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Starforged - Exploration Part 2

Lux Jemison is headed into unknown, unexplored space to find her mentor’s lost ship. She has a crew member, Firestarter, who helped clear a block on her ship’s departure. Unknown to her, he secretly placed the block as a way to manipulate her into letting him on board to track a rival looking for the same ship.

Into the Void

Starforged has a specific move to Begin a Session which kind of surprises me, as it’s a move for the players with no grounding in the fiction per se. Let’s give it a shot before judging it.

When you begin a significant session or chapter of play, do all of the following. ✴ Identify or adjust flagged content and Set a Flag. ✴ Review or recap what happened last session. ✴ Set the scene by envisioning your character’s current situation and intent. In addition, you may spotlight a new danger, opportunity, or insight. This can include a scene hidden from your character’s perspective. If you do, envision a brief vignette (you may roll or choose on the table below for inspiration). Then, all players take +1 momentum as you return to play from the viewpoint of your characters.

So, from the outset, the main flags I’m setting relate to bigotry (no homophobia, sexism, racism, and similar) and suicide or self-harm. I also won’t be including details about any sexual content, particularly since it’s not really going to be relevant anytime soon.

I recapped last session above. At this point, Lux needs to get enough information to set her initial waypoints, and she’ll be working through her existing data store for that.

I’ll ask ChatGPT to envision a brief vignette that Lux can’t see about the rival seeking the ship. It doesn’t quite get things right in terms of where we are in the narrative, but I can edit it to fit:

The wiry man has been tracking the target ship for weeks, following its trail through the galaxy. He’s getting closer every day, and he can almost taste the reward. The ship was rumored to be carrying something valuable, something that would make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. Of course, he knows someone else is also searching for the target, but he’s not too concerned. He knows he’s the best scavenger in the sector, and that makes him confident that he’ll beat anyone else to the prize. His ship is fast and quiet, and he heads off into the void, confident that he’ll be the one to find the target first.

This probably could be represented as a clock but I want to keep things simple for now and just keep it in my head as a fictional pressure.

After setting momentum to 3, let’s get started.

Expedition Preparation

Before we head out on the Newton’s Folly” (affectionately just called the Folly”), Lux needs to study the last known position of the target ship. She would definitely have a copy of the investigation report and will study that closely, both for the last reported position and places they had already been.

This means we’ll Gather Information and roll +wits: 1d6+3 = 4 vs 4, 10, which is a miss. This means our investigation unearths a dire threat or reveals an unwelcome truth that undermines [our] quest”. I’m going to say that the ship’s last known position or vector indicated a highly dangerous location. In order to Pay the Price, we’re going to Lose Momentum and take -1 for a minor setback (down to -1). After all, we sort of expect this expedition to be somewhat dangerous in any case.

Time to Undertake an Expedition to find this ship. The expedition itself will be named for the ship we seek, Sareea Recovery Expedition” and we rank it Dangerous, commensurate with our vow. Because we expect trouble, we’ll stay vigilant and roll +wits: 1d6+3 = 9 vs 6, 9, which is a weak hit. We reach a waypoint and mark progress (2 boxes). Before we fully envision the location, we note that we already will be facing a danger (based on the information we gathered earlier). I think we should amp up that danger significantly for this.

Space Horror

What’s this dangerous location? We’ll ask the oracle for a Space Sighting and get [47] Creature. In space, that’s definitely something intense! The oracle can tell us more about it.

  • Scale: [81] Large (vehicle-sized)
  • Basic Form: [33] Crustacean / shelled
  • First Look: [96] Tentacles or tendrils
  • Encountered Behavior: [45] Hunter

This is another time where we’ll ask ChatGPT to help out with a description based on the above:

The space-dwelling creature was massive, its shell-like exterior protecting its soft underbelly. It was shaped like a crustacean, but with long, sinuous tentacles that it used to grasp its prey. The creature was on the hunt, its many eyes scanning the void for its next meal.

As it floated through the emptiness of space, its tentacles would stretch out, reaching for any passing object that might provide sustenance. Its razor-sharp claws would then clamp down on its target, dragging it toward its massive jaws. The creature was relentless in its pursuit of food, and it would stop at nothing to satisfy its hunger.

Despite its fearsome appearance, the space-dwelling creature was not a mindless predator. It was a highly intelligent being, capable of adapting to its surroundings and changing its hunting strategies to better suit its needs. This made it a formidable opponent for any ship or spacefaring creature that crossed its path. But for now, it was on the hunt, and nothing would stand in its way.

I also had DALL-E generate an image to illustrate this creature:

Space crustacean

Immediately, Lux throws her ship into evasive maneuvers. Whether this is what ended her mentor’s expedition or not, it could end her own, and so she’ll Defy Danger with speed and mobility, rolling +edge: 1d6 + 2 = 5 vs 6, 7, which is a miss. As we Pay the Price, the most obvious negative outcome is that this creature forces us into a fight.

That means that the Folly will Enter the Fray. Because we had to intensify this danger, we’ll set it to Formidable. We’re caught in a trap, more or less, so we’ll roll +wits: 1d6 + 3 = 6 vs 4, 9, which is a weak hit. We’ll take the +2 momentum, but we’re not in control. I envision this thing showing up unexpectedly on the scanners and closing in as Lux is unable to lose it. It lashes out with its tentacles, and we’ll React Under Fire by trying to avoid danger and evade. We have no interest in an actual fight, so we’ll roll +wits: 1d6 + 3 = 6 vs 4, 10, another weak hit. We avoid the worst of it, but make a suffer move (-1). We’ll Lose Momentum and take -1 for a minor setback, taking us to 0.

At this point, we’re being pulled in. The ship fights back at close quarters, so we’ll Clash and roll +iron: 1d6 + 1 = 7 vs 6, 7, which is a weak hit. We make progress (1 box), reflecting the fact that we’ve hurt this horrific thing, but stay in a bad spot and Pay the Price by having the ship Withstand Damage as that seems fictionally appropriate. The Folly takes -1 integrity by default, but we’ll try to resist that and roll +integrity: 1d6 + 4 = 5 vs 4, 10, meaning a weak hit. Rather than continue to lose momentum, we’ll just press on.

We don’t really want to be in this fight, so try to find a way out as we React Under Fire and roll +wits: 1d6 + 3 = 4 vs 2, 10. The dice just have a story they want to tell, so we avoid the worst of it, but make a suffer move (-1). We’ll Lose Momentum and take -1 for a minor setback, taking us to -1.

We’re still in a bad spot, so we’ll Clash and roll +iron: 1d6 + 1 = 6 vs 6, 6, which is a miss with a match. What does this look like? The claws scrape along the outside of the ship and we can hear the screaming of the metal against whatever material this thing is made of. But the miss was on a tie, so I don’t think it’s that bad (yet). Regardless, the space crustacean dominates this exchange and we Pay the Price by having the ship Withstand Damage. The Folly takes -1 integrity once more, and we’ll try to resist again as well, rolling +integrity: 1d6 + 3 = 8 vs 4, 10, and we just press on with our weak hit.

At some point the dice have to go one way or another. We’ve lost 2 integrity, so the ship is damaged but not battered. Our momentum is at -1, so we’re not in a great spot. Unfortunately, we’ve only marked 1 Progress so far, and that means that if things keep going like this, the Folly will be lost here as well. Lux keeps trying to find a way out; no more fighting back. Everything is evasion now. Again, we React Under Fire by rolling +wits: 1d6 + 3 = 6 vs 1, 9, and we continue to avoid the worst without making any real progress. This time, Lux will Endure Stress as her fears begin to take root. What if she meets her end right here? That’s a -1 to spirit, taking her to 4, and she’ll resist by steeling her nerves and listening to Firestarter shouting at her to keep going. She’ll roll +spirit: 1d6 + 4 = 6 vs 4, 6, and she presses on despite the stress.

I kind of hate to do this, but we’re rolling the dice on React Under Fire again. This feels more like gambling than anything else, but I don’t see any options until things change. Rolling +wits: 1d6 + 3 = 9 vs 2, 2, so we get a strong hit and a match! This gives us +1 Momentum (back up to 0) and puts us in control. What does the match mean here? The rules say it represent a twist in the narrative, something interesting, or a new opportunity.” I don’t know what that twist could be; let’s ask the oracle and reveal a new creature aspect: [100] toxic spew. But it’s a positive match, indicating that maybe the creature has strained itself somehow.

Either way, now that we’re in control, let’s Gain Ground by trying to flee. We’ll roll +edge: 1d6 + 2 = 5 vs 6, 8, the dice really hate me. Rather than just go back and forth, let’s say we encounter a new peril and freshen things up a bit. We’ll ask the oracle for a spaceborne peril and get [26] Imperiled ship calls for help.

Wait, are we calling for help? No, it’s another ship. Our rival is here and also in danger, because it’s usually best to reincorporate. I don’t know what that will mean just yet, but in any case that’s an interesting complication.

The Folly continues to try to flee, and thus we React Under Fire by rolling +edge: 1d6 + 2 = 3 vs 1, 4, this stalemate is getting old. Lux continues to Endure Stress from the horror in the void, losing -1 spirit. She draws on her courage and resists, rolling +spirit: 1d6 + 3 = 9 vs 4, 6, and she embraces the darkness. Whatever dangers are here, this is what she came to face, and she’ll take +1 momentum (up to +1 now).

Maybe this other ship gives us a new opportunity somehow. Lux will React Under Fire and try to change to an intercept course; maybe this monster will think twice if it realizes there are two of these, and then the Folly can help the other ship with whatever it needs. That gives us the opportunity to roll +wits: 1d6 + 3 = 8 vs 6, 9, and we get there but again at a cost of a suffer move (-1). We’ll Lose Momentum and take -1 for a minor setback, setting us back down to 0.

What’s the situation with this ship? What sort of help does it need?

  • Descriptor: [44] Fortified
  • Focus: [98] Weapon

It has some sort of weaponry that could do significant damage, but this is a cry for help, so the weapon may be about to misfire or otherwise cause a problem. We can turn this to our advantage: can we convince the other ship to fire on the monster? We have to Face Danger with command and roll +heart: 1d6 + 2 = 5 vs 2, 6, which (as a weak hit) means we succeed with a cost. We make a suffer move (-1) and Lose Momentum with this delay. -1 for a minor setback; our momentum falls to -1 but we have some sort of advantage. Maybe.

Again, we’ll React Under Fire with a clever plan and roll +wits: 1d6 + 3 = 8 vs 3, 10, and I don’t think the dice are able to give me a strong hit. We overcome the obstacle, hitting the creature with this misfiring weapon, but suffer (-1) as the Folly must Withstand Damage. The Folly takes -1 integrity, down to 2. We’re not resisting this time, so we’ll just keep going.

The creature has to be reconsidering at least a little. It’s an intelligent hunter, and the prey has not proved an easy meal. I want to ask the oracle whether this thing breaks off its attack (Likely): [19] Yes. It flies off in search of something easier to munch on.

Deep Breaths

First, I need to Take a Break. That’s an odd thing to put in a blog post, but we just completed an intense scenario so I’m going to go attend to the needs of my body, reflect on what just happened, and how it made me feel.

I didn’t really enjoy that very much. Weak hit after weak hit with little opportunity to do anything. Some of that was just probabilities, but my moves felt limited and the environment didn’t have enough to offer. Next time I will make sure to include more texture in the tactical situation, although I don’t really intend to do a lot of combat.

Anyway, taking stock of things, we have another ship here that Lux can help and also try to exchange information (she doesn’t know it’s a rival). Also, we can do some exploration here and work on the quest that brought us out in the first place.

We’ll move on and continue the session, adding +1 on the next non-progress move.

The Other Ship

This rival needs a callsign. He identifies himself as Jackal and seems cooperative enough (“Initial Disposition”). He’d seen the fight and wanted to help, but the weapons on his ship (the Banshee’s Cry”) malfunctioned. In fact, they’re still not working, but at the moment there doesn’t seem to be any danger. (Firestarter thinks otherwise, of course…)

Where are we, anyway? Not so much in exploration terms, but just setting the scene. This system is a [92] hypergiant star generating turbulent solar winds. That might be a clue to what happened here; file that away for later.

As we coast on the solar winds and thank Jackal, we’ll Secure an Advantage with a possible ally, rolling the break bonus and +heart: 1d6 + 2 + = 8 vs 4, 8, a weak hit again. But in this case, that means we take +2 momentum (up to +1). Jackal mentions that he’s out on a scavenge job, and as soon as Lux offhandedly refers to doing some scouting, he gets a bit quiet. I’m going to assume this misses the opportunity to create a new connection, at least at the moment.

But Firestarter is liable to do something. I imagine him claiming he wants to board the Banshee’s Cry and help with some repairs. Does Jackal go for it? This isn’t something Lux is doing, and neither of them are a companion, so we’ll just ask the oracle and assume it’s likely: [03], yes, Jackal’s over there. He’s actually trying to capture Jackal somehow. Does he win? I’m going to call this 50/50 when I ask the oracle: [67], no, Jackal gets the upper hand. He’s not going to let Firestarter take him prisoner, and in fact subdues the attacker.

Lux is shocked. She had no idea - although Jackal is likely not inclined to believe her. She must Face Danger to convince him this wasn’t all a ruse, rolling +heart: 1d6 + 2 = 7 vs 2,3, a strong hit! (Where were these dice during combat?) She’s successful, taking +1 momentum (up to +2) and we’ll say she also has the opportunity to gain a new connection with Jackal. He’s not a companion, but he’s a potential ally. Can she in fact Make a Connection? We roll +heart: 1d6 + 2 = 7 vs 2, 9, which (as a weak hit) indicates that the connection comes with a complication. We’ll say that Jackal is a bit suspicious of Lux, and that he’s not going to be as forthcoming with information as he might otherwise be. But he’s still willing to help, and he’s not going to try to kill her. His role is Scavenger” and we’ll say he’s a Dangerous” rank.

But at the same time, he’s here on business. He’s sussed out that they’re after the same thing, though he doesn’t yet know it’s for other reasons. But he’ll try to take advantage of the situation by combining their scanning efforts.

Exploration at last

Now Lux can do the thing she came here to do and Explore a Waypoint, rolling +wits: 1d6 + 3 = 5 vs 9, 0, a miss. There’s a threat right away again. We don’t have any idea what it is, so we ask the oracle: while at a [15] stellar object (meaning she’s in proximity to the hypergiant star), she encounters a [78] shockwave or gravity wave. In this context, that has to be a solar wind shockwave. She’ll react to this threat and Face Danger with expertise, rolling +wits: 1d6 + 3 = 9 vs 7, 7, a strong hit with a match! Momentum increases up to +3. She’s able to avoid the shockwave, and we can ask the oracle for a spaceborne opportunity: [56] helpful or encouraging message from an acquaintance.

Jackal has found something! It’s almost certainly related to their shared quest, but let’s validate with the oracle: [81] yes. Checking the Descriptor and Focus, we determine that it’s a [97] Unstable [68] Remains.

This is the ship! But the fact that it’s unstable means they must act quickly…

…next time.


I already reflected on the combat itself. Otherwise, I’m excited about the possible nuances of this connection with Jackal, and Firestarter as a prison on the Banshee’s Cry feels like a ticking time bomb. We’ve also gotten to something interesting for our quest!

Come to think of it, that means we have the opportunity to Reach a Milestone on the quest and the vow (marking 2 boxes of progress each). This is a profound moment that also should allow us to Develop Our Relationship (2 boxes) on the connection with Jackal. I think that’s all the progress we can mark for now, and I can see a test of this relationship coming up soon, which gives us +1 momentum (now at +4) to end this play session.

Up next Starforged - Exploration Part 1 Starforged - Exploration Part 3
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