Now, safely back onboard the Albatross after the adventure with the Chimax, the crew was able to interrogate Krrsh. It didn’t take too much prompting to get him to spill the whole story: he had been the Captain of one of the ships that attacked Clarke, onboard an S-class Scout ship. He wasn’t part of the job on Toprol, so he had decided to stray off to make a bit of side money. On his trip he had stumbled across a merchant vessel, one that he thought would have been an easy kill. As it turned out, he was mistaken in his assumption: the trader held a set of concealed guns, and when Krrsh had ordered the ship to cut thrust and prepare for boarding, the merchant ship and opened up a broadside at almost point blank range. Krrsh had managed to get the ship out of the firefight and held it together long enough to make a jump to the next rendezvous point. However, the other two captains, Ferrik Redthane and Miria Silverhand were none to happy at his misadventure, which had rendered the Scout ship useless for pirating and as a punishment had marooned him on the ancient station as a warning to the others.
However, their act of ruthless pragmatism was now a windfall for the Albatross. While they had one of the pirates now, Krrsh was proving to be a most useful ally in their hunt. With a bit of prompting, the party was able to get the whole story: The reason for the attacks is due to Ferrik somehow running afoul of his former boss “Admiral Darokyn”, one of the heavy hitters on the pirate planet Theev, and as a result the pirate has been exiled from the planet, forbidden to touch down on one the one safe haven for pirates in the subsector. Ferrik was desperately looking to make big, flashy scores in order to convince another pirate captain that he was worth taking on and protecting from Darokyn. While he himself, couldn’t set foot on the planet, he would work through his second in command Miria to negotiate on his behalf. All too eager for payback, and with few options, Krrsh volunteered to join the crew, especially when it dawned on him that the party was trying to track down Ferrik. Krrsh could provide the up to date callsigns and passcodes to get through the pirate patrols along Theev, and was willing to be a guide around the capital of Blanksand City, and he had a few ideas as to who Miria might have gone to.
The group prepared to make their way along their preplanned path, firing up their jump drive and continuing to the secret refueling location they had been travelling to. However, when their reality bubble shifted back into real space, they were greeted to a distress beacon with Imperial Scout Service codes. Onboard, Kardoth Denive, retired Imperial Scout, struggled to try to keep everything on the ship together. Something had badly damaged the ship and left him drifting…the strange thing was that he couldn’t remember quite what, likely from a hit to the head during the blasts before jumping to safety leading to some Easy Amnesia. His scanners told him that a ship had just jumped into the sector, a…a Harrier-class? Did anybody still make those beauties? It was his lucky day that had brought the Albatross to his doorstep. The crew of the Albatross was happy to pick up Kardoth and see what the problem was. After a quick review of the S-clas, it was quickly written off as a loss. Kardoth offered what could be salvaged in terms of parts as a buy in to the venture, and was pleasantly surprised, if not a little suspicious, at the salary and “performance based incentives”. His buy in came with a very nice set of quality components, and Festus felt that he could likely use them to continue fixing up the ship, perhaps to complete some of the functions that Princess Rao had classified as “aesthetically pleasing but non-essential”.
With their stocks and fuel replenished, the Albatross made one more jump, arriving in Theev. They were quickly hailed by planetary control, and gave the pseudonym The White Witch. They were directed to a docking berth in Blacksand City, and were greeted by a smiling woman, dressed all in black with a neat bun of red hair. She cordially invited the group to the city, and took a moment to pointedly stress for the newcomers to follow the rules. Krrsh hushedly filled the party in: this was a Widow, one of those in the city charged with ensuring that the pirates followed the Laws of the Lords. In the starport, or the Upper City, or any building marked by red flags, the Law of Lords decree that is no murder, no weapons fire, and nothing that offends the calm and tranquility of the city is permitted. Those who do quickly find themselves with a slit throat in a back alley. Other than that, they were free to go about the city, so long as they watched their backs.
The crew had a few options to try to find Miria. They decided against seeing Admiral Darokyn, the former employer, and instead decided to go after the two names that Krssh provided as Miria’s hopeful partners: Petyr Vallis and Hroal Irontooth. The party tried Petyr Vallis first, traveling to his tower in the lower city, saying that they wanted “to show their respects” as newcomers. The guards gave them curious looks, but let them inside to meet their boos. Vallis was happy to meet with them, offering a feral grin from a scarred face. He seemed absolutely overjoyed that the newcomers had come to honor him as their first stop, and that “there weren’t any more cats making the city their litterbox”. It didn’t take much to realize a few things: one, Vallis hated the Aslan with a fiery passion, and that he was, at best, a borderline psychopath. With the pleasantries out of the way, the crew got down to business. They wanted to see if the man knew about where Miria was. Vallis claimed that he did, that Miria had holed up in the lower part of the city and was using street urchins to act as messengers so she wouldn’t be. Of course, that hadn’t stopped him from tailing them back to her hideout. The issue was, why would he give the Travellers that information for nothing in return? The pirate wanted 50,000 credits, an amount the Travellers didn’t have after spending the gains from their first heist…or a favor. Vallis went on to describe that he was looking for a way to wage war on the Aslan, and he was always looking for assistance. What he wanted was to be able to share access to any ports that the group considered their own. A few looks were exchanged, not wanting to give away Drinax, but Festus spoke up, mentioning Asim. A light suddenly caught Vellis’ eyes: Asim was right up against the border of the Aslan Heirate, and close to one of their shipping lanes…one that they Albatross crew had themselves raided. Vallis asked for the communication codes to identify as a friendly agent, and then he would provide the location. If his information didn’t pan out, they would be free to revoke it or change the codes. If it did, and the Albatross reneged on their promise, there would be hell to pay….
I want to take a moment to go back around the character creation process for Traveller. The rolls for Attributes and the lifepath generation puts a fairly distinct mark on the game. Overall, I enjoy what it does to the characters that it creates. Life rarely goes exactly the way we want it to, and the lifepath reflects that. There is also ample evidence that raw starting stats aren’t everything. In my first foray into character creation for Traveller, I got a decent stretch of starting Attributes when I did a pure line roll. Most tended to be around average, bounded by minor dips around the mean, but two stood out to me. Bisuke had near perfect stats, nothing below average, and a maxed out strength. She passed the roll to get into Marine academy and graduated with honors…and then promptly failed her first operation in the field and received horrific injuries, leading her to be discharged and requiring almost all of her benefit rolls to pay off a massive medical debt. In contrast, Declin started with below average stats in every category, and I honestly thought he would be a washout, so I put him into a career where I thought there was a small chance he would survive long enough to get some skills: Artist. Declan then promptly passed advancement roll after advancement roll, boosting his social stats far past what I expected and accruing a truly impressive number of skills and advancements.
That said, the process has one area that can infuriate people, and it’s not a bug, it’s a design choice: attempting to pick one certain path. This session was meant to be an introduction for a group of new players (Kardoth is one who I believe will be sticking around). One player in particular had been a bit apprehensive about the setting, and I had tried to kindle interest in mentioning that an angle he could take for his character could fall along the lines of the Honor Harrington franchise, one that I knew he enjoyed. However, when he attempted to make a character along those lines, the dice gods were just not having it. He tried to make six characters, none of whom managed to get the kind of career that he was looking to play and the process left him frustrated and resulted in him bowing out from the session.
This part of the game simply won’t appeal to some people. Personally, I think that there would be plenty of back doors to move up in careers that rather suit themselves to the environment of Drinax. To bring up Kardoth, I think he is a great example of a player making the best of some funky rolls. Kardoth had taken a stab at being a thief, washed out, became a drifter (and was stabbed by a fellow hobo), and then incongruously found himself drafted into the scout service. When disaster struck (stuck adrift in space with no memory of what happened), the player decided it was fitting that Kardoth would fall back on old instincts and be pragmatic about what would keep himself alive, even if it meant bartering with parts that weren’t his to spend and allying with people he has strong suspicions are outlaws. But if you really want to build a military vet, or a noble envoy, or a genius mechanic, and you absolutely MUST BE THAT THING…well, then maybe Traveller is not for you.