That’s right, I’ve returned to my Starforged campaign for a bit. As I haven’t played in a bit, I took some time to update my local records: a custom asset sheet (including the Research Lab module that Lux acquired at the end of part 8), recopying the map for a visual rebalance of the concentration of sites, and removing the triad of NPCs that turned out to be enemies of various sorts.
In fact, the only NPC of importance at this moment is Khosla the mystic who is also Lux’s romantic partner. I’ve decided to de-emphasize factions for now; they could play a significant role later, but my focus here remains on exploration. I’ve made a note to myself to incorporate clocks and scene challenges at some point, though it turns out I didn’t do any of that in this post.
Last session, Lux discovered that the Order of the Cursed Dagger is working on living weapons after she explored a station where one of their biological horrors had gotten loose. She’s now in a sort of crisis of conscience.
But also, that is well outside of her expertise. She started this arc is reaction to a lead on her mentor’s disappearance. Now that that’s resolved, she can get back to her research on the balefires, occasional cosmic storms that threaten everything in their path.
At the moment, she finds herself on Sigil. Lux decides she’ll head out to research the nebula cloud she found on the way to that derelict, hoping that it will help her learn more about those balefires. As part of this move, I roll on the associated table for something to envision, and the result is a “new peril that lies ahead or lurks just out of view”. The nebula she found was associated with a stellar anomaly emitting hazardous energies. So I close my eyes and see an image of some ominous object at the center of the nebula, flaring occasionally and causing danger to anything caught within.
Lux will Swear an Iron Vow (Formidable) to discover the nature of the hazard in the nebula. Her Lore Hunter path comes in handy here, allowing me to reroll a die and thus turn a weak hit into a strong one!
Thinking ahead a bit, her plan for this vow is:
For the first step, Lux Sets a Course and rolls +supply: weak hit. The oracle says the complication is “Impress Technology”, which I interpret to mean that someone (or something) is here, scanning or exploring with advanced tech. When I ask again what is doing that, I get “Chaotic Material”: the gas around Lux’s ship is flaring. She’ll need to resolve this before seeing who or what causes the flares.
That requires her to Face Danger with speed and agility, rolling +edge: miss, she can’t get her ship, the “Newton’s Folly”, out in time. The most obvious negative outcome is to Withstand Damage, which I’ll set at serious (-2 integrity). She’ll try to resist by angling her shields and undertaking maneuvers, rolling +integrity: weak hit. With momentum to spare, I’ll have her lose 1 for +1 integrity. Not bad!
Now that that’s handled, she’ll try to identify the cause and Secure an Advantage as an Explorer, rolling +wits: miss. My assumptions betray me, and I ask the oracle for an action and theme: “Begin Death”. This was an intentional attack rather than just a scan! That is, the gas is (or at least was) actively against us, and someone is controlling that. I mark down another -2 momentum.
In reaction, Lux must Face Danger with observation, this time looking deeper into the nebula and rolling +wits: strong hit, +1 momentum. There’s something there, a technological terror. I decide this means she Reaches a Milestone on her vow to discover what’s the hazard here and she marks progress on the vow, plus an additional +2 momentum from Lore Hunter.
This nebula certainly qualifies as “perilous space” and, in order to explore it, Lux will Undertake an Expedition (Dangerous). I roll +wits: weak hit. She reaches a waypoint, a fold in the cloud where the gas is less dense. This means I mark progress and she must face peril: someone questions her presence. Is this another starship (likely)? No. Then is it precursor tech (even)? Yes. The oracle tells us that it’s an “Immersed Illusion”, as if a face manifests itself here in the cloud. For others, that might lead to some sort of mental shock, but this is exactly why she’s here.
Instead, Lux will attempt to Gather Information using her Research Lab and roll +wits+1: strong hit! Her momentum caps out at +10 and she discovers something helpful that gives her a clear path to follow. There’s some installation deeper in the nebula that’s projecting this image in the cloud.
In order to proceed further, Lux hooks her survey bot Crash into the ship computer and continues to Undertake an Expedition. I roll +wits+1: miss, but I’ll burn that momentum for a weak hit. Lux suffers costs en route: there’s feedback from the scanner that burns Crash, so her Companion Takes a Hit (-1). It will resist by rolling +health: weak hit, and they’ll just press on. But the Folly must also Withstand Damage (-1) to the ship. Lux resists and thus rolls +integrity: strong hit, +1 integrity as she patches up the scanning equipment.
The Folly continues toward the projector installation so Lux will again Undertake an Expedition, rolling +wits+1: strong hit, and I mark 2 progress. What is this waypoint? The oracle tells me “Breached Intelligence” and that means to me a Precursor data facility.
Lux pauses here to Explore a Waypoint and roll +wits: strong hit, giving her +1 momentum and marking progress on the expedition. This must be the source of the hazardous energies. Lux and Crash prepare for a “nested” expedition into the site.
I’ll treat this as a Precursor vault in deep space. Rolling for some more details, I determine that it is a large, elaborate pyramid structure made of smooth metal, with fractal patterns etched onto it.
Lux will Undertake an Expedition (Dangerous). She’ll keep an eye out as she enters, with Crash at her side. For this first segment, she thus rolls +wits+1: weak hit. I mark progress as she faces a peril. As she enters, there are energy surges, although some inscrutable object lies dark and silent ahead, sort of a physical fractal. The peril, however, is a hazardous path designed for travel by other beings, likely not even bipedal.
In order to proceed, Lux must Face Danger with observation to find a way through and roll +wits: strong hit, +1 momentum, and they keep moving.
Another segment and thus she’ll Undertake an Expedition by rolling +wits+1: weak hit. I mark progress, but Lux confronts some unnerving sound or sensation: the entire structure is thrumming with kinetic energy. In this area she finds looted or dismantled tech among intricate symbols or pictographs. Perhaps something sabotaged this place?
This seems like a good spot for Lux to Explore a Waypoint and roll +wits: strong hit, yielding +1 momentum and progress on the expedition. She’s found an opening among this destruction into the inner sanctum of this vault.
Before proceeding, Lux tries to Secure an Advantage by sending Crash ahead. Using Crash, I roll +health:weak hit. She gets enough information to mark progress on the expedition (due to the Survey Bot asset) as Crash finds a blasted or wrecked area where enigmatic mechanisms are coming to life.
Lux is fascinated and Gathers Information here, rolling +wits: miss, as she finds a dire threat. Is this a creature (even)? Yes, it’s technoplasm.
Theorized to be a precursor bioweapon that persisted long beyond the death of its creators, technoplasm is a malignant lifeform that infects, mutates, and controls machines, robots, and computer systems.
Seeing this, Lux Faces Danger by trying to finish her scans quickly and rolls +edge: strong hit with a match! In addition to the +1 momentum, the twist is that this facility actively wants our help.
Lux will again Undertake an Expedition towards the core processing unit where she’ll try to understand what the facility wants, and rolls +wits+1: strong hit. Having reached the CPU, she can Finish an Expedition and roll against her progress: strong hit, yielding a total of 3 ticks on the Discoveries track (due to her Explorer path). I decide she also Reaches a Milestone on her vow here.
What help does the facility require? The oracle tells me “Evade Fear”, which I interpret as asking Lux to deal with the technoplasm before the infestation proceeds.
Technoplasm infestations are tenacious, cunning, and dangerous to eliminate. When in doubt, burn it and deal with the aftermath that comes with generous applications of fire. A ship or settlement with a large outbreak is likely too far gone and best abandoned, although some suggest every infection has its source; if you somehow find and destroy the heart of a technoplasm infestation, can you kill it entirely?
Thus, she must Enter the Fray against a Dangerous Infected Bot. Sizing up the situation and thus rolling +wits: strong hit. Her objective is to stop the bot from damaging the facility further. Lux takes +2 momentum and is in control.
She studies what it’s doing in order to Gain Ground and rolls +wits: miss, but I burn momentum to turn that into a weak hit. She stays in control and marks progress. The bot is trying to infect the entire facility here at the core.
Lux next looks for leverage to Gain Ground rolling +wits: strong hit, giving progress and +2 momentum. It’s following a predictable path and she knows where it will be moving as it goes about its foul business.
Together with the CPU and Crash, she Gains Ground by coordinating a plan to divert the bot, rolling +wits: mark progress, they have their plan.
In order to execute the plan, Lux must maneuver quickly and again Gain Ground but this time rolls +edge: weak hit, giving progress. She’s where she needs to be and it’s go-time.
Lux Strikes at a distance and I roll +edge: weak hit, maxing out progress but putting her in a bad spot before she tries to take Decisive Action and roll against the combat progress: weak hit. The objective is achieved, as they push the bot into an energy surge, but the facility takes significant damage from an explosion in the Sanctum.
She can now Finish an Expedition for that main journey into the nebula and roll against her progress: strong hit! Three more ticks on the Discoveries legacy track and progress on the associated vow.
Lux Sets a Course back through the site to the Folly and rolls +supply: strong hit, giving her a bit of momentum. Upon arriving, she starts to analyze all this data in the Research Lab and thus will Gather Information, rolling +wits+1: weak hit. (I rerolled one die with Explorer but it didn’t help). She achieves some new insight but complicates her quest, gaining momentum. I don’t know what this means yet!
In the meantime, she has 7 XP to spend. We’ll spend 2 XP to upgrade her Survey Bot companion for exploring waypoints and detecting threats. Also, having filled six boxes on her Discoveries legacy track qualifies her for Deed: Vanguard, so we’ll take that and save the final 2 for a new asset later.
I realize later that the weak hit is still a success, so I mark progress on the vow. Next time, she’ll continue to explore this nebula to understand the hazardous energy and perhaps try to establish a haven (using Vanguard). And of course, what did that analysis uncover?
My goal with this arc is simply to fulfill that vow regarding this nebula, after which I might put Lux back on the shelf for a bit, or perhaps it will bring up enough other interesting entanglements to keep going.