— The oft-quoted Page 5 of the WARMACHINE Prime and HORDES Primal rulebooks
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, Immorese 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 made 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.
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.
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.
The Cult or Convergence of Cyriss, Transhuman cultists of the goddess of science, mathematics, and engineering, who consider uploading their souls into clockwork bodies to be divine works. They seek to control ley lines and natural magical sites to power their Great Work of turning all of Immoren into a vessel in which Cyriss can manifest; unfortunately, most of these sites are held firmly by the Iron Kingdoms or other powerful organisations, such as the Circle.
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 nowadays, the warriors' weapons are as likely to be guns as swords; the wizards' wonders are as likely to be mechanikal as arcane; and the goblins, ogrun, and trolls are as likely to be adventurers (or hapless townsfolk) as adventurer-bait.A Warmachine video game is in the works, with gameplay footage unveiled at Gen Con 2010, with an actual trailer shown at E3 2011 (which can be found here). The Gameplay Footage from 2010 can be found here. This has since been re-tooled as a turn-based tactics game currently on Kickstarter and well-beyond its initial funding goal.A new version of the RPG was also released in 2012, using a modified version of the wargames' rules system and a 'dual-class' character-creation system. A quick-start introductory adventure can be found on the Privateer Press website, titled Fools Rush In.
And in fact Cryx learned a lot about the Dark arts form studying them (their Warwitch Sirens are Orgoth remnants) , and many of their plans involved finding Orgoth relics. Cryx's iconic Soul Cages were originally Orgoth devices as well.
Aerith and Bob: You'll find "normal" names applied mostly to humans (Coleman, Vladimir, Fiona, etc.) and "fantasy" names applied mostly to non-humans (Madrak, Vyros, Gudrun, etc.).
All There in the Manual: Multiple tabletop battle rulebooks, no fewer than five hardcover RPG volumes, the "No Quarter" magazine, and the Privateer Press website, all of which contain fiction and background information that fleshes out the world and the people who live in it.
The core book for the new version of the RPG has about 100 pages dedicated to setting information, possibly to help alleviate this trope for people unfamiliar with the setting.
Always a Bigger Fish: Essentially the only reason any single dragon, most notably Toruk, hasn't conquered Immoren, is because they're all concerned about each other.
Amazon Brigade: Tharn Bloodtrackers, Wolf Riders and Bloodweavers, Satyxis Raiders and Blood Witches, and Daughters of the Flame.
Ancient Tomb: Many locations in the Iron Kingdoms could qualify as this, though Orgoth temples are considered some of the most dangerous.
Anti-Magic: Several people and things in the game have the ability to prevent magic spells from being cast by certain models or by multiple models within a certain area (Grissel Bloodsong, Orin Midwinter, etc.).
Soulless who have been conditioned like Nayl have this effect when they die.
Appropriated Appellation: When the Iosans still ruled much of central Immoren, before the Abyss was created, they called the primitive skorne godless. The skorne took it as a compliment, in the belief that the Iosan pantheon pampered the elves, making them weak and dependent on the gods.
Artificial Limbs: Given the setting, there are many examples to be had, but Master Necrotech Mortenebra takes this as far as possible, replete with Spider Limbs and a body to match. The Necrotechs of Cryx share similar, albeit less advanced versions of the same general anatomy, and as a whole the Necrotechs are responsible for the developement of Cryxian warjacks and the more... mechanical troops at Cryx's disposal.
Notable examples outside of Cryx include Asheth Magnus (bionic arm and leg), Major Victoria Haley (bionic arm), and Captain Bartolo "Broadsides Bart" Montador (bionic arm with a built-in cannon).
Artifact of Death: Whenever Madrak Ironhide is wounded in a fight his axe, Rathrok, will automatically transfer all the damage to a friendly trollkin trooper who happens to be standing next to him at that exact moment. It always results in the other guy's death, even if Madrak was just grazed.
The axe Rathrok has a nice, ugly doomsday prophecy tied to it. Madrak initially didn't believe it, but the more time he spends with it, the less he doubts it very well may mean the end of all life on Caen.
Many Orgoth relics subsist in the lands they used to occupy and are sought after by all kinds of ruthless people, most prominently the Lich Lords of Cryx or the Khadoran Grey Lords.
Played straight with Hierarch Voyle, who was literally invincible under Menoth's blessing.
Averted with Empress Ayn Vanar of Khador.
Vinter Raelthorn IV. Full stop. After being kicked out of his own kingdom by his brother, he proceeds to wander across the desert and conquer a new kingdom for himself. By himself.Twice; Once after he defeated the masters of various houses in the Skorne homeland and again when he returned from a reconnaissance mission to find the empire in a state of civil war.
Make that Three Times. Soloed the Bloodstone Marches (again), fought off a unit that gets stronger the more of them you kill, then takes out a warjack in three strokes. Before sitting down to negotiate.
Awesome Backpack: The smoke-belching Warcaster armor worn to generate an energy field, enhance their physical abilities, and nullify the chance of arcane spells fizzling when casting while wearing armor (although this last function's been dropped in the new version of the RPG as, unlike in the DnD version, armour no longer interferes with spellcasting).
Awesome, but Impractical: Firearms in the original RPG rules. They were slow to reload, had little more stopping power than a bow and arrow, and were insanely expensive to own and maintain. Made somewhat more practical by the official errata dropping all ammunition costs by an order of magnitude, and averted completely for firearms in the new version of the RPG.
The Cygnar Thunderhead Warjack is seen as this in universe. Unlike other Warjacks which run on coal, it runs on electricity, which while powerful, means very few Warcasters can actually understand how the thing is used. Some may have had this opinion about the project even before the Thunderhead was finished - the warjack's fluff mentions a lot of its prototypes violently exploding.
Awesome by Analysis: While most feats are often described as a burst of arcane energy, Supreme Kommandant Irusk's feat is described as basically him being Sun Tzu. Even writing a book.
Several Mercenary Warcasters do this, meshing foresight with luck (Ashlynn de'Elyse), planning (Magnus The Warlord), or decades of experience (Drake MacBain).
Gifted characters in the 2012 version of the RPG can learn an ability to read a spell's runes (which appear around the caster) and decipher what spell is being cast.
Major Victoria Haley has probably the only feat that actually produces a real-life example of this trope. It lets you determine the order in which your opponent's models can activate during their next round. If you don't know how their models are supposed to work together, the feat is nearly useless. If you DO know how they work together, you can utterly cripple their next turn.
Her Telekinesis spell works the same way. You'd think the ability to move an enemy model a couple of inches in any direction would be fairly useless. Then Vickie grabs the model, moves it a couple of inches, and turns it around. Suddenly (1) it cannot charge at her models; (2) it's in range of one of her attacks; (3) her models get a bonus for hitting it in the back; and (4) she now has line-of-sight on the enemy warcaster!
Bad Ass: Pretty much every named character. Even some of the Mooks are portrayed this way in the fluff.
Badass Beard: Harkevich's beard reached meme status on the forums before he was released. Incidentally, he shares this characteristic with Bartolo "Broadsides Bart" Montador, in addition to their common signature spell Broadside; this prompted people to jokingly assume the beard was a requirement to master the spell. Sadly, this trope was not a requirement for learning Broadside in the new RPG.
Badass Longcoat: Pretty much everyone. The d20 rules specifically encouraged this, by giving reinforced and armored greatcoats Damage Reduction (something that's otherwise very hard to get without magic) and allowing their protective benefits to stack with light armor; as a result, the combination of armored greatcoat and chain shirt was one of the most effective, and therefore most popular, non-magical armor choices in the game.
The Butcher of Khardov. Able to scrap a Warjack with relative ease. Tougher than most non-Khador 'Jacks. He got his name by slaughtering the entire militia of the village of Boarsgate, as well as the troops he brought with him. By the time he was finished, the rats had to jump from body to body to avoid drowning in the blood.
Also, Baldur the Stonecleaver/Stonesoul - a druid so good at making living golems that his masterwork actually has limited sentience and regenerates. Lets not forget that he hates Everblight so much that he came back from the dead just to punch more abominations in the face.
Berserk Button: Orsus Zoktavir is Berserk as it is, but if he ever finds out you hurt a woman, he will END you.
BFG: The Commodore, a massive ship's cannon owned by Phinneas Shae. Capable of holing any ship of the line, it is wheeled onto shore by sheer man-power, and the force of its blasts can send warjacks flying yards back at extreme ranges... and then there are its other ammo types. Add to this that a man was executed by being tied to the barrel of the cannon and broken from the sheer force of the cannon's repeated fire and that, except for his legs, his skeleton still hangs from the barrel, and...
BFS: Many, many examples. Cygnarans in particular often wield variants of the Caspian battleblade, whose blade can be upwards of a foot wide at its widest point. Cygnar also has a fair number of big friggin' hammers, while Khadorans often carry big friggin' axes, and a great many Menites wield big friggin' maces. And that's before you get to the melee weapons the 'jacks and warbeasts wield.
Bonus points to Tyrant Xerxis, who dual wields a pair of big friggin' maces so heavy most skorne can't lift even one of them.
Khador is suffering from a shortage of critical components used to create cortexes (magical brains which are required to create a warjack). This leads them to build warjacks that are very heavily armed and armored so that they won't have to replace them as often.
Colossals are apparently a case for this.
Black and Gray Morality: The vast majority of factions in the Iron Kingdoms actually fall under Gray and Gray Morality; some are lighter or darker than others, but pretty much all of them contain noble souls and despicable scumbags alike. And then at the far end of the scale you have the dragons and their followers, who are entirely and unrepentantly evil.
Black Magic: Anything related to Dragons, Thamar, or Infernal cults.
Blade on a Stick: Most factions have an example of this trope, though the most note-worthy would probably be:
Cygnar - The Storm Guard's halberds can discharge a bolt of electricity after hitting you.
Khador - The Iron Fang Pikemen carry around lances which can explode upon impact.
Menoth - The Temple Flame Guard can set things on fire by stabbing them with their spears.
Bloody Murder: The Blood Horror variant is demonstrated by Everblight's warlocks; They create their warbeasts by spilling their athanc-enhanced blood. This still carries the risk of exsanguination, so the Legion has been developing tools to allow creation of warbeasts using someone else's blood.
Much of what the disembodied dragon Everblight is doing to the Nyss elves, but particularly the Forsaken, the Grotesques, and the Incubi.
Absylonia, so very, very much. She even has a spell called Playing God that warps and twists the beasts under her command. Also she has Carnivore, a spell which lets any model or group of troops get a lot better at hitting living models. If they happen to kill something, they eat it. They eat it so hard they eat its soul, but Absylonia's stomach gets full.
The Nephilim war beasts as well, they're not blood spawn like other Legion beasts, they're brithed by Nyss women.
Also the Bombardier Man O Wars. Their chainsaws also shoot GRENADES!
Chain Lightning: A signature anti-infantry spell for those with any connection to electricity.
Chainmail Bikini: A number of examples, particularly among the Cryx. It has been expressly stated that the satyxis wear revealing armor in order to throw male opponents off guard.
However, outside of the exceptionally evil and magically mutated Cryx and Everblight factions (I guess dragons have a thing for sexy female minions?), this trope is averted as often as it's played straight. Take◊ a◊ look◊.
The Chessmaster: Toruk. It's constantly hinted at in the backstory that Toruk has a grand scheme to take back his athancs and conquer the world. The details of this plan, however, are extremely vague and the only thing we know for sure is that he is biding his time until the proper moment.
The vagueness of the plan could just be his fanatical followers' refusal to accept that he isn't as omniscient as they think he is. His Chessmaster status is still something of an Informed Ability.
Everblight also likes to think of himself as a better Chessmaster than his father.
Warcaster armour projects one of these as well. The wargame includes it with the warcaster's actual health, while the new RPG uses basically the same mechanics as a myrmidon's field (save that there's no generator to knock out).
Karchev the Terrible is another prime example of this. After losing his arms and legs in a disastrous military operation, he still demanded to be put back on the front lines to put his warcaster talent to use for Khador. He proved this at the final hearing to decide whether he should return to active duty - to convince the board that he could still fight, he directed a Juggernaut warjack to charge into the room, race towards the large, marble table the officials were sitting at and cleave it in two with the 'jack's axe. Then basically asking them if they still thought he couldn't serve his country.
Devil in Plain Sight: Toruk has taken up residence atop the highest peak in Cryx, mobilized an army of the undead and is actively trying to implement a far reaching plan that centers around taking over the world. Everyone knows he is there, though his centuries of seeming inactivity and the fact that he is akin to godhood in terms of power have dissuaded the peoples of Western Immoren from trying to get rid of him.
Diving Save: The "Self Sacrifice/Sacrificial Pawn" rule on some units/models in the minis game.
Electronic Eyes: Mentioned in the 2012 RPG corebook. They're powered by a clockwork capacitor and must be removed from the owner's eye socket and wound once a day.
Elves VS Dwarves: Fairly common amongst the various factions, most explicitly between the steampunk-inspired WARMACHINE factions and the Primal Powers of HORDES. Amusingly enough, averted by the setting's actual elves and dwarves: the elves hate everyone, while the dwarves don't feel particularly strongly one way or the other.
Further Averted by backstory: The elves and dwarves were close allies until recently.
The Empire: The Skorne Empire and the New Khadoran Empire, after its invasion of Llael. This is also how denizens of the Protectorate see Cygnar.
The Emperor: Empress Ann of the New Khadoran Empire, and Archdomina Makeda of the Skorne Empire (after she overthrew Vinter Raelthorn).
Everblight revels in experimenting on lifeforms to continually improve his blight-enhanced soldiers and blight-born dragonspawns, and considers himself an artist and a creator. He is notably fascinated by the elves whom he studied for centuries, unfortunately for them.
At the end of Metamorphosis, Kruger the Stormlord informs the dragon Blighterghast that his sibling, Everblight, is raising an army and intends to kill every other dragon and absorb their athancs, the source of draconic power that every dragon has in place of a heart. This disturbs Blighterghast greatly and he flies off, presumably to gather other dragons to put Everblight down.
Faction Calculus: While factions have begun to bleed together due to sheer quantity of models, there are still signs of diversity.
Fantastic Racism: Trollkin, Ogruns, and Gobbers are sometimes viewed as second class citizens by the human dominated kingdoms of Western Immoren.
Then again the above listed minorities, elves and dwarves of Immoren all have their own communities where other races are not always particularly welcome...
If you're from Llael, chances are you hate, hate, hate Khador. Justified, in that you've been unhappily occupied by them for years. Chances are, you're not too happy with the Protectorate doing the same thing.
Subverted: After four years, most occupied Llaells have come in terms with Khador as the new leader of them as it isn't all that different (after the rebuilding of course) to some its an improvement the fact that its WAY better than what the Protecorate would do.
Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Khador is unapologetically the Immoren equivalent of Russia and Eastern Europe, Cygnarans are basically Americans with British accents, Llael is France with Welsh naming, Idrians (the original inhabitants of the lands south of Cygnar, before the Protectorate was formed there) are Middle Easterners, the Trollbloods are Celtic, the Skorne are Japanese (when it comes to their armor, iconography and language) with a few signs of Persian Empire, and the Gatormen are stereotypically Louisianian (complete with Cajun accents and voodoo priests).
Fat Bastard: Dominar Rasheth. For extra bastard points, he's carried into battle by a team of Agonizers, which are basically baby elephants subjected to such cruel treatments that they are surrounded by an aura of tangible pain.
He's so bad even the other Skorne hate him.
Fearless Undead: A model with the undead special rule can never flee due to other models with the Terror/Abomination special rule or due to taking heavy casualties.
Five Races: Humans are Mundane, elves are Fairies, gobbers are Cute (when they want to be), and dwarves, trollkin and ogrun all have their own unique way of being Stout.
Flaming Sword: Paladins of the Wall carry around swords called Fire Brands, which can cause an enemy to catch on fire if they are hit hard enough.
The Exemplar Cinerators have giant swords... with FLAMETHROWER NOZZLES ON THEM.
Gadgeteer Genius: Prolific throughout the setting, with amateurs usually referred to as "bodgers" and experts referred to as "mechaniks." Notable GGs include E. Dominic Darius, Sebastian Nemo, Dirty Meg, Thor Stienhammer and Arian Strangewayes.
Add magic and you've got "Arcane Mechaniks," which make-up the majority of Mercenary Warcasters, Master Necrotech Mortenebra, E. Dominic Darius, and several others.
Gatling Good: The Cygnaran chaingun, used by Trencher infantry as a support weapon and by the Sentinel warjack as its primary armament.
A God Am I: Lord Toruk (and by D&D standards, he is).
God Is Dead: Some Iosians hold out no hope of their gods and goddesses returning or getting better (or being recovered, in the case of Nyssor). As of Wrath and Colossals, Nyssor has been recovered... by the Iosans.
God Is Evil: The basic portrayal of the Devourer Wurm in the game — there's a reason that those who aren't part of the Circle Orboros sometimes speculate that dragons (immortal, vile predators that poison everywhere they go) are the Wurm's truest offspring. Circle Orboros is the only fqaction that doesn't think of it as evil, just one of the less pleasant aspects of Orboros (nature itself).
The Circle Orboros, meanwhile, also thinks of Menoth this way; part of their work is to keep the eternal conflict between the Wurm and Menoth raging.
The Gods Must Be Lazy: Averted. Every deity in the Iron Kingdoms has had some kind of interaction with the world at some point or another and many of them still do have direct dealings with their worshipers.
Godzilla Threshold: The Orgoth invasion has been the only time Lord Toruk has had to personally fight to defend his empire, and it's heavily implied that it wasn't the Curb-Stomp Battle his followers think it was.
Goggles Do Nothing: A great many Cygnaran characters wear goggles, which have no effect in the strategy game or the 2012 RPG (and a fairly minor effect in the old roleplaying game). In their defense, most of them also work in situations (IE, around steam-powered fighting robots that have a tendency to emit sparks and shrapnel) where goggles would be a good idea.
Gun Fu: Allister Caine is all over this trope. To a lesser extent, so are the unnamed Gun Mages, pistoleers who use magic to augment their weapons and their fighting abilities.
The game itself has a special rule Gunfighter, which means that the character can use a ranged weapon at close combat. Obviously, a gun wielder who has Gunfighter can be thought to practise Gun Fu. Either that, or No Range Like Point-Blank Range.
Guns Akimbo: Allister Caine, Garryth, Master Holt, Taryn Di La Rovissi and Pistol Wraiths.
Guns Are Worthless: In order to encourage melee over ranged combat, many guns in the game are short ranged, require focus/fury to pump additional shots, or have accuracy lower than melee attacks. Melee only armies will still get hosed though.
Hand Cannon: Common firearm for models, often found across multiple armies. Common to the point where every POW 12 is described as a handcannon.
Handsome Lech: Lieutenant Allister Caine of Cygnar. He also exhibits some strong Jerk Ass tendencies — specifically, a tendency to sleep with men's wives and then use his super-speed powers to shoot them dead in the ensuing duel. It is eventually revealed, however, that much of his behavior is a very specific form of Obfuscating Stupidity.
For a non-human equivalent, there's Greygore Boomhowler, one of the most notorious trollkin Fellcallers, a mercenary who dedicates himself to wenching his way across the world and who has had countless lovers of all races. Despite the fact that, as a trollkin (basically looking like an orc with elements of frog), he really couldn't be considered too handsome by most people.
Greygore's appetite, according to the Hordes corebook, is not unusual; Bragg himself, the first Fellcaller, was such a prolific lover that it's said that all Fellcallers are blood-descendents of his. Meanwhile, stereotype holdes that all Fellcallers do their best to spread their seed as far as possible — even the relatively few female Fellcallers are just as lusty and eager to spawn. It's not necessarily TRUE (see Grissel Bloodsong, for one), but the very visible nature of the ones who do drowns out the Silent Majority.
Healing Factor: The troll faction shtick. Large chunks that don't get reattached quickly grow into degenerate miniature trolls called whelps, with the part they grew out of being bigger than the rest of the body.
Characters with the Mighty Archetype in the new RPG can take an Archetype benefit like this; by spending a feat point, they regain up to their Physique in vitality points. Trollkin characters start with this ability regardless of their Archetype (and have a rather high starting Physique, as well).
Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Averted strongly by the Protectorate of Menoth, where every single warcaster character has face protecting/obscuring gear.
Also averted by Durgen Madhammer, who likely wouldn't survive repeated use of the detonation feature in his hammer without his helmet.
He Who Fights Monsters: It's actually a she in this setting: Alexia Ciannor carries around a sword which contains her dead mother's soul. Her mother is able to talk to Alexia telepathically and never seems to shut up....
Heroic Albino: Madrak Ironhinde, and to a lesser extent, Grim Angus.
Humongous Mecha: Colossi. One of the rare cases where giant mecha actually were abandoned for being too large and impractical. They were replaced by the smaller, semi-autonomous Warjacks.
Due to the arms race between Western Immoren's warring factions, Colossals are back! However, the concept has been revisited with all the technological progress made since their ancient incarnations to suit the needs of modern warfare. They are no longer mere giant-sized versions of existing warjacks, but dedicated weapon platforms equipped for heavy suppression fire and still able to mow down infantry by the dozen in a sweep of their fists.
I Call It Vera: Just about every single distinguished warrior/soldier in the Iron Kingdoms has a named weapon. The Butcher of Khardov's axe is named Lola, Lanyssa Ryssyl has a sword named Sorrow, Borka Kegslayer's mace is named Trauma, the list goes on and on.
Improbable Weapon User: Arcane Mechaniks tend to go into battle wielding an absurdly large wrench, which is ostensibly intended for use in warjack repair. Cryxian satyxis troops wield bladed, hooked whips (somewhat similar in appearance to Ivy's weapon in Soulcalibur), which in real life would be both insanely difficult to wield and insanely hazardous to the wielder's health.
And now in addition to these fine examples we have the Mage Hunter Assassin, wielding an over-sized scimitar attached to an eight to ten foot length of chain. Their preferred method of attack? They whip their targets at the chain's full length. This gives the model four inches of reach when attacking, in a game where pole-arms only give two inches of reach.
Instant Runes: A hallmark of magic in the Iron Kingdoms, as depicted the artwork in Mk.II.
These aren't just for sprucing up the artwork, though, but exist in-universe. Characters in the new IKRPG (including the pre-made Arcanist character in the quick-start rules) can learn to identify a spell purely from the runes that appear as it's being cast.
Jerkass: Every faction has at least one of varying degree.
Jerkass Gods: Menoth big time; this is the reason why most humans stopped worshiping him. His remaining followers, however, see him more as a stern father who doesn't want to baby his kids forever.
The Devourer Wurm is even worse, in previous wars between it and Menoth's followers, the former's devouts would convert to worship Menoth because he was actually benign by comparison.
Kill It with Fire: The Protectorate loves to employ flame based weaponry and many of their warcasters have fire based spells and abilities.
You'll probably be doing this a lot in the new RPG if one of your starting Careers is a Fire Sorcerer. Or a Priest of Menoth.
Killed Off for Real: Both averted and played straight. The creative director, Matt Willson, has stated many times that he and the rest of the creative team have no intention of killing off any of the named characters in the story if they already have a model for them that can be used in the minis game. If you don't have a mini, however...
Klingon Promotion: After the death of Makeda's grandfather, her father took control of House Balaash. Her brother assassinated their father, and then Makeda assassinated her brother.
Knight in Shining Armor: Commander Coleman Stryker's original personality. After a Heroic BSOD (and a promotion to Lord Commander), he became more like a Knight Templar. Ironically, he then got a suit of electrical armor that literally shines.
Precursor Knights qualify for this trope.
As do Mikael Kreoss, the Khadoran-born Menite leader of the Knights Exemplar, and the Paladins of the Order of the Wall.
Left-Justified Fantasy Map: The setting is Western Immoren, after all. Larger maps showing the entire continent do exist, but any map that focuses on the Iron Kingdoms themselves is going to be left-justified.
Lord Commander Coleman Stryker is quite tough even by warcaster standards, can overload his warcaster armor to reach absurd levels of hitting power and can magically enhance his mobility ; as a result, he is essentially a one-man homing missile generally aimed at the enemy leader for a quick and brutal victory.
On a less extreme level, Paladins of the Order of the Wall are this when they don't assume their special stances (see Stone Wall).
The spell Engine of Destruction provides a hefty boost to the warcaster's melee power and speed on top of their above average defensive statline.
Lizard Folk: The Gatormen (alligators) and Anuras/"Croaks" (frogs).
Loads and Loads of Characters: The minis game has 53 warcasters (not including variations, and including the three-character Witch Coven) and 34 warlocks (as of the release of Wrath), all of whom have have shown up in the story at one point or another . There are even more non-warcaster/lock characters whom show up in the story, though they tend to have less of an influence on the plot. The RPG has even more characters than its mini counterpart (obviously).
Mad Scientist: Sebastian Nemo, right down to the crazy hair and the obsession with Tesla coils.
Made of Iron: Warjacks, warbeasts, ogrun, Khadoran Man-O-Wars, and Trolls of all kinds.
The Mafiya: The Khadoran Kayazy. They are wealthy tycoons all too willing to resort to violence to deal with the cut-throat competition ; as they take interest in the conflict, they lend hired elite assassins to Khadoran forces to "protect their investments".
Magic is Evil : One of the teachings of Menoth, and consequently a hallmark of the Protectorate's worldview. They resorted to use mechanika only by adding extensive purification rituals, such as engraving prayers of penance and passages of the True Law into 'jack hulls to sanctify them. Their arcane engineers are considered guilty of blasphemous witchcraft and treated as slaves, but kept alive because their talents are much needed and in scarce supply.
They're treated rather nicely, the ones who are chained up are home-born who agree.
Magic Knight: Many warcasters and warlocks qualify as this, as do some other non-warcaster/lock named characters.
Naturally, combining a spellcasting Career with a melee-focussed Career will get you a character like this in the new RPG.
Averted for the tabletop wargame. A vast majority of spells in the game carry no penalty for casting them. You just spend the focus/fury required for casting them, and then they are cast. Sometimes you need to roll to hit an enemy model, but there is almost never any chance that a spell will backfire and blow up in your face.
Played straight in the old RPG, particularly with regards to healing magic and especially with regards to resurrection magic. Death Is Not Cheap in the Iron Kingdoms.
The new RPG, since it uses the same basic system as the wargame, has only two things that could fit this trope (so far, at least). The first is the only healing spell in the game, which can only be used when someone's been incapacitated (reduced to 0 vitality points) and everytime someone has it cast on them, the greater their chances of permanent weaknesses (loss of stats, for example). The second is that will weavers (any non-warcaster spellcaster) can over-exert themselves by casting too many spells in a turn. The only drawback here is that their turn immediately ends and they won't be able to use any magic next turn (they'll be back to normal the turn after).
Magitek: "Mechanika." So common, it's the technology that doesn't run on magic that's considered cutting-edge.
Magma Man: Rhulic mercenary warcaster Gorten Grundback takes this trope quite seriously, and is essentially a walking Lethal Lava Land for opponents to overcome. Add to this that he summons up walls of rock for he and his troops to hide behind, can shield his entire army from most splash damage and falling prone, and is nearly impossible to kill.
Mars Needs Women: Inverted by the satyxis, who seek out human men worthy enough to sire their dragon-blighted children. Played straight (and then some) with a Boomhowler, a Trollkin who happens to be quite popular with the ladies of all species.
Meaningful Name: The liches of Cryx seem to have this one down pat, Asphyxious (asphyxia, suffocating) and Terminus (the end/limit of something) being two examples.
Metaplot: One of the few examples out there in which the metaplot has had less effect on the RPG than it has on the tabletop games.
Mighty Glacier: Heavy warjacks and warbeasts are typically this, this being one of the main focuses for those of Khador, Trollbloods, and Skorne. Some warcasters as well. Typical rule, the stronger and tougher something is, the slower and easier to hit it is, with some excepts like the Deathjack.
Mind over Matter: House Shyeel of Ios is the premier provider of magic users for the elven military; their abilities all revolve around varied forms of force manipulation, be it deflecting incoming projectiles, tearing foes apart with force blasts or messing with their positioning and knocking them down.
Mons: Warjacks in WARMACHINE and warbeasts in HORDES. Sort of.
More Dakka: Of the Napoleonic infantry line variety, mostly, in the form of combined ranged attacks (which give even basic infantry a chance of taking down big things like warjacks and warbeasts). Cygnar's higher tech level allows it to field the more traditional variety.
The Dire Troll Blitzer also qualifies for this trope.
Monochromatic Eyes: Trolls/Trollkin, Skorne, some Elves and several other species have white pupils and corneas.
Mother Russia Makes You Strong: The inhabitants of the snowy land of Khador are known for their rugged, relentless and even brutish nature. Their military goes a long way in reflecting this.
Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Madrak Ironhide the World Ender, Hoarluk Doomshaper, Krueger the Stormwrath, Kromac the Ravenous, The Butcher of Khardov, Karchev the Terrible, High Executioner Servath Reznik and pretty much everyone from the Skorne and Cryx factions.
Nature Hero: Pretty much everyone from the Circle of Orboros, minus the "hero" part.
Nay-Theist: The skorne know that gods exist. They just don't have any of their own, and view worshiping gods as a weakness, and in fact, held the Iosans' dependence on their gods against them for several millenia before the current storyline.
The Necrocracy: Cryx is an extreme example of a Type I necrocracy (though there are some living subjects, they are all just as evil and kill-crazy as their necrotic counterparts).
Nerf: Since this is a miniatures game, nerfs inevitably happened to many models during the transition to Warmachine/Hordes Mk.II. The consensus is that the second edition is largely balanced, with Privateer Press designing subsequent additions to the game to adjust things without modifying preexisting rules and models.
Nice Hat: Lots of people have one, but Supreme Archdomina Makeda's has to take the cake.
Arcane Tempest Gun Mages get some pretty pimp tricorns as part of their uniform.
Not all four in one, yet, but Pirate Zombies, Zombie Robots, Pirate Robots, and Pirate Zombie Robots can all be found in the Iron Kingdoms, mostly Cryx. (Those ninja that do exist in the setting tend to be elves, rather than pirates, zombies, or robots.)
On the other hand, the nation of Cryx, home of the Pirate Zombie Robots and variations thereof, utilizes lots of stealthy, fast, and assassination-oriented strategies. Almost like a... gamer playing Assassin's Creed.
Older than They Look: The Old Witch has been alive since before the Orgoth invasion, Karchev is over 100, and many female casters have fabulous figures and faces despite many of them pushing 30 or more in constant war conditions.
Omnicidal Maniac: Being Zombie Robots controlled by an Eldritch Abomination, the Cryx qualifies as an entire race of omnicidal maniacs. The Skorne and the Protectorate aren't far behind, if you're not part of their Warrior Guy/Knight Templar hats respectively.
The mercenary 'Minion' Brun Cragback is specifically described as this, and "would rather kill a man than endure a lengthy conversation" with him.
One-Gender Race: The satyxis are all female. Males are occasionally born to the line, but every one is quickly killed — and, whenever possible, so is the man who fathered the child.
One-Man Army: Vinter Raelthorne IV, ex-King of Cygnar. Years before the setting's "starting point" with the RPG he out-fought his brother and twenty Storm Knights single-handedly, when normally twenty Storm Knights can take down a warjack. After surviving the coup that overthrew him, he crossed a previously-thought-to-be uncrossable desert and found the Skrone, who were a fractious species of warlords at the time. He then, starting without an army, single-handedly conquers the entire Skorne species, uniting them into the Skorne Empire. He wins hands-down every single fight he's ever in in any of the fiction where he fights, which does include warbeasts and warjacks.
One Steve Limit: Averted. Dawnlord Vyros and Eldritch Lord Vyros frequently cause confusion when new players discover them. It doesn't help that both of them are elves from the same nation.
Played straight with Oleg/Viktor Strakhov, due to the pre-existing Viktor Pendrake.
All Trolls Are Different: Trolls in the Iron Kingdoms are generally split into four categories (Full Blood, Pygmy, Dire, and Trollkin), but all of them adhere to a few basic distinguishing features including thick and hairless skin, four fingers and toes, no noses, short spines growing out of their heads and rock like stubble that pokes out of various places on their bodies. Trollkin can be seen as the Orcs of the setting (Pygmy Trolls can be seen as another kind of goblin), and Trollkin and Pygmy Trolls are both as civilized as humans are.
Our Werewolves Are Different: The Circle's Warpwolves are more protean than most: in addition to shifting from human to wolf forms, they can also mutate themselves to be stronger, faster, or tougher from moment to moment.
Overly-Long Name: Lord Carver, BMMD, Esquire, The Third. What does BMMD stand for, you ask? Why, "Bringer of Most Massive Destruction," of course!
Personality Chip: While not purposely installed, warjacks who remain in service to certain warcasters long enough will pick up personality quirks.
Pirate: Lots and lots of them, mostly in the Cryx and Mercenary factions. It was to be expected, what with the company being called "Privateer Press" and all. The expansion Pirates of the Broken Coast actually allows WARMACHINE generals to field entire pirate armies.
Power Fist: Asheth Magnus has himself one of these built into his prosthetic arm.
Power of Rock: There are several things in the game which use music or their voices (the Piper of Ord, Fell Callers, etc.) to buff their friends or de-buff their enemies.
Private Military Contractors: WARMACHINE has an entire Mercenary pseudo-faction (Privateer Press has stated on many occasions that Mercenaries are not an offical faction, despite the fact that they can be taken to tournaments by themselves) with contracts dictating what kinds of warcasters/soldiers will work with the other factions and each other. The Minions pseudo-faction in HORDES is now receiving the same treatment.
Example: Aseth Magnus is an ex-Cygnaran traitor, so he can't be included in a Cygnaran army. He can be included in a Khadoran, a Protectorate or a Cryxian army, or he can be in an army comprised entirely of Mercenaries that will work for him.
Rain of Blood: The women of Stayxis were corrupted and changed when Toruk killed one of his offspring in an aerial battle above their homeland. The dragon's blood rained down on them and turned them into the evil she-devils they are today.
Random Number God: Mercenary warcaster Ashlynn De'Elyse has one on call. Her feat, Roulette, adds two dice to each roll any model makes to determine whether they will hit something with an attack, and then takes any two of those dice away from the roll. Suddenly, all of her models are nearly automatically hitting and pumping out critical effects, and all of the opponents' models are always missing by a thread.
This is pretty much Calandra Truthsayer's defining quality. Her feat lets her troops reroll 1's and 2's on attacks, she lets her army spend her fury for rerolls, and she has a spell that makes enemies roll an extra die and remove the highest. She's all about getting some control over the RNG to swing the dice in your favor.
Razor Wind: Very common spell for Khador warcasters and a rather reliable one for Storm Sorcerers in the 2012 RPG.
Reign of Terror: Vinter Raelthorn IV is not known for being a benevolent ruler. He's so ruthless that the Skorne overthrew him when they figured out he was only using them as stepping-stones to get his old kingdom back.
Scary Dogmatic Aliens: The skorne, of the "aliens as conquistadores" variety. To be fair, the main reason for this behavior is that the playable skorne faction is currently being led by a deposed Cygnaran king who wants his throne back; still, that doesn't change the fact that the skorne are pretty damn scary even without the "conquering invader" aspect.
Schizo Tech: Depending on where in Immoren you are at the moment, the tech level varies from medieval to Industrial Revolution to World War I.
If you are one of the 10% of Nyss elves that hasn't been infected by Everblight's blight yet, then you are in hiding while mourning for those who have.
If you are an Iosian elf then you are desperately trying to find a way to cure your last ailing deity before she dies of a mysterious illness thus dooming you and your kinsmen forever.
Separated at Birth: Well, separated at "very young". For decades Captain Victoria Haley didn't realize that her nemesis, Warwitch Deneghra, was actually her twin sister Gloria, stolen at age 5 by the Cryx raiders who killed their parents.
Short-Range Long-Range Weapon: Going by the miniature scale of one inch = five feet, most rifles have a range of 50-70 feet. The artillery's not much better.
The new RPG uses the scale of one inch = six feet though this still results in similar ranges.
Scatterguns Are Just Better: Asheth Magnus certainly thinks so, as does Bartolo Montador, whose scattergun is built into his left arm, and it's hard to argue. They have decent range, and ignore a great deal of conventional defensive abilities.
Grundback Blasters are small Rhulic warjacks that are designed to bound across the field and lay into troop waves with what are essentially huge Gatling Scatterguns. They're extremely effective.
For a while, the exception to this were the actual Trollkin Scattergunners, who despite being an entire unit wielding the things, were pretty much universally reviled. This was mitigated after they got their unit attachment.
Shoulders of Doom: A number of models exhibit these, but Epic Kreoss and especially Epic Vlad have particularly ridiculous examples.
Shout Out: Privateer Press modeled Grim Angus (a Trollblood warlock) after lyrics from a Front 242 song called "Headhunter."
The Totem Hunter is just a way to get the Predator into the game.
At least two made it into the new RPG's core book:
Shrouded in Myth: Invoked by the Orgoth: despite centuries of rule, very little is known about them. They actually did this on purpose when it was clear they were losing control of Immoren - destroying every record they kept and demolishing their citadels. It seems adhering to this trope is part of the Orgoth MO. (It helps that, even at the height of their power, the Orgoth ruled through proxy nobles and never directly interacted with the local populace.)
Sinister Scythe: Moshar the Desertwalker has himself a very nasty looking scythe.
The Cryx warcaster Scaverous does him one better, with a chainsaw scythe.
Kommander Sorscha has one that freezes folks when hit with it.
Sliding Scale of Robot Intelligence: Warjacks in the Iron Kingdoms range from enormous Bricks in most cases to Robo-Monkeys on the Cygnaran/Cryxian end of things... before warcasters, high-level mechanikal engineering, gods and/or age get involved. Most warjacks are capable of high-functioning Robo-Monkey levels under a warcaster's direction, and the more time spent with their warcasters, the more likely a warjack is to form a personal bond as the warjack's cortex adapts to the warcaster's mind.
Character 'jacks have also emerged, either from bonded warjacks sticking around for a very long time ala Sorscha's Beast 0-9, or being personally built, ala Lich Lord Asphyxious' Cankerworm.
They're actually so potent that Machine Wraiths, Cryxian ghosties specialized in warjack possession, can't manipulate their cortices.
Spider Tank: The Cryxian Leviathan and Harrower warjacks, and the Cygnar Storm Strider. To a lesser extent, the Retribution of Scyrah's Arcantrik Force Generator, which vaguely resembles a crab, though the fluff implies it hovers and the legs are simply for stability while firing (and so the model can stand up).
Paladins of the Order of the Wall can forfeit their movement or action to enter the aptly named Stone-and-Mortar stance, which bumps their armor into the high end of heavy warjack numbers.
High Paladin Dartan Vilmon takes it to a whole new level with his Impervious Wall stance ; for the same cost, he becomes immune to knockdowns and non-magical attacks. Combine the two and he can neither move nor attack, but he will hold his position against a small army.
An explanation, most magic is generally able to do serious damage to anything that isn't a Warjack and able to disable a Warjack for a turn or 2. When Vilmon has Impervious Wall and Stone-And-Mortar Stance active he has armor higher than all but the most powerful of Warjack's and is immune to almost every weapon capable of getting through it. Fans don't refer to him asSupermanfor nothing.
Subsystem Damage: Warjacks and warbeasts can be crippled long before they die if certain parts of them are damaged enough. A variation of the warbeast "life spiral" system is used for PCs and significant NPCs in the new RPG.
Super Spit: Most "elemental" light troll warbeasts do this.
Sword and Gun: Coleman Stryker, Ashlynn d'Elyse, Phinneus Shae, and Bartolo Montador.
Take Cover: Most types of terrain offer bonuses to models that make them harder to hit with ranged and usually magic attacks.
The new RPG requires a character to spend a quick action to make use of cover (presumably to represent taking the time to hunker down behind the wall, get up beside a tree, etc) and have to take that action each turn they want to benefit from cover.
Tank Goodness: The Khador Gun Carriage is essentially a horse-drawn tank.
Testosterone Poisoning: The intro to each of the wargaming books has shades of this. The setting in general has it as well, but this is often considered one of its strong points.
Throw Away Guns: Mr. Walls likes to have an assortment of one-shot pistols strapped to his chest whenever possible.
A Gun Brace lets a character in the new RPG do this as well, though if they use repeating pistols then they'll get five shots before having to throw a gun away.
Too Many Belts: If you look through the artworks in the books, chances are you will see this.
Characters in the new RPG can end up like this depending on what weaponry they're using. Some will want a gun brace so that they don't have to spend an action drawing a gun, most gunmen will also have an ammo bandolier so they don't need to spend an action retrieving a new round for their gun and if they're using grenades then they'll also probably have a grenadier's bandolier so that they don't have to spend an action retrieving a grenade.
The Virus: Prolonged exposure to dragon blight of any kind will enventually turn you into a mutated mockery of what you once were.
The Voiceless: Protectorate Reclaimers are all required to take a vow of silence.
We Have Reserves: Go ahead and destroy as many of the Cryxian robot-zombies as you want. They can always make more. Out of the tattered corpses of your own fallen warriors. And their gear. And their own casualties. And the innocent civilians caught in the crossfire. And some dead guys they stumbled across last week. Better yet, just start running for your lives now. This is the purpose of the Everblight Spawning Vessel, which lets you turn the corpses of 3 creatures that die near it (friend or enemy) into a new warbeast.
Weird Science: Not much of the technology in the Iron Kingdoms is ever explained very well and the small bits of info we do get don't make very much sense either.
Welcome Back, Traitor: Gunnbjorn's story. Although he betrays his culture, and didn't return for years, he gets forgiven pretty easily.
Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Retribution of Scyrah see Human magic as the cancer that's killing their goddess. The only thing that prevents them from becoming completely Unfettered is that they don't kill needlessly. Humans who "can still be saved" will be spared as long as they agree not to pursue magical studies.
This is how the Circle Orboros justifies the things they do. Yes, they aim to destroy all civilisation and revert humanity back to primeval savagery, and yes they unleash natural disasters of all sorts to cull thousands of people at a time, but they sincerely believe that if they don't, civilisation will eventually interfere with the flow of Orboros to the extent that it will compel the Devourer Wurm to come back to their world and destroy humanity entirely in order to replenish the flow of nature's power that sustains it.
The White House: Cygnar, Khador, Cryx, the Protectorate and Ios each have their own version.