Pirates of Drinax, Episode 24: Tracey Island, Part 2

Cordan, 1108 Week 39

With the Grace O’Malley holding at forty and giving them a slow circle of the compound, the party consider their next move.

Vlantyn prepares some flash-bangs, and a randomly-changing coloured strobe light, as well as adjusting a number of Agatha’s psionic shield helmets to fit aslan. Meanwhile Ezh has acquired a bow and modified some arrows to use snub pistol ammo, giving her armour-piercing arrows. Ranil has a molecular knife and a shotgun, Vinnie has his brace of laser SMGs and some hand grenades of dubious provenance, while Dr Agatha has left a pistol in her medical bag. “It’s for health reasons,” she says. “Mine.”

The party don light civilian body armour, pick seven volunteer ihatei from the 20-odd camping in the cargo hold, pick up a couple of surveillance drones for recon purposes, and descend to the Round House, where they take the elevator down to the cargo monorail. Here they move into the loading bay and explore the motor pool and some warehouses. It’s while in the warehouses that several aslan take on a dazed look, remove their filter masks, and start coughing. The PCs chivvy them into putting their masks back on, but Vlantyn (who has Danger Sense) has a bad feeling about this.

Bursting into an abandoned warehouse, they see a squid-headed humanoid (see page 110 of SWADE for an image). Vinnie has a brief compulsion to go over to the creature and protect it, but this quickly passes, and he burns it down with his lasers instead. Ranil pumps a couple of shotgun rounds into it for good measure. Ranil and Vinnie jog up to the door the squid being was trying to go through, while Dr Agatha tries to save it – to no avail. (She has never seen one before and has no idea how to fix it.) The party leave her a couple of aslan for protection and press on.

Bursting through the door, Ranil and Vinnie find a half-dozen of the mole people plus Uht Vamos heading south towards an exit, and open up on them; Vamos is seriously wounded but manages to flee into maintenance tunnels, while Vinnie and a couple of ihatei finish off the others.

Vlantyn, meanwhile, is searching the complex in the other direction, finding a hastily-abandoned cafeteria, an underground potato farm, and a couple of bunkrooms, one recently used and one not.

Throughout, the more alert party members are hearing a series of thunderclaps moving around parts of the complex they haven’t explored yet.

Vinnie and Ranil lead the charge into the maintenance tunnels and kill a couple more mole people, before fetching up at a door. They ready themselves, then breach the door, Ranil in front crouching and Vinnie ready to fire over his head. This is just as well, as a mole person with a spear jabs at Ranil from the side while one crouching in cover hoses him down with an assault rifle; fortunately his armour saves him.

There are no other enemies in site, so the party takes a few minutes to check the fallen and consolidate their position. Dr Agatha manages to stabilise two of their opponents for later interrogation, while Ranil and Vinnie find themselves on a metal catwalk over a large vat of some disturbing fluid.

“Perhaps the squids live there?” Vinnie suggests.

There are two exits from the room, but they can hear thunderclaps receding beyond the one to the west, so cautiously open that. Inside they find a room with a sheer-sided pit, so they send a drone down to investigate. This tells them that there are ledges every 20-25 metres down the pit, which is 100 metres deep, and at the bottom is a tunnel leading south, which Dr Agatha thinks is probably a lava tube as Tracey Island is part of an extinct volcano. (Of course it is. How else am I going to blow it up when it gets too well-equipped?)

Vinnie drops some grenades down the shaft, but Ezh manages to extract the drone in time. They send the drone back down to see what’s down there, while Vinnie – who has the bit firmly between his teeth now – readies himself to descend.

To be continued…

GM Notes

This was what I think of as a balestra session – chiefly intended to adjust the pace, but also to give them an encounter with their superintelligent squid enemies so that each side can begin to assess the others’ strengths.

The party correctly deduced that they are facing mind flayers (“We haven’t faced those since university!”), but have discarded an earlier correct guess about how they are moving around and fixated on an incorrect one. They’ll find out sooner or later.

Everyone now has a copy of the rulebook, and it pleased me greatly to be able to say “now then class, if you turn to page 110 of your textbook, you will see a picture of what you’re facing.” Thus it was that mind flayers in this campaign developed red skin rather than the more usual purple.

The mind flayers decided early on that facing opponents in psionic shield helmets with drones, body armour and assault weapons while their minions are in leathers and carrying spears was not going to end well for them, so after losing their first flayer, they organised a fighting retreat, bottling out like the utterly self-serving creatures they are and leaving their mole people minions to fight a suicidal rearguard action. They took Uht Vamos with them, though, mostly because I want to use him as a recurring enemy.

The flayers have great promise as an evil conspiracy, I think, but they will have to act more subtly in future. Either that, or get themselves properly tooled up. Food for thought: What is their relationship with nearby psionic institutes, or indeed the Zhodani?

Continue reading...