Pirates of Drinax, Episode 22: The Cordan Conflict, Part 4


Having successfully started a war between two of the barons of Cordan at the request of the third, the party is now asked to end the fighting and arrange a peace settlement… Now read on.
Cordan, 1108 Week 35

The party reach out to Halley, since they don’t know where Fero is, and he agrees to meet on neutral ground – the starport. A conference room is rented for the occasion, and starport attendants keep the coffee and pastries coming at regular intervals.

Halley brings a couple of attendants and a couple of obvious bodyguards with him. They and Vinnie size each other up, then repair to the buffet table to lay waste to the snacks. Dr Agatha and Ranil are the negotiating team, while Vlantyn observes everyone carefully. Halley’s hatred of aslan is well-known, so Ezh finds herself a large cardboard box back at the ship and curls up in it, monitoring events remotely on her commlink.

Halley is middle-aged, with greying temples, clearly experienced in political matters. Agatha and Ranil explain that as the party are neutral and independent offworlders, Baroness Lux has engaged them to broker a peace deal. They ask Halley to explain things from his perspective, and he obliges, saying that he has nothing against Lux, and was getting along fine with Fero – apart from a minor border dispute over Ellaton – until Fero starting taking action against him; killing his tax collector, promising aslan parts of his lands if they attacked him, commando raids against his men, that sort of thing.

Everything, in fact, that the party has been doing.

Vlantyn is convinced that Halley is telling the truth as he sees it, which is not congruent with Baroness Lux’s initial statement that Fero and Halley were plotting against her. This leads the team to suspect that there is another player involved, but this is not the time to follow that up.

They say that they are empowered to offer Lux’s help in keeping the peace and providing medical aid, but in exchange she will declare herself High Baroness and Halley must become her vassal. Halley counters with the offer that he will sign a treaty with Lux, but not become her subordinate. This becomes quite a heated discussion and Halley suggests a break while he consults with his advisors, and the party consult with Lux; this is agreed. (Halley was expecting to negotiate with Lux herself, talking to the party already sends a message that she does not consider him an equal.) The team speak to Lux to make sure they’re still operating within expected parameters, and she won’t budge from the idea of Halley as a vassal – she thinks his casualties and damage are such that he can’t refuse.

After a further session of spirited debate, Halley reluctantly agrees to take Lux as his sovereign.

Cordan, 1108 Week 36

With Halley neutralised, attention turns to Fero. Vlantyn, with help from Dr Agatha, hacks into Fero’s comms net on several occasions and jointly they conduct some traffic analysis, learning that Fero is massing his forces and seems to be preparing for an attempt to retake his mansion from the ihatei.

They leak this information to the ihatei, hoping that they will take the fight to Fero, and while they’re away, Lux can retake Fero’s mansion. The ihatei ask why the team is helping, and Ranil explains truthfully that he and Vinnie hate Fero, and it’s mutual.

Several days later, the ihatei main force ambushes Fero’s troops, thanks to reconnaissance by the team’s surveillance drones, breaking and scattering them. Fero’s body is not found, so they assume he has escaped. He is now a spent force so they expect him to head for the starport, either to find passage offworld or to organise a rescue mission for his daughter.

Meanwhile, Lux and Halley (to demonstrate his loyalty to his new liege lord) attack Fero’s mansion to take it back from the aslan. This is a very close-run thing, there being more ihatei left behind than was expected, and if it were not for Ezh’s aerial support via drone, and Ranil and Vinnie sneaking an assault team in through their usual covert entrance, the ihatei would have carried the day. In the end, Lux and Halley take and hold Fero’s mansion, though with heavy casualties on both sides.

The team use the superior reconnaissance abilities of their drones, and Halley’s remaining airmobile capability, to harass the ihatei returning from fighting Fero to the point where they decide there is neither honour nor benefit in retaking the mansion from Halley’s men; they withdraw into the badlands on the periphery of the settled area to plot revenge.

At this point, Lux and Halley have Fero’s mansion, Lux has Fero’s daughter, and his military power (such as it was) is broken; Fero himself is missing.

Cordan, 1108 Week 37

Vinnie and Ranil visit Uht Vamos and ask his opinion on where Fero would reach out to for help – both barons are known to have sympathisers in the starport. Vamos, who does not believe their story that Grace O’Malley is ‘waiting for parts’, suggests the most likely place for him to turn is the Imperial trade delegation – the delegation is obviously not happy with Halley, and the enemy of my enemy…

Ranil and Vinnie do some networking around the starport, and are able to find out where Fero and his associates are staying. Meanwhile, Dr Agatha bumps into someone she met at a medical conference years ago, now serving as ship’s doctor on a liner, who says that a group of people including one matching Fero’s description have booked passage to Exe, leaving tomorrow.

The party decide to take Fero at his motel that night rather than wait for him to emerge in the morning. Liberal distribution of petty cash gets them Fero’s exact location and the composition of his party (two men, four women, and Fero himself), a tour of a similar set of rooms so they can plan their attack, maintenance uniforms and a small truck as disguises, and a distinct lack of interest in the cases they bring with them from the ship, which is just as well as they contain a variety of illegal items including several laser SMGs, a molecular assegai, a pistol hidden in Dr Agatha’s medical kit, and high-tech civilian body armour for all.

They approach Fero’s block of rooms under cover of darkness. As they drive up, they can see a man and woman in the garden, sitting on deck chairs, drinking and conversing – and coincidentally keeping an eye on the approaches. Vlantyn pulls the truck up at the rear entrance, and the team bail out. Ezh, Ranil and Vinnie loop around the south of the building to get as close to the main door as possible without being seen, while Dr Agatha starts cleaning windows on the north side of the building. Vlantyn pulls right up to the door, effectively blocking it, and fills the mechanical lock on the rear door with superglue.

In position and ready to go.

Vinnie opens hostilities by hosing down the two outside with laser SMGs, killing both in a matter of seconds and with very little noise. He then steps around the south-east corner and opens the door for Ezh and Ranil, who barge in to find Fero and three of his people discussing their next move at the breakfast bar; the fourth is nowhere to be seen. Ranil unloads his laser SMG at Fero, wounding him seriously, while Ezh charges them with a molecular assegai.

Fero’s people, already nervous because of an unscheduled service visit, draw weapons and return fire – Fero and one of his people have .50 pistols, while the other two currently visible have an SMG and a shotgun. Mostly they miss, but one .50 round from a bodyguard hits Ezh, shaking her, though it does no actual damage. It’s noticeable that Fero ignores the charging aslan in favour of shooting at Ranil, his face twisted into a grimace of hatred.

One of Fero’s people breaks for the service entrance, followed by Fero and the other two, but that door is inoperable now Vlantyn has filled the mechanism with superglue. The missing person now emerges from the bathroom, brandishing a shotgun.

Door-kickers away.

Before the newcomer can take action, she is burned down. The sound of breaking glass announces Dr Agatha’s arrival through a bedroom window, but before she can get into the action Ezh charges past to skewer the shotgun-wielding woman returning from the back door, Ranil steps in front of her and kills Fero, and Vinnie cuts down the surviving two enemies.

Twenty seconds after the door is opened.

Ranil makes quite sure that Fero is dead, while Dr Agatha checks the other fallen. Three of those inside will survive, she thinks, but the ones outside are goners. Ranil takes Fero’s signet ring and ID for later use.

By then, police sirens can be heard approaching in the distance, suggesting that either the party were seen, someone shopped them, or starport law enforcement is unusually alert. Whatever the case, they decide to leave rather than explain themselves.

Cordan, 1108 Week 38

Baroness Lux promotes herself to High Baroness as the party suggested, accepts Halley as her formal vassal, and installs Fero’s bewildered daughter as the new Baroness Fero. Of course, as said daughter is only 15 at the moment, High Baroness Lux will act as Regent until she comes of age, and since there have been numerous attempts on her father’s life, one of which was successful, she appoints a bodyguard or three to look after the girl.

As expected, once the High Baroness assures the Imperial trade delegation that starport operations will continue unimpeded, they lose interest in petty local politics.

As promised, the High Baroness will gift the party Tracey Island and install one of them as her vassal with the rank of knight baronet to make it legal. This entails certain feudal obligations, obviously, but she is sure they will not be too onerous. The team will, however, have to deal with a small group of aslan ihatei currently in residence.

Lux is interested in finding out how Halley has offended the Imperial trade delegation, if indeed he has, and if not, why have they imposed tariffs on his goods? Now that he is her vassal, she ought to try and help him with whatever it is. However, she expects the PCs will want to settle into their new fief first…

GM Notes

I think I’ve had my money’s worth out of The Cordan Conflict; ten hours of play ranging from pure diceless roleplaying to abstract things like Networking and Dramatic Tasks to detailed personal combat. One of the best of the supplemental adventures for The Pirates of Drinax.

I’m trying to balance diceless roleplaying, the abstract SWADE rules like Networking and Mass Battles, and the detailed tactical crunch of the full rules. The abstract rules allow us to get a lot done in a short session, but I feel I’m getting rusty with the full combat rules so I think I’ll turn up the volume on those going forward. Switching between full rules and abstract is also a great way to adjust session pacing – once you haul out the tokens and the battlemat things slow down quite a bit.

Dr Agatha’s player had the idea of declaring that her Connections are medical professionals she has met at conferences over the years, which allows them to pop up pretty much anywhere, and Ezh’s player has been worried about having to fight male aslan since she encountered a couple who were over 2.5 metres tall, and having been told there are no laser swords in the game concocted the molecular assegai, which seems like a good interim step between the knife and the sword, so I have allowed it although we are still discussing what AP it should have.

Art credits: Battlemat by Pinnacle Entertainment; air/raft by Moon Toad; bad guy tokens by Runehammer Games; good guy tokens are whatever image the players send me, and I only know the provenance for Dr Agatha, which is by Claudio Pozas for Fiery Dragon.

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