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Ironsworn Delve - Part 8

Amara has sworn to get her fellow Warden, Malik, to safety after he was captured by raiders who also killed another Warden. He’s more or less okay as far they can tell, but he still needs safety and recuperation in a welcoming community. That’s a Troublesome challenge and I think it’ll work out like this:

  1. Find a community
  2. Reach Destination
  3. Heal or Sojourn

Finding a community

Amara climbs a tree and scouts the in the distance, Gather Information => weak hit. We decide to Reveal a Danger and find an environmental hazard. She sees some kind of settlement up on a ridge, but it will require a climb. We mark progress and set out in that direction.

Before they start the climb, they’ll try to rig up some equipment, Secure an Advantage => weak hit. That lets us carry a +1 forward to Face Danger => weak hit. It takes some time to get the rig set up so that it’s safe to help Malik up and that rope is going to have to stay, so that’s -1 Supply.

A tiny village at the foot of a large mountain Photo by Vivek Sharma on Unsplash

The two Wardens make their way into the little village of Ghostwalk (named for a founding legend a generation or two ago) to seek help for Malik and, to a lesser extent, for Amara, Sojourn => miss. They find no help here because the settlement here actually supports the raiders. We lose 2 Momentum as somebody starts yelling, No Wardenlickers here!” Amara and Malik recognize that they’ve wandered into a very difficult situation and try to sneak out of town, Face Danger => miss. Nope, the townsfolk have seen them and have started to give chase! That’s a scary situation, so Amara will Endure Stress => miss. In addition to the -2 Spirit from the Dangerous mob, she loses 1 Momentum. Our young adventurer is scared and on the run! She sees a trail; some part of her mind notes for later that it’s a beautiful location with birds and flowering trees and a babbling brook but they have no time to appreciate it. Can she find a way out? Secure an Advantage => weak hit, there’s an opportunity here to lose the pursuers, but they have to go now! That means Face Danger => strong hit, they lose the raider supporters chasing them.

Eventually, they need to pause. First they look around to get some food and water, Resupply => miss. Not only do they find nothing helpful, something has snuck up on them.

Fighting for their lives

Is this a beast (likely) or a raider? It’s a raider scout. Are there more than a couple (unlikely)? No, we can face them together. Since the scouts are out looking for the Wardens and this came up on a miss, this is an ambush. So they’ll confront these Dangerous raiders, Enter the Fray => miss. The raiders got the drop on the Wardens, who have lost significant Momentum in addition to initiative. Clash => weak hit, Amara and Malik put up a solid fight and make progress but she takes a blow. Endure Harm => weak hit, she rolls with it and presses on.

The raiders are moving around them now and our Wardens will Face Danger => strong hit to recognize that the enemy is trying to flank them. But in seeing this poorly-executed maneuver, Amara can take a shot, Strike => weak hit. Do the raiders hit Malik or Amara (50/50)? Malik, definitely, and he’s wounded pretty badly. She needs to end this quickly and help him out, and they Clash => weak hit so she Endures Harm => weak hit losing Momentum. She’ll move around to get them where the raiders are roughly in line in their advance and Clash => strong hit, that’s what we need! End the Fight => strong hit, both are dead.

But Amara needs to attend to Malik, Heal => weak hit means he lives but in rough shape. She binds his wounds, brews up a small herb potion that at least helps him relax slightly, and then Makes Camp => strong hit with match. What does the unexpected opportunity mean? The Action/Theme oracle says Preserve Path. Not far away, she sees some kind of homestead and they hobble to it, but it turns out to be a shrine. They pray to the spirits, then she will Recuperate and Focus for a bit of Health and Momentum.

Getting Malik safe

Here around the shrine, hopefully blessed by the spirits, she will go out and hunt for food to Resupply => weak hit. It takes some time, perhaps more than they really can spare, so that means exchanging 1 Momentum for Supply.

Now that they’ve had some time to catch their breath and make sure they have lost their pursuers, Amara will go up a small rise to scout out another settlement. Gather Information => strong hit, the path is clear. There’s a small community on the horizon, but of course out in the Ironlands going anywhere requires them to take care. Amara thus Faces Danger => strong hit and the pair of Wardens arrive at a village named Wither” for a dead tree that has never rotted in the many years these families have been here. Now we can mark progress a second time on the vow for Malik.

We’re going to spend some time here; is there a Warden already (likely)? Yes, and with a 98 Malik knows her. So we can safely Sojourn => strong hit allowing Amara to Consort (raising her Spirit) and Provision (getting some Supply). After marking one more bit of progress, Amara can Fulfill Her Vow => weak hit, gaining 1 XP. What do we discover is still remaining, though? The oracle says Construct Protection because Wither is trying to set up defenses against the raiders.

But she needs to deal with that demon back near Watchtower. This could end up causing a bit of a sticking point with Malik, because she feels obligated to head home and protect her community. As a Free Warden, not assigned to any one place, Malik says the people here need help now. This will Test Their Bond => weak hit, she agrees to stay and help for just a short time.

Back on the road

Because of delaying her response to the demon, though, we need to Advance a Threat => dramatic move or major complication. We mark Menace twice for that threat and it will reveal a new aspect of its nature or abilities. What is that? Once again we Ask the Oracle which says Lose Barrier. Perhaps it overcomes magical wards now? But where? What are they protecting?

A mystical thicket, sacred to the Wardens, has been overrun by corruption. Amara has delayed long enough. Upon hearing this news, she knows she must leave immediately. This will be a Formidable task to reach this thicket near the Cavern of Torment. Perhaps there she can learn how to defeat it.

So she will Undertake a Journey => miss. Amara is travelling down a Rich Path. Does she encounter a beast (likely) or some major environmental obstacle? It’s a beast; in fact, this is an Iron-wracked Wolf. We don’t want to play out this entire fight again, so we’ll Battle => weak hit, and Amara is hurt badly. She Endures Harm => miss, and must mark Wounded & flee from this terrible monster. Eventually she can Make Camp => weak hit. We choose to Prepare because she needs to find help. Now that she can act on her own terms again, she will look for some nearby community, Gather Info => strong hit. A shabby settlement known as Snowfield is nearby. Amara staggers in, desperately in need of assistance. Some of the locals get her into a tent where she can treat her wounds, Heal => weak hit and she’ll gain 2 Health.

Helping Snowfield

This place isn’t much more than a camp, really, and they barely have enough for their own survival. Let’s Ask the Oracle what happens, Quiet Criminal. Amara catches a small child trying to steal her food, and instead just shares with her. (The game encourages us to just make it happen”, so that’s what I did.) But mutual aid is needed, so she’ll Sojourn => weak hit and Recuperate for a bit.

After she’s able to travel safely again (not long!), she’ll try again to Undertake a Journey => miss,. Something’s wrong here and the locals don’t want her to leave. We’ll Ask the Oracle what the settlement trouble is, and learn they have a conflict with the Firstborn. What sort of conflict? Impress Home which we take to mean this is Varou (wolf folk) territory. Snowfield is poorly provisioned, but the Varou have threatened them and engaged in minor conflicts. Amara can’t leave these poor folks like this; at least Wither still had two Wardens present! She Swears an Iron Vow to find a safe home for Snowfield residents” rather than this tent city in disputed territory. We roll a miss and burn Momentum for a weak hit.

First, she’ll seek the local Varou pack, hoping not to be attacked. Face Danger => miss, of course she walks into an ambush. This is in among some small foothills, with dead vegetation and large rocks everywhere. She must Enter the Fray but we roll a strong hit with a match and Ask the Oracle which says Arrive Faction. Other Wardens are out patrolling and come upon this confrontation!

Together, they will try to negotiate with the ambushers to stand down, as they came to talk to the Varou, not raid them. Compel => strong hit, one of the Varou named Vata knows of Wardens. Amara asks some questions to Gather Information => weak hit and is told that the pack elder seeks blood, not just territory.

Varou Negotiations

We’re going to experiment with the Scene Challenge mechanic, which reminds me a great deal of Racing Clocks from Blades in the Dark. We’ll label this track Varou Negotiations” and rank it as Dangerous. This means we have a standard 10-box progress track, and we’ll mark two boxes every time we get progress. But there’s also a countdown track with four boxes, and when it fills up we have to conclude the scene regardless of how much progress is made. Generally, a Scene Challenge uses two moves. To build up momentum, we use Secure an Advantage (marking the countdown clock only on a miss), but to build up progress, we’ll use Face Danger and mark the countdown on a weak hit or miss.

The two Wardens, Morell and Beca, accompany Amara to a set of caves in these foothills. The entrance is guarded by several warriors, but Vata escorts the Wardens past them. The caves are well-maintained and clearly have sheltered this people for many generations, with reinforced ceilings, smoothed floors, and many workshops. Elder Vojan, resplendent in beads and robes that exceed anything the Ironlanders have made since leaving the Old World, grants them an audience.

Amara first will try to Secure an Advantage by recognizing that there is a problem, with Snowfield being in a place it should not be. We get a weak hit and Vojan talks briefly, explaining the problem. The Wardens now try to negotiate reasonably and Face Danger => weak hit. The residents of Snowfield should have asked first. Amara wants to know what else could the Varou accept, thus Secure Advantage => weak hit and we get a bit more Momentum going. What is the response? We Ask the Oracle and get Serve Destiny. These Varou wish to reclaim dominion over the Ironlands.

Of course, Amara can’t speak for all the humans here, but they have no wish to encroach on Varou territory, so she continues to Secure an Advantage => strong hit with match. We Ask the Oracle once more for a plot twist and it says a secret alliance is revealed. Some of the Varou pack speak up now, as they want peaceful coexistence with the descendants of the desperate refugees who landed here two generations ago. The Wardens are in a delicate situation now and Face Danger, trying not to meddle in the internal politics of the pack but promising to move their own people away and let this be done. That results in a strong hit as some are inclined to accept this, but what of the Varou dead? Amara says that enough have died and there is no good in causing more suffering, so she will Face Danger => weak hit. This doesn’t mollify the Varou hard-liners, but some agree.

What if the Wardens find some other way to lend aid? Secure an Advantage => strong hit, the Varou are dealing with local human raiders. Ah, yes, this is likely one of their major problems with humans right now, and our Wardens oppose them as well. Perhaps we can ally together to fight them? Face Danger => miss, this is an insult to suggest that their warriors need any help from humans. Amara will Endure Stress as she thought they’d reached a solution, and that’s a strong hit. Then we leave them to you; do as you wish with the raiders. Snowfield has no love for them either: Face Danger => strong hit.

Perhaps we have an accord, then. We’ll make the Progress Roll => weak hit. As a minor cost, Snowfield must give up supplies. While it’s minor relative to the scope of the scene, for people who are already hungry, this will present a problem.

Up next Ironsworn Delve - Part 7 Ironsworn Delve - Part 9
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