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    Dwarf in the Playground
     
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    Default Iron Kingdoms RPG Discussion: Don't Split the Party!

    Was somewhat surprised not to see a thread for this already, as the game has been commercially available for over a month, and people have had copies of the book since Gencon. How is everyone liking the system? Care to share experiences? Found any broken combinations yet?

    To share some of my own experiences: We had an Arcane Mechanik/Field Mechanik in the party (since respec'd to Field Mechanik/Man-at-Arms). He could make us mechanikal items for very cheap. Like, ridiculously cheap. I got a suit of Mechanikal Tailored Plate with an Arcane Turbine and eight points of runes for like, 300 gold. The street price would have run upwards of three thousand gold. Everyone in the party has at least two pieces of mechanika. I have five. This came from about 2 or 3 sessions worth of plunder.

    Our Arcanist/Investigator recently picked up the spell Overmind. At first glance, not that impressive (enemies within your control range make a contested Willpower roll. If you win, you get to move them up to 3"/make them take a non-feat non-spell quick action). Well, we were on a mission to sabotage a Cygnaran bridge. The Cygnar forces were all ready for us, lined up in their trenches with their jacks ready to go. Our Arcanist steps up. He has the archetype benefit Dominator, which allows him to spend a feat point to double his control range, so he does that. He casts Overmind. All of the Cygnaran forces fail the roll (he rolled double sixes on his Willpower test), so he gives them all a simple command.

    "Throw your weapons in the river."

    Unfortunately, the GM ruled that throwing your weapon wasn't a quick action as there's actually a throw action in the game. So only the guys right on the banks could 'drop' their weapons in the river. But it did an excellent job of declawing the opposition.

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    Craft (Cheese)'s Avatar

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    Default Re: Iron Kingdoms RPG Discussion: Don't Split the Party!

    Quote Originally Posted by PrinceOfMadness View Post
    Was somewhat surprised not to see a thread for this already, as the game has been commercially available for over a month, and people have had copies of the book since Gencon. How is everyone liking the system? Care to share experiences? Found any broken combinations yet?
    Uhh, this Iron Kingdoms? It's been around since 2004, are you talking about a new edition or something?

    I haven't played it (or read the books yet) but the setting sounds right up my alley. I'll see if I can't find it.

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    Default Re: Iron Kingdoms RPG Discussion: Don't Split the Party!

    Privateer Press released a new IKRPG at Gencon this year. It's mechanically heavily influenced by the wargame (so 2D6 as opposed to D20 system). It's pretty fun and balanced. Linky:

    http://privateerpress.com/iron-kingdoms

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Iron Kingdoms RPG Discussion: Don't Split the Party!

    Yes, I have played this.

    I really like how a regular warrior-type can be an effective character. Feat Point-system is also fun. You can activate powerful abilities with them but they are limited and can run out. However, you can get them back if you do well in combat... and that is done with Feat Points.

    If you are Mighty, Vendetta is one of the top Feats. Also, Scatterguns are brilliant.
    Last edited by Raimun; 2012-10-29 at 05:27 PM.
    I know what you're thinking. "Did he prepare six Explosive Runes this morning or only five?" Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself. But being as this is the 3rd level spell Explosive Runes, the most powerful Abjuration in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?

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    Default Re: Iron Kingdoms RPG Discussion: Don't Split the Party!

    Yep, a Mighty melee character Charging is a terrifying thing. 4D6 on damage is nothing to sneeze at.

    I think the best thing about the game is how internally balanced it is. Very few careers have significant advantages over the others. The only thing I dislike about the system is how little room for customization there is during character creation (although our GM has been letting us swap out abilities and skills from our careers).

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    Default Re: Iron Kingdoms RPG Discussion: Don't Split the Party!

    Alright, so I haven't played this yet but I have gotten to read the book. My thoughts:

    + The setting is great, even better than I thought it would be just based on my introductory readings. It superficially reminds me of Eberron (which is great cause I love Eberron) but it goes all the way in several places where Eberron chickens out: For example, guns are actually prevalent (unlike Eberron where they come up with some rather flimsy excuses for why swords and spears are still the main methods of warfare), they aren't shackled by D&D's existing magic system when designing the magitech (hence Arcanists can be dirt-common without the setting totally falling to pieces and you don't need to explain away the Tippyverse problem), and Eberron unfortunately put a bit too much effort into making sure there were still lots of untamed wilderness and pastoral areas with lots of ruins to explore when really the cities were the interesting bit: IK puts 100% of its effort into the political struggles and economic boom going on, which really pleases me as these are the types of campaigns I like to run.

    - On the other hand, they're overly conservative in other areas. The biggest one is that Steamjack sapience is more or less swept under the rug and, if any of you have ever read a single one of my posts, you'll know how big of a hard-on I have for Warforged. Seriously, wasted potential here. I could make a lot of other nitpicks here like with what they do with the Elves and Goblins but I think the most indicative thing they do here is Cryx: It's Mordor. There's no way to hide it or get around it, it's Mordor. I mean they put a cool spin on it with the dragon-god and the city entirely populated by lich-priests, but it's still Mordor. I hate to keep comparing things to Eberron but Karrnath is a much better example of how to do this sort of thing with actual depth and complexity instead of just being the Big Bad Country Of Evilness.

    + The list of careers is nice and long and I really like how each career has a unique identity (something D&D's never been quite able to pull off) while still not restricting you into something overly specific to accomplish this. The practice of selecting two for every character, instead of having one main class per character as the assumed default and then providing multiclassing options, is surprisingly elegant and flexible: It's not overly complicated, it provides the more important than you'd think function of a class system as being an easy-to-establish mechanical representation of character identity, and it does this without pigeon-holing you into a stereotype.

    - Well, most of them anyway: Stuff like the Fell Caller, the Iron Fang, the Stormblade, the Gun Mage (maybe), and the Mage Hunter feel like they should have been implemented some other way than being sloppily shoved in as careers. But this is something of a nitpick and is nowhere near as much of a problem as it is in certain *other* class-based RPGs.

    + Archetypes. Brilliant. Your career represents your "job" on the battlefield and your archetype represents your approach to performing this job. Like the peanut butter and marshmallow sandwich, this is one of those rare ideas that are just so awesome and obvious in hindsight I can't help but wonder how I've never seen anyone come up with this idea before.

    - That said, they don't really apply the archetype system as well as they could have: The big problem here is the Gifted archetype. You can't be a caster character unless you're Gifted, and you gain no benefit by taking Gifted without taking a spellcasting career. The Gun Mage career, for example, really felt like it should have been represented by one of the many gun-using careers in combination with the Gifted archetype instead of being represented by a separate career, same for the Arcane Mechanik career. It also feels like you should be able to represent "Thief who uses magic to help them steal things" without having to use Arcanist or Sorcerer as your second career. As well, Intellectual Arcanist seems like such a brain-dead-obvious character type to make it's a wonder how they could have possibly overlooked it. Also, there is absolutely no reason to limit Warcasters to using the Focuser tradition. Seriously.

    + The traditions rules. Even though they only provide two of them in the core book, this is a wonderful example of modular class design that WotC really should take a look at if they intend on taking their promise for modularity in 5E even somewhat seriously.

    + The magic item / Steamjack building rules. Having the ability to customize each of their parts in such detail licks my crunch-pleasure-center in exactly the right way to get me excited. Lovely!

    - The Life Spiral and Damage Matrix mechanics. Alright, I'm sorry, but these sound like nothing more then straight-up gimmicks.

    - The combat rules, especially the facing rules. I get that this is very heavily modeled after miniature wargaming and is thus supposed to be really in-depth and complicated, but unlike the item/steamjack customization rules these combat rules take my crunch-pleasure-center and bite down on it. Hard. It's physically painful to flip through these pages and try to comprehend what an encounter in this game is actually supposed to look like. No, seriously, it gave me a headache.


    Overall, it has some great ideas and I wouldn't be opposed to trying it, but I think I'd honestly prefer playing the setting in another system.

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    Default Re: Iron Kingdoms RPG Discussion: Don't Split the Party!

    That's a pretty great analysis, Craft! I've included some of my own thoughts below:

    Quote Originally Posted by Craft (Cheese) View Post
    I could make a lot of other nitpicks here like with what they do with the Elves and Goblins but I think the most indicative thing they do here is Cryx: It's Mordor. There's no way to hide it or get around it, it's Mordor. I mean they put a cool spin on it with the dragon-god and the city entirely populated by lich-priests, but it's still Mordor. I hate to keep comparing things to Eberron but Karrnath is a much better example of how to do this sort of thing with actual depth and complexity instead of just being the Big Bad Country Of Evilness.
    I've noticed that this is a fairly universal problem with multi-race fantasy settings. You get obvious good and bad guys. I honestly have less of a problem with Cryx being the BBEGs than I do with Cygnar. Reading the Cygnar summary in the Iron Kingdoms fluff made me want to vomit with all the sunshine and rainbows.

    Quote Originally Posted by Craft (Cheese) View Post
    Well, most of them anyway: Stuff like the Fell Caller, the Iron Fang, the Stormblade, the Gun Mage (maybe), and the Mage Hunter feel like they should have been implemented some other way than being sloppily shoved in as careers. But this is something of a nitpick and is nowhere near as much of a problem as it is in certain *other* class-based RPGs.
    Yeah. I'd have been happier with Iron Fang and Stormblade as prestige classes for characters with the Mighty archetype. Gun Mage could be prestige for Riflemen/Pistoleers with Gifted, etc. I was a little surprised you added Fell Caller and Mage Hunter to that list, though. What about those specific careers turned you off to them?

    Quote Originally Posted by Craft (Cheese) View Post
    That said, they don't really apply the archetype system as well as they could have: The big problem here is the Gifted archetype. You can't be a caster character unless you're Gifted, and you gain no benefit by taking Gifted without taking a spellcasting career. The Gun Mage career, for example, really felt like it should have been represented by one of the many gun-using careers in combination with the Gifted archetype instead of being represented by a separate career, same for the Arcane Mechanik career. It also feels like you should be able to represent "Thief who uses magic to help them steal things" without having to use Arcanist or Sorcerer as your second career. As well, Intellectual Arcanist seems like such a brain-dead-obvious character type to make it's a wonder how they could have possibly overlooked it. Also, there is absolutely no reason to limit Warcasters to using the Focuser tradition. Seriously.
    The Gifted issue is something that's been discussed in some detail on the Privateer Press forums. In our own group, we've actually had some discussion on whether to houserule it for new characters. The most elegant fix we've had proposed so far is to have non-Gifted archetype spellcasters start with one less point of ARC (which is pretty similar in scope to the benefits provided by other archetypes). We've so far not come up with a way to make Gifted beneficial for non-caster classes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Craft (Cheese) View Post
    The combat rules, especially the facing rules. I get that this is very heavily modeled after miniature wargaming and is thus supposed to be really in-depth and complicated, but unlike the item/steamjack customization rules these combat rules take my crunch-pleasure-center and bite down on it. Hard. It's physically painful to flip through these pages and try to comprehend what an encounter in this game is actually supposed to look like. No, seriously, it gave me a headache.
    What issues were you running into with the combat rules? My group has actually found them pretty simple to pick up and remember (which is frankly amazing for our group).

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    Default Re: Iron Kingdoms RPG Discussion: Don't Split the Party!

    Quote Originally Posted by PrinceOfMadness View Post
    That's a pretty great analysis, Craft! I've included some of my own thoughts below:
    Why thank you! I'll respond to them best as I can in kind.

    I've noticed that this is a fairly universal problem with multi-race fantasy settings. You get obvious good and bad guys. I honestly have less of a problem with Cryx being the BBEGs than I do with Cygnar. Reading the Cygnar summary in the Iron Kingdoms fluff made me want to vomit with all the sunshine and rainbows.
    Cygnar doesn't bother me as much because it's easier to fix: The Cygnar fluff is an official self-description and the nation is actually a highly corrupt police state, using forced "re-education" programs, labor camps, and even secret execution of dissenters. All of those fabulous public works and military technology projects? Actually funded through cripplingly high taxes on the lower class and even sometimes outright mass-confiscation of the wealth and possessions of "undesirables."

    You just don't hear about it because even acknowledging these things exist makes you an "undesirable" yourself. This route actually becomes *more* effective if you up the ante and make Cygnar's official creed even more rainbows-and-barf, like making the Raelthorne claim to be an immortal god who created the world and personally eradicated all disease. Those doctors are nothing more than charlatans! If you are ill it is because you do not love Cygnar enough!


    On the other hand the solution to making Cryx less unambiguously evil is much less obvious unless you start doing things that radically change its role in the setting and its relationship to the other nations, like making it isolationist and turning its Lich-Priests from an army that wants to take over the world into a nation of bizzare religious ascetics who gave up their very lives in order to prove their devotion to an ideal.

    Yeah. I'd have been happier with Iron Fang and Stormblade as prestige classes for characters with the Mighty archetype. Gun Mage could be prestige for Riflemen/Pistoleers with Gifted, etc. I was a little surprised you added Fell Caller and Mage Hunter to that list, though. What about those specific careers turned you off to them?
    Well, my problem with Fell Caller and Mage Hunter is fundamentally the same problem as with Iron Fang and Stormblade, except it relates to race and culture rather than to specific organizations. Mage Hunter, for instance, feels like it should have been a PrC-like option for Iosan characters rather than a base career.

    The Gifted issue is something that's been discussed in some detail on the Privateer Press forums. In our own group, we've actually had some discussion on whether to houserule it for new characters. The most elegant fix we've had proposed so far is to have non-Gifted archetype spellcasters start with one less point of ARC (which is pretty similar in scope to the benefits provided by other archetypes). We've so far not come up with a way to make Gifted beneficial for non-caster classes.
    That's pretty good, actually. Alas I've discovered no easy solution for that myself unless you totally redesign the magic system from the ground up, which is a bit of a tall order!

    What issues were you running into with the combat rules? My group has actually found them pretty simple to pick up and remember (which is frankly amazing for our group).
    Well, the first problem is I don't like miniatures combat in general and prefer a more theater-of-mind style of play. It's not a deal-breaking problem and I've enjoyed many games that play on a battle grid, mostly by making small adjustments to the rules so they work without having to do nearly as much preparation.

    The second problem is the game uses euclidean distances. To compound this problem further, unless I've read the rules wrong, the game allows for arbitrary rotation. It also keeps track of the angle of your facing at each step of movement, probably to aid in task resolution for some obscure edge cases.

    The third problem is that model base sizes and movement speeds are measured in different units (millimeters and inches, respectively). This makes it even harder to play without models because now you have to keep track of weird numbers in your head to remember how long it's supposed to measure out to.

    This all leads up to a combat encounter (as intended) looking like a clusterfrak of rulers and tape measure hunched over a huge table with lots of really expensive models on it, spending up to an hour to get the numbers worked out to play just a single turn of combat. And, well... I don't see how this could be anything other than tedious.

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    Default Re: Iron Kingdoms RPG Discussion: Don't Split the Party!

    I see where you're coming from on the combat angle. The combat rules are simple - for a miniatures game. If you're not used to a miniatures game (as most of my group is) they can be pretty confusing. Perhaps they could have been redesigned from an RPG combat standpoint, but they do currently have an advantage in that anyone who knows how to play Warmachine can pretty much pick up and play Iron Kingdoms (which is great for Privateer Press, as it ensures you're not really losing out in terms of marketing to your target audience). The downside, of course, is that if you're NOT used to miniature wargaming, the rules seem overly complex.

    Allowing the game to be played without miniatures would, unfortunately, practically require a fundamental redesign of the entire combat ruleset. Currently, trying to play without the miniatures, you need to take into account things like Spray and Blast weapons, where characters are in relation to each other for the purpose of B2B, Command Ranges, and Control Ranges, whether a model has LOS to another model and whether the defender has elevation, concealment, or cover, just to scratch the surface. Our group is fortunate in that we have miniatures and a wargaming table available to play the game with, and we all have at least a basic understanding of how to play wargames.

    On the whole, I feel Iron Kingdoms is a well-designed game system, with a few items poorly executed (but then again, show me a system that does everything perfectly!) It's certainly one of the most internally balanced systems I've come across, with little potential for truly game-breaking combos (don't get me wrong, there are some). I find the feat point system to be a fun mechanic - I particularly like that you're encouraged to spend the points rather than hoard them. I also like that the system is universally 2D6, with no stray D8 or D10 rolls forcing you to bring in odd dice. The most you'll ever need is a few extra D6s (for boosted rolls). I can say that I'm certainly looking forward to future supplements expanding on rune plate etchings and 'jacks, though!

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