The Iron Kingdoms are a fantasy setting created by Privateer Press. The setting supports a tabletop RPG game and two miniature games: Warmachine and Hordes. There is also a Warmachine: Tactics game, which is basically slow XCOM with Warjacks.
The Iron Kingdoms are a magical place, where the dwarves are clean-shaven, the elves have beards, orcs are gone and goblins, trolls, and ogres are all PC races. Guns and steam-engines are gaining a foot-hold right alongside magic and swords. It's one of those games where the setting and rules are really closely intertwined, so I'm going to bounce back and forth between talking about the two of them. You don't like it, bugger off.
While still listed on Privateer Press's product line, no new supplements have been introduced since around 2015 and the system is for all intents and purposes dead. Update, as of July 7th 2020, they announced a new edition using D&D 5e rules. It is set after the Infernal invasion, and will be funded through Kickstarter.
- 1 Basic rules
- 2 Real World History
- 3 History (in-universe)
- 4 Deities and Dragons
- 5 Races
- 6 Nations/Factions
Iron Kingdoms only uses d6's (with very very occasional d3's), but most game-affecting rolls use 2d6 as a base. It's also possible to add extra d6's onto a roll, or occassionally take d6's away. You're very unlikely to need more than about 5 or 6 d6's per player though.
You'll be using these d6's in a fairly D&D-esque manner; roll 2d6 (+ any extra dice you managed to squeeze in), add your relevant skill and any active bonuses or penalties, and hope to beat a target number. In combat, you roll 2d6 + Accuracy to beat the opponent's DEF, then 2d6 + Power to beat their ARM, and they take damage equal to the amount you went over their ARM stat by (e.g. a damage roll of 20 against an armour of 15 = 5 points of damage). Non-combat skill rolls are either 2d6+stat+skill to beat a target number, or an opposed roll-off between you and the target. The system tends to be combat-heavy, though social, investigative and explorative games are very much possible as well.
Character design is slightly interesting, especially when it comes to classes. When you create a character, you choose two Careers that then creates your class, as well as decides exactly what your character can gain when it comes to skills, abilities and sometimes even items. This can create fairly common combinations like Thief/Highwayman, Warcaster/Military Officer or Fellcaller/Man-At-Arms, or totally wacky ones like Bounty-hunter/Knight, Arcanist/Trencher, or Warcaster/Thief (yes officer, this is my laborjack).
You also choose something called an "Archetype" that gives you one of several different slightly broken abilities (Wanna always attack twice? Choose Skilled!), or the ability to use magic.
Real World History
The Iron Kingdoms setting began as an adventure path for Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition (that's 3.0, not 3.5) called the Witchfire Trilogy. While Witchfire had its flaws (chiefly that the players all played second fiddle to an official DMPC), it created a weird and interesting setting which was described in pretty damn fine detail, so it was popular enough to expand. Eventually, the authors had enough cash to found Privateer Press and create the wargames Warmachine and Hordes, based on stuff from the Iron Kingdoms setting, but with several retcons to fit it more closely to their original ideas of the world (e.g. almost no half-elves, and healing magic was even more restricted). Warmachine and Hordes then got big enough that Privateer Press was able to reverse their original journey; they went back to D&D's OGL and built an RPG called Iron Kingdoms D20. But that didn't last much longer than a corebook and two "Monsternomicons" (monster manuals) before they declared the D20 system to be "too restrictive". So then they took the system from the Warmachine/Hordes wargame and built an Iron Kingdoms RPG around it.
The end result was... well, it's a bit niche, because you need to either know your way around the Iron Kingdoms setting or homebrew a functionally identical world; the rules are occasionally flimsy (especially around how to create monsters), and a few homebrews are recommended to keep things running really smoothly. It was also rather repetitive, as the classes required a lot of duplication to throw magic but in my class's special snowflake way (gunmage fireball, arcanist fireball, runeplate fireball, etc). All in all, though, it works pretty well and is likely to keep players interested if they're bored of standard fantasy settings.
A conversion of the game to Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition, set after the big Infernal Invasion event, is officially due for release in September 2021.
Creation and ancient history
(There's a lot of fluff here, but we're gonna leave it for the Deities section and/or skip ahead to more interesting and relevant bits).
The world began in some way with a fight between Menoth and the Devourer Wurm. Menoth made mankind, the Wurm made forests and monsters, and Dhunia made trolls, goblins, and ogres. Then the Gods of the Divine Court improved on these base models and made elves, and the Great Fathers escaped their slavery and made dwarves. Menoth gave the gifts of civilisation to humans, but this basically consisted of giving them walls, fire, farming, and writing, and then saying "I gotta split, figure out what to do with these on your own", so humans progressed slowly. The Elven and Dwarven civilisations got built up much more quickly with help from their respective gods, and thus established the Empire of Lyoss in the far east of Immoren and the nation of Rhul in the north. A Wurm-worshipping alliance of wild tribes known as the Molgur sprung up in resistance to the forces of the first human cities, as did a civilisation of possible Infernal-worshippers called Morrdh. A separate human civilisation called Khardorvic grew in the north.
The elves brought their gods into the world, thus royally fucking up the eastern half of the continent. There was a big war between the Menite civilisations in the south and the Molgur.
Deities and Dragons
All of the deities (except for the dragons, and possibly Cyriss) come from the plane of Urcaen. Urcaen pulls dodecatuple duty as all of your Mystical D&D planes rolled into one; it could be made up of hundreds of planes, it could be the gateway to planes unknown, or it could be the only other plane out there; nobody knows. If you die in Caen (the Prime Material Plane), your soul probably goes to Urcaen (unless it gets trapped by a necromancer, where things get theologically tricky). Lost souls wandering Urcaen apparently get eaten by the Wurm or stepped on by Menoth in short order, so it's prudent to worship a god to ensure that your afterlife is longer than your first one.
Oh, and by the way, only one dude has ever officially travelled to Urcaen and made it back alive, and he's sworn to an eternal oath of silence. Urcaen is not a plane to which you can jaunt back and forth easily. Taking a trip to Urcaen might be okay for a religiously-minded group of extremely high-level PCs, but not for anything less.
God of Humanity (not this guy). Lawful Neutral in the D&D system, and that should tell you a lot. Menoth made humanity and gave them the basic technology they needed to become vaguely civilised (fire, farming, buildings, writing) and has spent his entire time since then being as massive a dick to humans as he can possibly manage. The good news is that he doesn't pay that much attention to humankind in general, being rather preoccupied with his neverending hunt/battle/whatever with the Devourer Wurm. Demands that you pay him strict and total obedience forever, and boy will his priesthood get you if you don't. Menite worshippers who die without having sinned too much get to go to the City of Man, one of the few strongholds of not-being-eaten in the mirror plane of Urcaen.
The Protectorate of Menoth is a theocratic nation dedicated to Him; think all of the worst bits of Muslim theocracies mixed with a caricature of medieval Roman Catholic Europe, or the Imperium in third edition, that's it. Basically Douglas Seacat thinks the ancient conflicts between Muslims and Christians was an enormous cripple fight.
The Twins (Morrow and Thamar)
Morrow and Thamar, unlike their fellow gods, were once mortal humans. Morrow is like Jesus, teaching you to work to improve yourself into the best person you can be while helping others to improve themselves too. Meanwhile, his bitch sister Thamar is like Ayn Rand, she is very much evil; teaching you to work to improve yourself into the best person you can be while tearing other people down so that you shine that much brighter.
In life, the two agreed that a person should be able to rise above their current station in life, even to a point where they can rival the Wurm and Menoth. In death they went and did just that, though there were a lot of tears, heartbreak, and family drama in-between. While Menite priests like to say that only Menoth can fight the Wurm and save his faithful, the Twins also have their own cities for their followers and help out too. Their followers claim Menoth basically showed up to talk with them and, after some bluster, basically told them that so long as they kept acknowledging him as Creator and helping him hunt and fight the Wurm, he'd be cool with them running Caen for him. He didn't care much about that place anyway.
Since then, various extraordinary individuals have managed to raise themselves up to something like sainthood, becoming mini-gods under one of the two twins. Morrow's saints are called Ascended, and like Christian saints they were each righteous badasses and paragons of virtue. Thamar's saints are called Scions, and they got where they are by being unscrupulous badasses willing to do absolutely anything to get ahead. Morrow gave men hope in the dark ages of oppression on the part of the Orgoth, but Thamar gave humankind the Gift of Magic to put that hope on a firm foundation, bargaining elf gods and two thirds of human souls to Infernals for that.
Morrow's church is the dominant one in the Iron Kingdoms, and it fills the role of a Protestant church for the setting. All of the human Iron Kingdoms except for the Protectorate of Menoth are majority-Morrowans. Theologically, most "moderate" Menites (a.k.a., those outside the Protectorate) are somewhat cool with the Morrowan church, which does acknowledge Menoth as the creator of man and sings his praises in their hymns alongside Morrow.
Thamar's worship, meanwhile, is highly decentralized. Most followers treat her religion as a very secret and personal thing, since, though not technically illegal in and of itself, most people don't want it widely known that they're worshipping the god of ruthless do-anything-to-get-ahead. Her followers are also notorious for getting up to things that are illegal in her worship, like necromancy and crime.
Basically Paragon and Renegade from Mass Effect.
The Devourer Wurm
The other great big god of the setting; Chaotic Neutral God of the Wilderness. The Wurm represents wild beasts, forests, and all that jazz. However, he is not a peaceful happy nature god; he is into blood sacrifice, burning down cities, and creating monsters for the fun of it. He's such a jerk that in the background lore a lot of his defeated worshipers converted to Menoth as he was the more benign of the two. Like Menoth, he's too preoccupied fighting his arch-rival to pay any attention to the world. Wurm-worshippers tend to be savage wild cannibals. His worshipers believe that they will get to join his eternal hunt across Urcaen when they die, looking for lost souls to eat and laying siege to the City of Man.
The Circle Orboros view the Wurm and Dhunia as two aspects of the same god, representing the destructive and nurturing aspects of nature respectively, although their version of this single god is a lot closer to the Wurm than Dhunia. They believe that Menoth and the Wurm must remain in balance, or the losing party will try to escape into Caen and probably step on and/or eat it in short order. Since Menoth is so powerful what with the spread of civilization and all, so they're trying to take civilization down a few pegs. If the wilderness was too powerful, they'd build a metropolis or two.
The mother goddess of the trolls, goblins, and ogres. These races used to worship both her and the Wurm, but as Wurm worship got them repeatedly screwed over, they gradually turned away from him and focused exclusively on Dhunia. This is where you go if you want a reasonably kind and nurturing nature deity, although it's only those "primitive" races who take her seriously. Dhunian worshipers are into reincarnation; she collects the souls of her worshipers, adds them to her metaphorical Big Pot O' Souls, and ladles out a mixture of old and new soul bits whenever something new is born.
Dhunians believe that the Wyrm was Dhunia's first son, and Dhunia's second son was Menoth himself. The Wyrm grew so wild that he raped her, impregnating her with all the predators of the world, from lions and tigers and bears to trollkin and ogrun and, yes, that most dangerous of all predators: MAN. Menoth struck out to hunt down the Wyrm and kick his ass for hurting their mother. But the millennia have gone by so violently that Menoth and the Wyrm don't remember much of anything besides the joy of hunting one another which... actually makes a kind of sense.
Dhunian clerics are generally old-school shaman-spellcasters, and quite a few of them are always procreating hither and thither.
The Divine Court of the Elves
Since Elves always have to be special snowflakes they have eight gods, all associated with a particular division of time; Lacyr (Ages), Ossyris (Hours), Ayisla (Night), Nyrro (Day), Scyrah (Spring), Lurynsar (Summer), Lyliss (Autumn) and Nyssor (Winter). When these gods noticed the existence of sentient beings on Caen, they decided to have a crack at making their own, and therefore Elves happened (so this setting's see themselves as a refinement of earlier designs rather than an elder race).
The elven gods were considerably more interventionist than the others, handing out secrets aplenty. However, this seemed to get harder for them over time, as the walls between Caen and Urcaen apparently thickened. The gods decided to teach the elves how to make a bridge between the planes, and the elves made the fucking stupid decision to put this bridge right in the middle of their capital. And of course, people flocked from miles around to see the opening of the bridge. So when it exploded after the gods made it through, a lot of elves died. It also split the continent of Immoren in half and turned most of the eastern half into a royally fucked-up desert, so it's not like building the bridge on the outskirts of town would have helped much, but that's still some pretty damn terrible urban planning.
Elves believed that their dead would either get to spend eternity in Lyoss if they were extra-specially good, or be reincarnated (still as elves) if they didn't make the cut. However, since the Rivening, the cycle has stopped, and some elves have been born without souls. It's hypothesized that these elves were meant to be receptacles for old souls, except that the old souls couldn't find their way back.
The Great Fathers and the Claywives
The dwarves have a total of thirteen gods, all dedicated to a particular form of craftsmanship or art; Orm (building), Godor (oration), Dohl (mining), Ghrd (wealth), Lodhul (cooking), Jhord (espionage), Odom (secrets), Dovur (weaponsmithing), Uldar (armoursmithing), Dhurg (axe-manship), Hrord (swordsmanship), Udo (hammer-manship), and Sigmur (whose role isn't mentioned in the IKRPG Core Rules but must be written down somewhere). These gods were created in slavery to a giant sentient mountain called Ghor, but they were eventually able to escape Ghor's clutches by tricking him into letting himself be mined hollow. They made their way to Caen, fashioned themselves some women called the Claywives (who are also worshiped by some dwarves), fathered the dwarven race, and left down an extremely detailed system of laws before heading back to Urcaen again. The dwarves believe that their dead get to live in the tower that the Great Fathers built out of Ghor's insides, eternally refining their chosen crafts. So where elves are slowly slipping away into nothingness, humans are either in a state of eternal servitude or getting spiritually nommed, and skorne are damned to everlasting torment in the Void, Rhulfolk chill and make themselves useful during a huge metaphysical game of Dwarf Fortress. That is, after a likely long life of making steam-powered magic robots, shooting the other races in their stupid tall people faces, and making fat stacks of bling from doing both. So praise be to the gods for assuring the vaguely Jewish/Scots-Irish thug life will be pimping from beginning to end and beyond.
Toruk the Dragonfather
Dragons in the Iron Kingdoms are basically Elder Gods, and as his title implies, Toruk is their progenitor and the biggest and baddest of the lot. Dragons keep their heart, soul, mind, and other essential organs inside a rock called a heartstone aka athanc. Killing a dragon but leaving its heartstone behind just means that the dragon will generate a new body from the stone and come back for revenge. Dragons also release a terrible nature-altering radiation field known as blight. Different dragons have different kinds of blight, and Toruk's appears to be flavored towards making undead creatures. The resident undead mad scientists of Cryx have used this to create all kinds of biomechanical zombies, ghosts, ghouls etc.
Toruk has never told anyone where he came from, and there doesn't seem to be any other easy way of finding out -- the only thing people are sure of is that none of the other gods made him. We do know, however, where his progeny came from. Toruk got lonely one day and decided to cut some pieces from his heart-stone. Unfortunately, the dragons which grew from those pieces got along like a sack full of cats, since they're all driven by the inescapable desire to join their broken heartstones back together again, so they were in a constant state of war for a while. The dragon-children managed to ally for just long enough to drive Toruk off the Immoren mainland before descending back into anarchy. There are now only a fairly small number of dragon-children left in the world, and most of them seem to be biding their time until they think that they have a decent chance of bringing down all of the others. Toruk, on the other hand, seems to be perfectly content chillin' on his personal island, waiting for his babies to come to him.
Even though Toruk lives on Caen, your players will not get to kill him, any more than D&D players should rightfully get to kill the
Tarrasque Asmodeus. He is plot armored up to and including the wazoo. Characters who get within one mile of Toruk either die and come back as zombies or pledge undying loyalty to him before he kills them and brings them back as zombies.
Toruk's cancer baby that grew legs and walked around spreading blight everywhere, who seems to have decided that now is the time to make his move against his dragon-dad. Everblight isn't that powerful as dragons go, but he is smart, and unlike all other dragons he actually has the capacity to control and focus his blighting abilities. He also
found built himself a magical sword that lets him cut up his heart-stone without making more baby dragons, so of course he's dispensed with his physical form altogether and has been sticking bits of his heartstone into various (mostly female) elves (the males are: one ogre, one golem-ish-thing, and one three-headed monster) to make himself an army. Oh yeah, and he's been making Xenomorph-esque monsters in his spare time.
Goddess of SCIENCE and CLOCKWORK and FUNKY MACHINERY and NO ROBOTS ALLOWED (not that other guy). Cyriss was discovered relatively recently by an astronomer who found a new planet in Caen's star system and was struck by weird prophetic fever dreams; the planet spoke to him, calling itself Cyriss, the Clockwork Goddess. The astronomer gathered likeminded neckbeards to stare at the planet and come up with religious dogma based on what it told them. As far as they can figure, they have to summon Cyriss to Caen in person by building a big funky world-encompassing machine, because that worked sooooo well when the elves did it. They also are not fans of artificial intelligences like Warjacks; they have a Thou shalt not build a machine in likeness of the human mind kind of thing going.
Basically, Cyriss is Friend Computer.
Defiers and Grymkin
Nightmarish creatures from fairytales and their masters. You see, Menoth, for all his power and glory, is a huge asshole. After creating people he simply dropped them in Caen to figure things on their own and buggered off to chase his
boyfriend enemy Wurm. Humans had to manage on their own, and in this their souls started showing true potential, shining brightly enough for Menoth to notice. Being a selfish prick, he wanted both hoard new toys and be the only top dog, so he invented basics of civilisation (fire, farming, buildings, writing) and gave them to humans, demanding worship in return and collecting the souls of faithful upon their deaths. But all his laws basically stated "Menoth is great, suck his dick and STFU", and he didn't pay attention to such meaningless things as virtue and decency, rewarding only blind obedience. Naturally, some took offence to that, and defied his will (hence the name), with five of them discovering aforementioned potential of their souls (basically, becoming beta-versions of Morrow and Thamar). Before they could do something really awesome and kick his ass, Menoth stuffed them all in the sack and shoved into the deepest asshole prison in Urcaen, to be endlessly tormented by their own nightmares. They chilled there for several millenia, learning to control and channel their nightmares and transforming an occasional soul that wanders in their domain withouth much else to do. Then old witch and supposedly goddess Zevanna Agha became aware of Infernals (see below), cut a deal with Defiers and opened their prison, so that they could commence a Wicked Harvest upon traders with Infernals and everyone else (but she still holds the keys, just in case they start looking funny at her).
Demons who live in Urcaen, or possibly somewhere beyond it, who desire human souls. Much like Dr. Faustus, it's possible to gain insane magical powers if you're willing to offer a soul to the Infernals. Unlike in Dr. Faustus, the Infernals don't particularly care whose soul you offer them -- any soul will do. That said, the Infernals also charge insane rates of compound interest, so they're going to keep asking for more and more souls and they'll take yours if you can't deliver. Infernals basically exist to give your campaign's main villain whatever insane magic powers you want. Also, gave arcane magic to humans per the deal with Thamar, in exchange for the Elven gods and 2/3 of all living human souls. Then decided to show up to collect way earlier than agreed, and now Thamar and everyone else shit bricks.
Humans in the Iron Kingdoms are basically the same as the humans that you know and feel neutrally about from every other RPG game ever and/or real life (where applicable). They're probably the most populous race in Caen (since they're the only race that has been seen to live on other continents), as well as the rulers of all of the Iron Kingdoms and the Circle Orboros. As is standard in most fantasy settings, Humans have a tendency to reckless experimentation with pretty much any form of technology or magic, which means that they're the most innovative race in the Kingdoms as well as the most likely to turn to crazy evil shit.
Pretty much the only unique thing about humans in the Iron Kingdoms is that Privateer Press has actually put some thought into how ethnicity works in their world. The human population of every kingdom is comprised of at least two ethnic groups, which trace back to pre-Occupation tribes. This can provide a bit of interesting extra character detail if you feel inclined to think about it.
Rules-wise, humans get average-to-good stats across the board plus a free stat point. They are also goddamn fucking
spoiled for options racist, with more unique race-locked classes than anyone else in the core book and sole access to almost all of the classes released in the first major expansion. The aristocracy, priesthood, and most knightly orders and elite forces are closed off to non-humans.
Horned, all-female descendants of the few survivors of Toruk's brawl with one of his offspring raining blighted blood onto one of the Scharde Isles. All the men died, but the women turned inhuman. Fearsome and cruel pirates with great racks in both senses of the word, they raid all over the coastline, practice violent blood-magic rites, and get killed on sight almost everywhere that isn't a pirate-friendly port, which just drives them deeper into their destructive and predatory culture. Satyxis reproduce by kidnapping men and raping them, then forcing them to walk the plank when they start siring sons instead of daughters. If the women do like the men enough, they even steer close to land first. Also if one gives birth to a son, then the latter is promptly sacrificed on a altar, hence why there are no male Satyxis around. And even if there was one, his life would a constant hell due to both prejudice from others as well of the constant fear of being found out by the females. They recently got rules here. Satyxis are mostly human, stat-wise, with an extra attack for their horned headbutts.
Gobbers are the "civilised" branch of the goblin species, who live as an underclass in most human cities. While descended from Dhunia-worshippers, modern Gobbers aren't particularly religious and will pay lip service to any religion that they think will benefit them. They love to tinker with mechanical and alchemical devices, although they have no capacity for magic themselves. Gobbers aren't so crash-hot when it comes to human notions of property, meaning that a lot of humans see the whole species as a bunch of kleptomaniacs. They love working in any type of workshop or laboratory, if the humans running the place will let them in. Gobbers usually form tight bonds with other members of their species in their local area, but don't have any great degree of social stratification. Nomadic gobber tinkers are considered the most skilled and honourable members of the species, noted for their fancy hats.
The Gobbers have a rule that's supposed to represent their small stature. It says that they can't use weapons from the Great Weapons or Rifle classes. This is a bloody silly way of representing their small size, because the category of a weapon is more to do with fighting technique than size. The default rule for Gobbers locks them off using quarterstaffs and carbines while still allowing them to use longbows. It also isn't really supported by the Warmahordes fluff, because Pygmy Trolls (which are the same size as goblins) can use rifles just fine. We recommend replacing it with this rule, which we have blatantly stolen from Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition.
Small Stature: Gobbers cannot use any weapon which must be held in two hands. They can use a weapon which can be held in either one or two hands; however, they must hold such a weapon in two hands, but may only use the weapon's one-handed profile.
The middle ground between city gobbers and wild bogrin, swamp gobbers are goblins that live in the swamp. They can build some decent tech, mostly out of wood and swamp water. Swamp Gobbers haven't been officially statted, but probably won't get stats of their own -- use the Gobber stats for them.
Bogrin are tribal goblins, who are slightly bigger and a lot meaner than gobbers -- more like goblins as the traditional D&D monster. They can be visually distinguished by their mohawk-like cranial ridges and their love for piercings and tattoos. Bogrin don't get along in human cities and mostly live in the wilderness; they are particularly numerous in the northern parts of the Scharde islands (i.e. the non-undead-infested parts).
The dwarves of the Iron Kingdoms don't stray too far from the standard fantasy model in most respects. They like mining (although they mostly don't actually live in their mines), they have a high degree of magical and technological skill (with no limitations on their use of magic) but mostly turn it towards spells and tech that are already proven to be stable and reliable rather than bonkers experimentation, they're incredibly Lawful-aligned and crazy about contracts and family lines, are very obsessive about perfecting their chosen crafts, and even have the innate ability to be better at wearing heavy armour than other races.
The main unique thing that's been mixed into IK Dwarven culture are a bunch of stereotypes about the Swiss. No, really. Dwarves have a strong military that they never use because they're obsessive about staying on peace terms with every other nation, keep everyone afraid of that army via constant mercenary activity, and have used those peace terms to create a massive trading fleet. If the Iron Kingdoms had ready access to chocolate (which does exist in-world but is an incredibly luxurious good that comes from the southern continent of Zu), the Dwarves would probably be the best at making it.
Also all Dwarves in IK are clean-shaven. As in, they shave their beards. We're not fuckin' kidding here. Clean. Shaven. Dwarfs. Fetch your heart medication, take a few. You good? Need a break? No reason to be down about it, you might need more than a few hours to get through this.
Big ogres, tusks and all. The urban ones tend to be blue-collar union men and women in human settlements, using their massive strength to work hard and keep away the strikebreakers. Up in Rhulic country, ogrun and dwarves live side by side in relative harmony, with the ogrun having a long, glorious history of serving dwarvish bigwigs as "bokur," or bodyguards.
Up in the far north, there used to be some wild tribes of "uncivilized" ogrun, but they've gotten fucked even harder than the Nyss by the whole Everblight deal. The current meat puppet/sex doll of the disembodied dragon, Thagrosh, who started this whole mess, was an escaped ogrun slave.
Iosans are the "High" elves of the Iron Kingdoms setting, living in the kingdom of Ios. Ios is fanatically isolationist and hideously paranoid, which is fair enough considering that the majority of its gods went missing, their sole surviving god is possibly having its life drained to feed human magic, their species has stopped reincarnating properly etc. etc. As in many other fantasy settings, being an Elf in the Iron Kingdoms is not pleasant from a survival of the species point of view, but unlike most Tolkein-ripoff elves the Iron Kingdoms ones haven't kept their cool composure; in fact, quite a lot of them are determined to murder every single human mage so that their gods get better.
In the Iron Kingdoms RPG, Iosans have the choice of being specialist mage hunters, with an innate ability to ignore ALL magical defenses automatically; eventually they get bonus damage against anything that can use magic.
However, the majority of Iosan players will probably join the Order of Seekers, which is basically an official organisation of D'rizzit Do'Urdens. They want to actually look for answers as to why Scyrah is getting sick rather than indiscriminately murdering humans in the hope that she'll perk up. Iosans get good intellectual and "dexterity" stats, and can choose an extra archetype benefit at character creation.
The Nyss are the winter-y, snow-y kind of elves, descended from worshippers of Nyssor, god of winter, who followed a prophet named Aeric into the frozen northlands under the assumption that said god could maybe possibly be found there. Because, y'know, he's the god of winter and it was really cold up there. They have a few physical differences from elves (taller, skinnier, darker skin, white hair), but the differences between Nyss and Iosans are mainly cultural. Traditional Nyss culture is very tribal and nomadic, with next to no farming, technology or literacy.
That said, there isn't much left of traditional Nyss culture, because the vast majority of the race has been eaten and/or mindwiped by Everblight. The survivors of the race consist of a bunch of refugees who have taken up shelter in any kingdom that will have them.
Bigger than humans, but smaller than the full-blooded trolls they're descended from, trollkin are probably best thought of as Warcraft orcs mixed with Scottish clans and Native Americans. They aren't as advanced as some other nationalities, but they do still have their own culture and way of life. Biologically, their regeneration isn't quite up to par with regular trolls, but they still slowly regenerate lost limbs over months of time, and in-game they always start with high Physique scores, the Tough rule that grants them a 1/3 chance to shrug off death, and a turbo-charged version of the Walk It Off rule to simulate their uncanny ability to heal quickly.
Urbanized trollkin live all over the Iron Kingdoms, though they are most common outside of human-supremacist Menoth and openly-xenophobic Khador, and they occupy a space not unlike 19th century American immigrants: doing more work for less pay while living in ethnically-segregated neighborhoods. But, they aren't outright murdered in the streets like black people either, and their racial crafts (stonecutting and textiles) are often highly-prized by collectors.
Rural trollkin live in kriels, complete with their own individual patterned kilts, all over the heart of the continent, from the western borders of Cygnar to the Rimeshaws in the icy north. Like the ancient Scottish clans, they're all very possessive about their little patches of territory, and like Native Americans, they were promised ownership of their ancestral lands by the white-man-analogue for helping fight off the Orgoth, only to see him systemically violate the shit out of their various agreements for generations whenever something he wanted was lying around on their property. Though disconnected and estranged for their entire history, the kriels have begun begun to coalesce into a united proto-state under the charismatic leadership of Madrak Ironhide in the face of the ongoing world war, despite many, many setbacks.
The Orgoth aren't currently a faction, but they are one of the most important pieces of background fluff, comparable to the Horus Heresy in Warhammer 40,000. In fact, they're the reason the Iron Kingdoms exist in their current form and why the steam-and-magic-powered technology was made, (they are essentially a plot device). Ironically, there isn't actually much known about them, besides the fact that they're humans from across the ocean that wielded incredibly powerful black magic and enslaved Western Immoren for centuries. They sent boatloads of slaves to their homeland and built massive strongholds before suddenly stopping and setting up puppet rulers across the continent. The only free city left was Caspia, future capital of Cygnar, and technically Cryx (if they were free to begin with), although they threatened Cryx enough that Lord Toruk himself had to destroy their invasion fleet.
So, for the first time in the history of Western Immoren, the humans had a common foe. Meanwhile, the church of Menoth lost followers (after all, it's hard to say you're the supreme master of mankind when you don't raise a finger to help), whereas the Twins gained followers, spreading a message of hope and help. It also helps that Thamar was a god of magic, which gave Western Immoren a fighting chance against the occupiers. However, something more was needed, in this case science. The Orgoth didn't particularly care about their subjects in Immoren, so alchemy/science could take hold without interruption. Soon, humans had invented the very first cortexes, to be used in massive "Colossi," the precursors to the warjacks. With the aid of the dwarves of Rhul, they built and learned to control the Colossi, using them to beat back the Orgoth after 800 years of their rule.
Of course, as mentioned before, not a whole lot is known about the Orgoth. They didn't appear that often to their human subjects, instead ruling through puppets and intermediaries, and they destroyed most of their written lore when it became clear they would be expelled. The did leave some things behind, though, primarily weapons; although potent, these weapons frequently cause the wielder to go insane, but, in a time of war, the nations are putting aside their moral qualms on such topics, especially Khador.
Cryx uses Orgoth artifacts often and most of their plans involved uprooting their Strongholds, they're also the only ones who still have Orgoth namely the Warwitch Sirens.
Some speculate that the Orgoth is a faction waiting to happen, probably introduced when the fan has been cleansed of the current shit (aka: the invasion of Llael). I mean, the old masters of the world returning to get the meddling kids off their lawn and in chains again? Terrific.
So far however, Privateer Press maintains that the Orgoth will never be playable, and the Circle's fluff maintains that they unleashed a horrifying plague in their homeland that killed almost all of them.