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Ironsworn Delve - Part 5

Before we get back into the action, I decided to take some time and add more texture to the world.

Fleshing things out

Chandra, a conceited mystic and trickster, lives in a small hut alone just on the edge of the Deep Wilds, not far from the Havens. She once had a bond with Kalima and Amara, but her sensitivity to perceived slights (and Amara’s lack of deference) ended that. While she’s finally willing to help with the plague, ultimately she has other goals of her own. Perhaps her reluctance to help stems from hoping that someone else will suffer from the plague, such as a raiding clan against whom she herself has sworn vengeance.

Brynn, from the tiny village of Rock Ridge (somewhat near Watchtower in the Havens), has proven themselves clever and resilient. They share Amara’s goal to deal with this disease, which they’ve taken to calling Landwarning” as they can sense its unnatural source.

Guardians are the great elder beasts who represent the Ironlands themselves. Some safeguard life within it while others have become corrupted by horror and nightmare. Seeking one out represents great risk and reward!

Amara has accumulated enough XP to Advance, so we choose to upgrade her Wayfinder asset and improve her abilities when carefully surveying the landscape or scouting ahead”. No doubt this will prove useful in her career as a Warden, and in the short run she will need this to accomplish her immediate goals.

Current vows include:

  • Defend Watchtower against any threat (Epic). This background vow represents her overall motivation and isn’t something I expect to complete directly. In any case, we have not yet completed a full progress box.
  • Rid the land of the demon plaguing us (Formidable: 3/10). Temporarily paused, in a sense, while we deal with a more widespread and deepening problem, the Landwarning plague. Amara believes these things are linked, regardless. I envision the rest of this quest involving several additional steps:
    • Cleanse the land of the plague related to the demon
    • Learn how to defeat the demon
    • Acquire whatever is needed based on that knowledge
    • Delve the Cavern of Torment once more
    • Face off against the demon to defeat it
  • Find a treatment for the disease in Watchtower (Dangerous: 3/10). It turns out this affects more than just her village, in fact! At the moment, this represents our primary quest and the reason she is working with Chandra and Brynn. As with the previous vow, I envision a quest outline like this:
    • Acquire the horn of an elder goat
    • Find starforged iron
    • Create the item
    • Carry out the cure in Watchtower

Any of these could change based on what happens during play. As Ironsworn says, we should consider it a sketchy, unreliable plan at best.”

The Guardian

Returning to the immediate fiction, Amara continues to track down the Guardian known as Garran (an elder beast in the form of a goat). As a Slayer, she gets a bonus when Gathering Information to track a beast, and we get a weak hit. To complicate our quest, the beast is not fully present within our world. The signs of its passing are ghostly and arcane.

But of course, Amara trained to become a Warden and has a skilled hunter at her side, so together they will Secure an Advantage (again using a benefit from Slayer) and get a strong hit. She chooses to take control, gaining a bonus to Compel Garran to appear. Together, the hunters gather its spoor and prepare an offering as we roll with Heart, but get a miss with a complication. Because of the complication, we roll on the Pay the Price oracle and the result is It causes a delay or puts you at a disadvantage. We don’t know what that means specifically, but the Action / Theme oracle says Initiate Fear. The appearance of the creature unnerves Amara; humans are so small and insignificant before this great beast, like mice before a lion! She will Endure Stress, which means -4 Spirit due to Garran’s rank, and we roll a strong hit with an opportunity. She chooses to embrace the darkness as she finds some inner wellspring of courage. The opportunity is something unexpected, and we decide it’s about Brynn. Again checking the Action / Theme oracle, we get Fortify Safety, telling us that they also stand fast.

Despite the stress of confronting Garran, Amara will attempt to Compel him to assist. We need that horn to purge the land’s corruption! How can a Guardian not provide help for this quest? Once more we roll with Heart and get a strong hit. Garran kneels and spirit energy glows around them all, deep in the ancient wilds. As the glow fades, a horn appears on the ground before the humans, a gift to heal the land. Garran may one day call upon us to return a favor, or even make some demand, but for now our goals are aligned. We mark progress on the vow to find a cure.

Looking for starforged iron

The remaining component is iron that fell from the stars, and we’ll start by finding it. That means Amara will Gather Information once more, including a bonus from Wayfinder, as she consults her maps and knowledge of the Ironlands but we roll a miss with a complication. The needed iron cannot be found around here in the Deep Wilds. Instead, we will need to voyage to the Tempest Hills, a Formidable distance away. Our vow to find the treatment will therefore upgrade from Dangerous to reflect this increased challenge.

To prepare for the journey, first Amara will need to Resupply at Chandra’s: strong hit, gaining 2 Supply. She’ll also Make Camp to recharge before her journey, and we roll a weak hit that will allow her to relax slightly and boost her Spirit.

Time to Undertake a Journey. This first segment yields a weak hit. Amara and Brynn reach a grim battlefield, likely the result of some clash with raiders years ago. Although it might seem somewhat distasteful, this presents a good opportunity to Resupply by scavenging from the wagons (not the bodies themselves, as she would regard that as desecration). We roll a weak hit and get some tents, ropes, and similar camping supplies.

The next segment on the Journey is a strong hit. As we’re trying to end a plague, for now we’ll move at speed. This increases Momentum at the cost of some supplies.

As they cross into the Hinterlands, we roll another strong hit on the Journey. They take shelter in a desolate cave. Perhaps here they can take some time and Make Camp: a weak hit gives her time to pray to the gods and the land as she recovers another point of Spirit.

This next Journey waypoint is also a weak hit (using up 1 Supply). A fertile lake nestles within the dense forest. This seems like a likely place for a settlement, but no, the location is too isolated.

As we approach the potential halfway point, our Journey has another weak hit. An abandoned small hut sits in the woods here, and Amara & Brynn will Resupply, getting a weak hit and exchanging 2 Momentum for Supply. (Now that we understand the Unprepared debility, we have to keep that track above zero!)

But here, deep in the Hinterlands, when we try to Undertake a Journey for the next segment, we have a miss with a complication: It is stressful. Do we have an argument (likely) or perhaps some sort of nightmare with a supernatural origin? Yes, it’s an argument about Duty (from the Theme oracle). Which village will get the treatment first? This requires Amara to Endure Stress, getting a weak hit and pressing on without real resolution. This could test the pair’s bond at some point.

Spider fight

Time to enter the Tempest Hills on our Journey, but we roll another miss for a perilous event. Are we confronting some hostile creature (likely) or still arguing? Yes, a hostile creature waylays us. We could find mammoths or even giants here, but where exactly are we? Somewhere in a forest location, so we’ll say it’s a Harrow Spider. To Enter the Fray, we’ll set up a Dangerous progress track. Spiders are canonical ambush predators, so we roll with Wits and get a strong hit.

(I thought about including an image of a spider here, but given the number of my friends with arachnophobia, decided against it.)

First, Amara will use Slayer as a bonus in her attempt to Secure an Advantage, scampering to a safer location and getting a strong hit. That sets her up for a bonus to her Strike, which gives a weak hit, doing harm (and we remember to mark progress for the deadly weapon).

The spider has an angle on us now, coming through the web to trap one or both adventurers, which is a Clash and we get a weak hit. Brynn is webbed by the foul beast. At this point, she needs to end the fight, so she Turns the Tide and grabs the initiative. But on the decisive Strike to do so, we roll a miss. The dire outcome is the spider biting Brynn with its pincers and injecting venom into them. Brynn screams as they feel it burning in their veins, then stops as the paralysis takes hold.

Initiative belongs to the spider now. With one of its targets double-paralyzed (web and poison), it advances on Amara, who will Face Danger by scrambling away: weak hit. As she’s scared for Brynn, she’ll Endure Stress and her Spirit is back down to 0. What if they die before the two of them have resolved their dispute? How will Amara live with that on her conscience? We roll a weak hit and she presses on, determined to ensure that doesn’t happen.

But her scramble did succeed, so she’ll trust her instincts while Securing an Advantage by taking a moment to aim. That gives another strong hit, giving her +3 Momentum and the initiative. She looses her arrow in a Strike, and what would have been a miss becomes a strong hit as we decide to burn that 8 Momentum (reset to 1 because of the Maimed debility). From here, she will End the Fight, roll another strong hit, and the spider is dead.

Amara rushes to Brynn’s side, cuts away the webs, and attempts to Heal her friend. We roll a strong hit: they’ll survive, although we will Make Camp so they can take some time to recover. This also gives us a strong hit, so Amara can Relax a bit and Prepare for the rest of the journey.

Getting to the iron

Amara once again Undertakes a Journey, including the bonus from her prep, but we roll another miss. The spider poison may be clearing, but Brynn remains a little bit discombobulated. The argument resurfaces: what about Rock Ridge?

Since the last discussion, Amara has reconsidered her position prioritizing Watchtower, and anyway Rock Ridge is literally on the way. She therefore Swears an Iron Vow on her Warden apprentice insignia to carry the treatment to Rock Ridge as well (rank: Dangerous). This gets a weak hit, which tracks as we still don’t know exactly what the cure will entail.

Amara needs to scout out likely places for the starforged iron and Gathers Info with a weak hit. There’s a new danger: we can see a settlement, but it’s in a precarious location near a waterfall.

Map of the Ironlands showing the locations visited thus far

The pair once again Undertake a Journey and get a weak hit, using up 1 Supply as they get to the river. They’ll need to cross some rapids here, and as we roll another Journey move, we get a weak hit and use up yet another point of Supply rigging up a line to cross.

The settlement should hopefully have what they need, so on Reach Your Destination we roll a weak hit. The unforeseen complication could be that the settlement won’t part with the iron so easily (likely) or potentially also suffers from the plague. The oracle says that yes, they want something for the iron, and Action / Theme is Scheme Dream, a supernatural horror is their problem.

Track and kill a horror

A dangerous Bonewalker has killed several locals. Amara asks if a Warden is in the area (50/50), but no. She then Swears an Iron Vow (rank: Troublesome) to find and slay the Bonewalker menacing the tiny mining settlement of Woodriver. The roll yields a miss with a complication. Before she can even set out, the oracle says Control Idea. Local leaders want to imprison the horror as if it were still a person. Amara tries to convince them that this is pointless in the case of a soulless monster, which is a Compel move that gives another weak hit. They ask her to bring back the body at least.

Fine, she’ll do that. Brynn stays to recover and perhaps prepare the package of iron. Amara tracks the Horror with Gather Information (and Slayer) to get a strong hit. She knows where it is and our Momentum is popping.

The Bonewalker, a horrible undead mockery of human life, seems to haunt a nearby bridge. Amara readies herself for the fight to Secure an Advantage but we roll a miss with a complication. You are separated from something or someone. A sudden flood (possibly mystical in origin) washes out the bridge during the crossing and she will need to Face Danger to get safe: miss, and as we Pay the Price, she’ll lose 1 Supply (washed away in the rushing water).

Time to Enter the Fray against an unaware foe, but that’s a miss too. It turns out the Bonewalker detected her already (maybe as she struggled ashore from the collapsing bridge) and advances! In the Clash, the Bonewalker attacks with unexpected speed and we roll a miss as it claws her for 2 Harm. On the subsequent Endure Harm move, we roll a miss and lose further Momentum. Now fighting in close quarters, they Clash again and we roll a miss. Do we Endure Harm again (likely) or lose supply (which could hobble the rest of the fight)? It’s harm, so we roll a weak hit and press on at 0 Health now.

Seeing how the Bonewalker moves, Amara will Face Danger with the expertise of a trained fighter, but we miss and the undead horror is upon her, trying to tear her face off. Amara Endures Harm with a miss and we mark the Wounded debility as it claws up her face and shoulder sending blood streaming.

Amara is now fighting for her life and the Clash results in yet another miss. But when she Endures Harm, we roll a strong hit and she comes back strong to take the initiative. She’ll Strike and get a strong hit with an opportunity, dealing 3 Harm. The Bonewalker is fumbling about for a spear, so she will take a moment to Secure an Advantage with aim and trust in her instincts. Unfortunately, this turns out to be a miss and she loses the advantage as this fast-moving skeleton is already charging.

The two Clash for a strong hit. Amara regains the initiative and some Momentum, moving to End the Fight with a strong hit. She staunches the bleeding just a bit, breathing heavily, and we mark progress on this vow. While dragging the body, she’ll be Encumbered, and so she must Face Danger with endurance. This is another weak hit and she uses up the last her of Supply to fashion a sort of dragging stretcher. She’s Out of Supply and thus Unprepared, but eventually makes it back to Woodriver.

With this, she can Fulfill Her Vow to the village and mark 1 XP. This seems like an appropriate time to Forge a Bond, which is a weak hit. Do they want a Warden of their own perhaps? No, the oracle says Evade Renown as they do not want anyone to know of their settlement, maybe for security against raiders.

Amara and Brynn will Sojourn here to recover before heading back to Chandra. We roll a weak hit, giving us two options. She will Equip them and Mend a bit, clearing the Unprepared and Wounded debilities as well as slightly increasing Health and Supply. Woodriver doesn’t have much, but what it does have is at their disposal given the stories they hear of the Landwarning Plague.

That’s enough for now. Next time, we’ll repeat the journey back to Chandra and have her create the item.

Up next Ironsworn Delve - Part 4 Ironsworn Delve - Part 6
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