The ChaosGrenade

Quick & Dirty Tabletop Role-Playing Games

The Raven’s Scroll: An Ironsworn Game Log

2018-11-08 Rambling R.E. Davis

This is a play log / session report of my first “solo-rpg” experience using IronswornMy full review of the game can be read here!

Italicized text is behind the scenes rambling from me.

Prologue: World Building

  • Two Generations ago we came from the Old World, escaping a horrible plague that ravaged the whole kingdom. Many believed the plague to be supernatural in origin; and for this reason many of those considered mystics or mages are now feared; most have even turned their backs on the old faiths for feeling the Gods have either forsaken us, cursed us, or never existed in the first place.
  • The Ironlands are inhabited by the Firsborn — elves, giants, and others. We know they exist, but most go their whole lives without encountering them.
  • There was a civilization here before us, even before the Firstborn. Giant iron columns are scattered across the Ironlands; never rusting, never damaged. These columns are both feared and revered. There are also ruins of temples and abandoned settlements from these ancient folks — who they were and what happened to them are unknown.

_I loved the idea of the proto-civilization that inhabited the Ironlands. I’ve been a sucker lately for myths like Lemuria and Atlantis for sword & sorcery backdrops. _

  • The Oracles tell me our story is in **Grimtree. **I decide Grimtree is located in the **Deep Wilds, **and is a settlement of mystical shamans who live away from the settlements of other Ironlanders.

  • Grimtree is named for the massive tree that resides in the central grove; itself in autumn colors year round. The core of it is one of the **Iron Columns **— nobody is sure if the tree grew around the column, or if it was built inside the tree.

  • **Wardens **of the settlement call their order **The Iron Roots. **

  • Those who are born with the gift of being **Sighted **often how signs early in childhood, as they are sensitive to the vibrations from the Column. They call this the Iron Song._I literally schemed all that up from “Grimtree”. I decided the Iron Song was too cool of a concept to not play with, so instead of initially creating a badass warrior I instead with a young shaman with the gift of sight. Crap combat skills, but lots of Heart, Wits and Shadow. I figured it would be fitting for a character who tries to outsmart his adversaries and sneak about to have a Raven companion.

  • Bas was raised in Grimtree. His mother died at birth; his father long passed from a complicated battle wound. His caretakers were the shamans of the community, and his sister Leena, an Iron Root and 10 years his senior. His animal companion is a Raven named Merla.

  • Bas has always wanted to join the Iron Roots, but his sister has shot down every opportunity he’s had for it. She dreads losing him and knows he’s not built for battle. Still, he craves adventure and wishes to see the world. He wants to find other columns, and he Wants to Know the Song of Iron (Chose that as his background motivation.)

    The Inciting Incident

    For months, marauders have been plaguing the settlement. They come by night, raiding the outer homesteads. Children are kidnapped, parents are often slaughtered. Livestock and belongings go missing. Witnesses tell of masked figures, and the people of Grimtree dread it’s the Firstborn seeking to suffer the Ironlanders from their woods.

    • Bas eavesdrops on the Iron Root Elder Valeri talking with a bewildered man, claiming that he had just drove off a marauder by pelting his mask off with a rock. He claims the marauder’s face was not Elven, but Broken (fractured, feral people of the Ironlands.)
    • Merla blows Bas’ cover with her caws. Bas begs Valeri to let him seek clues into the whereabouts of these marauders. Valeri initially denies the opportunity, out of respect for his sister (who has been away on a quest for the last month.) Valeri’s second in command mentions that his gift of Sight could prove valuable to the Roots. Bas **takes an Iron Vow **to seek out information on the marauders. _
      _ (Strong rolls / he is Emboldened).

    Seeking Clues

    • Bas heads to the outskirts of the settlement to seek out clues on these marauders. He uses the bewildered man’s home location as a starting point.
      (Gather Information: Weak. Asked Oracle for a Theme: Blood)

    • Bas discovers a homestead recently raided by Marauders. Blood everywhere; signs of violent struggle. He gazes with his Sight but is overwhelmed with the emotional feedback still lingering from the violence.  _(Endure Stress: Dangerous / Weak roll) _He presses on.

    • He continues to find bloodstains and tattered pieces from clothing across the ground outside. Wanting assistance, he pulls out his **totem **of the Raven and attempts to bond with Merla for aid. _(Totem Ritual: Weak / Unsettling). _Merla emerges from the woods, an eyeball dangling from her beak. She drops it in Bas’ hand and caws at him to follow._A weak hit on the Totem ritual succeeds with forming a bond with the companion, but is unsettling and deals further stress. I thought the eyeball was a cool way to express how the bird was helping but adding dread to poor Bas, who has undergone a bit of trauma in this scene.

    • (Gather Information: Strong / Oracle: Assumption is False. Decided this meant the Marauders truly were wearing masks to disguise as Firstborn).
      Merla leads Bas to the corpse of the marauder whose mask was broken off. He appeared to have died from trauma to the back of his head. Holding his eye and touching the corpse, Bas has visions of his last moments: The marauder tried to meet up with others who were raiding the settlement. The leader saw that his mask had been removed, and so he killed him for “failing” the raid. Bas snaps out of the vision, still seeing spectral images of the raiders as they fled off into the woods.(Bas Undertakes a Journey. I rated it at Dangerous — nothing routine, but not an epic quest either.)

      The Journey

      _So I kinda screwed up here — for starters, I forgot to consult the oracle about possible dangerous encounters. I considered it sort of a Peter Jackson-esque traveling montage. I also thought I had to end the Journey by completing an entire Progress Track, not realizing at the time how Progress rolls worked. Thankfully, it was still interesting.

      • 1st Waypoint: The Wilds.
      • 2nd Waypoint: Lush forests. Bas decides to make camp and relax.
      • 3rd Waypoint: _Rolls a miss — Oracle says “Withered”.
        _ Bas gets lost in the dead forests. All dead flora, no signs of life, no tracks. Repeats same scene for hours.
      • Gather Information: Miss / Further Delay
      • Makes Camp. Strong Hit — Relaxes and Prepares.
      • Bas seeks out the spirits of the Dead Forests to guide him out
        (Spends Momentum to gain a Strong Hit!)
      • Journeys to next waypoint. Gathers resources (weak) and makes camp. Prepares for next day.
      • Journey’s End (Rolled on Oracle tables for location details: ABANDONED!)

      As In “Abandoned Temple”

      _I wasn’t going to go through all that just to say our marauders were in another castle. I envisioned deep in the wilds, in an area with a small waterfall and covered in brush, was an ancient temple once belonging to those who were here before… maybe the Firstborn? Maybe older? I figured that would make an awesome and compelling place to find the marauders.

      • Ask the Oracle: Are there Guards? (Likely 26% or higher / Oracle rolled Yes)
      • I envision two guards sitting on a boulder outside of the ruins, BS’ing, bored… it is a remote location after all.
      • Bas sends Merla to caw at the guards, distract them away from the entrance. _(Roll a Miss) _the Guards “shoo” her off, toss pebbles at her.
      • Bas tries again: tells Merla to pull on brush/branches while he tosses pebbles in the water and off a tree. _(Strong Hit) _The guards grow suspicious, leave post to check it out.
      • Bas then attempts to sneak into the temple while those two are distracted. _(Miss) _Asks Oracle: Do those two notice? _(No). _Is it another guard? _(Yes).

      And Now: Violence.

      I decided to treat the three guards as a “Pack”, rated at Dangerous. Also: I should have known better, since Bas’ stats are CRAP for physical combat.

      • Enter the Fray (Weak Roll / Chose to Bolster)

      • Bas takes a club to the face.

      • Bas has trouble gaining initiative; attempts blocking with his staff. Gets ganged up on.

      • Bas opts to _turn the tide _to gain initiative.

      • I switch out to a “Battle” move, resolving the rest of this scene using a single roll. I envisioned what followed was a blur of dodges, blocks, throwing dirt in faces, etc. The “goal” was for Bas to escape back into the wilds, hoping to split his pursuers up. _He had a plan. _

      • Manages to succeed. Flew into the woods, split the pack up. His plan was to ambush one of the marauders, take his clothes and mask, and later try to infiltrate the temple dressed as one of them.

      • Tries to secure and advantage _(weak roll) _and then use vines to trip the marauder, so he could stab him in the throat with his staff (miss… DAMN IT).

      • Bas is now engaged with a raving marauder; his friends hear this and run to the scene. _(Pay the Price Roll: Something of Value is Lost). _The Marauder manages to grab a hold of the Raven totem around Bas’ neck; rips it off, throws it in the wilds.

      • Feeling defeated and de-moralized due to losing his totem, Bas attempts to surrender. (Compel Roll: CRITICAL FAIL. Pay the Price: It is Harmful)

      • All three of the marauders proceed to beat the ever living fuck out of Bas.

      • (Face Death Roll: CRITICAL SUCCESS. What the Hell?) Death rejects Bas; tosses him back into the mortal world.

      • Bas is injured, maimed, and now wakes up hanging upside down by his ankles in a cell, hearing the sound of a marauder sharpening a blade in the next room.

      • On the plus side… he’s _inside _the temple. So I mark some boxes off the Quest Progress bar.

        Cruel Circumstance

      • Bas wakes up the a strange feeling at his feet — Merla is pecking at the ropes to let him drop to the floor.

      • Bas closes his eyes, and uses his Sixth Sense to gaze into the nearby room (Gather Information: Strong Hit)

      • Bas sees the marauder sharpening his blade… and also sees the jail key on a table next to him. He whispers a plan to Merla… (Compel / Critical Success)

      • Bas clamours and rattles his cage. The marauder, startled, walks in to see what the hell this guy is doing. Merla flies in behind him, snatches the keys. As the Marauder walks back to get his butcher blade, Merla flies the keys to Bas.

      • The Marauder is stalled, trying to find the keys. _(Face Danger +Shadow: Strong Hit) _When he runs back to the cell, the confused Marauder is tricked into the cage as Bas slams the door behind him and locks him in. He gives the keys to Merla, who then flies out a small window uptop and drops the keys outside.

      • Are there more coming (likely): Yes

      • Is there another way out of here (50/50): Yes

      • Bas flees down a hallway filled with candle-lit alcoves. He enters into a room, filled with quills and parchment — a crucifix made of deer antlers and barbed thorns hangs in the room _(I admittedly needed some random dress setting so I used various assorted game tables via the Adventuresmith app). _

      • _(Gather Information: Strong) _The parchment contains letters written in response to someone named “Caldas”. They speak of slave traders, and selling plundered goods to merchant caravans. Bas realizes this whole Marauder camp is in the business of kidnapping children and selling them off!

      • Are the other marauders coming? Oracle: Yes.

      • Is there anywhere to hide (likely)? Oracle: No.

      • Is there another way out (likely)? Oracle: No.

      Bas is still grievously wounded, and is in no capacity to endure any kind of a fight. I sigh, as I realize that the odds of survival are against him. As a last action, Bas rolls the letters up, and hands them to Merla, and tells her he has one more task for her.

      The Ending is a Beginning

      Leena has returned to Grimtree, and is arguing with Elder Valeri, upset that she had sent her brother on a quest to prove his admittance into the Iron Roots. Their fight is silenced, though, as an injured raven caws at them, limping, handing over tattered scrolls. Leena pets Merla, tears streaking her face, as she picks up the scrolls. She hands them to Valeri. As she reads them, she doesn’t question where Leena is heading as she storms out of her stead. It was unspoken, but she knew the Iron Vow the Warden had just taken — to find her brother.