Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Axe to the Face

Here's some very bad pictures of my Madrak Ironhide conversion.

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The big red circle is to show the back of the conversion - behold! There be no obvious markings of the headswap. The conversion was done with a kriel warrior head, green stuff, a color shaper (these things are amazing! Wish I'd found them years and years ago) and some superglue.

I'm not happy with my paint job - not that you can actually see a lot of it from those pictures, but I went a bit wash happy instead of doing it properly and shading/highlighting things; I did highlight the green properly, but it's a very dark green and the horrible job I did on the brown stripes covers it up. I'll have to go over the brown stripes in the tartan again to give them the proper shading and then break up the pattern a little with some very light brown squares where the lines cross.

Since my mother is visiting from Canada next week to help my sister with her moving, I should be able to get hold of a digital camera to take some decent pictures. Good news for me, free food! Good free food!

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Behind Schedule

Yes, I'm behind schedule with doing the gun mage updates but I've had a very busy week helping my sister move and organize all her stuff to her new (really big) house on the other side of Glasgow. At least they'll have room to use the Wii I bought them, at the moment there's a high risk of controller to the face when playing games like tennis.

For the gun mage I'll try to get the next two levels of powers up by Friday, fingers crossed.

For those still waiting with baited breath for news of whether the IK will shift to 4e or not, there is a thread of dubious authenticity claiming that the Privateers have said they will not be going 4e. There's no way to verify the claims made by Danbala, they could be another 4e hater (and there are quite a few of those) or some nice honest person. We'll just have to wait and see.

My Trollblood battle box has been a lot of work, though I'm particularly proud of my Madrak conversion - a simple head swap replacing the evil clown face with that of a Kriel warrior (the bald one) and a neck made out of green stuff. Now if only I could still paint like I did 4 years ago before I went back to university... I'll try to get a picture of him up on here, but the pictures from my spangly new iPhone (BOW DOWN BEFORE ME MORTALS!) are a little blurry at the closeness I need the pictures to be. Soon, heaven forbid, I might actually learn how to play Hordes/Warmachine! Shocking, I know.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

More Gun Magery Goodness

There we go, up to level 5 is now done. I've got quite a busy week so I'm not sure when I'll get the next update done.

Thursday, 17 July 2008


As promised, the next level of gun mages powers have been added to the 4e Gun Mage post. Next update probably won't be until Tuesday, I've got a busy weekend. Critique and suggestions always welcome.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Added Responsibility

Damn you all! Now that people actually visit my blog there's added pressure to actually do some work instead of moaning about stuff like the quasi old person I am.

I'm still waiting on Volin's reply to my suggested changes to the Demolish power for Bodgers - basically you can activate a Demolish encounter power for free when you whack a construct or mechanikal creature with the Demolish at-will exploit. Since I've been updating a single post with all my suggested changes on his forum topic I'm not sure Volin actually knows I've been suggesting more and more changes. A couple of issues have come up, namely an Alchemy skill he has listed. This does make a certain degree of sense, but I've been merging Alchemy into Arcana in my games with no loss.

Work on the gun mage continues slowly, but now that people read this blog and check it for updates I'll try to do updates to the class more often. After sitting down for a bit and studying the math of all the current rules we've come up with, I changed most of the gun mage spells to have the Weapon keyword instead of the Implement keyword. This boosts gun mages' hit rolls by +3 for most powers, though there are still a few with the Implement keyword still, those can be used without a firearm. My plan is to include one or two spells per level that can be used offensively but don't need a firearm so a gun mage with no firearms isn't totally at a loss.

I'll try to have the heroic tier spells done by the end of next week, but I'll add each level as I do them every couple of days. My main problem is coming up with the descriptive text of each power, which for a gun mage is summarized with "you shoot a bullet, stuff happens."

Given some format issues I have with the forums I was thinking of converting my neat, well organized Word documents into pdf files once each project is finished. I'll try to get hold of Adobe and make it all shine, or send my Word files to someone else to do it for me. We'll just have to see when it's all done.

Friday, 11 July 2008


The mechanikal items of the Iron Kingdoms are complex and novel devices, it is rare for any two to be exactly the same. They employ a complex melding of magic and technology that takes an intelligent eye to see and understand.
While there are magical items in the Iron Kingdoms creating them is particularly taxing to the creator, far greater than in other settings.
To counteract this, many produce mechanikal items, similar to magical items but powered through more mundane means, such as alchemy or arcane accumulators that serve as batteries. While not as reliable as magical items, mechanika is much safer and easier to produce.

You have gained knowledge about mechanikal devices, their uses, construction and the maintenance of mechanika. This knowledge extends to information about mechanikal constructs and creatures.
If you have selected this skill as a trained skill your knowledge represents academic or practical study, either formally or as a hobby. Also those trained in the skill have a chance to know something about Cyrisstech.

Make a Mechanika check to recall a useful bit of mechanika-related knowledge or recognize a mechanika-related clue. See “Knowledge Checks,” page 180 in the PHB.
You must be trained in Mechanika to remember information about Cyrisstech, which requires master knowledge (DC 25) at least.

Make a Mechanika check to identify a creature that has the mechanikal origin or has significant mechanical modifications or parts. See “Monster Knowledge Checks,” page 180 in the PHB.

The key component of almost all mechanika is the arcane accumulator, a mechanikal device used to store arcane energy and acts as a power source for the device it is installed in. However accumulators are not always predictable.
When using a mechanikal item’s at-will power (e.g. frost weapon) or critical hit power (e.g. flaming burst weapon) you must roll an accumulator roll or the arcane accumulator runs out of power and renders the item inert and powerless until you install a new arcane accumulator. When an item is powerless it loses all powers and enhancement bonuses and is treated as a non-magical item of the appropriate type.
Accumulator rolls are based on the size of the arcane accumulator used. Certain items and powers give enhancements or penalties to these rolls.

Accumulator SizeAccumulator Roll (1d6)

Mechanikal devices are bulky pieces of equipment and take up more space than a normal magical item of the same type. This is reflected in the type of accumulator used for the device. Small accumulators use no additional equipment spaces on a character, medium accumulators take up a single additional slot, large accumulators take up two additional slots. It is up to the creator of the mechanika to decide the locations used for these additional slots at the time of the device‘s creation.

Accumulator SizeAdditional Slots

Garrett has made and is using a mechanikal lightning greatsword +1 with a medium accumulator. He’s chosen his extra accumulator slot to take up the wrists slot for magical items, this represents all the extra bulk, cables, and conduits the greatsword needs.
When Garrett hits an opponent and uses the at-will power of the lightning weapon, turning all his damage into lightning damage, he rolls an accumulator roll, needing a 2+ or the greatsword runs out of power and becomes a mundane, non-magical greatsword.
Let’s say Garrett’s failed his accumulator roll, he can replace the accumulator in the greatsword as a standard action, provided he has a fully charged spare available. This restores power and turns his greatsword back into a mechanikal lightning greatsword +1.

Mechanikal items are cheaper and easier to create in the Iron Kingdoms than their magic item counterparts. To do this the mechanik must know the Create Mechanikal Item ritual detailed below.

Due to the similarities between magical formula and the schematics and diagrams used in mechanika, rituals using Arcana as the key skill may substitute Mechanika as the key skill instead. When substituting the Arcana skill in this way, the components must be spare parts rather than alchemical reagents.


  • Spare Parts (Mechanika): Mechanika rituals rely on a great number of parts, many of which have to be crafted to exacting specifications or require exotic materials such as rare metals or gases. Typically these can be bought from specialist stores or even crafted by the mechanik themselves from the raw materials.
Following your careful schematics and diagrams you create a device that makes use of both magic and technology.

Level: 4
Category: Creation
Time: 1 Hour
Duration: Permanent
Component Cost: Special
Market Price: 175 gp
Key Skill: Mechanika (no check)

You touch a normal item and turn it into a mechanical item of your level or lower. At the beginning of this ritual you must decide which size accumulator the item will use and which addition slots, if any, the item will occupy. The ritual’s component cost is equal to 75% the price of the equivalent magic item.
You can also use this ritual to resize mechanikal armor (for example, shrink an ogrun’s mechanikal armor to fit a gobber). There is no component cost for this use.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Roles and Power Sources

I was browsing some old forum threads instead of doing work (as usual) and it occurred to me that the various IK classes that need write-ups (arcane mechanik, bodger, and gun mage) also need to be given defined roles and power sources. I know that sounds really stupid and obvious, but most people seems to think a bodger is a martial striker, there's already two of those in the Player's Handbook, there'd be some serious overlap if the bodger turned out to be a striker. It'd be far more interesting to see the bodger with more controller powers, using flasks of oil, rolls of barbed wire or even windup mechanikal devices that explode to influence the battlefield. I'd keep the anti-construct/mechanikal creature stuff, since that's what bodgers do, but a greater emphasis on controller would be nice.

As I've said before about artificers being arcane leaders, I see arcane mechaniks using the same role. The problems arise when we try to sit down and figure out mechanika rules. I'm not a great fan of adding fiddly bits to existing game mechanics, but mechanika needs its own flavor. I've just tagged accumulator rolls (taken from the recharge mechanic that monsters in the Monster Manual use) and applied them to all the mechanikal items my players get hold of. Unlike recharge rolls, when you fail the roll you have to replace your arcane accumulator - the mechanikal version of a battery - by taking a standard action before your shiny item will work again. As arcane mechaniks were the recharge bunnies of 3.5e in the Iron Kingdoms I can see them being able to influence accumulator rolls, either by providing bonuses or by allowing rerolls. While I would love to do a write-up on this class, the fine details of the mechanika rules have to be hammered out first.

Seeing as there's no warlocks in the Iron Kingdoms (or my version of the IK, your version may well have warlocks) the role of the gun mage is obvious, they take over as the arcane striker. Problem solved. Now if only I could come up with another hundred ways to say 'you shoot a magic bullet, it does stuff.' for all the skills I'm writing up.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

System Specs

The debate continues on the IK forums over the future of the IK RPG, is Privateer Press going to switch to 4E D&D, perhaps Savage Worlds, or maybe even their own homegrown system? Privateer Press have adopted a 'we'll tell you when we know' stance, which is fair enough, it's their product after all. Personally I think they'll use 4th edition Dungeons and Dragons given the massive amount of support that can be generated quickly simply through Wizards of the Coast churning out source books of various types. That and I've never had a look at the Savage Worlds system, which I'm told is now Open License like 3.5e D&D. I might do that on a rainy day.

Having renewed my interest in all things Iron Kingdoms I've decided to start collecting a Hordes army, namely the Trollbloods. Unfortunately I've spent this month's paycheck already on a Wii for my sister's birthday so actually buying my Trollbloods is going to be a while. I've been hunting the various boards for a suitable way to convert Madrak since I don't like his pose or the 'Evil Clown face' he has. To that end I found this thread. While I don't like the use of Borka's head I've decided I'll use one of the heads from the Kriel Warriors. I'm also liking the art of eMadrak in No Quarter 19 by Andrea Uderzo. It's awesome.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Samurai Jack

How cool is this? It was posted in the Fan Art forums earlier today by SFNoseratu. We demand more!

Monday, 7 July 2008

Good Luck Mr Smith

Our thoughts go out to Dan 'YoungWolf7' Smith of Brush Thralls fame today as he's having surgery on his cancer and I hope he comes out better soon.

I had heard about YoungWolf7's cancer on the Privateer Press forums but was taken by surprise when I saw Tim Buckley (Ctrl-Alt-Delete) post news about this on his web comic's site. Good work Tim for helping to raise awareness on YoungWolf7's situation!

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Writing Adventures

Now I like to think of myself as a passingly good DM these days. What gets me is having to draw maps, lots of maps, before I can really write my adventures. Also, I have a really good idea what's going to happen at the start of a campaign and where it's going to end, but somewhere in the middle the creative juices starts to fizzle out on me.

This has suddenly started to change as I turn my attention towards Nicolas Logue for inspiration. Nicolas Logue is perhaps the best pulp action adventure designer I've seen. He's written two of the best articles in the new Dragon magazine as well numerous adventures - namely Chimes at Midnight, Quoth the Raven and Hell's Heart, all easily the best written Eberron adventures I've ever played in or ran. While he primarily writes Eberron stuff, at least from what I've seen, he comes up with amazing scenarios for the player characters to be in.

Using his type of adventure layout for inspiration I've come up with much better scenarios for my IK game. Suddenly the use of terrain is important, I stop thinking about what works and think about what's cool instead and see if there's some way I can fit that in. I recently had my PCs investigating a depleted coal mine infested with Cryxians, instead of just having them come across the slayer I had it smash through a wall behind them in a shower of coal dust and rocks and glowing necrotite. I've had a gun mage using a rope line pirate-style (one foot in a loop, one hand holding the rope to keep stable, and going up at a fast rate - you usually see it in pirate films where someone whizzes up to the crow's nest) while the PCs race up the stairs to keep up with him to the top of a clock tower. Of course he kept shooting them on the way up, then the clock tower exploded, it was awesome.

So now I've started to do adventures with a few new rules: ignore the recommended number of encounters, if you're short a few or a few too many, it doesn't matter; make every encounter something to remember; put the PCs in new and interesting situations constantly; and make sure it's cool.

Full Class vs Paragon Path

This came up almost as soon as I posted my fell caller paragon path on the IK forums. Why did I make a paragon path instead of a full class for the fell caller? The fell caller was a full class in 3.5e, shouldn't it get a full write up like it did before? Well... no. The fell caller feels like a martial leader, and we already have the warlord. Also fell calls traditionally granted bonuses your allies and penalties to your enemies, and strangely enough most of the warlord powers do this too. It'd be far easier to use an inspiring presence warlord than to write up a complete new fell caller class, and in my games I do use inspiring presence warlords as fell callers - or the one I have in the adventure anyway. The warlord does lack a little of the spirit of the fell caller though, which is why I wrote up a paragon path for it. My favorite ability is victory howl, to me that feels very much like the fell caller, a nice balance between axe to face and the group gaining bonuses.

The gun mage on the other hand requires a full write up as it replaces the warlock as the arcane striker in the Iron Kingdoms. Previous iterations of the gun mage had three separate 'pacts': self-taught, Arcane Tempest, and Amethyst Rose; these reflected how your gun mage had been trained. Three separate paths however is a bit of a headache, instead I've come to focus on two different ideas for the gun mage powers: powers that you need a bullet for, powers you don't. Bullet powers use Dexterity primarily, with Intelligence modifiers applied to bonuses, and of course requires you use a loaded gun. Non-Bullet powers use Charisma with Intelligence modifiers doing extra things. I've come to think of bullet powers as raw damage and non-bullet ones as having that extra little bit of utility. Coming up with balanced skills however is a lot harder than it looks.

Arcane mechaniks and bodgers... I wasn't sure that bodgers needed a separate class write-up, but Volin's done a good job of it, once it's refined it should be an awesome anti-construct/mechanika striker. I recently came up with the idea that when you hit a target with the construct or mechanika keywords with the demolish at-will power you can use various encounter powers as triggered free actions. While this would be horribly overpowered in normal play, I feel it's suitably cool since it only works on two types of enemy. While I think the idea is awesome, Volin hasn't replied to my suggestions in his forum thread just yet, so we'll see what he thinks.

As for the arcane mechanik, I really like the idea of these as arcane leaders and doing strange things to the party's equipment that has the mechanika keyword/feature. I'll post my thoughts on how mechanika works in 4e at a later date, there's plenty of ideas I blatantly stole from other IK forum posters. Until someone does a large write-up though, I would use the artificer posted in Dragon 365 for the arcane mechanik.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Balancing Issues

I've started planning out a bunch of paragon paths for the IK and they've turned out to be surprisingly hard to balance out. I'm planning to make the fell caller and sworn protector, a paragon path for ogrun who have sworn service to a korune. If Volin and I can finish up polishing his bodger class then a junker paragon path might be an idea to do, but the base class still needs a lot of work. Could be a while though, the bodger needs a lot of work. While Volin has good ideas he's got a lot of layout and game mechanic issues.

While we're on the subject of classes WotC have published their playtest version of the artificer in Dragon. Much to my surprise artificers turned out to be arcane leaders, I was expecting some kind of controller/striker hybrid, but leader works out much better. Given that artificers and arcane mechaniks were *very* similar I was thinking of drafting up the arcane mechanik as an arcane leader too, though I still have a lot of work to do with the gun mage. We'll just have to see what I've got time to do.

Iron Kingdom Elves

Work continues on all the conversions from 3.5e D&D to 4e on all things Iron Kingdoms. A strange sticking point has cropped up in the form of the elves of the Iron Kingdoms, people really believe they both need their own set of rules for reasons I cannot fathom. If I were more open about my geekiness I would have let out a big cheer when I found out Keith Baker ditched all this subraces garbage in Eberron and I feel the Iron Kingdoms should have been the same way.

The Nyss and Iosans are both elves, they're just culturally different. There's no real reason behind them having lots of different special rules when you can just as easily represent either race with just your skill and feat selection. Nyss elf? Take Weapon Proficiency (Bastard Sword) - or Nyss Claymore if we end up making it have it own stats - and train in Nature, Perception and Stealth. Nyss sorcerer instead? Ok, swap out Stealth for Arcana then. You can do an extraordinary amount of things with just your basic feat and skill selections in 4th Edition, it places a greater amount of effort on the player to act out their character and lessens the need to represent every detail with some form of statistic.

Test Blog

Time to test out the blogger for all my Privateer Press stuff. After a couple of hours I think I've now got a layout I can be happy with. I'd prefer the text boxes to the right to be on the left personally, but I can live without it. Now to write about the Iron Kingdoms again.