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Iron Kingdoms: Unleashed – Career Flexibility

9 Minute Read
Jul 19 2015
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The dual-career system for the Iron Kingdoms Roleplaying game makes character creation a widely dynamic process.

In the Iron Kingdoms Roleplaying games, both Full Metal Fantasy and Unleashed, player characters choose two careers during the creation process to best represent the character’s experiences. While sketching out ideas for party composition, it struck me how versatile the system can be, even when every character in a party makes one of their chosen careers consistent throughout the entire party. Today we will look at this by creating a party of four characters utilizing all four archetypes where every character chooses Wolf of Orboros from Iron Kingdoms: Unleashed as one of their careers.

The Wolf of Orboros Career

Wolves of Orboros start with the Specialization (Cleft Weapon) and Dual Shot (Crossbow) abilities in addition to heavy plate armor, a wolf pelt, and either a cleft spear or a dual crossbow with 10 bolts and a quiver. This allows Wolves of Orboros to focus on either melee or ranged combat straight away.

The Bruiser

We will start by creating a straight melee fighter-type character using the Mighty Archetype and the Warrior career as the second career choice. With the additional damage die on all melee attacks through the Mighty Archetype, he will hit quite hard in melee. In order to increase his melee prowess, we can take the Backswing archetype benefit for a second attack every turn. However, sending a character into the action will dictate that we look at either making him difficult to hit or tough as nails if he is going to survive it.

Wolf1

Since Wolves of Orboros already start in heavy plate armor, going the tough-route seems natural, so we will put his Exceptional Potential bonus and one of his initial stat increases into Physique to increase his ARM stat. We can also take the Shield Military Skill via the Warrior career to get another point of ARM as well. This will put our bruiser at ARM 16 out of the gate. Warriors come with a solid 100 gold crown stipend, which we can use for any number of options since Wolves start with everything they need for a baseline character. This money should obviously be used to purchase a Shield so that the bruiser can take advantage of the Shield Military Skill that we invested in. The rest, honestly, should most likely go into helping the rest of the party gear up as optimally as possible, or simply be saved for later needs. The final result will look like this:

Human Mighty Wolf of Orboros/Warrior
PHY 5+2 – SPD 6 – STR 4+1
AGL 3 – PRW 4+1 – POI 4
INT 3 – ARC N/A – PER 3

  • Mighty: Back Swing
  • Abilities: Distrusted, Fast Draw, Roll with It, Dual Shot (Crossbow), Specialization (Cleft weapon)
  • Military Skills: Great Weapon 2, Shield 1, Hand Weapon 1, Crossbow 1
  • Occupational Skills: Command 1, Detection 2, Gambling 1, Riding 1, Survival 1, Tracking 1
  • Equipment: Cleft Spear, Shield, Full Plate Armor, Wolf Pelt, 80 gc

As this character advances, there are several solid abilities and Archetype benefits to invest in. For abilities, Load Bearing will help in reducing the penalties to DEF and SPD for wearing such heavy armor, Shield Guard for taking a more protective role, Pathfinder for increased mobility, or Cleave for increased damage output. For Archetype additions, there are loads of solid options available there, too, like Feat: Invulnerable or Tough for more resilience, Vendetta for solo hunting, or Feat: Counter Charge or Feat: Bounding Leap for more presence on the battlefield.

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What this character does not do very well is negotiate problems that require a brain, so our bruiser will be relying on his friends for those tasks.

The Pathfinder

Our second character concept will resign the brute force approach of the bruiser for a subtler tact, taking the Scout career and focusing on the ranged aspects of the Wolf of Orboros career while taking the Cunning Archetype. I would like for this character to eschew the normal heavy armor of the Wolves of Orboros for simple leather armor, which will reduce DEF and SPD penalties and allow our pathfinder to be more on the elusive side while relying on her careful planning and execution to give her the upper-hand in combat. To keep with this pattern, we should also look for stat increases that will play into this theme as well. Fortunately, the stats that modify a character’s DEF are all advantageous for our character archetype, specifically SPD, AGI, and PER. Normally, I would put a stat increase into POI for higher ranged accuracy, but the Cunning Archetype benefit will give both our Pathfinder and any other friendly character in her command range a +1 bonus to both attack and damage rolls.

Reeve

For equipment, I will pick up a few traps to keep the character from being charged and engaged by melee attackers, an assassin’s blade for melee if something does close to within melee range, and some grappling, signal, and concussion bolts for added utility.

Human Cunning Scout/Wolf of Orboros
PHY 5 – SPD 6+1 – STR 4
AGL 3+2 – PRW 4 – POI 4
INT 3 – ARC N/A – PER 3+1

  • Cunning: Battlefield Coordination or Feat: Plan of Action
  • Abilities: Distrusted, Pathfinder, Survivalist, Dual Shot (Crossbow), Specialization (Cleft weapon)
  • Military Skills: Great Weapon 1, Hand Weapon 2, Crossbow 2
  • Occupational Skills: Detection 1, Sneak 1, Survival 1, Tracking 1
  • Equipment: Leather Armor, Wolf Pelt, Dual Crossbow, Quiver w/ 60 Bolts, Assassin’s Blade, 2 Caltrop Sets, Steel-Jawed Trap, Grappling Bold, Signal Bolt, Concussion Bolt

The biggest problem facing this character is that crossbows take a full action to reload, so she will feel sluggish in combat until she can pick up the Crossbowman ability, which should absolutely be taken once she hits 4 XP.

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How this character later takes advances will depend on the direction that the player wants to take her in. If one wants to focus on careful planning and acting as a supporting character for the party, abilities like Ambush, Skilled Trapper, and Battle Plans like Brutal Charge, Reconnaissance, and Shadow, with stat boosts to INT will be a solid way forward. For combat-related abilities she can look to Hunter, Fast Reload, or Swift Hunter and boosts to POI for increased accuracy.

The Harasser

Our third variation on the Wolf of Orboros career will use the Skilled Archetype and Brigand as a second career choice. The idea of this character is to always be on-the-move in attempt to find a position from which to deliver a crushing blow. I will take a similar stat approach to this character as I did with the Pathfinder, dumping bonuses into DEF-related stats and preferring lighter, more flexible leather armor over heavy plate. Because we will be boosting POI for increased ranged accuracy with the Dual Crossbow, we will take the Virtuoso (Crossbow) Archetype benefit, which will allow us to gain an additional attack die on all attacks made with a Crossbow while discarding the lowest die. Since the Dual Crossbow can be used to make melee attacks, the Virtuoso benefit will apply to those as well.

Reeve Brigand

The Onslaught ability that all Brigands start with is perfect for a hit-and-run style, as it allows the character to make a ranged attack, then run or charge. If a good charge can be setup, the Harasser can bring three attacks with Onslaught and the bonus attack for having the Skilled Archetype.

Human Skilled Wolf of Orboros/Brigand
PHY 5 – SPD 6+1 – STR 4
AGL 3+2 – PRW 4 – POI 4
INT 3 – ARC N/A – PER 3+1

  • Skilled: Virtuoso (Dual Crossbow)
  • Abilities: Distrusted, Dual Shot (Crossbow), Specialization (Cleft weapon), Find Cover, Onslaught
  • Military Skills: Great Weapon 1, Hand Weapon 2, Crossbow 2
  • Occupational Skills: Detection 1, Survival 1, Tracking 1
  • Equipment: leather armor, wolf pelt, dual crossbow, quiver w/ 50 bolts, manacles, grappling bolt, signal bolt, concussion bolt, scope, assassin’s blade

As with the Pathfinder, the Crossbowman skill is all but a requirement at 4 XP to make reloading quicker so that this character can attack every turn. After that, there are loads of options to look at. Fleet Foot and Pathfinder can provide a ton of mobility and allow the Harasser to stay one step ahead of the enemy while looking for the best angle of attack. Stack Bayonet Charge with Onslaught and the Harasser can generate two ranged attacks and two melee attacks per-turn.

The Warlock

Our final iteration on the Wolf of Orboros career will use the Gifted Archetype and the Warlock (Circle Orboros) as its second career. This character will be fairly cut-and-dry where options are concerned. We will stick with the normal melee setup since ranged weapons cannot be used to boost in lieu of rules for ranged weapons with the Magical Weapon quality.

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Since we will be in melee often, our warlock should try to stay on the tough-as-nails side of things, particularly with having Roots of the Earth, a spell that increases a target’s ARM by 3. Stacked armor will work quite well with Spirit Fang, the other starting spell for Warlocks, which reduces SPD and DEF of characters damaged by it, consequently denying charges and reducing incoming damage even farther. In order to take advantage of both of these spells, we can start with the Blood Boon Gifted Archetype, which will grant a free casting of either of our starting spells if the warlock destroys and enemy character with a melee attack. So, theoretically, the warlock charges in, kills a character with the charge attack, uses the Blood Boon proc to cast Roots of the Earth on himself, then dumps his remaining three fury into casting Spirit Fang with a boosted attack roll on a potential charger.

For a warbeast choice, I am fond of a few options. The first is the Common Argus with its Doppler Bark ability that, like Spirit Fang, reduces enemy DEF and denies charges while also potentially providing Pathfinder to allies via its animus. The second option is the Gorax with its decent starting combat stats that will pair well with Roots of the Earth, allowing it to survive early engagements quite easily.

Human Gifted Wolf of Orboros/Warlock (Circle Orboros)
PHY 5+2 – SPD 6 – STR 4+1
AGL 3 – PRW 4 – POI 4
INT 3 – ARC 2+1 – PER 3

  • Abilities: Distrusted, Dual Shot (Crossbow), Specialization (Cleft weapon), Resonance (Devourer Warbeast), Warlock Bond
  • Connections: Circle Orboros
  • Military Skills: Great Weapon 2, Hand Weapon 1, Crossbow 1
  • Occupational Skills: Animal Handling 1, Command 1, Lore (Orboros) 1, Detection 1, Survival 1, Tracking 1
  • Spells: Roots of the Earth, Spirit Fang
  • Equipment: full plate armor, wolf pelt, cleft spear
  • Warbeast: Common Argus

Advancing our Warlock character will again be mostly a series of easy decisions. ARC should be a priority since it has all types of applications, including increased control area, the ability to push your warbeasts harder, increased magic accuracy with a larger pool to cast spells from, and the ability to turn the higher fury pool into additional purchased melee attacks with boosts to attack or damage. Once comfortable with the ARC stat, STR for higher melee damage output and PRW for increased melee accuracy will probably be your best bets.

With abilities, Empower Weapon is very important for Warlocks, as it allows them to purchase additional attacks, boost attack rolls, and boost damage rolls with melee weapons, so that should be an early acquisition. For increased warbeast presence, look to abilities like Pack Hunter, Calm, Field Marshal: Relentless Charge, and Warlock Bond for the ability to run additional warbeasts.

As a spell caster, our Warlock can pick up additional spells as well, which is a good thing considering how strong the Circle Orboros Warlock’s spell list is with options like Shadow Pack for making his battlegroup gain stealth, Forced Evolution for pushing a single warbeast to incredible heights, or Warpath for increased battlegroup mobility. Be mindful that the acquisition of warbeast-centric spells will most likely need to be secondary to acquiring new warbeast slots themselves via the Warlock Bond ability, so you probably will not start seeing tremendous results here until you get late into the Hero level.

Wrap-Up

These are just four examples of how you can play a Wolf of Orboros; it goes far beyond that. Concepts like a Mighty Chieftain/Wolf of Orboros or a Gifted Ice Sorcerer/Wolf of Orboros are others I had floating in my head that I just could not fit in to this article. The point stands, however, that even with everyone in a party sharing one of the career choices with everyone else, you can still have a versatile group with individuals that all have a markedly different approach. It is super-exciting to me see the breadth of options that you can have with a base concept like the one that we used above.

Stay tuned to Bell of Lost Souls for more Iron Kingdoms coverage.

*All images are the property of Privateer Press Digital. Used with permission.

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