Saturday 9 March 2024

Five Parsecs From Home Mini Campaign - Initial Thoughts


In an attempt to get myself out of a bit of a hobby slump caused by lots of work, floods in the flat and having the lurgy that refused to clear up, I decided to have a bash at Five Parsecs From Home.

I've had the book for quite a while now and I've watched quite a few battle reports and campaigns of folks playing the game on Youtube and I quite liked how it looked so rolled up a crew and got gaming.

I used a couple of name generators to help me develop the crew and the worlds they will be fighting in as well as the assorted denizens they will be meeting. This did result in some interesting names and helped flesh out the campaign as it went on.

Setting wise, I'm using a bit of a hybrid of the Void and Kryomek settings so the only alien menaces are going to be the Kryomek while the assorted human or cyborg factions will be making up the bulk of the rest of the encounters.

My initial crew of six consisted of five humans and one robot and I was quite lucky with both firepower and patrons so right from the get go, the crew of the Polaris have found themselves thrust right into the centre of the action on the megacity world of Meerut.

Meerut has turned out to be a gloomy place with every battle having limited lighting thanks to random rolls on the Five Parsecs charts so I'm going to keep it that way throughout the campaign with the sun casting a feeble glow on a twilight city of neon, rain and broken dreams.

Their first job came from a wealthy individual known as Brother Yako Tino, a member of the somewhat secretive Kin who hired the team to secure a remote data core which was being held by a group of mercenaries called the Vicious Riders or VR's (this was one of the random generator results and its pretty lame but it does lend itself to the VR's being a bunch of puffed up buffoons who will make for good rivals!).

During the confrontation, the crew of the Polaris succeeded in securing the core but the ships captain, Finnegan Alucard was badly wounded and much of the cash payment from their patron was spent on medical bills to stop him from dying right from the get go. 

Handily their operation went well enough that Brother Yako has become a persistent patron, meaning that even if we leave the planet, he will follow us (or possibly another of the shadowy members of the Kin will turn up!).

The Vicious Riders, stung at being driven off from a lucrative contract of their own and their pride somewhat deflated have sworn vengeance and have become my crews first rivals in the campaign and I now need to flesh out who they are and what motivates them and indeed why they have such a stupid name (something my crew will no doubt mock them for at every opportunity).

The second campaign turn saw my captain stuck in the infirmary and another patron, this time a governmental toady names Alejandro Ortiz who introduced himself as a member of the Meerut Planetary Relations Council, or MPRC and requested our help in investigating a science station on the nearby moon of Barling-1 which had for some reason, lost communication with the MPRC. 

As the pay was good and my crew needed the cash to pay off the medical expenses of captain Finnegan and their ship debt, they agreed and a reduced crew travelled to the isolated outpost only to find it in ruins and seemingly abandoned. As their job was to secure the site, they set to work doing so when they encountered the reason the facility was in ruins. 

The Converted are rogue AI's that fled the Syntha and seek to enslave humanity by turning them into mindless slaves and a shuffling horde of tech zombies promptly attacked them. During the ensuing desperate firefight, the crews robot Qiao managed to outflank one of the groups of attackers and blast the leading zombie with her pistol but was in turn knocked out of the fight by a hail of return fire and in the swirling chaos, another crew member, Nivian was killed by a lucky shot. 

The remaining trio consisting of Laurinda, Aylin and Onu managed with a mix of luck and insane courage to destroy all the remaining Converted acquisition zombies and secure the site.

Unfortunately in the final moments of the skirmish, Onu was taken out of action and would spend three campaign turns stuck in the sick bay. 

Mourning the loss of their crewmate, bloody and unbowed, the crew then strong armed a profusely sweating Ortiz to pay up, including danger pay and with a little gentle persuasion to provide a friendly Doc to patch up Onu and Finnegan. 

Following the game, Laurinda and Aylin have levelled up and my robot Qiao was undamaged and even managed to repair the kit that the Converted had damaged.

At this point I'm two games into the campaign, have no doubt missed quite a few rules and steps in the campaign system itself but having a great time!

The game itself has a lot going for it for a solo gamer and is very narrative driven and once you get into the swing of how it works, its really quick to play and great fun too. 

I'm adding quite a few little narrative elements to the process to bring the game to life a bit and give each of my crew and their ship as well as the setting a bit more depth but Five Parsecs is a great option that is generic enough to use in pretty much any setting but provides a surprisingly deep amount of engagement. I'm still mourning the loss of my crewman Nivian who only lasted two games but its really giving me the much needed boost to get back into some serious gaming.

The first two games were played using tokens on a pinboard with some scenery thrown on but I do intend on getting some proper crew and opponent figures done but may end up using standees as the casualties do mount up and the number of varied opponents are pretty numerous so collecting and painting a full range of figures for the gam is probably beyond me at present.

I've just rolled up the third campaign turn and it looks like I'm about to mix it up with a squad of enforcers from the VR's so I'm looking forward to playing the game and giving them a damn good thrashing. I've also recruited a new team member called Norm who will be replacing the lamented Nivian. Also with captain Finnegan back on his feet its going to be a really interesting campaign to continue.

Each skirmish lasted 30 or so minutes and was pretty action packed and really encourages you to stick to cover and its worth remembering that your average human isn't going to cope to well with a bullet!

I do recommend folks give the game a try as it's such a fun experience and I'm now eying up my copy of Five Leagues from the Borderlands, the fantasy version of the game for possible miniature gaming!

In the meantime, All the best!