Thursday, November 10, 2011

Big scary machines

I can't continue the series on ethnicity in DARK•HERITAGE today, unfortunately, because I left my notebook and folder with the information I'd need to make the update on my dresser at home. And, I anticipate being way too busy tonight, so I'll try to get to that tomorrow. In the meantime, another thought has crossed my mind (again.) I've long been impressed by the design sensibilities of the Iron Kingdoms by Privateer Press. I've been a fan ever since their first publication, The Longest Night a 3e D&D adventure module, and part one of the so-called Witchfire Trilogy. Curiously, one of the most notorious (at least to me) cases of vaporware is the advertised Corvis Compendium; a guide to the city of Corvis where the Witchfire Trilogy mostly takes place, that was supposed to come out in late 2001, if I remember. Privateer did a number of d20 books--and I have all but one of them (including, even, the pdf only Fool's Errand, a mini-module that's meant to take place between parts 1 and 2 of the Witchfire Trilogy. I also have a number of issues of the No Quarter magazine, which also occasionally had RPG stuff in it.

Of course, now Privateer have largely abandoned the RPG market (although there are persistant rumors that they may yet revive their efforts therein) in favor of their (probably) much more profitable tabletop miniatures battlegames Warmachine and Hordes--which have been giving Games Workshop a real run for their money for a time there in that market. And hey, that's mostly OK after all. Warmachine gives us all kinds of really cool miniatures and really cool artwork, in full color, of these big scary warmachines (hence the name of the game); steampunk robots belching soot and smoke from their coal furnaces, mostly. Here's a great example of a Khadorian warcaster, Sorscha, with one of these nasty machines, coming in out of a snowy night. Scanned from my copy of Warmachine: Escalation.

Now, I don't play Warmachine (or Hordes; the more savage big monster version of the same idea) but I do occasionally buy the books for their artwork and flavor text. It's a fascinating setting, and although I could never really run someone else's setting and enjoy it the same, I've had a lot of items stolen directly from the Iron Kingdoms over the years in DARK•HERITAGE and will probably have quite a few more before it's done. I've mostly backed off of having really overt steampunklike influences; the steamjacks in particular are too specific to Iron Kingdoms to be easily portable to another setting without being obvious. I have quite enjoyed the concept of Cryx, though--a nation that combines necromancy, piracy, blasphemous dragon-worship and constructs to have a totally scary and yet cool villain aesthetic all it's own. Here's one of the big nasty constructs from Cryx, the Nightmare, a soul-burning furnace powering it's giant iron frame.

I have had nations that were direct analogs of Cryx (and sometimes were, exactly, Cryx) in various of the settings I've run in the past, including my "Pirates of the Mezzovian Main" setting, and my Freeport homebrew setting.  I don't have a direct analog in DARK•HERITAGE today, and probably won't exactly, but some aspects of Cryx will make their ways into such various nightmare realms as Tarush Noptii and the "Sith Lord" wannabes from the Cannibal Isle.  Undead have always been one of my favorite villains, and this kind of industrialized undead business, a totally steampunk version of them, is really pretty fun. 

I think mostly I just wanted an excuse to post all these images, because I like 'em, though.  Tomorrow, or as soon as I get a good chance, I'll continue the ethnicities of the setting.  For now I'll leave you with one more Cryx image; this time, some of the undead themselves, not soul-burning mechanical monstrosities.  Although it's curious how the art for Cryx has made it often difficult to tell the two apart in many ways.

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