In September of 2012 Privateer Press relaunched the Iron Kingdoms RPG. Instead of this RPG being based on the d20 system of years past it was heavily based on their own set of game mechanics heavily pulled from Warmachine and Hordes. I had been looking forward greatly to the release of the book and was very excited to pick up the book that year. I took some time and read through the book and was overall very pleased with the results. The new system was reasonably easy to pick up from a rules perspective and feed heavily on the fanatastic world that they’ve established through the fluff pieces in their various books for the tabletop wargame. The only downside that I had with the book is that the art borrowed very heavily from those previous books.
In December of the same year they released the Urban Adventures splatbook. While once again it borrowed art heavily from previous offerings it did provide the player with more options and focused on adventures within the urban environment, which probably comes as no surprise. I picked up this book as soon as it was released and was really happy that Privateer Press seemed to be supporting the new system. This kind of support was a severe problem with the d20 version as there were only six books released for that system during its entire run. Two core rulebooks, 1 monster book, and three adventures that tied together.
Sadly, I was not further encouraged by the fact that the next book that was released didn’t come out until September the next year. In fact, the Kings, Nations, & Gods book was the only book released that year. While once again it lacked original artwork it did contain a large amount of information and helped with world building. I don’t believe that the book contained everything it promised with the title but as the book was already 400 pages and so I felt it was worth the purchase. With the promise of this book I had hoped that they were going to release a companion book that would give more information and provide even more world building information. Sadly, this book never came.
The trend continued in September of 2014 with the release of the fourth book in 2 full years, the Monsternomicon. By this point in the life cycle of the game a monster book was certainly needed. While this book did indeed provide players much needed adversaries, at a mere 100 pages it was somewhat anemic. There was a heavy reliance on templates and while that is not a bad thing in and of itself I would have preferred that the templates would have built on a strong foundation of foes instead of the small quantity that came in this book. This further reduced the actual number of useable foes. In comparision, the Pathfinder RPG had released three full 300+ page bestiaries plus many other books. While I certainly don’t expect Privateer Press to run at the same pace that Paizo does in the RPG market, it would be nice if there was more consistent support.
The next book that has been released for Iron Kingdoms was released in April of 2015 and was the Hordes version of the Iron Kingdoms core rulebook, Unleashed. This book returned to positive form in that it was an excellent introduction into the more bestial variation of the Iron Kingdoms RPG. It still tended to reuse artwork from previous books but the additional content was certainly welcome and it did a lot to open up the Iron Kingdoms even more.
Finally, the most recent book that was released is the Skorne Empires book which is a splatbook relating to the Unleased book. This book was almost an absolute necessity as the Skorne were not touched upon at all in the main book. I haven’t had the chance to pick this one up yet so can’t speak to it directly but I’m going to guess that it will follow the pattern of the previous books. This means it will be useful and have some good ideas and help with world building but will still carry a lot of reused artwork. Everything said, I’m still looking forward to picking this up.
This means that in the touch over three years that the Iron Kingdoms RPG has been available to the public, a grand total of six books have been released. I cannot express enough my disappointment in this decision by Privateer Press. I realize that this is not remotely the only pie they have their finger in, which is a subject for another post down the road I’m sure, but if they’re going to enter this arena they should put their best foot forward. I certainly don’t expect them to have a Paizo-level schedule of releases but I don’t think that asking for a quality quarterly release is being terribly excessive. I haven’t a clue of how well the Iron Kingdoms series of books have sold for Privateer Press but I would suspect that they would sell better if consumers knew that they were going to get a solid amount of support from the publisher. As much as I love Iron Kingdoms, the best I can say is that they haven’t canned the series yet. I want a stronger release cycle and I want to support them with my hard earned cash and I’m sure there’s others out there with the same desire. I can deal with the recycled artwork, just give us more world building, careers, races, adversaries, and all the other great things that make the Iron Kingdoms, the Iron Kingdoms. Make it happen Privateer Press and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.