Pirates of Drinax - GMs thread

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Re: Pirates of Drinax - GMs thread

Postby Old timer » Wed Feb 13, 2019 10:59 pm

They had the jump drive disassembled and fenced. The group plan to use the funds from this for a variety of purposes including getting some ships built and the harriers recovered from the hidden Sindal base operational again.
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Re: Pirates of Drinax - GMs thread

Postby paltrysum » Fri Feb 22, 2019 6:15 pm

Fellow referees: Have any of your players gone to Khusai? It's two parsecs from Drinax and my players are planning to pay them a visit.

After the events of "Ihatei," the players are trying to set up a sort of supply run for the ihatei to keep them armed and fed enroute to Marduk and Borite where they redirected them. Part of the players' plan involves seeing if they can get a supply of aua (the triceratops-like beast that serve as cattle to the Aslan) and they've decided that Khusai might be an interesting place to check for them.

What do we know about Khusai? Well, the following to begin with:
  • It used to be part of the Kingdom of Drinax and was called Banks (coincidentally after my favorite sci-fi author of all time, Iain Banks).
  • It is run by a vassal clan according to Travellermap, and that clan is the highly militant Hrakoea. The patron materials in the back of Drinax Book 1 indicate that they are extremely anti-pirate and will pay for the capture of known pirates and destruction of their ships.
  • Digging a little deeper into Pirates Book 2, we see that the Hrakoea are "an offshoot of the Hrasua, the Hrakoea were virtually destroyed by Imperial forces at the end of the Border Wars. The survivors mostly migrated across the Great Rift to rebuild their territories there" and that they are a "highly aggressive clan...looking to expand their holdings in the Borderlands subsector."
  • Khusai is "Home to the naval base of the belligerent Hrakoea, Khusai is a pleasant world of blue fields and purple forests. Aslan legend claims that giant rock monsters dwell in underground caverns on this planet, but others say these rumours were started deliberately to conceal weapons testing. The orbiting base is a major Aslan fortification and is commonly used by pirate hunters."
  • We also know that Pirate Lord Petyr Vallis has a particular hatred for Khusai. Somewhat strange considering that his origin story has his family being massacred by Glorious Empire Aslan, but perhaps he just takes it out on Khusai since they are literally the nearest Aslan world to Theev. I've also considered that Petyr is just a psychopath who just invented the whole family death episode in the recesses of his addled mind. In "Treasure of Sindal" we discover that Petyr might want to use the WMDs against Khusai.
I have some ideas but before entering uncharted territory, it's always fun to see what others have done to help feed the imagination a bit. :)

Off the top of my head, I would think that a militant Aslan clan developing secret weapons would invest in some pretty serious planetary defense. Perhaps this is a chance to use the "Mine Warfare" rules in the Traveller Companion.
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Re: Pirates of Drinax - GMs thread

Postby Baldo » Fri Feb 22, 2019 8:17 pm

paltrysum wrote:
Fri Feb 22, 2019 6:15 pm
What do we know about Khusai?
First, you need to decide what's happened to the former inhabitants of Banks. Are they still living there as awkhea serfs or got exterminated/deported early? If these Aslan can coexist peacefully with their new subjects, cooperation with Drinaxians is clearly possible. I also suspect this particular clan would be very open to a formal alliance with Drinax if promised a chance to strike back to the Third Imperium (surely they have no love for Imperials after the near-extinction of the clan in the Border Wars, and I bet those "holdings in the Borderlands subsector" are to be used for more than new territory.. ). The Peace of Ftahair prevents direct attack, yes, but if the Imperial dogs and their titled masters :P :lol: bring war to the kingdom in the final chapter, and Khusai/Banks joined Drinax (Appendix 2, page 271: Khusai has Policy X21, better than most if you happen to be a Princess Rao supporter), the Hrakoea clan could get its long-awaited revenge, gaining freedom of action for future wars against the Imperial scum in the process.
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Re: Pirates of Drinax - GMs thread

Postby Old School » Sat Feb 23, 2019 3:46 pm

Although its not high population, Khusai has a class A base and a clan navy base with an active pirate hunting fleet, so I expect it to be a heavily fortified system. Not a place my travellers would go of their own accord. At first blush I thought why would they sell their cattle to the humans rather than sell directly to the ihatei? but then again these particular cats are militants, which I take to mean that trading isn't really their thing, so they may be perfectly happy to sell the beasts locally to the merchant humans. They would see it as normal to let the human weaklings transport cattle to wherever the ihatei are going, rather than maximizing profits by doing it themselves.

Be sure to role play the smells and general condition of the cargo hold that result. Do they still have the treasure ship? The Hrakoea may take great pleasure in the mighty imperium treasure ship be used to haul Aslan cattle. On second thought, only pirates would have that ship, so maybe not.
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Re: Pirates of Drinax - GMs thread

Postby Baldo » Sat Feb 23, 2019 6:00 pm

Old School wrote:
Sat Feb 23, 2019 3:46 pm
Do they still have the treasure ship? The Hrakoea may take great pleasure in the mighty imperium treasure ship be used to haul Aslan cattle. On second thought, only pirates would have that ship, so maybe not.
But in book 2, page 192, you find this: "Ahroay’if traders looked suspiciously at Hrakoea pirates". If this militant clan has active pirates or privateers targeting unaffiliated ships, maybe its pirate-hunting fleet is only used against independents (Theev) and/or clan enemies (the Imperium). I'm for the 'great pleasure' option here.
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Re: Pirates of Drinax - GMs thread

Postby paltrysum » Sat Feb 23, 2019 6:22 pm

Yes, I found that odd. They hate pirates but they are pirates? My take on it is they meant commerce raiders. The Hrakoea are militant and perhaps, like the Tiykhisto, feel that like the Ahroay'if, many of the clans are getting soft with their involvement in the trade-oriented new order. Could be that Hrakoea commerce raiders attack ships of the other clans whom they perceive as weak and feckless.
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Re: Pirates of Drinax - GMs thread

Postby Old School » Sat Feb 23, 2019 6:34 pm

My take as well. And “privateers” is so much more cultured than “pirates”.
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Re: Pirates of Drinax - GMs thread

Postby paltrysum » Sat Feb 23, 2019 7:55 pm

They are aliens after all. And aliens with a complex culture that draws all kinds of distinctions between individuals based on a byzantine code of honor. "Pirate," "Privateer," and "Corsair" might have distinctions that we do not typically delineate.

I was also thinking about Khusai's "weapons research." The "High Technology" chapter of High Guard has some interesting tech that could be employed here. I was initially excited about the idea of tractor beams, but they are listed as TL 16 which is a bit too much of a stretch; however, deflector screens would make a very cool addition here. My merry band of Travellers will undoubtedly try to negotiate for some of that tech goodness.
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Re: Pirates of Drinax - GMs thread

Postby Old School » Tue Feb 26, 2019 12:24 am

OK, fellow referees, I need some input on this one. We’re gearing up for “Treasure of Sindal”, an adventure I like a lot. The challenge that I face is that my travellers will likely be adventuring in the Rao’s Revenge, their captured Aslan Pocket Warship. I’ve already decided to move the location of the secret base to hex 1820. It needs to remain within two hexes of Ace for there to be a credible threat of someone else getting there first, but it also ccan’t have a system in an adjacent space, as the J-3 pocket warship would then face little risk of jumping into oblivion. 1820 does the trick.

The bigger problem is scale. Looking at the Proactive Recycling Corporation, for example, their 6 ships combined (p. 141) do not represent a credible threat to the Pocket Warship. They would never attempt the ambush as written, because it would result in their slaughter.

I can scale up their ships of course, but that represents an escalation that would likely have to continue throughout the campaign if they meet with reasonable success, as they would build a fleet of more powerful captured warships.

Fainlohk’s and Varris’s ships are a threat only in that they have particle beams, which are always one high roll away from a TPK.

I could deny the use of the pocket warship, either by Oleb getting irritated with them, or some mechanical issue, but I’d prefer to avoid such forced measures.

Any thoughts?
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Re: Pirates of Drinax - GMs thread

Postby Pyromancer » Tue Feb 26, 2019 12:34 am

The most interesting part of the adventure is not who gets the treasure, but - if the player characters get it - what they DO with it. In your place, if my players have manoeuvred themselves into a position where they can grab the treasure without much risk or competition: I would let them have it and see how they deal with it.

Personally, my concern with the adventure is that the whole scavenger hunt seems somewhat silly and constructed.
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Re: Pirates of Drinax - GMs thread

Postby Old School » Tue Feb 26, 2019 1:36 am

The whole campaign is silly and constructed. That doesn’t take away from its greatness. Besides, nothing wrong with a MacGuffin or two in a good science fiction adventure.
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Re: Pirates of Drinax - GMs thread

Postby paltrysum » Tue Feb 26, 2019 1:37 am

Maybe the conclusion of the adventure is a race to the station that the players may lose? And the station is armed. The PRC or Vallis' group might get there first and attack the players using the station's weapons. It's a bit of a stretch considering the improbability of 1,500-year-old weapons still working...unless the station's repair and maintenance robots are still keeping everything borderline operational...after a millennium and a half!

You could then keep the ships the same (therefore not accidentally ratcheting up your pirate forces) and add the thrill of having to battle their way into the station.
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Re: Pirates of Drinax - GMs thread

Postby Old School » Tue Feb 26, 2019 2:00 am

A stretch, yes, but I like the way you think.
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Re: Pirates of Drinax - GMs thread

Postby DickTurpin » Tue Feb 26, 2019 3:41 am

Old School wrote:
Tue Feb 26, 2019 12:24 am
. . . Looking at the Proactive Recycling Corporation, for example, their 6 ships combined (p. 141) do not represent a credible threat to the Pocket Warship. They would never attempt the ambush as written, because it would result in their slaughter. . .
The PRC ambush scene is a problem anyway. As it is setup, any ship approaching the yacht is automatically assumed to be attempting to pirate the ship and attacked, even if their actual intent is to render aid. If the PRC wants to actually behave like pirates, then let them accept the risks.

Seeing the type of ship coming in, the PRC will probably abort the assault from their other two ships, at least until the nukes have detonated. If you want to make the ambush scarier, pump up the damage from that explosion (it is a bit wimpy anyway) so that the RR takes more substantial damage. Maybe seeing the warship damaged will embolden the scavengers/pirates enough to risk driving the attack home.

Adding another ship, probably one without a working J-drive to keep it out of the players fleet, could be good. It might be a old military wreck from the ancient war, cobbled back together enough to move but have only some of the weapons working. It won't do much damage, but will soak a lot of the players' damage output before they realize that the ship looks far more dangerous than it really is.
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Re: Pirates of Drinax - GMs thread

Postby paltrysum » Tue Feb 26, 2019 3:33 pm

Old School wrote:
Tue Feb 26, 2019 2:00 am
A stretch, yes, but I like the way you think.
In fact, if the station is armed well enough (wink, wink), they might disable or wreck the Pocket Warship, thereby encouraging the players to acquire and refit one or both of the Harriers at the station for their future exploits. Presuming of course that they overcome Vallis' and/or PRC's forces. I shouldn't think that the victors of the Battle of Acrid would have a problem dispatching some ragtag pirates once they get into the station somehow, though. :)
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Re: Pirates of Drinax - GMs thread

Postby Juums » Tue Feb 26, 2019 5:12 pm

Old School wrote:
Tue Feb 26, 2019 12:24 am
OK, fellow referees, I need some input on this one. We’re gearing up for “Treasure of Sindal”, an adventure I like a lot. The challenge that I face is that my travellers will likely be adventuring in the Rao’s Revenge, their captured Aslan Pocket Warship. I’ve already decided to move the location of the secret base to hex 1820. It needs to remain within two hexes of Ace for there to be a credible threat of someone else getting there first, but it also ccan’t have a system in an adjacent space, as the J-3 pocket warship would then face little risk of jumping into oblivion. 1820 does the trick.

The bigger problem is scale. Looking at the Proactive Recycling Corporation, for example, their 6 ships combined (p. 141) do not represent a credible threat to the Pocket Warship. They would never attempt the ambush as written, because it would result in their slaughter.

I can scale up their ships of course, but that represents an escalation that would likely have to continue throughout the campaign if they meet with reasonable success, as they would build a fleet of more powerful captured warships.

Fainlohk’s and Varris’s ships are a threat only in that they have particle beams, which are always one high roll away from a TPK.

I could deny the use of the pocket warship, either by Oleb getting irritated with them, or some mechanical issue, but I’d prefer to avoid such forced measures.

Any thoughts?
I think you're right that the way to approach this is via denial of access to their Halaheike, but I'd approach it from the other end of the spectrum: Devise a positive situation that requires the PCs to make a decision on where to allocate scarce resources. One example might be, for example, the patron mission/minipaign of Revolution on Acrid kicks off and someone from the Acridian rebels shows up on Drinax requesting support to fight off PRQ's company thugs who're coming to quash the insurrection. If the PCs send away their Pocket Warship and do Treasure of Sindal with the kind of firepower the adventure expects, then the revolution auto-succeeds or, at the very least, its dramatic resolution is delayed until the PCs are in a position to contribute to it more. If they go out to search for lost Sindalian treasures in their shiny 1,200dT pocket warship and don't send any assistance to Acrid -- or send the Harrier or other, similarly undersized ships against the two Broadswords that're to show-up at Acrid -- then have the revolution be crushed, with all of the bitter recriminations aimed at the PCs by the revolutionaries and their sympathizers. Maybe even have Drinax (re)develop a reputation for its -- and the PCs' -- handling of the whole affair. (Most worlds would certainly have a healthy skepticism about Drinaxi promises of a better future if Drinax and its proxies are unwilling to use their power to help those who ask for their assistance. Then again, the Powers That Be would also take notice of what Drinax did and did not do, with possible (beneficial) ramifications down the road as well.)

That's just one example and some extrapolation, mind you. The principle is to create an urgent situation elsewhere that requires the firepower of the Pocket Warship and from which the PCs will derive some upside from forgoing taking the Rao's Revenge themselves on their current adventure. After that, it's the players' choice: If they take the bait, excellent, and you can run Adventure 4 more or less as intended. If they choose to take the Rao's Revenge and easy-mode their way through Adventure 4's encounters, make the plot thread left hanging by their decision have some consequence that is felt for some time, to create future adversity to balance the (relative) lack of it Adventure 4.
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Re: Pirates of Drinax - GMs thread

Postby Old School » Tue Feb 26, 2019 5:44 pm

I really appreciate everyone’s input.

Patrysum - is the base radiation shielded? A few particle beams and you just have to dispose of the bodies. :D

Dick - I think the entire Treasure of Sindal adventure is an intentional opportunity for the travellers to build their fleet. Three pirate bands and two Harriers at the end. I do like the idea of a non-jump capable ship if the odds need to be evened.

Juums - looks like you’ve been here awhile but don’t post much. I hope you’re able to participate more in the future as you’ve got good ideas. While it is too late for Revolution on Acrid (see my prior overly long posts on this thread if you’re interested), your premise is excellent: encouraging them to divert the big ship elsewhere with a tantalizing reward for doing so. To run the adventure as is, that’s probably the right way.

Thanks again.
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Re: Pirates of Drinax - GMs thread

Postby paltrysum » Tue Feb 26, 2019 6:34 pm

Old School wrote:
Tue Feb 26, 2019 5:44 pm
Patrysum - is the base radiation shielded? A few particle beams and you just have to dispose of the bodies. :D
I wouldn't think so. The base is a secret base after all and therefore Admiral Gani Peras was probably not expecting to ever be found or attacked. It should have some armament, but installing turrets or even a few small bays is much cheaper than radiation shielding the whole thing. Without any support in the depths of the Void, being irradiated by particle beams would be the least of her worries but I'm sure the Sindalians weren't stupid. Secrets get out and some type of defense is in order.

The base needs to be fairly large so it might require more than a few well-placed particle beams to take out a widespread array of defensive weaponry. The base is said to have large fuel tanks: "The fuel tanks contain some 20,000 + 2D x 1,000 tons of refined hydrogen" which further implies the size of the base if it has up to 32,000 tons of fuel and a refinery. Furthermore, if this thing is somehow obtaining and processing fuel in deep space, it must be obtaining the raw materials from comets, rogue asteroids, and other material that it finds out there. I should think it must have some automated probes and/or collection drones that are travelling about in the area searching for resources and marking them for eventual exploitation by the base.

Based on the picture in the adventure, it can dock at least two ships since the two Harriers are shown connected to it. It might also have a hangar or two or at the very least docking space for other ships.

So all in all, the base is probably 50,000 tons or more. The distances between point-defense turrets and other weaponry might be such that anyone who gets there first, establishes control of the base, and mans the weaponry has a significant advantage over the late arrivals. This could make it quite an entertaining scenario akin to Star Wars: Rogue One or some other sci-fi adventure in which the characters have to fight their way in before they can even think about obtaining their end goal.
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Re: Pirates of Drinax - GMs thread

Postby Juums » Tue Feb 26, 2019 6:44 pm

Old School wrote:
Tue Feb 26, 2019 5:44 pm
Juums - looks like you’ve been here awhile but don’t post much. I hope you’re able to participate more in the future as you’ve got good ideas. While it is too late for Revolution on Acrid (see my prior overly long posts on this thread if you’re interested), your premise is excellent: encouraging them to divert the big ship elsewhere with a tantalizing reward for doing so. To run the adventure as is, that’s probably the right way.

Thanks again.
I tend not to have much to say because I've been running a personal/solo PoD game for four-and-a-half years now, and the premises for my Pirates game has drifted so far in its assumptions from the core campaign that most of what I have to add that actually relates to the game requires a textwall of stuff about my ATU to make sense of. It's not JMIBEST-level off-the-rails, but narrative trains of thought tend to collide in unexpected ways. The PCs, for example, have spent the last year in-game trying to scratch together a force capable of cordoning off and quarantining Oghma, because slaving techno-barbarians are bad, and they believe the key to re-establishing a mini-Kingdom of Drinax is to solve the biggest security concern of the Torpol Cluster and contra-spinward portions of the Sindalian Main. They've had mixed results at that, when the timing dice -- as the PCs are two-and-a-half in-game years into things, I've been rolling randomly to see if certain other events happen to start of their own volition -- finally kicked off Ihatei!. So now the idea is use the ihatei to do the heavy-lifting against Oghmans, and...well, you can see why it's far off the rails of what the actual adventure intended and that I've got relatively little offer on running the actual piracy experience -- because my PCs are state-builders first and foremost -- while my usage of the supporting cast is certainly different to the canon. (And, as said, context tends to beget textwalls.)

At any rate, another idea that might for your specific circumstances that doesn't require anything from the wider world is that of someone organizing interstellar military exercises and finding the use of a 1,200dT Aslan warship a tantalizing OPFOR candidate. As it's almost certain that every planetary navy drills against Halaheikes in spirit, if not name, and having an actual one to observe in real-world conditions would certainly be a boon to the authenticity and quality of the exercises. Drinax might well organize and host the events to advance its diplomatic agenda, displaying itself as a leader in promoting cooperation for regional defense as well as, potentially, the increasing quality of its own armaments. (In my game, Drinax functions as the primary "fence" used by the PCs, so it has accumulated a fair number of salvage-laden hulks that've been refurbished into a Star Guard that's, if not worthy of the name, possesses more dakka than what's implied when the PCs get the Harrier; your milage will, of course, vary.) Torpol might organize a similar event for similar purposes; Camoran or Byrni might issue an invite simply for the opportunity to potshot against what they think is their biggest possible invading threat. Point is that it's an opportunity to curry diplomatic favor and maybe make a little coin too, as renting a Halaheike is not cheap even in the best of times.
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Re: Pirates of Drinax - GMs thread

Postby Baldo » Tue Feb 26, 2019 6:54 pm

Old School wrote:
Tue Feb 26, 2019 12:24 am
I could deny the use of the pocket warship, either by Oleb getting irritated with them, or some mechanical issue, but I’d prefer to avoid such forced measures.
Denying the players their hard-gained battleship is pretty unfair, this reminds me of those D&D dungeons where your high-level characters were denied teleportation and other nice stuff only because "The Plot Says So!" :roll: ...
Add more legwork, detective work, etc.

Faihlokh:
Mostly as written. He knows can't compete in a space battle, therefore his big attack will happen inside the secret base on Noricum, even Pirates of Drinax needs some classic Dungeon Crawl after all. And if the heroes win, they can recover Faihlokh's stolen ships (hidden somewhere close) *INTACT* and full of booty!

President Yang:
The Distress Call here is maybe the weakest part of the campaign. The players are searching for a derelict courier, and don't have much time. Best option is asking around in Thebus Highport for derelicts and scavengers and, once informed the PRC knows a lot, searching for their hideout in Olo's orbit and surviving the ambush. Once found, President Yang just requires some persuasion/intimidation/bribery/butchery to reveal the location of the courier, and keep the adventure going.

Petyr Vallis:
This guy is powerful, dangerous and, if you hate Aslan, a good ally to have (page 125). Inflict Petyr's goons on your players every time they're wandering planetside (this includes the Floating Palace too). If they survive his attentions to the very end, he offers a formal alliance, or a full attack (20+ ships) against the Floating Palace in the worst possible moment (during Blood of the Star Dragon, for example).
An interesting quirk with Petyr could happen if your players discover the Hidden Station *OCCUPIED* already. Petyr Vallis is the last descendant of Gani Peras, and after following different hints he discovered the old station and turned it into a secret base for his war against the Hierate. He lacks the ducal codes to safely open the vault, unfortunately, so he needs the help (or the death) of the players...

My point is: you gave your players a nice toy, let them have fun with it! :)

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