The latest trailer for Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader emphasizes choice and consequence, highlighting its equivalent of alignment—the conviction system. “While exploring you will be met with a great number of hard decisions,” the trailer says. “Do you try to save the population of a dying world? Or burn it all with the intent of containing heresy?”
Owlcat’s CRPG tracks your response to dilemmas like this on three axes, with five ranks to measure how far you go along each. The Imperialis conviction measures your fire-and-brimstone dedication to the God-Emperor, while Hereticus goes up when you prioritize power over morality and give in to the temptations of Chaos. Benevolentia increases if you act like individual human lives actually mean something—a controversial belief in the Imperium of Man. Ranking up convictions can unlock dialogue options, events, and abilities, as well as affecting how NPCs relate to you.
The trailer goes on to introduce Inquisitor Xavier Calcazar, who seems to be consequence personified. “All these decisions will affect the whole subsector, attracting the uncomfortable attention of Inquisitor Calcazar,” the trailer’s gruff narrator says, “who is currently overseeing the Koronus Expanse.” Progress too far along the Hereticus or Benevolentia paths and the Inquisition won’t be happy, though given the range of options shown it doesn’t look like a straight-up game ender. Instead, being interrogated by Calcazar seems to be a way of choosing which direction you want the story to take. “Your responses may even set you on a specific path,” as the trailer explains, “unlocking a unique game ending.”
On Reddit, Owlcat’s community manager went into some more detail about how that will work: “There aren’t, like, X distinct separate endings. It’s more of a long epilogue story ‘What happens next to your character, companions and the world around them’, composed of many bits based on your decisions throughout the game. Some decisions affect the ending in a major way, changing the story dramatically, others are minor details in a big picture.”
Players of Owlcat’s previous CRPGs, Pathfinder: Kingmaker and Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous, will be familiar with this style of thing. Expect a lot of epilogue slides based on your choices, basically.
It’ll be interesting to see how Rogue Trader balances these convictions. While the Benevolentia track may seem like the default “good guy” choice, I’m sure there will be repercussions if you try to play the goody two-shoes, especially with a space marine in your party and the Inquisition breathing down your extremely high collar.