Solo Skald |||

Starforged - Exploration Part 7

It’s time to rock!

…get it? asteroid? rock? …never mind.

Beginning the Session

Last time, we tried twice to get the cosmic scales and succeeded the second time, finding some motile plants on a rocky world that leave behind these iridescent scale-like structures as they move across the surface.

But when we came back, it turns out the Order still needs more information about the scales. They’ve sort of been stringing Lux along and continually asking for one more thing. Regardless of how this one goes, I think she’s done being their errand girl” for a bit after this.

Seeking the Temple

Lux already swore an iron vow to find this temple, so now we need to Undertake an Expedition to it. Since the quest is ranked Troublesome, we’ll make the expedition Dangerous (one rank higher). We don’t need to travel through space, although the environment is hazardous vacuum so some of the same precautions are still required. Our approach requires neither speed nor stealth, so we can proceed with care vigilance, and the assistance of Khosla the mystic & Crash the survey bot, rolling +wits+2: strong hit, we reach a waypoint and mark progress.

What’s this waypoint like? First I asked ChatGPT to suggest some locations inside the asteroid we might find and it gave me:

  1. A dark, foreboding cave filled with the sound of rushing water that is revealed to be an underground river, powered by a hidden geothermal source.
  2. A massive chamber filled with ancient machinery that hums softly, possibly drawing energy from the nearby stars.
  3. An abandoned facility filled with broken, glowing crystals that pulse with power and emit an eerie light.
  4. A network of tunnels filled with twisted and gnarled roots from some long-forgotten plants, giving the appearance of a living, breathing organism.
  5. A vast chamber filled with rubble, where long-dead machines lay scattered about in a haphazard manner, rusting away into oblivion.
  6. An area where the walls and ceiling are covered in a layer of smooth, slick ice, reflecting strange, pulsing lights from within the depths of the asteroid.

We’ll roll for which one this is, and we get [03] the abandoned facility. These crystals have similar iridescence to the scales, giving us confidence we’re on the right track. We could divert to examine them, but Lux really wants to get on with this.

Crystal cavern within the asteroid

Let’s use Crash’s ability to scout ahead and Secure an Advantage with its sensors. This time we roll +its health: a weak hit. It gets some readings that suggest the direction we should head within these tunnels, and we mark progress as well as add +1 on our next move.

Let’s make that move right now, continuing to Undertake an Expedition. Just like before, that means we roll +wits+2: a weak hit. We reach another waypoint and mark progress, but there’s a peril here. While we’re not exactly on a planet, a planetoid like this is close enough so let’s roll on that table: [05] a blocked or impassible path. We’ll have to find a way around or through this obstacle. We could use our tools to try to break through, but that would take time and we don’t have enough of that for this purpose.

Instead, let’s use look around for another way, requiring us to Secure an Advantage. We roll +wits+1: a miss with a match. That’s really bad, but we can still succeed with a weak hit if we burn our momentum (that’s right, the challenge dice both show 10). We find a way around, and then we can add +2 momentum (taking us to +4). But there’s still a match; it’s just positive now rather than negative. We don’t have to use it, but let’s at least ask the Action/Theme oracle: [92] Suppress [39] Greed. Something about this place reminds us that we should not focus on material gain. Again, I don’t know what this could be, so I ask ChatGPT for some suggestions:

  1. A ghostly apparition that warns the explorers of dire consequences if they continue to seek material gain.
  2. A powerful psychic force that telepathically forces the explorers to confront the innermost fears and desires, revealing the true motivations behind their quest.
  3. An ancient AI system that threatens to destroy the asteroid if the explorers don’t change their priorities and focus on their quest.
  4. A mysterious energy field that blocks access to valuable resources and forces the explorers to redirect their attention towards the temple.
  5. A cursed artifact that begins to affect the explorers’ minds, causing them to see visions of those who have suffered due to greed and material gain.
  6. A long-abandoned spaceship with a log recording the final words of a previous expedition who were consumed by greed and suffered a terrible fate.

Let’s use a version of [04]: there’s some mysterious energy field, but it’s not blocking access to the temple. Instead, it’s blocking access to the crystals. We can’t get to them, but we can still get to the temple.

The asteroid seems to be guiding us subtly in the direction we need to head. Lux continues to Undertake an Expedition. We roll +wits+2: a strong hit. We reach another waypoint and mark progress. To envision this location, I’ll roll on the location table from earlier: [05] a vast chamber filled with rubble. We’re getting quite close to the temple at this point. How close are we? I don’t know; let’s Explore A Waypoint and roll +wits: a strong hit with a match! This doesn’t happen often, but it allows us to Make a Discovery. The result is [50] a marvel of ancient engineering. As a side benefit, we mark two ticks on our discoveries legacy track.

As Lux and Khosla make their way deeper into the asteroid, they come across a large chamber filled with strange, glowing machinery. At first, they are both awed by the sheer scale and complexity of the room, but as they examine the machinery, they realize that it is not just a collection of machines, but a single, integrated system that covers the entire chamber.

Suddenly, a series of lights flicker to life, revealing hidden panels and displays in the walls and machinery. Lux and Khosla look on in amazement as a holographic image of a map of the asteroid slowly forms in the center of the room, and they realize that they are looking at a control room for the entire asteroid.

Lux and Khosla quickly realize that this room must be connected to the temple they are searching for. As they move deeper into the room, they find that it is still functioning, and the machinery is actively monitoring and regulating the ecosystem within the asteroid.

We must be so close! Let’s Undertake an Expedition. We roll +wits+2: a weak hit. We reach the temple and mark progress. We’re here! We’ve made it! But we have to encounter a peril or suffer costs; this time around, I choose the latter. We’ve been in this asteroid for a while, and we’ve been using up our supplies. We’ll have to Sacrifice Resources (-2 supply) to keep Crash charged up and Khosla & Lux hydrated and breathing.

Before we fully envision this temple, we should Finish An Expedition to ensure we’ve reached our destination. We roll challenge dice against our progress (10/10): a weak hit (9, 10). We’ve reached our destination, but there’s an unforeseen complication. This knocks down the reward on our discoveries legacy track from 2 to 1, but we add it back due to the Explorer path. We also Reach a Milestone on the associated vow.

Now let’s think about the complication here. It could be a peril: [74] a trap or alarm. Something related to that machinery control room, certainly! The group needs to be careful and Face Danger, but two of them are experienced explorers (Lux and Crash), and Khosla is a mystic in an order that has a strong connection to whatever this is, so we’ll roll +wits+2: a weak hit. We succeed, but not without a cost. Considering where we are in the quest, I’ll just Lose Momentum because I don’t really want to focus overmuch on that.

Instead, we’ll ask ChatGPT once more to envision the temple:

The ancient temple was a vast and imposing structure, hewn from the very rock of the asteroid itself. The entrance was guarded by massive stone pillars, etched with strange symbols that glowed softly in the dim light. As Lux, Khosla, and Crash approached, they could sense a profound sense of age and power radiating from within.

In the temple itself, let’s figure out what we’re looking for. Despite finishing the expedition, we’re still at a waypoint and I think the Explore A Waypoint fits best, meaning we should roll +wits+2: a strong hit. We find an opportunity here connected to understanding the cosmic scales: [68] interesting site offers opportunities for exploration. Let’s envision that they brought a scale with them; we’ve already said the crystals within the asteroid glow with the same iridescence. So here in this place, the scales resonate with artifacts and crystals. A map is projected into the space around them. We don’t know what’s in those locations, but they must have some meaning for the Order.

Coming back to Sigil

Returning is simpler; we’ll Set a Course within this mysterious asteroid and roll +supply: a miss! There’s a significant threat here, and we must Pay the Price. I can’t think of an immediately obvious negative outcome, so let’s ask the oracle: [79] Resist [52] Law. I like the idea that some dissident or rival within the Order tries to stop us; perhaps they see this as an opportunity for power or influence, or perhaps they just don’t like Khosla or Lux. Let’s envision the person first: a sickly thief who acts desperate. Their goal is to discover a truth”; to me, this means they want credit for the discovery and threaten the trio as they come back to the airlock.

Lux doesn’t want a fight, so she’ll try to talk down this thief before anything serious happens. That sounds like she and Khosla both are trying to pacify them, and thus she will Compel and roll +heart+1: a miss. They refuse, and we’re forced to combat.

As we Enter the Fray against a Troublesome opponent, Lux is facing off against her foe and so we roll +heart: a weak hit. We’ll choose to start in control. Unfortunately, not only is combat not our strong suit, but we’re also in close combat. Our objective isn’t really to kill the thief, but to get past them inside the settlement where (theoretically) we can get help from security guards or at least other people. The thief’s goal is to take our datapads or similar.

So Lux is less likely to try to inflict harm. Instead, she’ll try to coordinate between Khosla, Crash, and herself to spread out and make it challenging for the thief to choose what to do. This is Gain Ground rolling +wits: a weak hit. We mark progress and remain in control, although the thief seems not as flummoxed as we’d hoped.

The enemy can’t reach them all at once now, so we’ll try to Gain Ground again by having the group try to reach the airlock. We roll +edge: a weak hit. We mark progress and remain in control. We’re almost there, but of course the thief will dive for one of us. Can we get through the airlock in time, without getting hurt?

Lux will try to Gain Ground one last time, rolling +edge: a weak hit. We mark progress, and in fact we’ll try to Take Decisive Action by opening the airlock and getting out of there. Khosla smacks the button to open it, Lux times her run, and Crash swoops and zooms to confuddle the thief. We succeed (+1 momentum) and we’re out of there.

This definitely represents Reaching a Milestone on the vow for the temple. In fact, we’ll return to Mother in the central chamber and explain what we found, showing the map and images of all the wondrous places from the asteroid. We’ll also show the crystals and scales, and explain how they resonate with each other. Lux will thus Fulfill Her Vow and test progress: a strong hit! Mother is pleased and we mark 1 tick on our quest legacy track.

Lux and Khosla approach the entrance to the council chambers of the Order of the Cursed Dagger. They are met by Mother, the enigmatic leader of the Order, who gazes at them with piercing eyes, waiting for their report. Lux holds out a datapad, displaying images of the ancient machinery and crystal formations they encountered within the asteroid. We found the temple, Mother,” Lux says with a hint of pride. And these crystals, they match the ones we were sent to find. The map was there as well, everything we needed to fulfill my vow.” Mother takes the datapad and studies the images, nodding slowly. You have done well, Lux. The Order will be pleased with your progress.”


It’s time to focus on whatever is happening between Lux and Khosla. During the last several weeks, they’ve become close friends. In fact, I suspect that friendship is part of why Lux has continued to help the Order even beyond what was needed to get the translation of the symbols from the factory where Kei died.

So Lux will Develop Her Relationship and that fills the progress track for the connection. We roll the challenge dice: a strong hit. The two now share a bond, which gives two ticks on the bonds legacy track. Then we have to choose between bolstering Khosla’s influence (which gives a greater boost when she aids Lux) or expanding it, giving her a second role and also +1 momentum whenever they work together successfully. I think the expanded role” would represent their relationship becoming romantic, and we’re going to ask the oracle: do Lux and Khosla expand their relationship past good friends (50/50)? [41] Yes. So they’re now lovers, and that’s a pretty big deal.

That said, Khosla is not Lux’s bond-mate, and in fact I don’t think she’s leaving Sigil. So we’re not taking the Bonded or Sidekick assets when we advance now.


Looking at our legacy tracks, we have 2 more XP from discoveries. Nothing yet from quests or bonds, though. We haven’t used Lore Hunter at all yet, but that’s because it requires a formidable or greater vow. Come to think of it, the vow for Kei’s death upgraded to Formidable, so we could have used it once or twice. We’ll keep that in mind.

I’m thinking of either upgrading the Explorer path or upgrading the ship with a new module (which would require 1 more XP than we have at this exact moment). For the latter, we have some interesting options:

  • Overseer: Your AI module keeps watch over the vehicle’s systems and sensor data.”
  • Research Lab: Enables benefits when carrying out careful analysis or experimentation.”
  • Sensor Array: Your advanced sensors scan the paths ahead to help spot dangers.”

A relevant upgrade for the Explorer path is related to studying a newfound place from a safe position”.

After pondering it a bit, I will take the Explorer upgrade now, as that closely reflects what Lux has been doing. But she’s close to getting 4 more XP, so I’ll likely take a module asset at that time. Given the adventuring we’ll be doing soon, there should be some good opportunities for that sort of upgrade in the fiction.

Pending exploration opportunities

We have a few things we could do next:

  • Determine next steps for Kei’s quest
  • Investigate the derelict found on the way to Slate
  • Return to the temple and explore it further
  • Scout some of the places on the map

It’s possible that the map could relate to Kei’s quest, actually. I really like the idea of combining some of them. But first, let’s study these translated symbols that we came to Sigil for in the first place. Lux will spend time in the library with the texts and some data analysis tools using the resources the Order can offer her. This is the Gather Information move: a miss. She finds a dire threat or unwelcome truth.”

Let’s sit with this a minute. It can’t be related directly to the Obsidian Heralds, because they are a narrative backdrop. Something she learns from the symbols from the factory is giving her a concern. We need to Pay the Price, which means we’ll need to make the most obvious negative outcome happen” or ask the oracle. I don’t think there’s a single most obvious negative outcome” so let’s ask the oracle that’s embedded in that move: You face a tough choice.” This isn’t as illuminating as we’d hoped, because we don’t know what choices come from looking at the data. I’ll ask ChatGPT to suggest some unwelcome truths about these translated symbols that lead to a tough choice for Lux.

  1. The translated symbols reveal that the precursor civilization was destroyed by an ancient, powerful being that is still alive and poses a threat to all life in the universe.
  2. The symbols suggest that the precursor civilization had a hand in creating the current state of the universe, including all its wars, hardships, and suffering, in the pursuit of some greater goal.
  3. The translated symbols indicate that the precursor civilization had discovered the secret to eternal life, but the cost of accessing it would be the extinction of all other life in the universe.
  4. The symbols hint at a long-forgotten prophecy that states that the end of the universe is imminent and that there is no way to prevent it, forcing Lux to consider whether she should even bother trying to save it.
  5. The translated symbols lead to the realization that the scales Lux has been seeking are actually a weapon of mass destruction and the temple is a trap set by an enemy civilization to retrieve it.
  6. The symbols reveal that the cosmic scales are the key to unlocking a portal to another dimension, which will lead to a new world and new challenges for Lux, but at the cost of leaving behind her friends and everything she knows.

Tying the symbols to the cosmic scales is interesting, with the temple possibly connecting them. [05] presents a tough choice, because the scales seem to be important to a community she’s gotten closer to.

So what does that imply about what to do next? Lux and Crash will head out into space to explore one of these locations on the map and see what they find. For now, Lux doesn’t tell Khosla about the implications that the cosmic scales might be a weapon or that the factory she discovered earlier might have been used to build these weapons. She’ll keep that to herself for now.

End of Session

Not the longest session in terms of text, but we had a pretty complete arc of exploration, capped off by a relationship and some advancement. We also have some interesting narrative threads to follow:

  • Symbols from the precursor factory (also found in the temple deep inside the asteroid)
  • A precursor map of locations to explore
  • Possible connections between the cosmic scales and precursor armaments
  • Agents from the Obsidian Heralds chasing Lux and Crash
  • A derelict ship found on the way to Slate

In the next session, we’ll explore one of the locations on the map and see if it connects in some way to the symbols from the factory. Alternatively, it could connect to the balefires (are they actually ancient superweapons?) or the cosmic scales. We’ll play to find out.

Up next Starforged - Exploration Part 6 Starforged - Exploration Part 8
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