Yarr! Here there be spoilers, me hearties…
The team has been away from Drinax for most of the last two game years, and were keen to get home, relax for a while, and update their plans and orders.
On the way back, Felix took Xaronne into his confidence: He is convinced that Prince Harrick was assassinated and replaced by a clone, and is planning a surprise for the welcome-home party that will shake up the dinner guests. He knows that Xaronne is very, very good at reading people, and wants her to help him identify who has the guilty consciences. Xaronne agrees. (Actually, she is a telepath, but Felix doesn’t know that.)
They have bought the friendship of Exe, have offers from Clarke and Tech-World which will bring those worlds into Drinax’s orbit, and have befriended Torpol. Meanwhile Princess Rao has struck a deal with Paal – effectively diverting large sums of money from the pirates’ war chest into buying Paal’s friendship; they accepted that without complaint, and Rao is pleased with their progress. Their trading has also gone well, and King Oleb is pleased with the million and a half he has made personally. As Khugi said, the way things are going, they may be able to achieve the objective of restoring the Kingdom of Drinax without putting on a pirate hat at all.
They asked Rao what she wants to do about the Yarrow, a megafreighter they have heard misjumped into the Marduk system. The party were very excited about this, and wanted to use it as a carrier for their pirate fleet; but Rao echoes the more sombre heads among them – it’s far too big for their needs, and what they’ve made in the last two years would pay its operating costs for about two months. She reminds them about the Oghman raiders and suggests that if the Oghmans are going to be friends, they can have it – they will no doubt cannibalise it for parts and slaves – but if the Oghmans are not going to be on Rao’s side, the Yarrow should be denied to them by any means necessary.
A complex game of Find the Lady with ships ensues, as they sort out their fleet and NPC dispositions to keep all the promises they’ve made while letting them take the ship they want to take to Marduk, namely the Ching Shih. There’s no way to make this omelette without breaking at least one egg, and the outcome is that Tech-World may be unhappy (they’ll know in about two months when the news comes back) and Krrsh the vargr pirate is definitely very unhappy – he has been demoted to command a smaller ship, and however they dress that up with presents and fake promotions, he feels betrayed. That decision may come back to haunt them later.
Felix surprises the dinner guests with a re-enactment of Prince Harrick’s near-fatal crash on Asim, and makes an impassioned speech calling for justice. (It really was a good speech.) Xaronne, scanning the crowd for emotional spikes, lights on Trader Rachando, who makes his excuses and leaves – it does him no good, as the party catch up with him. Under interrogation, Rachando reveals he is a spy for GeDeCo, but his orders were to watch and report, not assassinate.
As the party knows they are under constant surveillance by GeDeCo nanites, Princess Rao locks down the starport – if no ships leave, no nanites leave either. This buys them a few days to figure out what to do next; they can’t stop GeDeCo finding out what they’re up to, but they have a window of a few weeks between things happening and the news reaching GeDeCo sector HQ on Vorito. They are now realising the scale of GeDeCo’s interference in sector politics, and it seems to align with their own goals for the moment, so they expect they can make a deal at some point.
They’re puzzled by why GeDeCo needs a human agent on Drinax given all the nanites floating about; and the more paranoid ones are wondering if this is the only agent they have present. Meanwhile, the Flame Knights from the Shield Church of Neumann are setting up a branch among the Vespexers, leading to party concerns about revolution among the masses, and Prince Harrick has been offered the role of High Psychopomp of Clarke…
This session was heavy on politics and roleplaying, with very few dice rolls made and two of the five players absent. I loved the way that the consequences of their earlier actions came back to haunt them in terms of political factions that have to be kept on-side, financial promises that have to be kept, and NPCs whose egos have to be stroked. The players are deeply invested in that stuff, although they don’t seem very interested in actually being pirates. This needs to be watched, as the two absent players have been quiet of late; I’m pondering how to draw Jade’s player into things more, while Stoner’s player just wants something to shoot at, and once they meet the Oghman raiders I should be able to fix that for him.
(The raiders, incidentally, are being introduced to offer the players a moral conundrum; they can have someone do their pirating for them, but do they really want to work with a bunch of rapacious slavers? If they’re willing to make that tradeoff, how do they close Pandora’s box again later when the time comes to go legit?)
I’m very happy with the way the campaign politics is shaping up; we can all see that their choices are having a real impact on the balance of power in the Trojan Reach, and they are starting to have to make some hard decisions about where to focus their time to keep all the plates spinning. If I run this campaign again, I will put more effort into the courtly intrigue on Drinax, as I think that effort would be well repaid; it seems to be working well enough so far, but I think the setup would benefit from more minor nobility and bit part characters for the group to bounce off – that’s a lesson I could apply to any future game.
Felix’s player took the Delusion Hindrance, and has spent most of the last few sessions creating a rock-solid conspiracy theory to support his character’s view that Harrick was murdered twenty years ago and replaced by a clone. It’s so convincing that he has persuaded the rest of the party now, and it would be a pity to let that plotline go unused. However, his actions in roleplaying this Hindrance have triggered an early introduction to an adventure much later in the story arc, The Vorito Gambit; I’m not quite ready to follow that one up yet, but it will now seem like a natural outcome of the party’s actions.
As usual with Savage Worlds, we’re burning through plot like there’s no tomorrow, and the side quests aren’t very appealing to the players compared to the big set pieces. They bypassed everything I had set up for the trip back, but I should be able to get another session or two out of the Yarrow, which could spin off into the Makergod adventure if they follow up the Oghman raider angle; however the power behind the throne in that scenario is a trope used several times elsewhere in the Reach, so I need to be careful not to overdo it.
We’re playing the game in Roll20, and I’ve found it helpful to take a map of their area of operations (everywhere within 6 parsecs of Blue) and mark it up with the current status of various worlds they have visited in assorted colours; we use that as a landing page, and as befits the strategic nature of the heroes’ involvement, we spend more time poring over that than any of the battlemats.
We have discussed setting up a secondary party, as one of the interesting facets of the Traveller setting is the travel time. They’ve realised that while the party can only be in one place at a time, moving their plans forward needs multiple simultaneous interventions in widely-separated star systems, which they will have to delegate; much of the work will have to be done on their behalf by NPCs, which emphasises the need to pick good subordinates and keep them happy; but another party would allow us to explore adventures and aspects of the setting that the principal heroes are too focused on the main story arc to follow up.