Forging the Narrative: Unbound Rogue Trader Army

The local Games Workshop store is holding an interesting contest over the next few weeks: A 1000 point Unbound army painting and modeling competition with a tournament to wrap it up, the emphasis being on making an army with a story to it, rather than just spamming powerful models.  There have already been some fun ideas floated, and it’s a good excuse to try some interesting modeling projects.

For my own “army” I decided it would be fun to do a Rogue Trader’s merry band.  The comments about Unbound being another step back toward the days of Rogue Trader (the original name of 40K, based around the idea of a “Rogue Trader” gallivanting around the galaxy with a band of mercenaries and misfits) made me think this would be a perfect excuse for such an army.  I could use units and characters from across the entire range of Imperial armies with them all acting in harmony as Battle Brothers, so that gave me plenty of room to work with (and if I want to push it, Eldar are Allies of Convenience).

I’ve decided to limit the army in certain ways.  For example, no large vehicles, because you can’t expect a Rogue Trader to just have a Land Raider or Leman Russ lying around.  They might be able to steal a smaller vehicle, like a Rhino or a Taurox, but not a tank.  Everything should have a reason for being there, so if I couldn’t find an excuse, it wasn’t going to be in there.  Ditto for any models I have where I can’t work them into the rules while being WYSIWYG (at least close enough; i.e. lasguns and autoguns are pretty interchangeable).  That’s an important note as I dug through my cases of figures to find models that might be fun to use.

Below are a few ideas for the army, based on the models I have available.  Not all of them will make it into 1000 points, but they can be on hand for expanding the army further.  It likely will be even less effective at higher points unless I relax some of the restrictions (or even borrow the idea of a Rogue Trader hiring mercenary armies to fight for him), but it will be fun, which is the main point.

No characters are named yet.  Still working out backgrounds and all, then on to names.  So the following will be somewhat generic.

Rogue Trader

The army should be led by a Rogue Trader, of course.  This is the biggest problem I’m having, finding an appropriate model for this.  I might have to jump onto eBay.  The current range of GW figures doesn’t have a particularly appropriate model at the moment.  I’m thinking of taking a box of Tempestus Scions and grabbing bits from the Empire range and other areas to try to convert a Rogue Trader in carapace armor with a personal bodyguard.  The best representation of rules for a Rogue Trader will likely be an Inquisitor.

Inquisitor and Retinue – Witch Hunters

Riding along with this group is a Witch Hunter (with an actual Witch Hunter model) and his crew, spreading the word of the Emperor through force.  I have some Necromunda Redemptionists that could work as Acolytes, or in the case of the guys with big chainsaws, Ministorum Priest with eviscerator.  Add in a couple of Crusaders, possibly convert a Rhino to carry them.  If the unit ever got into combat, it could be reasonably potent, but it would certainly look the part of a Witch Hunter looking for people to burn.

Commissar and Psyker

I have a female Commissar model from some point in the past when those actually existed.  She doesn’t exactly look like she fits into an Imperial army, and while I’m tempted to just say it’s a woman who thought the coat looked stylish, I like the idea of a Commissar who was fighting in a battle alongside a group of psykers, most of whom were lost to the Warp.  The last one, however, didn’t suffer an attack from the Warp, but rather helped hold the line and save the Commissar’s life, so when she was ordered to execute him as a danger to the regiment, she refused and the two of them escaped, turning to the Rogue Trader for safety and work.  The Commissar will use Lord Commissar rules and the Psyker will be a Primaris Psyker; they’ll run together on the battlefield, and if he shows signs of finally giving in to the Warp, she’ll regretfully put him down.  It’s dangerous to have them together on the battlefield because of the “It’s For Your Own Good” rule, but I feel like it fits the story, so I’ll take the risk of a hit on the battlefield for a good story.

Insane Fighter Woman and Pyro Psyker

Another fun pair of models I have are from Necromunda.  One of them is “Mad Donna,” another is a Wyrd Pyromaniac.  They have a similar style to their dress and hair, making them seem like a good pair.  My initial thought is to have the two of them be lovers, but it might be even more interesting to have them as siblings who escaped an Imperial Noble household before the woman was locked up for being insane and the man was killed for being a dangerous psyker.  The woman will be an “Inquisitor” with plasma pistol and power weapon.  The psyker will be a “Primaris Psyker” with Pyromancy powers.  Don’t tell me how useful they are, we’re telling a story here!


I had a bunch of Ogryn that I felt would make a nice bodyguard unit… and then I realized that Bullgryn literally are a bodyguard unit.  I just picked up a box of Warhammer Ogre Bulls and will have them carrying “shields” made from things such as broken pieces of wrecked vehicles.  The net result will look like mercenary Ogryn who’ve collected junk from various battlefields to help them protect their leader.

Vindicare Assassin

What’s a ragtag group without an Assassin on board who doesn’t talk and just performs his duty, a duty that most of the crew are unsure of?  Is he loyal the Rogue Trader?  Is he there to help the Inquisitor?  Is he just following his own agenda?

Power Armor Mercenaries

I have a good handful of older Space Marines lying around, albeit not as many as I used to.  Given that they’re skinnier than current Marines and their armor and gear and size could look out of place, it could be interesting to use these guys as mercenaries who’ve scrapped up power armor.  They might even be enhanced.  They might be failed Space Marine experiments.  Whatever the reason, it’s a potential squad of five Marines with a multimelta, ten Marines on bikes, three Attack Bikes, and even three Marines on Jetbikes.  Possible Dark Angels Fallen perhaps?  (I do have Cypher lying around, too.)

Mercenary Bands

There are assorted models that can be converted to be basic Mercenaries.  I have eight Empire Free Company waiting to be handed laspistols and used as Acolytes, for example.  I have six Van Saar gangers that could be used as a Tempestus squad or something similar.  Though they seem a bit odd, I even have a band of Ratskins that could serves as a mercenary band using Acolyte rules.

Demiurg Engineer

Since we can’t use “that word” any more, I’ll agree to call this fellow a Demiurg.  I like the idea of a Jokaero-like tinkerer, but I really don’t like the Jokaero model.  To that end, I’m considering getting a Dwarf Engineer to use, with some modeling changes to make him look more appropriate (there is already a character who looks like he’s actually wearing power armor).

More Opportunities Await!

There’s a lot more opp0rtunities, and I’m going to have a hard time nailing down an initial army list, then getting the models together, assembling and painting them, and continuing to expand for future games (where I might well bring in some of my random assortment of Imperial Guard as mercenary squads).

As I get the army nailed down, I’ll post later updates with the stories of the individuals involved, and periodic modeling updates as well.

This, my friends, is what Unbound is meant for!

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