I actually made some concrete progress on The Great Rogue Trader Conversion Project yesterday. I had to make some early design decisions, but I found the process (thus far) relatively easy, although time consuming. Of course, the scary thing about making decisions at this point is that I can’t be certain they’ll work until I try them out, hundreds of steps later. Ah, well. C’est la vie.

I first decided that I’d use the Origin Path table character construction method (RT p.16) as a hard and fast rule. Later in the book, the author says that any Home World can lead to any Career, but I decided that I didn’t want that much chaos in character creation, at least not in my game. (Not while you live under my roof, mister!) Right now I’m in the process of converting each of the boxes on the Origin Path table to a Burning Wheel Lifepath. Since the RT table forces you to choose between just a few Paths at each stage, each Lifepath can only lead into 2-3 others; this cuts down on the number of repeated skills and traits shared between Lifepaths. (You’ll see why that’s important in a minute.)

Converting the first two rows (Home World and Birthright) into BW Lifepaths only took a few tweaks to make existing BW Lifepaths more Warhammery. Rather than just making the players take the first assigned skill/trait on the Lifepath list and then picking and choosing as in normal BW character creation, I’m making my players take the whole set of skills and traits associated with each Lifepath, but I think that’s in the spirit of the Rogue Trader rules. After all, the RT character creation process is much more limiting than the BW one; it emphasizes the things you can’t do because of a particular background and starting location just as much as it emphasizes the things that you can do. Ultimately, 40K games are about place as much as character, while pure BW is about character far more than place. I’ve decided to honor 40K as much (if not a bit more) than BW by having locale determine character, although we’ll see if that causes any playability issues later on.

I’m a bit worried about the ways that the RT Origin Path ends up shaping basic stats; there’s not really a similar mechanic in BW except for the +1M or +1P for each Lifepath, and RT seems to rely on screwing with basic stats quite a bit. Ultimately, though, I’d like the game to run far more on traits/skills than on basic stats, so I’m not going to worry about it for the time being. I’m adding M or P to lifepaths as it makes sense to me, and the rest of it be damned. (Note: I will undoubtedly regret this later.)

Using the Origin Path table as a Lifepath generator will mean that our characters will start at 6 Lifepaths, which isn’t the recommended start. Still, that’s because 6 Lifepath characters are more powerful than your average person–which is exactly what Rogue Traders should be. The caveat in the BW book is that 6 Lifepath characters don’t progress very quickly, but again, that’s in fitting with the 40K universe, anyway, so I’m happy with that ‘restriction.’ I think.

And just in case you were concerned about my shopping trip to Staples, I did find a new notebook–it’s one of those great Arc spirals from which you can pull and rearrange pages. Also, it matches the one I use for work, so I can kind of pretend I’m “working” when I’m converting RT to BW.