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Magnus Grendel

Random ideas for a campaign

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So....the players seem to be very happy conquering the galaxy (or at least bits of it) in Black Crusade, but I'm trying to get ahead of myself and prepare a follow-on.

  • I was considering Rogue Trader - they had a lot of fun the one time I ran Waaaggh! Trader (everyone as Ork Freebootas with an Ork raider as their ship) but I've been reading through the space combat rules to get my head around them better.
  • I'd like to do a more detailed space combat based campaign - I'll need to produce some more player aids to track things like morale & crew (and their various effects) better - in previous games it's often been me as "The GM who tells me what number I need on a D100" and the players not necessarily needing to know the rules themselves, but they're getting more experienced and, I think, would be happy to take a bit more ownership of the game.
  • I've been reading David Weber's excellent Honor Harrington series recently, and elements of that seem like an ideal basis to plagiarize draw inspiration from for a campaign. Running the game as Imperial Navy crew or crews is a bit different to a Rogue Trader, but could be an interesting experience in and of itself. However, whilst continuous open war and "macrobroadsides ahoy" is fun, some element of political games is also interesting. This is more of an issue because cold war boiling over into active shooting is a touch harder to arrange because in the 40k setting 'cold war' doesn't happen that much. The Imperium does get into this situation with the Tau but even then it's more often shooting than not and whilst Twilight Crusade introduces Tau hardware and characters there are no ships.
  • The event for which I have the most written detail available to me that might work is the Badab War, but sadly that's primarily a space marine-on-space marine affair, and whilst there was a Battlefleet Maelstrom, the Imperial Armour books are quite unambiguous that they spent the war getting kicked seven ways from sunday by massed Astartes fleets, which is not that much fun if you're playing the Navy.

 

 

The best extended cold war setting which looks like it might feature Imperial Navy vessels posturing at and shooting at one another is one of the biggest events in 40k history that we know absolutely nothing about, which feels like a very fertile feeding ground for campaign ideas: The Nova Terra Interregnum.

This is an era of nearly a thousand years, post the War Of The Beast and the Beheading, prior to the Age of Apostasy, where the Imperium was split in two and essentially an entire Segmentum stopped answering calls from headquarters and went off to do it's own thing, leading to "almost a millennium of low-grade civil war and political manoeuvring." 

Hence, the idea of there being two Empires - both of which consider themselves "the Imperium" - and assorted 'neutral' worlds between them on their 'borders' - gives you some very interesting options for campaign missions and events, with neither side prepared to back down but also neither side wanting to kick off massed open war with all the xenos threats on the horizon waiting to pounce the moment Humanity is distracted.

 

The first thing I'd need to get straight in my head is how it happened in the first place. A segmentum is a huge chunk of space and the idea of any one person - even any group of conspirators - persuading it to secede en masse is ridiculous. The Horus Heresy 'worked' because Horus was already the Imperial Warmaster - meaning that absent orders to the contrary from the Emperor or Malcador, people were supposed to be obeying his orders, allowing him to move both the relatively few people who knew he was plotting to take the throne, along with the many people who didn't, around as he saw fit until he was ready to start his rebellion openly.

"Nova Terra", by comparison, wasn't event the Segmentum fortress, which is Hydraphur - and which has been the segmentum fortress since the birth of the Imperium because we've seen it as such in the Heresy series, and because documents authored by the Emperor himself are kept there.

 

I have a rough idea, but could do with some sanity-checking. This is a bit of 40k history with relatively little detail, so it's hard to be wrong, but, I suspect, easy to make it feel wrong.

@Angel of Death; @Lynata; @TBeholder; @ThenDoctor; @Jargal

So...the short version of the idea:

  • For "Nova Terra" to be able to do what it did, it needs some claim to legitimacy. Which means somehow, at some point, the authority of the High Lords could be realistically claimed to be vested in a world you've never heard of rather than Terra itself.
  • The best argument for that is that they were. That for some reason, the Senatorum Imperialis - or enough of it to become the Ur-Council of Nova Terra - relocated from Terra to Nova Terra.
  • Terra did get essentially 'conquered' (or at least effectively blockaded) during the War of the Beast, and the Senatorum Imperialis basically held hostage under threat of Orkish bombardment, so it's not impossible that the high lords elected after the bloodbath of the Beheading might have decided "lets not have that happen again" and come up with somewhere to run away to with those bits of the Imperial government which can run (or else have a 'backup facility' created somewhere. Segmentum Pacificus is away from the bigger Orkish empires and the Eye.
  • There was some sort of horrible military crisis during the period called the "Pale Wasting", which came out of the Ghoul Stars. Now that's to the galactic North-East, again further from Segmentum Pacificus than from Terra, so if you're creating a bolthole, that also makes sense. We don't know much about the "Pale Wasting" other than entire sectors were destroyed.
  • If the leaders "ran away to the bunker" too quickly, and the deputies left behind stayed, managed to solve the crisis, were left sitting in the palace, and disavowed their predecessors, I can easily see how that might spawn the sort of situation that's described.
  • It actually sounds not a million miles away from Gulliman's Imperium Secundus plan, re-interpreted badly several millennia later by someone more interested in protecting their own skin than in actually making the system work correctly.

 

Thoughts? Suggestions? Mission ideas?

Has anyone run a primarily naval Rogue Trader campaign, or a campaign with the players playing multiple separate ships?

 

 

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4 hours ago, Magnus Grendel said:

So...the short version of the idea:

Sounds solide (disclaimer: I learned half of this info from you just right now :)

4 hours ago, Magnus Grendel said:

Has anyone run a primarily naval Rogue Trader campaign, or a campaign with the players playing multiple separate ships? 

I had a campaign where heirs of RT Dynasty with heavy Naval connections were supposed to compete for Warrant  without destroying Dynasty fleet in the process (each was given a ship to command). It was some time ago, but I think I remember most of it.

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1 hour ago, Jargal said:

I had a campaign where heirs of RT Dynasty with heavy Naval connections were supposed to compete for Warrant  without destroying Dynasty fleet in the process (each was given a ship to command). It was some time ago, but I think I remember most of it.

Any advice?

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Just now, Jargal said:

Limit the number of PCs per ship (or limit the range of possible careers). PC Rogue Trader + Arch-Militant + Void-Master + Explorator = instakill of any reasonable opposition in ship combat.

Mathhammer and/or Errant Knight houserules set are worth checking.

Honestly, if I was giving them multiple ships I was thinking one each and using the Battlefleet Koronus 'orders' rules and the crew rating, rather than giving them a selection of wonderbuddies.

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2 minutes ago, Magnus Grendel said:

Honestly, if I was giving them multiple ships I was thinking one each and using the Battlefleet Koronus 'orders' rules and the crew rating

Yes, I think this would work better from combat POV, but may limit the roleplaying possibilities. On the other hand, if they collaborate, not compete, they'll have more opportunities to RP.

Edited by Jargal

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For our years-long (still running) RT campaign our DM took a lot of inspiration from Pathfinder Kingmaker, which includes various adventures and flashpoints that sees all players together, but also had a whole system for all of them ruling their separate realms \ kingdoms.

Could be worth considering?


For our own part we have adventures as a party, but downtime that sees one or more of us taking ships for personal and dynastic projects. This is all downtime, tho - most playing time is spent as a group.

 

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On 2/15/2019 at 4:29 PM, Sna said:

For our years-long (still running) RT campaign our DM took a lot of inspiration from Pathfinder Kingmaker, which includes various adventures and flashpoints that sees all players together, but also had a whole system for all of them ruling their separate realms \ kingdoms.

Could be worth considering?

Also look at Stars Without Number faction system. It's a simple turn-based strategy made to create dynamic "background" events. Factions have 3 ratings: Force, Cunning, Wealth to measure their infrastructure on military, covert and economical sides, assets limited by these ratings, tags for special properties (by their nature and status), etc. Also, they can get XP to purchase attribute advances by setting and reaching Goals.

IMHO this could be used to handle the cluster-fluffle of all those RT dynasties, Imperial nobles, trade houses, mercenary corps, pirates, Ecclesiarchy sects, heretic cults, etc. And PF/colony income can be linked to FactionCred economy. Of course, it would need setting-appropriate Assets list and tags, and tweaking at least for movement.

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So if I'm reading this correctly, in your thought this was a big Mount Weather for the High Lords of Terra and the Senatorum Imperialis.   That well went "Rogue".

In the USA after Sept 11, for the 1st time officially the Continuity of Operations plan was put in play involved a rotating staff of 75 to 150 senior officials and other government workers from every federal executive department and other parts of the executive branch in two secure bunkers.  Prior to that and post that a # of exercises to test continuity plans have been done. 

Now given the "oddities" of Warp and Commuication, I can see how the someone could have hit the switch that said, nope not a drill, you are the functional command, and well by time someone figured out that it was a "Mistake" how shall I say Power Corrupts, we aren't giving this up without a fight.

Mission Ideas, bringing neutral planets under their protection. deal with a group of "pirates" (In truth, part of the Imperial Fleet who refused to answer the call of either Terra or Nova Terra, a more DH style game idea (deal with "Heretics" who try to overthrow the Nova Terra system

 

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On ‎4‎/‎13‎/‎2019 at 1:50 AM, Angel of Death said:

So if I'm reading this correctly, in your thought this was a big Mount Weather for the High Lords of Terra and the Senatorum Imperialis.   That well went "Rogue".

Pretty much. Or else the High Lords ran off there too early and were seen as 'abandoning your post in time of war' and hence de-facto abdicating by the deputies left behind.

On ‎4‎/‎13‎/‎2019 at 1:50 AM, Angel of Death said:

Now given the "oddities" of Warp and Commuication, I can see how the someone could have hit the switch that said, nope not a drill, you are the functional command, and well by time someone figured out that it was a "Mistake" how shall I say Power Corrupts, we aren't giving this up without a fight.

Pretty much. It needn't necessarily be a deliberate conspiracy, even. If the Nova Terra protocol gets 'activated' during a crisis and subsequently no-one's entirely sure which is the current command component (if, for example, the High Lords never make it to Nova Terra so you've got a pair of deputies, one on Nova Terra, one on Terra, both of whom think they're now the functioning High Lord), then with the Imperium being what it is it'll quickly reach the kind of political environment where the phrase 'heretic!' starts getting slung around.

On ‎4‎/‎13‎/‎2019 at 1:50 AM, Angel of Death said:

Mission Ideas, bringing neutral planets under their protection. deal with a group of "pirates" (In truth, part of the Imperial Fleet who refused to answer the call of either Terra or Nova Terra, a more DH style game idea (deal with "Heretics" who try to overthrow the Nova Terra system

Indeed. We know the stand-off finally gets resolved by a religious uprising in favour of Terra (it's one of the reasons the Ecclesiarchy becomes so politically dominant, leading in direct terms to Goge Vandire and the Reign of Blood), and that somehow Cypher is involved, as he's known after the fact to have been one of the members of the Ur-Council.

(Which may mean the Dark Angels were nosing around).

 

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