Rogue Traders In The Grim Future

This review covers the Rogue Trader RPG of Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay. The characters are Explorers, part of a proud dynasty of privateering merchant princes known as Rogue Traders. They seek out profit in the dark dangerous void of space. Rogue Trader includes everything needed to run a campaign: a setting called the Koronus Expanse, adversaries and aliens, a starting adventure, and a variety of starships.

Despite the far future setting, Rogue Traders are surrounded by superstition, religious intolerance, xeno-phobia, and ancient and unreliable tech that functions more through holy blessings and rote rites than science. Faster than light travel is accomplished through mutation and overcoming the madness of the warp backed by an outstanding amount of raw courage. The stars are dangerous and they want to kill man. Man uses the trappings of religion, ancient rituals, fear, and constant war to push back the void that is the darkness between the stars.

Playing an alien is not an option in the core rulebook. In fact aliens are considered the gravest of enemies to the human Imperium. However, Rogue Traders actually make trade deals and even work with aliens when they are well outside the boundaries of man’s empire. Rogue Traders are unique in that they can buck the strict rules of the Imperium and avoid being destroyed for heresy because they are brave enough and independent enough to endure the vast dangers of the void and warp. In return, they return plunder and intelligence back to the Imperium.

The characters command a huge ship with thousands of crew. One character can play the Rogue Trader captain and the rest are his loyal command crew. Characters advance through eight ranks, earning access to new characteristic advances, skills, and talents.

Rogue Traders are tough and competent but not superhuman. The underlying system is d100 roll under using skills and talents. Advancement is measured not just in individual experience points but also in profit which affects the whole group. Mechanicus implants, psychic techniques and navigator powers provide otherworldly power as well.

Some talents are familiar like Ambidextrous and Blind Fighting. Others are uniquely 40K like Chem Geld (immune to seduction and gain an Insanity Point), Gun Blessing (holy implants that give a blessing to unjam weapons), and Into the Jaws of Hell (followers of the character are immune to fear and cannot be pinned down).

Traveling through the stars is only possible with the aid of a Navigator, a mutant with a third eye who can read the currents of the warp, its ebb and flow, and latch on to the beacon that leads ships back to the Imperium. However, the warp is mind wrenching chaos incarnate and more than one crew has succumbed to madness in the void or been consumed by a warp daemon (or mutated into warp daemons).

Staying alive while traveling through the stars requires money and firepower. Rogue Traders wield both supported by the profit of their dynasty and the troops and innate strength of their starship or starships.

The GM has many tools to bring the Koronus Expanse to life and challenge the Explorers. Beyond physical threats from adversaries, Explorers face corruption, insanity, and possible mutation. The warp itself contains deadly creatures and insanity inducing terrors. And they must maintain their profit as well, or perhaps lose their dynasty.

My only experience with WH40K is through the two Rogue Trader campaigns I ran. I do not know how the game compares to existing video games and novels, but taken on its own as written it is an outstanding RPG with everything needed to play included in one book.

This article was contributed by Charles Dunwoody as part of EN World's Columnist (ENWC) program. Please note that Charles is a participant in the OneBookShelf Affiliate Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to DriveThruRPG. We are always on the lookout for freelance columnists! If you have a pitch, please contact us!

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Charles Dunwoody

Charles Dunwoody

The cover art accurately depicts the game. The guy in red and gold is a rogue trader on his bridge.

Bummer you don't like d100. I suppose you could convert everything to d20 if you wanted!


Is it just me, or does it look like one of the ships of their port side has an outdoor garden or something?
Those look like hedge type plants to me. Maybe it's just the distance and light, but I wouldn't put something like that out of real of possibility in the 40k universe. Special space plants, plants in a special force bubble or something like that we can't see, or fancy sculptures because of art or something.


Nice review. I have this but never ventured too far into it when it was published. Any differences other than fluff to Dark Heresy from FFG if you know of it also?


This game is awesome, it can blend well with Dark Heresy or any of the other FFG titles from that era.

The fluff and lore is awesome by itself and with any expanded material.

Dark Heresy and Rouge Trader were my 'dnd 3.5' ha or the game that got me hooked.


First Post
My only experience with WH40K is through the two Rogue Trader campaigns I ran. I do not know how the game compares to existing video games and novels, but taken on its own as written it is an outstanding RPG with everything needed to play included in one book.

contributed by Charles Dunwoody

My understanding is that the RPGs added a lot more lore to the setting that normally falls to the side in favor of the armies of the table top game.

That dome like structure more than likely is a type of cathedral. There is a heavy influence of gothic medieval architecture in the game when it comes to humans/human empire.

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