Day 1: Those We Leave Behind (Five Klicks)

From the Journal of Maya Ceros, Day 1.

    I should have seen this coming. I had heard the whispers back in Cinder Hill, the people talking about how many cans of gas they figured I'd hoarded for our trip west, but I thought if we left at dawn and drove a hard pace, we'd be impossible to catch. What I didn't count on was Old Man Matthews and the grudge he has against Stockless Sally.

    We were a full day's ride from Cinder Hill when I finally felt safe enough to stop. It was our first trip out this far with Maxine and Mudrunner, so taking a break to make sure everything was running smooth seemed prudent.

    I guess the hired guns were counting on that. They started taking shots at us the instant we were out in the open. When I finally got eyes on them, I knew we were outnumbered. 

    Outnumbered, but not outgunned.

    For my first campaign turn in Five Klicks, I immediately rolled a battle with petty bandits, rolled high on the number encountered, and managed to get a brute and an officer in there as well with my high rolls. Even better, the unit that turned out to be an officer already had a pistol, so she got upgraded to a hand cannon. I was worried at first, but as I laid out the terrain, and inspected the statistics and models of the bandits blocking my way west, I started to get excited about how things might unfold. What a great "jump in the deep end" way to start the game. Plus, it gave me ideas. Why would we run into thugs a day's ride from Cinder Hill? Gotta be Old Man Matthews telling a group of poor saps that if they kill everyone in the convoy, they can have our guns and our gas as payment for services rendered.

    Of course, petty bandits are marked as "cautious" enemies, so they must have known about the reputation of Maya Ceros and some of the others in the convoy.

    Terrain generation was very smooth and satisfying, and made me feel like I have the perfect table for this game. I realized in placing scatter terrain, walls, etc. that my terrain collection isn't quite up to snuff, so I put that on my list of things to work on. Namely, I need more buildings and more impassable terrain. I didn't have anything that fell under the category of "Impassable," so I made a big dense stack of cargo crates and filled the space with it instead, figuring I'd treat that as impassable.

We started bunched up-- all of us except Dora. She'd seen something in the ruins, so I let her lag behind to check it out while the rest of us made a push in toward the tower of crates ahead. Kate, Kara, Caroline and Sarah were quick on their feet, while Sally, Kate, Dave and I were more cautious in our approach.

There was another shape in the ruins that looked promising, but I didn't want to risk splitting the group up for every suspicious thing that came along. Leading the way, I let the others come up just behind, picking cover where they could.

Already the bandits were moving, dodging to and from cover, angling to get in, to get shots off before we could close the distance.

Dora reached the shape she'd seen in the ruins, figuring it was going to be something shiny and salvageable.

When she got close enough to get a good look at it, she quickly realized it wasn't something valuable. It was just a potted plant, the ruins of some plastic office decoration from long before.

After this run, I might suggest she get her eyes checked.

We tried to close in and get behind cover, but I got caught with my butt hanging out in the open and a couple of the bandits with pistols took pot shots at me.

Meanwhile, Sarah closed with the object she'd spotted in the ruins.

By some miracle, the thing still functioned. A valuable piece of scrap, and definitely something we'll be hauling back to the convoy for trade the next time we run into a merchant.

The bandits had a big guy with them, a brute with some crazy metal fist things that I didn't want to see up close. Him, and the guy with the sledgehammer were the first into the trees, the first to try to close with us. A few steps behind, Sally and Kate moved to intercept them.

That was when Sarah made her move, bolting into the open and spraying the trees with her shotgun. Unfortunately, that's all she hit. Trees, and some defenseless tires.

Calm as death, Kara stepped into the narrow space between stacks of debris and took a shot at one of the bandits. Instead of hitting him, her shot went wide, leaving her vulnerable and exposed.

Dora took a shot with her scrap rifle, but missed the guy with the sledgehammer. Again, remind me to ask her to get her eyes checked.

I was too busy to move in further than a few feet before I took a shot at the advancing brute, missing by inches.

The bandits piling up behind cover used the distraction to take a series of shots at me. The one with the musket was the luckiest, and I heard the round plink off my field armor before it whizzed off into the unknown. Thank all the gods she wasn't firing anything heavier than that at me.

That shot convinced me to move my ass out of the way.

Kara wasn't so lucky. The guy with the musket put a round in her and drove her back behind cover.

Bleeding, but out of the line of sight of the guy with the musket, Kara checked herself  for wounds. I think we all breathed a sigh of relief when we realized it was just a graze, nothing that wouldn't heal up easy enough.

As soon as they saw what had happened to Kara, Kate and Sally opened fire on the bandit with the musket. Hiding in his narrow crack between steel cargo crates, he managed to dodge their fire without pulling back or diving out of the way.

As the brute and his sledgehammer friend closed ranks with Sarah, Caroline took a shot at the closest and meanest, but missed.

Dave and I moved up and tried to provide support, but all we managed to do was make the situation more chaotic for Sarah.

The bandit with the sledgehammer came at Sarah. Acting quickly, she rolled away, dodging the blow.

Close enough to smell the brute, Sarah pumped off a shotgun round. . .

. . . and knocked him clean into the bushes, where gunfire from another one of our group pinned him in cover.

The bandits closed with us again, sledgehammer guy going after Sarah again while the brute went after Kara.

Sarah wasn't having it. She put enough lead into the bandit that it should have killed him*.

Instead, it took shots from Dave and I to finish the job. Kara got her mark as well, taking down the brute before he could even touch her.

The guy with the musket who had put a round in Kara was totally unphased by the carnage.

Totally and completely unphased. Guy must have had the heart of a Spartan!

Meanwhile, Dora had found her own mark to fire rounds at. In her haste, she ended up just shooting up the scenery.

Motivated by the temporary victory, Dave, Caroline, Kara and I prepared to rush in and break the enemy resistance. Kara tried to Rally and shake off the wound, but failed.

Dora took a shot. . .

. . . and hit the bandit, pushing her back, into Kate's line of sight.

The nearest bandit who saw the resulting carnage split as fast as she could.

Meanwhile, Caroline and I got clear shots at the bandit leader and one of her lackeys, and managed to pin both of them down.

Dave jumped the last of the scrap and blasted the bandit with the musket hard enough that it should have killed him*, knocking him back into one of his buddies.

Brave Kara jumped into the breach behind Dave and finished the job for him with the last of the shotgun shells she had on her.

Shaken by seeing the musket man go down, the bandit he'd bumped into split. . .

And got shot.

Sarah exchanged fire with the bandits, and almost immediately her gun jammed.

Meanwhile the bandit leader and her lackey were still thoroughly shaken by the hail of gunfire we put on them.

Sarah tried to clear the jam in her shotgun, but quickly realized it wasn't going to be an easy fix. Kara's own shotgun was similarly down for the count.

Which gave Dave another chance to shine.

Dora and Sally took shots at the leader and her lackey, but only Sally managed to hit anything.

Meanwhile, Caroline and I crossed into cover and took up positions where we could give backup to Dave.

That was when the enemy tried to get the jump on us, being quicker on their feet than any of us were.

The one remaining bandit still carrying a musket took a shot at Dave that should have dropped him*, wounding him and pushing him back into cover instead.

Meanwhile, the lackey managed to shake himself out of his shellshock.

He promptly closed with Sally, intent on beating her with his wrench. Dora promptly missed her shot as she attempted to save Sally.

Dave dragged himself into the open to take a shot at the bandit that had put a musket ball in him, but he was too shaky and missed.

Fortunately for him, Caroline and I managed to pin his assailant down with our wild firing.

Nearby, Sally and the lackey tussled and he managed to throw her.

Kate closed the distance as the bandit leader finally came to her senses.

Dave was still being shot at, this time by pistol fire.

He made his own shot. . . and missed. 

I took my shot, and as soon as I dropped the bandit with the pistol, the one with the musket took off running, retreating at full speed into the wastes.

Both totally unarmed, Sarah and Kara grouped up near a large old stump.

Sally put an end to the lackey.

Kate took at shot at the bandit leader, grazing the other woman's armor.

Dora, seemingly unable to hit anything, still managed to pin the leader near a tree.

Hearing gunshots, Caroline and I moved to flank the leader and the only remaining bandit, a woman with a baseball bat.

Sally took a shot at the leader, but it was Dora's bullet that found its mark.

The bandit with the baseball bat had closed ranks with Sarah and Kara, but after seeing her leader fall, she quickly routed, disappearing back into the wastes.

Nearby, an engine rumbled, and the last we saw of those two bandits who had run was their car, peeling out in the dust as they rushed into the wilderness.

    In the end, it felt like a close fight, but we won the day and held the field with no losses. Dave MacReady's wound turned out to be minor enough that he wasn't injured by the shot that could have ended his life, and we managed to pull a decent baseball bat off one of the raiders before we departed. We got back to the convoy and checked for damage to the vehicles, but before we could depart, we spotted a trade caravan on the horizon and made plans to rendezvous with it. Turned out it was a good day for trading, and as the sun dipped near the horizon, we managed to acquire a "hafted weapon" and the schematics for a "Needle Rifle" due in part to Sally's shrewd dealing. One of the orphans of the caravan even joined up with us, but this young one still has a lot to prove. Maybe someday I'll let the new rookie come with us, but for now, I like my squad just as it is.

    At dusk, I took Sarah and Dora out for some target practice, and I think it made a difference with both of them. Everyone did great today, but I credit Dora with the killing of the bandit leader and Sarah as the MVP. 

    And still, our convoy rolls on.


Dora Leveled Up! +1 To Combat Skill!

Sarah Leveled Up! +1 To Combat Skill!

Items Obtained:
Hafted Weapon
Needle Rifle Schematics
Light Melee Weapon
1 Scrap (Spent in trade)

Convoy did not level up.

New recruit joined the roster! An unnamed rookie with no gear.

Post-Play Notes:

* I realized part way through the game that I was handling hits wrong. I was handling them by treating die rolls equal or better than the Toughness value as wounds, (instead of greater-than values as casualties.) Technically, Dave Macready was a casualty, but he rolled as "unharmed" after the battle and didn't have any real effect after he was shot, so I figure maybe he still had some fight in him and I'll just look the other way this one time.

1.    That guy with the musket that caused so much havoc? Yeah, he's a kitbash of a Spartan Warrior and a WWII US marine. No wonder he put up such a fight!

2. This was a LONG game. Four hours! I had read somewhere that a typical battle was thirty minutes, so I made time for an hour of play (figuring I'm learning the system, so it's gonna take a bit longer) and ended up having to skip my daily exercise and eat dinner while rolling dice and photographing. I stuck it out though, all the way to midnight(!) and am going to keep this in mind for future sessions, pausing them in place if they go over my allotted time for them.

3. Some factors that led to the length of the game were: a). I did a lot of flipping back and forth in the rule book, as I was learning the system. b). I used a prong fastener to hold my printed PDF together, unwittingly blocking off the page numbers (which bizarrely, are at the top of the page) so I couldn't see them and couldn't use the index to look things up. (I'm going to fix this by writing the page numbers at the bottom and page-flagging the rules. I'm also going to make a quick-reference sheet for this game to cut down on rule-referral time. c). I rolled high on the number of bad guys, meaning combat would take longer anyway. d). I rolled a lot of terrain that I had to navigate around. e). I was tracking hits wrong for half the game, unintentionally making the game less deadly in the process and slowing it down by doing so.

4. The rulebook is a little rough in organization, but I think I have all the "if this, then that" special rules in my head after one play through. Honestly, I couldn't figure out for the life of me what the starting values of the settlement were supposed to be, so I just went with 1/1/1, which made sense, figuring the scale only goes to zero because there's probably a storm or something that can lower the factors by one point.

5. I hit a personal milestone playing this game. For the longest time, I avoided playing solo games because I figured, if I was going to play a solo game that makes a story, it'd be better for me to just chuck out the game and write a book. Also, why play a game like Five Klicks when I can play a board game with others as a social activity? Well, I had an epiphany-- I figured, what's the difference between playing Five Klicks and playing a single player campaign in a video game? Really, the biggest difference is the system they run on, but with solo tabletop games, I get a chance to learn and be creative and make new things that will last longer than a save file on a console. It's official, solo tabletop games are better than videogames!

6. I'm excited to roll up the next section and see what happens to the convoy on day 2!


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