Pirates of Drinax - GMs thread

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Old School
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Re: Pirates of Drinax - GMs thread

Postby Old School » Tue Feb 26, 2019 9:19 pm

Juums - nothing wrong with a pirates campaign that goes off the rails. From everyone’s experience, I think we’ve learned the piracy aspect is overemphasized as compared to the direction many POD campaigns actually take. Piracy is but a small piece of building an empire, even a pirate empire.
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: ...
that’s what I’m trying to avoid. Not sure the details, but after getting everyone’s feedback I’ll either entice them not to use it or rework the PRC portion of the adventure to something that makes more sense given the power of the Halaheike. Probably will prepare both and see what happens.

Agreed on the NPCs. Faihlohk is a disposable NPC. His Psion friend may be interesting but he is not.

Yang and the PRC is kinda up to the travellers. He’s pragmatic and could be a useful ally or pawn, or he could just be someone to steal ships from.

Vallis, now that dude is interesting. He’s got to have a big role one way or another.
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Re: Pirates of Drinax - GMs thread

Postby ochd » Thu Feb 28, 2019 12:07 pm

My group has just come to the end of Treasure of Sindal. While the Travellers' being able to outgun the PRC does mean it will probably change the way the PRC approaches the Travellers, I don't think it will necessarily spoil the adventure. The Travellers need the PRC's help, so while the PRC may not be in a position to ambush them, as per the scenario set-up, the PRC still has some leverage.

As well as information, the Travellers need particle beams - either four or five (one of the confusing things about the adventure, as I mentioned in an earlier post). And, depending on how you interpret it, those particle beams need to be firing from different positions, so possibly the Travellers need four or five ships. Having a pocket warship means they have a better chance of obtaining those ships by force rather than negotiation, but even so that would be hard to do against Vallis' six ships, I would think.

Anyhow, I enjoyed running the adventure, though as well as the confusion over number of particle weapons required, I found many parts of it puzzling, and had to come up with explanations for:
- what are Faihlokh and Dai doing at the state dinner on Drinax?
- the base on Noricum is meant to be undetectable by sensors, but for some reason finding it requires a Sensors check.
- the death zone that the base is located in requires Travellers to wear a vacc suit, but then there a TL1 people living right on the edge of it.
- on Noricum again, the whole place was blown to smithereens, but somehow not the dam (unless the dam was built afterwards, but then how/why?)
- why were Admiral Peras' couriers, carrying these urgent message globes, only capable of Jump-1?

Dan.
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Re: Pirates of Drinax - GMs thread

Postby Baldo » Thu Feb 28, 2019 1:22 pm

ochd wrote:
Thu Feb 28, 2019 12:07 pm
Why were Admiral Peras' couriers, carrying these urgent message globes, only capable of Jump-1?
No, they had Jump-2 minimum. The reason for the 'short' jump to Thebus is recorded in the black box (page 129): "The courier jumped from Noricum to this system, hoping to rendezvous with an escort flotilla (...). The other courier ship (...) radioed a coded message, announcing that it was going to try a jump to the neighboring system (...).
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Re: Pirates of Drinax - GMs thread

Postby ochd » Thu Feb 28, 2019 5:41 pm

Ah, I clearly overlooked that. Thanks for pointing it out, Baldo. :)
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Re: Pirates of Drinax - GMs thread

Postby paltrysum » Sat Mar 02, 2019 7:57 pm

It's looking more and more like we're going to launch into "The Prodigal Outcast." The players are tromping around in Aslan space, have already completed "Ihatei!" so it seems like a logical move to launch it. Anyone else done this one and have interesting stories to tell?
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Re: Pirates of Drinax - GMs thread

Postby Old School » Sat Mar 02, 2019 9:56 pm

I have not. From what I remember from reading it, it was quite intimidating given the scope and the travel involved. If they are cruising the the Heirste already, it seems like the logical next move.
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Re: Pirates of Drinax - GMs thread

Postby paltrysum » Sun Mar 03, 2019 6:43 am

Old School wrote:
Sat Mar 02, 2019 9:56 pm
I have not. From what I remember from reading it, it was quite intimidating given the scope and the travel involved. If they are cruising the the Heirste already, it seems like the logical next move.
It’s at least as involved as “The Demon’s Eye,” with the potential to take the Travellers even further afield. With two adventures designed in similar fashion, I feel like that may well be the intention.
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Re: Pirates of Drinax - GMs thread

Postby Old School » Wed Mar 13, 2019 1:21 pm

The Demon’s Eye. . .aka, Send in the B Team!

Updates from my campaign:

As we wrapped up Revolution on Acrid, my travellers had split into groups, mainly because I let my players have way too many travellers. I’ve since been told this is “troupe play”. In any case, the majority of the travelling team is headed back to Drinax, along with their Pocket Warship, Rao’s Revenge , and the Harrier, Artemis. The surviving Vespexers are with them, ready to be home.

This group made a few stops, working the diplomatic angle caused by the publication of the fake GeDeCo Treaty, moving a few worlds one step closer to Haven while travelling. Most notably they had a good introductory meeting at Byrni, meeting the Regent and learning of his desire to possibly join the Kingdom of Drinax, should King Oleb prove worthy. That’s something to work with, for certain. But this story isn’t about that group. . .

This story is about what is left of the “B Team”, who were recruited initially when the Travellers got their 3rd ship. The B Team had six members but is now down to four. Benedict Catlow, a retired scout, is now pilot of the Revenge. Wilhelmina Moneaux, aka “Willie”, has taken up residence at the Acrid Highport and is the travellers’ representative in the Borderlands.

The remaining four are married couple: Alaina Madigan, a retired Navy Captain, and her husband Chadwick Vangeles, a retired Army Colonel from Simok. Travelling with them are their protégés, both of whom left the service early to seek their fortunes with Alaina and Chad: Junior Sanchez is a three term Simok army vet and the Colonel’s point man, and Gemma Armiger is a three term Navy vet, and is a crack engineer and mechanic. They’ve also hired an NPC sensor operator. They are travelling in the fast trader Lady Miria , named after the pirate Miria Silverhand, who sold out her Captain, Ferrik Redthane, to the travellers. The Lady Miria is the former Janal Torsk, Redthane’s ship. Their journey to date:

Leaving Acrid, they returned to Cordan, finding a very upset patron, Baroness Lux, who finds herself under (justified) suspicion of being behind the assassination of Josephus Agraaki. The combination of the Harrier’s comings and goings in her territory with the use of advanced weaponry has led both sides to suspect her of using outside forces, for which she (justifiably) blames the travellers. The travellers themselves were never identified on Cordan, so they aren’t personally under suspicion.

With a little better planning, and the use of advanced sensor tech combined with tech level appropriate weaponry, the B Team engage in some low level clandestine military work (or acts of terrorism, depending on who you ask) against the other two barons, blowing up a fuel dump, a bridge and a vehicle hanger, leaving enough evidence to point towards the opposite side for each attack rather than Baroness Lux, at least at first glance. Arriving incognito onboard a tramp trader didn’t hurt either.

They do get a call from an Imperial Consul at the starport asking them to refrain from landing at the Baron’s landing field. Chad explains that they are contracted to deliver goods to the Baroness and are now waiting for a contracted shipment of goods leaving her territory. Not the greatest story but not something the Imperial rep can disprove, either. They follow this with an offer to serve as neutral arbitrators at a peace conference, but Baron Fero and Baron Halley are wary of their ships coming and going from Lux’s territory. They also plant a bug with the Imperial trade delegation and the local Megacorp reps to put a peace keeping force in place to enforce a peaceful resolution. This exact idea doesn’t gain any traction, but combined with recent losses in the field, creates enough chatter to bring Fero and Halley to the negotiating table. The Imperial trade delegation, not the travellers, oversee this process. Having no official role in any of this and with their patron in a position of strength during the negotiations, the B team considers its work done and heads out, bound for Tech World.

Tech world beckons in the form of an invitation from its ruling council that was given to the NPC former crew of the Lady Miria several months earlier and passed on to the travellers in Acrid. So Begins “The Demon’s Eye”.

On Tech World, the B Team meets with the scientists, but is a little wary of earning the enmity of GeDeCo, having just openly attacked the PRQ. They are intrigued by the offer and agree to take it up with Oleb and his advisors, looking for ways they can meet Tech World’s needs clandestinely. They really don’t have a good grasp of GeDeCo’s grip on the region, and the former GeDeCo Agent on the team, Porter, is on his way to Drinax with the rest of the team (so the referee doesn’t give them any inside info that Porter would be expected to know – they’ll get that when Porter learns of the plan). They do clarify that Tech World is expecting all these shipments of goods for free, which the travellers ask the researchers to justify. If they can afford to build ships for their own defense, surely they can afford to pay for trade goods? Sheepishly, Dr. Hodal of Tech World agrees to pay for shipments, although he indicates that good pricing “will be appreciated and remembered”. The travellers agree to begin sourcing goods when possible, but make no commitment as to Tech World’s defense until they consult with higher authorities (wimps). They do share with the egg heads that there is a Broadsword Merc Cruiser stuck in Acrid with no jump drive, and that its captain may agree to work for Tech World’s nascent government if they can transport the ship there and agree to terms to get them a jump drive again. Hodal asks the travellers to try to arrange these terms, so they agree to send a message to Willie on Acrid to try to negotiate terms with the Hero on behalf of Tech World. An interesting turn of events in their relationship with the Hero, but business is business.

The next morning, Dr. Jali accidently turns herself in cyborg and damn nears burns the whole place down, and the real adventure begins. Investigating Dr. Jali’s lab doesn’t turn up too much, but Junior does manage to get himself infected with nanobots, so he’s got that going for him. The B Team takes the bait and begins their chase of Jali with their new friend Lemuel in tow.

In Exe, they don’t catch the Lord Gerald’s Fancy on sensors, but do pick up the Vagabond Soul. It’s obviously drifting with some strange life sign readings aboard, so they dock to investigate, loaded for bear. No gravity on board. The B Team enters through the airlock, with Junior on point, Chad behind him with a plasma rifle, and the ladies behind him with laser carbines (house rule: carbines can be used in close quarters combat, unlike rifles. Carbines would incur a penalty if the traveller is engaged by an opponent in melee, but could be fired). Lemuel is tagging along behind them. His special “nanobot proof” hazard / vacc suit is excellent for its purpose, but not nearly as well armored in the conventional sense. The team isn’t really crazy about the awkward geek being behind them with an auto pistol, but they’ve got combat armor, so what could go wrong? Their NPC sensor operators stays behind, manning the bridge.

Entering the common area of the Vagabond Soul, Junior rolls a “2” for a recon check, which results in a “Cursed” getting a surprise attack by dropping on Junior’s head. I gave the zombies 3D damage with their claws instead of 1D in order to make them a credible threat. They are otherwise unchanged. A high effect combined with a good damage roll results in Junior’s combat suit being pierced. Junior takes neurotoxin damage of 5 Int and 5 Dex. He only had 5 Int to start with. Is he brain dead? Maybe. I finally found some rules in the Traveller Companion that in the case of a neurotoxin, Int and Dex both going to zero results in death, and otherwise recovery is possible. Good enough for me. Junior’s automed unit can’t neutralize this particular toxin, but it does inject a fast drug to keep him alive for the moment.

Because of the zombies’ ability to communicate using radiowaves, I rule that the remaining team members can’t communicate unless they open their face shields, which seems a singularly bad idea. So unless communicated with hand signals, any targets they attack are determined randomly (i.e. no concentrating fire). They have enough of an armor and firepower advantage that it doesn’t really matter. Alaina and Gemma cut down the zombie on top of Junior, and Chad catches one across the room with a plasma bolt. The remaining three in the room collapse on Chad, forcing him to abandon his PGMP for a monoblade. The ladies keep shooting, and they cut the zombies down fairly quickly. The three zombies on the bridge have armed themselves with shotguns, and although there isn’t room for them to join the fight in the airlock hallway, once their compatriots go down they leap across the room in zero-G, each firing a shotgun into the small place the travellers are packed into.

They aren’t nearly as proficient with the shotguns as they are at melee. Two hit but don’t penetrate combat armor, and one sends itself spinning out of control. They are quickly cut down, but Chad realizes he was also infected in the preceding melee, but not as badly. Lemuel says he might be able to help Junior with his combination of medical training and nanobot knowledge, so he drags him back on board the Lady Miria. Their sensor op reports that he thinks there may be something alive on the top deck. Chad, fighting the effects of the infection, very carefully tosses a frag grenade up the hatch into the passenger common area, which happens to be exactly where the last Cursed was waiting in ambush. The Cursed avoids damage by diving down the open hatch, but it’s one attack roll is rebuffed by armor before this last zombie meets its end.

Chad manages to shake off the worst of the infection. Our travellers find the notice of the religious conference on Mirage in 16 weeks. Mirage is 10 jumps away. Man, that really sucks. Maybe we can catch her before then, they exclaim! Right at that moment, the Lord Gerald’s Fancy is detected jumping out. The team decides to try to salvage the Vagabond Soul, and manage to get her running well enough to get out of orbit. Gemma is a crack engineer and mechanic, after all. They take 30 tons of the petrochemicals and leave the seriously messed up ship on a nearby moon, but lose a day in the chase in the process.

During all this, Lemuel’s medical efforts to save Junior are successful. Question: What does the Immortal Protector need to roll to cure someone of a nanobot driven neurotoxin? Answer: He doesn’t (the players don’t know this, of course).

How to catch her? Their plan isn’t all that bad. They correctly deduce that Jali will limit herself to wilderness refueling. Time between jumps is significantly less when buying refined fuel at starports vs. using gas giants. It takes less time to get from the jump limit to the starport and back than it does to get to and from the jump limit of a gas giant, even before taking into account the much faster M Drive of the Lady Miria. Jali also needs 1-2 days to skim and refine fuel unless she’s taking chances.

The jump 2 path to Mirage has a choke point at Fist, so their plan is to beat Jali there. We’ll see how they do next time.
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Re: Pirates of Drinax - GMs thread

Postby paltrysum » Wed Mar 13, 2019 6:17 pm

Sounds like a great start to the adventure. What is the contingency plan if they manage to catch Dr. Jali? If the whole story does not progress to Neumann, what happens?
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Re: Pirates of Drinax - GMs thread

Postby Old School » Wed Mar 13, 2019 7:59 pm

I don't really see anything wrong with them catching her early. You can't force but so much linear progression in a sandbox. They could turn around and forget the whole Tech World thing if they so choose. The real highlight of gameplay so far has been "Treasure Ship", which they also didn't see all the way through.

All that said, actually catching and subduing Dr. Jali at Fist is VERY unlikely To the extent a plot device is needed, its name is Lemuel.

Once she gets past Fist, she could take several different paths, and there is time flexibility as well (note that in the book she doesn't take the most efficient route), so a referee could rule that they just plain miss her regardless of what path they take and when.

Going to work in a couple small patron encounters along the way, most likely #1 and #5 from p. 112. One is convoy schedules throughout the reach, the other is the missing megafreighter Yarrow. Perhaps also the Tamby Dour/hidden starport patron seed from p. 268. Not sure about that last one yet.
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Re: Pirates of Drinax - GMs thread

Postby paltrysum » Wed Mar 13, 2019 8:06 pm

I hear you on the sandbox. You definitely don't want to railroad them. Mine are working their way up toward Sindal Subsector now per "Prodigal Outcast," directing them to the planet to which they redirected the Ihatei, which in our campaign is the Oghma Cluster, primarily Marduk and Borite. I'm been tempted to introduce more plot threads but things tend to get convoluted when we try to run more than one story at a time. "Treasure of Sindal" will have to wait. :)
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Re: Pirates of Drinax - GMs thread

Postby Old School » Wed Mar 13, 2019 8:50 pm

Convuluted seems to to be a good description of my campaign. The “A team” have split into two parts “Team Drinax” (the diplomats), and “Team Sindal” (pirates/spies/black ops). One group will start ”Ihatei”, and one will pursue the “Treasure of Sindal”. Basically I put the start of those two adventures into one session when that group got back to Drinax.

We will probably play “Demon’s Eye” all the way through first, since with the travel involved it will largely take place in a vaccuum, away from the rest of the campaign. The other two, assuming they both take weeks to resolve in game time, will run concurrently since one could affect the other, especially if the two teams have a chance to communicate.
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Re: Pirates of Drinax - GMs thread

Postby Old School » Wed Mar 13, 2019 8:58 pm

Random errata I found in this adventure: Lemuel’s last name changes during the course of the adventure, from Vinus to Volin. Never noticed that before.

Its been a long time since I read prodigal outcast, but that one seemed big enough without introducing subplots.
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Re: Pirates of Drinax - GMs thread

Postby paltrysum » Wed Apr 17, 2019 6:02 pm

Our little group of pirates has now embarked upon "Prodigal Outcast," which will be the fourth adventure for us in the Drinax Campaign. Kasiyl's request for their aid was met with enthusiasm (partially because it has been intertwined with the ambitions of one of the Travellers—more on that later!) but it does catch them in a moment of rather ambitious sandbox travelling. The group was involved in the Keaih subplot from the Patrons section of Book 1, and are making their way up the Drinax Chain and then deep into the Void toward Homestead.

They are chasing down Hwehalokharl who, as the plot indicates, is with his cousin Teirlas on his Aositaoh-class cruiser on one of the worlds the Aslan were directed to after the events of the "Ihatei!" adventure. Their quest has taken them to the delightful (sarcasm fully intended) world of Borite where they have found their desired prey among hundreds of his brethren, camping around their cruiser. They've come up with a wildly interesting strategy to ferret him out and kidnap him. We'll see if it works!
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Re: Pirates of Drinax - GMs thread

Postby Jackstar » Fri Apr 19, 2019 4:55 pm

My players are about half way through Honour among Thieves and wanted to fix the atmosphere pump on Borite.
I sent six 300 ton Oghman Raiders (from Makergod) with 8 fighters to scare them off, but it didn't work – they charged in.
With some unusually clever tactic (keeping at Very Long range, good for Particle accelerators, bad for pulse lasers) they triumphed.
Although they miscalculated and suffered a barrage of 12 pulse lasers (for one critical hit) they generally kept at the planned range.
In the end, with two heavily damaged and one lightly damaged raider and two dead fighters, one raider had to charge the Harrier to give the others a chance to jump away.
They were impressed by the bravery of the raiders and tought that they might be a useful addition to the Drinaxian navy, so they stop firing, hailed the raider and ask to talk.
They now have visions of recruiting 200 raiders from Oghma, which will not be that simple and the TL9 ships will need some upgrading to make them useful.
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Re: Pirates of Drinax - GMs thread

Postby Old School » Sat Apr 20, 2019 1:46 pm

That’s awesome, Jackstar. What I love about the Drinax campaign is that everyone’s goes off the rails, but in an entirely different way.
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Re: Pirates of Drinax - GMs thread

Postby paltrysum » Tue Apr 23, 2019 5:21 am

Jackstar wrote:
Fri Apr 19, 2019 4:55 pm
I sent six 300 ton Oghman Raiders (from Makergod) with 8 fighters to scare them off, but it didn't work – they charged in.
With some unusually clever tactic (keeping at Very Long range, good for Particle accelerators, bad for pulse lasers) they triumphed.
We just used the very same ships during "Prodigal Outcast" with a similar result. The players used the Harrier to hold the Threshing Oars at distance and managed to disable and capture several of them. I'm sure they will make fine additions to their pirate fleet. :)
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Re: Pirates of Drinax - GMs thread

Postby Old School » Tue Apr 23, 2019 3:53 pm

Lol. My players would probably turn up their nose at them. I can hear them now "Just give them to Wrax for his loser Navy".
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Re: Pirates of Drinax - GMs thread

Postby Jackstar » Tue Apr 23, 2019 4:35 pm

Old School wrote:
Tue Apr 23, 2019 3:53 pm
Lol. My players would probably turn up their nose at them. I can hear them now "Just give them to Wrax for his loser Navy".
They are a poor match for a Harrier or any other warship with Very Long range weapons, but may do better against other ships, at least in sufficient numbers. I am trying to work out if there are any cheap high tech upgrades that could improve them. Fire Control/2 software looks like a good deal. Swapping the twin laser turret for a Particle Barbette is expensive (12 MCr) but would make a big difference.
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Re: Pirates of Drinax - GMs thread

Postby paltrysum » Tue Apr 23, 2019 5:11 pm

Definitely not designed to go toe to toe with a viable ship. Now, for landing on low-tech or poorly defended worlds and raiding the heck out of them, they're nicely geared for that. My players are also looking at how to upgrade the three they acquired. If they send them out as is to pirate other ships, it might be best if they avoid going after anything bigger than a free trader.
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