The Wyvern's Horn - A Solo Ironsworn Adventure

BookTenTiger

He / Him
This is going to be a write-up of a solo Ironsworn adventure I ran for myself over two days while my baby napped. For those who don't know, Ironsworn is a PbtA game that uses Moves to move the narrative foreward. Ironsworn is unique in that it can be played without a GM. It has various Ask the Oracle tables you can roll on to see how enemies will act, what surprises lie around the corner, or what consequences should follow actions.

Ironsworn takes place in the Ironlands, a kind of mythical Viking-adjacent fantasy world.

To begin, I established some truths about the world. I chose one of three truths about The Old World, Iron, Legacies, Communities, Leaders, Defense, Mysticism, Religion, Firstborn, Beasts, and Horrors. I'll list the truths I chose here, but if you want to just read the story feel free to skip to the next post! (Please note that I did not come up with these, they were created by the authors of Ironsworn.)

The Old World
The sickness moved like a horrible wave across the Old World, killing all in its path. Thousands fled aboard ships. However, the plague could not be outrun. On many ships, the disease was contained through ruthless measures—tossing overboard any who exhibited the slightest symptom. Other ships were forever lost. In the end, those who survived found the Ironlands and made it their new home. Some say we will forever be cursed by those we left behind.

Iron
Inscrutable metal pillars are found throughout the land. They are iron gray, and smooth as river stone. No one knows their purpose. Some say they are as old as the world. Some, such as the Iron Priests, worship them and swear vows upon them. Most make the warding sign and hurry along their way when they happen across one. The pillars do not tarnish, and even the sharpest blade cannot mark them.

Legacies
We are the first humans to walk these lands.

Communities
We have forged the Ironlands into a home. Villages within the Havens are connected by well-trod roads. Trade caravans travel between settlements in the Havens and those in outlying regions. Even so, much of this land is untamed.

Leaders
Numerous clan-chiefs rule over petty domains. Most are intent on becoming the one true king. Their squabbles will be our undoing.

Defense
Here in the Ironlands, supplies are too precious, and the lands are too sparsely populated, to support organized fighting forces. When a community is threatened, the people stand together to protect their own.

Mysticism
Magic courses through this land as the rivers flow through the hills. The power is there for those who choose to harness it, and even the common folk often know a helpful ritual or two.

Religion
The people honor old gods and new. In this harsh land, a prayer is a simple but powerful comfort.

Firstborn
The firstborn live in isolation and are fiercely protective of their own lands.

Beasts
Beasts of all sorts roam the Ironlands. They dwell primarily in the reaches, but range into the settled lands to hunt. There, they often prey on cattle, but attacks on travelers, caravans, or even settlements are not uncommon.

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.
 

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BookTenTiger

He / Him
The Wyvern's Horn, Part 1: Vow of an Iron Spear

(Note: I'm going to note the various moves I used during this adventure with italic text. It was my first time running Ironsworn, and there are a few moves I would have run differently. But I think it's interesting how the moves change the plot! There were some really surprising results throughout this adventure.)

(Character creation: I liked the idea of a big, quiet hunter with a dog. I sketched out a loose idea for the character, and assigned abilities and assets.

Barndt
Home: Bearmark
Role: Hunter
Abilities: Edge 2, Heart 2, Iron 3, Shadow 1, Wits 1

Assets: Hound, Slayer, Skirmisher

I came up with three bonds for Barndt. His dog is a close bond, and I liked the idea that he had a brother who was more of a people-person. I also liked the idea of him being in love with his clan chief… this silent giant pining away seemed like a good hook.)


Many in the village of Bearmark fear Barndt. He is a big man, broad-shouldered, with a dark and gloomy face. The children teasingly call him the Giant. Barndt is a hunter, and goes on long treks into the nearby woods to search out game and forage for mushrooms and roots. He brings with him only a long iron spear and his hunting dog, an orange hound named Persimmon.

Despite his craggy face and mountain of a body, Barndt is a kind-hearted man. He loves animals, even the ones he hunts. He never yells at the children of the village, even when they tease him. He has few friends in town, and waits eagerly each season for the return of his brother, Bastien. Unlike Barndt, Bastien is beloved, a quick-witted trader who travels from village to village, bringing goods and gifts to clan chiefs.

It was Bastien, in fact, who one day arrived with a squirming orange puppy in his arms.

“I named her Persimmon,” he told Barndt. “It’s a sweet, orange fruit from a land far, far away. I’ve only tasted it once, but I will remember it always.”

Barndt fell in love with the puppy immediately. He fed her goat’s milk squeezed from a rag, and she proved an adept hunting dog- quick, intelligent, and loyal.

(I decided to set the story in the Hinterlands, a region of dense forests and dangerous game. I randomly generated some village names and continued to fill in details of Barndt’s background.)

Barndt has lived all his life in Bearmark. The village sits at the edge of a river, across which stands the Woodwall, an ancient forest of huge spruce and pines. At the center of the village stands an ancient, iron column, strangely untouched by time and weather. It is carved with a massive bear standing beneath a shining star.

The mark of the bear- a bear’s paw with a star at the center- is a common sigil found throughout Bearmark. It is painted on shield, decorates doorways; Barndt has two marks tattooed on the backs of his big, callused hands. Most importantly, the mark of the bear is carved onto a huge bear skull that watches over the village from above the doorway to the Great Hall. It is common knowledge that the skull protects the village from the beasts of the forest; it is a sign of the gods’ favor.

The Great Hall is the seat of power for Bearmark’s clan chief: Maroshka of Redwillow. She is a tall, strong woman, with flame-red hair and iron eyes. Maroshka is often called the Red Widow. Her husband was the previous clan chief of Bearmark; their marriage finalized a trade alliance between Bearmark and the wealthy village of Redwillow.

The clan chief was slain by assassins sent from Wolfcrag, a rival village downriver. Maroshka took a spear in hand and slew the assassins, and was given her husband’s seat. Since then she has overseen much good fortune for Bearmark, leading the hunts and rituals that keep the village safe and prosperous.

Still, there are some who do not trust this outsider, and would rather see a native of Bearmark in the seat of power.

Barndt, meanwhile, is madly in love with Maroshka of Redwillow. He is struck by her beauty, by her skill with bow and spear, by her wisdom. Barndt knows his love is not returned; he doubts Maroshka even knows anything but his name. But perhaps one day the Red Widow will look into Barndt’s dark eyes and see his kind heart.

(Barndt’s Background Vow is Win Maroskha’s Love. Now it was time to generate an Inciting Incident to make my first Iron Vow. When selecting Truths about the world, I chose this one for Defense:

Here in the Ironlands, supplies are too precious, and the lands are too sparsely populated, to support organized fighting forces. When a community is threatened, the people stand together to protect their own.

That truth came with the following Quest Starter:

A settlement is unable, or unwilling, to defend itself against an imminent threat. Why? What peril do they face? What will you do to protect them?”

I liked the idea of Barndt having to face off against a dangerous beast. I chose a wyvern, because it’s cool. I thought it would make sense for a wyvern to attack when most of the hunters are gone, and only Barndt is left to hunt down the serpent. Things took some interesting twists and turns, though!)


In the last few weeks, a wyvern has been spotted circling above the Woodwall. The green-scaled serpent has attacked some sheep, and one villager swears it snatched up his horse. But Maroshka has been hesitant to attack the wyvern, fearing it would easily slay her hunters.

Scouts have spotted the annual arrival of a massive herd of elk. This hunt is important for Bearmark; it is a ritual the hunters partake in to give glory to the gods. A few days ago, Maroshka rode out of town, leading her hunters towards the migrating elk.

Barndt stayed behind. It is around the time of the season that his brother usually visits Bearmark. Barndt has been waiting for his brother to pass through the Woodwall, burdened with strange gifts from across the lands. But Bastien is late.

The wyvern, the hunt, the Woodwall… Barndt has a bad feeling about all of this.

Barndt is sitting inside his simple hut at the edge of Bearmark. The fire in his hearth crackles. He is sharpening his iron spear. Persimmon sleeps at his feet.

Barndt hears a terrible scream from outside, and a sound like a howling wind. He races outside, Persimmon following. He sees the wyvern, its body bigger than a horse, its great winged arms cutting through the air. It hovers over a child who has fallen to the ground. Villagers are running about, some hurling stones at the wyvern, other screaming and fleeing.

Barndt doesn’t hesitate. He and Persimmon charge forward!

(I roll for Enter the Fray… and miss! Not only that, I roll a match, which means something dramatic happens.)

Persimmon’s barking startles the beast, and it quickly snatches the child off the ground, its great talons closing around her limp form. Wings beating heavily, the wyvern starts to lift back up into the sky.

(The wyvern has initiative, and I assume it’s going to try to fly away with the child. I decide to Turn the Tide, giving myself initiative. But it’s risky. If I miss, I could suffer grave consequences. Luckily, I get a Strong Hit on my Strike!)

Barndt ducks beneath the wyvern’s snapping jaws and sinks his iron spear into the creature’s leg. The wyvern gives out a piercing screech as Persimmon snaps at its wings.

Barndt grabs the child and tries to pull it from the wyvern’s talons. The leg is weakened by his strike, and the unconscious child tumbles into his arms.

(Face Danger - Strong Hit)

“Take the child!” Barndt shouts out, his voice barely raised above the roar of the wyvern’s wings. He ducks beneath the serpentine neck and shoves the child towards a villager. Suddenly the wyvern turns, and its long tail slams into Barndt’s side. He’s driven to the ground, but stays on one knee.

(Face Danger - Weak Hit - Endure Harm - Strong Hit. Combat Action - Intimidate or Frighten)

The wyvern continues its slow spin in the air, roaring and snapping at the villagers, trying to free enough space to lift up to a higher position. Barndt barks out, “Grab nets! Bring the wyvern to the ground!”

But the people of Bearmark are in a panic. They flee from the great beast, and from the lone hunter.

(Secure an Advantage - Miss & Match - Pay the Price / Action & Theme - Something of Value is Lost or Destroyed / Raid Pride)

The wyvern rises into the air, circling, screaming, and then with a few flaps of its huge wings lands on the roof of the Great Hall. Its tail sweeps through the thatch roof, shattering the beams. Half the roof collapses into the ever-burning hearth at the Great Hall’s center. Flames erupt and the wyvern roars. The great bear skull above the Hall’s door falls and shatters in the village square.

(Combat Action - Attack with Precision / Face Danger - Strong Hit)

The wyvern turns its serpentine head, seeking out Barndt. Its yellow eyes narrow, and it launches from the roof, tearing away more thatch and wood with its claws. Blood drips from the wound in its leg. The wyvern roars and dives!

Barndt sprints towards the river, and dives in. He swims as deep as the waters allow, scraping against the rocky bottom. Above him, talons scissor through the water. They lift, empty, and the shadow of the wyvern passes overhead.

Barndt knows the wyvern will destroy Bearmark searching for him. He swims to the surface then charges towards the treeline of the Woodwall. He knows the wyvern will see him- in fact, he counts on it. If he can draw the wyvern towards the forest, he can keep his village safe.

(At this point I decided to use the Battle move to play out the end of this conflict. Battle - Weak Hit - Pay the Price - A new danger or foe is revealed!)

The shadow of the wyvern passes over Barndt, and he hears its great wings cutting through the crisp winter air. Before the wyvern can dive Barndt has safely charged into the dark shadows between the trees. The wyvern circles, and circles again.

Suddenly a horn rings out across the forest, a deep reverberating call. The wyvern turns, and with a few flaps of its massive wings, sails straight towards the sound. Barndt loses view of the creature. Someone is calling to it, someone controls it.

Barndt mulls over this as he limps back towards the village. He crosses a log bridge and whistles for Persimmon. Barndt knows the land once belonged to mythical folk: giants and elves, spirits who controlled the land and air. But who could be powerful enough to control a wyvern?

The Great Hall is in ruins. Barndt squats and checks Persimmon for wounds. She has escaped the conflict unharmed. Barndt wishes he could say the same, his ribs ache where the wyvern’s tail had slammed into him.

Barndt sends Persimmon to retrieve his iron spear. He surveys the ruins of the Great Hall, the smoldering beams, the shattered skull. This is the seat of Maroshka’s power. Those who already doubted her will have their suspicions doubled. They will blame her for this, for going on a hunt while the wyvern lurked.

Barndt takes his iron spear from Persimmon. He grips it in his massive hands, feels the iron rings set along the wooden shaft. He thinks of his beloved Maroshka of Redwillow, her fiery hair, her flinty gaze. He makes a vow, so quietly that only Persimmon hears him. Persimmon, and the iron.

“I will restore your honor, Maroshka. I will hunt down whoever controls the wyvern, and slay them!”

(Swear an Iron Vow - I will slay the wyvern’s master - Weak Hit. I trace out some possible milestones for this formidable quest:

  1. Follow the wyvern’s blood trail
  2. Discover who is controlling the wyvern
  3. Separate them from the wyvern
  4. Kill them
  5. Bring a token back to the village)

To be continued…
 
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BookTenTiger

He / Him
The Wyvern's Horn, Part 2: The Woodwall

Brandt’s ribs ache. He knows he doesn’t have time to heal, but he knows of someone who can help him ignore the pain.

(Ironlander Names - Cadigan, Character Descriptor - Bitter. I wanted Barndt to heal, and now I realize I should have used the Sojourn move. Instead I wound up using the Compel and Heal moves. I could feel this wasn’t the right direction while going through it, but didn’t think to use Sojourn!)

Cadigan, the village herbalist, is standing and watching the Great Hall burn. He chews on something taken from the many pouches that hang from his belt.

“I knew no outsider could keep us safe,” he says, spitting a gob of something colorful onto the embers.

Brandt tries to approach meekly.

“Elder,” he says, “I wish to hunt the wyvern, and its master. Please give me something to ignore the pain from the wyvern’s tail.”

(Compel - Strong Hit)

Cardigan gives a bitter laugh. “If you’re heading into certain death, might as well do it high.”

The old man dips his fingers into a pouch and grinds the herb between his wrinkled fingers. He spits into his palm and mixes it into a sticky concoction.

“Open wide,” he says, and shoves his fingers into Brandt’s mouth. Cadigan smears the unguent over Brandt’s gums.

“This will help you ignore the pain, but it’ll do nothing for your stupidity.”

(Again, this should all have been done with a Sojourn move. Instead I used Heal, which… had some interesting results! Heal - Miss - Pay the Price - Stressful - Endure Stress - Formidable - Weak Hit)

Brandt feels a numbness spread across his gums… and then a fire lights his brain! All his senses wake as if he has been struck by lightning. Colors pop and swirl. The quietest chirps of birds enter his ears as the roars of a cave lion. Then all goes quiet and dull, before bursting into prismatic chaos again.

Brandt holds his head in his hands, and cries out, “What sorcery is this?”

“Uh oh,” mutters Cadigan. “That one usually works. Oh well, the hallucinations will pass.”

Brandt whistles for Persimmon, and says to the dog, “We have already wasted too much time. We must find the wyvern’s master!”

Together, they cross the river and head towards the forest.

(I wanted to know more about this forest, so I rolled on the Oracle Tables for Action and Theme. I got Eliminate Risk.)

Brandt knew this forest well from his many hunts. He knew of its tall trees, its cautious deer, its angry boar. But he had heard stories from villagers about its true nature. It was said that the forest had been planted by giants as a great wall. The massive trees kept armies from crossing into rival kingdoms. This is why the villagers called it the Woodwall.

With Persimmon’s help, Brandt searches for the trail of the wyvern. He eyes the treetops for broken branches while his orange hound sniffs out drops of blood.

(Gather Information - Miss, Match - Pay the Price - Current Situation Worsens - Advance Greed)

Barndt and Persimmon pass beneath the huge sentinel trees, stepping over twisting roots and ducking beneath thick tangles of branches. Persimmon probes the soft soil with her snout, searching out for wyvern blood.

Suddenly an arrow strikes the ground inches from Persimmon’s nose. She whines and leaps back towards Barndt. A half-dozen figures step from the gloom of the forest. They wear ratty furs and cowls. Barndt recognizes them: poachers from Wolfcrag. Barndt had frequently encountered them seeking game in the Woodwall, despite Bearmark’s claim of hunting rights. Sometimes he had run the poachers out; other times he let them be. But rarely had he encountered so many working together.

Barndt pulls Persimmon closer to his side, and shouts out, “What are you doing in these woods, Wolfcrag?”

One of the poachers steps forward. Barndt has encountered him before.

(Ironlanders Name - Pendry - Character Trait - Fervent - Character Motivation - Fulfill a Duty)

Pendry was an obsessive hunter, always furious to be driven out of the Woodwall. He wore a coak sewn of golen marmot furs and a snarling wolf’s snout shadowed his face. And yet Barndt could see a new tattoo spread like a mask across Pendry’s eyes and forehead: a pair of reptilian wings, green and clawed.

“This is Bearmaw land,” Barndt continues, his voice betraying his nervousness.

(Gather Information - Weak Hit - Burn Momentum - Strong Hit)

Barndt takes a deep breath and stands up tall. He sees Pendry’s eyes rise to match his own. The poacher’s eyes practically glow beneath the cowl.

“Hunter of Bearmaw,” he snarls in a high voice, “the forest is closed to you. We claim in now, in the name of the Green Child.”

“I do not know of his child,” Barndt replies, trying to keep his voice low and sharp.

“You do not even know what land you walk. This is sacred land, once tended by giants. There is power to be drawn from the ruins here. And that power now belongs to Wolfcrag!”

“Power?” Brandt asks. “You mean the power to control the wyvern?”

Pendry nods and laughs, and the other poachers join in, a half-circle of chuckling wolves.

“The Green Child blows his horn, and the wyvern listens! The Woodwall belongs to Wolfcrag now. Its trees are ours to harvest, its roads are ours to travel, its beasts are ours to hunt!”

“You are cowards,” Barndt growls.

“You dare?”

“You hide beneath the wings of the wyvern. Without this Green Child, you would be nothing but a pack of mangy curs.”

“Fool! We are the greatest hunters in the Hinterlands!”

“Prove it,” Barndt says. “I challenge you to combat.”

(Draw the Circle - Strong Hit! - Grant First Strike)

Barndt spreads open his empty hands.

“I’ll even give you the first blow,” he says.

Pendry doesn’t hesitate. He frees a long, curved dagger from his belt and leaps towards the giant. Barndt raises his arms to block the poacher and knock him back.

(Okay, for this combat and the next, I totally forgot to roll on Combat Actions. So the enemies just kind of keep doing the same thing over and over. Next time I would definitely use the Combat Actions table.

Clash - Weak Hit - Inflict Harm & Pay the Price - Something of Value is Lost or Destroyed)


Pendry crashes into Barndt’s forearm but keeps his footing. Suddenly Persimmon leaps up from behind and sinks her teeth into Pendry’s shoulder. Pendry cries out in pain, and only too late Barndt feels something tugging at his back. Glancing over his shoulder, Barndt sees one of the other poachers has snatched the iron spear from his sheath.

Pendry growls and slashes again. Barndt takes a step to the side, reaching out with his long arm to grab at the wolf’s snout cowl and pull it down over Pendry’s eyes.

(Secure an Advantage - Weak Hit - +1 Momentum)

Pendry leaps away and pulls this cowl back, exposing a poorly-shaved scalp. He pulls a second dagger from his belt and starts slashing wildly. Barndt suddenly turns quiet as a stone. He crosses his arms in front of his face, and charges at his foe like an angry boar.

(Clash - Weak Hit - Inflict Harm & Pay the Price - It is harmful - Weak Hit - Burn Momentum - Embrace the Pain)

Pendry tumbles backwards, but slashes at Barndt’s legs, opening streaming wounds. Persimmon follows, biting at the poacher’s arms. Barndt stops his charge, catching his breath, waiting for his foe’s next move. As Pendry rolls to his feet and charges, Barndt readies himself, trying to time an uppercut to the poacher’s exposed jaw.

(Clash - Strong Hit)

Barndt’s fish crashes into Pendry’s jaw. He then follows through with a blow to the top of Pendry’s head while Persimmon charges from behind, attempting to knock the poacher to the ground.

(Secure an Advantage - Weak Hit)

Pendry falls backwards over Persimmon, but rolls easily to his feat. He spits out a gout of blood, wipes his narrow jaw, then charges back towards Barndt, daggers aimed for the hunter’s gut.

(Clash - Weak Hit - Inflict Harm & Pay the Price - It is stressful - Weak Hit - Press On!)

Barndt crashes a fist into Pendry’s head as the poacher slashes his shirt to ribbons. Barndt is gasping for breath, still winded from his combat with the wyvern. Pendry closes in, a mad snarl warping his face, biting for Barndt’s ear!

(Clash - Strong Hit)

Barndt grabs the poacher by the throat and lifts him into the air. Pendry’s daggers drop to the forest floor as he gasps and grabs at the huge fingers enclosing his windpipe.

In a growl like the shifting of stones, Barndt says, “You may be fast, but I am strong. The people of Bearmaw are survivors. You will never cut us down!”

(End the Fight - Strong Hit)

Barndt launches Pendry against the trunk of a spruce. The poacher hits the tree, and sinks to the roots, unconscious. Barndt turns to the other Wolfcrag poachers, breathing hard, his fists clenched by his side. With yelps of fear, they run off into the forest.

(Reach a Milestone… I learned who was controls the wyvern.)

Brandt sinks to his knees. Persimmon noses his wounds, licking and whining. The two crawl to the lee of the trees’ roots.

“I can’t go much further, Persimmon,” Barndt says as he holds the dog. “We will continue at dark, when we can avoid the Wolfcrag poachers.”

Barndt retrieves from a pouch dried fruits and meat. The two companions eat together, and rest as night overtakes the Woodwall.

(Make Camp - Strong Hit! - Recuperate, Partake)

The night is eerily quiet. As Persimmon kicks and growls in her sleep, Barndt seeks out a long, straight branch to carve into a spear. It takes him some time to find a straight, strong branch, and by the time he finishes carving it with a small fishing knife, the forest is nearly pitch black. Small pools of moonlight dot the soil and shrubs.

(I wasn’t quite sure how to handle crafting a spear, so I rolled it as a Resupply move. In reflection, this is just probably something a hunter knows how to do, and wouldn’t require a roll.

Resupply - Weak Hit - -1 Momentum)


“To find the Green Child, we need to find the wyvern. Let’s keep searching for the blood trail.”

Persimmon lays her nose to the soil, zigzagging between the massive pillars of trees. Barndt, blinded by nightfall, follows. This is Persimmon’s world, the hunting hound’s world: scent, sound, a world vibrant yet invisible.

(Gather Information - Strong Hit - Action / Theme - Leave Spirit)

Soon, flickers of green light up the forest. Brandt gazes upwards, and sees huge arcs of light, jagged jade bolts and branches, flickering across the sky. They seem to be emanating from something ahead. Persimmon’s nose leads them towards the source. Brandt grips his wooden spear, ready to face the wyvern’s master.

(I figured the Green Child would be a Mystic, an Ironland NPC, but I didn’t know if the wyvern would be with him or not. I decided to Ask the Oracle. I figured it was likely that at night, the Green Child would have the wyvern nearby. But when I rolled on Ask the Oracle, it came up with No!

I rolled on the Location Descriptor table for the ruins, and got Abandoned. Pretty appropriate for ruins!)

In the flickering green light, the ruins ahead look almost whole. It appears as some kind of stone amphitheater, forged from huge stone blocks. More of the stone blocks litter the forest floor, half-sunk into the mulch. Barndt realizes it is an ancient temple, two walls and most of the roof crumbled away. To build such a thing, from stones so heavy, would take strength unimaginable. The strength of giants!

A child stands at the center of the temple. His hands are raised to the night sky, and green light dances and flickers around him, arcing from the stones to his fingers and up to the stars. Barndt sees figures in the light, illuminated for a bare moment, like forlorn wanderers caught in a flash of lightning. They are giants- the spectral ghosts of giants. They surround the child, there one moment, a wall of stony flesh, then vanished the next.

The child has something in his hand. It is a hunting horn carved from a long, curved bone, perhaps the spiraling horn of some huge creature. Runes glow green along its length. The child is saying something, and with each syllable the runes grow brighter, drawing power from these ruins, from the craftwork of giants.

(Reach a Milestone… I found the master of the wyvern!)

To be concluded...
 

BookTenTiger

He / Him
The Wyvern's Horn, Part 3: The Wyvern's Return

Barndt eyes the ruins, the night sky, the towering columns of trees. He does not see the wyvern. Again his eyes are pulled to the horn glowing in the Green Child’s hands.

Barndt readies his wooden spear. He focuses on the horn and pulls the spear back.

(Face Danger - Miss / Match - Pay the Price - Your action has unintended consequences - Action / Theme - Remove Family.

This Action / Theme roll was astoundingly appropriate and heartbreaking.)

Just before Barndt releases the spear, he sees another figure lit by the dancing green lights. It is a tall, skinny man, dressed in traveler’s furs, tied to a large stone block. The green light drains from the captive, like blood coursing through invisible veins. Even from this distance, Barndt recognizes the man. It is his brother, Bastien.

Barndt's focus is pulled from the horn. His spear clatters into the ruins, far from the Green Child. The boy turns his face towards Barndt, sees the hunter immediately. Like Pendry, the child’s eyes are masked by the green wings of a wyvern.

“Bearmark barbarian!” the child cries. His voice is high, yet lacks any innocence of the youth. “You are a fool to face me alone!”

The child says something in a language Barndt does not understand, a language seemingly inhuman, and Bastien cries out. His eyes flicker open. When he sees his brother, a greater agony pulls at his face.

“Barndt! Run!”

He screams again as the green light pours from his mouth, his eyes, wounds tearing open in the flesh of his arms and chest, light pouring out, arcing through the air, sinking into the horn. The light fades. Bastien’s head hangs. His eyes are open, unseeing. His mouth hangs open, silent. He is dead.

Persimmon howls. Barndt howls. Without thinking, he charges the Green Child.

(Enter the Fray - Miss - Burn Momentum - Weak Hit - Take Initiative)

Barndt reaches for the Green Child, attempting to lift him into the air. The child laughs and ducks. He flicks his fingers, and green arcs of energy catch Persimmon mid-air as she lunges.

(Secure an Advantage - Miss - Pay the Price - a friend, companion, or ally is put in danger.

Companion Endure Harm - Strong Hit - +1 Health)


Persimmon drops, but lands on her feet. She skitters to Barndt’s side, confused as the spectral forms of giants appear again. They fill the ruins, green ghosts pulled through time, standing atop their own graves.

“Ignore the light,” Barndt commands. “Find the child!”

(Face Danger - Weak Hit - -1 Momentum)

Persimmon sniffs the air and charges straight through the giants. Barndt follow, his hair lifting as he passes through the light, his skin singing with static.

The Green Child stands atop the stone block to which poor Bastien is tied. He brings the spiral horn to his lips. Barndt leaps, his arms out, reaching, reaching for the horn, dreading its call.

(Face Danger - Miss - Pay the Price - It is Stressful - Endure Stress - Miss - -1 Momentum, Shaken.

Here, my Stress dropped to 0. I took on the Shaken debility. Poor Barndt!)


It is too late. Barndt scrabbles up the stone block, but the child dances away. His lips purse, his cheeks puff up, almost comically. The night is torn by the low, undulating call of the horn.

In the silence following, there is the sound of wings. Somewhere in the dark, somewhere among the stars, above the treetops, the wyvern heeds the call. Barndt feels the wyvern’s talons already in his flesh. He feels the wyvern’s teeth already in his throat. He is a dead man, in this dead stone temple built by giants. Soon he will join his brother.

The Green Child smiles up at the giant. They both stand upon the stone. Persimmon circles below, growling and whining.

“I can’t wait to see you get devoured,” the child laughs.

The Green Child raises his arms, and ghostly green tendrils sprout from the stones, encircle Barndt’s ankles, his wrists.

(Clash - Strong Hit - Find an Opening)

Barndt reacts without thinking. He steps forward, breaking the spectral bonds, and slaps the child across the face. The Green Child’s eyes go wide, bright within the dark green tattoo. Barndt stand up to his full height. He is a giant, compared to this child, but he is not bound to his service.

From behind, the child hears a deep growl. Persimmon has scrambled up onto the stone. Her lips are pulled back, revealing long yellow fangs. Her orange fur stands on end, grisly in the strange green light.

Barndt raises a massive foot and kicks at the child’s chest.

(Strike - Miss - Pay the Price (companion) - Harmful

I can’t believe I missed this one. I even had a bonus from my doggy companion. Based on the rules of companions, when I’m using a companion ability and I pay the price, the consequences go to the companion.

Companion Endure Harm - Weak Hit - Battered and Cannot Assist

I’ll be honest, I was heartbroken here. I went to bed right after this and fell asleep wondering what was going to happen!)


Barndt hears the wyvern’s scream too late. Suddenly it is there, a flash of green scales, the slap of wings catching the air, the long tail snaking away as it returns to the darkness.

Persimmon is gone.

Barndt hears his hound whining and barking as it is carried away in the wyvern’s talons.

(Turn the Tide.

Okay, Turn the Tide is supposed to be used only once per combat. It’s a special move you can use to regain the initiative. Basically whenever I get a Miss or Weak Hit, it means that the enemy is acting and I’m reacting. When I Turn the Tide, I regain Initiative and get a little bonus, though I put myself at risk because I can take on worse consequences if I Miss.

I’d totally forgotten that I started combat by Turning the Tide. Oh well!)


“No!” Barndt cries out. He stumbles backwards, catches himself before he tumbles over the edge of the block.

The Green Child laughs, “It is said that the giants chained the wyverns, used them to ride the skies. So it shall be again! I am the new master of the temple. I am the master of the wyvern! And I shall be your master too! Surrender, barbarian!”

The temple swirls around Barndt. He sees his brother, tied to the stone at his feet. He thinks of Maroshka, of the hunters who will return to a village ravaged by the wyvern if he fails. He thinks of the child he had pulled from the wyvern’s claws.

“No,” Barndt says.

He reaches down a pries a chunk of loose stone free from the block. He lifts it, swiftly, towards the Green Child!

(Strike - Strong Hit. FINALLY!)

The Green Child’s head whips back. He whirls back, falls from the stone block to the temple floor.

Barndt roars and leaps down. The rock falls, pulled by his weight, propelled by his strong arms, his anger, his fury, his heartbreak.

(End the Fight - Weak Hit

Okay, this was a close one! When you roll to End the Fight, you are trying to beat the numbers rolled on two d10’s with the amount of progress made against your enemy. Basically I had 5 marks against my enemy. So if I rolled 5 or above on the two d10’s, I would fail. I managed to get under 5 on one of the d10’s, which meant a Weak Hit.

On a Weak Hit, you still succeed in ending the fight, and you choose a consequence. I looked over the list and chose Marked for Vengeance. Honestly I felt like I was cheating a bit taking it. I was low on Health, had 0 Spirit… Little did I know it would come into play later on!)


There is the sound of the stone striking flesh. And a resounding clap of stone on stone.

The green light flickers, and fades.

Barndt hears a rustle in the woods. There is a flicker of starlight. Eyes watch him. He hears figures in furs silently stalking back into the forest.

The poachers of Wolfcrag. Barndt has been witnessed, killing the Green Child. He has been marked. Wolfcrag will take its revenge, he knows. But what else does Barndt have left to lose?

(Reach a Milestone - I have killed the wyvern’s master.)

The child’s horn lies on the stone foundation of the temple. Barndt picks it up. It seems a small thing, now, in his great hands. Such a small thing that can hold such overwhelming power.

Barndt cuts his brother free with his fishing knife. He drags the body out of the ruins, and lays Bastien down on the soft forest floor. He would rather his brother feel the embrace of earth, the soft touch of leaves and grass, than the cold, ancient temple stones.

Barndt searches the night sky for the wyvern, for his hound. He sees nothing, hears nothing.

Barndt raises the horn to his lips.

The horn calls out across the ruins. Barndt thinks of Persimmon, and blows again. Somehow he must command this wyvern to return his dog. It is the only piece of his brother he has left, a gift from long ago, an eternal friend in his brother’s absence.

(Compel - Miss - Makes a demand that costs me greatly.

One of the items on my list of milestones was bringing a token back to Bearmark. I decide this is the price Barndt will be forced to pay.)


Barndt hears the wyvern wheeling down from the night sky. He sees only an absence, a shadow across the stars, as the wyvern lowers itself on outstretched wings, and lands, surprisingly delicately, on a great stone arch.

Barndt’s eyes adjust to the darkness. In the starlight he can see the orange body of Persimmon clutched in the wyvern’s talons.

Barndt raises the horn overhead, splayed across both open hands. He steps forward, slowly.

The wyvern barks. Its wings rustle, then pump the air. Its body lifts from the arch, dragged by the beating of its wings. The wyvern reaches forward with a claw and scoops the horn from Barndt’s hands. He feels the talons graze his palms. Persimmon drops to the temple floor.

The wyvern continues to hover, its body bobbing, its tail snaking back and forth. It snatches up the ruined body of the Green Child, then with huge, thunderous wingbeats, lifts upwards. As it rises above the ruins it begins to circle, spiralling wider and wider above the treetops, vanishing into the night.

Barndt kneels down and runs his hands over the body of Persimmon. The dog is unconscious, but breathing. He lifts Persimmon into his arms, gently, as he used to do when she was a sleeping puppy.

Barndt pauses over the body Bastien.

“I love you, brother.”

He leaves Bastien on the forest floor. He knows that by morning the body will be gone, undone by so many scavengers, woven by insects into the very fabric of the forest. Bastien will be in the soil, the trees, the singing birds and wandering bears. As the wind ripples through the branches, the rustle of leaves will be his kind voice.

Barndt walks into the darkness beneath the trees.

(Fulfill Your Vow - Weak Hit.

When I roll a Fulfill Your Vow, I use my number of Milestones as my score. I did not succeed on two milestones- Separate the master from the wyvern, and Bring a token back to Bearmaw. So I only had three milestones as my score!

On a Weak Hit, I gain experience, but my quest is not done. I rolled on the Action and Theme tables to generate an idea. I got Reduce Power. This seemed very appropriate, given the wyvern’s destruction of the Great Hall earlier in the game.)


By the time Barndt emerges from the Woodwall, the sun has risen low in the eastern sky. It is another cold, clear winter day. His heavy breath billows about him, like fog shrouding a mountain.

Persimmon has woken, but remains in Barndt’s arms, too injured to walk.

Bearmark has changed. The Great Hall has been reduced to its stone foundation. The beams that held up the high roof, the logs that made up its walls, have all been taken away. They now stand in a perimeter around the village, ends sharpened.

Crossing the bridge, Barndt sees Cadigan standing with a few villagers. They hold farming tools in their hands, blades raised as if ready for war.

Cadigan’s jaws work at some bitter hern, and he spits on the ground before muttering, “Hunter, you’re not welcome here anymore.”

“What is happening?” Barndt asks.

“The gods have sent us a sign! The Red Widow and her hunters have lead us astray. She leads a pleasure hunt as the wyvern stalks our children.”

Barndt’s body sags with exhaustion. It is a great effort just to summon his voice.

“It was Wolfcrag- they control the wyvern! I slew their mystic in the Woodwall. Let me through!”

(Compel - Weak Hit - Action / Theme - Weaken Weapon)

Cadigan stares at Barndt, his jaws gnashing.

“Hm… the hunter’s unarmed. Stay that way, and you can come through.”

Barndt passes through the village. People avoid him, whispering and pointing. He finds the refuge of his hut, and collapses to the floor before his hearth. With weak hands, he stokes the fire, adds wood, and allows himself to grieve.

Midday, a shadow crosses his doorway. Barndt has been tending to Persimmon’s wounds, and his own. The small hut smells of sweat and blood.

Someone clears their throat. It is Cadigan, with another villager.

(Ironlander Name, Description, Goal - Tallus, Disabled, Find Redemption)

Barndt recognizes Tallus, a village smith who at one time was a legendary hunter. Half his face now bore a terrible web of scars, and his empty eye socket was concealed beneath a leather strap.

The two squat near Barndt and the fire. Cadigan absentmindedly rubs Persimmon between her eyes.

Tallus, his eye on the fire, says, “I hear you fought Wolfcrag in the Woodwall.”

Barndt nods.

“It was they who summoned the wyvern? Do you have any evidence of this?”

Barndt sighs, “I did, but… I lost it. It was a horn. There was a… mystic who used it to control the beast.”

Barndt catches the two elders exchanging a suspicious glance. Cadigan clears his throat, and adds, “As I told you, he reacted strongly to the pain herbs I gave him. He said he was, well, seeing things.”

Tallus shakes his head. His scars shine in the firelight.

“Fighting between the clans is not the way of the gods. For too long Maroshka of Redwillow has tended to the hatred between Bearmark and Wolfcrag, keeping the embers hot, the flames dancing. It cannot last. We must seek peace between the clans.”

Barndt shakes his head.

“You did not see what I did. They seek the ruins inside Woodwall, the power of the giants.”

Tallus rubs at his one good eye. He sighs, “I do not want to hear of magic. I do not care if they are casting spells to make the rabbits talk and the trees sing in the moonlight. I only care about peace, about our people. I am willing to give Wolfcrag what they want, so that our children can be safe from harm.”

“They will want my head,” Barndt says, “for slaying their mystic.”

Tallus nods.

Barndt continues, “And they will want Maroshka as well.”

Cadigan clears his throat, drawing their glances. “This brute saved a girl’s life yesterday,” the old man says. “That’s got to count for something.”

Tallus stands. Looking towards the open doorway and the village outside, he says, “I will let you leave Bearmark unharmed. You and Maroshka are not welcome here. Neither are her hunters. We will find a new way to live, without the need for spears and spilled blood.”

Cadigan pats Barndt on the shoulder as he and Tallus leave.

“Tough break, kid. Give Maroshka my best.”

Barndt sits for a while, silent, his hand on his sleeping hound. With a sudden violence, he takes the iron fishing knife from his belt and buries it into the hardpacked soil floor of his hut.

“I swear I will protect your life, Maroshka.”

(Swear an Iron Vow - Warn Maroshka her life is in danger - Weak Hit)

Maroshka is somewhere out there, following the elk on their long journey through the Hinterlands. Barndt will find her. He will warn her, and tell her all that happened in the Woodwall. It will have been worth it. The cuts on his leg, his injured hound, his brother’s death. It must be worth it. Maroshka will see.

Barndt takes an iron spear from the wall. He picks up Persimmon, who whines pitifully as he sling her over his shoulder.

The hunter walks out of his hut and through the wary village. He is alone, again.

To be continued in Adventure 2!
 


BookTenTiger

He / Him
This is awesome. I just started playing my own solo Ironsworn adventure and came here to see if anyone else had posted a story. So glad you did!
Thanks!

After this game, I did another solo game in which I was essentially a bard negotiating peace between a Giant king and a powerful chieftain.

For the last few months I've been running an Ironsworn game for three friends. Now that's a totally different beast and a lot of fun!
 

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