#RPG – Five Fingers Card Game (Four Captains)

Rooftop-ChaseI came up with a quick and dirty card game for use in the gambling houses of Five Fingers and thought I’d share it.

The game is called ‘Four Captains’ and uses a normal set of cards with Ace’s low and Kings high.

A = ‘Scrub’
1-10 = ‘Crew’
J = ‘Mate’
Q = ‘Wench’
K = ‘Captain’

The aim is to get as many of the same card as you can in your hand with value of the card breaking ties.

Four Captains (if you play a four captains – called a New Captain), the other players must all pay you the ante-value from their stash).


Draw cards to determine who is dealer, after this play passes to the left each round. The dealer has advantage.

  1. The ante (typically 1, 2 or 10 gold crowns is placed in the pot. The dealer must pay double the ante).
  2. Dealer deals out four cards face down to each player.
  3. Players may fold at this point, forfeiting their ante. Their cards are placed on the bottom of the deck.
  4. Players determine which cards they are going to discard and all are discarded face up near the pot in the centre of the table.
  5. Starting with the dealer, each player may draw from the face-up cards (seen) or the deck (unseen) to try and better their hand.
  6. Starting with the dealer again, each player may choose to up the ante by its initial value, going around the table, until it cycles back to the dealer again. They may also choose to fold, on their turn, if they do they no longer have to ante up (they do if anyone before them antes up) and their cards are placed on the bottom of the deck.
  7. The hands are revealed and the winner takes the pot.
  8. The cards are put together, shuffled and the dealership passes to the left.

EG: Abelard, Bogrot, Calista and Delbot are playing Four Captains.

Abelard wings the dealer position on a draw and all toss their ante into the pot (1GC with Abelard having to pay an extra coin). The pot now stands at 5GC.

Each tosses cards face up into the middle, ready to redraw.

Abelard tosses a 6, 7 and 8 from his hand, leaving him with a Jack. He knows he’ll get to draw first so there’s not a lot of point him being sneaky, he could take these cards back if he needed them.

After the others toss their cards the pile contains…

4, 5, 6, 6, 7, 7, 8, 9

Abelard gets to draw back first. If he takes the two 8s that gives him the highest visible pair, so he goes for it and takes both. That’s enough to win based on what he knows is out there, so for his last missing card he draws from the stack – and draws a King. He now knows he has a pair of eights, the highest visible cards, and that the most Kings anyone could have is three.

Bogrot draws two cards blind.

So does Calista

Delbot takes both the sevens.

Abelard knows that there wouldn’t be any point drawing the sevens – as his eights beat them – unless Delbot had one already. So he could be facing three sevens, or it could be a bluff…

Abelard doesn’t up the ante, but he doesn’t fold.

Bogrot folds, showing his hand, best he had was a King.

Calista folds, all she had was an 8.

Abelard’s heart sinks as Delbot ups the ante, forcing both of them to put a coin into the pot, raising it to 7 GC.

They both reveal their hands.

Abelard has a pair of 8s, a Jack and a King.

Delbot has three 7s and an eight.

Delbot wins ans scrapes in the pot.

Dealership passes to Bogrot.

The game is partly satirical, making fun of the machinations and paranoia of the four High Captains, the shifting alliances and advantage and disadvantage.

As the game has spread beyond Four Fingers it has changed its name to ‘Four Kingdoms’, referring to Cygnar, Khador, Ord and Cryx, though which Kingdoms are named varies wildly from nation to nation.

(More information on gambling is in No Quarter issue 7, and it says the decks – at least in The Galleon are blades, wheels, anchors and skulls).

#RPG #RPGADay All at once

I never remember to do these things daily, so here’s all of them at once:

FF (1)First RPG Played/First RPG Games Mastered/First RPG Purchased

On further thought, the answer to all of these is Fighting Fantasy: The Introductory Roleplaying Game. A friend of mine, Russell, was a fanatic or the Fighting Fantasy books and collected them all. We used to roleplay by one of us being the narrator and the other playing the part of the character and rolling the dice. That wasn’t too satisfying but with this orange-covered book we were opened up to the Games Master moderating the actions. I bought a copy and via that was opened up to a bunch of other games – starting with MERP.

Fighting Fantasy: The Introductory Roleplaying Game was a great introduction to the hobby for me and coming via the huge plethora of different settings and rules across the Fighting Fantasy library – from science fiction and horror to traditional fantasy – meant I never really got locked in to D&D. Looking back, I think that was a blessing. It made me into the game system and setting whore I am today.

5549Most Recent RPG Purchase

It’s really fucking annoying that Rackham went under and that all their IP, wonderful miniature sculpts, artwork and style is now in limbo. Fantasy Flight’s games derived from their IP are interesting, but just not enough. I picked up Cadwallon just before they went under and the artwork and ideas are just amazingly cool. I missed out on getting the reversible gaming tiles back then and so I recently bought a couple of sets of them off ebay – with a little help (thanks Chris).

I’m not really a miniatures guy, but these are so well crafted and cool that it’s hard not to appreciate and want them. Plus what with playing Iron Kingdoms lately I thought it might be worth a try. The tiles are great for any urban fantasy/magipunk setting and I’m pretty pleased I got them. I also picked up the D&D tiles master set The City for the same reason. Most tiles work on the same scale, so they’re pretty compatible. Maybe I’ll do something with them at IndieCon.

Most Old School RPG Owned

The Moldvay Red Box was my introduction to D&D and, no sir, I didn’t like it. Nonetheless I have a copy or two of the 1983 version knocking around somewhere. In close contention would be Dragon Warriors or, if you prefer the OSR – Lamentations of the Flame Princess. I’m not a huge fan of the old school way of doing things, but nor am I entirely a storygames person. I am an admirer of James Raggi’s ‘no bullshit’ approach however, and of the trend of retrocloning old game systems that amount to ‘abandonware’.

Favourite RPG You Never Get to Play

I don’t get to play very much any more, so that could apply to all of them. It’s more the board and wargames I don’t get to play as much as I like, especially Dust Tactics. RPGwise… maybe HeroQuest or Call of Cthulhu. When we do play I very often am the Games Master, so I get to actually play even less.

Most ‘Intellectual’ RPG Owned

I guess this really depends on how you define ‘intellectual’. The OED defines it as:

Relating to the intellect, Appealing to or requiring use of the intellect, Possessing a highly developed intellect, A person possessing a highly developed intellect, a prominent political thinker and intellectual.

Games can’t possess intellect, so that’s out, and they’re not people or thinkers – though they can be created by them. So… thinking of games that present a very intelligent point of view or which stimulate the brain makes me think of a few of them.

Over the Edge is very literate, informed and was groundbreaking at the time of its release. A precursor to many story games and rules-lite systems and a big inspiration when working on my own Forever Summer game.

Traveller, in all editions, has attempted (sometimes failing) to be relatively hard science fiction and it can become rather complicated. Fire Fusion and Steel was, perhaps, the apex of this complexity and while fascinating it didn’t seem especially suited to a game system that didn’t have a great deal of granularity.

Mage was philosophically and morally fascinating and provided a conceptual ‘key’ to understanding and fitting together the entire OWoD.

Mars Colony by Tim Koppang is pretty brainy too.

Some games are intellectual due to the intentions of the author (or the translation) being rather opaque. Eoris, Mechanical Dream and Cadwallon all fall into this category.

Favourite Character

Judas, my SLA Industries character. A dual-headed flickscythe wielding albino, refugee from a lost human conflict society. He masterminded a long term rebellion against Mr Slayer which, of course, ended in tears.

Favourite Die/Die Set

I don’t get attached to dice in the same way a lot of people seem to, but aesthetically I’m probably most fond of a set of plastic faux-knucklebone six-sided dice that I have.

Favourite Tie-In Novel/Game Fiction

I hate both with the white hot-intensity of a thousand exploding supernovae. Tie in novels are almost always bad. Game fiction usually gets ignored, or gets in the way. My less discerning chums tell me the Warhammer 40k tie-in stuff is pretty good, but I wouldn’t trust the motherfuckers as far as I can comfortably spit a grox.

Weirdest RPG Owned

Mechanical Dream is pretty fucking weird and pretty fucking odd, as is Eoris. Neither of them quite seem to know what they are and both are so weird as to be hard to relate to.

Old RPG You Still Play/Read

Mage: The Ascension – though reading it just makes me angry at The Avatar Storm, how they ended the OWoD and how unspeakably awful the newer version of Mage is with its Theosophy slant.

Most Memorable Character Death

Not one of my characters, but old friend and player Tony. The players were escorting a tanker of high grade CHOOH2 to an isolated outpost, deep in gang territory in the desert and had stopped in a ghost town for a break. Nomad bandits attacked and a stray RPG rocket struck the back of the tanker. Miraculously Tony’s character survived the explosion, and having his arms and legs blown off, and being set on fire. His body exploded out out of the cab – still on fire – and after a random scatter effect was determined to fall down the old town well – still alive and limbless. He survived the fall and the water put the flames out, only to have him drown a couple of turns later.

Best Convention Purchase

Usually I’m behind a stall, so I don’t get to buy a lot of stuff at conventions or by the time I’m free to explore and find something cool it has already been sold. I do love Lords of War though, which I’ve supported since their launch at Dragonmeet. Buying stuff from Indie guys gives me the warm fuzzies too. I love supporting other creators and picking their brains – in the form of their books.

Favourite Convention Game

I hate to toot my own horn, but I love running my own games at conventions. Especially Invaderz, which never fails to be a riot.

Game You Wish You Owned

Dune. Incomplete, doesn’t quite work, but I love Dune as a whole and want to own the book.

Funniest Game You’ve Played

Again, I hate to toot my own horn but both Invaderz and Urban Faerie never fail to produce a fun game. Intentional comedy is really fucking difficult to pull off. Paranoia is the only game that successfully achieves it in my opinion and that’s precisely because its a) formulaic and b) over the top. I’ll admit a guilty pleasure for puns though and that’s an aspect I miss in the newer more grown up versions of D&D.

Favourite Game System

I can’t pick just one, so here’s a shortlist. FATE (Starblazer/Anglerre version), BRP, Cyberpunk 2020 version of Fuzion/Interlock, Silhouette, BLOOD! Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. Not so much Dark Heresy.

Favourite Published Adventure

Night City Stories.

Will Still Play in 20 Years Time

I move from game to game all the time, so it’s unlikely I will ever play something I have now in another 20 years, save for nostalgia reasons.

Favourite Licensed RPG

Licensed RPGs are almost always sucky. Sorry, but it’s true. The licenses flit from company to company and they’re almost always generic. Exceptions have included the ICE version of MERP (though the rules bore little resemblance to the setting, the adventures and other material were exemplary, as was the presentation). The current version of LOTR roleplaying also has great presentation and material, but I can’t help but wonder if their laudable experimentation with rules and setting has limited the appeal of what should be THE killer property.

I managed to get some good times out of the Angel RPG, but otherwise I don’t do so well with them. I guess my favourite remains ICE’s MERP, which is one of my favourites. WEG’s Star Wars is also well up there, but I only ever played it like… twice.

I’ve been working on a licensed RPG and I hope I’ve done it ‘right’.

Best Secondhand RPG Purchase

Nightlife. Brilliant game, long overlooked, precursor to the whole WoD thing and much more like Nightbreed. Great illustrations by my good friend Brad McDevitt. I’d buy the rights and re-do it if the people who had the rights were amenable to the idea, but they’re not.

Coolest Looking RPG Owned

Numenera is up there, but the art is too inconsistent to really claim it. Eoris is also visually stunning, but the text layout is awful. Mechanical Dream suffers from being greyed out and muddy, but is pretty cool looking all told. Iron Kingdoms is nice, but a lot of art’s recycled. When it first came out Vampire was visually stunning, the graphic art of that green marble cover was something completely new.

I don’t know… I’m visually quite demanding.

Most Complicated RPG Owned

The most intentionally complex RPG I own is probably Traveller: New Era. The most unintentionally complex RPG I own is probably Eoris.

Favourite RPG Nobody Else Wants to Play

Tribe 8 or Heavy Gear.

Coolest Character Sheet

Puppetland. Since it’s supposed to also be a puppet.

Game You’d Like to See a New/Improved Edition of

Cyberpunk 2020 needs a new edition. No, Cyberpunk 3 doesn’t exist. Lalalalala I can’t hear you. Lalalalala.

Scariest Game You’ve Played

Games of BLOOD! played up the old railway track, in tents, by lantern-light with owls hooting, foxes screeching and a fire burning down to embers could get quite spooky.

Most Memorable Encounter

I honestly can’t think of any particularly, but then I don’t get to play that much – like I said.

Rarest RPG Owned

I don’t really know. I don’t keep up on these things. Cadwallon perhaps? Nightlife’s hard to get hold of these days too. Original editions of Dragon Warriors maybe?

Favourite RPG of All Time

Impossible ask. I can take you through chronologically however:

  • Fighting Fantasy
  • MERP
  • Dragon Warriors
  • Traveller 2300
  • MegaTraveller
  • Call of Cthulhu
  • Cyberpunk 2020
  • Over the Edge
  • Vampire
  • Mage
  • SLA Industries
  • BLOOD!
  • Fading Suns
  • Legend of the Five Rings
  • Laundry Files
  • Iron Kingdoms

Iron Kingdoms: The Hand of Fate


Jaspar Solvo, an agent of the Dorne and Fergurn Barristers and Imports Company (not his real name by any stretch) gathers the disparate characters who have been rooming and lodging within Five Fingers, the fates having brought them there. The company wishes to ‘test out’ these new people and to determine their worth and potential for future jobs. As such they have chosen them to tend to the needs of Thane Niccolo Mazini – a minor Ordic noble, well out of his depth in trying to recover his family’s fortunes.

Jaspar delivers a letter to each of them and informs them that the patron is currently staying at The Parson’s Nose. He’ll say no more than that, but will arrange to meet them there that evening to introduce them to their patron.

My friend,

The man who is delivering this note is my trusted agent. I have a task for you which must be accomplished as neatly and cleanly as possible. It is an honourable goal for any man in restoring the lost honour and dignity of a family and rumeneration shall be provided – appropriate to that cause.


Thane Niccolo Mazini


The Parson’s Nose lies on Hospice Island, near to the meat market in the Wake Bridge Bourg. It’s a narrow, wedge-shaped building that is a terrible fire hazard and has no rear exist and only one narrow front door and narrow windows up the front. It has four stories, the lower floor being the bar and kitchen and the upper three floors being cramped common rooms with rank old straw beds. A gobber sitting by the fire burns bundles of cheap herbs (rosemary and time mostly) in order to mask the smell of the meat market. On the plus side, the drink and food is cheap – even if the rum is stained pink from badly processed beetroot sugar and the stew is ‘meat’, or – if a recognisible kind of meat – twice the price.

Mazini has paid out to take an entire common room for himself, though it is barebones and dimly lit to mask his poverty. He seems finely dressed, but the clothing is more than a little worn and threadbare. His luggage looks expensive but is virtually empty. His scabbard and holster are fine but the sword and pistol he wears are rusty.

He tries to act the noble and to negotiate the contract from a position of self-assured certainty, despite being in no position to do so.

The job is to recover a lost mercenary charter, belonging to his family some two-hundred years past. His ancestor, Thane Ordo Mazzini founded The Stone Bay Hullgrinders – a now defunct company – under the auspices of King Merin Cathor III – The Pious. In a skirmish in The Gnarls the Hullgrinders (dilettante second-son nobles for the most part) were humiliated by the Dragon’s Tongue Trading Company, destroyed to a man – save Ordo – and had their charter stolen by a captain of the Dragon’s Tongue Trading Company, Belton Vascal.

Vascal’s family have kept the charter ever since, as a trophy and Mazzini has recently discovered this past of his family (a source of shame) and has sold up everything and borrowed heavily from Captain Waernuk, in hock to his syndicate to the tune of 3,000 royals. 2,000 of which remains for him to offer to the characters – maximum – though he’ll make whatever promises are necessary.

All he knows is that Grigori Vascal is the descendant and nothing more about him. Belton was a great giant of a man with fierce ginger hair and a huge beard, but there’s no guarantee Grigori looks the same.


Grigori is just back from a trip, depositing a kidnap victim for the Dragon’s Tongue Trading Company, several days away from the city have left him hungry for its pleasures. His river boat – twin-engined steam boat The Shame – is only just in port and needs maintenance and resupply, which will keep him busy another day or two before he can leave the Dragon’s Tongue compound.

Grigori is fairly well known as a braggart and as the captain of that particular vessel, it won’t take too long asking around about him to get a description, but being too open about it is likely to get word back to the Trading Company who will send a man or two to see who is asking around and why.

The compound has several river boats docked at any time, plenty of guards, labourjacks and workers and is a walled set of warehouses and offices. It’s a fortress and is not going to be a productive place to raid by force – nor is the charter there in any case.

When Grigori leaves the compound – late at night – with two friends – he’ll stop at The Red Barrel for a few drinks and a meal and then stop at The Two Knocks (a mid-range whorehouse) to pick up a couple of dockmops (prostitutes) before rolling up at his house.


Grigori’s House

A three storey terraced house, the houses either side and along most of the terrace are split up into three separate dwellings each, cheap and cramped and suitable for dock workers. Grigori has the whole place to himself. There’s a small ‘patio’ front and rear, surrounded by an iron fence and it backs directly onto the river with a pipe from the second storey ‘toilet’ hanging out over the water.

Ground Floor

1. The front has a heavy, rusty, creaky iron gate with waxed envelopes hanging off it, pleading notes from his landlord Phinas Schlub, asking for him to pay the arrears in his rent. It’s pleas, rather than threats because of the power of the Dragon’s Tongue Trading Company. The front door is bolted from the inside.

2. The back ‘patio’ is also surrounded by an iron fence and backs onto the stinking river, full of flotsam from the docks. Two kennels here house Grigori’s pair of fighting dogs and the back door is open to let them in and out. They’re loyal, but not that well looked after. Crossbreeds between Ordic Pit Dogs and Khadoran war dogs. The back patio is full of broken animal bones and dogshit.

3. Inside the house there is a kitchen – that opens to the back door and is virtually empty and unused.

4. The front of the house has a sort of ‘reception’ room, bare bones apart from a bootscraper and a mirror.

5. The main living room is the largest room on this floor and houses the staircase. There are long couches in a three-sided bracket around the hearth and a low table. Grigori and his friends – and the dockmops – will be in here, drinking and fooling around.

Second Storey

1. Grigori’s bedroom contains old furniture from someone with far more expensive taste than he has, but perhaps fifty years out of date. There is a portrait of Grigori, a laving bowl on a washstand, a four poster bed and a wardrobe with his ‘civvies’. He keeps a spare pistol, loaded, under his pillow.

2. Grigori’s Bathroom contains a tin bath, a washstand with laving bowl and the toilet – a hole in a plank – that deposits waste out over the river, and any boats foolish enough to sale too close to the shore. The hearth for this room is in here.

3. Grigori’s trophy room is in here. It hangs with paintings and has a long table and chairs, there are also display cabinets. The cabinets contain a few skulls, claws, stones marked with runes as well as seal and signet rings and lockets (worth a total of about 750 royals full price, half that to a pawn shop, 75% of that to a fence). Pride of place is given to a painting showing a man with a broken sword, kneeling before a laughing, ginger-haired giant. The painting is painted on the back of the Hullgrinder Charter, a final humiliation, and the frame is trapped, the hook it hangs on a lever connected to a gas sprayer.

Third Storey

Two spare bedrooms and a storage room, full of miscellaneous junk.


Returning to Mazzini

Returning to Mazzini for the money they will find The Parson’s Nose closed. If they gain access they’ll find evidence Mazzini has been killed, his tongue cut out and left on his table, blood everywhere, a single silver coin resting on his tongue. His luggage is there, but empty and of him there is no sign.

Tired of his bullshit Waernuk has had him killed, though he hasn’t recovered the money (its stuffed into a nook in the edge of the island, out of sight of the bridge). It seems likely that Mazzini has ended up as sausages – apart from his expertly cut out tongue.

Waernuk will still want to recover the money, but for the time being the players have a contract, which they are now the clear and legal owners of.

Grigori Vascal
A lieutenant in the Dragon’s Tongue Trading Company, with a long history.
SPD 7, STR 5, MAT 6, RAT 5, DEF 12, ARM 14
Sword POW 3 P+S=8 – Poisoned +1D damage Vs organic targets
Pistol RNG 9, POW 11
Intimidation 5
Vitality 10
Anatomical Precision – If damage fails to exceed ARM – still take d3 damage.

Dragon’s Tongue Smugglers
Grigori’s friends and ‘boatmates’.
SPD 6, STR 5, MAT 5, RAT 5, DEF 12, ARM 13
Dirk POW 2, P+S=7
Pistol RNG 8, POW 11.
Intimidation 5
Vitality 7
Anatomical Precision – If damage fails to exceed ARM – still take d3 damage

Dockfront prostitutes, trying to scrape a living and find a gentleman – or what passes for one.
SPD 6, STR 3, MAT 4, RAT 4, DEF 13, ARM 6
Stilleto POW 1, P+S=4
Pickpocket 5, Lock Pick 5, Streetwise 5
Vitality 5
Get Away – Missed by an enemy attack other than when advancing, instead of advancing 2”, make a full advance.

Jaspar Solvo
Spy/Investigator 10
PHY 6, SPD 6, STR 4, AGL 4, PRW 4, POI 4, INT 5, PER 5
WILL 11 DEF 15 ARM 8 INIT 15
Abilities – Astute, Language (Cygnaran), Battle Plan: Shadow, Cover Identity, Language: Khadoran
Connections: Intelligence network (minor criminals).
Hyper Perception
Vitality 11
Command 6, Deception 7, Detection 7, Disguise 6, Forensic Science 6, Gambling 6, Hand Weapon 6, Interrogation 6, Intimidation 6, Law 6, Lore (Five Fingers) 6, Medicine 6, Pistol 6, Sneak 6
Holdout Pistol (on an arm rail) +1 Initiative (16) on his first turn. Attack 7, Pow 8
Fine dagger – Attack 7, Pow 5

Thane Niccolo Mazzini
Assume a base of 6 for any important rolls, but he’s destined to die and not really THAT important.

Fighting Dogs
SPD 6, STR 5, MAT 6, RAT 0, DEF 16, ARM 6
Bite: 6 Pow 4 P+S=9
Intimidation 7
Vitality 4
Powerful Jaws – If damage fails to exceed ARM – still take 1 damage

Review: Iron Kingdoms – Kings, Nations & Gods

IKRPG Book 2 CoverKings, Nations and Gods is the first full-scope companion volume for the new version of the Iron Kingdoms RPG, a minis focussed (but not essential) RPG set in Privateer Press’ wargame world of Warmachine and Hordes.

Kings, Nations and Gods presents the updated history and geography of the world of Immoren along with the demography, politics etc of the game world and new career and equipment options.

As someone who played the old d20 version, but never liked the system, I was blown away by the level of game detail in the older books. KNaG is a worthy successor but doesn’t go into quite the same level of detail as the old d20 version. In a way this is good, leaving more gaps for players and Games Masters to put in their own ideas and thoughts but as praised as the older version was, it seems odd to have shifted away from that, but it’s not entirely unwelcome.

That’s not to say that this isn’t a weighty book, hardback and nearly 400 pages it is jam packed with information and since it also includes full-on game information it is dually useful, not only as a lore sauce but as one that greatly expands the personalisation of characters and the scope of equipment for the game.

As with the previous version it’s divided into sections, by region with the history and current events/situation leading up and into the game information.

For me, the product shines in its sheer level of presentation and content, primarily as an equipment/character book and secondarily, since I already have the original world books but don’t follow the wargame, catching me up on the state of the world. Reading through the product, the history and current events cause ideas for games to leap out – whatever sort of concept your gaming group runs on.

There’s some flies in the ointment though…

1. Distributing the character.equipment/warjack information throughout the book makes quick reference of it difficult. I’d have rather separated the actual ‘engineering’ (the stats) out into an appendix for quicker and easier reference.

2. My copy has blurred printing on a handful of pages through the book rendering those pages virtually unreadable. Fixable by finding a pirated PDF but I’d rather not have had to do that. It’s a let down in a book that otherwise is very well presented. I have no idea if this is a problem just with my copy or whether it’s afflicted others.

3. I feel really, really sad for Llael.

4. There’s nothing to speak of on Cryx, Ios, Rhul, the Skorne etc. I imagine this’ll be coming in another book. Rather than Kings, Nations and Gods this could have been called ‘Hoomins’.

Style: 4
Substance: 4
Overall: 4

Iron Kingdoms: Kynyn Morisini – Llaelese Resistance Fighter

HalfthiefKynyn Morisini

Career: Thief/Spy
Race: Human
Archetype: Skilled: +1 Additional Attack, Preternatural Awareness
Abilities: Battle Plan: Shadow, Conniver, Dodger.
Connections: Connections (Intelligence network – Llaelese Resistance – ‘The Numbers’)
Military Skills: Hand Weapon 2
Occupational Skills: Bribery 1, Climbing 1, Command 1, Deception 2, Detection 1, Disguise 1, Escape Artist 1, Lock Picking 2, Pickpocket 2, Sneak 1, Streetwise 1.
Assets: 140 gc, forged papers, thief’s tools.
Languages: Llaelese, Cygnaran
Height: 55 inches (4’7″)
Weight: 126 lbs


Damage Capacity

Leather armour: Spd: 7, Def: 14, Arm: 11
Dagger: Mat 7, Pow 5
Initiative: 14
Command Range: 3
Will: 8

Kynyn escaped Llael during the Khadoran invasion of 604 at the age of twelve. She and her family made their way south to Corvis where they joined a swelling underclass of refugees, criminals and the discarded. Her father, formerly an alchemist, ended up working for criminal cartels and organisations purifying and producing narcotics and healing salves, poultices and tinctures for injured criminal enforcers. This way he could earn enough money to at least keep his wife and daughter safe. By 606 he had been arrested and currently languishes in a Cygnaran prison. Her mother – a prideful woman – was reduced to begging and the stress of it caused her to lose her mind. This left Kynyn alone by 607, bitter towards Corvis’ divided society and angry at Khador. She found a home in the Llaelese Resistance.

The group Kynyn is associated with is known as ‘The Numbers’. This small revolutionary splinter group is devoted to retaking Llael but not as it was. The Khadorans have swept aside or made collaborators of the old Llaelese nobility and The Numbers see an opportunity to take back Llael without the parasitic rule of any nobility. Nonetheless they ally with members of the Royal High Guard and the resistance amongst the nobility though they see them as enemies (albeit useful ones). There are rumours that The Numbers do not genuinely smuggle out some of the Llaelese nobles they claim to be helping out of Llael but rather rob them – or have robbed them – and dispose of them. Using the wealth to finance their revolution.

The Numbers are based in Corvis’ undercity, protected from interloping Khadoran spies and assassins by a combination of the Cygnaran military, their hidden position and the criminal and refugee underworld.

Kynyn is short but heavily muscled without an ounce of spare fat. Her clothes are too big for her and she adorns herself with pretty things that she finds in the gutter, spelunking in the undercity or stealing from the rich. Every time she is seen she has something new.

Meta Info: Kynyn is intended to level at the same rate as the players to provide them with a developing and growing contact amongst the Llaelese Resistance. She acts as a go-between and courier for The Numbers hiring mercenaries, carrying payments and transporting messages on their behalf.

Iron Kingdoms RPG – Necromancer

Just a quick, rough, usable (ish) sketch for a character class and magic.

Career: Necromancer
Archetype: Gifted†
Starting Career: Yes.

Starting Abilities/Connections/Skills & Spells:
Ability: Anatomical Precision.
Spells: Dark Mist, Dead Flesh, Necrotic Strike.
Military Skills: Choose One: Hand Weapon, Thrown Weapon, Crossbow.
Occupational Skills: Necrotech 1, Intimidation 1
Starting Assets: 75gc.

Necromancer Abilities: Backstab, Blood Spiller, Camouflage, Dodger, Immunity Corrsion
Necromancer Connections:
Necromancer Military Skills: Archery 3, Crossbow 3, Hand Weapon 3, Thrown Weapon 2, Unarmed Combat 2
Necromancer Occupational Skills: General Skills 4, Sneak 3, Necrotech 3
Necromancer Spells: From Necromancy list.

Necromancy Spells
Cost 1
Dark Mist: As Blizzard
Darkness: Cost 1, Range Self, AOE Ctrl, gain cover of darkness, you are not affected by it.
Dead Flesh: Cost 1, Range 6, target gains +1 ARM
Necrotic Strike: Cost 1, Range 8, Power 8.
Plague: Cost 1, Range 6, Target suffers -3 to resist poison, disease or infection.
Protection from Corrosion: See book.
Raise: Raise a basic Thrall from a corpse for a day.

Cost 2
Bleed: Cost 2, Range 8, Power 10 – Killing a target heals d3 damage.
Caustic Mist: Cost 2, Range CTRL, AOE 3, Models moving into or ending movement in area take 1 damage.
Iron Blight: Cost 2, Range 8, Warjacks/Machines take d6 damage.
Malediction: Cost 2, Range 6, Enemies within melee range of target suffer -2 Arm and Def.
Necrophage: Cost 2, Range 8, Power 8. If it kills the target it explodes in AOE 3 with Power 8.
Scything Touch: Cost 2, Range 6, Target gains +2 STR
Venom: Cost 2, Range Spray, Power 10. Corrosion to those hit.
Resurrect: Raise a warrior thrall from a corpse for a day.

Cost 3
Blood Rain: Cost 3, Range 8, AOE 3, Power 12. Corrosion.
Breath of Corruption: Cost 3, Range 8, AOE 3, Power 12 – All moving in or ending in area takes 1 damage.
Consumption: Cost 3, Range 10 – Warjack/machine takes d6 damage, roll additional die for each 1-2 rolled.
Crippling Grasp: Cost 3, Range 8, Target suffers -2 move, Strength, Def, Arm.
Ghost Walk: Cost 3, Range 6, Target can move through walls/terrain/obstacles ignoring penalties/attacks.
Hellfire: Cost 3, Range 10, Power 14, causes fear.
Parasite: Cost 3, Range 8. Target reduces ARM by -3, caster increases ARM by +1 and heals 1 damage each turn.
Shadow Wings: Cost 3, Range Self, Move up to 10” ignoring all penalties and attacks.
Return: Raise a basic thrall permanently. You may only maintain double your ARC in thralls.

Cost 4
Cloak of Shadows: Cost 4, Range Caster – Cannot be charged, slammed or targeted/attacked one turn.
Dark Seduction: Cost 4, Range 6, take control of target.
Death Knell: Cost 4, Range 8, SOE 4, Pow 10, +1 Pow for each target (past the first) in the AOE.
Imprison: Cost 4, Range Caster, AOE 5. Nobody may enter or leave this area. It is treate a having ARM 20 and is dissipated if it takes damage.
Scourge: Cost 4, Range 8, AOE 3, Power 13 – All targets hit are knocked down.
Lazarus: Raise a warrior thrall permanently. You may only maintain double your ARC in thralls.

Necrotech Skill (Int)
Can be used as Medicine to repair undead/necrotech creatures and devices.
Constructing Necrotech creatures requires ingredients, time and rolls. Organic parts are destroyed in the making other parts can be recovered.

Necrotech Lab: 500 gc +2 to Necrotech rolls to repair/manufacture necrotech.
Necrotech Field Kit: 50 gc Necessary to work Necrotech in the field.
Human Corpse: 30 gc (black market)
Necrotic Capacitor: 10 gc, enough to animate a creature for a month.
Necrotic Turbine: 500gc, enough to animate a creature indefinitely.
Necrotic Accumulator: 50 gc, enough to animate a creature for a year.
Reanimation Plate: 150 gc.

Review: Iron Kingdoms RPG

Like a lot of people I was more than a little disappointed when Privateer Press released their Iron Kingdoms RPG for d20. Creating their own system and re-releasing the RPG has been long-awaited development with a lot of expectation zeroed in on it.

The main selling point of Iron Kingdoms has always been its background, a background solid and interesting enough to sell it under any system. The appeal of the setting has been obvious for a long time as multiple conversions have turned up online for everything from Savage Worlds to Silhouette.

Now we have a background and a system out of the same stable which should only improve the synergy. Expectations are high, especially since Privateer have managed to kick Games Workshop’s butt in the miniatures field.

The Iron Kingdoms is a ‘steampunk’ (actually more of a magi-punk) setting. This is a semi-typical fantasy world that has been transformed by the advent of steam power, gunpowder and the fusion of both with magic. The game has a much more industrial feel than typical fantasy settings but it does have wild places and plenty of room for wilderness adventure as well as delving into the espionage, proxy wars and so on going on between the various Iron Kingdoms.

The background is deep and detailed. Far too much to into in a review but that, itself, is a selling point as far as I’m concerned. The human-led kingdoms consist of Cygnar (liberal, advanced, lightning oriented), Khador (pseudo-Russian, despotic, militaristic), Ord (fishermen and pirates) and the Protectorate of Menoth (religious fanatics). These groups are locked in a perpetual cold war with each other and often operate through mercenary companies, which can become rich and powerful.

Beyond their borders lie Cryx (corrupted necrotechnicians), Ios (mysterious land of the elves) and Rhul (land of the dwarves). Other races, ogrun and trollkin, eke out a living in and around the human kingdoms.

Iron Kingdoms has a system that is the bastard offspring of 4e D&D, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay and first edition Warhammer 40,000. It’s very much a miniatures oriented game – not surprising since Privateer Press make minis – though it’s probably more amenable to playing without minis than 4e D&D was. If I was going to compare it to anything it would probably be Cadwallon.

Characters are full-on RPG characters but the degree of customisation and individuality when it comes to actual statistics is pretty limited. Characters advance in tiers (Starting/Hero/Veteran/Epic) which are reminiscent of 40k’s old troop/champion/minor hero/major hero. Your starting stats are determined by race and, given the attention in the d20 version to different human nationalities and races its a little disappointing that they become more generically ‘human’ in this.

Customisation and characterisation comes through the application of various templates and choices that channel the character into various directions. This is most similar to WHFRP’s careers and skill picks but has more layers to it.

You pick an archetype (Gifted, intellectual, mighty, skilled).

You pick two careers from a list including things like alchemist, bounty hunter, cut-throat, duellist or pirate, to come up with a combo that best describes your character concept.

Careers give access to abilities, connections and skills which is where the character individualism finally, really comes in.

The system itself is a rather simple 2d6+modifiers Vs target number one. That gives you a more gritty bell curve of probability with more typical outcomes which – with the compensation of Feat points for when you want to do something more heroic.

Combat is a big focus and where the skirmish-game shows through the most. While the game can be played without minis and a board everything is expressed in these terms and there’s some combat options that are missing due to lacking a degree of combat granularity. It’s fixable enough with improvisation, but it would have been nice to have more options.

Characters are tough bastards with three sets of health in a spiral, representing different effects of different wounds. When defeated, unless explicitly finished off, they instead develop permanent wounds but with magi-tech prosthetics and healing magic that need not be as awful as you might think.

Magic is more free-flowing and less constricted than in the d20 version, much closer to the wargame. Magicians either have fatigue or focus, which is used up to run effects, boost powers and control warjacks – if those abilities are open to you. Spells end to be a bit more combat focussed, but there are plenty of utility spells as well and a creative player with a good Games Master can get around the constrictions.

Somehow this edition doesn’t have the same atmosphere as the previous edition despite having higher production values. It just seems a little too ‘clean’ for the world that it describes. The previous edition also had two books of this size to delve into the background and history of the world and as a single book there’s less space for that in this one. It does the job, but when compared to the previous edition falls short. Of course, the previous edition was outstanding so this one had a lot to live up to.

This edition is full colour and while it re-uses a lot of old artwork it is lavishly illustrated and well laid out. The cover is a little busy perhaps, but the production values are incredibly high throughout. Perhaps controversially I think it might have been better done if it were… in… black and white? The old books almost felt like an artefact of the game world, even if the pages were a bit grey. This version doesn’t have the same feel to it.

An interesting version of the game with wedded background and mechanics. It’s a shame – but not surprising – that it is focussed on skirmish style play but it takes less work to remove that aspect and play in the theatre of the mind than some other games. The relative lack of difference between characters statistically may irritate some players but all things considered it should work fine.

The game needs an example adventure/campaign and an expanded bestiary ASAP but those familiar with the wargame or the d20 version should be able to muddle through.

It would be well worth getting the d20 books on PDF or on ebay, just for the more in depth treatment of the background.

Style: 4
Substance: 4
Overall: 4

UPDATE: Extended bestiary and character sheets etc can be downloaded HERE