Man, oh man, I think the freely available Ironsworn game is going to rock your solo rpg play world! You should definitely check it out! Here is the background for my character that I’ve created so far. I haven’t actually rolled a single die yet, but I hope to tomorrow or the next night. (Note that much of the first text is taken directly from the Ironsworn rulebook and worksheets that are freely available for download on the Ironsworn website.)
You can also check out the Google+ plus community for Ironsworn.
TRUTHS OF THE IRONLANDS
THE OLD WORLD
The Old World was a fertile paradise, as told by the elders, until the Dragon came. Some say it burst forth from the earth and others that it dropped like a meteor at night, but either way, it grew and ravaged the land to suit its own ends. Nothing could harm the beast, and so our people were driven past the sea where the beast would not follow.
Quest Starter: Decades ago, the exodus ended. Since then, no ships have sailed here from the Old World. Until now. Word comes of a single ship, newly arrived across the vast ocean, grounded on the rocks of the Barrier Islands. When you hear the name of this ship, you swear to uncover the fate of its passengers. Why is it so important to you?
Inscrutable metal pillars are found throughout the land. They are iron gray, and as smooth as a 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 not even the sharpest blade can mark them.
Quest Starter: Your dreams are haunted by visions of a pillar which stands in an unfamiliar landscape. What do you see? Why are you sworn to seek it out?
Before man, before even the firstborn, another people lived here. Their ancient ruins are found throughout the Ironlands.
Quest starter: Miners uncovered an underground ruin. Thereafter, the people of the settlement are haunted by strange dreams. The ruins call to them, they say. Several have disappeared in that dark, ancient place—including someone important to you.
We are few in number in this accursed land. Most will rarely have contact with anyone outside our own small steading or village, and strangers are viewed with deep suspicion.
Quest Starter: In the dead of winter, a desperate man arrives at a snowbound steading. He is wounded, hungry, and nearly frozen to death. His family has been taken. By whom? Will you brave the merciless winter to save them?
Leadership is as varied as the people. Some communities are governed by the head of a powerful family. Others 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.
Quest Starter: You have vivid reoccurring dreams of an Ironlands city. It has strong stone walls, bustling markets, and a keep on a high hill. And so many people! Nowhere in the Ironlands does such a city exist. In your dreams, you are the ruler of this city. Somehow, no matter how long it takes, you must make this vision a reality.
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 and protect their own as best they are able.
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?
Magic is rare and dangerous, but those few who wield the power are truly gifted.
Quest Starter: You have heard stories of someone who wields true power. They live in an isolated settlement far away. Who told you of this mystic? Are they feared or respected? Why do you swear to seek them out?
A few Ironlanders still make signs or mumble prayers out of habit or tradition, but most believe the gods long ago abandoned us.
Quest Starter: A charismatic Ironlander, calling himself the avatar of a long-forgotten god, has amassed a following of hundreds of devotants. What hold does this man have over his flock, and what does he seek to achieve? Why are you sworn to stop him?
The firstborn have passed into legend. Some say the remnants of the old tribes still dwell in deep forests or high mountains. Some insist they were never anything more than myth.
Quest Starter: Someone obsessed with the firstborn wants to find evidence of their existence. This will require an expedition into the far reaches of the Ironlands. What is your role in this mission?
Monstrous beasts stalk the wild areas of the Ironlands, none so imposing as the Great Wyrm of the Old World, but we are wary and keep our distance.
Quest Starter: A prominent Ironlander is consumed with the need to bring vengeance upon a specific beast. What makes this creature distinctive? How did it earn the wrath of this Ironlander? Do you seek to aid this person in their quest, or act to prevent their blind hate from destroying more than just the beast?
We are wary of dark forests and deep waterways, for monsters lurk in those places. On a moonless night, when all is wreathed in darkness, only fools venture beyond their homes.
Quest Starter: You bear the scars of an attack by a horror. What was it? Are those scars physical, emotional, or both? How do you seek to make yourself whole again?
TRUTHS OF BATAAR
My name is Bataar Jarak, and I am a shepherd. Was a shepherd. Will be a shepherd again. I grew up in the village of Redheather on the edges of the Deep Wilds. It was my duty to guide the sheep and goats out to the plains of the Havens during the days for grazing and return them safely to their pens each night within the protective treeline of the forest. Havens? By the old gods, that’s a mockery! They are not safe lands. Giant feline beasts hunt the plains at night and raiders travel swiftly over the verdant hills by day making it even more dangerous than some of the haunts within the Deep Wilds. So, for the past twenty years, I have guided our small flock like my mother before me.
Years ago, when Mother still taught me to shepherd, we came upon a huge iron pillar whose face was as smooth as ice. Mother approached it cautiously but in awe. “You see, child,” she said reverently. “There is yet power in these lands. The Great Wyrm did not take all from us.” As she neared the standing stone with outstretched hand, blue specks of power began churning outward from the iron towards Mother. When her hand connected with the power, she gasped in joy and then fully touched the stone. “Bataar! My son! You must see!” she called out. In awe of what I saw, I moved towards the pillar of iron and lightly rapped it with my staff before touching it with my hand a moment later. The blue motes churned faster, infused into my staff, joined with my hand, and caused my vision to turn azure.
Slowly my eyes adjusted to the brightness, and I saw a village, no, something greater, a fortress with children laughing and playing, men and women bustling about an open air market in friendly trade, and food overflowing. Oh, the food! Children did not have time to play in Redheather, let alone partake of such fare right in the open streets. Where was this fabled land? In the vision, I turned and saw a man overlooking the whole scene with benevolence in his eyes and a slightly curved staff in his hand. The staff glowed blue with many icons and runes of power, but it was the wolf that caught my eye, right at the top of the staff. The man turned to me and somehow I knew that I was looking in a mirror. This was me!
The vision quickly faded, and I was filled with a sense of joy that I assumed mother had felt as well. “Mother! Oh, mother!” I started to say, turning around, but I she had fallen backwards away from the rock. A small trickle of blood flowed from the side of her head as she lay on the ground which would have been disturbing enough had the wolf not been standing over her body with a growl on its lips. I stumbled back from the savage animal and waved my staff in front of me expecting it to attack, but it did not. It continued to growl, but did not move. That was when I noticed the bloodied leg.
Think quickly, I said to myself. What does the wolf want? Gathering my wits, I looked about. And where is its pack? It appeared much darker outside now, as if much more time had passed than the mere thirty seconds I felt I had been in my vision. My flock had scattered but was still nearby. They did not fear this wolf? It must be hurt, maybe alone, and need easy prey. Slowly, keeping my staff pointed at the wolf, I reached with my other hand into my pouch and grabbed a piece of jerky. Bringing my staff back towards me, I lowered the meat onto the end and stretched it off to the side of the wolf. The creature sniffed the meat and turned away from Mother long enough to gulp down the offering. I had a plan now.
Methodically, I dropped smaller portions of meat with the end of my staff further and further away from my mother. The wolf limped harshly after the food, growled fiercely, but clearly did not have the strength to attack. Using all of my rations, I was able to lure the beast far enough from Mother that I could check on her. She was breathing, but I could not rouse her. Turning back to the wolf, I saw that it had fallen to sleep as well. Out in the open? Without seeking shelter? I thought. I had no choice either. I couldn’t abandon my mother out here to go get help. I would have to stand guard over her and the sheep through the night, a night in the Haven fields.
Soon after deciding I would have to stay at the iron pillar through the night, I cleaned the wound on Mother’s head as best as I could with the water from my skin. I don’t know what made me do it, but I also ran some water over the wolf’s leg. It opened one eye, an icy blue iris, and looked at me, but it must have done so in its sleep for it did not come fully aware. Then I brought the flock up near the rock and set up a make shift pen with some sticks and the extra bow strings from Mother’s bow. This will have to do, I thought as I mentally rehearsed what would happen if the wolf’s pack decided to come back. I gripped my staff tighter and told myself that I could no fall asleep.
That night was cold, lonely, and full of fear. The hunger pangs almost had me going one of my flock, or even the wolf, but I knew better. The hunger helped me stay awake longer, but I still succumbed to the darkness. I woke with a start, surprised I was alive, and hurriedly looked about my meager camp. The wolf was gone, the flock was huddled together in place, and Mother breathed easier. I could not believe my fortune!
Taking stock of what I needed to do next, my mother cried out loudly, “Bataar!” and sat straight up with her eyes still closed and her body tensed. She froze for a moment like that before exhaling completely and sighing in relief, “My shepherd. My guide and protector.” Then her eyes opened, and she saw me. Tears ran down her face as she said, “My child? My son? Did you see?”
“Yes, Mother,” I replied. “But rest easy. I shall guide you home now.” As I prepared to depart, I touched my staff to the iron pillar one more time and swore my first iron vow. One day, I would build a true safe haven and shepherd people as my flock. Pulling my staff back from the stone, it felt heavier at one end and curved now ever so slightly. I was eight years old.
Background Vow: Build the city of Wolfhaven to shepherd the Ironlanders. (Extreme)
For the twenty years since, my staff and bow have been my constant companions, helping me lead and protect the small flock that my family has depended on over the years. Nikata, my mother, weakens each season, dark visions coming to her more often. Thus, I must protect the flock. It is all that holds back the frozen cold of winter and the clawing grasp of hunger for both my family and Redheather.
Ten years ago, I went through my own night on the hill of Redheather to pass into manhood. Traditionally, one’s father would accompany his son for the first segment of the night, but I was alone. Lona, five years my younger, took care of the flock that night, but hated me for making her work harder than normal. I was to hunt and kill my food for the night, partaking of the spirit of the creature I would slay as nourishment. Boar was most prolific in the area (they loved the red flowers that perpetually grew on this hill even in winter), but their hide was too thick for the likes of Mother’s bow which was slung over my shoulder. It simply didn’t have a strong enough draw.
I started the night as I was told I should, gathering the red flowers and creating a paste with a bowl and pestle. I put the mark of fire on my left cheek symbolizing the ruin left behind in the Old World and the mark of blood on my right cheek symbolizing the new life in the Ironlands won by blood and toil. After meditating for the required star cycle, I stood and twirled my staff twice before exchanging it for my bow. It was time to hunt.
While I had the advantage of partial moon light, I knew that would offer a counter difficulty of a boar seeing me before I could get close enough to make my shot count. I must have spent three hours slowly shifting through the woods pretending I was a great tracker before I finally literally stumbled upon a boar, falling over it and landing hard on the ground. Tusks from behind! I thought as I tried to roll out of the way quickly of the blow I knew would be coming, but nothing landed.
When I turned back, the boar had risen up and was squealing but not moving to make an attack. It attention was focused on a large wolf bearing down on both of us. A wolf with a slight limp. The wolf was looking back and forth between the boar and I as if deciding which would be the easier prey. Perhaps recognizing the boar’s tusks as deadly weapons, the large wolf turned slowly towards me.
Keeping my wits, I knew what I had to do. With my bow dropped upon the ground, I quickly pulled my staff off back, spun to build momentum, and stretched out for a powerful blow to the side of the boar’s head. It may have been the high pitched squeal from the boar or it may have been the fact that the boar fell over onto its side, but regardless, the wolf turned away from me and pounced on the boar. I ran and never looked back. I didn’t really have to eat that night to earn my manhood, did I?
I made my way back to the sacred hill of red flowers where I had pitched my makeshift tent and shuddered in the night. I was no hunter. That was for sure.
It must have been an hour later when I heard a larger animal moving through the forest, coming up the slope of the hill. I clutched my staff tighter and tried to stay still. After a few minutes, whatever it was had passed back into the forest, and I dared to look around my meager camp. There was a mauled rabbit lying on the ground near my tent. Never one to turn away a free meal, I silently thanked whoever or whatever it was that gave this gift and began to cook.
My sister, Lona, has decided she will soon strike out like Father did after my birth, seeking fortune, fame, and finance as a great warrior. She is vowing to fulfill some great quest to bring glory and prosperity to Redheather. Father said something like that himself, though not as eloquently as Lona, and he never returned. I fear neither will Lona if she does leave come spring. Owen says he doesn’t want her to leave on such a large undertaking, but he also is not protesting too much. His greed continues to outweigh his love, but Lona won’t see it that way.
Five years ago, Lona came of age. Owen had just bought his way into the position as village elder and found her to be a lovely trinket to add to his collection. He claimed he was a trader from the Ragged Coast who had found success working with Ironlanders from the Barrier Islands. While he definitely had brought in many goods that were not easily found or made here in the Deep Wilds, it begged the question of why he was willing to give so much of it away to the people of Redheather. Regardless, the majority were swayed by his riches, and he began acting as village elder informally with the near unanimous support of the village.
At that point, Lona had decided to train as a warrior. Much as I hated to admit it, she was stronger than me. She had the fire and personality of a warrior planted deep within her by the stories the rest of the village told her about our father. While I didn’t put any stock in those tales, she clearly had. She took her training seriously and began trying to organize some of the citizens for a sentry patrol each night. We hadn’t had a need for guards or the personnel for guards since the Old World, so most nights Lona was on her own. However, Owen latched onto the idea.
I think he saw her as a way to wield a bit more power, making him the big fish in a little pond, but Lona saw it as a fun and flirtatious budding romance. She started seeking out beasts to slay, exploring for the rumored ancient ruins deeper within the heart of the forest, and even looking for evidence of the Firstborn (as if they were real). She ranged farther and farther from Redheather and began to bring back stories of other communities that were days of travel away in either direction. This further peaked Owen’s interest as he perhaps saw an opportunity to wield even greater influence in the area, so he announced Lona as Redheather’s champion and ambassador.
Unfortunately, stories and knowledge weren’t the only thing that Lona brought back. She also brought back injuries and scars from her journeys. Her weapons were a stout wooden sword, a rock spear, and half a hollowed out log she used for a shield. A warrior’s heart and mind do not materialize a warrior’s weapons in hand. Nonetheless, Owen encouraged Lona to continue her gallivanting through the Deep Wilds, and she fell deeper in love with him.
Three months before their announced wedding date, I decided to confront Owen. I told him of my concerns that Lona would be hurt following this path and my disapproval of him becoming my brother. I kept my thoughts and words honest saying that I appreciated his leadership for the village and him bringing just a bit more comfort to this sterile place with his skills, but that Lona should be helping me with Mother. She could protect Redheather even better by protecting our livestock right here. His response? Laughter.
“Like it or not, I’m here to stay,” he said. “I bear you no ill will, as I do love your sister, but she could be the start of something bigger. She could make Redheather into something more than it is now. And never fear! I can protect her! But at a cost. I am still owed a few favors back on the Ragged Coast that I would be willing to call in for my bride, but I would be expending the last that I have there. Iron is not cheap, you know! Will you swear fealty to me, to serve me and this community above all others? I must have those I can depend on if I am to truly protect your sister to the best of my ability. What say you?”
And what could I say? I knew Lona would never reject this man, and while not necessarily the most upright soul in Redheather, neither was he evil. Maybe just misguided, like he needed a shepherd. So I replied, “I do so swear that I will serve and protect those here in Redheather, including serving you, to the best of my abilities as long as you will love and care for my sister in truth.”
“Not good enough,” he replied. “You are but a shepherd, a necessary and crucial piece of this hamlet, but I need more than that. I need someone I can trust to serve without hesitation. There may come a day when I need you to expand the boundaries of your flock. I may need you to lead men like you lead the sheep, to calm the flustered folks like you calm the bleating goats. You will serve me, trust me, follow me, and obey me so that we might usher in a new era for the Ironlands. Get a larger vision than yourself, Baraat! Think of what it could be!”
In my mind, a blue light flashed and once again saw the city of laughing children and food in abundance. I saw comradery and satisfaction of men and women working together. I saw the man with the glowing curved staff with my own face. “I will be your bannerman, Owen, this I swear.”
“Put it on iron, boy!” he replied.
I searched my body for any piece of iron, but I knew I had none. But my staff! Pulling it off my back with a twirl, I knelt before Owen and touched the curved end which had grown heavy at the iron pillar. “I, Baraat, will be the bannerman of Redheather and of Owen Rijart. This I swear on the iron rooted in my staff. May its strength become my own in my service to this place.”
“Very good, brother. Very good. You shall see what we make of this place! Come!” he said pulling me up. “I shall have weapons and armor worthy of a warrior made for your sister.”
True to his word, the iron equipment arrived before the wedding and was presented during the ceremony. A regal helm, shield, and even chain mail now adorn my sister. She carries a true sword and even a spear out on her hunts and quests and returns victorious each time with larger tales. And now she talks of an epic quest for the spring: creating and patrolling trade routes through the various communities she has come to befriend, allowing Redheather to become a hub for those living on the outskirts of the Deep Wilds. Owen smiles with pride and approval, but I still see the gleam in his eyes. He is seeking something more.
For now, I still guard the flock, but after tonight’s announcement, that may change.
Bonds: Redheather, Lona, Owen
Home Village of Redheather
Leader – Role – Goal: Owen, the doomed trader, seeks to seize power.
Village Descriptor: Rich
Trouble: Beast on the hunt
- Glain, the ambitious farmer, seeks to secure provisions
- Reese, the aloof miner, seeks to escape something
- Katania, the timid hunter, seeks to fulfill a duty
Edge: 2 Iron: 1 Heart: 2 Shadow: 1 Wits: 3
More to follow!