A Game Per Year: Ironhedge Manifesto (1989)

I started to feel that I didn’t know roleplaying games well enough so I came up with the plan to read a roleplaying game corebook for every year they have been published. Selection criteria is whatever I find interesting.

The cover of the Ironhedge Manifesto (1989).

I’ve tried to go for variety when choosing what to read for this project. Games from publishers big and small. Ironhedge Manifesto represents the small.

It’s a tiny indie fantasy roleplaying game published as a little 40-page booklet crammed with tiny type. The 1989 version I was able to find is the 5th edition of the game. The original was published in 1979.

This is the first explicitly anti-communist roleplaying game I’ve read during this project. It says: “This game contains free thought, free trade, low taxes…”

Like in the Arduin Grimoire before it, there’s some editorializing about the state of roleplaying games:

1. In the days before Ironhedge, there were no decent Role Playing Wargames.

2. The wargames of men were overpriced, illogical, complicated, and lacked purpose, meaning, design and True Adventure.

3. The Big Corporations mated with the Media: producing Wargame Whorelords who exploited these ideas over men.

And so on.

As a game, Ironhedge Manifesto follows the classic D&D template. There are character classes, monsters, spells, etc. All the usual things. The game is set on the campaign world of Ironworld, with the attendant other planetary bodies Moonworld and Lunaworld. The booklet also mentions Afterworld and Netherworld.

Underneath the idiosyncrasies, Ironhedge Manifesto is an attempt to make an approachable, low-cost roleplaying game. Despite its anti-communist ethos, there’s something egalitarian about this goal.