“Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made.”
– William Shakespeare, The Tempest
Spoiler Warning! Spoilers ahead for the Pirates of Drinax.
Having located an old Sindalian facility under a lake (the water level having risen over the last millennium and a half), the party pause to consider what to do. They consider drilling a hole in the main door to flood it and equalise pressure, after which they can open the hatch more easily; they rule this out since the flooding may destroy whatever is in there. Going back on their earlier decision to protect local farmsteads from dam overflow, they spend a couple of weeks using the Lady Mary‘s particle cannon to dig several kilometres of (radioactive) trench to channel away the runoff, then force open a sluice gate to lower the water level. Meanwhile, they pay locals to prefabricate sections of coffer dam from local trees, which they use the ship to lower into place. They then use the ship’s refuelling pumps and hoses to pump the coffer dam dry, and enter the facility – Khugi uses a Benny to ensure that the password is the birthday of the last Sindalian emperor, which he had learned at school.
The dice are kind, and they find a storage depot, in (mostly) working order and only lightly looted thanks to a handful of sentry guns which click at them menacingly but ran out of ammo some centuries back. Exploration speeds up once they get the base computer back online, and they discover a couple of cryptic messages, a TL 15 particle barbette, and a warehouse full of basic tools and not-terribly-well-preserved food.
Collecting as much archaeological information and artefacts as will fit in the databanks and hold, they flood the facility to protect it from further looting, and dispense largesse to local peasants over a wide area to confuse anyone who later tries to work out what they did and where.
They’re back on Drinax by 1107 week 49, where they decide to get their annual maintenance done before heading back out again, and hand over their finds to the Scholars’ Tower. Here they learn that an Imperial historian, Professor hault-Belzoni, is visiting to gain insight into a curio he found, and that there is to be a state dinner in his honour to which they are invited.
This was what I think of as a balestra episode, a short adventure to adjust the pace of play so that we’re in a good place to change to the secondary party at the end of the next session. As I wanted to slow things down a little, I gave them a puzzle to solve (how to get into the place of mystery), a detailed location to explore, and a couple of sentry bots to fight. That’s usually good for a couple of hours. The puzzle pulled Jade’s player into the limelight for a bit, which is good as she usually lurks at the back of the party.
We’re now working through the adventure The Treasures of Sindal from the Pirates of Drinax campaign, but not in the right order – I have resequenced it to better fit the party’s movements.
I don’t know about Pirates of Drinax, this group is more like Tomb Raiders of Drinax; Lara Croft rather than Blackbeard. Again, they’re enjoying themselves, so I see no point in forcing them down a track they don’t want to follow. It does mean that the Scholars’ Tower is solidly behind them now, because they keep bringing the Scholars interesting toys to play with. They are too wealthy now for mere coin to interest them, but they were excited at the prospect of upgunning their ship with the new particle beam cannon. In terms of stats, it’s actually the same as the one they have now, but one looted from an ancient underwater ruin is clearly better than the one that came with the ship.
They deduced the meaning of the inscription clues quickly and with very little information, so after a bit more politicking and research, they’re off to Ace. However, before then, we will switch to the secondary party for a while, which has two purposes; firstly, it allows us to play some adventures which wouldn’t attract the main party, which is tightly focused on the main story arc, and secondly, it slows down the rate of progress for the main party without that being obvious.
This will become important as we have switched from one advance every four sessions to one every other session. That’s partly so that the main party gets a little way into Legendary Rank before the campaign ends, and partly because a couple of the players are chafing at the slow rate of advance. So we agreed to try a faster pace for a while, and to adjust it again later if it proves too fast.
They are also starting to worry about me keeping careful track of time, as they have convinced themselves that it means war with the aslan will break out at a specific point., which must be getting closer…