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Pirates of the Caribbean... In space!


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#1 Varnias Tybalt

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Posted 11 August 2009 - 03:30 AM

I know, it sounds kind of cheesy when you summarize the concept that way, but I would just like to hear some thoughts and ideas from the rest of you.

Is there anyone out there who will take some shameless inspiration from Pirates of the Caribbean when writing scenarios for Rogue Trader? There are just sooo many things in these movies that I want to incorporate in Rogue Trader I can't really tell where to begin. But if I can manage to capture the feel of Pirates of the Caribbean, but in a space setting then I would consider my GM:ing very successful.

Im sure that some of you will be completely apalled by this suggestion, but you have to admit, while this movie franchise doesn't evoke much deep thinking and philosophical musings, it damn well is entertaining! And my hope is to make the Rogue Trader experience come off like that. The utter darkness of 40K can be explored in dark heresy, along with all the philosophical musings concerning faith and morality . Rogue Trader should be about piracy, haunted space ships, booty and of course rum... I mean amasec! Lot's and lot's of amasec!



#2 Leopold Cygnus

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Posted 11 August 2009 - 04:10 AM

 

I think that capturing the feel of Pirates of the Carribean would be an excellent way to run a Rogue Trader game, but I think it is important to remember that there are some significant differences.  Think of Pirates but with the East India Trading Co. having had a stranglehold on all shipping and seafaring for 10,000 years with agents scattered all across known (and perhaps even unkown) space.  The Warrant that makes a Rogue Trader a Rogue Trader is provided to him/her by the opressive institution that keeps the whole of humanity under its thumb - and if the Rogue Trader gets too far out of line, he's going to be squished.  These folks are privateers, not pirates; they still have to answer to someone.

Having said that, the only thing that separates a privateer from a pirate is a piece of paper and restrictions on where and when he can pillage.  A privateer can also draw (to some extent) on the resources of his patrons - so pressing Imperial citizens into service aboard a Rogue Trader vessel is not out of the question.

I think the place where you can really bring that Pirates feel to your games is with artifacts.  Jack Sparrow had his "magical" compass, there was the map to edges of the world, the pieces of eight, etc.  Just replace "magic" with "warp-powered" or "archeotech" and you're good to go.

I'd be interested in hearing what other ideas you have to give your games this Piratey flavor.



#3 Varnias Tybalt

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Posted 11 August 2009 - 04:55 AM

Leopold Cygnus said:

 

I think that capturing the feel of Pirates of the Carribean would be an excellent way to run a Rogue Trader game, but I think it is important to remember that there are some significant differences.  Think of Pirates but with the East India Trading Co. having had a stranglehold on all shipping and seafaring for 10,000 years with agents scattered all across known (and perhaps even unkown) space.  The Warrant that makes a Rogue Trader a Rogue Trader is provided to him/her by the opressive institution that keeps the whole of humanity under its thumb - and if the Rogue Trader gets too far out of line, he's going to be squished.  These folks are privateers, not pirates; they still have to answer to someone.

 

 

Those are all good points. Still perhaps the "Pirate" label might sort of be like the "Radical" label in the Inquisition?

I mean, while some Inquisitors aren't regarded as being "official" radicals that are hunted by their entire sector conclave, there are still certain Inquisitors who consider other Inquisitors to be radicals for many different reasons, and some going as far as pursing the proposed radicals on their own. So while the difference between a pirate and rogue trader is merely a piece of paper, and the difference between a radical and a puritan is basically just how good standing an Inquisitor has with his or her conclave, this line of thought might be common among Rogue Traders and the Imperial Navy as well.

While there are bound to exist real space pirates out there as well who are feared by all traders and chartist captains, and probably hunted by the Imperial Navy. But like the seven seas of old was big to the common man, it's a big ass space and as oppressive and dictatorial as the Imperium may be they canät control and monitor everything, especially when it comes to piracy and rogue trading. Explaining the ill reputation that Rogue Traders have, and why most Imperial Naval captains consider Rogue Traders and Pirates to be pretty much the same thing making little distinction between them.

 

As for ideas to capture the "piratey" feel to a Rogue Trader game, one important aspect would be to focus most of the action and combat to space, between vessels. Especially boarding actions where the PC's board/get boarded while the ships broadsides blaze away at eachother. This might be a somewhat redundant line of thought, since it is a space ship RPG after all and there are bound to be space battles, but it's worthy of stressing the point, because if the action get's too much focus on unexplored planets and space-bases then the game will have too much of a Dark Heresy/Inquisition feel to it. I think it might be important to make sure the distinction is noticeable.



#4 Leopold Cygnus

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Posted 11 August 2009 - 06:21 AM

Varnias Tybalt said:

 

Those are all good points. Still perhaps the "Pirate" label might sort of be like the "Radical" label in the Inquisition?

I mean, while some Inquisitors aren't regarded as being "official" radicals that are hunted by their entire sector conclave, there are still certain Inquisitors who consider other Inquisitors to be radicals for many different reasons, and some going as far as pursing the proposed radicals on their own. So while the difference between a pirate and rogue trader is merely a piece of paper, and the difference between a radical and a puritan is basically just how good standing an Inquisitor has with his or her conclave, this line of thought might be common among Rogue Traders and the Imperial Navy as well.

While there are bound to exist real space pirates out there as well who are feared by all traders and chartist captains, and probably hunted by the Imperial Navy. But like the seven seas of old was big to the common man, it's a big ass space and as oppressive and dictatorial as the Imperium may be they canät control and monitor everything, especially when it comes to piracy and rogue trading. Explaining the ill reputation that Rogue Traders have, and why most Imperial Naval captains consider Rogue Traders and Pirates to be pretty much the same thing making little distinction between them.

 

As for ideas to capture the "piratey" feel to a Rogue Trader game, one important aspect would be to focus most of the action and combat to space, between vessels. Especially boarding actions where the PC's board/get boarded while the ships broadsides blaze away at eachother. This might be a somewhat redundant line of thought, since it is a space ship RPG after all and there are bound to be space battles, but it's worthy of stressing the point, because if the action get's too much focus on unexplored planets and space-bases then the game will have too much of a Dark Heresy/Inquisition feel to it. I think it might be important to make sure the distinction is noticeable.

 

 

 

There would certainly be Rogue Traders who engage in piracy - though they'd be limited in their targets.  An Imperial merchant/caravan master would certainly be off limits, though "unaligned" humans (or pirates), xenos, and possibly other Rogue Traders would be prime targets.  I suppose the comparison between "normal" and radical inquisitors applies - some inquisitors will go to greater lengths to root out and destroy the enemies of the Imperium while some Rogue Traders will go to greater lengths to accumulate wealth, gain power, or "claim" territory and discoveries for the Imperium.

A Rogue Trader might be looked down upon by the officers of the Imperial Navy and seen as little better than a pirate (though protected by his Warrant of Trade), though the common rating or soldier will probably see Rogue Traders as heroic and dashing individuals in much the same way that downtrodden sailors saw pirates during the "Golden Age of Piracy."  A common sailor would never make a fortune in his trade, though turning to piracy or privateering would offer many more opportunities.  It wouldn't surprise me one bit if a sizeable chunk of a Rogue Trader's crew was made up of Navy deserters who were hoping to make some small fortune by tossing their lots in with a charismatic Rogue Trader.

I'm with you 100% on the space battles, it's just too bad nobody will be using a line to swing from one ship to the other...  though I suppose you can have a hungry void whale chase the ship and try to swallow it and the crew whole (and maybe succeed)!

You've also made me want to make a "Nassau" (or "Tortuga") location where criminals and pirates go to spend and trade their ill-gotten goods and otherwise hide from Imperial authority.

Lots to think about before my book arrives...

 

 


#5 CorneliusPhi

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Posted 11 August 2009 - 06:31 AM

Leopold Cygnus said:

You've also made me want to make a "Nassau" (or "Tortuga") location where criminals and pirates go to spend and trade their ill-gotten goods and otherwise hide from Imperial authority.

Judging from the map of the expanse and the description given in the Secrets of The Expanse download you are describing the city of Footfall.



#6 Varnias Tybalt

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Posted 11 August 2009 - 07:12 AM

Leopold Cygnus said:

I'm with you 100% on the space battles, it's just too bad nobody will be using a line to swing from one ship to the other...  though I suppose you can have a hungry void whale chase the ship and try to swallow it and the crew whole (and maybe succeed)!

Wait, wait! I just figured it out!

Boarding parties outfitted with void-suit, hanging on to wires attached to a sort of rocket-propelled magnetic grapling hook fired from outside of the ship. The rocket is guided to impact with the enemy vessel and latching on to the hull, providing the void suited boarer an opportunity to plant melta charges and enter the enemy vessel from the outside.

Can't you just imagine crazed boarding parties using this method when they don't have access to proper assault craft or teleportation technology? (I mean assault craft is expensive and it takes up valuable space for ammunition for the ship weaponry, and teleportation is a very rare form of travel exclusive to the Inquisition, The Astartes and the Adeptus Mechanicus)

That way, we actually CAN have boarders using a line (of sorts) to "swing" from one ship to the other!

Sometimes, I just love the way I think.



#7 Diriel

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Posted 11 August 2009 - 07:51 AM

Just some things to consider;

pirates who actively engaged in active piracy and were well known were restricted to what were known as pirate ports.  they couldn't just pull into a british, french, or spanish port.  if you were to be one of these pirates you would be indiscriminate in who you attacked, and imperial shipping wouldn't be off limits.  Life would be much more dangerous, and eventually it is likely you would be hunted down if you caused enough nuisance for a merchant with the administratum's ear.  Pirates in the Carribean had to count on islands that lived off a piratical economy.

the same goes for privateers, they could only go into ports from which they had a letter of marquee to operate under.  Sure, they were basically government sponsored pirates...but at least they had the support of the government for which they pillaged.  this means they only attacked enemy shipping and men of war.  This would be a model to base your rogue trader off of.  Basically you could attack shipping or exploring ships for any other race.  You see those freebootaz in the distance powering away with ore from a mining planet?  take thier ship, but realize the orcs will most likely fight to the last man...er....orc.

The downside of course is that ships in the age of sail were interchangeable.  You could capture a french ship and the british government or other merchants would pay you a decent price for the actual ship, not just the cargo.  I doubt the human empire in 40k would be willing to see humans floating around in alien ships.  The inquisition may pay for new ships to investigate, and maybe some orcs used some lost STL for part of the ship they're flying....but then again i'm proving myself wrong.  Don't blow up the ships they may come in useful to sell!!!

If you want some short notice preparation you might get a book on amazon about pirates, maybe the book Master and Commander, and maybe rent the miniseries Horatio Hornblower.  It will give you a good idea of the age you're trying to emulate in the distant future.

 

 



#8 Varnias Tybalt

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Posted 11 August 2009 - 08:02 AM

Diriel said:

The downside of course is that ships in the age of sail were interchangeable.  You could capture a french ship and the british government or other merchants would pay you a decent price for the actual ship, not just the cargo.  I doubt the human empire in 40k would be willing to see humans floating around in alien ships.

Then again, what's to stop the more morally corrupt pirate-like Rogue Traders from attacking smaller and inferior vessels, capture them, jettison any surviving crew members they find (or keep them locked up in the holds, selling them as slave labour), while purging the cogitator systems and logs of all events the inferior vesseol has been through, only to later drive it to port and sell the vessel to someone else, saying that it's been salvaged from the void.

-"I swear, we just found it dead in the void in that asteroid field over at these coordinates. We found some bloodstains and such, but no crew and the cogitators were all frakked. Well Emperor rest the souls of the crew, but law is law, and if we find a ship with no captain or crew we're perfectly allowed to salvage and sell it."



#9 llsoth

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Posted 11 August 2009 - 08:06 AM

Tybalt, Considering how boarding actions are described in BFG that is actually spot on.

I wish the pdf would let me select the text but is seems the BFG were released as images only :(

But it says teleporters, shuttles, life pods, and pressure suits (emphasis mine) were used to get to the enemy ship and where they would then blast a breach in the hull to get inside. 

As to selling pirated ships..  that might..  might work once but as soon as you have a pattern of bringing ships into port that have no captain/crew/records and have all of thier data systems wiped you are in for trouble.

 

Honestly Inquisitor I have no idea why all the ships we have brought in have had all their data systems wiped, must be a coincidence.  



#10 Varnias Tybalt

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Posted 11 August 2009 - 08:26 AM

llsoth said:

As to selling pirated ships..  that might..  might work once but as soon as you have a pattern of bringing ships into port that have no captain/crew/records and have all of thier data systems wiped you are in for trouble.

Hmm... But what about fringe shipyards? Perhaps in the periphery of Imperial Space and unknown Void there are fringe shipyards, run by rather shady Adeptus Mechanicus officials (*cough*hereteks*cough*) and other assorted scum and villany, who specialize in buying, disassembling and then assembling other configurations of the ships and then sell them off as "new" products with no past or background, and care little for where or how the bought ships were found and brought in, making such ports/shipyards an excellent hideout for all sorts of pirates and dubious individuals.

Oh, and the appointed officials have no idea why Inquisitorial agents have such a nasty tendency to disappear or be found dead within the premises. All just unfortunate accidents and mishaps you know. But those are the ways out here in fringe space where Imperial law has yet to gain foothold.



#11 Leopold Cygnus

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Posted 11 August 2009 - 08:30 AM

 

My previous post about Rogue Traders not engaging in "piracy" assumed that the players in question were Rogue Traders - assuming they're not, I see nothing wrong with playing a pirate campaign, and if they are, they won't be for long as their Warrant of Trade is bound to be revoked after they rub the wrong people the wrong way.

If anybody is interested in a good read about Pirates, I can heartily recommend "The Republic of Pirates" by Colin Woodard.  Not a narrative by any means, but a good summary of pirate life in the Carribean and discussion of the histories of many of the more famous swashbucklers of that era.

Attacking Imperial ships (even small ones) is fairly risky - you never know who the Astropath is going to contact as you bear down on them.  It's one thing to attack a ship at sea in the 18th Century and quite another to attack a vessel in the 41st millennium with astropathic communications.  You might even run into a vessel that purports to be a merchant ship but is actually packed to the gunnels with navy personnel who are eager to discover why so many vessels are disappearing - such things happened to pirates from time to time.

 

 

 


#12 DarkPrimus

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Posted 11 August 2009 - 09:03 AM

If you want to go for a Pirates of the Caribbean feel, perhaps have legends of a Rogue Trader fleet thought lost centuries ago that has been reported to have been attacking any vessels it encounters as it jumps around the Expanse, seemingly randomly. The few who have survived these attacks have described the boarding parties not wearing any sort of void suits, and taking direct hits from weapons that would kill a man with little to no effect.



#13 Psion

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Posted 11 August 2009 - 11:04 AM

Hmmm, I've done something like Rogue Trader before (the Age of Sail in space thingy at least) although I'm honestly drawing up a blank.  Never worked with something quite like the Kronous Expanse where there is little actual habitation though.



#14 Luddite

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Posted 11 August 2009 - 12:02 PM

 PotC has some great ideas for sure.

 

Personally i'll be digging out a few older games that haven't seen the light of day for a while.

Much inspiration will be found from Traveller, High Colonies, Dr Who, Fading Suns, Star Trek, and Space 1889



#15 Diriel

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Posted 11 August 2009 - 12:02 PM

During my daily run today I was crafting a response stating that astropathic communications indicate people shouldn't probably ever attack an imperial ship.

HOWEVER...numerous planets turn rogue especially on the fringe.  Once they declare themselves no longer part of the empire...their shipping is technically free game.  The imperial navy cannot blockade every traitor planet, and the imperial guard takes years often to respond to such traitorous actions by planetary governors.  This gives a smart rogue trader several opportunities in the meantime to make some money...providing they can beat the planetary defenses along the way.



#16 Nullius

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Posted 11 August 2009 - 12:24 PM

The real question is exactly how much pirate-talk is too much for a rogue trader game...

"Avast and ahoy, ye space-dogs,  I'll tan yer scurvy skins and throw 'em over the gunnels if I hear ye speak another word about that Emperor-Damned Planet 'o Gold. I swear upon me old papi's eyes! Now tie down that cargo and prepare to heave-to, Thrusters at maximum, ye scallawags, ye insubordinate ork-sons! We sail out with the warp-tide!"



#17 Diriel

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Posted 11 August 2009 - 01:53 PM

"You've debauched my sloth" will be uttered at some point during a rogue trader game.



#18 Leopold Cygnus

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Posted 11 August 2009 - 02:09 PM

Nullius said:

The real question is exactly how much pirate-talk is too much for a rogue trader game...

"Avast and ahoy, ye space-dogs,  I'll tan yer scurvy skins and throw 'em over the gunnels if I hear ye speak another word about that Emperor-Damned Planet 'o Gold. I swear upon me old papi's eyes! Now tie down that cargo and prepare to heave-to, Thrusters at maximum, ye scallawags, ye insubordinate ork-sons! We sail out with the warp-tide!"

Works for me.



#19 Nullius

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Posted 11 August 2009 - 02:44 PM

Indeed. There's no such thing as too much pirate-talk, as far as I'm concerned. I suppose it was rhetorical question              

: )



#20 Varnias Tybalt

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Posted 12 August 2009 - 04:35 AM

Nullius said:

 

The real question is exactly how much pirate-talk is too much for a rogue trader game...

"Avast and ahoy, ye space-dogs,  I'll tan yer scurvy skins and throw 'em over the gunnels if I hear ye speak another word about that Emperor-Damned Planet 'o Gold. I swear upon me old papi's eyes! Now tie down that cargo and prepare to heave-to, Thrusters at maximum, ye scallawags, ye insubordinate ork-sons! We sail out with the warp-tide!"

 

 

In my opinion, there can NEVER be "too much" pirate-talk in a game of Rogue Trader. Especially considering how both high gothic and low gothic are derivatives of English (the british english that is, which the pirates of british imperial origin spoke), along with a blend of pig-latin. So colourful piratey lingo is more than okay in my book.

Come to think of it, perhaps we should group together and compile a list of piratey slangs and expressions commonly used by the more unsavory Rogue Traders out there?

Oi! You orbital inbreds! Fire-up the warp engine and go kick the Navigator into work, lest I'll have your scurvy ridden hides as a carpet! Savvy!?






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