A Nocturne, aka transhuman space bastards blow up planets for fun and profit


(Calum Grace) #1

A Nocturne is my hard-ish sci-fi Forged in the Dark game about a ragtag band of trans- and post-human weirdos traipsing across the stars in their slower-than-light hunk-of-junk spitter craft. It’s got space hulks, guns the size of cities, the horrors of deep space, rampant hyper-capitalism, uplifted animals, spacecraft that eat other spacecraft, and cryptic alien idiot-gods.

It’s set in the Panhuman Diaspora, and allows you to generate your own star cluster sandbox for a campaign, but it also comes with a default starter cluster: The Ram’s Horn, a collection of diseased stars wracked by ancient wars, obscure cults, and the dominion of the Vordian Empire, a panhuman offshoot trapped forever inside their pressure suits, dreaming fascistic dreams of recreating the universe in the image of an imagined Old Earth.

I’ve been working on it off-and-on for over two years now, in one form or another, and the current version, 0.9, is up on itch for purchase! I’m currently working on v1.0, which will hopefully make A Nocturne into a fully-fledged standalone game, and will also have some sexy AF layouts and art to boot. The whole thing is 100% me through-and-through, so it’s taking time, but I’m very happy with the results thus far. Here are some previews!

Oh, and because this is Forged in the Dark, here’s the theme tune.


(John Harper) #2

I’m so happy about this hack!
Feel free to add this to the Library sub-category whenever you feel it’s appropriate.


(Charles) #3

I have GM’ed a few sessions of this in roll20, it is absolutely awesome. I designed a cluster I’m pretty proud of (HCSS-1185) using Calum Grace’s excellent random generation rules, and someday when I finish collecting all the notes for it I hope he’ll be ok with me giving it out as a free resource.

My players chose the Cannibal Craft and it’s been a real weird ride.

I wanted to post some pictures but I’m too new of a user to the forum to image-dump so hopefully it’s ok if I take a few posts to do it.


(Charles) #4


Our first session began as the craft stirred to life in a ship graveyard in the system Urn.


Semi-dormant battleships with dreaming Warmind AIs make for tense negotiation. A forgotten Hulk rests in the maw of the Algol, awaiting processing.


(Charles) #5


One of my system maps.


In our most recent score earlier this week, the players assaulted a partially-complete Stanford torus inhabited by the fascist panhuman society “New Dawn”. Countless lives were lost when our Pilot did the math and fired a tungsten rod through a structurally-significant portion of the torus, spacing thousands of innocents. He did this because our ship’s paranoid, secretive, violent AI bullied him into it.

Their next score: debugging the ship’s AI.


(Sam Dunnewold) #6

Starting a short campaign of this on Monday. Real pumped about it! Anything in particular you want tested out, Calum?


(Calum Grace) #7

That’s great! Right now, I’m not sure exactly what I want testing, although I’d like to see re-shelling really put through its paces, because I still feel like that whole sub-system (clones vs. armatures vs. shells gained from special abilities) could still do with some fine-tuning. But I’m open to feedback on just about any aspect of the game, so feel free to jump in here with any stumbling blocks or weirdness you encounter!

Do you think you’ll be using the Ram’s Horn, or making your own cluster?


(Calum Grace) #8

I love this so much and it’s giving me horrible, terrible ideas for when my play-test group return to A Nocturne for season two. This expression of the craft traumas is exactly what I was going for.


(Sam Dunnewold) #9

Our GM is so stoked about the random cluster generation, I can’t imagine him not randomly generating one.

Been looking for some sort of starting point for character ideas, and shelling seems like a good place to start. I’ll let you know how it all goes!


(Sam Dunnewold) #10

Hey, we just wrapped up our 4 week A Nocturne mini-campaign! Some feedback, largely positive, on top of the google doc I sent you via Twitter DM a few months ago:

GM used the default setting, and he really liked it. We hung out in Fitzwilliam’s Ashes: week 1 convinced Sobek to blow up the entire rest of the system but save us some nukes, dealt with a lizard people uprising on our ship, and then sorted out a war between our ship’s main AI and Sobek, who had been invited onto the ship by one of our PCs.

A Nocturne feels especially good for a miniseries:

  • Only thing that really changes or matters is you and your crew and your ship. Everything outside your found family is irrelevant / easily reset, so it naturally feels episodic.
  • Setting is a lot more immediately grokable than Duskwall.
  • Easy to leave people in cryo, go play something else, and come back months later.

Really appreciated how quickly and concisely the rulebook conveys what ideas and style are important to the game.

Would love to see more ship types! All of the ships so far feel very narrow. Very good, but narrow in execution.

Personally, I was playing a Pilot, and I never triggered my XP trigger. Or rolled the Pilot action. Part of that is on me, but we also just did stuff that didn’t require external crafts, and so I never was able to trigger it. Would love to have two XP trigger options as all the other playbooks do.

Overall, we all had a really positive experience! Excited for v1.0. I’m thinking about ways to make this my go-to one shot FITD experience. Good stuff.


(Evan Buchholz) #11

Running A Nocturne for two of my regular groups and it’s going really well. One is definitely anime due to how wacky and dramatic the characters are for example we have a panda cyborg that has implanted memories from a disgraced crane house noble. We had a great session last night.

Our broken noticed that one of his gardens had been tempered with. After crying lubrication from his synthetic body which stressed out the ship, he tracked down the culprit to a strange organic bark looking door that lead to the Ancient Archives.
The Killer blasts down the door and hunts down the who ever was messing with the broken plants in this huge room of strange terracotta looking pillars.
He got lost for 3 days.
Now the group and him are fighting for thier lives in the archives with weird manfestions of thier AIs false memories. Btw the Dusklings are hot on thier tail and will be there soon to get revenge.

The other group is this weird thriller. Thier ship is constantly shifting around at the will of thier experimental prideful and oh so cunning AI named Patience. They currently trying to put back the identity of a Argicorps noble who split his mind into three different people to hide out on Trants World.

I love how both games all the characters are so unique and a little sad.
One thing both groups are struggling with is communication. We keep forgetting wireless is not a thing and we always have to remind ourselves that the ship is kinda of isolated most of the time. We have been using radio waves for our long distance communication.
My question for y’all is how has long distance communication been in your games?


(Calum Grace) #12

@SamD, @Evan_Buchholz, this is all fantastic and I eagerly await more tales of your groups’ dastardly interstellar exploits.

Also, Sam, that’s actually really good feedback on the Pilot’s narrow focus. It’s already lead to a slight amendment of their xp trigger for v1.0 :eyes:

Speaking of, here’s a wee preview of the character section I’m doing for the full-layout, full-art next version of A NOCTURNE:


(Sam Dunnewold) #13

Oh yeah, I love that bug person. I think you tweeted out that picture or something? My second choice PC was going to be based on that image.


(Sam Dunnewold) #14

Your stories are great! Both those games sound like a blast in their own way. Totally agree with “unique and a little sad” running through this game’s DNA. I’d add that every time I’ve played, 7+ digits of people have died, which is… well, it’s something.

We had long distance comms as light waves, too, though with the understanding that the further afield you go, the less accurate / more likely to be hacked or scrambled those communications become. Our PCs tried to do all our comms via hardwire if possible, which has a tactileness to it that I like a lot.

For example, for our second score, we took what was basically a heavy duty ethernet cable from our AI’s main location, out into space, and then back in to a different ship we were trying to take control of in lieu of trying to do anything from a distance.

Of course when we got there, we accidentally woke up all the systems, and a bunch of hibernating crew started waking up. We had one PC who was a clone of our ship’s original owner who’d woken up early, killed the original, and was now super paranoid about clones and hibernating people waking up, so they opened all the airlocks and start running around putting bullets in anyone who made it into a space suit in time. Good times.

Anyway my point is I love doing anything to make long distance communication difficult.