Pirates of Drinax – the Pirate World of Theev

When we last left our intrepid Travellers, they had just touched down on the pirate world of Theev – and, it has to be said, they were very conscious that their reputations might not be all they desired, as they had yet to do any real pirating (on the way, they had bullied a small trader into jettisoning cargo containers, but the haul had been small)!

They quickly realised that, for a price, just about anything could be purchased in the city of Blacksand, so they immediately scattered to pick up some choice bits and pieces – everything from new portable computers and breaching charges to high-powered rifles and a little medical tourism that involved subdermal armour for the Aslan bodyguard.

Finally, with Krrsh’s help, they got back on course and started asking around for Redthane’s lieutenant, Silverhand. This involved lots of cocktails with little umbrellas for the youngest Vargr (it was happy hour) and a fair amount of gambling on death matches for the rest. The captain, in particular, managed to win a substantial amount of Credits but he had, unfortunately, already been marked upon arrival – the Travellers’ ship, the Baldrick, was old but potent and a gang of thieves decided it would make for a good target. When the captain left the rest of the party, they managed to kidnap him, and tried to get him to unlock the ship so they could steal it. During this process, they discovered his winnings (which were pinched) and his comms unit (which was smashed).

Fortunately, the pilot had stayed on board the ship and (eventually) noticed what was going on outside. Between her and the captain, a rescue was affected and the thieves scattered.

However, now the captain was mad. The quest took something of a detour as he ordered the rest of the Travellers to scour the city for the thieves who had taken his winnings. The thieves realised they might very well be in trouble and so started to make plans of their own – however, one was gunned down in the middle of the street after he had tried to return home to pick up his favourite shotgun, and another was captured and put into the Baldrick’s low berths.

While the captain was focussed on finding the leader of the thieves (and his money), some of the other Travellers had started poking around for Silverhand, and eventually discovered that she was holed up in the Scrapyard, an area of derelict ships just outside the city of Blacksand.

They all reunited and started to scour the Scrapyard, eventually coming across a makeshift fortress of wrecked ships that had been welded together. The Aslan bodyguard was the first to enter, and the first to encounter Silverhand – who had realised she had intruders and intended to finish them off with a rapid-firing machinegun (a new item in the forthcoming Central Supply Catalogue). With a long corridor to defend, Silverhand managed to pin down the entire party until one, a retired Army major simply strolled out into the middle of the corridor and nailed her with one shot from his high-powered laser rifle.

The Travellers rushed to Silverhand, and started enacting first aid to save her (in order to gain information on Redthane). That did not go so well, so the party medic announced he would start performing surgery…

The trouble was, he was not a real surgeon (he had seen a few vids on medical procedures once), and the environment was filthy. It soon became clear that his surgical efforts were making the patient worse.

Frankly, it would have been a cleaner death for Silverhand if he had used a chainsaw…

Despite the death, the Travellers managed to find the information they needed on Redthane on Silverhand’s datapad – he had taken to hiding on the fourth moon of the gas giant in the Palindrome system, a place they had visited on their way to Theev. In fact, they had refuelled at the gas giant, and so had already been within a stone’s throw away from their target. Which was annoying for them.

After a last look around for the thieves, they left Theev and made for Palindrome. They tried sneaking up on the fourth moon, but Redthane was watching them approach and, as they got closer, his ship rocketed up from the surface of the moon as he tried to escape.

However, the Baldrick was extremely fast (6G thrust!), and the pirate was quickly overhauled. Redthane refused to surrender, however, and went down shooting – while the Baldrick’s particle barbette seriously outgunned the little Far Trader, Redthane managed to get a few hits in, damage that would be costly for the Travellers to fix later. The final result was inevitable though, and the Far Trader broke up in space, leaving the Travellers to sift through the wreckage to find Redthane’s body, so the bounty could be claimed.

After refuelling once more, the Travellers plotted a path back to Torpol and Clarke so they could (finally) see some real money. However, they figured they could probably do a little pirating on the way to bump the profit margins up a little…

Pirates of Drinax – First Steps

Within Mongoose Publishing, we are currently working on (among many other things!) a revision of the Pirates of Drinax epic campaign. We steadily released this campaign in parts (for free!) over the past couple of years or so but, with the new edition of Traveller now out, we wanted to do something a little bit special.

So, later this year, expect to see a nice big double-hardback set in slipcase, with big poster map and lots of ebook support to further extend your adventures!

In preparation of this, I decided our RPG group should rattle through the campaign to help close up any holes and basically make sure players will have everything they need to hand in the commercial release.

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We started by rolling up characters, which is always a laugh in Traveller. Unlike many other games, in Traveller characters are rolled up as a group exercise, as the system gets you to ‘link’ to other players through various events in their history. The idea here is that, by the time you are ready to play, everyone in the party already knows each other – I often describe this as creating the crew of the Firefly, where everyone has some sort of history that is primed and ready to go.

That done, the Travellers started off in the floating city on the blasted world of Drinax, with an offer from King Oleb (think Brian Blessed in Flash Gordon); he will give them an old but highly advanced raiding ship, and the Travellers go off into the Trojan Reach to pirate Imperial and Aslan shipping, while building up resources that will allow Drinax to become a true empire. Simples.

The first debated started with the Travellers trying to come up with a name for their Harrier-class raider. This took some time but they finally settled upon the Balderick.

They then checked out the nearby systems and decided which one they would first jump to, lying in wait for a nice fat trader to board. To their credit, they also made plans as to whom would do what when they actually found a target (rather than employing their usual practice of figuring things out as they go along…).

However, they were interrupted by an automated message that had been left on their bridge by the Princess Rao. Pirates had attacked two nearby systems (Torpol and Clarke) and bounties had been posted – if the Travellers could run them down, they would earn the bounties but, more importantly, would start to influence these two worlds to be more receptive to Drinax. As it happened, the Travellers had chosen Torpol as their first target world, so were at least heading in the right direction.

Landing at Torpol, they scouted around the starport for information, which led to a punch up in a bar between the Travellers’ captain and a visiting sports team. Though outnumbered, the captain, along with his Aslan bodyguard, ‘dealt’ with the situation and when security arrived, took the opportunity to meet one of the administrators of the planet – a man only too pleased to get help tracking down the raiders.

The Travellers analysed the data collected from the attack and quickly deduced that the attacking ships had disguised themselves and fled to the Borite system. After quickly refuelling at the starport, the Travellers left Torpol and jumped to Borite.

A scan of the system located a faint distress beacon coming from an ancient (really ancient – it was nearly falling apart!) space station in orbit around the local gas giant. After (very carefully) docking, three of the Travellers entered the station and began exploring – starting off by splitting up and wandering off on their own…

Inevitably, one of the Travellers (the Aslan bodyguard) encountered the strange alien creature that had been lurking on the station (a Chamax that had been transported here, for you Traveller veterans) but after a brief though brutal fight, she managed to fend it off. Meanwhile, another of the Travellers had found a poor Vargr pirate – the captain of one of the raiders who had been abandoned by his crew after an unsuccessful attack after the raids the Travellers had already heard about.

The Vargr (named Krrsh) was pathetically grateful to the Travellers, and took a shine to the younger of the Vargr on their team. After being given food and rum, he happily told the Travellers that the attacks were led by a pirate captain called Redthane. He had no idea where Redthane was, but knew his lieutenant, a lady known as Silverhand, was on the pirate world of Theev. Krrsh would be willing to give the Travellers the codes needed to enter Theev space (as well as use the deep space refuelling point needed to get there), and would go on to serve on their crew (hoping to get another ship from them later on).

The deep space refuelling was hellishly expensive, as it turned out, but enabled the Traveller to get to Theev.

The session ended when they touched down on a world with a very low Law Level and very high Tech Level – always a good combination when you want to go shopping!

Dark Sun Gets Darker

On Saturday, I managed to get a game of Talisman in with the girls.  Unusually for one of our Talisman sessions, we did not get through a massive amount of characters.  The grils died once each, and I finished with my original character (a Ghoul).  Didn’t win though…

On Monday, we carried on with Traveller.

In the last session, the players had had a bit of an argument and gone their seperate ways.  They had agreed between sessions to meet and make up, but on her way to the tavern (which they kept insisting calling a hotel), Kat ran into some trouble with a couple of Templars.  She drew a gun, which surprised the hell out of them, but after a valiant fight, she was brought down low by some weird psychic powers she insisted were not in the rules (straight out of Psion – she is rapidly finding out that psionics work a bit differently on Athas).

Sand and Andy, meanwhile, were also returning to the tavern, and witnessed a ‘sweep,’ basically where templars and giants block off a street and start scooping up people to become slaves.  This was just meant to be a precursor to what would happen later but now, of all the times, was when Andy suddenly developed a conscience and decided to intervene. Apparently, he wanted to ‘help the children…’

So, templars and giants in the street, slaves-to-be lined up against a wall, and Andy (with Sand in tow) on a rooftop, giggling every time I mentioned the templars were armed with swords as he shouldered his ACR.

A few rounds of automatic fire, and a templar is down, Sand is out for the count due to a psychic assault, and Andy is writhing with pain under one of the new psionic powers as a giant slowly mashes his face.

They wake up in the slave pens – and promptly decide to escape.  A few whippings later, and they realise this may not be easy.  So, they are put to work, mixing mud that will eventually become bricks to make the Tyrant’s ziggurat (yes, this is Freedom they were playing).

Not too many friends are made while they are in captivity, with their overseer constantly whipping the hell out of Andy, Kat spending a day stretched on a rack under the sun, and Sand doing her best to be invisible.  Four days they spend like this, watching their Endurance ebb away day by day.  Kat finally rallies enough Psi points to effect a teleporting escape, taking the others with her – back to their room in the tavern.  They have lost a lot of the equipment they brought with them, and are starving.

Most of all, they are hopping mad.  Plans are made immediatly.

After getting some proper clothes (Andy did not look good in a loincloth), they hire an Inix (a big lizard) with a howdah, and march out into the desert to locate their ship once more.  Here, they tool up, with new weapons, armour and a couple of doors ripped off the staterooms (the doors are metal, worth a fortune on Athas).  I then asdked them what they wanted to do, so I could prepare for the next session.

Frankly, it is not clear.  They are still mad and want some payback.  However, they keep switching targets (hit the slave pens and free the slaves, or just go for the big castle in the middle of the city?) as well as overall aims (just a spot of revenge, a slave revolt, or are they planning to own the entire city after their assault?).  They haven’t even decided whether they want to stay on Athas or see if there might be a way they can leave.

Needless to say, this campaign has not gone the way I had first intended, but it will be interesting to see where it leads…

In other news, our good friends at Warlord Games sent us a couple of copies of their new miniatures game, Hail Caesar, which will be just perfect for my Romans and Sand’s Gauls.  From a quick flick through, it seems a little rebasing from our WAB set up may be needed, but I am looking forward to getting some decent Ancients gaming in soon.

Travelling in Athas

So, we recommenced our ‘original’ Traveller game last night – and I think a good time was had by all.

We kicked off (after the players’ misjump) with a crash landing on some unknown planet.  The players quickly found out that something was inhibiting any device that was remotely technological (which caused some interesting issues for the players loaded up on cybernetics) and, when they had finally dug themselves out of the crater, discovered they were in the middle of a trackless desert.  So, they immediatly started dealing with the priorities.  Sand made sure she was travelling light and had water, Kat spent a great deal of time levering up her inert battle dress, and Andy was working out how to take his (non-functional) nuclear missiles with him.  Funny how they found it so hard to let go of their favourite possessions…

Time passes with them making no move, just setting up camp near the ship, when a caravan is seen in the distant.  Six outriders on the backs of big, flightless birds approach, and the players quickly deduce they are not carrying any metal at all.  In fact, they quite fancy a confrontation as the outriders had spears while the players were tooled up with assault rifles (having already discovered that dead electronics had rendered their gauss rifles and ACRs inoperable).

Opting to talk instead, they begin chatting to the outriders.  They find out that there is a nearby city called Tyr, ruled by the Tyrant (that pricked up the ears of Sand).  They also begin trading, hoping to find water, a mount or two and some threads that will let them blend in with the locals.  When asked what they intended to pay with, Kat pulled out a large gold coin she had been given by a primitive Droyne in the Marches.  The outriders’ eyes grow almost as large as the coin, and they promptly give the players everything they ask for.

Of course, what has actually happened here is that the players have crash-landed on Athas.  They had expressed an interest to play Dark Sun in the past, and I could not resist killing two birds with one stone.  Athas was the second nastiest place I could think to send them (there is one other, but I am keeping that in my pocket for now…).  Deprived of m0st of their technology, the players are now having to deal with life on Athas, with all the dangers it brings.

They trade for threads, get an Erdlu (flightles bird) each, and accompany the caravan into the city.  Inside, they hire a dragoman who starts showing them around the place, but they refuse his offer of a map of the city.  Quickly deducing that, with the value of a simple metal dagger being what it is (not to mention a crashed 100-ton spaceship in the desert), they are immensely wealthy, the players promptly rent a room in the best inn in the city, while two are dressed like the richest nobles (people are presuming the third, Sand, is their slave).

So far, they have actually managed to avoid drawing too much attention to themselves.  Though when Sand tried to intimidate the dragoman in the middle of the street, she quickly realised that drawing her metal dagger was not the brightest thing to do.  There will be consequences for that, oh yes.

Then they went shopping.  They found that, despite their wealth, asking for change every time they buy a meal with a dagger was getting cumbersome, so they found the merchant houses and got some proper coin (though they will figure out next week that a gold coin is actually a hefty bit of currency and getting change will still be a problem).  They spent a fair bit of time working out what to do.  How do they leave this planet if nothing technological works?  Kat’s solution was to find a job and make a life there.  Andy was thinking in a similar direction, but his plan involved building a huge army and taking over the entire world…

I’ll also be cranking the notch up next week, showcasing some of the dangers of Athas that lie in wait for the unwary (which has to describe the entire group anyway).  I’ll also be giving them some golden opportunities to stuff one another over in the next couple of weeks, so it will be interesting to see if they pull together or pursue their own interests…

Back with the Roleplaying

Floated the idea of a Strontium Dog campaign with the girls, and they were up for it, so we rolled up characters this weekend.  Would have gone smoothly but Kat insisted on rolling new characters until she got a set of mutations she regarded as cool. Fifty-odd characters later (I ain’t making it up), she finally finished…

This will be an ad hoc camapign, playing whenever we get a chance rather than on a regular basis (which Strontium Dog is great for, given its mission-based play).

Tonight, I have a rather different animal to run.

Due to a break caused by player absence, we have decided to go back to our ‘original’ Traveller campaign that we started some time ago.  We stopped because the campaign had reached that sort of juncture – a major cliff hanger (caused by the players themselves), which left me pondering what to do.  This is the ‘story so far;’

While waiting for their Scout ship to be repaired on Wardn, our intrepid Travellers took a mission on Steel, helping to colonise the world.  During their time there, they quickly ran afoul of the law, started a feud with a prospecting family, aided Sword World rebels hiding in the wilderness, and destroyed one of the main settlements, blaming it on raiders.  They then detonated a nuclear weapon in an effort to destroy an alien life form.

Leaving Wardn, they took a liner, the Duchess Salene, which had the misfortune to misjump.  Adrift, its engines disabled, the liner was left plummeting towards a gas giant and certain destruction.  Our heroic Travellers made several attempts to calm the crew and passengers and fix the ship, before giving up altogether, convincing everyone that everything would be okay, then stealing the lifeboat (which must have felt decidedly empty, with those extra, spare seats).  

Finding themselves in the other end of the Spinward Marches, our noble Travellers tried to plot a way back to Wardn, but ran into difficulties in steering a path that avoided everyone they had managed to honk off in their lives.  While on Vanejen, they took pity on an alien called Chirper, and broke into a restricted Imperial Research Station to help his friends.

On their way back to Wardn, our stellar Travellers engaged in a bit of medical tourism when they found a planet with a high Tech Level but low Law Level, picking up every upgrade they could get grafted into their bodies.  Then, they stopped off briefly at Sting to start a nuclear holocaust between two rival continents, managing to save themselves during the four minute warning.  They left behind 600 million dead.

Finally, they reached Wardn and picked up their Scout ship, now ready for space travel.  During their first trip, they were engaged by pirates, fought them off, then fired upon an Imperial Scout ship that had been sent to assist them.  They jumped to subsector capital Glisten, built in an asteroid belt but were very jittery.  Their stay there ended when, upon trying to leave, an Imperial Navy destroyer asked them to change course and enter a holding pattern.  Fearing the worst, they hit the thrusters and tried to escape, before realising that the destroyer and its attending fighters were far faster than they were.  

Apparently not wanting to add space traffic violations to their growing list of crimes, they made the jump into hyperspace while still perilously close to Glisten’s gravity well.  Almost immediately, they realised something had gone terribly wrong…

Anyway, I decided a while ago that, as players, they must be punished, for all the crimes their characters committed and would likely never get caught for.  Prison Planet was too good for them (in fact, I wanted them to start begging to be taken to a prison planet).

A month or so ago, I came up with the perfect idea of how to go about it. The perfect foil. Something that would strip away all hope and pride.  Break them down so they could be remade into a better image.

And that will be the subject of my next post, as I know my players read this blog!