Mass Effect: IC-342 (Ironsworn: Starforged) Session 0


Mass Effect: IC-342, an Ironsworn: Starforged solo campaign playthrough.

Session Zero: Foundational Material (Updated Periodically)

Unofficial Soundtrack For Mass Effect: IC-342



September 28, 2186

“Director Calderone,” The Illusive Man gestured, leaning back in his chair. “Tell me about the Zeioph Relay.”

“Our first waves of probes are already sending back telemetry,” the projection of Director Calderone flickered as he pressed his hands together. “It’s as we expected. The relay that the Zeioph were building on Eingana three hundred and fifty thousand years ago is unique. It’s the first and only intergalactic relay we’ve seen.”

“What does it connect to?” The Illusive Man asked.

“Some kind of primary relay, in the galaxy we call IC-342, about three and a half megaparsecs distant, but the relay there is far, far older than the Zeioph Relay. It’s unlike any kind of technology we’ve ever seen.”

“So not built by the Reapers.”

“I– can’t say,” Joseph Calderone hesitated, his breath catching. “We don’t know who built it, or why. Our best guess is that it is like an anchor, and the Zeioph discovered how to link up with it.”

“Can it be destroyed?” The Illusive Man asked.

“I–” The director paused, then remembered who he was dealing with. “I believe it could be.”

“You don’t sound confident, director.” 

“I– I’m confident that the Zeioph Relay on this side can be destroyed,” Joseph responded, trying to steady himself, forcing some firmness into his voice. “Only one relay needs to be destroyed in order to close the passage between our galaxy and IC-342.”

“Then I want the relay on our side rigged to explode, and I want the preparations for that contingency to take top priority,” the Illusive Man seemed to look right into Director Calderone’s soul as he stubbed out his cigarette. “When the Reapers come, and they will come, your team will be responsible for vaporizing the Zeioph Relay on this side. I don’t think I need to remind you that we can’t afford to let even one Reaper through that relay, or to let the technology itself fall into Reaper hands.”

“No, no sir,” Director Calderone swallowed. “I’ll have my team make the preparations immediately.”

“Good,” The Illusive Man leaned forward. “The first of the colony ships is on its way to the Omega Nebula now. You’ll be receiving them and sending them on their way to their new homes in IC-342 within a few hours. Will you be ready?”

“Absolutely,” Director Calderone lied, resisting the urge to brush the sweat from his brow. 

The Forge Galaxy: IC-342

The Year Is Now 2188


We escaped the ravages of a catastrophic war. In late 2186, artificially Intelligent entities known as The Reapers invaded the Milky Way Galaxy through Batarian space and began their harvest of all sentient, spacefaring life in the galaxy, burning and corrupting everything in their path.


Mysterious alien gates provided instantaneous one-way passage to the Forge. When the Reapers discovered the Zeioph Relay that Cerberus had dredged from the eezo-polluted depths of Eingana, their forces immediately descended on the station, intent on capturing or destroying it. Instead of letting the relay fall into enemy hands, we blew it up ourselves, trapping a small colonization force of humans in The Forge Galaxy (IC-342) forever.


Few survived the journey to the Forge, and we are scattered to the winds in this perilous place. Only a handful of ships made it through the gate before it was destroyed. The relay on this side remains, but only a brave few have settled near it, taking up a reluctant guard position on Anchor Drop Station, a Cerberus-controlled outpost carved into an asteroid. As far as the local government is concerned, it is the seat of power for what remains of humanity in The Forge. Everyone else has spent the last two years trying to get as far away from it as they can.


Iron vows are sworn upon the remnants of ships that carried our people to The Forge. Many of the ships that came through the Zeioph Relay in the final wave were heavily damaged by Reaper fire. We cannibalized what we could of those ships, and the more superstitious of us took shards of hull plating to carry with us, shards that remind us of who we are and, maybe more importantly, what we've left behind.


Our communities are bound under the terms of the Covenant, a charter established by Director Joseph Calderone and his immediate subordinates in Cerberus after the Exodus. Not everyone believes in the charter, and there are plenty of groups that have broken away from Cerberus-led governance since our arrival in the forge. Relationships between human colonies are tense, and subtle challenges to the power structure are constantly evolving.


Our faith is as diverse as our people. No one in Cerberus knew exactly how much time we would have before the Reapers would discover the Zeioph Relay and the project to open passage to IC-342, so the first ships to cross through were the most diversely populated. Practitioners of all the major faiths made it to the Forge Galaxy, and in the wake of losing everything, many others have turned to faith for answers. Some have even started to worship what they call Precursors, making gods of a fallen, yet highly advanced race of aliens who dwelt within the Forge long ago.


Supernatural powers are wielded by those rare people we call biotics, and if there's anything that Cerberus is interested in cultivating, it's more human biotics.


In settled domains, a network of data hubs called The Weave allow near-instantaneous communication and data-sharing between ships and outposts. We haven't spread far enough into the Forge for our basic, non-relay dependent communications to become ineffective, but the frontier is not all that far away.


Physicians and those with medical knowledge are few and often spread thin, but life-saving advanced care is available within larger communities, especially those near the relay.

TRUTH 10: 

AI is rare and unwelcome in most communities, but not outlawed outright. Cerberus continues research into Artificial Intelligence and into the merging of human intelligence with AI, but almost all of that work happens in isolation and in secret.

TRUTH 11: 

Professional soldiers defend or expand the holdings of those who are most loyal (and pay the most tribute) to Cerberus leadership. Everyone else is on their own.

TRUTH 12: 

This is a perilous and often inhospitable galaxy, but life finds a way, and so far, there appear to be far more planets with complex life on them than there were back in the Milky Way.

TRUTH 13: 

Over the eons, a vast number of civilizations rose and fell within the Forge. Today, the aliens we call "Grubs" delve into the mysterious monuments and ruins of those ancient beings. Has IC 342 been subject to the same kind of harvesting that has plagued the Milky Way for countless millennia? We haven't been here long enough for anyone to be able to say for sure. What I can tell you is that I have a bad feeling about all those dead civilizations we keep finding out here.

TRUTH 14: 

Put enough alcohol in a spacer, and they'll tell you stories of Reapers lurking in nebulae, or of whole colonies turned to husks. It's nonsense. We didn't bring any husks to IC 342.

Did we?

The Protagonist: Name: Commander Lisa Schaefer Pronouns: She / Her Callsign: Valkyrie Paths: Gunner and Bannersworn (To Cerberus) Background Vow: Prepare Humanity For The Coming Reaper Invasion Starship: The Ulysses (Aletheia Class Light Scout Vessel) Notable Items: M-76 Revenant Heavy Assault Rifle and a three-inch shard of the hull of the Barbastus, the ship which carried her to The Forge Galaxy. Nearly destroyed by Reapers before passing through the Zeioph Relay, there was little of the Barbastus left to salvage, but a number of soldiers took shards of the hull as a way of staying connected to some piece of their past. Lisa keeps her hull fragment on a chain and swears her oaths on it.
Lisa’s Starting Stats: Edge: 3 Heart: 2 Iron: 1 Shadow: 1 Wits: 2
Health: 5
Spirit: 5
Supply: 5
Momentum: 2
Commander Lisa Schaefer was a mercenary back in the Milky Way. She was recruited by Director Calderone to function as head of security, but once on the other side of the Zeioph Intergalactic Relay (ZIGR), as Cerberus’s grip on the human colonists began to erode, she was given a ship and a mission: advance humanity’s interests in The Forge and, more importantly, do everything she can to prepare what could very well be the last vestiges of humanity for a Reaper invasion that could come at any time. Lisa has platinum blonde hair butched into a short, spiky cut. She has hazel eyes and a face that is both hard and attractive. It's clear that she's weathered a lot in her life. She's very headstrong, smart and driven. She's not cocky or overconfident, but she is very firm and knows exactly what she's capable of. In the field, she wears green and black Armax Predator X Heavy armor with reactive shielding, and when the dress code is casual, she wears cargo pants and a tanktop.

The Ulysses:
Command Vehicle: Starship
Aletheia Class Light Scout Vessel
Damage Track: Undamaged

The Ulysses is a top of the line, Cerberus-designed (and Turian inspired) light scout vessel. It still bears the scars of that last desperate flight to The Forge, but to Lisa, the ship is visibly battle-tested, and that is a comfort. Its outer frame is sleek and aerodynamic, with smooth panels that hide a quartet of devastating railcannons. The Ulysses is also fitted with a module, an advanced, shackled AI “Overseer” called MISO (Machine Intelligence for Starship Operations.) MISO was created by Cerberus, as an offshoot of research into the EDI program. Commander Schaefer doesn’t harbor any illusions about where MISO’s loyalties lie, but she does trust its ability to effectively operate The Ulysses on command whether she is aboard or not.

Lisa won the right to use The Ulysses in a drinking contest with Director Calderone. Feeling cramped aboard Anchor Drop Station in orbit of the relay, she put in a request for her own ship to get out into The Forge and try to secure any kind of advantage that she could for humanity. Director Calderone was dubious at first, but she managed to get him to talk about it over a drink. One drink turned into two, then three, and next thing he knew, Director Calderone was in the middle of a drinking contest. When he woke up the next morning and realized he’d promised Commander Schaefer a ship if she won, he reluctantly signed the requisition order and she was assigned to the Ulysses and given free rein to explore The Forge. Technically Cerberus owns The Ulysses, but Commander Schaefer is its only crew, and she has an agreement with the Director that any priority mission he assigns her takes precedence.
Prepare Humanity For The Coming Reaper Invasion (Background Vow / Epic) Boxes: 0; Ticks: 0

Director Joseph Calderone
Track Rating: Dangerous Location: Anchor Drop Station Relationship: (Boxes: 8; Ticks: 0)

Notes: Director Joseph Calderone was handpicked by the Illusive Man to lead humanity to The Forge Galaxy, and he takes the job very seriously. He is the closest thing that humanity has to a president in IC-342, but his hold on humanity in The Forge has always been loose, and there are many who are already angling to try to take his place.

Administrator Annora Farin
Track Rating: Dangerous Location: Nova Station Relationship: (Boxes: 0; Ticks: 0)

Notes: Administrator Annora Farin is the unquestioned ruler of Nova Station. She's also a diehard Cerberus supporter who has aspirations of replacing Director Calderone some day, as she thinks his methods are too soft, especially when it comes to alien species. Optically, she is absolutely, fanatically loyal to him and the cause, but behind the scenes, she is angling hard for his job. She’s also a huge xenophobe, a human supremacist, and she wants to invade Petra (Neoma B) to wipe out the Grubs and take the precursor vault there for humanity (more for herself, probably.)

Doctor Kayla Duval
Track Rating: Dangerous
Location: Sigil Station Relationship: (Boxes: 0; Ticks: 0)

Notes: Doctor Kayla Duval is the leader of a loose band of wildcatters that run all of the automated agricultural equipment on Sigil Station. She’s fierce and hardworking, and is constantly at odds with Director Calderone and Administrator Farin, both of whose stations her station feeds. She has no love for alien species, but no hate for them either.

Administrator Erim Jemison
Track Rating: Dangerous Location: Wayward Wellspring, Nyx (Neoma A) Relationship: (Boxes: 0; Ticks: 0)

Notes: Administrator Erim Jemison led the revolt that broke Wayward Wellspring (Neoma A) away from any kind of Cerberus control. Promising a free and democratic society where humans and aliens can live as equals, he has made a lot of enemies in Cerberus. Being a veteran soldier of the alliance who fought Batarian slavers on more than one occasion during his career, he's more than capable of defending himself, and anyone else, from any he sees as would-be oppressors.

Doctor Emery Fuchida
Track Rating: Dangerous Location: Anchor Drop Station Relationship: (Boxes: 0; Ticks: 0)

Notes: Doctor Emery Fuchida is the foremost researcher of Reaper tech and mass gateways in Cerberus's expedition into the Forge galaxy. He believes that it is a foregone conclusion that Reapers would be present in the Forge Galaxy due to their age, but whether he will be proven right or not remains to be seen.


Sector: Essus Rest (Human Sector - Terminus)
Star: Neoma
Class: Burning Yellow
Planets: 3
Human Settlements: 4
Alien Settlements: 1

Notes: A modest, G2V class star with three worlds.

Anchor Drop Station:
Deep Space (Near Zeioph Relay)
Population: 7,491
Built from repurposed ships and carved out of an asteroid.
Relationship: Welcoming
Authority: Unyielding
Primary Projects: Research and Command
Current Troubles: Hostile Lifeforms (Fears of Reapers) and Battle For Leadership (Not everyone likes Cerberus ruling what could be the last of humanity.)
Notes: Currently the main base of operations for Cerberus in The Forge, Anchor Drop Station houses a number of labs and administrative offices. They'll also have a front row seat to the apocalypse if the Reapers ever activate the relay and come through into The Forge.

Human Colonized Planet: Nyx (Neoma A)
Planet Type: Desert
Atmosphere: Breathable
One Planetside Settlement
Sprawling Saltflats and expansive dune seas
Towering Rock Formations and Engulfing Sandstorms
Diverse life

Planetside Settlement
Name: Wayward Wellspring
Population: 4,289
Built from a repurposed ship, heavily damaged.
Relationship: Hostile
Authority: Fair
Primary Projects: Defense and Introspective of Relationship with Cerberus
Current Troubles: Invasive Organisms and missing colonists.
Notes: Wayward Wellspring has broken away from Cerberus control under new leadership. Administrator Erim Jemison promises a free and democratic society, in contrast to Cerberus’s autocratic rule.

Planet Name: Petra (Neoma B)
Planet Type: Desert
Atmosphere: None
One Planetside Settlement
Massive canyons, scorched glass plains and Precursor Vault
All native life is extinct

Planetside Settlement
Name: Gor-Luk-Mo (Grub Settlement)
Population: 293
Rich + Industry: Exploiting the local Precursor artifacts powers the local economy
Relationship: Welcoming
Authority: Ineffectual
Primary Projects: Central hub for expeditions into Percursor Ruins
Current Troubles: Preyed Upon By Raiders
Notes: We don’t know much about the Grubs. Linguistic algorithms have only managed to create a broken trade language that we can use to communicate with them. They have a limited presence in this sector, but whether that is because they are few in number or whether we are merely at the extreme edge of their territory remains to be seen. Our only encounters with them have been with the relic traders on Petra and with the raiders who raid both the Grub settlement and our own stations periodically. Every Grub we’ve ever encountered has been shrewd, quick, short (about 1.2 meters in height) and equipped with a pressurized vacuum suit with no visible faceplate. Collection of dead specimens from raids has been impossible so far, as some element within the suit (whether biological, environmental or otherwise) is so corrosive that they pop and melt away in a strong, corrosive explosion whenever their suits are breached by accidents or weaponsfire.

Planet Name: Beryl (Neoma C)
Planet Type: Jungle
Atmosphere: Highly Toxic
No Settlements
Expansive rivers and wetlands, inland seas, surging rivers, Precursor Vault
Life: Diverse

Limited planetary surveys have provided no notable data.

Name: Nova Station
Deep Space
Population: 76,530
Built from sprawling or dispersed structures. Intimidating defenses.
Relationship: Welcoming
Authority: Oppressive
Primary Projects: Shipbuilding and Subsistence
Current Troubles: Secrecy and Pacifism
Notes: Administrator Annora Farin sees Nova Station as the true cradle of humanity in The Forge, and her construction initiatives, sustainability programs and breeding facilities are constantly straining to meet her demands for expansion.

Name: Sigil Station
Deep Space
Population: 93
Built from rustic architecture.
Precarious Location
Relationship: Uncooperative
Authority: Unyielding
Primary Projects: Agriculture and Terraforming
Current Troubles: Failing Technology and Betrayal From Within
Notes: Doctor Kayla Duval is the face of Sigil Station, and she's often far to busy to deal with anyone or anything except the agricultural machines. Everyone falls in line behind her and as far as her assistants are concerned, her word is law. Unfortunately, equipment keeps breaking, and it is suspected that sabotage is the cause, but she hasn't had the time to investigate it.

I do not own anything in the Mass Effect universe. This is basically fan fiction.
I also do not own anything in the Ironsworn: Starforged universe, I'm just using the game as the engine to run this experience.
Art is almost all made by Wombo Dream. 
Illusive Man picture is a screencap from Mass Effect 2.


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