Purpose of IRON, in the IRON EMPIRES

Purpose of IRON, in the IRON EMPIRES

NOTE: This is going by the COMIC BOOK presentatio of IRON game stats aren’t discussed.

IRON, Lord-Pilot, Knight, Sworn brother, and… and what? Damnably expensive? A mark of prestige and rank?
What is really the purpose of Iron in the setting? I’ve recently re-read both graphical novels and I’m having a tough time placing the function of IRON in the universe presented in IE.

[List=]–QUALITIES–[li] We see that the FOAM dispenser can prevent casualties from LESSER weapons.[/li][li] IRON can be deployed in high speed ways not open to other troops.(drops and whatnot)[/li][li] IRON comes with a highly developed sensor-suite/targeting computer. (aka AVATAR)[/li][li] EVA Capability (But honestly, this is a dime a dozen-in-IE) [/li][li] IRON (exoskeleton) allows troops to carry excessive loads of both weapons and ammunition and should increase endurance/mobility greatly.[/li][li] Buildt in power-pack[/list][/li]
[list=]–DEFEATED BY–
[li] Can be defeated by the standard issue weapon of most Anvil units. (Lasers Weapons) [/li][li] Can be defeated by rapid fire ballistic weapons (Chain gun in Faith Conquers).[/li][li] Can obviously be defeated by anti-vehicular guns (Fusors).[/li][li] Can be defeated by Compact yet potent hand held weapons like the SCREW.[/list][/li]
While IRON might be an impressive piece of technology, it is undeniable that it would be cheaper for any noble to maintain an ANVIL unit instead. ANVIL is cheaper both in terms in cost, and (most importantly) human resources; that is maintenance, construction and the actual training of the gentry needed to man these suits.
ANVIL additionally offers many of the same capabilities, it might go down to a laser-beam; but so does IRON. Its got EVA, its tough, its more nimble, and its definitely showy.

Consider GRAV VEHICLES with their much superior mobility, firepower, and quite possibly resilience. In fact these would require less training, and again be operated by the most simple of peasants.

From a forum perspective the final nail in the coffin for the current shared imagination of IRON; there have been plenty of threads discussing development, tactics, and even logistics of war in the future. Quite consistently and in great detail these discuss ANVIL and HAMMER. But what about IRON? yes, its being ‘sold’ as a sort of special forces or storm trooper uniform, but little thought is given to the actual POTENTIAL of powered armour.

I assert that the reason why its so hard to place the function of IRON in the setting, is because its purpose have been given to us in piecemeal and is sending a very mixed message. We’re told IRON is the ultimate tool of ground combat, yet we’re shown that both the standard issue weapon of ANVIL and even the smaller more compact energy weapon will penetrate it.
We’re told IRON makes you stronger and faster. Yet aside from some highly creative and rather enjoyable insertion methods we haven’t really seen its raw physical potential in action. No crashing through walls, ripping cannons of tanks, or other shows of epic strength.

Lets assume that the IRON we’ve seen so far in the books haven’t been deployed at what they do best, and perhaps what we’ve seen is a far cry from the standard Technology Index for IRON-o-the-line. With these assumptions in mind, what sort of design/concept model would you guys apply to its function and nature??

[list=][li]–Warhammer 40k–[/li]IRON makes you irresistibly strong. An endless well of physical potential. Resilience and brute force is magnified beyond superhuman levels. A man in IRON is a ferro-crete wall of pure power; whose ablative suit of armour might gradually, eventually… potentially be worn down by incoming fire. But in the mean time he’s and unstoppable killing machine and he’s looking for you next!
Main quality: Physical power and Resilience.[/list]

[list=][li]–Plate Mail–[/li]If ANVIL is chainmail, and ballistic armour the equivalent of improvised leather (boiled for some advanced varieties). IRON is plate mail.
A man in IRON is essentially invulnerable to the weapons of the lower peasantry. (Read the ballistic weapons of the poor unfortunate (‘leather wearing’) landwehr.) By comparison ANVIL is quite effective at handling the same tasks, but fails when presented by excessive brute force. IRON on the other hands meets brute force head on (by deflecting it elsewhere) and requires specific devastating strikes to disable it.
Main qualities: Resilience, and the fact that you’ve got it and they don’t.[/list]

[list=][li]–Starship Troopers-- (and RIFTS)[/li]The IRON we’ve seen is low-index. Inefficient by the standards of true IRON companies. A man in IRON is a ferociously effective combat system capable of handling multiple targets, often at the same time. Built into all IRON are many sub-weapon systems that can be deployed to meet any challenge at any range. Furthermore the sensor suite of IRON suite is second to none, prepare to push the engagement range up to 800-1km or beyond with surgical accuracy. (staggering by infantry standards)
Flight or ‘demi-flight’ by grav-jets, jump-chutes, or jump-packs are standard.
Main qualities: Excellent firepower, high mobility, and superior targeting/Ops/Sensors.[/list]

[list=][li]–The Sword–[/li]IRON is in fact not the ultimate weapon. It is instead the signature of nobility and rank. Yes, it certainly is a versatile and effective piece of technology (if a bit pricey)… but everyone knows a good unit of ANVIL will trump a cocky band of Lord-Pilots at every turn… (Perhaps even the canny landwehr unit in a dark alley can manage put a real dent in a noble families prestige.)
Main qualities: Badge of Rank, utilitarian and quite effective in most situations. (Also handy when those damned assassins strike)[/list]

[list=][li]–Other–[/li]Combinations of the above are certainly possible, and I’ve undoubtedly left out a ‘good’ model for powered exoskeletal armour. Ideas and suggestions are most welcome.[/list]

To conclude. Yes. I think IRON is super neat.

Yep. Thats it. What do you guys think?

place Holder

- PA-06a “Death’s Head” SAMAS

Interesting analysis. I’ll go out on a limb here and agree that Iron, while powerful, seems also to be an important symbol of the Nobility of the Iron Empires. Ergo, the Sword.

(This reminds me of the time I tried to rationalize why our real-world military would ever try developing giant fighting robots.)

Although, the thought I just had is that maybe Iron’s main point of effectiveness is that it allows a small number of soldiers to operate with the firepower of a much larger group. It looses some of its edge when taking on sizable forces head-on (like in Faith Conquers), but it is unparalleled when operating as a small commando force, or being used a tool of a lord’s will against a poorly armed, but numerous populace. Or maybe even just as a quick-deploying armored spearhead. Iron can be overwhelmed, but has its advantages in specific situations.

I look forward to what everyone else has to say.

I don’t know if I agree with the observation that Iron can be defeated by basic small-arms fire, even if it is high index. I seem to recall CHOT infantry incapacitating Iron troopers with some kind of rifle grenade device, but I imagine this is some kind of anti-material weapon that may not be standard issue.

Iron provides mobile, low sig, powerplants and platforms for more dangerous weaponry; basically allowing infantrymen to fulfill the role of IFVs.

Obviously, I get a serious ‘Starship Trooper’ vibe from Iron in terms of its use as a battlefield weapon. Additionally, it certainly has a high degree of ceremonial importance in the Iron Empires as being a symbol of a political-military-technocratic elite. I suspect that on lower index worlds the usefulness of Iron increases greatly. It probably is superior to non-grav/pressor IFVs (similar firepower, lower signature) and is likely to outclass all infantry in terms of resilience, flexibility, and range of acquisition and engagement. It’d presumably be a motherfucker of a force multiplier in such environments.

Mechanically, Iron-clad soldiers can go down to small arms fire, but its effectiveness is greatly reduced.


Hi Luke,

I was trying to scrupulously avoid recourse to mechanics.

Mechanically, as far as I can tell, the most telling advantage of Iron over Anvil is the “Hardened and Shielded” trait that allows them to “re-hue” the scale of certain weapons. This means that a Superb hit from a fancy rifle that results in a H14 impact will kill most people in Iron (“I shoot him in the eye”) but that a Mark hit with a result of, say V11, from an MBT’s main gun might only serve to Maim 'em.

Somewhat related: If I have an armoured tolerance high enough, does my Mortal Wound shift into the Vehicle-scale - and thereby make me immune to Human-scale weapons? I might be getting a bit confused after having spent some time trying to comprehend shades in BW.

Human physical stats max out at 6, giving a maximum mortal wound of 12. AT4 is the highest available, giving a mortal wound of H16. Kerrn can get MW 13 with max stats, but they can’t wear Iron (can’t get Corvus and Crucis in the lifepaths, and Illegal Crucis only works for starships, not Iron). Anvil gives them AT H16 again. Mukhadish can get MW 14, which with AT3 does indeed put them one point to the right of H16.

I haven’t heard a clear ruling on what that means, but since this is something that can only come up in three pretty unlikely scenarios* I’m not too worried about that.

*P7/F7 Kerrn with Corvus and Crucis from a trait vote, P7/F7Kerrn or P7+/F7+ Mukhadish with custom tech-burned AT4 armor, or P8/F8 Mukhadish with full Anvil. Further, custom Iron with Hardened and Shielded starts out at 26pts. Getting past H16 without H&S doesn’t really do much for you since there aren’t any weapons between H15 (Kerrn Sword S hit) and V3 (Nail Launcher I hit). In fact, since I don’t think there are any V16 weapons either, even with H&S there’s no difference between H16 and V1/H17 mortal wound: You still take only a maimed result from any H or V scale weapon, and you’re still pulped in a comic manner by any S scale weapon.

Ta! I was sans book and at work. I did wonder if the line got problematic due to armoured genetic monstrosities of some description but it seems to be a fairly trivial issue for any game where people are keeping a weather-eye on truly ridiculous twinking.

Yeah, don’t give your Alien Lifeform Burner creations armor. Problem solved. Just give them monster tolerances through the ALB, no double dipping.

Back on track… Iron is tankier than infantry and can dig in better than tanks. That makes it a fantastic reserve force. If you need a spearhead, you can drop Iron and it can achieve direct fire dominance over infantry. If you need a blocking force, you can drop Iron and it can dig in hard enough to require a lot of time or a major infantry push to dislodge. Otherwise you need tanks for the first job and infantry for the second.

It’s like a sword. It can’t do any of the things on the battlefield as well as the same dollar value of those sorts of units, but it can serve for most sorts of unit. “The sword is the queen of weapons.”

Further, the superior training as well as Avatar capabilities of Lords-Pilot in Iron will tilt the balance back in their favor.

I didn’t vote in your poll because I didn’t think any of the options were particularly representative. Also, with respect to your assumption about the Iron we’ve seen in action in the books… if we’re allowed to use Chris as a canon source, most Iron in the Empires is low-index. Trevor Faith’s Iron is representative of most of the best Iron out there and the Grey Rats are typical or better. High-Index Iron is fantastically rare and talking as though it were the standard is a bit like making firepower calculations as though the standard longarm of the US military were a 120mm smoothbore. We’ve seen exactly one suit of High-Index Iron as I recall and that owned by the mind-blasting Prince-Champion of the Karsan League… He’s got maybe 40 equals throughout the empires when it comes to access to wargear. I wouldn’t be surprised if the number of extant operational high-index suits was into three figures, but I doubt it reaches four.

My vote goes for Starship troopers.

The Real Qualities of IRON
In a technologically advanced world such as IE, it is technology and the ability to manipulate it that really wins through.

What if IRON was constructed of an amazingly inert material when it came to detecting or affecting it electronically? Imagine if you will an artifact which is the exact opposite of a super-conductor superbly resistant to energy in all it basic forms… But this is not enough, meticulously scribe a pattern of super-conducting Nanite-amalgam-Web/Grid that will redirect any stray bolts of energy away from vital areas. Including Radio signals, heat, cold, or more.

Combine this with the most tenacious sensor-suite created by man. Jamming, offensive software entities, personal defense-soft drones, and scrambling emitters. Deflecting aggressively all attempts to establish a target lock, be it advanced computer system or the electronically motivated optics of a fusor.

Now give it a wide series of precision sensors. Eyes that see all bandwidths, ears that hear everything. Sonar, Radar, UV, infrared, radiation, pheromone (olfactory) or more exotic ones.

All powered by a nearly inexhaustible Fission power plant encased in a metallic shell and powered by a smooth exoskeleton that makes motions 10 times as powerful and deflects kinetic attacks.

Finally this marvel of technology is piloted by an elite. A trained individual whose capacity to handle stress, trauma, and still operate will come under serious pressure in a deadly situation.

Corvus and Crucis
The secret to to harnessing the power of these many and widespread technologies lay in the Corvus and Crucis. In combat mode with the visor down; a Lord-Pilot does not SEE infrared, he feels it. When a landwehr recruit hides behind a wall, the IRON clad warrior feels that presence in his very bones. He tastes the landwehrs sweat, hears his pounding heart, and feels the poor recruit shuffling his feet.

“Power overwhelming”
A nearly addictive rush of ultra-real sensory images; some of them transmitted through underdeveloped parts of the brain. This must be trained. But there is more, the raw computing power available to the IRON actually overloads nerve-bindings allowing a man in IRON to act faster and with higher precision. It is a sad fact that many IRON pilots die due to over-excited hearts and fried nerve synapses. (which is why IRON pilots must be at the very peak of health)

What does this mean for warfare? You cannot hide. IRON will find you. You must apply your heaviest weapons to stop it, yet their targeting computers are scrambled. IRON does not protect its user only through physical resilience, its main line of defense is by frying/deflecting or even redirecting targeting signals.

A man in IRON in combat mode is experiencing a step-up adrenaline rush of sensory images. He percieves the world moving slower than he is. Enemies are tagged by his suits FoF sensors, he terminates any threat with an appropriate weapon. His main enemy is panic, fear, and loss of control.

“The sky is falling!”
The inert quality of IRON suits serves it well during insertions. The armored shell can sustain incredible heats or impossible cold, all while the exoskeleton will look after the user, protecting it from any kinetic trauma. IRON en capsuled in a simple grav-chute shell can be deployed from low-orbit right to the ground. A fire mechanism resembling a modern handgun where each ‘bullet’ is a fully armored and armed man in IRON. The entire squad, company, or army can be put to the ground at anytime anywhere. To be on the receiving end of such an attack is to see the skies darken with flak and laser strikes. Then before the dust has settled fast moving, all seeing, and impossible to locate enemies swarm the zone. Spreading havoc.
[Thank you Heinlein]

The ignoble death
The Irony is that outside overpowering/extending the logic-engines and Lord-Pilot of armour. It is simple weapons and the battle locale that kill many unwary Lord-Pilots whom feel invincible. The simple ballistic weapons of the Landwehr, otherwise inert pressure mines, and area saturation fire. Not to mention miscalculating jumps, gorges, super-hard structures, and many other traps.

“Bring me my dueling IRON…”
Some matters of honour can only be solved through personal armed conflict. To battle IRON against IRON is a matter of extreme finesse. For there are many factors involved. Skilled operation of the IRONs features, Personal Initiative and courage, Situational awareness and simple tenacity.

Your IRON can do many things. It can search for the enemy, track his signature, crack open the software shell of his targeting software (not to mention his brain), guide your own weapons, power/calculate your own motions, and defend against said mentioned attacks… Its just that it cannot do all these things at the same time. Therefore the winner of IRON duels is he who can balance his attention to his computing powers, view his environment, and act at the right moment.

Duels of IRON are an intense affair of micro-management, Real life, and high speed computing. You can jam sensors, plant false sonar-echos, target his software modules, simply shoot him, paint false radiation signatures, hack his vision-software, plant false image leads, overlord his nerve synapses and more. If all else fails you can take the shot to your massive shoulder pads, which contain extra ablative levels of armour. More than one Lord-Pilot has lived because he redirected an otherwise fatal shot to his shoulder.

Experienced Lord-Pilots are therefore more often exceedingly canny, perceptive, and deceptive. Those whom are all brawn and guts rarely live to tell the tale… unless cutting down peasant rabble.

And I lived to tell the tale…
To summarize. IRON does not have a real world equivalent. It is part tank, part dueling aircraft, part super-computer. While resilient, a direct hit will kill it, its main defense is by re-directing the attacks of the enemy.

A skilled IRON operator is one who is adept at reading the situation and his environment; then adapting his suits capabilities to follow. His computing power, and energy output are finite resources; as is his reservoir of will/valor and capacity to multi task.

[list=][li]Sensor suite - Tracking the enemy
[/li][li]Jamming suite - Falsifying personal sensor image.
[/li][li]Electronic Warfare Drones - Aggressively disabling WiFi systems.
[/li][li]Defense Drone-Soft - Protecting your own systems.[/list]
[list=][li]Motive Force - Mobility and motion.
[/li][li]Nanite-Amalgam-Web/Grid - Redirecting energy
[/li][li]Weapon systems - Energy weapons power source and targeting systems.
[/li][li]Personal - Courage and physical body. Keep both intact![/list]

So there you have it. A fantastic technological terror which many covet, yet few truly understand. An artifact of a lost age, yet still potent in its own way. The only true way to survive as a man on a highly technological battlefield where the least mistake will end your days in a atomic death…

HAMMER flies, ANVIL dies, IRON supplies. Death.

This is an awesome thread on so many levels. My vote encompasses “Sword” and “Plate”, which I fold together into one catagory: Iron is expensive, limited to the nobility, and ipso-facto the badge of his station. Iron gives the wearer a distinct advantage over his lesser-armored foe… though the advantage is NOT complete and can be, in many circumstances, a terrible disadvantage. I also, of course, see a measure of “Starship Troopers” in Iron. Heinlein’s MI were an inspiration obviously… I love the above post, for its poetry and for the following line:

The Irony is that outside overpowering/extending the logic-engines and Lord-Pilot of armour. It is simple weapons and the battle locale that kill many unwary Lord-Pilots whom feel invincible. The simple ballistic weapons of the Landwehr, otherwise inert pressure mines, and area saturation fire.

That’s plate-armor. I have vivid memories of reading about the battle of Agincourt, where, after the battle, welsh footmen went around the battlefield, sticking their knives into the visor slits of the incapacitated French knights… their plate armor was their tomb. And they were killed by the smallest, lowest, most insignificant member of the opposing army. A filthy little welshman with a dagger.

The other plate-mail parallel comes from my understanding of two other interesting historical match-ups: the Teutonic Knights vs. the Mongols in Poland, and the Crusades. Both events matched heavilly armored knights against nimble swarms of lightly armored horse-archers. The knights did well if they could connect, but, in the case of the crusades, they boiled inside their plate, their war-horses were powerful, but slow and winded quickly, and the tactics of the horse archers were a perfect counter to their strength (feign retreat when charged, wear out the knights and their mounts, then turn around and mow them down with arrows).

Iron’s unstoppable qualities are there, but they’re also propaganda, spread by the nobility who relies on a reputation of unstoppability. In the middle ages, peasant revolts ended, inevitably, when the knights appeared and rode them down. The reputation of invicibility, in those cases, was critical to taking the heart out of the “lower” classes who had to face it.

Notice how quickly plate armor disappeared once the phalanx and arquebus came into play (and how, in the hundred years war, when faced with english bowmen, how the knight turned into a foot-soldier). Once the aura of invicibility was gone, the armor went with it. Iron is a little more resiliant than that… it does have very potent fighting qualities, but it’s not 40K juggernaut armor that’s just unstoppable… period.


I think of Iron as super-heavy infantry, not tanks or cavalry.

In game-mechanics terms, they’ve got significantly better resistance to anti-personnel weapons than regular Anvil-armored troops (AT 4 vs. AT 3), vastly better resistance to anti-armor weapons (“hardened and shielded” trait), vastly better capability to recover after taking a hit (foam), the ability to carry bigger weapons (+1D Power), and a host of helpful electronics (Avatar, targeting, etc.). They’re also slightly faster (+1D speed, I believe), but nothing like a grav vehicle or even a contemporary jeep, so they don’t possess the great advantage of a vehicle, i.e. speed. What they do possess is the great advantage of infantry, that is, being able to dig in, take cover, and generally avoid notice – yes, they’re detectable on Sensors the same way vehicles are, but they aren’t penalized in their use of cover the way vehicles are.

What all this gets you tactically is a superior ability to concentrate force at the critical point. You don’t want an entire army of Iron – it’d be cost-ineffective – you want a cadre of Iron to throw into battle when it really, really matters and break the enemy.

Iron, like plate armor, makes a properly trained wearer a significantly superior fighter, but not an invincible one, and certainly not one that can exist without the support of other combat arms.

Oh yes, do not underestimate the power of the Foam. Anvil troopers will walk out of a heavy firefight dinged up and at reduced effectiveness. For Iron troopers, anything short of being Maimed is shrugged off. They can fight consecutive battles without loss of effectiveness due to injury. And, should one take a fatal wound, the Foam all but guarantees he’ll survive and be back on his feet (eventually).

“Iron does not make you a tank. Only a tank makes you a tank.”

A variation found on a Shivakhan (sp?) tanker’s vehicle: “You are not a tank - I am a tank”.

(Do folks in the IE call 'em tanks? I was thinking while checking out a Mk IV the other day that tank must be one of the most enduring terms to arise from a secret project codename)

I’m cheating, here. Chris told us over in the Iron TO&E thread that (and I hope I remember this right!) it was illegal (and contrary to civilized custom) for Iron to be fielded on your home world. Iron is used for assaults off-world.

When you see Iron, it’s scary. It means either your world is being invaded or that your lord is angry, or training (which may be just as bad if you are a farmer), or trying to defend you from somebody’s else’s Iron battalion.

So, I’d say Plate Mail (super heavy infantry), Sword, Starship Troopers, in that order.

And that’s why I love these threads. It used to really bug me that small arms fire could hurt someone in Iron. In this context, I think it makes some sense. Yay!!! :smiley:

Err, are you sure? I don’t remember that one…

I’m cheating, here. Chris told us over in the Iron TO&E thread that (and I hope I remember this right!) it was illegal (and contrary to civilized custom) for Iron to be fielded on your home world. Iron is used for assaults off-world.

Landwehr forces are legally prohibited from operating OFF of their homeworld. Anvil (and Iron) have no such limitations. That might be the source of the confusion.


Guess I misread or misremembered. Sorry about that.

Ghost in the Shell
The Iron Empires is a universe of incredible technological marvels. Despite being in decline, it vastly supercedes anything we have today. So what about cyberwear? As in cybernetic (nerve-compatible) prosthetics.

Does this exist in the Iron Empires? Is it better or worse? What exactly is the Corvus and Crucis implant? Cloning? The Vaylen are obviously masters of genetic engineering, and the biological terrors they produce are exceptional; but what happens when an Anvil sergeant of a high-index world looses an arm to laser fire? what if this is a low-index world?

IRON without, IRON within
Now to keep this thread a little more on topic. Where does IRON originate from? Is it a recent invention made to facilitate the imperial society of the (uhm) Federation? It it a poorly understood relic of a lost golden age, faithfully reproduced for its incomparable ‘worth’?

What threat was it buildt to counter?