This is a ‘brief’ summary of my first Rogue Trader Campaign.
As the ship was chosen and components were being selected (the most annoying of which for me as the GM, was the Teleporter/Murder Servitor combination), name ideas were thrown around and mostly disregarded among generous boos and insults. These names ranged from atrocities such as the, ‘Ganja Galleon’, to rather deadpan suggestions like, ‘Bob’. In the end someone asked, “What do we want to do with our ship?”, and after much deliberation the answer became Exploration. Maybe it was inevitable, maybe in each and every parallel universe imaginable the choice was preordained; all I know is that the following picture was shown and the name chosen ‘Saint Dora, The Explorer’.
Then we came to ship complications and the RNG gods chose that the St.Dora suffered from a Death Cult and within moments the Death Cult leader was called ‘Consuela’, another by-product of the accursed internet, oh and Family Guy, Family Guy is most definitely a culprit in this tale. Unbeknownst to my players their choice of ‘Consuela’, would play a grim and dark part in their travels to come.
Rogue Trader/ Lord-Captain Devere
Void Master Traq
To start, my players found themselves in the hands of the Inquisition, witnessing the execution of their previous Lord-Captain Devere by the Ordos Xenos for his blatant use of Xenotech. My Rogue Trader player, the inheriting Son, found to his chagrin that all of his Dynasty’s assets and Profit Factor had been confiscated by the Ordos Xenos, under the jurisdiction of Inquisitor Balthazar, and that he owed them 50 Profit Factor as well as payment for his father’s crimes.
The new Lord-Captain Devere was
left a small frigate, the St.Dora (with non-functional weapons), so that he could perform missions in order to work off his debt. Rogue Trader Devere, brooking no insult, instantly declared Balthazar his enemy most vile and planned to kill him from day number one.
Lord-Captain Devere, grumbling the whole time and yet knowing he wasn’t ready to take on Balthazar, accepted his mission to investigate and render assistance if necessary to a Storm Warden Outpost that had been silent now for 2 years after operating for over 200. According to the information they were given, the Storm Wardens’ 8th Company and a Strike Cruiser, the ‘Ben Voyager’, was stationed there and had successfully purged multiple Xenos infestations from the surrounding sub-sector during their service.
So began their journey to the edge of the Calixis Sector, a journey they felt was rather quick and easy (a feeling I would work to dispel for the journey home). Having nearly arrived at the edge of the sub-sector, they received a rather unconventional distress call; all of their systems screamed out in static and a little girl appeared on their bridge saying, “Help Me”, before disappearing.
Each attempt at communication was greeted with the girl appearing somewhere different on the bridge in a flash, saying, “Help Me”, and then disappearing again. In the end after ensuring that she wasn’t a warp phenomenon or Daemon they agreed to help and their screens lit up with spatial coordinates which they decided to follow; it led them to a solar system next to the outpost. Upon translation into real space they found that their engines wouldn’t work unless they were heading in a specific direction and after analysing their sensor data, they found that they were travelling towards a rather small Space Hulk. All attempts to halt their progress or change direction or translate into the warp was met with system failure, this quickly led them to believe that the ‘girl’, was an Artificial Intelligence and that it was inexorably drawing them in to something nasty.
After boarding the Hulk and removing a cylindrical core from a pearly white, perfectly clean and shiny section that inspired many theories,”It must be eldar!”, “No, it’s obviously from the Dark Age of Technology!”, “What if it’s from the future?”, the ‘girl’ was able to converse with them with a 4 year old’s vocabulary and warned them about a ‘bad AI’ trying to kill them. With her help they were able to eventually evacuate (after a harrowing session) from the Space Hulk and then strike back by teleporting volunteer Death Cultists armed with Melta Bombs into critical areas. With the destruction of the Space Hulk, the ‘girl’ was unlocked and upgraded into a woman calling herself ‘Alma’, who confirmed their theories that she was an AI and begged for her life in exchange for helping them with their teleporter and other electronic systems. Knowing that she already possessed the power to control their systems and could destroy them on a whim, they saw no choice other than to accept. So began 2nd Lieutenant Alma’s career on board the St.Dora as a junior officer.
Vowing never to answer any distress call ever again, Rogue Trader Devere and his band of merry men travelled to the Outpost system and approached the planet. Two messages were being broadcast, one from the Storm Wardens’ base, “This planet is under Quarantine. Do not approach.”, and the other from the human auxiliary base, “Under attack. Requesting assistance. Xenos of unknown designation”. After going into orbit, the St.Dora was fired upon by automated defences, leading my players to drive-by teleport an expeditionary force of 12 men (upon questioning, my players claim to choose 12 men because it’s a good number for soldiers – 6 man combat squads, 3 man fire teams) led by Arch-Militant Heinkel. They decided to explore the Human base first, finding many signs of battle (empty flak suits etc) and a recorded message stating that the attack by formidable foes wiped out the base within an hour. With no other evidence forthcoming they moved up the valley to the Storm Wardens’ outpost. At the entrance of the outpost they started to come across damaged suits of dust filled space marine power armour with flaky paint, depleted power cells and seized joints. The fact that the armour looked a lot older than it should for an Outpost that went dark only 2 years before didn’t escape their attention, they decided to recover the power armour at the entrance and then analyse them in order to find out what they could.
The suits contained recordings of each Space Marine’s final moments; revealing an attack by hideous creatures with weapons capable of punching through power armour with ease. None of them had studied forbidden lores, such as Xenology and were unable to identify them. Seeing how effectively these creatures were able to deal with Space Marines, it was decided that more troops were necessary leading to a deployment of 48 men (4 groups of 12), and 50 Murder Servitors. Thus, they began to explore the outpost. After splitting up to cover multiple corridors, the Arch-Militant and his forces came under attack from the Hrud which had used their contortionist and chameleonic abilities to literally hide flat against walls and floors. Having noticed an anomalous blip on his Auspex before the attack, Arch-Militant Heinkel abandoned his men and rushed to investigate the blip as they died. He found the blip to be a surviving Space Marine – shuffling along the corridor in armour that lacked paint and screeching with each step as dust cascaded from the joints. He noticed that in addition to this, the eye lenses weren’t lit up and his weapons were rusted and worn. Spending a few valuable moments trying to catch the Space Marine’s attention and failing, all the while with the music of weapons-fire and screaming emanating from down the corridor, Heinkel decided to emergency teleport away with his prize; the Space Marine, who he later found out was called Scoterto.
Deciding to meet his honoured guest in the Teleportarium, Lord-Captain Devere made his way down and opened the door saying, “Ahoy there, welcome aboard matey!”. Scoterto the Space Marine booted him back through the door yelling, “ORK FREEBOOTERS” and broke a couple of the Rogue Trader’s ribs through his Carapace armour. It was only after that, that they realized that Scoterto saw each and every person as someone completely different according to first contact; the Void Master was a fellow Space Marine, the Rogue Trader was a Freebooter and the Arch-Militant was just a figment of his imagination. From then on, the Void Master Traq was the only one who liaised with Scoterto; being able to converse with him like a peer. After a physical exam their doctors reported that Scoterto was suffering from age-related problems being around 3,000 years old biologically due to the Hrud’s entropic field. The Arch-Militant and his surviving men had also aged during their brief sojourn among the Hrud, Heinkel personally gaining 20 years and most of his men (who had fought the Hrud) being dead or in their nineties.
After a brief discussion it was decided that they had enough information to go back and report what had occurred to the Outpost and to hand in what they retrieved; Scoterto and recovered Storm Wardens’ gear. During their return trip an explosion went off in the Warp Drive, throwing them off course – heading straight into a Warp Storm. Being unable to control the ship (their Techpriests needed a few weeks to effect repairs when they only had a few days before reaching the storm), they started to brainstorm how they would get through this catastrophe, concluding that if they flew straight into the heart of the storm it would be unlikely that they would survive. In the end, it was decided that they would use their Gellar Field to turn them (using an ingenious method of weakening it on one side of the ship and strengthening it on the other, creating a difference in resistance in the warp and therefore turning them), calculating that they would need to use this method for 30 minutes in order to avoid the heart of the storm. This Gellar Field weakening caused problems; they had prepared for most of them but unfortunately their Navigator, Beta-7, becoming possessed was a problem they hadn’t foreseen.
Bumping along in a warp storm with their warp drive offline, unable to control their movement without weakening their defences with a possessed Navigator inside the Navigator vault devouring the others. “We’re dead”. Fortunately enough for them, this was not the case – after fighting daemonic incursions, battling ethereal pestilences and putting down waves of insane crew members, they burst forth from the other side of the warp storm and began to fix their problems. Beta-7 was exorcized but agreed that his mutations (a by-product of the possession) were too great to allow him to live (mental regression and body deformations (think 5 great boobs, some with mouths, giggidy)) and so said that he should be put down but only after he returned the ship to Scintilla and so not long after that when the drive was fixed, he accomplished his final mission and was given his final peace.
During the journey back, the source of the explosion was found out to have been a bomb designed to kill them in the Warp and so began an investigation into who or what had placed it. Not long into their investigation, ‘Consuela’ and the Death Cultists reported they had found the culprit and then delivered him to the Rogue Trader, dead, along with a recording of his confession which detailed that he worked for an Inquisitor but could not say who. The saboteur himself had no fingerprints, scoured retinas and volitor implants. The Death Cultists, under ‘Consuela’, had drowned the saboteur in Lemon Pledge. From then on, the Death Cult was treated with a lot more respect and Balthazar was blamed for the bombing.
Upon returning to Scintilla, Rogue Trader Devere reported his mission success to Inquisitor Balthazar but also reported the sabotage attempt (providing the body as evidence) to the Tricorn Palace along with a complaint about Balthazar performing duties belonging to the Ordo Hereticus. This prompted an investigation into Balthazar’s actions, revealing that the execution of old Captain Devere was not warranted and out of his jurisdiction to begin with. This ended up getting Balthazar chewed out for incompetence and potentially worse, forcing him to burn all of his favours and leverage all of his influence to keep himself an Inquisitor in name only. What remained of Lord-Captain Devere’s family assets was returned; a Grand Cruiser Hull, and his debt was cleared. Things were beginning to look up.
New Character to replace Navigator Beta-7 = Explorator Galvin (new recruit at Scintilla)
The Storm Wardens contacted Rogue Trader Devere and requested that he return to their outpost and search for their Strike Cruiser, the ‘Ben Voyager’, they would provide a squad of marines to assist and second Scoterto to the Rogue Trader’s entourage (my players took that as they hadn’t found a way to fix his mental problems and so wanted him out of the way). Fast Forwarding here, they arrived back at the Outpost to find themselves attacked by a Dark Mechanicus hunting pack (4 destroyers and a light cruiser) which they dealt with quite handily with the Teleportarium and Murder Servitor combination (I imagine a bunch of robotic zombies with melee weapons appearing on your ship to cut you up is quite terrifying). They went so far as to try and board the Light Cruiser (the lengths players will go to capture ships is quite ridiculous) as it attempted to escape into the warp, this ended up getting Arch-Militant Heinkel killed when he ended up trapped on board; suffice it to say, he didn’t go down without a fight. He and his retinue of 12 men, along with some
Murder Servitors claimed 888 cultists, summoning a pack of 8 Khorne Juggernauts. The fight was glorious but in the end they fell (I’m breezing over some details here but that’s the general gist of it). After their run in with the Dark Mechanicus, Devere returned to the Outpost and sent down troops, along with the Space marines to search for clues as to the Strike Cruiser’s whereabouts. Suffice it to say, they managed to retrieve the information they required but lost many men, including the Space Marines, in the process.
New Character to replace Arch-Militant Heinkel = Arch-Militant Marcel (new recruit who previously boarded at Scintilla)
As they were travelling to the last known position of the ‘Ben Voyager’, Inquisitor Balthazar chose his moment and attacked in the early hours! Blaming Rogue Trader Devere for his loss of standing, Balthazar had infiltrated aboard with the new recruits at Scintilla,
bringing with him his own entourage of Storm Troopers (Militarum Tempestus Scions you say? Feck off, says I) in an attempt to get his revenge. He nearly succeeded too; he managed to gouge out Devere’s eyes with his Lightning Claws, had him hung upside down
from his own Chandelier like a Pinata whilst beaten with shock batons and then dragged through the corridors on a leash. Balthazar’s reign of terror was ended when Marcel (who had come aboard as part of Balthazar’s retinue) turned on him and killed him. Blind and beaten, with more than just his ego bruised, Lord-Captain Devere was lucky to be alive. Explorator Galvin, seeing an opportunity to curry favour (and for other reasons), made a Servo-Skull out of Balthazar’s head and gifted it to Devere. One of the special attachments the Serv0-Skull had was a wine glass holder; a refined addition.
Fast Forwarding some more, upon arriving at the last known position of the ‘Ben Boyager’, these intrepid explorers came across a hitherto unknown Xenos Species and attempted to make first contact, choosing not to use the gunfire method. After working out how to communicate with this species, which took a lot of effort having learnt that they didn’t have eyes and didn’t perceive time in the same way as humans, they found out that the Strike Cruiser had been destroyed because it had acted aggressively. Devere, still blind (so he could sympathise with them) decided not to be aggressive and to trade with them instead, giving them Void Shield Technology in exchange for a full cargo-hold of Adamantium. As a gift, the aliens (now ironically named the Seers; my players and their naming conventions, sigh) gave them a suit of armour that was tougher and more resistant than power armour that couldn’t be copied because it was made through metallurgical processes beyond that of the Imperium. This suit of armour, being entirely unique in the Universe, drew the attention of ‘Lord Ezekiel’, (fondly called ‘Zeke’ by my players) a Tzeentch Lord of Change. ‘Zeke’ attempted to bargain for the suit of armour on multiple occasions, offering unique items in trade and going so far as to gift each Officer with a bottle of the finest Bordeaux, of an extremely rare vintage (the last surviving bottles from a now dead world).
New Player + Character = Missionary Mordecai
Upon returning to Scintilla, Rogue Trader Devere informed the Storm Wardens of what had befallen their Strike Cruiser and then had himself kitted out with the finest cybernetic eyes. It was at this moment, when they thought they were safe, that everything fell apart. Marcel agreed to trade the suit of armour to Ezekiel (without the Rogue Trader knowing) in exchange for a Warrant of Trade, Marcel then excitedly showed it to Devere saying, “I am now a Rogue Trader too and pledge myself to your service!”, but unbeknownst to him, it had been Devere’s Warrant of Trade, and so he was instantly challenged to a duel over this perceived affront.
It was at this moment, with a duel unfolding on the bridge, where Explorator Galvin (having been a spy for the Adeptus Mechanicus from the start, placed aboard to investigate rumours of an AI) reported all he had learned to the Admech and then attempted to seize the bridge with gun servitors.Lord Ezekiel, who was not one to avoid a good show, decided to pop in as well to watch and change the game once in a while; preventing killing shots, firing random magical powers into the melee and generally enjoying the spectacle before leaving when he was engaged by Missionary Mordecai.
Somehow these fateful few managed to weather the Servitor assault and kill Explorator Galvin who was taken down by an Inferno Pistol shot by Void Master Traq. With the existence of the AI known to the Adeptus Mechanicus, and their ships rushing to intercept the St.Dora, it was decided that running was the only option left to them and so they fled for their lives.
They ended up in the Koronus Expanse, with Scoterto the Space Marine (having been released from his room by Zeke) in charge of the Death Cultists (who believed he was a living saint for perceiving the inner souls of each person he meets). After Death Cult assassinations became rampant on board, attributed to Scoterto’s random mumbling, Devere decided that it was time to get rid of the Death Cultists and so devised a plan to have them follow Scoterto onto a barren world, therefore cleansing his ship of their presence. Before commencing his plan, he stopped at Footfall to pick up some more crew and to restock on fuel and supplies, it was at this time that Marcel decided to jump ship (skipping some detail here but he left to become his own Rogue Trader).
New Character to replace Explorator Galvin = Arch-Militant Mace McDread
New Character to replace Arch-Militant Marcel = Dark Eldar Kale
Arch-Militant Mace McDread was hired to improve the Armsmen aboard and he decided to do just that and being a Space Marine fanboy (this is in-character), put each new recruit through his own imagined Space Marine training course – killing over 4,000 of them and crippling around 2,000 more. After that he wasn’t allowed near the recruits again.
Missionary Mordecai decided to go and pray at the statue of the Emperor in footfall and having been lured into a trap by a kid saying, “My mummy says the Emperor doesn’t exist”, started a fire in the middle of a residential asteroid that killed thousands. Having gotten lost in the chaos and then been approached by slavers, he incited the crowd in a market place to attack them which killed hundreds more when the gangs became involved. Eventually he made it back to the ship but having been spotted and then attributed to both events, was then banned from entering Footfall ever again.
Glossing over some more details but en route to a barren world the Death Cultists found out about Rogue Trader Devere’s plan to use the Living Saint Scoterto to abandon them and so they murdered him in his room; he was found on his bed with 12 syringes stuck into his body (they had injected litres of Lemon Pledge into him).
Thus began duels for succession, leaving Void Master Traq in charge of the St.Dora. For a while it seemed like the Void Master would return the St.Dora to her days of glory but unfortunately he became possessed in the warp and died before he could be exorcized.
Thus began duels for succession Mk.2 which would have left the Dark Eldar Kale as Rogue Trader but for 2nd Lieutenant Alma, who couldn’t countenance a Dark Eldar being in charge no matter how friendly he seemed. So she voided him. It was then he revealed that he had hidden a fighter/bomber clamped to the hull and so he used it to strafe the St.Dora and causing enough damage to force 2nd Lieutenant Alma to commence an emergency warp translation (With the Gellar Field off (Dun Dun Duuuuuun)).
Within minutes, thousands upon thousands were dying to hoards of cackling demons and debilitating warp effects. The last remaining living officer, being Missionary Mordecai, was in the cargo bay and trying to make his way to the Gellar field to assist the Techpriests. It was not long before he was overwhelmed and so he detonated the containers of extra fuel that had been brought aboard at FootFall, killing himself and taking some Daemons with him. Even though the techpriests eventually managed to turn on the Gellar field and drop the St.Dora out of the warp, it was too late; tens of thousands had died meaning there wasn’t enough crew to operate the ship and fires were still raging aboard causing secondary detonations. 2nd Lieutenant Alma chose to vent the ship to save her own life.
The St.Dora is now a burnt out, de-pressurised, shredded husk with only an AI alive.
A space hulk, floating through the interstellar void.