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venkelos

The First Rogue Traders?

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So, I was flipping through some stuff, on Lexicanum, and they mentioned the Conquest, from Battlefleet Koronus. I was reminded one of the reasons I've always liked the ship is the "ships of the first Rogue Traders" bit, to paraphrase. This got me thinking, though, when actually did Rogue Traders start doing their thing? There are mentions, in some of the fluff, that the first Warrants of Trade were penned by the Emperor, Himself, and that a degree of their freedom was on account of Him being their author, while today, newer Warrants might be riddled with catches, loopholes, and other such crap. Thing is, some of these "allowances" don't seem likely by the Emperor, a being known for His inflexibility, at times. There were certain allowances He wouldn't even make for His Primarch sons, or the Astartes Legions. Also, much of the end of His time as Emperor was during the Great Crusade, and the following Horus Heresy, where He would've needed to be able to monitor the loyalty of everyone, as half His most trusted, and half of many organizations, sided with the Archtraitor. During such times of conflict, it seems unlikely that the Emperor would be dispatching explorers out to the edges of His space, when such resources would prove more necessary MUCH closer to home. That the Conquest, potentially the first RT vessels, were cruiser class, so real warships, seems even more unlikely.

 

That none of the Warrants seems to conflict with the religion that sprang up, later, or mention the secular nature of the Imperial Truth, which would've been the case, had the Emperor penned them, it just seems unlikely that the Emperor, Himself, set the Rogue Traders into motion, and while I'd then blame Malcador the Sigilite, who could act in the Emperor's name, and did set several of the Imperium's greatest organizations into motion, I'd think the war would've kept him too busy, too, not even including the need to master the Astronomicon, which then killed him, as the Emperor died, as well (well, what, for the Emperor, passes for "dying", anyway).

 

So, how did the Rogue Traders, with all their ridiculous authority, come into being? The fluff I've mentioned might very well be correct, and I'm just misinterpreting it, but this could be a fun, little topic to discuss. Thanks much! ;)

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I would also agree that it makes little sense for the Emperor to bring them into existence after all it was his intention to conquer the entire galaxy himself, what would he need other people to explore the unexplored regions for? He was going to do it anyway.

 

There also doesn't seem like any other individual who would be particularly motivated to give people authority in line with Sector Governor's and Inquisitors, therefore my guess would be that the very first Rogue Trader's was a Sector Governor who pissed of the Lords of Terra a **** ton, but he had many contacts and was in powerful position. And so it was given to get rid of him without actually "technically" being a decrease in rank. 

 

The Exile description in the Warrant Origin Story in Into The Storm would therefore be what I would assume to have been the "original". 

 

My alternate theory is that a Lord of Terra wanted to go exploring and made up Rogue Trader's just to give themselves the ability to do so, but somehow I can't imagine Lord of Terras doing that. 

Edited by RMcD

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The Rogue Trader's are described as pioneers, ranging beyond the scope of the Crusade Fleets and fighting the wars that the Emperor considered secondary to his own Great Crusade. Its an often-mentioned fact that Rogue Trader's were considered expendable by the burgeoning Imperium at large (as seem by the fact that most disappeared without a trace over the course of the Crusade.) The fact that some of the earliest Warrants were also signed by Primarch's or powerful generals and admirals of the Great Crusade reinforces the idea that they were to spread the Imperium's influence to worlds that were not strategically relevant. Even with the massive fleets available to the Crusade it would take centuries if not millennia to reach all the formerly inhabited worlds of the old human empires from the Dark Age, let alone new unexplored worlds. It makes perfect sense why a group of brash, strong-willed individuals would be chosen for this near suicidal task.

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It also makes sense to have a number of independent "scouting fleets" looking for both useful resources AND targets that can be dealt with by less powerful taskforces. As for the exile aspect , after the Unification War there were a number of powerful terran nobles of slightly dubious loyalty...

This, the earliest warrants may well have been signed by the Emperor himself.

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SCKoNI and AxeSpanna, I can agree, and totally get why someone would have found the idea of Rogue Traders a good, if a bit risky, proposition, but I find it harder to believe that the someone was the Emperor, Himself. He liked hiding things from His people, to protect them from perceived ruin, and the idea of giving these people cart blanche, to go explore the spaces where who knows what might be out there, ready to ruin His Imperial Truth, just seems odd, especially once military assets become more critical (read: the Horus Heresy). He's trying to brand all of Mankind with His idea of rules, and it seems weird to, at the same time, create an organization He exempts from them, is all. I know Matt Ward, and some terrible fanboys, make it a risky proposition to even say his name, but it almost feels more like something Guilliman would've done, once the Emperor was enthroned, and the Imperium had so much need to recoup, while there wasn't an Emperor, Malcador, Sanguinius, or a few of the other Primarchs to stop him.

Edited by venkelos

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The first warrants were signed by the Emperor with a drop of his own blood (HH novel Nemesis) I say thats a big damned sign of endorsment.

 

And why can't the emperor employ rogue traders? Not every world neaded to be brought into complyance by droping half a legion on it. Having some RT's running ahead of the main conquest, to trade, discover, conquer and go: "Hello, we're humans, from the planet terra, I'm just a rogue trader intrested in dealing with you, if you give us trouble we'll put in a call to terra to send the legions to destroy your world, savvy?"

 

Also not everything the emperor did made sense. Before Ullanor it was all conquest conquest conquest, after that it was all webway gate webway gate webway gate untill the heresy kicked in.

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The Emperor was definitely the originator who signed the first warrants; in addition to the info in the recent Horus Heresy novels, the second Shira Calpurnia Novel, Legacy revolves around such a warrant. The Rogue Trader dies and a successor must be confirmed with the best genetic equipment on Hydraphur. Because the warrant bears both the Emperor's signature and a drop of his blood, numerous other factions, including the Ecclesiarchy, want to obtain it.

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... and thus we arrive at "Warrant of Renown".

One signed by the Emperor himself, regardless of any limits, is a Warrant Imperial.

One issued by the High Lords is a Warrant Senatorial.

One issued by the Segmentum Governor is a Warrant Gubernatorial.

One issued by a sector governor is a Warrant Major.

Those issued by persons granted the right to do so other than those above are usually Warrants Minor.

Typically, the rights get fewer and the restrictions greater the lower down the chain of authority the issuer is/was .

Revocation of a warrant can only be done at the level of issue or higher ( hence the practice ,in some cases, of totally wiping out a Rogue Trader's line for heresy, as only the Emperor himself could cancel a warrant that He issued)

Edit: Sorry, went bit off topic here

Edited by AxeSpanna

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... and thus we arrive at "Warrant of Renown".

One signed by the Emperor himself, regardless of any limits, is a Warrant Imperial.

One issued by the High Lords is a Warrant Senatorial.

One issued by the Segmentum Governor is a Warrant Gubernatorial.

One issued by a sector governor is a Warrant Major.

Those issued by persons granted the right to do so other than those above are usually Warrants Minor.

Typically, the rights get fewer and the restrictions greater the lower down the chain of authority the issuer is/was .

Revocation of a warrant can only be done at the level of issue or higher ( hence the practice ,in some cases, of totally wiping out a Rogue Trader's line for heresy, as only the Emperor himself could cancel a warrant that He issued)

Edit: Sorry, went bit off topic here

 

That wasn't off topic. It's cool.

 

I wonder at what level you could ask space marines to join you (back in the days of RT the tabeltop version, rogue traders could command space marines! yay-aah!)

 

Gubernational, heh heh! Sorry had some Monky Island flashback.

 

See? That's off topic ;)

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Thinking about the early "exile" warrants, I'd imagine that the forces assigned to them would be mixed so as to prevent any attempt at building a rival empire. Possibly 25% from their own resources, 25% from a rival noble's powerbase, and 50% Throne loyalists, so that even if infighting between the nobles got out of hand, there would still be enough forces to keep things " on mission".

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A rogue trader warrant signed by the Emperor was a big focal point in the second Shira Calpurnia novel. Gives some really cool description of how Rogue Trader customs work and the stuff they have on them as well. It's about a second in line succeeding the warrant.

 

Anyways the point is that the warrant is actually signed by the big E.

 

Just felt I'd add that.

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Yeah, I've read plenty of stuff that claims it, the Emperor signed the first Warrants; because I am a snowflake, my first scratch-built Rogue Trader story character HAS one like that. It just seems weird, as I said, that a guy as untrusting as the Big E, who needed to be so in control of everything, would throw such freedom at a few people, knowing that they would ALSO be the furthest away, and most difficult to monitor. Also, there is so much of the fluff that says "this is what most people believe, but take into account the source!", or other such contrivances. In an effort to not have to wrangle their own continuity, GW basically lets anything said be true, at least for the people in your little cluster of space. Was this said 10,000 years ago? Was it said by someone later revealed to be a servant of Chaos? Blah, blah blah. It just seems like another thing that people believe, but can't be sure of, and while a Horus Heresy book WOULD have the advantage of purportedly taking place in a time frame to prove it, lots of people have argued that they can be terribly contradictory, even among themselves, to say nothing of with prior established story, and they can as easily read as an account, being repeated much later, possibly an account retold by Chaos.

 

Don't worry, I won't keep beating on this issue, afterwards, and Malcador found a group of 12 amazing people that the Emperor basically gave unilateral authority to; they became the Inquisition (read: corrupt) later, over time. Maybe the first Warrants were doled out to men the Emperor, or one of His Sons, actually knew, even trusted, and so the heinous level of autonomy worked. Over time, as others gave out more, for different reasons, or as time in the grimdark hellscape just drug on, they got progressively more flawed, and then even later Warrants started having way more restrictions, because most people can't be trusted, especially if you are TRYING to get rid of them.

 

And thanks, everyone, for going along with this chat. It's been a fun, little jaunt through the fluff of the game, and the IP. Here's hoping we'll get more of these, before the fourum goes *pop* ;)

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Just had another thought... How can the Ecclesiarchy square the fact that "holy relic" warrants signed by the Emperor required the RT to proclaim the secular"Imperial Truth" with their version of things?

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Just had another thought... How can the Ecclesiarchy square the fact that "holy relic" warrants signed by the Emperor required the RT to proclaim the secular"Imperial Truth" with their version of things?

 

As a test of faith, or that the Emperor didn't truly reach divinity until He sacrificed himself for us.

 

The second Shira Calpurnia novel features a Warrant that was signed by the Emperor, and it is treated as a holy relic. Even beyond the power it grants, the fact that it's signed by the Emperor is all that matters.

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Just had another thought... How can the Ecclesiarchy square the fact that "holy relic" warrants signed by the Emperor required the RT to proclaim the secular"Imperial Truth" with their version of things?

 

 

"Only the truly devine deny their own divinity." -Kor Phaeron Word Bearers legion.

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As a test of faith, or that the Emperor didn't truly reach divinity until He sacrificed himself for us.

 

The second Shira Calpurnia novel features a Warrant that was signed by the Emperor, and it is treated as a holy relic. Even beyond the power it grants, the fact that it's signed by the Emperor is all that matters.

 

Yep was going to mention that. A sister gets to see it and she's extremely pleased about it. Doesn't matter what the warrant says, it's the signature on the bottom line that matters.

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As a test of faith, or that the Emperor didn't truly reach divinity until He sacrificed himself for us.

 

The second Shira Calpurnia novel features a Warrant that was signed by the Emperor, and it is treated as a holy relic. Even beyond the power it grants, the fact that it's signed by the Emperor is all that matters.

 

Yep was going to mention that. A sister gets to see it and she's extremely pleased about it. Doesn't matter what the warrant says, it's the signature on the bottom line that matters.

 

 

Great, now I'm wondering what his signature looks like. Okay everybody calls him "The Emperor" but to see that in writing..

 

T.Emperor

 

The Emperor: "Hi, I'm The Emperor of Mankind, but you can calle me "Em" for short."

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I thought that the Emperor used the =][= as His signature, and then the Inquisition nixed it, since they "speak in His name, with His voice." Oh well. I did remember the thing with the drop of His blood; that's why, in my version of the verse, Warrants of Trade are stored on Holy Terra, and copies are carried by the people in other places. A technological device, sort of like a rosette, contains all the pertinent info, and accesses various things, in the same way. I was lazy-ish, and don't like the idea of said priceless document being so vulnerable, or, like the oldest ones, they are sacred treasures. At least one super-assassin tried to do terrible things with a sample of the Emperor's blood, and Primarch's blood can't be much less risky. The others, it's just tradition. That was the plan, anyway.

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There are mentions, in some of the fluff, that the first Warrants of Trade were penned by the Emperor, Himself, and that a degree of their freedom was on account of Him being their author, while today, newer Warrants might be riddled with catches, loopholes, and other such crap. Thing is, some of these "allowances" don't seem likely by the Emperor, a being known for His inflexibility, at times. There were certain allowances He wouldn't even make for His Primarch sons, or the Astartes Legions.

Bear in mind that there are degrees of infinity. A Rogue Trader with an original warrent had essentially unlimited authority outside Imperial Space - Rogue Traders do today - but would be subordinate to Imperial Authority within it, just as they are today.

 

The Emperor intended them as essentially "unofficial" expeditionary fleets, trying the diplomacy-and-shiny-things route, rather than raw military force (as per the Legions). But he wouldn't have wanted them to have unlimited and eternal authority to do whatever they liked.

 

The thing is, what authority? A Great Crusade Era Warrant would have said......what?

  • You are subordinate to the authority of the Emperor (obviously, but he's not exactly dictating policy anymore Inquisitors can argue to be this, that's about it)
  • You are subordinate to the authority of the Regent Of Terra (dead)
  • You are subordinate to the authority of the War Council (disbanded in favour of the Senatorum Imperialis)
  • You are subordinate to the authority of the Primarchs (missing, dead or excommunicate)
  • You are subordinate to the authority of Senior Officers of the Adeptus Custodes (no longer leave Terra)
  • You are subordinate to the authority of Senior Officers of the Legiones Astartes (disbanded into Chapters, no longer having any Praetor-equivalent officer with command of >1,000 troops)

What it will not mention is any Imperial organisation which didn't exist at the time of writing, which is....most of them. Therefore there will be no mention in the Rogue Trader's terms of authority of being answerable to any entities named, for example, the Imperial Navy or the Senatorum Imperialis.

 

About the only organisation which remains unchanged in Hierarchical terms that might realistically have legal authority over a Rogue Trader is the Adeptus Arbites....who, funnily enough, are the official officers of succession over the dynasty in the Shiria Calpurnia novel.

 

ust had another thought... How can the Ecclesiarchy square the fact that "holy relic" warrants signed by the Emperor required the RT to proclaim the secular"Imperial Truth" with their version of things?

Because firstly they didn't become holy relics until after, but also they probably don't have a detailled esposition on what the phrase "Imperial Truth" is supposed to mean.

 

 

Don't worry, I won't keep beating on this issue, afterwards, and Malcador found a group of 12 amazing people that the Emperor basically gave unilateral authority to; they became the Inquisition (read: corrupt) later, over time.

Yes and no. Eight astartes and Four humans. The Eight are most likely the original Grand Masters of the Grey Knights, rather than Inquisitors per se.

 

Edited by Magnus Grendel

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If we take an historical tack to the discussion, we might compare the Imperial Warrants of Trade with Privateers of old: a private person entitled to wage war on behalf of his nation. It was a perfect way for a state to quickly and cheaply (at least for the treasury) raise large amounts of ship that were eminently suited for raiding hostile trade, which could seriously squeeze an opponents economy. Privateers would not win battles or take cities, but the continuing attrition they inflicted was very effective indeed.

When we translate this to the Imperium of Man, there is a logic to it. This massive conglomeration of worlds isn't an easily centralized unity of which all resources can be used to maximum efficiency by a central government. Even within a sector or subsector this is unthinkable. Mobilization for war within the Imperium is massive - for the Imperium is massive - but ponderous and inefficient. The sheer distances, sketchy communications and decentralization of power make this unavoidable.

Within this context, it again becomes useful to employ such privateers: mighty indivuals with their own powerbase and wealth, all of which can be harnessed relatively quickly and easily by the Imperium without it impacting to much on the Imperial Navy, Imperial Guard and Adptus Astartes. If their missions are especially important, they might get supported but the Imperial outlay needed  - as opposed to that of the Rogue Trader - is a fraction of what would be needed for a real campaign or crusade. 

Would this be an effective way for a centralized state to use the resources at its disposal? No, most defintely not. There is a good reason privateers last showed up in the 19th century and disappeared once states became so efficient that they could harness all the resources at their disposal in case of war. But would this be effective for the Imperium? Yes, most certainly, even for the Emperor himself. His conquests were not just wars for he was the first to try and win over human world by diplomacy and politics. His early Imperium was not a unified, centralized state (hence the Emperor turning to the webway) that could use all the means of the newly incorporated planets at will. So what better way to use all this unused potential power than by creating Warrants of Trade?

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Very much so. Imperial Commanders being virtual Feudal Fiefdoms, Inquisitors, and so on, is a logical response to the fact that you cannot administer the Imperium as a co-ordinated entity.

 

Astropathic Communication (outside of archaeotech and truly exceptional individuals) is unreliable and largely unable to convey details beyond "Oh Bugger, Orks!".

 

Travel by ship can take weeks to get somewhere and similar weeks to get back, meaning that any decision which needs to be done in, say, a month (which, barring major policy & budget decisions, is most of them), has to be delegated to authorities within a star system.

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A privateer's letter of marque is one way to view of Warrant of Trade.  That would probably account for many of the warrants in existence.  I think most of our games, though, permit the RT (if someone is playing that career) to purchase Warrant of Renown.  This probably indicates something more than a letter of marque.  It's probably more akin to one of the royal joint stock charters granted to the various Indies companies or the Virginia Company.  My 2 cents.

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Indeed, such chartered companies (many of which had full sovereignty) are another good comparison. The bottom line is that a Warrant of Trade it is an inefficient but easy and quick way for the Lords of Terra to harness the resources of the countless worlds at their disposal. So it wil be used, without going in all the political (and other advantages) that can be sought in giving powerful individuals even more power.

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