Today, we’ll be finishing up the worldbuilding portion of the Ironsworn Starforged campaign by detailing a general History of the Forge, the region of space we’ll be playing in. I may have gotten a bit carried away here. Can you tell I love worldbuilding? I love how the game explicitly gives you free reign to come up with as elaborate or barebones history you want by saying that worldbuilding is playing. Anyway, below is the History of the Forge as it stands at this point in the game!
The Forge: History
The Unholy War
In the end, all we wanted was to be left free to our own devices. The Inquisition put paid to that.
At first, we thought the Church of Sol’s Flame was just another harmless cult, the same as many others. They certainly shared the same tactics. They broadcast their sermons across sub-space frequencies, had preachers and door – to – door evangelists stand on street corners, sent emails that went into spam folders. But unknown to us, enough people listened. Soon there was ad placement in our VR spaces, movies that glorified them, official stores that sold their products. They started to have friends in high places. The money they made bankrolled their evangelism. Soon, all of Sol, from the closed
domes of Venus to the Cloud Cities of Jupiter and Titan, would be warmed by Sol’s Flame.
And those the Church deemed unworthy (the heretic, the aberrant, the unfaithful – catch all terms for anyone the Church doesn’t like, truth be told) would be burned by Sol’s Flame. With that, The Unholy War began.
We fought. What else was there to do? Confessions were beaten from shattered faces broadcast live across sub-space. Children were euthanised for the sin of being born with the wrong genes. Once beloved leaders were slandered merely for questioning the motives of the Church. So we fought.
We gave them Hell, but they brought the wrath of Heaven upon us. The irradiated Wrath of Sol magnified brighter than a thousand suns burned us, poisoning the very dirt we stood on and the recycled air we breathed. Where once the laughter of children and the whispers of lovers reigned was simply the white still noise of nuclear winter. Still we fought. But we lost. Sol itself rejected us.
So we left.
Some wonder if the Church was right about us. That our existence itself threatened reality. Looking at the Sundering, it was hard to disagree with them.
Black Iron. Both a cause of celebration and consternation in the Forge. For one, it was Black Iron that allowed us to make the jump from Sol, away from the purge of Sol’s Flame. For another, it caused the Sundering. We are still uncertain of the exact properties of the strange metal we first found on Planet X, out beyond Pluto, on the fringes of Sol, and the risk taken to cross the galaxy to the Forge was one born of desperation and not careful consideration. But we did it anyway.
The leaders of the rebellion each took a piece of Black Iron which they called Tokens, each allowing them a strange ability not even they fully understood. They knew Black Iron was dangerous if allowed to fall into the hands of Sol’s Flame, and was also too dangerous – and unknown – to use against them, or to be used en masse. This they realised after not even they could agree on a proper use for Black Iron. Some advocated turning it into a weapon, while some argued for The Exodus. Others still thought it too dangerous to use without further research. And every minute they argued, Sol threatened
to burn all of them – and their people – to ash and cinder. Faced with the prospect of annihilation, they each swore a vow to use it for their own peoples’ benefit, and became Ironsworn.
The first thing they did was use their tokens, all of them in unity, to transcend space and time and send us all into what we now know as The Forge. One thing they all knew about Black Iron at the time was that each piece emitted a strange energy signature indicating a point outside of Sol somewhere in the galaxy. It was as if each piece had a signature of its maker, located there – like a brand from a Forge, hence the name. Knowing they couldn’t fight Sol’s Flame with it, or indeed do anything to stave off our extinction from nuclear fire, the Ironsworn agreed to use their Tokens to tune our guidance systems to that point in the galaxy, and utilise those tokens to power our ships for the jump which we now call The Exodus.
To say it didn’t go exactly as planned would be an extreme understatement.
Something happened, during the jump. Not even the Ironsworn knew full well what. To facilitate the Exodus of a hundred million people aboard Colonisation Ships from Sol into another arm of the galaxy entirely in an instant – that was a Godlike feat they attempted. It made sense that there were consequences.
Some ships arrived barely recognisable, their colonists and crew fused to the hulls, writhing in eternal agony. Some ships arrived as if they had spent a thousand years in eternal silence, screaming mad, spouting nonsense about what they had seen. Some ships didn’t arrive at all. One thing we knew – or accepted as fact – the Sundering had torn a hole in space and time, and now things were beginning to pour out. Some wondered if it affected Sol. More still grew concerned about how we would survive, with these hideous spacefaring monstrosities chasing us. Almost all of us wondered if we had
caused a new Cataclysm with our reckless actions.
Founding of The Forge
There was a silver lining. The Sundering didn’t just affect space and time – it affected us as well. Some of us found ourselves with new abilities, powers and affinities indistinguishable from magic. We used these powers to chart new courses along the stars, defending ourselves as we went – to survive.
The Ironsworn – those left, anyway – did their best. They took charge and guided us to a part of the galaxy farthest away from the parts of space affected by The Sundering, and there we began the painful process of starting anew. The Ironsworn guided us first as the rebel military leaders they were, but realised later that if they forced all to capitulate to them, the Exodus – and The Unholy War – would have been for naught. So they guided us in forming a parliament, and finally a government founded on the principles of freedom and democracy. There, at the center of the region of space now called Terminus, The Black Iron Banner flew on the homeworld of parliament, Velutaria Prime.
Allowing people to choose their governance had some unforeseen consequences – namely, the ability to choose not to be governed by The Black Iron Banner. While most colonies were established under the guidance of the Ironsworn, some followed their own Seers or Witchlights, and founded their colonies unguided by Black Iron. Some brought the old religions with them, some founded new ones, and refused to follow the ‘heretical’ governance of the Ironsworn. As they promised, the Ironsworn let them choose their own government, and for a time Terminus was as fractured as Old Terra.
Then CEO Jameela Devadhikar founded WeaveComm.
Ironsworn Jameela Devadhikar’s Token was a Black Iron tiara she called The Weave. Using it, she was able to communicate instantaneously with anyone she knew anywhere. She, in fact, remained the central hub of communications between Ironsworn right until the establishment of New Liberty on Velutaria Prime, just as she had during the twilight of The Unholy War.
Using The Weave, Ironsworn Jameela Devadhikar managed to create a network of communication that bridged the gap between all of the disparate colonies, and this helped unite all of them. The Weave (now used to refer to the network itself as opposed to Jameela’s token) allowed them to request aid, commence trade and stay updated with each other. A community not connected to the Weave was one grasping blindly in the Void. Because of this, her founding of the Weave was universally regarded as a Heroic Deed. Her founding of the company WeaveComm was not.
WeaveComm created a system of credits, where each community could spend them to use The Weave to communicate. This soon became the official currency in The Terminus, Weave communication being as important as it was. Beginning with each governing body accepting credits for trading their resources, individual traders dealing with those governments soon started accepting credits for trades, and from there its use as a currency spread – and the Iron Banner’s influence grew.
Fringe worlds soon found it hard to deal with Iron Banner traders, who only accepted WeaveComm Credits (shortened to creds) as payment. These same communities who initially rejected the Iron Banner found it easier to live with The Weave than without, and true to the CEO’s word, they did not discriminate against those not allied to the Ironsworn and opened branches there if requested. But that meant dealing with The Iron Banner, accepting Ironsworn influence in their lives, and worse – the fear of being cut off from the Weave if The Iron Banner thought them in any way a threat. Soon, the borders grew. Nearly all the communities in the Terminus now flew the Iron Banner, chafing as they might under it.
Life in The Forge
The part of the galaxy now known as The Forge is divided into four distinct regions. First is The Terminus, which is where settlements are relatively common and routes are well charted. Most planets are M-Class, and citizens have now begun to prosper more than they did when they first arrived. To see The Terminus as it was when the Ironsworn still ruled under military authority, one needs only travel to the fringes of the Terminus, which most call The Outlands. Prosperity brings with it the need for expansion, and so plucky colonists started to try and find ways to expand habitable areas of The Forge. The settlements here are scattered and not all the ways discovered – nor the threats – but one can generally live a good life here, still.
The Expanse is still large, which means that there is always room to grow. Only a few bold pioneers – some Ironsworn among them – have ever delved into these far – flung reaches. Further still is The Void – isolated stars separated by vast stars of nothing. Only the very stupid venture here.
Settlements were founded, initially, due to their habitability to human life, which is why The Terminus has grown at the rate that it has. Even so, the lack of Terran technology has severely limited that growth so that even New Liberty is barely a town by Terran standards, with pops in the tens of thousands. Still, as opposed to pops in the hundreds or thousands which is more common (even in The Terminus), that still makes New Liberty the largest and most populous of the settlements of the Forge. Later, as expansion became the point of colonisation as opposed to survival, they began to choose places with new resources to settle in. This had an unintended side effect – some colonists would leave, disappear, and never reestablish contact. It was to avoid this that Ironsworn Jameela founded WeaveComm.
What We Brought With Us
We brought quite a fair bit of tech with us, enough to start a colony at least, but the most advanced technologies were denied us – even back in Sol – by embargoes, blockades and sanctions placed upon our worlds by Sol’s Flame. One can imagine that our present technology is considered backward when compared to the comforts we were used to back in Sol. Not much of our AI survived the trip, and our medicine is horrendously barbaric. What tech remains is jealously guarded – what would have been a universal right back in Sol now costs more credits than any spacer could ever hope to earn.
It’s no wonder, then, that some settlements have turned to magic.
As part of The Sundering, some of us began to develop strange powers. Some ascribed these to their gods, calling them miracles and gifts. Officially, the Iron Banner terms these individuals Seers. Some are more skeptical, and keep a more ‘open’ mind as to the origin of their powers, and claimed the title Mage. The division is largely one of prudence – who knows, one or both of them could be right. What we do know is that spacers have come to rely on both magic and technology to face the dangers of the Forge, of which there are many.
Dangers of the Forge
We clearly weren’t the first to try and settle here. Dotted across the Forge, on planets or floating in the void of space, were Remnants – biomechanical evidence of a previous civilisation we have come to know as Precursors. Unlocking their mysteries have become the imperative of some Ironsworn and spacers as well, some even founding settlements close to these sites to gain better access. The reward, they argue, is worth the risk of coming into the paths of these relics from the past.
Aside from the natural threats of space and the planets within it, there is also the forgespawn, horrific beings that spew from the Sundering out into our world, to say nothing of the horrors that we’ve learned await us in the silver light of a white dwarf. Ironsworn, Seers and Mages protect us, but they weren’t everywhere. To be a Spacer in the Forge meant risking your life every day in exchange for the freedom to be who you wanted to be.
In a final analysis, that was a pretty sweet d’ast deal.
Hope you enjoyed that. Next time on the series we introduce our Ironsworn, and the problems he was sent to face in his particular corner of the Forge!