Five Leagues from the Borderlands

When Modiphius released the 3rd edition of Yvan Sorensens “Five Leagues from the Borderlands” in 2022, I bought and printed the digital rulebook without hesitation. And a few weeks later my hardcover copy was in the mail.
“Five Leagues from the Borderlands” covers a lot of my interests: fantasy, worldbuilding, management (which many people abhore), narrative campaign, miniature agnostic, skirmish level. And being a solo-game, I could run my sessions according to my leisure. Sounds perfect.
However, I never set up and played a single game. There was no particular reason; it just never happened.

These days, I am a responsible adult (cough cough), with a busy job and facing the humdrum of everyday issues. For my fellow wargaming friends circumstances aren’t better.
Consequently, my wargaming needs are somewhat unfullfilled these days.

Hence I turn to solo-gaming yet again. After playing some solo-Frostgrave (according to the “Perilious Dark” rules) and Sellswords & Spellslingers (a highly recommendable game), I thought it were a good idea to finally have a go at “Five Leagues from the borderlands”.

A new long term project

A (very brief) primer on “Five Leagues from the Borderlands”

“Five Leagues from the Borderlands” allows you to set up a solo campaign in a fantasy world. A major asset of the game is its flexibility and versatility. With the exception of the character origins (races?), which seem mostly generic, the book offers almost no setting.
The rulebook contains numerous tables allowing the player to randomly generate, the setting, character profiles, random campaign events, confrontation types, opponents, etc… Think of procedural world and campaign generation in a videogame. Considering you often use a D100, you might get an idea of the sheer number of possible outcomes.

Although the player rolls on tables to determine events, locations, and so on, the game offers a lot of freedom in designing the world and the characters, aswell as the story one may want to tell.

I don’t intend to review or present the game in detail with this project. For those wanting to familiarize with the game and its mechanics, I may refer to the (in my opinion) excellent tutorials and explanations by “the tabletop engineer“.

Getting started

Manging the feasable

After (re-)reading the rules, I made a deep dive into my terrain and miniature collection.
Unlike Frostgrave, you don’t encounter a great variety of mobs during a session. Five Leagues pitches your warband against a set of foes of a similar type. I admit, this made me initially hesitate to invest myself into this game. But I soon realysed, that my miniature collection should allow me to proxy most foes (in this context, I shamelessly refer to a previous post on my critterbox).
Afterwards I foraged the internet for useful gaming aids, rules summaries or a handy warband roster.

Gathering the crew

I assembled my warband by salvaging and reviving some miniatures from my pile of shame and old army projects.
Most models originate from a small bretonnian army, I played in the (g)olden days of Warhammer Fantasy. My avatar is a Gripping Beast Viking, which I particularly like. An oldschool GW dwarf paladin completes the cast.

Five leagues from the borderlands campaign warband
The Crimson Guard (L-R) : Birdeye, young Torbyn, Bertram, Vereya, Thorn & Ogen of Orknay

Character creation seemed at first unusual and complicated. But after I created the first character, the rest went rather quickly.
Admittedly, there is some leafing through the pages and rolling on tables involved, but the management aspect of the game rather appealed to me.

I wanted to play my warband as a small group of mercenaries. Lacking imagination, I called them “the Crimson Guard”, due to their mostly red colour scheme (ignore the dwarf here 😉 ). Later I realized, why the name sounded familiar. It’s the name of one antogonist group from the 90es video game Vandall Hearts. Let’s call it an unconcious hommage.

Five leagues from the borderlands campaign warband roster
Shaping the world

Finally, I sat down and created the region, where my mercenaries would hopefully not die.
A younger me used to stare forever on maps in fantasy novels, rulesbooks and such. Especially the maps in the 4th edition Warhammer Fantasy rulebooks and supplements have a soft spot in my heart. The same counts for classic Tolkien maps.

After randomly determining what landmarks and locations might be found in the region, I sat down and tried to bring it all down to paper.
The result of my meagre attempt may be seen below.

Keeping track of time

Five-Leagues games can be quite fast paced and I think I might manage at least two games per session. I intend to post the outcome in a “journal”-format with some pictures. I hope to emphasize the narrative aspect of the game. In my mind the mercenary leader keeps some kind of journal or chronicle of their galantry and fight for survival.

It remains to be seen, how long I manage to run my campaign and if “Five Leagues from the Borderlands” will keep me enthralled.

Welcome to Ryn

The margraviate of Ryn

Five leagues from the borderlands campaign map

Despite its pompous denomination, the margraviate of Ryn consists mostly of untamed wilderness. It is a scarcely inhabited peninsula close to the wealthy province of Chalis and to the windswept Westermark. The region lies behind the Delis mountain range and may only be accessed by a dangerous trade route from Westermark, the perilious Delis mountain pass or via sea.

The region is named after its major landmark, the river Ryn. This mighty river runs from the Delis Range all the way to the Galavanting Sea. Within the region, travellers may only find four pictoresque settlements worth mentioning: the market town of Amnis, the chief “city” of Ryn ; Hazel, a small and smelly trade hub ; Loot Abbey, a holy site dedicated to a local earth spirit ; Ryn Manor, seat to the local overlord. Little else is known of Ryn in the outside world, aside from the fact that there are a lot of places named after some Rykard-person.

Recently rumours reached Chalis, that the margrave of Ryn has trouble keeping the peace in his domain. Travelling merchants tell stories of raiders from overseas, aswell as other dark and unholy perils. Sadly for the good people of Ryn, nobody in the outside world really cares.

Dramatis personae

The Crimson Guard were once a small but succesful band of mercenaries, which operated in the heartlands. Selling their swords to the highest bidder, they gained both coin and renown. Until the day, they were contracted to fight in the name of the pretender to the Barony of Candera. Unfortunately the pretender and his allies were beaten and the new baron ordered their supporters to be hunted down and executed. The surviving members of the Crimson Guard decided it’d do their health some good, were they to leave the heartlands.

These days, the Crimson Guard are led by Vereya Halfblood, a human mystic of unspecified origin. She took over as captain, after their former leader disappeared in the middle of the night.
Her oldest companions are Bertram, a human archer, Thorn, an overzealous carreer soldier, aswell as Ogen of Orknay, a travelling dwarfen knight. Birdeye, a human guide, and Torbyn, a young hopeful soldier are more recent followers of the company.

Prologue (Campaign Turn 0)

27th day of Janus, Year of the Otter

Today we reached the margraviate of Ryn.

It is has been two months since we left the heartlands and came to this godsforsaken place. Thirty of our brethren and sisters set out, hoping to restore the Guard to their former glory. Look what good it did to them.
Captain Tiabout, his name be cursed, left us as we neared the Delus Range. Obviously our treasure chest and most of the Guards documents, titles and accreditations disappeared with the treacherous knave. Without them, we are nothing but a band of pennyless thugs and miscreants.

Crossing the Delis Range into Ryn was more difficult than expected. Goblin tribes ambushed us repeatedly and we lost many comrades. When we left the pass, only five of us were still alive.

We were fortunate enough the encouter a trade caravan. They sold us a map of Ryn. Despite being incomplete, it will be a valuable asset.

Soon we will reach Amnis, the main city of the margraviate. Our guide is confident, that the local elite is always looking for “hired help”.

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