Saturday, October 6, 2012

Steampunk Saturday - Iron Kingdoms RPG Campaign

This week is all about something I'm super excited about starting- the new Iron Kingdoms RPG. The second I heard about this game, I was talking to Chad at Gamers Sanctuary about preordering! Seems it was a good thing I did. The rulebook is apparently more popular than even Privateer Press was expecting, and is now sold out at the manufacturer level! After the jump, I discuss plans for the campaign I've agreed to run, and share our first PC courtesy of Muggins.

The Iron Kingdoms setting is a fantastic one that I of course discovered through Warmachine/Hordes, but it turns out the setting has been around for years. The first foray into the setting was through a series of D&D 3.0 modules known as The Witchfire Trilogy. The modules featured a character well known to WM/H players- Alexia Ciannor. The module introduced the steam + magic world known as Immoren, and laid out the foundation for the politics, religion, and conflicts in the world. (Well, one corner of it anyway. Most of Immoren remains unexplored in the books other than a few mentions of exotic realms the Iron Kingdoms have limited trade with by sea.) Later, Privateer Press produced a number of rulebooks and guidebooks for the setting, all based on a heavily-modified D&D 3.0 ruleset.

Eventually as their WM/H game took off, development focus shifted to that game. But now the IKRPG is back, and better than ever. They've developed their own ruleset, free of the limitations of the D&D framework. The new rules are essentially an adaptation of the Mark 2 rules for Warmachine / Hordes, so anyone familiar with those rules will feel right at home. This makes the game feel a bit combat-focused, which is not surprising given the company's success with WM/H. They also likely want to attract players of the mini game, and fleshed-out, interesting combat is a great way to do it.

Not sure what's happening here, but the image was too crazy to not use.

There are still opportunities for players who enjoy social or politicky RPGs though. In fact, the rules for determining success with social skills are pretty neat. Depending on the situation, the GM may rule that you roll on a Strength based check (+ applicable social skill such as Intimidation) if you're trying to get say, a pissed off thug to back down. On the other hand, one might use an Intellect + Intimidation roll to get a bureaucrat to do what you want. It all depends on the PC's approach.Neat idea, and allows PCs to play to their strengths in social encounters.

I could go on and on about the rules but there are better bloggers than I for breaking them down, and plenty of reviews of the book for those who are interested. Instead, I'll end this section by briefly mentioning the two-career model for PCs. Instead of picking one 'class' as in most traditional RPGs (fighter, cleric, thief, etc.) you pick two, in addition to your archetype and race. So you might have a Mighty Trollkin Man at Arms +Soldier. He'll be amazing at defense and have a plethora of combat skills available to him, along with brutal melee damage thanks to Mighty. Change the Archetype to Skilled, and he's a more finessed character that's even harder to hit. Change Soldier to Military Officer and you've got a fantastic support character who still provides great defense for himself and others, along with a bunch of party buffs from Officer. Between race, archetype, and the two classes, there's an amazing amount of customization to be done in addition to all the options available within each class.

Speaking of, Muggins is the first out of the gate with his campaign character:

The text might be hard to read, but his character is a Nyss (one of the few who escaped the Blight). He's a Gifted (you must be Gifted to be a spellcaster) Sorceror / Military Officer. Sorceror lets him sling spells of course, and Military Officer gives him some combat capability and most importantly numerous party buffs are available to take as well. As a Sorceror, you pick an element (Earth, Lightning, Fire, Ice) which determines your spells. We decided it would be inappropriate to have a Nyss (who are northern snow elves, basically) be a Fire Sorceror, so I house-ruled that combo was not possible. Muggins took the thematic Ice option. Since Nyss are naturally ice-resistant (and take extra fire damage), and Ice Sorcerors ignore Ice damage, I gave Muggins an extra cold spell to make up for having redundant bonuses. He also took as his Gifted benefit the option for an extra spell, hence his long list of starting spells.

The Campaign

The campaign itself should be interesting. We're going to have quite the mix of PCs- a Nyss Sorceror/Officer, Iosan Mage Hunter /Arcanist (they only hate human mages), Human Soldier/Cutthroat, and another Human Highwayman/Pistoleer. Should be cool to see how two different Elven races managed to get mixed up with Human criminal types.

In terms of setting, I'm currently thinking of placing the campaign in Occupied Llael. Lots of opportunities there for adversaries from Khador, Menoth, Cryx, hell just about everyone is mixed up in that fight here and there. Who the PCs conflict with (and why) will depend on the backgrounds they come up with. I thought I was super clever setting it in Llael, but apparently lots of other people are doing the same, from what I've seen online.

When thinking about adventures or missions, I like to think of specific missions not in terms of goals or adversaries per se, but more visually in terms of setting. I'll be inspired by a specific image such as a scene in a movie (a heist on a heavily guarded facility or a cool chase scene) and try to translate that into something memorable the players will enjoy. I've got ideas in mind, but I don't want to spoil them here for my PCs!

If you've played IKRPG, have ideas for characters, or just have any thoughts at all about the system or setting, please share in the comments! Thanks, and see you all next time.


  1. Looking forward to starting our own campaign in my GM's modded IK setting. Will be playing a Human Pirate-Cutthroat who's jumped ship with the crew's last booty haul.

  2. I'm super excited to get Abryssal going. I can't recall if I actually added the extra spell or not.