Intro to Cairnholm and the IK RPG

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I’m starting a campaign soon for the Iron Kingdoms RPG and I thought I’d post some records for others to read. It’ll most likely be a few weeks before we get started, as the players need to lock in their career choices and paint up their figures.
But in the meantime I’ll divulge some information on the setting.

While the game will be set within Immoren I have decided to base the party in a new city.
I think this will give me more freedom as the GM and keep established events separated from the campaign. I have drawn heavily from the game Dishonored when creating the city as I’m sure you’ll see.


Located in the North-western reaches of Ord, near the Khadoran border, lies Cairnholm.
It is a bustling port city built on a tiered hill that the locals call the Cairn, and is bordered by the sea to the west and mountains inland. The city proper is made up of two districts, now called ‘Oldtown” and “the Gardens”, that take up the highest parts of the Cairn.


That’s all there was of the city until eight years ago. Sailors discovered that the oil extracted from Blight-whales could be used as an alternate fuel to coal and within the month many businessmen had set up shop on Cairnholm’s dock. Their presence caused the city to swell and Cairnholm’s newest district, Lowtown, sprang up. At first it was simply the makeshift abodes of those working in the Oilworks, lining the road from Oldtown to the docks. But as more and more people arrived to stake their claim, and were disappointed, the shantytown spread.


Now, almost a decade later, Lowtown has doubled the size of Cairnholm. The city is now host to chapters of many illustrious and infamous orders and the vast docks bring in plenty of trade. A railroad leading inland to Merin provides the markets with a constant flow of goods. However, outside of the Outer Wall the city guard have a hard time keeping up with the various criminal elements.

Picture 1

It is here, in an old city reborn, that cunning individuals of a somewhat mercenary nature can find many avenues of employment.
The style of games I’ll be looking to run will be very episodic and reminiscent of a high-action TV show. My plan is to jump straight to the action and slightly hand-wave the weeks of downtime that may have preceded it. This may sound a little railroadey but the player character’s goals will always be the driving force behind what missions they take.
Even if that goal is sometimes simply “We need the cash.” I’m also thinking of holding a brief ‘Next Time on…’ session at the end of each game to see what the players want to do next and to keep to the TV series spirit.

Final Note: The images are from the fantastic game Dishonored and the concept art is by the brilliant Viktor Antonov. Go check them out.

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