The Pirates of Drinax, Episode 21: The Cordan Conflict, Part 3


The part are engineering a war between two of the Barons on Cordan for the benefit of the third (and themselves)… Now, read on.
Cordan, 1108 Week 31

The party meet with Baroness Lux again during the Siege of Ellaton. Ranil points out to her that while the Imperium is distracted by the Fifth Frontier War, there is a window of opportunity; perhaps she should not rule out becoming overall planetary ruler.

Dr Agatha supports this, as a well-educated Imperial citizen she knows that the Imperium is essentially a trade protectorate; pay your taxes and don’t disrupt the economic or military situation at the interstellar level, and it really isn’t bothered what you get up to on your home planet so long as the starport keeps working.

Ezh also notes that the treaty known as the Peace of Ftahalr establishes a demilitarised neutral zone between the Hierate and the Imperium, and Cordan is in it, precluding an Imperial invasion without destabilising the whole of the Trojan Reach and starting a war.

Even allowing for Vinnie’s dreadful faux pas (the least said the better), the Baroness agrees to take this under advisement.

The team next disguise themselves as emissaries from Baron Fero and meet representatives of the ihatei wandering around the edge of settled territory, offering them land in exchange for military service. Vlantyn has prepared extensive maps and surveys of the land in question, namely Fero’s personal estate, and further has hacked into Halley’s comms network and captured – or perhaps created? – recordings of conversations in which he disparages the aslan to his immediate subordinates. Everyone knows he hates aslan, so this is credible. Vlantyn finally makes an impassioned if tongue-tied speech about the danger posed by the Super-Intelligent Squid from Paal and their bid for galactic domination by controlling humanity, which provokes more confusion than support.

The aslan query why Fero is giving up what is presumably the best land in his domain, and they explain that Halley’s personal estate is even better and Fero will of course be moving there. The aslan consider this and drive a hard bargain, asking for more land. As it’s not their land anyway the party feel able to concede, although they put up a show of debate and a half-hearted attempt to bargain them down.

They feel they can count on Halley to attack Fero at Ellaton, and arrange that when this happens the aslan will attack the barracks for Halley’s troops while the party take out the electrical grid around the town.

Cordan, 1108 Week 32

The final phase of the war begins when the team makes two drone runs over the network and shorts out both Halley’s and Fero’s nearest electrical substations, plunging Ellaton into darkness.

The following night Ranil and Vinnie stage a midnight raid on Fero’s artillery positions near Ellaton, and blow up the ammo dump using Vlantyn’s home-brewed thermite.

This has the desired effect and Baron Halley’s forces attack Fero’s near Ellaton; a confused night battle between two forces of badly-trained, poorly-led militia which turns into a bloodbath with some civilian casualties. Meanwhile, the ihatei steamroller Halley’s personal guard in their barracks. Halley has by now lost almost two-thirds of his troops dead, wounded, or missing, and Fero has lost about a third. Things are not looking good for either of them, but Fero retains his initial edge in manpower and Halley’s men are questioning whether the war is a good idea or not – fortunately most of the fighting so far has been on the border between the two baronies, and casualties elsewhere are light.

Cordan, 1108 Week 33

The ihatei have done their job, and now they will be paid, in land. Ezh previously presented herself to them as a translator to avoid involving her honour in the outcome, so naturally they turn to her to assist, and she goes with them to Fero’s mansion.

Meanwhile, Ranil and Vinnie continue to torment their old enemy; while he is engaged in negotiations, they break into the mansion with the intention of stealing his daughter’s favourite comb (again) and replacing it with a nasty old hairbrush infested with head lice. This they pull off with great style, but their caper is about to be rudely interrupted…

Outside in the courtyard, the ihatei proudly present their trophies from Halley’s barracks and request that Fero turn over the mansion to them as agreed. Fero denies all knowledge of the deal and blames Halley – clearly he has perpetrated a dishonourable ruse, sending his men to pretend to be Fero’s and negotiate a deal in bad faith.

In that case, the aslan ask, why did Halley instruct them to attack his own forces? Fero rejoins that clearly no dishonourable act is beneath Halley, it must have been a set-up. How many of his men were actually present? Not many, Fero warrants.

Ezh counters that Halley’s air/rafts were supported from that base, so it makes no sense for him to destroy his own motor pool. Fero is either incompetent or lying.

The ihatei exchange looks, and one of them fires his weapon into the air to announce that hostilities are about to commence and all true warriors will look to their weapons. Fero’s guard are both unfamiliar with the aslan code and unencumbered by it, so open fire on the ihatei. A confused firefight erupts in the courtyard, which the ihatei win, but with heavy casualties. Ezh looks for a chance to join the fight, wielding her sword, and her fury terrorizes her foes. Fero decides discretion is the better part of not bleeding out and retreats.

Meanwhile, back inside the mansion, Vinnie and Ranil hear screams, roars and gunfire outside, and decide it’s time to go – in Ranil’s case, out the back door, and in Vinnie’s, marching to the sound of the guns. Before they can do so, two of Fero’s personal guard come up the corridor, heading for his daughter’s room at a dead run. They emerge half-carrying, half-dragging a confused teenage girl, and Vinnie burns them down with his laser SMGs almost by reflex while Ranil shouts “Not the girl, Vinnie, not the girl!”

She screams as the pair grab her and exit stage left. Seconds later, Fero and his personal bodyguards burst in. Fero takes in the dead guards – his daughter’s empty room – and finally, the missing comb and skanky hairbrush.

“Ranil!” he hisses. No time for any of that now; he needs to get out of the mansion before the aslan rend him limb from limb.

GM Notes

This session was run entirely at the level of abstraction provided by the narrative-friendly tools in SWADE; Social Conflict, Mass Battles, Dramatic Tasks and Support. That works really well in online play and allows us to get quite a lot done in a two-hour session. It’s also easy on the GM when he or she is feeling under the weather, as I was that night.

The Cordan Conflict does not disappoint and continues to support me well, even though – as usual – the PCs are well off-piste by now. I really have to do something with the superintelligent squid from Paal, who at present are merely a conspiracy theory – or are they? (Three dramatic chords.)

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