[Workshop of the Clockwork Gnome] The Races of Ptolus: The Ironborn

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Liberty's Edge

Kia took a quick turn down the darkened alleyway while fumbling for her spell components. If she couldn’t lose her stalkers then perhaps she could teach them a lesson. Barely cognizant of where she was going, Kia rounded a corner and was forced to come to a dead stop.

Standing in front of her was the largest individual she had ever seen. At first glance, it appeared to be a man wearing well-crafted plate armor. However, a closer look revealed that there wasn’t armored body within the openings in the plate. Instead, a series of gears and pistons clicked as they moved. In addition, a sound not unlike the ticking of a clock emanated from the creature’s chest.

Kia gasped instinctively. She had never seen a creature such as this one. While he appeared to be a construct, his manner told her something was different. His face was disturbingly human-like and he stared at her with eyes of cut glass. A soft blue light glowed from behind the eyes, originating from some place within the head. With a swift motion the clockwork man put an index finger to his lips and made a "shush" sound.

Shocked into silence, Kia let the creature push her behind him as he drew a longsword from his side. Her trackers had just made their way down the alley when the construct stepped out of the shadows and stated, in an oddly mechanical sounding voice, “Your pursuit of this woman is at an end. Now you face Vigilance and I have been itching for just such a fight.”

The ironborn are a race of living constructs designed and built to serve in specific roles. A combination of living flesh and inanimate material, the ironborn are free thinking, independent creatures imbued with a mortal soul. This intriguing race is now being featured in The Races of Praemal: The Ironborn at the Workshop of the Clockwork Gnome , the site for new material and Pathfinder Roleplaying Game conversions related to Ptolus: Monte Cook’s City by the Spire.

Introduced in the Book of Iron Might by Malhavoc Press, the ironborn have been updated and expanded in the new Ironborn of Questhaven, released by Rite Publishing and designed for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. The Workshop of the Clockwork Gnome has taken this opportunity to provide some ideas on how to integrate this popular race into the Ptolus setting. What’s more, this featured article is only the first in a series of entries focusing on aspects of ironborn society, new options for ironborn characters, and a number of NPCs who derive from the ironborn race.

“But, I am not a Ptolus GM.” I hear you say. There is something for you as well, for everything at the Workshop of the Clockwork Gnome is designed with modularity in mind. The material is specifically produced for easy integration into your favorite fantasy setting.

As you take this opportunity to check out The Races of Praemal: The Ironborn , feel free to wander about the site for a bit and make yourself at home. I am interested in providing you with inspirational material of all kinds and your feedback is an important part of that equation. So, feel free to leave a comment on the site or in this thread and let me know what you think or if you have any suggestions on how to make the site better.

The Workshop of the Clockwork Gnome is updated once a week, thus providing you with an endless supply of GM and player material. As it stands, updates post on Fridays, though you can expect more updates within a week if I have the material to release.

Just to whet your appetite, I will leave you with a small selection of The Races of Praemal: The Ironborn .


While similar to the Lost Knowledge option, this concept has the ironborn discovered intact, with the technique of their creation remaining a secret amongst their race. In this situation, the ironborn are either dwelling somewhere where contact is rare or they exist in a state of stasis, waiting to for reactivation by curious explorers.

Much like the Slave City of Ptolus, a community of ironborn might dwell beneath the city for years before anyone spots them. Eventually, though, the sheer number of delvers in Ptolus will insure someone will stumble on the community. At that point, the ironborn will need to make a choice. Do they come out of hiding and integrate with the citizenry of Ptolus or do they find a new hiding place deeper in the Dungeon. The decision will likely depend on who finds the community and how they approach the ironborn.

If the decision leans more towards a group of ironborn left in stasis or devoid of mobility, then the first step would be a decision to activate the hidden constructs or leave them alone. This choice is not an easy one, as most people in Ptolus will have no clue who or what the ironborn are. The choice to activate the ironborn is a blind one unless extensive research reveals secrets of the race beforehand.

While the ironborn are immortal, they do require a small amount of food and drink to nourish their biological components. Thus the stasis is either magical or there is another factor at work. Ironborn of Questhaven does not delve too deeply into the required procedure that brings the ironborn to life. It might be a good idea to rule the sleeping ironborn are unfinished, requiring a quick bolt of electricity or a special material to get them moving. In this case, it is possible to activate the ironborn slowly, granting time to better understand what purpose they serve.

Ultimately, the decision to introduce the ironborn through discovery gives the GM a chance to provide a whole new culture for the PCs to examine, assuming the ironborn have been awake all of these years. In that time, they could develop entire traditions and personal rituals, worship gods unknown to the surface world, and have sacred rules on how to interact with other races. It would also behoove the GM to decide if the community is aware of their creator and what role that creator plays amongst the ironborn. Does this individual receive worship as a god or is the creator just another member of the community? Are they even present? This decision is a major step in understanding how ironborn would react to outsiders.

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