It’s been months since Gen Con and I still haven’t read all the books I’ve picked up there, let alone reviewed them.
One of the books that impressed me most in August was Reality Blurs’ Iron Dynasty – Way of the Ronin, a fantasy setting for Savage Worlds written by Sean Preston. At first glance it might look like a run-of-the-mill “feudal Japan meets Fantasy” setting. But if you look closer you will realize it’s much more unique than that.
While the Bright Empire is loosely based on 16th/17th century Japan, there are several aspects that make the setting unique.
No rigid class system
In feudal Japan, the population was divided in four classes: samurai, farmers, artisans and merchants. In Iron Dynasty this class system has begun to fall apart. That actually removes the hurdle posed by most similar settings. I was never comfortable running a game in feudal Japan or Legend of the Five Rings’ Rokugan, because of the class system and all the rules that come with it.
Steam and gears
One reason why the old class system has begun to fall apart is because mankind got access to the technology of the gods like huge walking war-machines and all other kinds of gadgets. Samurai are wielding not only the traditional katana but firearms as well. The introduction of steampunk elements to a world inspired by feudal Japan works surprisingly well and in my opinion really sets the setting apart.
Heavy metal oriental action
In my opinion the Savage Worlds rules already make it very easy to run a fast and cinematic game. Iron Dynasty adds countless new Edges to the mix that help to turn the things up to eleven! One of my favorites is the Elemental Focus edge, which allows characters to add elemental effects to his spells or attacks.
When I first saw the book at the Reality Blurs booth at Gen Con I didn’t know that much about it and thought it might just by another fantasy Japan setting. But when Sean Preston told me more about Iron Dynasty I knew I had to buy it. And I am sure if you are even remotely interested in such a setting, you’ll love Iron Dynasty, too. Alas I haven’t had the time to thoroughly read nor play it. But I thought it wouldn’t hurt to share my excitement about this game.
You can get Iron Dynasty – Way of the Ronin as print + PDF bundle at the Reality Blurs’ webstore for just $30. Alternatively you can pick up the PDF at DriveThruRPG for just $15. The $15 for the PDF version is a bit steep in my opinion, but the print + PDF bundle is actually a bargain. Even when you consider that you need the Savage Worlds Explorer’s Edition to play Iron Dynasty, it’s still a very good price.