Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Starforged: First Session

Hello humans!

And today it looks like it's more RPG stuff.  While I couldn't get into Ironsworn, for some reason Starforged was easier for me and I was able to get started and play through to the end without a problem.  Well, almost without a problem.  For some reason it took me months to come back to this and roll the dice two more times.

Anyway, here's what happened...

The Character:
Dex "Digs" Ruĝa, adventuring archeologist.

He's tall and bespectacled, has a robot dog/excavation tool named "Gliff", and he's trying to find out what happened to his friend, an explorer in his own right, who disappeared while investigating a ruin.

The Situation:
Currently, he's landed on the badlands planet of Koshiba where he's heard of a "grub" (a ruins explorer) who might have a lead on an artifact that Dex's friend was looking for.  Unfortunately, the guy has been poisoned by some weird critter and is now comatose.  He's currently under the care of the local veteranarian, Doctor Finn, who says he needs a sample of the thing that stung his patient in order to create an antidote.  (Wait, how does he know what stung the guy?  Because it took a while for the poison to act.  The patient described the animal before passing out, obviously.)

Dex swears an Iron Vow upon his iron sword (which he has because it's a tradition that adventuring types partake in) that he will return with one of these strange animals.

Unfortunately, Dex knows what the animal looks like, but doesn't know where the victim, named "Nadir", was when it happened.  Dr. Finn says the guy has friends at a local bar, "The Hive", and that maybe he could ask around there.

The Investigation:
Dex arrives at the bar, orders a drink and starts making small talk with the locals.  Eventually, one of them mentions that "Jeffo" knows where Nadir went, but he's in jail for pissing on a Keeper's patrol car.

The next stop is the ramshackle Keeper Station, where law enforcement is holding Jeffo.  Luckily, pretty much everyone on Koshiba is corrupt, so Dex just bribes the Keeper at the desk for a few minutes alone with Jeffo.  They set me up in a small room and Dex asks about where Nadir was scavenging.  He doesn't trust Dex, but Dex tells him that Dr. Finn sent him to get help for Nadir, because of the poison.

That was the wrong answer.

"Screw that guy!  He's the reason I'm in here.  Guard!  This guy knows where Nadir is!", Jeffo shouts.  Two Keepers enter, batons at the ready.

"Is that so?", one asks. "You gonna tell us?"

"Uhh... I can take you there", Dex suggests as they approach.

"Nah, you're gonna tell us", the other replies, slapping the baton into his other hand.

"Okay! Okay!", Dex says, backing away from the Keepers.  He lies and tells them that Nadir is set up in a cot in the back of the automotive service center nearest the hospital.

One Keeper leaves to check on Dex's story, while the other leads Jeffo and Dex back to the jail cells to wait.  As soon as the cell door opens, Dex makes his move!

The Fight:
He bodily tackles the Keeper into the wall, smashing the man's face twice with his elbow, but the experienced Keeper easily reverses Dex's hold and flips him to smash into the floor!  Dex kicks at the Keeper as the man approaches, but the Keeper grabs Dex's leg and swings him into the bars of the cell!  As Dex tries to regain his feet, the Keeper breaks a chair over Dex's back, picks him up, and knees him the gut.  Dex staggers away, but it's not as bad as it looks, and as the Keeper approaches, Dex retaliates with a surprisingly well-executed roundhouse kick!  While the Keeper is reeling, Dex shoves the man's head into the bars and slams the cell door on him, knocking him out cold (and hopefully not killing him because really, that's super bad for you).

Dex turns to Jeffo and cracks his knuckles menacingly.

"Are you next?  Or do you talk to me and we both get out of here?"

"Hey, hey!  I'm in handcuffs here!", Jeffo whines.  "Fine.  There's a spot in the hills out west.  The coordinates are on my phone in that locker."


The Excursion:
Later, having gathered some supplies and "Gliff" the robot dog, and renting a dune buggy, Dex sets course for the coordinates that Jeffo provided.

He drives out across the desert, electrical super-storms rumbling in the distance.  It takes most of the day to reach the place, and when he arrives he finds that the ruin he's looking for is situated at the top of a steep outcropping.  After a couple nearly fatal slips, Dex takes his time climbing the to the top, and darkness falls as he reaches the entrance.  Alien night-critters screech and howl in the not-distant-enough distance as Gliff turns on its headlamp and enters the ruin, scanners chirping quietly.

After a few corners, there's a moaning sound, and the floor collapses under Gliff!  Dex rushes to the edge of the hole to see a room filled with pulsing blue crystaline shapes and a low, thrumming sound.  Gliff is still in one piece, but has a pronounced limp and the occassional fit of sparks.  Without much choice, Dex ties off a rope to climb down, and continues the search from the floor below.

They pass through several ancient chambers, mostly collapsed and dusty.  One looks like some sort of control room, but non-functional, bearing scorch marks and other signs of some long-ago battle.  Another holds a broken statue, humanoid yet strangely featureless.  A steady "tick-tick-tick"-ing can be faintly heard emenating from it, or somewhere near it.

Finally, Dex finds the nest of alien scorpion-things!  They don't seem to notice him as they go about their alien scorpion-thing business, so Dex tries to wait and maneuver himself to get one of them alone.  Unfortunately, Gliff chooses that moment to suffer another fit of crackling sparks, and several of the alien scorpion-things chitter madly, charging at them with stinger-tails at the ready!

The Swarm:
Dex flees, trying to lure them to the outside of the ruin, but he gets turned around in the maze-like corridors and suddenly finds himself facing a dead end!  A pair of alien-scorpion things stab at Gliff to little effect, but more come for Dex.

"I've got to get a gun", he complains as he returns their charge, sword raised.  He hacks off one of the creature's legs, but it doesn't seem to care, and now he's surrounded.  The other creatures leap onto him, hissing and chittering.  Dex swats desperately at them, but there are too many!  They pinch and claw and draw blood and Dex stumbles.  He flails blindly with his sword and feels a stabbing pain, followed by a numbness!  Oh no!

Panicked, Dex climbs to his knees and continues slashing with his sword, hacking several of the monsters to pieces, though more remain.  He begins to feel weak, and suddenly finds himself wondering where Gliff is.  He looks around.  He doesn't see the robot, but he does see one of the dead alien scorpion-things on the ground in front of him.  Summoning all of his strength, he grabs the carcass and struggles to his feet, chopping at the remaining horrors before diving over top of the bugs to come out of a roll on the other side!  He turns to see Gliff trot up to him as the remaining alien scorpion-things begin to fight over who gets to eat their own dead.

The Ride Home:
Racing against time, Dex groggily descends the height and returns to the dune buggy.  Soon, he is throwing up clouds of dust as he speeds through the night back to the city, struggling to stay awake.  Honestly, it's amazing he didn't crash. And by the time he enters Dr. Flinn's office, he's pale and sweaty and one of his arms doesn't work.  He slaps the bug's body onto the counter with his good arm and weakly croaks, "vow", before passing out.


The End?:
When Dex and Nadir both awake, Dex asks Nadir about his missing friend.  Seeing as Dex and Flinn have him at their mercy, and they did save his life after all, Nadir tells them about where he thinks the artifact might be.  As for Dex's friend, he doesn't know where he is, but he hopes that it's far away because the Keepers are looking for him.  And based on the amount of damage that High Keeper Logan was willing to do to find him, their plans for Dex's friend can't be good.


The Evaluation:
See?  That was pretty neat!

And now there's a new enemy!  I mean, I know the local Keepers are corrupt, but maybe Keeper Logan isn't local.  Maybe Dex's friend is/was up to something shady.  Either way, it's another complication.

I should really play this again.  Find out what happens next.  It was fun.  While I was playing, the combats seemed really drawn out and there was some thought of using the "Battle" rules instead, but this guy's an archeologist, not an action hero, and he's by himself against long odds.  Playing the fights out feels appropriately dangerous and violent in retrospect.

So I guess this is a recommendation?

The Signoff:
Ĝis la revido!

Jason "Ludanto" Smith C;E


  1. Fun stuff! How much detail does the game system give you about what is happening? That is, are you given very general plot points "go on a mission to find something" or a bit more detail "kill a creature to retrieve its venom"?

    1. Neither!
      There's a lot of advice and suggestions for choosing an "Inciting Incident" based on the setting and backstory that you've created, though if that doesn't do it there are some Oracles that you can roll on for inspiration. Finally, if you're just super stuck, I guess there's a d100 table with things like "Ferry a rescue team to a perilous disaster site" or "Track and slay a marauding beast".

  2. That seemed to work. I have both IronSworn and StarForged but haven't got to them yet - not high on the priority list :-)

    1. I'm surprised that I got as far as I did. I'm not a good roleplayer. :)

  3. I gave Ironsworn a shot during Covid lockdown and enjoyed it. Such a clever concept, I'd never thought that solo RPGs could be a thing. The game mechanics are really clever as well. If I had to forgo playing with mates, I'd definitely try these systems again.

    1. Fun! I tried Ironsworn but I just couldn't get into the character. For some reason Starforged was a better fit for me. :)

  4. Nice write up, makes me want to give it try as well.

    1. Thanks! I do want to try it again, with a more exploratory focus. So far, this has been the only solo RPG that held my attention, so I guess I should take advantage of that. :)

  5. Hello Ludanto

    I also read through Ironsworn and while I appreciated the mechanisms and how it all hung together it just didn't seem to fit what I wanted. I may have to look at Starforged. I did think it was much the same but SF, but now looking at it is different enough I may like it.

    1. I can't really say why this one worked for me. Maybe I'm just more of a sci-fi person now. Or maybe there was actually something important that changed. Good luck!