Fallen Icons – the Gold King
Three of our new epic-tier monsters in the 13th Age Bestiary 2 were once icons. The Gold King, Forest that Walks, and the Great Ghoul have new game mechanics that model the fact that even fallen icons are much harder to dislodge from reality that normal monsters. The defeat of a fallen icon is a campaign in itself – and what a final battle! The Gold King in the Bestiary 2 has an array of followers and a selection of origin stories. In this excerpt, we get straight to the meat – the Gold King his almighty self, and the campaign victories you need to have a chance of defeating him.
The Gold King
The Dwarf King of a previous age led every man, woman, and child from Underhome to a promised greater fortune, deep in the underworld. All perished, but the fallen icon and undead remnants of its greed survived.
Triple-strength 13th level spoiler [aberration]
Hammer of golden sovereignty +18 vs. AC (up to 3 enemies)—90 damage
Natural Even Hit: The target pops free and takes extra damage equal to the attack roll
First natural even miss each round if targeting one or two enemies: The Gold King makes another hammer of golden sovereignty attack against the enemy it missed.
C: Behind the mask +18 vs. MD (one nearby enemy)—160 psychic damage and the target is
weakened (save ends).
Miss: 80 psychic damage and the target is weakened until the end of it’s next turn.
[Special trigger] C: Golden greed +18 vs. MD (one nearby enemy)—The target is confused (save ends)
Limited use: When a nearby enemy uses the magic item power of an epic tier item, the Gold
King may make a golden greed attack against 1d4 other nearby enemies as a free action. (It’s possible the PCs should have some warning, for example, a magic item might be too-eagerly wheedling to be used. Or maybe you’d rather teach lessons the hard way.)
The mask slips: When first staggered, the Gold King makes a behind the mask attack against the enemy that caused the triggering damage as a free action.
The wandering king: The Gold King can deal 4d6 damage to itself and teleport someplace it can see nearby as a move action.
Sticks and rags: The Gold King has resist 16+ to attacks not made with epic-tier magical weapons, implements, or bracers. Enemies not wearing epic-tier magical armor are vulnerable to its hammer of golden sovereignty attacks (that’s right—eschewing magic items makes it easier to defeat the minions of the Gold King, but harder to beat the King itself).
Even worse: When the escalation die is even, the Gold King rolls 2d20 instead of 1d20 and uses the higher result whenever it attacks or rolls a save.
Fallen icon: The Gold King is no longer an icon, but it still possesses magical bonds with reality that make it difficult to destroy. See the Campaign Impact section immediately following the Gold King’s stat block for ways in which significant campaign victories can make the Gold King easier to defeat. (To be clear: if the PCs don’t achieve any of these campaign victories, the Gold King will be difficult or perhaps even impossible to destroy.)
Compel fealty: An epic-tier dwarf, forgeborn, or human slain by the Gold King will arise at the end of the battle as a bronze kingsguard, loyal gatherer, or royal bearer—whichever seems most appropriate.
Eternal kingdom: If the Gold King is slain, the GM secretly rolls a normal save (11+) at the end of each session, including this one. If the save succeeds, the Gold King returns to life in one of its secret treasure rooms deep in the underworld. If the campaign somehow ends while the Gold King is still dead, it’s the GM’s call whether the Gold King stays dead or rises after the events of the campaign.
Fealty owed: Human, dwarf, and forgeborn characters may not use their racial power until the escalation die reaches 4 or higher, and not when engaged with the Gold King (so standard humans are simply out of luck).
Fealty shown: The first time each round an attack would reduce the Gold King to zero hit points or less, it instead damages the closest nearby loyal gatherer. If these have all been destroyed, the attack damages the closest nearby royal bearer, then finally the closest bronze kingsguard. If these have all been destroyed, the Gold King is reduced to zero hit points—but see long live the king below.
Long Live the King: When the Gold King is finally defeated, nothing remains but a featureless gold mask that wants to be picked up. This mask makes a golden greed attack against each enemy in the battle as a free action. The save to end the confusion from this attack is a hard save, with confused targets violently fighting over the mask. When no targets are confused, the mask crumbles into dust. (If one PC slays the others while confused, they’re probably going to put on the mask.)
PD 27 HP 1200
The wrong way to defeat the Gold King is to treat it as just another monster—one-fight-and-we-got-this is not likely to work against a fallen icon. The right way to defeat the Gold King is to dedicate yourself to destroying the pieces of reality that help it sustain its power.
The list that follows details a number of campaign victories that the PCs might achieve before confronting the Gold King itself. Alternatively, they may fight the Gold King once before achieving any of these wins, only to realize that they’re going to need to destroy the Gold King’s heritage before they can complete the fallen icon’s destruction.
His Armor Clatters About Him
The player characters can achieve the campaign victories listed in the next section in any order, but successive victories remove the Gold King’s abilities one at a time, in the following order:
First PC campaign victory: Remove the Gold King’s eternal kingdom ability.
Second PC campaign victory: Remove even worse, and ignore any nastier specials even if you are a nasty GM.
Third PC campaign victory: Reduce the Gold King’s defenses by 2.
Fourth PC campaign victory: Remove the wandering king.
Campaign Victories Vs. The Gold King
The possible victories below could be modified or added-to to suit your campaign. If your campaign has heavily featured the Dwarf King, the PCs may have been delving for one or more of these victories in previous tiers.
Reclaim Underhome: The dwarves return to Underhome, probably led by the PCs, because the NPCs of the world aren’t going to manage it, not even the Dwarf King himself. This goal need not require long-term success, but if the dwarves have already been kicked out again, well, the victory isn’t valid anymore, is it?
The Extremely Generous Dwarf King: To prove that the Dwarf King is not like his terrible golden predecessor, the PCs must have lived their lives well enough that the Dwarf King has willingly gifted an epic tier true magic item to each PC that is a half-orc, elf, forgeborn, or that has at least one positive or conflicted icon relationship point with the Orc Lord or the Prince of Shadows. A character with some peculiarly anti-dwarf One Unique Thing would also qualify as requiring a gift. If there’s only PC who qualifies for such a gift, it needs to be a Really Big Deal. Obviously if there are no PCs who qualify as recipients of extreme generosity, this campaign victory isn’t available.
Artifact Side Quest: Find the legendary trapped treasure room of the Gold King that all those other seekers have been after and liberate its chief treasure, an artifact belonging to an icon that the PCs are probably friendly with and the Dwarf King may not be. This is a mission that can fail, since the consequences aren’t necessarily lethal, so the odds should be against the heroes.
Iconic Altruism: Several allies or loved ones of an icon have fallen to the Gold King. This icon wants the bodies of their friends returned for a proper ceremony, or maybe even dicey resurrection, depending on the icon. Can the PCs find and defeat the icon’s allies, now transformed into the Gold King’s servitors? Can they do it in a way that preserves enough of the bodies to convince the icon that these really are their friends? Will they have to quest farther to find the friends’ identifying treasures? Just how many quests is this going to take? Can the PCs stay true and return these awesome magic items to the icon, instead of giving in to greed themselves?
Two Time Winners: Drop the Gold King to 0 hit points in two different battles. Eventually, piling the hurt on the fallen icon has an impact.