I was a bit baffled by the fact that Black Library dropped Warhammer 40K: Dark Heresy. It sold at lightning speed, and it was an excellent book with really good writing and ideas.
Luckily, Fantasy Flight Games picked up the franchise, and their books have, from my point of view, been pretty good so far. From what my (evil) GM has said, though, there does seem to be a bit of White-Wolf Syndrome, where they don’t let the GM in on much more information than the players, making an integrated campaign hard while the books are still coming out.
For those of you not familiar, the first game was about being the retinue for an Imperial Inquisitor. I presume we’re building to playing Space Marines, but each game is taking its time, and so much the better.
The next offering from FFG is an extension to the universe, where the party play Rogue Traders. Rogue Traders seem to be somewhere between break-bulk cargo traders and corsairs. The Rogue Trader has a warrant that lets him sail his vessel on the edge of the Imperium, and can end up with (limited) contact with Xenos.
The joy of the 40k universe is that everything is on a cosmic scale. Even when playing Dark Heresy, I had a real sense that we were cut off on each planet, and only rarely able to cross the vast, deadly expanse. I hope the same feeling can appear in Rogue Trader. The ships are vast, kilometers long and with tens of thousands of crew.
No Enterprise, these ships are thick, heavy, dirty and mysterious. The crew are superstitious, ignorant peasants, slaves to inherited roles tending great machines.
The possibility of playing out an entire game of mediaeval court power inside the walls of a ship flying through the Empyrean Waste is something I really look forward to.
You’d barely have to leave the ship to play out an epic tale.