Iron Kingdoms - Witchfire Trilogy
Iron Kingdoms Overview
Iron Kingdoms is a fantasy setting created by the gaming company Privateer Press. Originally designed as a campaign setting for the 3rd edition of Dungeons & Dragons, it is now known chiefly as the setting for the two miniatures-based tabletop strategy games WARMACHINE and HORDES.
The term “Iron Kingdoms” specifically refers to a collection of human nations in the western portion of the continent of Immoren on a planet known as Caen. In the past, Western Immoren used to be a fairly typical fantasy setting, where warriors used swords and bows, wizards cast spells, and parties of human, dwarven, and (occasionally) elven adventurers would wander the land, beating up goblins, ogres (called ogrun in Immoren), trolls, and other monsters in order to take their stuff.
All that changed when the Orgoth invaded from across the western ocean. A race of humans whose immensely powerful sorcery put Immoren magic to shame, the Orgoth easily conquered the squabbling human city-states of Immoren and ruled the land as unbeatable overlords for the better part of four hundred years. No longer able to rely on standard swords and sorcery, Immoren freedom fighters were forced to develop new technologies in order to counter the Orgoth’s immense magical advantage — technologies such as steam engines, gunpowder, and magic steam-powered robots that make use of both. The rebellion also forced the humans of Immoren to put aside their old racial grudges, and goblins, ogrun, and trollkin (the most intelligent and civilized of the trolls) stood side-by-side with humans against the Orgoth invaders. After another two hundred years of fighting, the inhabitants of Immoren finally managed to drive the Orgoth from their shores. In order to prevent their lands descending into chaos once more, the human rulers of Immoren met in the city of Corvis and drew up a series of treaties that officially divided their lands into the titular Iron Kingdoms:
- Cygnar, the largest and most technologically advanced of the Iron Kingdoms, and considered (by its inhabitants, anyway) to be the most lawful and just of them as well.
- Khador, located in the northern part of the continent; ruthlessly expansionistic and very Russian.
- Ord, a rustic nation on the coast with a strong naval presence and little in the way of land-based military. Its most famous city is the port town of Five Fingers, a wretched hive of scum and villainy.
- Llael, a small but rich nation whose alchemists hold the monopoly on blasting powder, situated between Khador and Cygnar. With little else in the way of mineral wealth or military might, a woefully inefficient government, and no actual ruler, it came as no surprise to anyone when Khador took it over.
- The Protectorate of Menoth, the youngest human nation, created in the wake of a religious civil war in Cygnar. As it’s technically still part of that nation, the Protectorate is officially prohibited from maintaining a standing army or building warjacks… and yet its military presence is somehow greater than that of Ord and Llael combined.
In addition to these five human kingdoms, there are a number of other power blocs on the continent:
- Cryx, an island nation ruled by the Godzilla-sized dragon Lord Toruk. Seems to be populated entirely by The Undead and Always Chaotic Evil humans and ogrun (most of whom are pirates).
- Ios, home of the elves; rarely seen by outsiders, as the elves are not the friendliest folks on the continent. Also home to one of the two remaining elven Physical Gods, who is comatose and dying. The Nyss have the other encased in a block of ice.
- Rhul, home of the dwarves, a nation which has not seen any major political or societal upheavals in over a thousand years. Of all the fantasy races in the Iron Kingdoms, the dwarves are probably played the straightest, the sole exception being their lack of animosity towards the elves and full beards.
- The Skorne Empire, which lies on the other side of a vast desert to Cygnar’s east. A nation of Proud Warrior Race Guys, the skorne have only recently begun to stir up trouble in the western part of the continent.
- The Nyss, an arctic subgroup of elves who are marginally more friendly than their woods-dwelling counterparts. Currently engaged in a desperate life-or-death struggle with the disembodied life force of a dragon that’s trying to turn them all into monsters.
- The Trollbloods, a collection of trolls and trollkin desperately trying to reclaim their ancestral homelands. They get understandably short-tempered when the other power blocs try to muscle in on their turf.
- Circle Orboros, a faction of druids who seek to maintain the delicate balance between civilized order and natural chaos, in order to prevent The End of the World as We Know It. They tend to pick fights with anyone who encroaches too deeply into their forests and are most concerned at the moment by the rise of Everblight and other dragon spawn.
- The Legion Of Everblight, a growing empire ruled by a disembodied dragon that is two parts The Virus to one part Demonic Possession, with a Hive Mind thrown in for good measure. Their numbers comprise the Nyss elves who weren’t lucky enough to escape Everblight’s grasp, and Ogrun tribes that were in the region.
- Large numbers of Mercenaries that by and large operate outside the confines of the Iron Kingdoms’ political structure, and fight primarily for coin. Mercenaries are often seen fighting alongside the troops and warjacks of one of the other factions, though dedicated Mercenary armies also exist. Mercenary characters run the gamut from noble to villainous, idealistic to cynical, and coldly calculating to flat frickin’ crazy. Many of them are also pirates.
- The minor non-human races of Western Immoren, collectively known as Minions, that often serve as warriors for hire in much the same way as the Mercenaries. Like the Mercenaries, dedicated Minion armies also exist; many of these center around the boar-like Farrow or the alligator-like Gatormen, both of whom have started banding together to push interlopers out of their tribal lands.
Of course, for all this political and technological mucking about, the Iron Kingdoms are still by-and-large a heroic fantasy setting. It’s just that the warriors now also use guns, the wizards now also use machines, and the goblins, ogrun, and trolls are now just as likely to be adventurers (or hapless townsfolk) as adventurer-bait.