(Not sure if this belongs in Fan Fiction or House Rules.)
So, I've got a game starting up in which I finally get to play a Rogue Trader. I'm very excited. One of the things that has always interested me is warfare, and while I don't intend my character to quite become a Trader Militant, I would like to have a small army of elite troops to call my own, and look forward to waging the occasional war in the name of conquest and profit. To that end, I've been looking at the Ground War rules and the examples of the fighting men and women of the Imperium found in the core rulebook and other source books, from Dark Heresy and Deathwatch as well as Rogue Trader. I discovered that I had a great deal of fun just inventing military units that exist independently of the Imperial Guard, the idiosyncratic and unusual armed forces that a Rogue Trader would have at their disposal. I've decided to share my thoughts and ideas, to receive feedback (I'm open to constructive criticism) and possibly provide tools and/or inspiration for others. While I plan to continue to construct rules details and background to expand upon the concepts of other military units that I have floating around in my head, I've started with the one that I'd most like to acquire (first) in my game.
While currently rather destitute, my character's Rogue Trader house is ancient, with a long and glorious history. Their current struggles are due to a recent misfortune, but the capacity to return to greatness still exists. Evidence of this can be found in the standing household troops of the dynasty. When the question arose of what kind of troops I begin with to fill my ship's Barracks Component at the start of the game, my GameMaster informed me that my current armsmen are fairly basic, Hired Guns, reflective of the hard-times my house has fallen upon, and that better troops would have to be purchased in-game. The elite armsmen sworn to the service of my house still exist, but due to extenuating circumstances they are currently unavailable, and a great effort would have to be made to reacquire them. I decided to detail what these troops would be like, to have the details I'm interested in available when I am finally able to acquire them. I haven't received my GameMaster's approval of what I have created yet, but I am hopeful that I will, when I attempt to replace my Hired Guns with the soldiers that have served my dynasty for generations. I call them the Jade Lions.
The Jade Lions: House Troops of the von Neumon Rogue Trader Dynasty
As long as the von Neumon dynasty has existed, the Jade Lions have served as their blades. Military historians trace their origin back through the millennia to several Imperial Guard regiments, each loyal veteran units having suffered great casualties fighting against the traitors who had joined with Horus. These many remnants were combined into a single fighting unit specifically to serve the bearer of the newly drawn von Neumon Warrant of Trade. The battle histories of the Jade Lions' early engagements are vague and possibly exaggerated things, more like fantastic epics than true records of events, with many broad gaps where even these records were lost or the dynasty wished to keep something off the books. Famous for their participation at the forefront of the Angevin Crusade and their battles throughout the Koronus Expanse, the Jade Lions have currently been pulled into the Margin (i.e. Achilus) Crusade. There they wage war on the enemies of humanity alongside the Imperial Guard under the exiled head of the von Neumon dynasty Oster Carteris, while they wait for his heir to come to power. Each Jade Lion is oathsworn to serve the bearer of the von Neumon Warrant of Trade, so the House's current uncertainty puts them in a somewhat awkward position. Still, they have always been tenaciously loyal to their masters, and while they await the heir to the Warrant, they charge their guns to the service of the greater Imperium.
Great expense goes into the equipping of a Jade Lion, as they are terribly potent heavy infantry. They are clad in full-body carapace armor, similar to that which many Storm Troopers wear, and capable of being sealed temporarily against the dangers of the void. Their armor display's House von Neumon's colors, primarily black, but with green paneling and decorative gold, with the house's sigil, a skull with gold coins placed over the empty eye-sockets, often found on the breast or shoulder. A fully retractable helmet provides Lions with enhanced night-vision and secure vox-lines. The Lion's typical armament is the hellgun, and most squads equip an even number between Lucius and imported D'Laku patterns, backed up by grenades, fearsome rapid-cycling laspistols, and an intimidating chainsword. The Lions often field a high proportion of more powerful or specialized support weapons, everything from heavy stubbers and plasma guns to flamers and sniper rifles, each team's leader deciding what weapon is most appropriate for each deployment. Finally, Lions are armed with one more tool, a weapon of last resort. “The Push,” a single dose of Frenzon in a wrist-mounted injector built into their carapace armor, activated at the touch of a button. The Push is used only when there are no other viable options. When the Lion cannot flinch at the horror of the alien or the daemon coming to consume their soul, when if the Lion fails in this moment their life or more could be lost. It makes trained soldiers into berserkers, but sometimes being a berserker is the only way to achieve victory, or the only way to survive. The medics carefully monitor use of The Push, and those who use it too frequently are assigned a period of R&R. (Either they need to be rehabilitated, or they've been in so much brutal action they simply deserve a break.)
The Jade Lions are distinctive from the regiments of the Imperial Guard in many ways. Whereas the Guard is willing and able to drown its enemies in human bodies, this is not often possible for Rogue Traders venturing into unknown regions of space. Thus, emphasis is placed on the value of each soldier; they are expensive to recruit, to train, to arm, to feed, to transport, and to keep in fighting condition. It is every Lion's obligation to ensure that the value invested in them is repaid as many times over as possible. Teamwork and group cohesion is paramount, to maximize unit effectiveness, and eased by their common fealty and investment in the future of House von Neumon. Every soldier, particularly officers, is encouraged to be cunning and devious in their tactics and strategy, to find a balance between simplicity and complexity for every situation, and to wage war with a considerable lack of honor. In the Jade Lions, you are not allowed to lose, and failure to exploit a tactical advantage because it would be “unbecoming” can be a ticket to the brig, in addition to lives lost and time wasted.
Well-trained and flexible despite their heavy armament, the Jade Lions are willing and able to deploy to the battlefield in a variety of roles. Each and every one of them is capable of crewing ground vehicles, armored or not, and there are several pilots among their number; the Jade Lions are capable of using any transportation method necessary to get to the fight. Still, they are primarily an infantry unit, and their most common combat actions involve close-quarters urban combat and boarding actions. Perhaps their biggest weakness is in hostile environments, such as jungles and mountains, where their equipage slows them down and makes them considerably vulnerable to lighter, guerrilla infantry. Despite this they excel in urban warfare, conquering enemies with decisive tactics and application of overwhelming firepower, their appearances and departures often noted with an eerie silence thanks to the stummers they carry for just such a purpose.
It has been the experience of House von Neumon that the regimental force structure of the Imperial Guard is unsuitable for the household troops of a Rogue Trader. Rather than being organized into large and unwieldy regiments, cohesive units of Jade Lions rarely exceed company-size. They consider the vessel upon which they serve to be their “regiment” of origin, and as companies of Lions are transferred in and out, raised and rendered combat ineffective by casualties or fatigue, their organization is capable of shifting fluidly to accommodate the needs of the incoming and outgoing. Thus, the ship's master, lord-captain, or a designated senior military officer becomes the commander of the ship's “regiment” of Jade Lion companies, whichever ones happen to be assigned to the ship at the moment.
Author's Notes, Ground War & Stats: Jade Lions count as Veteran Modern Heavy Infantry, with a net Acquisition Test modifier of Punishing (-50). They have a Power of 9, and a Morale of 90. I tried to extrapolate what stats for a Veteran Troop Quality soldier might be like, considering that the average level of their skills and characteristics should be 50, and using the household troops found in Lure of the Expanse as a starting point. I decided against making every one of their stats a 50, and instead gave them a good collection of skills and talents, reflecting broad competency. Heavy Infantry is also noted for a remarkable abundance of special and heavy weapons like plasma guns and heavy bolters, but I dialed that down a bit in favor of giving them some very nice hellguns.
Author's Notes, Specialists: Alongside the Lions' general skills and equipment, I also included skills and equipment reserved for specialists. About 40% of the Lions have additional abilities beyond that of common soldiers (about half of these being officers and team-leaders), and they are equipped appropriately. A medic, for example, might be able to use the Chem-Use and Medicae skills, and carry a medikit. An officer, meanwhile, would have the Command, Navigation (Surface), and Scholastic Lore (Tactica Imperialis) skills, and might carry a set of magnoculars. An engineer could have the Common Lore (Tech), Demolition, and Tech-Use skills, and carry a combi-tool and demolition charge. Or a whole squad might wear grav chutes for a combat drop . Et cetera.
= Weapon Skill: 40 || Ballistic Skill: 45 || Strength: 45 || Toughness: 45 || Agility: 40 || Intelligence: 35 || Perception: 35 || Willpower: 45 || Fellowship: 30 =
Movement: 4 / 8 / 12 / 24
Skills, General: Acrobatics, Awareness +10, Ciphers (Rogue Trader), Climb, Common Lore (Imperial Guard, Imperium, War), Concealment, Dodge, Drive (Ground Vehicle), Gamble, Intimidate, Literacy, Search, Secret Tongue (Military, Rogue Trader), Silent Move, Speak Language (Low Gothic), Survival, Swim.
Skills, Specialist: Chem-Use, Command, Common Lore (Tech), Demolition, Drive (Walker or Skimmer/Hover), Medicae, Navigation (Surface), Pilot (Flyers), Scholastic Lore (Tactica Imperialis), Tech-Use, Tracking.
Talents, General: Ambidextrous, Die Hard, Double Team, Hardy, Jaded, Leap Up, Nerves of Steel, Quick Draw, Rapid Reload, Resistance (Fear), True Grit, Unarmed Warrior.
Talents, Weapon Training: Basic (Universal), Flame (Universal), Heavy (Bolt, Las, Launcher, SP), Melee (Primitive, Universal), Pistol (Universal).
Armor: Storm Trooper Carapace (All 6), Advanced Helmet Systems (inbuilt Microbead/Vox-caster, Heightened Senses [Sight], Dark Sight). Can be environmentally sealed for boarding actions.
Weapons: Typically, about 40% of these troops are equipped with Lucius Hellguns, about 40% are equipped with D'Laku Hellguns, and the remaining 20% are equipped with a Minerva-Aegis Las Carbine and a support weapon from the following list: Flamer, Grenade Launcher (Voss, with Frag-, Krak-, and Smoke Grenades), Heavy Stubber (either pattern), Meltagun (Mars), Missile Launcher (Locke, with Frag- and Krak missiles), Plasma Gun, Sniper Rifle (with Telescopic Sight and Amputator Shells). They are equipped with Fury Laspistols as sidearms, and are armed with Frag-, Smoke-, and Stun Grenades. For close actions, they carry Chainswords and mono-Knives. Because this list of weaponry is rather long, the profiles for each individual weapon have been included at the bottom of this page.
Gear, General: Reloads for primary weapon(s) and sidearm, additional reloads for squad's support weapon(s), chrono, clip/drop harness, combat storage webbing, injector with 1 dose of Frenzon, grapnel, magboots, melta gel, pack of lho sticks and/or flask of amasec, personal dataslate, stummer.
Gear, Specialist: Medikit (with various drugs, screaming tourniquets, etc), auxpex/scanner, combi-tool, demolition charge, grav chute, magnoculars, pict recorder.
- Primary: Lucius Hellgun: 110m, RoF S/3/-, Dam 1d10+4 E, Pen 7, Clip 30, Rld 2 Full.
- Primary: D'Laku Hellgun: 100m, RoF S/3/5, Dam 1d10+3 E, Pen 4, Clip 40, Rld 2 Full.
- Primary: Minerva-Aegis Las Carbine: 60m, RoF S/4/8, Dam 1d10+2 E, Pen 0, Clip 40, Rld Full, Reliable.
- Support: Flamer: 20m, RoF S/-/-, Dam 1d10+4 E, Pen 2, Clip 6, Rld 2 Full, Flame.
- Support: Grenade Launcher (Voss): 60m, S/-/-, Clip 6, Rld Full, Inaccurate. Other effects as per Grenade.
- Support: Heavy Stubber (Orthlack): 120m, RoF -/-/10, Dam 1d10+5 I, Pen 3, Clip 200, Rld 2 Full. Ursid patterns are instead Clip 40, Rld Full.
- Support: Meltagun (Mars): 20m, RoF S/-/-, Dam 2d10+8 E, Pen 13, Clip 5, Rld 2 Full. Double Penetration within 10m.
- Support: Missile Launcher (Locke): 250m, RoF S/-/-, Clip 1, Rld Full. Frag Missile: Dam 2d10 X, Pen 4, Blast 6. Krak Missile: Dam 3d10+10 X, Pen 10, Blast 1.
- Support: Plasma Gun: 90m, RoF S/2/-, Dam 1d10+7, Pen 6, Clip 40, Rld 5 Full, Overheats. Maximal: 100m, Dam 2d10+7, Pen 8, uses 3 rounds of ammunition, Recharge.
- Support: Sniper Rifle: 220m, RoF S/-/-, Dam 1d10+6 I, Pen 0, Rld Full, Accurate. Telescopic Sight: After a Full Action Aim, ignore penalties for long and extreme range. Amputator Shells: Effects already included in weapon profile.
- Sidearm: Fury Laspistol: 20m, RoF S/2/5, Dam 1d10+2, Pen 0, Clip 30, Rld Full, Reliable.
- Close Quarters: Chainsword: Dam 1d10+6, Pen 2, Tearing, Balanced.
- Close Quarters: Mono-Knife: Dam 1d5+4, Pen 2.
- Close Quarters: Unarmed Warrior: Dam 1d10+1, Primitive.
- Grenade: Frag: 9m, RoF S/-/-, Dam 2d10 X, Blast 4.
- Grenade: Krak: 9m, RoF S/-/-, Dam 2d10+4 X, Pen 6.
- Grenade: Smoke: 9m, RoF S/-/-, creates a smoke screen 3d10 meters in diameter, lasts for 2d10 Rounds. Only blocks visual/optical senses.
- Grenade: Stun: 9m, RoF S/-/-, Blast 3, pass a Challenging (+0) Toughness Test or become Stunned for 1d5 rounds. Photo-visors and sealed armor provide a +20 bonus to Test.
Author's Notes, Horde: If used as a Horde, Jade Lions may have the Dirty Fighters Trait and any or all Trained Horde Traits. As an optional rule, one of the Horde's ranged attacks should be made with one of the Jade Lion's support weapons, and of the remaining, half should be made with Lucius Hellguns, and half should be made with D'Laku Hellguns.