Ironsworn: Starforged is a space Science Fiction Tabletop RPG. In this game, you play as a spacebound hero undertaking perilous quests in a dangerous star cluster, the Forge. As one of the Ironsworn, you swear and fulfill vows at any cost.
Written by Shawn Tomkin, Starforged is a standalone sequel to the fantasy RPG Ironsworn and is Powered by the Apocalypse. Its setting is inspired by The Mandalorian, Star Wars in general, Firefly, Alien, Battlestar Galactica (2003), Dune, and The Expanse. With its gameplay Starforged builds on the same influences as Ironsworn, while also drawing from another science-fiction RPG, Stars Without Number.
Compared to the "core" version of Ironsworn, Starforged retains most of its predecessor's mechanics, including moves, momentum, progress tracks, and oracles. On top of this, Starforged refines several mechanics and creates new oracle tables and assets for a space sci-fi setting.
On April 2021, a Kickstarter campaign launched for Starforged, which can be accessed here. The game was released on May 6th, 2022 and is available for purchase on the "Starforged Store," Itch.io, and DriveThruRPG.
This game includes examples of the following:
- Absent Aliens: While the original Ironsworn had Standard Fantasy Races, humans in Starforged are the only one in the Forge to be certainly a sapient species. During setting creation, players can opt to include the Essentia, but they are framed as Eldritch Abominations. The only signs of the previous inhabitants are the ruins and relics they left behind.
- After the End: The Forge's people had fled the home galaxy because of a cataclysm. This cataclysm's scale varies on which truth the players choose, spanning from stellar-scale societal disruption (if the Forge's people are descendants of War Refugees) to galactic-scale physical annihilation (if the Sun Plague extinguished all of the stars of the entire home galaxy).
- A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far, Far Away...: The Forge is a globular cluster located above an unnamed and fictional galaxy.
- Artificial Limbs: Prosthetic limbs are common technology in the Forge. One of the example looks for player characters "has a prosthetic leg also adorned with art." Beyond flavor, the Augmented asset applies game mechanics to more advanced prosthetics, making the augment both a benefit and a potential complication when it breaks.
- Cataclysm Backstory: While the nature varies by game, the Forge's people are descended from refugees that escaped a "cataclysm." Despite occurring two centuries ago, "pre-cataclysm" times loom over the Forge.
- Death World: Any planetary class that's not a Vital World lends itself to perilous exploration. Of special note, the Grave and Shattered World are deadly from unnatural causes.
- Faster-Than-Light Travel: Starships travel the Forge using eidolon drives (e-drives), jumping from anchorage to anchorage and hoping that danger does not come at the waypoints, or even during transit.
- Ghost Ship: Drunken spacers tell rumors of ghost ships in the Forge, and multiple quest starters center around investigating an abandoned ship. Finally, the Space Encounters oracle can result in the players encountering an "abandoned ship" as a Derelict.
- Heroic Vow: Like in its predecessor, players are "Ironsworn" who swear sacred "Iron Vows." This sense of honor informs the Forge's culture and the game's core game loop runs on swearing and fulling vows and avoiding forsaking them.
- Hit Points: Player characters have a Health track that represents their physical condition and suffering harm at 0 health results in the character having to Face Death.
- Hyperspace Is a Scary Place: Some travelers have told about spooky incidents during eidolon transit. If a player is especially unlucky on an Undertake an Expedition, danger might strike mid-journey.
- Hyperspace Lanes: In the Forge, faster-than-life travel takes place in a series of drifts. A sidebar explains that FTL travel is "undertaken in a series of discrete segments" to encourage players to explore, with characters inclined to scout around the anchorage while their e-drive recharges. This matches up to how the original Ironsworn runs expeditions.
- I Call It "Vera": Likely a reference to the Trope Namer; characters with the Gunner asset can take an option to name their favorite gun, and gain bonuses for using it in a fight.
- Last of His Kind: Characters with the Vestige asset are the remnants of "a people, culture, or tradition." One quest starter suggests linking this remnant to the pre-cataclysm galaxy.
- The Migration: The Forge's inhabitants are descendants of the home galaxy's refugees.
- Multiple Life Bars: Both the original Ironsworn and Starforged use the same three Life Meters: Health (physical state), Spirit (mental state), and Supply (resources and equipment). Supply is a Shared Life-Meter in group play across all players.
- Non-Combat EXP: Experience points still revolve around fulfilling iron vows. However, there are now three different "legacy tracks" that separately track and grant experience: quests (from fulfilling iron vows), bonds (from developing connections into bonds), and exploration (from finishing expeditions). Assets can separately mark these tracks. While gameplay may involve combat, none of the three legacy tracks require violence to gain experience.
- Points of Light Setting: Settlements are scattered across the Forge, lacking the organization of its residents' home galaxy. Journeys are risky and entire quests can run from traveling from system to system.
- Precursors: While humans are the only sapient creatures in the Forge, they live amongst the ruins of spacefaring precursors. The location oracles are full of opportunities to discover and explore ancient stellar ruins, taking pages from the Ironsworn: Delve expansion.
- Psychic Powers: While Starforged describes it as "magic," supernatural powers are a setting option for the Forge. Most of the possible origins for magic are sci-fi in nature ("psychic experimentation" in particular) and several assets give player characters access to these abilities, especially Kinetic and Empath.
- Relationship Values: As with the original Ironsworn, Starforged has bonds that player characters have with NPCs, which represent significant relationships between people. However, Starforged expands the bond system. Bonds are now harder to attain, as players have to first make a "connection" with an NPC and then develop the relationship over time, marking a progress's connection track. To upgrade it into a bond, the player must make the Forge a Bond move and roll on the progress track, similarly to vow tracks.
- Single-Biome Planet: Of the planetary classes, only the Vital World comes with a biome table. Of the potentially livable worlds, the planet oracle includes the Desert World, Ice World, Jungle World, and Ocean World.
- Solo Tabletop Game: Starforged retains all of the solo support of the original Ironsworn.
- The Symbiote: The Symbiote asset is different from the other companions in that it's bound to the player character in a complicated mutualist arrangement. The player character can choose for the symbiote to take harm instead, but then the player must later Endure Stress to restore the symbiote's health. It's basically a way for the player to have their own version of the Symbiote from Venom.
- Ungovernable Galaxy: Versions of the Forge vary on how centralized authority is between settlements but in any case, settlements in the outlands or expanse are flavored to be more lawless.
- A World Half Full: On one end, the game's default assumptions that it's set in a future that's perilous, lonely, and unjust. On the other end, it's "a hopeful future," with that hope fulfilled through the vows that the players and other Ironsworn forge.