When I first saw the Monsternomicon, Volume One on the shelf at the local game store, I knew I had to have that book. It was 2002, when Dungeons & Dragons third edition was still fresh and new. I cracked open the book and had my first glimpse of a neat, new world... one that took a step back from the standard fantasy tropes, threw in an industrial revolution that was half steam powered, and half fueled by arcane magic. Welcome to the Iron Kingdoms.
The narrative of the settings is that it is a world at war in many ways. There is the struggle between the nations of the world, as some seek to expand and others try to protect their borders, and their allies. There is a struggle between the forces of progress, and those who would stamp out the smoke-belching factories. Religious zealots, too. These conflicts offers ample plot hooks for all manner of stories you might want to tell and participate in.
The D20 version of the Iron Kingdoms was introduced in a series of modules called The Witchfire Trilogy. The story introduced us to the complex antagonist Alexia Ciannor, and the unholy blade she came to possess, the Witchfire. The Monsternomicon that I mentioned before followed, then a short volume called Lock & Load. After that, it was a long wait for the Iron Kingdoms Character Guide and the World Guide, but the wait was well worth it. Those books are, in my opinion, some of the most well-written RPG books ever to grace my shelves. One of the most memorable campaigns I ever ran was set there. It is really a pity that the publisher, Privateer Press, was far more focused on its wargames set in the same world, although to be fair, the books supporting those offered great source material.
A month ago, my wonderful wife brought me a copy of the new Iron Kingdoms Core Rules home from GenCon. I have been waiting for quite a while on this one, and it is a beautiful book. Full color, loads of art... and a new system. The system is based on the rules of the wargames Warmachine and Hordes, and is even compatible somewhat with them. It marries the character advancement options of previous RPGs with the "wargamey" rules of a tabletop miniatures game. And the execution is good.
I admit to being very sceptical the first time I heard about it. I honestly love miniatures, and have a great time painting them. I use them in other roleplaying games, too, but I wasn't sure that I wanted to be nudged toward being a Warmachine player. I recently just played a battle scene pitting units from Warmachine against characters built from the Core Rules, and I had a great time. It was indeed very much like a wargame, and it certainly shone. We played a combat that would have been insanely complex in the D20 system in a pretty short amount of time; that's a plus. I still have yet to try a more traditional RPG adventure, though I suspect the system's relative simplicity will allow that to run smoothly, too.
So... which is best? Time will tell. The D20 system is very familiar to most roleplayers and lots of sources exist to supplement player options. The new system, with its compatibility with Warmachine/Hordes, allows you to play epic battles in less than half the time of a comparable on in D20. Right now, I like them both. I have already played one combat scene with the new system and was quite impressed. Happy gaming!
...And the giveaway continues!
Today we are showing off 2 more Game Salute games you can spend that prize money on. Today we give you 2 games with very unique themes. Also, we hit 600 backers today! We will definitely be adding some games to the prize mix. Keep spreading the word and check back in tomorrow to learn about what loot is going to get added in these final days of the giveaway.