September 24, 2012

Iron Kingdoms RPG

I am happy to talk about some roleplaying here again. It is an oft neglected part of my hobby. I was really excited to get my hands on a copy of the Iron Kingdoms Roleplaying Game on Friday. I haven't managed to spend quite as much time digesting it as I would have liked the weekend once again proved bizarrely hectic. The book cost €59 which is a little pricey, especially in comparison to the dollar price. I guess I will be ordering the supplements from the States. The quality of the book is top notch, though the artwork is repeated in places something that always feels a bit cheap to me.

I am a little dissapointed I have to say. There are going to be a lot of fanboy reviews popping up soon I guess but overall I think the ball was fumbled somewhat with this product. I am going to enjoy playing this but I think for what I paid I could have been given a higher quality product. The game is a wonderful transposition of the wargame onto a roleplaying game framework. The mechanics are solid but seem very restrictive in certain ways. I am saying this without having played so maybe I am completely incorrect. The statistical values of all the starting characters fall within a very predictable range. Having checked through the levelling mechanics, which in themselves are good, there is relatively little increase in these statistics over the course of a campaign. This works excellently in keeping the system balanced, something I applaud in the wargame. It does make your character seem a little bit similar to everyone elses though. The differentiation comes in skills and abilities. These add small but significant modifiers in places that you want your character to specialise. Interestingly a change of a point or two towards the positive has a much bigger effect on probabilities in the 2d6 system than in a d20 system. So maybe I am being unfair. Looking at the raw stats alone and their slow development over time makes characters seem very similar. I hope that the abilities however really allow some specific specialisation. I look forward to proving myself incorrect as I get to play.

The background and setting material is also a little lacklustre. Everything needed to play in the world is provided but maybe that is the point. We are presented with a little bit of everything rather than some specifics. I haven't come across a decent map yet, the book only contains one and its detail is sparse. Khador for instance has seventeen locations named within it. For one of the major kingdoms in the setting seventeen locations isn't much to go on. There are better maps available online but I can't see why new maps weren't produced. I think for a lot of players maps are one of the most attractive parts of an RPG. They spark the imagination in ways that text and pictures can't. I always hated Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay for not providing decent maps in the expansion books. A lot of the 4e Dungeons and Dragons expansions failed to provide decent maps. Moving on the bestiary section provides maybe twenty creatures. Aagain I find that this is poor fare. I can excuse the magic spells having no description, I have often found pages of descriptions for things like that boring and pointless. Some of those saved pages should have been dedicated to good creature descriptions and more detailed location descriptions. I have to assume that a Monsternomicon and some setting books will be available soon. Going on the monsters presented in No Quarter I am really happy with the presentation. The boring presentation in the Core Rules reminds me a lot of what I hated most about 4e. The No Quarter presentation provides a lot more information

Overall I feel that we have been presented with a 'Players Handbook' and we are left waiting for numerous supplements to fill in the rest. I suppose the fact that core rules is printed rather boldly on the cover should have given a lot of this away. It wuld have been nice to have been presented with a Monsternomicon and Setting book along with the core rules. At least then the contents could have been shared better between the three allowing some expansion in certain places. I guess the two supplements a year it is a fine model to make the game viable over an extended period of time. If each year two expansions are published it may keep interest in the game up. The book does leave me hungry for more but I wonder how long that will last.

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