OH well, you thought I was done with the Tau wank after Kill Team right? Wrong! There's still Hoare's new Rogue Trader series, two novels so far being released.
Overall this was a rather average, if not mediocre novel by 40K standards. Mind, it had promise, and its better than, say, Legacy of the Force, but its still not a great one.
The novel deals mainly with a Rogue Trader who comes into his own during the events surrounding the Damocles Gulf crusade. So yes, this deals with tau. Which is where some of the problems lie. The chief problems I think is that there's a fair bit of "tau wank" in the novels (the kind of "Tau are superior to the Imperium, their philosohpy is great, etc.") nonsense you hear most Tau fans spew. The other problem is that the main cahracter seems to be kind of a Gary Stu., I get the impression that were it not for his presence in the Damocles gulf (and later the Crusade) the whole thing would have failed from the get-go. He's the tatctical genius, he's the one playing the politics to get stuff done, etc. It gets tiresome, as does his family squabbles.
The last irksome thing is that Space Combat in this novel is, to put it bluntly, absurd. You thought 40K combat had age of sail qualities before? This novel takes the "age of sail in space" principle far too litearlly. Ragnes of kilometers or less.. hundreds of meteres even. Hoare doesnt seem to have a concept of scale in space - don't expect to see "light seconds", "light minutes" or even "light hours" or god forbid AU mentioned. ITs as bad as Stackpole's "literal translation of the X-wing video games into a novel" approach.
Nonetheless, there are some interesting moments, and some interesting technical or other bits of infomration to be gleaned, and that is the main purpose of these threads. So, onwards with the analysis!
Reference to a Rogue Trader heavy cruiser and its approximate age.Even in a space-faring culture in which vessels remained in service for centuries, even millenia, she was old.
The Rogue Trader is required to rely on servitors rather than human crews to run the ships. Apparently servitors are a necessity on any warship for "many tasks" beyond human crews (either I would imagine repetitive technical tasks, crap jobs, or possibly ones that require the machine-like benefits of a servitors implants.) but there is a point of diminishing returns on their use, at least in Lucian's mind. (The trader in Eisenhorn would obviously disagree.)Vacant-eyed and drooling, each monitored a single aspect of the vessel's running. Vessels such as the Oceanid relied on their like, for many tasks were beyond the abilities of a man to perform. Yet, over the years, the availability and quality of competent crewmen had diminished to such an extent that Lucian was forced to rely on servitors. Though essential in many roles, the hideous machine-corpse custodians were no substitute for a man when it came to obeying orders in a crisis. Each knew only its alloted purpose, and would remain tethered uncaring to its station even were it to burst into flames.
This also gives us an indication of how common servitors are in usage, at least in noncombat roles.
- retro thrusters are mounted in the armoured prow of the Oceanid.
A direct indication of Imperial starships having inertial/acceleration compensators (Gravitic devices)The titanic force of the deceleration caused Lucian's head to pitch forward. RAlid barely won his fight to remain standing.
"Station nine! Why aren't the compensators online?"
The servitor at station nine, the position responsible for monitoring the Oceanid's gravitic generators, opened its mouth and squealed a response in machine language. The engine pitch deepened and the bridge ligths flickered before Lucian felt the gravity field fluctuate, compensating for the deceleration.
Mention (and well established in many cases elsewhere) of the perils and peculiarities of the Warp.Every mariner, from the most veteran of ships' masters to the lowliest rating, was well versed in the tales of ships setting out, to arrive at their destinations mere weeks later yet having aged decades. Other tales told of vessels that had arrived many centuries late, having spent mere days within the warp, while others still told of vessels arriving before having even set out.
I think this was meant to suggest lightspeed vox transmissions, but this could also hint at FTL comms given how its phrased (6 seconds or so might be a "pause", but it would, in my mind be a long one.There was a pause as the transmission beamed across a million kilometers of space, and then the simple reply.
- Lucian is six feet tall, which is considered "tall". Tall by whose standards, however, is a matter of opinion.
Page 14As was ever the case with those who spent a lifetime traversing the space lanes, Lucian counted two ages. His objective age, that counted by the ever-constant universe was something approaching half a millenia. His subjective age, the years he actually noted the passing of, was one fifth that. Still, he appeared no older than half a century, for despite the downturn in his fortunes, he had access to surgical treaments about which the common subjects of the Imperium could only dream. Regular juvenat courses held back the years and maintained strength, ensuring that he would guide his dynasty through another century at least, so long as the Arcadius survived the next decade.
- Stasis field in a small box, used to preserve family heirlooms.
- Lucian wears a number of digital weapons, laser weapons fitted into the rings. Becomes important later, as he uses them.
According to Lucian few authorities in teh galaxy short of an "Inquisitor Lord or Space Marine Chapter Master," would demand that he divest himself of weapons (and even then he would expect them to ask politely.)
This also gives us an insight into the politics of the Imperium, and how Rogue Traders (in theory) rank. Of course, in practice the reality might be different. In the right situations even Space Marines can dictate to the Inquisition (or, as we'll learn later, so can Rogue Traders.) And, presumably, vice versa.
- Nebula seem to interfere with "augur banks". Something tells me Mr Hoare has been watching too much Star Trek, but then again this is 40K, for all we know its a giant animate nebula with Chaos spawned intelligence.
Orbital defence monitor of the planet the Rogue Traders are orbiting. For the life of me I can't remember why I quoted this.Lucian stood, savouring the moment as he prepared to hail Mundus Chasmata's outer defence monitor.
The broadside of the Oceanid has enough momentum to kill the forward momentum of a pirte vessel. Assuming it is roughly destroyer ro frigate size, it could be hundreds of thousands of tons (by 40K calcs) or more probably millions/tens of millions of tons (By calcs that don't rquire the ship to have an average density of styrofoam) And assuming a few km/s speed, this corresponds to a combined momentum somewhere between 2e11 kg*m/s (for a 100,000 ton ship) to 2e13 kg*m/s (for a 10 million ton ship), or more."Starboard battery aft! Open fire on lead target!"
Below decks, the mighty weaposn bank locked onto its target: The fast-moving raider closing in on the position the Rosetta had occupied minutes before. The master of the samller vessel evidently saw his coming fate, but a moment too late. The battery erupted in blinding fire, launching huge, high explosive projectiles across the gulf of space.
Lucian watched on the surveyor screen as the raider pitched to starboard, a last desperate attempt to avoid the Oceanid's wrath. It failed, as Lucian had seen it would. The salvo struck the samller vessel amidships, robbing it of forward momentum with such violence that it split into two, its entire prow tumbling forwards whilst its drive section sheered off at forty-five degrees. Even at this distance, the spectacle was impressive, as the plasma core at the heart of the engine cluster went critical, creating a second sun for a moment.
In terms of projectiles.. if we assume 100 tons of shell is flung at the enemy, the velocity is going to be between 2000 and 200,000 km/s. KE will be between 2e17 and 3e21 joules for those velocities and mass, but probably higher.
- the raiders are identified as using frigates. Lucian's ships (two light cruisers and a heavy cruiser) is identified as a "small flotilla" This would tend to put them far more into the upper end of my calc scale, which indicates even a low end Rogue Trader frigate probably has multi-TT firepower (the KE isnt even the primary damage component.. the explosive yield ought to be comparable)
- the Oceanid makes use of press-ganged crewers as well as servitors. They probably are the ones running the guns.
The implication here is that the defence platform hs a range of at least a few thousand km, and the shells it fires cross that distance in According to this site, an "eyeblink" would be roughly 3/10 to 4/10th of a second (a third to a half).. so the velocity would be in the hundreds or thosuands of km/s (roughly consistent with the calc above.)Lucian activated the holograph, focusing on an area of space only a few thousand kilometres ahead.
"Helm, we're coming up on Chasmata's outer defense platform. AT Five hundred, yaw thirty so she passes us to portt at around fifty."
As the Oceanid ploughed on, the defence platform came into view off the port bow. Though not much larger than the rogue trader vessel, the platform bristled with weaponry, from lance batteries to torpedo tubes. The coms servitor had evidently succeeded in transmitting the correct signal. Had it not, those batteries of fearsome destruction would have been opening fire on the Oceanid
Instead, they opened fire on the raider. The captain of the raiding frigate was so intent upon his prey that he could not have seen his death approaching. It came quickly, in teh form of a mighty broadside, macro cannon shells obliterating the smaller vessel in the blink of an eye.
Mind you, Hoare tends to be very inconsistent in space combat, so I'm th inking he didnt think much of this through.
A mention of the scope of population in the Imperium. The world in question was (broadly) a "civilised" world for the most part, so we can assume the vast majority of those would be in the "billion" or so range. Disregarding agri and hive worlds, this means roughly half or more of the Imperium, which puts the total popualtion somewhere in the tens of quadrillions range (20 million or so civilised worlds with a billion populace each...) Nothing we didnt already know, but a little more confirmation doesn't hurt.The world's population was just over the one billion mark, a figure consistent with many similar worlds. Lucian had visited agri-worlds farmed by machines whose human populations were counted in the hundreds, and Hive worlds where billions crowded into kilometres-high spires.
This planet inducts ten percent of its population in the PDF, which means out of a population of 1 billion, there are 100 million troops. We dont know if this is a "common" approach, or if maybe its because its a frontier world, but assuming the ratio applied across the Imperium, the Guard would have 10% of the quadrillions of soldiers from the civilised world PDFs alone - or huundreds of trillions of troops.One in ten adults was therefore required to serve in the world's Planetary Defence Force, an institution that had, on four recorded occasions in the last three centuries provided troops for the Imperial Guard.
Ten percecnt of a Hive world (hundreds of billions if not trillions of people) would be even scarier, probabl yputting the guard figures well into the quadrillions range.
There are worlds in the Imperium (even if just the frontier ones) that still practice great degrees of self-sufficiency. This probably has something to do with age. The longer a planet in the Imperium is colonised, the less of its own resourcecs it'll have (and the more liekly it is they've worn out the planet.. such as Hive and Forge worlds.)The planets of this lonely area were, by necessity it appeared, largely self-sufficient. They had little contact with the Imperium, and little to offer it in terms of resources.
- Personal/household/Elite guards of the Lord Commander of the planet have carapace armour ("imported at great expense") PDF having carapace isnt new.. we've seen it in Sons of Fenris as well..
mention of "million and more domains" of the Empire. not sure if Domains means one planet or many planets.Unlike the teeming billions of Imperial subjects crowding the million and more domains of the Emperor's rule, rogue traders had cause to escape the worlds of their birth and go forth to visit others. Most worlds in the Imperium were largely self-sufficient, or at most inter-dependent with others in the immediate region.
It was only the most priveleged who would ever leave his world, unless he was conscripted into the Imperial Guard and sent to fight some far-away war, never to return home again.
Also, they indicate that most worlds in the Imperium are "self sufficient" or interact in the "lcoal level", which we may infer as being sector or sub-sector commerce (like in Dark Heresy, Eisenhorn, etc.)
The size of the "cluster" the Rogue Traders are in. This is presumably close to, but still not quite in, the Damocles Gulf area. whether its a sector or not I dont know.The stellar cluster that contained Luneberg's world, as well as the domains of several dozen other Imperial commanders boreded the gulf on its coreward side.
This implies "navy ships" can be bigger than the RT heavy cruiser, and again the increasing use of the Imperium version of automation in the ship.Though not as vast as a Navy ship, the Oceanid had once been home to several thousand souls, but the soulless automatons that were servitors served increasingly more and more functions, and the numbers of honest, flesh and blood men in his service decreased proportion. Human crew carried out more; crew press-ganged upon a number of worlds, of which the Arcadius held the ancestral rite to take its cut of the varied flotsam and jetsam that washed up there.
Its also interesting to note that the Arcadius family (the RT family in the novel) have certain worlds they are entitled to tithe from directly. Makes one wonder if they can take troops from those planets as well (their own Guard?)
The Oceanid's ordnance bay. Carries "thousands of tonnes" of ordnancee. Notice as well they have loading servitors designed to haul the shells.. the servitors are 3x more massive (presumably than human size) with augmented strength. This may suggest the shells alone mass hundreds of kilos if not thousands (or much more - nothing says a single servitor has to laod it)Approaching the main shuttle bay amidships, Lucian turned first to enter the battery - that part of the vessel set aside to store the many thousands of tonnes of highly destructive ordnance used by its mighty weapons. The battery was situated in the very heart of the Oceanid. It was surrounded by many metres of adamantium, the strongest, most resilient matieral known to man. Lucian's father had frequently regaled him with the story that should the Oceanid be destroyed, her battery would survive intact, to drift endlessly in space until devoured by void beasts, or ensnared by the inexorable pull of a black hole.
Lucian entered the battery. Within, vast racks of ordnance receded several hundred metres down the very spine of the ship, darkness swallowing all but the closest. Clunking servitors, three times larger than those serving on the bridge, prowled the rows; only their heads and upper torso betrayed a human origin, for pistons and power couplings had replaced much of their bodies, enabling them to heft the mighty shells onto waiting gurneys.
It does tell us though that cannon shells are far more massive than a single man could lift .
The ARcadius have a variety of armor at their personal use. some "Rival" Terminator armour, which may nto be surprising considering Terminator armour's origins. (Having a similar vairant for personal use wouldn't be a shock)Several suits [of armour] were lightweight, dsigned for situations where a degree of protection could be sacrificed in exchange for additional mobility. Others were heavy and cumbersome, rivalling the Terminator armour worn by the elite of the Adeptus Astartes, so heavy were their armoured plates.
- Lucian recalls a childhood tale where one of his ancestorws was entombed within the frame of an armoured Dreadnought. A possible throwback to very early fluff, here.
the Rogue Trader has his own personla power armour as well. IT is "heavier" than a normal man, so this probably suggests its close to or greater than his own body weight.A suit of power armour would suffice, one Lucian had worn many times, one whose war spirit knew him as well as he knew it. The individual parts of the armour were cumbersome, yet Lucian dressed himself, preferring the additional effort ot the intrusion of a servitor or rating aiding him. As he pulled on the armoured gloves, flexing them to awaken the machine impulses, Lucian reflected on the suit's vintage. It had come into the dynasty during the time of Mathan Gerrit, known for his xenocidal crusade against the burgeoning Reek Enclave.
The armour was too heavy for a normal man to bear, relying instead on a complex array of fibre bundles to move its weight in response ot the wearers movements.
You have to wonder what the guy DOESN'T have. He's probably got some vortex grenades and a Land Raider or two stashed aweay somewhere.
- The Arcadius shuttle Lucian is going to use is modular, allowing components to be swapped in and out to fit a given mission profile.
The power armour has its own internal enviromental regulation systems (temperature regulation, for example.)Although compensated for by the shuttle's systems, the violence of the (atomspheric) drop was notable. Lucian could feel the heat building up, his power armour's own mechanisms fighting to counter it.
Plasma pistol shot. The creature is multi-legged, and described as a "meter in diameter" suggesting it is quite bulky. Assuming 100 kilos or so, and that it merely "boiled" the flesh on the body, ,it might double digit MJ, probably less. Mind you, plasma pistol outputs can vary depending on setting just as much as lasguns can. I also imgine they can be more "explosive" or they can be more thermal (as in cremation, like many examples.)The plasma bolt struck the creature's torso, causing it to explode in an eruption of smoking gore and razor-sharp limbs.
Lucian concealed his surprise, for anti-gravitic technology was rare within the Imperum, and generally confined to small applications such as those generators found within servo-skulls or to far larger uses in starship construction. Lucian had never seen it manifested in such a utilitarian manner as to raise a simple cargo crate.
- The light criser Fairlight has a crew of several thousand, though only a fraction of this is free men (The rest is press-ganged ratings.) This presumably does not include servitors, as they were previously described as "soulless", and the numbers mention "several thousand souls".
- it is heavily implied that the warp area in and around the Damocles Gulf area is very turbulent, due to some "spiritual turmoil and upheaval" and this makes warp travel difficult if not impossible in some respects.
- a twenty day voyage through the warp back to Luneberg's system from their current one. Assuming between 10-100 LY, this works out to hundreds or thousands of times c.
- the Fairlight has at least three stasis holds. (The Farlight is one of the Rogue Trader light cruisers run by the child of the Arcadius head).