When you cloak yourself with the gossamer veil of the shadow realms, roll +shadow. On a strong hit, take +1 momentum. Then, reroll any dice (one
time only) when you make a move by ambushing, hiding, or sneaking. On a weak hit, as above, but the shadows try to lead you astray. You must first Face Danger to find your way.
As above, and you may also travel along the hidden paths of the shadow realms to Undertake a Journey using +shadow (instead of +wits). If you do, Endure Stress (1 stress) and mark one extra unit of progress on a strong hit.
When you perform this ritual, add +1 and take +1 momentum on a hit.
When you Face Danger, Secure an Advantage, or Compel by lying, bluffing, stealing, or cheating, add +1.
When you Gather Information by investigating a devious scheme, you may roll +shadow (instead of +wits). If you do, take +2 momentum on a hit
When you confess a lie as you Forge a Bond, you risk rejection for the chance of a stronger bond. On a strong hit, take +2 momentum and mark one more tick. A weak hit counts as a miss.
If you wield an axe …
When you Strike or Clash in close quarters, you may suffer -1 momentum and inflict +1 harm on a hit (decide before rolling).
When you have your axe in hand, and use the promise of violence to Compel or Secure an Advantage, add +1 and take +1 momentum on a hit.
When you make a tribute to a fallen foe (formidable or greater) by carving a rune in the haft of your axe, roll +heart. On a strong hit, inflict +1d6 harm (one time only) when you Strike or Clash. On a weak hit, as above, but this death weighs on you; Endure Stress (2 stress)
Shiro was born on the Barrier Islands, daughter of the chieftain of her raider tribe, the Shadow Wave. She went into the wilds to receive her training as a warrior and bind herself to the shadow spirits. When she returned to her tribe, her father was dead and foreigners had carried away her sister, Jakira. Now, Shiro will break the Ironlanders that took her kin, break the vow they made to an ancient wyrm, and break the weak spirits in which they place their misguided trust.
Brief intro: I originally played (wrote) this in Danish, and this was my first foray into Ironsworn. I made a character and started out with a physical playing space: dice and notebook, but then I switched to a dice bot on Discord which was a lot more effective. First game took me about an hour and a half. For this first game the rules naturally took much of my attention, and the first half is very bird’s-eye view because I was envisioning the character and her world. Later chapters become more focused on the fiction.
First, a very brief concept for the character and campaign: Shiro is the chieftain’s daughter and chosen to be a leader of the tribe. But destiny and forces of shadow lead her on a different path… She is of sturdy built, oriental facial features. Fights with a axe and shield. Wears a fishskin robe and deep-sea shells.
Stats: Edge 1, Heart 3, Iron 2, Shadow 2, Wits 1
Assets: Sunderer (Combat Talent), Shadow-walk (Ritual), Trickster (Path)
“Shadow in the Deep” is a clan of raiders. Superstition has prevented them from settling in the Ironlands, so over recent generations they have become increasingly scattered and weakened. They make camp around the boats and find shelter in hidden bays and coves in the Shattered Isles. From here they strike out and plunder the mainland.
Bonds: Shadow Wave (Shiro’s clan within the larger tribe); Kuram Ishi (shaman, mentor); Jakiro (sister)
When still a girl, Shiro left on the spirit quest that would prepare her to lead the tribe ashore. Together with to the mystic, Kumra Ishi, she lived for three years on the wild, desolate islands and learned the secrets of the Gloom.
Background Vow: “Is is my duty to bring the Gloom to Havens on the mainland!” (Rank: Extreme)
But when they return to the Shadows Wave tribe, a year late, the chieftain is dead, and a new fraction has taken power. The have promised Shiro’s sister to a wyrm (with an Ironland-tribe as mediator), in return receiving the Ironlanders’ blessing to settle there. Kuram Ishi and Shiro has been banned ostracised, but he steps up in order to save Shiro: He takes the punishment upon himself and walks into the desolation.
Inciting Vow: “I will free my sister from the deceitful betrothal to the wyrm!” (Rank: Formidable)
Swear Iron Vow: [d6: 4] +3 (Heart) +1 (Bond: sister) = 8 vs. [2d10: 4 og 5] = Strong Hit: clear purpose: I must take a boat to follow my sister; +2 Momentum)
A member of the Ironlander clan has stayed behind with the Shadow Wave in order to confirm the deal and make sure that Shiro and Kuram Ishi doesn’t show up and reclaim power – which is exactly what happens. Before heading out after her sister, Shiro decides to show the stranger his place and prove to the tribe that they made a mistake in yielding to the foreigners. She attacks him without warning.
Opponent: Ironlander diplomat (Rank 2: Dangerous, that is, he causes 2 harm, and he should have taken two whole progress (out of ten) in damage for every harm against him, but I messed up and counted 1 harm = 1 progress, making the duel a little longer than necessary)
Enter the Fray: [d6: 6] +3 (Heart) = 9 vs. [2d10: 10 og 10] = Miss (at disadvantage, foe has initiative, Pay the Price)
Pay the Price: [d100: 60] = It is harmful (which would have been the obvious choice, but this came from a roll on the table)
Endure harm: [d6: 1] +3 (Health) = 4 vs. [2d10: 2 og 2] = Health ÷2 (now at 3); Strong Hit (I choose to Embrace the pain; gain initiative; +1 Momentum)
Oops, I also forgot that a match on the Challenge Dice introduces a twist. So, for the double 10 (Miss): Members of the tribe join in to support the Ironlander – it is not clear whether they do so out of fear for him, or in opposition to Shiro. The double 2 (Hit): Shadows gather over the tribe’s boats, and a storm breaks out.
Shiro staggers backwards from the Ironlander’s resolute counter-attack that actually makes the renegades in the tribe step in to support him and scold Shiro for making a deceitful sneak attack.But Shiro notices the wind rising and points accusingly at the treasonous tribesmen: “You have sold out your chieftain’s daughter to a wyrm, and now you turn against your returning kinsman as well? Gloom take you! Come, storm! Throw anyone here serving the Ironlanders into the salty sea!”
Compel: [d6: 5] +3 (Heart) +1 (Trickster Asset) +1 (Bond: clan) = 10 vs. [2d10: 7 og 1] = Strong Hit (+1 Momentum)
Shiro doesn’t really command the storm, but she is bluffing, and her strong conviction, with the win tearing her fish skin-robe and braided hair, is enough to make the wily tribesmen rethink their interference in the battle between the Ironlander and the Shadow Wave-warrior.
Ask the Oracle: Ironlander name: Grog
The Ironlander, a hardened veteran named Grogari, has seen a lot and he grip his sword harder. “You will break the word of your tribe to the wyrm? Better for all that I put an end to you here and now, then.” Shiro snorts – the first step of this quest will be the blood of the stranger. They circle each other and suddenly she charges.
Using Sunderer Asset in close quarters; ÷1 Momentum (must be declared before the attack)
Strike: [d6: 2] +2 (Iron) = 4 vs. [2d10: 8 og 5] = Miss (lose Initiative, Pay the Price (well, that was stupid…)
Pay the Price: either Shiro takes a wound (likely) or Grogari throws her to the ground and humiliates her in front of her tribe
Ask the Oracle: [d100: 37] = likely (harm)
Shiro overextends in order to make the best use of her axe – but a sly, old fox, armed with sword giving him better reach costs her another wound.
Endure harm: [d6: 3] +3 (Health) = 6 vs. [2d10: 4 og 5] = Health ÷2 (now at 1); Strong Hit: Embrace the Pain; +1 Momentum (now at 6)
Once again Shiro rolls away – she is really good at slipping out of direct confrontations – this time with a bleeding stab wound just below her clavicle. But she shakes it off and regains initiative.
Her opponent is strong – she cannot back down, but clearly needs an advantage. Shiro gets an idea: The rain is pouring down over the rocky island while the two warriors circle each other. She will attempt to lure him onto a greasy outcropping where he will have poorer balance, and maybe push him into the sea – a fitting fate for this mainland traitor!
Secure an Advantage [d6: 5] +2 (Shadow) +1 (Trickster Asset) = 8 vs. [2d10: 2 og 9] = Weak Hit: +1 Momentum (now at 7)
It’s not perfect, but Shiro manages to position herself near the edge of the rocks, and the Ironlander cannot back down if he wishes to avoid losing face. He knows this is a trap, and his anger flares – if this doesn’t work, she will suffer terrible consequences.
Turn the Tide: once per battle: steal initiative and add +1 to your next move (with a Hit giving +1 Momentum)
Shiro risks it all and attacks with her axe…
Using Sunderer Asset in close quarters; ÷1 Momentum (now at 6)
Strike: [d6: 6] +2 (Iron) +1 (from Turn the tide) = 8 vs. [2d10: 2 og 1] = Strong Hit: Yes! 2 Harm (Dangerous foe), +1 Harm (for Strong Hit), +1 Harm (for Sunderer); +1 Momentum (from Turn the tide) (Momentum now at 7)
Note: I should have marked two full progress against Grogari for each harm, meaning he would already have lost 8 (out of 10), and I could now have skipped directly to End the fight.
For the first time, Shiro sees signs of weakness in Grogari as her axe bites into this mailed side– even though it is a risky attack, the ground beneath him means thast he is unable to answer back, and the force behind the axe blow worsens his footing even more. Time to make an end of it…
Strike: [d6: 3] +2 (Iron) = 5 vs. [2d10: 4 og 1] = Strong Hit: 2 Harm (Dangerous foe) +1 Harm (for Strong Hit); Grogari has now lost a total of 7 Progress (at least counting it the wrong way)
(I should probably have used Sunderer again, but I thought I’d save up Momentum to ensure a Hit).
Shiro steps towards her worthy opponent who, after another couple of hits and a misstep on the slippery stone, rests most of his weight on one leg – but his sword is still held high. She can feel her own exhaustion from the battle, and blood is seeping over her body beneath her clothes – warm, in contrast to the rain and the salty waves of the sea.
End the Fight: Grogari’s progress: 7 vs [2d10: 3 og 5] = Strong Hit (and that’s the end)
“Your blood belongs to the Deep now.” Shiro feints a blow to Grogari’s head, but as he lifts his sword to counter the axe, she kicks the leg from under him. His knee hits the rock, hard, and the pain blinds him for the brief moment that was his only chance to grab ahold of something or control the fall. A cold wave breaks against the rocks, salty water stings in Shiro’s eyes, and when it is wiped away, Grogari has been swallowed by the churning sea.
Shiro turns towards her people that are staring at her with horror, hatred, respect, and fear. The chieftain’s daughter called down the storm and killed the oppressor! Now she must make them tell her what has become of her sister – they cannot have gotten far.
Reach a Milestone: “I will free my sister from the deceitful betrothal to the wyrm!” Mark progress (now at 1)
That was a lot of fun! Even if I made a couple of mistakes rules wise. Next time I will try something a little less condensed (as is often the case with a battle), for instance a social challenge or travel activity.
Shiro is wounded following the fight against the Ironlander Grogari and decides to stay the night in the settlement, even if it will cost her precious time.
Sojourn: 9 (5 +3(Heart) +1(clan)) vs. 4 & 6 = Strong hit! Health +2 (now at 3) and roll again: 8 (4+3+1) vs. 10 & 4 = Weak hit! Health +1 (now at 4)
The mood in the village is… not exactly forgiving – it never is among the people of the Shadow Wave – but they still help Shiro with her wounds, and after a few days, she is ready to to begin her quest in earnest.
Gather Information: 8 (6 +1(Wits) +1(bond)) vs. 6 & 6 = Strong hit! MATCH!
momentum +2 (now at 9!); match: Oracle said confused and guide. I also asked some questions about the Ironlander tribe
The villagers tell Shiro what they know about the Ironlanders who took Jakiro. They are a tribe from the heart of the Ironlands, Havens, deep within a forest. They have lived there for a few generations and are considered – so it rumoured – that they are one of the strongest clans, in no small part because of the alliances they have made with the horrors of the land. They live around the township of Stonespire and are notorious for chaining conquered enemies to an ancient obelisk and sacrificing them to monsters.
Not only that, Shiro also find a travelling companion for the first part of the journey – the guide Setara. Setara owns a small boat in which they can cross to the mainland. Setara is confused – she is not sure about what to think of Shiro, but she also doesn’t like to see her people submit to others, and Shiro seems like a possible candidate to find a way out of this fix.
Undertake a Journey: 8 (6+1(Wits)+1(for a connection to departure village)) vs. 10 & 5 = Weak hit! Reach waypoint, ÷1 supply
(The journey would be Extreme but I reduced it to Formidable because of the presence of Setara)
The first leg of the journey transpires without a hitch: Setara follows the Barrier Islands south, and prepare to cross the last leg, the crossing to the Ragged Coast.
Undertake a Journey: 3 (2+1(Wits)) vs. 6 & 9 = Miss…
Pay the Price: I consider an attack to be likely, alternatively that being unaccustomed to other people’s company stresses Shiro out – chance decides that it is the latter
Endure Stress: 4 (1+3(Spirit)) vs. 9 & 9 = Miss… MATCH!
÷3 spirit (because of the rank of the journey, now at 2); ÷1 momentum (now at 8)
They strike out across the choppy waters beyond the Barrier Islands, but cannot make it. The boat is tossed on the waves, and they are unable to find a safe path through the reefs, despite of several attempts and mutual finger-pointing. The experience vexes Shiro who considers whether accepting help on this quest was a mistake – but at the same time, she is not ungrateful, and she doesn’t want harm to befall Setara.
Setara and Shiro end up turning around and making camp on a stoney point with a view of the Ironlands – their attempt to cross to the mainland has failed. And not only that – Setara falls ill, and it is up to Shiro to either attempt the journey on her own or care for her guide.
Make Camp: 7 (3+4(Supply)) vs. 1 & 4 = Strong hit!
Relax: +1 spirit (now at 3), add +1 to next Undertake a Journey
Shiro decides to find a safer place to camp and care for Setara. She tells the guide that she shouldn’t fear her dire fever dreams, it is only the spirits of the Gloom, and they are friends of the Shadow Wave, their clan. The story calms the girl, while also strengthening her own resolve. A couple of days later they are ready to continue on their journey.
Undertake a Journey: 5 (3+1(Wits)+1(from Make Camp)) vs. 2 & 4 = Strong hit! Marker 2 progress (now at 3)
The spirits are with them! The unpredictable maelstroms between the rocky reefs calm, and Setara’s small boat slides quietly into a deep fjord between steep cliffs that glimmer strangely in the sun, with hints of colour from lichen and moss, very different from the wet, black rocks they are used to.
Reach a Milestone: “I will free my sister from the deceitful betrothal to the wyrm!” (Rank: Formidable) (now at 2)
Reach a Milestone: “I will free my sister from the deceitful betrothal to the wyrm!” (Rank: Extreme) (now at 2 ticks)
(Seems important to have made it to ironlands, even though it’s a fairly short journey)
Shiro feels like she has forged a bond with Setara and reaches out her arm to bind herself to the girl and give thanks.
Forge a Bond: 9 (6+3(Heart)) vs. 9 & 5 = Weak hit!
But Setara’s confusion is still there, and even if she is grateful to Shiro for caring for her, she also did Shiro a huge favour, and she is still not sure how to feel about the dark powers with which Shiro is on such friendly terms – maybe she even senses that Shiro wasn’t being completely honest when she claimed to command the storm. Så she asks Shiro to prove the power of the spirits.
Swear an Iron Vow: 10 (6+3(Heart)+1(Shadow Wave bond)) vs. 4 & 4 = Strong hit! MATCH!
+2 momentum (now at 10); match: Luck will have that an unexpected opportunity arises
Iron Vow: “I will prove that the spirits are with us and hold no fear for this strange land!” (dangerous)
Shiro nods: This is fine. She will prove her worth in this strange land, with the aid of the spirits. And it will make Setara a strong witness and a true believer in the fight to bring Gloom to the Ironlands. And at that moment they hear a piercing cry. They raise their heads towards the sky where a mighty eagle turns in a circle and returns to a robed man upon the top of the cliff. His robe billows in the wind as he disappears behind the crest.
Shiro nods and gives a wave for Setara to follow. The leave the boat behind on the shingle beach.
(This time around I attempted to enter a little more into the fiction. But I am also hesitant about ending up spending all my effort just transcribing the story – I like to just visualise the situation for myself (envisioning) and then roll the dice, rather then spending a lot of time writing. In this case it proved to work quite well, though, because I wasn’t sure about how to progress the story, så the slower pace gave me a chance to feel my way forward. I have started using Ironsworn Play Aids as my Oracle).
Shiro and Setara are making their way up the cliffs that forma towering wall encircling the deep fjord. Beneath them lies the small boat that brought them from the Barrier Islands to the Ironlands, between white flint and tufts of wiry grass. They are carrying weapons and a limited amount of supplies – the land and the spirits must provide for them. The ascend proves more difficult than expected, and Shiro wonders about the masked stranger. She is convinced he must be some sort of wizard from this accursed land, and her plan is to break his magic in order to prove herself worthy of Setara’s trust. But he moved so effortless… was that part of his magic? No, no time for doubt. That is how the spirits will defeat you.
By a mutual effort the travellers make it almost to the top and stand before the final, steep stretch of the cliff. They are positioned on a narrow shelf with a slight incline that makes it almost impossible to make a controlled descend. The only way is up, but it is higher than any of the women can reach, and the shelf doesn’t offer much in the way of support should they attempt to jump or reach. Pebbles trickles crisply down the steep slope that is taller than Shiro has ever been in her life. The boat looks to be size of a turtle. It will take a gamble to make the final leg.
Face Danger: 4 (3+1 (Edge)) vs. 10 & 1 = Weak hit! Delayed/lose advantage/new danger; ÷1 Momentum (now at 9)
Several hazardous moments occurs and Setara’s superstition makes her doubt – maybe the very land is their enemy? They hear screams from a predatory bird high above them, and Shiro has the sense that they are being watched. That the sound is scornful screeching of laughter. That the masked warlock sees her awkward struggle and is amused. Only after several stubborn attempts does Shiro manage to lift Setara up to the lip of the cliffs so she can drag herself up and subsequently help Shiro up.
They lie exhausted in the grass and listen to the sea beneath them, but this place already feels like a very different firm and fertile world than the salty and slippery rocks they grew up on.
‘It smells,’ says Setara. She seems uncertain whether that is a good or a bad thing. ‘Not just of rotten seaweed or fish. The smell here… it has colours in it?’ She slides her hand though straws of grass and wildflowers.
Shiro snorts, stands up and climbs one of the stoney scars that rises from the grass in order to survey their surroundings. The cliff makes a hard border between ironlands and the abyss, and further inland that land undulates in green hills, here and there broken up by lighter rocks. White seabirds screams harshly in the sky and from their nests on the cliffside. Truly a strange and alien realm. But she knows in which direction she must go – where the warlock was headed.
It’s not far, but the terrain is foreign.
Undertake a Journey:To the Warlock’s hideout (rank: Troublesome): 2 (1+1 (Wits)) vs. 1 & 9 = Weak hit! Mark progress (now at 3), supply ÷1 (now at 4)
The rest of the day is spent walking, up and down, through the hills. When they make camp for the night, there is no time to forage, and they have to burn their meagre supplies. But seated with their backs against a large boulder, they catch a glimpse in the dark of that which they are looking for: A brief glimpse of light from a manmade source – maybe a camp or a settlement that someone doesn’t want to be found. They should be able to make it there by tomorrow. Setara is too exhausted to be either impressed or afraid, and even Shiro only manages a short prayer for the spirits to keep vigil over them before she also falls asleep.
When they wake up the next day, gulls have pecked their stuff and spread some of their provisions over the grass. Grey clouds roll heavily over the land, and the wind shakes their robes as they continue in the direction of the Ironlander settlement.
Undertake a Journey: 4 (3+1 (Wits)) vs. 9 & 1 = Weak hit! Mark progress (now at 6), Supply ÷1 (now at 3)
Reach Your Destination: Progress: 6 vs 1 & 3 = Strong Hit! Make another move now and add +1
(I risked a roll in order to end the journey quickly – 6 progress actually offers a fairly good chance of a (weak) hit, and I succeeded)
Ask the Oracle: Location: „Corrupted“
(Inspiration for the village – perfect, but this will only come fully to fruition in part 5!)
Reach a Milestone: “Proving that the spirits are with us” (Dangerous): Mark +2 progress (now at 2)
(Reaching the Warlock’s village counts towards fulfilling my latest Iron Vow)
Late in the day they find their destination: a small settlement hidden in a gorge between two plateaus. Several springs run together in a creek that runs along the bottom, towards the fjord. It is well hidden, and it is comes as no surprise to Shiro that there is something ominous about the place – it only serves to confirm her prejudices. But she notices a bird of prey circling the place, recognises its scornful laughter. Their trip to this place was careful and unaccustomed to the terrain, but the distance was short enough that the Warlock may have made it here as early as last night. She must assume that he has warned his tribe, and that they are on their guard.
She considers the situation: Preferably Setara should see Shiro prove her power over the iron spirits. On the other hand, there is something very wrong with this place, and she works better alone in the darkness of the Gloom. She comes to a decision:
‘It will be dark soon, and the clouds hide the light of the moon,’ she says to Setara. ‘That tells me that this is something I must do alone. Or rather, not alone… but only with the aid of the spirits. The Ironlanders here are… off, treacherous, corrupted. I am not sure, but something is wrong. Stay close, but be careful not to be seen. As long as you remain hidden, you will be in the Gloom, which means I can call on you.’
Shiro adds the last part with conviction in order to calm Setara’s constant insecurities, even though she well knows that is not how things work. The important thing is that Setara believes in her and doesn’t get in the way of this victory. Then she shrouds herself in the black, glittering fishskin cloak, douses a living flame in her hand, and bid the night envelop her.
Shadow-Walk: 5 (2 +2 (Shadow) +1 (from Reach Destination)) vs. 1 & 2 = Strong hit! +1 momentum (now at 10); reroll any dice when ambushing/hiding/sneaking
(I am using the +1 add from the Destination roll for Shiro’s Ritual Asset)
Setara is only sees her very faintly because she knows she knows Shiro is there. It will be worse for the Ironlanders… they have no clue as to what the darkness brings.
Shrouded in darkness Shiro sneaks her way closer to the hidden settlement between the cliffs. The gorge reminds her of a dark scar cutting through the landscape, and Shiro senses something unknown and unpleasant rising from below, a sort of poisonous and unseen cloud. She approaches carefully, but feels safe enough with the spirits of the Deep gathered around her. She notices the guards posted by the edge of the ravine and decides to harness the shadows to kill them both before they suspect anything
Face Danger: 8 (6+2 (Shadow)) vs. 6 & 1 = Strong hit! +1 momentum (now at 10)
(I felt this was a fair way to do an assassination – a one time use of Shiro’s ritual from last episode)
Two strangers lie at the feet of Shiro. She is standing at the top of a wooden scaffolding built along the raw cliff side. Far below runs a river towards the sea – hidden in the night, but she can hear it – and both sides of the ravine are connected by wooden beams creating floating gantries upon which small cabins are built. Several people are moving around. What kind of place is this? Where does the sickly sensation originate from? And where is the Warlock? She needs to understand all this a little better before she throws herself into the fray.
Gather Information: 3 (2+1 (Wits)) vs. 2 & 7 = Weak hit! +1 momentum (now at 10); complicate quest/introduce new danger
Ask the Oracle: Settlement Trouble: Wrathful Haunt
(It remains a little unclear how and why, but whatever haunts this place may be someting different than the corruption Shiro sensed from a distance)
Shiro sneaks around in the dark and tries to get a clearer picture. Slowly she moves downwards, towards the rushing river hidden in darkness. The cloak and the spirits allow her to remain unseen, but a sense of unease is building in her body. And then she realises: It is not a natural river running below her – it is something monstrous, something unnatural – the whispering is slippery scales against shingles and rocks!
And there stands the Warlock: Positioned upon the bottom-most gantry across the gorge – maybe ten metres above the creature in the darkness. He is casting a spell and trying to… summon? Control? Exorcise? Whatever is the case, it is from that creature the corrupt miasma emanates. Shiro has just decided to sneak in on the Warlock when a scream sounds above her: The eagle.
Face Danger: 4 (2+2 (Shadow)) vs. 4 & 9 = Miss…
(Using her succes from Shadow-walk (last session) to reroll her Action die and the 9)
New result: 7 (5+2 (Shadow)) vs. 4 & 2 = Strong Hit! +1 momentum (now at 10)
Reach a Milestone: “Prove that the spirits are with us.” (Dangerous) +2 progress (now at 4)
(Shiro is making use of the shadow spirits, and everything is going right for her)
But the bird of prey doesn’t see her, and Shiro manages to close the distance to the Warlock who seems engrossed by his foul arts. It is tempting to use the Gloom to sneak all the way in and plant her axe in the back of his skull. But Shiro needs to teach the local spirits to fear her, and her shadow-walker magic is likely spent by now. Si instead she gambles on putting the fear of the Deep in him, letting out a fierce war cry that will also serve to summon Setara, allowing her to witness the victory.
Secure an Advantage: 6 (4+2 (Iron)) vs. 2 & 8 = Weak hit! +1 momentum (now at 10)
(I could have gotten +1 on a roll with a Strong Hit, but otherwise I didn’t stand to gain a lot from this move. Maybe I should have exhausted my momentum earlier but it wasn’t really relevant)
Shiro makes a dramatic jump down onto the bridge where the Warlock stands and charges him – like a wraith from the shadows – letting out a wild scream. He turns in time to meet her axe attack, and at that same moment his eagle catches on to what is about to happen.
Enter the Fray: 6 (3+3 (Heart)) vs. 4 & 1 = Strong hit! Rank: Warlock & eagle: Formidable (a Mystic is Dangerous, but the eagle raises the rank by one)
+2 momentum (now at 10), win initiative
Using Sunderer in close quarters; ÷1 momentum (now at 9) (must be declared before attack roll)
Strike: 5 (3+2) vs. 8 & 10 = Miss… I burn Momentum to cancel the 8 = Weak Hit (momentum resets at 2); Inflict 3 harm (now at 3); lose initiative
And indeed, the Warlock gets the fright of his life, and he only just barely manages to raise his staff to intercept the axe that thunders down towards his hideous mask. But the eagle dives and spoils Shiro’s chance to deliver a killing blow. She must fight to defend herself.
Clash: 8 (6+2) vs. 3 & 7 = Strong hit! Find opening: +1 harm; inflict 3 harm (now at 6); win initiative
The eagle dives and rakes with its sharp claws, but has bit off more than it can chew and Shiro bashes it aside with her axe – not a killing blow, men now it is warned not to come too close again.
Shiro considers using the advantage to press the attack against the Warlock who is briefly upset by watching his familiar flutter desperately to reach safety. His eyes behind the mask follow the bird, but his hands are moving in the air as if to prepare some magic.
The chieftain’s daughter cannot now for certain, but she hopes Setara has arrived to witness what is about to happen. In order to call on her attention Shiro takes a step backwards and raises her voice: ‘Ironlander! I know not what monstrosity you have called upon, but regardless of whatever power you claim to possess, know that the Gloom will devour it! Time for you to go to the Deep!’
Compel: 6 (4+2 (Iron) vs. 9 & 1 = Weak hit! +1 momentum (now at 3)
(Not from a wish to make him surrender – just to make him fearful in his moment of death)
Shiro lets the Warlock – and Setara – know that the spirits of the Barrier Islands are stronger, even here. Then she throws herself into what she hopes will be the decisive attack.
Strike: 5 (3+2 (Iron)) vs. 7 & 2 = Weak hit! Inflict 2 harm (now at 8), lose initiative
Another series of swipes with her axe pushes the Warlock to retreat. But by now his magic is almost prepared, and in desperation and anger he strikes out with his staff that is humming in his grip and gives off a dim light in the dark ravine.
Clash: 3 (1+2 (Iron)) vs. 4 & 10 = Miss… Pay the Price, lose initiative
Ask the Oracle: likely: harm (unlikely: something about the monster in the gorge). The result is likely (75%) vs. 62… = harm
Endure Harm: 8 (6+2 (Iron)) vs. 3 & 6 = Strong hit! ÷3 health (now at 1)
Embrace the pain: +1 momentum (now at 4), win initiative
A decent attempt by these local spirits and their servant, but Shiro grits her teeth and resists the pain shooting through her body. She dearly wishes that Setara is watching this. And then she swings her axe to deliver the deathblow…
End the Fight: progress 8 vs. (4+7) = Strong hit!
The mask hiding the Warlock’s face is cut in half by a confident and cool blow, in spite of the pain from the foul magic coursing through her body, making it quiver. The eagle cries from its vantage point on a beam, but its wing is displaced, and it doesn’t want any further part of this.
Reach a Milestone: “Prove that the spirits are with us.” (Dangerous) +2 progress (now at 6)
(Because the Ironlander warlock’s magic proved useless)
Ask the Oracle: likely: Did Setara see the fight? The result is likely (75%) vs. 85… = No.
Shiro look up towards the opening of the ravine where a band of stars reveals itself. but her hope to see an impressed, grateful, and assured Setara is dashed: Instead she sees Setara fighting several of the strangers. And from the depth below the gantry where the Warlock’s broken skull and mask lies in a formless lump a whisper is heard:
Shiro has achieved what she came for, and whatever grumbles in the depth of the gorge is not something she plans wasting her time on – particularly without Setara to witness it. Instead she must help her travelling companion with the problems she has gotten herself into. The guide is fighting several of the Warlock’s men: partly shrouded scavengers with gruesome-looking weapons. Some ran away when they saw their leader fall, but there are stille enough of them to offer a challenge. She turns her back on the cackling eagle and the whispering, grating voice in the deep, and she quickly races ip the criss-crossing gantries upon which the strange settlement is built, to face the enemy.
Enter the Fray
6 (3+3 (Heart)) vs. 3 & 4 = Strong hit! A bunch of bandits, rank: Dangerous. +1 momentum (now at 6), gain initiative
(The foe is Dangerous as default; strength of numbers count in their favour, but Setara’s upper hand in the situation cancels that out)
5 (2+3 (Heart)) vs. 7 & 2 = Weak hit!
(I am using Heart because the roll is based on (overweening) pride after her victory and help from her companion, Setara)
Pay the Price
Harm being the most likely, while being separated from someone or something unlikely (I asked the oracle for an alternative)
The result is likely (75%) vs. 11… = harm
÷2 health (now at 0, and the second point is subtracted from momentum, now at 5)
5 (3+2 (Iron)) vs. 2 & 10 = Weak hit! You press on
Shiro throws her herself into the fray, kicking the legs from under one foe and planting her axe in another while yelling at Setara to let her know that help is on its way. Setara is proving her worth as a member of the Shadow Wave – together they make their clan proud as they break upon the scavenger warriors. Shiro is not concerned with killing – she screams in defiance, accompanied by rhythmic chops of the axe, but just as often she will just push past an enemy or leave them be if they step aside for her. The goal is getting out of here, the both of them.
Just as she is almost at the top, a stray arrow hits her, and the blow knocks her down on the bridge upon which she stands. She cannot see the archer in the dark, but she manages to find cover in a stinking hut, with the arrow still sticking out from leather and mail, just by one of her shoulder blades. Instead of making her way to Setara, it is the guide finding her and lending her support for the last bit of way up the wooden structure. They hear the cowardly scavengers jeer and scream frenziedly behind them, but they do not dare pursue true warriors out from their lair and risk getting too far from whatever abomination they worship at the bottom of the ravine.
The two young women stop at the edge of the cliff, gasping for air, and take a last look down into the murk where shrouded shapes are still hurling curses at them, to see if they can make sense of their observations and try to understand what kind of place this is.
5 (4+1 (Wits)) vs. 10 & 10 = Miss… MATCH! Unearth dire threat/unwelcome truth about quest
Pay the Price
Ask the Oracle: Major plot twist: Your actions benefit an enemy.
(The enemy is obviously the thing in the ravine)
(Match: a twist: the Warlock is still alive)
Having looked for a short while and turning around to leave, Setara sends shoots Shiro one of her confused glances that so exasperates Shiro, but this time the chieftain’s daughter refrains from snapping at the girl – pain and a dark premonition is tormenting her.
As they struggle their way towards a safe place to make camp, Shiro is brooding over what she saw: one of the shabby people climbed the lip on the far side of the chasm – in and of itself not so strange. But the way he held his wounded arm… and then he whipped his cloak about him, making a crack in the wind, and it flew away into the night And from where the man had been standing a big eagle rose instead, a little bit shaky on its wings. It screamed protracted and accusingly and circled the ravine before vanishing. That was what Setara also had seen. But what she didn’t notice was what Shiro’s shadow powers made visible to her: Far down in the gorge a long, shiny body rose, no longer bound by the magics of the Warlock. It was he who had controlled the monster that hissed for blood! And it was the same beast that had rested its body in the depths of the gorge and made the settlement sick and corrupted. An accursed wyrm! And it clearly did not intend to remain any longer in its prison.
’Stop,‘ Shiro whispers when they have only walked for about an hour, ’before we get too far away…’
Shiro shrugs off her armour and weapons, reaches over her shoulder and tears out the arrow still protruding. The armour caught the brunt of the hit, but the arrowhead still went in far enough that the blood starts running down her back when she pulls it out. She holds the black, glistening tip op in front of her.
’I swear… once again to bind this accursed wyrm in the depths!”
Swear an Iron Vow
“I swear to bind the corrupted wyrm in the depths!” (Extreme)
4 (1+3 (Heart)) vs. 7 & 1 = Weak hit! +1 momentum (now at 6), more questions than answers
(A wyrm must naturally be Epic, but the goal is not killing it, merely binding it)
She is just about to throw the arrowhead aside, but instead she elects to break off the shaft and hide the bloody tip away in a pouch. She doesn’t have a whole lot to go on, be perhaps someone with a stronger grasp of magic than herself can sense more about the taint of the wyrm from the metal. Her only other clue is the Warlock – a shapeshifter? – assuming he is still alive. She is not physically capable of hunting the wyrm right now.
A couple of hours later the two feel like they are in safe distance from the ravine and make camp.
5 (2+3 (Supply)) vs. 9 & 7 = Miss…
Pay the Price
Stress being likely, an enemy being unlikely
The result is likely (75%) vs. 5… = Stress
6 (3+3 (Stress)) vs. 9 & 2 = Weak hit! ÷2 stress (now at 1), You press on
The travellers have an uneasy night. The unknown, open hills do not offer much in the way of protection, and they dare not risk a fire. At least no further enemies appear, bit it does put a strain on their nerves.
Reach a Milestone: “Prove that the spirits are with us!”
+2 progress (now at 8)
(We got away from the gorge)
Fulfill Your Vow
2d10 vs. (5+8) = Weak Hit. More to be done/realise truth; add +1 for a new Vow; +2 XP
Pain and doubt keep Shiro awake, but she pulls herself together and is pleased with her victory: She proved that the spirits of the Gloom are stronger than anything inhabiting the Ironlands. She fulfills the ritual to complete the vow – marks a seal in ash upon the ground. But doubt still nags her: Yes, she earned her victory – the victory she had promised Setara and herself, but at the same time, it was the Warlock’s magics that bound the wyrm. Perhaps things weren’t as simple? Perhaps Shiro needs an alliance with these foreign spirits? That must be the answer. She swears the second iron oath upon the axe that drank from the blood of the Warlock:
’I shall make peace with the spirits of the Warlock… or at least join in a mutual pact for as long as it serves my purpose,’ she mutters as an afterthought.
Swear an Iron Vow
“I shall make peace with the spirits of the Warlock!” (Dangerous)
5 (1+3 (Heart) +1 (from Fullfill Vow)) vs. 9 & 4 = Miss… +1 momentum (now at 7), more questions than answers
(I feel that Dangerous is hard enough, because the situation is already quite complex with my Extreme vow to bring the Gloom to Havens)
Then she turn towards Setara and once again extends her hand to confirm their bond.
(Mark Bond (now at 1) with Setara as payoff for Forge a Bond in session 2)
Test Your Bond
5 (2+3 (Heart)) vs. 2 & 5 = Weak hit!
(Even though the bond was only just forged, it felt right to test it after the fight. Setara accepts Shiro’s gesture of friendship, but is still confused about all the talk of spirits: The new iron oath may clear that up. Until then, the bond is fragile)
This time Setara grasps Shiros wrist, but only hesitantly. Their friendship was contingent on Shiro’s spirits being able to keep them safe on the journey, men now she casting doubt on their superiority herself? Nevertheless: They escaped the ravine with their lives and are still headed towards their true goal: Stonespire.
Shiro considers healing herself but decides that it is too risky. On the next leg of their journey the must find a place to rest, heal, and gather provisions. And learn more about this strange land.
Reach a Milestone: Journey to Stonespire (Formidable)
+1 progress (now at 4)
Reach a Milestone: “Bring Gloom to Havens!” (Extreme)
+½ progress (now at 1)
Advance: take a dot in Shadow-walk Asset (the third option)
(Shiro strengthens her connection with the spirits of the Deep)
When the sun rises, they haven’t slept much but the journey continues.
(And that’s the end of part 1 of Shadowbringer! All the moves from Make Camp and forwards were made in one go, and then I got caught up in the fiction afterwards, but here they have been entered where belong. This is a lot of fun! But man, Shiro is in some deep trouble… For the next part I will read up on Delve and maybe revisit the gorge to discover more secrets that may be hiding there).
Here begins the second part of Shadowbringer. Shiro has journeyed to the Ironlands to free her sister and at the same prove the power of the Gloom – the magic resting in the depth of the sea. It has already cost some scraps, and both Shiro and her travelling companion, Setara, are worn out).
It is morning, and day is dawning over the hills forming the natural rampart of the southern Ironlands. The clouds hang heavy and pale like swelling cocoons. Shiro and Setara aer resting their heads upon their gear, and Setara is first to rise. She calls to her, but has to shake Shiro before the chieftain’s daughter wakes up. Blood-loss and exhaustion has drained the warrior – her eyes are unfocused and lie in deep shadow.
‘We have to get you to someone with knowledge of healing, or a mystic,’ Serata says. ‘There must be other settlements along the coast, and by Krakan, they can’t all be as sinister as the the one we just left.’
Shiro gives a weak nod and sluggishly finds her footing. They only eat a little. Fortunately, there are enough brooks carrying fresh water that they can get by another couple of days. Setara maps out a direction and they start walking.
(I am ruling that it is isn’t interesting to make a roll for the journey – Setara holds the reins, not Shiro, and there most likely will be a village.)
Ask the Oracle about a village: large; passing through; dark secret; White Cliffs (I am setting aside the dark secret for now)
It is the middle of the afternoon when they find what htey are looking for: A settlement centred around a group of shiny rock rising from the green sward, jutting out like the fingers of a giant’s grave. They see that the landscape on the other side of the village has a steady decline towards a fjord that cuts a deep wedge into the land, but with less forbidding cliffs than the ones the two women of the Barrier Islands climbed. It seem likely that the locals will be used to receiving strangers from the seaside.
‘You brought us here, Setara. Now it’s my turn.’ Shiro straightens herself, grimases in pain and walks determined towards the settlement nesting in the shadows of the white rocks.
Several representatives from the Ironlander village are gathered about the visitors. They have offered them something to drink, some fish and bread, but the mood is not exactly inviting. Two of the locals, Aida and Glain, act as spokesmen.
‘Why do you come from the landward side? Judging from your robes, you look like people of the Barrier Islands.’ Aida speaks the name with an distaste she is incapable of hiding completely.
Shiro comes to the conclusion that these people have heard of, or perhaps even encountered, the Shadow of the Deep or others of the raider tribes.
‘You have sharp eyes, woman. We come from the islands. But we are not from there,’ Shiro lies. ‘Our tribe only made the crossing from the Old World recently, a mere two years ago, and we never made it past the Barrier Islands. Our people were killed or captured, and only now did we manage to escape. We are looking for more survivors along the Ragged Coast, but the slayers of our people are still in pursuit of us. We need help. Time to heal our wounds and take in supplies, and then we will be out of here.’
Secure an Advantage: roll +2 (shadow) +1 (Trickster) = 6 vs 3 & 3 = strong hit
take control: add +1 to next move
match: either they know something about the Warlock or about Stonespire.
Oracle: The result is 50-50 vs. 75… = Stonespire it is
Sojourn: roll +3 (heart) +1 (advantage) = 8 vs 5 & 5 = strong hit
recuperate: +2 health (2); consort: +2 spirit (3); match: Oracle: These people can also be helpful concerning mysticism, perhaps Shiro’s attempt to make new spirit allies.
Aida nods as Shiro tells her not completely truthful story.
‘You are welcome here at White Cliffs. The raiders from the Barrier Islands do not come here – they fear the white rocks. As they are right to do. Glain here is our priest, and the power of the pillars do permit our enemies to come here.
Glain, a man dressed in a flowing white robe adorned with knotted patterns, makes a small bow for Shiro. ‘The rocks may warn against islanders,’ Shiro thinks. ‘But if that is the case, Glain is both blind and deaf since he does not fear us.’
Shiro has her wounds stitched, and Setara’s bruises are cared for. The eat and drink well for the first time in a week. And the inhabitants of White Cliffs finds pleasure ind helping the runaway prisoners. The travellers spend the time to prepare the next leg of their journey and make the most of White Cliff’s kindness.
Secure an advantage: roll +3 (heart) = 8 vs 2 & 3 = strong hit
take control: add +1 to next move
Gather Information: roll +1 (Wits) +1 (advantage) = miss
Burn (7) momentum (reset: 2) = strong hit
something helpful & specific; +2 momentum (4)
Shiro takes the time to talk to Aida about the travellers passing through White Cliffs. Discretely, she turns the story around to Stonespire – how she hopes to find kinsmen there, without suggesting that it would be her own relative, because she cannot be sure about the relationship between White Cliffs and Stonespire. Aida tells her that many travellers, caravans, and traders pass through White Cliffs, and she does remember that last group from Stonespire. They were led by Eos, one of their chieftains, a man known for his cruelty which he explains away referencing an Ironvow, without ever getting into any details – but it’s something about reforging some pact. And yes, they came from the seaside and a young woman was with them – not a prisoner, but she didn’t speak much. Auda doesn’t much care for the people from Stonespire – it is saud that, like the islanders, they keep slaves. Their defence is that they are the only ones keeping the ancient horrors of this land in check, but Aida is not convinced. Shiro considers the tale. It sounds a little like the Warlock who kept the wyrm pacified in the gorge? This is useful knowledge that she will take with her. And Eos will get a lesson in true cruelty if he doesn’t relinquish Jakira.
Reach a milestone: Release my sister from false betrothal (formidable) (now at 2)
The next days she spends with Glain. She feigns ignorance in regards to the spirits even though she has a hard time standing the man’s stupidity. He eagerly regals her about how the white standing stones absorbs sunrays reflected off the waves of the sea, and how that power is then bound within the rocks. He describes the ritual in which he, tied to one of the white stones, let himself be filled with light and ever since has been in communion with a higher power. Shiro remains doubtful, but she does make a mental note of his description of the spirits of the Ironlands.
Reach a milestone: Make an alliance with the spirits of the Warlock (dangerous) (now at 2)
(I used the same roll for these two infodumps – keep it simple)
Time to move on, and the islanders indulge for one last time in the comforts of White Cliffs in order to recuperate, gather supplies, and heal.
Sojourn: roll +3 (heart) = 4 vs 10 & 6 = miss
Pay the price: two consecutive rolls on the Oracle both gave me ‘something is lost or destroyed’ while Online Companion said ‘Someone or something goes missing’ so I guess that’s how it has got to be… and this is when the dark secret comes into play.
But the next morning, on the day of their departure, Setara is nowhere to be found.
(Apart from healing, it was also a goal to work towards an excuse for playing Delve, and I believe I just found it. I had though that it was probably the gorge with the wyrm I was supposed to explore, but White Cliffs seems to have it’s own ‘dungeon’. Maybe there is even a connection?)