by Tim Baker
Pelgrane Press and Fire Opal Games have always offered a generous compatibility license for 13th Age. While the 13th Age SRD contains hundreds of pages of content, the Dragon Empire and its icons are Product Identity, meaning they aren’t included in the Open Game Content that other publishers can freely use. With icons so important to 13th Age, impacting everything from adventure design to magic items to monsters and more, this left each third-party designer responsible for creating their own set of icons. For products designed for use in a unique setting, creating new icons didn’t pose a problem. Things weren’t as straightforward for supplements that expanded existing 13th Age classes nor for adventures that were setting-agnostic, but intended to be easily integrated into the Dragon Empire. Publishers created a series of icons that were thematically similar to one another and to the Dragon Empire icons, but each set had unique names.
In 2020, the third-party community supporting 13th Age held a survey to vote on the set of icons that would serve as the Community Icons. These icons are available as Open Game Content (OGC) under the Open Game License (OGL) for any third-party designer to incorporate into their 13th Age compatible products.
In a show of support for the 13th Age community, Pelgrane Press commissioned artist Madison VanDoren to create symbols representing each of the Community Icons. These symbols serve the same purpose as the unique icon symbols found throughout the official 13th Age books. I’m thrilled to announce that these symbols are perpetually, irrevocably available for the community to use via the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license (CC BY-SA 4.0).
This art is immediately available for members of the 13th Age community to use in their adventures, supplements, character builders, and any other projects that feature the Community Icons. I hope to see creative uses of these icon symbols in upcoming third-party 13th Age compatible products as well as in future issues of the Escalation fanzine.
Initially, these icon symbols are available for download from the Pelgrane Press website in high-res TIFF, JPG and SVG versions. To ensure that this art is perpetually available to the community, Pelgrane Press is working with Fire Opal Games to also host the files on the Vault of the 13th Age community site.
In case you aren’t familiar with the Community Icons, they should look familiar to any experienced 13th Age player or GM, as they represent the same fantasy archetypes as the icons found in the Dragon Empire. Here’s a brief description of each of these OGC icons.
The most powerful wizard in the world is said to possess a special spark, the Mageflame, that allows him or her to rise above the other masters of the arcane. The current bearer of the Mageflame is a powerful wizard who commands a small army of magic wielders to place and maintain grave wards, beast barriers, and weather towers across the land. His realm is a giant floating city in the sky. He is nominally allied to the Ivory Throne, but it’s unclear what role the surface world plays in his larger agenda.
The chosen champion of the dark gods, the Conqueror rallies armies and razes demonic strongholds, capturing them to make his army stronger and fight ever more demons. He is the counterpoint to the Godspeaker, and in open warfare with the Tempter.
The youngest of the current icons, her predecessor, the Dark Master, having been destroyed by the Elven Court. Because she is currently fighting both the Conqueror and the Elven Court, she is having problems expanding her power base. The Tempter serves as a conduit that allows demons to come into the world – she is the portal.
The Lord of the Forge
Deep below the mountains, the ruler of the dwarves keeps the different keeps and strongholds united as a kingdom. His position places him in control of a powerful forge from ages past that allows for the production of new magic items, albeit at great cost of time and resources.
The Elven Court
The ruling court that oversees the alliance between three factions of elves – Wood, High, and Dark. A tentative peace is held between the factions to keep them from acting out on ancient rivalries and grudges. Elves have long lives and even longer memories. For now, the elves understand that only by working together can they keep the younger races from encroaching on their territory. But still, that doesn’t prevent the occasional conflict to be resolved with arrow, magic spell, and poison.
The Ivory Throne
In the imperial capital, the king or queen of men rules from a splendorous seat of power. Over the ages, their realm has risen and waned, and today, the sovereign doesn’t control even half the territory they claim to be theirs. But as long as the throne stands, the kingdom will not fall. The Ivory Throne is allied with the Mageflame, the Godspeaker, and the Gatekeeper to keep civilization from teetering back into darkness.
A gigantic ancient being that some claim to be the physical embodiment of a God. Others claim it is a celestial left to watch over the world they created. The Gatekeeper spends their days locked in battle with the demons that would otherwise destroy the world. A massive battle in a previous age has left the Gatekeeper in a diminished state – some fear he is on the verge of death. The Gatekeeper is served by a noble order of paladins who have sworn to fight demonic incursions. They directly oppose the Tempter, but they are wary allies of the Conqueror. In the short term, their goals may be aligned, but the endgame is very different.
As civilization grew, nature retreated. But as the forests shrank, a powerful voice emerged to make their pain heard. The current Wildwalker is a young druid with a powerful rallying cry to fight back. Before, the balance of civilization and nature tilted towards civilization, but she wants to tip the scales back, and many fear this will lead to war with the Ivory Throne.
The Deathless One
The master of undead and wielder of the raw power that animates such creatures. The Deathless One was once the Mageflame and 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 the cruelties of life.
The savage races of the north – the orcs, goblins, ogres, and giants – are too locked up in tribal warfare and seasonal raids to pose a threat to civilization. But every now and then, a leader of such strength, ferocity, and cunning rises up to unite the tribes and propels them onto the main stage of history. In this age, the orcs have proven to be worthy of everyone’s attention under the leadership of one who embodies a terrifying concept – relentless hunger.
The bright gods play a distant role in this world, but in this age, they have blessed someone with the ability to consult with them directly in return for spreading their will. The Godspeaker has unified disparate divinities under one umbrella, but that doesn’t come without petty squabbles among competing clergy. The Godspeaker may speak, but to act, they would have to unite many diverse and stubborn voices with opposing beliefs on anything from the meaning of marriage to what meats are acceptable to eat. They act as the counterpoint to The Conqueror, champion of the dark gods, and like the Ivory Throne, they serve to protect civilization.
Nobody really knows who the Faceless is or what they truly represent, but everyone is willing to sell you their theory for good coin. Some call the Faceless the one true god, enjoying playing with the toys of the world. Others say the Faceless is “only” a highly successful band of rogues, and that the Faceless’ claim of the theft of a star was merely the hunger of the Devourer that they took credit for. Whatever the truth, the Faceless is always at the heart of yet another riddle and mystery.
The Council of Scales
By itself, a dragon is a worthy adversary of a band of adventurers. The eldest dragon of each chromatic color rivals the power of entire small nations. Together, as a council, they control entire cities, mountain ranges, and seas, and rival the Ivory Throne in the size of lands they control. If one day they decide to cease their internal squabbles and march their scaled armies into human lands, the throne could finally fall.
The Dweller Below
A dark reflection of the Wildwalker, 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.