An Inheritance of Stars
Warrant of Trade
It should be noted that although Rogue Traders are shipmasters who travel the vastness of space, their authority to do so comes not from a Merchant Charter as usually granted by the Administratum to the Chartist Captains of the Imperial Merchant Fleets, but rather a letter of appointment known as a Warrant of Trade that elevates them to a level of Imperial authority and status equaling that held by Space Marine Chapter Masters, Inquisitors and Imperial Planetary Governors. Some of the more ancient Warrants are dated from the very beginnings of the Imperium, and some were even signed by the Emperor Himself. Others were signed by the Primarchs or other leaders of the Great Crusade. These charters are very valuable and give their owners great leeway. They are tailor-made and unique. A Rogue Trader’s authority cannot be appealed since it comes directly from the Emperor, as according to Imperial law and Imperial religious dogma no one is empowered to overrule those persons who have received the God-Emperor’s direct sanction. Certain powerful lords of the Adeptus Terra offer Warrants of Trade as a bribe to their rivals. The rival simply walks away into a life of adventure and wealth and no longer causes trouble for their political opponents in the various Imperial organizations.
Letters of Marque are similar documents to Warrants of Trade that have been issued more recently by the Imperium to less powerful individuals, though their bearers are still called Rogue Traders. The Letters of Marque are rather restricted in some aspects and controlled more effectively by Imperial authorities. These restrictions may be of geographical nature (e.g.: the Rogue Trader is restricted to operating in a single sector) or something similar. The more recent Letters of Marque are also not hereditary; hopeful heirs must return and reapply to the High Lords of Terra through the Administratum for a new charter.
Though a Warrant of Trade or a Letter of Marque grants extraordinary freedoms within the Imperium, they also invariably contain particular conditions; sometimes Rogue Traders will be required to make regular visits to certain troublesome Imperial worlds, or sent to enact military action on worlds which do not require the full force of the Imperial Navy’s Segmentum and Sector Battlefleets. More often, however, Rogue Traders will be required to travel outside the established territories of the Imperium in the name of settlement or exploration of new worlds that do not yet know the blessings of the God-Emperor.