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On a Black Tide
by Tim R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/28/2014 15:22:16
Anyone who can read a description of a publication and then be shocked that the publication is indeed as described needs to get their heads examined. Pirates, murderous gangs, trials by combat, etc should clue you in. If these topics make you cringe then don't read the story. On a Black Tide is well written and definitely deserves a read if you like tales of the darker side of life. Not everyone is born behind a white picket fence and the stories of those people should be told as well. Highly recommend.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
On a Black Tide
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Iron Kingdoms Roleplaying Game: Monsternomicon
by Quin L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/17/2014 15:20:12
Much needed foes and fluff to fill those missing gaps in the Iron Kingdom bits. Missing certain foes for your campaign or need some help setting up part of a plot. This book will give you a list of enemy (mostly monsters as stated in said title) and a couple of set ups to even modify those monsters. While it does give a lot some of it may feel a little left out (infernals) though the rest helps fill in as it also gives some of that monster info in some of the No Quarter issues.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Iron Kingdoms Roleplaying Game: Monsternomicon
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Murder in Corvis
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/16/2014 06:27:31
Originally published at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2014/10/16/book-review-murder-in-c-
orvis-iron-kingdoms/

I’ll admit something upfront. I’ve never been interested in Iron Kingdoms or Warmachine. Both feel like a steampunk version of Warhammer and I already have enough RPGs and miniature combat games to pick up what feels like a derivative of something else. I’ve got a stack of Bones, Tomb Kings, Robotech RPG Tactics and my old D&D Tactics figures from when that game existed. However, I really do like Richard Lee Byers’ stories. I’m more a non-fiction reader, but I enjoy enough of his writing to know I’ll pick up something of his (especially a review copy) if I run into it. Besides, the last time I picked up a book by him from a RPG universe I wasn’t originally interested in (The Festival at Glenelg), I ended up reviewing three adventures from that game. So who knew? Maybe Murder in Corvis would make me curious enough to try out some of Privateer Press’ games. There was only one way to find out.

I wasn’t sure what to expect with Murder in Corvis. Would it read like a gritty pulp thriller? Would it be more like one of those cozy mystery series my wife enjoys? Would it simply be a fantasy novella with a murder as the crux of the story? Would it be something else? The only way was to dip into the story and find out. Unfortunately, you don’t get to find out right away. Before Byers’ novel starts you get a very dull and dry four page introduction to the Iron Kingdoms world. Personally, I would have let the author incorporate this information into the story rather than have a preamble that reads like it was written by Ben Stein, but that’s just me. Most of what is in the introduction has no bearing on the story at all and will serve to bore or confuse newcomers to the Iron Kingdoms. As well, there is a six page glossary in the back, which defines specific creatures, jargon and game terminology that the reader will encounter within the novella. I feel Byers describes all of these terms pretty well in the story itself, so a glossary of this size and the verbose descriptions provided for each one comes off with the publisher either not trusting its audience or simply being VERY condescending to them. Both the preamble and the glossary rubbed me the wrong way and definitely gave me a bad first impression of Iron Kingdoms in general. Honestly, if you had to include both of these, I’d have put a much shorter glossary in the front so that readers know it is there (most people I know don’t flip to the back of a book except for people who like endings ruined and even less read the Table of Contents in a fiction book) and I would have put the “introduction” at the end to act as a, “If you liked this story, here’s more about our world (and product line) that you can purchase,” so as not to intimidate younger/casual readers or worse, make a person think that Murder in Corvis will be as poorly written as that four page look at the world of Iron Kingdoms. I can honestly say after reading Murder in Corvis, I’d probably pick up more stories by Byers in this setting…but I’m not at all inclined to touch the game line(s).

Murder in Corvis is basically the origin story for a motley group of mercenaries that will eventually be called the Black River Irregulars. You have Milo the thief/alchemist, Gardek the Trollkin thief-taker (a trollkin feels like the defacto half-orc for this setting), Elish the arcanist (think techno-mage) forensic detective and Colbie the Mechanik, because changing c’s to k’s is somehow novel or interesting I guess. It’s the typical “one character from different classes to create a balanced party” trope that many fantasy stories have (and probably your own gaming party!), but Byers makes it work in spite of being a cliché (as always). The characters are well defined and nuanced with the cast being treated as an ensemble rather than one starring character and the rest of the team being supporting players. It’s nice to see this, because it’s rare an author treats an entire party as equals. Even in Byers’ previous novels and/or short stories with large casts, there is always a character or two that dominates the “screen time” so to speak. Aoth Fezim, Anton Marivaldi and Erik Nygaard come to mind as examples. I think all fiction authors are guilty of this because you develop a favorite (even if said favorite changes from book to book) and so they get a little more detail and word count devoted to them. Not so with Murder in Corvis. Here each chapter has a different character take center stage even when the other characters still appear in it. It’s a really nice touch that makes the piece stand out. A great example of the balance if I thought Milo was going to be the main character from Chapter One but then it ends with a twist and so I think Gardek is going to now become the main character and the first chapter was just a swerve. With each chapter unfolding though, I realized Byers’ was writing a team story rather than one focused on a single character and I loved the result.

Because Murder in Corvis is an origin story as well as a murder mystery, you get to see how the group forms. Of course, none of them really like each other at first but grow to respect and befriend each other as the story goes on and they have to work together to find the murderer. Each character gets to show off their strengths and how they can complement or protect another teammate. It probably isn’t a spoiler to say the entire team lives, but I was surprised that they lost more fights than they won and that there was a mauling or two along the way. The story flies by pretty quickly even if 126 pages is a bit long for a novella and it left me wanting more adventures with these characters. I still probably wouldn’t be interested in the Iron Kingdoms game, but I’d certainly read another story with these exact characters and author. Of course, I’m not sure if it would be interesting now that they are all chummy-chummy and the interpersonal conflict is gone, but I’d give it a try.

The actual murder mystery itself is worth noting. Apparently there is a serial killer going around. Originally just Gardek the trollkin is hired to find and subdue the killer but after he catches the wrong guy, the four protagonists are forced to team up to find the person behind the slayings. Their quest is a more cerebral one than you might expect from a story based on a fantasy RPG, but there are a few fight scenes here and there. I do like that the book really focused on solving a mystery over hack and slash, even though Byers is quite adept as long detailed fight scenes. By sticking with the detective aspects, the story felt like a murder mystery first and a licensed novelization second. I also liked that the characters didn’t solve the mystery right away, complete with the occasional dead end, false lead and accidental accusation of the wrong being thrown in for good measure. Because of the narrative style, I could give Murder in Corvis to people I know who like murder mysteries but hate gaming fiction and feel they would still enjoy this in spite of its origins.

Overall, I was glad to see that Murder in Corvis is another fine story spawned from the mind of Richard Lee Byers. Unlike some of his other releases, this novella didn’t convince me to pick up the game it was based on and I actually think the weakest points of the release are when the package tries to sell you on Iron Kingdoms instead of allowing you to just read the story, but the novella is an enjoyable murder mystery in a steampunk high fantasy setting. It’s newcomer friendly and the characters will keep you both entertained and interested from beginning to end. If you’ve got five bucks to spare and an afternoon with nothing to do, you could while away the time in worse fashions than reading Murder in Corvis.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Murder in Corvis
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Iron Kingdoms Roleplaying Game: Monsternomicon
by Jeremey P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/04/2014 12:08:04
This was a much needed resource for the game. I liked the art and layouts. The only thing that bothered me was a lot of this was simple consolidation and not necessarily new information. I bought the pdf and will most like also buy a physical copy for convenience sake.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Iron Kingdoms Roleplaying Game: Monsternomicon
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On a Black Tide
by Jacob T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/12/2014 22:02:07
The book was interesting however i am not interested in playing the villain in adventures. The writing style was superb and I would rate the descriptions as excellent, but I am rating the product as bad for the direction of the story. Blood thirsty homicidal and driven to murder his way up the ladder to success all aptly describe the main character. Being evil is not fun.

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
On a Black Tide
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Bitter Medicine
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/22/2014 10:56:24
This is an exciting adventure, with some of the overtones of the Wild West as bandits mount raids on trains, with the added pressure of a deadly disease to contend with as well. It's set in northern Cygnar, quite definitely, but should you wish to run it elsewhere there are suggestions for adapting events to other locations within the Iron Kingdoms.

After an overview of what is going on and a summary of the adventure itself, you get to meet the major NPCs involved. Both adventure and characters are wound into the fabric of the Iron Kingdoms and its recent history, making everything spring into coherent life - they're here because of their own reasons, not just because the presence of the party and the requirements of the plot have called them into existence!

Next there is a collection of suggestions as to how you can get the characters involved. The adventure is one which does not require an organised party, so could be used as a campaign starter to get the characters together in the first place, but it works equally well if they have already formed a group. Events open on a train journey, and it is open to you to give the characters plot-related reasons for being there or they may just have the misfortune to have chosen THAT train when all they wanted was to travel from wherever they were to wherever they want to go. It may be a while before they reach their destination in that case!

And we're off! The action is swift and exciting from the outset, although there's time for some scene-setting and 'get to know you' conversation as well, with the other passengers being detailed even if the characters themselves are already acquainted with one another. But just as everyone is lulled into the sense of a dull train journey events begin to unfold...

Plenty of detail and options are offered for the action scenes so you should not be at a loss whatever the party decides to do. From the train, the characters will have to make an overland journey to locate their objective, with two well-defended locations to search and plenty of opportunities for combat. It's not all brawling, though, there are opportunities for other abilities to be brought into play, and of course there's that illness to contend with too, and a good chance that the characters themselves might become infected. There's a good Mexican stand-off and an epic chase scene in there as well, and a climatic showdown.

Action over, there are some suggestions as to how you might develop matters further if you so wish. Finally there are several appendices: on vehicles in the Iron Kingdoms, on chases, on the deadly disease that is central to the plot and lastly full profiles for the antagonists involved.

While quite linear, and in places with things that just happen regardless, it's an exciting adventure that is well worth including in your campaign or running as a one-off.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Bitter Medicine
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Bitter Medicine
by Ian S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/20/2014 19:06:02
On first look, the bonus rules alone are worth it.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Full Metal Fridays: Volume 1
by Peter M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/19/2014 14:25:27
There are three reasons why you should get this file:

1. It contains many useful ideas and materials, both for GMs and players.
2. It is free.
3. The files are available for download separately on the PP website, but downloading them separately is both a hassle and problematic because many of the separate files on the PP site cause pdf readers to crash (except for adobe reader, which is slow but doesn't seem to have any problems).

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Full Metal Fridays: Volume 1
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Iron Kingdoms Full Metal Fantasy Roleplaying Game: Expanded Bestiary
by benjamin h. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/19/2014 20:55:21
Essentially I like the concept here. The publishers know they didn't offer a wide selection of foes in their core product and offered a free expansion in order to compensate. It's not quite as good as offering them up in the core book, but it's loads better than waiting for the next book.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Iron Kingdoms Full Metal Fantasy Roleplaying Game: Expanded Bestiary
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Iron Kingdoms Full Metal Fantasy Roleplaying Game: Kings, Nations, and Gods
by Jay S. A. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/02/2014 21:30:58
Kings, Nations and Gods is a welcome addition to the Iron Kingdoms lineup. The writing is detailed without being cumbersome and the new career mechanics serve to add a layer of distinction between characters without having to add an excessive number of professions to the mix. I hope in the coming expansions the writers would disentangle themselves from the approach used in Urban Adventures, which added a truckload of seemingly superfluous professions just for the sake of doing so, and follow this track instead especially when taking up the non-human factions.

---

One thing to note is that $41.99 is a very high price to ask for a PDF product. While I know that the book itself is very well done, this kind of pricing feels a little too steep.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Iron Kingdoms Full Metal Fantasy Roleplaying Game: Kings, Nations, and Gods
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Iron Kingdoms Full Metal Fantasy Roleplaying Game Core Rules
by Peter M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/31/2014 17:38:38
Firstly, it should be noted that the rules errata of the printed version have been rectified in the PDF version. The spelling errata, not always.

That being said, the ruleset is easy to use and the book is lavishly produced; Privateer Press's tabletop past shows in the wording of the rules, which tends to stick very close to the rules wordings in the Warmachine and Hordes games, but I would consider this a bonus, since the clarity that Privateer Press has aimed for in their wargame rules serves the rpg system well, too. It might take a little getting used to for role-players who prefer to play a little more loosely with the rules. The world of the Iron Kingdoms is a well-thought out steampunk setting, and the possibility of using Warmachine and Hordes materials as sources for the role-playing game is definitely a bonus.

Rules-wise, the system also offers a pretty unique take on social skills, which appears irritating at first, but does make sense after a while, and is actually a refreshing new approach.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Iron Kingdoms Full Metal Fantasy Roleplaying Game Core Rules
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No Quarter Presents: Iron Kingdoms Urban Adventure
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/30/2014 09:47:33
Urban adventures are always fun, never more so than in a steampunk campaign. This product contains a wealth of material for taking your Iron Kingdoms game onto the city streets, from new skills and classes for your characters to detailed background information on cities and an urban-based adventure for the GM. As such, the GM is going to have to look over the book and decide which bits the players will be allowed to access.

First up, Urban Adaptation looks at new careers for non-human races living in urban areas. Ogrun, for example, can put their strength to use as labourers as well as on the battlefield, while gobbers seem tailor-made for a role as Guttersnipes, surviving on petty theft and information brokering. Both ogrun and trollkin make formidable Pugilists, fighting to entertain their betters or working as doormen to some of the dodgier nightspots and gambling dens. Those interested in more legitimate careers might, if dwarves, become Searforge Traders with unmatched negotiation skills whilst an iosan might become a Seeker, a religious sect whose quest for knowledge can lead them down strange paths with even stranger company. Some nyss find that their natural hunting skills translate well to life on the streets as Urban Nomads. Each career comes with all the details needed to create and play a character - skills, assets, abilities and background notes on what it's like to be one. This chapter also has a selection of new abilities, mostly open to characters of any profession or race.

Next comes Urban Gear, being a collection of useful items that any urban adventurer may find of use. Weapons, equipment, alchemical substances... you name it, it might be found here. Characters who enjoy shopping will revel in these delights.

This is followed by a chapter on Urban Combat. This has lots of ideas about brawling effectively in an urban area, as well as the necessary game mechanics to make it happen. Things like using a large sword in tight quarters as well as an extensive section on unarmed combat - carrying an arsenal around with you is not always practical, socially acceptable or even legal in a city environment after all! Such skills can also be used in the arena by those who fight for pay. Also covered are improvised weapons - you may need to defend yourself with whatever comes to hand in an emergency.

Next up, Urban Labourjacks - with an array of new uses and modifications suitable for urban workplaces such as foundaries and manufactories.

We then move on to Five Fingers: A Concise Guide to the Port of Deceit. History, a beautiful map and copious notes on what it is like to live and work in the city, or just visit it for a few days. Crime, law, the Watch, and the costs of doing business are covered. There's also the chance to meet some leading citizens and notable organisations, before a detailed breakdown of the city island by island. The wealth of information here sparks plenty of ideas for adventures embedded in the life of the city... indeed this section is best kept for the GM (and possibly players of characters who are natives born and bred of Five Fingers).

Now we are into GM territory proper, with a collection of Urban Encounters which can be used as passing events, side-adventures or even full-blown plot-driving elements of your campaign as appropriate to your needs. In-character hooks are provided in the shape of news snippets, then there are notes about what is really going on and suggestions for what adventures or activities this situation might engender. Even outline stats for people involved are included.

Next, The Servants of Thamar introduces the cult of a dark goddess popular in the underbelly of crowded cities. As well as a description of the cult and its beliefs and practices, there are the necessary details for creating and running a cult member, spells and new abilities... and more. Not all of it nice - they practise necromancy amongst other unsavoury habits.

A chapter on Risk and Reward follows, a study of criminal activity and criminal enterprises, spreading well beyond the city limits and across all of the Iron Kingdoms. There's a comparative table of punishments in different cities and kingdoms - for all, it's best just not to get caught!

Finally, a full-blown adventure called Friends In High Places. It's designed for characters newly-arrived in Five Fingers - always a neat move, as characters and their players can learn about their new surroundings together, rather than players trying to cope with an unfamiliar setting that their characters have lived in for years. It's an exciting ride of gang warfare and intrigue, with plenty of action and opportunities to establish the party as a new force in town.

Overall, recommended for anyone running the Iron Kingdoms RPG especially if cities and the associated opportunities for intrigue and high-octane action appeal.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
No Quarter Presents: Iron Kingdoms Urban Adventure
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Fools Rush In
by Christopher H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/27/2012 17:31:32
Fools Rush In is a great little story for people new to the game, and to Iron Kingdoms.

Fools Rush In is an introductory scenario for the new edition of the game. It marks the departure from the previous D20 edition and showcases their new rules and the refinement of the setting that has happened as the table top wargames - Warmachine and Hordes - have grown.

First up Iron Kingdoms is not Steampunk. Nor is it Mecha Fantasy. Think more Napoleonic/Sharpe/Pirates of the Caribbean with magic, fantasy races (Elves, Dwarves, Goblins), and of course the magic tech aka Mechanik, which allows for the creation of devices like muskets that fire off spells, magic steam-powered armour, and of course the show piece of the setting, the Steamjacks. Steamjacks are steam powered, magically crafted automatons used for labour and war.

The pdf is a full colour example of what the full rpg book will be, using the excellent art that Privateer Press has built up over the years. Also provided are battle maps to print out, character markers, and the excellent and simple character sheets.

Now the meat of the pdf. The rules themselves are a adaption of the Wamachine/Hordes rules. This means that these rules take up less than 3 or so sides of A4. Yes it's that simple. Combat is fast paced, with single rolls to hit and then to deal damage. No sequences of rolls to hit, dodge, parry, damage, soak etc. Showing how the wargame is not Warhammer, and how the rpg in many respects is just as quick for combat as the New World of Darkness.

Now of course you my think, damn, I need minis for this. But with a bit of effort and hand waving the game will run fine without minis to represent the fights. Now I would side with using minis for big set piece fights. And really that is just a nice excuse for me to buy their great value minis to paint.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fools Rush In
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The Witchfire Trilogy: Collected Edition
by Nathan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/07/2012 21:22:28
This is the adventure series that sparked my love for the Iron Kingdoms. It was one of the first adventures I ever picked up for D&D 3E, and I was really excited to be able to get it again in PDF format. This is an engaging, exciting and well written adventure that will have your characters thinking, fighting and begging their way out of danger and adventure. It is also really (really) big, being the original three adventures collected together in one big (electronic) tome.
You don't need to be familiar with the Iron Kingdoms or Warmachine to use and enjoy this adventure, it is pretty portable to other campaign settings (the first time I ran it nobody knew what the Iron Kingdoms were). It is just a solid fantasy adventure. If you do want to set it in the Iron Kingdom, this collection has an overview of the setting and a good description of Corvis, the city around which the adventure revolves.
My only gripe is that the page backgrounds are grey, not white, which ate a fair bit of my printer ink when I was printing specific pages out.
All in all, though, this is an excellent adventure (or campaign, actually) that will keep your characters busy for many, many sessions.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Witchfire Trilogy: Collected Edition
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Monsternomicon Volume 1 - Denizens of the Iron Kingdoms
by Michael H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/15/2011 15:40:59
The PDF is very over-priced considering the book's original MSRP was only $29.99. However, the contents are absolutely fabulous and worth the money if you're into the Iron Kingdoms or just want some inspiration for a steampunk/ fantasy setting.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Monsternomicon Volume 1 - Denizens of the Iron Kingdoms
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