An icon is a powerful NPC (non-playable character) that has a strong influence on the world outside of your campaign, yet may indeed aid or oppose your character over the course of your campaign, depending on the relationship your character has with the icon.
Icons have their own story, alignment, and personality. The general knowledge and history about them may vary in depth and accuracy; they may be well-known or mysterious. They have their own relationships with other icons, too, which may be friendly, tolerable, or acrimonious.
Your character may have relationships with certain icons. This relationship, if it exists, can be positive, conflicted, or negative.
The Icons listed in the 13th Age Core Book are the Archmage, the Crusader, the Diabolist, the Dwarf King, the Elf Queen, the Emperor, the Great Gold Wyrm, the High Druid, the Lich King, the Orc Lord, the Priestess, the Prince of Shadows and The Three. See that book for a detailed description.
The Community Icons List
This list of icons is the result of a survey ran in July 2020. The community voted on their preferred Open Game Content icons that work seamlessly with official material. We have adjusted the icon descriptions slightly so that when other icons are mentioned, they align with the synthesized community list. The icons below are shared as Open Game Content under the OGL.
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. He 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 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. In other words – 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 they can 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 Temptress, 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’s 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 seize 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.
Players: Determine Your Icon Relationships
Your character’s relationship with icons is an important way to draw him or her into your game world. An icon may have its own champions and heroes (including you) to advance its cause in the game world.
Invest Your Relationship Points
At 1st level, each character gets 3 relationship points. Each point represents one d6 to be used when trying to leverage your connection to the icon (See Using Icon Relationships.)
The number of points you invest in a relationship with an icon doesn’t necessarily correlate with the closeness of the connection or the strength of the relationship. It does correlate with the utility of the relationship. It’s not necessarily about how well the icon knows you or how strong the icon feels about you. Instead, the points reflect the chance that your relationship will be helpful to you.
The Icons Relationships Master Chart summarizes the likely roleplaying and story-oriented consequences of positive, conflicted, and negative relationships with heroic, ambiguous, and villainous icons.
Icon Relationships Master Chart
- Positive Relationship: Spend 1, 2, or 3 points. As far as this icon is concerned, you’re one of the good guys, a white-hat hero. Authorities often help you, and civilians often trust you. On the down side, you may be called on to serve representatives of the icon even when you have other plans. You might also be a target of villainous icons or this heroic icon’s rivals.
- Conflicted Relationship: Spend 1, 2, or 3 points. You’re probably one of the good guys, but for some reason you’re suspect to the icon Maybe you’re a convict who has served his time, or an imperial soldier who was too good and got drummed out of his legion. You have insider knowledge and allies who are in good with the icon but you also have enemies associated with the icon.
- Negative Relationship: Spend 1 point. In the icon’s eyes, you’re a dissident, opponent, rival, or foe. You may have contacts or inside knowledge that you can use to your advantage, but some form of trouble waits for you wherever this heroic icon has influence.
- Positive Relationship: Spend 1, 2, or 3 points. Thanks to your relationship with the icon you are a hero to some, a villain to others, and possibly even a monster to a few. The enemies of your friends may turn out to be your friends, and vice versa. Advantages and complications will come from all sides.
- Conflicted Relationship: Spend 1, 2, or 3 points. Your relationship with the icon is complex, an uneven relationship with an icon who’s a hero to some and a villain to others. One way or another, you can find help or hostility anywhere. You don’t just live in interesting times—you create them.
- Negative Relationship: Spend 1 or 2 points. Your enmity with this icon makes you some enemies, but it also makes you some useful friends. You may be a dissenter, unwanted family member, or even a traitor in some way.
- Positive Relationship: Spend 1 point. You are able to gain secrets or secretive allies, but your connection to this icon brings trouble from people associated with the heroic icons who oppose the villain. Be prepared to justify why you’re not imprisoned, interrogated, or otherwise harassed by the heroic icons and their representatives whenever they encounter you. Or for that matter, by the other PCs.
- Conflicted Relationship: Spend 1 or 2 points. You mostly work against the icon but you’re also connected to the icon in a way you can’t deny. Your connection sometimes gives you special knowledge or contacts, but it also makes you suspect in the eyes of many right-minded would-be heroes.
- Negative Relationship: Spend 1 or 2 points. You are a special foe of this icon, perhaps because of your virtue or possibly for less happy motives. Your enmity wins you allies among right-thinking people, but some of the villainous icon’s forces are out to get you in some way.
This chart assumes that you’re playing a heroic character. A villainous character will need to swap the maximums between heroic and villainous icons.
Rolling Icon Relationship Dice
To check your icon relationship (your relationship with a particular icon , roll a d6 for each point you have in the relationship. This means that you will usually roll 1, 2, or 3 dice. (At epic level, it may be 4.)
If any die is a 6, you get some meaningful advantage from the relationship without having complications. If two or three dice come up 6, that’s even better.
If any die is a 5, your connection to the icon is going to work out as well as a 6 would, but with some unexpected complication. If it’s a good icon you might be drawn into some obligation. If it’s a villainous icon, you might attract unwanted attention.
Rolling 5s when you also rolled 6s should make life both interesting and advantageous!
Icons are usually not directly part of the campaign. They rarely make an appearance personally, except perhaps at epic level. Most of the time, interacting with an icon means that you’re actually interacting with his or her lower-level functionaries, acolytes, disciples, bureaucrats, lieutenants, barons, priests, etc. In fact, any level of relationship with an icon can be enough to get you noticed by other people who are connected to that icon.
Using Icon Relationships
The most straightforward way to use your relationship points is on positive or conflicted connections that generally provide you with outright assistance and useful information.
Negative relationships usually provide inside knowledge, special skills, opportunistic allies, and possibly some sort of supernatural advantage against a villain.
Often you might find that enemies of your rival see you as an opportunity to strike against that mutual enemy. You might get help, wealth and resources, and even magic items from quite unexpected sources, some of which may not be entirely to your liking.
In addition to aid from others, icon relationships provide characters with special knowledge.
A negative relationship with a thoroughly villainous icon is more in keeping with the heroic lifestyle, but you should expect that the assistance you get from a negative relationship may end up being more directly confrontational than more conventional conflicted and positive relationships.
When your character achieves champion level (5th), you gain an extra relationship point. Use it to increase an existing relationship by one die or gain a 1-point relationship with a new icon to match your character’s story thus far. You can save the extra relationship die and decide to apply it later.
At 5th level, or any time thereafter, you can switch an existing relationship point from one icon to another, including to a new icon. You owe the GM and other players an entertaining explanation of what this big change represents for your character personally, of course.
When you reach epic level (8th), you gain another relationship point, which you can use to increase an existing icon relationship by one die, including up to 1 point over maximum. As at 5th level, if switching a relationship point from one icon to another makes sense for your 8th level character, go for it.
GMs: Using Icon Relationships
For basic icon relationship rules, see Icon Relationships.
As a GM, use a PCs’ icon relationships three different ways: for starting a session, for in-game dramatic events, and for discovery and surprise.
Rolling Relationships at the Start of a Session
All players roll their PC’s icon relationship dice at the start of each session, and everybody sees the results. As usual, rolling a 6 with an icon die provides an unambiguous advantage. Rolling a 5 provides a similar advantage, but the benefit is balanced by complications and obligations that advance the story. By the end of the session, each 6 or 5 should contribute to the story somehow, either at the GM’s or player’s initiative.
The GM uses the results to think ahead about which icons come to the fore this session. Players use the results to start thinking about how their icon relationships might manifest in the story.
As GM, you bear most of the burden of improvising story elements based on the PCs’ icon relationship results. Your players may have great suggestions, but it’s on you to weave them together with the story elements and battles you have already prepared or are planning to improvise on the spot.
Rolling New Story-guide Dice Mid-session
Story events and talents can create new icon relationships in the middle of play. Allow players to roll newly acquired icon dice right away as if they’d had them at the start of the session.
Icon Relationship Rolls as Dramatic Events
Players roll all of their relationship dice for a particular icon when their PCs are confronting that icon’s representatives, agents, or minions. The GM decides when an event-based roll is called for.
Story-guide rolls should occur most every session. Event-based rolls rise out of circumstances during play.
It’s never the player’s choice to roll icon relationship dice for dramatic events. When new circumstances and dramatic events force or suggest interactions or confrontations with forces or situations associated with a particular icon, the GM can call for an icon relationship roll as a shorthand guide to the dramatic results of the situation.
Rolling a 5 with Icon Events
Getting a 5 on an icon relationship check moves the story forward, just like a 6 does, but it also generates a complication. A 5 means both good and bad results. The negative result might be secret, it might be delayed, and it might be nothing more than a promise until you figure out what it really means.
Discovery & Surprise
At the GM’s option, players may roll icon relationship dice to find out which icons are involved in a plot element, if any. When the characters have slalomed onto paths and adventures you did not anticipate, icon relationship rolls can serve as an idea generator with mechanics that everyone already understands.
Discovery dice aren’t interpreted as positively as other icon relationship rolls. You’re using the icon dice more to determine whether an icon has a stake in what’s involved, not necessarily whether the situation is going to work to a PC’s advantage.
You’ll probably use this style of roll most often when the characters have gone off your map, chasing enemies you hadn’t anticipated, seeking treasures you referred to earlier without having a clear idea about, and taking forest paths you hadn’t been aware existed. GMs who enjoy being surprised by new developments may opt for discovery rolls before improvising the consequences of the PCs’ unexpected steps.
Using icon relationship rolls from one or more characters keeps the new developments relevant to the players and possibly relevant to the overarching plot.