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A Rogue Trader Keel (Steadying A Campaign)

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I have two questions one vague the other less so. What have Gamemasters found to be a good keel for a campaign, something that keeps a quite powerful group of individuals on the same path or same page so to speak? Obviously this is the job of the Game Master but what if any devices have worked that were not exactly a campaign or a goal, but a "40k widget that kept things going along a smooth line of privateering in a setting not particularly fond of pirates?

 

I have an idea for a keel, I feel it may be very good or very bad or both. The idea is for the Captain to know that in the fine print of his warrant of trade, dynasties old is a small agreement of large size. It was a pact that said Dynasty would deliver a bride to a groom, it was pages long and not that vague but written by an adept skilled enough to make hundreds of pages mean that this could mean many things, but was quickly forgotten. But as the game begins this favor is called in, and breaking the oath of this call would mean a war between a now much more powerful Dynasty and a much weaker one. 

 

So the Captain can tell whom he wishes to tell and whom he does not, what is soon to be found out is that the bride is Xenos (possibly Eldar), it is also made clear that this bride is no rush to meet her new groom to be and has the power to call about said hell on the RT in question if they get her there to quickly. This would put the RT in an obvious sticky situation, but if made clear enough that all the RT has to do is from time to time take direction from this bride things will move along much more smoothly. Obviously there a lot of things that can go wrong with this clever little plan, but I would also give the RT the opportunity to get rid of this cargo as quickly as he likes, BUT it becomes clear that upon getting his bride to the groom he will be awarded and make it clear HE WILL BE AWARDED REALLY PINKY PIRATE SWEAR with much more than PF or even a new ship, but an Eldar like map of webways a carte blanche of sorts to his Navigation in the future. Of course that map would be the new keel with a whole new set of said problems.

 

Looking for input on both, like, "Yes that might work, but why not just make her human or seemingly human?". Please not, "Horrible, tried it was a nightmare." Point being even if you tried it and it failed in the most horrible way possible, dice were literally catching on fire, please if you can summon the power to retell it not only will I most likely laugh, I seem to learn so much from the mistakes of RT GM's who have braved the unknown than those who stuck with the tried and true proven module. Good day Sirs and Missus, blessed be your bolters and your warp just enough to get you to your destination....

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If I was the RT in that plot you outlined, in lieu of further details, I would shoot the Eldar bride after stealing everything not bolted down, make a big public showing on how I just stopped a fiendish xenos infiltrator from being married to a Peer of the Imperium, and then blackmail the groom for the reward regardless. Plotline dead. New plotline emerging.

 

Don't overthink it. Your players will torpedo your plot ideas if they are any good. Build a sandbox, build solid NPCs with specific aims and means, and throw your players into it. RT characters have so much freedom and power at their disposal... Creative players will absolutely wreck every train you put them on. The published modules fail to take that into account all the time. (I'm looking at you, Captain Keel)

 

Just let them go loose. Occasionally check with them about their plans and wishes in general, out of game. Reward them richly and don't pull punches - make it believable and appropriate. And yes, this might mean they crash the Monarch of Whispers and the Emperor's Vow into Footfall now and then. At the same time. While fighting off warp creatures.

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Yes, the modules often fail to make their own stuff work, without even taking into account what your players might come up with. Think of Lure of the Expanse, as a low-level module. I'll try to prevent spoilers, but if the story didn't implant some deep compulsion into your mind, telling you that you must be the one to acquire the Dread Pearl, depending on where your players go, they could easily decide it's as lucrative to fend off enemies, and loot a ship graveyard, try to salvage a particularly nice vessel (nice after 30 years of work, and as many points of PF, but...), or any of a number of other things, and since the book doesn't want to appear to be on rails, it says "your players can pick any of these places, don't need to hit each, and the competitors only arrive, and/or interfere, as you deem necessary." Then, most of the threats, be they foes, or phenomena, aren't that likely to actually be a problem, because the game doesn't know when you'll launch this module, so it doesn't have lots for teeth, without considerable work, on the part of the GM, while the party might easily forget what they are doing out there, that the game won't rush you for, because your enemies will arrive when you do, whether you do two sub-missions, or five.

 

If you plan to use the modules, plan to tweak them; maybe give a cruiser torpedoes, or a specialist, so that one of its check types, at least, approaches your crew in skill. Try to make sure the mighty are, in deed, mighty, so that your players don't punk Winterscale's Emperors Vow, and then, seeing Kaptin Morgaash coming for Winterscale, and surprised to see him already defeated, you rally what's left of Winterscale's assets, on the scene, and destroy da'Wurldbreaka. And, of course, be prepared to roll with the crazy your players might unleash. If they are supposed to negotiate with the desiccated, teched-up husk of an ancient Captain, but just decide to shoot the crazy cyborg, having had trouble with rogue servitors, or arch-hereteks, instead, maybe throw in a field, and some murder-servitors.

 

This works with your own stuff, too. Plan for things, but leave plenty of room for their detours, or escapades, because these will happen. As for the idea, be careful with the xenos. Even a Rogue Trader, nigh-immune to judgment, can flout their authority too much, and they are NOT empowered to extend this to most other people. Even if this xenos bride-to-be is an Eldar (lets say, because 40k, unlike other sci-fi, isn't full of hot, exotic off-humans, and unless you like monster-girl art, and are hoping to marry this NPC to a female Saharduin (basically a sexy shark girl, at that point), I'm not sure what aliens would fit. Tau? No, for many reasons. Many other races are even less human. A lacrymole could be AWESOME, but... Of course, I know you know this, but where the RT, and Co., might accept xenos on face value, or get to know one, and see that they aren't really so different, even when they are, even if that B2B IS agreeable, most people, even many NPCs on your own ship, won't be. So be prepared to make the NPCs, or the galaxy, mad, and/or hate you. It's fun that way. ;)

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I would say any oath made to Xenos is null and void under Imperial Law, so hardly a threat to a Rogue Trader dynasty. Obviously, this doesn't mean one can break once word to Eldar with impunity. But then they would hardly react with any legal means to mon keigh oathbreakers now would they?

Edited by van Riebeeck

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