Pirates of Drinax - GMs thread

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Re: Pirates of Drinax - GMs thread

Postby paddyb812 » Thu Apr 30, 2020 5:54 pm

Hi,

Not been on these forums in a while so if this has been answered elsewhere sorry for repeating the question.

I'm thinking of running Pirates of Drinax, but a couple of things occurred to me. I'm sure there will be more, but I couldn't sleep last night and these thoughts popped into my head.

Particle Weapons - the ship that the players get given at the beginning of the campaign. It has a particle barbette and it has the weapon trait of 'radiation'. According to the rulebook a radiation weapon does 2d x20 rads damage in addition presumably to the actual weapon damage. However, as a spacecraft sized weapon it says that you multiply radiation damage by 5 (though in space combat all damage from spacecraft sized weapons on ‘ground’ targets seems to get multiplied by 10, so why not radiation damage?). There are larger weapons that have the radiation trait, surely radiation damage scales with the type of weapon. Larger military ships will have dampers, but the targets you are after certainly won’t.
So on an average roll of 7 it will equate to 700 rads. A massive dose of radiation which is going to do 6d damage to the unlucky crew and passengers (I think making them sterile as a side effect is the least of their worries). I believe that 800+ is a lethal dose. The weapon is high yield as well so any 1's count as 2's so the minimum damage is 4 or 400 rads. Which is still an extremely bad day for the recipients.
This does not strike me as a weapon of piracy, more as a war fighting weapon. A merchantman is not going to have sophisticated radiation shielding to be able to absorb that damage. I read that a ship's hull protects against 500 rads, but with multiple hits from this weapon and the crew and passengers on a target vessel are going to end up with radiation sickness or dead. The Imperium has strict rules against the use of nuclear weapons (unless they’re using them), and I would have thought any weapons that do radiation damage would fall into this category, such as FGMPs and the like. I know the campaign takes place outside the Imperium, but King Oleb's directive is to prey on shipping between the Imperium and Hierate. Preying on ships and wiping out their crews and passengers with radiation-based weapons may make the Imperials a tiny bit upset and may want to hunt down the ship that’s irradiating its citizens. Images of citizens dead or dying from radiation poisoning all over the news networks is going to create some unbelievably bad press for the Travellers. Using this weapon doesn’t appear to be a recipe for forcing the Imperium to the negotiating table, but more them taking a lot of ships and clearing the space lanes of pirates.

Theev – it’s on the map so how can it be a secret pirate world? You have to believe that the IISS will have surveyed worlds this close to the Imperial border. It’s a jump 3 from Realgar 2213 and a jump 4 from Nekrino 2515, both of which have Naval Bases. What’s stopping the Imperial Navy from sending a squadron or ten to wipe out this hive of scum and villany? Part of me envisages a pirate ‘world’ to be a space station in an empty hex with tech to make it invisible from unwanted attention. A bit like Drax’s space station in Moonraker.
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Re: Pirates of Drinax - GMs thread

Postby Ursus Maior » Thu Apr 30, 2020 6:57 pm

I understand your concerns about the particle weapon completely and yes, the Harrier class is actually a ship of war and not perfectly suited for piracy, although it can do that, too. It does have a rather small cargo bay for pirated goods. And then there the fact that it's extremely expensive to repair, so you'd better be a damn good pirate or your running costs will kill you faster than any Imperial punitive fleet could.

Now, immediate an solution for your campaign could be installing a different weapon suite might be the easiest solution here, e. g. an ion cannon or a missile barbette. But this would break the Harrier as a ship of war. Because for this (its original) role, the particle barbette is perfect.

But in fact, I don't believe that the particle weapon is such a problem, since pirates try not to shoot their prey to kingdom come. In fact, it's preferable for them to make them stop their engines, throw some goods out the cargo hatch and pretend nothing ever happened. Alternatively, pirates board the ship and take items from passengers. For this effect it's sufficient, if your average tramp freighter captain feels the desperate urge not to puke his guts out or be sterilized over a cupple of crates. So, shooting the particle weapon across his bow and demanding surrender, should do the trick.

Regarding Theev, the topic is not addressed literally, but there is a reason given in both the core rulebook (I believe) and the campaign, why Theev is not immediately accessible for the Imperial Navy—or anyone else for that matter.
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Re: Pirates of Drinax - GMs thread

Postby Putraack » Fri May 01, 2020 1:06 am

Ursus Maior wrote:
Thu Apr 30, 2020 6:57 pm
So, shooting the particle weapon across his bow and demanding surrender, should do the trick.
This was the conclusion my crew came to pretty quickly.
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Re: Pirates of Drinax - GMs thread

Postby Garran » Fri May 01, 2020 1:47 am

The Harrier does have a second weapon mount, although it's broken by default at game start. You could replace it with some other weapon mount rather than the default missile (the Harrier book has an anti-shipping torpedo option, but it certainly isn't the only one) if you want something less crew-lethal.

The combination of particle barbette and stealth/electronics, along with the high speed, means that most merchants won't even have a CHANCE to fight back unless the Harrier allows it to; they can easily pick apart a ship from beyond turret range and the target may not even be able to get a solid fix on where and what they are. (And the holographic hull makes anything they do see unreliable.) That makes it perfect for convincing a small freighter to just dump cargo and run - and the freighter and its crew may not even be able to pass any meaningful information along to the authorities afterward!
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Re: Pirates of Drinax - GMs thread

Postby Ursus Maior » Fri May 01, 2020 11:12 pm

and the freighter and its crew may not even be able to pass any meaningful information along to the authorities afterward!
Well, except that it was a one-of-a-kind ship class. Honestly, the holographic hull I find not very impressive. The Harrier is a stealth attack craft that can change it's visual appearance, which I find about as re-painting a F-22 Raptor by pushing a button in mid-air. Either the sensors of your prey have not written any useful information into their memory banks or the memory reads "unique ship class with the following parameters that was first red and then green".

The colour is not the important part of stealth here. If someone stumbles across the harrier docked at a space station, he/she won't recognize the type, which alone is a remarkable fact.
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Re: Pirates of Drinax - GMs thread

Postby AndrewW » Fri May 01, 2020 11:37 pm

Ursus Maior wrote:
Fri May 01, 2020 11:12 pm
Well, except that it was a one-of-a-kind ship class. Honestly, the holographic hull I find not very impressive. The Harrier is a stealth attack craft that can change it's visual appearance, which I find about as re-painting a F-22 Raptor by pushing a button in mid-air. Either the sensors of your prey have not written any useful information into their memory banks or the memory reads "unique ship class with the following parameters that was first red and then green".

The colour is not the important part of stealth here. If someone stumbles across the harrier docked at a space station, he/she won't recognize the type, which alone is a remarkable fact.
The holographic hull can do a bit more then just change the colour. But if someone is expecting a certain ship and it looks different that might change things up, even if they figure it out. There's also the possibility of making the ship appear damaged and sending out a fake distress call to lure the prey in. Though unless repaired it's only partially functional (though even that can be useful).
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Re: Pirates of Drinax - GMs thread

Postby Ursus Maior » Sat May 02, 2020 7:15 am

It can do a bit more, but not a lot. The shape will always remain the same and the Harrier is a unique ship in 1105, very likely the last of her class to fly. It's not really easy to hide that from everybody. And it's rather easy to track her back to Drinax. There are not a lot former users of the calss out there, who could even understand, let alone repair a ship of her class. You need pretty much TL13 to do that, and then we're looking at Tech-World, Colony Six, Drinax, Falcon and Theev. And the Lords of Blacksand would know, if someone scavenged and repaired that ship in their docks.
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Re: Pirates of Drinax - GMs thread

Postby Condottiere » Sat May 02, 2020 4:51 pm

Holographic implies three dimensional projection, presumably at a rather limited range not much beyond a couple of metres from the hull, maybe less, maybe more, that fools shipboard sensors.

If we look at it from the Dungeons and Dragons perspective, it's a very low level illusion spell, that has to stay within certain parameters not to start raising red flags.

Simulating damage (or covering it up) should be a step above basic altering the paint scheme, as long as the rest of the electronic signature of the ship reflects this.

Subclasses and slight design variants should remain plausible.

Maybe a twenty percent difference in volume can be simulated, though going by default designs, this would make more sense if the ship weighs in at five hundred tonnes.
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Re: Pirates of Drinax - GMs thread

Postby Ursus Maior » Sat May 02, 2020 8:40 pm

Hmmm... this is not how I imagined the holographic projector, but it certainly would change things, if the Harrier could appear, let's say as a Free Trader or (mostly) any other 200 dton vessel.
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Re: Pirates of Drinax - GMs thread

Postby Ursus Maior » Mon May 04, 2020 8:01 pm

Condottiere wrote:
Sat May 02, 2020 4:51 pm
Holographic implies three dimensional projection, presumably at a rather limited range not much beyond a couple of metres from the hull, maybe less, maybe more, that fools shipboard sensors.
I thought about this for a while and actually like the concept very much. I will rule for my game that one can mimic hulls of the same displacement (maybe within a 10-20 percent range), but someone - i. e. Travellers - need to design the mimicry as programmes that run for the holographic hull's specific system. Not sure, if I make these programmes use up main computer bandwidth, because that would degrade the use and add overhead. But finding a programmer or learning the skills definitely will be a separate plot line.

Thanks for the input!
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Re: Pirates of Drinax - GMs thread

Postby Ursus Maior » Mon May 04, 2020 8:03 pm

I read on the main page's release schedule that a Drinax Companion is due to be released this month. Is this still on track? I'd like to implement it as much as possible, as we just started to play. But currently we're playing weekly. So, if there is a delay, I might need to defer some plot lines that might be featured in the Companion. It would be interesting to see a preview of the contents page. Would that be possible here?
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Re: Pirates of Drinax - GMs thread

Postby Condottiere » Tue May 05, 2020 11:55 am

Image

A lot depends on the actual configuration, and the simulated configuration.

If the actual configuration has a lot of spaces that could be used as cover to simulate that they are full, or what you could do is add papier-mâché, to give it some physicality.

Or pull out that rubber fuel condom from the hold, blow it up, and attach it externally.

Special effects need not be entirely virtual.
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Re: Pirates of Drinax - GMs thread

Postby paltrysum » Fri May 08, 2020 5:12 am

Kulthea wrote:
Sun Jul 14, 2019 2:40 am
Yes, my lot did this one just before my blog started. They started talking to the security chief and after some back and forth the party got maintenance overalls to go in and "clean" the ship. The security chief stood to benefit from working out what it was. Fairly normal traveller side adventure.

I created a ship for them to look around. The occupants were literally dust so they couldn't use DNA but they eventually worked out it was a Bwap ship from cultural references and so on. (Side note: when the Traveller Companion came out I was happy to see Bwap included. I haven't gone back to update this ship to match the newer material though).

Here's the ship. It's not dissimilar from the Prison adventure alien outpost map - on purpose. I was going to have them related but the campaign didn't go in that direction.

Exterior
The vessel appears to be made up of many spheres fused together. Its appearance is slightly organic in nature, as if the architect has decided to imitate nature rather than use straight lines.
The external layer of the hull appears at one time to have had a quite bright colouring, but long exposure to space has worn most of it away. Small pocks, and one or two long gashes, on the hull indicate where large chunks of rock or ice have hit it, indicating that it has been subject to some battering. The hull is streamlined, allowing for landing on planets with an atmosphere.

Image

Interior
The interior of the ship is painted in hues of brown and green. The corridors are oval and oddly ribbed, as if they were organically extruded instead of built. The rooms are flattened spheres. Lighting is subtly dispersed, giving an illusion of light shining through the branches of a tree. Ceiling height is slightly low for human, perhaps indicating that the users of this vessel were shorter in stature. The air is very hot and humid, but breathable – life support appears to be working (the vessel is powered by connections on the starport concourse).
1. Bridge. This is an advanced bridge, using holographic terminals. There are four positions, but a ship of this size could easily be piloted by one individual with these controls. The oddly shaped chairs are a little too small for humans.
2. Ships Locker. This areas seems to have been cleared out. The shelves are empty.
3. Access to Dorsal Turret. A short ladder leads to the turret, which has a double turret with a beam laser and sandcaster.
4. Common Area. This roughly spherical room is dominated by a huge multi-armed device, which resembles a banyan tree made of metal and glass. The branches of the device appear to pulse very slightly, giving the appearance of living. Benches surround it.
5. Stateroom. These rooms are large and appear to have double occupancy, with small screened sleeping quarters off a shared communal area which has a table and chairs. The beds and chairs are too small for humans to comfortably use.
6. Cargo / Storage. These areas are more storeroom than cargo bay, although there is a small cargo elevator in one of them. Both areas are empty, but it is not clear whether they have been emptied or not.
7. Engineering. The drives and power plant appear to not be in the same style as the rest of the ship, although efforts have been made to integrate them by crudely painting them in the same colours as the walls. By their manufacturing labels they were made in the Third Imperium. They seem to be quite advanced.
8. Low Berths. There is an emergency low berth capsule but it appears not to have been used, suggesting that whatever befell the crew there was insufficient time for them to use it.
9. Airlock. The airlock is attached to a docking tube which extends from the ship and can be withdrawn. It appears that the airlock can also be used as a ramp as there are mechanisms for tilting it.
Thanks for this, Kulthea. We put it to use over our last two sessions. Made the visit to Pourne very fun! :)
My published Traveller adventures on DriveThruRPG:
https://www.drivethrurpg.com/browse.php ... %20Griffen
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Re: Pirates of Drinax - GMs thread

Postby Ursus Maior » Mon Jun 01, 2020 9:47 pm

I have come to think about the pirate world of Theev. Of course, all my ideas are in anticipation, what my players might come up with.

I try to keep this spoiler-free, but it might not work out for everyone. So please, feel free to moderate or not read.

Now, everyone who ran Pirates of Drinax knows, what drives that world and who is involved in its politics beyond the immediate populace. But can we maybe brainstorm how a Pirate world (like Theev) protects itself from retribution?

I mean, the world is part of a cluster of three worlds, all linked by a J-1 chain, which makes Theev easily spotted as an inhabited world for everyone listening into the sky on Vume or Palindrome. And if no-one there is pointing their eyes and ears towards Theev, the Imperial Navy at Realgar probably will do so eventually just by chance. Now, even if the pirates of Theev and a network of allies would have managed to hide the planet from any star charts, it would show up on sensors within - let's give it a chance - a generation, unless the pirates their run strict emcon and no errors are made. And we all know how unprofessional pirates can be, it's not that they all are former special forces, and even if they would be, there really is no safety margin. We would be talking completely masking all EM signals of a whole system here, which has ship yards, several flotillas of pirates and probably many single-ship enterprises.

Now, if EM signals show up, the navy or any other receiver would probably realize, they are from a supposedly "empty" area of space. And it would be recognizable that they are not simply from single straddlers, stranded in space. At that point, no-one will likely suspect the nature of the signals, but simply not putting a system there on all star charts - a truly grand feat in deception - would backfire soon. On the other hand, pretending that the signals came from a world would probably result in people trying to trade with that world. Of course, the Scout Service could colour code that system, but it would still need an UWP and a backstory that is inconspicuous.

So how does Theev mask itself? Does it show up on official 3I star charts as a red zone? That's unlikely, because we have the "official maps".

Your thoughts?
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Re: Pirates of Drinax - GMs thread

Postby Maverick » Mon Jun 01, 2020 11:06 pm

There's a LOT of money to be made in Theev, and spreading that money around buys a lot of "you don't see us". Between Theev's backers and the Pirate Lords, paying off people in the know wouldn't be that hard (and accidents or transfers to obscure posts can easily happen for those who aren't susceptible to being paid off). Bureaucracies (and I think we can all agree that the Third Imperium qualifies) are fantastic at making things disappear.
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Re: Pirates of Drinax - GMs thread

Postby Ursus Maior » Tue Jun 02, 2020 1:48 pm

Paying off people in the know maybe not. But EM signals propagate freely in all directions. This is a threat to the 'Theev operation' growing exponantially with every stron radio transmission sent out, with every jump signature generated and with every passing year. So any clean-up will cost exponantially more, too.
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