Insider 12-28-2011

With 2011 winding down, and the new Iron Kingdoms Role-Playing game rapidly coming together, I’ve been thinking about my own involvement with the Iron Kingdoms over the years. I’ve been playing tabletop games, mostly RPGs, for almost twenty years, although I first came to the Iron Kingdoms as a WARMACHINE player in early 2006. The setting immediately hooked me, particularly the harsh realm of the Khadorans, and as soon as I became aware that there was a whole library of Iron Kingdoms RPG books, I quickly set about tracking them down and devouring them (in the literary sense).

It was just a few years later that I found myself working at Privateer Press, writing what turned out to be some of the last background material related to the previous, d20 incarnation of the IKRPG. It was around this time that we were beginning to work on WARMACHINE/HORDES Mk II and my time was soon devoted to updating and writing new model entries for the Force books (I still can’t believe we published twelve books in 2010!). But all the while, many were still beating the drum to return to the RPG. Now, that time has come, and I am thrilled to be working on the core book.

I recently completed a draft of a chapter devoted to describing what it’s like to live in the Iron Kingdoms. This was a tremendous undertaking, as we’ve never really published a guide to day-to-day life in our setting. We’ve presented a fair amount of this information in pieces spread out across several books, but structuring it in a way that was both comprehensive and engaging within a single large chapter was quite an endeavor, to say nothing of expanding upon that information! Our hope is that the reader will come away from this chapter with a solid idea of the broad strokes of life in the nations of the Corvis Treaties.

Spending this much time considering what it’s actually like to inhabit this world led naturally to thinking about what kind of games to run in that world. The Iron Kingdoms is an amazingly robust world for gaming, and role-playing games in particular. For my own part, when it comes to RPGs I have broad tastes and can enjoy complex campaigns centered on intrigue just as much as I like a little over the top hack-and-slash. As we work on the new IKRPG, it’s our intention to present a book that lets players approach the Iron Kingdoms from whatever perspective they prefer. In other words, the grim, gritty, and backstabbing stories of the scum of Five Fingers are just as valid an expression of the Iron Kingdoms as the earth-shaking warjacks and warcasters that dominate the landscape of WARMACHINE.

Some people, myself included, are going to want to focus on the low-fantasy elements of the world when it comes time to make characters and write up their campaigns, others are going to want to strap on their steam powered armor and see if they’ve got what it takes to be a Journeyman Warcaster (okay, I’m also among those who will want to do this). This is not to say that these play styles and preferences are mutually exclusive, though! I’m already pondering a campaign I’d like to run that begins in the shadowy streets of Korsk, initially focusing on the criminal fraternities of Khador but eventually exploring the political machinations of the kayazy merchant princes until the players are caught up in the power struggles of the Prikaz Chancellery of the Greylords Covenant. I can think of ways that the characters in this campaign could be simple thugs or junior members of the Greylords Covenant, or even up-and-coming warcasters on field assignments to hone their skills in the tradecraft of espionage.

But as we all know, a picture can say a thousand words, and images of the Iron Kingdoms that have inspired so many of us, both audience and staff. The moody, art of the original IKRPG books helped set the tone for countless games and characters over the years. While we’re writing rules and background text for the new game, we still look to the older pieces of art for inspiration, some of which are being included in the new game and lovingly painted over to take places of pride in our new, full color books alongside all the new art we’re commissioning. Here’s an old favorite, depicting a night time chase across the rooftops of Five Fingers.

Which reminds me… Be sure to check out the upcoming No Quarter Magazine #40 for an interview with myself and development manager David “DC” Carl, where we’ll talk more about the RPG and show off some more artwork.

So now that I’ve shared a little about what I’m hoping to play in the new Iron Kingdoms Role-Playing Game, I’d love to hear what kinds of characters and stories you’re looking forward to playing. Post on our Facebook, Twitter, or forums and let everyone know what’s got you most excited about returning to the Iron Kingdoms in 2012!