Echo Sedano 4

A short session this week. The procedures are still prominent but producing interesting prompts. If you’re just now finding this, the story starts at the Prologue. I’ll keep injecting the mechanical bits per the rest of the series. My takeaway with this session is that Starforged is designed to deliver good gameplay, not necessarily good narrative, and the real creative work here lies in finding ways to treat the game’s output as useful prompts without getting pulled along by mechanical momentum. The fact I need to be consistent and principled in things like establishing fictional positioning for my characters helps, but honestly? Not sure I’d bother if I was just playing “for myself.” Thanks for being an audience to play — and write — toward!

Quick review of everything so far!


  • Momentum +7
  • Health 3
  • Spirit 5
  • Supply 4

Relationship tracks

  • Kimbra Freeman (Dangerous): 4/10 boxes
  • Dr. Zari Vandu (Troublesome): 3/10 boxes

Other tracks

  • Help Kimbra defend Helia (vow, Formidable): 0/10
  • Expedition to Monument 62 (journey, Dangerous): 6/10
  • Tension clock: The Monument Activates: 0/8

Session starts without any session moves. This isn’t a new chapter, I don’t need to set any flags, etc. Let’s proceed with the expedition!

The little Helia truck sitting dead in the dust, Echo and the Major walked toward the dark crack at the base of the monument. Looking at it with his own eyes, Echo thought he could see a bit into the darkness. But the huge red sun had fully set and the only light was the dim blue glow of whatever was going on above the Monument, kilometers over his head.

The suits’ power sources seemed to be working just fine. Echo had no idea why, and the Major wasn’t questioning their good fortune. She was cycling through her various camera lenses and image processors, standing stock still under the faint blue glow, touching her own helmet to refine what she could see.

Getting out of the truck and making the approach warrants a Secure an Advantage moment as Echo and Kimbra take stock of the situation. They’re just observing, now that they’re on-site and relatively close, Wits 3 +1 for Kimbra’s relationship +2 vs 5 7: a weak hit. Gonna take +1 on our next move, which will be Undertake an Expedition.

“Rangefinder says the crack is less than a kilometer high,” she muttered into their radio channel. “Not seeing any movement. Piles of junk right where I was gonna walk us…kind of weird. Guess the dust devils decide what to keep after they haul it back here.”

Her words chirped in Echo’s ears, tinny and unreal. He’d never worn an environmental suit before. A few hours into it, he couldn’t recommend the experience. He felt itchy and heavy and slightly damp. He craved sunlight on his skin, thinking about what a gift living in his farming township had been. 

Why had he left? What was so great about standing in the shadow of this colossal alien thing? He craned his neck back as far as he could, remembering his dream with his sister.

The tickle in his gut, the little adrenaline spike that meant he’d gotten a glimpse of something bad in his immediate future, kept ticking over. Low key anxiety crawled up his spine and down his fingertips, without any particular glimpse at all. Just the warning sense, humming in his skin.

“Maybe we come at it from the left?” he said, pointing to an especially tall pile of junk. He recognized a Weave transmitter atop the pile, bent into a V shape, as well as bits of corrugated metal and spirals of stiff wire. “Can we hide ourselves behind all that?”

Kimbra bobbed her upper body to convey agreement through the stiffness of the environmental suit. “Kill our lights, too. I think whatever that is,” she said, pointing at the blue light, “will give us enough to see. Nothing to trip over, anyway.”

Undertake an Expedition roll, continuing to be vigilant because why not? Wits 3 +1 for Kimbra +1 for Secure an Advantage + 4 vs 6 8, a strong hit! Reach a waypoint, +2 boxes on the track (8 total).

They set out across the mirror-flat surface, each step feeling almost slippery. Eventually they reached the junk pile, which like everything else Echo had seen since leaving the township forced him to re-evaluate the scale involved. Mostly he noticed there was more junk in the pile than the dust devils could have possibly pulled off the Helia habs without simply taking every scrap, including the habs.

“Where’d it all come from?” he asked aloud. Kimbra walked around the base, still carefully keeping it between her and the looming black hole. She poked her carbine into the pile here and there. 

I think Kimbra is actually Exploring a Waypoint at this point. Echo of course joins in. Wits 3 +1 for Kimbra +3 vs 6 7, a weak hit. +1 Momentum (+8 total) +1 more for Explorer (+9 total).

Go to the oracle for a ship name: Mercy. Character name: Arcus. 

She pulled out a mass of fabric with the barrel of her gun and turned it slowly toward Echo. It was a gray jumpsuit, the most common bit of clothing worn by ship crews. The Major carefully spread it out on the ground and they stared down at it: MERCY was emblazoned in an arc across the back, with official corporate livery of Helia below it. 

“I don’t know what this is,” Kimbra muttered. She flipped the jumpsuit over. The name badge read ARCUS.

“Did the brains arrive on a ship called Mercy?”

She shook her head. “No. I mean, I was told they arrived by passenger shuttle a couple years ago. Never heard of this Arcus, whoever they were. Never heard of a ship calling itself Mercy, either.”

“Maybe not an Overseer? Just a dumb ship?”

The Major stared, silent, body language screaming I do not like this at all. She nudged the jumpsuit with her boot toe. “No signs of injury, no entry or exit holes, no blood. The dust devils grabbed someone’s laundry? They’ve only ever shown an interest in metal and smart materials.”

Echo poked his head around the junk pile and looked at the yawning hole. It wasn’t far now, just a couple hundred meters away. Still no signs of movement, no change in the blue light, no monsters bursting out of the junk piles. The wind had stopped. The stars quietly turned overhead.

“I think we’re alone,” he said. He turned to look at Kimbra, watched her carefully fold the jumpsuit and slip it into her backpack.

“Got some questions for the brains after this,” she muttered. Then, louder: “Let’s get inside this thing and see what’s what.”

Last Undertake? Wits 3 +1 for Kimbra +4 vs 4 4: strong hit with a match, +2 boxes (10 total, time to finish the expedition)! Let’s go to the action/theme Core Oracles to see what it gives us: BREAK WEAKNESS. Huh, not sure what to do with that. Let’s try the descriptor/focus set as well: PERILOUS ROUTE.

They crossed the final few meters to the chasm. The opening was dozens of meters across, and towered up and out of view as they looked up. This close to the Monument, they lost the overhead blue glow. Kimbra flicked on her suit lights.

Finish an Expedition: our first Progress roll! 10 boxes vs 8 10, oh no, a weak hit! Looks like we know how our Oracle rolls play out now. 1 tick on my Discoveries legacy track (boo), +1 tick for Explorer. The journey, I think, is a chance to Develop Your Relationship with Kimbra, so +2 boxes on her relationship track (6 total). We’ve also Reached a Milestone on our quest, first box on our (formidable) Vow track.

So the Monument is obviously a Precursor vault. I already know a lot about it based on previous rolls, so I can skip over generating the exterior. Inner first look table: TOXIC ATMOSPHERE.

A sturdy industrial tripod stood perched at the edge of the opening, suddenly obvious under her lights. Echo recognized the type immediately; farmers of the township used these all the time to secure structures, provide mounting points for sensors, string up tarps for picnics. This one had a heavy duty cable reel bolted to the top. The cable was taut and aimed a few degrees downward into the darkness. 

“What the…we’re not the first ones?!” Kimbra almost yelled. “Damn it. Damn it! I wanted to be first. Why didn’t —“

Echo walked up to it and pulled on the cable. “It’s stuck to something down in there, can’t see what.” He turned on his own lights and followed the cable into the dark. “At least 50 meters in, I can’t see where it ends or how it’s hooked into anything. Good thing it’s here, though.” He knelt at the edge of where the Monument should have ended were it not for the crack. “There’s no way in or down without it.”

A sensor pinged a notification on his face plate: a quick sniff of the atmosphere within the chasm said the air was bad-toxic. Like evacuate immediately toxic in the case of a suit rip or faceplate crack. 

Probably the right way to proceed is to Undertake An(other) Expedition to find the dust devil nest they’re actually here to deal with. Don’t love that, it feels a little repetitive, but I’m not sure I’d have established the first expedition a different way without seeing how this one turned out.

I start a new track: Explore the Monument (dangerous). I pick dangerous because this feels like a pacing choice more than a threat-level choice, and the trip across the flat just to get here felt long “enough.” This might be where my narrative choices conflict with good-game-play choices.

The Major pulled on the cable, hard, putting her weight into it. It barely budged the tripod.

“Do you trust it?” Echo asked. He peered back down into the darkness, directing his suit lights all around. Still no movement or even any signs of features other than complete void. 

“Hell no I don’t trust it,” she replied, also staring down into the dark. “Maybe there’s something in the truck we can use to secure ourselves up here.”

Check Your Gear for something to help them use the cable: Supply 4 + 4 vs 3 3: another strong hit with a match! +1 Momentum (+10, maxed out), and consult the Oracle for something to do with that match: FORTIFIED VOID, interesting!

They made the trek back and poked around the truck bed until Kimbra yelled, triumphant. “Yes…yes! This is perfect.” She pulled out climbing harnesses, ropes and other depth-delving bits and bobs. There was even a set of ratcheted grips that would let them work their way back up the cable.

“Helia packed the truck with all this?” Echo asked, skeptical. “Like they were expecting to go down a hole?”

Kimbra grimaced. “Yeahhh. Vandu and I are going to need a long talk when we get back. Grab your gun, let’s go find us some dust devils.”

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