One thing I knew I wanted to do at Gen Con 2014 was get to play Privateer Press’ future entry into their Iron Kingdoms Roleplaying Game “Iron Kingdoms Unleashed”. Sadly, I was too slow in the grabbing of events and did not make a single reservation at any of the games they were running. This was fine though, because I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the panel Privateer Press had set up to give a sneak peek at Iron Kingdoms Unleashed. I’m glad I did, it looks to be shaping up to be exactly what I was hoping for. A hyper-aggressive, tooth and claw, visceral, force of nature!…In game form.
Back in the summer of 2013 Privateer Press released its updated rules for their RPG setting Iron Kingdoms. Prior to this release they had been utilizing the d20 system for their product and while that was fine it didn’t really garner the same feeling to those playing the game that the parent system Miniature Wargame, Warmachine and Hordes, did. The update actually incorporated a style of play that was very similar to Warmachine and Hordes and in doing so likely dropped the barrier of entry for lovers of the Miniatures Wargame who had maybe never played an RPG. The new rules fit their game well and presented a compelling, and very different, type of play that I truly came to love.
The first foray into their game world consisted of a core rulebook titled “Full Metal Fantasy” and it was very much a representation of the factions one would recognize from the Warmachine half of their miniatures game. This left me, and likely others, wondering when we would get more love for the Hordes portion of the game, it is here where “Unleashed” comes into play.
Where “Full Metal Fantasy” introduced us to the more civilized portions of the Iron Kingdoms, with steampunk arsenals and militaristic nations, “Unleashed” looks to be going full bore into the opposite direction. The races and “careers” a player will choose from are pulled from tribes of people and other sentient creatures that are losing their natural habitat to the frenetic push of civilization. They are more concerned with where to get their next meal or how to protect their villages and families than joining a war effort like their militaristic neighboring countries. This will be a game of “Survival of the Fittest” just that their survival may hinge upon teaming up with other beastly creatures of the wilds to push back against further incursion into their habitats!
There has been much speculation as to what races may be playable in “Unleashed” and there was no holding back on that account. Many of the popular entities from the Hordes universe have been captured in Player Character form. The new ones include Gatormen, Bog Trogs, variants for Trollkin, Pygmy Trolls, Tribal Humans, Tharn, Ferro, and even a form of the Nyss that are not Blighted! These races will be focused on survival, and many times that will be represented in some truly visceral ways. A Gatorman may actually eat portions of a fallen foe to sate its gnawing hunger. Pieces of a body may be used for magical channeling or as a piece of armor. One of my favorite quotes of the panel was “body glands will be formidable weapons for an Ogrunn”. Their “careers”, assuming the word career will be used in this system the way it is used in Full Metal Fantasy, will be very representative of the wilds. For example the image below shows a Bog Trog Bonegrinder Mist Speaker and a Gatorman Monster Hunter Brigand.
Magic for “Unleashed” will function much like it does in Hordes, the way “Full Metal Fantasy” mirrored Warmachine’s handling. You will be able to run a Warlock and that Warlock will be able to capture and forge a relationship with a Warbeast. Each race handles that differently too. This may be a concept I’m very excited about. The use of Warjacks and Warbeasts are not only common in Warmachine and Hordes but present in practically every game played. In “Full Metal Fantasy” I was always a bit put off by the financial hurdles one faces before they can ever get a Warjack capable of working seamlessly with its Warcaster. With “Unleashed” there seems it may be possible to hunt down a Warbeast fairly early on. This is something that would likely be a very dangerous but obviously rewarding task, and much more satisfying than merely saving up the coin to purchase a Warjack.
Speaking of Warbeasts reminds me of another aspect of the game explored at the panel, the horrifying beasts of the wilds. It was revealed that there will be over one hundred pages of monster content within the pages of “Unleashed”. All of them a danger to any traveler in the small pockets of wilderness in western Immoren, even the beastly characters you will be playing. One mentioned creature sent a shiver down all our spines (pun intended), the Spine Ripper. Certainly a hit from the previous incarnations Monsternomicon!
Honestly if there has been a game like this before I’m not familiar with it (though please feel free to inform me if I’m wrong). There is uniqueness on two fronts. The first being that “Unleashed” will be a standalone core rulebook, you will not need “Full Metal Fantasy”, or any of its supplements. Though, it has been relayed that, much like Warmachine and Hordes, the system will work fine with its civilized cousin. There were hints that there may be some imbalance between the systems though, so GM beware when giving your players free reign to take what they will from both! The second factor comes from the visceral, wild aspects of the game itself. This is where the game really stands out to me as an interesting project. There has rarely been a game of this kind of bestial nature, Dark Sun or Primeval Thule strike me as lone competitors on that front. Even then, they focused more on human or humanoid survival in the wilds than on starkly different types of races.
I’m very excited to have participated in the panel, and am even more excited to get my hands on this book. I think it will certainly be an exciting, vicious, addition to the Iron Kingdoms Roleplaying game. Look for an early 2015 release, and if you want even more information here is the LINK to the initial look at the game that was provided back during the Privateer Press 2014 Keynote.