Previously, on Pirates of Drinax: The Diplomats worked their way through Thebus and Number One looking for clues. They think they have enough to lead them to the next stage of their quest for the fabled Treasures (we’ll see), and have jumped to Ace, whose name keeps coming up in their research…
(There are spoilers ahead; I am unrepentant, as Pirates of Drinax was first published for Mongoose Traveller first edition between 2011 and 2016, which puts it outside my usual five year moratorium.)
Ace, 1108 Week 52 – 1109 Week 4
Arriving at Ace, the Diplomats find four ships of the Proactive Recycling Company present, along with an aslan trader accompanied by a scout. They know the aslan trader; it’s the one which brought Professor hault-Belzoni to Drinax.
Given that the Prof is a blabbermouth, and they were on Drinax at the same time as the trader (captained by an aslan called Failokh), they deduce that: [a] Failokh knows more about the Sindalian Empire, its fall, messenger globes and the treasure of Sindal than is good for either him or them, [b] Failokh knows they have the professor and at least one messenger globe, and [c] Failokh has most likely come to Ace to wait for them; he knows they’re up to something to do with the treasure and wants either a cut or to take it from them.
Not wanting to ‘perform in public’, as they put it, they decide they may as well make their standard join-the-kingdom pitch to the Sages of Ace, who they quickly realise are the power behind the throne. As usual when they are doing this as a cover for their real activities, Felix’s Persuasion roll goes off the charts again (nine raises), and they offer him the position of King of Ace, since there is a prophecy that the next king will be an offworlder who will sort out those pesky pirates for good.
This time, Felix accepts, realising that the position is essentially a figurehead and so long as he leaves the Sages running things on a day to day basis, all will be well. The party agree that Ace is big enough to be a Duchy in their nascent kingdom, and the obvious Duke is King Felix.
By now, the PRC has got bored and pushed off, but Failokh is still in port, being suspiciously picky about speculative cargo. They decide he is stalling, and King Felix instructs the Sages to arrest the trader crew on suspicion of espionage while the Lady Mary takes off and offers the orbiting scoutship a choice of landing and being arrested, or being a firing test for their particle accelerators. The captain decides to land, and is imprisoned like the trader crew. They seize both vessels as additions to the Drinaxian Navy, and since Failokh’s group are actually pirates, they find enough evidence to justify locking them up indefinitely.
Next, they use their particle accelerators to execute the firing solutions found in the various messenger globes, which produces an artificial aurora borealis in the form of a starmap 800 kilometres across, showing a location in deep space two parsecs away. Clearly, X marks the spot.
In Transit: 1109 Weeks 5-7
Krrsh takes command of the new trader, and the party scrape together skeleton crews for their new acquisitions from the local system defence units and their existing crews. Leaving the Ching Shih and the new scout at Ace as a temporary defence force, they take the Lady Mary and the new trader via Number One to Salif. The point of this is that they can then jump in and out of the target location using J-2 drives.
While they’re they, given that they are openly travelling as ambassadors of Drinax, they decide they might as well try their join-the-kingdom pitch on Tiznee Zazzle, former pop star and current ruler of Salif.
Salif, 1109 Weeks 8-10
The party negotiate with Tiznee Zazzle, and find that her goals are almost perfectly aligned with Princess Rao’s position. But she needs help; she has become immune to her regular anagathics. She needs advanced medical treatment (TL14+) to tweak her genetic code so she can continue to take the drugs. However, to maintain her mystique, her followers cannot know about her problem. Get her the treatment she needs, guarantee her support and a suitable position in the new Kingdom, and she is on board.
Deep Space, 1109 Weeks 11-12
After a week in jumpspace, the Lady Mary emerges in deep space to find a long-abandoned Sindalian base. They are pleased to find large quantities of fuel, and even more pleased to note two Harrier-class commerce raiders docked (these later prove to have been cannibalised for parts).
An ancient, scratchy recording by Admiral Gani Peras of the Sindalian Star Guard asks them to enter their ducal-level codes or the station will self-destruct. When they comply, a second message is played, explaining that she has done her duty and imploring them to use what they find inside wisely, which the players find both exciting and spooky. They explore cautiously, expecting alien predators, guard robots and who knows what else, but the station is merely empty and abandoned.
Empty, that is, until they reach the main cargo bay. Their torch beams play over the treasure of Sindal; row after row after row of torpedo warheads, variously marked with warning symbols for radiation and biohazards.
To be continued…
Notice that the Diplomats have now gone over the edge and are openly recruiting for the revised Kingdom of Drinax. Given their standing with both major powers has decayed back to its default position, nobody cares. They will have to come up with something to attract attention – but that is for another day.
I’d expected them to fight the pirates, but they came up with a solid plan for taking them into custody without firing a shot, and it seemed churlish to take that victory away from them just because I want to explore ship combat further.
Unlike most planets in the Area of Operations, Salif doesn’t have a predefined set of policy goals, but it was easy enough to generate them from the information in the campaign book (the author saw this one coming).
The scenario as written assumes the PCs jump blind into an empty hex and trust to luck that they can find enough fuel to get back again, but actually that’s not necessary if they’re prepared to spend a little while travelling to come at the empty hex from a different direction.
I was pleased with the session end, as the Diplomats pushed into the station’s main cargo bay in the darkness, their torch beams flickering until they alighted on row after row of torpedo warheads. If I were a GM who used background music, Evil Clowns by Black Kali Ma would have started fading up at that point, and now it is the Sindalian Empire theme, at least in my head.
A great place to roll credits, I thought.