Castiron Sworn


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This is a solo roleplaying game I’m playing using the excellent (and free!) Ironsworn rules.

This document follows the HTML Journal format.

It is written in non-fancy markdown. HTML is generated with pandoc.

2023-01-01 Truths

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.

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.

Other humans sailed here from the Old World untold years ago, but all that is left of them is a savage, feral people we call the broken. Is their fate to become our own?

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

We live in communities called circles. These are settlements ranging in size from a steading with a few families to a village of several hundred. Some circles belong to nomadic folk. Some powerful circles might include a cluster of settlements. We trade (and sometimes feud) with other circles.

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

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.

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

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

The firstborn hold sway in the Ironlands. The elves of the deep forests and the giants of the hills tolerate us and even trade with us—for now. Ironlanders fear the day they decide we are no longer welcome here.

Monstrous beasts stalk the wild areas of the Ironlands.

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.

2023-01-05 Then

Three generations ago, Constance Copperpot was universally recognized, hands down, to be the finest baker in Dolmenwatch. Possibly in all of south Havens. Until, that is, that fateful day the traveling fair came town and hosted Dolmenwatch’s bi-annual baking competition, and the entire panel of judges dropped dead after trying Constance’s tartberry pie. Accused of poisoning her pastries and attempted murder, she and her family were run out of town and forced to live on their own in the nearby Flooded Lands.

Today, Constance died. And her great-granddaughter, Calliope Copperpot, has just sworn an iron vow to clear her grandmother’s name and restore her family legacy. No matter the cost, no matter how long it takes.

2023-01-10 Burial

Today is the day we throw Connie in the bog.

It’s what we’ve done with our dead since fleeing to the steading sixty years ago. There’s no way you can bury them in the ground here. Not if you expect them to stay where you put em. They’ll eventually just float back up to the surface.

Critter says that’s how you get bog rot. I wouldn’t know, I’ve never seen one. Not sure they’re even real.

So anyway, whenever somebody from the steading dies, we toss them into the bog. That’s what the swamp folk do. And I guess we’re swamp folk now too, so.

Marshwallow the troll lives out that way. We always bring him something shiny whenever we go out that way. If we wait too long between visits, sometimes he wanders into the steading and steals something. But he’s mostly harmless. I pick out one of Connie’s old bracelets for him.

We load up Connie onto a litter and hitch up the mule. It’s Auntie Cass and me and a few cousins. She’s wrapped in a shroud and doesn’t it doesn’t seem like her, not really.

I keep an eye out for Marshwallow when we make it into his part of the swamp. He can be really hard to spot because he looks like leaves and vines, and likes to hide and sneak up on us.

We get to the edge of the bog without Marshwallow making an appearance. Which is unusual but not unheard of. Sometimes he disappears for a few a weeks.

A few of the swamp folk are already there at the bog. I see Critter with them. Auntie Cass says a few words. Connie outlived her own daughter and one of her granddaughters. Cass was Connie’s oldest living descendent. And now she’s the oldest one in the family. Which makes her the Big Mama now.

We unhitch the litter from Astronomer. The cousins tie a few stones to Connie’s shroud and wade out into the bog with her and lower her down.

Does it happen now? 50/50
88 = yes with a MATCH
oh boy

We hang around for a little bit telling stories about Connie. Astronomer starts acting up and getting really antsy.

A man—it looks like a man completely covered in drying mud—comes staggering out from the treeline. The swamp folk start yelling and scrambling. But everybody from the steading, Aunt Cass, me, and the cousins, are all kind of confused. Astronomer freaks out and bolts, and I run after him.

I catch Astronomer’s reigns, and turn around in time to see the mud man suddenly rush forward with unexpected speed and grab one of the cousins. The mud man shoves his fingers into the boy’s chest and the boy doesn’t even scream. I can hear him gasp from here though. Somebody shouts “Bog rot!” and that seems to snap everybody into action.

A couple folks from the steading rush forward to try to pull the thing off the boy, but it tosses them aside. Aunt Cass is frozen in place staring at the bog rot and cries, “Papa?”

I grab a branch and climb up on Astronomer and try to circle around the horror.

Move: Enter The Fray
Bog rot (Dangerous 2/2): [ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ]
5 +shadow = 6 vs 2 10 = weak = +2 momentum
it has initiative?

Astronomer and I come up on the bog rot from behind, but at the last minute is whirls around and lunges at us. I yank hard on the reins trying to pull Astronomer up short of the thing’s claws.

Move: Face Danger
2 +edge = 4 vs 5 7 = miss = Pay The Price

Astronomer rears up. The thing positions itself underneath us, and as Astronomer comes down, it sinks its claws and its teeth into his chest. Astronomer screams and I get kicked off.

I watch as the thing tears into my mule. Frantically I look around to try to find any kind of advantage.

Move: Secure an Advantage
4 +wits +1 (Lorekeeper) = 7 vs 3 6 = strong hit
Make another +1 move

I remember from my studies that the bog has extraordinary abilities to preserve bodies. That must be why this bog rot is still so fleshy. Usually they’re, you know, bones. Like the name implies.

I grab a stone and fit it in my sling and throw it at the thing.

Move: Strike
4 +edge +1 (Advantage) = 7 vs 3 4 = strong hit
+1 harm, retain initiative
Bog rot (Dangerous 2/2): [x][x][x][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ]

The stone cracks against its head and it wails.

Is the boy still alive?
Unlikely: 17 = no
Is the mule still alive?
50/50: 32 = no

I look at the boy and at the mule, at the carnage this thing has wrought in just an instant. In a blind fury, I pick up the branch and rush at the thing.

Move: Strike
5 +iron = 6 vs 2 7 = weak hit
Bog rot (Dangerous 2/2): [x][x][x][x][x][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ]

I swing with all my might and feel the thing’s ribs crunch. It howls and turns toward me, its dark, empty eyes glowing.

Oracle Combat Move
98 = Attack with Power

It leaps at me in fury, unleashing an onslaught of blows. I raise my arms trying to protect my face and chest.

Move: Endure Harm
-2 health = 3
6 +health 9 vs 6 3 = strong hit
Shake it off: +health -momentum, regain intiative

It claws at my forearms and I try to quickly scramble away and try to regroup.

Move: Face Danger (to get out of reach)
6 +edge = 8 vs 7 5 = strong hit
+1 momentum

I roll out of the thing’s reach and load another stone into my sling and take careful aim.

Move: Secure an Advantage
2 +wits = 5 vs 3 1 = strong hit
Make another +1 move

I let the stone fly.

Move: Strike
4 +edge +1 (Advantage) = 7 vs 4 4 = strong hit with MATCH
+1 harm
Bog rot (Dangerous 2/2): [x][x][x][x][x][x][x][x][ ][ ]
Oracle Action Theme = Advance Truth
Gonna bank the Match for a moment because I have an idea for it later

It connects with its head again and seems to crack its skull. It stumbles and falters and falls to one knee. I drop the sling and run at it, screaming in pain and fury. I scoop up the branch on the way and raise it above my head in both hands.

Move: End the Fight
8 Progress vs 6 1

I bring the club down on the horror. It feebly reaches up and tries to claw at me but I swing and bat its hands away. I bring it down again and again until it stops moving. I drop the club and fall to the ground, heaving and crying. My forearms are torn. The boy is dead. The mule is dead.

Cass steps forward and kneels beside me. At some point she unstuck herself from where she was rooted. She rolls the horror over so she can look at its face. It is beaten in, but well preserved by the bog. Again she asks, “Papa?”

One of the swamp folk comes over and pulls her hands away from it. “That’s not him, cherie,” he says. “Not anymore.”

2023-01-15 Family Tree

At the time of Burial the year is 1284. Calliope is twelve years old.

2023-01-20 Castiron Vow I: Constance’s Legacy

Just because the Copperpots have lived in exile for over three generations doesn’t mean they’re not still the best bakers and chefs in the whole southeast. Truth be told, with access to new ingredients found in the Flooded Lands, their recipes have only gotten better over time. It is said that the finest Copperpot ales and sodas even have restorative and healing qualities.

Calliope is a young woman armed with several kitchen knives including an oversized meat cleaver that could sever an arm with one swing, and a large spiked hammer used for tenderizing meat. Handily, most creatures and villains are made out of meat. She has a cast iron skillet, a large stock pot, and other tools of the trade. With extensive knowledge of herbs and spices (Herbalist, Alchemist) and armed with her Great-Grandmother Constance’s cookbook (Lorekeeper), Calliope is ready to find out what really happened that fateful summer day. Somebody set Gramma Connie up. And she’s going to find out who. And why. She clutches her skillet in both hands and vows, “I will clear our name, Grandma. I will avenge you, and restore your legacy. On iron, I swear it.”

2023-01-25 Castiron Vow II: Cleansing of the Bog

Twelve years ago, Constance Copperpot, the killer pastry chef of Dolmenwatch, died; Marshwallow the swamp troll and his worthless hoard of shiny baubles all vanished without a trace, never to return; and the dead started rising from the funeral bog as bog rot and started terrorizing the steading and the scattered swamp folk who live in the area.

A bunch of soulless monsters driven only to destroy the living would be bad enough. To add insult to injury, these ones just happen–thanks to the bog—to be perfectly preserved family members and loved ones.

Subsequently a lot has changed over the last dozen years. Now there are piked walls and night watch patrols and curfews. Funeral rites and rituals had to be changed overnight. Whereas before the dead found earthy watery rest at the bottom of the bog, they are now burned on funeral pyres, their brittle bones systematically crushed with a ceremonial iron hammer used only for that purpose, lest they too get up and start walking around trying to extinguish any and all life they come across.

Twelve years ago, Calliope Copperpot wasn’t even a teenager when she used a simple sling and a tree branch to destroy the first of the bog rot of Copperpot Steading. A bog rot that wore the face of her grandfather, Batup.

Today the scars from that battle are still visible on her forearms as she holds her great-grandmother’s castiron skillet in both hands out in front of her at chest height. “Today I am as old as my mother was when she died. And today I leave the steading and I will not come back until I have found a way to purify and cleanse the bog. When I return, our dead will be able to rest easy once more. On iron I swear it.”

Move: Swear an Iron Vow
3 +heart +1 (bond) = 6 vs 5 6 = weak hit
you are determined but begin your quest with more questions than answers.
Take +1 momentum, and envision what you do to find a path forward.

2023-02-10 Trollfen

Listening to:

META: changed all references to bonewalkers to bog rot, a new horror from the Delve supplement.
They are the perfect monster for this story.
It's like they were custom written.

All of this started that day years ago when Grandpa Batup rose up out of the bog on the day of Gramma Connie’s burial. I have more questions than answers, but I know that my journey starts here.

The only other thing that was really memorable about that day, you know, besides the whole rising of the undead thing, was that that was the day that Marshwallow the swamp troll went missing. Maybe that has something to do with all of this.

Maybe the swamp folk would know something about it. Too bad the swamp folk don’t really exist any more. Not in the same way they did back then. Most of them reluctantly moved inside the walls of Copperpot Steading. The ones that refused were mostly wiped out. One or two wild, feral bands still live out in the swamp with the bog rot. But they can be just as dangerous these days.

Maybe Critter knows something. We’ve been friends since we were children.

He tells me about Trollfen, a keep deep in the bog below a mound of mud where the trolls sometimes retreat. If Marshwallow is still around after all these years, he’s likely to be there.

We're going to use the Delve rules to *DISCOVER A SITE* and create Marshwallow's hiding place.
Name: Trollfen
Objective: Find out what happened to Marshwallow
Theme: Wild
Domain: Tanglewood
Rank: Troublesome - 3 Progress / Area
Progress: 6/40
01-27 | Very Common | Deep Rat
28-41 | Common      | 
42-55 | Common      |
56-69 | Common      |
70-75 | Uncommon    |
76-81 | Uncommon    |
82-87 | Uncommon    |
88-93 | Uncommon    |
94-95 | Rare        |
96-97 | Rare        |
98-99 | Rare        |
00    | Unforseen   |

Deep in the bog is a mound of mud the size of a ziggurat.

doing a *DELVE THE DEPTHS* move +wits
4 + 3 = 7 vs 3 10
weak hit: roll on the table
100 (!!) = mark progress twice and *REVEAL A DANGER*
65 = You face an environmental or architectural hazard

As I cross the bog, I get get trapped in some quicksand mud! I start to sink into the mud. I quickly try to gather my wits and try to remember what I learned about about quickmud.

4 +3 +1 (lorekeeper) = 8 vs 4 4
strong hit + MATCH
I going to take a +1 forward to FACE DANGER
and +1 momentum from lorekeeper.

I remember not to struggle or waste energy by trying to swim my way out of the quickmud. Instead I lean backward and try to float on my back to increase my surface area, and kick my feet up.

4 +3 wits +1 advantage = 8 vs 10 6
weak hit: -1 momentum

I eventually kick my way over to the edge of the quickmud and haul myself up onto (relatively) dry land, gasping and heaving.

I hear a clacking of stones.

I look down and spot a tiny pebble golem looking up at me. A small pile of tiny stones stacked up into a vaguely humanoid shape. It would fit in the palm of my hand.

The rattling of stones was it jumping up and down and clapping.

“Um, thank you?” I manage.

It pumps its tiny rocky fists in the air and then holds its arms up to me.

I reach down and pick it up. “Hello there,” I say. It nestles into the warmth of my hand and becomes a loose puddle of pebbles. “Aren’t you a cute little fella? Do you want to come with me?”

The pebbles crawl up to my wrist and loop themselves around me, forming a rock bracelet.

“Okay then! Away we go!”