This is an evolving story of two interstellar explorers, uncovering and enduring the mysteries of their universe. These are brief session logs of my duet with my partner as we play a DM-less, 2-player TTRPG called Starforged.
Brianna (she/her) and Echo (she/they) meet at a tavern on Purgatory after a long day’s work. Echo smells like a hot dumpster after conducting yet another lifeform survey in the swamps of Purgatory–no doubt a discriminatory assignment due to her paragon ancestry. Venting to Brianna, Echo confides that she needs to get the fuck off this foresaken planet and leave this hostile work environment.
Suspiciously, Brianna is immediately on-board, though Echo doesn’t realize how out-of-character this is for Brianna, being several drinks in.The pair agree to pool their meager funds for a joint spaceship venture to take them anywhere but here. They find a ship called Bellow of the Forge for a suspiciously low price and purchase it without asking further questions. Upon takeoff, they quickly get acquainted with the ship’s creaky hull as they rocket off towards Hypatia within the Devil’s Pyre sector to meet with their old acquaintance Nassar, an eccentric shipwright who can inspect and upgrade their new ride.
Session 1 - The Mystery of Nephele | Feb 18, 2023
Upon docking at Hypatia, a space station that orbits around Nephele, Brianna is feeling excited to prove herself as the best pilot amongst tens of thousands of people here. Echo’s hangover amplifies the lively chatter to a nauseating degree. Brianna calls her station contact, Nassar, an eccentric, but talented shipwright who can ensure the Bellow of the Forge is ready for whatever lies in waiting beyond the stars.
They bring the ship to him, but the question of money comes up in order to pay for the upgrades. Nassar mentions that there have been a lot of mysterious ship disappearances recently around Hypatia, drawing “unwarranted” suspicion around his business. Echo and Brianna swear an iron vow to investigate the missing ships, starting with one called the Sureshot. It’s a station security snub fighter that Nassar worked on, which recently went down on Nephele. Brianna and Echo need to find that ship along with evidence to clear Nassar’s besmirched reputation in exchange for ship upgrades.
In trying to help glean information on how to navigate the perpetual and severe electric superstorms that encompass Nephele, Echo realizes that their research datapad battery died, and they have no way to charge it before leaving on this quest.
With Echo on radar observation duty, Brianna rockets the Bellow toward the surface of the Naphele. Echo picks up the signal of the lost Sureshot engine signature and helps Brianna track in the right direction. However, another unrecognized engine signature pops up on the radar, forcing the crew to maneuver stealthily to avoid detection. As Echo navigates, an electric pulse turns the radar to static. Brianna mentally runs the calculations to figure out the orbital mechanics required to chart the course while completely cutting the engine. Echo works with their utility bot to repair the cut radar under significant stress. The mysterious ship starts closing in on the Bellow, and Briana is forced to change the course of the ship. In a panic, Echo and utility bot frantically switch off non-essential flight systems to remain undetected.
Under the cover of a storm flare, Brianna redirects the ship to position the storm between us and the mysterious ship. Due to her frantic panic, Echo misinterprets the radar readout, feeding Brianna the wrong heading. Brianna rejects the heading from Echo and successfully enables the team to land on Nephele and locate the Sureshot.
The Sureshot is unresponsive as the Bellow signals to it upon approach. Brianna and Echo emerge from their ship to inspect the wreckage, but Echo quickly realizes the Sureshot is sinking into one of the many sinkholes of Nephele. Brianna activates the towing equipment, then pilots the ship to hover over the wreck. Using her kinetic powers, Echo maneuvers the winch to secure onto the wreck, ensuring the lost ship can be dragged out of the sinkhole.
Upon closer inspection, the ship appears completely intact, which raises more questions than it answers. Utility bot and Echo board the ship, finding the black box and an ancient relic. The black box reveals that the ship sent an unwarranted distress call before completing entirely normal landing procedures. The ancient constructed relic, which can accurately predict weather and natural phenomena for this planet, seems to have allowed the crew of the Sureshot to chart safe passage through the storm and land in a sinkhole 5 hours ago, according to logs.
Brianna and Echo theorize that the crew of the sureshot purposefully sent off a distress call, then landed in a sinkhole to cover their tracks and appear dead.
Once the craft passes safety inspection, Brianna tows it into the landing bay of the Bellows.
Referencing the Pilot profile of the Sureshot, Brianna and Echo are now looking for Quinn Shepherd, an alluring and athletic pilot of the callsign Circuit, who is an indifferent private security contractor in it for the money.
Brianna flies the ship as Echo surveys. Echo finds tracks leading away from the wreck, westward. After traveling in that direction for a few minutes, Echo and Brianna detect a swarming metallic mass on the horizon. Upon closer inspection, the scanners pick up a human corpse fitting the description of Quinn Shepherd. His body is largely undisturbed as the robots have stripped him on any technology and left him alone with no use for his biological matter. The scavenger bots are transporting materials into a cavern, so they’re distracted and the Bellow can leave Nephele unnoticed.
Upon entering Hypatia air space, they sound an emergency with Air Traffic Control, sending them the information they’ve gleaned from our expedition to Nephele, including the data about the ship they noted leaving the planet as well as the robot hoard.
[Completed] Dangerous Progress - Reach the surface of Nephele
Session 2 - Fire Among Stars | Feb 20, 2023
Fortuitously, they arrived just in time. Echo streams the footage from the expedition while giving a voice over to ATC. Echo hears the operator yelling to someone else in the ATC to halt the ship and sound the alarm. After that, several things happen at once: Defense systems begin to activate, tinting windows, deploying energy shields. Emergency broadcasts identify the hostile ship, and civilian ships scramble away from it. They learn that the hostile ship is called the Stellar Hawk. Its facade is a cobbled mass of obsolete ship remnants.
As the alarms blare, Brianna gazes in horror as shields sputter and flicker out. Echo sees the Stellar Hawk airlock open, spraying two dozen combat bots in an arc toward the station. Brianna positions the Bellow then boards the Sureshot, endeavoring to neutralize the formidable Stellar Hawk while the station clears the combat bots. Brianna fires upon the Stellar Hawk, then it fires an electrical net to down the Sureshot. Echo positions the Bellows and fires upon their left engine, disabling their maneuvering capabilities. Continuing to fire, Echo scores more hits on their shields, but then is forced to take evasive action as the Stellar Hawk turns its fire on the Bellow. Regaining control of the Sureshot’s systems, Brianna re-enters the fray, and the two coordinate to trade off attacking and evading. The enemy ship scores hits on the Bellow, and focuses fire, hoping to capitalize. With an extra split second to line up the perfect approach, Brianna is able to make a final run, disabling the Stellar Hawk’s weapons and engines.
The Bellow tows in the neutralized Stellar Hawk. From the radio activity they can hear, they learn that station security engaged the boarder bots and have the situation under control. They also learned that the reason the shields went down was that the robots hacked the station’s systems using Quinn Shepherd’s security authorization as a starting point. If they hadn’t arrived in the nick of time, the robots would have been able to dock, shut down station systems, and launch boarders without security knowing they were under attack.
Echo focuses on the robot’s systems, decoding their data formats and revealing that Quinn was working with the Robots before he was killed. Additionally, the logs reveal that Quinn wasn’t working alone. There are other human collaborators whose identities remain a mystery. The only question now is what to do with this knowledge…
[Completed] Formidable Progress - Neutralize the Stellar Hawk
Session 3 - Hacking Away at the Truth | Feb 23, 2023
Security starts a base of an investigation at the landing bay, having towed the Stellar Hawk into the station. As part of the debrief, Echo and Brianna join in, sharing what they know. Echo is given the opportunity to investigate the robot’s systems as a naturalist alongside Amari Hendrix, an investigator with station security. Echo and Amari stumble upon the fact that Quinn was working with the Robots before he was killed. Additional decoded logs reveal that Quinn referenced working with other human collaborators, but their identities remain unknown.
In an effort to bring Brianna into the fold, Echo persuades Amari to give Brianna access to this information. Amari agrees; however, they stipulate that Brianna and Echo must find out who the collaborators are before they leave the station (or else, Amari will deny takeoff clearance).
Amari helps Echo and Brianna with a station-wide energy signature scan of the ancient relic tech. One ping appears on the station aside from the one from their device. Amari informs them that this ping is coming from the Station Governor’s domicile. Amari and Echo check station logs of flight plans to see if the Governor has any suspicious flights. The team discovers that Quinn landed at the same station docking bay as the one that the Governor took off from minutes afterwards shortly before the disappearances started. Cross referencing station footage, the interaction between Quinn and the Governor is confirmed.
Brianna, Echo, and Amari go to the police chief to convince them that the Governor is the human collaborator. They do so; however, the whereabouts of the Governor are unknown since the start of the robot attack. Deferring to Amari, the Chief says, “Find the governor and then we’ll send backup, but, right now, we don’t know where to send our forces unless you can give us a location.” …
[Completed] Dangerous Progress: Identify and stop Quinn’s human collaborators are before they make their next move
Session 4 - Raid on the Safe House | Mar 12, 2023
Amari takes precious time to examine the top financial backers of the Governor, noting that the Hadley & Sato arms corporation has the highest stake. The team convinces the police chief to send backup as Echo and Briana scout out the safe house of H&S. They overhear that now all shipments haven’t arrived yet, so they believe that H&S is still waiting to take their next move. Echo uses their kinetic ability to trip a person carrying the cargo being transported out of the safe house. Inside the boxes are all of the non-essential ship parts and weaponry (e.g. control panels, life support pods, handles, chairs, environmental suit mostly intact). The team radios this back to the police chief, and warns him of a mounting ground invasion by additional robots. The team believes that within the safehouse, H&S is harboring and powering up additional robot combatants.
Briana shoots the control panel for the gate, ensuring it cannot close. Echo scanned the frequencies for the wireless CCTV network, identifying the make and model for hacking. Ground back arrives, and Brianna provides covering fire for the SWAT deployment. Echo hacks into the CCTV network and sees the Governor is securing themselves within the safe room. Enemies in the courtyard surrender and cops round them up, as Brianna trains her sights on the door, ready to kill robots. Echo guides the raid team using the CCTVs to ensure the safe capture of the Governor and neutralization of any remaining robots.
Amari interviews the governor to understand the full scheme, successfully closing this case. The governor was using the robots to create a justification for increased militarization spending to benefit H&S and increase popular approval of his leadership. The robot threat still remains, but they’ve lost a great deal of forces and resources. Station security institutes stricter no-fly zones, escorts, and patrols around the planet.
With the governor’s conspiracy and robot threat revealed, Nassar’s name is well and thoroughly cleared.
[Completed] Dangerous Vow: I vow to solve the mystery of the disappearing ships
Session 5 - Intrigue on Tangle Planet | Mar 19, 2023
Nassar inspects the ship, revealing various serial numbers that have been filed off dozens of times as well as remnants of stealth gear. He believes that the ship used to be used for espionage though by whom is unclear. This could indicate that the original dealer was working as a fence or cleaner for some other underground element on our home planet.
After the inspection, Brianna and Echo go to survey the aftermath of the governor’s arrest. A representative of Hypatia’s governing Founder Clan, Zenith, named Flint Winter intervenes as interim Governor while a replacement is vetted and appointed by Zenith Clan. Amari is immediately promoted and recognized as a rising star within the Keepers’ ranks.
Brianna and Echo settle on a local dive to grab a drink and catch their breath. As they sit down and flag the bartender, the bartender immediately narrows their eyes at them darting their gaze between their faces and the news feeds. “Hey, aren’t you two the folks who saved us from the robots earlier today?” Brianna nods enthusiastically. “Yeah, we took out the Stellar Hawk.” “In that case, have a round on the house.” The bartender raises a pint in the air and shouts, “A toast to these heroes!” The bar joins in on the toast. As Echo sets her glass down and wipes her mouth from chugging a beer, a scarred and eccentric looking individual shuffles up beside them at the bar. He leans over and says, “If y’all are still feeling heroic, I’ve got a job for the best pilot on the station. There’s been a mining accident on Tangle planet, near Forsaken, the local settlement, but no one has given a shit because of the robot incursion here. I have an aid shipment that was grounded and needs to go out asap.” “Sounds like a worthy enough cause, but I haven’t even heard of this planet nor settlement. I’m just a naturalist. What’s in it for us?” “On Tangle, mining operations discover a lot more than just precious ores. I’ll put you in contact with a connection on the planet, provided you successfully deliver the aid before the end of the week, and they’ll show you things no one has ever seen until we got to Tangle.” “Which hanger should we head to for the aid drop?”, Echo asks while downing another beer. “The aid and a couple extra weapons for the run are waiting for you in Hanger 12, and the name’s Doran Shelton. We’ll be in touch.” Brianna guides Echo stumbling out of the bar to Hanger 12 to authorize the shipment delivery to the Bellow of the Forge’s hull.
Swear a Formidable vow: Deliver aid to the Forsaken mining operation on Tangle planet.
As they receive the cargo and prepare to set out, Doran leaves them with a parting message, “If this goes well, the Elder Legion will look favorably on you both.” As Doran name drops Elder Legion, Brianna and Echo make eye contact, blown away by Doran’s connection to the most established and dominant Founder Clan. What he means by that, they have no idea at this point, but they’re willing to make this run to find out.