How do you incorporate a pirate crew into your Rogue Trader dynasty?
This is the question that the Explorers were faced with in this session. After all, it's not like these people are disciplined, well-trained soldiers. Their pirates. They have no discipline. They have only fear. They have no courage. They have only greed. They have no honor. They have only hate.
Trouble with the Fleet
On approach to Wake, we rolled for the NPC Navigator's trip through the Warp and came up with a Warp Storm. While the PC Navigator has skills high enough that he can easily pilot through the most terrible of Warp anomalies. However, the NPC pilots of the other ships....
Here is where the idea of a PC entourage is useful. At this point in the campaign, if it were just the PC ship flying around, the Void Master's skills are so high that he almost need not roll in certain situations. However, since the Explorer's are now in charge of a fleet of ships, how everyone else does becomes equally important.
In short - they lost a ship. The warp storm caught the pirate raider, the Red Glaive. After an entire series of terrible rolls, I ruled that the Red Glaive was going down. Pirate Captain Tor, in an effort to save half of his fleet, saved the Glaive but at the expense of his own vessel. In a split second, the frigate Talon was gone. 30,000 crewmen were lost.
That was truly a profound moment for me. In what other game do tens of thousands of people's lives hang in the balance like that?
Finally Arriving at Wake
The crew finally arrived at Wake, where Governess Ophelia Winterscale requested an immediate audience. At the governor's palace, the crew met with Governess Winterscale and there encountered two other Rogue Traders - Lady Yuriko Kitsune and Hadarak Fel. People really versed with the Rogue Trader universe will certainly recognize the name Hadarak Fel. And Lady Kitsune is just Lady Sun Lee from Lure of the Expanse, renamed.
It turns out that Governess Winterscale's astropaths had recently lost contact with the system of Lucin's Breath. Being an extremely important system, she wanted to hire out a Rogue Trader to go scout out the system and bring back a report. After a short bidding encounter, the Explorer's won out and were given the task of scouting Lucin's Breath, accompanied by Lady Kitsune. Hadarak Fel was understandably affronted by being left out of the mission and promise of profits and left in a huff.
While the crew were preparing to make an expedition to Lucin's Breath, they met with the pirates again. The crew of the Rogue Trader dynasty were extremely unhappy about joining with pirates. Particularly with pirates who had once captured and enslaved some of their senior officers.
Pirate Captain Tor, then, offered a compromise. As Rogue Traders, the PCs had the ability to bestow upon him a letter of marque, declaring an alliance with the pirates, but keeping the pirates at arm's length. The pirates would not be part of the dynasty in this case.
During the negotiations, there were, of course, dissenting pirates who wanted nothing to do with the Rogue Trader dynasty. They chose that moment to stage a mutiny. And in the words of a certain knight, they chose...poorly.
The Void Master's fractal power sword literally caused one of the mutinous pirates to explode in a shower of gore, blinding some of the nearby combatants. The Explorator broke open the head of another pirate with a bolter shot. According to the lovely crit tables, this gentleman suffered the ignominy of getting his head exploded and his body set alight. The still-headless body ran forwards before hitting the corner of the room and falling over.
Now bonded in the rite of mutual combat, the pirates took on the letter of marque, placating the crew and yet still increasing the strength of the dynasty.