The Witchfire Trilogy
Welcome to The Iron Kingdoms!
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Some People seek to attach a genre—or perhaps a sub-genre—in a campaign world to get some rudimentary idea of what its about. They might consider the Iron Kingdoms to be “steampunk,” and it is certainly an anachronistic dystopia, a realm embracing the concepts of steam technology; however, the creators prefer “Full Metal Fantasy.” These words aptly fit the bill because the creators of the Iron Kingdoms haven’t forgotten that a mythic fantasy lies at the core of their universe, and these three words begin to paint a picture of the Iron Kingdoms—in broad strokes.
Typically in the genre of fantasy, there is an implicit, preconceived notion; magic and technology are so vastly different that one cannot exist if the other is already firmly entrenched. Some of the principles in the writings of literary masters of fantasy such as J.R.R. Tolkien, H.G. Wells, and Michael Moorcock allude that one encroaches upon the other; that one must give way for the other to take hold. Epic wars are fought, with the sides and their beliefs serving as allegorical agents of magic or technology, chaos or law. The creators and developers of Western Immoren—the homeland of the Iron Kingdoms and other territories—have made the conscious decision to sidestep this notion and approach their fantasy environment from a contrasting perspective. In Western Immoren, magic and technology not only co-exist, they complement one another. Certain technologies in this environment bend the laws of physics through the application of magic. To date, mechanika—a melding of science and sorcery, technology and magecraft—is the foremost example of these complimentary forces in the Iron Kingdoms.
Mechanika is a fundamental cornerstone in the portal that leads to the Iron Kingdoms, but the foundation of this world is its overall philosophy. The very ideas that comprise the world of Caen—to which the continent of Immoren belongs—are very particular.
Without a doubt Caen is very much a fantasy world, but it is one that has proceeded into a new era of development. Rather than cast off the mantle of magic and spirituality, these elements are firmly embraced by the proponents of science and technology. Rather than viewing the concepts as incapable of coexistence, the inhabitants of Western Immoren assimilate everything together, seeing magic, spirituality, science, and industry as parts of a greater whole. They have developed ways for everything to work in tandem, tapping the arcane and fueling it with science, taking mechanical apparatuses and enhancing them with magic. Even the principles of magic are seen as a physical science of sorts, every bit as real and applicable in the kingdoms as the principles of physics, biology, chemistry, engineering, and mathematics.
In spite of these advances, the kingdoms remain fraught with conflict. No, life isn’t nearly as dismal as it once was some centuries ago when an oppressive race from across the unnvavigable vastness of the ocean lorded over the natives, pressing them into generations of servitude and suffering. Yet, most of the modern era’s efforts are spent developing new ways to use mechanika against one’s enemy. It is a time when envy and oppression are the roiling contents of a chaotic brew, ever threatening to spill over. Borders are constantly in question, resources and technologies coveted, and the disparity between the classes is becoming an ever larger thorn in the lion’s paw over these past few decades. The common laborer is forced down, often groveling in squalor while their leaders wrangle over their own indulgences in immoderation and take part in questionable power plays at the expense of their “inferiors.” Perhaps it has always been this way, but the grip of mechanization has tightened upon this realm of fantasy, stirring the social consciousness, bringing awareness that perhaps it should not always be so, that perhaps a change is in the wind.
In some regions, a call of enlistment has lately been raised; for many a common man, the only exit to a hangdog life is the prospect of armed service. The super powers of Iron Kingdoms—Cygnar and Khador—are looking at the distinct possibility of war, and some men see this as an opportunity to rise about their cast lot and perhaps gain a bit of plunder along the way.
But not everyone’s a fighting man. There are still plenty of souls looking to make an honest—or dishonest—day’s wage, and a traveler in the Iron Kingdoms encounters all types. Sailors, dockworkers, apothecaries, and engineers—they’re all ready to wheel and deal or spin a tale or two. Fighters, priests, wizards, and cheats—they’re all ready to stake their claim to a life of adventure, be it scrounging for half-buried mechanikal parts in some black swamp, delving into a long forgotten Orgoth ruin, or ducking under the scything axe of an ash-belching warjack.
Regardless of race or creed, regardless of station, the winds of change have begun to blow and the coming armed conflict is a forgone conclusion. Little can be done to halt the forces already set into motion. The only questions remaining are when all out war will finally erupt and what will emerge when the smoke and ash of conflict clears.