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How Do You Play A Seneschal?

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I'm the GM of my RT group, never played a seneschal myself.  If i did get a chance to play one, I would model him on Thufir Hawat from the book Dune. A human enhanced to have great mental capacities to process data who is the master of both the dynasties book-keeping as well as spies/assasins.

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The seneschal in my campaign is an NPC - I play him as Klythus (Ming's Majar Domo) from the 1980's Flash Gordon Movie....

Then againI play the NPC Rogue Trader (father of the PC Rogue Trader) as Brian Blessed. 

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How to play a Seneschal is likely as varied as the number of players and different origins there are.

For example, even I would not play two Seneschals the same way, if one was a Nobleborn and another was from a Penal World. And that's just a single variable.

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 True ^^

Thufir's a **** good model, though. I've seen variations on the theme (Cockney Thufir, Count von Hawat the future-prussian, Soviet Thufir and even Rasta Thufir), as well as variants based on Badger from Firefly, Dr Stephen Maturin, and Aleksandr "Papa" Yeltsin (head of the Mafiya in Nikolai Dante), as well as various batmen, valets, butlers and other gentlemen's gentlemen, like Jeeves, Willikins, Beaker and Alfred, although my personal favourite was envisaging the Seneschal as a Cosa Nostra consigliere.

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I really liked the description of them having an air of intimidating competence. I could be wrong but to me the Seneschal feels a bit like a mix between DH's scum and adept. He's fairly charming and has the brains. I'm keen to play my Seneschal as an extremely inquisitive and switched on individual who is constantly trying to turn a profit, get the goss and acquire new tech and illegal goods that he can tinker with. He'd surround himself with a tight crew of experts (mine would probably all be void born as he will be vb too). He was most likely exclled to the RT ship for trading with xenos or possesing forbidden tech.

Basically somewhere between an inventor and a wallstreet broker. Constantly switched on, curious and on top of the action doing all the legwork for the lofty visionary Rogue Trader.

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What these guys said :)

 

The most important thing is how you -want- to play the Seneschal, but since you came here for pointers, I'll add that one of the good ways to begin defining your your seneschal is to decide what ship-role* he fills :)

*(Rogue Trader: Into the storm p.224-232)

 

If you lack that supplement I'll give a few examples at different ends of the spectrum.

Lord High Factotum

The walking calculation, the ever-evolving contingency-planner, the Dynasty's Master of trade and commerce. The High Factotum is the top authority in all matters of trade. Whether arranging business meetings with other rogue-traders, securing allegiances with planetary coin-houses, trading goods and favors or buying up entire starsystems for a steal, follow the web of causality and the strings of puppets back far enough and you'll find the High Factotum, cleverly dictating the movement of what seemed to be nothing but circumstance. He is the master of his masters assets. His job is to ensure that everything goes smoothly and if someone rattles the cage, they are taken care of. Whenever the Rogue Trader is trying to hide a body, he'll happen upon the High Factotum, smiling a comforting smile, and holding a shovel.

 

Master of whispers

The master of whispers fight his master's wars with information and poisonous daggers. If something is going on, he knows about it. He secures information through networks of hidden pawns, infiltrating whatever he feels like, to ensure that the Dynasty never have to fight blind. He controls people, knowing or unknowing, by manipulating information and what it is worth, making his way through the week Merovingian-style, because whatever it is, it is his "Beezniz to know". When the rival Rogue-Trader chokes to death, it's because the Master of Whispers supplied the assassin with the poison. And when the local customs-inspector twists information to your benefit, without charging you a dime, it is because the Master of Whispers has subtlely dropped the hint, that he knows about the inspector's obscura-addiction. The Master of Whispers controls the information, and therefore he can control the battlefield.

 

These are simply 2 examples of Seneschals and there is nothing preventing you from being a mixture of both or something else entirely.

 

From a rules perspective I advice you to read up on the Aquisition rules, as you are likely going to be the one who make most of them, at least the large orders. Make sure the Rogue Trader's assets are always where you expect them to be, grease the machine and provide advice. I know from horrid experience that a Rogue Trader can make less-than-gifted decisions and does not take well to him being called out on it, if someone is listening. So I'd get a voxbead operated into your throat as soon as possible, to you can subvocalize, advising the captain without his subjects ever knowing anything about it.

Make yourself indispensible and take a hint from the Sniper from team fortress 2: Be polite, be efficient and plan to kill everyone you meet. :)

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 I also just thought of Little Finger from A song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones. In fact reading back over some of these descriptions I almost feel they had him and Varys in mind when they were writing.

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I've only GM'd but basically I've always viewed a Senchal as the man with the plan, the Murdoc of the group but with less of a leadership position and more the "kings advisor": He knows everything and everyone, can pull the strings of contacts like puppets, and has a subtle but undeniable intelligence that makes him more frightening than any gun. Those that meet him are not so much afraid of him as they are afraid of those he knows and what he an get them to do. He's the mafia Boss to some extent and the "real" power behind the money, swuave and collected.

They're really an under-appreciated choice in my group as we tend to get everything but that (and rarely a missionary either but more often than a Senchal which we only had once).

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Hygric said:

I'm the GM of my RT group, never played a seneschal myself.  If i did get a chance to play one, I would model him on Thufir Hawat from the book Dune. A human enhanced to have great mental capacities to process data who is the master of both the dynasties book-keeping as well as spies/assasins.

Yep.  That's how I play the NPC in the game I'm running.  Only, he's much funnier.

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I'd always imagined the Seneschal as the Rogue Trader's right hand man. Given the dynamics of my group, however, I think I'll be playing it a little more....

 

spy_achievements.jpg

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Nearyn said:

Master of whispers

The master of whispers fight his master's wars with information and poisonous daggers. If something is going on, he knows about it. He secures information through networks of hidden pawns, infiltrating whatever he feels like, to ensure that the Dynasty never have to fight blind. He controls people, knowing or unknowing, by manipulating information and what it is worth, making his way through the week Merovingian-style, because whatever it is, it is his "Beezniz to know". When the rival Rogue-Trader chokes to death, it's because the Master of Whispers supplied the assassin with the poison. And when the local customs-inspector twists information to your benefit, without charging you a dime, it is because the Master of Whispers has subtlely dropped the hint, that he knows about the inspector's obscura-addiction. The Master of Whispers controls the information, and therefore he can control the battlefield.

This is how I play my Navigator so the NPC Seneschal can worry about 'the business side of things. lol.

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 I played a pretty successful Seneschal for some time. I found my role was to take care of the RT and the rest of the party, even if they didn't know it, and maybe don't even want it. For example, our Rogue Trader was honourable and kind of "nice". Sometimes however, people just had to die, so the Seneschal would make it happen. While the party was doing something, the senschal was chasing up leads and double checking facts and stories. It was really good fun :)

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James Bond would be a very good image for the Seneschal. Spy, assassin, socialite. With a high education and wit does he trade, investigate, and manipulate the odds into his court. He is the man who has a friend, contact, associate in every port of call who knows how to get the dirt on anything he needs in exchange for a debt repaid or favor cashed. Maybe along with a few women as well.


He is not above getting his own hands dirty to get to the bottom of a plot. He is a man of action, but also skill and thought. Not to mention an excellent sense of class.

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Void Born said:

 I also just thought of Little Finger from A song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones. In fact reading back over some of these descriptions I almost feel they had him and Varys in mind when they were writing.

 

I just picked up the RT core book a couple of days ago. That was the very first thing I thought of after reading the descriptions as well.

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First of all you play him convincing and stay out of first line of battle. Create a person with web of contacts and large knowledge "deep throat". He's not melee combatant nor gunslinger. His strength is in other aspects. He's the bains of most of operations, dealings, and accoutant of billions of thrones. Seneschal is very sympathic character if you have the guts to chew trought paper work and he can work amongst nobility lords or crime lords.

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 Recently, I made a Seneschal for a RT game that, alas, didn't survive past the first session. I based his personality on Michael Westen from Burn Notice - a mixture of cunning, paranoia and an ex-military, no-nonsense attitude. He adopted a myriad of fake personas (just a few managed to actually come up in play, because again, the campaign ended much, much too soon, but I had a lot more in store), to the point where he wasn't known by the same name on any two worlds, and even the Rogue Trader didn't know his true name. It was very fun, and he really complemented the happy-go-lucky Rogue Trader, the always bitching Navigator and the autistic Explorator.

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Seneschals, my are they fun. You have options as a seneschal. You aren't great in combat, but, and this is a biggie, you start with a ton of very effective hard to obtain gear. My Seneschal and my groups Rogue Trader have history together. The seneschal having been hired by the RT's father, A former Rear-Admiral in the Imperial Navy, nearly a decade previous, after extracting a fairly substantial sum of money from their former Seneschal, selling Muniturom goods to Noble houses and gangers one and all, for fun, for profit.

I play my character as a Master of Trade, knowledge, spies and the right hand of the Rogue Trader. He is suave, cunning, pushes boundaries subtly, finding limits of what he can get away with, peoples limits. Having successfully looted 7 bottles of Amasec from a slightly radical Inquisitors personal stash, while there were 3 other people in the room. The second time both the Inquisitor and the Interrogator were actually watching him, waiting for him to do it, and he managed to do it without them noticing.

its all about pushing limits, wringing the absolute best out of a deal. I have managed to get a rather large portion of the ships gear, 50storm trooper armour sets, platoons worth of grenades and a sensorium. The ship gets a roll due to their only being two players.

As for combat, stay away from melee, use everything at your disposal, I took the hellgun and the Inferno pistol as my starting gear and have just come into possession of a good craftsmanship plasma gun, as well as sporting a good quality Enforcer light carapace armour set. Next up is best Quality synskin, if I can upgrade it. He never goes anywhere without it.

Also aside from the RT's house guard/stormtroopers, my senechal is starting a stealth operations cell. Currently have 8 operatives that he's training. This is primarily an intelligence gathering exercise, but they will be very adept at killing if the need arises, a small hit squad, to take out a pesky ganger, or sabotage a shuttle while the seneschal is off-world.

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