The Drinaxian Black Ops team is stooging around Oghma, picking off returning raiders, while debating what to do next… Spoilers ahead!
Oghma, 1109 Week 52 – 1110 Week 04
After extensive discussion, the Black Ops team decides on a plan. Convinced that they are out of their depth, they have sent a message to Drinax asking for help, specifically somebody with the Ducal codes in the hope that Khourge the Blind is actually a Sindalian AI who will accept King Oleb as the legitimate heir to the throne of the Empire if presented with said codes. They settle in to buy time for either the codes, or the Pourne Navy, to turn up and help them out; if all the Oghmans boil out at once, the GeDeCo facility is toast, and them with it.
Over the next few weeks, they spoof Oghman communications to present the impression of tension building towards civil war, and cap this off by using the EMP from their one and only nuke to disable the power and communications infrastructure at the starport, and that plus some rocks gathered up in the outer system to trigger Kessler Syndrome in the orbital defence array. With Khourge occupied trying to rebuild the shipyard, which they slagged previously by melting down a fission reactor, this does in fact trigger a civil war as warlord Grydin attacks warlord Brodi, in the mistaken opinion that Brodi is behind the attack on the shipyard. Warlord Ingre waits to see who wins that before committing her forces, and warlord Hink reaches out to the GeDeCo starport – with the surface starport and shipyard both gone, and chunks of flaming debris falling from the skies everywhere, he thinks it’s time to talk. The GeDeCo head of station is of the opinion that Oghma had it coming and won’t lift a finger to help them.
There’s only one person on Drinax Oleb trusts to handle this, so Princess Rao turns up with the ducal codes, and talks the AI into accepting her as envoy plenipotentiary for the Sindalian Empire’s successor state. She thinks she can do business with Hink. The Black Ops team recommend to her that she engages the Oghmans as mercenaries, and deploys them against the Glorious Empire, paying them in food and technology. Everyone agrees it’s too soon to trust them with proper ships.
1110 Weeks 05 to 07 are spent in transit back to Drinax, where the team reluctantly hands back their Harrier and are issued a far trader in exchange. It will take some time to repair the claw marks where Ezh was dragged out of the ship.
Drinax, 1110 Weeks 08-09
The team take their annual leave while their ship is overhauled, and while Vinnie and Ranil obey King Oleb’s instruction to get falling down drunk for two weeks, Dr Agatha researches their next mission and destination, and learns the approximate location of the treasure vault Oleb wants them to clean out.
Meanwhile, Ezh and V’lantyn make a point of strengthening their friendship with Kasiyl the aslan outcast, which they have been cultivating for about a year in game time. V’lantyn gives Kasiyl a blade of his own making, which Kasiyl is delighted with, and Ezh opens up to him about the mistreatment her father suffered at her clan’s hands. Kasiyl knows how that feels, and asks if – when the time is right – they would accompany him back into the Hierate, and help him restore his honour? Ezh agrees readily.
1110 weeks 10-12 are spent in transit, with the team arriving on Paal in week 13.
This was a good time to discuss the way the campaign is going, like adults, and make a few changes.
First, the squid. An enemy that the party refuse to go within five parsecs of because they are so scared of it is very successful, but not terribly useful in the game. So, we agreed to replace them with Commander Jagad, who has a definite grudge against the same PCs. The squid, being extremely secretive, not native to Cordan, and aware that their cover has been blown, will commandeer a passing freighter and depart to places unknown. Commander Jagad will return in a close escort, and demonstrate to the players why they should let me nerf particle accelerators.
Second, Tracey Island. Nobody is really interested in having a fief on Cordan, so since Princess Rao wants a base of operations there, they can deliver some NPCs there to run it for her, and drop in as and when they want.
Third, the Ann Bonney. The Diplomats are the public face of Drinax, so it makes sense for them to have a shiny, conspicuous ship; but the Black Ops team are deniable doers of dirty deeds, so we switched them into a tramp freighter on their return to Drinax, despite token in-character protests from Vinnie and Ezh. They can be the crew, because they insist on keeping the ship close at hand in case they need to run for it.
Finally, freedom of action. The Diplomats are Drinaxian nobles, personal friends of the royal family, and have a track record of continuous success, so it makes sense that they can pick and choose what they do. The Black Ops team score lower on all those, so they will be given orders. Experience over recent years has been that giving the players more choice of scenarios doesn’t really help, they just get more picky. So let’s hope that the Diplomats make good use of their freedom of action.
As to the session itself, I think Makergod has about run its course; another group, one more interested in infiltrating Oghman society and engineering regime change from within, could have stretched this out another half dozen sessions, but this group backed away from several chances to do that and remained focused on the Death From Space options. I favour fun over realism; so as long as we’re all having fun and they can suspend their disbelief in the outcome, I’ll take that as a win. It also presented a credible backdrop for them spending a few Group Advances they had stacked up to shift Oghma to Friendly status.
I think they are being overly risk-averse and underestimating their capabilities, but if they feel they’re out of their depth and want someone else to solve the problem for them, I’ll allow that rather than force them down a path they don’t want to take. This is supposed to be fun, after all.
Sometimes, though, things just fall into place, and the interaction between Ezh and Kasiyl did just that. As if it were planned, the conversation between them pushed all the right buttons for both sides, setting up the storyline for The Prodigal Outcast scenario in a few sessions’ time.
Meanwhile, on to Paal, and Shadows of Sindal…