I’m having problem with the ideas of short-term (Troublesome-Dangerous) vows – stuff I gather is important to take (just so there’s clear short term advancement), but . The language around Iron Vows is pretty dire*, and while “I will take the ring to Mt Doom and throw it in, so help me Eru!” feels appropriate, “I will take the ring to the local jewelry shop to get it cleaned, I swear this oath to you, Mom” feels more trivial to the whole Ironsworn kind of thing.

Though “Forsake a Vow” seems to have mostly narrative, and so more scalable, results – you lose whatever progress you’ve spent time making, and you pick a Pay the Price. So “Sorry, Mom, I guess I lose my TV privileges” would fit for a more trivial vow.

Am I just getting hung up on the whole “vow” terminology?

I think a little bit. Realize, some vows are fairly straightforward while also being important. Taking medical supplies from one place to another is an example that comes to mind, not a lot of steps beyond “take this from here to here” and would likely just be troublesome (unless you have to navigate the Corridor of Magness or the like.

For a more immediate example: while in Mariposa, someone could have said “we’re making sure you folks have potable water” and sworn a vow to such. With your level of skill, technology, and supplies this would have been fairly trivial to setup while also being something important.

I suppose I need to take a role in signaling these sort of opportunities to the group.

In the context of Starforged, I think they could be treated as “impactful or important decisions”.

Firefly’s “The Train Job” gives us an easy example of a troublesome vow in action: “return this medicine to the townsfolk”. Mal makes this vow, then marks progress on it in two scenes: fighting Niska’s goons, and interacting with the sheriff (“a man has a choice” “I don’t believe he does”). Mal rolls a weak hit to fulfill it, so he can expect trouble from Niska in the future. But in terms of complexity to complete the vow, it was troublesome.

We as players can also take initiative in creating vows, and the GM can use this to drop quantum ogres or new obstacles onto a path, that turn the player’s intent into a meaningful struggle.


  • We might want to make a vow like “find ways to keep the shelters safe from the manta-ray dudes”, and because of that the GM can run scenes like “save citizens from manta-ray attack” that weren’t pre-planned
  • A vow like “ensure Lincoln is working as intended” might uncover bugs or breakdowns, hidden security subprograms, or hackers within one of the community that threaten that vow
  • Existing vows like “get these idiots talking to each other” can be flavored to individual PCs - Nails might find there’s a (literal) underground fight club in the Mad Max faction and has to participate to get them to trust her, or Earl’s tales of mysterious underground creatures might sound familiar to the geothermal people

Looking at it this way, vows become our way as players to shift the narrative, or to emphasize the kind of stories that should happen around our characters.

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Yyyyeah, I’m thinking Niska might cause him some trouble. :slight_smile:

I wouldn’t say no, though some of the examples you and Bill gave here are helpful.

Good food for thought here, thanks.