The Iron Kingdoms
is a campaign setting for the d20
system and set in the same fictional world as the WARMACHINE
. The Iron Kingdoms setting is created by Privateer Press
One of the key thematic characteristics of the Iron Kingdoms campaign settings is the inclusion of steam, clockwork, and firearm technologies which are commonly absent from many fantasy RPG settings. In the Iron Kingdoms, arcane magic and the refinement of technology arose at roughly the same time, and complement each other. This has set up something of a steampunk
version of Dungeons & Dragons
, in a similar way that Shadowrun
has heavy cyberpunk
influences (although Shadowrun is not based on Dungeons & Dragons).
The most obvious display of the blending of magic and technology are the steamjacks, large humanoid mechanisms powered by coal furnaces and magical energy. Many items familiar to Dungeons and Dragons
players are more readily available in the Iron Kingdoms as magically assisted machines, or steam-engine-powered magic items.
The reasoning behind this shift from classic "magic" weapons is that some sort of magical field is wrapped around the world of Caen, making planar travel (normally a D&D staple) only to be undertaken in times of extreme need. This field inhibits the creation of magical items by increasing the costs normally associated with their manufacture and adding the possibility that their creator will lose his own life energy in their creation.
In game terms, this takes advantage of the magic system from D&D 3.5, wherein characters creating magic items are required to sacrifice Experience Points (XP) in order to create the item. In the Iron Kingdoms, XP sacrifice is directly linked to permanent hit point loss. The creation of mechanika circumvents this problem by having the character create several smaller magic items (which are largely technological in nature) and combine them into one larger magic item. The end result is that roughly the same amount of XP is sacrificed but instead of being put into one large item it is split up between several smaller items, thus avoiding permanent hit point loss.
In addition to the differences in magic item production, the Iron Kingdom boasts a larger reliance on alchemy than in traditional divine healing. The prevalence of alchemy also provides certain technological breakthroughs such as insect repellant and blasting powder.
One of the prominent features of alchemy is the production of Blasting Powder, the Iron Kingdoms equivalent of gunpowder. Blasting powder in the Iron Kingdoms differs greatly from gunpowder as we know it. It consists of 2 different powders: red powder and black powder, both of which must be mined and then processed alchemically. When the two are mixed, they create a highly unstable, explosive powder that immediately detonates. These powders are used for firearms and are held in silk shells that are pierced upon firing to mix the powders.
However, alchemy is not only used in weapons. Since the setting rejects traditional D&D's pervasive health potions, alternative means of healing must be found. Among these are fine products like Ansleigh's Wound Seal or Corben's Invigorating Elixir. Besides these curatives, there are a number of other uses of alchemy as tools, as exemplified by Baron Voratchik's Clawed Grip, which contorts the drinker's fingers into rigid claws useful for climbing walls or tussling with an enemy.
One of the interesting features of the Iron Kingdoms is that most alchemical items have a sort of 'brand name.' This differs from the standard "Potion of Cure Light Wounds," and is a part of the setting's uniqueness.
Though firearms are present in the Iron Kingdoms, it is still very much a setting of knights in heavy plate armor, valorous sword-fights, and high adventure. Much of the technology present in the Iron Kingdoms complements the knight-in-armor tradition.
Some of the technological advances that set the Iron Kingdoms apart from traditional high fantasy, which is roughly medieval in technology, are quite mundane in nature, such as movable-type printing presses, pocket watches, and indoor plumbing.
Populations of the Iron Kingdoms
The Iron Kingdoms is a Human-dominated campaign setting. Though fantasy stand-bys such as Dwarves and Elves exist, the vast majority of the setting is populated by and run by Humans. A variety of ethnic backgrounds are available to help customize player characters and to add spice to the game world. Humans receive class skills and optional stat adjustments to reflect the cultural preferences of each subculture. Humanity has long established several kingdoms for themselves. Cygnar, Llael, Ord, Khador, the Protectorate of Menoth, and even a number of the Sharde islands are populated by a majority of humans. In relation to the other races, humans in the Iron Kingdoms are sometimes limited with their physical traits, but still make up for it in the area of skills and are generally very potent spell casters.
Though present in the Iron Kingdoms, Elves are rare, reclusive, and xenophobic. There are two main groups of Elves, the Iosans (who maintain a strictly-guarded forest kingdom with little trade or contact with the outside world) and the Nyss (a small population of Arctic Elves that engage in little commerce with other races, including the Iosans). As a consequence of their xenophobia, half-elves are almost non-existent, which is yet another departure from the traditional D&D setting. Both forms of elves originally descend from a much more ancient elven civilization that was destroyed several thousand years before human recorded history.
The majority of the Nyss Elves have recently become corrupted by the Dragon Ethrunbaal and the survival of the race is in question.
Dwarves (called Rhulfolk) are more populous, prosperous, and pervasive than Elves in the Iron Kingdoms. They primarily live in the mountain nation of Rhul, to the north and east of the human nations. Rhul is not, strictly speaking, one of the Iron Kingdoms, but plays an important role in the politics and trade of the region. Dwarves in the Iron Kingdoms are still as strong and stout as their D&D counter parts, but while they are still considered to be master miners and metal-smiths, they are also considered to be one of the setting's premier authorities in the craft of gun-making. Another large departure from D&D and other 'traditional' fantasy settings is that cleanshaven Iron Kingdoms dwarves do exist; they do not all grow beards.
Gobbers are a departure from the traditional D&D goblins. Gobbers fill game niches traditionally filled by gnomes and halflings, which are not present in this setting. They make for capable mechanics and alchemists. There are presently two "races" of gobber, the more sedate and civilized Gobber and the vicious Bogrin which is comparable to the Goblin or kobold of other fantasy settings.
Ogrun are a more civilized version of traditional D&D ogres. They have integrated quite well into both human and dwarven society, though barbaric tribes still exist in some areas. Ogrun are the only playable race in the Iron Kingdoms with no aptitude for arcane magic. While barbaric ogrun do exist in the Iron Kingdoms, many have found a home living among the dwarves in the kingdom of Rhul. An highly honorable race, Ogrun will often swear oaths of loyalty to powerful leaders or warlords, which they will then serve without question for the duration of their lives.
Distant relatives of the more powerful trolls, trollkin, like ogrun and gobbers, can be found in Human cities, often working as dockworkers or stonemasons. However, there is still a large trollkin population that chooses to live a simpler life in the wilderness of Immoren. These trollkin live in a "kriel" (a group of families living closely together) and usually form tribes. Such Tribes are usually led by a group known as the "circle of stones," made up of the eldest and wisest of the tribe. A tribe also has a Shaman or priest who serves as the arbiter of all spiritual matters, although Shamans are also highly sought after to provide wisdom in more worldly matters. Trollkin sorcerers are born albino. Recent military conflicts in and around trollkin kriels has caused a massive migration of the trollkin in the Thornwood forest pushing them further south into lands claimed by the country of Cygnar.
Another distinguishing characteristic of the Iron Kingdoms is the relatively small number of deities in comparison to other fantasy settings. Rather than a giant, confused pantheon, there are relatively few gods.
The Devourer Wurm is commonly worshiped by barbarous tribes, many trollkin, ogrun, gobbers and by the Circle Orboros. The Devourer Wurm represents predation and the raw, chaotic, destructive power of nature. Worship of the Wurm is all but unknown amongst civilized people in the Iron Kingdoms.
Dhunia is primarily worshiped by the more "civilized" groups of trollkin. However Ogrun and Gobbers have been known to worship her as well. Dhunia represents the world itself (Caen) and its fertility. Many barbarous groups oscillate between devotion to the Devourer Wurm and devotion to Dhunia.
The Creator of Man
Menoth, the Creator of Man, is seen as the creator of the Human race, the giver of law and civilization. The traditions of Menoth worship are ancient and strict. Worshipers of Menoth are a minority in most of the Iron Kingdoms. A civil war in Cygnar resulted in a mass-migration of its Menoth-worshiping population to the Protectorate of Menoth, an autonomous theocratic state formed as part of a peace settlement. The Protectorate of Menoth is the only majority-Menite global power. Khador has a large Menite minority, and officially recognizes both faiths
Two mortal siblings, Morrow and Thamar, rebelled against the rule of Menoth's priest-kings, and eventually ascended to godhood themselves. Both represent freedom and self-improvement, though Morrow represent goodness and altruism, while Thamar represents evil and self-interest. Worshipers of Morrow are a majority in Khador, Llael, Ord, and Cygnar.
Worship of Thamar is typically done in secret, for while veneration of Thamar is legal in most countries, much of the activity done in her name is not.
The Maiden of Gears
A more abstract, recent addition to the gods worshiped in the Iron Kingdoms, Cyriss reveals herself through astrological patterns, mathematical paradoxes, and principles of physics. Her worshipers are a small fringe group, including many erudite scholars and engineers.
On the surface, the Cult of Cyriss seems to be relatively harmless, encouraging the use and advancement of technology throughout society. However, there have been rumors of sinister plots within the Maiden's secret temples.
Some of the Iron Kingdoms fiction indicates that worship of Cyriss (or at least building structures in veneration of her) is illegal in Cygnar
While not universally accepted as a divine entity, Lord Toruk controls the nightmare kingdom of Cryx
and is worshiped as a god by many of its inhabitants. He is the most powerful dragon in the world, called the Dragonfather largely because legend states that all other dragons on Caen were spawned when Toruk split his heartstone or Athanc into multiple pieces and each piece regenerated as a separate dragon.
One great goal of most worshipers of Lord Toruk is to continue service to him in undeath. Through the necromantic practices of his priests and other servants, Toruk keeps the souls of those who worship him from passing to Urcaen. Lord Toruk is believed to have the power of a god, though he has no presence in the Divine Realm.
The Dwarves worship the thirteen Stonefathers, who they believe founded their race and wrote the fundamental documents governing their society. Individual Stonefathers have influence over various aspects of Dwarven life, but they are always worshiped as a group. The foundations of Dwarven law and custom were laid out by the Stonefathers, and observation of and participation in these legal traditions is considered a sacrament of sorts
The Divine Court
The Elves of Ios have a set of gods, each governing particular aspects of the calendar, with spheres of influence such as day, night, and the individual seasons. The ancient elven kingdom of Lyoss attempted to create a bridge to the realm of the elven gods and thus bring them to Caen physically, so that they might better aid the elven people. The Bridge of Worlds allowed the elven gods to traverse the boundary between Caen and Urcaen. In so doing, a great disaster struck the world and the Gate is assumed to have exploded destroying the elven kingdom and many of its' inhabitants. The gods ushered their surviving people to another place but being unable to return to their celestial realm were rapidly losing their powers. The gods eventually departed their people to seek a way to return home. A long time passed without word until a terrible accident occurred, the nature of which is unknown, which caused most of the elven clerics to lose communication with their gods. Only worshipers of Nyssor(god of winter) and Scyrah, goddess of spring, continue to receive spells and the blessing of their deity.
The various publications of WARMACHINE material are relevant to the Iron Kingdoms setting, but only RPG material is included here. Privateer Press has published the following Iron Kingdoms books as of this writing:
- The Longest Night (Witchfire Trilogy) d20 adventure
- Fool's Errand (Witchfire Trilogy interlude) d20 adventure available as PDF
- Shadow of the Exile (Witchfire Trilogy) d20 adventure
- Legion of the Lost Souls (Witchfire Trilogy) d20 adventure
- The Monsternomicon v3.5 collection of monsters and background material - recently updated to v3.5
- Lock & Load: Character Primer collection of character-generation material
- Iron Kingdoms Character Guide 400pp rules resource
- Iron Kingdoms World Guide 400pp campaign setting information (history, descriptions of places and notable characters)
- Liber Mechanika 128pp rules and background resource detailing technological innovations and equipment-creation rules
- Five Fingers: Port of Deceit, a 208 page city sourcebook on the Ordic city of Five Fingers.
- The Witchfire Trilogy Collected Edition This is a book that contains the three original d20 adventures (The Longest Night, Shadow of the Exile, and Legion of Lost Souls) updated to 3.5 edition rules. The book also contains a hard copy version of Fool's Errand and a new adventure, The Umbral Spiral. It is printed in the same manner as the Iron Kingdoms Character Guide and Iron Kingdoms World Guide.
- The Monsternomicon Volume 2: Iron Kingdoms and Beyond More monsters and background into the lands of Eastern Immoren
- No Quarter bi-monthly magazine devoted to both the miniatures games and the roleplaying game aspect of the Iron Kingdoms.
Note that the The Longest Night, Shadow of the Exile, and Legion of Lost Souls are currently not in print, except in the Collected Edition.