Ironsworn: Last Rites Session 0
It occurs to me that a kind of Session 0 may be in order to go over formatting, content, and the pre-game world-building. I don't plan on getting extraordinarily detailed, just a few notes I can reference here and there that follow the Word-building Workbook available through the Ironsworn website. You can get almost everything you need to start playing there or over on DriveThruRPG.
The Ironlands are a harsh place populated by many dangers. As such, there will be depictions of violence, bloodshed, and scenes of horror.
Default text like this will be in-character narration and dialog.
Bold italics will be used for times when I have to step in with GM commentary such as establishing scenes and further world-building such as interpreting the results of oracle rolls.
[Bold and brackets in red will be for mechanical stuff like move declarations, rolls, and oracles. You know...all the bookkeeping stuff.]
With luck, these little textual cues will help with the overall flow of delivering the full solo RPG experience to an audience.
Now we are getting to the stuff that you came here for...what is Rodney's version of the Ironlands. We are going to go through the Ironsworn Truths Workbook to establish some basic facts about this version of the Ironlands, plus a little extra that we might need at some point.
The Old World:
Many things cause people to undertake the arduous journey to the Ironlands, but the one burned into our collective memory is the Martyr's Curse, a plague that causes its victims to shed tears of blood just as Elstan the Martyr did before their execution. Though we fled to this hard land in great numbers, the plague followed.
The land is as hard as the metal that lies deep within the Northern hills and mountains, but we are just as hard...or, at least, we learned to be.
Ancient pillars made entirely of iron, forged through a process unknown to Ironlanders, dot the landscape. Their purpose is unknown to the scholars save that they radiate some kind of force that repels the hostile creatures of these lands. Our people congregated in the safe havens provided by these mysterious structures.
Most precious to us is the rare Star-Iron. Our legends tell of a war fought in the heavens. The fighting was so fierce that fragments of their broken swords fell across the world. This Star-Iron is blue-black like the night sky and stronger than the native ore. It is the only thing that can harm the pillars. It is so valuable that even an arrowhead size piece can make one extremely wealthy. Most commonly, it is used in the Oathblades of the Wardens-Errant.
Though we have occupied the Ironlands for generations, we were not the first. Around campfires, in taverns and inns, stories are told of the first ships from the Old World and the people's conflicts with the First Born and each other. These travelers did not settle in the safety of the pillars and they were claimed by the shadows. It is said that their phantoms still stalk the lonely places of the Ironlands.
A few towns have sprung up in the shadows of the pillars, now called the Fingers of Ferron. A single city, Five Pillars, is located on the Southern Coast. Five Pillars is not only the trade hub for the entirety of the Ironlands, bringing in iron and salt from the mines in the North and foodstuffs from the Havens, it is the only place that has regular contact from what remains of the Old World.
Each community is led by a person called the Overseer. Sometimes, such as the case of Five Pillars, the Overseer is a hereditary position occupied by a member of one of the First Families. In more remote areas, the Overseer is chosen by a vote from the residents of each town. A few towns have no Overseer, but function in a state of mutual cooperation. Once every twelve moons, the Overseer of Five Pillars, invites all the Overseers from the Ironlands to a grand feast at their lodge. Lately, rumors have spread of a man in the Northeast who considers himself the king of the Ironlands and seeks to bring all under his rule.
There are no armies in the Ironlands. Each town has a guard of volunteers called Wardens and they function to keep the peace in their respective towns and provide a mutual defense against creatures and bandits.
If matters are too delicate or dangerous for armed farmers and trade workers, messengers will be dispatched to find a Warden-Errant, wandering adventurers of great skill beholden to no one save the god Ferron and the sacred vows they take on their Oathblades forged from Star-Iron. It is unknown how many Wardens-Errant exist, but the legends say they have always been present in the Ironlands.
While folk ways such as divination and harvest rituals are quite common in the Ironlands, sorcery is rare, dangerous, and treated with no small distrust.
There are three primary deities of the Ironlands, Aringhee, the goddess of luck and the unpredictability of Nature, her twin brother Algor, god of natural cycles and patterns, and Ferron the Protector, god of iron, craftsmanship, and balance. Ironlanders also revere local nature spirits and their ancestors. A few scattered cults dedicated to the ancient gods of the Old World also exist.
Long ago, the most of the Elves retreated to the Mirrorlands, an alternate world that is a reflection of the Ironlands. A few remained and serve as the protectors of the Great Western Forest. The Elves keep their distance and are suspicious of the Ironlanders, but not openly hostile.
The giant-kin were once found all over the Ironlands, but the arrival of the Old Worlders pushed them into the Northernmost reaches of the continent. While this has made them fiercely protective of their territory, giant-kin have been reliable allies to the few Ironlanders who seek to co-exist rather than dominate. A popular tavern song tells the tale of a brutal pirate that met his end to a lone Warden-Errant and his giant allies.
The wolf-like Varou clans occupy the Great Forest and the Hinterlands often warring with all the other peoples of the Ironlands. It is said that the so-called King In The North, has somehow allied with the Varou.
Beasts of all sorts roam the Ironlands. They dwell primarily in the reaches, but range into the settled lands to hunt. There, they often prey on cattle, but attacks on travelers, caravans, or even settlements are not uncommon.
Many tales are told of vengeful spirits, long forgotten gods, and other terrifying things that lurk in the dark and lonely places in the Ironlands, but these are just tales to frighten children and ward off travelers...or are they?
Let's permit our hero tell you a little about themselves in the next entry.