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Ironsworn Delve - Part 4

Chandra, a mystic who may have the power to heal the land of the affliction plaguing it, has informed Amara that she will not be bullied into doing so. However, she will undertake the required ritual as long as Amara helps acquire the components. Let’s say there are two things needed. What will they be?

  • Theme: Warning - the horn of an elder goat
  • Theme: Vow - a piece of starforged iron

We’ll start with the horn. An elder goat” doesn’t just mean any old one but a creature that in other games might be called a dire goat”. They are huge, monstrous, and said to be avatars of the land itself. The Wardens revere them, and Amara has no idea how to get a horn. But at least she can start by tracking one down.

Fighting in the wild

That requires a Gather Information roll (including +1 from Slayer) and we get a miss which means an unwelcome truth or dire threat”. We lose momentum and find some hostile creature in the wilderness. After looking over my options, I envision a wild boar, vicious and charging Amara directly.

A warthog in South Luangwa National Park, Zambia Photo by Henning Borgersen on Unsplash

Time to Enter the Fray against this Dangerous creature (meaning we mark 2 progress per harm and it inflicts 2 harm). She simply interrupted the creature while it was out foraging. Since this is not an ambush, but the boar is definitely aware, we roll +Heart and get a weak hit. As Amara’s an Archer, she’ll take initiative. We don’t have time to take careful aim. First, she just Strikes from range: another weak hit. The arrow flies true but this boar is charging faster than she realized and has taken the initiative.

So as it’s advancing on Amara, this becomes Clash instead. Amara attempts to avoid the charge, continuing to shoot at it but missing. Outmatched, she must Endure Harm. Her health drops to 0 (previously weakened by disease) and this results in a miss plus complication. We’ll mark Wounded as the tusks tear into Amara’s leg muscles, goring her. She rolls away while it circles and prepares to attack her again.

Rather than attempt to fight at close range, she will Face Danger by trying to climb a tree away from it. This is mostly about speed & agility, so +edge: miss. The boar strikes once more and she must Endure Harm, yielding another miss. Amara screams as the boar comes down upon her; she is dying. If she cannot tend the wound soon, she could die.

But this boar doesn’t give up (the complication from earlier) and comes back around. Amara has few choices here and will Face Danger by dodging, but misses once more. She Endures Harm with a weak hit and presses on.

Perhaps she can hit it on its charge and gain the initiative, so she’ll roll Clash but misses again. This time, as she Endures Harm, we’ll mark Maimed as the boar tears an even worse wound in her thigh. Even if she should survive, that leg will never fully heal.

She has nothing left with which to Face Danger but her own courage: strong hit with an opportunity! Someone comes along; is this a stranger (likely) or Chandra? It’s a stranger. What does the Oracle tell us about them? This person is a clever hunter who wants to help. So the hunter attempts to distract the boar and give Amara a chance to get to safety. She’ll try to Secure an Advantage by pulling herself up to a tree branch; unfortunately we roll another miss due to the negative momentum cancelling out our action die. The boar is not easily distracted, it seems, and on our Endure Harm move we roll a weak hit. She’s not able to get up the tree but avoided the charge for now.

This tree gambit isn’t working out. Maybe we can try to gain back the initiative with the stranger’s help. Leaning against the tree for support, Amara Clashes by volleying at the same time as her erstwhile rescuer and we get a weak hit. The arrows strike, but the boar turns instead to charge the other hunter.

Amara takes a moment to aim, Securing an Advantage (and getting +1 from Archer). Finally, a strong hit, which gives us +2 momentum. She will now try to Turn the Tide by seizing the initiative and Striking, and we roll another strong hit with a match (opportunity). The narrative twist is that the other hunter has a chance to harm the boar as well (likely), but no. Regardless, we’re back in control of the situation and Amara can Strike once more - that’s a miss. The creature gores this stranger.

The wild boar circles around to finish off the newcomer, but Amara Clashes with it and gets a weak hit. To Pay the Price, either she runs out of arrows (likely) or the boar maims the other person: yes, she’s out of ammo.

Quickly, the two humans coordinate their approach: they draw their blades, flank the boar, and attempt to End the Fight. We roll a weak hit. The boar falls, but it turns out that Amara is hurt even worse than she knew. This will require one more Endure Harm which gives us a weak hit. She’ll press on through the pain, but remains severely wounded.

Getting to safety

She will die soon from the earlier harm if she doesn’t successfully treat her wounds now. The hunter (who now introduces themselves as Brynn) lends what aid they can. Amara applies bandages and herbs to Heal, yielding a weak hit, so we clear the Wounded condition, gain 2 health, and use up the rest of our supplies.

Brynn took risks to save Amara, who in turn did not abandon them in a difficult fight. The two Forge a Bond and that also rolls a weak hit. Obviously, as Brynn is also injured, they need healing as well. But when Amara attempts to Heal them, the aid is ineffective (miss). She has used up all her supplies, so instead she smears their blood together to Swear an Iron Vow that she will get Brynn to safety. This results in another weak hit, and she needs to figure out where to go.

Perhaps Brynn’s village is nearby? Amara Gathers Information in discussion with Brynn. We roll a weak hit and learn that the village was effectively ravaged by plague. The pair will need to go back to Chandra’s hermitage again.

For now, they’ll both recover here a bit then go for help. Amara attempts to Make Camp with 0 supply: weak hit. Brynn rests while Amara recuperates her health. They then Face Danger together, hopefully without encountering other threats in this wild land, and that’s a weak hit. Getting back is a tough slog with both of them hurt, and thus Amara will Endure Stress with a strong hit! She reminds herself that this is the work of a Warden, regardless of her official rank, and thus embraces it as her purpose. We also mark progress on the vow for Brynn.

But will Chandra assist them? She sent Amara out for ritual components and got two injured adventurers instead. Amara will attempt to Compel with Heart and gets a strong hit in return. Chandra might grumble all the while but will help. We apply that +1 in the result to an immediate attempt to Heal, but we get a miss with a complication.

At this point, with several failed attempts to treat their wounds, Brynn and Amara are in a dicey situation, so we’ll roll on the table for Pay the Price: your action has an unintended effect”. What’s that effect? The oracle says Advance / Creature. Does that mean local fauna are riled up (likely) or that the demon has come for Amara? The former, and I’ll use some of the tables in Delve to generate this one. Since the Legacy opposes us, perhaps it arises from the land itself.

  • Challenge Rank: Troublesome
  • Size: Large (giant-sized)
  • Primary Form: Beast + humanoid
  • Characteristics: Wings
  • Abilities: Mimicry

A giant eagle-man soars over the little hut. It may be indifferent, but our group certainly perceives it as a threat! If it notices us, we’d need to battle it somehow, so we’ll just Face Danger with courage and get a strong hit.

While trying to figure out how to take care of Brynn, Amara will consult with Amara once again about this horn and Gathers Information with a weak hit. This means some new danger but not a truly dire one. The oracle says Advance / Creation. She’ll need to convince this Guardian somehow. Hopefully that’s possible, given that ultimately we want to heal the land.

With this new information, and with Brynn still in a bad way, Amara will attempt to Resupply locally: weak hit, +2 supply exchanged with momentum. It takes time, and they don’t have a lot of that. She’ll try to Heal them again with Chandra’s assistance, and now we get a strong hit. Brynn is no longer Wounded and might even accompany Amara on this quest.

Before we can fulfill that vow, however, they still need something else, and we’ll ask the Oracle: Strengthen / Memory. That sounds like sleep to rest and recover. As we are not in a community, this means Making Camp, and the dice give us a strong hit with an opportunity. We’ll choose to Relax (+1 spirit) and Focus (+1 momentum).

Now she can Fulfill Her Vow to them which results in a strong hit with opportunity again. Yes, they’ll come with her to find this elder goat, in the next session.


After the session, I started re-reading the Ironsworn book and found two mechanics I did not manage correctly.

First, when Amara is using a deadly weapon (bow), she should inflict 2 Harm on a hit, which means marking progress twice. The boar fight took far longer than it should have, and I’ll remember that in future combats.

In the other direction, though, when she is at 0 supply, she should mark the Unprepared debility and cannot gain supply again until she can Sojourn in a community. Reaching 0 in this track isn’t the same as reaching 0 Health, which just raises the stakes for Enduring Harm. I have to keep a closer eye on that track.

I still don’t know what’s going to happen with this goat horn, but that’s part of the fun I think.

Up next Ironsworn Delve - Part 3 Ironsworn Delve - Part 5
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