Sunday 6 February 2022

Trying Out Five Parsecs

Had a day to meet up with the nephews and play some games between Christmas and New Year. So I thought I'd try out Five Parsecs from Home as a nice simple set of rules to introduce them to SF wargames. Although these are intended to be used for solo games, they seem to me to be a useful tool box for setting up small scenarios. In this case I was going to be acting as a GM and controlling the "bad guys" using the mechanics from the rules for how they should act. The Nephews (and Julie) would share the crew of the good ship Windy Miller between them.


I used the rules to randomly roll up a starting crew and equip them with gear and a smattering of background detail. I used versions of the nephews' names for two of the characters and put their photos on the crew sheet to assist with the immersion in the story element of the game. They're teenagers so they weren't impressed!


A mixture of scratch-built buildings, pre-printed card containers and odds and ends from the random scenery box made up the abandoned base.

I designed a simple scenario suitable that I hoped would combine a bit of a challenge with something more than just a stand up firefight. The idea was that the crew had been hired to go to an abandoned military base to retreive useful software from the surviving computers, that could be valuable on the black market. The spanner in the works for this plan would be the unanticipated arrival of a terifying raid by a Converted Acquisition squad!

These cyborg, hive-minded drones remind me of the Borg from Star Trek or Cybermen from Dr Who. So a pretty scary prospect! Neither of these references registered with the nephews (Epic fail by their parents - I'll be having a word!) So the terror factor was somewhat reduced... 


Converted cyborgs advance menacingly through the base...

 The players took a bit of time to get their heads round the 2 phase movement system (but for some of them this was their first ever SF wargame.) Only two of the crew had increased Reactions score that allowed them more chances to move in the fast phase. They did get the idea that they could be a bit more daring with Max and Mr X but the other crewmembers needed to be keeping to cover. Particularly once the Converted arrived and started shooting. 


Skulking behind cover is a good tactic when the enemy are all  armed with military rifles and take no penalty for firing on the move...
The Converted put up quite a fight; two of the crew would have been casualties if it weren't for a lucky find of a Stim-pack that allowed Megacity Dave to carry on and the crew's only point of luck being burned to stop Dr Jez being gunned down early.  However their AI type did mean that the Converted were continually pressing towards the crew so were caught in the open all too easily.
As a starting crew however the Windy Millers had a bit of a mixture of weaponry and early in the game one of the two machine guns jammed due to a random event. It took some heroics by Joe Strummer with his paltry handgun to make up for the loos of a useful weapon. The other random event was a reinforcement for the Converted. I decided he would be a Boss type with a laser rifle and better armour than the drones that had preceded him.

The crew lay down cover as they move between buildings.
Max the captain of the crew had a cunning plan and scuttled up to the roof of a building with a large military ant-aircraft gun. I only gave a vanishingly small chance of the non-technical Max getting the gun working but he did present an excellent target for the Converted Boss. While it was distracted with trying to blast Max off the rooftop, the rest of the crew managed to catch it in a crossfire and dispose of the last bad-guy.

The enemy are beaten and the crew can make off with their looted treasures.
Five Parsecs worked well as both a toolkit to flesh out the details of a scenario and as a beginners' set of rules for a SF game. I did get a bit lost in the book looking for some details of the equipment items and how long a sunned resxult should last but mor e familiarity of the rules and a home made quick reference sheet should deal with that. I am sure there will be further adventures for the crew of the good ship Windy Miller.

 Waterloo  - But Not As we Know It!