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New Designer Diary: Blood and Plunder


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#1 FFG_Sam Stewart

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Posted 10 September 2009 - 08:23 AM

Hello Rogue Trader fans!

This week, we look at creating and completing Endeavours, as Sarvus Trask and his ship Cerberus travel deep into the dangers of the Expanse.
 

Enjoy!



#2 Cervantes3773

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Posted 10 September 2009 - 08:39 AM

Thanks for the summary and explanation of endeavours!  I'm really excited to run my players through a few.



#3 Varnias Tybalt

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Posted 10 September 2009 - 08:49 AM

Hmm, while this certainly sounds interesting... Im a bit worried.

It's hard to visualize how the system will work in practicality, what im worried about is that the game MIGHT devolve into simple hunting for achievement points and the plots and roleplaying might be uncomfortably downtoned.

Sort of like how some editions of DnD can devolve into little more than the player characters doing xp-grinding by killing mooks.

Don't get me wrong im really psyched about Rogue Trader (I have even pre-ordered the Collectors Edition), it's just that I seriously hope that these fancy game mechanics won't overshadow roleplaying elements.

I'd hate to see if the Core Rulebook is nothing more than a rulessystem filled with game mechanics and virtually nothing about actual roleplaying...



#4 Cervantes3773

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Posted 10 September 2009 - 08:53 AM

I see the achievement points and all that stuff as something for the GM to keep to him- or herself.  Players can know that a cargo hold or auger array gives them more points, but they shouldn't know how close they are to finishing something until they're actually done. 

Being a Rogue Trader isn't like working on a factory line, where you know exactly what needs to be done to get the job done.  No.  Being a Rogue Trader involves danger and uncertainty and wily GMs that make endeavours difficult and full of roleplaying possibilities.



#5 Varnias Tybalt

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Posted 10 September 2009 - 09:01 AM

Cervantes3773 said:

 

I see the achievement points and all that stuff as something for the GM to keep to him- or herself.  Players can know that a cargo hold or auger array gives them more points, but they shouldn't know how close they are to finishing something until they're actually done. 

Being a Rogue Trader isn't like working on a factory line, where you know exactly what needs to be done to get the job done.  No.  Being a Rogue Trader involves danger and uncertainty and wily GMs that make endeavours difficult and full of roleplaying possibilities.

 

 

Yeah, I know. It's just that... Well let's say that questionmarks do arise about roleplay relevant factors in the game, I really don't want to find myself noticing that I can't find any answers to those questions, but I can however find some "nifty endavours mechanics" instead.

It's not as if I would want to remove all gaming aspects of the RPG in question, but I don't want to downplay the Roleplaying either. I prefer balance between the two. A golden middleway so to say, and I prefer when the sourcebooks follow that line of thought as well.

So while I don't have anything against nifty endavour mechanics I would, in equal measure, like to see perhaps some fluff list describing common space ship can't spoken by ship ratings in the forty-first millenium.

Oh well, im sure I won't be diappointed once I have the book. It's just that FFG has been a bit "fond" of game mechanics so far. A bit TOO fond of them sometimes if you ask me (just look at their really elaborate board games like Arkham horror for instance).

Then again I have spent some time arguing for WFRP 3rd edition, and why the gimmicky mechanics doesn't have to ruin the roleplaying regardless of how elaborate and all-encompassing they might be. So im not going to suddenly go hypocritical about it. But it is pretty justified to be worried.

We all have a positive outlook and hope for a good game, but the chance is always there that it COULD crash and burn as well.

You know what I mean?



#6 DocIII

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Posted 10 September 2009 - 09:37 AM

Varnias Tybalt said:

Hmm, while this certainly sounds interesting... Im a bit worried.

It's hard to visualize how the system will work in practicality, what im worried about is that the game MIGHT devolve into simple hunting for achievement points and the plots and roleplaying might be uncomfortably downtoned.

Sort of like how some editions of DnD can devolve into little more than the player characters doing xp-grinding by killing mooks.

Don't get me wrong im really psyched about Rogue Trader (I have even pre-ordered the Collectors Edition), it's just that I seriously hope that these fancy game mechanics won't overshadow roleplaying elements.

I'd hate to see if the Core Rulebook is nothing more than a rulessystem filled with game mechanics and virtually nothing about actual roleplaying...

The endeavor mechanics do not lock you into any particular method of accomplishing the tasks that make up the endeavor.  That portion is still left to the creativity of the GM and the players.

The only way you could "grind" endeavors is if the GM went: ok there's 4 things you've got to accomplish to complete this endeavor.  Here's the one test you have to succeed on for each of them.

That would be a failure on the part of the GM, not the system.

The endeavors system is more a planning/guaging progress tool than anything else.  The endeavor system is basically a means to go - "oh you want to accomplish big goal X?  Here's a list of the smaller goals A, B and C you must accomplish in order to get to big goal X."  How each of those steps is accomplished is entirely up to the gaming group.   The numerical mechanics really just provide a scale for determining how profitable (or not) success at the endeavor is.



#7 Cervantes3773

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Posted 10 September 2009 - 09:54 AM

I certainly understand your apprehension at the endeavour system; who wants RT to turn into WoW?

The key to avoiding that will be making certain achievements only available through roleplaying.  For example, if one of the most important achievements is convincing someone to trade exclusively with you, your players will certainly have to do a lot of thinking and acting in character to do so.  Especially if you make the person rather immune to strong arming (revered by his/her people, strong military force, has a lot of knowledge, etc).

The DM we usually play D&D with can run entire sessions of roleplaying.  You want to convince someone, fine, tell me how you do it.  It's too important to be decided by a roll of the die.

 

Additionally, the endeavour/achievement system helps GMS create sessions for their players.  It's not too far off from how a lot of people create stories in the first place.  For example, my players want to do X, Y, and Z.  Well, to do that, they need to accomplish, A, B, C, and D.  And boy, C is a doozy!



#8 Maxim C. Gatling

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Posted 10 September 2009 - 09:58 AM

I really have to apologize to all of you.  I don't mean to be a bitter a-hole, but this sort of thing makes me angry seeing as most of us still can't get a copy of the game.  Did you write this for all 200 peeps who got a copy at GenCon?

Sorry.  I'm just mad.  I've been waiting for this game for over 20 years. 



#9 Dalnor Surloc

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Posted 10 September 2009 - 10:07 AM

No this is to make you want to buy it, and help out when you've bought it.  Sure I'm there with you in this being cruel as I preordered months ago....



#10 Bilateralrope

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Posted 10 September 2009 - 10:07 AM

Let me get this right, they were able to skip convincing the locals to trade with them because their ship had a fancy sensor system and cargo hold. How does that make sense ?

 

I can see the locals being convinced after they chased away the orks. But that didn't happen. I'm probably going to be ignoring the achievement points when I get hold of it.



#11 Cervantes3773

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Posted 10 September 2009 - 10:17 AM

Bilateralrope said:

Let me get this right, they were able to skip convincing the locals to trade with them because their ship had a fancy sensor system and cargo hold. How does that make sense ?

 

I can see the locals being convinced after they chased away the orks. But that didn't happen. I'm probably going to be ignoring the achievement points when I get hold of it.

 

I read it to mean that the locals were so impressed by them routing the Orks that the GM decided to pass on making the players roleplay that particular achievement.  Perfectly acceptable in my book.  Why make your players roleplay eating, showering, and crapping if no one cares to do it?



#12 Graver

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Posted 10 September 2009 - 10:50 AM

Bilateralrope said:

Let me get this right, they were able to skip convincing the locals to trade with them because their ship had a fancy sensor system and cargo hold. How does that make sense ?

 

I can see the locals being convinced after they chased away the orks. But that didn't happen. I'm probably going to be ignoring the achievement points when I get hold of it.

 

Maybe they did such a damned fine job in locating the system faster then they should have (thanks to that array) and were able to carry far more goods for trade then they would have if they didn't have the cargo hold that even without an exclusive trade agreement, they were still able to make enough profit from the trip to warrant the +4 to their profit.

I think the bonuses for ship components are there adding their little bonuses to make small goals (like a 100 pt goal) unnecessary because you can make up for that small loss to the over all success / profit of the endeavor in other ways 9by finding things faster and caring more goods etc). It's small bonuses so that important objectives (like getting rid of those Orks for 400) still have to be accomplished for the endeavor to actually succeed and be profitable. An exclusive trade contract, after the glory of finding he trade rout (hell, sell it?) getting rid of the orks, and establishing trade negotiations with the people isn't all that much. It would have been icing on the cake, not the cake it's self.

 



#13 Bilateralrope

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Posted 10 September 2009 - 11:10 AM

Cervantes3773 said:

Bilateralrope said:

 

Let me get this right, they were able to skip convincing the locals to trade with them because their ship had a fancy sensor system and cargo hold. How does that make sense ?

 

I can see the locals being convinced after they chased away the orks. But that didn't happen. I'm probably going to be ignoring the achievement points when I get hold of it.

 

 

 

I read it to mean that the locals were so impressed by them routing the Orks that the GM decided to pass on making the players roleplay that particular achievement.  Perfectly acceptable in my book.  Why make your players roleplay eating, showering, and crapping if no one cares to do it?

Cervantes3773 said:

Bilateralrope said:

 

Let me get this right, they were able to skip convincing the locals to trade with them because their ship had a fancy sensor system and cargo hold. How does that make sense ?

 

I can see the locals being convinced after they chased away the orks. But that didn't happen. I'm probably going to be ignoring the achievement points when I get hold of it.

 

 

 

I read it to mean that the locals were so impressed by them routing the Orks that the GM decided to pass on making the players roleplay that particular achievement.  Perfectly acceptable in my book.  Why make your players roleplay eating, showering, and crapping if no one cares to do it?

Chasing off the orks would probably make it much easier to convince the planets population, and the gm should try to avoid roleplay situations if the group doesn't like it. But that isn't what happened:

Although the fourth objective is not completed, the players have earned enough Achievement Points to complete the threshold as a whole. the GM decides that the population of Mallanus Minoris is grateful enough to grant the Cerberus exclusivity without prompting

It doesn't matter what reason the gm comes up with for letting them skip the last part because the gm only came up with the reason because they had enough achievement points. And they only had enough achievement points because of the fancy augur array and cargo hold. Which means, as far as the game mechanics are concerned, they managed to convince the population easily because they had a fancy sensory array and cargo hold.

 

Had the fourth objective been more vital to the Endeavour, the GM could have required his players to complete it anyway (and then turn their ‘extra’ Achievement Points into additional Profit Factor).

The other option the gm had was to put the players through it anyway, then award them extra profit because of the sensor array and cargo hold. I can see the cargo hold increasing the profit factor, but how does the sensor array help ?

 



#14 Bilateralrope

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Posted 10 September 2009 - 11:11 AM

Graver said:

Bilateralrope said:

 

Let me get this right, they were able to skip convincing the locals to trade with them because their ship had a fancy sensor system and cargo hold. How does that make sense ?

 

I can see the locals being convinced after they chased away the orks. But that didn't happen. I'm probably going to be ignoring the achievement points when I get hold of it.

 

 

 

Maybe they did such a damned fine job in locating the system faster then they should have (thanks to that array) and were able to carry far more goods for trade then they would have if they didn't have the cargo hold that even without an exclusive trade agreement, they were still able to make enough profit from the trip to warrant the +4 to their profit.

I think the bonuses for ship components are there adding their little bonuses to make small goals (like a 100 pt goal) unnecessary because you can make up for that small loss to the over all success / profit of the endeavor in other ways 9by finding things faster and caring more goods etc). It's small bonuses so that important objectives (like getting rid of those Orks for 400) still have to be accomplished for the endeavor to actually succeed and be profitable. An exclusive trade contract, after the glory of finding he trade rout (hell, sell it?) getting rid of the orks, and establishing trade negotiations with the people isn't all that much. It would have been icing on the cake, not the cake it's self.

 

Graver said:

Bilateralrope said:

 

Let me get this right, they were able to skip convincing the locals to trade with them because their ship had a fancy sensor system and cargo hold. How does that make sense ?

 

I can see the locals being convinced after they chased away the orks. But that didn't happen. I'm probably going to be ignoring the achievement points when I get hold of it.

 

 

 

Maybe they did such a damned fine job in locating the system faster then they should have (thanks to that array) and were able to carry far more goods for trade then they would have if they didn't have the cargo hold that even without an exclusive trade agreement, they were still able to make enough profit from the trip to warrant the +4 to their profit.

I think the bonuses for ship components are there adding their little bonuses to make small goals (like a 100 pt goal) unnecessary because you can make up for that small loss to the over all success / profit of the endeavor in other ways 9by finding things faster and caring more goods etc). It's small bonuses so that important objectives (like getting rid of those Orks for 400) still have to be accomplished for the endeavor to actually succeed and be profitable. An exclusive trade contract, after the glory of finding he trade rout (hell, sell it?) getting rid of the orks, and establishing trade negotiations with the people isn't all that much. It would have been icing on the cake, not the cake it's self.

 

Ok, that makes some sense. But that isn't the excuse given in the article.



#15 Varnias Tybalt

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Posted 10 September 2009 - 11:15 AM

Graver said:

Maybe they did such a damned fine job in locating the system faster then they should have (thanks to that array)

Or perhaps that array helped them do some really detailed scans of the surrounding areas of space that they get handsomely paid by a stellar cartographer's guild for the array readouts once they get back?

Also a perfectly viable reason for getting extra profit from having a good sensor array.



#16 Graver

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Posted 10 September 2009 - 12:18 PM

Bilateralrope said:

 


 

 

Ok, that makes some sense. But that isn't the excuse given in the article.

 

 

 

That's because, unfortunately for them, that GM probably isn't as awesome as I am ;-)

Seriously, when i saw that the goals for an endevor had different numerical values and that equipment that a ship has could effect these values/give more bang for the players buck, I read that as a desire for the players to have an active say (through their PC's actions and their ship's ability) of influencing how and in what way they archive their over-arching goals. Because they have a point system, I feel the goals were intended to be more in player control; you can do this, then this, and finally this, or you can cut to the chase with this, but if you were equipped to do this, well, so much the better. Sure you could do it A-B-C-D but if you do good on A and C, you won't have to do B but it will net you more profit if you do kind of thing. Basically, giving players a bit more freedom in how they tackle problems they chose to tackle and what not depending on how well they do, the rout they fallow, and what cool toys they got for their ship. Heck, i can see an endevor with several (4-5) of those little 100 pt contingencies with only 2 big 400 - 500 point necessities allowing players to achieve their goal in many different ways depending on the path they chose and their capabilities. I guess, in the end, the points seem to be a method of prioritizing the importance of a goal to the over-arching endeavor between what's essential and what's merely icing on the cake if you pull it off (even if the example didn't state that, I'm sure that was it's goal, and if it wasn't, it failed in it's communication with me).

In the end, though, I would agree, the description didn't state that my reasoning was the reasoning for ignoring the criteria of an exclusive trade agreement, but, as I stated, I'm just more awesomer and creative then that GM and that's how I would have rationalized the numbers and their effect ;-)

 



#17 Cifer

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Posted 10 September 2009 - 12:34 PM

I can see the cargo hold increasing the profit factor, but how does the sensor array help ?

Profit equals gains minus expenses per time - and I could see sensor arrays help plotting the best course through a system, thus reducing fuel costs (whatever it is the plasma drives are consuming) and time needed for return trips when you discover that a region a cheaper system would simply mark as "Asteroid field, do not pass" is actually light enough for you to get through unhindered.



#18 Cervantes3773

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Posted 10 September 2009 - 12:37 PM

Graver said:

Seriously, when i saw that the goals for an endevor had different numerical values and that equipment that a ship has could effect these values/give more bang for the players buck, I read that as a desire for the players to have an active say (through their PC's actions and their ship's ability) of influencing how and in what way they archive their over-arching goals. Because they have a point system, I feel the goals were intended to be more in player control; you can do this, then this, and finally this, or you can cut to the chase with this, but if you were equipped to do this, well, so much the better. Sure you could do it A-B-C-D but if you do good on A and C, you won't have to do B but it will net you more profit if you do kind of thing. Basically, giving players a bit more freedom in how they tackle problems they chose to tackle and what not depending on how well they do, the rout they fallow, and what cool toys they got for their ship. Heck, i can see an endevor with several (4-5) of those little 100 pt contingencies with only 2 big 400 - 500 point necessities allowing players to achieve their goal in many different ways depending on the path they chose and their capabilities. I guess, in the end, the points seem to be a method of prioritizing the importance of a goal to the over-arching endeavor between what's essential and what's merely icing on the cake if you pull it off (even if the example didn't state that, I'm sure that was it's goal, and if it wasn't, it failed in it's communication with me).

Well said.  That's a very good explanation of how I saw the system as well.  In many ways, it gives you lots of opportunities for Fable-esque choices for your Explorers.  Do you peacefully negotiate a fair trade agreement with the ore-rich, yet backwards, planet or, do you remove obstacles through covert wet work and control their resources with an iron fist.

You get the acheivement points either way, but the subsequent consequences and opportunities vary greatly.



#19 Psion

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Posted 10 September 2009 - 01:08 PM

Interesting way of keeping track of goals but for me a simple checklist should suffice and depending on how awesome they were at accomplishing their goals I might let them skip one.  Same idea, somewhat simplier.  Although I like the idea of ship components providing bonuses to mission goals (I can easily believe that a special sensor array will make finding obscure systems easier,) I'm not sure I like the idea of it being added to a tally only visible to the GM instead of providing bonuses to skill checks (like Navigation) and the final profit bonus to certain activities (having a expanded or autosorting hold to fit in more stuff and thus have a slightly higher bonus to material Profit rewards.)  Other then that, I'm going to have to wait and see...



#20 LuciusT

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Posted 10 September 2009 - 01:39 PM

I've got to say, I'm agreeing with Varnias Tybalt on the being concerned about this front.

I mean this sounds like a neat mechanic... for a board game or a computer game but I'm just not seeing how it works in an RPG context. What would the actually roleplaying experience of this be? Reading this summery, it sounds like it was a session or two and each step was accomplished by a few die rolls made by a single character. I can see myself running an entire mini-campaign lasting several months about establishing a trade route to Mallanus Minoris.

I'm sorry to say, I do not like the sounds of this at all.






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