Episode 1. Pilot.
Film producer Clarius Delling hatched a new idea for a serial broadcast. Space Adventure! would be filmed as a reality TV documentary series, following a scrappy crew on their daring exploits around the Fringe. His pitch landed with a ship construction magnate named Stender Benissard. “Imagine the sales this broadcast could generate!”
Benissard commissioned Delling to track down a Nodoom-Chowell Gradient Refocuser for the shipyard museum collection. Despite their ubiquity in the early days of interstellar travel, one could hardly find them anymore. They tended to kill their operators. An antiquities broker called Palmer had announced she would soon offer one for auction, but no one had heard from her since. Benissard believed Palmer was hiding in an abandoned desert outpost, pursued by local mobsters who were probably already heading there.
Delling and his photogenic crew raced breathlessly to the given coordinates. They found neither Palmer nor any mobsters, but only an unsettling stillness as they crept among the discarded habitation modules. Suddenly nearby boulders began to shift, shedding a cascade of fine sand as they rose to reveal themselves. Those weren’t boulders at all; they were deadly krorgs! A pod of four bellowed their rage and loped toward the Space Adventurers, their massive claws churning a cloud of dust in their wake.
Bullets seemed only to anger them further, and within moments they were in mauling distance of crewmate Ethel Hardy. Ethel’s crude machete scored a deep gouge in one krorg before his pod-mate knocked her into a crumpled heap against a nearby wall.
Sustained shooting started to slow and stagger the assailants. As the last of her pod-mates fell dead, the biggest, meanest krorg summoned the deepest, most terrifying roar. She leapt onto the hab module roof where Delling himself was perched, swinging her claws and all of her fury. Delling sprang back and emptied his machine pistol into her towering form. As the claws came down, he knew he was doomed anyway.
Just then, he tripped on a pile of hab junk and tumbled straight off the roof, as two rounds from Casey Rowland’s auto rifle stilled the krorg’s fury forever. As he sat up and probed his bruised shoulder, Delling called out, “did the camera drones get that?”
Palmer had camped at the outpost and left in a hurry. The crew found a dropped computer with encrypted storage, but no sign of violence or any bodies. Maybe she had noticed the krorgs in time.
Ethel lived, but she would need to rest in sick bay. She had suffered worse before, out in the bush.
The crew made a decent haul in salvage parts, and the data would be enough to keep Benissard interested, once it was decrypted. Overall, not a bad run. Still, Delling suspected the mob was onto them now, thanks to Casey’s drunken bragging in Shipyard City. It was time to regroup and plan his next move.
Magical creative engine.
That was my narrative summary of my first campaign turn of the solo skirmish “adventure wargame” Five Parsecs from Home. Magic happens in the interactions between the game’s procedures and my own decisions and interpretations. A rich and sometimes surprising narrative emerges. Those familiar with tabletop roleplaying games may have experienced similar, and know how hard it is to describe. I’m going to try soon in a companion “director’s commentary” post, where I will discuss this story and how it relates to the random rolls and outcomes derived from playing the game.