01 – Arrival

A pair of wary and waterlogged wardens peered at him, out from under a thatched overhang setup beside the front grate.  Straw-colored hair curled out from under their iron helms along with thick beards of the same color and their chain mail shirts, slick from the rain, reflected the dancing firelight.  The shorter of the two had woven his beard into a single braid. Neither seemed eager to venture away from the small fire built beneath, even though it constantly sputtered as the wind whipped rain in at it from the side.  All the same, they put hands to axe haft and glared at him. “The gates are closed for the night.”

“You would leave me out here to drown?”  Spreading his arms wide and letting the stone-tipped spear lean against his shoulder, he tried to put a jovial tone to his voice.  “I just want out of the rain and I would not begrudge a warm fire and dry ground.”

Whether or not the gates are actually closed, the guards don’t want to budge and don’t want to let Branwhyn in. Thus we are trying to persuade them to let us in. The flavor is that we pose no threat. Mechanically this is a move called Compel. [When you attempt to persuade someone to do something . . .]. We are trying to charm or pacify, possibly barter so this is Roll + Heart. As a note, I will always list the Challenge Dice results first (the d10 rolls) and then my Action Dice (the d6+??) roll next. Compel: (8, 2, 5+1). Weak Hit. They want something from me. I’ll offer them some food to fill their bellies. That feels like it should reduce my Supply by 1.

When the guards didn’t respond, he lowered his arms and tried to sweeten the deal.  “I have some smoked venison in my pack. It would warm nicely at your fire and fill your bellies.”

The offer cheered the guards and they waved Branwhyn forward to share their covering and humble fire.  “The gates are actually closed for the night.” One of them offered, far more friendly now that a few strips of venison were being laid on the stones that ringed the firepit.  “You can stay here with us though and we’ll slip you inside when our watch is over.”

“That is very kind of you.  Forgive me for asking, but where am I anyway?  I’ve come down from the Hinterlands and I don’t know these parts well.  Branwhyn by the way.” He proffered his hand to the seemingly more friendly of the guards.

“Cyne.”  He accepted the hand, though his eyes didn’t stray far from the meat.  “And this is Alard. You’re at Crow’s Perch. If all you’re looking for is a patch of dry ground and a warm fire for the night, you’ll be okay.  Anything more and you’re probably out of luck.”

The first few strips of venison had warmed and Branwhyn bent to hand them up to his hosts.  He made sure to pull his cloak tighter around his shoulders and the hood further down over his head.  Ostensibly it would look like he was trying to keep the rain out, which was also true, but there was no need to trouble them with the color of his hair either.   “Lean times for the hold?”

A success on Compel offers a +1 on a Gather Info roll that follows.  I used up a supply so I certainly want to make use of the bonus before moving on.  Roll + Wits +1 (from Compel). Wits is Branwhyn’s best stat so this will hopefully be a good roll. Gather Info: (2, 1, 5+3+1)  Boom! Strong Hit. +2 Momentum and I get clear information about how to leverage my way into the hold.

“Not as much.”  Alard spoke up, his tongue apparently loosed by the warm venison.  “It’s Spring and most of the hold is off with the herds in higher pastures.  More than enough to deal with any trouble mind you.” A touch of sternness entered into Alard’s voice, a warden doing his duty to head off any trouble before it started.  “But most trades and crafts will be sparse until they return.”

“Which means, come morning, find a household that needs an extra pair of hands and make yourself useful.”  Cyne tore into the piece of meat and chewed noisily, speaking as he did so. “Do that and you’ll be welcome enough.”

That feels like pretty significant progress in my quest to find A Place to Lay my Head, a merely troublesome quest btw..  So I mark off 3 progress boxes (out of 10) on my quest.

Several more mostly unpleasant hours passed, standing in the rain with the pair of gate wardens.  The time was made easier though due to the small covering, the meager fire, and the conversation that warmed as they went.  At the end of their watch, the gates of Crow’s Perch opened. Two more guards emerged, giving Branwhyn only a cursory glance.  Not meeting the eyes of the new guards, he followed Cyne inside while endeavoring to to ignore the stiff muscles, aches, and pains from standing in the cold rain.

“Branwhyn.”  Cyne called as they began to part ways.  “I won’t promise you anything, but Esyllt the Herbalist might have room for you.  Just over there, tell her that I sent you.” He pointed down the winding hold’s street to indicate which wooden and sod house belonged to the Herbalist.

“My thanks.”  With a wave, Branwhyn turned and hurried to the indicated dwelling.  The thought of a dry place was hard to resist, but hurrying would land him in a puddle and make him appear all the more unpresentable.  Once under the eaves, he stamped his feet to get the mud off his boots as best he could before knocking on the door.

A voice, its words indiscernible amidst the downpour, called out from inside.  A few moments later, the door opened a crack. A line of light escaped from inside and Branwhyn winced as it hit his grey eyes.  The light was partially obscured as a fiery-haired woman looked through the opening. A light dusting or rose-colored pigment served as eyeshadow above her dusk blue eyes.  The glint of light on metal drew his eyes passed the long green skirt and embroidered brown bodice to the sword in her right hand, partially hidden among the pleats of her skirt.

“My name is Branwhyn.”  He offered with a slight hesitation.  “I was looked for the Herbalist Esyllt, Cyne said I might be able to find lodging here to night.  I have a few pelts to trade and I am no stranger to work.”

This feels like we are swaying again and so are back to Compel.  If this were not merely a troublesome quest, I probably wouldn’t make this a roll.  Sojourning is a different move that mostly covers staying in a settlement. However, the scale of  Vow (Vow and Quest seem to be interchangeable words in this system?) is as small as it can be. Compel: (5, 7, 1+2) Boo.  That is a miss. So, On a miss they refuse and you must Pay the Price.  Pay the Price is a table with vague suggestions, I rolled a 48 for the table which is a new danger or foe is revealed.

A critical eye looked up and down the water-logged traveler.  “I don’t run an inn.” Esyllt snapped harshly and slammed the door in his face.  

The force of the closing door causes Branwhyn to flinch backward a few steps in the muck and rain.  His still muddy boots slipped out from under him and he went down in the mud.

“What color is his hair?”  The slurred voice bellowed from further down the street.

“Looks pretty dark to me.”  It’s inebriated companion replied.  

Two men from further down the street, recently patrons of the ale house by all appearances, stumbled towards with equal measure of eagerness and anger.

With a heavy sigh, Branwhyn stood back up and spread his feet shoulder-width apart to gain as stable a position as one could hope for in the midst of the downpour.  He switched the spear to his left hand and reached for the mask on his right hip. The knot came loose and his gloved hand passed between the antler-like horns to grip the wooden mask.  Blood and ash, mixed as paint, stained the deep lines and recesses of the mask and it smelled of copper and musty wood as he pulled it over his features. “I am Branwhyn son of Hugh. I am a child of the Old Ones and a Brother to Ravens.  If you stand as my enemy, you will die screaming.”

One of the rolls I did before starting en media res was the Ritual of Visage.  (10, 5, 3+3). A weak Hit. I get to choose one of the options. I choose Menacing.  So now I’m going to either try to Secure an Advantage or Compel them to run.  Secure would at best give me a +1 on a follow-up Compel or +1 if I start a fight.  I already have a +1 and I don’t really want to start (win or lose) a fight in a town I’m trying to stay in.  So let’s go with another Compel. I’m threatening drunks, so I’m rolling Iron which is only a +1. But I get the bonus from Visage.  (1, 9, 1+1+1), /sigh another weak hit.  So they want something from me. What do drunks want?  I could roll on the oracle tables, but he idea that they want Proof of the threat amuses me.

So following the fiction, if this attack goes well (I.E. A Strong) it will cause the drunks to run away.  If it doesn’t it will start a combat. Given that, we are going to assume the worst and roll the Enter the Fray move first (2, 10, 3+2).  Then Strike (3, 7, 3+1).  Weak Hits both.  So for the Fray, I’ll take Initiative because I want to go on the offensive.  And the hit will land, but I will lose the initiative after. Note, because Branwhyn is trying to not kill anyone he is dealing 1 harm instead of 2.  The latter would be stabbing someone. Ultimately this means we are in a fight. Yay, Branwhyn is terrible at this.

The drunks’ steps became hesitant as well as staggering, the threat had made them weary but not enough to completely dissuade them.  The but end of Branwhyn’s spear flashed up out of the mud, slinging muck and water in an arc, the haft of the spear drew blood and knocked a tooth loose.  Lightning flashed in the sky, revealing a thin man with blond hair turning silver. He smeared the blood across his face with the back of his hand and spit the tooth into the mud.  With two fingers he touched the iron amulet he wore around his neck and charged. Putting his head down he came in low.

The follow up is Clash (3, 1, 6+1), Boom! A bit of luck and a Strong Hit! That will deal harm +1 (i.e. 6 progress boxes for a total of 9).

Whipping the haft back, Branwhyn caught the man with silvering hair in the ear and sidestepped the charge.  The tall man’s compatriot, heavy set with a number of pouches slung across his torso staggered forward through the rain.  Seeing the punch coming, Branwhyn stepped forward and brought the center of the spear shaft up into the other man’s chin. It clipped the heavy-set man’s teeth together and blood splattered as he bit off the tip of his tongue.

At this I have 9 progress boxes filled, I could push for one more but can’t choose to try and end the fight until I have another strong hit.  Ergo, I’ll try to end it now. End the Fight.  (4, 4, [9]).  Strong Hit to end the fight.

The two drunks slunk off into the night, leaving Branwhyn a lone figure in pouring rain, standing in the muddy street.  He signed heavily, at least the drunks had homes to go to. Lowering the spear, he pulled the mask of the Horned Hunter from his face and returned it to its side hidden under his cloak.  Light poured into the street from an open door. Before looking, Branwhyn pulled the hood of his fur cloak back over his raven black hair and the horned mask from his face. Esyllt the Herbalist had opened the door to her home all the way, far from welcoming she brandished an iron sword openly.  It took a good deal of iron to make a blade and they were extremely valuable. To possess such a weapon meant you knew enough to keep others from taking it.

“You could have killed them,”  Esyllt stated plainly, loud enough to be heard of the crashing rain.  “Why didn’t you?”

Branwhyn turned to face her but didn’t approach.  “They were not my enemy, not truly. They were drunk and just saw . . .”  The words trailed off as he made an expressive and meaningless gesture with his hand.

“They saw you were a child of the Skulde.”  She stated plainly. Her lips pressed into a thin hard line, and she stepped to the side, moving with a stiff limp.  “Well don’t just stand there in the rain like a frog.”

With a grateful nod, Branwhyn ap Hugh headed for the warm light of a fire and dry spot of the floor.

Again this is progress to fulfilling the Vow for A Place to Lay my Head.  I could try and resolve it now, with 6 Progression boxes, but there is a good chance it wouldn’t go well.  I want three more to get me to 9 at least. Vows are xp after all. So we aren’t done just yet.

The warmth inside somehow made him feel colder, the weariness from the long journey, the sodden clothes, and the crash of coming down from the adrenaline of the fight all seemed to hit him at once.  Leaning heavily on his spear it seemed like it took all of Branwhyn’s remaining strength to make his way to a squat three-legged stool in front of the fireplace. The drenched cloak made of bear’s fur came off and squelched to the ground in a shapeless heap.  Bone weary, he slipped out of his pack and simply let it hit the floor. That seemed all he could do and his body hunched forward until his elbow rested on his knees and his forehead rested against the smooth wet shaft of his spear, held loosely in his aching fingers.  The warm fire, contained within a hearth of the native oblongue stones that farmers rooted out of their fields to make room for crops. The flames warmed his face and when he opened his grey eyes to look at them he could see the visions they held, the glimpses of other people and other places.  Yet they were jumbled and he could not make sense of them. The reading of flames was a skill he did not yet possess.

“You’ve rested long enough, Skulde.”  Esyllt commanded, she spoke with force bet without malice even though she used the name old enemy of the Iron People.  “What brings you to my doorstep?”

“Ravens.”  It was a true answer if an unhelpful one.  “And I am not a Skulde, though their blood does run in my veins.”  Rolling his neck and shoulders to stretch his muscles and tendons he felt some of the soreness and tension begin to melt away.  Using the spear as a brace, he stood up and lift the heavy bear pelt cloak off the flour and hung it on one of the thick wood pegs sticking out of the hearth’s mantle.

Esyllt had taken a seat on a bench that ran the length of the back wall.  She tucked a rebellious strand of red hair behind her ear, her dusk blue eyes ever watchful of the stranger in her home. Her bad leg was stretched out away from the bench, likely to ease whatever pain it caused her.  Her sword now sheathed, rested against the leg. “Tell me the story, the full story, and I will offer you salt and bread. I know your kind to be cryptic, so speak plainly or gods help me I will put you back out in the rain.”

“I spoke the truth before, it was raven’s that brought me here.”  With effort, Branwhyn peeled his mud-soaked boots off and dropped them near the hearth, and left his cold feet to warm by the fire.  “I had called them to me just before dawn. I have found that auguries work best in the time between times.”

Normally, you swear the vow and then do the augury, but in this moment I think it is more fitting for the narrative that the augury spurs the quest.  If I’m reading Augury right, the ritual roll is either the Gather Info or if it is more advanced the Undertake a Journey roll itself.  There doesn’t seem to be an activation roll like there are with some of the others. It strictly modifies other activities.  So this will be a Gather Info roll in which I can reroll any of the dice. (6, 4, 6+3) That is a Strong Hit out the gate but I was actually hoping for a miss.  The dire events to set the Kingmaker Vow in motion feels like the revelation of a dire threat. Also having Branwhyn be uncertain of his course of action feels more like a miss as well.  So I’m going to reroll everything. (8, 9, 4+3) There is the miss I was looking for.
Editor’s Note: The rules for Augury and several other rituals were very different when this chapter was originally written. Accordingly, these rules references frequently won’t reflect current Ironsworn Asset mechanics.

What I saw in that unkindness of ravens, in the beat of their wings, the glint of their eyes . . .”  The weight of the memory burdened him even more than the fatigue of his travels. “Something terrible stirs in the West, already it has set its gaze upon the Iron Lands.  It will come over the ocean and sweep the Iron Peoples from these lands. There is no hold, no chieftain, warlord, or thane, and no jarl that can stand against what is stirring in the West.”

He did not need to look at her to know the skepticism she wore like a veil.  Esyllt did not interrupt though and so he continued. “If there is hope to be had, it will be in a unified people, if chieftains and thanes set aside their grudges and feuds, if the holds unite against a common foe; then there may be hope.”

“And I suppose that you are the one?”  The herbalist chided with a rueful shake of her head.  “The leader that other leaders will unite behind and pledge their wardens to?”

“No.”  Branwhyn barked a bitter laugh, aping Esyllt’s own skeptical shake of the head.  “Not a Skulde-blooded hermit from the Hinterlands. No, I cannot lead them. But what I can do is find someone who can.  And once found, I can help them. Stand with them against what is to come. The augury unnerved me so that I wandered in a kind of haze until the sun was long into its trek across the sky.  Looking up into its bright face, I swore a Vow that I would find someone to unite the Iron People and stand against what comes from the West.

So, Swearing an Iron Vow,  the vow is Kingmaker btw. (2, 9, 6+2) A Weak Hit, not a great start, but it could be worse and it fits the uncertainty of the narrative well.  +1 Momentum for 5.

The silence lingered between them, with the crackle of fire-consuming logs and the constant drum of rain upon the thatched roof filling the void of words.  When the silence had become another weight he did not wish to bear, Branwhyn looked to his would-be host. The skepticism had not left her eyes, but there was growing concern as well.  She had heard the ring of truth in his words and warred in herself because she did not want to believe. “How does one find the Jarl-of-Jarls? The First Among Men?” Speaking the question aloud and not for the first time, it still felt like a millstone around his neck.  “The greatest of journeys begin with a single step. I was not likely to find the one I sought continuing to live as a hermit. So I swore a second vow on heels of the first, I need to find a place to lay my head amidst other Ironlanders. To find the one I seek, I must first be among people.”

Second Iron Vow, A Place to Lay my Head. (2, 2, 2+2) A lucky Strong Hit. +2 Momentum and now up to 7.  In hindsight I realize that the doubles should have provoked a twist, but I didn’t catch it at the time.

“My next steps seemed clear, I need to find a settlement, a hold where I could begin my work.  I gathered supplies for my journey and set out the next day, heading South out of the Hinterlands.”  Though some feeling had begun to return to his limbs, his damp clothing of animal pelts still clung to his body and kept the warmth from permeating his body.  “Will you take the beginning of my story on good faith and let me remove these damp hides?”

“I suppose you don’t have anything dry.”  Esyllt’s nostrils flared with a touch of what might have been anger, but she nodded her head.  Using the sheathed sword to help her stand, she moved to a wooden chest at the far end of her home.  With the point of the sheath, she opened the lid before reaching in with the other hand to retrieve a set of rough spun wool garments, an undyed tunic, and grey trousers.  Knocking the chest shut with the sheath, Esyllt limped back to thrust the garments towards him. “You can wear these.”

A couple of quick moves, Secure an Advantage.  Simply Branwhyn is preparing for the journey.  I don’t know what that entails but the character does, so we are going to skim over what that looks like.  Then Undertaking the Journey itself.  Making preparations for a journey based on the expertise of being a Hermit living on his own for a number of years looks like it is Wits, which is good.  It’s Branwhyn’s best stat. Secure an Advantage (6, 2, 5+3) A Strong Hit. Nice.  I want the Journey to go well, or at least start well, so I’ll forgo the momentum and take the +1 Forward on the Journey roll.  

Traveling from the Hinterlands to the Havens.  That feels like a Dangerous journey. Admittedly it feels a bit weird since the vow we are working on is troublesome.  However, it is also the very first steps on Kingmaker too. Undertaking the Journey (6, 3, 6+3+1) Strong Hit, didn’t need the Wits +1 as it turns out, but I didn’t know that.  My supply is okay right now and given the length of the journey I’ll probably have to resupply anyway.  Also, I’ve been rolling well, so that seems likely to change soon. I’ll take the momentum bonus and lower my supply by one.  That makes them 8 and 3 respectively.

“The first few days of travel I made good speed and finished the first leg of my journey quickly.  I’d reached a ring of standing stones that I knew well.” Branwhyn started the story up again as he pulled off his soaping hide garments and left puddles of rainwater on the floor.

Esyllt had no interest in giving him any privacy and resumed her previous seat on the far bench, sword close at hand.  There was no desire or passion in her eyes as she watch him change clothes. Only weariness and a suspicion that she was trying to hold on to, to keep the creeping dread at bay.

“I’ve always known those stones to be a place of peace and so I slept soundly and began the journey again with the next sunrise.”  The rough spun wool itched fiercely but it was dry and warm. With the fresh clothing, the warmth of the fire if not the company, and the sharing of his burden Branwhyn felt some of the weariness leave his limbs.  He hung his sodden garments on the thick wooden pegs on the hearth to dry as he continue to tell of his journey.

Journey (9, 7, 2+3).  Well, there is the miss I’ve been expecting.  So what waylays Branwhyn on his journey? I picked the Broken, a previous race of humans that lived in these lands that have since fallen from their high place and become a feral and broken people.  I want them as part of the narrative, so we are going to introduce one early. Ergo, instead of rolling on the Oricle I’m going to have an encounter with one of them.  Enter the Fray, Branwhyn is being ambushed so . . . (8, 2, 3+3) A weak hit, he isn’t totally surprised.  I want to take the initiative and try and end the fight quickly. I can burn the momentum if I need to.

“As I said, those standing stones had always been a place of peace for me, but things in the world are changing.”  Retrieving his bow and quiver from the pack on the floor, Branwhyn looked at the stone-tipped arrows remembering. Esyllt tensed on the other side of the room, though there was no need.  Branwhyn unstrung the bow and rested it atop the same pegs his clothes and gear hung from to dry. “One of the Broken had happened upon my camp. I caught sight of him skulking in the shadow of one of the stones. We saw each other before it happened.  We looked into each other’s eyes. He saw me notch an arrow to my bow and I saw his bloody, cracked, and yellowed fingernails scrape against a stone before picking it up as a weapon. He raised his arm to throw the rock, but I fired first.

Strike w/ Edge (2, 1, 1+1) I don’t even know . . . Weak Hit. BTW, ties go to the Challenge dice.  I think I did that wrong above somewhere. Opps. Clash is next since I’m on the defensive. Clash w/ Iron (2, 3, 3+1) Strong Hit, going to deal Harm.

The arrow winged him, but he just charged, rock still in hand.  I didn’t have time for another shot and tossed my bow to the side so it wouldn’t be in the way and took up my spear.”  Branwhyn spoke about the events dispassionately, merely relating the events even as he picked up the stone-headed weapon of which he spoke.  “He leapt at me, rock in hand.  I braced my spear and his charge served only to impale himself upon my weapon.    It should have been over.”

End the Fight w/ 9 progression (2, 9, [9]) Ick . . . Weak hit.  Bad timing. End the Fight on a weak hit you have to choose one of the options.  Branwhyn feels morally battered in all of this, so I’m actually going to take Spirit Harm here, dropping his Spirit to four.  If I’m reading the rules correctly, I now have to roll a Test Your Spirit using either Spirit or Heart (whichever is greater) as the bonus.  Currently that would be Spirit with +4. Test Your Spirit (7, 9, 6+4) Strong.  I’ll Shake it Off to lose momentum to restore Spirit back to +5.

“He just hung there, my spear clear through his chest, and feebly trying to swing the rock at my head.  I can still see the blood gurgling up out of his throat to stain his lips and chin. His broken nails scraping along the haft of my spear.  I don’t know how long we stood there until he finally died. It felt like ages. When the life had finally drained out of him, I left his body on a stone slab for the ravens.”  He shook off the memory of the story, just as he had the battle several days previous, and rested the spear on the wall next to unstrung bow and quiver.  “I tried to travel quickly the rest of the day, along with next few days and nights after. In truth, I spent most of it looking over my shoulder and jumping at the sounds of animals in the underbrush.  Only rarely have I seen one of the Broken hunting alone.”

Again, if I am reading the rules correctly, I need to roll again to attempt to reach a waypoint even though I’ve dealt with the waylaying problem.  I suppose this creates the possibility of being waylaid again. Journey (5, 6, 2+3) . . . . waylaid again, just like that. My Momentum is at 7 though.  I’ll burn it now to make both of those count as hits, because they are both less than my Momentum. Ergo, Momentum resets to +2, then moves up to +3 for the Strong hit and my supplies move down to +2.

“It is not paranoia if they are actually out there.”  Branwhyn blew the air from his lungs noisily out through his nostrils, his grey eyes once again searching the flames.  “My woodcraft proved superior to theirs though. They were hunting me certainly, there were at least two or three of them, and they might have caught me had they not floundered in the deep snow.  Snowshoes are an essential part of living in the Hinterlands.” Unstrapping the aforementioned snowshoes from his pack, Branwhyn placed the wood and animal sinew fittings in a dry spot near his weapons.  “I didn’t stop until I’d reached a small hunting lodge that I knew of. Sometimes I will meet a pelt trapper or traveler there. Normally, I would begrudge sharing the space. I am fond of my solitude. Having so narrowly evaded the Broken though, I would have been glad of the company.  As fortune would have it, the lodge was empty. It was at least secure though.”

Journey (5, 4, 3+3) Strong.  That puts the progress to 6 boxes.  Over halfway there. With only +2 Supply though, I’m not taking the Momentum.  Instead, I’ll make good use of resources to prevent the Supply deduction.

“I had not seen any sign of the Broken for two days and so I slept the night through without disturbance.  The lodge had some meager supplies, a small supply of jerky, dried fruit and a few nuts. Whoever left those supplies, blessed me.   If I ever pass by there again, I will need to be sure to pay that favor forward. They kept me moving at speed and by the time the sun was setting and my shadow stretching far towards the horizon, I was in the Havens.  My supplies were beginning to run thin and I spend a few days along the river hunting, fishing, and gathering berries, nuts, and a few roots that I found.”

Resupply (9, 8, 6+3), Weak Hit, Taking 2 Supply, moving it to 4 and my Momentum to 0.  Journey (10, 8, 6+3) Weak Hit, Progress 8 boxes but reduce Supply to 3.  Journey (8, 6, 3+3) Miss.

“I spent too much time there, I suppose.  The weather changed from the snow that I’d prepared for to the rain which I had not.  The snow turned to slush, the rivers swelled, and the travel became harder. That was when the Broken caught up with me.”  Having tended to the rest of his gear, Branwhyn retrieved the only Iron weapon that he carried, a hand axe. Both tool and weapon, it was well worn with time and use.  Its blade was nicked in several places where it had bitten into other weapons. He began to run the sharpening stone that he’d retrieved from his pack along the blade as he spoke.  “They have a kind of low cunning you know, the Broken. While hunted they had missed me somehow and continued on. When they realized their mistake they must have decided to lay a trap for me.  I had reached a natural landing at a bend in the river. I’d come down from the Hinterlands to trade there on occasion for boatmen often tie up their boats there when they wish to trade with the pelters and trappers.  The Broken had slaughtered the crew of one such vessel and lurked on board until I arrived. It was late in the day and I thought little of the lack of activity until I called out and received no response.”

Enter the Fray (1, 5, 5+3) Strong Hit, Momentum +2 & Initiative.

Stone scraped against metal in a steady rhythm, grinding imperfections out of the axe head’s blade.  “When I called a second time with no answer, I became weary and put distance between myself and the boat and took bow to hand.  Distance and firmer ground have always served well in conflict.”

I’m trying to Secure an Advantage by gaining distance and better ground.  That feels like Wits to me. (8, 4, 4+3) Weak Hit.  +1 Momentum. Strike (5, 10, 6+1) Weak. Harm & Lose Initiative. BTW, this is a hunting pack of Broken so it is a Dangerous Foe.  So Armed w/ Bow is 2 Harm, each harm is 2 Progress because it is Dangerous. 4 Progress Total.

“I found firmer ground, but not much distance and so my advantage turned out to be short-lived.  Realizing that I hadn’t fallen into their trap, they charged over the ship’s railing and rushed me.  I caught the first one with an arrow in his chest and he fell, dead or wounded I didn’t know. The shot didn’t even slow the pace of the others.  My bow had done its job and I cast it clear of the fight, putting hand to my spear. Then they were upon me.”

Clash (6, 5, 3+1) – Miss.  Pay the Price, enemy still has initiative.  Paying the Price in this instance is taking damage, Dangerous Foes inflict 2 Harm, dropping Branwhyn from 5 to 3.  Endure Harm (7, 5, 3+3) – Weak hit.  Pressing on.

“They got in under the reach of my spear with contemptuous ease.  They tore at me with weapon that they’d taken from the dead, opening wounds on my arms, my leg, and my chest.”  As he spoke, Branwhyn indicated the wounds on his body that he had stitched closed himself and had not yet fully healed.  “Staying put, two to one, with the third close behind would have been to die. I broke and ran, leaving my spear behind. I sprinted, with the Broken close at my heels, for a copse of trees nearby.  I could use the terrain to limit the advantage of their numbers.”

To break away, Branwhyn will have to Face Danger rolling Edge (8, 1, 5+1) Weak Hit.  I’ll lose his pack and some of his supply.  Securing the Advantage (3, 1, 4+1) Strong Hit. I want to build momentum here so I’ll take the +2 and move it to 5.

“They tore at my pack as I ran, so I slipped out of it.  The ploy worked and I reached the woods first. Pressing my advantage, I pushed deeper in hopes that they would lose sight of me.  If I could split them up, take them one at a time, then I might live through the fight.”

Branwhyn is trying to Secure an Advantage again, this time with stealth.  It’s the first time I’ve rolled Shadow and it is a +2, one of his better stats.  Secure Advantage (7, 2, 1+2) Weak Hit.  Short-Lived. +1 Momentum.

“The ploy worked, but the advantage would not last.  At the first sound of combat, they’d converge on my position.  With axe in hand, I waited for one to pass near where I hid.” Looking down at the blade of the axe head, he could see no light reflected along the cutting edge.  It was sharp once more. “I did not have to wait long.”

Strike (3, 3, 3+1) Whew, Lucky.  Strong Hit. +1 Harm, retain Initiative. 3 Harm total, 6 Progress, total of 10.  I’ll try to end the fight here.  End the Fight (3, 4, [10]) Done.  Again, at this point of my understanding of the rules, I didn’t know about the doubles creating plot twists.

“I came up out of the brush and caught him in the back of the knee with the axe blade.  I cut sinew and broke bone. He went to the ground and I buried my axe in his skull before he could recover.  His companion saw me do it. They’d had enough. Counting the first one that I’d encountered near the Standing Stones, I had killed two and at least wounded one more of the pack, the last one ran.”  Returning the sharpening stone to his pack and the hatchet to his belt that hung over the fire, Branwhyn began to unload his pack. Laying each item out on the hearth or near the fire so that they would dry.  “There was little enough to be done now except tend to my wounds, scavenge the dead, and see if there were any supplies to be had on the boat.”

I might be tempting fate with extra rolls, but I want to Secure and Advantage by taking extra time to search and hopefully get a bonus on my Resupply roll.  Getting that up will be important for the Make Camp that will follow.  I want to heal a bit before moving on.  Secure (10, 9, 1+3) Miss. /sigh. My assumption betray me.  That means taking time was a mistake. I think, he takes too long the Broken that was wounded by the arrow wasn’t dead and stole the discarded backpack and Branwhyn’s supplies go to zero.  Resupply (1, 3, 6+3) Strong Hit, at least it was short lived, he’ll find new supplies in the boat.  Camp (1, 2, 3+3) Strong Hit.  Choose three. Recuperate (+1 health), Focus (+1 Momentum), Prepare (+1 Journey).

“I must have taken too long searching the dead.  When I exited the copse of woods, my pack and the Broken that I’d shot with an arrow were both gone.  He was only wounded and stole what meager supplies I had. Fortunately, my loss was short-lived. The rivermen that the Broken had killed had a few supplies that were unspoiled by the Broken while they lay in wait for me.  I resupplied and tended to my wounds. I’m not much of a riverman, but I loosed the boat from its mooring and let the river carry me downstream until night had fallen. Then I ran it aground on the opposite bank and made camp for the night.  It would put more distance between me and the two remaining Broken, just in case they decided to lick their wounds and come back for me.”

Journey, adding +1 from the camp.  (5, 8, 4+3+1). Weak hit, -1 supply.

“And that brings me to your hearth and home.  Still bearing the marks of my conflict and with little enough left of the supplies that I’ve scavenged along the way.”  With the story finished and all of his equipment and clothing tended to, Branwhyn sat again on the three-legged stool and faced Esyllt awaiting her judgment of his story.

The fiery-haired herbalist rose stiffly from her seat, leveraging herself up with the sheathed sword, and moved to the table to take up a plate of thick-crusted bread.  With two fingers, she pinched a piece of the bread out of the center of the loaf and then sprinkled salt into divot. Taking the plate up she turned and offered it to Branwhyn.  Esyllt’s countenance had eased, but her face still bore the lines of worry. “I offer you bread and salt freely, you are a welcome guest in my home. It is too late for much of a meal now, but you will not want when you break your fast in the morning.  Lay your bedroll in front of the fire. Rest well Branwhyn son of Hugh. We’ll speak more in the morning.”

“Thank you, Esyllt.  It means much to have found a place to lay my head.”


So the last thing to do is Fulfill Your Vow.  This ended up feeling like it was more than just troublesome, but c’est la vie.  The system is fun and flexible and serves as a good narrative tool to keep things moving.  I like it very much. Progress on the Vow 10, so hopefully I don’t roll 10’s on the challenge dice.  Fulfill Vow (8, 6, [10]). The Vow: A Place to Lay my Head was Troublesome, so I get 1xp. It’s a start.

8 thoughts on “01 – Arrival

  1. I really like the flashback scene, incorporating moves and combat into a flashback isn’t something I’d thought of myself before 🙂


  2. This is amazing and Im upset I *JUST* found this. Question – Did you just decide what weapons Branwhyn had? I had assumed (this is my first time playing) that you’d only get whatever weapon implied from the Combat Talent but now I’m not sure…Either way, heading to chapter 2!




    1. Welcome! Better to have found it late, rather than never. Yes, it was just what seemed reasonable for him to have. Take a look at Pg. 25 of the Ironsworn book, “You are armed and armored as appropriate to your vision for your character.” Ergo, to fit my vision of Branwhyn I gave him weapons that were useful as more than just weapons. I kept them crude so that could be a kind of growth aside from experience and assets. Also, the feel of them reinforces that he has been a hermit for a while.



  3. I just found this as well, but glad I did! Color me impressed. The system looks like great fun, but what really intrigued me was your method of story telling. Having your character narrate the story really brought the whole thing to life and drew me in.

    I’ll definitely continue reading but you’ve inspired me to follow in your footsteps. I might go check out the rules and setup my own gameplay blog as you’ve done, it looks like a great hobby.

    Thanks for sharing this!


      1. I certainly will, I’m working on getting it set up now and reading up on the rules. To be honest they are not the most intuitive to me yet, but I’ve never really encountered anything like this before, so there will be a bit of a learning curve. Having your’s to reference when needed will be very helpful as well.


      2. I don’t have any story posts yet, but I’ve launched my site and I am currently working on character creation while reading through the rule book. This will at least give you a taste of the world I’ve setup for my game.


        Let me know what you think when you get a chance to take a look.


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