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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    BlueKnightGuy

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    Default Let's Play: Ironsworn (Solo)

    (This seemed like the most appropriate forum... Mods feel free to move if it doesn't fit here).

    So, I recently discovered that there are a lot of PDFs on DriveThruRPG which are free to download (working from home is great, haha). I've been grabbing a few that look interesting and digging through them a bit. Ironsworn was one of them - looked intriguing, but I almost passed when I read in the description/comments that it uses (or at least is based in) the PbtA system. Having looked at the Apocalypse World book before, it wasn't really my cup of tea. But still, the setting and the idea of solo or co-op GM-less play was something I was interested in, so I went for it. It was free, after all. I'm glad I went for it - it does draw on the PbtA system, but I like this approach quite a bit better than I liked Apocalypse World, the setting is very cool, and the GM-less options seem very workable!

    So, on that last point, I figured I'd give a solo game a try, and wanted to make a record of it. So I'm doing that here on the forum, because why not? I will be making a character and sending them through their adventures, posting them here for the Playground to see and possibly even have a say in. The rules emphasize talking with the players to decide on narrative developments and twists, even with a GM present, so if any stray posters want to give some input to the course of the story they can chime in! No idea if this thread will get any traction, but the option's there at least!

    This will probably be posted most like a narrative of the character's adventures, with spoilered sections commenting on what's going on mechanically. If you don't care about that, feel free to skip it and (hopefully!) enjoy the story!

    A note on dice rolls - since you can't see the rolls until you post and can't put new rolls into an edit, I don't think it'll be feasible to use the dice roller here (does the die roller syntax even work on this part of the forum?). Y'all will just have to trust that I'm not fudging the rolls, haha. Not much point in cheating in a single-player game, anyway...

    Anyway, I will get started with filling out some of the world details and creating a character, and then we'll get into it!
    I'm playing Ironsworn, an RPG that you can run solo - and I'm putting the campaign up on GitP!

    Most recent update: Chapter 5: Decisions

    -----

    A worldbuilding project, still work in progress: Reign of the Corven

    Most recent update: another look at magic traditions!

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Orc in the Playground
     
    BardGuy

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    Mar 2007

    Default Re: Let's Play: Ironsworn (Solo)

    Sounds interesting
    I love playing in a party with a couple of power-gamers, it frees me up to be Elan!


  3. - Top - End - #3
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    BlueKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Let's Play: Ironsworn (Solo)

    Prologue: The World

    Ironsworn comes with its own setting, but that setting is deliberately somewhat vague. It's intended to be fleshed out to suit the group, and continue to be developed as you play. There's a section which lists several options for different aspects of the Ironlands, and prompts the player(s) to pick "your truth" from those options - or to come up with your own! So to start, I'll be going through those questions, getting a framework to start from. These might change or be developed further as I go on.

    The Old World
    The setting makes reference to "the Old World," where those who inhabit the Ironlands (Ironlanders) came from a few generations back. The general assumption is that some sort of calamity prompted a migration to the harsh Ironlands. I think I will be deviating a bit from that standard.

    One prompt suggests that a savage people known as the Skulde invaded and conquered the kingdoms of the Old World, and those who could fled by ship to escape the destruction. I think I am going to take a bit of a variant off of that. An ancient empire once spread across the Old World, and the Ironlands were a frontier of that empire - they established tenuous control and colonies partly due to the rich natural resources, partially because it was there and the prestige of bringing new lands into the Imperial sphere outweighed the fact that the land was bleak and existence was difficult for those who actually made the trip. However, the empire was old, sprawling, and decadent. It maintained an outward appearance of might and power, and desperately held onto the frontiers against the hard-living "barbarians" who at times threatened them - increasingly hiring (bribing?) those very barbarians to defend the frontiers they had once threatened - but in reality the entire system was bloated, fragile, and waiting for the right push in the right place. The Ironlanders mostly went along as they usually did... the provincial governor (probably titled an Exarch, because Exarch is one of the coolest titles for a ruler of an outlying province) decided to make a bid for the Imperial throne, stripping the province of most of its forces and disappearing, dying on a battlefield or in an Imperial dungeon after being defeated. Gradually the merchants and traders became less frequent, then stopped altogether as something provided the right pressure in the right place and the whole Empire came collapsing in on itself.

    What exactly that push was, I'm not sure. So I'll roll on the oracle tables - a tool for prompting ideas to run with, especially in GM-less play. I'll roll on the action and theme tables, which will give me a verb and a noun, respectively - and I get "Summon" and "Fame." Hm. I had considered some mystical source to the Empire's collapse. Perhaps the Emperors began summoning entities from the beyond, for simple tasks at first, then they began increasingly reliant on them. Eventually it was a matter of status to have summoned creatures (I will call them daemons, not in the "evil entity" sense, but more as just an inscrutable being from another plane) attending to one's person at any time. However, the daemons had their own goals. They began goading the powerful, the influential - and those who felt they should have influence and power - to scheme against one another, gain more and more for themselves. Whatever their reasons, the daemons fed into the pride and ambition of the Empire's upper class, and the land tore itself apart in civil war. The daemons weren't necessary to spark a civil war, of course, as the Empire had seen plenty of those before, but they made it spread more quickly, be fought more virulently, and spiral far out of control. The Empire ripped itself to pieces over the scraps as the barbarians overran the frontiers. If this seems familiar, I'm loosely basing it on the late Roman empire (with the Ironlands as a loose stand-in for the British isles, and the disappearing Exarch inspired by Constantine III).

    So, the Aquilian Empire established colonies in the Ironlands which mingled with native Ironlanders, before collapsing to a combination of internal conflict driven by their own hubris and search for mystical power and invasions by savage clans including the Skulde people... who I will say have also raided, traded with, and settled in the Ironlands more recently (taking the place of the Saxons in post-Roman Britain).

    Iron
    This relates to the source of the name "Ironlands." Given my answer for the first question, there needs to be a reason for the Empire to expand into a land which is as hard to get by in as the Ironlands, so I think I'm going for the first option - the mountains and hills are rich in iron ore, especially the star-forged black iron which falls from the heavens and is particularly sought after.

    Legacies
    This question relates to the humans who might have come before the Ironlanders - whether they are the first there, or if there were colonies in previous generations which were lost and became savage and feral ("the Broken"), or if there were precursors long before even the firstborn. Given the initial framework, there were definitely colonies before, and some continuity between those colonies and the settlements which still exist now. The cities were abandoned as the food supplies from other regions dried up, but the more rural settlements carried on (or at least some managed to survive). Perhaps the Broken come from the abandoned cities - maybe driven to cannibalism or other extremes by lack of food, and cursed by the land for that. I like that idea, so I'll stick with it for now as the source of the Broken. Whether they still lurk in the ruined cities I don't know yet.

    Communities
    This refers to the settlements in the Ironlands, and how interconnected they are. I was at first thinking I would go with the middle option... there are Circles, sometimes a couple of families living in some sort of proximity, sometimes a good-sized village, sometimes a handful of villages. However, I'm tempted to take the last option, where there are well-traveled roads between villages, as I'm drawing from the Romans and roads were kind of their thing. Still, though, I think I will stick with option 2. Small polities, often maintaining the name of an old Aquilian administrative division, feud and trade with one another. There is slight interconnectedness, but it is tenuous and difficult. There are old roads built by the Empire... but I think as they mostly lead between abandoned cities, they are unused and in disrepair (and perhaps even avoided for superstitious reasons - superstitions which may stem from a rise in lawlessness and banditry along the roads as Imperial authority broke down but before the cities were abandoned?).

    Leaders
    This gets into what sort of leadership the communities have. I sort of like the last one - multiple clan-chiefs ruling over petty domains, squabbling amongst one another even as their people scrabble to survive the next winter. Each one longs for the title of Exarch, the old Imperial ruler of the Ironlands - though in this case they would effectively be a king in their own right, rather than a provincial governor reporting to higher authority. These petty chieftains are local strong-men, leading warbands and exacting tribute from their own little circle of villages. The exact degree of control they possess varies from chief to chief, from place to place, and depending how close their chosen center of power is to the village in question. They style themselves with an old Aquilian title, trying to give their petty fiefdoms some shred of legitimacy... what exactly that title might be, I'm not sure yet. I think most villages have their own leaders, chosen according to their own traditions, and largely do just enough to get their local petty chief to leave them alone.

    Defense
    This deals with the state of armed forces in the Ironlands, which ties into the last point. The various chiefs would have their own bands of armed retainers, of course. These (drawing from the prompt in the book) carry banners and insignia somewhat reminiscent of the old Aquilian standards, bearing the imagery of the long-defunct legions which they claim to descend from. The villages themselves probably have many of their fighting men and women skimmed off by these chiefs, so while there are probably some who train with weapons more than others in order to defend the village in times of trouble, mostly they equip whoever can carry a weapon with whatever is at hand when they are forced into defending their homes.

    Mysticism
    This deals with the status of magic in the game. I will take the middle choice. Magic exists, but it is rare and dangerous. Some fear magic, as they blame the daemons for the collapse of the Aquilan Empire (and perhaps all magic draws on the daemons in some way?) but there are those who take the chance, seek out the keepers of knowledge and secret places, and skirt the darkness in pursuit of power.

    Religion
    This one's pretty self explanatory - the status of the gods in the world, between most believing the gods are dead (or at least have abandoned those in the Ironlands) all the way up to gods being an active presence in the world. I think I am again going to take the middle option - the gods are believed to exist, prayers are offered up in times of hardship, and perhaps they do push the flow of fate, but their presence is subtle at best.

    I have alluded to it, but I'm picturing at least three "groups" of humans in the Ironlands - the native Ironlanders who were here before the coming of the Empire, those who settled from the Imperial mainland, and the Skulde who are beginning to make their own inroads into the land. I think each will have their own set of gods. For the native Ironlanders and Skulde, they'll probably have standard fantasy pantheons (possibly drawn from real-world Celtic and Norse/Germanic pantheons - at least taking on a bit of flavor from them), but I think I'll reuse a pair of deities I made for a previous campaign and really liked for the Empire. I'll come back with some more detail on that!

    There are a few more questions, which I'll have to get back to - I have to be up for work in the morning. I will be back to finish up the world creation process. In the meantime, I am open to suggestions, comments, etc. - either about the game in general or the world as it's shaping up so far!
    Last edited by rs2excelsior; 2020-08-25 at 09:06 PM.
    I'm playing Ironsworn, an RPG that you can run solo - and I'm putting the campaign up on GitP!

    Most recent update: Chapter 5: Decisions

    -----

    A worldbuilding project, still work in progress: Reign of the Corven

    Most recent update: another look at magic traditions!

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    RangerGuy

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    Jul 2017

    Default Re: Let's Play: Ironsworn (Solo)

    I find Ironsworn really works fine as a solo game, even if you are not the biggest fan of PbtA in general. In solo play you need those improvisation promts from the game anyway, which you can manage without in trad games with a GM.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    BlueKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Let's Play: Ironsworn (Solo)

    The improvisation prompts are very nice (at least they seem to be, I'm trying out how they actually work now). It wasn't the core concept of PbtA that put me off... to be honest, it's been long enough that I don't remember exactly what put me off of Apocalypse World. I do like the basic idea of "moves," and while the lack of varying difficulty for tasks is normally a negative for me, the game still manages to work in difficulty with its progress tracks and increasing consequences for failure in more difficult challenges.

    Getting back to the world questions:

    Firstborn:
    The firstborn are elves, giants, varou (somewhat canid humanoids), primordials (elementals more or less), and trolls. Creatures who inhabited the Ironlands before the coming of the first humans - even the native Ironlanders who were there before the Empire discovered the land. I'm going for the moderate option again - the firstborn are very much real (as opposed to being considered legends and very rarely contacted), but generally stay to their own settlements. They are generally fiercely protective of their own territories, but (except for trolls and varou, probably) they'll usually leave the human settlements alone if left alone themselves. I think the native Ironlanders long ago learned to coexist with most of the firstborn, and while the arrival of the Empire led to conflict at first, the Imperial settlers gradually learned how to get along with them from the native Ironlanders. There is still some conflict in both directions, but it's usually minor and sporadic.

    Beasts:
    In this case, "beasts" refers to creatures which are like normal animals, but bigger, tougher, meaner, and more aggressive. I'm going with a higher occurrence here. Beasts are a common scourge, sometimes raiding livestock from villages - or even carrying off villagers themselves. Beast slayers make a living by hunting down these creatures, and sometimes selling pelts, teeth, etc. - or perhaps using harvested body parts in rituals or medicines. Tying back to the motivations for a decadent Empire settling an inhospitable land, perhaps the pelts of these beasts were highly coveted among the elites, and they provided an additional export alongside the iron and other metal resources to justify the cost and food imports.

    Horrors:
    The more supernatural predators which stalk the night in the Ironlands, undead creatures and restless spirits. I think I want the beasts to take center stage as the main threat in the wild lands, so I'll go for the middle option here as well. Horrors are not unheard of, but typically lurk in dark places away from the settlements. Still, when camping on a deserted trail or hearing a strange noise in the night, Ironlanders will make a ward or whisper a prayer to keep the terrible creatures which rule the darkness at bay.

    So, that establishes a basic framework for the world. The Ironlands were settled by the Aquilian Empire, who fought and eventually mingled with the native human tribes there. The land was harsh and required regular food shipments to sustain the burgeoning cities, but the great bounty of iron and beast pelts kept the Empire sending settlers, troops, gold, and food to the north. Eventually, driven by the machinations of the daemons which the elites in the Empire had bound to serve their whims and assumed were nothing more than mindless thralls, the Empire consumed itself in civil war and internal strife. The armies which had kept the people safe now turned inwards, fighting other pretenders to the throne. The last Exarch of the Ironlands himself took most of the region's troops and sailed back to the mainland before meeting his end on some battlefield. In the end, the Skulde swept in and brought the entire rotten structure down, invading the very heartland of the Empire. The Ironlands were left on their own and broke into petty kingdoms, who battled the elements, each other, and raiding Skulde. Each took old Imperial titles of authority, hoping to draw some tenuous connection between their own petty fiefdoms and the grand empire which once spanned the entire land. Perhaps one day a new Exarch will emerge to unite the Ironlands under a single banner once more...

    I think I like this. Definitely a good starting point to flesh out as time goes on. I will add to this or make tweaks as things emerge during play. One thing I think I am going to do is lean into Greek rather than Latin as my inspiration for the empire, since I chose Exarch rather than a Latin title for the Empire's official in charge of the region. Which might mean changing the name of the empire as well, since "Aquilian" is a bastardization of "Aquila," the Latin word for Eagle. Maybe keep it from being quite as much a blatant rip-off of the Roman empire.

    Next up, character generation!
    I'm playing Ironsworn, an RPG that you can run solo - and I'm putting the campaign up on GitP!

    Most recent update: Chapter 5: Decisions

    -----

    A worldbuilding project, still work in progress: Reign of the Corven

    Most recent update: another look at magic traditions!

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    BlueKnightGuy

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    Default `Re: Let's Play: Ironsworn (Solo)

    Prologue: The Character

    Alright, so - character building! Time to put together the poor soul stalwart hero that I'm going to throw into this world!

    I have a basis for the character I'm planning on making - it's a character I used for a previous game. Basically, there was a viking raider type fellow in the sidebar, and I built a character based on that. Big, tough, gruff, likely to resort to the edge of his axe more than words. In this setting, that would mean a Skuld. I had an idea for the start of the campaign - my character washed up on one of the Barrier Islands, shipwrecked in a storm. However, I think I will start things off a bit earlier, with the ship just entering said storm. Will it actually end in a shipwreck? We'll find out! It also means I need to figure out exactly why he's headed for the Ironlands to start out. I'm not giving him a name yet, because I'm not sure if I'll reuse the name or not.

    Stats:
    Ironlands has 5 stats: Edge (agility & quickness), Heart (courage, willpower, sociability), Iron (strength, endurance, aggressiveness), Shadow (sneakiness, cunning, deceptiveness), and Wits (Expertise, knowledge). You can distribute your starting attributes of 3, 2, 2, 1, 1 however you wish. The previous incarnation of this character, one of his defining characteristics was strength. Like he was seriously strong and able to take a massive amount of punishment in a fight. So that 3 is definitely going into Iron. I'm less certain about the 2s, so I'll do the 1s. Sneaky is something he most definitely is not, so Shadow will be a 1, and he's not that nimble either, so Edge gets a 1 as well. That means there's a 2 in Wits and Heart. That works - canny and a bit cunning works for this character, and while "sociable" doesn't really match, the other descriptors for Heart do fit the idea I have of his personality.

    Health, Spirit, Supply:
    Ironsworn has three "health bars," so to speak: Health (physical harm), Spirit (Stress), and Supply (food, ammunition, other consumables). All start at the max value of +5. Some or all might be lowering very soon, I'm afraid.

    Momentum:
    This track determines your character's, well, momentum in their current quest. Positive momentum represents that you're doing well, moving forward, that you have the strategic initiative, and can give you automatic successes. Negative momentum means you're on the back foot, off balance, reacting, and can reduce your chance of success. It starts at +2, with a max of +10 and reset (the value which it returns to once it's used to modify a roll, good or bad) of +2. The maximum and reset can be reduced by permanent or temporary negative conditions called Debilities.

    Assets:
    Going a bit out of order here. Assets are particular benefits which offer bonuses in certain situations or new moves the character can make. At the start you get three assets.
    First off - Sunderer. That's a Combat Talent which affects (naturally) combat, and gives bonuses for fighting with an axe. Right now, I can choose to lose 1 momentum in combat to deal an extra damage.
    Second - Veteran. It's a path talent, which at the moment grants bonuses to using momentum in combat. This character is an experienced raider and fighter, and has seen more than his fair share of battles in his time.
    The third one, I'm a little uncertain on. I could take Waterborn, which grants bonuses to travelling by ship since he is arriving to the Ironlands by ship, but I don't think I want that to be a central part of his character. I think I'll avoid the ritual assets as well - this character isn't really a magic user (though I won't rule out him developing that during the game). Ironclad or Shield-Bearer would be useful and fit relatively well, but I'm pretty heavily combat focused already. I can take a companion... Might go for that. A raven seems thematic... This one offers a choice of which ability I take first, so I'm going for the third one, I think, which lets me send messages via the raven and use certain social moves at a distance.

    Bonds:
    So, this one is a bit difficult with my chosen start, since I have no reason to be connected to the Ironlands. Usually this is a bond for your home village plus some background NPCs or other party members. I think I will use one bond on a companion on this journey, a trusted lieutenant who accompanied the character to the Ironlands. I think this is someone my character has fought beside before, and who has saved his life on more than one occasion - and my character has repaid the favor. Overall, two experienced warriors who are used to having each other's backs. One might apply to the Skulde clan the character hails from - that might come into play, as the Skulde do travel to the Ironlands at times. The last one I'll keep in reserve. Perhaps the background vow will give me an idea for that?

    Vows:
    Speaking of... Iron Vows drive the story in Ironlands, acting as quests which grant experience when they are completed. Each character should have a background vow, of extreme or epic difficulty, which acts as a long term goal for the character. I think this is a good point to decide what has brought this character to the Ironlands, and make that my background vow.

    In the character's previous incarnation, revenge played a big part of their motivation. They were driven out of the Varangian Guard analog by a rival, and bringing that rival to justice was a big part of the character's goals. Perhaps something along those lines... he has been exiled or otherwise outcast, and is seeking a new life or to clear his name? Possibly workable, but not the strongest. I will check some of the tables for inspiration.

    My roll on the Character Goal table was "rebel against power." That might work? Setting out to the Ironlands just to find a new life, maybe out from under the thumb of a not-so-friendly clan leadership? Not the strongest starting point for a vow. Rolling on the action and theme tables, I get "uphold law"... so the polar opposite of the motivation roll, haha! Perhaps by tradition the exile can be lifted by an act of might and daring, undertaking a dangerous quest... but that puts me in a bit of an awkward position of either leaving the Ironlands or abandoning the quest. Or once the quest is completed, the character faces a choice of going back or remaining in a land where he has made new connections... Something to consider.

    OR! Instead of being banished, he is hunting a fugitive of the tribe who they believe has fled to the Ironlands (fitting into the "uphold law" result). Offers similar questions as to what to do once the quest is done, as well as the nature of the fugitive - why were they banished, where did they go... and what if the reason for their banishment that my character was told doesn't hold up once he actually catches up to this person? I do sort of like this route, I'm currently leaning that way.

    So for inspiration about this hypothetical fugitive, I'll make another action/theme roll. That gives me "depart truth"... someone leaving to find some mystical truth? Something the clan elders don't want known?

    My tentative thought is this. According to the clan leaders, the fugitive was a mystic of sorts, who was caught trying to curse rivals within the clan for their own gains. They fled upon being discovered, but the chance that they might cause further mischief is too great - as well as having to pay for various crimes under the clan's ancient laws. The fugitive was mystically inclined, but actually fled for another reason - perhaps having stumbled upon some dark secret of the clan, or something which prompted questions that they left to find answers to - and the clan leaders would rather those answers remain undiscovered. I like this. The details can be worked out once we actually find this fugitive.

    My background vow will therefore be "Track down the fugitive and do what is necessary to administer the clan's justice." With that last part perhaps being variable once said fugitive is actually tracked down. I will set the difficulty at extreme, especially as I feel it will develop more once it's complete.

    Other:
    Equipment is mostly abstracted in the game, but I still want to have a rough list to inform the character's capabilities in the future. I've got a worn shield, a long-hafted axe, an iron helm, and a good tunic of leather. The shield is emblazoned with a wolf's-head insignia - possibly the clan's emblem, possibly a personal one. Probably have a seax as well as combination backup weapon and utility knife. He'd have a thick travelling cloak and stout boots. Provisions for a sea journey and a ship and crew to accompany him - although those will quite likely not be around much longer if the storm proves as potent as I expect.

    So, that's that! Just have to choose names for things and the character should be good to go! I think I will name my character Svend Ulfsson (the surname indicates that the wolf emblem is likely a personal one, then). My lieutenant with whom I share a bond will be Knud Torstensson. The fugitive is Revna, a young woman who was whispered to be developing mystical powers and was learning from the clan's old rune-mothers. And the raven will be Grima.

    I unfortunately don't have time to get started on actually playing tonight, but I feel pretty happy with Svend so far! I will try and work up a proper character sheet which I can post and link. Will probably try and do one on google sheets.
    Last edited by rs2excelsior; 2020-08-25 at 09:05 PM.
    I'm playing Ironsworn, an RPG that you can run solo - and I'm putting the campaign up on GitP!

    Most recent update: Chapter 5: Decisions

    -----

    A worldbuilding project, still work in progress: Reign of the Corven

    Most recent update: another look at magic traditions!

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Orc in the Playground
     
    WolfInSheepsClothing

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    Jul 2011

    Default Re: Let's Play: Ironsworn (Solo)

    Maybe he’ll find that axe...

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    BlueKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Let's Play: Ironsworn (Solo)

    Ha, yep, this is a re-skin of my character from your Blade game! Hopefully things'll work out better for this version, haha.
    I'm playing Ironsworn, an RPG that you can run solo - and I'm putting the campaign up on GitP!

    Most recent update: Chapter 5: Decisions

    -----

    A worldbuilding project, still work in progress: Reign of the Corven

    Most recent update: another look at magic traditions!

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Orc in the Playground
     
    WolfInSheepsClothing

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    Default Re: Let's Play: Ironsworn (Solo)

    Dying heroically in a man to man fight with his great betrayer, dragging his foe to not-Valhalla with him...what more could he want?

    Besides living. But meh, you get in enough axe fights...

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    BlueKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Let's Play: Ironsworn (Solo)

    Chapter 1: Arrival



    The wind howled; rain poured from the darkened sky, and ominous rolls of thunder carried across the sea. A lone wolfship bearing two dozen stout Skulde cut through the waves, its crew drenched by the rain and sea as the waves crashed over the small vessel. Oars struggled to find purchase in the choppy waters, and the sail was furled tight to the mast – in this wind, trying to use the sail would just snap the mainmast, or worse, force the ship to capsize.

    They’d seen the storm approaching, of course, dark clouds gathering ahead as the coasts of the Ironlands had just come into view. They’d tried to reach land ahead of the storm, but the wind wasn’t with them. It was far too late to turn back; no choice now but to ride it out. Grima squawked and complained, taking what shelter he could under the sides of the ship.

    “Look there!” Knud shouted over the roaring winds. Svend followed the man’s outstretched fingers. Rocks protruded from the troughs of the waves… if the ship came down onto one of those, it could snap the keel. Svend gripped the rudder more tightly. He pushed the thought out of his mind. They’d come this far, and still had a long way to go. It won’t end like this…

    “Steady on, lads!” he called, shouting to be heard. “Just a little storm… don’t tell me you’re frightened of a bit of water?” Keep them rowing, keep them together. They lose their nerve, we’re at the mercy of the winds.

    Spoiler
    Show

    I’m going to run this as a scene challenge. I create a progress track (with the normal ten boxes) and a countdown track (with only four boxes). Progress boxes can be filled by successfully completing moves. Countdown boxes are filled by weak hits and misses. Once the countdown track is full, you make a Progress Move to see what the overall outcome is. I’m going to set the difficulty as Extreme; this is a fierce storm in rocky seas!

    Face Danger:
    Rolling + Heart to encourage the crew to keep steady and press onwards!
    Action die: 3+2
    Challenge dice: 4, 8
    Result: weak hit

    The challenge die is a d6, modified by a stat and whatever other modifiers might apply to the situation. The challenge dice are two d10s, each of which is compared individually to the modified challenge die. If the action die beats both of the challenge dice, it’s a strong hit. The action is successful with flair, you gain momentum, you have control of the situation, etc. If the action die beats only one of the challenge dice (like it did here), it’s a weak hit. You succeed, but some new complication appears, or the situation moves outside of your control. If the action die beats neither of the challenge dice, it’s a miss. Typically this carries consequences.

    So here, with a weak hit, I mark progress… but I also have to mark on the countdown track. Some complication occurs despite the success. Since it’s an extreme challenge, I get two “ticks” (1/2 of a box) when I mark progress.


    The Skulde at the oars lean into the work, acting as only experienced mariners could. Svend nodded with satisfaction. They were good men, and a bit of a push here and there would help them keep their heads. A shout from up ahead drew his attention forwards, though – a large pillar of stone thrust upwards from the churning sea, like the finger of some great beast. Without much time to react, Svend put all his strength into the rudder, hauling the ship’s prow away from the danger ahead.

    Spoiler
    Show

    Face Danger:
    Rolling + Iron to encourage manhandle the ship away from the rocks.
    Action die: 1+3
    Challenge dice: 4, 2
    Result: weak hit

    Another weak hit (an action die has to exceed a challenge die to beat it, ties don’t count)! So I mark progress again, but another box on the countdown track (for two of four filled). At this rate the ship won’t have much chance of surviving the storm…


    The ship creaked as it turned away from the stone. The pillar loomed over the ship ominously as it passed beneath. The turn was just a bit too late – the side of the wolfship scraped across a submerged stone, tossing the crew forwards and causing the boards to bend and groan worryingly. But she was holding water… for now.

    “Eyes open, you dogs!” Knud called out. The men recovered their seats and their rhythm, once more fighting the winds and waves to keep the vessel somewhat under control. The slashing rain cut visibility well down, and another jagged rock in the ship’s path might tear open her hull if it went unnoticed.

    “Rocks ahead! Just above the water!” The shout was carried back from the lead oarsmen to Svend at the rudder. He spotted the dark shapes just visible when the waves reached their trough. He scowled. No way around; he’d have to time it to cross when the water was higher. “Hold us back,” he shouted to the oarsmen. “Wait for my signal!”

    Spoiler
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    So, I think this would be an Edge challenge (precision), which is one of Svend’s weak points. Therefore, I’m going to attempt to secure an advantage first, which will (hopefully!) help on the next face danger move.

    Secure an advantage:
    Rolling + Wits to observe the pattern of the waves and time the maneuver properly.
    Action die: 3+2
    Challenge dice: 2, 5
    Result: weak hit

    And again! It’s better than a miss, but the dice gods seem adamant on neither giving me exceptional success or outright failure. I gain a short-lived advantage and one momentum (bringing the total to +3).


    “Now!” Svend bellowed. The ship surged forwards, riding the crest of a wave. However, the timing hadn’t quite been perfect, and the wolf’s head at the prow appeared to be diving towards the rocks below…

    Spoiler
    Show

    Face Danger:
    Rolling + Edge to time the ship’s passage over the rocks.
    Action die: 1+1
    Challenge dice: 8, 10
    Result: miss

    I knew I shouldn’t have tempted fate. It’s a miss, about as bad a miss as I could’ve gotten… and far and away bad enough that I can’t use momentum to salvage the situation. I mark a progress box (three of four, not looking good) and pay the price.

    Pay the Price is a general move you can be forced to take when bad things happen. It gives you a table to roll on if you need ideas, but in general, it encourages you to take the most obvious negative result of the action (or new complication which could arise) and apply it. Here, it’s pretty obvious that the ship striking the rocks is the most likely outcome. I will say the ship has to Endure Harm, and that it has a Health track of +5. Since this is an extreme challenge, it does 4 damage (ouch). I’ll treat it as a somewhat modified version of the Companion Endure Harm move. That move lets you roll either the companion’s health or Heart, depending on which is higher (similar to how a character’s endure harm move lets you roll either your own health or Iron). I’ll say Wits is the other option here, for handling the ship to minimize the damage.

    Endure Harm:
    Rolling +Wits to minimize the damage to the ship.
    Action die: 1+2
    Challenge dice: 4, 10
    Result: miss

    Ouch… the dice gods are really coming after me for that comment. For the normal Companion Endure Harm move, that means a -1 momentum (and the companion being out of action until healed if at zero health). The ship still has health, so no risk of it floundering yet, but the -1 momentum fits (now +2). I think -1 supply also fits to represent lost stores aboard the ship (now +4).

    One more tick on the countdown track and that’s it for the challenge… which wouldn’t be good with this amount of progress.


    CRACK. The move was mis-timed, the ship pushed back by the force of the wave and wind more than expected. The ship’s bow crashed into the rocks below, opening a nasty gash in its side. The oars flailed as men abandoned them to stem the flow of water into the ship.

    Svend cursed under his breath as Grima’s squawking redoubled. He swore the bird understood more of what happened around him than most would expect. Still, it didn’t take a genius to realize that this situation was far from ideal. The rocky waters made an attempt to reach shore more dangerous than usual in this sort of weather, so Svend attempted to turn the ship so as to minimize the inrush of water instead. Maybe they could ride it out. Which would break first – the storm or the ship?

    Spoiler
    Show

    Face Danger:
    Rolling + Wits to encourage maneuver the ship so as to keep the damaged flank away from the incoming waves.
    Action die: 4+2
    Challenge dice: 6, 10
    Result: miss

    Welp. It was a good roll on the action die… but two big ones on the challenge die. And again, they’re too high to influence with momentum. That’s another box on the countdown track (four of four filled now), and I have to Pay the Price.

    The consequence for this is a bit unclear. I mean, the ship going under is an obvious one, but that is really more a consequence of the scene challenge. So I’m going to roll on the table provided with the move to see if inspiration strikes. I get “A new danger or foe appears.” Given the upcoming consequences, I don’t think that’ll matter mechanically, but I’ll work it into the story.

    Now, I have to make a progress roll since the countdown track is filled. Progress moves don’t use the action die, they treat the fully filled boxes on the progress track as their action die score (and use no modifiers). Since you have to beat, not equal, the challenge dice, and since momentum does not come into play, there’s no chance of anything other than a miss. Still, for completeness’s sake:

    End the Scene:
    Progress: 1
    Challenge dice: 7, 5
    Result: miss

    So… the effort (ride out the storm safely) fails, and I have to Pay the Price. I think I have what’ll happen in mind. Mechanically, I will suffer Harm and –Supply (both lose 4 because of the level of the challenge). That puts my supply at 0, which means I mark the Unprepared condition, and Health at +1. And I need to make an Endure Harm move.

    Endure Harm:
    Rolling + Iron to resist the obvious health hazards from being thrown into a stormy sea.
    Action die: 3+3
    Challenge dice: 1, 4
    Result: strong hit

    Finally, a strong hit! I can either gain 1 momentum or exchange one momentum for one health. I think I’ll embrace the pain, as I don’t think 2 health is significantly better than 1 (meaning my momentum is back to +3).


    The ship responded sluggishly, but Svend did manage to get the gash out of the worst of the waves. Several of his oarsmen were now desperately trying to throw the water back into the sea faster than it comes in, but it was looking like the ship just might survive the ordeal – but the storm wasn’t done yet. A howling gust of wind pushed the ship off of her course and into another patch of rock lurking just below the water. The vessel howled in agony as men were tossed from their benches once more. The wolfship shuddered and jerked, the gash ripping open and the sea pouring in. Svend barely had time to process what had happened when the ship jerked again and threw him into the raging waters.

    Everything became strangely quiet and dark. Here beneath the waves, he could almost forget about the raging storm just above. Svend was dimly aware of other men jumping or being thrown into the water, vague shapes in the rapidly closing darkness above him. He tried in vain to swim towards the surface, but a swirl of water grabbed him and shoved him against the rocks. Pain ran through his body, and he slipped out of consciousness.


    ------------------------


    Okay, this was a lot of fun! Very cinematic, and pretty easy to grasp. I get the feeling that after a while you could play without having to reference the moves and things much at all.

    This first challenge didn't go well at all... Don't worry, though, this isn't the end for Svend. I had planned to start after a shipwreck, after all! So that's where I'll pick up the next time.

    Hope y'all enjoyed this first story installment! If you have any feedback - either on the gameplay or on my writing - I will gladly accept! I feel like I could have drawn on more diverse threats than "you hit some rocks," but eh.
    Last edited by rs2excelsior; 2020-08-29 at 10:03 PM.
    I'm playing Ironsworn, an RPG that you can run solo - and I'm putting the campaign up on GitP!

    Most recent update: Chapter 5: Decisions

    -----

    A worldbuilding project, still work in progress: Reign of the Corven

    Most recent update: another look at magic traditions!

  11. - Top - End - #11
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    BlueKnightGuy

    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Dixie
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Let's Play: Ironsworn (Solo)

    Chapter 2: Shipwrecked



    Consciousness slowly came back to Svend. He was aware of a dull ache through his body first. Then, the rough stone beneath him, the lap of the water against his feet. A fierce dryness in this throat. The distant sound of seabirds crying overhead… and a raven cawing.

    Svend forced open salt-crusted eyes, blinking against the bright sunlight overhead. Slowly, painfully, he dragged himself to his hands and knees, coughing to clear his throat. A black bird sat perched on the stone ahead of him. “Grima… Good to see you,” he croaked out. The bird was ruffled but appeared to be no worse for wear otherwise. He cawed at him, as if rebuking his master for the storm which had caused such problems.

    Drawing himself slowly into a sitting position, he turns from the sheer rock face ahead of him, taking stock of what is around him on the beach.

    Spoiler
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    So, I’m going to Ask the Oracle to see what Svend has available to him. Basically, you can come up with yes/no questions, choose how likely they are to be true, then roll a d100 on a table to see if that is true or not (basically you’re just picking a percent chance that the answer is yes). I’m going to check for several of Svend’s major items and see if they may have washed up on shore nearby with him.

    His axe: unlikely (76+)
    Lost

    His shield: unlikely (76+)
    Lost

    His helm: likely (26+) (he very well could have been wearing it)
    Lost

    A companion: 50/50 (51+)
    Present

    Well, Svend has only the clothes on his back and his seax, but it seems like someone else washed up on the beach. I’ll make a roll for whether it was Knud, or one of the (so far) nameless warriors.

    Is it Knud? unlikely (76+)
    Yes

    Now, the big one… is he alive? I’m gonna say likely, because I can see Knud being plot-important later. (26+)
    Yes


    His axe was gone, likely somewhere at the bottom of the sea along with his ship. But further down the beach… was that the shape of a man? It was! And that shock of red hair was something he’d recognize anywhere. He pulled himself to his feet, unsteadily at first, and made his way over to his friend. He was unconscious at best… blood had trickled down from a gash on his scalp and dried on his face. Svend shook the man’s shoulders – and he stirred! He’d need water – both of them would – but Knud was tough. He’d pull through.

    Grima started cawing once more. Svend looked up, searching for what might’ve gotten him riled up… and cursed under his breath as he spotted a group of people standing on the cliffs above, four or five of them, at least. They seemed to have noticed him, and withdrew from the cliff face. If their intentions were hostile, this could be very problematic.

    “Grima, see what they are up to.” The bird let out a solemn caw and took to wing. Svend started to drag Knud further up the beach, looking for some sort of shelter.

    Spoiler
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    This might be taking the asset a bit too loosely, but I feel it fits well enough. I am leveraging the Raven companion asset to Gather Information from a distance, specifically gather information about who these people are and what they might be up to.

    Gather Information:
    Rolling + Wits to scout out the group of strangers.
    Action die: 3+2
    Challenge dice: 9, 5
    Result: miss

    Ouch. A miss on this move means you “unearth a dire threat or reveals an unwelcome truth that undermines your quest.” So it looks like these strangers are hostile, after all. Since it is a miss, I also have to Pay the Price, and since I leveraged an asset, you’re recommended to have the consequences affect your companion in some way.

    Pay the Price:
    It’s unclear what the most likely problem would be. Perhaps the hostile forces notice and injure Grima, but then again, what are the odds they’d attack a random bird? So I will roll on the table provided and see what comes up. I get “it is harmful.” Again, I don’t see how this could be harmful to Svend, and unlikely that they’d just attack Grima out of the blue. But looking at the table, there’s an option for “a friend, companion, or ally is put in harm’s way.” Maybe they show up before Knud is hidden, forcing me to choose between either confronting them or abandoning Knud? I think that works.


    Slinging Knud over his shoulder, Svend begins making his way along the narrow beach. The cliff face is sheer, likely not climbable when unencumbered and definitely not while carrying Knud. He found no cover or crevice where he could hide from their approach, and while weighted down so it seemed unlikely he’d be able to get far before they caught up…

    Grima flapped down, perching nearby. Caw caw. “Grima… are they coming this way?” Caw. “Armed?” Caw. “Armored? Armed for battle?” Caw.

    That was not good. Armed might just be a team of fishermen with knives and hatchets for self-defense. Seemed these folks were geared with proper weapons, and coming this way. He needed to find somewhere to hide, evade…

    Svend heard a shouted command behind him. Setting Knud back on the ground, he turned around slowly. Half a dozen men, carrying axes, spears, and shields, and wearing simple helms and armor stood on the beach opposite him, weapons at the ready. They weren’t Skulde, though.

    “Kveða,” he called out, a fairly neutral greeting in the Skulde language. He was met with blank stares. Again, not good – his smattering of the Imperial tongue would have to do. “Hello. What is it that you want?”

    “Who are you?” the leader of the group demanded. “What brought you to this island?”

    “I am Svend, son of Ulf. Storm wrecked my ship. I travel to the mainland.”

    “And him?”

    “My companion, Knud. He is injured.”

    While the strangers spoke quietly amongst themselves, Svend sized up his opposition. He could likely outrun them, but only if he left Knud behind. In a fair fight, with his gear in hand, he might be able to take these six – especially if he could use the narrow beach to his advantage – but with only a short seax against fully armed opponents, it seemed unlikely that he could take them on. Maybe if he could get the drop on them now, while they were distracted… but then, even if he could cover the distance in time, it would only take one out of action.

    “Your knife,” their leader spoke up. “Drop it.”

    Slowly, cautiously, Svend pulled his seax from his belt. His fist clenched around the handle… his instincts screamed to charge, take them now before they could react, and take as many as he could with him before they brought him down. But there would be little glory in that. He had a bigger purpose here, and it would make the loss of his men in vain if he simply died here on the beach.

    He let the seax drop to the beach. He would bide his time and wait for his opportunity.

    “Bind him. Bind them both.”

    Two of the raiders moved forwards, tying his hands behind him. One moved to do the same to Knud, while the other picked up his seax, admiring the blade before tucking it in his own belt. Svend made eye contact with Grima, who made a small nod and flew off without a sound. Then, reluctantly, he followed the raiders back the way they had come.

    -----

    The raiders led him up a winding path along the cliffside – barely wide enough for a man to pass, and difficult to see if you didn’t know it was there. They had a camp of sorts on the top, with a fire and several fish roasting. The smell of food made Svend’s stomach rumble. He didn’t know how long he’d lain on the beach, but it was long enough his stomach was empty. They made him sit off on the side of the camp, and unceremoniously dumped Knud beside him. The raiders sat in a rough circle around the fire, taking their meal from the rack and beginning to tear into it.

    Svend tested the strength of his bonds. Tight enough he’d have to work to get free. It seemed like they’d used strong rawhide. Knud stirred, but was still far from conscious.

    “I would appreciate a bite of that fish.” The request went ignored as his stomach growled. Worth a shot, at least. “Or some water. You wanted me dead, you could’ve killed me on the beach. Won’t be much good for whatever you want if I die of thirst.”

    One of the raiders got up with a sigh, rummaging in a pack and withdrawing a waterskin. He walked over to the prisoners, pouring a splash in each of their mouths before returning to his meal. It was warm and tasted slightly off, but in the moment it was more heavenly than the sweetest mead. Svend held the water in his dry mouth as long as possible before swallowing. Knud muttered something under his breath before settling again.

    The raiders were set up at the edge of a field, in the shadow of a larger rock outcrop which offered some shelter from the rain and wind. There were no trees, only low grass and scrubs. It was doubtful that there was much in the way of game to be hand here. There was a large tub made of stitched hides with a thin cloth stretched over it; that was probably the camp’s water source, refilled when it rained. He didn’t see any sign of raiders other than the six here – four men and two women, it looked like. Or any other people on the island, for that matter. Grima landed on a rock across the field, made eye contact, and flew off. Smart bird.

    After their meal, the raiders split up, two remaining by the fire while the others headed down to the beach. One remained by the fire, going about maintaining his gear. The other crouched down in front of Svend, just out of arm’s reach. He noticed it was the one with his seax in his belt. Svend maintained eye contact with the man, the two sizing each other up for a few moments before the raider spoke.

    “You have a ship?”

    “Had,” Svend responded bitterly. “It was lost in the storm. I don’t know if any of the rest of my crew survived.”

    There was another moment of silence. “Bad storm last night. Not smart to be out in it.” Svend didn’t reply to that one. “You come from the Ironlands?”

    “No. We crossed the Frozen Sea to get here.”

    “Hmm. Anyone who would pay to see you alive?”

    So ransom was what they’re after. “My clan, yes.” They’d just as likely cut down the raiders, but no need to mention that now. “They’ll likely be looking for me if I do not get back to them.”

    The raider let out something between a grunt and a laugh. “No one crosses the Frozen Sea on a whim. You were coming for a while… if you were planning to go back at all.” It was a thin bluff, too thin to work, it seemed. “Maybe there is no one back home who’d pay to see you safe… but your people raid plenty of villages around here. Maybe one of them would pay for a Skulde who’d killed their families. Don’t think they’d look too closely.” Well, that’s not good.

    “You looking for more men? Got a strong arm. I could be useful to you.”

    The raider sized Svend up, regarding him silently for a long moment. “That’s up to the boss.” He stood, returning to his companion by the fire, leaving Svend to ponder his options.

    There were fewer here now, he might be able to overpower them if he could slip his bonds. They likely had a boat somewhere… but the others were scattered around the island, and likely would cause problems. Plus, Knud was still out of it. If he could slip away at night he had a better shot of making it to the boat unnoticed, but then getting away from the camp would me more dangerous if they were all there, even if many were sleeping. There were no easy options, it seemed. With the other two lost in conversation, Svend started working at the bonds around his wrist. Getting his arms free was the first order of business, whatever he did. Meanwhile, he’d try and worm out what information he could about the raiders, their resources, and what exactly they were doing out here.

    Spoiler
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    Alright, time to start acting… I am going to try and Secure an Advantage by slipping free of the ties, while looking like they’re still in place. Unfortunately, I think that’d be a Shadow roll, since it involves going unnoticed.

    Secure an Advantage:
    Rolling + Shadow to quietly loosen my bonds.
    Action die: 1+1
    Challenge dice: 1, 3
    Result: weak hit

    That is one extra momentum (now +4). I’ll take it.

    Now, to Gather Information and see what information I can ferret out.

    Gather Information:
    Rolling + Wits to see if I can pick out any useful information.
    Action die: 3+2
    Challenge dice: 3, 5
    Result: weak hit

    So, I get some information, but it complicates things to an extent. I think I have an idea for that. And I get another momentum, now to +5.


    The bonds were well-tied. He was able to loosen them a bit, enough that he could probably slip out of them when the time came, but it’d still take him a moment. It would have to do. The raiders weren’t very talkative, but he got a little bit of information out of them – they had a boat, which they’d use to attack fishing vessels out in the islands – either pretending to be another ship in distress, simply overtaking and overpowering them, or raiding their camps on nearby islands. It seemed they had been working closer to the coast with a larger group, but they’d scattered and headed for the islands to lay low for a while. Apparently their antics had attracted too much attention.

    As midday turned to afternoon and the sun sank lower in the sky, the other raiders hurried back up to the camp. Based on the concerned reactions of the two still by the fire, apparently that wasn’t expected. Svend sat up a bit straighter, straining to hear what the newcomers said.

    “Get your gear. Emelyn’s on the way.”

    “The bastard found us already?”

    “Seems so. Three ships bearing his standards just rounded the island nearby. We might be able to slip them if we move now.”

    “Maybe they don’t know we’re here? We just lay low and let them pass?”

    “You want to take that chance?”

    “What about the prisoners?”

    There was a moment of silence as all eyes turned to Svend and Knud.

    Spoiler
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    There are a couple of options as for what the raiders might do. I think the two most likely ones would be to give them a weapon and have them join in against the attackers, or leave them tied up for the others to find. I think their ideal situation is that their pursuers have no idea they were here, so I’ll rate the first option as likely (26+). My oracle roll was an 87, so that’s what they go with.


    One of the raiders approaches Svend – their leader, it seems. “You say you know how to handle a weapon?” Svend nodded. The raider pulled him up by the arm and cut his bindings. He handed Svend a blade, somewhere between a long knife and a short sword. It was old and pitted, but would be better than bare fists in a fight. “You come with us. Bring your friend along. Don’t think this means we’re letting you go – and if you want to take your chances running, old Doux Emelyn hates the Skulde more than most. They’ve raided his villages since he was a lad – killed his father. You want to take your chances with him, you most likely end up with your head on a pike.”

    The camp was a flurry of activity as the raiders gathered their gear and doused the fire. Svend hefted Knud over his shoulder once more and picked his way carefully back down the narrow path, towards the raiders’ small boat. Perhaps it was just his imagination, but he thought he could hear the call of the boatswains keeping the oarsmen in time. The group piled into the small boat, which quietly slipped away from the shore.

    Spoiler
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    Here’s checking to see if we can actually make it away from the doux's men in time.

    Face Danger:
    Rolling + Edge to slip away from the island before being spotted.
    Action die: 2+1
    Challenge dice: 4, 7
    Result: miss

    I could use momentum to cancel the 4 and make that a weak hit, but I honestly don’t feel like burning it to help the raiders. Seems like we’ve been spotted after all!


    The boat swiftly left the island behind, as one of the boats circled around to this side of the shore behind them. Most likely one or two were staying at sea while the others checked out the island itself. It seemed like they were far enough away to avoid notice… but a shout from the Doux's boat behind them spurred them into action, and they began rushing after the raiders.

    The leader cursed. “Put your backs into it, we’re spotted!” The raiders redoubled their own efforts at the oars, but a glance behind them showed the swan-banners of their pursuers slowly closing the distance… It would be time for Svend to make a choice soon.

    Arrows began landing around the boat. Two of the raiders abandoned their oars, raising shields to protect the others from the missiles. Svend could see the Doux's men readying their weapons on the boat behind them. As the raider beside him glanced back at the pursuers, Svend chose this moment to act.

    Spoiler
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    First off – I will attempt to Secure an Advantage by rapidly attacking one of the raiders, aiming to put the group of them off-balance before things get hairy.

    Secure an Advantage:
    Rolling + Iron to shove the off-guard raider off of the boat.
    Action die: 6+3
    Challenge dice: 10, 3
    Result: weak hit

    Ah, a good roll on the action die, but a worse one on the challenge die. I’ll take the weak hit and the +1 momentum (now at +6).


    With the raider distracted, Svend hefts his oar and slams it into the chest of the raider beside him. The man stumbles back, shocked by the sudden attack, but just manages to keep from toppling over the side of the boat. Surprised shouts erupt from the other raiders as the oars falter confusedly, and Svend draws his weapon, standing over Knud’s still unconscious form.

    Spoiler
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    Alright, time for the first proper fight! Enemies are ranked by their difficulty, and raiders are “Dangerous.” You can combine multiple enemies into “packs” – a group of about 3-5 is a small pack, which comes to +1 difficulty, and a large pack (6-10) makes +2 difficulty. Normally this would be a large pack, but I think I’ll rate it as small, as there are one or two still defending against the arrows and the boat limits the number who can effectively engage right now. The final difficulty is Formidable.

    First step of combat is the Enter the Fray move to see who has the initiative.

    Enter the Fray:
    Rolling + Heart to face off against the raiders.
    Action die: 4+2
    Challenge dice: 6 (X), 10
    Result: weak hit

    Using momentum for the first time! Since I have 6 momentum, I can cancel a die of 6 or less, turning a failed die into a success. This resets my momentum – usually to +1 (since I have the Unprepared condition marked), but my Veteran asset lets me take +1 momentum after reset when I burn momentum in combat, which puts me at +2. Since I want to avoid a miss here, I will use it. I have the option to either take +2 momentum or get the initiative. Since not having the initiative makes things quite a bit more dangerous, I will forego the momentum.


    The raiders react with more speed than he’d expected, going for their weapons and moving forwards. However, it was clear they didn’t have much experience fighting on the narrow, pitching confines of a boat – at least not against a fighter as experienced as Svend. He easily sidestepped the first raider to attack, letting her stumble into the one still staggered from the initial blow. With a grin of determination, Svend steps forward to meet the next one, aiming his blade in a quick thrust towards the attacker.

    Spoiler
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    The Strike move is what lets you do damage when you have the initiative in combat. Let’s get some progress marked!

    Strike:
    Rolling + Iron to engage the nearest raider.
    Action die: 5+3
    Challenge dice: 9, 3
    Result: weak hit

    Ah, can’t seem to catch a break with high challenge dice negating my high action rolls. Still, a weak hit lets me inflict harm. I am using deadly weapons, which means I can inflict two harm. Against a formidable foe, that means two progress. Unfortunately it gives the enemy the initiative.


    Svend easily dodges the raider’s spearpoint and gets a cut in on his opponent, who staggers back, clutching a wound at his side. But the others are pressing forwards against him, and the first two are regaining their footing. He is forced onto the back foot alarmingly quickly.

    Spoiler
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    The Clash move is how you inflict harm when your opponent has the initiative. However, though you can inflict harm on a strong or weak hit, you also have to Pay the Price on either a miss or a weak hit. Face Danger doesn’t let you inflict harm, but the penalties for a weak hit are milder. I think I will go with that.

    Face Danger:
    Rolling + Iron to put up an active defense against the raiders.
    Action die: 6+3
    Challenge dice: 6, 10
    Result: weak hit

    Another high roll that is up against terrible challenge dice! Dang. So, with a weak hit, I take 1 harm (instead of the three which I would’ve taken on a weak hit with a Clash). That puts my health to 0 (so if I had taken 3 harm, the extra two would have “overflowed” to momentum).

    Endure Harm:
    Rolling + Iron to resist injury.
    Action die: 5+3
    Challenge dice: 9, 3
    Result: weak hit

    With a weak hit, Svend simply presses on through the pain. There is no other mechanical effect.

    So the enemy still has initiative. Rather than simply having the raiders continue to attack, I will check the oracle to see what they do next, rolling on the Combat Action table. I get 96 – attack with power.


    Svend parries as best he can with his dagger, but the press of attacks cannot be easily fended off. As soon as he turns one blade aside, another surges forwards. One finds flesh, and though it is a glancing strike, in his weakened state he feels it strongly nonetheless. He grits his teeth against the pain and carries on.

    One of the raiders charges forwards with a roar, bringing a wicked axe up for a murderous overhand strike. Knowing he could never parry such a swing, Svend surges forwards, grappling with the attacker.

    Spoiler
    Show

    I think a Secure an Advantage move would be appropriate here. The goal would be to catch the raider off-guard… and maybe even get his axe away from him.

    Secure an Advantage:
    Rolling + Iron to physically overpower the raider.
    Action die: 4+3
    Challenge dice: 3, 6
    Result: strong hit

    Finally! Got a good hit on the raider! I can either add one to my next move, or gain +2 momentum. I think I’ll go with the +1 – I feel like I need all the help I can get on these rolls! No progress marked, unfortunately, but hopefully that’ll change soon!


    Svend surges forwards, catching the raider off-guard. The two grapple for a long moment, Svend grasping the raider’s weapon arm, trying to overpower him. His companions could not get a clear line of attack against him, and so the battle was for the time reduced to the struggle of might between the two. The raider was strong… but Svend was stronger. The axe clattered from his hand as his arm bent back at an awkward angle, and Svend used his leverage to send the raider reeling back into his companions. Svend snatched up the axe, passing his long knife into his off hand to parry, and followed up on the opening with a ferocious attack.

    Spoiler
    Show

    I think it is time to Strike! My Sunderer asset gives me the option of losing one momentum in exchange for inflicting an extra harm on a hit when I fight with an axe, which I have to decide before rolling. I think I will use that option (momentum is now +1).

    Strike:
    Rolling + Iron to attack vigorously.
    Action die: 1+3+1
    Challenge dice: 5, 3
    Result: weak hit

    That +1 from the last move wasn’t quite enough to tip things, unfortunately. So close! Still, I can inflict harm (+1 for my asset, for a total of 3 harm and 3 progress), but the enemy has the initiative.

    I will check the oracle again to see what the enemy does. I get an 8 – “gather reinforcements.” There really aren’t any reinforcements to be had, so I’ll roll again. 42 – “reinforce defenses.” I can work with that.


    The axe blade bites deep, and another raider goes down, badly injured. It seems the remaining raiders have been shaken enough that they aren’t willing to throw themselves at Svend’s axe. They’ve brought up shields, and now are formed in what might be the smallest shieldwall ever facing him. Still, in the narrow confines of the boat, it’ll be difficult for Svend to force an opening, and if he does not take the fight to them they will surely regain their nerve and force him back off the boat. Sizing up the situation, Svend darts forwards, aiming not at the raiders but at the shield. Break the shield, maybe break the arm, and get in closer than the spears could handle.

    Spoiler
    Show

    I am still attacking, but since the enemy has initiative, mechanically I would use Clash instead of Strike since they would have initiative. Story-wise, that’d represent the difficulty of getting past the shields and readied spears. Instead I’m going to try and break their defenses first.

    Face Danger:
    Rolling + Iron to force my way past their shields.
    Action die: 6+3
    Challenge dice: 8, 1
    Result: strong hit

    Nice! That gets my momentum headed back in the right direction again (+2 now) and tips the initiative back in my favor. Time to exploit that with another Strike!

    Strike:
    Rolling + Iron to engage up close.
    Action die: 6+3
    Challenge dice: 3, 6
    Result: strong hit

    And again! This has been a good round. A strong hit on a strike causes harm +1 (another three progress marked, for 8 total). And a strong hit on a decisive action allows me to try and End the Fight – a progress move which lets me resolve the battle one way or the other. Again, since this is a progress move, I don’t use an action die, I just roll challenge dice and compare them to my progress.

    End the Fight:
    Progress: 8
    Challenge dice: 8, 7
    Result: weak hit

    So, a weak hit means I can end the fight – take the foe out of action – but there is some complication. That could be harm, stress, another threat, some other physical or narrative loss, etc. But I think I like one in particular more than the others: My enemies won’t forget. Should this raider leader escape (and for narrative purposes, it seems likely he will), he will remember my face and come looking for vengeance.


    Svend rushes forwards with a roar, the axe knocking aside the spearpoints and crashing into the shield, which splinters uselessly as its wielder clutches an arm numb from shock. Another brutal swing takes one of the raiders across the throat, and the man collapses in a spray of crimson. The raiders, accustomed to taking on barely-armed fishermen and the occasional village militia, are completely overwhelmed by this avatar of fury in their midst. Weapons begin clattering to the ground as the raiders try and put as much distance between themselves and Svend as possible. Their leader, seeing the game is up, is the last to drop his weapon. “You fool,” he spits at Svend. “You think this will get you on Emelyn’s good side? You’ll see the same fate we do, if you’re lucky.” Svend saw the rage in the man’s eyes. This wouldn’t be a day he’d forget easily.

    The long boat pulls up alongside, the sky-blue banner emblazoned with a stylized swan fluttering in the wind. The arrows had mostly stopped when they saw the fight going on. Now, the bowmen had arrows nocked, not drawn yet, but raised enough to be threatening. The armed men lined the side of the boat, taking in the scene before them. “Throw down your axe, Skulde,” one called across the narrow strip of water. A black raven fluttered down from the sky and onto the other boat, mostly unnoticed by the men aboard.

    Out of the cooking pot and into the campfire, it seems.

    ------------------------

    That was not exactly what I was expecting! I have to say, it's fun what twists the game's mechanics and the oracle tables can throw at you, even in GM-less play. I was expecting meeting up with a group of fishermen and having to earn their trust, perhaps do a quest for them... but the misses inspired complications, which turned into the raiders - and then Doux Emelyn's intervention, neither of which I had really planned on.

    The fight was fun, pretty fluid for something that's fairly light combat-wise. You definitely have choices and options, even without a lot of detailed rules for weapons, maneuvers, and so on. Normally I'm not a fan of games which make weapon choice largely meaningless - different weapons were used for different things, and I would prefer to see at least a nod to that rather than making a spear, longsword, and battleaxe behave exactly the same - but you can work those into the narrative and the assets let you give your "favored weapon" a bit more thematic bite.

    Hopefully Knud will have a bigger role in the next installment. In this one, he was somewhere between "helpless NPC in an escort quest" and "sack of potatoes." Just never got a chance to get him back on his feet.

    At the very least, it looks like we're going to make it to the Ironlands proper after all...
    Last edited by rs2excelsior; 2020-09-26 at 06:25 PM.
    I'm playing Ironsworn, an RPG that you can run solo - and I'm putting the campaign up on GitP!

    Most recent update: Chapter 5: Decisions

    -----

    A worldbuilding project, still work in progress: Reign of the Corven

    Most recent update: another look at magic traditions!

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Let's Play: Ironsworn (Solo)

    Hey there!
    I want to thank you. First, for bringing this game to my attention. In my current life situation, meeting with a gaming group proved... pretty much impossible, despite various attempts. When you wrote about a solo game, I was intrigued, and the cruiousity paid. I have read the Ironsworn book enraptured since I first started reading this thread, and the system feels... Briliant! And a very workable and fun game.

    Secondly, for your detailed, and well described log. It helps understand the game better, even the two bried sessions so far. And, I'm quite intrigued to see where Svend will arrive to, what vows he'll take, what trouble he'll get to, and who will he bond with.

    So, thank you, and keep up the good work! I may start my own solo game, and perhaps log it as well, precious little time permiting...

    1. Special projects:
    Campaign logs archive, Campaign planning log, Tactical mass combat Homebrew, A unique monsters compendium.
    2. My campaign logs:
    Three from a GM's POV, One from a player's POV. Very detailed, including design and GMing discussions.
    3. Various roleplay and real life musings and anecdotes:
    For those interested, from serious to funny!

    Thanks for reading!

  13. - Top - End - #13
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    BlueKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Let's Play: Ironsworn (Solo)

    Thanks! Glad you’re enjoying it - both my write up and the game! It’s pretty different from what I’m used to, but I like it so far. And yeah, I imagine a game with tools to play solo or in small GM-less groups has quite a bit of appeal times like these, haha.

    I’ll admit, I’m posting in such detail for two reasons - one, to give a peek behind the curtain for people who are interested, either from interest in trying it out themselves or just from curiosity, and two, so if someone does have more familiarity with this type of thing they may be able to point out if I’m misunderstanding something, since I’ve never played a game along these lines before. I’m learning how this works too!

    My afternoons during the week are pretty busy but I’m aiming to at least get one decent sized update every weekend. Looks like I should have time to play a bit this coming weekend. And if you do start your own log, I’d be very interested in seeing what sort of story you write!
    Last edited by rs2excelsior; 2020-09-02 at 04:11 PM.
    I'm playing Ironsworn, an RPG that you can run solo - and I'm putting the campaign up on GitP!

    Most recent update: Chapter 5: Decisions

    -----

    A worldbuilding project, still work in progress: Reign of the Corven

    Most recent update: another look at magic traditions!

  14. - Top - End - #14
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    DwarfClericGuy

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    Default Re: Let's Play: Ironsworn (Solo)

    I'm enjoying your game. Please keep playing and writing.

  15. - Top - End - #15
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    BlueKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Let's Play: Ironsworn (Solo)

    Quote Originally Posted by Decoy69 View Post
    I'm enjoying your game. Please keep playing and writing.
    Thank you for the support! Got another chapter done, just got to get it from my word doc onto here. Should be up shortly!
    I'm playing Ironsworn, an RPG that you can run solo - and I'm putting the campaign up on GitP!

    Most recent update: Chapter 5: Decisions

    -----

    A worldbuilding project, still work in progress: Reign of the Corven

    Most recent update: another look at magic traditions!

  16. - Top - End - #16
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    BlueKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Let's Play: Ironsworn (Solo)

    Chapter 3: Stormfast



    “That a Skuld?”

    “Looks like it. What do we do with him?”

    “You know how the boss feels about ‘em, throw him in the ocean and be done with it.”

    “Yeah, but he did take out those raiders…”

    “You think the Doux will give a damn about that?”

    “You wanna be the first one to take him on after what you just saw? Let Emelyn deal with him if he wants him dead.”

    Sverke eyes the men on the boat opposite him. Only a few who look like much more than village militia, but still, more than he could probably take on. Nowhere to run and fighting looked to be a bad option.

    “Promise my friend and myself safe passage to your lord and I’ll come along quietly,” Sverke calls over to them. They exchange silent glances, then one of the men in the other boat – presumably their leader – motions him over. “All right, get aboard. We’ll take you to Emelyn safe. Gonna have to ask you hand that blade over, though, you understand.”

    And so, Svend finds himself disarmed once again, perched on the back of the boat with the bandits. At least he wasn’t bound like they were. The soldiers gave them a precursory search, piling their weapons out of reach.

    “That’s my knife there,” Svend told a soldier as he pulled his seax from the belt of the raider who had taken it. The soldier gave him a scowl. “Doux’ll decide if you get it back.”

    The boat loiters about while the other ships’ crews conclude their search of the small island and re-embark. Before long they were sweeping northwards along the coast. These people seemed less inclined to talk than the raiders had been, only shooting gazes his way – ranging from curious to worried to laden with barely-hidden disgust. No matter, it sounded like the Doux was the one whose opinion mattered here anyway. He finally had some time to check over Knud’s injuries.

    Spoiler
    Show

    Heal:
    Rolling + Wits to examine Knud’s injuries and provide first aid.
    Action die: 4+2
    Challenge dice: 10, 6
    Result: miss

    Ouch, not off to a good start. Pretty good roll on the action die but no luck on the challenge dice, and not enough momentum to do anything about it. A miss on a heal check means I must Pay the Price, seems pretty obvious that means Knud’s condition is serious and he needs more effective treatment.


    Knud had some pretty nasty gashes to his head and body, which weep foul-smelling pus. His skin is cold and clammy, his breath shallow – Svend had seen that sort of thing before, folks who had spent too long in freezing waters or out in the winter snows. He needed more attention than Svend could give him, and he needed it fairly quickly. “Hey,” he calls to a soldier, busy patching up one of the raiders Svend had injured in the fight. “You a healer? My friend is hurt bad. He needs help.”

    The soldier scowls and glares at him, finishing up what she was doing with the raider before begrudgingly making her way over. She gives Knud a perfunctory look, doing largely what Svend had already done. “Needs medicines and a warm fire,” she says. “Don’t have either here. Better hope he holds on till we get to Stormfast.” She makes her way back to her fellows and Svend scowls. There will be hell to pay if he dies before we make it there… But even then, a nagging voice in his head wonders if he’d be able to actually do anything about it.

    -----
    A couple of hours of rowing later, and Grima flutters down onto the rear of the ship. “We getting close?” The bird gives something that looked for all the world like a solemn nod, then takes to wing again. Knud was still hanging on, if only just. Svend sits up a bit straighter, looking for signs of their destination.

    The first signs were watchtowers perched on the high hillsides overlooking the water. Watch-fires burn atop the towers, and the blue swan-banners flutter in the wind above them. He could see soldiers watching the boats enter the narrow fjord. Any hostile craft would likely be swept by arrow fire if they tried to force their way in, and a hostile land force would be held up by the fortifications as well.

    The three boats make their way up the fjord, and Svend could almost imagine he was back home. Before long, the village comes into view. The houses were squat but sturdy, built of stone and strong timber. With storms like the one he had seen, he figures anything less would be blown away in short order. Small boats go to and fro from the docks, mostly small fishing vessels. By the time their boats pull up to the shore, a small crowd is gathered, mostly small children cheering to see the soldiers come home. A few of the armed men smile and ruffle hair as they usher their prisoners off of the boats. Svend lifts Knud up, and one of the soldiers comes to help, taking the man’s other arm over his shoulders. Svend gives him a gruff nod in thanks, and they are ushered away from the shore and up a dirt path.

    It is not long before he sees their destination. It was a long, squat, stone structure, midway between a manor house and a fortification. Arrow slits dot the walls, and the doors were built of strongly reinforced timber. It looked large enough to house much of the village’s population, should an attack come, and resist that attack strongly. It lacked the tall roofs and carved figureheads of even a lesser Jarl’s longhouses back home… but Svend had to admit it would probably hold up better to an attack. More swan banners dance overhead, a clear indication of who owns this place.

    Svend is led inside, down a long hallway and into a large room. Little light makes its way into the room, and thick stone columns give off a menacing air. A carved wooden seat sits on a low dais located at the end of the hall. It is currently empty.

    The soldier with him takes Knud and rests him in a bench alongside the wall, and directs Svend to wait nearby. The raiders are taken under guard into the center of the room, where they look around and fidget nervously. One of the injured men has to be held up by two soldiers to keep his feet.

    After a few minutes which seem to stretch into an eternity, a man enters the hall, striding purposefully past the soldiers and the brigands, before ascending the dais and taking a seat in the chair. So this was the Doux, most likely. Svend assesses the man as he passes. He is wearing a thick cloak over a mail cloak, with a sword hanging at his side. He is dressed well, but not extravagantly. No glittering jewels or flowing robes like Svend had seen on petty rulers in the southern lands. This man could stride right into battle and not be out of place. His hair is gray, his face drawn and weathered – clearly past his prime, yet Svend sees a rippling strength still in him, and a glint of steely determination in his eyes. A warrior who underestimated this lord in battle as just an old man would likely not live long enough to rectify his error.

    “So,” he begins without preamble. “These are the raiders, then. Good job tracking them down. Was this all of them?”

    “Yes, my lord Doux. Only these six.”

    “Not the whole band, then. They must have split up when they were discovered. Smarter than I gave them credit for.” Emelyn eyes each of the raiders in turn. “For too long you have plagued our villages and our people. I will bring an end to this now. I will hunt down each and every member of this rabble of yours, and see to it none of you have the strength to raise your hands against me again. I don’t suppose any of you would be willing to turn in your fellows to save your own miserable skins?”

    The raiders say nothing. Some appear nervous, some resigned. The leader of this group returns the Doux's glare with just as much venom. He spits on the ground, and one of the soldiers delivers a swift kick which knocks him to a knee.

    “So be it, then. Take them to the dungeons. We’ll see if a few months’ hard labor will loosen their tongues. Let them decide how useful they will be – they have until wintertime to convince me that their lives are worthy enough to be spared.” He watches as the prisoners are hefted up and led away. “Now, is there anything else? Any word on where the other bandits may have fled?”

    “There is one other thing, my lord…” The soldiers near Svend go to take him by the forearms and lead him to the center of the room, but he shakes their hands off and walks out himself. He didn’t think Emelyn’s eyes could grow colder, but somehow they did.

    “There was a Skuld with the bandits? Is there a reason he was brought here to sully my hall, instead of being disposed of as he deserves?”

    “Yes, my lord. He was captured by the bandits. As we pursued, he attacked them. They may have escaped, were it not for his intervention.”

    “Hmm.” The Doux's eyes had not left Svend the entire time – and Svend held the gaze levelly. “Is this true? You were their prisoner?”

    “Yes. My ship was wrecked in a storm, and I had the misfortune to wash ashore on the island they were camped on.”

    “Your ship? Sailing here to raid and pillage, I presume?”

    “No.” Svend does not elaborate further. He feels no need to bring an outsider into the clan’s business.

    “I see.” The lord’s tone made it clear he did not believe that assertion. “Tell me… Why should I not simply throw you into the dungeon to starve? Or run you through with my blade here and now, like the savage that you are?”

    “Is this how visitors are treated in a lord’s hall here, then? With death threats? Among my people, a man who was shipwrecked would be offered a warm bed and a bellyful of mead. And yet, you call our people savages? I have delivered you six brigands who you yourself say were plaguing your lands. I would think such a feat would offer me some degree of hospitality, even if it is merely safe passage from your hall.” Svend knew a little of Ironlander custom before departing, and they had similar standards of hospitality as his own people did. Most who lived in such a harsh climate did. Killing Svend now, even if he was a Skuld, would likely sour the Doux in the eyes of his people. Of course, the old man might be willing to kill him anyway…

    Spoiler
    Show

    I am trying to convince Doux Emelyn to act a certain way, so I will try a Compel move here.

    Compel:
    Rolling + Heart to convince the Doux to accept his role in detaining the bandits as good enough reason to spare his life.
    Action die: 4+2
    Challenge dice: 3, 3
    Result: strong hit

    Nice! That gives me +1 momentum (now +3) and gets what I want out of the Doux. Which right now, is not having his sword through my gut.

    Also, it was a match – the same roll on both challenge dice. That represents a twist in the narrative, or a new opportunity. I am not sure how exactly this plays out – maybe I find an unexpected ally among the Doux's men? I will let it sit for right now.


    The Doux stands, stepping down from the raised platform, and walking right up to Svend. Svend maintains eye contact the entire way. Emelyn stops a few feet in front of him, Svend having the advantage in height but no one in the room thinking the Skuld was towering over the lord.

    “You are a bold one,” the Doux says at length. "But your words have merit. You did help deliver several fugitives to me. For that, I give you your life. You may rest here no longer than a fortnight, then be on your way. Should you cause any trouble in that time, I will not be inclined to show mercy a second time.” The lord turns and strides away, clearly considering the matter closed.

    “There is one more thing.”

    Emelyn stops, pausing for a long moment before turning around. “Many men in your situation would consider it wise to not test their luck.”

    “My companion is injured. He has been unconscious since the wreck, and needs a healer’s attention. And I will need supplies for my journey. And… and I do not know if any of the rest of my crew survived the storm. I would know if you had found any of them.”

    The Doux scowls. “No other Skulde have washed up on my shores, alive or dead, I will answer you that. But the rest… I offer you your life, that costs me little. But now you ask for the time of my healers which could be spent tending to my people, food which could go into our stocks for winter. What do you bring to offer in exchange?”

    “I have nothing but my service. Your soldiers can attest, I am useful in a fight. And it sounds as if you have more raiders to track down. I will accompany your men to hunt for them, until they are destroyed.”

    Emelyn appears to consider this offer for a minute or so. “Will you swear it?” Svend gives him a puzzled look, and the Doux shakes his head. “Figures you would not know. Will you swear on iron? In these lands, to swear on iron is a solemn thing. The old gods hear words spoken when iron is in hand… and they remember one who breaks those words. Swear it, and you will have what you require.”

    “Bring me my blade,” Svend requests of the soldier standing over the captured weapons. After a small nod from Emelyn, he brings Svend’s seax over. Svend takes it, glad to feel its familiar weight once more. He grasps the blade, tight enough a small trickle of blood drips down his palm. His people might not swear on iron, but they are familiar with a promise sworn in blood. “I will hunt down these raiders, or die in the attempt.”

    “Very well.” Emelyn returns to his chair, settling back into it heavily. “Find him a place to stay… and get him out of my sight. Both of them.”

    Svend returns his blade to his belt, and follows the soldiers out of the hall.

    Spoiler
    Show

    And I get to my first time swearing an iron vow! There’s a move for that as well, with the degree of success dictating whether the quest has a clear path forwards, or an obstacle which must be overcome before continuing.

    Swear an Iron Vow:
    Rolling + Heart to swear to hunt down the raiders on behalf of Doux Emelyn.
    Action die: 4+2
    Challenge dice: 6, 5
    Result: weak hit

    So on a weak hit I am determined, but there are questions which need answering. I can take +1 momentum (+4), and need to decide what those questions are and how I overcome them. I think the question is obvious – where are the raiders? How I answer that is a bit sticky, and I’ll come back to that question as well. I will record the new vow on my character sheet, and I’ll give it a rank of Dangerous – I don’t envision a lot of steps being required to accomplish the quest. It seems pretty straightforward, even if there is the potential for a major fight along the way.

    I also need supplies and health. I will Sojourn in an attempt to rest and recuperate in the village, and gather up supplies for further journeys.

    Sojourn:
    Rolling + Heart to rest and recover in the village.
    Action die: 5+2
    Challenge dice: 1, 8
    Result: weak hit

    Again, the dice aren’t being as cooperative as they could be. Still, a weak hit lets me pick one option from among several which the move offers, to recover health, spirit, supply, remove conditions, etc. My spirit is at max (+5), so no need there. Health and Supply are both at +0. I feel like it would be reasonable for the Doux to provide supplies, at least at first, so I will go for recovering health instead. You can roll + Heart again to focus on one of your recovery actions, and potentially gain an additional benefit – but risk losing all benefits on a miss. I think I will try for that, see if I can get my health on up to near full. My action die is a 4+2, my challenge dice 2 and 10 – a weak hit. That means I can recover 3 health instead of 2. I’ll take it.

    Thinking about the match opening up a new opportunity – what if Doux Emelyn has a daughter who takes a liking to Svend, and begins bringing him supplies and such? That could help with the empty supply track, and give an opportunity for further drama down the road. I like that idea, I think I will go with that. I don’t know if this is technically supposed to be done, but I’ll take my third starting bond and apply it to her – I think it’s narratively appropriate. Normally, you’d have to make a roll to Forge a Bond when you want to make a new one.


    Svend is led to a small house near the shore – a hut, really, and a run-down one at that – and told that would serve as his residence as long as he was in Stormfast. Knud had been taken off to a hospital of sorts, where the town’s healers would attend to him. Svend simply collapses into the rough bed, exhausted.

    He is awoken not long thereafter by a knock on the door – he barely had time to groggily attempt to ask what was going on before two elderly people push their way into the hut. It seemed these were the village’s healers. They begin fussing over Svend’s own wounds, mixing foul-smelling poultices and smearing them over the injuries. The man did not speak, and the woman only issued curt instructions – rest, don’t travel more than necessary, drink this thin broth. His questions about Knud she answers only with a wave of the hand and a “fine, fine.” Then, as quickly as they had arrived, they were gone. Svend managed to drift back off to sleep.

    Sometime mid-morning the following day, another knock on the door pulls him from his sleep. He grumbles something which was intended to be “go away,” but came out as unintelligible mumbling. The knock repeats and he pulls himself out of bed, grousing to himself. “Hang on,” he mutters as he pulls his pants back on and makes his way to the door. “I don’t need any more of your damned poultices –“ He jerks the door open and stops short. It wasn’t the elderly couple; it was a young woman, probably in her early teens, whose face he thought he recognized – from the Doux's hall, perhaps? She had a bundle of clothing tucked under one arm and a bowl balanced in her hands. She seemed taken aback by him yanking the door open.

    “Ah… sorry,” he says, gruffly. “Thought you were those healers back to prod at me some more.”

    “They did send me, yes. They told me to bring you this.” She holds out the bowl of broth to him, which he took. Her eyes met his and darted away again. “And… And I thought you might need some fresh clothes. Yours are likely dirty after all that.”

    Well, they were, though that usually didn’t stop him. He takes the bundle from her – it’s simple clothing in the Ironlander style, but still warm enough. Maybe he should give his own salt-crusted clothing a decent wash… “Thank you, ah…”

    “Sardia,” she responds. “It’s the least I can do, really.” She meets his eyes again, briefly. They break contact, and she notices the old scars across his chest, from battles and injuries long past… and a couple of new ones, which would soon fade into the rest. Svend shifts uncomfortably, and she looks away again when she realizes she’s been staring.

    “Thank you, Sardia. I do appreciate it. You said the healers had sent you – do you know anything about Knud?”

    “Your friend? Ah, well… See, they didn’t send me, exactly. I mean, I don’t normally work for them. I was just in the area, and they were going to come check on you, and I asked if I could…” she trails off suddenly, cheeks reddening a bit as if she were embarrassed. “But… he seemed to be doing alright. I could tell he was breathing well, at least. I’m sure you could go see him if you wanted.”

    “I might just do that.” He turns and places the broth and the clothing on the table – he had to admit, the broth did smell good, which simply made his stomach growl. “Haven’t had a decent meal in days. Wish I could get something more filling than just broth.”

    “I could have the fishermen bring you a little something,” Sardia pipes up. “They usually have their early catch in before midday, then head back out in the afternoon. How’s that sound?”

    “Incredible, if you could manage it.” He gives Sardia another look – he is sure he recognizes her face from yesterday. “You aren’t with the healers, and I think I remember seeing you in the Doux's hall last night. Do you mind if I ask, who are you, and why take an interest in me?”

    This time she definitely reddens, looking down at her feet for a moment before responding. “I’m… ah… I’m Doux Emelyn’s daughter.” Ah. Well then. Sent to spy on him, perhaps?

    “Does your father know you’re here?” Svend asks, maybe a little more curtly than intended.

    “No. No, he doesn’t. I don’t think he’d approve if he did know.”

    “So—“

    “So why come down here?” She glances down again, then meets his eyes once more. “Because it’s not often we see people from so far away come through here. And it’s less often someone stands up to him like you did. He had no right to threaten you like he did. And he shouldn’t be demanding that you fight his battles for him in exchange for some common decency.” Svend is surprised by the iron in her voice.

    “He has some history with my people,” Svend replies evenly. “I can’t say I blame him.”

    “An old vendetta, and the one who is actually to blame is likely long dead.” She shakes her head. “If you need anything – anything my father won’t provide – let me know and I’ll do what I can.”

    “Thank you. A bit of food would go a long way.”

    “Gladly.” She opens her mouth as if to say something more, then closes it, looking sheepish. “I should go. I’ll have the fishermen drop something by.” And with that, she scampers off. Svend watches her go for a moment, shakes his head, and goes back in to his soup.

    -----

    As promised, the fishermen bring a basket of fish by around midday. By this point, Svend has changed into the fresh clothing – it’s a bit on the small side, but not by too much. With a little food in his belly, he goes to check on Knud. He’s able to see him and get confirmation that he’s doing well before the old couple shoo him out and direct him back to bed. He does wander the village streets a bit, drawing plenty of stares, before heading back. When he does so, one of the Doux's men is waiting for him at the door.

    “Well,” the man says. “Looks like you and I have a lot of work to do.”

    ------------------------

    Alright! Things are moving along nicely, I think. I will go ahead and give Svend +1 supply and remove his unprepared condition, since Sardia brought him food. Technically speaking I think he should Sojourn again to do that, but it fits in narratively, and I do have that match on a strong hit to play with.

    I hope everyone is still enjoying this - I know I am! I'm thinking next session I'll be able to try out the rules for making journeys and making progress on quests. Should be fun! I've got Monday off work, so the next post might be up by then - not making any promises, though, it may still be next weekend.
    Last edited by rs2excelsior; 2020-09-27 at 05:17 PM.
    I'm playing Ironsworn, an RPG that you can run solo - and I'm putting the campaign up on GitP!

    Most recent update: Chapter 5: Decisions

    -----

    A worldbuilding project, still work in progress: Reign of the Corven

    Most recent update: another look at magic traditions!

  17. - Top - End - #17
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Dr paradox's Avatar

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    Hey, I'm really enjoying this so far. GMless games are so strange to me, but you're doing a great job laying it out. I hope you keep it up!
    I've got a fiction podcast!
    Also, I'm working on a Campaign Log!
    Also, you're looking great today, did you get a haircut?

  18. - Top - End - #18
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    BlueKnightGuy

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr paradox View Post
    Hey, I'm really enjoying this so far. GMless games are so strange to me, but you're doing a great job laying it out. I hope you keep it up!
    Glad to hear it! Definitely very different from what I'm used to as well.

    I am working on an update, was planning on having it up this evening, but... well, let's just say things happened. A big twist that I need some time to think on and figure out how to handle. I'll have the next one up hopefully in a day or two.
    I'm playing Ironsworn, an RPG that you can run solo - and I'm putting the campaign up on GitP!

    Most recent update: Chapter 5: Decisions

    -----

    A worldbuilding project, still work in progress: Reign of the Corven

    Most recent update: another look at magic traditions!

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    BlueKnightGuy

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    Chapter 4: The Hunter



    Svend sits in the little hut, with Doux Emelyn’s officer, Haf, and a handful of the lord’s soldiers. Neither looks particularly happy to be there – it seems Haf is just as reluctant to work with a Skuld as his master. Svend wonders if that might have been why he was chosen – someone who would keep a particularly close eye on him.

    “Well… it seems one of the raiders our men brought in was relatively willing to sell out his fellows,” Haf offers. That certainly didn’t take long – it’d only been a week or so since they’d arrived. Still, with the chill on the air announcing that fall was fast approaching, Svend couldn’t blame them for trying to make sure they wouldn’t be turned out for the winter, or simply killed outright when things got scarce. “We have a rough idea of where the largest group of raiders is probably hiding out. Not a precise location – I don’t think they know, and if they did they couldn’t particularly tell us well enough to get us there. It seems straightforward enough to me. We go in, take out the main band, and the remainder will be too weak and too busy squabbling amongst themselves to do any further harm. But the Doux has seen fit to bring you into this operation, so I have been told to see what your thoughts are on the matter.” Haf’s voice drips with sarcasm at the question. “You’ve seen how I handled the last group of raiders. I think it was effective enough.”

    “Aye, that it was,” Svend replies. “Very good move keeping a ship manned to catch any boats which try and escape. But they almost slipped away from you – and chances are this group won’t have caught a prisoner who’ll break free and tie them up for you long enough to catch up.” Haf scowls at this, but Svend ignores the expression and keeps going. “You got spotted from a decent way out. These raiders, they have nothing on their island worth protecting. They see you coming, they scatter. It ain’t worth the fight for a barren island like any other. Which means you gotta have the noose around them before they know you’re there.”

    “And how do you recommend we do that?” Haf asks, with obviously false deference.

    “Come at them at night. Muffle the oars and surround the island. Get in position around them, then move up just before dawn – gives you the cover of darkness to get into position, but you still have light to coordinate the attack.”

    “That is all well and good… but what about finding the island in the first place? Do you think we’ll just stumble on it in the darkness?”

    “Few different options about that. How’d you know about this last group of raiders?”

    “They’d attacked a crew of fishermen, stole their catch and let them go. It was close enough to the island that they saw where they went and reported to their village chiefs. But there’s no guarantee this group will be so sloppy.”

    Svend nods, processing the information for a moment. “Well, we can see what the locals do have to say – a group this big will likely leave some footpring. We could even send forward a group disguised as fishermen, see if they can scope things out from a distance. Or, there’s always Grima.” The raven squawks from his perch behind Haf, as if on cue, and the officer spins around startled. Svend hides a satisfied smile at that. “Got a good eye for things which shouldn’t be there, and damned smart to boot.”

    “Hm.” Haf turns, settling himself from the sudden start. “Are you well enough to travel? The boats will be ready to depart in the morning, and the Doux will not be pleased at any delays.”

    “Well as I’m going to be. I will need an axe, though – I doubt this knife will do much good if things do come to a fight.” He motions to the seax at his belt. “Shield would be nice too.”

    “I’ll see what I can do.” Haf rises from his seat. “I think that will be all for now – be at the docks at sunrise. We will not wait for you.”

    Spoiler
    Show

    I am going to go ahead and roll to Sojourn again, try and get my health and supply up a bit more. I’ve been wondering how I’m going to handle supplies since Svend is heading out with an organized group. I think I’m going to give the expedition its own supply track (starting at +5), and Svend can make use of that so long as he stays with the group. His own supply track will kick in if he gets separated for any reason.

    Sojourn:
    Rolling + Heart to make last minute preparations for the journey.
    Action die: 3+2
    Challenge dice: 3, 3
    Result: strong hit

    A strong hit – and a match! Going to have to think of how that shakes out. I do need a new weapon… I can choose two categories to add 2 to, between Health, Spirit, Supply, and Momentum. Spirit’s at full and momentum would be nice, but I think I will go with Health (bringing it back to maximum) and Supply (which is now at +3).


    Svend makes his final preparations for the trip. He lays in some supplies – rations of salted fish and various vegetables as well as other miscellaneous things which one might need in the wilderness. Fortunately he’d started building up a rapport with the fishers, and had no trouble getting the supplies he needed. The elderly healer couple came and changed his bandages – the wounds were feeling quite a bit better. As he is heading back to the cabin, an older woman approaches him.

    “Are you the Skuld who helped bring in those bandits?”

    “I am,” Svend replies, cautiously.

    “Please, come with me.” He follows the woman through the streets to what he presumes is her own home and follows her inside. She takes an old axe down from the hearth. “This was my husband’s old axe. It belonged to his father, and his grandfather before him. My son took it when he died. He was carrying it when the Doux called for soldiers to deal with the bandits the first time – and he was killed carrying it. Please, take it – as thanks for helping to bring those vermin to justice, and so that it may see what it started through to the end.”

    Svend reaches out and takes the axe, feeling its weight. Good, hefty, but not overly large and unwieldy. A little shorter than what he’s used to, but still quite serviceable. The blade is sharp, the steel seems strong and well-forged. He gives it a few experimental swings. “It’s a good weapon. What was your son’s name?”

    “Morien.”

    “Well then. For Morien, and for his forefathers – your steel will taste the blood of its enemies once more. This I promise. Thank you.”

    “May the sun’s light guide you, warrior, and all the gods protect your steps.”

    -----

    The following morning arrives quickly. Svend gathers his gear and heads to the docks, where a war party is gathering. Armed and armored men and women, the fighting-age soldiers of the Doux's domain, either readying gear or filing onto the waiting boats. There are six being readied, this time – wider than the wolfships Svend is used to, slower, but able to carry more aboard them as well. With his pack over one shoulder and the axe over the other, he joins the waiting crowd.

    “There you are,” a gruff voice rings out from the crowd. Haf is making his way through the waiting soldiers towards him. “Took you long enough.” The officer pauses, noticing the weapon he’s carrying. “Is that Morion’s axe?”

    “It is. His mother gave it to me.”

    “Hmph. Here, take this, then.” Haf thrusts a battered wooden shield towards him, passing the small axe he was carrying back towards one of his followers – at a glance it looked like a cheaply made iron axe. Seems the man wasn’t planning on sparing much for Svend. Still, he thanks Haf for the shield, and waits for his place on the ships – Haf directs him onto the same boat as he’s aboard, much to his displeasure. Before long the ships are sweeping out of the fjord, leaving Stormfast behind.

    Spoiler
    Show

    Normally, you handle long-distance travel using an Undertake a Journey move, but the rules specify that if you’re following a party or caravan of NPCs and not really directing or planning the journey, to not use this move and just handle the trip narratively. I will Ask the Oracle and see if there’s any complications on the way – I’ll say it’s a small chance (91+), since I want to focus on what happens when we get there. I get a 30, so the trip is largely uneventful. Now, I’ll roll and see if we are able to find the raiders easily once we get there – I think the information is pretty good, so I’ll go with a 50/50 chance (51+) that we’re able to locate the island they’re hiding on without having to resort to handling it explicitly in the narrative. That’s a 61 – we’ve got their scent!


    The miles disappear quickly behind the war-party as the boats sweep down the coast. The oarsmen are efficient and skilled, and the boats make good time. Nights are spent with the boats pulled up on the beaches, and within a few days they make it to the vicinity where the raiders should be located. A group of fishermen directs them towards a cluster of islands which they have been avoiding of late due to strange folk about, and a quick flight by Grima confirms there were people on the islands. Now, of course, they had to decide how to proceed.

    “We have them here, I say we take them! None of this sneaking about!” That was one of Haf’s subordinates, another soldier in the Doux's retinue. She seemed to be speaking for most of the assembled officers.

    “You do that and I guarantee half will slip away, if not more,” Svend replies. “If you want to take the lot of them, you need to get into position before they know you’re there. Otherwise they bolt the moment they get a whiff of something amiss – the group I was with did exactly that, and they almost escaped.”

    “Bah, just like your kind, always skulking about. You don’t take a fight unless your enemy’s asleep or unarmed, do you?”

    “Fair fights are for suckers.” Svend can hardly believe what he’s hearing. These people seem dead-set to go blundering straight at them, surrendering the element of surprise instead of taking full advantage of it.

    Spoiler
    Show

    It seems a Compel move would be appropriate here!

    Compel:
    Rolling + Heart to convince them to take Svend’s advice.
    Action die: 1+2
    Challenge dice: 8, 5
    Result: miss

    It seems they aren’t particularly disposed to listen to Svend’s advice. I need to Pay the Price for a miss here. The most obvious negative repercussion is a simple refusal – they just charge in without taking precautions. I think that’s enough of a penalty, that the enemy is alerted before we arrive. I think I will also apply harm to the stress track as well. The default is -2, bringing Svend’s spirit track to +3, and I will roll Endure Stress.

    Endure Stress:
    Rolling + Spirit to convince them to take Svend’s advice.
    Action die: 2+3
    Challenge dice: 4, 8
    Result: weak hit

    Svend presses on with nothing more than the loss of spirit.


    Svend argues his case. It seems obvious enough to him. Tempers flare on both sides, and it seems the officers are pretty much decided – and the fact that many of them share their master’s opinion of Skulde doesn’t seem to help much. Haf makes his decision known – they will not wait for nightfall. The attack will happen immediately, with all speed. Four boats will assault the island, while two more circle around either side to run down any who flee – largely the same MO as before. Svend sees many ways it could go wrong, but he has been overruled in no uncertain terms. He’ll do his part in an assault, if that’s how it goes down.

    Spoiler
    Show

    Alright, I’m going to Ask the Oracle to see how the raiders react when they see the Doux's men approaching – do they stand and fight, or try and flee? I will say it’s unlikely (76+) that they make a stand – they have very little to gain from making a stand. This will also indirectly determine the strength of the raiders, in that if they decide to stand that means they’re strong enough to feel confident of victory. The oracle roll is 54 – they flee.


    Svend’s boat is tasked with leading the attack on the island. The Doux's ships move forward, banners fluttering in the wind, open and exposed to anyone who might be watching. He grips his axe and shield, fully expecting either a difficult attack on prepared defenders or, more likely, an empty island. Sure enough, there is a flurry of activity as the boats approach. Small boats begin dispersing from the island as raiders flee before the approaching soldiers. Arrows begin falling around them, more aimed at slowing down their approach than doing any real harm. Shields go up, and a handful of soldiers are injured by falling shafts. The boats make landfall, as the other two speed around either side of the island, vainly pursuing the scattering boats. Svend leaps into the water and wades ashore. “Come on,” he calls to the handful of soldiers around him. “We might be able to snag a group before they run.” He charges along the beach, headed to a cluster of small boats, aiming to get their before their owners manage to push out to sea. A group of bandits are rushing to get them out to sea, tossing provisions and gear onto the boats. A couple begin firing off arrows in the direction of Svend and the advancing soldiers.

    Spoiler
    Show

    Alright, we’re going into a combat sequence here. I think a Face Danger move would be appropriate here to close the distance before the boats go to sea and minimize the damage from arrow fire.

    Face Danger:
    Rolling + Edge to cross the distance to the raiders before they can get but so many arrows off.
    Action die: 6+1
    Challenge dice: 4, 6
    Result: strong hit

    Whew, Edge is one of Svend’s poor stats, but that was a good roll! That’s +1 momentum (now at +5), and we cross the distance with a minimum of casualties. I will go ahead and Enter the Fray as well. This is a small-ish group, mostly trying to flee, and I am backed up with a probably larger group of soldiers. I think I will set the difficulty as Dangerous.

    Enter the Fray:
    Rolling + Heart to square up with the bandits.
    Action die: 2+2
    Challenge dice: 6, 10
    Result: miss

    The bandits have the upper hand to begin with, that’s a bit unfortunate. I can’t use momentum to affect the roll either. The enemy has initiative, and I need to Pay the Price. The most obvious negative effect would be a last-second arrow, so I will Endure Harm from that. I take 2 harm, then need to make a roll.

    Endure Harm:
    Rolling + Health to resist injury.
    Action die: 3+3
    Challenge dice: 10, 8
    Result: miss

    Ouch, that was a nasty roll. That’s another -1 momentum as well. I don’t need to roll on the table to face death as I’m not at zero health.


    The bandits’ response is panicked, rushed. Arrows fall among the attackers, but they are rushed, and almost all either miss their targets or strike shields. A couple fall, wounded, but then they are upon the raiders. Svend focuses on one, desperately trying to retrieve a short cleaver from his gear – but a sudden sharp pain in his leg makes him stumble. One of the raiders had let loose a well-aimed arrow, and Svend had been too focused to see it. He stumbles, regaining his balance… and by the time he has recovered, the bandit is on him, weapon raised.

    Spoiler
    Show

    Alright, the enemy has initiative. Going to try and shift things back around before getting a hit in.

    Face Danger:
    Rolling + Iron to resist the attacks with my shield.
    Action die: 5+3
    Challenge dice: 5, 2
    Result: strong hit

    Nice, that shifts initiative back to Svend. I will follow up with a Strike!

    Strike:
    Rolling + Iron to engage the raider up close.
    Action die: 3+3
    Challenge dice: 7, 7
    Result: miss

    Gah, the dice are not being helpful. A miss, and I don’t have enough momentum to do anything about it. AND it’s a match. So I have to Pay the Price. That’s 2 more harm, and I Endure Harm again.

    Endure Harm:
    Rolling + Iron to resist injury.
    Action die: 4+3
    Challenge dice: 10, 4
    Result: weak hit

    No further effect – Svend simply presses on.

    Now, that match on the strike… that introduces some new, unexpected complication. The most obvious thing would be the raiders either getting reinforcements, or Svend’s own party falling back… but that isn’t exactly unexpected. What if one of the officers does something to betray Svend? That seems interesting… I think I’ll go with that.


    The raider’s attack is wild and uncoordinated. Svend shelters under his shield, weathering the blows and waiting for his chance. He sweeps the raider’s blade aside, stepping forwards and raising his own axe to strike – when another arrow digs itself into his flank. He stumbles once again, and the raider twists away from the strike. That arrow seemed to come more from behind than ahead… he sees Haf off in that direction, handing a bow back to a soldier, before his attention is once again occupied by the raider’s renewed offensive.

    Spoiler
    Show

    And we’re back to where we were in the first place. I need to get the initiative back. I think I will try a Clash just to mix things up. It’s a bit riskier, but I need to get some hits in.

    Clash:
    Rolling + Iron to fight back against the raider’s attack.
    Action die: 2+3
    Challenge dice: 2, 3
    Result: strong hit

    Alright, that’s good. I inflict harm and can either deal one extra harm or take +1 momentum. I think I’ll go with the momentum (now at +5). I am fighting with a deadly weapon, so I inflict 2 harm by default, and each harm against a dangerous foe represents two full progress boxes. I have four boxes marked now – a good start for sure.

    I think I will Secure an Advantage next, try and maneuver myself into a stronger position.

    Secure an Advantage:
    Rolling + Iron to aggressively force the enemy into a worse position.
    Action die: 5+3
    Challenge dice: 2, 1
    Result: strong hit

    Well, the dice are being fickle. Right now they’re being pretty cooperative. I can either take 2 momentum, or immediately make another move with a +1 bonus… I think I’ll go with the bonus to the roll. I’ll follow up with a Strike, and hopefully finish this fight.

    Strike:
    Rolling + Iron to press the engagement.
    Action die: 5+3+1
    Challenge dice: 4, 6
    Result: strong hit

    Whew, that’s a good one. Didn’t even need the +1 as it turns out. A strong hit means I inflict an extra harm (3 harm total) and retain initiative. Against a Dangerous foe, that’s another 6 boxes checked off – so all ten boxes are filled. Time to End the Fight.

    End the Fight:
    Progress move with 10 boxes filled
    Challenge dice: 10, 10
    Result: miss

    Oh. Oh no. That’s a miss. That’s the only way a miss could have happened. There was a1% chance of a miss… and it happened. And it’s a match.

    A string of great rolls, and then this. RNGesus is definitely laughing at me.

    So, I have lost the fight, and I have to Pay the Price. So the bandits definitely manage to slip away, and Svend suffers some further consequence – being captured, wounded and left for dead, having an important objective or person slip away… I will have to think about how exactly to handle this.

    There are a couple of oracle tables which can help with this. One associated with the Pay the Price move which gives prompts for negative results, and one general table which deals with major plot twists – it specifically calls out helping to resolve matches, especially matched 10s. I think I’ll roll on both and see what happens.

    First roll is a 12 – You are separated from something or someone. Captured, maybe? I’ve done that plot line before, but it’s something to think about. Let me see what the plot twist table gives me. 56 – you are too late. I think that ship has sailed (no pun intended). Rolling again, I get a 2 – it was all a diversion. I think I might be able to work with that. Who is responsible for the diversion? Are the raiders trying to divert attention from something else? Maybe the leader of the raiders isn’t actually here? Maybe it’s something that Haf is trying to pull on Doux Emelyn? Maybe the raiders were trying to get the soldiers out of the village? Something I can think about, but I don’t think it will be immediately obvious. Which puts me back to the first table for the immediate consequences. I don’t really want to do another “Svend gets captured” plotline (three times in four chapters seems too much). So perhaps Svend loses himself, kills the raiders he has engaged, but loses sight of the bigger goal of preventing the others from escaping. So in the end, they do not have the prisoners they need.


    The raider’s cleaver once more comes crashing down on Svend’s shield, but he manages to turn the strike. He jabs the blunt top of his axe into the gut of his assailant, then brings the blade down into his shoulder. The raider collapses, unmoving. With a roar, Svend charges the remaining raiders, pushing them back to the sea’s edge. The thrill of the fight is through him, the blood flowing down his side, nothing remaining but the enemy before him and the rush of the sea. Off-balance, the raider brandishes a small shield and cudgel. Svend brushes the bandit’s defense aside, hacking him down. Svend stands in the pool of red in the waves, spinning around and searching for another foe – only to find the remaining raiders pushing off their boat, and the group of soldiers with him having fallen back. Cursing, he watches the boat go, then turns around – Haf is striding towards him. Red flashes through his vision, and he storms back along the beach towards the officer.

    “What was that?” Haf demands. “You let them escape! Aside from these two, but neither of them is in any shape to tell us anything useful! This might have been our only chance to find out where their leader is going!”

    “What was this? What was this?” Svend roars. “What was this?” he demands, motioning towards the arrow wound. “Don’t think I didn’t see you, you coward! And none of this would have happened if you had just listened to me in the first place!” The soldiers had formed a rough ring around the pair, looking uneasily between them. “And then you have the gall to try and stab me in the back, and blame me for this debacle?”

    “I am sure I have no idea what you are talking about. That was clearly a wound suffered from the raiders’ arrows. And remember, Skuld – you are not in command. I am. I am the one who makes the decisions here. Should you make it necessary, these soldiers will remind you of that.”

    The threat does not go unnoticed. His vision goes red, and his hand clenches around the axe. For a moment, he considers striking the officer down, and damn the consequences. Should he do so, the soldiers will surely bring him down – that is certain, at least. This is a fight for another time. He glares at the man with undisguised hatred, spits on the ground at his feet, and turns to stalk away. He’d have to watch his back until he was back to safety.

    Spoiler: Previous ending
    Show
    The threat does not go unnoticed. For a moment, he considers striking the officer down, and damn the consequences. Should he do so, the soldiers will surely bring him down – that is certain, at least. Instead, he spits on the beach at Haf’s feet, and draws half a circle in the sand between them. He doesn’t know that much about Ironlander custom, but that is one he has picked up.

    “Are you serious?” Haf asks quietly. “We are in the middle of something here, there’s no time for—“

    “I will not have you threaten me,” Svend growls. “I will not look over my shoulder at every moment. We will resolve this here and now –or are you too afraid to prove your position in front of your men?” A murmur runs around the gathered soldiers. Haf gives Svend a look of pure anger. This was a challenge he could not back down from if he wanted to maintain his authority. After a long, tense moment, Haf draws his own sword, completing the circle and stepping inside.

    Spoiler
    Show

    So, this is basically the procedure of a formal duel. It works like a fight, but with a different process for beginning the fight – and, usually, it’s until one side yields, rather than to the death. One party may choose to fight to the death, however, and the other must agree or forfeit.

    That said, I am not going to make the rolls and start the fight – that’ll be how we start out the next session!


    ------------------------

    Alright, an interesting session. Two misses, one double tens - it's an optional recommendation that the higher the match, the worse the consequences. I will need to do some thinking about who is diverting whom during all of this - I've got a couple of ideas on that. Should be interesting moving forwards!
    Last edited by rs2excelsior; 2020-09-26 at 06:30 PM.
    I'm playing Ironsworn, an RPG that you can run solo - and I'm putting the campaign up on GitP!

    Most recent update: Chapter 5: Decisions

    -----

    A worldbuilding project, still work in progress: Reign of the Corven

    Most recent update: another look at magic traditions!

  20. - Top - End - #20
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Israel
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    Default Re: Let's Play: Ironsworn (Solo)

    Thanks for the updates!
    So... a really big twist! I wonder what the diversion ends up covering. I have a few ideas as well, but it's your game, I'll read what you come up with.

    I see the mechanics (especially battle mechanics) are becoming more... intuitive? Or so it seems.

    I quite like the pace, and extra details you are putting into the game, and writing. It reads quite well and engaging! Thank you for that.

    I'll be looking forward to see how the circel duel goes with Haf!

    1. Special projects:
    Campaign logs archive, Campaign planning log, Tactical mass combat Homebrew, A unique monsters compendium.
    2. My campaign logs:
    Three from a GM's POV, One from a player's POV. Very detailed, including design and GMing discussions.
    3. Various roleplay and real life musings and anecdotes:
    For those interested, from serious to funny!

    Thanks for reading!

  21. - Top - End - #21
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    BlueKnightGuy

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    Jul 2013
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    Default Re: Let's Play: Ironsworn (Solo)

    Alrighty folks! Didn't get an update up last week, the weekend got busy. However, I'm expecting to be able to play a bit more this weekend - should have something up in the next day or two!

    In the meantime, I've been thinking about the story so far, and I think I'm going to make two minor(-ish) changes.

    First off, instead of "Strategos," I think I'm gonna go with "Doux" as the title for the various warlords scattered around the Ironlands. It's still a (roughly equivalent) title from the Eastern Roman Empire, even if it is a word borrowed into Greek from Latin ("Dux," which is a title that has connections to the historical post-Roman Britain).

    Second... I think I'm gonna change the ending of the last update just a bit. Namely, the more I think about it, the more I think it doesn't make that much sense for Svend to Draw the Circle right here and now. They're barely out of a battle right now, after all. There will still be a confrontation, but I'll rewrite exactly what form it takes - and it'll stop short of coming to blows. We'll save that for later :)

    And for reference - if you have a suggestion for how to handle something narratively, especially something I leave open at the end like that, feel free to let me know, either here or in the PMs! I make no promises that I'll use it, but I will definitely be open to new ideas!

    Hope people are enjoying things so far!
    I'm playing Ironsworn, an RPG that you can run solo - and I'm putting the campaign up on GitP!

    Most recent update: Chapter 5: Decisions

    -----

    A worldbuilding project, still work in progress: Reign of the Corven

    Most recent update: another look at magic traditions!

  22. - Top - End - #22
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    BlueKnightGuy

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    Jul 2013
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    Default Re: Let's Play: Ironsworn (Solo)

    Chapter 5: Decisions

    Svend stalks away, cursing under his breath. Damn Emelyn. Damn Haf. Damn these bandits, and damn the storm that had gotten him caught up in all this mess. The fools had stumbled in blindly, gotten exactly what he’d told them they would – and now he had to worry about Haf slipping a knife in his back. He was certain of one thing, he would not be charging into another battle with Haf anywhere he couldn't see him clearly.

    He wanders off, not particularly paying attention to where he was going. Away from the soldiers, away from their traitorous officers. The adrenaline of the battle is wearing off, and the pain of his injuries is starting to set in. He needs to tend to his wounds. He finds a campfire still in embers, stokes it up a bit, and begins tending to his wounds.

    Spoiler
    Show

    When resting and recovering for several hours in the wild (as opposed to in a settlement) you can Make Camp. It’s a weaker version of the Sojourn move.

    Make Camp:
    Rolling + Supply to rest and tend to injuries.
    Action die: 5+2
    Challenge dice: 2, 10
    Result: weak hit

    A weak hit means I can pick one of the options – basically, +1 to health, spirit, or momentum, or +1 to a subsequent roll on an Undertake a Journey move. There’s also an option to lose 1 supply for one health, which is really (as far as I can tell) only for if you get a strong hit and want to heal a second health. My health is the lowest at the moment, so I will increase that (from 1 to 2).


    Grima rests on the spit, cawing occasionally and seemingly judging Svend for his foolishness. “Yes, yes, Grima, I know. I know I should’ve known better.” He gets no response from the bird but that knowing stare. Caw, caw! It was almost as if the raven was trying to tell him something…

    Svend glances around the field where he had settled. Doux Emelyn’s soldiers were looting the bandits’ left behind possessions, moving around the scattered camps. It was clear this had been hastily set up – the fire pits were not deep, there were no tents or other shelters, no signs of a long-term encampment…

    Wait.

    Svend stands up. Grima flutters up to his shoulder – maybe this was what the raven had been trying to get him to notice. Hadn’t this been where the entire group of bandits had supposedly been camped for weeks now, since they’d initially been scattered? It certainly didn’t look like a camp which had been occupied for that long. For that matter… it looked like this campfire had far fewer people using it than there should have been. There were signs of two, maybe three using this fire at any time – he’d expect at least eight or ten sharing a firepit. That did not sit well with him – something was going on.

    He pushes himself to his feet, wincing at the pain in his newly bandaged wounds, and sets off to find Haf. As much as he didn’t trust the man, he was the one in command of the expedition.

    -----

    Svend finds Haf conversing with his officers, making little effort to oversee the troops or organize a pursuit. They pay no attention to Svend as he strides up to the group.

    “How many raiders were supposed to be camped here?” he demands, gruffly.

    “What? Can’t you see we’re in the—“

    “How many?”

    “…A hundred, perhaps a hundred and fifty. Depends on how many have been split off to other islands.”

    “This is a trap.”

    “What are you on about? Why are you wasting our time with this—“

    “Just shut up and listen for once, you old fool!” Svend snaps. “There should have been a hundred men, minimum, on this island, right? Look at the camps. There were no more than thirty or so here. They were spread out across far more campfires than they should have had, and haven’t been here very long – which means they wanted us to think the main group was here. And that can’t mean good things for wherever they actually are.”

    Haf’s expression is a mixture of concern and distrust. “Are you sure about that? There looked to be about as many ships as there should have been for the numbers we expected.”

    “And every one has the minimum crew, I’d wager. As for the campfires, go see for yourself.”

    To his credit, Haf did motion for his officers to follow and go off to investigate the fires. He’d half expected to be dismissed out of hand. Of course, Svend hoped he was wrong…

    Spoiler
    Show

    Alright, time to try and Gather Information, leveraging my companion asset to gather information at a distance.

    Gather Information:
    Rolling + Wits to determine whether the ships are under-manned.
    Action die: 3+2
    Challenge dice: 5, 1
    Result: weak hit

    The quest is complicated or a new danger is introduced. I could use momentum to cancel the 5 and make it a strong hit, but I think I’m gonna stick with it. So that’s a +1 to momentum, and some complication is introduced – beyond the complication we already have? Perhaps Haf and company don’t believe it, or want to press on anyway.


    “Grima, follow the ships. See what you can find.” The raven takes to wing as Haf and his officers go to investigate the camp themselves. Svend watches the distance impatiently as the raven disappears from view. The ships which were set to patrol return, empty-handed, having been unable to catch the raiders’ smaller, quicker vessels. As the officers speak quietly among themselves and the soldiers finish their looting and settle down for a rest before the next move, Grima comes back into view and alights on Svend’s shoulder.

    “Did you find them?” Caw. “And were the ships full?”

    The raven gives no answer. Once more, Svend approaches the expedition’s leaders.

    “Grima found their ships. They are mostly empty. This was a diversion, it has to be. For them to make it look like there are more men on the island, to leave all their ships here… they wanted your forces here, not elsewhere. And whatever they’re doing in the meantime, it’s something they don’t need their ships for.”

    “Come on, you expect us to believe your bird told you all this?” The same officer who’d protested his plan to ambush the bandits in the first place.

    “I trust his judgment more than yours.”

    She snorts. “Look, we dealt with these criminals just fine before this Skuld showed up with his ridiculous ideas. Ignore him and chase down the ships. Let’s finish this now.”

    Spoiler
    Show

    And a Compel move seems appropriate here, to try and convince Haf and the others that something is wrong.

    Compel:
    Rolling + Heart to convince the officers to believe this was a diversion.
    Action die: 4+2
    Challenge dice: 7, 6
    Result: miss

    Well, dang. Looks like they aren’t buying it. I could cancel the 6, make it a weak hit… but I think I’ll hang onto the momentum for now. So they refuse, or make a severe demand – I think the refusal makes more sense here – and I must Pay the Price. I don’t see an obvious consequence, so I’ll check the oracle table for that move and see what comes up. My first roll is 44 – a new danger or foe is revealed. A new enemy among this group? I think most of them are “enemies” to a degree already. So perhaps something completely unrelated… and I think I have an idea what. I’ll sit on it for a minute before I introduce it, however.


    Svend pleads his case as best he can, patience growing shorter with the group who mostly seem intent on ignoring anything which comes out of his mouth. Haf simply watches the exchange, though Svend can’t tell how much he’s actually listening. As Svend is starting to become heated, Haf finally interjects.

    “I agree the camps looked odd. But we need more to go off of before we do anything drastic. We know where these raiders have gone. We will pursue them, catch them, and then if it seems there are more, we will have prisoners to interrogate.”

    Svend deflates a bit. At this point, the outcome wasn’t much of a surprise. “At least send a boat back to town. In the off chance that they are in danger from the main group of these raiders, they should be alerted.”

    “No. I need my forces here. I will not split them up.”

    Svend opens his mouth to argue, then shuts it. The man seems hell bent on ignoring any modicum of good sense, then fine. To hell with him. There was no point in slamming his head against a brick wall for nothing. Svend turns on his heel and storms away, feeling the eyes of Haf and the others on his back as he goes.

    Spoiler
    Show

    I have an idea for what Svend is going to do here, but I want to Ask the Oracleto see if the circumstances are there. Specifically, I’m asking if there is a small boat which the raiders have left on the shore of the island. I’m going to say that’s likely since they did depart in a hurry, so a 26+ will do it. I got an 87, so we’re good to go.

    I think it’s also appropriate to make a roll for Svend to actually take the boat, so I’ll go ahead and do that.

    Compel:
    Rolling + Iron to intimidate my way past the soldiers and gain control of the raider boat.
    Action die: 4+3
    Challenge dice: 4, 6
    Result: strong hit

    There we go – success, and +1 momentum to boot (+7 now). Let’s get this show on the road!

    Side note, I have not marked progress on my quest yet. I hadn’t done so largely because there was no major combat at the island – most of the raiders had fled before the boats landed. However, between the fight we did have, the conflicts with Haf and the others, and Svend now setting off on his own to try and deal with the problem, I think it’s appropriate to Reach a Milestone. There’s no roll for that, I just mark progress. The quest is dangerous so I mark 2 progress on the track.


    Away from Haf and his officers, Svend sits heavily on a stone near the shore, looking out over the waves. The ocean had always calmed him down, even as a young boy. He would sneak away and sit by the shore when his brothers were harassing him or his father had been pushing him too hard. And now, he finds himself once more letting the endless expanse and the thundering sound of the waves take his mind off of the frustrations of the situation he found himself in. This was supposed to have been relatively straightforward… and now here he was, alone, without a ship or crew, and bound to the service of someone who actively hated him – and possibly wanted him dead to boot. He found himself thinking of Knut, wondering what Doux Emelyn might be up to with him if he had ordered Haf to try and kill Svend… and, to his surprise, he found himself thinking about Sardia. It seemed like most people in Stormfast had been largely indifferent towards him, but she’d been one of the few to show actual kindness. If the raiders had used this distraction to attack the town while it was largely defenseless… But there wasn’t much that could be done at this stage of things. Grima sits across from him, meeting his gaze but offering no useful advice as usual…

    Nearby on the shore, there was a small boat, big enough for three or four people at most. The raiders had apparently left it when they departed. A handful of soldiers were sitting nearby, chatting idly. With sudden resolve, Svend rises, walking purposefully towards the boat. He passes the soldiers without acknowledging them, and begins throwing his gear and supplies into the boat. It looked seaworthy enough, it would have to do.

    The soldiers stopped what they were doing, staring at Svend. One of them stands and approaches him. “Umm… what are you… I don’t think anyone should be taking—“

    Svend turns and stares the man down. “I am taking the boat.”

    “Haf said—“

    “I am taking the boat.”

    The soldier raises his hands, backing away. Svend goes back to loading the boat in silence. He pushes the boat off into the sea, pulling at the oars.

    As he left the island behind, he saw a figure which he thought looked very much like Haf watching the boat disappear into the distance.

    -----

    Svend makes some decent progress that first day, retracing the route northwards back towards Stormfast. As night falls, he puts the boat ashore on one of the many islands in the Barrier Islands and makes camp for the night. He sets up a small fire, cooking a simple meal, and puts out a few lines on the shore. Maybe he can bring in a few fish, or find something edible on the island itself.

    Spoiler
    Show

    So, mechanically speaking, I’m making two moves here: Make Camp and Resupply.

    Resupply:
    Rolling + Wits to fish and forage for food and other supplies.
    Action die: 4+2
    Challenge dice: 1, 3
    Result: strong hit

    Alright, that’s good. +2 Supply – which puts me back to +5 total. And now to Make Camp:

    Make Camp:
    Rolling + Supply to rest and prepare for the journey ahead.
    Action die: 5+5
    Challenge dice: 5, 4
    Result: strong hit

    And another good roll! I can pick two of the options listed. My health is still the weakest, so I’ll take +1 Health (now to +3). I could sacrifice a supply to get another health, gain +1 spirit or +1 momentum, or get a +1 bonus on my roll if my next move is to Undertake a Journey. I think I’ll go with the last one – I haven’t really talked about that move yet, but basically it’s what you use to travel. I think I will go that option, since I will be using that move to make the trip back to Stormfast.


    The fish are biting well, and there are plenty of edible roots and even some small game on the island. Svend is confident that he’ll have more than enough rations to get him back to town. He changes his bandages – the wounds appear to be healing well, and are already paining him a bit less. As he settles down with a freshly grilled fish, he steels himself for the journey ahead.

    Of course, it is still an open question what he would do when he actually got there. He suspects Doux Emelyn would be no more likely to believe his warnings, especially if he came back without the rest of the force that had been sent out. Maybe he would try and look for the raiders on his own, see if they were on the move towards the town. If they were, maybe the warning would carry some more weight. If not… If not, he could just grab Knut and get out of there. He’d already wasted enough time dealing with these people. It was time to get back to tracking Revna down.

    Svend drifts off to sleep to the sound of the wind and crashing waves. He finds himself back on his ship, reliving the storm which had gotten him into this mess in the first place. In a trance, he re-traces his actions as the storm buffeted the ship, crashing it against the rocks – try as he might, he could not do anything other than what he had done before. Once again, the ship breaks against the rocks, and once again he is tossed into the dark ocean and slips from consciousness.

    He awakes on the shore, blinking against the sunlight. He’s back on the first island, the one where he’d been captured by the raiders. Pulling himself to his feet, he looks around, searching for where he’d found Knut unconscious last time.

    There was no one there. Svend feels the pressure of eyes staring at him from behind and spins around. There is nothing but the ocean, but he cannot shake the feeling of being watched. Vainly, he searches for weapons that aren’t there, not even the seax in his belt.

    Suddenly, he sees something. Motion in the waves, a dark outline of something lurking just beneath the surface. Svend is rooted to the spot as figures rise up out of the water – human figures, looking like they had just walked along the ocean floor to the shore. Slowly, their heads and shoulders rose from the water, eyes fixed on Svend.

    As the dripping figures formed a rough semi-circle around him, he could swear he recognized some of them, despite the pallid grey skin and milky white eyes. They were dressed like Skulde warriors… he could swear the nearest one was Torsten, one of the warriors who had set off with him on this journey – were these his crew?

    “Svend,” maybe-Torsten called, his voice raspy and hoarse. It did sound like him, though. “You abandoned us. You led us here. And you left us to die.”

    Svend could feel fear rising up in his chest. “No. No, the storm… I couldn’t have known. I was coming to look for you, to look for all of you…”

    “You did this.” A raspy murmur went around the gathered figures. “Your fault. Your fault…” With a growl, Torsten lunges towards him, hands outstretched. Svend stumbles back, away from those lifeless, rage-filled eyes and tearing fingernails. He loses his balance and falls. As Torsten bears down on him, he jolts awake.

    There were no drowned crewmates, no murderous spirits surrounding him. By the light of the dying campfire, Svend frantically searched the ocean’s surface, but it was calm and clear. A bright moon hung low in the sky, making patterns of light dance over the water.

    It took a while for Svend’s heart to stop racing. It had just been a dream… or had it? He’d heard all sorts of wild stories about this place… maybe some of them were true? He pushed the thought aside. Whether the stories of restless dead were true or not, he had his own path set out before him. No sense in joining the rest of his crew because he hadn’t gotten a decent night’s sleep and made a mistake.

    He did move his camp further from the water, however.

    Spoiler
    Show

    And there’s the “new enemy” from the miss on that Compel move! These are Sodden, vengeful spirits of people who have died at sea. The book is unclear as to whether or not they’re corporeal – I’ll have to do some figuring on that, and how to lay them to rest properly (especially if they are more like ghosts). I’d been thinking about bringing them in since the shipwreck, and this seemed like a good opportunity – especially as Svend is out on his own. Potentially very vulnerable…

    I think I will add a vow to put the crew’s spirits to rest - I'll call it a Formidable level quest. I’ll go ahead and roll for the move now, and then wrap up this section of the story.

    Swear an Iron Vow:
    Rolling + Heart to swear to put the crew’s spirits to rest.
    Action die: 6+2
    Challenge dice: 6, 10
    Result: weak hit

    A weak hit – you are determined, but begin your quest with more questions than answers. Seems appropriate. That does grant me +1 momentum (now to +7) – a pretty good amount to gear up for a big confrontation with the raiders!


    Svend awakes as the sun rises, the dream still nagging at his mind. Hastily, he breaks camp, packing his gear back onto the boat. Looking out over the ocean, he feels as if there is something watching him back… some malevolent presence, more purposeful than the uncaring rage of the ocean, with its gaze fixed on him. It unnerves Svend like very little truly has before.

    He draws his seax, feeling the cold strength of the metal in his hand, and draws a bit of blood from it. “Wherever you are, Torsten, I will find you,” he says to the open ocean. “I will bring you peace. I will bring all of you peace. This I swear.” He returns his knife to his belt, the vow heard by only himself, the birds, and the sea itself. It would have to be enough. He pushes off, resuming his journey.

    ------------------------

    And there we go, Svend is off on his first solo journey! What will he find when he returns to Stormfast? I have a few ideas, but we'll see what the dice say when we get there! There will definitely be some fallout about him abandoning the expedition, but I don't think he much cares at this stage of things. What will Doux Emelyn say when he returns alone? What story will Haf tell when - or if - he returns? What have the raiders actually been up to in the meantime? Find out next time!
    I'm playing Ironsworn, an RPG that you can run solo - and I'm putting the campaign up on GitP!

    Most recent update: Chapter 5: Decisions

    -----

    A worldbuilding project, still work in progress: Reign of the Corven

    Most recent update: another look at magic traditions!

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