Stargrave: The Next Generation

Tony F recounts a tale of woe but also tells us of new beginnings…

Kal Gaden’s week had been… interesting. Ten days ago he was near rock bottom, down to his last credit and had sunk so low that he was even contemplating the unthinkable – selling his armour for food. Then a chance encounter with Jenin Hosvarn, captain of the freebooter vessel the Empyrean Drifter, threw him a lifeline. He signed up on the spot as a general service deckhand/dogsbody for what could only be described as a ‘variable’ salary – but at least he was going to be fed.

Four days later the ship left port for his first assignment, on a distant moon many parsecs into the next sector of space, with everyone in good spirits. The regular crew consisted of the captain, his reptilian first mate Budfodo and the other two deckhands, Whibirt and Scogill. The former was also the ship’s medic, and his colleague was supposedly tech-savvy, a bit of a hacker. Kal assumed that he spent most of his time keeping B6C5, the ship’s ancient robo-pilot, and the captain’s aging cyber-dog Lucifer in working order. They also had a five-man guard detachment onboard from the local security agency – big burly goons clad in bright orange plasteel armour and toting carbines. Allegedly Budfodo was a bit of a dab-hand with his huge repeating plasma cannon (in a quiet moment, Whibirt told him that the giant alien had shot nine men on their last mission), while Pervol, the taciturn minigun-wielding guard, had single-handedly taken down a tentacled sea beast on a waterworld six months back. So no-one was worried about their safety.

And then they landed – and Kal had never seen such a fiasco. They disembarked into a dense jungle, where you could barely see the guy five paces in front of you. All around he could hear the cries and screeches of the local fauna, along with the heavy footsteps of something that was obviously really BIG. Then they suddenly came across the Big Thing – a genetically engineered monstrosity bred from the DNA of a long extinct giant reptile. No one seemed to know how to deal with it, so instead everyone just froze. After what seemed an eternity they skirted round it, and it wandered off back into the dense undergrowth in search of something a bit more lively.

Then they stumbled upon an old bunker covered in vines and creepers, decrepit but still sealed. Step forward Scogill, the tech “expert”, who made such a bantha’s ear of cracking the lock that in the end Kal just did it for him! Without a word of thanks (probably too embarrassed), Scogill stepped past him and straightaway tripped some ancient motion detector, setting off a self-destruct alarm. Fortunately the detonator circuits had long since expired and this one turned out to be a dud, but not before everyone had bolted in a rather unedifying spectacle.

Then came the one thing they did get right. Captain Hosvarn had struck a deal with the elders of a local village to get rid of a tentacled beast that had made its home in their water supply. The security detail this time managed to do their thing and get a grenade into the well. And as a bonus, at the same time they upset several other crews who’d been squabbling over the loot around the area (Hosvarn’s crew should have been there too, but they’d spent their time running from giant herbivores and antiquated alarm systems and missed out on any bounty).

So job done, after a fashion – time to return to the Drifter. Except that on the way back they stumbled upon a trio of vicious saurian critters, no bigger than dogs, but with very sharp teeth. The security detail utterly failed to do what they were hired for, the Captain tried to fend them off with an alien plasma pistol he’d found – but that misfired, and in the end it was Kal’s pistols and Budfodo’s cannon that did for the creatures. But Hosvarn had been badly hurt, and expired on the return flight despite the ministrations of the medic.

Thus ended Kal Gaden’s brief tenure aboard the Empyrian Drifter – with Captain Hosvarn gone, the crew dispersed to the four corners of the galaxy and he was once again out on his ear…

So that was the tale of woe for my Stargrave crew’s final mission. It really was the first mission for my new crew member Kal Gaden, and he really was witness to an utter disaster. Although I learnt some valuable lessons (don’t put your captain at the front, even if he does have a fancy plasma pistol) it was not my finest hour, and I’ve had to start again with a new crew since my first mate hadn’t reached a high enough level to take over. I decided to start from scratch with new figures since just recycling and renaming the old ones didn’t feel enough of a fresh start. Kal is a Diehard Miniatures figure who bears a passing resemblance to characters from a certain sci-fi franchise – and I decided to build the team around him. I took the plunge and bought Diehard’s two Elite Bounty Hunter packs, which are very good deals compared to buying the figures individually, plus “Nub Nub, Dark Apprentice“, also definitely not derived from the same franchise. This gave me enough for a 10-figure crew plus a couple of spares.

Gebro, the Mystic first mate

Let’s not beat around the bush – they’re Mandalorians in everything but name. In the series they come in all sorts of colours, so I had fun painting them in a variety of schemes. I found a Mandalorian name generator online which was very helpful in giving them all unique monikers and the crew began to come together.

In Stargrave terms, my captain (Garo Braven) is a Veteran – it seemed the closest fit. I made Nub-Nub (tentatively named Gebro) my first mate and a Mystic, complete with suitable powers to try and reproduce his fledgling Force abilities (including Void Blade for his lightsabre).

The make-up of the rest of the crew was dictated by how many credits you get to create a new outfit – not enough to set all of them up as I would really like, so some will have to be upgraded as and when I can earn some cash! I tried to at least pick soldier types that had the correct weapons, so apart from three specialists (a Gunfighter, Gunner and Sniper) the others are either Troopers if they have a rifle, or Runners or Recruits if it’s a pistol.

Following the release of the latest supplement, Bold Endeavour, which brought each crew’s ship more into the game, they also need a ride. Obviously this had to be some version of the Razorcrest, and after some searching I came up with two options – the Star Wars Micro Galaxy one, a smaller, fairly detailed and pretty accurate model, or the Hasbro Mission Fleet version, a more toy-like option that wasn’t so exact but was just about the right size for 32mm figures given the Razorcrest’s stated length of 80′. In the end I went for the former, as the more in-scale toy version was possibly a bit too big for the average gaming table at ~18″ long. The smaller model looks better and is still big enough to be a slightly cramped 10-person shuttle craft.

So that’s the new crew of the newly-named Cepheid Variable – their first mission will commence just after this post is published, so wish them luck!

Author: Brigadier Tony

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