Iron Kingdoms RPG
The Iron Kingdoms RPG is a roleplaying game for playing in the Iron Kingdoms Universe (duh). It has seen two different edition at this point, the first being the Dungeons and Dragons mod called Iron Kingdoms, set in what was called the "Witchfire" universe, based on the books of the same name. This quickly grew to produce numerous great stuff, most notably the wargames WARMACHINE and HORDES, who both are in their third edition as of this article. As those two games got a more substantial following, the IKRPG followed suit and adopted the basics of the two wargames for its system, which created the game you're reading about now.
IKRPG is, of course, set in the Iron Kingdoms, and allows the player to take on a wide variety of different adventurers doing a wide amount of different shit in the Kingdoms; Cortex trafficking, mercenary work, elite troops, you name it. The players also sorta a create their own class on creation, due to a cool two-"Career" system where you choose what amount to two classes and then combine all their feats, skills and whatever into one. This can create all manners of cool shit, like a Trencher/Investigator, or a Stormblade/Arcanist.
IKRPG is slightly infamous for being based on a system meant for a wargames, and it shows in the system. It is a very combat-heavy system, with some light investigative and social system here and there for good measure. Battles play out almost like the way the wargames do, while most play outside combat is more up to the players and their GM to figure out.
The player characters also get fucking lethal at the drop of a hat; semi-competent Veteran level characters can readily skull-fuck characters like the Butcher without breaking a sweat. That said, it's generally easy to take damage but hard to die, so combat is hard but not overly punishing.
- 1 Rules
- 2 Core Careers
- 2.1 Alchemist
- 2.2 Arcane Mechanik
- 2.3 Arcanist
- 2.4 Aristocrat
- 2.5 Bounty Hunter
- 2.6 Cutthroat
- 2.7 Duelist
- 2.8 Explorer
- 2.9 Fell Caller
- 2.10 Field Mechanik
- 2.11 Gun Mage
- 2.12 Highwayman
- 2.13 Investigator
- 2.14 Iron Fang
- 2.15 Knight
- 2.16 Mage Hunter
- 2.17 Man at Arms
- 2.18 Military Officer
- 2.19 Pirate
- 2.20 Pistoleer
- 2.21 Priest
- 2.22 Ranger
- 2.23 Rifleman
- 2.24 Soldier
- 2.25 Sorcerer
- 2.26 Spy
- 2.27 Stormblade
- 2.28 Thief
- 2.29 Trencher
- 2.30 Warcaster
- 3 Kings, Nations, and Gods Careers
- 4 Expansions
The IK RPG system is based around test made with 2D6 like in the wargames with small changes to the overall formula - When you test for, say, Agility, you roll a 2D6, add your Agility score to the mix and that's it. In some cases you will add more modifiers from skills, but this is what you do, both in and outside combat.
Stats are compromised of your Main stats, which are the physical (Physical, Speed, Strength), skillbased (Agility, Prowess, Poise) and mental (Intelligence, Perception, Arcane) traits of your average being, Skills, who are divided into Occupational, Military and General skills, and Abilities, which is, well, abilities of the characters.
The game tends to make it easy to become a dodge-tank if one wants to, as DEF is gained from three Stats that are readily available and nice to have (Speed, Agility and Perception), while armor-tanks are rare but powerful when they do show up. A well-geared Paladin of the Wall using Stone Stance can readily hit 24+ ARM values, which is fucking insane in this game. This author had a campaign where the GM had to break the rules of the game just to try to break the Armor of the resident Man-O-War/PotW... and also to let said player have it in the first place, since as printed that's an invalid combination even if yes there are a few Khadoran paladins stomping around. We're talking Ogruns in Ironhead Armor.
"I know this is a silly question before I ask it, but... can you Americans speak ANY other language than english?"
- – Inglourious Basterds
Being a political intrigue setting, language is actually a fairly important factor in IKRPG. Most characters are limited to two languages, their native language plus one extra, and only a handful of classes have the ability to learn new ones, while 'jack cortexes are restricted to the language of whatever nation made them. Since the four powers of Cygnar (the Sul-Menites speak Cygnarian), Llael, Khador, and Ord all speak different tongues, and adventures are likely to involve interacting with people from all four nations (and potentially beyond), language actually becomes something of a gateway on what you can and can't get away with in dealing with others.
The core careers able to learn any language are aristocrat, explorer, investigator, pirate, and spy, thanks to the Language: Any ability; each purchase of that ability adds one new language to their repetoir. With the exception of the pirate these are mostly interaction focused careers that are lean on fighting abilities. If you want to be a hyper optimized double combat career powerhouse, the tradeoff is that your character will be a thick dimwit who will be totally out of their element in half of the human kingdoms.
Additionally the bounty hunter, cutthroat, and thief have the Language: Five Cant ability, the gutter slang of the port city of Five Fingers and the lingua franca of crime in the Iron Kingdoms. While less powerful than Language: Any, it will generally suffice for backalley dealings in any human city in Western Immoren (the ones not controlled by the Protectorate anyway).
Unsurprisingly, the alchemist is largely a crafting career focused on doing weird shit with chemistry ("YEAH MR WHITE! YEAH SCIENCE!") and then typically throwing the results at a target.
The arcane mechanik is a combination crafting career and situational combat career. They have the inscribe ability which lets them create new runeplates for mechanika, and they get the ability to command warjacks and can upkeep spells on warjacks for free. BUUUTTT... they're not the best warjack drivers, and while they have some spells, they're most effective on warjacks. In combat with stuff that bleeds, they have to fall back on mechanika gadgetry.
Put on your robe and wizard hat, it's the pure Vancian caster. Arcanists can maintain any one upkeep spell for free.
One of the main social careers, the Aristocrat has privilege. Literally and unironically. They're one of the few core careers that have the ability to learn new languages. They also have a smattering of riding abilities, some leadership, and a broad slate of skills for social and intrigue settings. If you want a career that falls somewhere between the military officer and spy, the aristocrat is your answer. Only humans can be aristocrats.
The bounty hunter sits somewhere between the cutthroat and the investigator, as a shady operator specializing in tracking people down and subduing them. Their main ability is combining Waylay and Take Down, making them the go-to career for capturing people ALIVE.
The rogue. Cutthroats are single target burst damage experts... as long as they hit from behind. Big on abilities, but one of the weakest careers for skills.
Cutthroats with manners. The duelist career combines parry and riposte into a character that excels in mano-a-mano combat. Also gets acrobatics for parkour gimmickry, and a sampler platter of social skills like etiquette and seduction for the swave, socialite killer.
Along with the ranger and soldier, the Explorer is essentially a survival career focused to a specific setting. Explorers are in their element hunting beasts, unravelling mysteries in ruins, and working in unfamiliar settings as they are one of the few careers with the Language ability. While they have access to a variety of weaponry skills, aside from Big Game Hunter they don't have any combat abilities.
The fell caller career is restricted to trollkin. It's essentially a buffing career revolving around talking smack.
The non-magical counterpart to the arcane mechanic. The field mechanic is a specialist in warjack control. While they can't bond with a jack like warcasters, they get the widest selection of drive abilities and they're the best at fixing jacks. They're also the only career that STARTS with one.
Wizards who specialize in gun-fu. They do their thing by casting spells on bullets and then shooting them. One of the strongest standalone pure DPS careers, as the gun mage spell list has an answer for pretty much every combat situation. Pairs well with stronger social careers like investigator or spy because the gun mage career doesn't need any help to wreck shit.
Starts the game with a horse and knows how to ride it. The highwayman career on its own is sort of an all purpose 'ridin, 'fightin, 'lyin scoundrel type with enough social skills to excel at dirty dealings among rough company. It has a mix of basic combat abilities that don't box it into a specific fighting style, but also leave it wanting combat ooomph from its other career.
The thinking half of an inquisitor, with all the occupational skills to sort out any mystery, and the elusive Language skill that lets them learn more than the starting two languages almost everyone else is stuck with. Not a combat career by any measure, but they get prowl, sneak, and anatomical precision. Pair it with whatever combat career you want to turn to when things get messy.
Restricted to Khadoran humans, Iron Fangs hit things with grenades on spears. Weirdo.
The knight career suffers from being a true hybrid class, a not-so-great leader with a focus on sword and board style fighting and an ability to mitigate the negatives of heavy armor.
Restricted to Iosans, mage hunters exist to fuck up casters. Their key ability is to ignore magical defenses completely. Backing this up is a skillset tailored to being a sneaky elf sniper. But their actual combat abilities are mostly range and weapon agnostic... they just really hate magic users. Warcasters in particular have a hard time with mage hunters because they bypass the effects of warcaster armor.
Man at Arms
Hits things with sticks and gets hit with sticks. There's really not much more to it, the Man at Arms is a melee specialist with no pretenses at doing ANYTHING else.
The team leader career, with all the battle plan abilities and some of the warjack drive commands. Laughably weak in terms of actual combat ability, you'll need to pair it with something that can actually throw some pain.
The career for people who like to fight dirty; ya bloody pirates. Like the knight, pirates are more of a crunchy lore career than a serious focus on either social or combat interactions. But of all the careers that get Language they have the most combat focus (albeit mostly focused on tricks like Sucker and Head-Butt).
Shoots things with pistols. That's pretty much it.
Comes in Morrowan and Menite flavors, but both are restricted to humans. Priests of Morrow are more of the buffing-healing sort, and Priests of Menoth are really into fire.
The ranger career is the outdoorsman, an expert at surviving in the wilds. They're pretty lean on actual combat abilities, but they have all the key components for sneaking around and doing reconnaissance, and the leadership skills to help others with doing the same.
Shoots things with rifles. Again, kind of a one-trick pony.
Despite its name, the soldier is not by itself a strong combat career. Rather, it's principally focused on SURVIVING in a battlefield setting, with abilities that improve their ability to avoid damage. In addition, it comes with some utility skills, like medicine and the ability to command warjacks. Pairing the soldier career with a damage focused career like rifleman or gun mage will give you the archetypal tough as nails battlefield veteran.
The elementalist caster class, in fire/ice/stone/storm flavors. Compared to arcanists they have much less flexibility in spells (not exactly restricted to just DPSing but certainly wanting for utility), but they pick up some tools for playing hide and go sneak that an arcanist would need to take another career for.
The spy career has one of the widest occupational skill lists in the game, excelling at basically anything involving interaction and intrigue. HOWEVER, they pay for this by having essentially no combat abilities to speak of, so their second career choice will likely have to be a heavy hitter.
Restricted to Cygnar humans, Stormblades hit things with lightning swords.
As the name implies, the thief is an expert at breaking into things and running away. Their skills and abilities list reads like a college syllabus in criminal enterprise, and they're slightly better than spies at actually being sneaky thanks to getting camouflage and traceless path like rangers.
Restricted to humans, trollkin, and ogruns from Cygnar, the trencher is a specialist in fighting wars. Their ability list has a little bit of everything from bombs to bayonets, and some of the soldier's damage mitigation abilities. But they're an unsubtle career that's at its best fighting a pitched battle with grenades and artillery, not taking down a villain in their lair or dueling with ruffians in a back alley.
The iconic warcaster career is the "makes everything better" choice. Warcasters are defined by the bond ability, which lets them do three useful things. First, they can bond with warjacks and pass them focus points, making them very good at jack controlling. Secondly, they can bond with weapons and then spend focus points to get boosted attack and damage rolls on demand. And lastly, they can bond with warcaster armor and use unspent focus as magical energy shielding. They also get a handful of spells although even the arcane mechanik looks down on warcasters in terms of pure spellcasting. Where warcasters excel is in the flexibility of the bond ability, particularly with weaponry. Being able to boost rolls at will means they become very consistent at connecting with their targets, and hitting for a good deal of damage. Warcaster armor isn't exactly discrete or subtle (stomping around with a coal fired boiler and steam turbine on your back), but it offers some of the best protection available in the game; even the lightest warcaster armor is surprisingly tanky if you just pour focus into keeping the shield charged. The warcaster is sufficiently tough and dangerous to get by when paired with an interaction-focused career. But when paired with another combat career, especially those that are not inherently magical on their own (using abilities instead of spells and thus not needing focus points), warcasters can become exceptionally lethal; a warcaster/mage hunter or warcaster/duelist will take opponents apart in short order.
Kings, Nations, and Gods Careers
Restricted to Cygnarian humans, the stormsmith uses advanced gadgetry to manipulate the weather. While their abilities rival those of Sorcerers, they are not necessarily magic users themselves; however they are always skilled mechanikal engineers. The stormcaller is easily the most casually destructive of careers, but also the most situational. Weather manipulation has its uses for camouflage and distraction, but in general stormcalling is a terribly unsubtle profession that is difficult to use on a scale smaller than a battlefield. Stormsmithing is a perception based skill which means it likes having hyper-perception from the intellectual archetype; taking gifted instead for a casting career is effectively a waste of the stormsmith's strengths.
The northern equivalent to the Trencher, and naturally restricted to khadoran humans. Like it's southern counterpart, the Kommando is a combat profession that's in its element on a raging battlefield and of little use anywhere else, but their abilities favor more aggressive offense that leverages their signature gas grenades.
So you wanted the table to play Black Crusade but got outvoted...
Restricted to khadoran humans. You get to play a Khornate cultist. No more, no less.
Has a horse. Where the highwayman is more of a dark rider, the horseman career leans all into cavalry. This is your go-to career if you want to be gallant knight riding tall on a warhorse, electro lance or blasting lance in hand as you run down the enemy. Typically paired with the Iron Fang or Stormblade careers to leverage lance weapons with the counter charge ability.
So you wanted the table to play Deathwatch but got outvoted...
Soviet russian SPESS MEHREENS, limited to khadoran humans. With their steam-driven power armor, the man-o-war hits combat with something resembling the stats of a light warjack; only warcasters in heavy armor can really be said to be on the same footing offensively and defensively. As with most of the nation specific careers, they're really only at home in a warzone.
You walk into the tavern, dragging your trusty cannon...
Quite frankly the silliest of the expansion careers, the Artillerist is IKRPG's that guy. Occupationally similar to other shooty specialists like the pistoleer and rifleman, with the key difference being one of caliber. The pistoleer puts holes in people... the artillerist puts holes in buildings. Pretty useless as far as interaction skills go, although showing up at a negotiation pushing your favorite deck gun "just in case" has a quality all its own.
Allegiant of the Order of the Fist
Menite kung-fu masters. Naturally limited to protectorate humans. Order of the Fist members are close combat monsters, able to perform both defensively and offensively without the encumbrance of weapons or armor, making them pure cheese for balancing, particularly when paired with the Warcaster career.
The menite answer to the stormblades and iron fangs, exemplars are the enforcers of the scrutators and the career is limited to humans of the protectorate. Exemplars are non-magical melee warriors who are able to manifest magic-like power in their attacks.
Paladin of the Order of the Wall
The tankiest tank that ever tanked a tank. The paladin rivals the warcaster and man-o-war for sheer toughness, using tower shields and full plate armor. As long as they aren't moving they automatically gain 3 armor and immunity to being knocked down. While their offensive threat range is essentially non-existent, in close combat they use magic flaming swords that do respectable damage. The Order of the Wall is restricted to menite humans, but unlike other menite careers the paladins can be found in other nations (particularly Khador). Unlike the Exemplars (who obey the Scrutators), the Paladins see themselves as true protectors of the faithful with no particular loyalty to the Menite priesthood.
The Reclaimer is a complex career to unpack. They are the undertakers of the menite faith and thus naturally limited to menite humans, but that's only the start. Reclaimers... don't speak. Ever. They don't interact with anyone and hardly even take notice of others, going about their grim business like pawns under the direct guidance of Menoth. Usually this means collecting souls from the recently dead, or more occasionally killing people that Menoth WANTS collected. Typically the Reclaimer is paired with the Warcaster, as collected souls can be saved and then spent as focus.
The ruling priesthood of the Protectorate (and thus always menite humans). The Scrutator is an unusual support caster class with an interesting but unsubtle selection of interaction skills. Simply... the Scrutators are assholes; they start the game with Intimidation, Interrogation, and the ability to mind control people. On their own, the Scrutator does fine in social situations AS LONG as they can terrify people with the word of god, and when that doesn't work they run out of ideas fast.
The game is essentially fully fleshed out by now. And dropped.
- Iron Kingdoms: Unleashed: A main book like the regular IKRPG book, though focused on the HORDES part of the setting, as opposed to the WARMACHINE focus of the original game.
Fully 80% compatible with the other one, to the point where having both books just means having double the options for characters enemies maybe, but you need to pick which one your campaign heroes will belong to. If you wanna play cannibalistic pigmen, this is where you go.
- Kings, Gods and Nations: An expansion to the main game, featuring ALL of the lore, plus a little more. In addition, it's got a lot of nation-and-religion-specific new classes, items and Warjacks. It's got explosive pens. Explosive. Pens.
- Urban Adventures: An attempt at expansion, featuring race specific Careers, all of them bad, few items with extremely specific uses (more so than explosive pen above) and some lore. Only thing actually fun is five pages of undead crafting guide.
- Wild Adventures: Expansion done right, PP got their shit together. At the half price of KG&N, you get new races, new careers (one of them Siamese-twin spell-casting frogmen), career variants, and bunch of gear. But that's not all. You get the rules for crafting magical gear and ritual magic, both expanding the game considerably, since those are, you know, bread and butter of fantasy scenarios.
- Skorne Empire: Probably the last expansion for the line, this gives players of Unleashed the option to be members of Skorne's stratified society. In case being a society of sadomasochistic freaks turns you on.
- No Quarter Magazine: Almost every issue of Privateer Press' personal magazine has had a section with additional stuff for players; much of it inspired by things in the wargame.