Starforge Preview

Ironsworn: Starforge is an in-development supplement for the Ironsworn roleplaying game, taking perilous, quest-driven gameplay to a far future at the edge of known space.

In this article, we'll look at some of the basics of the setting, along with some of my current plans for how Starforge will extend and modify the gameplay of Ironsworn

Everything is subject to change, and your feedback is welcome!

TONE AND INSPIRATION

I'm calling the default tone of Starforge "The Scavenged Future" or "Dark Ages Sci-Fi". I envision ships cobbled together from salvage and spare parts. Settlers cling to survival in isolated settlements on inhospitable worlds, or on backwater stations where air itself is a commodity. Advanced technology is expensive and prone to failure amid the furious stellar maelstroms of the Forge, so people make do with more straightforward solutions. Much has been forgotten or lost. It's a rough, lonely, dangerous life for anyone living on the frontier, and doubly so for the Ironsworn.

Inspiration comes from the workaday tone of Firefly, the isolated suspense of Alien, the desperation and retro-future of Battlestar Galactica's modern reboot, the lived-in aesthetic of Star Wars, the mysticism of Dune, and the cosmic horror and mysteries of Lovecraft.

As with Ironsworn core, you can adjust these dials to your liking. With minimal tweaks, Starforge should work just fine for a variety of spacebound adventures. The trick is to maintain a focus on connections and personal quests or missions as the drivers for your story. I could imagine playing as a rogue crew of Klingons in the Star Trek universe, or as bounty hunters on the outer rim in a Star Wars campaign.


WHAT IS THE FORGE?

The Forge is an expanse of chaotic space. Your people came here generations ago. Perhaps they were refugees, cast out of their former home after a calamity. Maybe they were explorers, now lost and alone on this wild frontier. Or, perhaps they were survivors of a vast interstellar war, praying their enemies do not follow.

The anomalies scattered across this region create turbulent gravity waves. Stars, planets, asteroid fields, and stellar phenomenon drift and dance upon these waves in a horrendously complex mockery of orbital mechanics. It is the universe gone amok. 

This chaotic environment offers both opportunity and peril in equal measures. Remnants of an ancient civilization hold dangerous knowledge and forbidden power. Your people build homes on new worlds, but those places rarely offer a safe haven. Baneful creatures and dark forces dwell on planets and in the vast expanse between stars. Some of your kind have been lost to this place, made savage by the black heart of the Forge’s fire.


Your people have made the Forge their home. They pray it does not become their grave.

YOUR CHARACTER

Much of what you are familiar with from Ironsworn will be unchanged in Starforge. The existing stats and trackers carry over. Character creation is still fast and flexible. Set your stats. Pick three assets. Play.

There are, however, some new components to consider. Your character now has rep and influence. Rep functions like a stat, and is used when you take action leveraging your resources or notoriety. You start with rep at +1, and improve it over time. Influence is a spendable resource, and is used to build your rep or bail yourself out of bad situations.

The addition of rep and influence ties into a new emphasis on forming connections and bonds. Your character's relationships get more focus in Starforge—both narratively and mechanically. More on that shortly. 

Assets are still a key aspect of your character, updated to support the setting. Some assets are lightly re-themed. Others will be all new. For the most part, you can also continue to use assets from the core game. For example, you might decide that hand-to-hand weapons still play a heavy role in your version of the Forge. Is it because they are practical and cheap? Are they part of the warrior traditions of Forge cultures? Or, is it simply a bad idea to get in a gunfight in a fragile spaceship? 

Most importantly, the focus for your character is still your Ironsworn vows. You are driven and fated to fulfill those vows—no matter the cost. Your adventures within the Forge should mix the mundane and the mythic. The arduous and the epic. It is your struggles that make you Ironsworn.

There will be an alternative version of the moves handout which relabels the quest moves as "missions". This will support more generic settings. But, I much prefer—and recommend—the ritualistic aspects of swearing on iron. The "Your Truths" section of the setting chapter will include some options on how this practice came to be.