The last few days I pretty much fell into a Rimworld shaped hole, spending every moment not doing chores or family time staring at meeples running around having tantrums or trying to keep flu-sick Iguanas alive.

But no more!

To take bit if a break, I tried to sit down and actually start the solo game I've been bubbling in my head the last few weeks.

The premise is that it's a story of the first Ironlanders-to-be, fresh from the Old World, trying to make a new home here in this strange and dangerous land.

Some of the world truths still work (old world, mysticism, religion) and others can work if you're OK with predefining what these Ironlands are like (I'm not), but if I ever find the spoons I'd love to try and write set of world truths focussed on the particular experience of the first generation.


- "Numbers": Small group in a single boat or a whole fleet?
- "Unity": Are you already one people? Or are the refugees from many disparate cultures, strange bedfellows thrown together by danger and circumstance?
- "Crossing": What happened on the way here and how has it shaped you?
- "Time": Did you just step off the boat, taking your first steps on new land? Or have been here a bit and have started making a home?
- "Mood": Are you hopeful, eager? Or do you look at these harsh lands and see only bleakness and despair?

For this solo game I'm going for a mix of my earlier musings (Ancestors-as-stars worshipping people fleeing persecution and forced conversion) with a "fresh off the boat" experience.

After a crossing filled with storms and disturbing visions, a small vanguard of refugees have arrived at new land, hoping to make it safe, hoping more will come.
Our merry(?) heroes(?!?) have found shelter in a deep bay, lined on one side with caves open to the see. In the future, they hope to build a town in this bay, fish in these waters, but for now, its hammocks and tents and spelunking these caverns to see if they are actually safe here.

Ironsworn Solo Game 

So, today I finally sat down and (mostly) finished my character for this:

Meet Morien, a warrior who gave up fighting for the old world after loosing prett ymuch everybody and realizing the only hope for her people lie in a new land, far from their enemies.

She is accompanied by Sendra, her offspring and last remaining blood relative. (Who is a skilled companion but I haven't yet decided in what.)

I envision Morien as a grizzled vet who has just seen ... so much. Very much Done With The Old World. Her last driving force is trying to make this place in a home for her family and for her people. (Helloooooo, epic Background Vow!)

For Bonds I'm thinking Sendra (duh) and the people of the Vanguard. She might not have known them before, but after that Crossing, a bond seems fair.

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

Assets: Companion (Skilled), Veteran, Sighted

Ironsworn Solo Game 

I figure the game starts right after finding and landing in this bay.

After days of sailing the craggy coast looking for a suitable place to land and seeing only steep cliffs and sharp rocks, they come upon a bay cut into the cliffs, lined with caves and strips of flatter ground.

The see goes deep enough into the caved to shelter their ship and they do so for the night, as the outside is battered by a freezing rain. As they hunker down, they hear strange noises from within the cave and their lantern light reveals higher, drier parts beyond the caves mouth.

And beyond: darkness.

Morien decides to investigate, lest they get ambushed in the night. She swears an Iron Vow to make sure that this cave is safe for us.

Since this is just a small thing for now, I decide to give it rating of Troublesome and roll for it.

Action Roll: 6 +1 Heart +1 for my bond to the Vanguard I get an action rating of 8

Challenge dice: 6 6

Ironsworn Solo Game 

Bam, that's a Strong Hit on Swear an Iron Vow, giving me +2 Momentum. Also it's a Twist, but kinda drawing a blank on this for now. I'll table that for now and continue with this after I get .

Ironsworn Solo Game 

I actually continued my game a while ago, but didn't have the right moment to get it all from my notebook into a digital form.

So, we left Morien right after she swore a quick vow to "Make those caverns safe for us." I didn't actually know what was in those caverns yet beyond "strange noises", but I imagined that there were a couple of clear probably milestones for that vow:

1. Check out the caverns and see whats there.
2. Clear or negotiate with any denizens of said caverns.
3. ???
4. Profit.

For the first part, I modelled the whole thing as a Delve: Rank Troublesome, Domain is obviously "Sea Caves", but the Theme...

I didn't feel like deciding this since I had no idea what was in there, so I just rolled a random Theme and got "Fortified". Oh oh...

Oh well, off I go to see the caverns.

Ironsworn Solo Game 

Rolling a Stong Hit on Delve the Depths +Wits, I find an opportunity. To see what the place is like I roll on the Theme/Domain Oracle and get "Shipwreck or Boat".

Since this is an opportunity it's something that's supposed to be potentially helpful. I envision the character creeping deeper into the cave along a narrow, dry ridge besides the channel of sea water that's filling the cave mouth. As the cave gets deeper, it also gets wider and there's evidence of worked stone: openings to niches for storage or defense, things that might have housed barricades or torches, but it's all old and weathered.

Then the cave opens up and any last hope of this being just a cave falls away: Before Morien is a great, roughly circular underground bay open to the sea through the cave mouth I entered from. The edges have been worked and partially built up into a hidden harbor.

There's even a ramp serving as dry dock, and there it sits: A ship of unfamiliar design.

Ironsworn Solo Game 

Ok, at that point I was still kinda hoping for "Hey, maybe that's just some ancient ruins and the cavern is only inhabited by, like, some animals or whatever.", since I really wanted to have a quick base for our intrepid vanguard to head out on expedition from.

Alas, the dice had other things in mind. Since I had no idea about what this boat meant, I Asked the Oracle about it.

"Is the boat old?" (50/50): Nope, not old.


In hindsight, here I should/could have hung around some more and gathered information, but I figured the fact that the boat is not hugely ancient would be kinda obvious and also I suddenly felt quite exposed creeping alone through what turned out to be a secret inhabited underground base.

So I scuttled off, now trading +Shadow for my +Wits on Delve the Depths.

Rolled a Weak Hit, which (rolling on the table for Shadow) meant I could choose: "Make Progress" or "Find an Opportunity".

Chose the former and rolled the next Feature: "Command Center or Leadership" 馃槺

Ironsworn Solo Game 

So I envision my character creeping along and finding more and more evidence of habitation: Oil Lamps dimmly lighting the stone corridors, rough, strange noises that might be speech farther down, etc.

But hey, so far I was still undiscovered and even my Weak Hit meant that I got to check progress, so I was actually doing pretty well.

I hadn't yet journalled this command center or leadership, in fact I hadn't yet encountered anybody, so I Asked the Oracle if I could see the Denizens of this place there. (Likely) Dice said yes.

So envisioned coming to the entrance of a larger cave/hewn room, lit by a big brazer and huddled around it, standing or sitting on threadbare carpets, were various figures.

Sooooooo, time to decide who ... or what ... those figures were.

Ironsworn Solo Game 

As always, I could have just *decided* what was in there, but that didn't feel asinteresting as rolling for it and *discovering* who these people were, so I grabbed a bunch of oracles and got to work.

I started with rolling two "Themes" and "Actions" on the respective Oracles and see if anything catches my inspiration.

(These are generally verb-noun combinations that can denote stuff like goals and so on, at least in a vague-freeform-associate-y way, so it seemed like a good start.)

I rolled <8> and <5>, which could give me "Impress" or "Construct"; and <1> and <8>, which could mean "Fellowship" or "Direction".

Combining that, "Construct Fellowship" sound interesting and could mean a bunch of things (Are they potential allies? A conquering Hive Mind? Let's see!), so that's what i went with.

Ironsworn Solo Game 

Next, I rolled a series of "Ask the Oracle" questions to narrow things down.

Are they Human? (likely): No.
Are they from the Ironlands? (Likely): No
Are they from the Old World? (50/50): No
Are they hostile/dangerous? (50/50): No
Do they know we (=the Vanguard) are at their doorstep? (Likely) Yes
Have our people encountered these beings before? (50/50) No

Ok, so, they are not human, they are not from here and they are not inherently hostile or dangerious, but they are strange to us. Oh, and they know we are here. Yay. XD

I then rolled on the Table for "Character Descriptions" to get a better idea what they are like and got "Armed", "Stern", "Oppressed" and "Old".

I interpreted that as: they, as a people, are older than humans, and that they oppressed might mean they are also refugees, kinda like us. It really seemed like these might be potential allies, if we manage to actually communicate somehow. "Stern" I figured as "low affect, low tolerance for bullshit" and "armed" meant weapons.

Ironsworn Solo Game 

But to make sure and not just interpret too much into those results, just because I was hoping for some allies, I rolled on the "Character Disposition" tables. Since they knew we were here, I thought I should roll to see how they feel about us.

Two rolls netted me "Curious" and "Desperate" and pretty much cemented my image of a group of beings in very similar situation to our group: Potentially refugees, definitly strangers in this land, sitting in what they thought was a safe space only to find a ship filled with armed humans sitting at their door.

So now they are interested and wanna know more about us, but also super worried.

I envisioned the beings around the brazier as being in heated (for them) discussion, arguing about what to do about us.

Playing it a bit meta, at this point I kinda hoped for a peaceful resolution to this whole thing, so I wondered if I could just *talk* to them.

Have they been to the Old World? (50/50) No
Do they speak a language I speak? (Unlikely) No



Ironsworn Solo Game 

So here I am, sitting in a shadowy hiding spot at the entrance to strange, inhuman beings command center, watching them having what might be a heated discussion in a language I absolutely can't understand. While being armed.

I see a bunch of them (Like a dozen), but I have no idea if there are any more. So, back to the mission: Mapping the cavern. Finding out more about these strangers comes later.

At this point, after a Strong Hit and a Weak Hit, my Delve progress is at 6, which gives me a pretty good chance of Finding my Objective, but I wanna make sure I get it, so I Delve the Depths a third time.

And I roll <4> and <9>, vs an action rating of 3: Miss. Shit.

A miss on Delve the Depth means encountering some kind of Hazard, in this case most likely discovery through the beings. I do NOT want that to happen at this point, so I decide to burn Momentum, cancel the <4> and get a Weak Hit. Rolling the Table I get "Make Progress", which brings me up to 9.

Time to Locate the Objective.

Web 1 0 1

Ironsworn Solo Game 

So, I roll to "Locate my Objective" and get a <4> and a <7>, which, compared with my Progress of 9, gets me a Strong Hit.

Since my goal was more information about the layout of these caverns, I envision how I find a room filled with books, scrolls and stuff, and there I find a map, annotated in incomprehensible, geometric script, but clearly depicting the tunnels I've traversed so far and more.

The beings must have been here a while and drawn that map as they themselves have investigated the caverns.


Ok, not that I've grabbed the loot, it's time to get the fuck out of here. This means rolling "Escape the Depths", in my case +Shadow since I'm still trying to stay hidden. My Shadow is +2, the Strong Hit on Locating the Objective allows me to take a +1 and I roll a [3], so my Action Rating is 6.

For challenge dice I roll <3> and <7>, which means I get a Weak Hit: I find the way out, but must pay some kind of price.

Ironsworn Solo Game 

I could get hurt, leave something important behind or the creeping through the tunnels could have hurn my spirit, but I choose that there is a new complication: My theft is quickly discovered and angers the beings. I imagine any further contacts will be harder and diplomacy will be more difficult.

I envison sneaking towards the ocean, but angry shouts rise behind me and so I run, loosing my way and coming into a partially flooded tunnel. As I splash deeper, the water rises, until I have to dive. Luckily, there is dim light ahead as the tunnel opens to the bay, a bit off from the cavern mouth.

I break the surface, gasp for air and shout for my people to cast off as they pull me abord.

We are not alone and they are not happy.


Aaaand that's my first Delve done. Definitly a milestone in my "Make these caverns safe for us" vow, so that's three progress there, and I got the map and know a bit more about what's in there.

Time to decide what to do now, but that's for later.

Ironsworn Solo Game 

Ok, getting back to this in the hope of, eventually, reaching the point where my game, and the tweets about the game, are not too far apart.

Last time, I finished the Delve, found out that nice-looking cave was actually a fortified underground base inhabited by strange non-humans and proceeded to steal a map from them. Yay me, I guess.

I then thought it would be a good moment to get some more information before deciding what to do next.

On the meta level, it felt time to actually narrow down what these people looked like. So far, I mostly knew that they are stern peoples, well armed and, as a people, old. I also knew they were oppressed, desperate, so refugees of some kind.

But refugees from where? I got out the Delve oracles and decided to roll up a site name. Ended up with "Cut of Elder Wrath", which apparently is a mine. ("Cut" was rolled on the Mine table.)

Ironsworn Solo Game 

Delve also has some other nifty oracles for creating Monsters, which I figured would be a useful way to generate features that would mark the People of the Cut as not-human.

Rolling a bit I got "Hybrid (Animal)", "Spikes/spines" and "Tentacles/Tendrils". I also decided that they should have Extra Limbs, because I like it. (And they are "armed", after all. Ha, I'm hilarious.)

So putting that together, I imagine the People of the Cut as generally humanoid in body shape, but with an extra set of arms, maybe a bit smaller, coming out of their their torsos.

Their bodies are long and slender, towering above humans at almost 3 meters.

Spines of various lengths cover their head backs and upper arms, with smaller spikes on parts of their lower arms, legs and torsos.

Their faces are mostly flat, with big eyes, no nose and a wide, thinlipped mouth. They breath (and smell) through sets of small tentacles growing amongst the spines on the side of their heads.

Ironsworn Solo Game 

Their faces are pretty immobile, giving them, for humans, almost no readable facial expression. What humans do with their faces during communications, they do with gestures if their secondary arms and hands.

They are armed with spear-like polearms and wear elaborately woven systems of skirts and draped cloths.


Ok, so, cool, now we know what my character saw in that command center: Huge spiky stick-people, leaning on long spears, standing around a brazier and talking (seemingly) calmly while their secondary hands gesticulate wildly.


Soooo, what now?

As Morien reports to her people what she saw in the caves and they examine the map she stole, I feel like this calls for a Gather Information roll. Maybe we can learn something from the map or maybe one of the other members of the Vanguard knows something about these beings.

(Even if they, themselves, have never been to the Old World, maybe somebody met them elsewhere.)

Ironsworn Solo Game 

Taking my with of +3 and my +1 from the Bond I have with the Vanguard, I roll:

[4] vs <3><1>

Wow, that would have been a Strong Hit even without my score. Cool.

A strong hit on Gather Information means that I "discover something helpful and specific" and that the path I must follow is clear. Also +2 Momentum, yay!

Since I still wanna try for a peaceful solution and trying to negotiate with people without a shared language is a bit of a pain, I envision that one of the others has heard about similar beings from one of the Western Traders. Supposedly they'd met them in one of the cracks at the center of the world "digging for time", whatever that's supposed to mean.

The traders claimed to have talked to them and even traded with them, mentioning that they were especially after metals in any form.


Ok, that sounds like a good place to start. So maybe we can talk to them in the language of the Western Traders?

Do I know that language? (50/50) No.


Ironsworn Solo Game 

Ok, fuck it. Since the oracles are against me here and I've yet to decide on an Expertise for my Kindred companion, I decide that Sendra was apprenticed to a group of fartravelled traders and knows the language.

That way, I can call on their expertise in negotiations and stuff.

Cheap but whatever.


So Morien is thinking, trying to come up with a plan on how to approach these beings and make things safe, because she really wants to stop searching for another spot to build a home. While she's thinking, the others of the Vanguard are discussion amongst themselves.

(And I use that as an excuse for some oracle work to see how my community things about the situation and how my theft changed the disposition of the people of the cut.)

Rolling for the beings, I get "Wanting" and "Unfriendly", which makes sense.

Rolling for my people, I get "Threatening". Ok, neither side is happy and people on my side are making dangerous noises about making taking things by force.

Ok, time to put this on pause and go somewhere, but I'm almost at the point where I stopped the last time, so I think I'll continue the game tonight and see what happens next.

Ironsworn Solo Game 

Soooo, since I finished what felt like a nice first gaming session of today (except that it took, like, multiple days of gaming spreak over a few weeks), I probably should finished the play report here, right?

Ironsworn Solo Game 

Sooo, last time, we learned a bunch of stuff about the beings inhabiting the caves. (Which my character has taken to calling giants, because they tall.) Tall, thin, spiky, 4-armed, oppressed, stoic, ...

We also learned some tale about them trading with the Western Traders for metals, so that's the newest plan:

1. Approach them peacefully and with just my char and her companion, unarmed, to try and make contact.

2. Hope that the tale is accurate enough that these giants actually speak Western Trader.

3. Be non-threatening enough that they don't just murder us.

4. ???

5. Success!

This will be run as a "Scene Challenge", as rules construct in Ironsworn that's basically an extended conflict against a 4 box countdown: You only make "Face Danger" and "Secure an Advantage" moves hits on the former mark progress on the challenge, weak hits and misses mark countdown.

Countdown full, you roll Challenge Dice to see if you get your goal.

Ironsworn Solo Game 

So, I set up the Scene Challenge, give it a Rank of Dangerious, since theoriginal Delve and Vow were troublesome and I figured pissing them off didn't make things *easier*.

Morien then strarted things of carefully: Lets try to Secure an Advantage for the negotiation by collecting metal tools for trade, build a small raft so that only the negotiating characters have to approach the cave so as not to look like an attack, etc.

I figured I was being safe, rolling +Wits, my strongest stat, for being clever and careful.

[5]+3=8 vs. <10> <10> Miss with a Twist

Foiled by a 1% chance of a roll. Bummer. So, no advantage, I check one of the Countdown boxes (3 left) and there's a Twist, meaning things get more complicated, dangerious etc.

Since I made my roll after completing the preparation, as Morien was broodily staring into the ocean, unable to sleep before a mission, it was pretty obvious: Peaceful negotiations are off the table for now.

Ironsworn Solo Game 

Rolling some oracles for inspirations, I get "The real enemy is revealed" on the "Plot Twist" oracle and "A person or community you care about is put into danger", so I envisioned a night ambush: Some of the giants were spooked/careful/pissed enough that they didn't want to wait and see what we'd so and just ambush us at night.

Swim over, board our ship, club us to death, problem solved.

But I'm still in the Scene Challenge and I figure a single miss, Twist or not, shouldn't be enough to invalidate that. So peace is still on the table, although now it might be a peace by way of war. Bummer, but what can you do.

So, I envision Morien getting lucky and randomly avoiding a giants cudgel before all hell breaks loose. She calls to arms, ambush is foiled and now it's on.

Ironsworn Solo Game 

The nice thing about Ironsworn (and many pbta games, really) is that "Face Danger" (and similar moves) is a really versatile move. So,being suddenly faced with spiky giants doing unexpected violence, I can still do Face Danger to progress the Scene Challenge. Only now I do it +Iron, since I'm trying not to die a lot. :)

[4] +2 = 6 vs. <3><9> Weak Hit

Ok, we're mostly back on track: Head unclubbed, some progress was made (ambosh foiled, people rallying), but at the same time, I'm still being attacked by the spiky giant.

<insert darkly lit depiction of struggle here>

Ok, this sucks and I wanna see what actually happens around me. Since I'm a old-ass veteran, I figure I can rely on my expertise and skills to try and keep my distance from the giant and get a sense of what's actually going on on the ship. So I face Danger again:

[5] +3 = 8 vs. <6><6> Strong Hit with a Twist


Ironsworn Solo Game 

So, a Twist on a hit means an opportunity, a way things get more interesting, but in a positive way. (Also I mark Progress on the Scene Challenge, where I'm now at 4/10.)

So I envision that I manage to send my attacker overboard and out of the way for now (turns out 4 arms and being very tall makes some giants a bit unbalanced) and, when I get the chance to look around, manage to spot a giant who seems to be the leader of the raiding party.

(Also my people seem to hold their own against the raiders so far.)

But, he's on the other side of the ship, fighting two of my people... And one of then is Sendra; my Kindred! DRAMA!!!


So, if I manage to get over there without him noticing or being clubbed on the way, I could try to jump him and maybe force him to call off the attack.

If I get there...

Trying to sneak up on somebody is defenitly +Shadow and since my main goal is to jump the leader (*cough*), I figure this is Secure an Advantage.

[6] +2 = 8 vs. <1><5> Strong Hit!

Ironsworn Solo Game, fictional violence 

A strong hit on "Secure an Advantage" gives me a choice:

I can either take +2 Momentum to representing things going my way in general, or I can immediatly make another move and take +1 on that.

Since I'm now at Momentum 4 and I figure Momentum 6 isn't all that useful, and since I have a very concrete goal here, I take the latter, rolling for Face Danger +Iron to do some violence, in the hope of stopping more violence.

So I envision Sendra and the other guy keeping the giant busy, defending themselves against his twin cudgels, me crossing the ship, trying not to get caught in any fights, and then...

[5] +2 +1 = 8 vs. <3><4> Strong Hit

Morien manages to kick the giants legs out from under him, he drops a club to steady himself (and even on his knees he's still almost as tall as my character) and then she grabs him, knife to the throat. Shouts for Sendra to tell him to surrender, which after a moment he does, and the noises of fighing slowly die down.

Ironsworn Solo Game, fictional peace talks 

Ok, time to take stock: I'm now at 6/10 progress with 2/4 countdown boxes marked.

We have a bunch of prisoners, but we're still far from peace, really. (And while six progress give me ok odds for some kind of hit, I really want a solid, strong hit here.)

So I continue with the Challenge and envision the next morning. The Vanguard has figured out how to bind spiky giants with six limbs and the worst wounds are patched for now. Somehow nobody is dead yet, so unless infection sets in we got really lucky. (The one giant that went overboard might be dead, or might have swum home, who knows.)

Time to have a chat with the leader. I figure he's bound somewhere off the rest of his people, so Morien call Sendra over to translate, carrying a wrapped bundle with her.

Even sitting the giant giant goes to her chest and he looks at her without moving a muscle.

Ironsworn Solo Game, fictional peace talks 

"I am Morien, of the people of the stars. We are not your enemies."

Sendra starts translating as Morien adds "...or at least we don't want to be."

The giant gazes from Morien to Sendra and back, but beyond that no reaction. Some movement in the lower hands, but that's probably just flexing to test the bonds.

"We have come far, seeking shelter and safety from people who want to kill and enslave us, when we found your caverns. We did not know you where there and when I realized it, I worried for my people. Out of that worry, I stole from you, and for this, I apologize."

Here, she opens the bundle and take out the map, putting it in front of the giant.

"Take this as a gesture of good faith."

And here, she quickly cuts the restraints binding the leaders legs and lower arms. Stunned silence, before the shocked guards grab for their weapons. Morien waves them off.

"I am Morien, of the people of the stars. I am not your enemy"

Ironsworn Solo Game, fictional peace talks 

Ok, so, system-wise, this is defenitly a time to roll +Heart, which is used for, well, basically everything social. Which is, amusingly, my weakest stat at +1.

Sooo, thinks can still go very FUBAR fast, but I figure I'm still pretty safe. Also, I can use Sendras expertise as Kindred to get another +1, so there's that.

Lets roll to see how well my emotional appeal works.

[5] +1 +1 = 7 vs. <1><8> Weak Hit

Ok, I'll take it.

After a long look at his hands, the giant starts talking, the sounds of Western Trader strangely accented even to Moriens untrained ears.

Sendra translates...

"Their name is Hakra, second of ... the freed ... the freed cutters, I think? They want to know what we want"

Well, that was a start.

Since this is a weak hit I mark one Countdown box (3/4) but also Progress (8/10), which gives me a pretty good chance for finishing the challenge with a Strong Hit and getting my goal.

Ironsworn Solo Game, fictional peace talks 

So, I roll the Challenge Dice (2d10) and compare those with the Progress I have made so far:

8 vs. <7><5> Strong Hit

Fuck yeah. So, I get my goal, which was peace with the people of the caverns, and (at least temporary) use of caverns, until my people can build their own shelter.

This allows me to mark Progress on my "Make sure the caves are safe" Vow, putting me at 6/10 and since I'm pretty done with that plotline, I try to Fullfill my Vow now, even though it's a bit risky.

6 vs. <2><4> Strong Hit

Yay, I fullfill my vow, get to mark XP (1 XP for the Vow being Troublesome) and I also mark progress on my background vow, since this is the first step towards building a home for my people here. (1 Tick, since the background vow is Epic. This will take a while.)

All that bookkeeping done, time to write the epilogue...

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