IKRPG: The Monsternomicon

The Iron Kingdoms Roleplaying Game (IKRPG) has a long and storied history dating all the way back to the Witchfire Trilogy for the d20 system. That’s 2001, people. Do you even remember what you were up to in 2001? It was my second year in Canada and for the bulk of the year, Gdaysheila and I were working up to the arrival of Gdaygirl. Is it any wonder, given how much time has passed, how many new and shiny toys Privateer Press has given us over the years, that new releases for the IKRPG are among the most desired? Doesn’t matter if you’re not an RPG fan, all it takes is a fondness for the setting. If you play Warmachine or Hordes of the tabletop, if you flip cards for High Command, if you’re a Keyboard ‘Caster for Warmachine: Tactics, there’s entertainment awaiting inside the cover of any IKRPG volume. If you’re a roleplayer, well, there’s not a lot more that I can say to you that you don’t already feel – It’s new book time!

The Monsternomicon was pre-released at Gencon 2014 and was one of the first things to sell out. It certainly didn’t hurt that there was an exclusive Pistol Wraith pin of our friend on the cover here. While not as thick a tome as the previous IKRPG volumes, it’s nonetheless full of gribblies to make the lives of your RPG participants heck.

The Monsternomicon holds within its hallowed covers no less than forty entries, but it doesn’t stop there, oh no. Within each is everything you need to use the gribblies in your games, but when you’re planning your campaign, why stop at using stock Cephalyx, Drudges and Monstrosities when there’s distinct templates within each entry?

The humble Cephalyx Drudge is pretty straightforward, but what’s that larger fellow at the back? It’s not big enough to be a Monstrosity…using the Large Specimen template has given you everything you need to ramp up the challenge for your players without needing to push into the Monstrosity range.

This is one of the subtle simplicities that make a book like the Monsternomicon an excellent addition to your rpg arsenal. Each entry is not only a basic overview of its particular antagonist, but through the use of the templates it gives you the breadth and scope to ensure that you’re working with so much more than “just another wave of kobolds”, enhancing the experience for everyone involved in the game. Heck, there are six different templates for Croaks beyond the standard frog-guy-with-spear. How will your PCs react the first time they see a Croak Conjoined Twin, and realise its significance in Anura society?

Adding to broadening our understanding of creatures that we’re already aware of in the Iron Kingdoms through our experiences with Warmachine and Hordes, the Monsternonicon takes us to places we haven’t explored and introduces us to entirely new species, such as the Lethean people of the Alchiere Subcontinent. I say people, but these aren’t the kind of folk you’d normally run into strolling through the streets of Corvis. Rather, if your party is full in inquisitive explorers, you might find your campaign taking you down untrod paths… but it’s not just the unknown parts of Immoren that are touched upon by the Monsternomicon, there’s also the shadowy gaps if history…

The Orgoth Occupation left behind more than anyone really calculated. While the Orgoth were driven from the Iron Kingdoms, there are still the dark places, the hidden places, where their presence is still felt. From the appropriately named Deathless and Dread to the wraithform Excruciator (pictured), there’s  a dearth of Orgoth antagonists awaiting a party of unwary adventurers seeking to plunder caches long forgotten by the rest of the world…

… but be warned. When an entry lists “Torture” as a defined ability, you just know someone’s going to lose a finger… or more.

It doesn’t end there, though. Readers of the most recent Warmachine expansion book, Vengeance, may recall Goreshade’s return to Ios and the Cult of Nyrro. This group of Eldritch set the path to power that Goreshade has followed since the war that almost tore Ios apart… but what do we know of them in-game? How do they fight, what’s the deal with the Sythyss, how have they managed to maintain their terrible existence all these millenia, and perhaps most significantly, of all of the spells made available to them (they are spellcasters, after all), whose bright idea was it to give them Star-Crossed and Lamentation? Sorry, PCs, you’re going to have a bad day…

…and this might be the single most exciting thing in the book for me, despite my general fist-shaking at the Legion of Everblight. The Dragonspawn entry not only gives you everything you need to present your players with a pantheon of pathological progeny of Everblight, but it also gives us specific information on five more of Toruk’s brood, and what can be expected of their dragonspawn. A ponderous list of mutations and dragon-fueled “gifts” allows you to make each and every dragonspawn unique, and I can only imagine the inward glee as your players thought they were facing a Shredder, only to discover their armour starting to rust and corrode simply because they’re actually standing beside the spawn of the Boiler of Seas (yes, we get some new dragon nicknames too).

Not everyone has had a chance to play IKRPG, and not everyone’s a fan of RPG’s in general, but if you’re a lover of the Iron Kingdoms setting, the Monsternomicon can only further deepen your experience, be it through enjoying the details of the prose as you discover that Dracodiles really thing of riverboats or just what a Black Tatzylwurm does when it can’t hypnotize a target. This is a well written, entertaining book. Don’t believe me? Look up the entry on Grymkin…

Have you picked up your copy of the Monsternomicon yet? Your FLGS awaits, good reader!