The upcoming Prophet of the Pyre campaign takes the player characters from 1st to 10th level, from fresh-faced young adventures to epic heroes. The first part of the campaign takes place in a remote valley, isolated from the rest of the Empire. Most of the characters have never left this valley and so do not (yet!) have direct relationships with the Icons. Instead, their relationships come through people or spirits living in the valley. These thirteen non-player characters serve as agents or representatives of the Icons, or just fulfil the same narrative role. Once the player characters move outside the confines of the valley in the Champion tier, their relationships with these agents ‘roll over’ into regular Iconic relationships. (If desired, change the nature of the relationship at this stage, moving from positive to conflicted, conflicted to negative, and so on, reflecting the changed circumstances.)
For example, Jerth the 1st level sorcerer has a 1-point conflicted relationship with the Archmage. However, Jerth’s never gone to Horizon, and never met the Archmage or any of the Archmage’s servants. Instead, his 1-point Conflicted relationship is with old Ogia, the hedge-witch. Ogia mistrusts the boy’s power, but feels obliged to teach Jerth the basics of magic.
When Jerth leaves the valley, his relationship with Ogia changes to one directly with the Archmage, and the player decides to switch it up to a positive relationship. Jerth’s eager to prove he can wield his dragon-sorcery responsibility, and willingly learns whatever Horizon has to teach him.
Characters from outside Spireshadow start with regular Iconic relationships, but you can still use these characters as local contacts.
If no player has a matching Iconic relationship, then don’t emphasize that NPC in the campaign with the exception of Wil Ashbless, Urik Half-Orc and Sargas the Lizardman. If no-one has a relationship with the Archmage, then Ogia the Hedge-Witch is unlikely to be a major part of Prophet of the Pyre. You can either drop these NPCs entirely or keep them in the background.
Archmage: Ogia the Hedge-Witch is the village’s healer, herbalist, and seer. She knows a few arcane spells, learned from a tattered spellbook that she obtained long ago from a trader, but she’s never managed to unlock the more complex incantations in the tome. Ogia’s nervous about magic – she knows that an unusually high proportion of the residents of Spireshadow have the potential to be sorcerers, and that wild sorcerers are dangerous and unpredictable. She prefers, therefore, to deal with problems without using spells. Better to keep that temptation locked away.
Crusader: Arus the Veteran. Arus was born in the village, but went away long ago to fight in the Emperor’s wars. He was badly wounded, and given up for dead by his comrade – but he survived, his indomitable spirit enduring despite his broken body. Arus can no longer fight – he’s missing his right arm, and walks with a limp – but he’s fallen in with the followers of the Crusader, who recruit many wounded warriors. The Crusader has promised him a new arm, a new body of hellforged steel when the time comes.
Diabolist: The Devil Cat, a mysterious black cat, prowls around Spireshadow Vale. It’s an emissary of the Diabolist, sent to sniff around the strange valley. Locals see the Devil Cat as a pest – it steals food, breaks into houses, steals the breath from children in the crib – but characters potentially aligned to the Diabolist can understand the cat’s speech when it mews.
Dwarf King: Rungi the Trader visits the vale two or three times a year. Also merry and generous, Rungi’s a rare dwarf who enjoys meeting with strangers and walking in the open air. Rungi’s always a welcome sight at Yuletide, his bag crammed with cunningly-made toys from Forge for the children of the valley.
Elf Queen: The Wandering Elves are a band of wood elves who follow the migration of the Koru Behemoths, trading with the Koru tribes and hunting the monsters that slough off the great beasts as they march from the Northern Colossus to Oldwall. They camp in the northern woods of Spireshadow Valley every few years while they wait for the next beast to shamble by.
Emperor: Wil Ashbless, the Reeve of Spireshadow, is as close as one comes to an Imperial representative in the valley. Ashbless is puffed up with pride at his ‘high office’, even though Spireshadow’s a tiny and mostly forgotten outpost of the Empire.
Great Gold Wyrm: Those who hear the voice of the Great Gold Wyrm – and many in the valley do – hear him in their dreams. So many people in Spireshadow experience prophetic dreams that it’s quite commonplace to discuss portents and omens sent by the Wyrm.
High Druid: Koldu the Hermit lives in a hut on the edge of Blackwater Swamp. Most people in the village say Koldu’s mad, and sometimes he drives hunters out of the swamp, shooting arrows at them until they leave. At other times, Koldu sits on a high rock and reads the future in the clouds; when he’s in that mood, he’s quite approachable and even helpful.
Lich King: Go down into the village graveyard, and you’ll find the Whispering Skull. This skull usually talks only on nights when the proper rites are expected – all graveyards in the Dragon Empire belong to the Lich King, and he expects honours and tributes. However, the skull’s always watching from its shelf, and sometimes it speaks of its own accord.
Orc Lord: Urik Half-Orc and his three daughters dwell in a fortified farmstead in the north of the valley. As half-orcs, they’re mistrusted by some in the valley, and it’s known that Urik sometimes trades with goblins and hobgoblins from the mountains – but they’re stalwart defenders of Spireshadow when danger threatens.
Priestess: Priestess Ishar tends to the small temple of the Gods of Light in Spireshadow. She’s a gnome from Concord, and is rumoured to come from a rich trading clan. Why did she give up a life of wealth and luxury for a humble village church?
Prince of Shadows: Of course, there’s no agent of the Prince of Shadows in Spireshadow, perish the thought. The Prince of Shadow is a myth. And it’s certainly not Simple Lars, the lanky, broad-shouldered porter and guide who helps traders carry their goods up through the hills to the village market.
The Three: Sargas the Lizardman is a minor chieftain of one of the lizardman tribes of the Fangs swamp. He sometimes swims upriver to Blackwater Marsh to hunt and trade – and sing. He’s a bard, or whatever the lizardman equivalent is, and he loves human music. He’s even crept up to the walls of Spireshadow Village to eavesdrop on the singing in the tavern.