's brain, but he did essentially torture him. And that's because Tor never had anything directly to do with his enslavement. Or his loss of the arm. However, he still was made to see the Astropath's long-suffering aboard the pirate vessel and all of the other torments that he received.

After that long moment, Tor and the Astropath actually came to an understanding. Which was sort of epic in and of itself.

The crew then proceeded to make their way to Winterscale's Realm. Where destiny awaited them.


  1. As always, I eagerly await the next instalment of your campaign's transcript. I can see what made that moment so epic-- it's like two Age of Sail ships with their cannon pointed at one another, but with the scale ratcheted up to 40K levels...

  2. Yes, that's it exactly. I love the many Horatio Hornblower moments of this game.

  3. Sounds appropriately badass. I love those times where you can throw the spotlight on a player and have a true "movie moment".