All photos (c) Games Workshop Ltd
Continuing on with the background of my Rogue Trader campaign, here is the dynasty and the captain that my players will be serving under, and the ship they will be sailing the void on.
THE AVALON DYNASTY
In the millennia since, the Avalon dynasty enjoyed fame and success in their role as a Rogue Trader house. Their ships plumbed the depths of the Eastern Fringe, bringing twenty-two worlds into compliance (five of which became established Imperial worlds), and more importantly, bringing wealth and splendour back from the lightless realms beyond the Astronomicon. With fame came enemies, however, and before long the Avalons found themselves embroiled in rivalries and trade wars with other Rogue Trader dynasties, particularly the Valkens and the Destraads. Even so, the Avalons’ influence grew to the point that they had the ear of the sector governor, and they had numerous off-world holdings and sources of wealth beyond stately Calyphia.
In M41, however, the dynasty’s good fortune all came crashing down. The dynasty’s flagship, the Grail of Calyphia, a venerable grand cruiser, was lost in the Cairn Expanse, along with several hundred thousand of House Avalon’s loyal retainers and, worst of all, the dynasty’s patriarch, Quintus Avalon. It is not known what caused the destruction of the Grail— whether it was pirates, or xenos, or some other force of destruction– but the wreckage of the grand ship was found drifting amidst the asteroid belts of the depths.
The news of this disaster had barely hit home when an even greater catastrophe struck the whole of the segmentum. In what is now known as the First Tyrannic War, the living tide that was Hive Fleet Behemoth suddenly swept into the Eastern Fringe from beyond the galactic edge, devouring whole worlds and leaving entire systems barren and lifeless in its wake. Though Calyphia was, thankfully, spared the attentions of the Tyranids, much of House Avalon’s offworld holdings and sources of wealth were caught in the path of the Hive Fleet, and lost to that all-consuming tide.
In the wake of this period of calamity, the Avalon dynasty remains one of the prominent Rogue Trader houses in the sector, though it has fallen behind many of its peers in influence, and it is generally regarded as a pale shadow of its former glory. The current head of the dynasty, Catullus Avalon, has primarily concerned himself with restoring his dynasty’s fading wealth– securing trade interests and political alliances with other noble families in the sector, re-establishing lucrative offworld contracts, and safeguarding whatever assets the dynasty has left– all at the expense of any further deep space exploration. His brother Tiberius, however, chafes at this conservative approach, and longs for the Avalon dynasty to stride into the unknown once more.
The sigil of the Avalon dynasty is a goblet, set against a crescent moon. The moon represents the dynasty’s home of Calyphia, while the goblet, historically, represents the Avalons’ origins as wine traders. Symbolically, however, it conveys so many more meanings– power, nobility, wisdom, spirituality, and even the pursuit of pleasure. Below, in High Gothic, is emblazoned the dynasty’s motto, “Let Not The Spirit Fade.”
Seen as one of the most renowned trailblazers in the Kerberus Sector by some, and as a charlatan, a scoundrel, and a degenerate by others, Tiberius Avalon is not a man who is afraid of being talked about. The eldest of the remaining children of Quintus Avalon, Tiberius is well into his ninetieth year, and rejuvanat drugs have only succeeded in making him look closer to his fifties. A well built man with a finely trimmed red beard, a neatly ponytailed length of hair, chiseled facial features and laughing blue eyes, Tiberius is a boisterous and passionate man, equally at home on a tavern-chair or at the bench of his spinet as he is on his command throne.
Like all scions of the Avalon dynasty, Tiberius was made to go through service in an Imperial institution before he was allowed anywhere near one of the family’s ships. After a mercifully brief career in the Imperial Navy in which he narrowly avoided a court martial, Tiberius began serving in his family’s fleet, before rapidly rising to command one of the dynasty frigates. Eventually, though, he was granted the venerable light cruiser Iron Duchess, and it was with this ship that he truly won fame, glory, and no small amount of infamy.
In one expedition into the outer edges of the Cairn Expanse, Tiberius is recorded as having discovered twelve new systems, and more importantly, recovering a long-lost STF template that was worth a planetary governor’s ransom in wealth, a feat that made him almost a household name in the sector. Subsequent voyages of the Iron Duchess were no less daring in their scope, and tall tales of him soon began to spread among the backwater drinking-holes and gaudy nobility of the Kerberus Sector alike– tales of how he famously duelled and slew the pirate Kagran Knife-Eyes on the burning bridge of a battleship, of how he outsmarted a host of robotic sentries to open up (and loot) the long-lost tomb of the Xankuthi Fiends, of how he uncovered and thwarted a vile cult of the Dark Powers and single-handedly defeated them all with his bare hands…the tales about Tiberius are wild, fanciful, contradictory, and no doubt in part spread by Tiberius himself. The extent to which they are true is the subject of some drunken debate throughout the sector.
But just as Tiberius is famous, so too is he infamous. In many social circles his name has become associated with scandal, with whispers abounding that there is nothing under the Astronomicon’s light that he has not drunk, smoked, injected or inbibed, and that there has been many a debauched incident in the past that his family’s money has had to make disappear. Similarly, it is whispered that he has had numerous trysts with noteworthy women and men alike across the sector, and that his affairs at this point are beyond counting. If Tiberius is aware of any of these scandalous whispers, however, then he is either unconcerned with them, or indeed, even enjoys being a figure of controversy. To his family, however, and particularly his siblings Catullus and Ophidia, who maintain control of the dynasty, Tiberius’ antics are a persistent and headache-inducing nuisance.
Some, however, have speculated that there is an underlying sadness to Tiberius’ zest, that his hedonism is as much self-destructive as it is decadent, and that his constant seeking out of danger is in truth a suicidal race to oblivion. His closest confidants and crew have admitted that Tiberius has not been the same since his beloved wife Julietta died two decades ago, some say to the poison of a rival dynasty. Others note that the loss of his father with the family flagship, and the loss of most of his dynasty’s holdings and wealth, has put a greater and greater strain on Tiberius as the world he has always known starts to crumble around him.
There are even dark whispers still about Tiberius that suggest that he has been up to ill dealings outside of the prying eyes of the Imperium– that he has been making a fortune in the trade of forbidden xenos artefacts, and worse, that he has actively trading and collaborating with xenos. Though these are all but whispers, they have been enough to cast a dark pall on Tiberius’ reputation, and even worse, have reached the ears of his estranged siblings on Calyphia.
Despite his cavalier attitude and miscreant behaviour, however, Tiberius is not the self-serving, amoral vagabond that some would paint him as. Though he does little to show it, he remains loyal to the Imperium and to the God-Emperor, even if he does have a very relaxed attitude towards Imperial law and Ecclesiarchial tenets. Furthermore, he is fiercely loyal to his family, to his house, and by extension, his crew, and has been known to fight duels, dive into fistfights, perjure himself and even endure strenuous fines to protect those under his command. This, if nothing else, has inspired his crew’s unwavering loyalty to him, through thick and thin, and many of them would follow him into the Maelstrom itself if need be…
The Iron Duchess
A Dauntless-class light cruiser, the Iron Duchess has been in the possession of the Avalon dynasty for millennia, sailing the void with a stately grace that echoes her name. Currently under the command of Tiberius Avalon, the Iron Duchess has undertaken no less than one hundred and fifty three voyages throughout the dynasty’s history, and has a legacy of service that makes his command of her a mark of personal pride for Tiberius. The exact history behind the Iron Duchess, however, is unclear, as many of the Avalon family’s records from the 36th Millennium and earlier have been lost, either to war, arson or sabotage. The earliest dynasty record of the Iron Duchess mentions that ship fending off reavers in the Seqorra Belt. Beyond that, the origins of the ship remain a mystery.
That, of course, hasn’t stopped rumours from sprouting about the ship. There are some claims that the Iron Duchess‘ hull was originally wrested from a space hulk– and indeed, some even claim that the space hulk in question was the dreaded Rok of Ages that eventually formed the Hex, with the one hull piece taken by the nascent Avalon dynasty as a prize for their role in the defeat of the Ork armada. Other, more fanciful tales suggest that the ship was built by a long-forgotten forge world, crafted by means long forgotten to even the Mechanicus, and that technological marvels lie unlocked and undiscovered within her hull– or worse, kept secret by the Avalons. Some still claim that the Iron Duchess is in fact a cursed ship, its decks haunted by the lingering ghosts of its first owners and its beams groaning under the weight of the damnation it carries with it. Only the wizened chief archivist of the Avalon dynasty may know the truth, and he has kept stubbornly silent on the matter.
Regardless of her origin, it cannot be denied that the Iron Duchess is a majestic ship for one of her light size. Painted in the wine-dark red, gunmetal silver and blazing brass of her dynasty, the Iron Duchess cuts a regal figure as she glides across the void like a noble lady at a ballroom. Her towers and buttresses are carved in stately, classical lines, more akin to those of some ancient manse rather than a castle or fortress, and at her prow, above her armoured ram, stands her figurehead– a beautiful woman of indeterminate age, holding a goblet in one hand outwards, as though in a toast or in an offering. The voidfarers who have served on the Duchess have noted that her machine spirit is a resolute one, her systems continuing to function even when suffering severe damage. This resolute nature has a downside, however, as often her enginseers struggle to get the ship up to an optimal speed, both in realspace and in warp-space translation. As her crew is often fond of saying, “a lady doesn’t like to be rushed.”
Iron Duchess– Dauntless class light cruiser
Components: Jovian pattern class 3, drive, Strelov 2 warp engine, Gellar field, multiple void shield array, command bridge, M1-r life sustainer, voidsmen quarters, m-100 augur array, compartmentalized cargo hold, observation dome
Weapons: port Mars-pattern macrocannon broadside, starboard Mars-pattern macrocannon broadside, Titanforge lance
Complications/Past History: Resolute, Wrested from a Space Hulk
Shuttle Compliment: 2 gun-cutters, 4 Aquila shuttles, 20 Arvus lighters, 2 heavy cargo lifters
Officer roster of the good ship Iron Duchess, as of 999.M41
Lord-Captain- Tiberius Avalon
First Officer- Aramis Danton
Enginseer Prime- Magos Nikolaev Gogol
High Factotum- Brigitte L’Oiseaux*
Master-at-Arms- Khan Harzen
Master Helmsman- Terryn Mkrae
Cutter Pilot- Calan Mkrae
Master of Ordnance- Victorix “Boom” Bumhauer
Master of Etherics- Namataj Saru
Master of the Vox- Miko Sekuta
Master of Whispers- Orwell Delaque
Choirmaster Telepathica- Hirom Modrin
Warp Guide- Mistress Kassandra Selethon
Void Dreamer- Cygnet*
Ship’s Confessor- Heloise Bronwyn
Drivesmaster- Gudrun DeCalefax
Omnissiac Congregator- Nexis-Thul-557
Archeotech Specialist- Andromeda*
Chief Bosun- Mari “Mother Mari” Ingenua
Bosun’s Mate- Reginald Callaway Dent*
Purser- Aldous Fenn
Carto-artifex- Ziri Shylo
Ship’s Steward- Jago Strummer
Chief Chirurgeon- Maxim “Maks” Fyodorovich
Avalon Dynasty Barrister- Euphemia Belacourt, ESQ
Captain’s Butler- Mortimer Crane
Infernus Master- “the Pyreman” (real name unknown)
Twistcatcher- “Obadiah the Unseen”
Xenotech Specialist- Ka’ra*
Sommelier to Madame L’Oiseaux- Amadeo
Handmaiden to Madame L’Oiseaux- Souer Kathima