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Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader — RPG from the folks behind the Pathfinder video games


Wiper
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In amongst the various Games Workshop-related video games announced today, this one stood out to me; not least as it's, somewhat shockingly, the first computer RPG* made based on GW's games. You know, despite there having been pen and paper RPGs in both Fantasy and 40k settings for decades.

 

It's being made by Owlcat studios, who've made the interesting-but-flawed (and, courtesy of the tabletop ruleset they're based on, somewhat daunting mechanically and generic setting-wise) Pathfinder video games; I'm looking forward to seeing what they do with the slightly more flavoursome 40k universe, and particularly with the always-fun Rogue Trader setup.

 

The trailer isn't hugely exciting, and I'm not really digging the cut-scene art style (no problem with it out of context, but it doesn't really mesh with 40k's gothic stylings, to my mind), but I'm excited by the potential nonetheless. Here's hoping it turns out well!

 

 

https://roguetrader.owlcat.games/

 

Official blurb:

 

Quote

You will take on the role of a Rogue Trader, a scion of an ancient dynasty of daring privateers, that reign over their own merchant empire and explore the fringes of Imperial space with the blessing of the Emperor Himself. Thanks to their Warrant of Trade - the Rogue Trader is endowed with privileges and power beyond imagination as well as the task of expanding the borders of the Imperium. At their disposal is a gargantuan voidship of immense power and innumerable servants and personnel ready to do the bidding of their lord. Their adventures begin in the vast Koronus Expanse - a treacherous region of unexplored space at the edge of Humanity’s domain.

 

Exploration will bring the protagonist to mysterious lost and forgotten worlds as well as numerous planets claimed by humanity - from lush Agri-Worlds to steel-clad Forge Worlds, all of them ready to be claimed for your burgeoning merchant empire or plundered for their riches. While travelling between the stars, get ready to come across potential allies and dangerous enemies of the Imperium, Chaos cults and alien Xenos counting among the most treacherous and deadly.

 

You will make fateful decisions that affect the lives of entire worlds. You will prove your strategic and tactical skills in high-impact turn-based battles against powerful opponents.

 

No Rogue Trader travels alone: on this dangerous journey into the unknown, you will meet faithful and sophisticated companions. Imagine fighting alongside a mighty power armoured Space Marine, a lethal Aeldari Ranger, or even a courageous Sister of Battle armed with bolter and ardent prayer - these characters and many others will join you. Become a Rogue Trader endowed with great authority, discover new worlds and shape the future of the Imperium! Join this fantastic story!

 

*as in, proper RPG RPG, rather than a pure dungeon crawl

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I’m struggling to think of something that better represents the dreams of teenage me than a Rogue Trader CRPG, one that replicates the experience of moving miniatures around on a tabletop while making it enormously more sophisticated. This is another thing to tick off on the 90s nerd checklist. I’ve read all the Culture novels, tick. Enormously powerful touchscreen computer in my pocket, tick. Live in a dystopian sci-fi future: tick. Had sex with a woman: tick. 
 

This looks like another tick, although the problem with achieving these teenage dreams is that they’re never quite what you were expecting them to be. I’m not so keen on the style of the cutscenes, which is strongly eighties-influenced, but not in the way I want. It’s more like a cartoon series than anything that belongs in the 40K universe. The look of anything 40K (and especially anything carrying the Rogue Trader name) should be dementedly ornate, and bordering on outsider art. This looks a bit flat and stiff. Ideally, a 40K RPG should look as lavish as Baldur’s Gate III, and have the same fierce level of reverence for the source material, although I get that Warhammer is less of a big deal than Dungeons and Dragons and is unlikely to attract similar budgets. 
 

Still, I’m interested. We still haven’t had the definitive 40K videogame, the one that properly does justice to the setting. To be honest, they should probably give the license to the developers of Huntdown and properly revel in the nineties-ness of it all, but I’m happy to see how this one turns out. 

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4 minutes ago, K said:

We still haven’t had the definitive 40K videogame, the one that properly does justice to the setting.

 

I think we got part of the way there — for me the first two Space Hulk games (i.e. "The Amiga One" and Vengeance of the Blood Angels) were definitive Space Hulk games, despite not attempting to ape the mechanics of the board game in any way; they absolutely nailed the atmosphere and the feel of being these incredibly powerful, destructive, but ultimately fragile supersoldiers engagede in a tense, claustrophobic bug hunt. So that's one part of the 40k setting ticked off, at least.

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Saw mention earlier this week that their next game was looking like something sci-fi. I wasn't expecting this but excited by the prospect, always enjoy WH40K games and really enjoying WoTR at the moment.

 

Will be interesting to see how the different fates work out, I've seen plenty of mention that the different mythic paths do offer real changes in WoTR, not just a slight dialogue and colour alteration. Not had chance to experience them myself yet, as still trying to complete my Angel after 187hrs, so I won't complain if they say it's a bit shorter.

 

How much does Rogue Trader lend itself to some sort of trading/management type mode? I'd be happy if they didn't have anything like that as I feel the conquest mode can break up the flow of WoTR and get in the way of what I really want to be doing.

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Not sure how to feel about it. Owlcat, for my money, have made the two best crpgs since Baldur's Gate 2 and I'm disappointed that they're moving on to something different. But you can't begrudge them that.

 

They're going to have to come up with their own combat system which will be daunting and I've never felt crpgs with guns have had quite the same level of combat as the fantasy stuff. But they're Owlcat, I'll support anything they release. 

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32 minutes ago, Wiper said:

 

I think we got part of the way there — for me the first two Space Hulk games (i.e. "The Amiga One" and Vengeance of the Blood Angels) were definitive Space Hulk games, despite not attempting to ape the mechanics of the board game in any way; they absolutely nailed the atmosphere and the feel of being these incredibly powerful, destructive, but ultimately fragile supersoldiers engagede in a tense, claustrophobic bug hunt. So that's one part of the 40k setting ticked off, at least.


Oh yeah, I forgot about Space Hulk. I never played the second one, but the original was an excellent adaptation of the board game. 
 

I guess it’s unfair to expect a game to perfectly realise the 40K universe, as it’s so insanely broad and relatively varied. It’s all grimdark, but it contains every possible type and variation of grimdark. I think what I really want from a game like this is not so much to realise the mechanics of the tabletop game, but to realise at least some of the promise of the lore - all the background material that they cooked up when Rogue Trader was intended to be an RPG, and presumably couldn’t bear to leave out. Something like Space Hulk takes a tiny slice of that universe and recreates it perfectly, but I’d like something that lets me explore at least part of that universe that was described so lovingly in the original sourcebook. 

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I'll be all over that. The animation style is not good (it's the same as the Warhammer + series animations which for me range from okay to downright awful) but the pre-Alpha stuff looks more than good enough for me.

 

Strains of the amazing 40k Mechanicus game soundtrack in there too. With that amazing fast-tempo gothic organ track of the last Darktide trailer, I'm hoping for some really cool stuff soundtrack wise.

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26 minutes ago, Zael said:

They're going to have to come up with their own combat system which will be daunting

 

Presumably that depends on whether they've got access to the actual pen & paper ruleset or not, which I don't know if they've specified.

 

(the modern 40k RPG ruleset — which includes an actual Rogue Trader subgame — could theoretically be repurposed into a CRPG, just as Pathfinder was. The fact it uses a percentile system rather than D20 certainly won't hurt there, as if anything those systems benefit most from automated maths; I mean, if it's good enough for Fallout...)

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Oh, it would definitely need adaptation (it's pure dice-based, rather than miniatures on a board — somewhat ironically), but a lot of the core mechanics are established to build on, if they wanted to go down that route.

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Cool, I may have to give the RT rules a reread at some point, get a feel for what they're going for. Though of course, how loose 'loosely' ends up being may make that moot — I know that familiarity with Numenera (or, more broadly, the Cypher system) wouldn't really set the right expectations for the variation of them used in Torment: Tides of Numenera, for example!

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