When fighting against other ships, you must make a Ballistic Skill test to shoot your ship's weapons. Do these weapons require any sort of training? None of the "Weapon training skills" mention anything about Starship weapons, and those weapons don't fall under any category.

One of the examples in the combat section says,

The Sabre has closed in on an enemy raider, and is preparing to fire. The Sabre’s gunner directs the fire of the ship’s macrobattery and lance against the raider. The gunner’s Ballistic Skill is 48, and the ship is at Close Range, giving a further +10. He fires the Sabre’s macrobattery first, and rolls a 29. He has hit successfully with two degrees of success, meaning a total of three hits. The raider’s void shields absorb the first hit, but the other two strike home. The gunner rolls 2d10, and gets a 16, beating the raider’s Armour value of 15 by one. The raider then takes one point of damage to its Hull Integrity. The gunner then fires the lance, making a Ballistic Skill test against the total of 58. He rolls an 11. Not only is this a hit, but it also four degrees of success, enough to meet the lance’s Crit Rating. A mighty blow! The unfortunate raider’s void shields are already down from the macrobattery, and the lance strikes home unimpeded. The gunner rolls 1d10+4 (the lance’s Damage) and gets a 9. Because the raider’s armour is ignored due to the nature of lance weapons, the raider will take 9 points of damage to its Hull Integrity. If that wasn’t bad enough, the gunner rolls 1d5 for the Critical Hit and gets a 5, lighting the poor raider on fire!

This can either mean that you may use your raw Ballistic Skill, without needing additional skills or talents, or that the player in this example does have this skill or talent, and therefore uses his Ballistic Skill without penalties.

To me it would be very weird that if someone has good aim, that makes him a good ship weapon user, since they are very different actions ingame (if some random mercenary sniper that has never stepped on a starship is good at firing his rifle, that means he can direct a starship crew to shoot salvos of massive broadside weapons?)

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    \$\begingroup\$ Given that Rogue Trader ships have crews measured in thousands, chances are you won't actually be firing the weapon yourself in the sense of pulling-the-trigger-makes-the-hammer-hit-the-powder; Instead, you'll be directing the team who makes the guns go to teach the machine spirit the correct bearing and yaw, then yelling "Fire!" \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Feb 9, 2015 at 4:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ To me it would make sense that ship weapons fall into an entirely different weapon category, which measures the ability of coordinating your firing crew and resolving plot solutions in your ship's bridge. It's an entire different set of skills than just your "raw ability to aim and shoot", which is what the book tells you to use. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 9, 2015 at 5:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ Sorry, bad prhasing. It is never explicitally said in the rules, but in one example says: "The gunner’s Ballistic Skill is 48, and the ship is at Close Range, giving a further +10. He fires the Sabre’s macrobattery first, and rolls a 29. He has hit successfully with two degrees of success, meaning a total of three hits." Maybe it's just the Ballistic Skill, or maybe he has the ability to fire ship weapons, therefore his Characteristic is used with no penalties. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 9, 2015 at 6:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ You should definitely edit that information into your question, since identifying the precise point of your confusion always helps those able to clear it. \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Feb 9, 2015 at 6:18

1 Answer 1


The Default Assumption

In Rogue Trader, it is assumed by default that the characters are high-ranking individuals aboard their own voidship; that is operated by a crew numbering in the thousands. Now while that scenario is completely up to the GM's discretion and their campaign story, it does promote that the players' characters have at least a basic familiarity with the ship and her operations.

Now with the ship's weapons specifically, it isn't exactly them firing by themselves. Aided by the targeting systems and their own team of gunners, their Ballistic Skill is more-or-less a representation of them and their resources as a ranking member of the crew being put to use when firing the guns. If the situation of your campaign contradicts these default assumptions, then remember that traveling from Star A to Star B is a trip that can variably take months. In ship combat alone, each round is the equivalent of ~30 min. Therefore roleplay-wise, the ship's gunnery officer or anyone having the responsibility of firing the ship's weapons should have at least some basic familiarity with this crucial system of the ship, and should have plenty of opportunity to get at least a basic rundown of how it works.

If this is still an issue in your campaign, however, I can offer a suggestion.

Use the Crew

Each ship's crew has a numerical rating that can be used for any function of the ship, including space-combat actions. Every new ship has a crew default rating of "Competent (30)" (~Rogue Trader Core Rulebook; Page 214; Table 8-9) which can be increased at a cost of ship points during the vessel's creation; or decreased at a gain of ship points. If you do not think that the one firing the ship's weapons is experienced enough to properly operate them, you could supplement the crew themselves for the roll.


In the end, it is completely up to the GM's discretion and the theme of the campaign. If they feel it is necessary they can apply negative modifiers to the gunner's roll. But as I said, in the case of ship combat they are surrounded by members of the crew who, being their staff or not, definitely know how to use them, and are aided by the ship's targeting systems; their Ballistic Skill is simply a reflection of those factors.

I hope this helps!

  • \$\begingroup\$ It does help! Although how does this skill translate to someone who has a very high Ballistic Skill but an extremely low Intelligence? (borderline retardation) \$\endgroup\$ Feb 10, 2015 at 22:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Golokopitenko If a borderline retarded character is given a command position in an otherwise competently-run Rogue Trader vessel, you're bound have a lot of suspension-of-disbelief issues. Being able to shoot straight is one of the least significant ones. \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Feb 11, 2015 at 0:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ Since starship weapons only require Ballistic Skill to use and Intelligence is a separate stat, what keeps a mentally retarded Explorer from shooting the Starship's weapons? \$\endgroup\$ Feb 11, 2015 at 0:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ The lowest Intelligence Score should be 27 on a character, which is just below your average human in the universe on this scale. May I ask how low this character's INT score is, and how it got any lower (if it did)? \$\endgroup\$
    – DaveFY
    Feb 12, 2015 at 0:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Golokopitenko Only that such an individual would not be trusted to do so. It's the same reason that the mutant ganger you press-ganged on that last hiveworld can't fire them. \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Feb 12, 2015 at 3:29

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