The Rogue Trader is the ultimate authority on his ship and has the title of Baron or Baroness. The Baron is CEO, President, Magistrate, Arbiter, and H.N.I.C on his shop. He relies upon his command staff for advise and counsel but is the one ultimately responsible for the decision making. When he is not present, the Void Master assumes his duties, and when neither are present, the senior most officer is in charge and is expected to carry out his last orders to the letter.
The status of Baron often isolates him from the crew, both by social decorum and by necessity. He must ensure the safety and well-being of the crew, seek out new opportunities for enrichment, and maintain his legitimate, legal status as Rogue Trader.
Health and Safety
A Baron must be willing to send crewmen to their deaths for the good of the ship, and by becoming familiar with the crew it can breed disloyalty and resentment. By fraternizing with the crew, a baron risks fomenting mutiny in a number of ways.
The baron can’t socialize with every member of the crew every day, nor could he feel equally attached towards all of them. Some he would inevitably like more than others due to personality alignment and common interests, while others he might not get along with due to personality conflict or lacking common ground for conversation. This inevitably alienates some members of the crew, breeding jealousy and mutinous thoughts.
Some crewmen can become more interested in pleasing the Baron in a personal way than fulfilling their duties, while others can feel overlooked for ‘not playing the game’. Even when the Baron tries to judge his crewmen solely by their ability and performance, by acting in a familiar manner with at least some of the crew he risks encouraging them to alter their behavior in a misleading fashion, putting the ship at risk. You cannot trust a ‘yes-man’ to do what is in the best interests for the ship, even if you like what you hear.
A Baron must appear certain of his actions, even when he has internal doubts. Revealing his human side also reveals his fear and uncertainty. When coming to a decision he may consult with his command staff, but this almost always takes place behind closed doors. Should line crewmen believe that their Baron is just making it up as he goes along they will question his authority over them.
A Baron who reveals his inner thoughts to his crew, his specific reasoning and motivations, unavoidably encourages disagreement. The more the crew understands a Baron’s thought process the more they can argue about it amongst themselves. A crew should do as they’re told, and not be concerned as to why they are doing it. The more they think about it, the more they can question it, and trouble can only come from that.
The appearance of cold judiciousness is important, the Baron will be called upon to mediate disputes and pass judgement for offenses and crimes. Even if he remains impartial, the crew might not view it the same way if it involves members of the crew he has displayed affection and friendship for. If it seems as though a friendship could have influenced a decision, it is likely many crew members would believe that it did, even without evidence to support the claim. If the crew believes their Baron to maintain bias’ towards the them, it will undoubtably cause mutinous grumbling.
A healthy distance is necessary for respect, if the crew feels their Baron is trying to please them and befriend them, some will take it as an honor while others will question his judgement. Anything that causes crewmen to question your judgement should be avoided at all costs, for that doubt in you could cause a split-second delay in action at a critical moment that endangers the ship, not to mention mutinous thoughts.
A Baron sets the standard for behavior, and he should desire his crew to emulate him in all respects. They will of course fall short of this, but the important thing is that when a crewmen gets out of line, be it by stealing rations from the larder during a long voyage, getting into a bar brawl while at a space station, or offend a foreign dignitary, the Baron can, without hypocrisy, chastise the crewmen for behaving in such a fashion. Should the Baron garner a reputation amongst the crew for letting his passions override his judgement, how can he expect them to behave any differently?
Chaos & Order
Individual crewmen will act in a disorderly fashion from time to time, there’s no avoiding that, though it can be mitigated and prevented to a large extent. Long voyages cause cabin fever, nerves wear thin and crewmen lash out at one another, preferably but not always when off-duty. Having regular shore-leave helps relieve the stress of living on a ship, but if these ‘special occasions’ become too frequent it can breed indolence. At the same time, after a big pay-day crewmen can over-indulge. There must be disciplinary action for any major infractions of protocol, and even many minor ones. Punishment should fit any crimes taken so as to discourage future behavior and serve the sense of justice on board a ship. Unless the Baron was present for the incident, it was a major infraction, or it involved numerous crewmen of different sections or levels of authority, it is best that such discipline be handled by a crewmen’s commanding officer. This way the Baron can maintain the healthy level of detachment and reserve his chastisement for only the most serious of cases.
Chain of Command
There are a number of levels in the ship’s hierarchy, some crewmen will want to rise on the ships hierarchy, taking on additional responsibilities to prove themselves, while others will seek to just hold onto what they have, simply wanting to do their duty and relax when their shift is over. Its best that the Baron leave such things to the authority of an immediate supervisor, and not encourage his men to come to him for every little quibble, issue, or desire. The more the crew respects the chain of command, the smoother things will go. After all, if a supervisor finds himself over-ruled by his Baron, it makes him question why he has the position in the first place. A supervisor must believe his Baron has faith in him for making correct decisions, and that if he makes improper decisions it will be his own immediate supervisor that corrects him, and that no one under his command can gain by going ‘over his head’.
As this is a new ship with a new crew, some crewmen are there because this is an opportunity for them to succeed in life, a fresh start with a wealth of opportunity. Others are there because they were once at a higher station in life but have fallen from grace, and are trying to start their lives over.
The best thing a Baron can do for his crew’s satisfaction is to be successful in his financial endeavors. As he gains wealth and prestige, so do they. Let them decide how they will spend their salaries and bonuses, so long as it does not put the ship at risk or demoralize the rest of the crew.
Rogue Trader’s are known for dabbling in the illicit, such is price the Imperium must pay for granting some of its citizens freedom, and while many Space Barons stylize themselves as being above the law, a Barony of a single ship is most vulnerable for his only shield is his Warrant of Trade. He has little influence and power to instill fear in customs agents, and should he decide to dabble in the cold-trade or black markets he must be careful not to arouse suspicion, for that little piece of paper means precious little when facing heavily armed imperial ships. At the same time, should he make enemies of other, more powerful barons, it is possible for them to use their influence to make life very hard for the Rogue Trader. It is a difficult balancing act, for where there is risk there is reward, and as a Baron builds his financial empire he must be sure to treat information as a commodity, for if you can incriminate others for their illicit activities you will find yourself protected from their whistle-blowing.