Ship Roles

Starships are colossal fortress-cities that journey between the stars. It is piloted, staffed and maintained by thousands of crew, from the lowliest generational chain-gangs and deck-hands, to the Lord-Captain or Rogue Trader himself. While playing as mere security troopers or handlers in the lower decks might make for an interesting session, the ultimate weight of responsibility and the lion’s share of action frequently falls to only a few individuals aboard a starship.

RANK PRIMARUS

Every soul aboard a void-ship report ultimately to a single person, the Lord-Captain, lord and commander of the vessel.

Lord-Captain

A void-ship is a mighty fortress, its Captain upon the command throne the feudal lord who accepts pledges of allegiance and fealty from his advisors, the commoner crew, and their elected spokesmen. The Lord-Captain is the ultimate decision-maker on matters of strategy, void-law, and negotiation, responsible for the lives and souls of all who pledge to his banner. The fate of thousands hangs upon his decisions, though a wise Lord-Captain takes council with his advisors and bridge crew, and listens well to their wisdom before giving his orders.

Background: A Lord-Captain or Rogue Trader is an inherited title. Rare would be the case where the Warrant of Trade or deed to a ship falls outside of nobility. Any captain of a void-ship would have spent much of his career in the navy, serving in various roles onboard a variety of vessels to broaden his experience. A Rogue Trader would be groomed from both amidst nobility, learning to navigate the treacherous currents of court politics, and establishing contacts and alliances amongst his peers. It is not unheard of for one who takes the dual mantel of this role to be lacking in one of respects, nor is it uncommon for a Rogue Trader and Lord-Captain to be separate people altogether, with the former providing the ship and hiring the latter for his expertise. The recommended stats below are skewed more toward a Rogue Trader’s upbringing, with the First Officer’s skill set overlapping more with a Lord-Captain’s.

Key Skills: Commerce, Instigate, Rapport, Presence, Nobilitas, Resources

Stunts: If the Lord-Captain is also a Rogue Trader, they must take the following stunt:

Stunt: Warrant of Trade
Each Rogue Trader dynasty possesses a Warrant of Trade, a document that traces its origins back to the God-Emperor himself, mandating the bearer of the Warrant to journey beyond the fringes of civilization so that the light of the Imperium may shine once again on forgotten worlds.
The Rogue Trader gains access to an Assets Track, representing the sheer financial power of their dynasty. In social encounters against those of lower station, where bearing of wealth may grant social leverage, Warrant of Trade offers a +1 bonus to social attacks.

Passive Ability:

Special: Lord and Commander
The Lord-Captain may always spend Fate Points to invoke aspects for actions performed by his ship, even if he is away or incapacitated.

Examples of Immediate Subordinates: Personal guard company, emissaries of Imperial powers, subordinate officers of the ship.

RANK SECUNDUS

This rank denotes those who not only those who are the Lord-Captain’s most trusted senior advisers, but only those that have the breadth of knowledge and experience qualifying them to command the ship and crew in the Lord-Captain’s absence.

First Officer

The First Officer is the Lord-Captain’s right hand, his voice amongst the crew, and the instrument of his will. It is the First Officer’s duties to ensure that the Lord-Captain’s commands are carried out to his will, and it is to the First Officer who the mantle leadership falls should the Lord-Captain become indisposed.

Background: While serving a similar function as the Lord-Captain, the First Officer is typically drawn from a completely different background to best complement the Lord-Captain’s skills (and the skills of the other senior officers). Often time, the First Officer has enjoyed a distinguished career within the navy, perhaps marred by some sort of incident that forced a change in career direction toward the fringes of the Imperiu, or propelled by other means to seek adventure.

Key Skills: Command, Tactica, Instigate, Presence

Example Stunt:

Stunt: Inspire Loyalty
Grants a +1 bonus to any member of crew if they are trying to defend against an attack that would make them willfully betray the Lord-Captain.

Passive Ability:

Special: Second in Command
The First Officer may spend Fate Points on behalf of the ship and crew, but only when in command of the vessel.

Examples of Immediate Subordinates: All senior bridge officers, deck foremen, Mechanicus Emissariat.

Enginseer Prime

To the Cult Mechanicus, every Imperial void-ship is an beacon of the Omnissiah’s will, a living, breathing shrine to His power and benevolence. It is through ceaseless prayers, rituals and labor that the Omnissiah’s grace may be granted to sustain and propel humanity through the emptiness of the void. The Enginseer Prime charged with heading these holy efforts. More than that, the Enginseer Prime is the head of the Mechanicus chapter devoted to tending of the void-ship, and very often, the foremost representative of the Adeptus Mechanicus amongst the stars. Due to this isolation, an Enginseer Prime is given much leeway in their dealings, and frequently swears an oath of loyalty to both the Lord-Captain in addition to his duties to the Adeptus Mechanicus.

Background: Only the most distinguished tech-priests rise through the ranks to become an Enginseer Prime of a void-ship. But to be sent to the fringes of Imperial space may carry both praise and slight. To be awarded such a rank and responsibility means the tech-priest has proven himself capable in the duties of the Adeptus Mechanicus. But to be sent to such a distant and unsure station usually meant he has offended the tech-priest hierarchy in some way to warrant an assignment so far away from the hallowed halls of Mars.

Key Skills: Lore, Logis, Machine Handling, Medicae, Tech

Examples of Immediate Subordinates: Appointed Magos Enginarium, emissary of the Latheic Archmagi, aggregate council of machine-shrine Tech-Priests.

High Factotum

The High Factotum is the Lord-Captain’s chief adviser and administrator, and is peerless in matters of diplomacy and trade. Many of his duties are assuming and behind the scenes, but his influence is felt at all levels within the void-ship, be it holding shrewd negotiations through bribes, threats and entertainment; negotiating the annals of law and bureaucracy; tending to the ledgers and columns that fill the dynasty’s vaults; or the seemingly simple task of ensuring enough water and provisions for the journey ahead. The High Factotum brook no equal in attention to details, and has pledged his loyalty to the Lord-Captain in bringing profit to his ventures.

Background: The High Factotum is trusted with some of the most sensitive documents and delicate secrets of the Rogue Trader’s dynasty. Only one who has served the dynasty for generations, whose loyalty and discretion is beyond reproach, might be trusted in such a position.

Key Skills: Contacts, Commerce, Lore, Logis

Passive Ability:

Special: Meta-Legal
A High Factotum may invoke his high concept to declare a certain law or ruling to have be applicable in a legal, financial or diplomatic matter. The player should work with the table to make the invocation narratively interesting and move the plot forward.

Examples of Immediate Subordinates: Quartermasters, skilled negotiators and factors, officers of the common great-hold crew.

RANK TERTIUS

This rank includes many of the trusted senior officers and leaders within the void-ship. Many possess unique skills and are in charge of sensitive and specialized components of the ship.

Master-At-Arms

If a void-ship is a fortress, then there must be men armed and willing to defend its battlements. Even a small trading freight will have a security company, and crewmen armed with rusty blades, ready to fight off boarders. Military vessels may have specialized boarding companies, barracks for mercenaries, detachments of the Imperial Guard or even professional household troops ready to dispense violence on short notice. It is to the Master-at-Arms who these militants and their commanders report, and it is her pledge to the Lord-Captain to ensure the loyalty, integrity and readiness of the void-ship’s forces against threats human or xenos.

Background: The Master-At-Arms is typically an arch-militant with experience of several campaigns under his belt. He may have been instrument, perhaps even victorious, in a number of actions against the xenos, and have caught the eye of the Rogue Trader if not already employed in their service. While it is an asset, the Master-At-Arms need not have served aboard void-ships, or have familiarity with space combat. Their true value lay in their ability to lead, inspire and manage troops.

Key Skills: Assault, Athletics, Marksmanship, Tactica

Examples of Immediate Subordinates: Armoury crew, shipboard troop commanders, mercenary leaders.
Important Skills: Command, Tech-Use, Intimidate, Scholastic Lore (Tactica Imperialis).

Master Helmsman

The Master Helmsman is responsible for safely piloting the vast vessel through the myriad threats of the void of space. A helmsman risen to be master of his profession must have a sixth sense for the dangers that can confound auspex and lead void-ships to ruin, and know how best to make use of his helm crew and their familiarity with a vessel’s character. The Master Helmsman must pilot not just the voids, but also the competing fiefdoms of enginarium, auspex, and bridge crew to ensure that every manoeuvre is accomplished to the Lord-Captain’s exacting standards.

Career Preference: Normally Void-master but Explorator and Arch-Militant are also possible.
Examples of Immediate Subordinates: Helm crew, enginarium Tech-Priests, lesser auspex officers.
Important Skills: Pilot (Space Craft), Trade (Voidfarer).
Benefits:
The Master Helmsman gains a +10 bonus to the Evasive Manoeuvres Action.

Master of Ordnance

The Master of Ordnance pledges to keep the void-ship’s weapons and fighting crew in the finest condition, and then directs them to destroy foes at the Lord-Captain’s order. He is responsible for the quality of gun-deck crews, the workings of the armoured munitions vaults deep within the vessel, and the operation of weapons in void-battle. If the vessel boasts torpedoes, fighter squadrons, or other more esoteric ordnance, then these crews and systems also fall under the Master’s purview.

Career Preference: Usually Arch-Militant but also Void-master.
Examples of Immediate Subordinates: Assembled officers of each gun-deck, lance battery, and other ordnance system, munitions vault crew, commanding officer of small-craft squadrons.
Important Skills: Command, Scholastic Lore (Tactica Imperialis), Trade (Voidfarer).
Benefits:
When firing ship weapons while benefiting from the Lock on Target Extended Action, the Master of Ordinance adds an additional +5 bonus to the Ballistic Skill Test.

Master of Etherics

The Master of Etherics is responsible for the operation of the void-ship’s auspex and vox systems. Without auspex a vessel is blind, and without vox it is deaf and mute; the Master of Etherics stands at the Lord-Captain’s right hand, such is his worth, and to fail in his pledge is unthinkable. Dire regions beyond the Imperium are cloaked with the darkness of the unknown—the Master of Etherics must marshal his resources to overcome these hostile voids and light the path ahead with his vision.

Career Preference: Usually Void-master but Arch-Militant and Explorator are possible.
Examples of Immediate Subordinates: Lesser auspex vault officers, lesser vox system officers, appointed Tech-Priest of Etherics.
Important Skills: Scrutiny, Tech-Use, Trade (Voidfarer).
Benefits:
The Master of Etherics gains a +10 bonus to the Focused Augury Extended Action.

Chief Chirurgeon

The Chief Chirurgeon is master of the void-ship’s medicae wards and their staff: doctors of physiks, medicae, alchemists, and a horde of apprentices. Accidents, maladies, and agues of a thousand varieties afflict common voidfarers, and a crew unattended by medicae and physiks will soon enough lapse into illness, putting the safety of the vessel at risk. The Chief Chirurgeon pledges his talents to maintain the crew’s stalwart willingness to toil, and further to make of his wards and supply vaults a scourge upon disease, injury, and sicknesses of the mind.

Career Preference: Usually Missionary or Explorator but Seneschal is possible.
Examples of Immediate Subordinates: Biologis Tech-Adepts pledged to the medicae wards, lesser medicae and doctors of physiks, appointed Savant-Medicaes of the void-ship librarium.
Important Skills: Medicae, Chem-Use, Scholastic Lore (Chymistry), Tech-Use, Trade (Technomat).
Benefits:
The Chief Chirurgeon gains a +10 bonus to the Triage Extended Action.

Master of Whispers

Men and women are willful creatures, given to secrets, deceit, disloyalty, and subterfuge. The Master of Whispers inhabits this realm; he seeks out and purge the crooked timbers and weak spars in the Rogue Trader’s crew. His agents hunt for the very same elements in rival Rogue Trader missions—but for the purpose of advantage and deception. Spies pledged to the Master of Whispers roam far beyond the void-ship’s bulkheads in search of precious knowledge, untended resources, and hidden weaknesses that can benefit the Lord-Captain’s mission.

Career Preference: Usually Seneschal but could also be Missionary.
Examples of Immediate Subordinates: A array of capable agents, master savant of the void-ship librarium, trusted spies in the crew.
Important Skills: Inquiry, Deceive, Scrutiny.
Benefits:
The Master of Whispers gains a +10 bonus to the Disinformation Extended Action.

Choir-Master Telepathica

The etheric voices of Astropaths resound throughout the Immaterium. When these voices are united by a single will, they combine into a psychic harmony capable of touching minds half a galaxy away. The Choir-master directs this harmony, and in turn directs the choir as a whole.

Career Preference: Only the Astropath Transcendent.
Examples of Immediate Subordinates: Lesser Astropaths of the Choir, Choir support staff, Ritemasters of the Adeptus Astra Telepathica.
Important Skills: Psyniscience, Forbidden Lore (The Warp), Command.
Benefits:
The Choir-master Telepathica may increase the range of his Astropathic Signals by one step.

Warp Guide

Also sometimes known as the Navigator Primaris, the Warp Guide is wholly responsible for steering the vessel through the treacherous tides of the Empyrean, both the safer routes within Imperial borders, and the terrible, dark voids beyond. The Warp Guide’s burden is heavy indeed; he and he alone stands as a bulwark between thousands of faithful Imperial souls and the unbridled damnations of the warp. A single mistake and terrible daemons of the Empyreal spaces will consume the vessel and all aboard it, and that horrid death will be but a prelude to the eternal torment that follows.

Career Preference: Navigator only.
Examples of Immediate Subordinates: Lesser Navigators on board, trusted bodyguards and assassins, emissary of the Navigator House elders.
Important Skills: Navigation (Warp), Trade (Astrographer), Scholastic Lore (Astromancy), Forbidden Lore (The Warp).
Benefits:
The Warp Guide gains a +5 bonus to the Navigation (Stellar) skill for purposes of steering the ship through the Warp.

RANK FOUR

This is the rank of ship’s officers who have the most day to day contact with the crew, and are often intimately familiar with the ship’s workings.

Ship’s Confessor

The Ship’s Confessor is the uppermost hierarch of shrines and Clerics aboard the vessel, responsible for their scriptural purity and by extension the spiritual well-being of all aboard. The God-Emperor protects the righteous who abide by the holy laws of Ministorum and Imperium, and it is His will that keeps the warp at bay and guides weapons to strike true against foul xenos. The Ship’s Confessor pledges to uphold the faith and courage of the crew against all adversities, and so make the void-ship a true cathedral of the Imperial Creed, echoing with the prayers of the holy and blessed in the God-Emperor’s sight.

Career Preference: Normally Missionary but could also be Explorator or Seneschal
Examples of Immediate Subordinates: Lesser Clerics and Confessors of the vessel’s shrines, emissaries of major Ministorum cults in attendance, an unruly mob of zealots, penitents, and pilgrims.
Important Skills: Scholastic Lore (Imperial Creed), Common Lore (Ecclesiarchy, Imperial Creed), Charm, Intimidate
Benefits:
The Ship’s Confessor gains a +10 bonus to the Put your backs into it! Extended Action.

Drivesmaster

A voideship’s enginearium is a sprawling complex filling many decks. Within this sepulchral facility countless ranks of enginseers work the rites that appease the machine spirits of the vessels roaring heart. Some among their number are schooled in special rituals that inspire the drive to greater efforts. The Drivesmaster is in charge of monitoring and maintaining the roaring plasma drives that form the heart of the ship. Though subservient to the Enginseer Prime, the Drivesmaster often maintains the plasma drives as his own fiefdom, where none but the Mechanicus and their servants are welcome.

Career Preference: Explorators only.
Examples of Immediate Subordinates: Enginseers of the Drive Temple, enginearium servitors, crewmembers who maintain the primary plasma conduits
Important Skills: Tech-Use, Forbidden Lore (Archeotech), Pilot (Space Craft).
Benefits:
The Drivesmaster gains a +10 bonus to the Flank Speed Extended Action.

Omnissianic Congregator

The machine spirit of a starship is a slow but fickle intelligence, demanding the veneration and respect of hundreds if it is to function properly. The Omnissianic Congregator guides the tech-priests and other crew versed in technoarcane ritual, in the maintenance rites and algorithmic prayers that appease spirit of the ship, conferring the blessings of the Omnissiah upon its operation.

Career Preference: Only Explorators and character with the Forge World Home World option.
Examples of Immediate Subordinates: Laymen Shipwrights, lexemechanics of the Central Cogitation Vault, keepers of the Altar Omnissiah.
Important Skills: Tech-Use, Forbidden Lore (Adeptus Mechanicus), Trade (Technomat)
Benefits:
The Omnissianic Congregator gains a +10 bonus to the Aid the Machine Spirit Extended Action.

Chief Bosun

Voidfarers are often trained from birth in the tasks they will be expected to perform aboard ship, and this training does not end when a position is secured. To keep skills sharp, all crew are expected to participate in regular drills and practice sessions. A steady regimen of drills makes for an efficient crew. The Chief Bosun also serves as the enforcer of discipline aboard a vessel.

Career Preference: Arch-militants, Missionaries, Seneschals, and Void-masters.
Examples of Immediate Subordinates: Watch leaders, bonded shipwrights, armsmen commanders.
Important Skills: Command, Intimidation, Trade (Shipwright).
Benefits:
The Ship’s Bosun provides a +5 bonus to the ship’s NPC Crew Rating, As long as the Chief Bosun is aboard, Command Tests involving the ship’s crew suffer no penalties for reduced Morale.

Infernus Master

No shipboard danger is more devastating or frightening than fire, burning uncontrolled through a voidship’s corridors and decks. Even the smallest blaze can send a seasoned crew into a panic, trampling each other in the frenzy to escape through narrow corridors before the bulkhead is sealed in a vain attempt to keep the fire from spreading. During a conflagration, the Infernus Master is charged with keeping order and minimizing the damage caused to equipment, personnel, and morale. The Infernus Master organizes bucket chains, directs evacuations, and commands damage control crews brave enough to combat even the deadliest plasma flares.

Career Preferences: Not Rogue Trader, Astropath Transcendent, Explorator, or Navigator.
Examples of Immediate Subordinates: Commanders of shipboard troops, aqueduct technicians, senior damage-control crew.
Important Skills: Command, Intimidate, Search.
Benefits:
The Infernus Master gains a +20 bonus to all Command Tests made to combat shipboard fires.

Twistcatcher

Those who dwell within the enclosed environment of a voidship’s hull risk constant exposure to radiation, both from the vessel’s mighty engines and the void itself. These harsh conditions mean an increased risk of mutation. It is a lamentable fact that even the most well-maintained vessels play host to sizeable mutant populations, hordes of the deformed unfortunates lurking in unused holds and seldom-serviced bilge decks. It is the duty of the Twistcatcher to keep his ship’s mutant population in check, and in times of dire need press these malformed wastrels into service for the good of the human crew.

Career Preference: Typically Arch-Militant or Missionary…any save the Rogue Trader.
Examples of Immediate Subordinates: Press gang foreman, mutant informants, bilge workers.
Important Skills: Forbidden Lore (Mutants), Secret Tongue (Underdecks), Tracking.
Benefits:
Immediately after Starship Combat, the Twistcatcher may raid the lower decks, replacing a portion of the dead crew with mutant slaves captured in the raid. If such a raid is undertaken, the ship regains 1D5 Crew Population but loses 1 Crew Morale.

Master of the Vox

In the course of daily operations, an endless stream of vox traffic passes through a voidship’s command deck. These lines of communication are vital to the operation of a vessel and a Rogue Trader’s fleet, and it is the responsibility of the Master of The Vox to keep all channels of communication clear, and all vox-casters functioning at peak efficiency.

Career Preference: Astropath Transcendent, Seneschal, and Void-master
Examples of Immediate Subordinates: Senior communications officers, officers of cryptography, vox-caster maintenance personnel.
Important Skills: Ciphers (Rogue Trader), Secret Tongue (Rogue Trader), Trade (Cryptographer)
Benefits:
The Master of The Vox gains a +20 bonus to the Jam Communications Extended Action.

Purser

The operation of a Rogue Trader’s vessel and the execution of endeavours requires uncountable amounts of wealth to be shuffled between investments and expenses on a daily basis, and the risk of loss is great. Financial officers must be prepared to balance enough books to fill a librarium many times over. In an economic climate where the single stroke of an autoquill can mean the difference between tragic loss and phenomenal gain, the purser must be tireless and ever vigilant. However, the purser also has a second duty, to ration payment and rewards to the crew serving aboard his ship. This often means the purser is loved and hated in turn, based on how forthcoming a crew’s pay is.

Career Preference: Seneschal only.
Examples of Immediate Subordinates: Senior financial managers, chartered accountants, the Master of Pensions.
Important Skills: Barter, Commerce, Evaluate.
Benefits:
When replenishing Morale by spending Achievement Points, the Purser only has to spend 25 Achievement Points, and may always make a Routine (+20) Barter Test instead of a Charm Test. (This test is always Routine, no matter how many times Morale is replenished in this manner.)

Carto-Artifex

The void and the warp contain dangers that often mean death for those who venture forth unprepared. The best way to survive such dangers is to avoid them entirely. To this end, a wise Lord-Captain consults his Carto-artifex before any voyage. This master of charts and hololithic maps is charged with finding safe routs and circumventing danger. The secrets of the void and the warp are laid bare before his vast knowledge of the tides and current of the immaterium.

Career Preferences: Seneschals, Navigators, Explorators, and other Explorers with a scholarly bent.
Examples of immediate Subordinates: Navigator House archivists, keeper of the librarium, deep void auger operator.
Important Skills: Trade (Astrographer), Navigation (Stellar and Warp), Forbidden Lore (Navigators).
Benefits:
The Carto-artifex gains a +10% bonus to all Awareness and Perception Test made during Warp Navigation, and when detecting stellar phenomena.

Ship’s Steward

The vast stocks of food, water, and air upon which a crew depends must be carefully monitored and rationed, lest wanton consumption and theft lead to a crippling shortage. Someone must take charge of these resources, to see that they are used properly. To do less invites starvation, dehydration, and suffocation on a catastrophic scale.

Career Preferences: Seneschal and Void-master, plus any character with the Void Born Home World option.
Examples of Immediate Subordinates: Master of Stores, senior hydrologists, guildmaster of Atmospheric Reclamators.
Important Skills: Blather, Survival.
Benefits:
The careful rationing imposed by the ship’s steward doubles the effective provisions of a craft, allowing it to function for up to a year before the crew suffers the consequences of long voyages.

Ship Roles

Fate: Warhammer 40,000 Andante