This raises an interesting point: verification of Warrants of Trade. How is this actually done in practice?
I would imagine that most citizens would have no idea how to go about spotting a fake Warrant of Trade. Not being an expert in these matters, I would struggle, for example, to spot a forged passport from my own country, let alone one from another country; and a passport is a relatively simple document.
Warrants of Trade in contrast are (often) incredibly complex documents. They can take a variety of forms from single sheets of fraying vellum to ancient decaying books kept in stasis to software kept on a ship's mainframe. They can be tiny, covering a couple of paragraphs, or vast, filling whole dataslates or libraries. They can also have been issued at any time in the last 10,000 years.
Given the scope and size of the Imperium, proving that someone is not a Rogue Trader when they say they are is actually a very difficult exercise, when you think about it.
Let's say you're an Inquisitor and an odd figure turns up in your area of operation within the Imperium. He claims to be a Rogue Trader. He claims his Dynasty is 5,700 years old, that a Warrant of Trade was issued in a different Segmentum under the authority of a long dead panel of High Lords of Terra. He says he has been operating for 100 years outside the Imperium, and that prior to this his dynasty has skipped along the Halo stars at the edge of yet another Segmentum trading and warring on behalf of the Imperium.
How do you go about proving/disproving all this? This would be a hugely involved detective exercise (quite a fun idea for a DH/RT crossover campaign, actually). It would involve research across a number of fleet registries, Astropathic communications to a number of Administratum worlds, messages to Terra...all of these requests for information may take years to be processed, given the speed at which the Imperium tends to deal with matters bureaucratic.
Perhaps there have been at different times attempts to create central registries of Rogue Traders? One imagines that these would be incomplete, damaged by war etc etc, as indeed are most Imperial libraries. Perhaps there are verification codes encoded into many warrants: I always imagined that the wax seal embossed on the special edition rogue trader warrants contained some kind of memory stick accessible by the Inquisition which contained the terms and history of the warrant. However, one imagines not all Rogue Traders' warrants would contain this kind of information.
Even if Warrants of Trade are verifiable by some kind of central database or techno arecane wax seal, who is capable of verifying them? Inquisitors, probably, but who else? Planetary Governors? Do they have wax seal readers? Or devices like passport officers which shine ultraviolet light on warrants of trade to look for hidden writing, allowing them to check for forgeries? Some might...equally, many may not. If someone turns up unannounced in the orbit of your poor frontier world piloting a massive Grand Cruiser and claiming to be a Rogue Trader from a dynasty you've never heard of, is it even a good idea to ask too many questions?
When you think it through, it's a wonder there aren't more fake Rogue Traders. Indeed, forged warrants of trade would seem to me to be a potentially very common problem.
Edited by Lightbringer, 09 April 2014 - 09:23 AM.