I have decided that Ironsworn really isn’t for me. I didn’t like that my character felt helpless at everything, and that dice rolls prevent what I had been hoping to be light diversionary quest legs into meandering, obstacle-filled trudges. I’m sure there’s a way to play it well, but until I have a chance to watch some videos/find some AARs, I think I’m going to step back to D&D inspired party roleplaying for a while.
In this session, I’ve decided to roll up a party of Epees & Sorcellerie characters and explore a dungeon generated entirely through Mythic.
Also, I’m going to apologize right off the bat for some truly horrendous switching between past and present tense. I write these up in the wordpress editor as I play, and depending on the pace of the game during a particular session (these usually take 3-5 days to play through), I may accidentally get swept up in what feels right, only to come back the next day during a placid scene and forget I was doing present tense for the adventure. Please forgive me.
I started by discarding any PC with a total score of lower than +0, since I figured they would be unlikely to choose the adventuring warrior life.
Bruge, W1. S10 D12 C8 I6 W9 C7. HP: 4/4. AC 12 (none). AT: battle axe (+2 hit, +2 dmg) or bow (+3 hit, +2 dmg). Inventory: dagger, blanket, ration. 10 gp. Goal: harm/illusions (all about tearing down the veneer of civilization).
Josue, P1. S9 D9 C7 I4 W11 C8. HP: 6/6. AC 10 (shield). AT: hammer (+1 hit, +1 dmg). Spells (2): healing, sanctuary. Inventory: holy symbol, scripture, dagger, blanket, ration, torch. 9 gp. Goal: procrastinate/enemies (standing alone against an unspecified threat).
Hallada, P1. S4 D9 C4 I9 W12 C7. HP 4/4. AC 10 (shield). AT: mace (-1 hit, -1 dmg). Spells (2): healing, detect magic. Inventory: holy symbol, scripture, dagger, blanket, ration, lantern. 8 gp. Goal: overthrow/pleasures (a real wet blanket).
Silene, W1. S8 D7 C10 I8 W5 C9. HP: 8/8. AC 9 (leather and shield). AT: sword (+1 hit, +0 dmg) or crossbow (+1 hit, +0 dmg). Inventory: dagger, blanket, ration, lantern. 7 gp. Goal: travel/portals (wanderlust, insatiable curiosity).
The entrance hall. Low and quiet. Litter fills the dank chamber. Corridors stretch off, east and west. A tall bronze door stands before them. They head west into the darkness.
What do they find? usurp/the spritual. A site of some profane ritual. Are there still people here? +1: yes. Is the room large? +0: yes.
The tunnel emerges into a smoky room, lit by fires blazing in a set of braziers in the corners. An altar, something obviously wrong, rises from the north end of the room.
Reminder: You can find links to every one of my solo session game reports on my Campaign Logs page.
Q. Is there anything more than cultists here? -1: no. How many? 1d4: 4. Gonna be a tough fight. Reaction: 5, bad. Surprise: 2, they are surprised. My party is not since there was bright fire in the room. What magic do they have? release/attention. How many can they reach (d4-2): 0.
Cultists: HD1 (6, 2, 2, 1 hp), AT+0 (dagger), AC 7, MV 4, Special: on a hit, victim must save or be gripped by dark thoughts (-1 to hit next turn).
Note: Combat in E&S is made by rolling 2d6 at the same time as an opponent. If the higher roll is ALSO greater than the opponent’s AC, it’s a hit (d6 damage). If it is equal, then the opponent is staggered (-1 to hit and +1 to be hit next round). If the two combatants roll the same number then one of them loses a weapon!
Four robed figures huddle around the altar. Josue charges in, the rest behind. Silene fires her crossbow [12, hit, 5 dmg, target 1d4=1] and it sinks deep into the side of the middle cultist. He hisses but does not go down [1 hp left]. Black blood steams up in the smoking air.
Next round the battle is joined. Silene gets one last shot in before the melee (3), but she has to jerk her crossbow aside when Bruge steps in the way. The bolt strikes the ceiling. Bruge swipes at the wounded cultist, who leaps back with only a taunting jab of his own dagger (both miss). Josue strikes the first blow in melee [7+1 vs 4+1], sinking his hammer into a screeching woman for (5+1) six damage. She sinks immediately. Hallada joins the fray, but her blow is too slow. The cultist turns it aside and steps forward with the dagger, although she catches it on her shield (8-1 vs 8+1, but it’s lower than Hallada’s AC).
Silene drops her crossbow and draws her blade. Josue wades forward, beating a swath through the cluster of sorcerers even as he damns with a holy battle cry (9+1 vs 8+1, hit for 4 kills). Bruge misses badly, and only his heroic reflexes save him from a vicious cut (2 vs 11+1, stunned!), but he goes stumbling to his knees. Hallada and the third cultist batter at each other’s weapons, but to no avail (both miss). The cultists look at each other and sing a song that makes the party’s skin crawl. It sounds like an invitation to death (pass morale).
Silene steps up, sword drawn, and sinks her blade into the side of a distracted cultist (8+1 vs 7, hit for 5). The downed woman screams as she realizes that she is slain. The final cultist stares at them and laughs. He lunges for Bruge, but the mighty man can’t get his axe up in time to block as his feet stumble on a slick patch of stone (10+2-1 vs 11+1, hit for 3 damage). The dagger sinks deep into Bruge’s chest. The man coughs, drops back, as the others close around him and batter at the impossibly fast sorcerer.
Silene doesn’t let the battle go on any longer. She steps forward and strikes the man, hard, with the butt of her blade (10+1 vs 6+1, hit for 2 damage). The side of the man’s skull caves in at the heavy blow.
The party stands, panting, trying to catch its breath. Hallada heals Bruge’s wounds with a prayer (+4 hp = full) as Silene explores the room.
What does the altar look like? ruthlessly/amusing. Do they find anything valuable in the room? -1: no, but…lots of mundane stuff
A corpse lies on the altar, twisted into an obscene shape and its face stuck in a rictus grin.
The party finds [4d6=] 18 gold pieces in the robes of the cultists. In a far corner, sacks and barrels lie stacked against the wall. They are filled with food, water, blankets, rope, candles, and other sundries. A handful of bedrolls are laid out nearby.
How many exits? d4-1: 1. What is the space beyond like? dimly/heavy. What does it lead to? Persecute/attention. A watch tower.
A door behind the altar leads into a low, dark space.
What is in the watchtower? develop/the spiritual. Is it the master cultist? +1: yes, but…he’s dead. Is the thing that killed him here? +0: no, +event. Event: NPC Action – Overthrow/Evil.
The party ascends the stairs and find themselves in a room with arrow slits overlooking the valley beyond. A priest in ornate robes, dead by his own hand, lies against one wall. The party looks out the window. Sunlight glints off armor–a band of holy knights is riding up the road, flying the flag of the Hierophant.
Josue spits on the sorcerer’s body.
Bruge looks out the window, sees the approaching army. “We should go,” he says.
“We’ve nothing to hide,” Hallada argues as she pokes through the detritus that clutters the chamber.
Bruge laughs and shakes his head. “I’m gone before they arrive. You should be, too.”
Do they have time to search for traps and search the room before the knights arrive? +0: yes. Are there any traps? -1: yes, but…it’s easy to find (difficulty only 7). Wisdom rolls: 10+2, Hallada finds in (I won’t keep rolling).
They search the room quickly, but with a careful eye. The priestess Hallada finds a box amongst a [mistrust/military] ruined pile of long-rotten leather armor and rusted swords. She pulls it out, and nearly opens it before she notices the secondary catch beside the hinge. She slips it into her bag. There will be time for it later.
Are there any other exits in this room? +0: yes, 1d2=2. Doors? +0: no, no.
Silene points east. “We can got that way. Maybe find something worth taking on the way out.”
Bruge shakes his head. “We should go.”
They both look at Josue, [Does he have any sway with the men coming? Unknown = 6, very unlikely. -2: no] who sneers and just says, “Northern heretics.” He’s not going to be much help.
How far are they from town? minutes/hours/days=days
Silene curses but moves toward the door. “Waste of a walk. A handful of gold and some stupid trapped chest.”
“You’d rather have the crusade?” Bruge asks. Silene doesn’t answer. They make their way out and slip into the hills before the army arrives.
Do the knights enter the dungeon? +2: yes, and…they set up camp
The knights set dismount and enter as men-at-arms surround the fortress and begin digging in. The party watches for a few hours, but it becomes clear that the ruin will be empty by the time the knights leave. Seeing little reason to risk their lives, the party decides to leave.
Do they know of any sites nearby? +0: no
Grumbling, they break their camp from where it hid in a small gully and make their way overland to the road, a few miles away.
Darn! I was really hoping to get to explore that dungeon, but that oracle roll about the dead cultist and the Overthrow/Evil seemed pretty definitive to me, and I just didn’t think a crusading army would have much chance of sharing a dungeon crawl with a team of adventurers.
Are the roads dangerous? -2: no, and…the army is patrolling. Reaction: 8+1 = 9, friendly.
Late in the day, the road winds through a narrow gully. The way around leads far astray, and everyone is eager to put the disappointing expedition behind them. Silene leads them through. When they are deep in the gully and without cover, a group of armored men step around a bend in the road far ahead. Nowhere to go. The party tests their weapons but approach calmly.
A sergeant in charge sees them and approaches. He notes Josue’s and Hallada’s holy symbols and asks, “Here to make trouble?”
“Only if it finds us,” Silene says.
The man takes that well enough. They’re let through.
Any other encounters? -2: no, but…one when they get back to town. What? PC Positive – Passion/Enemies. The soldiers know they helped kill cultists.
Even the town looks like an army camp. Soldiers are standing on guard, beside small groups of the brown-sashed city guard. Horses are picketed in the fields on either side of the road.
The party move forward into town. As they approach the gate, a soldier steps out. “You four–stop. You were at the temple?”
The party halted. They glanced at each other.
“Could it be anyone else? Look at this big lug.” He stepped forward and slapped a fist onto Bruge’s shoulder. “Word came back from the front. A group of adventurers, leaving the temple–and a bunch of dead demon-freaks inside. Happy to shake your hands–saved us some damn trouble, tell you what.”
He forced each of the four to shake hands with him as he reiterated his thanks.
Does the leader want to see them? +1: Yes. For a mission – reward – both? Both.
“This way. The captain wants to see you.”
There was little choice but to obey in the impromptu army camp. They were led into the city and into a two-story stone house by the walls. They went upstairs, where an [perfectly/lacking m/f? male] foppish nobleman in resplendent military uniform sat beside an open bottle of wine.
“These are the four?” he asked the soldier. The man nodded and stepped back outside, leaving them alone with him.
“I wanted to give you my thanks,” the man said, rising. “My name is Captain Barssus, and you’ve done us a bit of service. Five cultists, is what the runner said, and it looked like the lot of them were in the middle of trying something pretty hinky.”
“Actually, four,” Hallada said. “The fifth was–” but the priestess didn’t get a chance to finish as Silene elbowed her in the ribs.
“The fifth was the worst of the lot. Some kind of real sorcerer, maybe,” she interrupted.
The man shuddered. “Rough work. Anyway, the Hierophant’s servants are due their reward. Here.” He handed them a bag with [1d6x10 gp each = 20] 80 gold pieces inside. Silene took the coins for the group.
“But there’s more coin, if you can spare the time,” he said.
“Lots more coin, I hope,” Bruge said.
What’s the mission? failure/benefits. A supply wagon went missing.
“It will be worth your time,” the captain promised. “A supply wagon went missing on the way here. A lot of His Worship’s men and goods were on there. We need it found. A hundred gold pieces–each–if you can find out where it went.”
“Done,” Silene said. They shook hands. There was work to be done.
They split the pouch of coins between them as they headed back into town [+20 gp each]. They took rooms at a nearby tavern.
“Don’t drink too much,” Hallada warned them. Bruge sighed. Silene said, “You’re not my mom.” Both drank too much.
In the morning, they paid for room and board and asked the tavernkeeper to make them a wrap with two days’ worth of rations inside [-1 gp for room and -2 gp for rations each]. The woman packed them healthy sacks of stout bread and dried cheeses and they set out on their way.
Is there a locksmith in town? Unknown=+1, it’s a reasonably large town, but not a city. Is there? +1: yes, and…he’s good.
“We’ve got to get that box open, see what we risked our lives for,” Silene said as they prepared to leave the next day. “I think I saw a locksmith by the west gate.”
They traveled there and found a withered man sitting behind a tall desk. They dropped the box in front of him and showed off the trapped hinge.
“You can open it?” Silene asked.
“Sure,” the man said. “‘Course. [Cost? d6xd6=36 gp. Dang.] But it’s going to cost you. 36 gold for the trick.”
“You want to open it yourself? Risk a needle and a long, shitting death?” The man grinned and showed off a mouthful of missing teeth.
Silene grimaced. “Open it,” she said.
They waited as the man went to work with fine tools. A few moments later, the box popped open with a soft click.
Is there treasure inside? +2: yes, something very/quaint. A small bauble only, worth d100=35 gp. Dang again!
They crowded around the box. Inside was a tiny golden brooch of moderately skilled craftsmanship. It was the kind of thing a well-to-do farmer would give a wife for a dear anniversary. Not worth much.
Will the locksmith take it in trade instead of the fee? +1: no.
“You want it?” Silene asked.
“What do I need a brooch for? My wooing days are done. I’d prefer coin.”
The party grumbled but paid up [-9 gp each] as Hallada pocketed the brooch. Everyone agreed that she would be the least likely to wear it.
At this point, since I have now discovered the value of recovered treasure, I will distribute experience points. The party killed 4 1hd creatures (worth 100 exp each) and discovered a 35 gp treasure (coins owned by humans don’t count), for a total of 435 exp. I’ll round up and give everyone 109 exp.
Business concluded, they set off through the western gate in search of the missing wagon.
How far is it? 1d3x6 hours = 12 hours of walking. Encounter check (1:6): none, none. Do they find the wagon? +0: no + event. PC Negative – fight/weather, a monster encounter!
The road west of town was quiet, still, and they made good time as they went. As the late summer day wound down, storm clouds gather overhead. They draw nearer as the party rises into the wooded hills. Finally, they close overhead. Lightning flashes. Thunder roars.
And then something else roars. A massive bird plummets out of the sky before them. Its screech rattles their bones as it swoops down to the ground. Lightning slashes the darkness, strikes the bird along a shining ridge that runs down its back.
Thunderbird. HD3 (7/7 hp). AC 8. AT: +1. MV: 1/6 (fly). Special: Charged – anyone who hits the bird in melee must save or get -1 to hit and -1 AC next round as its electricity pours into the attacker.
Fighters and monsters of 2nd level and above can make attacks against a number of HD of enemies equal to their own HD total. For example, a 3rd level monster can attack 3 level 1 characters or a level 2 + a level 1, but not 2 level 2s.
The bird’s screech alerts the party and their weapons are drawn before it lands [no surprise]. They charge in, weapons swinging for the beast, but it leaps into their midst and buffets them down. Long claws rake across Silene’s chest, nearly dropping her [5 damage]. Josue tries to intervene but is knocked backward and takes a painful fall [1 damage].
Hallada rallies the party with a cry of prayer. Warm light falls on Silene and knits her wounded flesh [+3 healing, 6 hp left]. Bruge charges forward, encouraged by the priest’s support. He swings his axe low, beneath the bird’s beak. It comes up in a long arc and buries itself in the bird’s neck [lucky hit for 7 damage kills it, but he fails his save]. He jerks backward and drops the axe as a surge of static electricity courses down through the handle of his weapon and jitters through his arms.
Anything of note on the bird? -2: no, but… the fight allowed them to notice something
The bird lies dead before them. Josue steps forward and helps Bruge up as Hallada examines Silene’s wound.
“I’ll be fine,” the warrior-woman says.
“I know,” the priestess answers, but she checks for bleeding anyway. Silene’s about to protest that she’s fine again when Josue calls for them.
“Something was dragged through here,” he says. He points to a long patch of ground. Deep ruts head off the road.
Is the wagon nearby? +2: yes. Are the thieves still there? +0: no.
They stalk into the brush. Bruge leads, silent and comfortable beneath the trees. Silene thinks she hears him growl occasionally. They find the wagon a few hundred yards away. It’s been tipped over, stripped bare. They circle it, but see no signs of movement.
Is anything of value still in the wagon? -2: no, and… even the wheels have been stripped
Silene whistles. “They stripped it clean. Who would do this? And where are the guards?”
“We’ll find out,” Bruge says. “They went that way.” The trail heads toward a dark hill that rises above them. They follow it until the ground’s gentle incline becomes a sharp cliff. There, tucked dark between the rocks, lies the black mouth of a cave.
Now that’s more like it! An exciting adventure with some combat, some near-death, and some progress, and a deep dark cave to explore as soon as I can get a little free time. Hopefully this weekend. I must say that I’m loving the E&S ruleset so far, although I was a little skeptical about having the ability to get a level 1 character to 13 AC right off the bat by handing Bruge a shield instead of an axe. I guess my hubris nearly got him killed!
- Thunderbird = 300 exp
Hallada, P1 (109 exp). S4 D9 C4 I9 W12 C7. HP 4/4. AC 10 (shield). AT: mace (-1 hit, -1 dmg). Spells (1/2): healing, detect magic. Inventory: holy symbol, scripture, dagger, blanket, 2 ration, lantern, brooch (35 gp value). 21 gp. Goal: overthrow/pleasures (a real wet blanket).
Bruge, W1 (109 exp). S10 D12 C8 I6 W9 C7. HP: 4/4. AC 12 (none). AT: battle axe (+2 hit, +2 dmg) or bow (+3 hit, +2 dmg). Inventory: dagger, blanket, 2 ration. 22 gp. Goal: harm/illusions (all about tearing down the veneer of civilization).
Silene, W1 (109 exp). S8 D7 C10 I8 W5 C9. HP: 6/8. AC 9 (leather and shield). AT: sword (+1 hit, +0 dmg) or crossbow (+1 hit, +0 dmg). Inventory: dagger, blanket, 2 ration, lantern. 20 gp. Goal: travel/portals (wanderlust, insatiable curiosity).
Josue, P1 (109 exp). S9 D9 C7 I4 W11 C8. HP: 5/6. AC 10 (shield). AT: hammer (+1 hit, +1 dmg). Spells (2): healing, sanctuary. Inventory: holy symbol, scripture, dagger, blanket, 2 ration, torch. 21 gp. Goal: procrastinate/enemies (standing alone against an unspecified threat).