Welcome to the first in an occasional series called It Builds Character in which I use the character generation rules of various tabletop role-playing games to create a character and attempt to flesh them out into something distinctive.
It Builds Character #1: Rogue Trader
For this opening entry in the series, I’ll be using the rules of Fantasy Flight Games’ Rogue Trader RPG, which is set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. That universe is essentially Tolkienesque fantasy grafted into a far future space setting and with all the grim darkness turned up to ridiculous levels. There are no good factions but the human viewpoint race, the Imperium is essentially a hybrid of the medieval catholic church and a Naziesque regime writ large across the galaxy. In Rogue Trader the characters are generally the crew of a merchant starship that operates semi-autonomously and mostly within the auspices of the Imperium’s territory. Think a cross between pirates and the Firefly crew.
I don’t really have a fully formed character concept in mind right now, so I’m just going to go through each of the stages of character creation outlined in the rule book and see what emerges.
STAGE I: Generate Characteristics
I’m doing this in strict order like the rule book says, so it’s rolling 2d10 + 25 for each one. Let’s go:
Weapon Skill: 35, Ballistic Skill: 38, Strength: 39, Toughness: 37 Agility: 33, Intelligence: 31, Perception: 33, Willpower: 31, Fellowship:32
The rules say I’m allowed to re-roll 1 characteristic, so I’m opting to re-roll the Intelligence score of 31, I get a revised Intelligence of 36 (if the re-roll was lower, I’d be stuck with it)
Going by the characteristics, my Explorer (the games term for Player Characterss) is strong, and a pretty good shot. However, he’s not got a whole lot of Willpower, so I’m going to interpret that as being easily swayed or tempted. Possibly a little over eager to prove his dead eye shot nature or something along those lines. It’s still a skeleton of a character. Let’s begin fleshing it out.
STAGE II: Origin Path
This stage is a little weird to me. It’s basically a flowchart. There are 6 rows on the flowchart and you start at either the top or bottom row. I’ve opted to start at the top row (Home World) and work my way down. I can choose any of the 6 options here. In the end I opt for Forge World (which, as its name kind of implies is a world dedicated to the production of war materiel, for example a tank manufacturer), as that choice appeals to me more.
This allows me some bonuses and penalties.
First -5Weapon Skill and +5 Intelligence. Leaving me with WS 30 and Int 41. So my Explorer is now a very smart guy, but a bit crap in a melee situation.
I get the following skills:
Common Lore (Tech)
Common Lore (Machine Cult) which are Int based untrained Basic skills
I also gain the Technical Knock talent.
I’m allowed to boost any characteristic by 3. I decide to boost my Ballistic Skill up to 41, so I’m an even better shot.
As a citizen of a Forge World I’m more familiar with the credo of the Machine God than the Imperial Cult, so I’m penalized -10 for test involving knowledge of the Imperial Creed, and -5 for any Fellowship test for formally interacting with members of the Ecclesiarchy.
For my starting wounds my T bonus is doubled and a get a 1d5+1 bonus, so that’s 11 wounds.
Rolling a d10 and consulting the book, I find I have 3 starting Fate points.
For the next row of the chart, Birthright, I’m limited to selecting the option directly below Forge World, or either option adjacent to that option.
Of the options presented, I like the sound of Stubjack, which sounds like a type of mercenary. This gives me:
Quick Draw talent
Intimidate as a trained basic skill
+5 to either WS or BS. I choose BS, boosting it up to 46
On the downside, it’s -5 Fel, bringing that down to 27
I also now have 3 Insanity points
The next row is Lure of the Void, and I’m limited as the previous row was. I opt for Duty Bound as it seems to offer more more storytelling opportunities and freedom than the others. Now, I have to choose the type of Duty. I opt for Duty to my dynasty, which gives:
Rival (Rogue Trader family) talent
-3 Toughness (To a total of 34)
+1 Profit Factor for the group
Next row is Trial and Travails which is limited as the previous rows. I opt for Calamity as my choice. This gives me:
Light Sleeper talent
Either Hardy or Nerves of Steel talent (I choose Hardy)
-1 Profit Factor for the group
Next row is Motivation, limited as before.
As my fledgling character concept seems to want to be known as the greatest shot in the galaxy, I opt for Renown
This gives me the choice of a Peer talent or Air of Authority. I opt for the former.
The final row is career path. I opt for Explorator as that seems the most likely for a a lad from the Forge Worlds to enter into.
STAGE III: Spend Experience Points.
So far, just generating the character has spent 4500 Experience Points (XP). This means that I have 500Xp to spend on skills, talents and characteristics. The available options are determined by the career path selected above. so let’s see what skills are advances are available to an Explorator
First of all, I get the following package:
Common Lore (Machine Cult)
Common Lore (Tech) which I already had, so they’re boosted a level.
Forbidden Lore (Archeotech)
Forbidden Lore (Adeptus Mechanicus)
Speak Language (Explorator Binary)
Speak Language (Low Gothic)
Speak Language (Techna-lingua)
All of which revolve around intelligence.
I also get to start with a Mechanicus implant. (Basically a cybernetic augmentation) I opt for a Respirator.
Basic Weapon Training (Universal) Talent
Melee Weapon Training (Universal) Talent
Logis Implant Talent
Also have some equipment:
best-Craftsmanship lasgun, good-Craftsmanship power axe, Enforcer light carapace, multikey, void suit, injector, sacred unguents, micro-bead, combi-tool, dataslate, Servo-Skull familiar
As an Explorator, I have the option of starting with up to two bionic implants. I decide to only take one, a Memorance Implant, but I do spend 200 of my 500xp upgrading it to good-Craftsmanship. This leaves me with 300Xp to spend on advances. I use them to purchase
Drive (Ground Vehicle) and
Secret Tongue (Rogue Trader) skills.
STAGE IV: Giving Characters life.
This is mostly the non-mechanical aspects of fleshing out the character, and as such are much more subjective then the earlier stages. This is usually done more free-form and spit-balling with a GM, but here I’m just going to answer the questions posed and roll on tables presented. So it’s a mechanistic approach to a non-mechanistic section.
Name: I decide to use the naming tables, and opt for a Low Gothic first name paired with an archaic last name.
This leaves me with the moniker of: Harmon Siegmund which fits appropriately into the Warhammer 40,000 milieu enough for me.
I tend to develop this during play, but for the purposes of this character, I’m going to go through and answer the questions presented.
What is your demeanor? Some of this I’d already decided upon. Harmon is going to be rather boastful, and prideful. So he has a big ego. However, that’s a front as he’s really rather shy, and is very quick to go along with other people’s suggestions.
Why are you a leader aboard a Rogue Trader vessel? this one is tricky. I decide that Harmon came with the ship, as it were as his ties to the Adeptus Mechanicus strike the Lord-Captain as very useful aboard such a complex machine with such intractable spirit. He’s also on board to explore…
Why does the Koronus Expanse call to you? Simple. Harmon seeks knowledge and lore that would be useful to the cult of the Omnissiah (The Machine God, an entity who is worshiped and sacrificed to so that all the equipment actually works). His personal quest is for unusual and exotic weaponry, particularly ballistic weaponry.
What will you sacrifice? Every scrap of my humanity to become the cold perfection of the machine. I’m willing to traffic with Xenos (aliens) and psykers (people with psychic powers, who are generally shunned in universe) in my quest for knowledge. However, I will not deal with those in the thrall of the ruinous powers (The dark gods of Chaos, personifications of humanity’s baser impulses, heavily influenced by the writings of Michael Moorcock). If Harmon suspects a hint of heresy of that nature, he will cease negotiations and begin targeting.
What is your ambition? It’s been covered above, but to be a legendary weapon wielder whose very name is spoken of throughout the Imperium in hushed tones of awe.
What are your hatreds? I distrust those who don’t hold the Omnissiah in the highest of regards. This has come to manifest itself as a hatred of Ecclesiarchs and other visible exponents of the Cult of the Emperor. As alluded to above, I also have a vast hatred for those who have traded knowledge of technology and ancient lore for knowledge and whispered promises from other, darker powers.
STAGE V: Ship Points and Profit Factor
Rolling on the table, the group (in this case just Harmon as there is no group) have a beginning Profit Factor of 60 and 30 Ship Points. Any Ship Points that aren’t spent on the initial ship are added to the Profit Factor, so let’s begin by constructing a ship and seeing what’s left, shall we?
Selecting a Transport hull, specifically a Vagabond-class merchant trader costs 20 ship points, leaving 10 for other components. Next it’s rolling for complications. It turns out this particular ship has an Ancient & Wise machine spirit. (-4 Hull integrity +10 to Maneuver Actions) and is a Wolf in Sheep’s clothing (-2 power, 3 components that either don’t register on scans or show as a different type)
For a plasma drive, I opt for the slightly bulkier and more powerful Lathe-pattern Class 1 drive, which costs me another Ship Point.
Warp Engines are the standard Strelov I, coupled with the normal Geller field.
Also opt for a single Void Shield array, and a Commerce bridge
Go for the Vitae pattern life sustainers, to avoid the worst smells on board. (Not an issue for Harmon and his respirator, but others in the group might be appreciative)
Voidsman Quarters are less cramped, so I pick those, and go with the Standard Mark-100 Auger Array for sensors.
That’s the required ship components built at a cost of 21 ship points. Leaving me 9 ship points, 11 space and 11 power for supplemental components (aside from a main cargo hold which was already included with the base hull.)
This ship needs some weaponry, so another ship point is spent to install some dorsal-mounted Mars pattern Macrocannons. Another 2 ship points are spent on reinforced interior bulkheads, increasing hull integrity by 3.
Also aboard are Librarium Vaults and Extended Supply Vaults at a cost of 3 more ship points.
The ship will be named later, perhaps.
That leaves 3 Ship points to increase the starting Profit Factor all the way up to 63.
STAGE VI: Select Equipment
As most of my equipment was included in the career path earlier, this is a short step. I’m allowed to roll acquire a single item of equipment without testing, assuming that it’s Acquisition Modifier is 0 or better. I decide that Harmon wants a side arm, which as a single man scale item is a +30, I want it to be of good craftmanship (-10) which means that I can choose one item that’s availability is no worse than Very Rare. Looking at the Armory, and deciding that it needs to be some form of projectile weapon as a variety for his energy-based lasgun.
After some contemplation, Harmon Siegmund adds a Ceres pattern Bolt Pistol to his inventory.
All done. So we have a rough outline of a character, I may try and adapt Harmon into a short story of his own in the future, one that’s not necessarily tied to the universe of Rogue Trader as he seems flexible enough to work in a few different science fantasy settings.
What do you think, loyal blog followers? Is this a series worth continuing? If so, are there any particular games and editions you’d like me to use to create characters?
Please leave some comments and let me know!