Solo Skald |||

Ironsworn Delve - Part 1

Time to start the actual adventuring of Amara, an apprentice Warden in a small settlement called Watchtower.

Inciting Incident

I like when apprentices in this sort of organization have a trial, but not always a contrived formal one. In this particular case, I know I want it to lead to a delve. Perhaps we’ll eliminate some threat or retrieve an object? Since our focus is on protecting Watchtower, we’ll ask the Oracle about settlement trouble: Production halts. But why? We’ll check on the Action / Theme oracle this time: Swear Possession.

Because of the other themes in our world building, I think Possession” here means the supernatural sort. So we need to deal with some kind of ghost or demon. Who or what is possessed? Is it a person (likely)? Yes. Who is it? Let’s get a Character Role and Description: Bandit / Stealthy.

Some sort of demonic criminal, then. This has halted production as the bandit has preyed on local supplies and people. We need to find and stop this thing. In a place like this, production” means farming, and that means people will starve. Worse, perhaps this threat is already killing and could spread its corruption somehow. Something must be done to protect the good people of Watchtower!

What isn’t Kalima dealing with this herself? Is she travelling? The character activity oracle says she’s securing, so she’s out dealing with some other threat. But the possessed bandit is causing mayhem here, and as the apprentice Warden (which I envision something like a Padawan) Amara needs to handle it immediately.

The clan chief is present as she grips the iron bell in the tower, or maybe the clapper in it, and swears an iron vow to rid the land of the demon plaguing us. She’s shaking a bit, but her voice is strong and clear.

Starting the investigation

We’ll call this a Formidable challenge, and roll a weak hit. We need to track down the demon first and hopefully learn how to defeat it.

That implies starting off by investigating what’s happened so far. Who has seen it? Where were the attacks? What was destroyed? That’s a Gather Info move, with a +1 for our bond with Watchtower, and we roll a strong hit, giving us extra momentum.

Our demon has been attacking some of the homes and farms further out. Livestock have been slaughtered for certain. Have any people died (50/50)? 97 YES, an entire family or three. ((Sometimes I like to interpret excessive numbers as emphasis.)) We also know it’s happened Compass rose: d8 => 8 northwest of town.

Finding the demon

The land is therefore hazardous and we’ll need to journey through it to find the demon’s lair. Amara will Undertake a Journey, which feels Dangerous in this situation. The roll results in a weak hit: we’ll use up some supplies as we move through the land.

Speaking of which, what is the waypoint? Forest / Beautiful, and we can’t let this horror defile our pristine natural state. What markers do we find? Endure / Spirit, meaning perhaps we sense the unquiet dead being disturbed by the passage of the demon through their resting places.

On our next waypoint, we miss. Thinking about how to Pay the Price, what’s the most obvious negative outcome? I think Amara loses the trail and will need to Gather Information again to find it. Her Slayer asset gives +1 to the roll: strong hit, we’ve found the track and gotten some more momentum.

Continuing the journey, we roll a weak hit and burn through some more supplies. Working through this forest presents some challenges right now. What’s this part of the forest like? Corrupted which indicates we’re on the right track at least.

We continue the journey with another weak hit, reducing our supply down to +2. She’s focused on moving fast rather than conserving rations or foraging, and our Wayfinder hasn’t really helped us in this bedeviling forest.

The next leg of our journey yields a strong hit! Wayfinder boosts the momentum here. Mechanically, we’re at 8/10 progress, so we could attempt to reach our destination now. But perhaps we can get better assurance?

On this roll we get both a strong hit and a match, meaning some sort of opportunity. What’s the opportunity? The oracle says Restore Bond. Something here reminds Amara of Kalima or at least reminds her of her mentor and relative. Where are we, anyway? Fertile Ravine, which perhaps looks like (or even is) a place where the two of them trained together. She knows this place.

I think Amara can now Reach Her Destination, and we get a strong hit which allows us to mark progress on our current vow about the demon.

Entering the delve

A ravine in Fjaðrárgljúfur, Iceland Photo by Válter Venâncio on Unsplash

The mechanics ask us to define a Theme and Domain when we Discover a Site, which I’ll call a Corrupted Cavern because it houses a demon and apparently is in a ravine.

As she begins to Delve the Depths, we traverse a vast chamber. Deep within the stone, it opens up and the yawning darkness swallows the flickering light of her torch. We get a miss, obliging us to Reveal a Danger.

((Note, I didn’t quite do this first one right and rolled on the wrong table.)) Amara encounters strange environmental disturbances: floating rocks, pulsating with strange light. Does our training tell us something about it? The oracle says Abandon / Fear. She steels her heart, calls upon her courage, and Faces the Danger as such, yielding a weak hit. Her courage wavers just a tad and she will Endure Stress as Amara doubts whether she can truly manage this entire threat by herself, losing some momentum.

After a bit, she presses on, encountering a cave pool that somehow strikes her as an unnatural obstacle that she’ll need to get past. She moves carefully, remembering her training, as she Delves the Depths for a strong hit. The pool yields a clue that offers insight or direction. What does that mean? Reduce / Nature which I think means she sees evidence of construction: this pool was constructed for some purpose. Demonic sigils indicate that this pool hosted some foul ritual; perhaps the bandit dabbled in darkness and that led to the possession.

Delving the Depths once more gives us a weak hit with progress and an opportunity: a denizen in need of help.

  • Location: Vast chamber
  • Denizen: Nightmare Spider

What kind of help could it need? Does it have something worse in its web (likely) or is it itself in physical danger? Yes, it has a Bladewing.

Amara could attempt to intervene, but this seems like a wholly unnecessary risk, especially since we can simply let nature take its course. Instead we press on into the delve with another weak hit that lets us choose either progress or an opportunity. The cave here is wracked with blight & decay, and we simply want to track the demon to its lair, so progress it is.

Continuing further, we stumble upon evidence of a foul ritual in a strong hit. Our progress has reached 8/10 and we also find an opportunity. This is likely where the bandit became possessed. Perhaps the ritual went wrong or otherwise led to the summoned demon achieving power.

This feels like the natural place to Locate Her Objective and so we get a weak hit. Amara must face an unforeseen hazard or complication.” This location has a makeshift enclosure: a cage with someone else in it. We’ll mark progress on our vow, at least.

Who is this captive, anyway?

  • Name: Flint
  • Role: Fisher
  • Descriptor: Resourceful
  • Disposition: Friendly

He’s trying to engineer his own escape when Amara arrives. But is the demon here (50/50)? Yes. Amara will need to assess the situation in order to Secure an Advantage. Including her bonus from Slayer, we get a strong hit and an opportunity. Some aspect of this place is revealed”, which is apparently a Blocked Trail. The demon is trying to get out of the bandit’s body but cannot. In fact, it’s trying to move its demonic spirit over to Flint’s body as the bandit corpse continues to deteriorate around it.

Amara grips her Warden insignia and Swears an Iron Vow to get Flint out safely. This is Dangerous and yields a strong hit which maxes out our momentum. Casting about for what to do next, the oracle tells us Uncover Idea. Flint has been observing the demon and knows how it will carry out its own ritual.

We’re going to interrupt that ritual, free Flint, and only fight the demon this time around if we have to (so as to preserve the life of the innocent). This will disrupt the demon’s wicked plans.

But that’s next time…

Debrief

I’d forgotten how much rolling Ironsworn requires, especially Delve. I find it mildly annoying that Delve introduces new moves that don’t inherit the bonuses from our existing assets. While I could hack that in, for now I want to keep running it as written and get a better feel for it.

I’m interpreting our limited progress on the vow to rid the land of the demon to indicate that Amara doesn’t know how yet. Perhaps I should have listed it as a less intense vow, but this gives us three things to do now:

  1. Get Flint back to civilization safely.
  2. Learn how to defeat the demon.
  3. Return to the lair and banish it back to the hells it came from.

I’ll keep thinking about this for a bit before the next session.

Up next Ironsworn Delve - Part 0 Ironsworn Delve - Part 2
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