Saturday 2 March 2024

Hawk the Slayer #1: The Taken

Just before Christmas I picked up Five Leagues From The Borderlands, the fantasy sibling of Modiphius' sci-fi solo skirmish game Five Parsecs From Home.

The game sits somewhere between gang management games like Necromunda and rpg-lite skirmish games like Rangers of Shadow Deep. It's perfect for solo campaigns and appeals to the creative or, if you are like me, derivative.

As such, my campaign is going to be a sequel series to 80s cult classic Hawk the Slayer.

Five Leagues from the Borderlands is very flexible in how you build your starting warband. I opted to select my heroes' races and backgrounds, but randomly roll the rest. I then attributed weapons and equipment to characters to reflect their abilities.

My starting line up is:

Hawk - Human Noble
Bastard Sword, Partial Armour, Shield

The hero of our tale and my avatar. Following the defeat of his brother Voltan, Hawk's band travels the land confronting evil and helping the defenceless (sort of like the A-Team). He doesn't actually have a shield, I'm using it's effects to account for the Mind Sword blocking and parrying.

Gort - Duskling Outsider
Warhammer, Partial Armour, Helmet 

A 'giant' (he's just really tall) who lives for fighting and feasting. More preoccupied with lining his pockets and filling his belly than doing good, Gort follows Hawk because he seems to have a knack for finding trouble. Again, the helmet is more a reflection of his natural toughness.

Crow - Feyblood Outsider
Fencing Sword, Fine Self Bow, Light Armour

With the the Silver Forest burnt and gone, Crow knows that he is the last of his race. Lethally accurate with his bow, Crow seeks to do some good in the world so that his folk might be remembered fondly.

Woman - Human Mystic
Staff, Light Armour
Spells: Fog, Foresight, Illuminate, Manipulate, Torment

The mysterious blind woman wields strange powers that grant her 'sight' of a different form. She seems to know what fate awaits Hawk, but only reveals information through hints and riddles.

Sister Dana - Human Wandering Nun
Staff, Sling

After tending to Crow's wounds following the Battle of Caddonbury Abbey, Dana suffered a crisis of faith and decided to travel with Crow when he left to join Hawk. She seeks to help where she can.

Breda of Danatur - Loyal Former Soldier
Standard Weapon, Light Armour

Having served Hawk's father, when she heard of his exploits in Caddonbury, Brida travelled to join him and pledged her loyalty to his cause, once again pleased to be following a good man.

The North Barrens Campaign

My campaign will be set in a sparsely populated region known as the North Barrens. Hawk has travelled her to help the settlers confront the many threats of the region:
  • Bandits (the Ruin Within) prowl the roads and trails, making trade difficult,
  • There are rumours of unquiet sprits (the Whispers from Beyond) haunting the woods and preying upon lost souls,
  • To the north, a great host of evil warriors (the Faceless Kingdom) bear down on the region.
I'm addition there is adventure and exploration aplenty available. The ruins of North Reach lure many a treasure seeker to their doom, and other unexplored locations dot the wilderness.

Turn 0

The journey to the trade town of Lakesmouth was largely uneventful for out companions, who upon arrival perused the markets and found prices to bejz somewhat higher than in the affluent south. They would have to do something to fatten their purses before too long.

Travel Roll - Uneventful Travels

Turn 1

The following day, Hawk and friends began to explore the town and look for work. Sister Dana had a chance conversation with a wandering healer which revealed that several of the town guard were injured or missing, and so they were currently short handed.

Reporting to Gerith, the guard captain, Hawk offered to help. Seeing that these were seasoned warriors, the captain immediately offered them a reward if they could locate several missing guardsmen who had disappeared on patrol.

The woman sought to use her mystic insight, but found that it was clouded by something. Hawk tried more conventional means of information gathering and asked around. Picking up a few leads allowed Crow to find a trail and follow it to a ruined and mist-shrouded chapel just outside town.

Realising something wicked lurked within, Crow returned to gather the rest of the band before exploring.

Local Events: Wandering Healer

Campaign Activities: Help the Town Guard and Meet the Locals (contract offer)

Contract: Gather Information for an Individual
Expertise Test - The Woman, failed
Speech Test - Hawk, passed
Wits Test - Crow, passed
Reward - Villager Friend+ 1 Gold Mark

Adventure: Ride Patrol (Signs of Danger:
Foes: Whispers from Beyond, 5 Taken + Unknown Enemy + Captain
Encounter: Meeting Engagement - Scout the Area

Hawk had fortunately only been knocked out by the deadly blow the undead creature had inflicted. Crow gave the dust time he had liberated to the Woman to unlock its secrets.

Despite discovering the gruesome fate of his guards, Captain Gethir was very grateful to Hawk for what he had done and offered to pay the group to travel to the settlements of High Home and the Vale to recruit new town guards.

Adventure Points: 1

Injuries : Hawk used a Luck point to avoid death.

Experience: Dana gained the Devotion skill and Brida gained Leadership. None of the heroes have advanced yet.

Loot: Old dusty manual 

News Travels: A friend needs your help.

Contract: Negotiate a Deal for a Friend
Travel to 3 settlements
Attempt Speech 8+ tests in each and pass 2
Reward - 1 Gold Mark + 1 Story Point


So that's the start of my campaign. Technically I won the battle but almost losing Hawk in his first fight has made me reconsider rushing into combat.

I'm already hooked into my own storyline and am keen to move on to the next turn. I'm really enjoying weaving the results of random rolls into a coherent narrative and as such I'm tempted to take up the captain's contract simply because it gives some direction for the next turn. It also fits with the bands goals if helping the region defend itself.

I know this has been a little long winded, but I hope it makes some sense and is enjoyable to read. I'm trying to balance the narrative with the mechanics.


  1. What a great warband, and painting, brought back lots of fond memories of the original film. Good job you managed to save Hawk, but then in the film half of them were seriously injured or died, so you did better than that.

    1. I watch the film again when I painted them (last year, I think) and Hawk isn't exactly an amazing warrior and they lose as many fights as they win, so I feel I'm totally on brand here. Learned a valuable lesson in not charging into unnecessary fights though.