Here are some fragmentary doodles on the topic of Adeptus Arbites fleet vessels, based upon a section in the Shira Calpurnia collection, “Enforcer,” together with some rules for shoehorning these vessels and components into your Rogue Trader games… Feel free to steal, copy, amend, abuse etc...Hope you enjoy 'em!
ADEPTUS ARBITES FLEET VESSELS
There are myriad Imperial institutions which operate their own starcraft, ranging from the colossal warships of the Imperial Navy to the mysterious and shunned vessels of the League of Blackships. Understandably, Rogue Traders favour utilitarian transports or pure warships, but ignorance of the less well known Imperial fleets can cause them to miss the opportunity to obtain powerful and versatile hulls.
The Adeptus Arbites are the custodians of the Emperor’s holy law, responsible for enforcing the countless legal codes of the Imperium, ensuring prompt payment of the Imperial tithe, crushing political dissent on key worlds and investigating crimes committed against (and by) the elite servants of the Imperium, the Adepts of Terra. They are by no means a conventional police force; they care little for the mundane crimes of humanity, leaving these issues to be punished according to the whims of the planet’s duly appointed Imperial Governor. Known across the Imperium for their ruthlessness and forbidding precinct-fortresses, one might be forgiven for believing that they are a purely planetary force, reliant, like the Imperial Guard, upon the goodwill and favour of the mercantile and military fleets for transport from world to world.
Such a belief would be deeply flawed.
The Adeptus Arbites operate their own small but well equipped paramilitary fleet. Although not a “deep space” battlefleet like the Imperial Navy, the Arbites Fleet consists of powerful vessels fully capable of going toe-to-toe with anything the universe can throw at them.
Then fleet is designed to act as a mobile reserve force for the planetary Arbites. Each Arbites ship is effectively a large precinct able to reinforce a beleaguered Imperial world’s Arbitrators with a crack collection of Judges, Chasteners and Investigators.
The crews of Arbites vessels regard themselves as an elite within the organisation, and are markedly more militant in the fulfilment of their roles than their “dirtsider” compatriots. Given that their primary role is to sweep in and support outnumbered planetary precincts whose grip on the local populations are failing, this belligerent stance is understandable. Woe betide the pirate or outlaw who falls within boarding range of one of these aggressive vessels.
Despite their efficacy, Arbites ships are rare. For example, there are only two Indictor Class Fast Cruisers in the entire Calixis Sector, with a couple more old warhorses mothballed and awaiting sale in orbit around the Lathes. As such they are outnumbered dozens to one by the warships of the Imperial Navy and hundreds to one by vessels of the Merchant fleets.
However, for all their rarity, they are not to be underestimated, as the tenacious Judge-Captains or Arbitrator-Senioris in command of these ships have been known to travel deep to the heart of the Koronus Expanse in pursuit of known malefactors…
PLAYING AN ARBITES CAMPAIGN IN ROGUE TRADER
The Koronus Expanse has become notorious as a place where the most deadly and wanted felons can escape to: after all, what is the use of the write of Imperial Law beyond the bounds of the Imperium? Over the centuries, thousands of miscreants have smuggled themselves into the Expanse to avoid the clutches of the Arbites, a situation that some within the organisation have recently come to regard as intolerable.
The Adeptus Arbites are often reluctant to stoop to request aid from any other Imperial organisation. They hold fast to those powers which fall within their jurisdiction, and strongly resist any attempts to encroach upon what they see as “their” territory. Such reticence is understandable, for in many regions they occupy a difficult middle ground, without the total freedom to act outside the law possessed by the Inquisition. Too frequently, the Arbites act as the pawns of ruthless planetary regimes or opportunistic rivals within the local Imperial hierarchy. Squabbles between the secular, legal power of the Arbites and the religious hierarchy of the Ministorum are all too common, and Arbites Senioris are often frustrated by subsector commanders who appear more interested in maintaining their status than pursuing known felons across overlapping territories or beyond the Imperium.
Disgusted by Marius Hax’s apparent disinterest in addressing the matter of what has become known as the “heretic’s railroad” into the Koronus Expanse, many Senior Arbiters, including the infamous Krae Drusil of Scintilla and the devious Abendigo Chang of Malfi have investigated alternative methods of pursuing lawbreakers who flee into the Expanse.
These cunning enforcers have exerted their not inconsiderable political influence to ensure that many of those who bear newly issued Warrants of Trade have some past link or debt to the Arbites as a whole. Furthermore, secret agents of the Divisio Immoralis have brought pressure to bear upon many ancient existing Rogue Trader houses operating within the expanse in the form of hugely complex and involved prosecutions over legal infractions within the Calixis Sector.
The effect of these steps is to create a small but select group of Rogue Traders who operate-either voluntarily or otherwise-at the behest of the Arbites, and who conduct operations within the expanse on their behalf. Such agents are often given privileged access to rare Arbites equipment or intelligence which can give them the edge over their competitors. Though as any Rogue Trader will tell, nothing is free in the Expanse… They have no enhanced legal status over their more commercially minded competitors, but given the vast powers granted by a Warrant of Trade, they do not need to concern themselves with such niceties.
Game System: At the GM’s discretion, players who act on behalf of the Adeptus Arbites within the Koronus Expanse may utilise a new type of Objective Theme to add to the list on page 278 of the RT Core Rulebook: Law Enforcement Objectives. Law Enforcement Objectives are to do with upholding the letter and spirit of Imperial Law within the Expanse. While Imperial Law technically does not apply to anyone beyond the bounds of the Imperium, many within the Arbites regard this as a charter to assist heretics, and will richly reward those who use the powers granted by their Warrant of Trade to pursue criminals and uphold the Pax Imperialis even beyond its technical boundaries.
An example of a Law Enforcement Endeavour:
PURSUE AND APPREHEND A DANGEROUS HERETIC
There are thousands of wanted men and women within the Imperium, murderers, terrorists and recidivists of all kinds. All dream of escaping the Emperor’s justice, and some apparently achieve this by fleeing beyond the current bounds of the Imperium. The Rogue Trader must pursue some deadly miscreant into the darkness of the Expanse, tracking him down across mysterious and deadly worlds, capturing him alive and returning him to face the Emperor’s wrath.
-Detailed information regarding the Heretic’s crimes
-Detailed information regarding his known accomplices
-The location of his hideouts and transport methods
-Permission from local authorities to conduct investigations into his whereabouts
-Means of tracking him, whether psychic or sorcerous
-The means to follow him from world to world as he twists and turns to evade you
-Military or paramilitary forces capable of defeating any local support he may have managed to obtain
-The means to restrain and capture him non-lethally
-The means to defeat any special abilities or powers he may have
PURSUE AND CAPTURE THE WAR CRIMINAL MAARTUS VAN MAL
Greater Endeavour, +1 Profit Factor
Maartus Van Mal began his career as a bidder and trader in the Goldenhand on Hive Tarsus on Scintilla. A genius level intellect, his phenomenal success on the markets did little to assuage a growing ennui. Taking his vast profits, he enmeshed himself in the cold trade, various exotic slave trades…anything to stave off the endless boredom. His exploits became wilder, his tastes more depraved…eventually he overreached himself and evidence was obtained linking him to several arms trades to a burgeoning mutant cult on the world of Tranch. Arrested by the Arbites, he escaped using foul sorcerous methods, killing his guards and flung himself headlong into aiding the cause of the Pale Throng in their insane uprising. A key member of the Shroud Council, he was responsible for the deaths of thousands during the vicious civil war which followed. Upon the collapse of the Shroud Council, he fled through various sinister means to the edge of the Koronus Expanse, and disappeared. Now, the Imperium calls out to bring him to justice…
Objective 1: Locate and interrogate Van Mal’s associates in the Koronus and Calixian underworld
Themes: Law enforcement, criminal
There are vast interconnected criminal networks that crawl and spiral throughout the Calixis Sector, intertwined like serpents. These viperous lawbreakers offer their services to each other…and someone out there has been assisting Van Mal to escape to the Koronus Expanse. The explorers need to descend into the nightmare world of the region’s criminals and locate Van Mal’s devious and cruel co-conspirators.
Objective 2: Track Van Mal
Themes: Exploration, Law Enforcement
Warned by his associates of the explorer’s interest, Van Mal flees to the darkest heart of the Koronus expanse. The explorers must utilise all of their guile to track him, forced to use methods as foul and sorcerous as those employed by their prey…
Objective 3: Capture Can Mal from his hideout
Themes: Law Enforcement, Military
Eventually, the players track Van Mal to his hideout. Using methods taught to him by the twisted Shroud Masters of the Pale Throng, he has conquered an entire world, enslaving its feral population and brutalising them into a vicious slave army. The explorers must sweep aside these pitiful wretches and drive into Van Mal’s lair, capturing him alive, freeing the enslaved population and raiding Van Mal's hoard of purloined artefacts.
INDICTOR CLASS FAST CRUISER
Dimensions: 4.75 km Long, 0.7 km abeam at vanes
Mass: 23 megatonnes approx
Crew: 68,000 crew approx
Accel: 3.6 gravities max sustainable acceleration
The Indictor Class is typical of the ships utilised by the Arbites. Squat, utilitarian and incredibly robust, the vessel is optimised for the unusual dual mission profile of planetary assault and ship to ship boarding actions. Few spacecraft outside the Strike Cruisers of the Adeptus Astartes operate within these parameters, and although the Indictor is markedly less lethal than the ships of the Space Marines, it is nevertheless a fearsome opponent to all but the most heavily armed of lawbreakers.
Only the Arbites routinely utilise the “fast cruiser” concept in their ships, though vessels of this type are similar in tonnage and power output to the Light Cruisers of the Imperial Navy, albeit somewhat larger. They are markedly less elegant than Navy craft, though there is a certain spare and brutal pragmatism about their design that impresses those knowledgeable about such matters.
Indictor fast cruisers are constructed well within the heart of the Segmentum Solar, and information regarding their Forge World of origin is highly restricted. They do not resemble the “classic” Imperial ship, lacking the elegantly lethal prow ram, but they utilise the same technologies, and are clearly recognisable as Imperial ships by the glittering Arbites symbols mounted along the hull.
The class is often equipped with well ordered Storming-Locks, which increase the efficiency of hull-to-hull boarding actions by allowing the rapid egress of specialist boarding Arbites officers equipped with armoured pressure-carapaces and a variety of lethal and non-lethal weapons systems.
Whilst not designed from the hull up as a mobile gaol (modified transports are usually used for this purpose) the ship fulfils its function as a mobile precinct with a suite of state of the art interrogation facilities of various types. It is also equipped with powerful bombardment cannon to support planetary Arbites forces.
Speed: 6 Manoeuvrability: +12
Detection: +15 Hull Integrity: 60
Armour: 20 Turret Rating: 1
Space: 60 SP: 50
Weapon Capacity: 1 Port, 1 Starboard, 1 Dorsal
UNIQUE ARBITES SHIP COMPONENTS
The Arbites pride themselves on their grasp of psychology. For them, the arts of interrogation do not require the crude tortures of the Inquisition, but rather complex stage management, pomp, surprise evidence and the use of the subject’s own guilt to grind down their will to resist. Arbites ships are often equipped with a variety of specialist interrogation suites, with rooms designed to crush the spirit by subjecting the subject to total darkness and silence or constant deafening noise and blinding light. Interrogation rooms are mocked up as grand courtrooms, slimy oubliettes or cold, sterile laboratories. Prisoners are whisked from room to room and subjected to bizarre and threatening cross-examinations under the glare of magnesium lights for hours with no rest, while damning evidence of their guilt is paraded under their noses to the loudly-voiced contempt of the questioners. Few can resist such a specialist barrage of refined intimidation.
Confess, confess! Any interrogation skills used against any prisoners on board the ship are reduced in difficulty by two degrees (-20).
Good Cop, Bad Cop: When working towards a Law Enforcement Objective, the Explorers can earn an additional 50 achievement points towards completing that objective. .
Judge’s Chambers (Unique Bridge type)
This Arbites vessel was once the private precinct of a great Judge, a fearless enforcer of the Imperium’s Laws. The Bridge is ringed with great volumes of Judicial precedents dating back thousands of years, and the air is heavy with the dignity and power of those responsible for objectively and coldly interpreting the diktats of the Pax Imperialis.
Sober: When working towards a Law Enforcement Objective, the Explorers can earn an additional 50 achievement points towards completing that objective.
Learned: Any Common Lore (Adeptus Arbites) skills tests made while on board the bridge ship are reduced in difficulty by one degree (-10).
Arbites vessels are commonly equipped with specialist airlocks constructed solely to force-propel large numbers of boarders into the hull of an enemy vessel. Storming Locks are large external airlocks ringed with meltas and lasburners. They are mounted on extendable booms, and can swing rapidly into place, enabling the controlling officer to latch onto the target and cut through. Arbites are then driven along the length of the airlock passage by rail-mounted drive systems clipped to their pressure carapaces. This system allows dozens of Arbites officers to be literally fired into the breached hull of an enemy vessel in seconds, far faster than they would achieve under their own power. Although this system does not actually assist in the difficult manoeuvres that initiate a boarding action, it is crucial in seizing the initiative during the chaotic early stages of the process, as it enables the transfer of large number of armed assault teams into the heart of the conflict.
Go go go! Any ship equipped with Storming-Locks receives a +20 bonus to the very first opposed Command Test (and only the very first opposed Command Test) conducted during the course of the contested boarding action, to represent the large number of Arbites which instantly swarm into the enemy ship.