Origin Home Worlds
“Death worlds are teeming with threats to survival, meaning that those who thrive on such planets are unlike anyone else. Peril and violence have always been a part of your life, and you are stronger because of it. You are aggressive and inured to hardship, proficient at staying alive where others cannot, and aloof from your fellow man.”
Upon death worlds, the plants, beasts, and sometimes even the environment itself takes aggressive and destructive forms inimical to human life. Whilst exceptionally difficult to colonise, many death worlds possess valuable resources that require an outpost or other human presence upon the planet’s surface to harvest. Death worlders often band together in tribes, clans, gangs, or other social groups in order to survive. An upbringing in such a harsh environment breeds very hardy and resilient examples of the human race—those tested and found wanting die young.
Life on a Death World
Death worlds, whilst not common within the Imperium, can be found in every segmentum. From the depths of the jungle hell of Catachan to the predator-filled deserts of Luther Mcintyre, death worlds have a well-earned reputation as some of the most dangerous planets in the galaxy. The inhabitants of these worlds are determined, tenacious people, highly valued for their strength and stamina, and are often drawn upon as recruits for both the Imperial Guard and some Space Marine Chapters. For most death worlds, their inhabitants are their only exports.
Death worlds vary widely in appearance and environment; some are rich and verdant, stalked by ambulatory, carnivorous plants, whilst others are empty deserts scoured by ionic storms. Each death world presents a thousand new and different ways to die, such as the scythewinds of Mortressa or the corrosive, alkaline storm-mires of Burnscour.
Those unlucky enough to be raised on a death world are generally pragmatic and fatalistic. Death is a constant companion, and only by accepting that can a death worlder hope to reach maturity with his sanity intact. Usually, the greatest achievement a death worlder can strive for is to achieve some truly impressive feat before his death, so he will be remembered by his descendants. If a death worlder actually makes it off-world, he is likely to view distant worlds with jaded eyes. After all, he has already seen the worst the galaxy has to offer, for surely nothing can exceed the horrors of his birth world.
Death World Characters
Death world characters are those who have travelled offworld and have left behind the danger and ferocity of their home. They are rugged, uncomplicated individuals for the most part, often drawn to the bold lifestyle of the Archmilitant or the Void-master. Unfortunately, death worlders are uncomfortable in the complex social situations common to civilised worlds and rarely find themselves able to relax amongst the decadence and intrigues of noble society. Death worlders are renowned for their resilience and exemplify the concept of survival of the fittest.
Characteristic Modifiers: + 5 Strength, + 5 Toughness,– 5 Willpower, – 5 Fellowship
Starting Skills: All death worlders are adept at resisting the dangers of a hostile environment. Death worlders gain the Survival Skill.
Hardened: Death worlders are accustomed to violence. In addition, many death worlds contain many venomous predators. Death worlders may choose to start one of the
following talents: Jaded or Resistance (Poisons).
If It Bleeds, I Can Kill It: Most death worlds possess plants and beasts utterly hostile to human life, and inhabitants must find any means necessary to combat them if they are to survive. Death worlders are adept at using weapons commonly found in or fashioned from their environment. Death worlders gain the Melee Weapon Training (Primitive) Talent.
Paranoid: The inherently dangerous conditions of a death world encourage distrust and doubt. Death worlders tend to be slow to put their faith in anyone other than themselves and chafe against the petty strictures of a more complex society. They suffer a – 10 penalty to all Interaction Skill Tests made in formal surroundings.
Survivor: Simply reaching adulthood is an achievement for death worlders. Having overcome myriad dangers to achieve this goal means that a hardened death worlder is less
likely to succumb in the face of new threats. Death worlders gain a + 10 bonus to any test to resist Pinning and Shock.
Starting Wounds: Death world characters double their starting Toughness Bonus and add 1d5+2 to the result to determine their starting number of Wounds.
Starting Fate Points: Roll 1d10 to determine a death world character’s starting Fate Points. On a 1–5, he begins with 2 Fate Points; on a 6–10, he begins with 3 Fate Points.
“Frontier worlds are lawless planets that sit on the edge of the Imperium. Savage and brutal, your world has always been home to a small number of settlers that are descended from the original colonists. You are tenacious and hardy, and have learned that the only justice in the galaxy is that which you hand out yourself.”
There are numerous frontier worlds scattered across the borders of the Imperium, particularly within the Calixis Sector and Koronus Expanse. A frontier world is more than simply a world or system that sits upon the edge of the map; it is far away from centres of power, the protection of the military, and the influence of the Ecclesiarchy. Many of these worlds consist of a small number of population centres, and often times their environment is every bit as deadly as any death world. Some planets are barely habitable; others are hardly explored. These are rough-and-tumble places with few luxuries and fewer defences. Because of this, many are left open to the predations of xenos invaders and pirates. Frontier worlds are also havens for those who are seeking to escape Imperial justice.
Due to their unique position on the frontier, it’s not unusual for the populace to have extensive dealings with xenos and abhuman species. In fact, some settlements can only get by because of the trade they conduct with outsiders.
LIFE ON A FRONTIER WORLD
Frontier worlds, such as Faldon Kise or Solace Encarmine, can often barely be classified as “civilised.” The populace is rough and determined in equal measure, and many settlements on these worlds are ramshackle, resembling primitive, run-down, dry, dusty spots where life is harsh and unforgiving and justice comes from the barrel of a gun (or at the end of a rope). Here, the population must learn to survive on its own. There are no Adeptus Arbites Precinct-fortresses to maintain law, no PDF to protect the citizens from invasion, and no Fleet waiting in orbit to take them to safety. The people are tough and hard-working, used to living without the amenities that are taken for granted on other worlds. They are also insular and prefer to handle matters on their own, with little time for outsider interference.
The environments of these worlds can vary greatly—from near Death worlds to virtual paradises—but most tend to fall somewhere in between. The settlements on these worlds also vary, but are usually small and fairly primitive. Those who travel to such places must be prepared to face any environment, from toxic slime jungles to bone-scouring winds.
Though poorly educated, those who are raised upon a frontier world have learned that survival is paramount. As a result they are surly, coarse, rough, and durable folk who often refuse to back down from a confrontation—even when faced with overwhelming odds (and especially if they feel they are right). They have little patience for small talk and even less for those who are dishonest and disreputable. They make excellent scouts and foragers. It’s also not unheard of for these people to conduct trade and associate with xenos races—even mutants—as most settlements lack an Imperial Cult representative to cow them into believing that these creatures are evil and should be shunned or destroyed.
Frontier World Characters
The world you come from is every bit as varied as the people on it. You are as rugged and tough as grox-hide leather, with excellent survival instincts that have been honed through years of harsh, bare-bones existence. The town you grew up in was a rough-and-tumble place where only the toughest and canniest survived. At times, rivals would try to cause trouble, but you, your neighbours, and your family would band together and fight them off. On occasion a traveller from beyond the stars would arrive and bring all manner of strange and exotic wonders for you to see. Sometimes these travellers would be human, other times not. Whatever they were, once you met them and smelled the odour of a thousand different worlds, you knew you were meant to travel amongst the stars.
You have a distrustful and gruff exterior—at least to those you don’t know. Most people aren’t worth your time, but those who are gain your respect and gratitude for life. The prejudice of humans from other worlds confuses you; you’ve had dealings with xenos and mutants before and suffered no ill effects. You are also known for your toughness and tenacity and you always try your utmost to finish what you start. When you give your word, it’s as iron-clad as any written contract and you will go to any lengths to honour it.
On the Origin Path chart, Frontier World may be taken instead of Death World.
Characteristic Modifiers: + 5 Strength; – 5 Intelligence
Starting Skills: Frontier world characters begin with Survival (Int) and Wrangling (Int) as trained Skills.
Tough as Grox-Hide: Due to their hardy physiques and general surliness, Frontier worlders begin with one additional wound (already included in their Starting Wounds).
Leery of Outsiders: Frontier world characters are suspicious by nature. Because of this outlook, frontier world characters suffer a – 10 penalty on all Fellowship Tests when dealing with someone they have not previously met (exactly when to apply this check is up to the GM).
Tenacious Survivalist: Life on the frontier can be filled with all manner of horrors. Frontier world characters learn at an early age to be wary of their surroundings, and react quickly in the face of danger. Frontier world characters may re-roll any Initiative Roll they make, though they must accept the results of the second roll.
Xenos Interaction: It’s a common occurrence for humans on frontier worlds to interact and trade with xenos. Because of this interaction, Frontier World characters are immune to Fear when caused by a xenos with a Fear (2) or Fear (1). If the Fear Test difficulty is 3 or higher, however, it affects the character as normal. Of course, this outlook often puts them at odds with members of the Ecclesiarchy and as such they suffer a – 5 penalty to all Interaction Tests when dealing with
members of the Imperial Cult.
Starting Wounds: Frontier world characters double their starting Toughness Bonus and add 1d5+2 to the result to determine their starting number of Wounds.
Starting Fate Points: Roll 1d10 to determine a frontier world character’s starting Fate Points. On a 1 – 5 he begins with 2 Fate Points; on a 6 – 10, he begins with 3 Fate Points.
“You were not born on one of the Emperor’s worlds, but instead on a vast ship in the depths of space—perhaps even in the warp itself. Why this sets you apart from your fellow man is unknown, but the way you look, act, and think is somehow different. You have been raised in the company of voidfarers and psykers, and what other men fear or loathe is commonplace to you.”
Not merely star travellers but the products of many generations passed in the darkness between worlds, the void born are relatively few among the teeming multitudes of humanity, but singular, and form a disparate and odd collection of misfits, strangers, and other ill-omened folk, perhaps birthed in the belly of a vessel that has spent centuries charting its course through the stars or aboard an ancient orbital satellite. The void born are often considered to be somehow touched by the taint of the warp, or at least associated with the many and unfathomable dangers of the outer darkness by the common well of the Imperium. Most consider them bringers of bad fortune and ill-tidings, secretive, and untrustworthy.
Life as a Void Born
The vast Imperial fleet is a vital factor in the maintenance of the Imperium; without it, human worlds would be isolated from each other and left unprotected. Without it, trade could not exist, weapons could not reach the Emperor’s armies, and world after world would fall into the darkness.
Space travel throughout the Imperium is dangerous and arduous. Most interstellar travel is undertaken using powerful, ancient engines that push a vessel into the immaterium, also known as the empyrean or warp. Within the warp, a ship can cover many thousands of light years within a relatively short time, dropping back into the materium far beyond the ship’s starting point. Some parts of the warp, however, act as powerful vortices that drag helpless vessels to their doom. There is also a constant danger of turbulence, warp storms, and loops: ships can be thrown thousands of light years off course or trapped in stasis forever. In the warp there is neither time nor distance— only the constantly flowing streams of the immaterium. On board a ship in the warp, a single month of time may pass, yet in the material realm anything from six months to several years may elapse. Fleets responding to distress calls and supply vessels on long voyages have been known to arrive months or even years too late.
Those who live their lives on void-ships become inured to some extent to the reality-altering process of warp travel, and to living in low- or zero-gravity environments and never knowing the feel of solid ground beneath their feet. Some vessels never make berth, their crews instead raising generations of families in the cold depths of space where gravitational variance, radiation exposure, genetic distortion, and warp anomalies slowly take their toll. What true effect these taints have on individual void born humans is both uncertain and varied, but there is quite evidently something strange about most of them. In many cases, their features are drawn and their skin pallid, and they may may have minor deformities, or an oddness of speech, gait, or general appearance that sets them apart from others. Some, although outwardly normal, carry a strange air about them, a perceptible something “not quite right” about them that makes others uneasy.
Some void born are raised on huge space stations—asteroid mining installations, Battlefleet Calixis refit stations, or Machine Cult research platforms—but the majority come from a variety of backgrounds aboard an active star vessel, be they the issue of the crew of merchant vessels or warships, miners, scavengers, prison guards (or prisoners), and even the servants of a Rogue Trader. The largest Imperial void-ships are vast, city-sized craft, many of which are thousands of years old. On such huge star vessels, lobotomised servitors and tech-adepts move about their mysterious business, whilst menial crew, passengers, and merchant guilders coexist in crowded vaults, lonely corridors, and cramped quarters. At the right hand of the ship’s Lordcaptain sits the Navigator, one of a strange and select breed of psykers who expertly guide vessels through the immaterium following the psychic beacon of the Astronomican.
Those void born raised in the service of the Imperial Navy or amongst the crew of a Rogue Trader know firsthand the horrors of space and the sheer multitude of the Emperor’s enemies. This knowledge often forces voidfarers of the lowdecks into insular crew brotherhoods, afraid to look outward from their duties or small societies for fear of what might be lurking in the void beyond the hull.
Void Born Characters
You have called the interior of a huge Imperial vessel or voidstation your home all your life, but now you have been thrust into the company of others—people completely unlike your peers amongst the void born—and the culture shock gnaws at you. You feel awkward in the company of those born upon worlds, an outsider, distrusted and strange, in their eyes. You come into your own when your expertise is required, however, and what to others may be stark terrors are old familiar enemies to you. Unlike the world born, you are not blinded by ignorance when confronted by psychic phenomena, warp anomalies, and the strange technology of void-ships, and as such, your kind make the best Void-masters and Astropaths. As long as common dirt-dwellers stand in awe or fear of you, they will cease trying to make you fit into their strange cultures and will leave you to your own ways and your own secrets.
Characteristic Modifiers: – 5 Strength, + 5 Willpower
Starting Skills: All void born can speak a language unique to their home vessel. Void born gain the Speak Language (Ship Dialect) Skill.
Charmed: The void born are touched by the fickle powers of the warp, making them preternaturally lucky. Whenever a void born character spends a Fate Point (though not if he burns
one), roll a 1d10. On the roll of a natural 9, the Fate Point is not lost.
Ill-omened: Whether because of their strange looks, clannish ways, or unwholesome air, the void born are shunned and mistrusted by most. In addition, the void born are most likely to attract any negative attention that the party of Explorers creates—accusations of deceit in trade, disgruntled negotiators, mobs armed with stones, and so on. Because of this, void born characters suffer a –5 penalty on all Fellowship Tests made to interact with non-void born humans.
Shipwise: Birthed in the depths of a voidfaring craft, the void born have a natural affinity for such vehicles. As a result, Navigation (Stellar) (Int) and Pilot (Spacecraft) (Ag) are untrained Basic Skills (instead of Advanced Skills) for void born characters.
Void Accustomed: Due to their strange and unnatural childhood, the void born are used to the vagaries of changing gravity. They are immune to space travel sickness. In addition, zero- or low-gravity environments are not considered Difficult Terrain for void born characters.
Starting Wounds: Void born characters double their starting Toughness Bonus and add 1d5 to the result to determine their starting number of Wounds.
Starting Fate Points: Roll 1d10 to determine a void born character’s starting Fate Points. On a 1–5, he begins with 3 Fate Points; on a 6–10, he begins with 4 Fate Points.
“The term ‘Footfallen’ refers to those who are from the settlements of the Koronus Expanse especially places like Footfall. The people who live on these worlds and settlements truck with all manner of blasphemers, from renegade psykers and xenos, to heretics and cultists. You live in a den of iniquity, and you have learned to be cunning, and devious, organising deals and a web of contacts across the Expanse.”
While the Imperium of Man may claim imminent domain over the entire galaxy, the truth is that there are numerous gaps on the map where the light of the Golden Throne does not shine. It is within these places that corruption, greed, lawlessness, and villainy often take root. Perfect examples are the Koronus Expanse, a region of unexplored space within the Halo Stars, and the settlement of Footfall that serves as a gateway to the greater Expanse beyond.
In the Koronus Expanse, the few waystations and habitations established by humans have become hubs for exploration. They also serve as critical connections that link the scattered human settlements and enterprises in the greater Koronus Expanse beyond. There are many such outposts, but the most famous is the void-station of Footfall, which has in turn given those who live in such places their name—the Footfallen.
Footfallen are the proverbial trail-blazers of this region and no one knows it better than they. They tend to be devious, cunning, and suspicious; they have learned to protect what advantages they have that can speed them along the road to riches and glory, and they have a different moral outlook than their contemporaries across the border. Footfallen also associate with what Imperial citizens would consider to be blasphemers—recidivists, xenos, mutants, and worse. Despite these generalities, however, if it’s one thing the Footfallen know, it’s the Koronus Expanse!
LIFE AS A FOOTFALLEN
The Footfallen are often referred to as “the true children of the Expanse.” These men and women, descended from the settlers and Rogue Trader vassals who came to this region long ago, have spent the majority of their lives interacting with all manner of denizens within the Koronus Expanse. Whatever their birthplace, they all tend to have similar outlooks and mannerisms, and are used to dealing with all manner of inidivduals: religious fanatics, cultists, recidivists, spies, assassins, narco-tribesmen, nomads, fugitives from Imperial justice, merchants, xenos, renegade psykers, Rogue Traders and their crew, and even worshipers of the Ruinous Powers. These worlds are giant melting pots of cultures and beliefs, and only through them can one get useful information on the Koronus Expanse.
Recently, there is something else that sets the Footfallen apart, even from other denizens of the Expanse who have grown up in the same circumstances. Over the last few decades, a disturbing trend has emerged amongst some of those born in the Expanse. A number of them have been known to exhibit a strange “sixth-sense” which, while not a true psychic ability, quite possibly stems from the warp.
You have spent your entire life living within the walls and habitats that make up the settlement of Footfall, or another human settlement within the Koronus Expanse. Wherever you have grown up, you have learned that it’s not necessarily survival of the fittest, but survival of the smartest. You are cunning, devious, and perhaps a little deceitful. You have learned to embrace these traits, however, because this is how you survived—relying on your wits and charm rather than the hollow protection of a gun.
You have spent your entire life socialising with both the bottom rungs and upper tiers of society, building a web of contacts that may extend across the entire Expanse. You consider yourself to be a peerless dealer in secrets and information, and perhaps that is how you made it out of the cesspit that was your home. You may be serving—or commanding—a Rogue Trader’s ship because of your peerless knowledge of the Expanse and the dark secrets that dwell within it. Or you may simply be along for the ride, acting as a guide to the unexplored corners of the far void.
On the Origin Path chart, Footfallen may be taken instead of Void Born.
Characteristic Modifiers: – 5 Ballistic Skill; – 5 Toughness; + 5 Agility; + 5 Fellowship
Starting Skills: Footfallen characters begin with Common Lore (Koronus Expanse) (Int) as a trained Skill.
Street Knowledge: As a result of their living on the ‘streets,’ the Footfallen suffer a — 5 penalty on all Scholastic Lore Tests except those that involve information on the Koronus Expanse (whether or not a given Scholastic Lore Test involves the Koronus expanse is up to the GM).
Web of Contacts: As they learn to survive, Footfallen generate a web of contacts that can extend throughout the Koronus Expanse. All Footfallen characters gain a Peer Talent chosen from the following list (choose one): Astropaths, the Insane, Underworld, Void Born, Workers.
Port of Call: Because many of the settlements Footfallen call home have numerous factions, and even species, they tend to pick up the different types of postures and body languages of thousands of travellers that cross their paths. As such, all Footfallen characters begin with the Polyglot Talent.
Sixth Sense: Though they cannot explain it, the true Footfallen have a strange attunement to the Expanse that borders on the supernatural. All Footfallen characters gain Psyniscience as a Trained Skill, although they do not count as psykers. However, they are of an interest to the Inquisition, and begin the game with the Rival (Inquisition) Talent.
Starting Wounds: Footfallen characters double their starting Toughness Bonus and add 1d5 to the result to determine their starting Wounds.
Starting Fate Points: Roll 1d10 to determine a Footfallen character’s starting Fate Points. On a roll of 1–4, he begins with 2 Fate Points; on a roll of 5–7, he begins with 3 Fate Points; on a roll of 8–10, he begins with 4 Fate Points.
“You were born in the shadow of the Omnissiah and all your life you have been surrounded by the great wonders and dire terrors of the Machine God’s arts. Ever since you were born, you have been
weighed, measured, codified, and tested so that your masters might find your place in the great pattern. This unforgiving process has fitted you well for survival and supremacy.”
The domains of the Adeptus Mechanicus are many, from the ceaseless industry of the iron realms of the forge worlds, to labyrinthine orbitals and distant research outposts, to the nomadic and self-contained void caravans of the explorator fleets. They are an empire within an empire, distinct and yet interwoven with the fabric of the Imperium since its founding. Their masters are as ancient, wise, mysterious, and cold as the machineries they tend. Beyond the forge worlds, this Home World option also includes those born and raised on city-sized orbital stations, Mechanicus-administered colonies (often called demesnes), research outposts, and restless explorator fleets, for the rites, rituals, and beliefs of the Omnissiah also govern those places.
Life on a Forge World
Forge worlds, such as the Lathe worlds of the Calixis Sector, are the beating iron heart of the Imperium and sovereign domains of the Priesthood of Mars. They are given over to the demands of vast macro-industries too vital or rare to be entrusted to the petty domains of the Imperial Governors of hive worlds, and are eternally hungry for new resources to consume. A forge world’s wheels never cease to turn: the reactors blaze and foundries thunder unendingly for millennia, turning out refined materials and technologies to meet the Imperium’s needs. Forge worlds are far more than the sum of their continent-spanning manufactories, however. Each is blessed with a higher level of technological advancement than the wider Imperium as a whole, and many arcane wonders are commonplace in their baroque labyrinths of ferrocrete and steel. Forge worlds also house vast repositories of data and obscure lore, with as much as a third of any given forge world’s entire infrastructure consisting of endless scriptoriums, mimetic vaults, info-tombs, and libraria, tended in perpetuity by mindless drones and generations of archive adepts.
A forge world’s undisputed masters are the Magi of the Cult Mechanicus, who rule with harsh precision and cold logic. To them, the human menials of their domains are little more than cogs and gears in the great machine, resources to be measured, graded, and used to fit their worth. At their direction, the bulk of a forge world’s population is utilised as a skilled and trained labour force, whilst the brightest and best are inducted to the Adeptus Mechanicus itself. The more militant are chosen for the Skitarii Tech-guard. Those deemed unworthy or irredeemable are fated to be “recycled” into servitor components, and indeed, servitors and drones often far outnumber a forge world’s free-willed population. Such is the price of failure.
Despite their mechanistic society and ceaseless industry, the life for the average forge world menial is little harsher than on most hive worlds. Each forge world, regardless of its rigidly enforced order and the cold reason of its masters, is still home to very human ambition and apathy, still home to vice and virtue. The Mechanicus themselves, with their cogitator-enhanced minds and iron logic, are still prone to factionalism and schism, often for reasons quite incomprehensible to outsiders. Rivalries and feuds simmer between sects and individual magos, each with his own plots and desires.
Forge World Characters
Forge worlds are not environments that reward, let alone tolerate, weakness in body or in mind. To have survived and prospered enough to leave a forge world’s rigid society, a character must possess drive, ambition, and good fortune, or at the very least be bloody-minded and ruthless enough to have endured. You find yourself in a wider Imperial society that is at once familiar and strangely alien, where fools either fear or profane sacred technology and have no understanding of its spiritual mysteries and purity of essence. Nor do they seem to grasp that men can only prosper by the teachings of the Omnissiah, that survival requires power, and power is knowledge incarnate.
Characteristic Modifiers: – 5 Weapon Skill, + 5 Intelligence
Starting Skills: Common Lore (Tech) (Int) and Common Lore (Machine Cult) (Int) are untrained Basic Skills for forge world characters.
Credo Omnissiah: Rather than being fully indoctrinated into the Imperial Cult, even the lowliest member of a forge world’s society is brought up to properly venerate the spirits of the machine and taught the basic rites of tech-propitiation. All forge world characters begin with the Technical Knock Talent.
Fit For Purpose: A forge world inhabitant is tested, indoctrinated, and trained from birth for his chosen station and role in life. Weakness is not tolerated, and failure brings painful incentives to do better. Even those who follow an errant path must strive to be better than their peers to survive. Because of this, a starting forge world character may increase a Characteristic of his choice by + 3.
Stranger to the Cult: Although forge world born citizens know that the Emperor is their god and saviour, they see the Imperial Creed through the lens of Cult Mechanicus doctrine. As a result, they can be surprisingly—and sometimes dangerously—ignorant of the common teachings and practices of the Ecclesiarchy, often failing to offer its clerics the level of deference they expect. Forge world characters suffer a – 10 penalty on Tests involving knowledge of the Imperial Creed and a – 5 penalty on Fellowship Tests to interact with members of the Ecclesiarchy in formal settings.
Starting Wounds: Forge world characters double their starting Toughness Bonus and add 1d5+1 to the result to determine their starting number of Wounds.
Starting Fate Points: Roll 1d10 to determine a forge world character’s starting Fate Points. On a 1–5, he begins with 2 Fate Points; on a 6–9, he begins with 3 Fate Points; on a 10, he begins with 4 Fate Points.
“With the Imperium in a constant state of war, some worlds are designated as Fortress worlds to act as bastions against the enemies of the God- Emperor. You are part of that defence, keeping the evil outside the gates from breaking through. This has made you part of the glory of the Imperium’s mighty forces of war.”
There are few sectors within the Imperium of Man free from constant war. To contain the greatest threats, whole worlds have been established to act as bastions. Called fortress worlds, the entire populace is immersed in warfare; they constantly train for the day they may be called upon to defend the Imperium, and they take their duty very seriously. Fortress worlds are established as bulwarks against the enemy. Every citizen is a solider, trained to fight from the moment they can handle a weapon. Perhaps the best-known fortress world is the planet of Cadia—a world standing at the end of the Cadian Gate against the forces of the Eye of Terror. The Imperial Guard’s best and most celebrated regiments often come from fortress worlds.
LIFE ON A FORTRESS WORLD
Fortress worlds are uncommon, but necessary, planets. They are established to act as military strongholds, staging points, and physical deterrents. Worlds like these are as much “roadblock” as they are bastion; they are often established on habitable planets and built up for warfare. Linked together, they are able to form blockades used to interdict the enemy and prevent them from spreading out into the Imperium.
Life on a fortress world is steeped in military discipline and doctrine. From the moment the citizens wake until they go to sleep they train and operate as a military unit. All citizens of fortress worlds prepare for the day they are called upon to push back the darkness that sits beyond their crenelated walls. Cities are giant fortresses studded with artillery weapons, and industry is focused almost exclusively on manufacturing machines of war. Those old enough to enlist in the Imperial Guard or Planetary Defence Forces are often required to do so, and even those too young or infirm find ways to serve. It’s not uncommon to have whole generations of a family in service to the Imperium at one time, and many such Imperial Guard regiments boast a rich and proud history.
Fortress World Characters
From the moment you could walk and hold a weapon, every waking moment of your life has been spent training to fight and kill the enemies of the God-Emperor. You know the basics of combat and military tactics. You are disciplined, honourable, loyal, and have the highest regard for integrity. However, the military doctrine that has surrounded you your whole life has also made you inflexible and dogmatic. You grew up in a fortress-city; your neighbours all served to keep the mighty bulwark of your world standing against the enemy. As a member of a Rogue Trader’s crew, you may serve as the ship’s Master-at-Arms, or you may command a ship’s mighty armaments and military compliments as a Rogue Trader. In any case you know your knowledge and skills in warfare are put to good use.
On the Origin Path chart, Fortress World may be taken instead of Forge World.
Characteristic Modifiers: + 5 Ballistic Skill; + 5 Willpower; – 5 Intelligence; – 5 Fellowship
Starting Skills: Fortress world characters begin with the Secret Tongue (Military) (Int) and Common Lore (War) as trained Skills.
Hated Enemy: Growing up in the shadow of the enemy affects those who live on a fortress world. They are taught to hate and kill their enemy on sight without hesitation. Fortress world characters begin with the Hatred Talent (the group chosen is the enemy that the fortress world has been established against).
Constant Combat Training: All fortress world characters begin with Basic Weapon Training (Las or SP). However, they suffer a – 5 penalty on Social Interaction Tests regarding non-combat topics (GM’s discretion).
Steel Nerve: Every day denizens of fortress worlds train with live ammunition and explosives, and are comfortable around weapon’s fire. Fortress world characters gain the Nerves of Steel Talent.
Starting Wounds: Fortress world characters double their starting Toughness Bonus and add 1d5 + 1 to the result to determine their starting wounds.
Starting Fate Points: Roll 1d10 to determine a fortress world character’s starting Fate Points. On a roll of 1–9, he begins with 3 Fate Points; on a roll of 10, he begins with 4 Fate Points.
“The great hives are not like the lesser cities of other worlds in the Imperium, and you are not like the common men and women who live there. Technology has surrounded you all your life, and you find its rarity elsewhere bemusing. You are an adventurer, an opportunist— more inquisitive than your fellows and certainly quicker on the draw!”
Hive worlds are home to countless teeming billions. The population is so dense that frequently great swathes of the surface of the world are covered with gargantuan cities stretching from horizon to horizon. Many hivers labour in thankless obscurity, manning huge manufactories that churn out endless streams of weapons, chemicals, or other vital goods. Others run with violent gangs in the dark of the underhives, living by their wits and savagery in an endless struggle for survival.
Life on a Hive World
Hive worlds are vital to the welfare of the Imperium and are the beating heart of its economy and war machine. They are industrial worlds, producing munitions for the Emperor’s armies in vast manufactories, mining valuable minerals, and refining fuel for the Imperial fleet. Innumerable regiments of the Imperial Guard are raised from their massive populations, and legions of Planetary Defence Force troops stand in readiness to protect them from the threat of invasion.
Whilst many hive cities are strange and unique, products of the vagaries of history and the nature of the planet they have been founded on, the most common type is the so-called “solar hive,” a vast, super-continental sprawls of cityscape and manufactora which grows to dominate its host world. Beyond the hive city, the worlds which host them are usually barren and hostile, much of the surface commonly becoming inhospitable, or sometimes even deadly to human life after centuries of pollution and exploitation. Hive cities themselves are astonishingly large—massive urban conglomerations set with spires of adamantine and rockcrete whose roots sink deep into the earth, and that can grow to cover continents and soar for kilometres into the sky. Each major hive houses billions of Imperial citizens and is a nation in its own right, where noble houses rule small empires, trading and sometimes fighting with the rulers of rival hives.
A shroud of pollution clings to the lower portions of many industrial hive cities, condemning a great many to shortened and slowly poisoned lives as they toil to feed the city’s gargantuan manufactories. Only the wealthy can afford to live in the upper sections of such a hive, in gleaming spires that pierce the clouds below. Within these hive spires reside the noble houses or the richest of merchant barons and guild leaders who enjoy lives of luxury and comfort undreamt of by those who maintain the systems on which their wealthy masters and their parasitic courts feed.
Below the vaunted spires, heavy gateways and security patrols regulate passage between the upper levels and the rest of the hive. Below this point lies the vast bulk of the working hive—the hive-city. It is here that the bulk of a hive’s population dwells, a concentration of humanity so great as to require constant monitoring and draconian restrictions on its freedom and movement, or risk the whole system’s collapse into catastrophe. Most mid-hivers know only their own hivecity and do not leave it during their lifetime. They never see the sky or set foot on the surface of their own planet.
The further one gets from the heavily regulated industrial and population centres of the hive, the worse conditions become. The very air itself is endlessly recycled and pumped downward, growing ever more bitter and rank the further down it filters. Here the water is distilled from the discharge of the upper hive, and food must be supplemented with factory-produced concentrate or, in rare cases where no other sustenance can be gained, spun from corpse starch. Crush zones, lethal toxic pollution, power failure, and collapsing access tunnels are common occurrences in the lowest parts of the hive-cities. These areas are the very edge of true Imperial control, places of decay, lawlessness, poverty, and superstition, but still better than the nightmare world that lurks beyond their margins, the world of the underhive.
Some underhives are creations or aftermaths of catastrophe— of reactor explosions, structural collapses, burnouts, and great fires. Normal habitation is all but impossible, but the
underhive serves as a refuge for the destitute and the outcast, and is home to all manner of scum, outlaws, mutants, the lost, and the mad. Underhives are frontiers in more ways than one, and are often seen as a necessary evil, both a place to be rid of undesirables and a barrier against an often far more dangerous darkness below. They separate the hive-city from the hive bottom—a desolate, polluted waste, long since abandoned, and partially flooded by centuries of effluence and industrial waste. In the hive bottom, the only living things are the most monstrous mutants.
Hive World Characters
Not all hivers are content to serve their world in the traditional fashion, toiling until death. Some dream of better lives, driven by a desire for wealth, freedom, power, or adventure, or just the urge to escape terrible poverty. You are one such hiver—a young adventurer, willing to chance all for a taste of wealth, prestige, and power. Hivers are resourceful and quick-witted, more likely to rely on tech-devices and fast-talking than outright confrontation.
Characteristic Modifiers: – 5 Toughness, + 5 Fellowship
Starting Skills: All hive worlders can converse in the common cant of their home, each one unique to its hive of origin. Hive worlders gain the Speak Language (Hive Dialect) (Int) as an untrained Basic Skill.
Accustomed to Crowds: Hivers grow up surrounded by crowds. They are used to weaving through even the densest mobs with ease. Crowds do not count as Difficult Terrain for hivers, and when Running or Charging through a dense crowd, hivers take no penalty to the Agility Test to keep their feet.
Caves of Steel: To a hiver, surrounded at all times by metal, machinery, and industry, the lesser arcane mysteries of technology are not so strange. Hivers treat the Tech-Use (Int) Skill as an untrained Basic Skill.
Hivebound: Hivers seldom endure the horrors of the open sky or the indignity of the great outdoors. They suffer a – 10 penalty to all Survival (Int) Tests, and whilst out of a “proper hab” (e.g., places without manufactured goods, solid ceilings, and electrical power) the hiver suffers a – 5 penalty to all Intelligence Tests.
Wary: Hivers are constantly alert for the first hint of trouble, be it a gang shoot-out, hab riot, or hivequake. All hivers gain a + 1 bonus to Initiative rolls.
Starting Wounds: *Hive world characters double their starting Toughness Bonus and add 1d5+1 to the result to determine their starting number of Wounds.
*Starting Fate Points: Roll 1d10 to determine a hive world character’s starting Fate Points. On a 1–5, he begins with 2 Fate Points; on a 6–8, he begins with 3 Fate Points; on a 9–10, he begins with 4 Fate Points.
“The Battlefleet serves as a cornerstone of the Imperium’s mighty war machine. You are descended from a long and noble line of naval families and warship clans. As a member of the Battlefleet of the Imperial Navy you have a proud lineage—you are mankind’s shield against the darkness of the void.”
The great battlefleets of the Imperial Navy are among the most ordered and disciplined organizations in the Imperium. The men and women of the Imperial Navy’s officer class stand apart, even from other Void Born. They have their own culture, and descend from a long and noble line of naval families and ship clans that can trace their lineage back millennia. It is with great distinction that these members serve the Golden Throne, persecuting renegades and pirates in the name of God-Emperor of Mankind. Many battlefleet members can trace their origins to the rulers of worlds that administer the battlefleets’ ships. Here their families collect and organise battle-won wealth, judiciously managing the spoils of war so that the great battlefleets may continue to serve the God-Emperor with distinction and honour.
LIFE IN THE BATTLEFLEET
The men and women of the Imperial Battlefleets are a proud, martially-minded people with a strong sense of honour. Crews live together on ship, eat together, and face the enemies of the Imperium together. Since they are trained from birth, they have knowledge of shipboard life that surpasses many of the most knowledgeable void-born. From the moment they are able, the people serving the Battlefleet are taught how to move about in zero gravity, deal with ship-board emergencies, and handle warp travel. As they mature, they progress on to more complicated pursuits such as learning ship-based weaponry, spatial navigation, and basic naval tactics. They learn the history of their ship and their Battlefleet, and they learn the pride that comes from being among the Emperor’s finest.
Members of the Battlefleets are a diverse and varied lot, but they have a few things in common with each other. They almost universally respect duty, loyalty, and integrity, and show great strength of character. Conversely, they despise those who show weakness, deceit, and those who are generally lazy and inconsistent. Compared to the Void Born of Chartist and trade vessels, they have a larger physical build, the result of living in more normal gravity conditions than that of their counterparts.. Members of the battlefleets are also more respected for their role as humanity’s protectors among the stars.
You were born to a life aboard ship. Nothing stirs your blood more than sailing the void or facing pirate ships with gun batteries locked. Yours is a tradition of bravery, honour, sacrifice, and adventure. The void is where you truly feel alive. You have grown up within the confines of the Battlefleet and as such you are confident, arrogant, loud, and brash—with the skills to back it up. You see yourself as born leader and commander, and a Rogue Trader’s ship offers both a desired challenge and a chance to write your legacy amongst the stars.
On the Origin Path chart, Battlefleet may be taken instead of Hive World.
Characteristic Modifiers: + 5 Willpower; + 3 Fellowship; – 5 Perception
Starting Skills: Battlefleet characters begin with Common Lore (Imperial Navy) (Int), and Speak Language (Battlefleet War Cant) (Int) as Trained Skills.
Officer on Deck: Battlefleet characters are generally officers, and as such they are used to giving orders and having those orders obeyed. All Battlefleet characters gain a + 5 bonus to all Command Tests while aboard any spacecraft.
Void-Born Ancestry: Members of the battlefleets are closely-related to the Void Born, and their service provides opportunities to hone a Void Born’s innate abilities. A Battlefleet Character may choose Navigation (Stellar) or Pilot (Space Craft) as a Trained Skill. They also gain Void Accustomed (see ROGUE TRADER, page 19).
Ship-Bound Fighter: Living and training on a spacecraft is vastly different than living and training on the ground. Because of the close-in nature of ships, Battlefleet characters are unaccustomed to fighting in open spaces or on the “dirtside” of planets. While they are on a planet they suffer a – 2 penalty to Initiative Tests and double the Ballistic Skill penalty
for firing weapons at Long Range or greater. These penalties don’t apply to the character if they are inside a tunnel or other confined space.
Starting Wounds: Battlefleet characters double their starting Toughness Bonus and add 1d5 to the result to determine their starting number of Wounds.
Starting Fate Points: Roll 1d10 to determine a battlefleet character’s starting Fate Points. On a 1–6, he begins with 3 Fate Points; on a 7–10, he begins with 4 Fate Points.
“You hail from an Imperial world, one of a million planets united by a belief in the immortal God-Emperor of Mankind. Soldier, fanatic, thief, mercenary, noble: these are some of your many possible backgrounds. Whatever your previous calling, you are now an Explorer of the void, and your adventure has only just begun."
A bewildering variety of worlds are known to the Imperium. Hailing from hyper-technological democratic societies to grimy feudal populations, the inhabitants of countless worlds offer fealty and devotion to the God-Emperor of Mankind and the Imperial Creed taught by His servants.
Life on an Imperial World
The Imperium covers such an utterly vast area of the galaxy that it is impossible to conjure an image of a “typical” Imperial world—no such thing exists. Amongst the uncounted worlds of man, there exists endless variety. Agri-worlds, for instance, are little more than vast farms, producing food for Imperial hives and legions. Mining worlds produce ore and raw minerals for use in the vast factories of the forge worlds. Cardinal worlds are ruled by the Ministorum, given over entirely to the priesthood of the Imperial Creed—the Ecclesiarchy—whilst the worlds of the Schola Progenium are places of stern discipline and instruction where the orphaned millions of the honoured dead are brought up to take their part in the machinery of the Imperium’s rule. Stranger still are the garden and pleasure worlds that serve as havens for Imperial nobles who possess wealth beyond measure. Paradise, however, comes at a price, for temptation and heresy are sometimes rife in these places. Some Imperial worlds are utterly remote, having had no contact with the rest of humanity for centuries. A broad diversity of cultures and societies is to be expected from planet to planet, sometimes even within the same solar system.
The closer a world lies to Holy Terra—the home planet of mankind, far from the Calixis Sector—the more important, advanced, and well-governed it is likely to be. Far-flung planets on the fringes, on the other hand, are more likely to be frontier worlds, left to their own devices for much of the time and under the constant threat of physical or spiritual attack. Many worlds have a technological base to match that of Holy Terra, whilst many more have devolved into feudal backwaters with little more than black powder technology. These hardscrabble worlds, as well as those at the periphery of the Imperium, make excellent recruiting grounds for the Imperial Guard, Space Marines, and a Rogue Trader’s low-deck crew, as nothing assures obedience quite so well as fear, and life on such places often winnows out the weak early on. Upon such backwater planets, the Imperial Cult casts its influence through superstition and is often seen through a lens of local legend and folklore, demanding fealty to the immortal God-Emperor who, for many citizens of the Imperium, may seem so distant as to be little more than a myth or a vital supernatural guardian holding the terrors of the night at bay.
Most major scientific advances in the Imperium come from the rediscovery of forgotten secrets from the Dark Age of Technology, and innovation is forbidden—the powerful Adeptus Mechanicus of
Mars maintain an iron-handed monopoly on all such matters of high techno-arcana. The reliance on ancient template systems, proven patterns, and a tangled web of contracts and dispensations from the Machine Cult to the planet’s rulers, not to mention the availability of local materials and imports, often creates a bizarre mishmash of tech-use on many Imperial worlds. The method of government employed by the diverse Imperial worlds are equally varied at the planetary level, with monarchies, republics, and oligarchies all presents in numerous iterations and forms. Ultimately, however, most Imperial worlds are ruled by a planetary governor (sometimes known as an Imperial Commander) who has final authority over the world as the Imperium’s chosen representative. Many imperial worlds support a thriving ruling class of some sort, known usually as its nobility (regardless of any peerage involved, or its absence). A world’s nobility frequently assume all positions of power and privilege that are not inherently part of a wider Imperial organisation, gathering wealth and authority over the planet’s common masses to themselves.
Religion, superstition, and fear dominates much of society within the Imperium, and deviancy from the standards expected from a loyal servant of the God-Emperor is rarely tolerated by the powers-that-be. Common people place great faith in honest hatred to guard them against the manifold horrors of the universe and find genuine spiritual solace in the Imperial Creed of the Ministorum to uplift and protect them.
Whilst each world of the Imperium is charged with enforcing its own local law and maintaining proper control of its people and environs (usually via enforcer cadres or the household forces of its nobility) law and order across the Imperium as a whole is the charge of the Adeptus Arbites. A grim and dutybound force whose authority, given by the High Lords of Terra themselves, knows no bounds of planet or border, the Arbites are charged to maintain high Imperial law, to hunt fugitives between worlds, to make sure planetary tithes are upheld and no local ruler oversteps his bounds.
Imperial World Characters
To have broken away from the dogmatic constraints of Imperial life, your character must either be of exceptional spirit or have true potential. Perhaps you are an adventurer or soldier, or a true believer beginning a long pilgrimage to prove your faith; maybe you are a mercenary, brought in to defend a planet during wartime. You have undoubtedly seen conflict, madness, or perhaps even heresy, and now, for whatever reason, you are embarking into unknown voids in the God-Emperor’s name.
Characteristic Modifiers: +3 Willpower
Blessed Ignorance: Imperial citizens know that the proper ways of living are those tried and tested by the generations that have gone before. Horror, pain, and death are the just rewards of curiosity, for those that look too deeply into the mysteries of the universe are all too likely to find malefic beings looking back at them. Their wise blindness imposes a –5 penalty on Forbidden Lore (Int) Tests.
Hagiography: Widespread scriptures describing the lives—and, more importantly, the deaths—of the Emperor’s blessed saints and warmasters, and the sequence of endless wars, crusades, and terrors that make up history, grant Imperial citizens a comparatively wide knowledge of the Imperium of Man. Imperial worlders gain Common Lore (Imperial Creed) (Int), Common Lore (Imperium) (Int), and Common Lore (War) (Int) as untrained Basic Skills.
Liturgical Familiarity: Surrounded as they are by the
zealous and the faithful, Imperial citizens are accustomed to
the tutelage of the Ecclesiarchy. Imperial world characters
gain Literacy (Int) and Speak Language (High Gothic) (Int) as
untrained Basic Skills.
Starting Wounds: Imperial world characters double their starting Toughness Bonus and add 1d5 to the result to determine their starting number of Wounds.
Starting Fate Points: Roll 1d10 to determine an Imperial world character’s starting Fate Points. On a 1–8, he begins with 3 Fate Points; on a 9–10, he begin with 4 Fate Points.
“Within the Imperium, crime can be so prevalent that entire worlds are given over to the dumping of humanity’s dregs. Inmates—or just plain unlucky inhabitants—scrape by on worlds that barely support indigenous life, let alone tide of humanity dumped upon it. Not that it matters, as everyone from your world is considered to be a devious, lying criminal and the planet seen as sprawling den of thieves.”
In the Imperium, crime is widespread enough that entire worlds are given over to incarcerating the refuse of society. On these Penal Worlds live the criminals of the Imperium, the guards that keep them there, and any luckless denizen unfortunate enough to have been born there. Penal worlds are, very often, barely-habitable planets. Here, the criminals labour and toil at various menial tasks while serving out their sentences; and only a few parole out. On some worlds, the worst criminals (those whose crimes aren’t severe enough to warrant death) might be segregated from the rest, but this practice varies from world to world. Thus, murderers and rapists might mix with petty thieves and con-men. From this melting pot comes a brutal society, where survival comes only when one forgets morality and is willing to do whatever is necessary to make it to the next day.
These worlds are a dichotomy; on one hand they are used to dump undesirables upon, and on the other they make excellent places for a Rogue Trader to round up expendable crew.
LIFE ON A PENAL WORLD
A penal world is a planet used to exile prisoners. Within the Calixis Sector, inmates sentenced to penal worlds are marked with a barcode tattoo that is typically placed on their neck, forehead, or other easily-spotted area of the body. Here, many inmates die of disease, starvation, infection, the environment, an escape attempt, an encounter with the brutal enforcer-guards, or one of a hundred other maladies. Inmates are sentenced far away from their home worlds and most never see that world again. Inmates condemned to a penal world are those found guilty of crimes that don’t warrant execution. Some feel that those who are executed are the lucky ones, for those who are sentenced to penal worlds are sent to hellish places where death is slow in coming. The only denizens that have any real freedoms whatsoever are the warden and his guards.
On many penal worlds the planetary governor is also the prison’s warden, and his authority is absolute. The warden and his guards often brutalise the inmate population, adding to their considerable misery and mortality.
The populace tends to be hardened, ruthless, shifty, and untrustworthy. However, they can also be resourceful and possess a low cunning. They are haunted individuals who are witness to the kind of atrocity most will never see.
Penal World Characters
You have been sentenced for crimes against the Imperium of Man—or maybe your parents were, and you were just unlucky enough to be born here. Every day was a struggle to stay alive and stay one step ahead of the predators and guards that stalked you through the dank pits and filthy shantytowns of your home. You’ve learned to be resourceful and cunning, but you are also considered a criminal—even if you didn’t start out that way. As such, you are thought to be untrustworthy, and perhaps it is even true. However, trying to survive has also hardened you, and made you ruthless. You have witnessed your planet serve as dumping ground for the numerous Rogue Traders and Chartist captains to leave their wretched filth behind, and as a place for salvation when they return to fill their holds with new crew and take them away from their wretched existence.
On the Origin Path chart, Penal world may be taken instead of Imperial World.
Characteristic Modifiers: – 5 Willpower; + 5 Perception; + 5 Toughness; – 5 Fellowship
Starting Skills: Penal world characters gain Security (Ag) as an untrained Basic Skill; they also have a choice of either Deceive (Fel) or Intimidate (S) as a trained Skill.
Syndicate: Due to their time spent among criminals the Explorer knows who to look for on worlds that have a thriving criminal underclass. As such, they gain the Peer (Underworld) Talent.
Criminal: Those that spend any amount of time on a penal world gain a skewed outlook when it comes to the morality of the Imperium, and have a less than savory reputation amongst Imperial authorities. Conversely, they suffer a – 20 penalty on Interaction Tests when dealing with the following organisations: Adeptus Arbites, Ecclesiarchy, Enforcers, and the Military should his home world become known (at the GM’s discretion). Also, should this status ever become known,
the Explorer may find themselves under the scrutiny of local law enforcement and underworld crime bosses.
Nightmares: Being brutalised by the prison world enforcers leaves its mark on the psyche of those who survive their time on a penal world. They tend to suffer from sever nightmares that never go away, and as a result they gain 1d5 Insanity Points and the Light Sleeper Talent—never again gaining a decent night’s sleep without resorting to drugs or other such aids.
Underground Resources: Characters from penal worlds know many people of ill repute. As such, they can often acquire items much more readily than those working through legitimate channels. When making Acquisition Tests on a world with a criminal underworld, the penal world character can opt to make use of these resources (providing the GM rules they are available) to make the item’s Availability one “level” more common (to a minimum of Abundant). This ability can only be used once every other game session (at the GM’s discretion), and players should remember that the items this character procures are more than likely stolen—they should be prepared in case the authorities come knocking.
Starting Wounds: Penal world characters double their starting Toughness Bonus and add 1d5+1 to the result to determine their starting number of Wounds.
Starting Fate Points: Roll 1d10 to determine penal world character’s starting Fate Points. On a 1–6, he begins with 2 Fate Points; on a 7–9 he begins with 3 Fate Points; on a 10, he begins with 4 Fate Points.
“Some things can be taught, others acquired by force or trade. But they are all inconsequential. The only thing that truly matters is the lineage of your blood, the noble worth that flowed in your veins from the very day you were born.”
The high nobility of the Imperium are an enormously wealthy and powerful elite, a breed apart from the common masses they rule. Many noble houses span the stars in an intricate web of kinship, arranged marriages, and political alliances that ensure power and influence will ever continue, even if the fortunes of a single world fail. The products of centuries—or even millennia—of tech-assisted breeding and cultured refinement, these noble lineages hold the history of the Imperium itself in their blood. They are the finest that humanity has to offer—or so they would have you believe, at any rate.
Nobility of birth has never been a guarantee of good character, and for every example of true enlightenment or greatness, there exist dozens of capricious, self-obsessed noble scions who prove, by their base failings, that bloodline is no measure of superiority in the Imperium. Worse still than the dissolute idlers and petty tyrants are those nobles whose dark inclinations spill over into heresy and other forms of true malignancy, often for no better reason than boredom or a sadistic love of power. This last supremely dangerous group are the cause of many Imperial woes.
From almost their first breath, those born to the high nobility are schooled in the role they must play and how they must play it. Their fine tutelage covers not only the details of history, commerce, and power-politics, but an education in the finer points of taste and etiquette. How to wear a mask of one’s own choosing, how to give an intended slight, how to curry and mete favour, how to defend one’s honour, and how to comport oneself are all lessons deeply ingrained. In some great families, these arts have darker nuances yet—such as the correct use of poison, a well-executed betrayal, and the employment of assassins.
Connected, socially skilled, highly educated, and able to move in the high circles of Imperial society, those of noble blood are frequently as ruthless as they are charming and as dangerous as they are well mannered, making them skilled and subtle members of a Rogue Trader’s retinue.
Noble Born Characters
You were born into wealth and privilege, educated by tutors, and tempered by spiteful intrigues. You know how to move in the high circles of Imperial society, you know how to bend others to your will, and you have never been touched by the harsh life endured by common citizens. You may be an honourable and faithful soul, well aware of the duties your station imposes on you, or a dissolute, apostate rakehell who cares naught for the low-born. Either way, the risk and the power of a Rogue Trader’s dynasty beckon to you.
Characteristic Modifiers: – 5 Willpower, + 5 Fellowship
Starting Skills: Noble born characters begin play with Literacy (Int), Speak Language (High Gothic) (Int), and Speak Language (Low Gothic) (Int) as untrained Basic Skills.
Etiquette: Nobles are schooled in how to comport themselves in all manner of formal situations. They gain a + 10 bonus on Interaction Skill Tests when dealing with high authority and in formal situations.
Legacy of Wealth: To be born an Imperial noble is to inherit a legacy of staggering wealth. Even a scorned scion enjoys access to resources beyond the wildest dreams of the toiling masses. This adds + 1 to the group’s starting Profit Factor.
Supremely Connected: Nobles have extensive connections, and they know that dropping the “right” names into a conversation can open more doors than a fistful of Thrones. A starting noble born character begins play with the Peer (Nobility) Talent. Also, to reflect his family’s powerbase, he also gains one additional Peer from the following list: Academics, Adeptus Mechanicus, Administratum, Astropaths, Ecclesiarchy, Government, Mercantile, Military, or Underworld.
Vendetta: Every noble house has its sworn enemies and rivals who would do it and its members harm. Even the protection of a Rogue Trader’s mission merely forces those who wish you harm to be a bit more cautious and subtle in exacting their vengeance. As a result, starting noble born characters have powerful enemies, perhaps in the shape of a rival noble house or some other powerful group. The details of these enemies are left to the player and the Game Master to define, working together to create a formidable threat. Whilst they do not dog the character’s steps at every turn, these enemies aim to inconvenience, harm, or kill him whenever he crosses their path. The noble character, of course, is free to return the favour when it’s expedient to do so.
Starting Wounds: Noble born characters double their starting Toughness Bonus and add 1d5 to the result to determine their starting number of Wounds.
Fate Points: Roll 1d10 to determine a noble born character’s starting Fate Points. On a 1–3, he begins with 2 Fate Points; on a 4–9, he begins with 3 Fate Points; on a 10 he begins with 4 Fate Points.
Child of Destiny
“The nobility of the Imperium wields extreme power and wealth; not only those of the Noble Houses, but also those of other organisations such as the Rogue Traders. As the heir-apparent to a Rogue Trader family dynasty you have been given every advantage so that one day you might ascend the throne of leadership. You consider yourself to be clever and witty, but also sly, and you are very cautious as one fatal mistake can lead to a sibling or relative assuming the family fortunes—your legacy nothing more than your own rotting corpse.”
Within the Imperium of Man there are those who sit at the pinnacle of power—the nobility and the ruling elite. As the Imperium is structured as a feudal society, it stands to reason that within it exist many types of noble houses, including planetary rulers, military lords, and the Rogue Traders. Over time, once the Warrant of Trade has been given, a Rogue Trader may find that his empire is growing. The dynasty now has fleets of ships, planetary fiefdoms, and thousands of house soldiers to call upon. As time goes on and the family continues to grow, it develops into a Rogue Trader Dynasty—able to command scores of craft and countless troops. This legacy spans the Imperium and beyond.
To ensure that this legacy continues, the lords and ladies of the dynasty designate an heir apparent in whatever fashion is deemed appropriate by their customs. These sons and daughters may find themselves struggling for the favour of their dynastic leaders in an effort to be worthy of succession. Oftentimes in noble families, the second, third, and even fourth child finds themselves with little option but to go out and make a name for themselves, or simply languish in
obscurity, hoping that circumstances arise to change their fate. However, this is not the case in Rogue Trader families, where all are expected to work and prove themselves. It is oftentimes that these noble scions end up plotting and scheming for ways to manoeuvre into a position where the family leader has little choice but to name them heir.
Life as a Child of Dynasty
The children of the Rogue Trader clans are instructed in all manner of subjects mundane and esoteric. They are assigned the best tutors and mentors the clan can afford, and by the time the child enters adolescence, they are capable enough to be sent out into the wider galaxy (typically with bodyguard entourage in tow). They have been afforded every advantage, as the future of their dynasty rests upon their shoulders.
Not every heir-apparent turns out to be the best choice for the family, however. Some are lazy, shiftless souls who do nothing more than squander the family fortunes and pass their days in decadence and perversion. In such cases, the leaders of these dynasties often select more than one heir to the throne; it’s a gamble they make to ensure that at least one of them survives to continue the dynasty. Rogue Trader heirs are often assigned one of the family’s void ships under the command of one of their most capable captains or a family scion that has more days behind him than ahead. They are then given a stipend and sent to learn about the unforgiving galaxy. If along the way they make gains for the family, so much the better. Some return upon their majority to assume the title they have been ordained for; others are never seen or heard from again.
Oftentimes, a rival family member covets the throne at the expense of all else. These miserable sods plot and scheme the downfall of their siblings and relatives. They may arrange an accident to befall other heirs so that they alone remain to assume the family’s leadership. Thus, many heirs (especially from the larger dynasties) are taught to be wary and look out for such plots. Many surround themselves with capable allies and protectors, but in the end survival often comes down to their own wits and instincts. Many learn not only the intricacies of political longevity, but martial arts and other forms of combat as well. This is by far the best means to ensure they live long enough to return home and assume the privileges and rank that they have been groomed all their lives for.
Child of Dynasty Characters
You are the child of a family gifted with a Warrant of Trade. Your dynasty may be thousands of years old, or perhaps your parents were awarded their own Warrant and your dynasty is considered to be an upstart.. Whatever the case may be, you have been given the training needed to keep your family’s dynasty alive for at least another generation.
You are the chosen son or daughter of a powerful Rogue Trader. You may have been granted the immense responsibility of inheriting your dynasty’s Warrant of Trade, in which case you have assumed the coveted title of Rogue Trader. However, it is just as likely that you saw the Warrant
passed on to one of your siblings, and you are either expected to support them in their Endeavours, or plunge into the unknown to make your fortune and earn glory for your family with your own resourcefulness. How you do this is up to you and whatever abilities you may possess, and you may even go so far as to sign on with a different Rogue Trader to grasp the opportunities you seek.
You have been gifted with immense rank and privilege, and the immense responsibilities to go with them. Trained in command and the intricacies of commerce, you are ambitious and perhaps even a bit devious. However, duplicity is the trademark of a child of your dynasty, and you know your trade well. You will use every shred of ingenuity to ensure your family’s name survives in the cruel and uncaring world of the 41st Millennium.
On the Origin Path chart, Child of Dynasty may be taken instead of Noble Born.
Characteristic Modifiers: – 3 Toughness; + 3 Intelligence; – 5 Willpower; + 5 Fellowship
Starting Skills: The Child of Dynasty character begins with Literacy (Int), and Speak (High Gothic) as trained Skills.
Dynastic Warrant: Due to the prestigious heritage of a Child of Dynasty, they can bring considerable resources to bear when outfitting a starship. All Child of Dynasty characters add an extra + 3 Ship Points to those already generated when building the group’s ship. However, a group with a Child of Dynasty Character may not exchange their Ship Points for Profit Factor—any unspent Ship Points at the end of creating their starship are lost.
Honour Amongst One’s Peers: Even the most unimportant offspring of a Rogue Trader dynasty are likely to have grown up amongst the rarefied heights of Imperial aristocracy, and can handle themselves amongst them without embarrassment. A Child of Dynasty gains a + 5 bonus to all Fellowship Tests to interact with high-ranking officials of the Imperium and members of the Imperial nobility in a formal setting (exactly when this bonus applies is up to the GM).
Unseen Enemy: This character has an enemy who covets their position, their wealth, or their ship. The Child of Dynasty has no idea who this person is, or the fact that they’re coming for them. The GM determines this foe and is free to reveal this enemy at any given time. The character gains the Enemy Talent; the group is this unseen foe.
Starting Wounds: The Child of Dynasty doubles his starting Toughness Bonus and adds 1d5 to the result to determine their starting number of Wounds.
Starting Fate Points: Roll 1d10 to determine this character’s starting Fate Points. On a 1–3, begins with 2 Fate Points; on a 4–7, he begins with 3 Fate Points; on an 8 – 10, he begins with 4 Fate Points.