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From the Future

Post 79: Episode 1, Breach

Published August 4, 2022
Post 79 Starforged Episodes Campaigns

Episode 1, Breach

Before we begin the episode actual play recap in earnest it is worth noting that there will be violence in the form of simulated war battles in this and many other episodes. I’ll try to keep things PG-13” as best as possible. I’m not really into gore or horror so I wouldn’t expect those things to pop up much. I’ll try to note any other sensitive topics in future episodes.

As I have been very detailed in logging exactly how I played my Starforged session this is a fairly long recap to read. Tl;dr Space marines in powered armor are cool. I hope you enjoy it.

And now, on with the show:

We start the game with the Begin the Session move:
[1d100 | 67] Key location is made unsafe or becomes mired in conflict”

Key location roll: 1) Eratis 2) Ersoarle 3) Esarer 4) Burnell 5) Fuller 6) Orgear:
[1d6 | 5] Burnell”

Unsafe or conflict could be anything, turning to the Action & Theme Oracles: Manipulate, Faction”

My interpretation of these details is that the Union of Elder Navigators is on strike, holding out for a better deal after rounds of intense contract negotiations with representatives from the United Planets.

Ask the Oracle: Does the Sovereign Empire see this as an opportunity to attack the United Planets at Burnell?
[1d100, Odds 50/50 | 11] Yes, with a match”

An extreme result! So, we are dropped into the middle of an intense battle to prevent the Sovereign Empire’s Marine drop ships from boarding Burnell Station.

Ash Hobbs checked over their power armor’s data readouts one last time then slid a helmet over their head. The Stazka-class boarding shuttle rattled slightly as it was hastily deployed from the belly of a Sovereign Empire carrier.

Ask the Oracle: Would the Sovereign Empire military have regularly run training simulations for taking over Burnell Station?
[1d110, Odds Almost Certain | 4] Yes”

Assessing the state of those around them, Ash put their mind at ease - they had trained for this scenario dozens of times. The shuttle pilot would try to access one of Burnell’s standard docking bays. If that flight path was denied to them then they could either access an external maintenance airlock or use the shuttle’s plasma cutter feature. The cutters, mounted around the shuttle’s airlock, make a hole in another vessel’s hull. Then the shuttle’s airlock makes a temporary seal around the exposed hole. The whole process takes around two minutes.

The shuttle’s speaker system broke Ash’s mental preparations Shuttle Tesia, this is CVA Barbara Actual. Transferring navigation control.”

Well, as usual, I’m bending systems to do non-standard things. I’ll use Ask the Oracle as a fallback mechanic when I’m not sure of a suitable move to keep things moving. In this case I’m flying in a vehicle that’s not my Command Vehicle.” Reading over the various moves I think Set a Course makes the most sense here: When you follow a known route through perilous space, across hazardous terrain, or within a mysterious site, roll +supply.

Set a Course
[1d6 +supply vs 2d10 | 1+5 = 6 vs 10, 3] Weak Hit: you arrive, but face a cost or complication”

I’m given a choice here between making a suffer move or facing a complication. Let’s take a complication and we’ll just use Pay the Price to figure out what it is:

Pay the Price:
[1d100 | 25] You are separated from something or someone”

The shuttle rocks and then starts to spin. Several marines grip the harnesses holding them in their seats. As the shuttle begins to stablize a voice from the cockpit calls back to the shuttle’s hold Sergeants, we’ve been separated from the other drop ships! I’m picking an alternate landing site now.” Thankfully the lack of windows in the hold would make it impossible for Ash to second guess the pilot’s decision making.

Ask the Oracle: Can the shuttle pilot find a maintenance airlock dock?”
[1d100, Odds Unlikely | 90] No”

Ask the Oracle: Can the shuttle pilot find a external surface to use their breaching system?”
[1d100, Odds 50/50 | 27] Yes”

Prepare for breaching procedures.” said the pilot. Ash could hear the shuttle’s positioning thrusters fire in a few short bursts and then the interior lights dimmed to a dull red.

Ask the Oracle: Is the shuttle able to make the self-sealing airlock without being attacked/interrupted?”
[1d100, Odds Unlikely | 26] No”
A 26 is nearly a Yes. Perhaps the breaching hole was made but the airlock didn’t have time to self-seal

GET READY!” yelled the pilot but before the confirmation came the shuttle was rocked with a series of bullets.

Face Danger: reacting to an imminent threat with resolve, command, or sociability”
[1d6 +heart vs 2d10 | 5+3 = 8 vs 2, 3] Strong hit: Take +1 momentum.”

How many of Ash’s five-man fire team survive the attack?
[1d4 | 3]

How many members of the other fire team survive the attack?
[1d4+1 | 3]

Ask the Oracle: Did the shuttle pilot survive?”
[1d100, Odds Unlikely | 12] Yes”

Ask the Oracle: Did the other fire team Sergeant survive?”
[1d100, Odds 50/50 | 66] No”

The hull-breach klaxon sounded and Ash unstrapped. Taking stock of the hold they identified 1 causality from their squad. Looking across the room they realized Sergeant Pavlicek was a goner as well as another member of Pavlicek’s team. Ash walked over and got into the face of a marine who looked frozen Time to unstrap, let’s move.”

Where are we moving to exactly, Sergeant?” said another Marine.

Ash pointed at the exposed hole in Burnell Station’s hull. There, son. We’ll use our armor’s thrusters to gain access to the station through that hole before they realize we’re still up in here.”

Regi?” called out Ash as they corralled their newly organized fire-team.

A haggard face in a vacc-suit appeared from the cockpit. I’m still here Sarge.”

You’re with us now. Take Pavlicek’s sidearm. Private Irca you will assist Regi here in crossing over.”

Ash was first out and led the team in the manuever to access the station.

Face Danger: attempt something risky with speed, mobility, or agility:”
[1d6 +edge vs 2d10 | 4+3 = 7 vs 3, 10] Weak hit: Make a suffer move (-1)”
Ash will suffer -1 Supply which I think aptly represents them using the suits fuel reserves to make the ship-to-station transfer, probably with extra course-corrections.

Ash fired the thrusters on their suit trying to stay inline with station as the shuttle was starting to accelerate its own spin. As it became clear it was doable, Ash turned and motioned to the rest of the team to follow.

Ask the Oracle: Does the marine helping the pilot execute the maneuver correctly? [1d100, Odds Likely | 82] No”

Why not? Action + Theme Oracles: Challenge, Ability”

The grav boots engaged with a surface of Burnell Station and Ash worked to get the rest of team out of the line of fire. Ash then watched in horror as Private Irca fumbled their way through the manuever and lost hold of Captain Regi.

Irca, here - now. I’ll get her.” said Ash as they unlocked their grav boots and tried to angle their jump to retrieve Regi.

Face Danger: attempt something risky with speed, mobility, or agility:”
[1d6 +edge vs 2d10 | 4+3 = 7 vs 5, 4] Strong hit: Take +1 momentum.”

Gotcha!” snapped Ash.

Oh my, oh my, oh my.”

Calm down, Regi. Let’s get back.”

Here we will use the Derelict rules and oracles to explore Burnell station. If you ignore the Outer/Inner First Look tables I think you’ll find that Derelicts” don’t have rundown, abandoned locations - they can be any old physical location you need randomly generated.

So where are we on Burnell Station? We’re on an Orbital Settlement so we’ll use the Derelict Zone Oracles.

  • Zone: [1d100, Settlement | 77] Production
  • Area: [1d100 | 1] Staging area
  • Feature: [1d100 | 83] Written manifest

Once everyone was secured into the breach, Ash moved forward trying to figure out where they were while punching the open comms channel button on their suit.

Portrait drawing of Ash Hobbs

Barbara Actual, this is Sergeant Hobbs. We have lost Shuttle Tesia, Sergeant Pavlicek, and two members of our boarding teams. We were able to breach the station hull and are in what looks like…”

Looking around Ash took stock of the items and watched a datapad marked Loyal Star Manifest float by them. A sign on the wall had the words "WATER PURFICATION CONTROL" and an arrow pointing to the right.

… we are near water purification. Will proceed to central operations as originally planned. Please relay status of other boarding teams. over.”

Ash, again, paused to assess the situation. Racking their brain for the installation map Ash believed they need to move up at least two more levels before they could access operations.

Regi you are with me. Roland, we’re a larger group now so you are my second and you’ll take responsibility for coordinating the members of your team if we need to split up.”

How many other boarding teams were there? Let’s do some armchair calculations. Burnell Station has roughly a population of 5000. I read once that NATO uses a formula of one soldier for 40 inhabitants. Each team is broken into 5-man teams. (5000/40 = 125)/5 = 25 teams in roughly 13 shuttles. Round that up to 15 shuttles for extra bits. I don’t have a real 15 sided die but I do have a computer that can generate any sided die it wants.

How many shuttles were lost trying to board the Burnell?
[1d15 | 2] 2 shuttles lost.

We’ll consider the Teisa separate from that total so let’s say 4 teams were lost in the transit. Mostly this is useful for understanding the fictional position of how well the assault is going.

Tesia Team, 2 other shuttles lost in boarding assault. There are 19 other teams engaged. Approved to proceed with planned approach. Good hunting, over.”

Now I believe we need to Undertake an Expedition. We’ll give it a name of Reach Burnell Station Operations Command” and a rank of Dangerous.

When you undertake an expedition you have three approaches to consider: with speed, stealth, or caution. Speed might have made sense if many more teams were lost. Caution doesn’t make much sense, so I think stealth is probably the way to go.

Undertake an Expedition with stealth
[1d6 +shadow vs 2d10 | 5+2 = 7 vs 10, 6] Weak hit: Mark progress and face a peril at the waypoint.”
(I could’ve chosen to make a suffer move, decided to see what perils their might be instead)

Derelict Production Zone Peril Oracle
[1d100 | 12] Dangerous machinery Descriptor + Focus Oracles: Obscured, Energy”

The combined teams work to find the access point to the next level in the zero-g environment of the breached hull. A fallen electrical wire got Ash’s attention. It was blocking the way to…

Derelict Production Zone Area
[1d100 | 86] New zone via Access

Derelict Access Zone Area
[1d100 | 84] Vertical 1) shaft or 2) ladder
[1d2 | 2] Ladder

…Ash leaned around and shined their helmet light upwards…bingo.

There’s a vertical ladder here, we can use this to access the next level but there’s a potential live wire blocking the way.”

I don’t think the powered armor suits are rated for this sorta thing but perhaps the pilot who would have to do ship maintenance can help?

Ask the Oracle: Does the pilot have gloves that are electrician rated? [1d100 Odds, 50/50 | 44] Yes”

Regi held up her thick gloves I can handle that.”

We don’t really stat up anyone but the main PC in Starforged so I think we have to keep relying on Ask the Oracle here.

Ask the Oracle: Does Regi move the wire safely out of the way? [1d100 Odds, Likely | 65] Yes”

Undertake an Expedition with stealth
[1d6 +shadow vs 2d10 | 5+2 = 7 vs 8, 3] Weak hit: Mark progress and face a peril at the waypoint.”

Ash leads the way up the vertical ladder as they get closer to the top they can…

  • Derelict Zone: [1d100, Settlement | 73] Operations
  • Operations Area: [1d100 | 1] Comms center
  • Feature: [1d100 | 83] Intricate control panels

Ask the Oracle: Is the comms center occupied?
[1d100 Odds, Almost Certain | 44] Yes, with a match”

… hears the electronic sounds of communications being sent and received. There are panicked orders being shouted over to several different recipients at a time. Ash thinks for a moment and then turns motions down to the team with a series of hand signals.

Check your Gear: check to see if you have a specific helpful item”
[1d6 +supply vs 2d10 | 4+4 = 8 vs 3, 1] Strong hit: you have it, and are ready to act. Take +1 momentum.”

After a moment a small electronic device is passed up to Ash. Knowing that their fusion-powered powered armor will survive the impacts, Ash holds on to the ladder with one hand and uses a free hand to configure the device to trigger a room-scale EMP.

Secure an Advantage: when you attempt to gain leverage”
[1d6 +wits vs 2d10 | 3+2 = 5 vs 3, 8] Weak hit: (choose one) +1 on your next move”

Ash hit the button and watched the comms room spark, flash, and go dark. The sounds of a lot of groaning followed. Instead of panicked comms there were audible shouts to check panels and investigate how many other area had lost power. Ash decided it was now or never to attempt to secure this location. Ash would sink a few bullets into the grate above their head and then use their thrusters to shoot up and into the room, hoping to take the area by surprise.

Face Danger: attempt something risky with strength, endurance, or aggressiom”
[1d6 +iron vs 2d10 | 6+4 = 10 vs 7, 9] Strong hit: Take +1 momentum.”

Ash again signaled to the team what Ash hoped to accomplish but there aren’t really official hand signals for I’m going to blow off this grated horizontal door and take a crowded room by surprise.” Still Ash managed to convey that there were a number of potential hostiles and that a room breach was about to happen. The sound of the bullets coming from beneath probably caught several folks by surprise but the sight of an Sovereign Empire Marine in power armor shooting through an opening in the floor managed to handle the rest of the room.

Ask the Oracle: Are there armed United Planets military in this room? [1d100, Odds Likely | 27] Yes”

There’s no real combat encounter generator” in Starforged but Ironsworn did had a handy Challenge Rank Oracle in the old Lodestar companion book.

Challenge Rank Oracle
[1d100 | 12] Rank, Troublesome. Foe Quality, Common”.

So now we can Enter the Fray to secure this room.

Ash can use their Weapon Master Path ability to add +1 when they Enter the Fray.

Enter the Fray: when you initiate combat on the move:” [1d6 +edge vs 2d10 | 5+3+1 = 9 vs 9, 2] Weak hit: (choose one) You are in control.”
On a hit, Weapon Master also allows Ash to take +1 momentum.

Ash assessed the situation. A lot folks hiding under desks and a pair of station guards attempting to get into firing position. Ash fired their thrusters to manuever herself with themselves back against a wall to prevent any flanking actions.

Gain Ground: when you are in control and take action in a fight to reinforce your position” [1d6 +edge vs 2d10 | 3+3 = 6 vs 10, 9] Miss: your foe gains the upper hand. Pay the Price

Pay the Price:
[1d100 | 92] You are delayed or put at a disadvantage”

Suddenly an office chair came flying at them. Ash was forced down to the ground and back to nearly their original position in the middle of the room. Ash needed to stablize things so more of their team could exploit this area but before they could figure out a plan, the guards return fire.

Ash will use their Armoed Path Asset ability here. It allows them to set the Action Dice to a 4 and put their trust in the armor strength.

React under Fire: when you are in a bad spot and avoid danger by blocking with force” [1d6 +iron vs 2d10 | 4+4 = 8 vs 4, 6] Strong hit: you are in control. Take +1 momentum.”

Bullets flew at Ash but the powered armor shrugged them off. Ash opened fire on one of the guards.

Strike: when you are in control and attack at a distance” [1d6 +edge vs 2d10 | 3+3 = 6 vs 9, 5] Weak hit: mark progress twice, but you expose yourself to danger. You are in a bad spot.”

Ask the Oracle: Does the next attack come at range or at close quarters? (yes, range, no close quarters) [1d100, Odds 50/50 | 74] Close range Descriptor + Focus Oracle Breach, Vengeance”

Ash suddenly felt something pulling… or at least tugging.. at their boot. One of the comms center staff, apparently enraged at Ash for blowing away a guard, was trying to pull Ash down. It was almost comical but Ash moved to dislodge the assailant with a powered kick.

React under Fire: when you are in a bad spot and avoid danger by diverting with force” [1d6 +iron vs 2d10 | 2+4 = 6 vs 6, 6] Miss, with a match”

Wow, and with a match too! Now, Ash has built up 8 momentum and I think they’ll burn it here to set the Action Score to an 8. Now it is a Strong Hit with a match - though I’ll think we’ll tone done the extreme options given our choice to burn momentum.

Burn Momentum +8 [1d6 +iron vs 2d10 | 8 vs 6, 6] Strong hit, with a match. in control. Take +1 momentum”

Ash wondered if the employee could hear the leg motors powering up. Regardless Ash gave them the leg a good kick and the employee went flying across the room and knocked over the other guard. Ash open their comms. Time to join the party.”

Gain Ground: when you are in control and take action in a fight to reinforce your position by coordinating a plan” [1d6 +wits vs 2d10 | 5+2 = 7 vs 3, 10] Weak hit: stay in control. (choose one) mark progress”

This takes the progress track to 10. So let’s finish this thing off.

Take Decisive Action when you seize an objective in a fight…” [10 vs 2d10 | 10 vs 5, 4] Strong hit: Take +1 momentum.”

Several marines joined the action in the comms room and at that point resistance ended.

Check your Gear: check to see if you have a specific helpful item”
[1d6 +supply vs 2d10 | 3+4 = 7 vs 9, 1] Weak hit: you have it. (choose one) -1 supply.”

Let’s secure this folks, we don’t need any runners.”

Ash produced a pair of restraints and secured the remaining guard, they might be useful later if Ash needed intel. While the comms room was a wreck, Ash used their own comm to notify command the the Comms Center was disabled and secured. Ash lowered themselves to be eye-to-eye with one of the restrained employees.

Oh, it occurs to me because we’ve overcome a critical obstacle” we can mark progress on our Expedition track. That brings us to a total of 6 progress.

What’s off this area?” asked Ash. To entice the employee, Ash waved their heavily armed arms around as a gesture of Hey, why do you ponder the amount of firepower in my suit.”

Compel: when you try to persuade someone with threats”
[1d6 +iron vs 2d10 | 5+4 = 9 vs 4, 8] Strong hit: they’ll do what you want. Take +1 momentum.”

Ask the Oracle: How many areas can be access from the Comms Center? Yes, 1. No 2. [1d100, Odds 50/50 | 55] 2.

  • Operations area: [1d100 | 11] armory
  • Operations area: [1d100 | 50] briefing room

Stammering the employee answered promptly. The armory for this floor is that way and there’s a briefing room for coordinating station comms with the CO over there.”

Ash considered these details. If the armory was still stocked it would be wise to prevent access to it. The briefing room sounded important and implied it was closer to the command center for the operations floor. Ash decided to send one team of 2 with Roland in charge to secure the armory. Ash would take the remaining three members and Regi towards the briefing room.

Ask the Oracle: Have other teams made their way to operations floor?
[1d100, Odds 50/50 | 32] Yes”

Have many teams are still active?
[1d19 | 16] (4 teams lost)

How many teams are on the operations level? Let’s say of the 16, half of this could be headed this way. [1d8 | 6]

Where are those teams located?

  • Operations area: [1d100 | 2] Command offices
  • Operations area: [1d100 | 71] Lounge
  • Operations area: [1d100 | 74] Security area
  • Operations area: [1d100 | 74] Security area
  • Operations area: [1d100 | 93] Access area
  • Operations area: [1d100 | 99] Access area

Ash relayed their plan to command and asked on the status of the other teams near them.

Hobbs there are two teams engaged in firefights trying to access the operations level. Two other teams are engaged with security forces. One team has breached the command offices… and uh…” at this point the briefer sounded almost sheepish. one team is in the operations lounge. over.”

The… lounge?!” wondered Hobbs over comms.

Affirmative. over.”

Ash shook their head.

Who’s running the team near the command suite?”

That would be Lieutenant Tonicka’s team.”

It would advantageous if Ash could link up with Tonicka’s team who specialized in security infiltration. Ash’s team could provide fire support while they cracked whatever codes needed to be cracked.

Undertake an Expedition with speed
[1d6 +edge vs 2d10 | 4+3 = 7 vs 9, 9] Miss, with a match. Do not mark progress, and Pay the Price.”

Given the match I figured it as worth rolling twice:

  • Pay the Price [1d100 | 60] Your equipment or vehicle malfunctions
  • Pay the Price [1d100 | 81] You are harmed
  • Descriptor + Focus Oracle Abandoned, Debris”

Ash decided to pickup the pace and made their way through to the briefing room. Ash’s time in this room was brief because it felt like the entire station shook and the entry way collapsed on them.

Endure Harm: when you face physical injury, suffer (choose) -2 for serious harm”

If you choose to resist the harm, roll +health or +iron, whichever is higher.”
[1d6 +iron vs 2d10 | 3+4 = 7 vs 3, 1] Strong hit: shake it off - if you are not wounded, take +1 health”

The armor strained against the weight of the frame that pinned them down but Ash managed to push themselves back up to standing with the help of the others who had not so boldly rushed into the briefing room.

What caused the entry way to collapse?
Action + Theme Oracles Focus, Power”

Anyone see what set that off?”

Over comms I heard someone say a stray starship railgun volley hit the station.”

Ash shook their head Flyboys.”

Regi raised an eyebrow Uh, gunners more like it, no?”

Fair enough.” Ash re-entered the briefing room, more cautiously this time.

Undertake an Expedition with vigilance
[1d6 +wits vs 2d10 | 4+2 = 6 vs 2, 8] Weak hit. (choose one) make two suffer moves (-1).”

  • Sacrifice Resources -1 supply
  • Endure Stress -1 Stress

Ash suit gave them a lower power warning. Ash was second guessing themselves now, maybe the armory would’ve had a place to refuel this thing.

Where to next?

  • Derelict Operations Area: [1d100 | 5] command offices

Ask the Oracle: Is Lieutenant Tonicka’s team here? [1d100, Odds Likely | 60] Yes”

Ash entered a corridor and could see another Empire Marine team at the end of the hallway. Ash flipped on near-band comms Tonicka? This is Sergeant Hobbs, we are closing in on the command offices. over.”

Ask the Oracle: Have Burnell Station Command barricade themselves into the offices? [1d100, Odds Likely | 88] No, with a match”

Tonicka, a flashy & scruffy looking man, appeared in the corridor. Hobbs, nice to see you. Regi…? Where’s Pavlicek?”

Our shuttle was attacked on the breach approach. Pavlicek didn’t make it, sir.”

Finish an Expedition when your expedition comes to an end” [8 vs 2d10 | 8 vs 3, 5] Strong hit”

Tonicka looked furious. We’ve secured the command floor. Looks like the Burnell’s CO & core officers managed to flee by a shuttle.”

Damn.” said Hobbs.

Wonder what Regi is up to?
Character Disposition Oracle: Indifferent

Regi wandered around the room So we didn’t get the commanders but we have the station under control anyways, right?”

Ask the Oracle: Have the Empire’s boarding teams secured the station? [1d100, Odds Likely | 41] Yes”

Yes, we have.” responded Tonicka. Just a few minor mop up operations…”

Ask the Oracle: Have the Empire’s naval forces secured the area around the station? [1d100, Odds 50/50 | 13] Yes”

… and naval forces have driven away the UPN fleet that was stationed here.”

Ask the Oracle: Did Roland’s team suffer any casualties? [1d100, Odds 50/50 | 60] No”

Ash checked in with Roland who confirmed they had secured the armory. Then they unlocked their helmet and lifted it off. Ash walked towards the window that looked out into space and focused on a few of the nearby asteroids. Marines Pavlicek, Leos, and Linda hadn’t even made it off the shuttle. Ash paused to remember their faces and say a silent prayer for them. Regi joined Ash by their side and gripped their armored hand.

Hearten: when you find a moment of peace…” [1d6 +heart vs 2d10 | 5+3 = 8 vs 6, 2] Strong hit: you find comfort and your spirit is strengthened. Otherwise, take +2 spirit.”

GM Notes

Pretty much everything is in the play log so I don’t have a lot to add. It is a nice worked example of a number of Starforged concepts and mechanics.

After I created the setting, I thought about where it would be interesting to have a character. I decided that either a navigator or an grunt in the Empire would be interesting. I rolled a d6 (“high/low) and the result was a grunt. From there I used a few random tables (I did go outside of Starforged here) to work out what type of grunt it was. One of the random table results suggested my character was known for their”high tech armor.” I don’t normally play the strong warrior types but this was an interesting change of pace. Oh and if it threw you off, yes Ash is using they/them pronouns. This is not a woke liberal agenda, I made a roll table and picked randomly.

Ash’s super cool portrait photo came from a set of sci-fi character portraits I had lying around.

I do think a navigator would’ve been really fascinating and I’m still hoping to play to find out” what it means to be a member of the Union of Elder Navigators. Are they psionic? Just really well attuned to navigation? Augmented? I have no idea.

I have not created a background vow yet or made our first connection” (the rules totally allow this) and I think I’d rather it emerge through some play first.