13 Quick Iconic Plots

The first time I played 13th Age, lo these many years ago, Rob used the 13th Age Convention Demo, which shows off the improv-friendly flexibility of the game by letting the players pick One Unique Things and Icon Relationships, and then putting together a quick combat encounter based on those Icons. Here are thirteen really simple plots, each of which incorporates representatives from two or three Icons and ends in a fight scene. Use them in your convention demos, or to quickly throw together an adventure when you need a side quest or a random session filler.

Use the Icons rolled to flavour whatever monsters you use, and to provide the backdrop. Say, for example, you want to put the PCs up against bugbears. So, if you roll up the Lich King, then they’re skeletal bugbears (husk-bearskeletons?) and the final fight’s in a gothic graveyard. If you roll up the Prince of Shadows, then they’re comedic-mafioso bugbears (‘you roll initiative against me, on the day of my daughter’s wedding?’) and the fight’s on a pirate ship.

  1. Hunt-The-McGuffin: A relic connected to [ICON A] is lost in the wilderness. The PCs trace it to a location connected to [ICON B] guarded by a thematically matching monster or servants. While the PCs are trying to recover it, monstrous servants of [ICON C] show up. Can the PCs defeat these foes on unfamiliar terrain?  Searching for a magic axe sacred to the Dwarf Lord, the PCs find it in a citadel of the Crusader. Can they persuade the Crusaders to give up the axe before the orcs arrive?
  2. Defend The Village: A village where there’s a location connected to [ICON A] will soon come under attack by servants of [ICON B]. Outnumbered and outgunned, the PCs need to prepare their defences for the impending assault – can they somehow gain the assistance from the servants of [ICON C]? Defending a village containing a tomb of a great Gold Wyrm paladin from an undead host [Lich King], the PCs must gain the aid of the local spirits who serve the Priestess. The spirits challenge the heroes by having them relive episodes from the paladin’s life.
  3. Competing Suitors: Emissaries from [ICON B] and [ICON C] both seek a boon from a servant of [ICON A]. Some of the player characters get appointed as negotiators, trying to win the favour of the [ICON A] servant. The losing Iconic faction turns to violence. Agents of the Crusade and the Dwarf Lord both seek a boon from an eccentric wizard [Archmage]. The losing faction lays siege to the wizard’s tower.
  4.  Clear The Hex: The PCs are sent to deal with all the monstrous threats in a wilderness region. There’s an extremely hostile group connected to [ICON A], a potentially hostile group connected to [ICON B] and a well-hidden but potentially friendly [ICON C] location. The wilderness contains feral demon-possessed dragons [Great Gold Wyrm], unpossessed but morally doubtful dragons [Three] and a dwarf stronghold. Bargaining with the black dragons can possibly find a way to exorcise the possessed metallic dragons – but the black dragons want the dwarves’ gold.
  5.  Strange Customs: The PCs are sent to make contact with an isolated location connected to [ICON A], and must prove themselves by braving the perils of [ICON B] before the forces of [ICON C] arrive. Fail the test and the PCs are caught in the open. Sent to bargain with servants of the Elf Queen, the PCs must undergo purification rites in an ancient temple of the Priestess before the Diabolist’s legions arrive.
  6. Magic Gone Awry: A magical effect connected to [ICON A] is causing chaos, and has angered servants of [ICON B]. While the PCs are trying to contain the outbreak, [ICON C]’s agents show up to take advantage of the situation. An errant cleric has called up the ghosts of a region [Priestess] angering the local orcs [Orc Lord]. These ghosts must be quelled before the Crusaders show up to recruit them.
  7. Treachery! A servant of [ICON A] has switched sides and must be recaptured before he defects to [ICON B]. His escape route goes through a location connected to [ICON C]. A servant of the Emperor intends to defect to the Diabolist. His route goes through territory controlled by the legions of the Orc Lord. Can the PCs track him down while still avoiding orcs?
  8. Ancient Temple of the Icon: An old temple or structure connected to [ICON A] has recently been discovered. Exploring it, the PCs discover treasure hunters or looters from [ICON B] – and must then defend the structure from attack by [ICON C]. A library belonging to the Lich King (in his Wizard King era) has been discovered. It’s infested with lizard man thieves serving the Three – and renegade wizards have broken the Archmage’s ban and are on their way here to steal forbidden magic.
  9. Franchise Opportunity: The PCs are sent to temporarily take over a location connected to [ICON A], which is engaged in some dealing with [ICON B]. It’s attacked by agents of [ICON C]. The PCs are placed in charge of a mortal graveyard [Lich King] on the edge of the territory of the undying elves [Elf Queen] and must keep the dead placated and protected from the predations of the Diabolist.
  10. Solemn Duty of the Icon: The PCs are commanded to partake in the rites or ceremonies of [ICON A] to placate servants of [ICON B], but are interrupted by attack by [ICON C]. The PCs are sent to bring a message from the Emperor to the citadel of the Great Gold Wyrm, but are ambushed en route by servants of the Orc Lord. Can they reach the citadel and summon help?
  11. Captured Messenger: A messenger serving [ICON A] is wounded and captured by [ICON B]. The PCs must negotiate for the messenger’s release before the hunters from [ICON C] arrive. A talking raccoon serving the High Druid is caught by an alchemist [Archmage] experimenting on fuzzy woodland animals. But the racoon’s being hunted by agents of the Crusade. Can the PCs ally with fuzzy woodland animals/hideously mutated alchemical experiments to defeat a superior force?
  12. That’s Not My Icon! Servants of [ICON A] are accused of perpetrating some vile deed on [ICON B]’s followers, but it’s actually a plot by [ICON C]’s servants using a relic taken from an [ICON A] location. Servants of the Great Gold Wyrm are accused of attacking a Crusader fortress, but it’s actually mischievous Dark Elves [Elf Queen] using illusion magic.
  13. Concept Crash! A flying realm connected to [ICON A] crashes into a location connected to [ICON B], creating an opening for [ICON C]. One of the Archmage’s flying realms crashes into the Cathedral of the Priestess, and the ensuing magical flux opens up a portal to the realm of ghosts [Lich King].

13th Age combines the best parts of traditional d20-rolling fantasy gaming with new story-focused rules, designed so you can run the kind of game you most want to play with your group. 13th Age gives you all the tools you need to make unique characters who are immediately embedded in the setting in important ways; quickly prepare adventures based on the PCs’ backgrounds and goals; create your own monsters; fight exciting battles; and focus on what’s always been cool and fun about fantasy adventure gaming. Purchase 13th Age in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

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