LNL-Tactical (Modern)

Outpost Gamma – A GrogHeads AAR, part 0

The legionnaires are far from home, and facing impossible odds? ~

Michael Eckenfels, 5 July 2017

Outpost Gamma is a 1981 Dwarfstar Game title, designed by Howard Barasch, who did quite a few game titles back in the 1970s (as well as a 2010 title by the name of Cauldron: Battle for Gazala, by Decision Games).

From BGG’s main page on this game:

Outpost Gamma is a game of science fiction combat for two players. With its unpredictable storms and fast-playing combat system, Outpost Gamma captures the tension and rapid-fire action of high- versus low-technology combat in a hostile environment.

A print-and-play version of this game is available for free as an authorized download.

There is also a VASSAL module available.

I had this game back in middle school, and it was great fun. Essentially a Zulu Dawn, but IN SPAAACE, Outpost Gamma has two built-in scenarios pitting soldiers with advanced armor and weaponry, but very few numbers, versus a technologically challenged enemy that vastly outnumbers them.

 

 

BACKGROUND

(Based on passages from the rules – I’ve embellished them for the sake of the story.)

The Terran Hegemony is an interstellar empire, centered on the core worlds of Sol and stretching across vast distances. Those distances are populated by planets that range in size from gas giants that put Jupiter to shame, to barren rocks that can barely be counted as a planet. Planets with hospitable, breathable atmospheres are few and far between and are jealously governed by the Hegemony where they are found.

 

Irda is one of those tiny, flea-speck planets that barely registered on several Terran exoplanet mapping expeditions. In fact, three Terran expeditions bypassed it after briefly cataloging its thin atmosphere and heavily-engorged mineral deposits. Equally brief investigations, careful to avoid the intelligent yet low-tech race that occupied some of the planet’s hard-scrabble surface, only looked at a few of the deposits and found them to be common and absolutely not valuable.

 

The Terran Hegemony might have been dominated by humans, but was made up of several alien races that lived in relative harmony with each other. Interstellar space, as vast as it is, helped keep frictions down at first, allowing for a peaceful progression of interactivity into a vast interstellar family over hundreds of years. To help keep this peace, the Terran Hegemony had its fleets and its armed forces, but none like the elite Legionnaires.

 

Operating as small ten-member units, Legionnaire squads were armed to the teeth with the latest in Terran technology – powered armor and weapons, mainly – as well as small, yet fast ships that were personalized for each squad. The men and women of the Legionnaires received the best equipment and training, for a reason: they were expected to go into harm’s way at any time, in any environment, and sometimes, against some of the most dangerous species that Mother Galaxy could throw at them. Most of the time, though, the Legionnaires were sent to bolster front-line conflicts, or serve as ‘super’ cops to enforce Terran law wherever it may slip up. The latter was more likely to happen in the outer regions of Terran space, where worlds were few and far between and it was more difficult to maintain full-time garrisons.

 

One of the races that was part of the Terran Hegemony were the Twargs – so called because their own name in their language was virtually impossible to pronounce, a veritable choking glob of consonants that most human throats had an impossible time forming the sounds for. The Twargs are one of the oldest member races of the Hegemony, and are quite hardy – their short, stocky builds and near-endless endurance were perfectly made for the growing Hegemony and its need for endless construction, mining, and other hard-labor projects that paid well but were difficult to live long within (for humans, anyway). The Twargs enjoyed their status as hard workers and earned every credit they received.

 

They were also explorers, ever searching for new and valuable deposits to dig up to fuel the ever-growing Hegemony. As such, they discovered Irda – well, more accurately, and as kind of hinted to earlier, they were the first to actually bother with looking more closely at the planet. Why they did so was probably more of a gut feeling with the Twarg commander rather than actual scientific feedback. Goodness knows there was nothing about Irda that piqued the interest of human explorers.

 

 

The Twargs braved the poor atmosphere and hard conditions to look more closely, and found something not found in any other area of Terran space – Irda Crystals. These gems had seemingly endless planes of facets that could easily out-dazzle any gem ever known to any of the member races. The hardy Twargs were more than up to the challenge of mining these gems from the unforgiving crust of Irda, though even they had to wear respirators to fend off the slightly toxic air. They could fare much better than their human counterparts, or any other race of the Hegemony for that matter.

 

Irda was not uninhabited, however, The Irdans are an intelligent, bipedal race that lacked in technology but more than made up for that through endurance that exceeded even the hardy Twargs. At first, they were eager to help the Twargs and the Terran Hegemony, gaining new technologies and advancements that moved them out of their near-dark-age conditions.

 

Still, what started as an amiable and profitable relationship slowly but surely turned to ashes in the mouths of the natives. Gradually, the Irdans resented the Twargs presence, as well as Imperial edicts governing operations on their planet. The seeds of rebellion were formed in the fertile soil of discontent and inequality that, despite what the Terran Hegemony fought for continuously, often lost its luster when ‘first contact’ was made.

 

Irda was, after a time, rife with growing rumors of poor, unfair labor management, contracts that began to squeeze out the native Irdans (whom worked as miners to an extent, but more often as transport and logistics) in favor of Twargs or other Terran races, and even in some cases, enslavement and outright abuse of the natives. Eventually, these slights grew to full-blown horrors in some corners, and the kindling of rebellion was lit easily.

 

Beginning with small pirate-type raids, the Irdans eventually built up a stolen arsenal of delving rods and firearms. Mining equipment was converted to weapons by the natives and turned on their creators. The raids that started as a nuisance quickly blew up into a full-fledged massacre, with surprised, surviving miners left dead along the dry canals that serve Irda as travel ways. As the rebellion spread across Irda, more and more miners died; with each overrun facility and successful local attack, the natives were able to stockpile more weapons and equipment.

 

The Empire protects its own, and when the trade colonies on Irda summoned for help the Legionnaires were dispatched. By the time the Legionnaires received the desperate pleas and arrived on the scene, several colonies had already been wiped out. Setting up outposts along trade routes, the Hegemony’s elite troopers smirked at what should have been an easy assignment. No one expected serious resistance from a ragtag group of dust-grubbing natives that had just recently clawed their way out of the Stone Age.

 

The Legion was in for a surprise…

We’ll see you next week, as the we check on our legionnaires.


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