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A Rogue Trader Among Rogue Traders


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#1 venkelos

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Posted 15 February 2014 - 08:59 AM

So, this is going to be mostly opinion, and also a bit complicated, and/or silly of me to ask, but here we go. Your character obviously isn't going to be the only Rogue Trader in the galaxy, even the Expanse. Say you decide, however, that you don't want the solution to every other RT being violence; maybe you possess a sliver of realization that the galaxy is a big place, and there is a place for other like-minded individuals, provided the two of you get along. How are two Rogue Traders, big egos, bigger ambitions, and all supposed to come to amicable agreements? So many altercations in RT between various Lord-Captains basically have to end in conflict; it's fun, dynamic, and a good source of XP. You might get battle experience, might get rid of an enemy competitor, might even get a hold of a new ship, and all the spoils, wealth AND info, aboard it. So what is our good incentive to be diplomatic about it? I very much like Lure of the Expanse, and it and Edge of the Abyss each document a nice assortment of very cool Rogue Traders, your peers, betters, and enemies. My problem with Lure, however, is that, even something so massive of an undertaking, you can finish yourselves; no nice acting toward the other Rogue Traders is required. Some of them are blatant tools, yes, but even the ones who might be agreeable to cooperation are nicely written to not act that way, leaving you with the need to be social, and there might be little reason to make long-term partnerships with any of them.

 

So, in your games, do you ever make reputable arrangements with your RT peers, and not the kind at gunpoint? Taking them hostage and using them to produce you an heir to you Dynasty, and thus maybe seize theirs, is great, but not exactly polite, nor is backstabbing them when it becomes appropriate. How do you form a partnership with someone like that? What did you do to accomplish it? Is the grimdark just not a place for such enterprises?

 

 

On to the second. Rogue Traders can often get anything they really want to, from new ships to new planets, and practically any weapon they could want, even a relic, if they are connected enough, but how do they get more "exotic" stuff? Here, exotic reads Eldar, but you might have others. Ork stuff is junk, and many other races willingly sell their wares, if you are interested in such things, but Eldar are aloof and arrogant enough that I don't see them willingly "selling" their gear, even as their needs grow, their surplus gear sits, and their population falls. So did every Rogue Trader with an Eldar power sword kill an Eldar (a Banshee, a Corsair, probably not an Autarch) to get it? Could there be terms where again, violence isn't the only solution? Charabelle Armellan in Lure has a Harlequin's Kiss; am I to believe she actually killed a high-ranking Harlequin to get it? Not sure her resources are enough to defend her, should the Eldar choose to do something about it.

 

As a fluffy example, in a story I'm working on, L-C Aedan Qel-Drake is wowing one of the newer ladies on his ship, while she cleans his quarters. One of the two things there no one else touches is a sword, hanging on the back of his chair right then. When asked about it, he tells her of how he got into a fight with an Eldar vessel. He got away, but not undamaged. Later, he and that same ship both got jumped by Orks. The Eldar vessel agreed to aide, but fell in battle, before the Stellar Dragon managed to finish off the last bits of the Ork force. Not sure if the fight the two ships first had contributed to the Eldar ship's loss, but oh well. The Eldar crew were stranded, but the Captain was a female, and Aedan is incapable of leaving a woman, even a xenos, adrift. He brought the remaining Eldar aboard, under heavy guard, and put them up. A bit later, he got to talking with the Captain. She wasn't interested in him, much to his dismay, but appreciated not being left to die. She told him a place where they could go, and the Eldar would be retrieved. Against the advice of some aboard, he did this, and the Eldar came for their kin, actually not firing on the Dragon. As she was the last Eldar off the ship, she thanked Qel-Drake for his actions, and gave him her sword, as a payment for his trouble. It's served him well since then, and never let him fall prey to the weapons of his enemies, almost as if she's watching over him (though that thought might be heresy). It's a fun bit of fluff, and a cool way to get a good-quality Eldar Power Sword, other than killing a Corsair Captain on their bridge, but I don't know if the Eldar would. They tested each other in combat, fought together when necessary, he did save and spare her crew, didn't rob them, and on. Other than having to put up with the short-lived advances of a mon-keigh, it wasn't so terrible. Might she do this? The Eldar have more, and gear is never something they are in short supply of (just bodies to use them). Did Lady Charabelle have to have killed a Harlequin? How might she have purchased one of their weapons, otherwise? Not sure if she has the money to buy one from someone else who could kill one.

 

Okay, sorry for the long BS ramble. I now look forward to some ideas, some examples, and what have you. Thanks for sticking through it this far.


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#2 Erathia

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Posted 15 February 2014 - 01:45 PM

I've told my players when they ask about how Rogue Trading works that in general, killing other Rogue Traders and stealing their Warrants or kidnapping them is something other Rogue Traders will take very seriously. The Koronus Expanse is effectively ruled by Rogue Traders (or those pesky Xenos who sometimes claim to live on the planets you've just discovered), and no matter what treasures you buy you still have to fence them somehow, which means interacting with the Cold Trade at Footfall or making acquisition tests from heavily settled worlds.

 

If your crew is known to resort to violence as a first resort, then people aren't going to want to trade with you, and they may even just start shooting first at you instead of listening to why your latest story as to how you've been slandered is a lie. Also, if you kill a Rogue Trader and get his Warrant, that doesn't mean that all of that Rogue Trader's possessions become yours. The Warrant is what gives a RT their freedom to explore and go beyond the bounds of the Imperium, but they still have to acquire and pay for the the ships and resources that they use. Getting the Warrant might mean that their Dynasty can no longer live the lifestyle they want, but they don't have to give you control over those resources either. In fact the most likely scenario is that you've created a few pirate fleets and trillions of Throne will eventually find their way back to the Adeptus Terra when auditors track down the cash flow of the person you'd just killed.


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#3 Ruwalk

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Posted 15 February 2014 - 03:36 PM

Well if you kill the head of a house it just goes to someone else in the house the Rogue Traders Dynasty just doesn't stop if you kill him its hereditary after all or they couldn't continue down the line. But in general long term relationships are not likely to last in more than a sense of one more powerful trader uses another weaker trader as the way that Rogue Traders are mean they are naturally apposed to one another 



#4 Radwraith

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Posted 15 February 2014 - 06:43 PM

Well if you kill the head of a house it just goes to someone else in the house the Rogue Traders Dynasty just doesn't stop if you kill him its hereditary after all or they couldn't continue down the line. But in general long term relationships are not likely to last in more than a sense of one more powerful trader uses another weaker trader as the way that Rogue Traders are mean they are naturally apposed to one another 

I Disagree. A Rogue trader's unwillingness to even try to attempt diplomacy is usually a problem with the Gm! Rogue traders are after all, Nobility (Peers of the Imperium), and as such have many friends amd contacts throughout imperial space. The Warrant itself is a writ to 'Expand the Imperium of man' by any means the RT chooses. Firing on like minded characters will not expand anything nor will it endear sucha character to any official authorities (Like say, the Inquisition!). I'm not saying two RT's interests will never come into conflict but shouldn't be a regular thing! If a RT starts acting like a pirate then sooner or later a larger dynasty will get involved (Like maybe Winterscale) to put an end to it!

 

This has been discussed on previous threads but the point is still valid: A Rogue trader is a merchant and Explorer by trade. If he's doing the work he was granted his warrant for than he will need to excersize diplomacy as often (or more) as violence to realise his endeavors. Besides, If all you're going to do is have ship battles why aren't you just playing BFG?



#5 Ruwalk

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Posted 15 February 2014 - 09:25 PM

BFG always looked fun when i saw it played but I only ever saw it a few times. But any way yes that when i believe as well RT's just use there wits first and guns second. But at the same time the way most people would be with that kind of power its more than likely they would come to blows sooner rather than later. But yes diplomacy should be in most cases be number one on there list to the rational mind. 



#6 Nameless2all

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Posted 16 February 2014 - 01:34 AM

....How are two Rogue Traders, big egos, bigger ambitions, and all supposed to come to amicable agreements? So many altercations in RT between various Lord-Captains basically have to end in conflict; it's fun, dynamic, and a good source of XP. You might get battle experience, might get rid of an enemy competitor, might even get a hold of a new ship, and all the spoils, wealth AND info, aboard it. So what is our good incentive to be diplomatic about it?....

 

So, in your games, do you ever make reputable arrangements with your RT peers, and not the kind at gunpoint? Taking them hostage and using them to produce you an heir to you Dynasty, and thus maybe seize theirs, is great, but not exactly polite, nor is backstabbing them when it becomes appropriate. How do you form a partnership with someone like that? What did you do to accomplish it? Is the grimdark just not a place for such enterprises?

As other posters have mentioned, outright violence is frowned upon.  With that said, clandestine violence is not.  It's a game of Thrones (hehe).  It's not just about how much wealth you have, but who you know.  A RT whose ship you just attacked might have only 25 PF, but they are allies with the AdMech.  And so by attacking them and killing some crew (including some Tech-Priests), you just angered the AdMech.  And just because you killed the crew and took command of a ship, doesn't mean their backers or their family doesn't want it back.  They just might brand you as a Pirate. 

 

RT being RT's, they are used to getting their way.  They were born into their nobility/power/web of intrigue, and as with power comes influence.  Take Winterscale for example.   His acts alone are legend, and is the prime example of "who you know."   Maybe the RT you just killed and ship you boarded happened to have a shipment of supplies for Winterscale.  Did you find this out after or prior to the attack?  Do you think Winterscale cares?

 

And you are correct that Lure of the Expanse it written so only that the PC's can be the victors.  I was under the impression this was the point of RPGs.  The PC's are the heroes at the end (or 'hero villains?' if BC).  Almost all of the endeavors are written this way, I presume.  Obviously it's easier for the writer of the book to make it so too.  If someone is a devilish GM though, they could re-write certain sections of any of the books so that if the PC's didn't do X and Y, then RT A wins instead.  Any good GM will tell you though, players never do X and then Y.  They do ZY, skip some letters and do LMNOP, and then CB, and maybe F.  Finally after spelling it out for them, or painting a big sign over top of it, do they finally do X.  In general, only by the most drastic of failures would I allow NPC's to win. 

 

...... So did every Rogue Trader with an Eldar power sword kill an Eldar (a Banshee, a Corsair, probably not an Autarch) to get it? Could there be terms where again, violence isn't the only solution? Charabelle Armellan in Lure has a Harlequin's Kiss; am I to believe she actually killed a high-ranking Harlequin to get it? Not sure her resources are enough to defend her, should the Eldar choose to do something about it.

 

....The Eldar have more, and gear is never something they are in short supply of (just bodies to use them). Did Lady Charabelle have to have killed a Harlequin? How might she have purchased one of their weapons, otherwise? Not sure if she has the money to buy one from someone else who could kill one.

Who says you can't just find it?  Eldar get killed by Orks just the same as Humans.  Maybe a Ork had it as a Trophy.  Maybe a Pirate Captain killed an Eldar, and Charabelle Armellan killed the Pirate.  I could also be a family trophy. Maybe a past family member killed some Eldar, or Ork, or a bunch of pirates.  Or maybe all of the above. 

 

Finally, it could of been lost to time and space in a decrepit world, where nothing but ash and bones of corpses remain.  Hidden amongst the forgotten heroes, a single item weathered the ages.  A sword, ancient beyond compare, with engraved runes so magnificent a mans eyes would weep upon gazing on them.  Exquisite beyond belief, no human hand could ever hope to create such a master piece.

 

And I see nothing wrong with your story of L-C Aedan Qel-Drake.  I actually recall another endeavor from a previous RT book where an Eldar female gave the PC's an artifact of immense power.  It involved an excavation site being attacked by swarms of Rak'Gol.  Not to mention other fluff some novels where Eldar have given Mon-keigh special items.  So yep, your story is in line with fluff.


Edited by Nameless2all, 16 February 2014 - 01:37 AM.

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#7 Marwynn

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Posted 18 February 2014 - 03:39 PM

Rogue Traders are, for the most part, people who do not think of violence as a last resort but as just another tool in the political war. In my mind, a Rogue Trader lives a very political life as they don't often have the strength of arms to beat things to death by themselves like a Space Marine, or the expansive knowledge a Seneschal or Adept may have. He's all about convincing others to do something which is mutually beneficial, but primarily what he wants because a piece of paper says he can do it.

 

Diplomatic approaches to other Rogue Traders are preferred, they invite the least amount of potential retaliation and won't make other Rogue Traders wary of you compared to outright attack. But you are in competition with other Rogue Traders, I don't care how big the Expanse is, if there's anything true about human history is that enough is never quite enough.

 

So, on one end you have non-violent exchanges with other RTs. On the other end it's done at the end of the macrocannon barrel. The end result of any interaction isn't always for everyone's benefit. 

 

We've just finished The Frozen Reaches and my RT used charm, guile, and more charm to get the two RTs to heel and "respect mah authoritah!" and they eventually allowed some of my agents aboard their ships as replacements. Due to some... unfortunate tactical mistakes that exposed them to Ork fire and boarding attempts. 

 

Then, when the last battle for that campaign was upon us, my agents acted and slew the rival Rogue Traders. Two ships, in mostly working order. To the NPC crew, we were allies and it made sense for them to follow my RT's orders till the battle was won. I wanted to absorb them into my dynasty, of course, but the GM pointed out that just as we had creditors and investors so too did these Rogue Traders and we couldn't keep the two ships without some potential backlash down the line. 

 

What did that accomplish? Well, one RT had pretty sizable holdings on Damaris. These are now split between several NPC factions giving my dynasty the controlling share for most of them. The other one was just annoying. I have the stronger claim on Damaris now, word is that the Orleans dynasty worked in tandem with us, so trade is still good and the Forsellis system itself is being exploited and kept in its unofficial official Imperial Colony stance. The Imperium has certainly benefited from our shenanigans.

 

Were Lady Orleans more amicable to Imperial rule (and hadn't supported the ousting of Governor whatshisface) I'd have pursued a different goal than her permanent removal. 

 

To be honest, I took a gamble. It turns out that Orleans has distanced her dynasty from the Imperium. I have no idea what Blitz's backstory is other than a ramshackle rogue of ill-repute. But Rogue Traders have backers. They have investors. People who they owe favours to and are owed favours. Taking out a dynasty isn't as simple as a sudden, crippling broadside. Even non-violent means can lead you to wage an economic war.

 

It's all politics for a Rogue Trader. 


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#8 MalVeauX

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Posted 23 February 2014 - 01:34 AM

Heya,

 

I find when Rogue Traders come into contact, it's a political game to quickly establish who is more powerful and then go from there in terms of either using that information to your advantage, or trying to establish that you are not the weaker of the two, to be taken advantage of. No one wants to risk a ship in a straight fight. That's just silly. But sabotage? Sure. Undermining? Sure.

 

My group had some experience recently as the Rogue Traders met and knew each other from the past.

 

1. Who is more powerful? This takes history & dialogue and a little display of strength through your team.

2. What is there to gain? And more importantly, what can you lose to this Trader?

3. If you're the weaker, or at the disadvantage, how do you turn it around so you're at least threatening enough to matter?

4. Trust. There's a lot of scrutiny, word play, and deception involved. Let the dice do something here. GM support the dice.

5. Who turns their back on the other first?

6. Is there an undermining plan? Sabotage plan? Some kind of underlying play to be done? Direct attack is not wise.

 

Ultimately, we were the lesser of the two Rogue Traders. We ended up in the same place. We were sabotaged. We are recovering, and now have a reason to give chase, or start undermining their known resources and hunt them down. Gives us a nice extra twist to play into as we explore.

 

Very best,


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