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Adeptus Arbites fleet vessels: some rules and stuff...

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#1 Lightbringer



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Posted 01 August 2010 - 10:43 AM

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!



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…




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:


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.
Example Requirements:
-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


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.


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


Interrogation Suite
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.

#2 SmokedHalibut



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Posted 02 August 2010 - 05:05 AM

Excellent stuff. The campaign I've just started running has a Rogue Trader whose made up from the ranks of the Arbites and was gifted an Arbites ship so this is perfect info for me to use :) Thanks for the hard work.

#3 Kalec Fash

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Posted 02 August 2010 - 07:08 AM

Excellent stuff, though I think the Judge's Bridge could use a little upgrading. Perhaps a bonus to interaction skill checks for impressing or intimidating others would be in order.

#4 dvang



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Posted 02 August 2010 - 09:55 AM

Do Arbites actually have their own ships? I was under the impression that Arbites were transported by IN ships when needed, and did not have their own warp-capable vessels.

#5 Quicksilver



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Posted 02 August 2010 - 11:05 AM

They have their own vessels, although it seems to be up to debate if they are or are not warp capable (they are sometimes described as system ships or monitors).  They seem to be most common in multi-civilized planet systems, where intra-system travel and support is highly nessisary.

90% of the time I'm posting without access to rulebooks.  Unless I say otherwise, assume everything is I.I.R.C.

#6 Lightbringer



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Posted 02 August 2010 - 10:27 PM

dvang said:


Do Arbites actually have their own ships? I was under the impression that Arbites were transported by IN ships when needed, and did not have their own warp-capable vessels.



Yup, they definately have their own ships. The description of the ship is actually taken from the Enforcer trilogy, which features a boarding raid by this class of Arbites vessel.

And Quicksilver, you're right, there is room for debate as to whether they are warp capable. In the new collected edition of the Enforcer trilogy there is new material in the form of highly verbose guidance notes for a subsector governor from an Administratum aide in which he provides background on the Adeptus Arbites. This has a subsection specifically on the Arbites Fleet. The article talks in terms of how the Arbites Fleet is specifically tasked with supporting planetary based precincts. There is nothing which explicitly states (as I recall, I don't have the book on me) that Arbites ships are warp capable, but as the notes talk in terms of Arbites Fleets operating in a multiple-system support role, I think it's a logical inference to draw.  

My interpretation of the background is that although the Arbites have their own ships, they are very rare. They are massively outnumbered by both Imperial Navy and Merchant Navy vessels, and indeed would probably be outnumbered by Rogue Trader ships operating in regions adjacent to Imperial sectors.   

#7 Traveller61



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Posted 02 August 2010 - 11:47 PM

In the novel "Execution Hour" there is the Arbites Strike Cruiser Inviolable Retribution, Punisher class vessel. It is a warp capable vessel armed with broadside batteries and prow mounted bombardment cannons using linear accelerator to fire salvos of magma bomb warheads.

The Chaos vessels in the battle suppose that it is some new class of light cruiser that thy have not previously encountered.

It sounds like a modified version of the Astartes Strike Cruiser.


PS. Lightbringer - nice job on this stuff!

#8 Lightbringer



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Posted 02 August 2010 - 11:56 PM

Interesting stuff, Traveller61! Thanks for that...I might have a go at statting up a Punisher class cruiser then, too!




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Posted 03 August 2010 - 10:45 AM

Very nice mate I like it!

~Yea, Tho I Walk Through The Valley Of The Shadow Of Death, I Shall Fear No Evil~


Posts/views/opinions are in no way representative of FFG, and are entirely my own.

#10 the 8 spider

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Posted 04 August 2010 - 12:27 AM

from france

they also have the possibility to request a merchant warp caoable ship for transport. they can also benerfit from otherr ship like the black ship of the inquisition or the navy transporting troops or going to take troops on a planet. in other words they can go  by taking a ride on other ship.

they are few warp capable ship of the navy specialy assign to the arbites but they belong to the navy  exactly like the ig.. can't recall where i saw it but thei warp capable ship goes to a system and then intra systemp ship dispatch them on differents planet.

damnde cities the second volume of the harloock trilogy speack about the problems of reassignement and reinforcement of local arbites on the planet synophia maybe it can help a little for this post.

#11 Lightbringer



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Posted 04 August 2010 - 02:53 AM

the 8 spider said:

they are few warp capable ship of the navy specialy assign to the arbites but they belong to the navy  exactly like the ig.. can't recall where i saw it but thei warp capable ship goes to a system and then intra systemp ship dispatch them on differents planet.

Sorry, Spider, but I don't agree. To quote from Enforcer:


“II-d) A subsidiary structure which it is considered worth holding up to the light of Your Serene etc.’s attention is the Arbites fleet. It is regretted that organisational details for this body are difficult to confirm with certainty, although Sections E-44 of the main brief and Attachment S and its annex B2 contain observed and conjectural details respectively. The fleets constitute mobile forces able to reinforce the work of the planetary precincts with resources both of judicial expertise and scholarship, and considerable military and paramilitary force; observations suggest that the fleets operate very much within the arbitrator cursus and their primary function is the exertion of armed might in support of their planetary colleagues. Fleet commands follow a command hierarchy not dissimilar to the fixed hierarchy discussed everywhere, and is is respectfully suggested that they might usefully be considered as spacebourne Precincts in this regard.”

On this basis, 8 Spider, I’m afraid I’m going to have to disagree with you. I don’t see Arbites ships as forming part of the Imperial Navy: they form part of the Arbites Fleet, a totally separate structure with its own clear chain of command.

Also, the chapter in Enforcer makes it clear that the ship Judgement’s Clarion, is described as an “Arbites Indictor class Fast Cruiser.” It is solely crewed by Arbites officers, and the chapter explicitly describes one Arbites Arbiter Senioris who commands it in the following terms:-

“Nakayama had spent nearly his whole career aboard the Arbites fleets that roamed their light years-long patrol beats back and forth across the Imperium, ready to enforce a beleaguered planetary precinct. It was an arbitrator’s life at its most simple, the paramilitary side of their calling stripped bare, and Nakayama had excelled at every aspect of it.”

The Arbites Fleet is also mentioned in second edition WH40k, the old (and classic) Codex Imperialis. It states:

“The fighting force of the Adeptus Arbites are the Arbitrators, warriors of justice, the militant arm of the Judges. These warriors are many and well armed, capable of fighting a limited war if need by and of transporting themselves through space in their own ships. For the Judges trust no-one they may be called upon to judge, and can find themselves fighting rebellious Warmasters of the Imperial Guard, or chasing treacherous Admirals of the Fleet.” (My emphasis.)

SO… Again, apologies, 8 Spider, but it seems to me pretty clear that the Arbites DO have their own, separate and distinct fleet, and all the inferences point to it being fully warp capable, too…

#12 the 8 spider

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Posted 05 August 2010 - 12:17 AM

from france

no offence  i don' t have acces to enforcer  and the fluff change very often. so i base my arguments on what i remenber and the two opinion atre not totally incompatible.



#13 Lightbringer



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Posted 05 August 2010 - 02:20 AM

the 8 spider said:

from france

no offence  i don' t have acces to enforcer  and the fluff change very often. so i base my arguments on what i remenber and the two opinion atre not totally incompatible.


No offence taken or intended, 8 Spider!  You're right, the two opinions aren't incompatible. It would certainly be possible for an Arbites task force to travel in a Naval vessel or merchant navy ship (even though the Codex Imperialis extract suggests they'd probably prefer to use their own ships where available). My point is that they also clearly operate their own fleet with their own unique classes of ships.

I think this is a nice idea, because it allows for new and interesting ship hulls to become available to Rogue Traders under the right circumstances.    

#14 Niqvah



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Posted 05 August 2010 - 02:44 AM

Sir, you combine a tantalising glimpse of a different, more structured Rogue Trader game with an Imperial institution for which I have an abiding and irrational love. I'm not sure whether to thank you or curse your initiative, showing me potential that simply can't be realised in my present game.

Either way, jolly good idea and well executed.

#15 Baradiel



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Posted 05 August 2010 - 03:18 PM

Lightbringer, that was excellent work.  I am printing your post out and saving it for the RT game I have planned after the DH game I am running.  One of my players is a Sheriff's Deputy, and plays an Arbites.  He will probably play the Rogue Trader, and would find this very interesting.

#16 Lightbringer



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Posted 15 August 2010 - 11:31 AM

Being an idiot, I forgot to set out the power required and space taken up by these components. D'oh! So here we go:-

Judge's Chambers: Power 1, Space 1, SP 0

Storming Locks: Power 1, Space 1, SP 1

I ran these rules past Matt Farrer, author of Enforcer, on his blog, and he seemed to approve:-

Hi Lightbringer, thanks for the comment. I’m glad you enjoyed the new Enforcer material and I liked your Arbites fleet piece on the FFG boards. (If you’re after stats on the Punisher cruiser, have a hunt around for copies of the old Battlefleet Gothic magazine, it was written up in one but I can’t remember the number).


So the Sabbat Worlds anthology is out now? I’m glad you liked it, that story gave me a lot of trouble and I admit that I wasn’t sure at the end of things how well I’d managed to do with it. If you like it, though, I’m pretty sure you’ll like the next thing I’m doing for BL. Keep an eye out.

matthewfarrer said this on August 5, 2010 at 8:26 pm

I will have a go at statting up the Punisher Cruiser when I get a chance. In the meantime, here are rules for a couple of other boarding items found on Arbites ships:

Pressure Carapaces

Arbites pressure carapaces are finely constructed suits consisting of ultra-light ceramite plates tailored to the individual measurements of the wearer that are worn in tandem with simple over-pressured void suits. Their sole purpose is to protect Arbites boarding teams during the course of their duties. Any armoured void suit is necessarily a compromise between two opposing functions, namely protection from the dangers of the radioactive vaccum of space and the dangers of shipboard combat. Arbites Pressure Carapaces err on the side of combat protection. As such, although not intended to provide long-term protection from exposure to the depths of space in the same way as a normal void suit, Pressure Carapaces are resistant to the tears and punctures that accompany vaccum combat. They are capable of limited self repair due to a bonded film of unique liquid that floats between the fabric layers of the undersuit. This liquid hardens upon exposure to a vacuum, saving the wearer from a lingering death. These suits are amongst  the most advanced armour technologies in the Imperium; only power armour offers superior protection during void combat.

Systems: The Arbites Pressure Carapace consists of a helmet and carapace armoured suit over a flimsy but well constructed void suit. The Helmet contains a Vox-Caster, a voice magnifier and contains Auto-Senses which grant the user Heightened Senses (sight).

The Armoured Helmet provides 6AP and weighs 3 kg. The Carapace Armour provides 6 AP and weighs 19kg. The availability of both is Very Rare.   


Arbites Shotcannon

Shotcannon are unique Arbites heavy support weapons. They are huge, heavy repeating shotguns that operate three integral interchangable magazines, each capable of loading different types of shell. The primary magazine typically loads 35 standard buck or riot shot shells (depending upon the perceived threat level) and the two smaller magazines are capable of carrying 5 shells each. These usually carry executioner or stun rounds. The weapon is huge, heavy and menacing; indeed it was designed from the ground up to appear as intimidating as possible. The operator may cycle between shell types, a process which involves a very audible "clack." It is capable of automatic fire, and of switching rapidly from the 35 shell magazine to belt fed operation. It typically is equipped with a visible-spectrum laser targeter, the better to strike fear into the heart of rioters and miscreants. These massive weapons are usually either vehicle mounted or issued to fixed defensive positions, though on occasion they are also used by particularly large and strong Arbiters as a squad-level support weapon.

Class:  Heavy

Range: 30m

RoF: S / 2 / 4 

Damage: 1d10+4 I

Pen: 0

Clip: 35 (or box of 100) / 5 / 5

Rld: 2 Full for each magazine

Special: -

kg: 30

Availability: Very Rare

Special: At the GM's discretion, the Shotcannon provides a +5 bonus to any Intimidate tests made by the operator if held while the test is made.         

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