So, while I whittle away at those rules for Tau, I decided to run (in a spur-of-the-moment kinda deal) a one-on-one game of Rogue Trader for a friend.
Due to the assumptions of the game, Rogue Trader seems almost tailor-made for Duet gaming - with the player taking the role of the Rogue Trader, carrying a Warrant of Trade (otherwise know as the "Do Whatever The Fuck You Want Pass"), with a crew of tens of thousands behind them, and as many specialists as they need for a particular operation (whether on-board, or easily hired with the vast fortunes you have/will acquire).
Our tale begins with Lord-Captain Claudia Black, previously a mercenary who inherited her Warrant and a starship when her mother, Marie, died in unusual (and as yet unreported) circumstances. After setting a few last pieces of business in order (informing contacts and trade links of her mother's passing, and her succession, reinforcing old bonds and striking a few new ones), she headed to Port Wander to look for new opportunities for wealth to help get the dynasty back on its feet.
Port Wander was once a simple space station - a port for those far from home, to resupply and catch up on the news of the rest of the Imperium. After many years of expansion, rebuilding, and the introduction of no small criminal element, Port Wander has become something of a Free Port in the old, euphemistic sense. People flaunt the minor laws and rules of the Imperium with surprising regularity, and the sheer number of Xenos present is a show that it's not just the little laws that are being broken.
Clothed in far more practical gear than a Rogue Trader should be, and accompanied by 10 of her best armsmen/bodyguards (dressed, in her own words, in "black, highlighted with black"), she took to the streets, specifically hunting out some of her mother's old contacts in the hope of getting some leads. While heading towards The Emperor's Lament, hangout of several old contacts of the Dynasty, Claudia was approached by a group of Xenos - tall, lithe, and dark-skinned, with huge quills adorning their heads (and smaller ones on their bodies), and short beak-like faces. While the Captain didn't recognise the Kroot, she quickly got to the bottom of their approach - they were offering their services as mercenaries, to anyone who would take them. Declining politely, they moved on to the next well-dressed and important-looking person to walk their way.
Suitably confused as to the brashness of the Xenos on Imperial grounds, Claudia continued on to the Emperor's Lament. Here, she found Arkady Lemenshan, leader of several of Port Wander's smaller gangs and protection racquets, and an old friend of her mother's. Arkady had helped the Black dynasty out with several "under the table" endeavours previously, and was deeply upset about her passing.
Not that you could tell - the man has a permanent stony face, emphasised by the shaved head and heady collection on augmentations. After dealing with hisusual gang Captains, Arkady set aside some time to pick Claudia's brains, and slowly but surely an ulterior motive surfaced (helped along by a couple of 50-year vintage Amasec, taken as a shot by Arkady and politely sipped by Clauida) - there was an auction that night. The Seven Witches, a nearly mythical group of psykers, had received a vision of how to locate The Pearl - known by most as a fairytale world, lost somewhere in the Expanse, where the beaches are precious gems, the water is the clearest imaginable, and untold archaeotech riches await those who might plunder its depths.
However, the Witches don't need coin - they want something interesting. And Arkady needed the clout of the Black Family Dynasty to even get an invite, let alone make a decent bid. After agreeing to provide as much help as he can (he's surely a far more resourceful man than Claudia, with contacts she could only dream of), and a small cut of the profits, the pair decided to attend the auction together.
Searching the ship's private vaults and stasis containers, the Lord-Captain found the perfect item to offer - the Ear of St Drusus, with full paperwork to certify its authenticity (as investigated and authorised by an Inquisitor, no less).
Offer in hand, the two approached the old Courthouse where the auction would take place (Arkady dressed in his finest leathers, while Claudia picked an ornate deep-green dress and cloak combo, topped off with a ceremonial rapier). But things wouldn't be as easy as they seemed...
I'm running the game as a modified version of the Lure of The Expanse book - dropping some of the "optional" bits to speed the game up to the meaty task of exploration and fast-pitched space battles. A lot of the encounters seem to be padding - each could (and in some cases, should) take up an enitre session, despite not advancing the plot at all! Plus, after the "introduction" part, control is handed over to the players to proceed as they like, and that's what I wanted to emphasise - the free-roaming, sandbox nature of both the setting and the game.
It's going pretty well so far, and the second session (conducted via Skype) will get written up shortly...