Ironsworn: Luthar – Session 1

This represents my first session with Ironsworn. Looking over it now, I can see a few missed opportunities and mistakes. But as a learning experience, I enjoyed it quite a bit! The layout here gave me a little trouble here, but I expect the next session to go a little more smoothly in both play and presentation.

An ancient runestone stands in a meadow surrounded by flowers
Photo by Erik Mclean on Pexels.com

Character Creation

Luthar is a curious, introverted sort seeking to learn more of the old ways. He values knowledge over riches or power.
Wits highest, Iron and Shadow lowest

Bonds

  • Drewan (grandfather)
  • Froststone (settlement)

Vows

Vow Ideas

  • Someone disappeared in underground ruin
  • Someone is accused of cursing a settlement
  • Expedition to find evidence of the firstborn
  • Caravan of black iron has gone missing
  • Bear the scars of an attack by a horror

Background Vow

Discover the truth of the horror that left me scarred (physically and psychologically) – burn scars on my back, nightmares of all-consuming fire (extreme)

Inciting Incident

One of the grandfathers who raised me, Drewan, has been accused of cursing the nearby settlement of Greenrock. Their cattle have died, their children are sickly, and their beer has soured. Several of the village wise folk have claimed that he tormented their dreams on recent nights and point to this as evidence. They demand that our village hand him over for scourging, which I know he will not survive. I fear that our cowardly community council of three elders will accede to avoid worse troubles between hot-headed men from both settlements that could lead to killings.

Swear an Iron Vow

The Elders have informed us of the accusations, and I can tell by their feigned concern that they are ready to give in. While none of us wish for anyone to be harmed or experience loss, surely there must be some other way to maintain peace without handing over an old man for a scourging that will likely kill him. Some of the other older folks in the village try to propose various ways to seek peace, but they receive only condescending replies in return.

Before everyone who has gathered for this meeting, I place my hands upon our ancient meeting-rod and swear to discover the truth of this supposed curse and prove Drewan’s innocence. 

5+2(heart)+1(bond) = 8 vs 7,5 => strong hit
I am emboldened and it is clear what I must do next. Ask the Oracle if unsure. Take +2 momentum to +4.)) 
Action: 70 (Command)
Theme: 54 (Creature)

Firulai and I will leave immediately to inspect these dead or dying cattle and see the truth for ourselves.

Assets

Path: Sighted

When you Face Danger or Gather Information to identify or detect mystic forces, add +1 and take +1 momentum on a hit.

Ritual: Ward

When you walk a wide circle, sprinkling the ground with salt, roll +wits. On a strong hit, choose two. On a weak hit, choose one.

  • When a foe first crosses the boundary, take +1 momentum.
  • When you first inflict harm against a foe within the boundary, inflict +1 harm.
  • Your ward is ‘likely’ (Ask the Oracle) to trap a foe within the boundary.

Companion: Hound (Firulai)

Your hound is your steadfast companion. Firulai is a small terrier, not much use in a fight but excellent help in hunting small game.

  • Loyal: When you Endure Stress in the company of your hound, add +1.

Equipment

  • A small bag of salt
  • A small carved stone that reminds me of my parents

World Creation

Legacies

Before the Ironlanders, before even the firstborn, another people lived here. Their ancient ruins are found throughout the Ironlands. 

Leaders

Leadership is as varied as the people. Some communities are governed by the head of a powerful family. Or, they have a council of elders who make decisions and settle disputes. In others, the priests hold sway. For some, it is duels in the circle that decide.

Mysticism

Some still find comfort in the old ways. They call on mystics to divine the fortune of their newborn, or ask them to perform rituals to invoke a bountiful harvest. Others act out of fear against those who they suspect of having power. However, most folk believe true magic — if it ever existed — is lost to us now.

Religion

A few Ironlanders still make signs or mumble prayers out of habit or tradition, but most believe the gods long ago abandoned us.

Firstborn

The firstborn have passed into legend. Some say the remnants of the old tribe still dwell in deep forests or high mountains. Most believe they were never anything more than myth.

Beasts

Monstrous beasts stalk the wild areas of the Ironlands.

Horrors

We are wary of dark forests and deep waterways, for monsters lurk in those places. In the depths of the long-night, when all is wreathed in darkness, only fools venture beyond their homes.

Scenes

Scene 1: Forward to Greenrock

It is early evening as we depart. The skies are grey and the wind bites through my tattered cloak. Greenrock is not a long walk from our village, and the farmlands along the way may provide good opportunities to investigate further.

Undertake a Journey

Normally, I wouldn’t even consider this troublesome, but other villagers may challenge me as the grandson of their scapegoat.

1+3(wits)+1(Froststone) = 5 vs 9,8 (miss)
Waylaid by a perilous event. -1 momentum to +3

Pay the Price

The most obvious negative outcome happens, which is that a Greenrock villager confronts me on the road. Let’s Ask the Oracle about them.

Role: 75 (Warrior)
Goal: 81 (Fulfill a duty)
Descriptor: 57 (Powerful)
Name: 88 (Leela)

Leela, a fighter from Greenrock, is patrolling the road for bandits, animals, and troublemakers like (she believes) myself. She presents an imposing figure even in her battered helm.

Does she recognize me (likely)? 15 => no

“Who are ye, and why are you on this road so close to nightfall?” she calls out as I draw nearer. I don’t really want to engage in any conversation with her, as I don’t think she will be helpful in my investigation once she realizes who I am. I cough a bit, then tell her in a wavering voice, “just trying to get home to me Ma, be safe on the road!” and try to hurry past. This is a bit risky, as she might stop and identify me.

Face Danger (with deception)

1+1(shadow) = 2 vs 4,2 (miss) (-1 momentum to +2)

Pay the Price: Leela draws closer and peers at my face for a moment, then scowls. “Ah, yer skulking towards our town like that cursed grandfather of yours! No doubt to spread your dark magic further, making my niblings sick and wilting our gardens! Yer coming with me, ye good-for-nothing…”

Fighting her would be a terrible idea. She’s better trained, better armed, and just generally stronger and faster than I am.  I’d much rather convince her that I mean well and will accompany her freely back to Greenrock, but she has no call to threaten me.

Compel (pacify/convince)

6+2(heart) = 8 vs 1, 7 (strong hit)
She does what I want and I take +1 momentum up to +3.

“Yes, it’s me, and I’ll go with ye – but freely. No need for any rougher stuff, as I want the same thing ye all do. Whatever’s cursing Greenrock – and I swear to you it ain’t my Gran – could come to Froststone next. And anyway, we’re neighbors, near enough to kin. I’m sorry to hear that your niblings are sick and I’ll offer a prayer for them tonight.”

This mollifies her just enough to store her spear and we walk together on the road. I notice she’s a half-step behind me and to our left so she can watch me and grab me if I try to run. No intention of doing that, anyway. Firulai trots along uncertainly; he picked up on the tension, but now we’re road companions for these few moments and he’s happy with that.

While I have the chance, I ask Leela to tell me more about what’s happened. When did it start? How bad are things? Has she seen anything like this? Who’s saying that my Gran is behind this? Let’s get this investigation started.

Gather Information

4+1(wits) = 5 vs 3, 8 (weak hit)
The information complicates my quest or introduces a new danger. Ask the Oracle and take +1 momentum (up to +4).
Action: 93 (Journey)
Theme: 75 (Mysticism)

One of their own returned recently from a journey and claims to have gained The Sight. When the old folks start talking about their dreams, this one immediately started interpreting them. They’re the ones saying the signs point to Drewan. All this started about 2 days ago with some dead cattle, feverish kids, and several vegetable gardens that seemed to die off overnight.

Who is this person? 
Role: (25) Forester
Descriptor: (68) Confused
Name: (91) Delkash

It sounds like Delkash is as confused as the rest of us. He’s seeing something, alright, but what it is ain’t exactly clear. As she’s telling me these things, it sounds like maybe there’s a bit of hysteria over something that hasn’t actually gotten as serious as we were told. They want to whip my Gran over this? This sounds like good progress in understanding what’s really happening (3 progress).

Scene 2: Unwelcome

We arrive in the village just as the sun is dipping below the horizon. Night comes earlier every day that passes, though fortunately we are not yet to the days when twilight is all that blesses us. I can feel the stares  from within the small windows in each cottage as Leela leads me into the square.

Ask the Oracle: Is Delkash waiting for us? (likely)

63 > 26 => yes

A middle-aged man, bearded with dark eyes, waits for us there. He is clad in a dark green cloak with what look like antler symbols sewn into the hood. For a moment, I catch my breath. Has he truly gained The Sight? I peer behind the veil for a moment, remembering the old ways my other grandfather taught me before he left us for the next world.

Gather Information

5+3(wits)+1(Sighted)=9 vs 4,10 (weak hit) (I take +1 momentum from Sighted up to +5)
The information complicates my quest or introduces a new danger. Ask the Oracle and take +1 momentum (up to +6).
Action: (31) Uncover
Theme: (82) Enemy

Darkness swirls around Delkash. Whether from his journey or not, shadow and blood have come with him to Greenrock. Firulai’s fur stands on end — his tail is curled up and forward — his teeth are bared. “Still,” I mumble to him. This confrontation must not turn to blades – not yet.

“I am Luthar, son of Drewan. I come to clear my family’s name – and to cleanse these lands for my brothers and sisters in Greenrock.” The murmurs get louder as villagers gather. Delkash raises an eyebrow at this. But perhaps these neighbors will remember that they have seen me grow, and they know that we cannot mean them harm.

Face Danger (with loyalty)

roll+heart = 6+2 = 8 vs 1, 9 (weak hit)
I succeed but face a troublesome cost. I choose 1 stress.

Endure Stress (1 stress)

This reduces my spirit by 1 to +4 and I roll 4+4(spirit)+1(Hound) = 9 vs 4,7 (strong hit). I choose to shake it off  and take -1 momentum (down to +5) in exchange for +1 spirit (up to +5).

The crowd is not swayed, but neither have they turned against me. Not as I’d hoped, but we’ve only just begun in any case. I can feel my hound brush against my legs, reminding me he’s still by my side. Delkash steps forward from where he leaned against a cairn and takes a breath to speak while I examine him more closely.

Delkash, Mystic Hunter. Dangerous (2 progress per harm; inflicts 2 harm).

I must be wary of trickery and rituals. He knows the ways of the shadows, and the flickering torches here in the deepening darkness remind me that this is his turf.

“Luthar. Have you come to suffer for your kin? That will not lift this curse he has laid upon us. We must draw the shadow out of Drewan, but perhaps we must begin with your blood if he will not.”
A few in the crowd nod along with him, but I still believe that these neighbors know us. Delkash must as well – what changed him? Perhaps I can draw him out with a well-placed question.

Secure an Advantage (with insight)

5+3(wits) = 8 vs 3,3 (strong hit, match!)
I gain an advantage. Make a move now (not a progress move) and add +1.

Ask the Oracle: New Twist

Action: 89 Lose
Theme: 79 Revenge

I stand a little taller and call out, addressing the gathered villagers. “Y’all have known me since I was small enough to ride a pig alongside my Grans. What cause could we have to harm ye? But Delkash… he’s different. You don’t need The Sight to see that. Is his word all that it takes? I’ll stand with ye to lift this curse, sure as I’m standing here. No rest until we’ve restored yer children and your farms. But he’ll not have my Gran’s blood, no.”

Compel (pacify)

1+2(heart)+1 = 4 vs 4,10 (miss)
I need this to happen. I will Burn Momentum (currently at +5) to cancel the 4, turning this into a weak hit. (Reset momentum to +2.)
They'll do what I want, but they ask something of me in return.

Leela speaks before Delkash can cut her off. “Fine, but I’ll be coming with, my spear at the ready should you be drawing on the darkness.”

Delkash looks unhappy and, for just a moment, I see fire flash in his eyes. “Ye have until the next sundown, else we scourge Luthar and his Gran – and take his steading asides.” Is this what this is about? Something with our home? I’ll have to keep my ear to the ground for that one.

Scene 3: Find the Source

As a few of the villagers turn to go eat their suppers, I kneel to pet Firulai and address my erstwhile guard. “Leela, perhaps ye can show me to the first house where they found their garden wilted or their animals dying.” She sighs and we head to a small cottage on the far side of the village.

“Farina’s always had the best herbs, but the other morn she found them dry and brittle. And her goats lay in the grass, fur already starting to rot on their hides.” Out back of the house, we begin to poke around. If all we had was torchlight, we’d probably not see much at this hour. But the Sight doesn’t need a torch.

Gather Information

4+3(wits)+1(Sighted) = 8 vs 5,2 (strong hit)
I discover something helpful and specific. What I must do next is clear and I take +2 momentum plus an additional +1 from Sighted (up to +5).
Action: 54 Move
Theme: 98 Home

Something is buried here in fresh dirt. This isn’t part of the garden, but it’s close enough that anyone walking by might think so. I point this out to Farina. “Have you dug here recently?”

Ask the Oracle (almost certainly no)

38 (no)

I tell Leela that something dark has been planted behind this home and explain the ward I wish to place. She squints hard at me and I can see the tip of her spear gleam in the faint light. “If there is indeed something terrible, we must ensure that Farina’s home and the rest of Greenrock remain inviolate. I have already promised to protect your village!”

Compel (convince)

2+2(heart) = 4 vs 4,9 (miss) They refuse (-1 momentum down to +4). 
Pay the Price. 39: The current situation worsens.

“Luthar.” Her voice has an edge to it. “Dig it up. Whatever it is, we will confront it, but yer old ways cannot be trusted in this matter.” As I begin to dig, Farina gasps in pain and clutches her gut. Whatever lies beneath must be powerful – and is harming these people.

I grab a nearby spade and begin to dig. Firulai gets the spirit and dives in as well, churning dirt as if he smells vermin. More danger than whatever moles prey on these vegetables, I’ll wager we find.

Gather Information (Sighted)

6+3(wits)+1(Sighted) = 10 vs 6,9 (strong hit)
I discover something helpful and specific; the action to take is clear. Take +2 momentum +1 more from Sighted (up to +7).
Action: 39 Destroy
Theme: 72 Power

My spade hits something. Carefully, I move aside the dirt to find… something, pulsing red and angry. I can feel the power emanating from it. Firulai whines and tucks his tail, but does not run. Leela hisses. “What is that thing?”

A totem, but one unlike any I’ve seen. This is no sage owl nor stealthy lion. A foul smell arises, and as Leela leans forth, its form is clear: this has been carved in the form of a maggot. Falina screams again and clutches her torch. “Burn it!”

I shake my head. “No! Putting it to the flame without any other preparation will empower it – we cannot risk the effect on those already sickened.” Removing my tattered cloak, I quickly wrap this thing and hold it at arm’s length. “The village must know of this.”

Reach a milestone: Troublesome

Mark 3 progress.

Leela and I rush back to the square. “Dark deeds! The land is befouled!” I hold the thing high. “Not my Gran – but buried in yer own village! Someone has done this!” I peer at Delkash and whisper the words of the Sighted to see whether he has a connection to this thing.

Gather Information (Sighted)

3+3(wits)+1(Sighted) = 7 vs 5,9 (weak hit)
The information introduces a new danger. Take +1 momentum plus 1 additional (up to +9).

In my Sight, the shadows and blood flow between this maggot totem and Delkash. He draws power from it and I can see him pulsating with dark energies. The source of the curse is this man. “People of Greenrock! Know that your curse comes, not from Drewan, but from this totem – and yer own Delkash. His foul darkness has sickened yer land. Look how he hungers!”

Secure an Advantage (courage)

3+2(heart) = 5 vs 3,8 (weak hit)
My advantage is short-lived. Take +1 momentum (up to +10, maximum).

I can hear Leela gasp, but Delkash sneers in response. “And why should we believe ye? A discovery so quickly shows naught but yer own simple-minded drive to where ye knew your gran had laid this into the garden of our poor Falina.”

No.” I can hear myself say. “You will not blame this man. You will face me and you will lay down this power.”

Enter the Fray

4+2(heart) = 6 vs 7,9 (miss)
I begin the duel at a disadvantage and he has initiative. Pay the Price and take -1 momentum down to +9. 41 The current situation worsens.

With a snarl, Delkash speaks a word and the totem begins to glow. He’s upon me quickly, slashing and whispering in some unknown tongue.

Clash

4+1(iron) = 5 vs 1, 8 (weak hit)Inflict harm but Pay the Price and Delkash retains initiative. 2 progress, 2 harm.

Endure Harm

3+3(health) = 6 vs 7,7 (miss, match). I lose an additional -1 momentum down to -8.

We exchange blows and blood begins to flow. The totem pulses, strengthening with each cut or bruise suffered by either of us. 

Clash

1+1(iron) = 2 vs 5,2 (miss)
No - I cannot. These villagers need me. Burn Momentum, turning this into a strong hit. Reset momentum to +2. I inflict my harm and find an opening, for +3 progress. I gain the initiative and +1 momentum to +3.

His blade, deceptively quick, slashes for my leg but I see it just in time and instead strike into his shoulder. He stumbles for a moment. I call to the crowd. “Surely you can see his connection to this thing! Aid me, and we shall heal your people!”

Compel (convince)

1+2(heart) = 3 vs 3, 9 (miss) Pay the Price: 35 The current situation worsens and I take -1 momentum down to +2.

Leela shouts, “The gods will be with ye if ye have the right of it… but until then, nae.” The totem glows an angry red. Tendrils of shadow reach out and someone screams. I wheel on Delkash, striking furiously.

Strike

4+1(iron) = 5 vs 6, 7 (miss) 2 harm and -1 momentum down to +1.

Endure Harm

4+1(health) = 5 vs 1, 9 (weak hit) I press on

Delkash is faster and stronger. He lashes out and pain begins to redden my vision. The totem is giving him power, I am convinced. I do not know which is in control, but I know that I must somehow break that bond, even if for a moment. While he recovers from his last lunge, I turn unexpectedly to try to kick the totem further away.

Secure an Advantage (agility)

6+2(edge) = 8 vs 7, 10 (weak hit)
My advantage is short-lived but I take +1 momentum up to +2.

I kick the totem and it sails off in an arc. Screaming, Delkash is upon me and we clash once more.

Clash

1+1(iron) = 2 vs 2,9 (miss)
I am outmatched. I suffer -2 harm and my health goes to 0. My momentum drops by -1 to +1.

Endure Harm

1+1(iron) = 2 vs 4,8 (miss)
Momentum drops to 0. Check Wounded

Delkash stabs me in the back – but I am not down. I turn to him once more. “Do you think that killing me will lift this curse?” I call out to the villagers. “When I die, and your children remain ill, and your crops do not grow, what then? Will you kill again? Perhaps you will burn Froststone? This man and his wicked totem will be the death of us all. Let me destroy the totem, and we shall prove truth together!”

Compel (convince)

5+2(heart) = 7 vs 1, 4 (strong hit) I take +1 momentum to +2.

Someone shouts, “The totem must be cleansed. Then we can judge!” Several rush forward, including Leela who makes sure no one touches it directly.  I turn to Delkash, breathing heavily and having difficulty standing. “We end this now.”

End the Fight

5 vs 6,1 (weak hit)
Marked for revenge

He glances around, realizing that the crowd is not with him, at least not for now. He narrows his eyes. “You’ll pay tomorrow, Luthar.” One or two in the crowd echo his words in the darkness.
Now for this totem – I begin to surround it with salt, invoking the old gods and their ways. An old woman joins me, adding her salt to the circle and nodding silently at me in approval.

Ward

6+3(wits) = 9 vs 5, 9 (weak hit)

Should any foes appear within, they will be trapped. At least, I think they will. I hope this means that the destruction of the totem will not ripple into the village itself. The elder who assisted me with the ward brings us two torches and we set the foul thing ablaze in the darkness, hoping this will lift the curse.

Face Danger

1+3(wits) = 4 vs 5, 6 (miss)
Momentum falls to +1 and I pay the price: 50 a new danger is revealed

Ask the Oracle (likely)

Does the ward hold? 74 (yes)
Action: 34 Uphold
Theme: 76 Rival

The totem flares but does not diminish. The tendrils reach out, struggling against the ward. Something new appears in the flames and we recoil in horror. The form of Delkash’s face can be seen in the flames. We hear a laugh behind us. “Ignorant vermin. My power is not subject to the whims of a flickering flame. You will know why you fear the night!” Delkash turns into reddish smoke and enters the fire. “Those ways will not be enough. Suffering will be upon you soon enough!”

After a moment, the flames die down but the maggot carving remains. A few villagers call out, “Luthar has faced our curse!”

Fulfill Your Vow

9 vs 8, 5 (strong hit)
I have discovered the truth of the curse and mark 2 experience. 

“Yes… but until Delkash, or whomever appeared in the flames, can be banished, we are all at danger. Horrors lay ahead, of many sorts, I’d wager.” Horror in the flames? Revenge upon my family? Certainly there must be some connection to my greater vow and the scars I carry on my back. ((Mark 2 ticks on background vow.)) But Greenrock has seen that, indeed, I have suffered for them as surely as for my own village.

Forge a bond

6+2(heart) = 8 vs 2, 10
Reroll 10 (I fulfilled my vow to their benefit) = 9 (Weak hit)

Leela looks into my eyes. “Swear it. Swear a vow that you will end the horror that Delkash became.” Without breaking eye contact, I grasp the tip of her spear and squeeze. I can feel the sharpness cutting into my palms and fingers.

“I vow that I will find and destroy Delkash – the haunt of Greenrock.”

Swear an Iron Vow

2+2(heart)+1(bond) = 5 vs 5,5 (miss, match)
Mystic Backlash: 96 You are wracked with sudden sickness

My voice falters. Even Firulai tilts his head and looks at me. I bend over, vomiting blood, and collapse from the combination of my wounds and facing a horror unprepared.

Blackness.

to be continued…

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