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Icons

Icons

The 13th Age Archmage Engine supports the concept of icons. An icon is a powerful NPC (non-playable character) that has a strong influence on the world outside of your campaign, yet may indeed aid or oppose your character over the course of your campaign, depending on the relationship your character has with the icon.

Icons have their own story, alignment, and personality. The general knowledge and history about them may vary in depth and accuracy; they may be well-known or mysterious. They have their own relationships with other icons, too, which may be friendly, tolerable, or acrimonious.

Your character may have relationships with certain icons. This relationship, if it exists, can be positive, conflicted, or negative.

Icon Lists

Official Icons

The Archmage has preserved the Empire for centuries and created astonishing new lands. He has also threatened the fabric of reality with experiments you’d have to be brilliant or hugely arrogant to attempt.

The Crusader is the armored fist of the Dark Gods. So long as followers of the gods of light stay the hell out of his way, the Crusader turns his wrath against the demons that would destroy the world his own gods want to rule. Follow the Crusader if you must win at any cost.

The Diabolist controls fiends and tampers with forces even the Archmage avoids. She likes her victims screaming and her chaos pure while claiming that the demons she summons would otherwise overwhelm the Great Gold Wyrm who seals the Abyss. There are two differences between her and her demons: First, she likes keeping destruction personal rather than universal. Second, she’s capable of kindness, so long as it comes as a great surprise.

The Dwarf King is lord of Forge, the dwarves’ new homeland beneath the mountains. He’d love to reclaim the dwarven home lost to war against the dark elves and the creatures of the deeps. But now that the Empire is stumbling, the dwarves find themselves manning the mountain walls that shield the Empire from the orcs and monsters of the north.

The Elf Queen rules the Court of Stars, the one place where wood elves, dark elves, and high elves come together as peers and allies instead of as rivals or enemies. Honed by centuries of experience, the Queen’s innate magic at least equals the Archmage’s spells.

The Emperor rules the world’s greatest human kingdom, known as the Dragon Empire for the mounts of its mightiest warriors. All the signs suggest that the age is turning, but will the Empire fall or shift to a new balance?

The Great Gold Wyrm is the world’s protector and the inspiration for holy orders of paladins and independent heroes. Although the Gold Wyrm’s physical form seals the gap that prevents the Abyss from erupting into the world, its dreams and the agents it employs still move through the world, helping those who will fight and even die for what’s right.

The High Druid is the champion of the resurgent Wild, and the spiritual and magical leader of spirits of nature and the elements that were chained by the Empire but are now working themselves free. She might be the great force that shakes the Empire to pieces or the hero who destroys the destroyers and points to a new way to live.

The Lich King is the lord of the undead, a fallen tyrant who intends to conquer the Dragon Empire and restore his ancient kingdom. He’s not entirely insane and mostly understands that ruling a kingdom is not the same as destroying it.

The Orc Lord is a figure of legend. The last time he walked the land the Lich King fell, in part because of the Orc Lord’s attack. Who will fall before his hordes this time? Who won’t?

The Priestess hears all the Gods of Light and speaks for those who please her. She is part oracle, part mystic, and part metaphysical engineer, since she created the Cathedral, an ever-expanding temple with rooms or entire wings for each of the faiths she favors.

The Prince of Shadows is part thief, part trickster, and part assassin. To some he is a hero; to others a villain. He has squandered the riches of the dwarves, murdered the hopes of a dragon, and plundered the dreams of a god. His exploits have changed the world, but none can tell you his ultimate goals or motives.

The Three were among the first dragons to walk the world. The Red is a living engine of destruction. The Blue is a sorceress, perhaps even the original mother of all sorcery. The Black is queen of shadows and assassins. Unlike the Great Gold Wyrm, who must fight alone, the Three have learned to join forces.

Alternative Icons

Source Charles Wright of Ludus Macto Publishing, LLC

The Lord High Magus is a position held by the wisest and most powerful of the arcane wielders and is an apointment for life or until abdication. At least one is known to have become a god and another was removed from the position when he found a way to cheat death. The most awesome of innovations as well as the most tragic of disasters involving the arcane arts can usually be traced back to a Lord High Magus. The Lord High Magus dwells within a large mansion filled with knowledge of the ages.

The Blood Knight is the general of a vast army dedicated to the Dark Gods. Clad from head to toe in tarnished black armor slick with the blood of his fallen foes he lives only to conquer the greatest opposition. As of now, he’s concentrating on the legions of demons as his most worthy opponent. Hopefully his focus doesn’t change any time soon.

The Dark Mistress is the youngest of the current icons, her predecessor, The Dark Master, having been destroyed by the Triumvirate. Because she is currently fighting both the Blood Knight and the Triumvirate she is having problems expanding her power base. The Dark Mistress serves as a conduit that allows demons to come into the world. In other words – she is the portal.

The Longbeard Thane is the most respected of the eldest dwarves, usually a king who has abdicated his throne. His counsel is sought by all but the most foolhardy of dwarves in matters of politics and tactics, especially when dealing with non-dwarves. He is the primary face of dwarfdom to the overworld.

The Triumvirate are three representatives chosen by the wood elves, the dark elves and the high elves to be the ultimate arbiters between their peoples. Two of the Triumvirate are needed to make a final rulings and the welfare of elves as a race is highest in their minds when making a ruling. Only a handful of times in the past has the Triumvirate rallied all of the elven people to go to war against a common enemy. The last time it happened they toppled another icon.

The High King is the ruler of a vast kingdom. His immediate rule is over a small protectorate that is the main capital of the land. Low Kings rule over the majority of the lands in his stead and at his instruction. Most humans consider any humans from outside their expansive lands to be nothing more than savages.

The Platinum Dragon is the wisest of all the “metallic” dragons and holds the wisdom of the ages, the knowledge of all dragonkind, and is a shining example of Good in the world. It is the patron of many paladins, heroic organizations and individuals. The Platinum Dragon isn’t born, but is created in a ritual. When the current Platinum is about to die, the eldest of all the metallics takes the burden upon himself as the previous ascends to a higher plane of existence. The knowledge and memories of the previous Platinum Dragon are passed on to the new and it changes their scales to a soft, glowing platinum. It is known that metallics of all types have served as the Platinum Dragon.

The Untamed is the representative and guardian of nature. It is part of the bird spying on you from above, the tree in which you take shelter from the rain, and the rain itself. Although very powerful, the Untamed is mortal and can be killed. However, once killed a new Untamed is chosen immediately. Lacking only in the skills and knowledge of the previous guardian.

The Deathless One, the master of undead and wielder of the raw power that animates such creatures, was once the Lord High Magus. He achieved a state of deathless immortality through control over negative energy. Once his fellows learned that he would neither die nor abdicate, he was forcibly removed from his position and the benefits it provided. Shortly after, he took control of a small kingdom through the expedient of murdering everyone and raising them under his control. He has been quiet for some centuries, tinkering away at making better and stronger undead creations. Biding his time, waiting to strike and liberate the world from cruelties of life.

The Savage Lord holds the respect, if not outright rulership of the monstrous creatures whose souls are filled with hatred and bile. Orcs, Goblins, Hobgoblins, Gnolls, and Bugbears make up the bulk of his horde. Although mostly contained within their own lands, the horde often forms smaller raiding parties for plunder, fun, and profit. Especilly among the elven lands.

The Grand Oracle is the voice of the Gods of Light in the world… and actions speak louder than words. Although she will step up and wield her divine powers if becomes necessary, she is most found by weary travellers in need of help, counsel, healing, or hospitality.

The Jack is the grandest of all rogues. Although Jack is given a male name, no one knows for sure of Jack’s actual identity. Some say if it is ever found out they will no longer be The Jack. The Jack lives for the thrill of the chase and the rush of adrenaline. Equally at home in a burglary, playing mind games, or assassinating those The Jack deems unfit for survival.

The Council of Scales is made up of the most powerful of each of the primary “chromatic” dragons. Once they ascend to the position they take on the simple name of their dragon “race”. (The Black, The Blue, The Green, The Red, and The White). Appointments are for life — as losing the position invariably means the death of the previous office holder. The Green and The White change office holders relatively quickly… every 5 to 10 years. The longest held office is that of The Black, she’s managed to hold on to the position for nearly 500 years, through politics and strategic assassinations.

The Dweller Below is a dark reflection of the Untamed. Ruling over the creatures and sentients who live away from the light, either in caves or deep beneath the waves. Most surface dwellers have forgotten about the Dweller Below or believe him to be a fable crafted to scare children. He simply sleeps in his nest, but will rise if his realm is disturbed.

Players: Determine Your Icon Relationships

Your character’s relationship with icons is an important way to draw him or her into your game world. An icon may have its own champions and heroes (including you) to advance its cause in the game world.

Invest Your Relationship Points

At 1st level, each character gets 3 relationship points. Each point represents one d6 to be used when trying to leverage your connection to the icon (See Using Icon Relationships.)

The number of points you invest in a relationship with an icon doesn’t necessarily correlate with the closeness of the connection or the strength of the relationship. It does correlate with the utility of the relationship. It’s not necessarily about how well the icon knows you or how strong the icon feels about you. Instead, the points reflect the chance that your relationship will be helpful to you.

The Icons Relationships Master Chart summarizes the likely roleplaying and story-oriented consequences of positive, conflicted, and negative relationships with heroic, ambiguous, and villainous icons.

Icon Relationships Master Chart

IconPositive RelationshipConflicted RelationshipNegative Relationship
Heroic IconSpend 1, 2, or 3 points. As far as this icon is concerned, you’re one of the good guys, a white-hat hero. Authorities often help you, and civilians often trust you. On the down side, you may be called on to serve representatives of the icon even when you have other plans. You might also be a target of villainous icons or this heroic icon’s rivals.Spend 1, 2, or 3 points. You’re probably one of the good guys, but for some reason you’re suspect to the icon Maybe you’re a convict who has served his time, or an imperial soldier who was too good and got drummed out of his legion. You have insider knowledge and allies who are in good with the icon but you also have enemies associated with the icon.Spend 1 point. In the icon’s eyes, you’re a dissident, opponent, rival, or foe. You may have contacts or inside knowledge that you can use to your advantage, but some form of trouble waits for you wherever this heroic icon has influence.
Ambiguous IconSpend 1, 2, or 3 points. Thanks to your relationship with the icon you are a hero to some, a villain to others, and possibly even a monster to a few. The enemies of your friends may turn out to be your friends, and vice versa. Advantages and complications will come from all sides.Spend 1, 2, or 3 points. Your relationship with the icon is complex, an uneven relationship with an icon who’s a hero to some and a villain to others. One way or another, you can find help or hostility anywhere. You don’t just live in interesting times—you create them.Spend 1 or 2 points. Your enmity with this icon makes you some enemies, but it also makes you some useful friends. You may be a dissenter, unwanted family member, or even a traitor in some way.
Villainous IconSpend 1 point. You are able to gain secrets or secretive allies, but your connection to this icon brings trouble from people associated with the heroic icons who oppose the villain. Be prepared to justify why you’re not imprisoned, interrogated, or otherwise harassed by the heroic icons and their representatives whenever they encounter you. Or for that matter, by the other PCs.Spend 1 or 2 points. You mostly work against the icon but you’re also connected to the icon in a way you can’t deny. Your connection sometimes gives you special knowledge or contacts, but it also makes you suspect in the eyes of many right-minded would-be heroes.Spend 1 or 2 points. You mostly work against the icon but you’re also connected to the icon in a way you can’t deny. Your connection sometimes gives you special knowledge or contacts, but it also makes you suspect in the eyes of many right-minded would-be heroes.

This chart assumes that you’re playing a heroic character. A villainous character will need to swap the maximums between heroic and villainous icons.

Rolling Icon Relationship Dice

To check your icon relationship (your relationship with a particular icon , roll a d6 for each point you have in the relationship. This means that you will usually roll 1, 2, or 3 dice. (At epic level, it may be 4.)

If any die is a 6, you get some meaningful advantage from the relationship without having complications. If two or three dice come up 6, that’s even better.

If any die is a 5, your connection to the icon is going to work out as well as a 6 would, but with some unexpected complication. If it’s a good icon you might be drawn into some obligation. If it’s a villainous icon, you might attract unwanted attention.

Rolling 5s when you also rolled 6s should make life both interesting and advantageous!

Icons’ Organizations

Icons are usually not directly part of the campaign. They rarely make an appearance personally, except perhaps at epic level. Most of the time, interacting with an icon means that you’re actually interacting with his or her lower-level functionaries, acolytes, disciples, bureaucrats, lieutenants, barons, priests, etc. In fact, any level of relationship with an icon can be enough to get you noticed by other people who are connected to that icon.

Using Icon Relationships

The most straightforward way to use your relationship points is on positive or conflicted connections that generally provide you with outright assistance and useful information.

Negative relationships usually provide inside knowledge, special skills, opportunistic allies, and possibly some sort of supernatural advantage against a villain.

Often you might find that enemies of your rival see you as an opportunity to strike against that mutual enemy. You might get help, wealth and resources, and even magic items from quite unexpected sources, some of which may not be entirely to your liking.

In addition to aid from others, icon relationships provide characters with special knowledge.

A negative relationship with a thoroughly villainous icon is more in keeping with the heroic lifestyle, but you should expect that the assistance you get from a negative relationship may end up being more directly confrontational than more conventional conflicted and positive relationships.

Changing Relationships

When your character achieves champion level (5th), you gain an extra relationship point. Use it to increase an existing relationship by one die or gain a 1-point relationship with a new icon to match your character’s story thus far. You can save the extra relationship die and decide to apply it later.

At 5th level, or any time thereafter, you can switch an existing relationship point from one icon to another, including to a new icon. You owe the GM and other players an entertaining explanation of what this big change represents for your character personally, of course.

When you reach epic level (8th), you gain another relationship point, which you can use to increase an existing icon relationship by one die, including up to 1 point over maximum. As at 5th level, if switching a relationship point from one icon to another makes sense for your 8th level character, go for it.

GMs: Using Icon Relationships

For basic icon relationship rules, see Icon Relationships.

As a GM, use a PCs’ icon relationships three different ways: for starting a session, for in-game dramatic events, and for discovery and surprise.

Rolling Relationships at the Start of a Session

All players roll their PC’s icon relationship dice at the start of each session, and everybody sees the results. As usual, rolling a 6 with an icon die provides an unambiguous advantage. Rolling a 5 provides a similar advantage, but the benefit is balanced by complications and obligations that advance the story. By the end of the session, each 6 or 5 should contribute to the story somehow, either at the GM’s or player’s initiative.

The GM uses the results to think ahead about which icons come to the fore this session. Players use the results to start thinking about how their icon relationships might manifest in the story.

As GM, you bear most of the burden of improvising story elements based on the PCs’ icon relationship results. Your players may have great suggestions, but it’s on you to weave them together with the story elements and battles you have already prepared or are planning to improvise on the spot.

Rolling New Story-guide Dice Mid-session

Story events and talents can create new icon relationships in the middle of play. Allow players to roll newly acquired icon dice right away as if they’d had them at the start of the session.

Icon Relationship Rolls as Dramatic Events

Players roll all of their relationship dice for a particular icon when their PCs are confronting that icon’s representatives, agents, or minions. The GM decides when an event-based roll is called for.

Story-guide rolls should occur most every session. Event-based rolls rise out of circumstances during play.

It’s never the player’s choice to roll icon relationship dice for dramatic events. When new circumstances and dramatic events force or suggest interactions or confrontations with forces or situations associated with a particular icon, the GM can call for an icon relationship roll as a shorthand guide to the dramatic results of the situation.

Rolling a 5 with Icon Events

Getting a 5 on an icon relationship check moves the story forward, just like a 6 does, but it also generates a complication. A 5 means both good and bad results. The negative result might be secret, it might be delayed, and it might be nothing more than a promise until you figure out what it really means.

Discovery & Surprise

At the GM’s option, players may roll icon relationship dice to find out which icons are involved in a plot element, if any. When the characters have slalomed onto paths and adventures you did not anticipate, icon relationship rolls can serve as an idea generator with mechanics that everyone already understands.

Discovery dice aren’t interpreted as positively as other icon relationship rolls. You’re using the icon dice more to determine whether an icon has a stake in what’s involved, not necessarily whether the situation is going to work to a PC’s advantage.

You’ll probably use this style of roll most often when the characters have gone off your map, chasing enemies you hadn’t anticipated, seeking treasures you referred to earlier without having a clear idea about, and taking forest paths you hadn’t been aware existed. GMs who enjoy being surprised by new developments may opt for discovery rolls before improvising the consequences of the PCs’ unexpected steps.

Using icon relationship rolls from one or more characters keeps the new developments relevant to the players and possibly relevant to the overarching plot.

Section 15: Copyright Notice

13th Age Archmage Engine, version 3.0. Copyright © 2013-2015 Fire Opal Media. All Rights Reserved. Licensed under the Open Game License.

Charles Wright of Ludus Macto Publishing, LLC