• Tag Archives IKRPG
  • IKRPG5e train of thought: Essence

    While the Kickstarter has closed and we’re now in the dreaded limbo betwixt Completion and Delivery, that doesn’t mean we can’t work to fill the void with IKRPG ponderings. If nothing else, we can keep the souls of dead Skorne company as they while away eternity in the void themselves.  PP Faye’s latest insider gave us some insight into character creation with NIall Kain, Thamarite Guile Cleric. While we won’t know the full details until we have books in hand, the cognitive wheels began turning about races and classes and how they’re represented in the newest edition if the Iron Kingdoms Role Playing Game.

    5th Edition D&D has been undergoing something of a renaissance over the last few years, expanding options to allow for more creativity with each rules supplement. The most recent, Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, pertinently opened the door for eschewing racial stat bonuses so that players can more readily represent the character they have in their head. Dwarves are a hardy folk, for example, so traditionally get a Constitution bonus, but what if your character was more bookish, didn’t enjoy quaffing, and preferred the open sky to closed in tunnels and subterranean strongholds? Maybe you want to get an Intelligence bonus instead, indicative of their times spent with their nose in a tome rather than sniffing out a silver vein.

    The last edition of the IKRPG addressed this somewhat with the concept of Essences, and per Faye’s Insider it looks like we’re getting an update to 5e D&D to optionally use essences instead of racial bonuses. Faye’s character took the Intellectual essence, granting a boost to Intelligence or Wisdom, along with aptitude in a specific skill or ability, and some optional feats that could be taken as the character levels up.

    With the Intellectual essence being confirmed, we can likely expect Mighty, Skilled and Gifted or variants thereof. IK:Unleashed replaced Intellectual with Cunning, but they served a similar purpose. Intellectual (Int/Wis) and Mighty (Str/Con) make immediate sense, but working out a good fit for Dexterity and Charisma could be a little more challenging, there may not be a direct correlation.

    What will be very interesting is how Gifted is approached (if it’s included). Magic users in the Iron Kingdoms are few and far between, with Warcasters being elevated to a special place in society by sheer dint of their ability to access magic. Mechaniks and Alchemists have ways to pull of magical effects through mad science, Gun Mages and functionally enchant bullets, but by and large the characters of the Iron Kingdoms are, for lack of a better term, mundane.

    This is not to say that they’re not exceptional, but rather than they rely on trained skills and the like rather than any variant of wizardry and spellcraft.  Compare this to the Dungeons & Dragons core ruleset, where every class has access to spellcasting of some sort, either as a core feature (eg Wizard, Warlock, Sorcerer) or through a subclass (eg Fighter/Eldritch Knight, Rogue/Arcane Trickster, Barbarian/Totem Warrior).

    Assuming there is a Gifted archetype, will it be a requirement for anyone taking one of the spell-centric classes, and optional for other classes?

    The caveat, of course, is that the Iron Kingdoms is a setting for D&D. Just as there are no orcs native to Barovia, halflings are barbaric cannibals in Athas and centaurs are represented differently in Ravnica and Theros, it may well be that players in the Iron Kingdoms may want to consider carefully their choices in character creation so as to fit better with the setting itself. Collaboration between the players and DM to make the pieces fit will be important, but then, it’s always a good idea during character creation, to help the players realize a character concept that will work well with the story being crafted.

    We can expect a variety of human options for the Iron Kingdoms, with Cygnarans, Khadorans, Idrians and more, as well as Iosans, Nyss, Orgun, Rhulfolk, likely Trollkin and Gobbers, so there’s no shortage of potential races to play with, and the optional Essences will allow for customization above and beyond the more narrow confines of a genetic stereotype. Exactly how, we’re waiting to see.

    If you missed pre-ordering IKRPG: Requiem during the kickstarter, you can still pre-order through Backerkit.  What sort of story will you tell in the post-Claiming Iron Kingdoms?

  • IKRPG: Requiem

    What do you do when one of  your favorite fictional settings aligns with one of your favorite roleplaying games?  You write a short blog post directing your readers to the Kickstarter so that they can take advantage of the Early Bird backer option to get a free GM’s screen on top of the setting book, a compendium detailing the setting’s monstrous menagerie, and a beginner campaign centered on one of the most iconic weapons in the history of Warmachine.

    This is not only an opportunity to sink your teeth into the Iron Kingdoms via Dungeons & Dragons, this is also our first real look at the Iron Kingdoms in the wake of the Infernal invasion that saw kingdoms collide, ancient foes join forces against a greater threat, empires falter, and heroes meet their dooms.

    I mean, you all know me, I just want to know if the Monastery of the Order of the Fist still stands, but I’m sure some of you are invested in what’s happened to Cygnar, Khador, Llael and Ord after their citizenry was either slaughtered or punted through a massive gateway to a distant galaxy in an attempt to save their souls.

    The Kickstarter has already funded, and stretch goals are being fulfilled. Load your magelocks and stoke your boilers. The Iron Kingdoms await.

  • Games should be fun

    “At  the center of skorne society are unpleasant concepts like suffering, servitude and torture. Some players might not want such concepts expressed openly or in great detail, if at all. It is important everyone at the table is comfortable and having fun, and this might require a Game Master to let some elements of skorne culture take a back seat or be glossed over – or even to omit them entirely. Every group is different, so it is up to a Game Master to respect the players’ tolerances and preferences before showcasing such elements in a game. One group might not have any problem with playing a skorne campaign replete with dark themes, while another group might strongly prefer to omit careers like the Tormentor and the practices they represent. Overall, skorne society is more focused on earning honor and glory than on simply inflicting pain, and a campaign could easily be steered to focus players on achieving greatness for their houses without exploring the darker aspects of skorne culture and philosophy.”

    This passage is in the Skorne Empire supplement for the Iron Kingdoms Unleashed RPG. It was written by one of my favourite RPG writers, though I didn’t know that when I read it. It contains what is, for me, one of the most important concepts a Dungeon Master, Game Master, Storyteller needs to understand.

    A little background for those unfamiliar:

    The Skorne are a race of humanoids from the Warmachine/Hordes setting, whose culture could loosely be described as combining elements reminiscent of Feudal Japan, the Roman Empire, and an omnipresent death cult. They have a rigorous caste system, warring houses actively enslave those they defeat, and much of their culture is built around the desire to have their souls captured and stored in crystalline prisons when they die, rather than having them sucked into the void and destroyed. They are masters of mortitheurgy – death magic – and there are very powerful elements of their society that are built up around the sorcerous power that can be siphoned from the victims of torture and agonizing death.

    Frankly, an awful lot of skorne culture is built around practices that are ethically and morally abhorrent. I’ll freely admit that I love the Iron Kingdoms setting and I’m fascinated by the life breathed into the setting by the writing team. The setting has so much depth and character, for so many different factions and cultures, it boggles my mind just how rich the world of the Iron Kingdoms has become over the years. That said, some cultures depicted are, to my mind, much more suited to being antagonists rather than protagonists. There’s little heroic about the Blindwater Congregation, the Cryxian nation is mired in undeath and sinister blood magicks, and we all know how I feel about those filthy Morrowans in Cygnar.

    The Skorne Empire supplement is the most comprehensive look into the peoples who marched across the abyss to wage war on the fertile lands of Western Immoren, and while it can certainly be used as a “Here be bad guys” resource, it also presents the rules for a group of players to don the crimson and brass armour of the Empire and play in the streets of Halaak in their own quest for eternal glory (ie, to earn honour and glory sufficient to have their spirit placed in a soulstone upon death). That’s where the above quote comes in.

    Every group is different, so it is up to a Game Master to respect the players’ tolerances and preferences before showcasing such elements in a game.”

    Roleplaying groups are often bound by an unspoken social contract. The most recent D&D sourcebook, Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, lists the following:

    • You will respect the players by running a game that is fun, fair, and tailored for them. You will allow every player to contribute to the ongoing story and give every character moments to shine. When a player is talking, you are listening.
    • The players will respect you and the effort it takes to create a fun game for everyone. The players will allow you to direct the campaign, arbitrate the rules, and settle arguments. When you are talking, the players are listening.
    • The players will respect one another, listen to one another, support one another, and do their utmost to preserve the cohesion of the adventuring party.
    • Should you or a player disrespect each other or violate the social contract in some other way, the group may dismiss that person from the table.

    If you’re doing something that actively makes a player uncomfortable, you’re in breach of the social contract. An exception may be possible if it’s tied to a critical plot point, but you’d best be prepared to deal with any fallout, which could be anything up to and including dissolution of the campaign.

    I’m currently running a D&D game set in Barovia, home of Count Strahd Von Zarovich. This is the gothic horror setting for D&D otherwise known as Ravenloft. It’s dark. I mean, it’s one thing to go strolling through a dungeon and thwarting skeletons and goblins. It’s another thing to burst into a puppet theatre where the audience is ceramic dolls that all turn to stare at you, and one of the villagers is up on the stage strung up like a marionette with meat hooks through his joints.

    In playing through the  campaign there have been multiple times where I’ve seen my players pale or be taken aback by some of the descriptions I’m firing at them. They’ve been troopers, but you can bet that I’ve checked in with them multiple times to make sure they’re okay with the tone of the campaign, because – and here’s the crux – games are meant to be fun. I want them to end the sessions feeling like they’ve accomplished something, learned something, or even just done something cool. I want them to have experiences that can have them thinking “Hey, remember when…” some time down the line.

    They’re the protagonists. If you’re having fun, but they’re not, you’re doing it wrong. You need to consider your approach, how things are portrayed, how much agency they have as players, so on and so forth. Conversely, if they’re having fun but you’re not, that needs to be addressed too.

    D&D, IKRPG and other RPGs are all about collaborative storytelling. While the DM may have the index and the major plot points, it’s the players who are filling in the minutiae. Everyone should be able to enjoy the experience.

  • IK Unleashed: Adventure Kit

    Unboxing awesome! As many of you, I was fortunate enough to play in the Iron Kingdoms Unleashed demo at GenCon under the guidance of none other than Mister Doug Seacat, which was a pretty darn special experience. Now, with the IK Unleashed Adventure Kit, it’s your turn to get your feet wet… and slightly sticky, because eww, there’s bits of Farrow everywhere…

    The Adventure Kit is the next step up from what we were given when Iron Kingdoms RPG: Full Metal Fantasy was released. Fools Rush In is an excellent introductory scenario, helping your players get used to the mechanics while also introducing the characters that also showcased in the excellent Murder in Corvis novel from Skull Island Expeditions, but that’s all it was (Hah, as if that’s not  sweet as it is…). The Adventure Kit gives you a scenario and pregenerated characters, but then kicks everything up about 12 notches.

    Continue reading  Post ID 20859

  • Templecon 2015 Photodump 2

    On with the show! We last saw our intrepid hero and his band of compatriots in the House of Bread Sticks, in which Gdaybloke quite enjoyed the Gnocchi. The dinner table that night was a raucous cacophony as the crew indulged in ribald humor and shared anecotes, and otherwise engaged in tomfoolery to the amusement and possible embarassment of the wait staff. Then they returned to the Crown Plaza to indulge in more Templecon the following day…

    “Whut? Oh, yeah, we just won this li’l ole’ thing…”
    Privateer art printed on stretch canvas. Perfect way to class up your nerd cave.

    … that’s not a euphemism.

    Continue reading  Post ID 20859

  • Gday At GenCon: Iron Kingdoms Unleashed

    So there I was, Saturday of GenCon, and my host – Ninja Steve – and his stalwart companion Cromusz said “Hey, we’ve got spots in the Iron Kingdoms Unleashed demo today!” and I recalled that pal Rudy had mentioned there were occasional empty seats at the demos…

    After figuring out exactly which hotel I needed to be in (man, the number of times I found myself not knowing just which corridor to walk down…) I sauntered into the room and found this handsome chap with a spot at his table.


    Iron Kingdoms Unleashed demo with none other than Privateer’s head quill-wielder, Mr Doug Seacat? Why yes, thank you, I think I will…

    [SPOILER ALERT: This article contains spoilers from the IK Unleashed demo scenario. Consider yourself  warned if you’re sensitive to that kind of thing.]

    Continue reading  Post ID 20859

  • Gday at GenCon: The Second Bit

     So the first part – posted yesterday – showed the leadup to GenCon and Friday’s adventures. Now it’s time to look at Saturday, and my subsequent trip home on Sunday.

    As with any good adventure in which I am prone to take part, baked goods feature. This may be because of my superpower – the ability to subconsciously detect baked goods in the vicinity, especially around my workplace. No banana bread is safe!

    I awoke Saturday morning to be greeted by LostHemiCupcakes, made with love and peanut butter by the Admiral herself. I don’t know about you, but to me? That’s pretty bloody awesome.

    Continue reading  Post ID 20859