Ironsworn — Marien the Woods Witch 1

Well, it’s been a long time since I’ve done any solo roleplaying, and even longer since I’ve written up enough to post. I’ve been playing Ironsworn on my latest vacation, though, and thought that the intro to this adventure was worth recording. Please forgive the long intro without a lot of rolls–I couldn’t figure out how to easily get the main character into the adventure without some background. The amount of text-to-mechanics levels out a little later.


Name: Marien, woods witch

Stats: Iron 1, Heart 2, Wits 3, Edge 1, Shadow 2

Momentum: 2 (max 10, reset 2)

Resources: Health 5, Spirit 5, Supply 5

Experience: 0


  • Sighted—When facing danger or gathering info regarding mystic forces, +1 and +1 momentum on hit
  • Bind Ritual—Bind the strength of an animal to you in a nighttime ritual
  • Divination Ritual—Use a ritual to Gather Info, Compel, or Forge a Bond

Bonds 0.3:

  • The women of Thornfall Wood’s communities
  • Gult, a local trader who comes to her for herbs
  • Vigo, another healer from a distant village


  • None yet

Description: Marien is an old woman, a woods witch, known throughout the region, feared by many but come to by pregnant women and the sick.

Inventory: rune stones, dagger, staff

Game Write-Up

New Scene

What is my inciting incident? Cursed Past. A friend from long ago comes to Marien, pleading for help to heal a curse. Who is the friend? A weary healer, Vigo.

“Marien.” The voice came through her door late, but Marien was not asleep. She rose, stretched her bad hip, crossed the small cottage. She opened the door and let in the cold forest night.

A man stood there, small and cloaked by shadow. Behind him stood a pair of horses, but she could see no other rider. Marien reached for the candle on the nearby table, brought it out, held it up. She peered at the man outside. Finally, she nodded. “Vigo.” She gestured into the living room and stepped aside.

The man came in and sagged onto a cushion before the fire. “It’s taken me a long time to find you.”

“I haven’t moved.”

“It’s been a long time since I’ve been in Thornfall.”

Marien tilted her head.

“It’s good to see you. Us old ones should stick together.”

“What do you want, Vigo?” She moved to the fire, put a kettle on to boil.

The man hesitated. “I need your help.”

Marien scooped a handful of crushed leaves into a cracked teapot. “I took you for the sort who could help himself, who wouldn’t have need of an old woman.”

Vigo hissed. “I have no need of old women. I have need of Marien, the witch of Thornfall Wood.”

“What need?” 

“A curse.”

“A curse?” Marien paused, looked at the man.

“A curse. My hetman’s child. A boy—seven years old. Beyond my skill. He’ll die, if the gods be good. Unless you can help.”

Marien turned back to the tea. “What are the signs?”

“Shakes. Spittle. Frothing. Gone dumb. And now he sleeps,” he snapped, “like that. A vivacious boy, before. Strong, like his parents.”

Marien took the kettle from the fire and poured the tea into the pot. There were a pair of clay cups on a shelf; she took them down and poured. They sipped at the tea; the man winced, put his back down.

“Why do you think I can help, if it’s beyond your skill?”

“You’ve always cared for children, Marien. Always been better with them. If it were the hetman…” Vigo hesitated. “Adults are stronger, or simpler. But with children…”

Marien bared her teeth. “It’s an art.”

Vigo nodded his head. “They can pay.”

“They’re rich?”

“Well enough.” He looked around the cottage. “You’ll come?”

“I’ll come,” Marien said.


The trip to Vigo’s village took three days. Marien was ushered into the hetman’s house, brought before the man.

“You’re the healer?” the man asked.

“I’m a healer,” Marien replied. “Marien, of Thornfall Wood.”

“I haven’t heard of you,” he said.

“Are you of Thornfall Wood?”

The man grunted. “I am Mattick.” He gestured to his wife. “This is Tulla. Our boy…our boy is there. Sick, of a sudden.”

Marien crossed to the bay he indicated. The space was warm, close to the fire. A boy lay there, pale and thin. She touched his arm, shook him. His eyes opened, but they stared lifelessly ahead. She turned back to the hetman.

“This is foul magic, or the will of the gods.”

“Or?” Mattick asked.

Marien nodded. “Or. I can stop foul magic. I cannot bend the will of the gods. Have you a priest?”

“Many,” Tulla interjected. The woman rose. She was tall, powerful. A warrior’s wife—strong as the oak. She crossed to her boy, touched his forehead. “This is magic. You must heal our Deshi.” She turned, lowered her eyes. “Please.” The last, just a whisper.

“You know the laws of the wood?” Marien asked.

Tulla and Mattick looked at Vigo. “I have told them,” Vigo said.

“It’s settled, then,” Marien said. She walked out of the longhouse and into the frigid evening air. The others followed.

The bent, grabbed her dagger, scooped a handful of soil. She took a pinch of the earth, stuck it in her mouth. She offered another pinch to Mattick, and another to Tulla. Both accepted it, chewed it. All three spat into the depression that Marien had carved.

“I will heal your boy, if it be possible,” Marien said.

Tulla began to cry.

Swear an Iron Vow: 4+3w = 7 vs 6/9. Weak hit. +1 momentum, but no idea where to begin. New vow: Cure the Cursed Boy (dangerous).

“This is not the time for tears,” Marien said. “It is the time to act. I will need your help.”

“What can we do?” Mattick asked.

“I need a deer.”

“A deer?” Mattick echoed.

“The pelt. Fresh. And its blood, in a bucket. Tonight.”

Mattick glanced at his wife. Her eyes were wet, but her face was hard. She nodded. “You’ll have it,” he said.

Secure an Advantage: 4+3w = 7 vs 4/7. Weak hit. +1 momentum.

Night came quickly. Marien was sitting on the floor of the longhouse, stirring a pot of herbs over the fire. The boy lay behind her, listless. Mattick entered. She looked up, saw his face.

“You didn’t find it?”

His face fell. “The woods are bare,” he said. “All our hunters… But we have a pelt from a few days ago. But no blood.”

Marien frowned, held out her hand to be helped up. The hetman pulled her to her feet. “Better than nothing,” she said. “Outside.”

The villagers were waiting outside. She passed them without a glance. She slowed only long enough to catch the eye of a young warrior, holding a folded deer skin in his arms. She crooked her finger and he followed.

They went out into the fields, beyond the borders of the village. She took the skin, laid it out on the tall grass. “Leave me,” she said, “and stay away.”

The warrior left. Marien was alone in the night. The moon rose. Marien lifted the pelt, laid it across her shoulders. She moved slowly in the moonlight, and then faster. Her dance became strong, and then her voice began to rise in the stillness. Quiet at first, and then louder. Her ululating song split the night. And as the moon passed its zenith, she screamed the scream of the dead deer—

Bind Ritual: 6+3w = 9 vs 2/10. Weak hit. Success, but endure 2 stress. Heart +1 until a 1 is rolled on a heart action die.

Endure Stress: -2 spirit (3 total). 3+3w = 6 vs 7/10. Miss. -1 momentum.

—and its spirit bound itself to her, and she saw the open plain and she ran, ran like she hadn’t run since she was a young girl, alone and carefree and in the company of the mysteries of the wood.

Then morning came, and the woods witch came walking back into the camp. Mattick met her at the edge of the village. “It’s done?” he asked.

“It has only just begun,” Marien said. “Gather your wife and son. Now we read the signs.”

She shut them into the longhouse as the morning sun rose higher. Just the father, the mother, the boy, and Vigo. Vigo huddled in the corner, chewing on his thumb.

Marien crouched beside the boy, plucked a handful of knucklebones from a purse at her belt. In the other hand she drew her dagger. She pointed it at the boy’s mother. “You,” she said. “Blood.”

The woman swallowed, looked at Vigo. “Trust her,” the old healer said. Tulla stretched out her hand. Marien swiped her blade across the woman’s palm. Tulla hissed, snatched back her hand, but Marien put the dagger away and grabbed her wrist.

“Open,” she said.

Tulla’s hand opened. Blood welled in the palm, dripped down. Marien caught the blood on the knucklebones, let it seep around them, and then she released the woman’s wrist.

She threw the bones.

Divination Ritual: 2+3h = 5 vs 4/8. Weak hit. +1 bonus to Gather Information, -2 momentum.

For a long time, Marien was quiet. Eventually, Mattick coughed. “Well?” he asked.

She did not turn. She pointed to the door. “Out,” she said. “All of you.”

They looked at each other, but each eventually filed away, leaving the old woman to read the blood and the bones.

Gather Information: 6+3w+2 (for the bond with Vigo and divination) = 10 (max) vs 8/9. Strong hit! +2 momentum and a clear path forward.

Marien emerged into the afternoon light. Tulla and Vigo rose. Mattick was already up, pacing. They turned to her. “Well?” Vigo asked. His face was hopeful.

What must she do? Deliver/Home. She must fetch something. Is this sickness a result of a curse or poison? 50/50: Curse.

Marien nodded. “It is a curse—one that I can cure. But it will not be easy. Your boy will need powerful magic, hetman.”

“Anything you need from me,” Mattick said.

Where must Marien go? The Rich/Hill where they Fortify/Barrier

“Your boy is weak, and growing weaker. I must go north, to the softlands, where they have an herb that can help him fight this.”

“That will…that will cure him?” Tulla asked.

Marien shook her head. “We are far from that. But this will help keep him strong until we can. I need a horse.”

“You’ll have it,” Mattick said, “and an escort, if you want it.”

Marien waved a hand. “I have no need of iron.”

“Does my boy survive if you do not?”

Marien tipped her head. “Send a man, then. But make him a quiet one. We leave before dawn.”

Sojourn: 4+3h = 7 vs 1/9. Weak hit. Consort for +2 spirit (back up to 5).

The hetman nodded. “You’ll have our best. Now, come. It is evening, and you’ve given us hope. We feast tonight, and will raise a toast to your success. Come.”

Marien went.

Milestone Reached: I think that discovering a next step on healing the boy will count as the first milestone. Since this is a Dangerous vow, I get to mark 2 progress. Four milestones to go, if I want to be virtually guaranteed of succeeding.

New Scene

They rose early, before first light. The warrior was waiting, holding a pair of horses at rein. He offered her a short nod.

“What’s your name, boy?”

“Morell,” he said. He bent low, offered her his hands to mount the horse.

She batted his hands away. “I’m not that old yet, boy,” she said. She climbed on and turned toward the north.

Mattick came close, laid a hand on her horse’s neck. “You know the way?” he asked.

“I’ll find it,” Marien replied.

Mattick nodded and stepped back. Marien urged her horse forward and the young warrior followed. She did not look back.

New Activity: Travel North to the Softlands. Dangerous. 0.0. 6+3w = 9 vs 10/9. Another miss. I’ve been getting HAMMERED by these rolls. We are waylaid by a perilous event: Attack/Memory. A rival clan sees Morell’s shield and decides to attack. Are they ambushed? 50/50: yes.

“Careful,” Morell said after a few hours. “We’re entering Clan Whitewolf’s territory.”

“Who are you?” Marien asked.

“You don’t know?”

She shrugged. “I don’t really care. Just passing the time, boy.”

“Oakheart,” he muttered. But before she had a chance to respond, a spear whistled from the tree line and thudded into the earth before them.

Face Danger using Wits to see if Marien reacted in time: 1+3w = 4 vs 9/10. Miss! The pair are separated (that was fast).

Marien’s horse reared beneath her. She fought to keep her seat, grabbing tight to the reins as the panicked beast bolted.

“Oakheart!” a voice from the woods shouted. Three men charged out of the woods, mounted on shaggy, white-haired ponies.

Morell dragged his horse into line, drew his axe, pushed it forward to meet the charge. “Run!” he cried to Marien, and then he screamed his clan’s name plunged into the battle. Marien turned, watched the fight, but her horse was mad with fright.

Does it plunge into the woods or down the road? 50/50: Down the road.

The horse’s long strides carried her far, and she was beyond the riders before they reached the road. One turned, looked after her, but then Morell was on them, swinging his axe and shouting a battle cry.

The horse slowed to a trot a few minutes later. Marien leaned forward, patted its neck. She looked around. It was quiet. She pulled the horse to a stop, turned it around, stared back down the road. It was quiet. She paused and took a deep breath, then turned away and headed up the road.

Undertake a Journey: 4+3w = 7 vs 8/10. Miss. My god, this is bad luck.Pay the Price: It is harmful (2 health).

The afternoon slowly faded to evening and the air grew chill. Marien pulled the deerskin pelt tight around her shoulders. As the sun set, the biting wind roared down from the mountains and cut across the road. The pelt did little to keep out the frost, and Marien could feel it burn her skin where it was exposed.

Endure Harm: 2 damage (3 health left). 2+3health = 5 vs 5/5. Miss + Effect. -1 momentum. Effect: Suppress/Defy.

Marien looked at the road ahead. The wind bent the tops of the heavy trees. The end of the road was lost to darkness. She cursed the road and looked around.

Can she see any cave to shelter in? Unlikely: 87, no.

The road wound down into a narrow valley, but the walls were smooth and plain in the darkness. She pulled the horse’s reins and made for the trees.

Secure an Advantage – Find a place to camp: 1+3w = 4 vs 7/8. Miss. You fail or your assumptions betray you. She can’t find a place to camp. Pay the price: It is stressful (2 stress, 3 spirit left).

Endure Stress: 6+3spirit = 9 vs 4/10. Weak hit. Press on.

The horse followed her lead to the thin copse of trees, but there was nowhere to stay there. The pines were thin and did little to keep out the cold. Marien climbed off the horse and huddled down on the leeward side of the tree. She tried to light a fire but the blustering wind stopped even that small comfort. She huddled close to the horse and allowed herself to weep.

Wrap Up

That’s it for this section. Marien’s quest is star-crossed. The curse clings more heavily to the boy than she had thought. It’s going to take help—or the work of the gods—to turn this around. From a player’s perspective, this has been incredibly frustrating to have promising roll after promising roll broken by bad luck. We’ll see how it goes!

Name: Marien, Woods witch

Stats: Iron 1, Heart 2+1, Wits 3, Edge 1, Shadow 2

Momentum: 2 (max 10, reset 2)

Resources: Health 3, Spirit 3, Supply 5

Experience: 0


  • Sighted—When facing danger or gathering info regarding mystic forces, +1 and +1 momentum on hit
  • Bind Ritual—Bind the strength of an animal to you in a nighttime ritual
  • Divination Ritual—Use a ritual to Gather Info, Compel, or Forge a Bond

Bonds 0.3:

  • The women of Thornfall Wood’s communities
  • Gult, a local trader who comes to her for herbs
  • Vigo, another healer from a distant village


  • Cure the Cursed Boy, Deshi – 2.0 – Dangerous

Description: Marien is a woods witch, known throughout the region, feared by many but come to by pregnant women and the sick.

Inventory: rune stones, deer pelt, dagger, staff

2 thoughts on “Ironsworn — Marien the Woods Witch 1

  1. It’s good to have you back Charles. I’m also aiming to get a lot more gaming done this year than I did last year.

    Sometimes you just can’t avoid a lot of background detail. My latest adventure runs to 9,319 words because of it. And if it’s well written then it’s interesting to read.

    1. Thanks for checking in! I’ve stayed interested, just haven’t had as much time for it all as I’ve hoped, or I’ve only had the time to play some half-hearted games that aren’t worth the write up. Hoping things are changing for the nearby future at least!

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