Even though I picked up most of the official sourcebooks and supplements for the Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40k series of role-playing games released in the past fifteen years or so, I’ve decided to focus on the core titles in this feature. This project has gone on long enough without delaying its impending conclusion any further, especially when said delay would amount to two dozen variations of “It looked interesting, it made for some fine bathroom reading, and now it’s warming a shelf on the bookcase at the top of the second floor landing.”
It would take something particularly noteworthy to justify that kind of digression, but there does happen to be one sourcebook that clears that hurdle…
…the Battlefleet Koronus supplement for Rogue Trader.
Shipboard life and combat plays a central role in Rogue Trader‘s world of freebooting exploration. Part of the game’s character creation process involves the players collaborating to select and kit out a suitable starship to serve as their dynasty’s flagship. The core rulebook provided a small but representative spread of options on that front, but left plenty of room for further elaboration — which in role-playing industry jargon translates to “another pricey hardbound supplement.”
The purpose of Battlefleet Koronus was to expand the rules for starships and macro-scale military actions in the Rogue Trader system. New components and other construction options were provided, including planet-shattering “nova cannons,” squadrons of attack fighters, and guided torpedoes. The routines governing life aboard an incredibly ancient, kilometer-long voidship are described in detail, along with the various hazards faced by the vessel and its crew.
The Imperial Navy gets a chapter outlining its history, traditions, and duties in the anarchic Koronus Expanse, as do the various alien and other adversarial entities operating in the region. It all adds up for some fun “fluff” to read on the shitter, but the real meat-and-bones of the book rests in its illustrated directory of capital ships operating in the 41st Millennium.
I have been a mark for this sort material since childhood. It doesn’t matter if it’s a coffee table tome of historical naval vessels or the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, put a technically-minded encyclopedia of stuff in my hands and I will lose myself in a spiral of comparison and codification. The speculative leaps of imagination such works inspire outstrip any narrative context their prose passages might provide.
Whether intended or not, these parts of Battlefleet Koronus channel the same vibe as the Terran Trade Authority series of books, only sporting a Warhammer 40k branding. Since the designers went to such lengths to specifically target me, it would’ve been rude if I resisted.