Saturday, 26 May 2012

R is for Risus Rogue Trader

So, I switched our One-on-One Rogue Trader game to Risus to represent the climactic Chess Battle between the Lord-Captain and her Necron friend - I thought that straight Intelligence rolls were too boring, and neither of us was that great at chess. The "Combat That Isn't Combat" system allowed us to represent a far wider range of abilities and knowledge than we could otherwise, and let the the player take a very... non-standard way out.

So, I wanted to put down some basic rules for playing the 40k setting with Risus! Most of these are Optional Rules - as such, none of them need to be used, and feel free to add more yourself! Some parts do refer to the FFG 40kRP books, so they're handy to have about for a quick reference.

This list is also by no means complete - I will be adding to it in the future.

Character Creation
Depending on the "power level" you want to run, characters start with different amounts of dice and additional rules.

Dark Heresy/Everyman: 10 dice, no Funky Dice, no Hooks and Tales (though feel free to make backstory!). Optionally, you might want to keep the "grim and dark" feel of Dark Heresy by suggesting no starting Cliche can be higher than 4.

Rogue Trader/Heroic: 11 dice, Funky Dice optional, Hooks optional, Tales required (die from the Tale already factored in), plus one piece of gear granting a +1 dice to any Cliche (though note, this may be vetoed by the GM).

Deathwatch/Inquisitor/HERO OF THE IMPERIUM: 12 dice, Funky Dice optional, Hook and Tale required (dice from both already factored in), either 2 +1 die items, or one +2 dice item.

For the higher Power Levels, you might want to investigate the Option for changing the Scale of Target Numbers (for example, instead of 5 being a simple Task, and 10 being a decent challenge, you can make 3 simple, and 6 a decent challenge - for an ordinary man. For a Space Marine, it should be no bother).

For inspiration for Cliches, look no further than the Careers presented in the 40kRP books! These cover a wide range of abilities and relative levels of power (so, a Devastator Space Marine is more powerful than an Arch-Militant, who in turn is better than a Guardsman, and an Assassin might fall anywhere on the scale, even though they are all "shooty" Cliches).

Home Worlds also make a great way of personalising Cliches - a Noble World Guardsman would be something like the Vostroyan First Born - well equipped, lavishly decorated, etc, while a Feral World Guardsman might be covered in good-luck charms and the blood of his enemies, braided hair down to his shoulders, equipped with a basic Lasgun and whatever weapons he can make along the way.

Check the books for an idea of how each Home World can be used in a cliche (like a Hive Worlder can use it to operate simple machinery and spot trouble a mile off, or a Death Worlder can use his Cliche to resist poison or scavenge edible plants/usable weapons, etc.)

A Note: the Inappropriate Cliche Option might not suit all campaigns. Then again, it might allow a smart but weak character to use his Brains Over Brawn Cliche to outsmart and Ork (by no means a challenge), and other such 


Should you choose to play a Psyker, you can use your Psyker Cliche to use a standard Psychic Power (listed across the 40kRP books). Or, you can make up something appropriate, depending on your knowledge of the system.

"Combat" powers can be used as part of the description of a Combat round - a bolt of psychic force, using telekinesis to lob someone across a room, etc. These are resisted/avoided as part of the standard Combat rules.

Outside of a fight, Powers should have a Target Number that needs to be beaten - say, TN10 for a Lesser Power (minor clarisentience, talking to animals, floating a small object like a gun across a room), maybe TN15 for bigger ones (bolts of psychic energy, astral projection, fleshcrafting, etc) and higher for even greater feats.

Greatly exceeding the Target Number (by over 10) means rolling on the Psychic Phenomena table.

Should you fail your roll dramatically enough (rolling under 5), either in or out of combat, you'll need to be rolling on the Perils of The Warp table - as well as suffering whatever consequences failing the roll might have (losing dice in a fight, failing to hold up the tank you're levitating, etc). The Table can be found in the 40kRP books - or you could make your own!

Special Rules Specifically for Rogue Trader


A Rogue Trader would be nothing without the ability to traverse the Void - starships are thus very important to the game.

As such, they are built as Characters, with Cliches, Hooks and Tales, Funky Dice for specialised functions, and a set of particular Cliches they should cover:

Armament: represents weapon systems, armour, and the skill of the crew at using them.
Speed: Represents speed (duh), manoeuvrability, and such.
Haulage: represents the ship's size, holding space, and general Scale.
Components: this represents one (or More) things the ship specialises in. Like, having a Nova Cannon, or a Teleportarium, or a particularly effective Gellar field.

Ship-to-Ship combat is done as a standard Combat, with each combatant using their Cliches in any way which makes sense. During combat, players with Appropriate Cliches (like Captains, Gunnery Officers, etc.) can form a Grunt Squad with their ship, providing ther skill to the ship's systems (in game terms, they roll their Cliche and the Ship's too - but only the player's 6s count towards the ship's roll).

Profit Factor
Profit Factor is a measure of your dynasty's accumulated wealth - it's not just money, but trading goods, liquidatable assets, and so on. So let's make it a Cliche. It can vary from 1 dice (Impoverished) up to 6 dice (God-Emperor-like Wealth). Most crews start at 3 dice. One dice of PF can be sacrificed to net an extra 2 dice for your ship.

For every big deal/trade route opened/whatever the GM decides, the group could earn a "point" of Profit Factor. 3 points adds +1 to your total roll, 6 points adds +2, and 10 points gives you an extra dice (resetting the points to 0). This should be the only way to raise profit factor. The max Profit Factor a group can achieve is 6 Dice + 2 - at this level, you can easily buy starships, planets, whatever you want.

PF Scale
0 - common items, daily necessities. An automatic success.
5 - high-quality common items, speciality foods and services, hiring retainers and decent-quality mercenaries.
10 - Outfitting your 10 personal guards with good-quality weapons and armour, or yourself with very good quality stuff.
15 - Outfitting 50 men with same, outfitting your team with the very-good-quality stuff, buying "trading levels" of supplies (like tons of food, or ammo for a small army,etc).
20 - Outfitting 10 men with some top-quality stuff, or yourself with Rare items, a single suit of Power Armour, a Power Weapon, etc.
25 - Outfitting 50 men with Power Armour, or yourself with weird and unique (or nearly so) items (Force Weapons, Personal Forcefields). Small space-worthy ships (but not Warp capable) and squadrons of military vehicles.
30 - Starships. Planets. Outfit an army in top-quality gear. Sky's the limit.

Of course, the GM is the final arbiter of what falls under each TN. If you have contacts in the Mechanicus, and you're buying a ship to go claim a world as a Forge World, you might get a discount (down to, say, 25).

As a Cliche, Profit Factor can be used in Conflicts - but mainly long, drawn out battles of resources (like running space battles between rival Dynasties, where it's all about who has the money to keep coming back and come out ahead). It might also lead to bizarre cases of players trying to form a Grunt Squad with their own Profit Factor, but hey - if their idea works, go for it!

Forcefield technology, used variously across the Imperium (and by some Xenos) acts as "damage reduction" - say you buy a 2 Dice Force Field. In combat, you can elect to lose one of these dice instead of one of your Cliche Dice, so long as the damage comes from a physical source (so, you can't lose them during a battle of wits, but you certainly can when someone shoots you with a bolter). These are, however, stupid rare.

Power weapons can easily cleave through most every other "normal" weapon, barring other power weapons and force weapons. This makes a great end to a fight without killing someone. To chop a weapon/item outside of combat, it's automatic for normal materials, 5 for anything particularly strong, 10 for anything Warp-Tainted, and 25 for Power Fields/weird and wonderful archaeotech.

As Rogue Traders are masters of communication, their Tools of the Trade may involve their voice/speech. Thus, when a Rogue Trader tries to communicate with someone in a language they don't speak (or understand a little of), they can still use their Rogue Trader Cliche, but at half-dice. Learn new languages to compensate! Remember, Kroot requires a beak to speak properly, and Eldar could take you decades to learn to a level where Eldar won't talk to you like you're a retard.

1 comment:

  1. Very nice idea. I'm interested in hearing how all this works out.