While searching for Irēn Adler, John gives a lesson in alternate personas, while someone else reveals their own.

⚡️THUNDERFANG S3 #5: Alternate Personas
⚡️THUNDERFANG S3 #4: All According to Plan
The crew shares what each of them saw while they fled the bounty hunters.

The previous chapter

Alternate Personas

Season 3, Chapter 5

// Finish the Expedition

Finish the Expedition

8 vs... 7, 7!!!!!!!!!!

Progress on Iren vow.

+2 [8/10]

What's the nature of this match, though? 

Let's do DF: 25, 97: Created Void.

I think what this implies is that, they are *hidden.* Like, we kept rolling Shadow the whole time. And while we were spotted once, there's no telling where we could be now.

I think that—until the Fugitive clock runs out again—we don't need to work too hard to conceal our identities, unless we go to like Saffron or the Salvi Sigil.

Within Stella, where is Irén?

DF: 77, 15: Prominent Commodity.

Coffee shop!

I’d never come across a more appropriately named planet.

It showed up clearly on our sensors, but I had trouble spotting Midnight in any of the viewports on the Scarlet Adler. It was a swirling void of gasses and solids somehow darker than the Forge around it. As we docked in Stella, the settlement orbiting Midnight, I skimmed reports that said there was life down there, somehow. Scarce, but it was there despite it all. What did the passage of time feel like on Midnight, with nights as days and days as nights, all blurred into one?

I was intrigued.

Yelena worked her magic and managed to help obscure who we were as we approached. She’d made it seem as if we were a passenger vessel, merely stopping by to pick up a few people and drop off—

“Doctor Johnathan H. Watson, Jr.”

John adjusted his outfit. He’d acquired a white button up, black vest, and even a gray cravat—a new word for me—from somewhere, all well-tailored. He held his head up at a slight angle, looking down—as much as his height could allow—on us with just the proper air of arrogance.

He was a damn good impersonator.

Most of the others never got to meet “Ripley”—or NEVERMORE—so John putting on this facade was a genuine shock to them.

“How do you do that?!” Jane asked, stepping around him. She felt his shoulders and arms, as if checking for a hologram of some sort. He quickly readjusted his clothing as if Jane had somehow sullied his entire outfit. “You look exactly the same, yet…completely different. I would never be able to pick you out of a crowd.”

“It’s not just about the clothing,” he said. There was a slight accent, but I couldn’t place from where. I’d never heard it on Saffron, New Bohemia, or the Ironlands, and for a split second I felt the need to travel more, visit new places, figure out just where Dr. Watson had travelled from—

And then I remembered it was all an act. John spoke with a knowledgeable and annoyingly superior tone, each word enunciated and sharp, as if he’d studied at all of the best universities and had degrees to prove it. His tone indicated that he could chastise us and we’d never realize it. 

“It’s about how you carry yourself, dear, the way you speak and your mannerisms.” He approached Jane and gave her a quick once over with narrowed eyes. “That will be a hard skill for you to master, sadly.” As if to prove my point, Jane stood there confused, her face advertising that she was missing something.

Blackstone and I prepped Curtis for his release. Using her status as a bounty hunter—and the fact that she wasn’t a wanted criminal—the plan was for her to convince anyone who asked that Curtis was simply a bounty she was bringing in. This way, we could blindfold, gag, and bind him without raising too much of a fuss. During our prep, we planted the tracking device. If what he told us was all a ruse, we would at least get his location. Hopefully he would lead us exactly where we needed to be.

Come now. We have places to go,” John said with a single sharp gesture, a little too in character, and ushered us off of the Scarlet Adler. After passing relevant inspections—the security wasn’t very heavy—we entered Stella proper. 

Stella was a multi-floored settlement that reminded me a little of the Ironlands, but also of Portent. The interior made me feel like I was outside on a nice day, with bright overhead lighting mimicking sunlight and clouds. Floating vehicles whizzed by as people walked down paved streets.

Blackstone took Curtis down the first remote alley we could find. She left him there with the blindfold on and told him to wait five minutes before leaving. She rejoined us and we continued exploring Stella.

Ira described Irēn to the crew once more, following it up with a photo. “Just keep an eye out for her. Corra said Irēn was heading here, but there’s no telling if that’s still true.”

Stella was a rather large settlement. It would take us weeks to finish searching for Irēn. I didn’t know anyone here who could give us a head start in the right direction, either. We’d be searching every nook and cranny for a woman who had probably left ages ago. But I would do it for him, without hesitation.

“It’s hard to search on an empty stomach, though,” Kaisa said, hinting at her true intentions. She pointed out a coffee shop. I hadn’t smelled coffee like that since before my life became about conspiracies, the smell immediately bringing my cravings to the forefront.

We entered the shop in small groups. Yelena’s trickery had gotten us this far, but we didn’t want to tempt fate. All of us being together at once was bound to draw attention. Blackstone and Jane entered first. After Blackstone reported that the coast was clear of other obvious bounty hunters, Kaisa, Fletcher, and Yelena entered next.

Ira and I stood outside on the street, taking in the sights. John was a few feet away, still in his Dr. Watson persona, reviewing something—probably nothing—on a thin tablet he’d procured from the Scarlet Adler. “And the meeting at 12…Oh dear…will need to reschedule the conference next week…”

“Where could she be?” Ira asked as he leaned on a railing separating the sidewalk from the busy street. “Corra didn’t exactly say she saw her recently. What if she’s not here anymore?”

“Then we’ll keep searching. If she’s on Old Earth, then that’s where we’re headed, too,” I said. I did my best to suppress my thoughts of Michael. I hadn’t put this much energy into finding him. I told myself long ago that he was a lost cause. Irēn was at least alive. 

My brother had gone missing and no one had seen or heard from him since. The only hope I ever had was that they’d never found a body. At best, he was living his best life in the Forge. Or he was wondering why no one had come for him, even after all this time.

I hoped the former. I hoped he was doing well. I hoped he was—


Ira and I spun to see Jane run towards us, eyes wide with…was that surprise? Shock? She pointed, urging us in. Had we been found out already? We cautiously entered, expecting the worst. Jane grabbed Ira’s shoulders and faced him towards—


Sitting in the coffee shop.

“What luck right?” Jane’s enthusiasm was contagious.

But that “luck” word again.

What was about to go wrong now that everything seemed to be going so right?

I pushed the negativity from me—I was going to have to bring back out the boxes in my mind’s attic at this rate. I’d never seen Irēn in person, so I took this moment to take her in. She was reading through something on a tablet, sipping a hot beverage. She didn’t look like she was hiding or nervous or stressed. She was…living.

Ira’s mood shifted. First excited, then scared, then nervous, then…I couldn’t tell what that last one was. 

“Do you want to do this alone?” I asked softly and took his hand in mine.

He gripped it in return, eyes fixated on his sister. He sharply shook his head, then looked to me. “Will you come with me?”

“Of course.”

One deep breath later, the two of us began to approach Irēn. 

Fulfill your vow

8 vs ...

Our steps were slow and deliberate. She was no more than fifty feet away, but it felt like miles. As we walked, my eyes scanned the coffee shop, mind racing with unanswered questions. What was she still doing here? Did she find their parents? Why hadn’t she tried to find her brother?

I froze in place.

An ad was playing on a translucent screen off to the side of Irēn. A bright and bubbly influencer in matching clothing was advertising water. Her own product, it seemed.

“Bottled water is the BEST,” she said between giggles. “Did you know that water impurities affect LITERALLY every settlement in the Forge? That’s why you need my bottled water! It doesn’t have any of those NASTY things that make you sick. It’s pure and refined! You can even get it sent directly to your home!”

Ira tugged at my arm, but…I couldn’t move.

“Try Lontoc Water today!”

Was she here in Stella? Was this bottled water part of his nefarious plot? Could this be what Blackstone was talking about, with the water extorting?

“What’s wrong?” Ira asked.

“Althea Lontoc. Another Benevolent.” I pointed with my free hand. “She was right there in the ad next to—”


 I was so focused on the Benevolent prancing around in a blue skirt that I’d completely forgotten what it was we came here to do. 

“Where’d she go?!” Ira ran over to where Irēn was sitting.

I had been so distracted by Althea that I missed Irēn get up and leave.

Fulfill Your Vow Result

8 vs 8, 9. 


Because of the nature of this, and how i've already written it as they see her, I'm gonna roll on the Story Complication table for the nature of this miss.

16: Enemy reveals their true agenda or nature.

Okay, how many boxes do I clear? 



Fuck it. I'm marking progress on the water extorter thing.

2/10 (Dangerous)

We searched the surrounding area for almost a half hour, but turned up nothing. It was as if she was never in the coffee shop to begin with. How had she gotten away from us that fast, and left no trace? 

Even after the others stopped looking, I couldn’t will myself to do the same. I was the reason she had slipped through our fingers. Would Ira hate me for wasting that opportunity?

It wasn’t until the stores began closing that night, many, many hours later, that I finally returned to the Scarlet Adler, my proverbial tail between my legs. A few of the others had already turned in for the night. Ira sat on our bed, looking at the photo of his sister.

Would he still want to get married to me? Would he still want to become a Holmes-Adler—or an Adler-Holmes? We still hadn’t talked much about what to do with our name. What if I had ruined the chance for that conversation to ever come up again?

I slowly sat down next to him, the dim light from overhead allowing me to look over the photo as well. It had definitely been her, no doubt.

“I’m so, so sorry. I got caught up and—” I stopped myself. No excuses. “I’m sorry. I should have stayed focused. I got distracted and let her get away.”

Ira looked away from the photo, eyes finally resting on mine after taking the longest route to get to them. He was hurt. Badly.

Test Your Relationship

+2 (heart+ira bond) => 5 vs 1, 5.

I'm going to reroll the challenge die 5. (Bonded #1)

so, 5 vs 1, 3! YAY!

I would take +1 momentum, but I'm already at full.

Develop your relationship

+3 (formidable) => 4 vs 5, 6.

Gonna burn my 10 momentum on this, so 10 vs 5, 6.

+1 momentum [3] from Bonded #1

and 2 bonds ticks

But, his Heart was bigger than mine.

“Thank you,” he said.

“I promise: we are going to find her. I won’t stop until we do.” I held up my ringed hand, ready to Swear another Vow, to make everything right again the only way I really knew how. 

Ira rolled his eyes and pushed my hand down. “You already Swore this.”

Oh. Right.

“Back in the Ironlands, when a Vow goes wrong like this, when there are issues with Fulfilling it, you have a choice after the Miss: you can Recommit to it, or Forsake it. It sounds like you’re Recommitting. No additional Swearing required.”

“Of course. I’m Recommitting,” I said, a little too eager, a little too fast.

“Of course,” he said with a smirk. He knew me too well. “Anyway, when you Recommit, sometimes it’s like starting a whole new Vow. The lengths you have to go through to Fulfill it kind of…grows. It’s hard to explain. It’s almost like all of the progress you made before is weighed differently—if it’s allowed at all.”

“That sounds very complicated.”

“Very. And makes very little sense,” he said with a chuckle. He leaned over and rested his head on my shoulder.

After a few moments of silence, I said, “I really am sorry that I screwed this up.”

“It wasn’t on purpose. Who knows? Maybe Irēn being missing again will lead us to where we’re supposed to be next.”

Bright and early, I woke John and had him help me look for clues as to where Irēn could have disappeared too. 

Gather Information

+2 (wits) => 5 vs ...

Our first stop was the coffee shop, and—after they opened and we purchased a coffee ourselves—ran through a few scenarios. John and myself took turns pretending to be Irēn. We experimented with how she could have gotten herself from her seat and out the door. With that, we could potentially track which direction she went in. It was a tricky scenario. In almost all cases, we saw the other leave. Perhaps Irēn had some tech—or, knowing our luck, she was a new form of Branding, just like her brother—which allowed her to dip in and out of visibility.

I sat down in Irēn’s seat, sipping my coffee. John got into position, no longer Dr. Watson, but a form of Ripley I saw him use to help avoid unwanted attention. He gave the signal and looked towards the screen where Althea’s ad had displayed. 

I carefully got up from my seat and tried a new route. I dipped past a table and headed towards the restroom. A few beats later, I headed out the front door.

“I saw you towards the tail end,” John said over comms, “but I think yesterday, we could’ve missed her in the confusion and mass of people.” He sounded confident in this conclusion.

I stood on the sidewalk outside of the coffee shop and sighed heavily. Was this right, though? That nagging feeling that I was missing something returned, filling me with anxiety. I hadn’t fully processed what I saw in my vision with Malice, and I had a horrible feeling about everything right now. Was this all part of Malice’s plan, ripping and running and stressing ourselves out?

I looked up, eyeing the hundreds of ads that were displaying along the buildings on this street. It seemed as if every consumer profile was targeted and I couldn’t help but feel a little more overwhelmed by it all. What was the true purpose behind Althea Lontoc and her water advertisement? That didn’t seem right. I was missing something, and—

“John, get out here,” I said into the comms, taken aback as I took in the full sight of what was being shown on a large monitor that took up almost the entire block. It was a busy location, even for this early in the morning. The building’s exterior wall was one large screen, ready to display whatever would attract the most buyers. 

Or viewers.

Just as John arrived, the ad replayed.

“‘The search for the Iron Rose continues! Known only by the insignia left behind at the scene of the crime, this vigilante has spread chaos and uncertainty throughout all of Stella! Be sure to tune in later on tonight for Part 3 as we dive into everything we know about this elusive vigilante.’”

“I don’t get it,” John said. “Other than the rose part…Okay, maybe the ‘Iron Rose’ part, but that could be—Okay, never mind, I sound stupid. Of course it’s not a coincidence, knowing us.”

Mid-sentence, I raised my—Ira’s—original black iron coin, the one with the rose on it.

The insignia was the same.

“Looks like we found her.”

Gather Information Result

+2 (wits) => 5 vs 3, 6, 7. => 5 vs 3, 6. Weak hit.

+1 momentum [4]

"provides new insight but also complicates your quest"

DF: 30, 61: Defended People.

Is she like a vigilante? 50/50: 33....extreme yes.

Afraid of asking this question but... is Irēn also Branded?

Unlikely, 25-: 69, no. Okay, so like Batman. Got it. lol

Next week on ⚡️THUNDERFANG:

Confused—and perhaps a little intrigued—by Irēn's escapades, the crew finds a location rumored to be the hideout of the Iron Rose. And in classic ⚡️THUNDERFANG style, Conspiracy awaits within.

⚡️THUNDERFANG S3 #6: Inevitable Events
A solid lead on Irēn’s whereabouts unearths yet another unexpected twist in Locke’s fate.

The next chapter

This work is based on Ironsworn: Starforged (found at www.ironswornrpg.com), created by Shawn Tomkin,
and licensed for our use under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Want to own Starforged for yourself? Grab it on DriveThruRPG!
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