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Ironsworn Delve - Part 9

Amara, a Warden in the Ironlands assigned to protect the northwest corner of the Havens, is trying to relocate a tiny, poor community out of hostile Varou territory. She’s made progress in negotiating a withdrawal, but the rest of her plan looks something like this.

  1. Acquire provisions for the displaced (Secure an Advantage)
  2. Relocate toward the northwest (Face Danger)
  3. Settle into a new location (Secure an Advantage)

She wants to find a place for them in her Warden territory, though of course we know that misses and matches could change things entirely.

Getting them set up

The other two Wardens who showed up during Amara’s encounter with the Varou team up with her and try to gather food and other travelling necessities. Secure an Advantage => weak hit, they gather berries, hunt game, gather wood, pack up, and leave the previous food supplies as one of the concessions to the Varou. We’ll mark progress on her vow and get on the road.

They’re in relatively inhospitable lands, meaning this requires them all to Face Danger => weak hit. This sort of slog proves extremely tiring, so Amara will Endure Harm for 2 points (because this is a big narrative move). We roll a miss but burn momentum for a strong hit. As usual, she embraces the pain and fights through it.

Before we can mark progress, though, we need to find the new location. She’ll scout things out and Gather Information => weak hit to find some corrupted woods. This is the demonic presence that permeates so much of this region. Amara decides that this is a good stopping place because she’s already vowed to go root out the corruption. But when she goes to Forge a Bond => miss the Snowfield refugees reject this place. That’s quite dispiriting, so she’ll Endure Stress => strong hit and recognize that they’re right.

Dead leaves on the ground Photo by HQ Lightroom Presets on Unsplash

This gives her a bit of Momentum back and she heads out again on a scouting mission. This time she’ll Gather Information => strong hit and find a new location on a blighted cliff. Can we clear out all this dead undergrowth? That will take some work to try to Secure an Advantage => weak hit, how it is short-lived? We Ask the Oracle which says Escort Idea. She’ll need help from these settlers. When she goes back to tell them of this still-imperfect locale, we roll a Face Danger (+Heart) => weak hit. While they’re willing, the Snowfielders just don’t feel safe at this location. That’s quite disappointing and she’ll again Endure Stress => miss but the move oracle says you persevere. If they don’t feel safe, it won’t be a good place for them.

None of these sites fit them, but life here in the Ironlands will always be hard. What do they want? She asks to Gather Information => weak hit and we’ll Ask the Oracle to find out: Abandon Battle. They care about security and safety for their families. Amara gets an idea and tries to convince them to settle in or around Watchtower, which is Compel (+Heart) => strong hit. Yes, this suits them just fine and even keeps them under her protection.

Heading to Watchtower

This will require a bit of a journey. The group has already moved somewhat in that direction, so in order to Undertake a Journey we’ll set the rank to Troublesome. The first segment is a weak hit, requiring Amara to use up some of her own supplies to keep them moving along this ridge, away from the blight.

They continue their Journey => weak hit to a lake, where Amara ends up Out of Supply and we mark Unprepared. They continue to trudge down the trail, losing Momentum again when they Journey => weak hit. Finally they Reach Their Destination => strong hit as the situation in Watchtower is much safer and more receptive. Amara can now Fulfill Her Vow => strong hit as both the Snowfielders and previous residents of Watchtower welcome each other. This gives us 2 XP and an excellent opportunity to Forge a Bond => strong hit with the refugees, boosting her Spirit.

With this newfound knowledge and confidence, we’ll Advance by upgrading the Archer asset for a bonus to Resupply when hunting. Before moving on, Amara will spend some time in her home community to Sojourn => weak hit, allowing her to Equip (removing that Unprepared debility) and Consort with family and friends (boosting Spirit).

However, does the demonic threat advance (50/50)? Yes, so we’ll Advance a Threat => a new danger looms. Amara isn’t anywhere near where she’d need to be to stop this, so we mark Menace as the creeping corruption advances throughout the land. The refugees were right not to stay in that forest, which likely is completely overrun with abyssal foulness now.

Facing the dangers of the wilds

As a Warden, Amara must head this off quickly. She knows that first she must learn how to defeat the demon and then likely acquire some new capability. We’ve previously established that a sacred thicket, now defiled, might hold the answers. So we’ll Undertake a Journey of Dangerous rank, although first she will need to bulk up from 1 Supply. Here in the area, she’ll Resupply => strong hit and scavenge up what she needs. Now for that Journey roll, we get a strong hit and she manages her resources well while moving. This waypoint is a Protected Forest as she’s still near home, in an area where the demonic presence has not yet advanced.

On our second segment of the Journey => miss we are waylaid by a perilous event.” Amara encounters an area of demonic corruption; is this an environmental hazard (likely) or some kind of foe? We Ask the Oracle and it’s actually a foe. But what kind?

We probably should build up a denizens matrix but I fall back to old habits and whip up a quick d10 table, which works well in this instance anyway.

  1. Raider
  2. Bear
  3. Boar
  4. Wolf
  5. Harrow Spider
  6. Frostbound
  7. Haunt
  8. Husk
  9. Nightspawn
  10. Wyvern

Then we roll a 1 indicating a Raider. Since this encounter came about on a miss, let’s just assume it’s an ambush in a settled cave where she had intended to spend the night but turns out to be occupied. Therefore, against a Dangerous foe she’ll Enter the Fray => Miss and thus Pay the Price by Enduring Harm. She drops to 0 Health and we roll a weak hit as Amara keeps fighting.

After withdrawing around the outside of the cave entrance, she takes a minute to prepare a shot for when the raider comes storming out, Secure an Advantage => weak hit and gains a bit of Momentum. But when he comes charging out, they Clash => miss as she’s outmatched. His spear deflects her arrows and he’s pressing his advantage. In this moment, she knows fear and must Endure Stress but keeps going. Again she falls back, trying to Secure an Advantage => miss and the raider strikes home. She must Endure Harm => miss, we mark Wounded. Her life is truly in danger and she attempts to flee, but that will require Face Danger => weak hit and the loss of Momentum as she barely escapes this encounter.

Deeper in the forest, once she believes she’s safe, Amara stops to bind her wounds; she’ll Heal => strong hit and recover a bit of Health while removing the Wounded debility. Certainly, she wants to keep moving, and thus the next segment of her Journey => strong hit allowing us to build some Momentum back up.

Continuing her Journey => strong hit with a match. What’s this opportunity? The waypoint turns out to be a Barren Caravan which seems like a good place to Resupply => miss. What’s going on? When we Pay the Price it turns out there’s a different sort of threat: the wagons and tents have diseased corpses. She does her best to extricate herself without contracting whatever killed these poor folks, Face Danger => strong hit and re-establishes Momentum.

The corruption is everywhere and her mission seems only to grow in importance, so Journey => strong hit and she moves at speed, using some Supply in order to reach a Foul River. Clearly we’re getting close to this thicket and are now in the Hinterlands. Here Amara will hunt to Resupply => weak hit, gaining food but slowing her down (Momentum). After a while, she needs to replenish some resources so she tries to Make Camp => miss. The raider waylays her, having followed her all this way!

Once again she will Enter the Fray => miss and find herself in a highly unfavorable situation. The rapid escalation of what seemed to be a relatively peaceful moment wears on her, Endure Stress => strong hit and she takes some Momentum from her anger. With the initiative, she’ll Strike => weak hit and deal 2 Harm with her archery while losing initiative. As the raider advances on her position, she’ll attempt to get range, Secure an Advantage => strong hit and takes back control of the tactical situation. This is her chance to try to end it, Strike => strong hit and indeed she’ll End the Fight => strong hit. He shouldn’t have followed her all this way.

Afterwards, she’ll scavenge the body, Resupply => weak hit but not find anything useful. Time to move on with her Journey => weak hit which uses up another point of Supply. She’s improved her hunting abilities which will allow her to Resupply => weak hit. Even though she can’t find too much, it’s enough to replace that food. We’ll then roll Reach Your Destination => strong hit to ensure that Amara has arrived in a (relatively) favorable situation.

Delving the thicket

Now that we’ve arrived at this sacred thicket, we can Discover a Site.

  • Name: The Crystal Wood (This is based on its previous state prior to foul abyssal magic.)
  • Theme: Corrupted
  • Domain: Tanglewood
  • Rank: Dangerous
  • Denizens: Mystic, Primordial, Wolf, Chimera, Iron-Wracked Beast, Nightspawn

Our entry feature is a mystic focus or conduit”, the Wardens’ traditional entryway.

Delve => weak hit yielding progress and an Opportunity. This is an area with plentiful water and food. Amara will try to Resupply => weak hit and trade some Momentum for Supply.

Delve => weak hit yielding progress and a Danger. The local feature is a small creek, now fouled, and the Danger is an environmental or architectural hazard. We envision grasping vines lashing out from the undergrowth and Amara must Face Danger => weak hit, getting away but losing Momentum in the process.

Delve => strong hit with match yielding progress and an opportunity. She’s reached a Warden waystation from before the invasion, which provides another opportunity to scavenge and thus Resupply => strong hit, maxing out her Supply track.

Delve => strong with match yielding progress in a place of Active Water. This is a relatively secure area where she can try to rest a bit and thus Make Camp => strong hit. Amara meditates (Focus) and takes heart, remembering why she’s here (Relax).

With this much progress, we’ll try to Locate Our Objective => strong hit, and so the situation favors us here with a boost to Momentum. The Aspect / Focus oracle says Decaying Obstacle and we envision some sort of throbbing internal organ (a heart? a spleen?) blocking the outflow of a spring from underneath a little escarpment.

Unfouling the Crystal Wood

Amara has reached the place where the corruption emanates throughout this entire thicket. But how will she be able to destroy it? She studies it closely to Gather Information => weak hit, this is more complicated than simply striking it down with a blade.

We’ll set up a Scene Challenge at Dangerous and see how this goes. To start off, she’ll try to study it again and Secure an Advantage => miss. As a demonic voice echoes in her mind, trying to erode her courage and willpower, Amara must Endure Stress => weak hit but will press on.

Rejecting this influence before it can corrupt her, she Faces Danger with Heart => weak hit. While we mark progress, she already runs into a minor complication. We don’t know what it is, so we’ll Ask the Oracle which says Defy Memory. She feels a fading connection to her Warden training as the tendrils of demonic influence try to push into her soul.

Amara focuses and remembers, trying to Secure an Advantage => weak hit. This gains us some Momentum as she reminds herself that her mind is her own, but vessels from that demonic organ push and wind into the earth.

The Warden rushes forward to burn or cut these tubes, protecting the land but requiring her to Face Danger => weak hit. This results in progress as well as a complication because the connections are trying to grow back, albeit not quite as fast as she cauterizes them with blade and torch.

She continues this process and thus will Face Danger => weak hit, giving progress but filling the countdown track. This means the challenge ends here and we make the Progress Roll => weak hit. While the organ is destroyed and burned out of the heart of the earth, she must Pay the Price. Demon blood and ichor splashes over her, burning into her flesh, and she screams out: Endure Harm => strong hit with a match. Our Warden is Battle-Scarred from facing death already and has learned out to shake it off, restoring a bit of Health. The opportunity, however, is that this organ represents a key to defeating the demon! That will then allow us to mark progress on her vow to end the demonic influence.

Having completed her objective, Amara will attempt to Escape the Depths => miss with complication. That represents a dire threat or imposing obstacle,” which she confronts in an area filled with Depleted Debris. Of course, that makes sense since the ground here is covered with scattered demon viscera. We roll for a Danger which turns out to be a denizen spawned from dark magic.” Based on the denizen chart, we’ll envision a Nightspawn forming from swirling abyssal energies as the corruption starts to fade. That means we are going to generate a monstrosity!

  • Size: Medium (person-sized)
  • Form: Hybrid (beast/beast), an insectoid wolf
  • Characteristic: Wings
  • Ability: Shapeshifting (back and forth between its two base forms)

Next time, we’ll deal with this fight.

Up next Ironsworn Delve - Part 8 Ironsworn Delve - Part 10
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