Even though I have ran 13th Age a few times my group still struggles with Icons. For those of you who haven’t played 13th Age, Icons are the biggest NPC’s in the game. They aren’t gods, but they are definitely more powerful than any other mortal on the planet sans the other Icons. When you make a character in 13th Age you need to figure out what your relationship is to different Icons. This relationship could be positive, negative, or conflicted. You also pick how important that relationship is to your character and assign it a value of +1 to +3. A full write up about Icons can be found here.
Normally at the beginning of a session you roll 1d6 per point you have in each relationship. If you roll a 6 you gain some sort of boon, and if you roll a 5 you gain a boon with strings attached. This has been a struggle for me since sometimes you really have no idea how to incorporate a certain relationship into the story. I’ve tried instead to give out cards after the rolls are made and let the players cash in on their rolls when they can, but that seems to not work well since the players forget about it. So now I’m going to try something new and take a page out of Dungeon World.
When your character runs into something where their relationship with an Icon can help them, roll 2d6+Icon. (Note you may only roll each Icon once per session)
- On a 10+ choose 2 boons, On a 7-9 choose 1 boons and 1 drawback, On a 6- choose 1 boon and you choose a drawback and the DM chooses another drawback.
- You gain a re-roll that can be used later this session.
- You gain a +5 bonus to a certain type of roll for the session, you decide (Initiative, Attacks vs a type of enemy, Background Checks, etc)
- You gain a magic item from your level tier. You choose the category (armor, wand, bow, etc) and the DM will choose the item from that category.
- You heal up using a free recovery
- Negate one attack against you (you can decide this after the roll is made)
- You draw unwanted attention to yourself. This could be enemies targeting you in the next battle, an important NPC who doesn’t like you showing up, etc.
- You lose two recoveries.
- One of your magic items won’t work for the next fight. The DM will tell you which one.
- Your Icon demands something from you. This could be expenditure of spells (dailies), a task that you must complete in the next battle, or coins. The DM will tell you which and how much.
- The escalation die goes down by one. If you are not in combat then the escalation die doesn’t get to +1 until round 3 in the next battle.
Well there you have it. The format is from Dungeon World (hence the 2d6) but I think this would work well in any 13th Age game. The big thing here would be the players need to sell their relationship to the DM. If you have a negative relationship with the Orc Lord and you are fighting zombies and want to use a boon, a player could say, “The Orc Lord had used necromancy in the past to bolster his armies. I fought against those minions and they fight like these zombies here.” That sounds like a great way to use the Icon relationship and it adds a bit of flavor to the world. I’ll be trying this system tonight and I’ll let you know how it goes. If you try it out leave a comment and let me know how it worked. Thanks for reading.