Friday, 19 July 2013

Steam and Steel - A Journey into the Iron Kingdoms

So it's about time I started blogging about Iron Kingdoms and my hints and tips for running the game. This of course is also an exercise to get me back into thinking about topics that might be relevant to World of Darkness games.

The Iron Kingdoms is quite an interesting setting. The human nations are on the cusp of a massive industrial revolution, and their main technology is a fusion of steam power and magic. Magic is a thing in the setting, but is not very common. So this magi tech, or mechanika, is what makes magic a resource for the masses. Of course, compared to other fantasy settings, magic is not a wonder tool. It does certain things very well (especially for war), but it does not bring people back to life, or easily do things for which there is a mundane solution (lock picking for example). This is a purposeful design element of the setting so that magic users cannot steal the thunder of mundane characters like thieves, investigators, and doctors.

Iron Kingdoms visually and plot wise also feels like something that is somewhere between the late Renaissance, and Napoleonic eras, with wars with black powder muskets, trenches, and of course canons. This is all pumped up with the warmachines, Steam jacks, the magical automata that rumble into battle.

Iron Kingdoms also gives us a few remixes of classic fantasy tropes. So for instance Elves do exist and live in the woods, but they are not the oldest race and so that changes their relationship with humans, and also human sorcerers. Orcs are not in the game, but we have Ogrun (ogres of a sort) and Trollkin (trolls but more human like). We have Gobbers (goblins) too. And along with dwarves, it means that there are plenty of of things to play.

But given the differences between the Human kingdoms in the setting, and the career system, there are plenty of options that make a group of players, just being all Humans, diverse enough without players resorting to playing other things and acting like special snowflakes. Of course the game is built upon the same rules as the wargames, Warmachine and Hordes, and so it is easy for the game to played with a combat heavy focus and with player characters that have career choices that make them very good at combat. This of course can make characters, no matter their career choices, very similar. But given the fact that there are plenty of more social/intellectual careers, players can easily play a group with a diverse set of skills and abilities. For example my current group is a Aristocrat/Bounty Hunter, a Duelist/Knight, a Investigator/Alchemist, and a Military Captain/Priest of Morrow. Just in that selection we have characters with particular social leanings, investigative skills, knowledges on the occult and religious, and we have a range of different combat skills (a marksman, a swordsman, a grenadier, and a magic user).

So what is the plan in these blog posts?

I plan on covering a variety of topics, like when and when not to bother using mini based combat, plotting and pacing, roleplay heavy scenes, how to run horror based stories, how to run investigative stories, how to run political stories, what a good selection of models for gaming might include, mini painting and pictures, and of course suggestions from you for topics to cover here and in future podcasts.

Have fun, and play like you got a pair! (of magelock pistols!)

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