Most d20 games have powerful NPCs who shape the world behind the scenes. 13th Age brings them forward, making these thirteen powerful NPCs into icons the PCs will aid or oppose over the course of each campaign. Inventing your character’s relationship to the mighty icons who rule or shape the world is key to engaging your character with the game world. RPGs about vampires have clans, RPGs about pagan highlanders have cults, and 13th Age has icons.
This article features a summary of all the 13th Age icons. Scroll down for a poll to decide your favourite, enter our design-your-own icon competition, and read a more detailed description of one icon, The High Druid, here.
When you generate your characters, you scan over the icons and read the full entry on any icon who intrigues you. As you decide on the relationship to the icons that suits your player character, remember that it’s the nature of this magical world that even the most powerful figures need a lot of help to accomplish their goals. The icons have risen to power levels where they balance each other in an uneasy equilibrium. To advance their agendas further, the icons need heroes and champions to tip the balance in their favor. You play those heroes.
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 Underhome 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.