The annual gamesfest with old college buddies rolled around again last weekend, and this year I decided to try out the Pirates of Drinax campaign; for various reasons, this group is very tolerant of switching settings so long as their PCs and ship remain reasonably stable.
We played three sessions spread over two days, which took us all the way through the first plot point adventure, Honour Among Thieves. Now, it is my self-imposed rule not to share spoilers until a product is at least five years old, and Pirates was published in 2017, so we’re not there yet. This first scenario is a linear adventure, and apart from visiting the worlds in the wrong sequence, the group stuck surprisingly close to the storyline and had a good time doing it. It’s a fairly cerebral adventure, involving piecing together clues to find a wanted pirate, and one of the players loves the fights above all; so a few of those had to be added in, but that was easy enough to do. There is the potential for ship combat, but the players went to great lengths to avoid it, and in the one instance where they couldn’t, they used misdirection and ambush to gain a quick and easy victory. The players got their man, Big Ted gained the grudging respect of aslan ihatei for being a melee combat god, and Princess Rao of Drinax rolled the maximum possible positive reaction to Dyson, who by that point had +5 Charisma to boot; subtle hints along the lines of “oh, if only you were a worthy suitor in my father’s eyes” were dropped, and it will be interesting to see where Dyson’s player takes that.
During the course of the adventure they found the sector’s hidden pirate base; the overall campaign storyline paints them as privateers for a minor but ambitious state, but after extended discussion they decided they can only pull that off by eliminating the competition, so they plan to go well off-piste next session by selling the location of the pirate base to the Imperial Navy and standing back while the Navy pounds it into slag. Little do they know the hornets’ nest they will stir up by doing so.
They’ve also decided that being pirates in a Far Trader isn’t going to be good for their health, and have set their hearts on stealing a Gazelle class Close Escort, which Big Ted’s player has a particular fondness for and tries to acquire in any Traveller campaign.
Route and Timeline
Their route was Drinax, Torpal, Clarke, Torpal again, Borite, Noricum, Theev, Palindrome, Noricum, Borite, Torpol for the third time, and finally back to Drinax. Allowing for extra time spent on a couple of worlds, they finished the first scenario at some point during week 28; let’s round that up to 196-1105. Two days for the players, seven months for the characters.
This adventure exposed a flaw in my Savaging of Traveller, namely that Savage Worlds ships have far too great a jump range. The easiest way to solve that seems to be multiplying the energy cost for hyperspace jumps by 10 x the number of hexes jumped; further experimentation is needed, but I have until next year to work that out as the group really only meets once per annum. In the long run, it may be better to revert to using Traveller ships with my adaptation of the SW chase rules; I can’t see myself going back to Traveller ship combat at this point.
As usual, the players homed in on details that didn’t really matter and obsessed over them, trying to work out (for example) why the pirate they were hunting had stolen particular items; the answer “because that was the easiest thing to steal” didn’t satisfy them, and they kept digging for a plot twist that wasn’t there. Not sure how to avoid that, because whatever they pounce on next time, I won’t see it coming.
It would have been helpful to take a map of the sector, which I forgot to print out; when the adventure demands you decide which systems to visit in which order, and figure out where a fugitive has gone, a map is useful. I haven’t needed a star map for (literally) years now, so that was a surprise too. It would also be useful to copy the world profile and trade classifications to the world writeups in the sector book, as it would reduce page-flipping.
It struck me as we were setting up that this is most likely the last campaign I’ll run for these guys. We’re all on the high side of 60, none of us are in good health, we only get together once or twice each year, and there are at least 8-10 years’ worth of sessions in Pirates of Drinax even if we only play the plot point scenarios and ignore the side quests. I could start another campaign, but that would only mean both would remain unfinished. It hardly seems worth changing the rules with only 10 sessions left to go.
These are sobering thoughts.