Strange New Worlds

By SJE, in Rogue Trader

So, your Rogue Trader and his ship are exploring the uknown expanse. Or are lost in the warp and come out in an unknown system. What mysterious and unusual planets might they discover from over 20,000 years of human exploration ?

A few that come to mind-

The Planet of the Navigators - home to Dark Age colony of 3 eyed Navis Nobiliate who'd fled here as the warp storms rose. As the only inhabitants, they have interbred for 20,000 years and now cover the planet. None have navigated the warp before, yet their ancient rituals and school learning still preserves the basics of Navigation.

The Planet of the Squats. Land Trains, trikes and Exo-Armour, a Squat homeworld of progressive Hereteks still survives and thrives beyond the Rim.

The Zoat Embassy- urbane, cultured, educated - and also reptilian, centaur-like Xenos advisors who are bootstrapping a mediavael human culture into an advanced space fairing race. Imagine Leonardo da Vinci as a mighty alien centaur with the voice of Frasier Crane. But have you heard that Zoats are the acceptable face of Tyranid assimilation?

Biomass Matrix 001. Its true that the Hive Mind is distributed amongst the Norn Queens and Synapse creatures of the Fleet- each comglomeration a contributing Node to the Hive Mind. But some Nodes are more equal than others, and Biomass Matrix 001 is the guiding force behind this fleet. You've just jumped into the same system as it and its many bioships. What do you do? Could you even negotiate or threaten the Hive Mind?

Other thoughts?


Nice job happy.gif

How about ...

The Comsentient Alliance - three civilisations ( two xenos races and a lost human colony from before the Great Crusade), covering six systems, that have created a unified government for mutual defence and trade; an alliance that allows them to resist the threats of the expanse, so far. They have a small but efficient fleet that has a lot of combat experience against raider and orks.

They will trade with anyone as long as they conduct themselves peacefully and have no prohibitions regarding who you worship or how technology can be modified, researched or even invented.

Now will the RT pass up the chance to trade? And what will any Techpriests or missionaries make of it all?


I like the idea or a Dead World where the players delve into tombs and uncover either a dark secret, necrons, or both.

I also want to have my players run into a slaught world.

It would also be fun to have your party stranded on a primitive world where the denizens think your Navigator is their returned God-Messiah, a la "The man who would be king." (The Mutant who would be king). And have it devolve from there as the secret chaos cult causes problems.

SJE said:

The Zoat Embassy- urbane, cultured, educated - and also reptilian, centaur-like Xenos advisors who are bootstrapping a mediavael human culture into an advanced space fairing race. Imagine Leonardo da Vinci as a mighty alien centaur with the voice of Frasier Crane. But have you heard that Zoats are the acceptable face of Tyranid assimilation?

That sounds interesting (read awesome idea), perhaps the tyranids somehow evolved a different strain that tries to assimilate you with culture? Slowly the dark areas start to appear in what seems like a uptopia. This could also be adapted for a genestealer cult I guess. Where would you take this idea?

Speaking of uptopias, something based on brave new world, should the explorers try to change the society or leave it in its efficent but insane state. Perhaps make it a little gray, morally.

Or a society that breaks the empire's taboos, but is actually much fairer and better, what to do, do the empire's bidding, or follow one's conscience.

Live with a favoured and likable trading partner's one failing, or purge them for heresy.

Yeah, sorry, brainstorming, couldn't help myself.

Just an idea from a Phillip K **** short Story.

A planet that has destroyed itself with weapons and has turned into a post apocalyptic world, where humans have reverted to feral tribes. But there are still high weapon stocks, and the planets semi-organic sentient defence computers do not cause another nuclear holocaust if the huimans in return satisfy its insatiable hunger biological material by throwing themselves in their acid vats so that their bodies can be processed for fuel. The humans get to answer cryptic science/tech based questions that the tribal humans have no possibility of answering. If they answer correctly they keep their life. If the answer wrong they feed the machine. This has been going on for untold millenia just like a tradition, countless generations of the youngest and smartest dying to prevent what they think will be the end of the world.

Rogue traders explorators make a planetfall on what they think is a mineral rich planet with a stupid feral popultion of humans.The machines know that they are a threat to their existence and set the tribes to defend the planet. or else they threaten to cause another nuclear holocaust.

Can the explorators hold off the tribes from shattered cities, when unloading their macro harvesters and prefab equipment?

Will they be able to disable the planets defence grid before the defence computers see them as a overwealming threat?

Can the mechanicum explorator get himself a quiz session with the defence computer and beat it to its own nefarious game?

What if, through a warp storm, the group pops out in the pocket universe of Tekumel? Now that would be interesting.

Tekumel was seperated from its Empire by a catastrophe, possibly the same catastrophe which caused the Age of Strife. There are lots of Xenos on Tekumel working with one another. And their are active Gods which could easily be Chaos entities. Even some of the surviving tech consists of War Robots and digiweapons. It would work. Plus it is a very dangerous place with lots of marketable resources and creatures. Plus lots of HERESY to stamp out.

Watch any episode of Star Trek or Star Trek Next Generation that doesn't involve Q or a god like being. Alot of inspiration can be found from those old shows. Of course, always take creative liberties and a dash of spice and flare to make it unique and your own.

The Isle of the Blessed

At the far fringes, the RT stumbles over an old colony established on a paradies like world. Some ships (mainly RT) are in Orbit. The government welcomes them. They are indeed a lost colony, but achieved (kept?) a fine level of technology.

They offer the RT to become part of there society, even offering them a small island as "kingdom". Whatsoever, they (and the other "RT" ship) will never ever allow them to LEAVE. They remember the Imperium. They have had visited of "Explorers" and "Baptisers". They are unwilling to get back to that. If the pc do not want to abandon there ships, they will have to fight a way out.

If they come back with a fleet, the "Isle" will fight back with everything there civilizations has to offer. The people will murder them self with poison before falling into the hands of the Monster that is the Imperium.
While the pc fight over the world, the world destroys itself a little more with each lost battle.

Can the pc keep/secure anything or will the fearfull people leave nothing of their empire but burned earth?

And another one- as we all know, 2 Primarchs and their Legions were never detailed by GW and never will be. All seem to embody assorted archetypes (in the UA sense - the Sorceror, the Angel, the Beserker, the Loyal Son, the Smith etc), so perhaps one of the missing Primarchs was the Explorer- the Traveller. He and his Legion was lost to the Imperium during the Great Crusade when they went off into the Rim and never returned.

And now the PC's discover their resting place - a planet perhaps trapped by warp storms - the debris of 10,000 year old ships in orbit. Below, a human population with legends of giants from the sky who lived with them- perhaps even partial marines with 4 or 5 of the Astartes organs.

And a legend of a hidden ship buried deep in the ground, where like Arthur, a Great King and his warriors sleep in stasis until summoned once more.....

The most recent world my players have just fled was known to them as Planet Mudball.

Designation: Aesca 4

System: Aesca

Tithe: Ferrocrete.

Population: Approx 100,000

Known History: The Aesca System is one that offers many unique environments for the Adeptus Mechanicus sponsored contracts.

Sadly, the 4th planet in the system was only colonised just over 300 years ago.

The only thing the planet had a great deal of was Rain & Mud. Vast crawler factories harvest the mud and filter out the water, compacting the mud and mixing it with a multitude of chemicals to form the veritable building blocks of the Imperium.

There are 8 locations around the planet where technology goes a little buggy, and in many cases simply fails. The harvesters plot around these places, and the crews dont even know that the course is anything other but straight and true.

The most prevailent illness on the planet is simply known as Lungrot, which over the course of a year causes the lungs to simply rot away, if not treated with augmetics the worker will die a nasty drowing in his own bodily fluids kind of death.

Psykers tend NOT to get ill there, no one knows why, and few if any are ever born there naturally amongst the (usually) sterilised workers.

The only recent events of note, that the general citizens dont know about, is the fact that a small contingent of Skitarii armed with the best heavy armour the Ad-Mech can provide and 'Unusual' Tribarrelled Las-Carbines.

There are Very strong warp eddies around the planet, travel to the planet is substantially quicker than away from the planet.

Unknown History: The planet is a form of warp prison, and a small group of Eldar Corsairs (what our campaign refers to the Dark Eldar as) who're bent on unlocking the prison lock.

The way to unlock it is to commit 8 murders in an Unholy (Slanesh) Geometry at each of the 8 "Technologically Inert" areas.

As the rituals gather momentum the populace becomes more and more sexually aware & agressive, leading to a sudden raise in ****/murder cases which could lead to people investigating the ritual sites some how.

The Ad-Mech are also keen on investigating the 8 sites and wish to explore them a little more fully, and will be looking to run "Aetheric Distortion Verification Checks" at each of them and potentially unlock the prison accidentally...

One Eldar Seer dwells on the planet, along with several Guardian Spirits (Wraith Guard) to keep an eye on the Prisoner Beyond and will do anything to keep it from escaping, and if need be he'll even work with Mon'Keigh (the Players).

The Skitarii are quite happy to (try to) kill anyone who they see as interfering with the Ad-Mech testing.

The System of the Midnight Industry

The system is composed of essentially barren worlds. Several gas giants with potentially life-bearing moons, a standard yellow-sun much like Sol. The inner planets once possessed magnificent geological activity, all but one if a barren wasteland reading no overt tectonic activity. The system is of four terrestrial planets, five gas-giants, several dozen independent dwarf planets, many dozen moons of intensely varied composition.

Lifesigns: nil. (Or have one of the lovely algae planets and some algae moons)
Projected Natural Resources: Mineral and geological wealth massive, advanced molecular wealth, poor.

The Second Pass/Closer Inspection

As the Explorers prepare to withdraw from the system, curious electromagnetic signatures emanate from the interior system. Many signatures. If the Explorers turn around, they first notice one of the moons passing the largest gas giant (or nearest [or just the wandering dwarf planet passing nearby]) has a particularly bizarre defect: It has been gouged out; a massive chunk of its out crust has been utterly devastated, with its innards utterly mangled and gouged, possibly still radiating intense heat, e.g. presenting a missing, buckled and exposed molten core quite at odds with all known planetary formation as per the abilities and knowledge of even expert Astromancers.

Proceeding further they discover a pair, massively distant, escort-sized vessels ploughing slowly through the void outward away from the star, their magnetic signature is particularly curious due to the makeup of their voidshields, seemingly guiding interstellar hydrogen and marking odd deflections in transient cosmic rays.

Intense scans of the nearby area reveal these vessels to be not only highly active, energised star-ships, but also hosts to a small swarm of gargantuan ordnance and minutiae (in stellar terms) craft. More intense scans, perhaps second time around, of the planets reveal a highly nodular web of active technology which was not there previously.

Anyone scanning the star directly quickly find something startling: the signature (or direct evidence of) a gargantuan (in space-craft terms) starship hanging deep within the superbly active corona of the star itself, easily the rival in mass and energy-output of an Imperial Battleship.

The Spoiler

The Explorers have just discovered a Demiurg Stronghold Class Commerce Vessel attended by two Buttress Class Commerce Vessels (use the 'Rogue Trader Xenos Escort' from Battlefleet Gothic, accepting it has the same 'odd facing' as Forgeworld's Demiurg ships). The entire system and its vast mineral wealth is claimed and to be mined over the coming centuries by the operatives of the Krrys'nae Brotherhood and their stellar-legions of mechanoid servants.

Supposition: Open up the 'possibility of bargaining with the Demiurg. They will violently defend their claim, but they are otherwise peaceful and couldn't give a **** about the presence of the Explorers, unless approached. If the Explorers approach the Demiurg ships, make the Explorers jump through a few hoops meeting mechanical automaton after mechanical automaton in remote outposts, curious locales or vast, odd starship settings. Never somewhere 'normal', not in an office or a reception lounge or out in a field under burnt skies. First your standard 'inhuman robot interface', then a vaguely human interface 'android', then a super-human 'negotiator' (perhaps even looking particularly dwarfish, if you want to mess with their heads). In the end, if they persist and still aren't happy with 'deals' for exotic technology, trade rights, starship components or even more outrageous (and entirely feasible, in the eyes of the Demiurg [or their servants]) bargains, they might actually, just possibly, meet an actual Demiurg. (Or an automaton posing as a Demiurg?)

But what would the Demiurg look like? I propose this: Short (re: human), squat (re: human), inhuman in posture, motions, extremities and so forth. No beards, no axes, no grudges. Link to my Demiurg & Eldar picture

And that's your strange new world!

Well, one idea I've been toying with is a world that was isolated from the Imperium for 8,000 years, and has finally developed an industrial society. It's managed to land people on their two moons, and they have a balkanized political structure, meaning they're not united. They have developed their own religions, their own ways of doing things, and their own cultures, ranging from totalitarian communism to laissez-faire capitalism. Some nations have developed nuclear power and infomation technology. In other words, a world like our own. With 6 billion souls on it.

And then the Rogue Trader and his crew shows up.

What will they do?

This idea would take some fleshing out, and it might not be among the themes of 40k as it might otherwise be. Most certainly it would take more than one game session, and might take a whole campaign, or a series of story arcs regarding this world.

I secured myself a copy of 100 Planets from PostMortemProduction (over there at RPGDriveThru). While the first 10 are SciFi versions of our own solarsystems, the others are more "fare out", some even with alien.

All of them just "concepts", on a a-page-a-planet ration. But since it is a cheap download, it is really worthwhile well of inspiration.

A concept I've been playing around with- the Court of Sator Arepo.

Essentially, an entire world/culture built around the conceits of opera, with a caste system based upon a person's singing ability (ranging from Chorus, through various stock characters, to Leads), with the "Dancer" caste being warriors, and any who can neither dance or sing belonging to the "Stage Hands", an effective underclass of artisans.

Negotiations and trials are conducted by exchanging arias, as is all formal communication. Refusal to sing will lower your status in the eyes of the Court.

I'm half tempted to insist the party role-play it out, songs and all.
Bonus points for picking up on the origin of the name.

Imagine a RT crew finding a world inhabited by a crew that had been lost in warp space since before the Horus Heresy. They cling to the Imperial Truth, and have never learned about the Heresy. An entire crew of ancient humans who, from their perspective, have only been crashed on a planet for about a decade or so.

I wonder how a RT crew would react to that?

Bedlam : An Asylum world originally designed for the purpose of housing the hopelessly insane, it lost contact with the Imperium some couple hundred years ago, though the philosophies of the place have evolved from the original purpose. Because maddness is part heredity and part environment, and both are working against citizens here everyone on the planet is madd to some degree. Those who can remain lucid enough to organize and direct serve as the leaders of the city-state facilities - holding the position of Warden.

Laws on the world are often insane and contradictory, the only real law being that the strong and most lucid rule over the others - often through force. The Wardens and ancestors of the original Bio-logists that got stranded here commonly perform experiments on the "inmates" in an effort to find cures for their maddness ... though the procedures and understanding have broken down so far over the years that mostly these are bloody and torturous experiments which accomplish nothing more than entertaining the twisted minds of those in power.

Ancient machines, only a fraction of the original number still in working order, manufacture medications from local resources, which the Wardens and Doktors use to subdue a fairly large portion of the populace in order to press them into performing the duties of gardening, gathering, food preparation, and whatever else they should want this slaved work force to perform ... not uncommonly this may include any number of debauched "services" for an every more decadent ruling class.

Those who are beyond the ability of medications to treat, or who have the good fortune to be overlooked (not so difficult if they can retain some lucidity, as the press gangs serving the Wardens aren't particularly organized) live fairly unmolested and are left mostly to their own devices. Some of these have formed cliques dedicated to one delusion or another - some proclaiming themselves as famous heroes or saints, some believing they are alien species, or charged with a secret mission ... if you can imagine a delusion it is likely at least 3 people (and probably many more) have gathered together to share in it.

Basically imagine every interesting and evil thing you've ever heard or conceived of about a pre-modern asylum and apply it liberally to the planet and you've got a good basis for what to expect here.

Some that have cropped up in our game

Norman's World. A vast forest moon of a gas giant, once an imperial outpost of some 20 million souls. Primary exports were lumber and certain rare minerals. 150 years ago new mine workings broke through into a vast underground city. Clearly xeno and equally clearly long abandoned, its wealth was pulled up and put on display. In particular a large statue made of some kind of pink gemstone depicting a sexually poised minotaur type creature with both male and female attributes.

The statue was put in storage and a message sent to the Ordo Xenos, who of course had far better things to be doing than galivanting into the expanse to look at pink statues.

Although initially crated up, the statue was removed from its crates by warehouse workers who wanted a look at it. They found it pleasing and over the course of years, bought friends and family to see the statue. Some 10 years after it as found, local authorities declared the statue harmless art work and had it moved to a museum where the public could view it. And view it they did. First in small numbers, then as the years went by, more and more. The area around the museum however slowly turned into a slum, good businesses moved out, criminals moved in. Local enforcers became corrupt and local authorities lax.

Some 50 yeas after its discovery, a mad man began to preach that th statue was a god and that it would lead its followers to paradise. The planets rulers saw him as just one more crank from a bad area of the planets capital. Arrest warrants served on him went un enforced. The madmans cult began to grow. They would visit the statue, touch it, speak to it and even enact ceremonies around it. The museum staff initially protested, fought the cult and continually drove them away. As the years past, the museum staff eventually stopped protesting, then they watched, then they joined in.

Some 80 years after discovery, the cult had begun to shave small silvers of the statue off and build these into stone replicas of the statue which they moved to other cities. Mass orgies and even sacrifices of blood were held by the statues. Small groups of citizens, watching their civilization collapse around them retreated deep into the forests into communes focused on hardwork and prayer to the God-Emperor. They watched their fellow citizens as the planes cities slowly turned into violent pits of sex, sleaze and gore.

100 years after first discovery, a vast celebration was held in all the planets cities to honour the "horned god". Human sacrifice and mass mutilation occurred as the people tore themselves apart. Suddenly a bright flash of purple light flared from the statue and raced out into the streets, flowing from one citizen to another. In other cities light burst from the replica statues which themselves turned to pink gemstone. Loyal followers of the horned god were changed so that their bodies resembled their souls, dark, twisted and wicked. Sprouting horns, claws and sharp teeth, the heretics wailed and tore at themselves and went in search of those who had not turned (i.e. loyal, god-emperor fearing people).

Overnight the vast majority of the planet had changed from debauched heretics to mindless zombie filth (in our session we used the stats for hull-ghasts, nasty devils, our RT lost 2 fingers to one in melee). Those citizens who had fled the cities years previously looked on in horror and constructed what defenses they could.

Another 50 years passed. wandering zombies plagued the exiled citizens, fortified villages provided some defence but occassionally tens of thousands of ghouls would mass and destroy a village or two before wandering off aimlessly again. The surviving citizens long since used up all ammunition for their guns and have reverted to chainmail and melee weapons. They are unable to summon aid since they lack astropaths and they lack the numbers to effectively fight back. Although their villages can protected from wandering ghouls, the massive attacks are slowly driving the humans to extinction.

In our game, this was where the PCs arrived, befriend the locals, had a few scraps with the ghouls and struck a deal. In exchange for lumber, the PCs dynasty would supply the locals with medicine, guns, ammo and modern fortifications. The PCs would also think about trying to help out by destroying a few of the crumbling old cities (from which the ghouls operate). Our house rules allow only lances to fire on planets, macro shells burn up in orbit.

Gribble_the_Munchkin said:

Norman's World. A vast forest moon of a gas giant, once an imperial outpost ...

STOLEN. Thank you.

The Euripidus Mass

Five hundred years ago seers on the world of Euripides forsaw the planet's destruction through a stellar incident - the destruction of a nearby star and the waves of energy its eruption had released. Having long since lost the ability of space travel the planet's psykers developed a dangerous and unorthodox plan to preserve their world - they would devise a ritual capable of bending space itself around planet, thus diverting the cataclysmic stormfront and saving their peoples. Generations of the world's most brilliant psykers worked to devise a ritual of such complexity and enormity that the very construction necessitated a level of codependance and peace the planet had never before known. And when the cataclysm became eminent, the ritual - requiring tens of thousands of human sacrifices - was performed by sorcerers throughout every continent and nation of the world ... but as such things go, even the greatest of geniuses were blinded by hope and overestimated the ability of mere human psyches.

Rather than -merely- bending space around their doomed world, the sorcerers of Euripides thrust the planet through the fabric of space/time and into the fringes of the Imaterium itself. The stress of the act killed millions of people worldwide and tore the planet itself asunder ... but the physics of the Warp are not the physics of real space and where such a cataclysm would have meant wholesale destruction of a world in real space, in the negaspace it meant something entirely different.

Lifted out of the stuff of the planet itself, whole continents, city states, regions, were torn away from the planet core and enfolded in warp shells; bubbles of psyche formed by the strength of dying sorcerers and bolstered by the final screams of the doomed.

Today (if such a time can be said to exist within the Warp) the remnants of Euripides exists as a mass of separate places, floating through the Immaterium, tethered together by the once-planet's radiant core and a psychic connection that exists more as race memory than active history between the civilizations which have since developed out of that event. And civilizations there are - some glorious and advanced, some primitive and brutal - most living and believing their little piece of the broken planet to be the entirety of their world. But the fates of the Euripideans are intertwined and what befalls one island influences them all. In their sleep the peoples project their psyches into the other worlds, believing the things they see there to merely be the fabrication of dreaming minds; though in some of the more thoughtful domains the reaccurance of the same few score dreams throughout their entire populace has given rise to any number of theories. Some believe these other realms to be heavens, or a literal "dream dimension" to which they travel during sleep - others have postulated that they are seeing points in the history of their own peoples, or foreseeing the future - and a very few have drawn conclusions very close to the truth ... that they are somehow connected to these other worlds through an unbreakable psychic tie.

As one might well imagine, the worlds of the "Euripidus Mass" have not been ignored by the denizens of the Warp, though the shells in which they exist have protected them in large part thus far. Still, more demons are discovering the cracks in these shells every year, or rubbing the surfaces raw with their tireless efforts to breach the barriers, and some of the smaller realms have begun their inevitable decline toward destruction. Because of their connection, should even one of these realms fall entirely the demons will gain a foothold in the dreamways of the race as a whole and begin infiltrating even the most stable of domains.

Ships moving through the region of the "Mass" suffer significant turbulence and many have vanished throughout the years as the strain in that area has served to drive navigators mad, disrupt gellar fields, and tear ships apart. A very few of these domains can be landed in safely and a canny navigator might be able to frog hop from one stable realm to another until he can bypass the mass, but many others are stranded or destroyed when misfortune leads them into that region of warp space.