Ironsworn Solo Game

With my upcoming business trips, I’m seeing a lot of my regular tabletop games get disrupted (also not helped by the upcoming holidays) and mostly just resigned myself to not getting a lot of tabletop gaming in during the next couple of months. But then I watched Adam Koebel’s first look into Ironsworn and was reminded of that game. I’d had the game for a while (the PDF is free) but hadn’t delved into it much. Apparently, I’ve been missing out.

For those that don’t know, Ironsworn is a PbtA fantasy adventure game in much the same vein as Dungeon World but with an interesting spin: they consider the three “modes” of play (listed as Guided, Co-op, and Solo on their site) are equally important and valid. Getting a little hyped by watching Adam’s video, I decided that I’ll do some solo play as my free-time allows during my upcoming trips. I might get a single adventure in, I might get many adventures in. But the important part is I have some fun and (much like Bill’s Silverline playthrough) share the results of the adventures with you folks.

For a bit of a rundown, Ironsworn is by default a Low Fantasy Gritty game in the vein of Norse sagas. Personally, this sounds like the perfect setup to run a character archetype that does not work in most RPG groups: the lone ranger who wanders from town to town, solving problems. Your Striders, your Lone Rangers, your Caines (from Kung Fu: The Legend Continues). Plus, with the Mandalorian having just come out, my personal interest in that archetype is at a high.

So referring to Chapter 7, our next steps are to:

  • Create your world: Define ‘Your Truths’ (page 122) about the Ironlands. (This is generally step two, but I’d like to have the world inform our character rather than the other way around.)
  • Create your character: We already have an archetype envisioned, but we’ll also choose a name, set stats, and select assets.
  • Create background bonds: Create up to three bonds to respresent your connections to home, friends, family, or other loyalities.
  • Write your background vow: Create a sworn quest as backstory for your character.
  • Envision your inciting incident: Come up with the problem that spurs our hero into action.
  • Swear an Iron Vow: Make the move and see how that sets our starting situation.
  • Play the game: See how things shake out from there.

In the next post, we’ll look at the section about “Your Truths” and make some decisions about the Ironlands.


Man I need to do this.

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An interesting fact: there’s nothing saying several people can’t play Solo games in the same world. If you’re interested, follow along and run your own Solo game either in the Ironlands I’m making or your own.

Our Truths
So there are several sections that the game says we can make decisions about (though we can add more or remove some if we’d like, but I think these are fine):

  • The Old World: Why did our people leave the Old World and travel to the Ironlands?
  • Iron: The most important possession in the Ironlands. Why is it so special?
  • Legacies: What people came to the Ironlands before the Ironlanders?
  • Communities: What do communities in the Ironlands generally look like?
  • Leaders: Who lead these communities?
  • Defense: How do these communities deal with their defense?
  • Mysticism: Is magic and mystism all fake, or is there some truth to it?
  • Religion: Are the gods real and walk to the world, or are they just superstition?
  • The Firstborn: Do other, older ancestries exist (Elves, Giants, Trolls) or all they just stories told to children?
  • Beasts: Are the beasts of legends (griffins, dragons, etc) true or just old wives’ tales?
  • Horrors: Are there even darker horrors than the Beasts that lurk on the corners of the Ironlands?

Each of these sections in the book have three default options: Something similar to real life, something slightly mystical, and something that makes the world seem like a world of adventure like the Greek legends. Personally, I’d like some options that create some mostly isolated communities of people that let us travel about like a roaming murder-hobo. Below are some that I picked out from the book that (hopefully) create a setting like that.

  • The Old World: The sickness moved like a horrible wave across the Old World, killing all in its path. Thousands fled aboard ships. However, the plague could not be outrun. On many ships, the disease was contained through ruthless measures—tossing overboard any who exhibited the slightest symptom. Other ships were forever lost. In the end, those who survived found the Ironlands and made it their new home. Some say we will forever be cursed by those we left behind.
  • Iron: The weather is bleak. Rain and wind sweep in from the ocean. The winters are long and bitter. One of the first settlers complained, “Only those made of iron dare live in this foul place”—and thus our land was named.
  • Legacies: Other humans sailed here from the Old World untold years ago, but all that is left of them is a savage, feral people we call the broken. Is their fate to become our own?
  • Communities: We live in communities called circles. These are settlements ranging in size from a steading with a few families to a village of several hundred. Some circles belong to nomadic folk. Some powerful circles might include a cluster of settlements. We trade (and sometimes feud) with other circles.
  • Leaders: Leadership is as varied as the people. Some communities are governed by the head of a powerful family. Or, they have a council of elders who make decisions and settle disputes. In others, the priests hold sway. For some, it is duels in the circle that decide.
  • Defense: The wardens are our soldiers, guards, and militia. They serve their communities by standing sentry, patrolling surrounding lands, and organizing defenses in times of crisis. Most have strong ties to their community. Others, called free wardens, are wandering mercenaries who hire on to serve a community or protect caravans.
  • Mysticism: Magic is rare and dangerous, but those few who wield the power are truly gifted.
  • Religion: The people honor old gods and new. In this harsh land, a prayer is a simple but powerful comfort.
  • The Firstborn: The firstborn live in isolation and are fiercely protective of their own lands.
  • Beasts: Beasts of all sorts roam the Ironlands. They dwell primarily in the reaches, but range into the settled lands to hunt. There, they often prey on cattle, but attacks on travelers, caravans, or even settlements are not uncommon.
  • Horrors: We are wary of dark forests and deep waterways, for monsters lurk in those places. In the depths of the long-night, when all is wreathed in darkness, only fools venture beyond their homes.

I think these hit the ideas I was going for, but I think we can think on some ways that we can shift and change these.

First, I’m thinking Iron may be something that is in short supply or even something with a religious bent to it (like the Beskar steel on the Mandaloran). Perhaps the Beasts and Horrors are repelled by the Iron and blacksmiths hold an almost priest-like position among communities. Or perhaps all the Iron comes from rare meteoric deposits that people are always on the look out for? Perhaps these Wardens mentioned in the truth about defense are entrusted with an Iron talisman that marks them as one, making those who have Iron someone of importance?

What do you folks think?


After a couple of days left to think about things and take some suggestions, I think I’m going to make the following changes to the truths:

  • The Old World stays the same, folks escaping a plague and folks today still look at any illness with suspicion for fear of its return.
  • Iron is a rare and sought after material gifted to us by the gods (meteors). It is shaped by the Smiths, whom have titles that speak of their skills. They are deferred to for their wisdom and their abilities.
  • The Broken are a threat, but one rarely seen. Which is good, for they are terrifying.
  • Keeping communities in tight circles, however the region known as Haven has much larger communities that could almost be cities.
  • Wardens are the protectors of those at the fringes, but those in Haven have raised warbands of bannersworn who protect their circles. (This also allows for some larger scale conflict, if two barons go to war.)
  • Leadership is still varied, though some have risen to the rank of baron, having vassals known as bannersworn who lead other circles beneath them. There are rumors that one (or more) may soon try to declare themselves the Iron King.
  • Magic and mysticism is still rare.
  • There are many gods, both those who came with their followers from the Old World and those that have sprung up in the Ironlands.
  • Beasts are a constant threat, though some enterprising warlords have attempted to take control of beasts for their warbands. A few have been succeeded.
    *The Horrors are rumors told to scared children by cruel parents. They may be real, but they are in the background of the world (at least in the beginning).

Not so much a big change as a small shift to the left here and the right there. With the Truths of our World completed, next is character creation. And we’ll work on that later today.

The scientist in me wants to say “something about the new world - the local vegetation, animal life, something - is the reason the plague doesn’t come back”. Not that anyone will know this, but it might be enough that people slowly realize “as long as we’re here, for all the hardships we endure, we don’t get sick like that”.

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So now on to character creation. The first directive we are given are to envision our character with these two implicit statements:

Your character is highly competent. You’re smart, brave, and driven. You can hold your own in a fight. When you Swear an Iron Vow, you mean it.
You are not without your limitations. You’ll face hardship. You’ll make bad decisions. You will fail. Overcoming those failures, pushing on, is what makes you heroic.

The people of the Ironlands are diverse. Communities are formed through shared interests, mutual protection, or strong leadership. Respect is still paid to traditions of the Old World, but Ironlanders largely left behind their cultural divisions when they crossed the vast northern ocean. Even within a single community, you’ll find a fusion of Old World and Ironland influences.
You can envision your character however you like—unbound by geography, lineage, sexual orientation, and gender. Your character can be inspired directly by a real-world or historical culture, or you might weave a blend of cultural influences into your concept.
The default setting is human-centric, and these rules do not include specific options to play fantasy races. However, you can adjust to your liking. The mechanics of your character are relatively light and can be themed to support several types of fantasy or historical fiction.

Awesome. Now I am imagining someone out of a western: a wandering gunslinger (read: sellsword) moving from town to town, never settling down too long before the call of the road and adventure comes. Other than that, I don’t have much. So we’re going to hit some randomization options (using the Semi-Random Campaign Setup on page 236).

Pulling out some percentiles (we’re going to be using these quite a bit going forward), I’m rolling on the Ironlander Names oracle (random table). Rolling an 87, I get two options: Althus or Jebran. I like Althus more, so we’re going with that one. Surnames are not commonly used in the Ironlands but titles are, but we won’t worry about that yet since we don’t know much about Althus yet.

Normally, the implied next step is assigning stats, but I’ve been told via the Ironsworn Reddit and Discord I will probably have a more coherent character if I select Assets first. Using the Asset Master Set, I see that there are 75 possible assets, however, I do not feel like playing a character with mystical abilities, so I’m excluding the 17 ritual assets making the total 58. The semi-random option involves a deck, but I’m just going to roll randomly (using five times and then select three from that list.

Using this method, I get: Cave Lion (companion), Herbalist (path), Masked (path), Ironclad (combat talent), Mammoth (companion). I dislike Masked because that would mean bringing the Firstborn into the forefront, so I’m excluding that one. I do not feel like playing the Beast Master, so that means one of the companions needs to go. Cave Lion makes me think of Drizzt which, while not bad, isn’t what I’m going for so instead I go for the Mammoth. That makes the final list Mammoth, Herbalist, and Ironclad.

This gives us an Althus who knows some things about the healing power of herbs, wears a suit of armor (Iron armor?), and has a powerful mammoth (since this is the only asset we have to make a selection for, we’re going to choose Beast of Burden so our mammoth, who I’ve named Cratch from the random tables, will carry a multitude of gear and random junk that Althus has collected on his journeys.

Althus is turning into an interesting character.

Assign Stats
Knowing this, I know I want Iron is my highest stat (it has been recommended to use the Challenging stat array from the Lodestar Rules Reference for solo play) which makes that +4. Being willful and couragous also sound like they fit this character, so I make that one of my +3’s. For the final +3, I choose to let the dice decide. And with a 100, it is wits. This makes Althus’s stats +2 Edge, +3 Heart, +4 Iron, +2 Shadow, and +3 Wits.

Create Your Background Vow
I’m rolling on the Character Goal table and get “Protect a Person.” Since Althus is a wanderer, this means that he likely doesn’t know where this person is. I roll on the character role table and it says they are a Traveler. Finally I roll twice on the Character Descriptor and learn that they are Hostile and Doomed. An interesting combination for someone Althus wants to protect.

Having recently listened to the Myths and Legends Podcast episodes on Arrow Odd, I am reminded of Odd’s prophecy to die at home due to his favorite horse and his shortcutting the prophecy by killing the horse and vowing never to return home. Inspired by this, I imagine Althus was foretold to one day slay one of his kinsmen and it turned their relationship sour. In attempt to avert fate, Althus vowed to leave home and never return so the fate would never occur. Of course, attempting to avert fate has never gone wrong for anyone ever. Rolling on the Ironlander names again, we learn that they are named Zura.

So we are going to make Althus’s background vow: “I must never return home, to avert my fate to slay my kin Zura.” We aren’t required to Swear an Iron Vow for this vow (but could), so we’ll skip that part.

Create your background bonds
Next we’re going to create three bonds with some NPCs. Rolling on the Character Role chart again, I get a Performer, a Vagrant, and a Farmer. Next we’ll roll on the character descriptor table (and maybe some others) and find out more about them.

For the performer, we see they are careless and deceitful. Perhaps a travelling skald whom gets themself into danger? Rolling for Disposition, we see they are Suspicious of Althus. Rolling for a Character Goal, we see they are looking to restore a relationship. Perhaps they were part of Althus’ circle and they were not told why he left and so tries to trick him into returning home, suspicious of Althus not wanting to speak of why he left? It’s a good opportunity to bring up Althus’ home, so I’ll keep that. Their name is Deshi the Serpent-Tongued (I said titles were a thing and I feel like if anyone would have one, it’d be a performer).

Next is the vagrant. They are quirky and charming. I am already imagining an old drunk at a tavern always telling made-up stories that never happened but occasionally they do give out some nuggets of wisdom. I love it already, so I’m just going to add a name (Vigo) and the tavern they… inhabit (The Broken Bottle). Perfect.

Finally the farmer. They are infamous and manipulative. Not a combination I would have expected, but now I’m imagining some evil ranch owner from a western. Rolling for the character goal, I can see they are motivated to protect the status quo, which tracks with what I already had in mind. Esra (rolled for the name) is a baron in all but name. Their farm is responsible for all the food in their area (Bleak River) and so they command untold power. And they use that power to keep the people of Bleak River from leaving or having any other options. I can imagine in some rougher times Althus worked for Esra, but did not care for the experience. Rolling for area, it seems that Esra’s farm is in the Deep Wilds, perhaps on the periphery, but maybe being deep within the Wilds allows them to corner some rare resource. I think we’ll go with the second one unless anyone else has some fun ideas.

That finishes up the bonds which brings us to…

Inciting Incident
Rolling on the Settlement Trouble, we get “in the crossfire.” Rolling for a settlement name, we get Wyvern’s Rest. Given my previous pivot into the Barons and their bannersworn warbands, it sounds like this village is caught up between two warring Barons who both claim dominion over it. But why is Althus getting involved? Rolling on the Goal table, we get Find a Home. Althus settling down in Wyvern’s Rest doesn’t sound right, but what if he’s looking for join one of the Barons? Not what I had in mind when I originally started, but it does lead to some interesting possibilities. However, the rules tell us:

This is your inciting incident. Make it personal. Give it teeth. It’s not a situation you can just walk away from. You must set things right.

So what can we do to give this situation more teeth? I will mull this over, but I also welcome recommendations for you all. Until then, we’ll not worry about Swearing an Iron Vow or setting difficulty.

In addition to all this, we have a couple more stats to set. Althus’ health track, spirit track, and supply track are all set to +5. Additionally, his current momentum is +2, his max momentum is +10, and his momentum reset is +2 (pages 33-35).

Wrap Up
Althus was a young healers’ apprentice until one day a travelling warlock pronounced that he would kill his younger cousin Zura, eldest daughter of the Circle Chief. This caused a strife in his Circle until Althus volunteered to exile himself so that he could never cause harm to Zura. Before he left, they gave him a newly forged shirt of Iron chain and a young mammoth (figuring he’s probably eat the beast when he inevitably became lost in the winter snow).

Althus left the cold north of the Tempest Hills south into the Havens and Deep Wilds, where he worked as a sellsword for many years, being known as the Northerner. And today the Northerner heads east to Wyvern’s Rest…

And that’s a character, at least until we can settle on an inciting incident. Thoughts?

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So after some deliberation, I finally settled on an Iron Vow for Althus.

On arriving in Wyvern’s Rest, Althus finds a peaceful town and spends an evening at the Broken Bottle, hearing a wonderful tale from the drunk vagrant Vigo! The next morning, he is awakened by members of the Baron’s bannersworn attempting to press-gang him into service. They also try to take his mammoth as a warbeast.

After some action, he finds out that a warband of Bannersworn of the Baron Servan, leader of the city of Dragonshadow, are on their way to siege the town. Apparently the Baron’s daughter Sarria has gone missing and she blames Quinn, the Baron of Wyvern’s Rest. Supposedly Sarria was quite taken with Lestara, Quinn’s daughter. Quinn claims his daughter has also disappeared, but Servan will not accept that answer and will tear Wyvern’s Rest apart until she finds Sarria.

Rather than get pressed into service fighting a senseless battle, Althus instead offers to find Sarria (and Lestara most likely) and return them home.

So we’ve got an Iron Vow to Swear. We make the move (Swear an Iron Vow, pg. 98) rolling +heart and we get a miss. Looking at the result, we see we face a significant obstacle before we can start our quest. With the given fiction, I think the Baron doesn’t believe that Althus’ intentions are genuine and that’s just trying to cut and run before Servan’s forces arrive. Seems Althus was a bit premature in swearing that vow. As such, we suffer -2 Momentum (as the alternative if forsaking our vow) putting us at 0 Momentum.

Uncertain of how difficult to make this challenge, I turn to the Challenge Rank Oracle and see that it is going to be Dangerous. I feel the most obvious challenge is for Althus to challenge one of the Baron’s men to a duel to show his intentions through force of arms. And there’s a move for that: Draw the Circle (pg. 73).

We get a strong hit and an opportunity (the two challenge dice are the same number), which I thinks means that if Althus wins, he can attempt to Forge a Bond with the Baron. We get +1 momentum and can get additional momentum if we make some boasts. I think we’re going to take both that we can to get up to +3 momentum total and select “Grant first strike” and “Hold no iron”: Althus is going to take on the Baron’s Head Bannersworn and their spear barehanded and even lets them take the first shot. I think this is a good time to zoom in on the fiction. Which I’ll update as soon as I can on my trip.

Next time, Althus fights for the right to save the Baron’s city.

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The first of two solo sessions written on my 12 hour flight yesterday. Each one took about an hour, though for the second one that was more because I was having fun writing (more on that later). Now on to the recap.

One of the Baron’s men shoved the hilt of a short sword into Althus’ gut hard enough to make the man from the Tempest Hills let out a surprised gasp. “Here Northerner,” the man said with a pronounced sneer. “You’ll need it.”

Althus grabbed the man’s wrist and shoved with all his force, sending the man and the short sword skittering back into the muddy clearing that made up this impromptu fighting ring. “No need,” Althus said, trying to keep his voice as level as possible. “I don’t mean your man here any harm.”

The man in question let out a great big belly laugh at that. He was taller than Althus and leaner with wiry muscle poking out from his simple tunic. Across his shoulders was balanced a long, iron-tipped lance, the man’s arms lazily hooking around to keep it in place. “That makes one of us,” the man said with another, more subdued laugh.

Behind the spearman stood Baron Quinn, the lord of Wyvern’s Rest. You could tell he was a Baron from the several iron rings he wore on his hands: each a symbol of the loyalty a Circle or other community had sworn to him. Other than that, the simply dressed man could have been any other Ironlander, forsaking the gaudy clothing some other Barons wore.

“Do not hurt him too much, Kaivan,” the Baron said, not shouting but speaking loudly enough that he was certain Althus could hear him. “Even defeated, we will need all the swordhands we can muster against Servan.”

The spearman, Kaivan, rolled his head in a lackadaisical circle. “If I gut him, I gut him,” he said, spinning the spear off his shoulders in a smooth, practiced twirl so that it came up to a readied position in his hands. The Baron nodded at this, apparently unconcerned with letting Kaivan do as he wished.

“A challenge was made,” the Baron said, raising a ringed hand toward Althus. He did not raise his voice, but his natural baritone started to drown out all of the other noise around them–perhaps it was just everyone else naturally quietting down to hear their Baron. Quinn then motioned towards Kaivan. “And that challenge has been answered.”

Kaivan raised his spear and some of the other Baron’s men jeered and laughed along with the spearman. The Baron quickly cut this off.

“If the Northerner wins, he is free to leave. But if Kaivan wins, he is to join our Bannersworn.”

Althus hadn’t quite agreed to that, but it’s not like he could contradict the Baron now.

“Ready,” the Baron announced, not a question but command. He did not say anything to let the fight start, instead letting his hand drop dramatically.

Even though he could not see the Baron’s hand, what with his back to Quinn, Kaivan was ready at once, quickly stabbing his spear out with several quick probbing stabs.

Per the boasts, Althus is ceding the Initiative to Kaivan, limited the moves he can make. To start out with, he’s going to try to move inside Kaivan’s reach. This seems like a fine opening to Face Danger (pg. 60) and try to take back the initiative. Unfortunately, even rolling +iron, Althus still manages a miss (6 vs. 8, 10). This means we’ve got to pay the price and the most obvious answer seems like Kaivan catches Althus with his spear. This means we’ve got to Endure Harm (pg. 91).

First thing with Enduring Harm, Althus is suffering harm equal to Kaivan’s rank, which as a Dangerous opponent is 2 harm. This brings Althus down to 3 health. But now we get to roll, and Althus’ Ironclad asset is going to help here. While I hadn’t stated so before, I imagine he is Lightly Armored, his chain shirt not restricting him enough to warrent the Encumbered status, but only granting him +1 to this roll (plus his Iron, as it is the higher of that or his Health).

This time he gets both a a strong hit and an opportunity (8 vs. 4, 4). Normally, you would not regain the Initiative on a Suffer move, but with the Opportunity I can imagine that Althus’ lack of concern with the spear stab is enough to make Kaivan flinch for a moment. Additionally, Althus gets his option to either reduce the harm taken (at the cost of Momentum) or gain some Momentum. We’re going to take the +1 Momentum, as well as an additional +1 thanks again to his Ironclad asset, bringing him up to +5.

Althus was not afraid. He stepped right into the spear’s range and brought both his hands up in a brawler’s stance. But while he was not afraid, Althus was not invincible even with his iron chain shirt. One of Kaivan’s probing strikes caught caught him right under the ribs. A pain shot through his chest and Althus reached down to grab the spear.

Kaivan gave a glib smile. He had been hoping this would have been more of a fight. His smile, however, quickly turned to a look of confusion when Althus did not slump over as Kaivan expected.

Instead Althus slowly craned his neck back and locked eyes with Kaivan. He had a murderous look and slowly pulled the man’s spear across his chain shirt, a few loose links popping free.

We’ve got the initiative, and we’re going to use it. Althus is going to try and intimidate Kaivan and that sounds like Secure an Advantage (pg. 61). While this could be seen as aggressive action or a forceful defense, I think this is a mind game and so expertise is slightly more fitting and will roll +wits. And we get another strong hit (9 vs. 7, 6), giving us the option or Momentum or to make another move and gain +1 to the roll. We’ll take the later and finally make a decisive Strike (pg. 79).

Since we’re in close combat, we’re rolling +iron (as well as our +1 from Securing an Advantage before) and another strong hit and opportunity (7 vs. 5, 5). We deal our damage which, since we are unarmed, would normally be +1 but because of the strong hit will be +2. We check the Dangerous enemy entry again and see that each point of damage is two marks of progress (important for when we try to End the Fight, pg. 82) which means we mark 4 Progress total against Kaivan.

Kaivan attempts to take a step back but he has a white knuckle grip on his spear. And Althus has his spear. Before Kaivan can think to let go, Althus pulls the spear forward and uses to momentum to give a brutal uppercut to the Bannersworn. And then another solid downward strike. And another. And another, until Kaivan drops down into the mud.

In the flurry of punches, Kaivan’s grip on the spear must have come loose, because now Althus holds it. The Baron goes to say something, but Althus stops him by casually tossing the spear to the side, far from the reach of either man.

“I told you all before,” Althus says in a calm, but angered voice, “I don’t mean your man any real harm.”

Kaivan is starting to regain his footing and Althus swings his foot up, just barely catching Kaivan’s jaw with is heel. “He can walk that off.”

We retained the Initiative with that strong hit, so we’re going to go for another Strike. This one is not as solid, only being a weak hit (7 vs. 10, 1). This means we inflict 1 harm (2 progress, for 6 total) and lose the Initiative.

Kaivan lands hard in the mud, but is only down for a moment. He scrambles back to his feet, giving ground to Althus this time to avoid another kick.

“Alright you son of a bitch,” Kaivan spits, drawing his belt knife to finish his thought better than mere words could.

The crowd surrounding the fight starts to cheer on Kaivan as he rushed towards Althus. He catches the Northerner with his shoulder and the two go down into the mud in an ugly heap. The iron blade flashes in the sun as the two men wrestle over it.

Since we don’t have the Initiative, we’re limited on the moves we can perform. We need to get a strong hit before we can End the Fight, so we might as well go for something with +iron to give it the best chance. And that means Clash (pg. 80).

We roll +iron and get that strong hit (10 vs. 5, 9). Just like with Strike, we get the option of more harm or more momentum for a strong hit, and we go with harm to fill out the progress track to give us the best chance to End the Fight with a strong hit.

End the Fight, like all the other Progress moves, are different than other rolls. Instead of rolling a stat, we use our place on the Progress track in place of a roll (in this case 10) and then roll two Challenge Dice. We get a strong hit (10 vs. 8, 2), meaning Kaivan is out of the fight and the duel is over.

With the two rolling in the mud in this struggle over the knife, the crowd loses sight of who is who. That’s why the crowd’s cheer dies moments after it starts when Althus stands triumphant.

A few of the Baron’s men rush Kaivan’s downed form. “It’s a gut wound,” Althus says matter-of-factly, letting the knife drop to the ground. “He’ll live, but you’ll want to get him to a healer soon.”

Althus thought about offering to tend to the injury himself, but dismissed it after a moment’s thought. He’d just taken down the Baron’s best warrior in a near one-on-one fight. If he made himself look like an even bigger prize for the Baron’s warband, there might be another fight and it would not be one-on-one.

While the Bannersworn grabbed up their fallen man, the Baron approached Althus. The Northerner was trying his best to wipe the mud off, but he’d need to visit a river before he would any appreciable amount off.

“You’re a hell of a fighter, Northerner,” the Baron said, reaching out to give Althus a pat on the shoulder but thinking better of it.


“What’s that?” the Baron asked.

“My name is Althus.”

“Ahh, well you are a hell of a fighter, Althus.”

The Northerner grunted an affirmative and wiped another handful of mud off his face. “Well,” Althus asked, no friendliness in his tone, “am I free to go collect your approaching nemesis’ spawn, or do you want me to fight your next strongest to prove my intentions. Or perhaps a wild boar?”

As our opportunity from Drawing the Circle, Althus is going to try and Forge a Bond (pg. 74) with the Baron. Seems right that he do so through engaging the Baron as an equal. We roll +heart and get a weak hit (9 vs. 6, 9). Unfortunately our Momentum is nowhere near high enough to cancel out that 9, so it looks like the Baron is going to ask something before Althus can mark a bond with him. I envision what that would be, and it comes fairly quickly.

“I wouldn’t mind seeing that,” the Baron joked. “Would you take the boar on barehanded as well?”

Althus let out an incredulous grunt, which the Baron must have taken as a laugh as he started laughing.

“No, no, I think all agree you are a man of your word. Which is why I’d like you to do something for me.” Althus gave the Baron a level stare, but the Baron raised his hands in a calming gesture. “No, no need for swearing vows or anything like that, but I would ask that if you find Sarria and Lestara is with her, could you please bring her back as well?”

Althus gave another incredulous grunt and this one might have been a laugh. “From how it sounds, if the two did run off together, they’re probably going to be inseparable. Doubt I’d have much choice in that matter.”

The Baron reached out and grabbed Althus’ shoulder, mud clumping up around his fingers. “I am serious, Northerner. I know you don’t owe us anything. Tracking and protecting one person out in the wilds is hard enough, but two is going to be be a hell of a task, especially Lestara.”

Althus gave Quinn a quizzical look and the Baron rolled his eyes. “She’s always been a headstrong girl. If she’s convinced that this is the only way to get what she wants, she’ll fight like a wild lion to get it. All I want is for you to take it easy on her and bring her home safely. I would be in your debt.”

Althus weighed things in his mind. If they were together, finding both would be no more difficult than finding one. And if Lestara was as protective and fiercesome as Quinn was making her sound, he would have to deal with her anyway to collect Sarria. Best to just agree and hope for the best.

Althus offered up a muddy hand and the Baron, with a slight hesitation, grabbed it in agreement. Afterwards, the Northerner did not wait long before he collected Cratch and headed off to track down the girls.

Next time, Althus starts his quest in earnest.

So last time, we defeated one of Baron Quinn’s bannersworn, allowing us to actually progress with our quest. Now we’ve just got to figure out what to do. Based on the Reach a Milestone move (pg. 100), our quest should have some loose goals we need to complete. Since our quest is Dangerous (chosen when we Swore the Vow, but I forgot that part), our quest should have about 5ish segments.

The easiest way to parse that out is: discover where the daughters ran off to, travel there, convince the daughters to return, escort them safely home. It’s only four segments (which will only net us 8 progress) but that’s fine. We don’t know what complications may await us. But first, Althus needs to deal with his injures.

Back at the Broken Bottle, Althus is collecting some of his belongings that we left behind when he was taken in by the Baron’s men. Alone, he removes his iron shirt and the tunic underneath it. His abdomen is a cascade of bruises. The first stab of Kaivan’s spear did a number, but so did the stabs he tried to get in with his knife. The iron shirt had kept Althus from getting cut, but nothing helped the bruised the impacts left behind.

Nothing, but some herbs his mother had taught him about.

He grabs a sling bag off his straw cot and rummages around until he produces a shallow clay jar. Inside is a odorous paste. Althus scraps up two fingers worth and starts to rub the concoction onto his bruises. It won’t be quick, but it will help keep the pain from slowing him down.

Althus is going to try and Heal (pg. 63). Since he is in Wyvern’s Rest, he could attempt to Sojourn (pg. 71) but that move implies for time than he’s willing to spend right now, and more willingness to ask others for help than he has. Also his Herbalist asset lets him add +2 (or heal an additional health, but heal already heals 2 health which is all we need). We roll +wits (as it is the lower of it and iron) and get, against the odds with a 1 on the d6, a strong hit (6 vs. 1, 3). We recover our two missing Health and now turn our attention towards finding the girls.

Althus doesn’t know anything about these ladies, but surely the people of Wyvern’s Rest go, which sounds like an opportunity to Gather Information (pg. 62). We roll +wits and get another strong hit (9 vs. 7, 3). This gives us clear and specific information to act upon, as well as +2 Momentum (now up to +7).

Its later in the day, just before dusk. Some of the Baron’s men have made it into the tavern, though not the ones from the duel earlier. This is good for Althus, he’d hate to have them hush up around him out of some sense of comradely against the outsider.

Althus sits at a table with Vigo. “Are you sure?” the Northern asks?

“Aye,” the vagabond replies, pointing at a particularly scruffy member of the bannersworn. Althus wondered if the man let his hair and beard grow so wild to offset his particularly young-looking face. “He’s the one who was always following Lady Lestara about; Wulan.”

“Thanks,” Althus says, leaving a few extra iron coins on the table to cover their drinks.

The Northerner stood and walked over to Wulan’s table, taking the seat next to him. Before Wulan could protest, Althus wrapped an arm around the scruffy young man’s shoulders and whispered into his ear. “I don’t want any trouble, and I don’t think you do either, so if you don’t want everyone to know you’re responsible for setting Baron Servan after the town, you’ll answer my questions.”

The boy’s face went ghost white. He tried to stammer out a question or a rebuke, but Althus cut him off before he could find his words.

“As I understand it, you were Lestara’s toady. Cleaned her gear, took care of her horse, everything she could want. Probably means you ran messages for her too, seeing as you’d disappear for five days at a time, which is about how long it takes for someone to make it Dragonshadow and back. So why don’t you tell me what was Lestara worked out with Sarria before I let everyone know you’re the reason they’re going to die in a few days when Baron Servan shows up.”

There was no end to the amount of gratitude Althus felt towards old Vigo. He was a drunk and braggart, but he watched everything that happened in and around this tavern. The vagabond had given Althus everything he needed to get the boy to crack and tell him everything: the daughters courtship, Lestara’s attempts to convince her father of the potential alliance between him and Baron Servan, how he’d rejected it all and so the girls decided to run off together. Apparently Lestara had fond memories of a hunting lodge her father had at the edge of the Deepwilds. They hadn’t been there in years and she thought it the perfect place to start her new life with her love.

It was a lovely story, like a fable a parent would tell their child before setting them to bed. Althus almost regretted having to break it up, but he couldn’t imagine anyone endangering their entire home just for their own selfish desires. Had Althus thought like that, he’d still be at Thornhall, probably have murdered Zura for some reason that he didn’t want to imagine, and probably been rightly executed.

Althus gave the boy a pat on the shoulder and a smile that didn’t reach the Northerner’s eyes. “Thank you for the information, Wulan. You’ve been quite helpful.” He get up to leave but before he did, Althus leaned in close to Wulan again. “If I see you trying to warn your Lady about me, I will end you. Ask Kaivan.”

Althus left the Broken Bottle. Outside, Cratch was already loaded up to leave. Althus hadn’t wanted to leave anything behind if his plan didn’t work and he needed to leave in a hurry. But he supposed he needed to hurry regardless; the hunting lodge was almost as far away a Dragonshadow, but Baron Servan was presumably already on her way.

Cratch let out a loud bellow and then began marching away from Wyvern’s Rest. Althus walked beside the beast, the steady ting-ting-ting of his iron shirt the only sound he made.

Before we leave off, we’ll do another move to set the stage for the next session. Althus is going to need to Undertake a Journey (pg. 65) to reach the hunting lodge. We’ll say it is a Troublesome journey, meaning we’ll mark 3 progress per waypoint. We probably will only do one or two waypoints and try our luck at Reaching Our Destination (pg. 68) with minimal progress marked. We roll +wits for the first leg and get a weak hit (4 vs. 2, 10). So next time, we’ll deal with that waypoint and something that going to eat into our supplies a little.

So from our last session, I know that Althus is going to be stopping at some waypoint on his way to the hunting lodge. I don’t have anything in mind for this particular waypoint, so I turn to Chartopia’s random waypoint generator and get: Mystical bay/fjord and meet a fellow traveler: Kabeera is a dangerous aggressive raider. His current goal is to protect a person. His current stance towards you is friendly.

I’ve got some ideas for this fjord (it’s got to be a fjord), but I want to know about Kabeera and this person they’re trying to protect. The generator defaults to male pronouns, but I’m going to steal Adam Koebal’s simple roll for pronouns (roll 1d6, 1-2 he, 3-4 she, 5-6 they). Got a 6, so Kabeera’s nonbinary. They’re a dangerous aggressive raider, so probably also some sort of outsider like Althus. I’m beginning to imagine they’re someone like the Scotsman from Samuari Jack, if not in style then in archetype–a fellow outsider who mimics our hero and could be the protagonist of their own story.

In the worldbuilding section, they mention a group of raiders called the Skulde as a possibility about why we fled the Old World. While I didn’t select it, but I do like there being this culture of raiders and I could imagine that they are just another people who fled the Old World to the Ironlands. So Kabeera is a Skulde.

And now for their protectee. Are they with Kebeera? Seems likely, so we’ll Ask the Oracle (pg. 107) and apparently the answer is no (rolled an 8 on percentile dice). So perhaps Kabeera is trying to find whomever they are trying to protect. But who are they? The Oracle says they are are a Hostile Mercenary named Perella (he/him). Another Skulde or someone who wandered into one of their settlements.

I think I can roll with this. Now the important question (phrased as a yes or no question for the sake of the Ask the Oracle table: does Kabeera notice Althus before Althus notices Kabeera? Seems 50/50, so we roll and Kabeera does notice Althus first.

Althus followed in Cratch’s wake, the mighty mammoth clearing brush and branches out of its way incidentally as it moved through the forest. The woods opened up into a clearing and Althus looked to get his bearings. He was near one of the many fjords that cut into the Ironlands near the Flooded Lands. If it was the one Wulan had told him about, all Althus needed to do was follow it south.

As Althus looked about for a landmark, a voice called out, “Northerner!”

Althus reached for his belt knife out of reflex. He could not tell if the shout was a challenge, a call for help, or a greeting and Althus wanted to be prepared for any of those options.

A large person came barrelling towards Althus. They were dressed in leathers and carried a bearded axe in hand. Their face was painted in a wide black stripe running down the middle from brow to collar: the tribal markings of a Skulde.

Althus tensed for an attack, but it did not come. The Skulde stopped about a dozen paces from him and raised a hand in greeting.

“Northerner,” they said in that same excited tone though at a more casual volume, “I need your assistance.” And then they ran back to the cliffs of the fjord.

Althus cocked an eyebrow at this greeting and turned toward Cratch. “What was that?” Althus asked.

As if in reply, Cratch let out a low bellow and dropped down into a resting position. It seemed to Althus he wasn’t leaving until he found out what the Skulde needed.

“What do you need, Skulde?” Althus said as he approached the cliffside. “You are a Skulde, right?”

“Aye,” the Skulde said, picking up a rope from the ground. A stick or rod was tightly cinched under one armpit, and all their other gear–a leather satchel, some freshly killed rabbits, and the rest of the rope–was unceremoniously dumped on the ground. They wrapped the rope around their waist a few times and tied a quick knot. Once it was secured, they handed the rest of the rope to Althus. “Hold.”

“What are-” Althus started to ask, but as soon as he had taken hold of the rope, the Skulde walked towards the cliff and hopped off the side.

This seems like some Face Danger. We care about how strong and sturdy Althus is, so we’re rolling +iron. We miss (8 vs. 8, 8) and it’s a complication, so we either fail or are undermined in our success and must Pay the Price (regardless if we succeed or fail). Since “Althus drops this person they just met” sounds boring, I think we’re going to go to the Pay the Price Oracle (pg. 105) for some inspiration. We get “it is harmful,” so I think what happens is the jolt of the Skulde leaping off the side of the cliff. We’re going to take 1 harm (sending us down to 4 health) and rolling Endure Harm.

I don’t think Ironclad should help with this, but it looks like we don’t need it with a strong hit (10 vs. 7, 1). We’ve got a lot of momentum (+7) so I think we can Shake It Off and lose 1 momentum to regain 1 health (putting us back to 5 health).

The sudden pull on the rope caused ALthus’ whole body to jerk. The rope’s fibers dug into Althus’ hands, but Althus quickly adjusted and found a sturdy footing. Once he had the rope managed, Althus shouted out to the Skulde, “What in iron’s name are you doing?!”

“Need to go lower!” was the Skulde’s only reply.

Althus dutifully fed more of the rope down, slowly lowering the Skulde to wherever they wanted to go. For a moment, Althus considered just letting the rope go but the dark thought passed after a moment.

Once the Skulde had reached whatever destination that had in mind, they shouted out “Stop now!”

I think Althus wants to try and figure out what’s going on. I don’t like Gather Information for this, so instead we’ll just Ask the Oracle. I figure I would rate this as Unlikely as I doubt someone from an outsider culture would know much about another outsider culture, but we will see. We get a 16 on the roll, so Althus has no idea what is transpiring.

Althus mulled the situation over in his mind. The Skulde could only be 10 or 12 feet down the cliff, nowhere close to the bottom. Perhaps something was stored in the cliff, like a cache? Althus looked across to the opposite cliff on the other side of the fjord and saw tassels or flags peppering the side of the cliff. He had no idea what it meant, but he figured he would find out in due time.

After about fifteen excurating minutes holding the Skulde off the side of the cliff, Althus felt a tug on the rope followed by a shout of “Lift!” Althus reeled in the rope and soon the Skulde was scampering over the side of the cliff.

“So what were you doing,” Althus asked the Skulde once they were back on their feet.

“Gotta find someone,” the Skulde said briskly as they collected their gear from the ground.

“Who? And how are those flags or whatever going to help?” Althus pressed.

“Ribbons are prays to the God of this cliff, Dismashk,” the Skulde answered. “Once the ribbon break free, Dismashk hear the prayer.”

“So what, you just attach it loosely to the cliff?”

“No,” the Skulde barked back as if Althus had insulted them, “that would be cheating.”

“So you’re just going to wait to find out if your god hears your prayer?” Althus said, his incredulousness barely clamped down.

“No,” the Skulde said plainly, “but could not hurt.”

Althus let that rattle around in his head. He could just call the Skulde a fool for believing in gods–his own people taught him that the gods were dead–but that did not seem like it would help the matter. Althus extended a hand for a shake. “I hope you prayers are answered.”

The Skulde did not shake Althus’ hand. Instead they grabbed Althus in a big bear hug and squeezed. “Thank you!”

After a moment, the Skulde released a confused Althus and started walking away. “Goodbye, Northerner. I go west.”

“Goodbye, Skulde,” Althus replied once he’d gotten his wits about him. “And good luck.”

Once the Skulde had disappeared into the forest, Althus turned to Cratch. “We go?”

With this milestone completed, we’re at a crossroads. We could attempt to Reach Our Destination now, but we’ve only got three progress marked. I think we will quickly do another milestone to raise our chances.

We roll to Undertake a Journey and get a strong hit. We get some options, and I would like to make good use of our resources and mark an extra progress on our journey, bringing us up to 7 total. I roll on the Random Waypoint Generator and get a forgotten lake with no additional complications. I imagine the freshwater of the lake allows Althus and Cratch to refill their waterskins and perhaps get in a quick bath.

With 7 progress, we’re now going to attempt to Reach Our Destination… and get a miss (7 vs. 9, 8). We don’t have the momentum to counteract this, so it looks like we’ve gone hopelessly astray, our objective lost to us, or we were misled about our destination. I know which I think it is: either Wulan misled us about there the daughters escaped off to or they misled Wulan. We reach the hunting lodge and they are nowhere to be found, the lodge has not been used in years.

Given our time limit before Baron Servan reaches Wyvern’s Rest, I cannot imagine us finding the daughters before then with nothing to go on. I think our goal is lost to us, which triggers the Forsake Your Vow move. We lose 2 spirit as our quest was Dangerous and must roll for the Endure Stress move. We get a miss (9 vs. 10, 9) and so lose momentum (bringing us down to 5). Since we do not have a bond with that community or the Baron, we don’t need to worry about the rest of the move.

The fallout from this is probably Althus rampaging in the hunting lodge in his anger. All he wanted to do was help the people of Wyvern’s Rest and now he cannot even get back there before Baron Servan descends upon the town. All he can do now is move on and hope he can do better next time.

Next time, Althus ventures off into the unknown.

So a bit of a change in format. I figured since I’m going to go into a lot more mechanics than fiction (that being the slowest part of this) I thought I’d try having all the game text out of the quote boxes and all of the fiction in boxes (making them more like excepts from a book). We’ll see how this works out.

When we last left Althus, he was in a bad place and didn’t want to face failing the people of Wyvern’s Rest. So I think that means it’s time for him to leave this region entirely. Per the book (pg. 111) travelling from one region to another is a Formidable task, so I think that’s what he’s going to do. I imagine we’re currently at the edges of the Havens, since we were dealing with Barons, so I think it’s time to slip down into the Ragged Coast. Perhaps we’ll run into Kabeera again.

But first we’ll make the most of this hunting lodge and camp (pg. 64) for a few days before undertaking our journey. Though our Supply is +4 we get to roll Cratch’s health which is a +5, and that lands us a strong hit (10 vs. 4, 6). I think Althus is going to relax and prepare, going out into the woods during the day and sitting by a warm fire at night.

Unfortunately, our preparations don’t help when we roll a miss for the first leg of our journey (7 vs. 7, 10) which means we are waylaid by a perilous event and must pay the price. Since we were already on the edges of civilization, I think the most obvious negative outcome is some bandits on the road.

Normally, I can see a single bandit on the road being a Troublesome foe for an Ironsworn like Althus, but there being a couple of them makes them a pack (pg. 78) and increases their rank to Dangerous. Since Althus doesn’t feel like talking his way out of this, it’s time to Enter the Fray (also pg. 78). We also get a miss (5 vs. 10, 9) and begin at a disadvantage and must pay the price. This time I am going to roll on the table and get it is stressful (69). Makes sense.

We’ll Endure Stress (they’re Dangerous, so we’ll make it 2 spirit) and get a strong hit (5 vs. 3, 4). I think now is a good time for Althus to embrace the darkness and gain momentum. And since we’re going dark, let’s Turn the Tide (pg. 81) and lash out at these Bandits with a Strike.

We roll +iron and take +1 from Turn the Tide and get a strong hit (9 vs. 2, 3) which also nets us +1 momentum from Turn the Tide. We inflict +1 harm (we’re armed with a deadly weapon, so by default we deal 2 harm) which translates into 6 progress for our progress track with the bandits.

With a decisive hit, I think it’s probably best to try and run the bandits off than just murder them, so time to Compel them to give this up (pg. 69). Since we’re going to using threats, we’re rolling +iron and get a weak hit (7 vs. 7, 3) which means they’ll ask for something in return. With nothing immediately coming to mind, I think I’ll roll on the Pay the Price table for inspiration. A surprising development complicates your quest? Perhaps they know about Sarria and Lestara. Are they holding them captive? No (38). Did they join the bandits? Unlikely and also no (27). But do they know about them? Very yes (99). We’ll roll on the Action and Theme Oracles and get Depart Debt (97/48). The women owe these bandits money and run out on it? Were they part of their scheme to flee from Wyvern’s Rest as well?

So we’ve got a new Iron Vow, though it’s sort of our old Iron Vow: Find Sarria and Lestara and get the bandit’s money back. I think this is going to merely be Troublesome since we’re just acting as a debt collector. We get a strong hit on the move (9 vs. 3, 8) and are emboldened and get a clear course of action (makes sense since we should be able to get info out of the bandits here). Because of that, I think the bandits just take us to where they think Sarria and Lestara are, which is (using the Chartopia Waypoint Generator again) a strange forest. The edge of the Deep Wilds?

We could also figure out of things about Althus’ new buddies, the erstwhile bandits. We turn to the oracles and find that they are:

Pearce (he) – cunning, hostile, and armored.
Nadira (her) – critical, sick, and aggressive.
Saskia (they) – adventurous, violent, and stingy.

Sounds like a real friendly bunch. Getting cheated out of some money is the only reason they turned to banditry.

So we’ve got to track the girls down in this forest. That sounds like Gathering some Information. We get another strong hit (7 vs. 6, 4) which actually tops us off on Momentum. It also makes the way clear to find them, so we’re marking progress (three marks since it’s a troublesome quest). So what are the girls doing when we find them? Rolling on the Action Oracle and get Escort. Looks like they’ve got someone leading them through the forest to their eventual destination.

But we’ll get to that next time.

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Since the last session had been 90% written for a couple weeks and I was feeling it after finishing it up, here’s the next session.

So when we last left Althus, he and three bandits were tracking down Sarria and Lestara in some strange woods. Since I have access to it, I’m going to use the Delve Aspect Oracle to see what’s what’s so strange about it. I roll a 100 and get “Active.” I’m getting a really interesting “the forest has eyes” vibe from this and feel like the forest actively changes around you so you cannot easily find your way through. Must be part of why Sarria and Lestara have a guide showing them through–only certain areas stay “mostly” the same and are a somewhat safe way to travel through.

Well this sounds a little more dangerous than first thought (I’m sure once Althus learns that his bandits friends have led him to the Living Forest, he’ll have some unkind words for them) so we’re going to make this a full on Delve (I also just want to try it out). For Theme we’ll go with Haunted and for Domain we’ll go with Tanglewood.

Time to Discover a Site (Delve, pg. 23). Since we’re on a Troublesome quest, I’m inclined to make it a Troublesome site, but my gut says make it Dangerous. So now we’re ready to Delve the Depths (Delve, pg. 25). Rolling on our Theme and Domain tables, we see we encounter something unusual or unexpected. We’ll roll on the Focus table and get Corruption. Looks like something bad lives in this part of the forest.

We’re moving pretty quick, so we’re going to roll +edge and get a strong hit (8 vs. 7, 5). Per the move, we mark progress and Find an Opportunity. Let’s see what that means. We roll on the table (Delve, pg. 34) and get “you encounter a denizen in need of help.” Since I imagine the denizens of this area would be either travellers like ourselves or wild beast (or possible some of the Firstborn) we’ll roll on the Character Role table and learn what sort of person it is we’ve encountered. We get Mercenary… and haven’t we already heard of a mercenary who might be in trouble?

It was Perella, the Skulde mercenary Kebeera was looking for. Kebeera didn’t tell Althus about him, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be Perella. Plus, any opportunity to run into that weird Skulde raider again is a worthwhile endeavor.

We already know they are a Skulde mercenary, but let’s see what other details we can find out about them from the Oracles (3 from the Character descriptor and 1 from the Character Disposition)–cruel, confident, sick, and they are demanding towards Althus (not terribly different from Kebeera, come to think of it).

So it seems like a fairly straight forward Face Danger (though part of me would be amused about using the “attempt to gain leverage” part of the trigger for Secure an Advantage, but it wouldn’t get me what I want right now) and since we’re using strength, we’re rolling +iron. We get a weak hit (6 vs. 6, 3) and while we could burn our Momentum to get a strong hit, I think a weak hit is fine for this. The most obvious cost is losing our short sword in the sticky, viscous fluid and losing some supply (down to 3). But we still succeed and the Skulde is free, though I don’t think that’s all of it (looking at Perella’s sick tag).

We’re doing to try and Heal the Skulde. Luckily, we’re an Herbalist and so I imagine Althus has a few elixirs and draughts in his saddle bags. This asset gives us a +2 to our +wits roll to try and treat the Skulde, which it appears we did not need with a very strong hit (10 vs. 1, 4). That means our care was helpful and Perella will survive. For now, he can ride along on Cratch’s back and give amusing commentary while the group makes its way through the rest of the forest. And from our Find an Opportunity move, we gain some insight and can prepare for what’s to come, granting us +1 Momentum (maxing us out at 10 Momentum, which is pretty useful).

Before we finish up this session, let’s see if we can delve a little further.

Since we’ve now got Perella I don’t think we’ll be moving as quickly as before, so I think we’re going to rely more on observation, intuition, and expertise to traverse this forest (when you’ve got a mammoth, you’re never stealthy). We roll +wits and get a weak hit (7 vs. 7, 1), which means we roll on the table for wits and get to mark progress (4/10) and Reveal a Danger (Delve, pg. 38). We roll on that table and get told to check our Domain (Tanglewood) which is a stalking denizens. Wolves seem like the most likely danger, but a pack of wolves doesn’t seem like too much of a threat… but a pack of wolves led by an Elder Wolf (pg. 152), that’s got some legs.

Since defeating the wolves isn’t the most important part of this, but moving through the forest to find the Daughters, I think we’ve going to use the Battle move (pg. 84) to see if we can get through the wolves territory without too much issue. Althus is going to try and keep the bandits on the alert, so we’re going to roll +heart (since we’re relying on our companions) and get a weak hit (9 vs. 9, 3). This means we are going to get through the territory, but not without cost. We’ll roll on the Pay the Price Oracle and we Reveal a New Danger or Foe is Revealed.

Well the threat of a lurking troll seems the perfect place to leave things off.

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So after dinner and doing some cleaning, I still had the bug, so here’s session 7.
Last time, we had trollsign the likes of which even God has never seen. Now onto the game.

So we’ve been doing a lot of travelling and I feel like we need to Make Camp (pg. 64), not because I think we need it mechanically, but for an excuse to interact with some of the NPCs we have.

First we’ll forage for some supplies (Resupply, pg. 63) and interact with Saskia. We roll +wits and get a strong hit (8 vs. 5, 2) which lets us boost our supply back up by 2, maxing us out. Good. Now to figure out Saskia’s deal. We know they are a bandit for lack of options, but what’s their larger goal.

So Saskai’s goal is to find a home… not too different than Althus all things considered. We tried Forging a Bond (pg. 74) with them, but only got a weak hit (7 vs. 5, 7) and so they demand something of us before we can forge that bond. Given their motives, I think the most obvious thing is for Althus to actually open up to people and be a little vulnerable. Difficult, but we’ll give it a try.

Once we’re done with the supplies, time to check in with the Skulde and see how they’re doing. We’re also going to try and Forge a Bond with them, seeing as how we freed Perella from his imprisonment and treated their wounds. This one is a strong hit (5 vs. 2, 1), and we both get to mark a tick on our bonds (putting us to 1 full mark on that progress track) as well as take +1 spirit (which is part of what we stopped for camp anyway).

So later that night, once the stew’s ready is when Althus is going to act on what Saskai asked him to do. Thinking mechanically, I think this is a Face Danger +heart, with the danger being he opens up and the bandits do not reciprocate and it dispirits him. It feels better than trying to Compel them into… something? That’s the other hard part with Compel, it’s not like he actually wants anything out of them other than accept that he’s going to try and be more personable around them now. /shrug

So we roll and get a miss (4 vs. 10, 8). We could turn this into a weak hit by burning our Momentum (unfortunately, since our Momentum has to be higher than the dice we’re cancelling out, there’s nothing we can do about that 10) and the question is “is this something Althus actually cares about?” Does earning the friendship of some bandits that tried to rob him that morning actually matter to him? Does treating the people who (unknowingly) gave him some hope in a very dark moment of his life with some basic kindness matter to him?

I think it does.

So we burn our Momentum, resetting it from +10 back to +2, and get a weak hit. We still need to pay a small price and I think that’s a bit of supply (bringing us back down to +4).

I think that’s good enough to mark a bond with Saskai as well. We could also try for both Nadira and Pearce right now, but I think we’ll wait until we get them their money (so we can get that +1 to the roll). So all that leaves it Making Camp. We roll +supply (which we replace with Cratch’s health due to his Asset benefit) and get a strong hit (9 vs. 6, 5) which means we get two benefits: Relax (+1 spirit) and Prepare (normally +1 to Undertake a Journey, but +1 to Delve the Depths in this case).

So now the next morning, it’s time to leave camp and delve further into the Living Forest and closer to Sarria and Lestara (this might be our final delve roll, having 6 progress after this one). But we’ll leave that for next time.

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Last time, we made some friends with mixed results and booze was imbibed. Now on troll country.

After camping we’re doing a lot better on the Spirit and Supply front and we’ve got a +1 to our Delve the Depths check, so we’ll go ahead and roll +wits. We get a strong hit (9 vs. 7, 6) while travelling over an overgrown path, which means we Find an Opportunity. Rolling on that Oracle, we see the terrain favors us, which I think means we gain +1 Momentum (one of the choices for Find an Opportunity).

I think with the benefit of a clear path and the fact we’re 6/10 for progress Delving the Depths, I think now is a good time to try and Locate Our Objective (Delve, pg. 44). We roll the Challenge Dice and get a strong hit (6 vs. 1, 4). This gives us either +1 Momentum or the opportunity to make another move now and add +1. I think it’s time to Compel what’s owed.

We rolled +heart with our +1 from Locate Your Objective and got a strong hit (7 vs. 1, 2). Since we knew that the daughters had a guide escorting them, I Asked the Oracle if they would go along with what Althus was asking as well and it said yes (I figured it was a likely outcome, but sometimes people surprise you).

This puts us at 9/10 progress to get our bandits their money back, which means we can finally Fulfill Our Vow (pg. 101)–that only took 8 sessions :stuck_out_tongue: . We roll the Challenge Dice and get another strong hit (9 vs. 4, 7). This completes our vow with no complications and gets us XP equal to the difficulty of vow: 1. It might now sound like a lot, but a couple XP means a lot in this game.

So now that we’ve completed our quest, it’s time to convince the daughters to return home (in a hope to restart our quest to the Baron).

So we rolled +heart for Compel and get another strong hit (9 vs. 2, 1). Looks like the girls are going along with Althus. Now to check with the bandits and Perella. We’re just going to Ask the Oracle for all of them. I’ll say Perella’s Likely to stay with him, he’s still recovering so that factors into it. Oracle agrees. The bandits are less likely, they got what they want but they also know Althus will look after them, so we’ll say that’s a 50/50 chance. Oracle also says yes.

Also since we’ve completed a vow for Pearce and Nadira, we’ll try to Forge a Bond with them (with a +1 from having completed the vow). We get a strong hit (8 vs. 7, 5) so we’ll mark a tick for each of them. Nice.

So now to Swear an Iron Vow to the Daughters to return them home to their parents. We’ll call this one Dangerous, roll +heart, and get a miss (4 vs. 10, 5)… I think this is a perfect time for the troll to show up.

Time to Enter the Fray. Our Troll is of the Formidable sort (pg. 145) so this will not be easy at all. We were ambushed, so we’re rolling +wits and get a weak hit (5 vs. 5, 4). This gives us the option of bolstering our position (+2 momentum) or taking initiative. We’ll take the Momentum (we’ll need it, I suspect).

Since we lost our weapon helping Perella earlier, let’s use a new move from Delve to see if we have something useful against this troll: Check Your Gear (Delve, pg. 42). We roll +supply (which we get to use Cratch’s health in place of, due to his Asset benefit) and get not only a strong hit but an opportunity (10 vs. 1, 1). We’ll say that the axe Saskai has thrown Althus is iron which, while normally a deadly weapon (2 harm), is particularly useful against the Firstborn (3 harm). Very good for this situation. The move also grants us +1 Momentum, getting us back up to +6 total.

Since the troll has the initiative, we’ll Clash with them. Since this is close combat, we roll +iron and get a strong hit (10 vs. 6, 5). We’ll find an opening to get a good hit on the troll, dealing 4 harm total (+1 harm from the strong hit). Against a Formidable foe, this translates into 4 progress. The strong hit also allows us to take the Initiative.

Since the troll has a lot of height and reach over us, I think we should try and Secure an Advantage, possibly by getting up on the troll’s back to get some more devastating hits in. Since this is all about speed, agility, and precision, we’re rolling +edge and get a miss. We lose the Initiative and I think the most obvious outcome for Pay the Price is the troll kicks the little iron man away. Which is going to hurt (3 harm, bringing us down to +2).

Time to Endure Harm. Since we’re Lightly Armored (from our Ironclad asset), we take +1 and roll +iron (since it is higher than our current health) which is a weak hit so we press on and take +1 Momentum (also from our Ironclad asset). I imagine the troll has kicked Althus into a tree and luckily it was the tree that broke in that exchange. But now the troll is trying to follow up with another stomp into the tree. If we’re good, we can roll under the foot and cut the tendon in their heel. If we’re not good, we’re going to get flattened. Sounds like a Clash.

We roll +iron and get a weak hit (6 vs. 4, 6) but we can totally turn it into a strong hit with our Momentum (currently +2). We’ll do that and deal 4 harm again (8/10 progress). With a strong hit, we can also try to End the Fight, which is good because I don’t know how Althus would deal with another exchange here.

We roll the Challenge Dice and get a weak hit (8 vs. 9, 6), so we probably only ran the troll off, not killed it. But we’ve also got another downside to choose. I think Cratch is spurred into the fight to make the save and takes a hit as well. This means we get to check out the Companion Endure Harm move (pg. 94). So just like Althus, Cratch takes 3 harm and now has to roll the higher of +heart and Cratch’s health (+2), We get a weak hit (4 vs. 10, 2) which means they’re battered, but this doesn’t have any further effect as they’re above 0 health. Good.

So now it is time to Escape the Depths (Delve, pg. 46). We roll +wits and thankfully get a strong hit (9 vs. 8, 1). We escape the Living Forest without further difficulty and get +1 Momentum. And after all that, I think leaving the Living Forest is worth some progress towards our Vow to get Sarria and Lestara home safely (as a Dangerous quest, each milestone is worth 2 progress on that track).

And now that we’re free, I think Althus is about ready to collapse so we’re going to Make Camp again. And we were doing so well there before the Troll showed up. But I think that should be saved for next time.

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Last time, a trolled punched our mammoth. Now onto the game.

So we’re at the outskirts of the Living Forest with our large party of followers. Althus and Cratch are hurt, so it’s time to take a look at that. We’ll tend to Cratch first (got to protect the mammoth) and then ourselves. We roll +wits and get a strong hit (10 vs. 8, 2) due to our Herbalist asset, giving Cratch +2 health (up to +4). Next ourselves, which we get to roll the lowest of our wits or iron (it’s our wits) but we still get the bonus from the Herbalist asset (this time, we’re going for an additional health on a hit) and get a weak hit (6 vs. 5, 10) which gets us +3 health (back up to +5) but lose -1 supply (down to +3). Not bad.

But now for the bad part: this isn’t the path we took from Wyvern’s Rest so we’re going to need to Undertake a Journey to return. It’s still Troublesome but we could run into all sorts of trouble on the way back (hell, even just some delays may be bad for the people of Wyvern’s Rest). So it’s time to setoff.

For the first leg of the journey, we get a strong hit (8 vs. 7, 4) and turn to the Chartopia waypoint generator again to see where we arrive: a cold grove. We mark progress and, due to our strong hit, can burn some supply to gain some momentum. I feel like we need to do so, and can probably take the hit to supplies with Cratch feeling much better, so we will (taking us to +2 supply and +5 momentum) and continue along our journey.

For the second leg, we get a weak hit (6 vs. 4, 8) and come to an isolated river ford. Our supplies also take another hit (down to +1). Since we got a weak hit, I feel like we’re going to have to ford this freezing river to continue our journey. Finding a boat (or a reasonable facsimile), especially one that will carry Cratch, seems difficult, so we’re going to see if we can Secure an Advantage to find or make something that will work. Since this is going to be a job for observation, we’ll roll +wits and get a weak hit: our advantage is short-lived but we gain +1 Momentum (up to +6). I think this means that we have something that will get us across, but we’ll need to work quickly before it sinks into the water.

So we’ll pull our makeshift raft out into the water and try and ford the river. Timing is everything here, so I think we need to roll +edge, which luckily nets us a strong hit (7 vs. 3, 2) so we don’t have anything to worry about (and get another +1 Momentum for our troubles). Since we’ve crossed the halfway point (I imagine this river may also be part of the same waterway as the fjord we crossed before) I think this a good reason to mark some progress on our Vow (4/10).

For the final leg before we reach Wyvern’s Rest, we get a weak hit (4 vs. 6, 1) but can cancel that out with our Momentum (which we will and reset back to +2). This gets us to our last waypoint (an abundant plain) without running out of supplies. Since we’re at 9/10 progress, we’ll roll the Challenge Dice to reach our destination and get a strong hit (9 vs. 2, 4). We mark progress on our Vow again (6/10) and Ask the Oracle to see if the Dragonshadow army has reached the town yet (almost certainly) and it has. This means we’re going to use the bonus from our strong hit to make another move with a +1 bonus, but what should it be.

Our choices are to confront Baron Servan and bring her Sarria or get the daughters to the safety of Baron Quinn and let him handle Baron Servan. I think handling this himself is exactly what Althus would do, so we’re going to try and make our way to Servan. But a large group seems not the best for this, so we’re going to see if we can convince the bandits to deliver word to Baron Quinn that we’ve made it back. We share a bond, so we +heart +1 (for our bond) and get a weak hit (6 vs. 2, 9), so they want something. I think it’s Cratch. Riding to the Baron’s on the back of a mammoth means they’ll probably get left alone. It’s a good plan, so Althus tells Cratch to watch over them and sends the five off to alert the Baron.

Now it’s just Althus, Sarria, and Lestara in a warzone. Excellent. :sweat:

So we’ve got some options on how we can try to get through this warzone to Baron Servan’s encampment. We could try and sneak our way through or make a run for it. Or, and this could be a winner here, Althus exudes enough “don’t fuck with me” energy that he just walks through Servan’s forces without anyone messing with him or the daughters. Let’s go with that one to Face Danger.

We roll +heart (because this idea screams courage) and we get a weak hit (5 vs. 2, 8). I think the fear’s getting to Althus, so we’ll Endure Stress. We lose -1 Spirit (down to +4) but we get a strong hit (9 vs. 7, 2). Althus is going to embrace that fear and we’ll get +1 Momentum as we walk into Baron Servan’s encampment (we also mark some progress for our Vow, now 8/10).

Well, this is the final step. We Compel the Baron to listen to their daughter and accept that Wyvern’s Rest had nothing to do with her escape. We roll +heart and not only do we get a strong hit, but we get an opportunity at that (8 vs. 5, 5). While things are not going to resolve quickly, I think things eventually do resolve. Dragonshadow pulls out of their assault on Wyvern’s Rest. Servan and Quinn agree to a peace. And most importantly, they agree to let Sarria and Lestara stay together. This marks the last bit of progress on our Vow (10/10) and when Fulfil Our Vow, we get a strong hit (10 vs. 7, 4). Finally, we’ve completed our original quest from character creation (though we did sort of forsake it for about a day or two there for a bit). We mark XP (2 for a dangerous quest) and, having completed Baron Quinn’s request, earn the bond of both him and Wyvern’s Rest as a whole.

I think a little bit of time passes. The leaders need time to argue about what peace means and Althus needs time to rest up from his adventures. We can Sojourn (pg. 71) in Wyvern’s Rest (with a +1 bond due to our Bond with the town) which we get a strong hit on (9 vs. 6, 3). We definitely need to provision (+2 supply), but the other two options are less needed. I think we’ll just recuperate (getting Cratch his missing health back, probably from having some local kids brush his hair and groom him) and consort (getting Althus back his missing spirit). We could focus on getting provisions (getting our remaining missing supply back) but I don’t want to push our luck anymore.

The bandits, Pearce, Nadira, and Saskia go their own way. They were just looking for a way to get back home anyway. Perella has probably had enough time to recover and is itching to get back to his mercenary ways.

After a few days, the Barons come to let the Northerner know the outcome. He’s pleased, especially for their daughters getting to choose their own path with supporting parents to help them out. I think Baron Quinn makes Althus an offer to join his Bannersworn, which was what he wanted in the first place. But that road is going to call him back soon enough I imagine.

Next time, who knows, but for now a poll for the audience. I’ve finally got enough XP to either pick up a new asset or upgrade an existing one, so I’d like to see what you folks think. I’ll go into those options in that post.

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  • Upgrade Cratch with Lumbering (Mammoth companion asset)
  • Take Perella as the Kindred Asset (mercenary)
  • Take Saskai as the Kindred Asset (bonded)
  • Take the Banner-Sworn Asset
  • Upgrade the Ironclad Asset
  • Take the Sunderer Asset (axes are apparently quite cool)

0 voters

So the options.

Cratch did a lot in these trio of Vows, so I could see him getting bigger and better. I don’t really want to have Althus riding him into battle, so I’m avoiding that upgrade, but having make his own path when we Undertake a Journey sounds fun.

Perella was sort of a cool character as an interesting foil to Althus’ more altruistic motives. Plus writing his self-serving dialogue is always fun.

Saskia was also an interesting character and I liked the relationship they and Althus had out in the wilds. While Althus is altruistic, relating to people isn’t his strong suit and having them push him towards being a more open, vulnerable person could be interesting (and useful if he sticks around Wyvern’s Rest).

The Banner-Sworn Asset is no brainer with the current trajectory of the story. He doesn’t need it to be one of Baron Quinn’s Bannersworn, but it certainly helps (especially since it gives bonus XP when completing Vows for him and Wyvern’s Rest).

The Armor from Ironclad helped, though I can totally see the benefit of being Geared for War. Being Encumbered wouldn’t hurt Althus too badly. Getting a bonus to Clashes while gear up would be nice.

And Sunderer is just nice because, if you’re going to get into fights, having a good Combat Talent asset helps.

You know, I really wish the Overlord had progress tracks for their current plans (filling in the track 2 boxes at a time, advancing them whenever Fellowship says “the Overlord progresses a plan”), with a move that let’s the rest of the group (1) unmark a ticked box (2) force the Overlord to complete a plan early, when the odds of success are low. I like that kind of concrete thing.

Well that’s sort of the Master Plan move for the Overlord. It’s a track with three boxes: started, executing, and victory. When the started box is filled, the Fellowship hears rumors of what is up. When the executing box is filled, the Fellowship knows exactly what is going on and can move to intervene: if they do, they have a chance to stop it and either cause the Overlord’s forces to retreat (returning them to the started box) or ruin their plan entirely and cause the plan to end in failure. When the victory box is filled, the Overlord has succeeded at their plan, to the detriment of the party. Having the Overlord try to complete their plan early is just a form of the Fellowship intervening or a description of how they achieved victory.

Should be continuing the adventures of Althus the Northerner tonight. While I already had planned to use some more of the new options from Delve, I think I need to make sure this new Vow includes a Threat as it I think it will be of great interest to @doyce given his previous topic.

Also looking forward to the new updates made to the Roll20 sheet for Ironsworn. While part of me hates having something change in the middle of actively doing something, I love some of these quality of life improvements.

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