I made a similar question earlier, but I still don't quite understand how exactly do his "minions" work. Is he able to control as many servitors as his Tech-Use (intelligence bonus) allows him? How exactly does he do that?

First, let's check the rules the book gives

Tech-Use can be used to direct the actions of Servitors; when used this way, Tech-Use functions identically to Command.

Then, Command works like this:

Command (Basic)


The Explorer utilizes the Command skill to both direct those under his authority and establish actions for groups to execute on command, such as bringing a ship to battle stations. This skill is only effective upon those under the Explorer’s authority. A successful Command Test indicates that those whom he directs follow his instructions in a timely manner. Failure on the Skill Test when used on an individual simply means that he does not follow the Explorer’s directions, though additional Degrees of Failure can indicate that the individual accepts the task with no intention of actually doing it, or could even misinterpret the command or take contradictory actions. For directing groups, Degrees of Success or Failure will increase or decrease the time necessary to execute the orders, with three or more Degrees of Failure subjecting them to confused inaction. A Command Test can affect a number of targets equal to the Explorer’s Fellowship Bonus. They must be able to see and hear him, though this could be done remotely through a vox- or pict-caster, and use speak a common language.

Skill Use: Half Action for simple commands, Full Action for more involved direction.

I am making the assumption that the Explorator will use his Intelligence instead of Fellowship to command the servitors. So, when his turn arrives, the Explorator can roll for Tech-use and if he succeeds he spends half action to command his servitors to attack or do whatever he wants them to do.

What's these rules don't explain is what's the difference between a "simple command" and a "more involved direction"? But what I really want to know is this:

Is there any limit to how many servitors he can bring into the fight?

What I am really looking for are rules that limit the Explorator's ability to take a army out of his pocket. Let's take a look at my party's: He has about 70 of Intelligence, which means he can control 7 servitors and practially triplicate the party in combat, turning a manageable group of 4 people into a mob of 11 individuals. I know I can just bring more enemies, but overall the combat is just going to turn more and more tedious. And he's only rank 1, when he gets more skills, he could control up to 24 minions. If the party is quite wealthy (this is Rogue Trader, so it will) there is absolutely nothing stopping him from spamming servitors, which can lead to pretty ridiculous situations.

I'd really like to avoid this. Is that possible without adding house rules?


2 Answers 2


There's nothing intrinsically wrong with having a servitor army. It's just not very Rogue Trader. Rogue Trader is a game of swashbuckling adventure, of dashing combat and derring-do. Hiding behind your servitor army isn't quite the same.

For a start, I'd recommend speaking to the player, and asking them not to take the piss (Rule 7).

For a second, servitors get damaged as well - the more you have, the longer it'll take to repair them. And that's a significant delay between fights if they get heavily damaged - especially if there's only one person with a reasonable Tech Use score.

A simple command is "Attack!", "Defend me!", "Stand down!". More involved direction is "go round the east flank and attack them from behind".

The best way to judge is common sense. What can you get across clearly while shooting a gun at the enemy and trying not to get hit? What can you get across if you're not trying to shoot at the same time?

Other options Have your enemies use clever methods to get around the servitors.

Maybe they transmit scrap-code that gets in through the receivers (scrap-code can be transmitted via noosphere, radio-link or audio-link). That'll work until they equip the hardened components that resist scrap-code in their servitors (essentially hardware firewalls that catch scrap-code in a buffer so it doesn't get through to the firmware - there is a reference to that in one of the WH40K RPG books, but I don't remember which one).

Maybe they have a xenos/archeotech EMP that shuts down bionic components (Tech-Priest and Explorator bionics tend to be hardened against these attacks, so the Explorator wouldn't be affected) - again circumventable by equipping the servitors with hardened components.

One practical limit you can put on them is how many can fit in a lander. Your standard Aquila lander takes ten human-size passengers; if the servitors are bigger than normal humans, those numbers get reduced downwards as they take up more space. If they do push it and just take more landers, then there's always the possibility of an anti-air attack blowing the lander full of servitors out of the sky before it gets a chance to land. To be fair to the player, you may want to have the servitors be at least partially salvageable from such an incident (or at least warn them that permanent loss is possible), but that potentially takes a large portion of fighting strength out of that encounter until they're repaired/salvaged/rebuilt-from-the-ground-up.

You could go to Black Crusade or Deathwatch and borrow the horde mechanics - treating their servitors like a Horde. So it attacks as a unit, and defends as a unit and you avoid some of the complication of having to deal with an extra 7 bodies in the initiative order.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Your answer is great, but I don't like having the game focus on how to counter the servitors. I think the best solution here would be make house rules or simply speak to the player about how this would make the game worse. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 26, 2014 at 18:04
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ The point is less to focus on countering them, but being aware that you can. Be that with enemy minions at CatLord suggests, or by having their minions be taken out of play somehow. The first point should always be to talk to the players - maybe they don't want an army of servitors. Or if the Explorator does, then maybe the rest of the party doesn't. \$\endgroup\$
    – Eligos
    Feb 26, 2014 at 22:26
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Also, if you have recurring characters who the party have rivalries with, and they're constantly being beaten down by the servitor minions, they're going to go out and get their own minion armies - or other ways to nullify theirs. Inferno Pistol - 2d10+8 points of "was that a servitor or a molten pile of slag?" You have twenty servitors? I have a Space Marine. It's up to your play style, and what your players want You need to work with what they want to do while maintaining your own vision of how things should work. Rogue Trader is the game of quality over quantity - remind people of that. \$\endgroup\$
    – Eligos
    Feb 26, 2014 at 22:30

In essence this is how the skill is designed to work. Yoda's answer has some great framework for how to simplify things, and my answer below is simply an alternate.

Having experience with the game Scion, where if you are really dedicated to having the Followers birthright and spend all of your build points on it, you could in theory have 40 (fairly weak) minions. I've also been in games where three or four characters have a cadre of 5 elite units (things like Myrmidon and Anubites) and the StoryTeller gets jammed up in combat because an already crunchy fighting system gets flooded by combatants. The ST's usual solution? The other guy can have minions too. Where the lackeys don't need to be used for tasks like guarding the door, patrols, other scouting missions, enemy combatants appear in numbers. Granted, in Scion (at least as we have it) Followers are replenished as they are literally a Birthright to your character so we don't keep track of the damage that much. It's more like a defensive line in (American) football - yes they have numbers and strength but essentially they just act as a living shield or wedge to allow the party to do what they're trying to do.

Thus I would suggest the Horde rules Yoda suggested if you don't already have a system in progress if you're in a game where you are making them keep track of money down to the letter. During a game where you don't want that wide a lens on micromanagement you can gauge the damage of the servitors based on how successful the players were. When the party is quick and effective, the servitors haven't taken much damage. When they're slow and being browbeat so are the minions.


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