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Rouge Traders and their “fleets”


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#1 theamerikan

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Posted 13 October 2010 - 11:08 AM

I apologize in advance if this is a little long winded, but I wanted to be a clear as possible. :D

There are numerous references in Rogue Trader and in 40k in general to Rouge Trader “fleets”. The base book clearly states that the PC’s should only have 1 warp capable ship at their direct disposal (for obvious balance purposes). Although in many examples, including Chapter 9 of the Core Rules under the example endeavors they lay out an endeavor to establish a stable trader route. It also claims that an objective of this endeavor is to chart safe warp routes. Dose this not imply that at some point other warp capable ship besides the players vessel (most likely cargo ships) will be making the shipping runs between worlds.

Just for clarity, a friend of mine is GMing a game in which his players have not only established several trading routes, but have colonized a world, taken over a pirate space station; and defeated an ork raider.

Now call me crazy but it seems that it would take dozens, if not hundreds of warp vessels to support and operate an interstellar trade empire. I understand that Rogue Trader is going for the “lone intrepid feeling” of a brave crew and their captain bravely blazing the void, but as a game ramps up, the players can realistically find themselves sitting at the center of a small kingdom/fiefdom in the expanse. Such as the famous Calligos Winterscale

Now, for example; there is some threat/goal that requires the entire resources of the Rogue Trader’s Dynasty, it seems logical that the players would be able to call upon the myriad warp ships required to operate an interstellar trader network. This could include cargo ships, passenger vessels, research ships, orbital stations, atmospheric landers, lesser combat vessels, or PDF patrol crafts, etc. Perhaps not “warships” like the PC’s but if need be they might need a cargo ships and support vessels to transport 100,000 colonists and all of their equipment to a new colony. I’m sorry, but its gona take more than the players cargo hold to do that!

SO, after than rant, here is my question for the boards. How can this be run as the GM? My initial thoughts was something like NPC vessels that make their own turns as run by the GM, and can only be given general direction by the Rogue Trader, but how this is carried out is determined by the GM.

Thoughts?
 



#2 horizon

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Posted 13 October 2010 - 04:41 PM

Hi,

 

to be honest, being from Battlefleet Gothic and all, I struggled with the Rogue Trader the concept in the beginning as well. In BFG you can have a complete fleet as a Rogue Trader. Big fancy cruiser, an added light cruiser, several escorts flying around and a tow of cargo's and transports.

So when the corebook mentioned the fact Rogue Traders only go on 1 ship, a small one and all I was kinda weird on it.

 

But then I took the mindset that mentioned Rogue Traders already had such fleet in the Calixis sector but due the hazardous Koronus Passage only picked 1 ship they seemed most suited for venturing into the Expanse.



#3 BaronIveagh

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Posted 13 October 2010 - 06:28 PM

They only start with one ship.  My party has had upwards of six on occasion.  Never had a balance problem, other then with Teleportarium and Murder Servitors.  Unfortunetly, that combo got by radar on their first ship.

 

In fact, page4 290 of the core book states that fleets are quite possible if more then one player wishes to be the Rogue trader.



#4 Errant

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Posted 13 October 2010 - 06:32 PM

 Beginning Rogue Traders are either from a Dynasty that has lost much of its wealth in the past, or has not yet gained enough to afford more than one vessel. There's nothing to prevent them from salvaging wrecked vessels and adding them to their own fleets.



#5 Grand Inquisitor Fulminarex

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Posted 13 October 2010 - 07:29 PM

 Salvage, conquest, prizes; its not that hard to build a fleet. Keeping it maintained however.....



#6 riplikash

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Posted 14 October 2010 - 04:12 AM

Agreeing with everyone else, you just START as a "weak" trading empire, and even then you would have dozens of trade ships at your disposal running trade routes in the background.

RT isn't necessarily going for the "lone intrepid feeling". Thats part of it, especially at the beginning, but a huge part of the game is "empire building". The rules allow for thousands of troops, pods, tanks, etc.

"Lure of the Void" also provides good examples of Traders at many levels of power as rivals. The weakest rivals have a single ship, but the more powerful ones (like everyones favorite, Bastille) have dozens of ships, thousands of landers, and tens of thousands of troops.
As I've said many times before, Rogue Trader isn't D&D, you aren't just leveling up your character, your are leveling up your dynasty.

As for how to run it:

Most of their ships are "background". As a general rule you can't just call in your cargo ships off of trade routes and convert them into military ships for a bit because of the cost of such an endevor.

That is what aquisition checks DO. You aren't necessarily BUYING something new, you are just checking to see if you have the resources to AQUIRE something, perhaps something you ALREADY have. Roll a PF check, succeed, and BAM, the senchal was able to shift resources around in such a way that you could requisition another ship.

Conversely, failing a check doesn't mean you CAN"T afford something or that it isn't available, it just means it would be costly enough to effect your dynasty as a whole. You are always free to "spend" a PF point for a +10 bonus on your roll. In this case that means that pulling a cargo ship out of service and converting it was costly enough to decrease your overall PF.

So most of your ships are "background" ships, keeping your dynasty running. If you want to use them in your personal fleet you have to roll an aquisition check to see if you can "afford" it.

Once they are in your fleet they are just another unit that can be used. Their components provide their full benefit to the party (having a barracks provides a 150 achievement point bonus to military objectives), but by default they have no special meneouveres and their troops are just "competant" (skill 30).

From there it is just up to the PCs how to run it. They can upgrade the crew, hire special "PC like" characters to run it, station some of the PCs on the ship, etc. With only a single ship they can split the party and end up with two ships that have all the bonuses of being run by a PC, but as their fleet grows they are going to end up with a lot of "generic" ships (which is a thing).

FINALLY, if/when the fleet gets HUGE:
Rogue Trader has a very elegant system for solving ANYTHING, and it is the core of the game: tally bonuses, roll, tally successes, compare. You can handle ANY situation this way. Do they have a fleet of a thousand ships fighting a fleet of 500? Lets go abstract: +30 for outnumbering, +10 for the level of experience, +10 for whatever weapon. Players say what they are going to do (tactics), roll appropriate checks, opponents do the same, resolve according to successes.

Want to go a bit granular? Do teh same thing in smaller groups: 5 groups of 200, or 10 groups of 100. Run it like a standard battle, but with each MoB representing a group instead of an individual.



#7 Void_onion213

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Posted 14 October 2010 - 11:31 AM

the group i was in had a fleet of about 4 vessels. a light crusier( hulked in the first engagment), my sword class frigate, a raider, and an experamental ship being captained by the arch-militant.



#8 Razorboy

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Posted 14 October 2010 - 11:50 AM

That's an interesting dilemma. Now the Rogue Trader book does specify that it is possible to obtain another vessel even if the costs are astronomical. But how does one run fleets? I think the most viable option is to use Background Endeavours rules from Into the Storm, which provide the rules on how well the underlings fulfill their task, how long it takes them, and what happens should they fail. The GM could use these rules during downtime to quickly come up with information on how the Rogue Trader's shipping vessels, colonies, mining operations, or whatever, are coming along. In my own game the players are part of a large dynasty which has multiple ships, but their Rogue Trader (a junior scion of the dynasty) is free to do his own thing in the Expanse. They started with a raider, but now they also have a transport ship - they rescued it and the Chartist Captain of the vessel pledged herself to the dynasty and became their vassal. They are also working on repairing and rebuilding an ancient light cruiser they've rescued from a space hulk, when they are done it'll be their third vessel. How they're going to maintain all three vessels? Well that's where the abstract nature of Profit Factor comes in. How am I going to run all three vessels as a GM? I'm going to divide and conquer, the transport vessel is running a trade route, the raider is off privateering or guarding an important installation, and the players get to fly around in the cruiser and have adventures.



#9 Tantavalist

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Posted 14 October 2010 - 01:21 PM

After reading Into the Storm, I've revised my own system for how to handle the PCs having a fleet into the following.

If the PCs travel in a group, then when giving a bonus to the number of points an Endeavor earns I use a total based on the fleet, not the PCs Flagship. Each type ofcomponent counts once to this total, regardless of which ship it's on, but only once. So if the PCs Flagship has no Barracks component, then bringing a troop ship that does will give a bonus to Military Endeavors. This typically results in PCs taking one or more Trader ships fitted for maximum bonuses that are attached to the fleet when needed, along with whatever Raiders/Escorts they think they'll need to guard them. Which is as it should be.

The other way is to have these ships detached from the fleet to perform Background Endeavors as described above by Razorboy.

As for Upkeep, I have the PCs make a roll on Profit Factor at +30 to maintain their fleet, with a -5 penalty for every ship after the first they have. Failure results in a Misfortune based on them not having enough to maintain the fleet, which will cost them 1 point of Profit Factor per degree of failure (round up) if not resolved through roleplaying.



#10 Aureus

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Posted 15 October 2010 - 07:46 AM

 We've actually abstracted something a little different:

As a Rogue Trader I only have 1 front-line, customized, navigator-equipped vessel that I run around in.  However, my Dynasty (i.e. Me) has a number of trade agreements and routes that are constantly in use.  How?  Well, I also have dozens of chartist or single-navigator traders that I either control directly, or more often have under contract.  Remember, without a warrant of trade, a trading vessel has to work for someone with authority to give them work.  So I make a deal, then I hire a trading vessel to run the new route and bring in a tidy profit.



#11 Gribble_the_Munchkin

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Posted 15 October 2010 - 01:16 PM

While my players have a fleet of 5 vessels and a space station, they've acquired all these in-game.  If they don't have a ship, they can't magically pluck one from their dynasty.  What they have is what they have.

What i have ruled is rogue traders aren't big on doing repeat runs for lucrative trade, thats what merchants do. Rogue traders open markets, discover trade routes and then sell, or more likely rent those trade routes out to others.

These others are free captains. Men of enough wealth and freedom to be able to pick and choose their jobs, flying almost invariably transports. There are a great many of them and they do the basic grunt work in the expanse.

 

For instance. My PCs dynasty discovered a forest world populated by large numbers of ghast like creatures and a plucky human civilization that dwealt in fortified villages. They cut a deal with the humans, supplying them weapons, pre-fabricated fortifications, medicine and logging equipment. In return they get lumber, lots of it. Once the deal is made, they fil their holds with lumber, head to footfall and make a good sale. They then contract a free captain to run the route from footfall to the forest world for them on a regular basis, every year or so. The free captain gets a cut of the profits from the sale. The PCs, having opened the trade route, go off and do something more interesting than repeatedly hauling lumber and leave the fine details to their factors and the Free Captains.

 

Now, Free Captains don't have anything like the power, wealth or authority of a Rogue Trader and most of them are content to do cargo runs. Its not in their interests to backstab their rogue trader (what with lance strikes to their face being painful and all) and its not worth the risk to go exploring on their own (the expanse is DANGEROUS!). Also they don't generally have the financial backing to set up new ventures, only exploit existing ones.

 

Some Free Captains ally themselves with particular dynasties, or make alliances with each other in trade consortiums. Most however are lone agents.

 

I realise I've pretty much pulled most of this out of my butt, but to me it makes sense of the economics of the expanse, while keeping RT fleets from doing the incredibly dull repeat journeys. 



#12 Hotfoot

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 09:00 AM

 One thing to remember is that sometimes, the ships don't belong to a Rogue Trader.  As Rogue Traders do, they often obtain the support of powerful patrons, from Planetary Governors, to Battlefleet Calixis, to the various organizations within the Imperium.  While a Rogue Trader's ship may spearhead several ventures, and be financially rewarded by making them possible, it is not always the case that one controls a given fleet of lesser ships.

 

Honestly, a player is far more likely to obtain new ships through salvage.  The best way to limit it is to have salvage clauses in any endeavor contracts set by the patron funding or helping to support the endeavor.  Put something juicy in, like extra profit factor or achievements for every captured ship.  Don't want the players to capture ships?  Send in the Orks.  You can't capture an Ork ship, the tech doesn't work for non-orks.  Even if you've got a freebooter on the crew, you can't man even one Ork vessel.  Even assuming you could, it would have an entirely Ork crew, and their loyalty is going to be nearly impossible to secure.  Throwing chaos vessels at the players adds an additional complication, the Machine Spirits have been corrupted.  Having such ships be cursed will quickly cause the players to try to offload the fell vessel as quickly as possible.

 

More ships can complicate combat somewhat, but it also provides a method of hurting the players without killing them.  Players will quickly spend fate points to protect their primary ship, largely because they are on it.  They're less likely to spend fate points to protect a transport, since that means having to be ON the transport to do so.

 

If you and your players are down for fleet building though, hey, by all means.  Assign each ship a value for endeavors, and go from there.  Some background endeavors with various ships applied on each mission will handle the jobs handled by the "fleet", and if they want to roll with their entire fleet around them at all times, give the appropriate modifiers.  If someone wants to have a cargo ship with nothing but cargo bays to jack up his score on trade runs, hey, cool.  People will see that big fat freighter and try to ****** it.

 

Larger fleets come with larger problems as well.  Loyalty and morale are major components.  It's one thing to run a tight ship, but if you've got a fleet of dozens of ships, each with their own captains and command styles, you've got potential problems.  For example, let's say you've got this big bad transport ship, and it's run by a guy who the PCs met and know is good at smuggling cargo and knowing just who to sell things to.  He's big into profit, and thus, when he touches down to get new crew, he hires the cheapest bastards he can muster.  Maybe he presses them into service, but whatever the case, his crew is poorly skilled (20), and his ship has sub-par components to make room for more cargo bays.  Morale is always low and drops quickly in bad situations.  Between big scores, he may even engage in risky ventures of his own, potentially hurting profit temporarily from time to time.  He's still good, but he's got problems.  Then maybe one day he finds a Halo artifact...

 

That's just one example, and it shouldn't be used all the time, but the point is that mo' money, mo' problems.  The bigger you get, the more people want to tear you down.  Got a big military force?  People will try to attack you financially, or socially.  Whatever you're good at, they'll try to avoid it and go for where you are weakest.  Having a big fleet or lots of money can shield you from some problems, but not all.  Even if a Rogue Trader gathers a fleet large enough to start a crusade, he can still be brought low by his foes.



#13 horizon

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 09:08 AM

Well, if fleets are large enough it is time to play a game of Battlefleet Gothic during the RPG section.

 

Quick run down:

One Rogue Trader Cruiser

Several Cargo's

6 escorts (be it xenos, auxillary or otherwise)

will add to 500pts for a game of BFG.

 

Such a game will last between 30-90 minutes depending on scenario, table size and knowledge of rules.

 

:)

 

 

 



#14 crisaron

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 09:16 AM

- You can always adapt  a variant of the horde trait or simply have sub engagements and "zooming in" only the most important ship then generating a few random damage.

- Fleets could also be request/ordered/press ganged to assist crusades and cool be a cool game where enemy and allies manipulate the different factions to try to avoid or enlist more ship into the crusade, not every ship can be claimed without the right authorization too. Suddenly, a new battleship flag ship of the rogue trader may end up being a specific SM chapter's by right and they contest any claim to hit (very strongly maybe and would not "deal" with a Rogue trader in anyway except by force if necessary).

Ad-Mech radical could try to capture the ship for the same reasons. The bigger is fleet at hand is the more attention he brings on to himself attracting competition and petty rivalry.

 

Captains of their own. Not every one of the would be captain sworn in are 100% loyal, especially if the RT is always breathing down their back. Not allowing some slak to explore on their own reporting what they find to their master before getting lost again... which is the real dream of most outer rim captains.

 

 



#15 BaronIveagh

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 03:00 PM

Hotfoot said:

Honestly, a player is far more likely to obtain new ships through salvage.  The best way to limit it is to have salvage clauses in any endeavor contracts set by the patron funding or helping to support the endeavor.  Put something juicy in, like extra profit factor or achievements for every captured ship.  Don't want the players to capture ships?  Send in the Orks.  You can't capture an Ork ship, the tech doesn't work for non-orks.  Even if you've got a freebooter on the crew, you can't man even one Ork vessel.  Even assuming you could, it would have an entirely Ork crew, and their loyalty is going to be nearly impossible to secure.  Throwing chaos vessels at the players adds an additional complication, the Machine Spirits have been corrupted.  Having such ships be cursed will quickly cause the players to try to offload the fell vessel as quickly as possible.

 

What's to keep the ork player from taking direct command by virtue of being the biggest? 

 

And the chaos thing is non-fluffy.  IN seizes Chaos prizes all the time, though they strip them for parts more often then not.  There's a difference between a chaos ship and a daemon ship.  (for for giggles I tried to build a daemon ship for my players to fight.  thier fleet of two cruisers and a grand cruiser did not survive.  horrible unexpected TPK led my to having the party wake up in a cold sweat, it having been just a dream) 

 

Frankly, Into the Storm pretty much requires a fleet or a battleship.  No ship my party could come up with, even when I gave them infinite ship points, survived toe to toe with the Whisperer.



#16 Hotfoot

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 06:56 PM

 1. You're assuming the Ork player (or even players) can best what are listed as, and I quote, "Countless Boyz".  Even if we assume somewhat reasonable numbers, you're looking at at least 10,000 Orks on a heavily damaged ship.  That's...a lot.  Ork disputes of power aren't simple things, they're all out brawls, the winner of which is the one that takes power.

 

2. Non-fluffy?  Hardly.  Chaos corruption is a very serious problem, and unless you have the Adeptus Mechanicus on hand to perform the proper purification rituals on the entire ship, you can expect problems.  The Imperial Navy has the full backing of the Adeptus Mechanicus.  Do you as a Rogue Trader?  Not so likely, not unless you do a big favor for the Adeptus Mechanicus.  Even ships that aren't daemon ships suffer from the taint of chaos.  They are the sites of dark rituals, terrible deeds, and fell powers.  They're far more than just repainted Imperial Vessels.  They service the ruinous powers, and corrupt the machine spirits of their ships to do their wicked bidding.

 

3.  I assume you mean "Lure of the Expanse".  "Into the Storm" is a player's handbook with new gear, backgrounds, careers, etc.  I've not read Lure of the Expanse yet, but I'll be honest, I've fought a lot of Eldar in BFG, and they're nasty, but beatable. Lances are bad, Batteries are awesome (same concept as fighting on the ground, mass fire >>> high damage single target fire).  A custom Eldar ship of awesome is bound to be pretty sweet, but I'm relatively certain that, especially given Into the Storm, I could create a ship capable of at least surviving an encounter.



#17 Mjoellnir

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 09:55 PM

Hotfoot said:

3.  I assume you mean "Lure of the Expanse".  "Into the Storm" is a player's handbook with new gear, backgrounds, careers, etc.  I've not read Lure of the Expanse yet, but I'll be honest, I've fought a lot of Eldar in BFG, and they're nasty, but beatable. Lances are bad, Batteries are awesome (same concept as fighting on the ground, mass fire >>> high damage single target fire).  A custom Eldar ship of awesome is bound to be pretty sweet, but I'm relatively certain that, especially given Into the Storm, I could create a ship capable of at least surviving an encounter.

Since he mentioned "The Whisperer" I think he's talking about the Yu'vath construct from the adventure that came with the GM screen, so nothing about Eldar.



#18 Hotfoot

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 10:45 PM

 Ah, I thought he was referring to the Whisper of Anaris, the legendary Eldar ship.  I guess there are too many things that like to speak quietly in the Expanse.

 

As for the ship in question, it's relatively brutal, but hardly impossible to deal with.  First off, it's slow.  It may be able to fire 4 weapons (2 battery and 2 lance) at you every turn, but the ranges are okay at best.  Especially given some of the gear available in Into the Storm (range 9 lances, anyone?), you can certainly keep up.  A Light Cruiser or Cruiser can maintain similar levels of fire on the target, and even a baseline cruiser is faster.  This is only made worse when the gravity sail is targeted and destroyed.  Once torpedoes and strike craft are introduced, it's 0 turrets will be crippling.

 

It's a tough ship, to be sure, a bit tougher than a cruiser and it has the potential to avoid void shields, which can be nasty.  In the baseline book though, I can mount batteries with 50% more range than it has, or weapons with slightly better range and the ability to hit more times, and damage is largely the same.  If I want to do more damage, I have options for that too, and it gets better with the gear in Into the Storm.  The increase in void shields, armor, and structure is a little rough, but again, not insurmountable.  The fact that it only gets one extended action while the players get all of theirs helps them out as well.

 

The biggest advantage, honestly, is the crew quality, but even that's something that can be altered for a Rogue Trader.  If I play my cards right, I have have crew with 50 for their skill checks too.  If I have infinite ship points and selection from Into the Storm, I can have range 12 batteries, a lance that can hit 3 times, up to 4 void shields every turn, the speed of a light cruiser, quality 50 crew, and so on.  Being a bit more sensible, I can still have a light cruiser with the speed of a frigate, range 9 broadsides and lance, and two extra pieces of Archeotech to play with.  Depending on the hull, that means I can still have up to 4 void shields a turn, though at somewhat reduced speed.  This is all without doing things like attempting to use terrain to their advantage or anything of the sort.

 

However, one would imagine the Whisperer isn't supposed to be taken on solo, and if it is, well, that's consequences for the player's actions.   The players should be free to make decisions, but sometimes those decisions should have lasting consequences, and if it means they fail, well then so be it.






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