Insider 7-31-2012

With the Iron Kingdoms Full Metal Fantasy Roleplaying Game pre-release just around the corner, we’re beginning to unveil elements of the book’s content and mechanics. Today, I’ll be giving you a bit of insight into the combat mechanics, what makes them stand apart, and how they bring to life the heroic action you see throughout the Iron Kingdoms fiction.

At the core, the roleplaying game combat mechanics mirror WARMACHINE and HORDES pretty closely. Your player character and the enemies you encounter will have melee and ranged attack stats (MAT and RAT). You’ll add that to 2d6 to try to hit a target’s defense (DEF). You’ll then roll 2d6 and add it to your weapon’s hitting power (POW or P+S depending on the weapon), and you’ll deal a quantity of damage equal to how much you exceeded the target’s armor (ARM).

For those unfamiliar with WARMACHINE and HORDES, it’s a simple 2d6-to-hit and 2d6-to-damage mechanic. For those of you who have played our miniatures games, I’m sure that all sounds quite familiar.

But the key here is that the roleplaying game zooms in on much smaller conflicts or on just a few warriors within a greater battle. A player character is not “Trencher Trooper 6” but a named personality in the setting. Your choices will lead him to very specific strengths and weaknesses that differentiate him from other characters within the party or across the battlefield.

Elements like a character’s race and his careers are pretty common roleplaying game elements that differentiate characters. Certainly, a gobber Cutthroat/Duelist will have very different combat capabilities than an Iosan Mage Hunter/Ranger, but the player choices that affect a character’s combat capabilities don’t end there.

The archetype system is something that sets the Iron Kingdoms Full Metal Fantasy Roleplaying Game apart from other roleplaying games by giving a foundational direction to each character. There are just four archetypes—gifted, intellectual, mighty, and skilled—but these four archetypes really help define their characters. Gifted characters can cast spells and boost (add dice) to their magic attack and damage rolls; Intellectual characters grant the party bonuses on their attack and damage rolls while nearby; Mighty characters gain an additional die on every melee damage roll; and Skilled characters gain an additional attack each turn.

A human Military Officer/Pistoleer will play very differently if he is an Intellectual character directing his allies in battle versus a Skilled character who leads by example with a hail of lead from his pistols. Archetypes aren’t just a single decision, however, but a starting point. Each archetype has its own list of benefits to choose from, further impacting a character’s combat options. Characters start with one of these archetype benefits and gain more as they gain experience.

By means of example, our Intellectual human Military Officer/Pistoleer will have a different role in combat if he chooses the archetype benefit Battlefield Coordination (which grants him and nearby allies the ability to ignore the firing into melee penalty) versus Feat: Quick Thinking (which gives him the feat ability to take an action at the start of another character’s turn). Both of these are very useful abilities but also very divergent.

Which brings us to feats. Before reading on, I should warn WARMACHINE or HORDES players that feats are not the same in the roleplaying game as they are in the miniatures games. A feat in the roleplaying game is an ability triggered by spending a feat point. Characters gain feat points by defeating foes, rolling critical successes, or performing particularly heroic or clever acts (as determined by the game master).

The Intellectual archetype benefit Feat: Quick Thinking is one example, and it’s a great one. The ability to jump into the initiative order for a pistol shot against a foe that is about to charge is certainly feat-worthy! Feats aren’t limited to archetype benefits, though. Every player character has a whole list of feats he can perform as shown in the attached PDF file. These aren’t situational throw-ins, either. Universal feats include the ability to spend a feat point to ignore free strikes for a turn, reroll a failed attack roll, or make a combat action after you run twice your Speed. Effectively using these feats and, just as importantly, effectively combining them makes for some of the most memorable and cinematic moments possible in roleplaying game combat.

Frequently Feating,

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