top of page

Learn From Your Failures in Starforged

Starforged illustration by Joshua Meehan

Heroic stories are about overcoming hardships and pressing on in spite of them. Ironsworn: Delve introduced the failure track, a gameplay mechanic that made failures a more influential aspect of your character’s evolution—while taking a bit of the sting out of rolling a miss. Starforged does not utilize the failure track, but it's a very simple element to port over if you like what it adds to your campaign.

As described in Ironsworn: Delve (pages 58-59), start by creating a failure track. You can introduce a failure track into an ongoing campaign or new campaign. It's a standard progress track with ten boxes.

Then, when you make an action or progress roll and score a miss, make the following move.

MARK YOUR FAILURE When you make an action roll and score a miss, mark a tick on your failure track. If you score a miss when making a progress roll, mark three ticks.

Note that you won’t Mark Your Failure if you change the outcome of a move from a miss to a hit. For example, if you roll a miss but have an asset ability which allows you to reroll any dice, scoring a hit on that reroll represents the actual result of your move. Only Mark Your Failure when you must face the consequences of a miss.

Continue to mark ticks for misses as you play (four ticks per progress box). When your failure track is at +6 or greater, you may Learn from Your Failures. This is a progress move to resolve the impact of these misses on your character.

LEARN FROM YOUR FAILURES Progress Move When you spend time reflecting on your hardships and missteps, and your failure track is +6 or greater, roll your challenge dice and compare to your progress. On a strong hit, you commit to a dramatic change. Mark one box on your quests legacy track, clear all progress on the failure track, and choose one.

  • Change course: Discard a single asset, take 2 experience for each marked ability, and Advance to spend this experience on new assets or upgrades. Unused experience is discarded.

  • Make it right: Swear an Iron Vow and reroll any dice.

  • Ready your next steps: Take +3 momentum.

On a weak hit, you learn from your mistakes. Mark two ticks on your quests legacy track and clear all progress on the failure track. On a miss, you’ve learned the wrong lessons. Mark 1 tick on your quests legacy track and clear all progress on the failure track. Then, envision how you set off on an ill-fated path.

The Learn From Your Failures move is a good opportunity for a character-building scene of self-reflection. What have you learned from your trials and tribulations? How will you change? As with all moves, envision the scene and use this to frame the roll of the dice.

No matter the result, you will clear all progress on the failure progress track. Then, return to making the Mark Your Failure move whenever you score a miss. You may Learn from Your Failures again once your failure track is +6 or greater.

The Failure Track & Allies

The failure track is not a shared resource. If you are playing with allies, each of you have your own failure track. Only make note of your own misses. If your ally makes a move and scores a miss, they Mark a Failure on their own track.

What if you Aid Your Ally and score a miss? As much as I am tempted to say you and your ally should both Mark Your Failure (because that's a really fun little tweak to the outcome), there are times when this would contradict the narrative. Do whatever feels right. If you are close collaborators in the action, you should both Mark Your Failure to represent the shared learning experience.

Managing the Pace of Advancement

This version of the Learn From Your Failures move is not quite as generous as in Ironsworn: Delve, and should not overly impact the pace of advancement.

However, if you find you are picking up new assets and abilities faster than you'd like, consider that there's a built-in assumption within Starforged that vehicles will be destroyed, companions lost, and paths changed. If an asset is no longer relevant or available, discard it. Unless you are making the Overcome Destruction move, or are discarding an asset as you Learn From Your Failures, you are not trading-in an asset for experience points. Thus, you'll need to spend new experience to replace what was lost or set yourself on a new path.

In other words, don't be afraid to hit your character where it hurts. This ebb and flow of assets reflects the natural changes in your character's focus and their resources over the course of the campaign. The failure moves are another option to reinforce that growth.


Thanks for subscribing!

By submitting this form you agree to receive occasional emails related to the Ironsworn roleplaying game and other works by Shawn Tomkin. Your information will not be shared or used for any other purpose. You can unsubscribe anytime.

bottom of page