Thursday, May 30, 2024

Five Parsecs From Home: Campaign Turn 2

After last campaign turn, the Astra Coalition managed to get Unity forces to move into system to hunt down the Converted Fleet. In the meantrime, our crew found themselves broke. Ship maintenance was far more expensive than expected. As a result, when an agent from the Sector Government approched them with a job offer, most of the crew were willing to entertain the idea. Maggot ended up being the lone dissenter. When no other job offers presented themselves, the rest of the crew pressured their captain into accepting the job.

The crew was informed that a data relay in a remote part of the planet had gone down. They suspected spies of sabotage and were handed a dossier with information on one such spy with a bounty on his head. Their job was to deliver a new hard drive for the relay, fight off any opposition, and collect an extra bounty if the person of interest was on scene. When asked (by Maggot) why the Sector Government couldn’t handle such a thing, they were informed that all available assets were currently hunting down the Converted Fleet.

The job went down much as expected. There was resistence led by the fellow in the dossier. Maggot took him down with his plasma rifle and the hard drive was installed into the relay. It was then that they realized that they had been duped. While they did get paid, the job was not what they were told. The group they had just fought were a group of disgruntled Unity soldiers who were trying to help other soldiers who were being neglected or persecuted by the Unity Government. The bounty ended up being one of their leaders and the new hard drive was used to pinpoint other cells in the group.

Disgruntled Soldiers, not Spies

Maggot was furious. These disgruntled soldiers were the people he wanted to help, not murder. He turned on his crew and gave them the riot act. In game, Maggot will refuse to participate in any battle next turn. I have interpreted this as an ultimatum: you guys can take any job you like, but if you continue to prove yourselves pawns of Unity he’ll have nothing to do with them.

This display was a bit of shock for the rest of the crew. Realizing that they were too focused on money, rather than the ideal that brought them together as a crew, they set about chasing down some rumors about who this Sector Government Agent really was.

Monday, May 27, 2024

Five Parsecs From Home: Campaign Turn 1

As an aside, I am opting to not get too much into mechanics (save for the occasional high drama rolls) because I frankly don’t know if anyone reading this either cares or has played the game. Let me know if I am wrong.

As expected, the first Campaign Turn saw a job offer come in from the Astra Coalition. Someone had recently caught their attention and was up to something in an abandoned factory. The crew was tasked with securing the site and incapacitating the person of interest if possible.

When the crew arrived in a disguised transport provided by Astra so as to not attract undue attention, our crew found the factory occupied by Converted Infiltrators. The Converted are a “Nightmarish cyborg race that replenish their ranks through captives and corpses, enhanced with bolted-in weaponry and control circuitry.” Infiltrators are scouts and spies sent in to prepare for invasion.

The fighting started with Wither taking aim with her Hunting Rifle. She sniped what looked like the leader with a shot that barely penetrated the cyborg armor, but nonetheless took it down.

Converted Infiltrators charge across the factory...

The Converted answered with some automatic fire, finding a target in Skins. Had it not been for a Combat Armor save, he would have been the first casuality for the crew. In response, Maggot and his prized plasma rifle took over. In short order, half of the Converted (and all armed with automated fire) were downed. All that were left were melee focused foot soldiers who fearlessly charged our crew.

Only one survived long enough to actually get into melee. To his misfortune, he found himself fighting Cinders. Although the initial rolled indicated a clear win for the Converted, Cinders was armed with a boarding sabre — an elegant weapon that allowed a re-roll. The second result saw Cinders feinting and buring the blade home.

The last of the Converted was pinned down by fire from Skins and finally finished off at close range by Lance.

In the aftermath, the crew found a transmition device and an analyzer. The former was set to call in an inasion fleet (I rolled an 8. Had the crew not won the day, that roll was enough to indicate I was going to have to run an invasion scenerio next round!) The Infiltrators had been stopped just in time and the evidence of a planned invasion was just the type of thing Astra needed to get Unity to do want it is supposed to.

The analyzer was installed on the Hyperion and will make finding the location of the K’Erin responsible for the destruction of Wither’s family much easier than previously expected…

Saturday, May 25, 2024

Meet the Crew

A note before I get into each character: While I did randomly generate a list of names, I chose these. They all represent nicknames that harken back to a moment of embarassment or failure. They all stuck because folks in their lives kept using them. Whatever real or legal names the crew had in their previous lives are either too dangerous to use or officially belong to a legally dead person.


The captain of our ship does not have a home planet because he was born into and grew up in a Frontier Gang. Hopping from system to system to avoid the law, Maggot learned that he could make more money as a scavenger than as a petty criminal. It was this side hustle that allowed him to not only spot but also purchase the Strange Alien Vessel Hyperion and gain his freedom from his former life.

I chose Maggot to be the captain because not only did it fit his backstory, but it also fit nicely with his motivation of Faith. It reminds me of Firefly’s Mal and his struggle with Christianity, his desire for freedom, and the responsibility he felt for his crew.


Next we have what I consider to be the main protagonist. Growing up on an industrial world, Wither had a loving family and life worth living. That all changed when K’Erin Outlaws raided her home planet, which had been left undefended by Unity forces. Her whole family was killed in the raid, her home destroyed, and everything she held dear is gone. All that is left is a desire for revenge. She took up with mercenaries to learn how to fight. In the meantime, she has been trying to find out not only where the specific K’Erin that killed her family are, but who was responsible for leaving her home undefended.

Wither is the youngest member of the crew and has been adopted as a kind of kid sister by everyone else. Despite the fact that she is one of the crew’s best shot, there isn’t anyone who wouldn’t go out of their way to protect her.


The oldest member of our crew hails from a world that regressed technologically because the Unity government approved trade routes to systems too far for the locals to deal with. Cinders is a scoundrel and a bit of a womanizer; however, he knows his best days are behind him.

Curiously, his main motivation is Romance. I have interpreted this as a need for a family he never was able to have. He knows he will die a bachelor, but in this crew he sees the children he might have had if his life hadn't been so rough. This is especially true of Wither, of whom he is particularly fond and protective of.


Hailing from the same industrial world as Wither, he and his family avoided the same fate; however, the economic collapse in the wake of the attack forced Skins into the life of a petty criminal. When they later met, he and Withers became fast friends and have a tight bond over their shared experience. Unlike Wither, Skins is much less interested in revenge. Rather, he is more politically motivated. He has contacts within a private organization called the Astra Coalition, which seeks to fill in the gaps when the Unity government fails to hold up its end of the deal in the Fringe. I expect that the crew will be working closely with Astra as the campaign begins.


Our last crew member comes from what is euphamistically called an “Isolationist Enclave.” In reality, Unity quarantined the planet when it was discovered that the local population had a significantly high number of birth defects. Rather than pour money and time into figuring out why, the Unity government simply cut them off. As a consequence, locals do not have the proper supplies to deal with defects. Lance was born without much of his face. He found it difficult to belong and ended up joining a gang. With a motivation of Glory, I imagine that he wants to make enough money to get himself a new face, a new start, and a new life. In the meantime, Maggot has sold Lance on the idea that he can better realize that dream with this crew rather than his old one.

Friday, May 24, 2024

Now for Something Completely Different

For awhile now, I have been focusing my hobby time mainly on miniature wargaming. As such, I have been exploring various solo-games that scratch the miniature wargame itch, since I haven’t got access to a large pool of fellow players. The game I have enjoyed the most is called Five Parsecs from Home (FPFH). In the Appendix, Ivan Sorensen (author of the game) specifically sites three of my all-time favorite sci-fi movies/tv-shows: Blade Runner, Soldier, and Firefly. Personally, I think Ivan’s musing on the latter is an understatement:

Most “space adventure” games owe a debt to this show. The worn-out look, and the premise of spaceships-as-freedom in the face of an overbearing government fits Five Parsecs perfectly.

Prior to my experience of playing FPFH, I would have argued that Traveller was the closest experience I have had to playing a game that felt like Firefly. In terms of RPGs, Traveller still holds that crown, but I would be sore tempted to figure out a way to use the combat rules of FPFH in Traveller or, at the very least, use the random tables in FPFH to help me Referee a campaign.

I am ready to start up a new campaign in FPFH, and wanted to try recording each Campaign Turn on the blog. My hope is that it pushes me to make the game more of a narrative than an excuse to put miniatures on the table and roll some dice. To that end, let me introduce my crew as whole:

Figures primarily come from The Maker's Cult and their Cyberzerker faction.

There are a couple of tables at the end of character creation called “Flavor Details.” I haven’t really used them before, because I already had a good idea about the crews I have played in previous games. I decided to actually roll on these tables because not only does it up the ante for narration, but virtually the entire crew comes from some kind of criminal background and I needed a better idea of how to proceed.

The crew met through “a common cause or belief” and can be best characterized as “hardened rebels.” This seems rather contradictory for a bunch of products of scum and villany, but their ship (Strange Alien Vessel) reminded me of another old favorite sci fi tv-show of mine: Blake’s 7.

Thus, the “criminal activity” of this crew is either trumped-up charges or a life that was forced upon them due to the overbearing bureaucratic nightmare of the Unity government. As such, the common cause of these hardened rebels is a desire to right some of the wrongs Unity has wrought upon the galaxy.

Next Up: Meeting Individual Crew Members

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Why the Weird Wizard Garb

Which is the Wizard and which is the Apprentice?

I recently started painting these 3D prints (part of a set called Civilians Pack 2 from The Makers Cult) to pull double duty as Casters for Grim Dark Future and as a Wizard and Apprentice for a warband in Frostgrave. As these sculpts bear some resemblance to the burka, which is a garment women are required to wear in public due to social and religious reasons in certain Islamic countries, it got me to thinking about a world-build in which arcane spell  casters wore clothing that covered them head to foot.

While it would be easy to simply hand wave it away by saying it is a traditional garb of wizards or that it is required by law, I am much more interested in why wizards would choose to wear such garb. To that end, I offer six reasons (so that one can roll a d6 to allow some randomness in a world-build):

1. The ritual to obtain the ability to cast arcane spells badly burns/scars the recipient. In order to avoid such scars from hindering everyday interactions with other people, they choose to cover themselves to hide the burns/scars.

2. In order to gain the ability to cast arcane spells, a caster must get various tattoos all over their body. While not necessarily something that could cause a disruption to social mores, visible tattoos would give other casters the ability to cancel spells without having to use a spell slot.

3. Wizards are an alien race. While they are similar enough to pass as human (or whatever race the PC/NPC pretends to be), any close contact would reveal the reality and cause trouble. So, they wear the coverings to avoid such discovery.

4. The process of memorizing spells requires that the spell be written on the skin of the wizard. Should another spell caster see this writing, they could cast the spell as a scroll and the original wizard would lose that spell slot. Wizards took to wearing this garb to prevent that from happening.

5. The nature of arcane magic causes the caster to see a mirror image of themselves in the targets of their spells. This can cause enough of a disruption (epecially with offensive spells) that the spell fails. Wizards took to wearing such garb to dehumanize their reflections so as to be able to successfully cast their spells.

6. The casting of arcane spells is an intentional subversion of reality that physically manifests in the person of a wizard. Should someone who is not trained to deal with such things witness a wizard cast a spell, the experience can cause a rift in the soul of that witness. Such rifts risk the possibility of a demon being able to step through. Therefore, in order to prevent their craft from wrecking havoc on the general public, wizards strictly police themselves — especially in the wearing of garb which covers them head to foot.

Have any others we can add to the list?

Sunday, May 5, 2024

Christ is Risen!



[Hades] received a body and encountered God. It took earth and came face to face with heaven. It took what it saw and fell by what it could not see. Death, where is your sting? Hades, where is your victory? Christ is risen and you are overthrown. Christ is risen and demons have fallen. Christ is risen and angels rejoice. Christ is risen and life rules. Christ is risen and not one dead remains in the tomb. — Paschal Homily by St. John Chrysostom