The New Icons of the 13th Age

The Icons

Icons are real.

Not just politically. It is impossible to miss an Icon (unless they want you to). A greater magic woven into the land itself empowers them, and their auras of power are magnificent and immediately recognizable. An Icon is their political power, and it is their personal power, but it is also something far more, woven directly into the Great Chain of Creation, the Sequence of the Gods. And here, at the dawn of the 13th Age, there's something else important about the Icons - they are fragile. The power which thrums inside each of them has yet to mature and fully grow it's roots. Any of the Icons listed here may not survive the entirety of the adventure. Likewise, their power is a mantle, not something personal. There is a Crusader. Nothing says it has to be the current one.

Here is a list of the current Icons of the 13th Age, some information about them, and their general themes.

Icons of the 13th Age

The Archmage - One of three Icons who fought personally in the Rebellion War - and one of two who still live - the Archmage now tries and ensure peoples thoughts of magic don't remain tainted by the Wizard King's depravities. Necromancy - and several other forms of magic deemed antisocial - have been staunchly banned, and his personal cadre of arcane investigators, the Witch Hunters, ensure "magical deviancy" is taken care of before it can blossom into a fully pledged problem. Despite the intimidating name, the Witch Hunters prefer to take targets alive and merely re-educate them - not in a creepy way - or generally get to the root of what lead them down their darker paths and help them out of it. Of course, if they are too far gone, more "direct" methods of ending their threats are open, but in general, they try to subdue and arrest first. Outside of this, Horizon has grown at an incredible rate since the Rebellion War ended. While the Archmage technically rules the city of Horizon, he leaves most day to day governing to an increasingly arcane - literally and figuratively - bureaucracy. For most people, while the word "wizard" still infers wonder (and terror), the word "Horizon" is far more connected to paperwork and propriety then it is wonder. Of course, to better serve his goal of ensuring magic remains accepted, a great number of magical academies have been blossoming throughout not only the Dragon Empire, but above it as well - as wizards call on the powers of the Overworld to perform their miracles, it is far easier to teach when those powers are right at your doorstep. These schools tend to be equal parts genre savvy and deadly, and the families of more accident prone students would do well to read their safety wavers before agreeing to send their progeny off. With his bureaucracy establishing itself, The Archmage has begun turning his considerable powers to ways to assist the Empire personally, be it runestones across roads to keep them safe, ensuring enchantments on the Midland Sea keep it pacified, or, most recently, looking into transportation and communication technology to help bring the Empire together. Those closest to the Archmage have found him to be generally humorless, hard to get along with, and at-times obsessive. Those ACTUALLY closest to the Archmage would, if they ever talked about it (and they don't), would respond in turn to say he may be all of those things, but more then that, he is in a mourning that might never end. Few if any lost as much as he did in the Rebellion War.

Major Themes: Responsibility, Familial Ties, Upholding Reputation, Education, Propriety, Exaltation of Magic, Loyalty to the Empire, Scars of War
Foes: The High Druid, The Lich King, The Diabolist
Allies: The Priestess, The Elf Queen, The Emperor (but not closely these days)

The Crusader - Though not the first Crusader ever, he is this Age's first, and by his own reckoning, not it's last. The Dark Gods assisted in the Rebellion War in their own way, and for their assistance - and for his oath of loyalty - the Crusader is an allowed and legal entity in the kingdom. The Dark Gods are playing the long game now; the current Crusader knows he will not be the one to bring about the glorious new age of their divine rulership, and now seeks a viable heir to his armies, as well as fighting for their cause. Their cause is a simple one: they are the gods, and they exist to be obeyed. All creation lies under their watchful eyes, and their laws exist for the greater good of all; submit and take your place in their divine kingdom. For those that follow them, they are the stern but wise father, the benevolent ruler who knows best. For those who feel otherwise, they are a merciless hierarchy of tyrants - and as far as they are concerned, everything lies below them. As demons do not belong in the Dark Gods' laws, they must be destroyed utterly, and many would praise them for this if their fanaticism did not lead to a "better a village be put to torch then corrupted" philosophy. This has sparked a rivalry with the paladins of the GGW - while they would agree in removing demonic threats, they would take a far more passive road to it. There will come a day, those with the mailed fist would say, that the GGW itself would be pushed away or slain, and they will march into the Abyss itself to end it. Rumor has it the Crusader has not always been as loyal as he is now - and that he still bares the scars to prove it, underneath the armor he will not remove. He has had a small number of daughters with his wife (who helps run many PR efforts)…and one daughter those closest to him would claim is not her's.

Major Themes: Propriety, Tradition, Obedience, Faith, Forbidden Love, Law and Order
Foes: The Diabolist, The Prince of Shadows, The Priestess, The GGW
Allies: The Emperor

The Diabolist - Starkly few in the Empire even know the Diabolist exists. She has existed before, but in the 12th and, until very recently, only as a boogeyman to scare children with. The Diabolist, compared to many other Icons, has no interest in "the long game," or even in passing on her Mantle. Her plan, to some degree, is a simple one - the destruction of all law, all order, all forces that might hold a person back. In reality, her plot takes that and runs it far deeper. She wants to destroy far more then the Dragon Empire - she would shatter the foundation of law itself. She leads the Red Hand Rebellion, bringing in those angered by the Empire, be they anarchists or malcontents, and shapes them to serve her end purpose. In some ways she is, ultimately, an optimist, believing individuals will live their lives freely and happily once none are ever forced to call another "master." The demons she summons speak of her in reverent tones, and murmur an ancient prophecy they believe she will fulfill - to sever all barriers between the Abyss and reality, shading them from the judgements of the gods, turning this world into their paradise. She claims to have no true fight with the GGW, though the latter hardly sees it the same way - their goal is to keep the demons out, after all. If every force must have an opposite and equal reaction, then the Diabolist exists to spite the Crusader - though it is whispered between her closest demonic lieutenants that she spites only his gods, and that he, too, has a place in her world. In the end, her declaration is simple: The world will yet be free of light and law.

Major Themes: Rebellion, Freedom, Chaos, Forbidden Love, Liberation, Anti-theism, The Common Folk
Foes: The Emperor, The Crusader, The GGW, The Archmage
Allies: The Prince of Shadows, The Lich King (but both are eager to backstab the other), The Priestess…?

The Dwarf King - With the death of the Wizard King and the ruination of the Rebellion War, someone needed to help clean things up. The Dwarf King has long seen the 13th Age as a time to profit greatly, and so far, he's not been wrong. Dwarven masonry is rebuilding and beautifying Axis; dwarven craftsmanship is showing up more and more in merchantile quarters; dwarven envoys, politicians, and lobbyists are flooding the court chambers and plying the new merchant-prince nobility upraised by the first Emperor. With no more magocracy flooding the land with magical trinkets and wonders, the dwarves have been more then happy to pick up the pace. Of course, while the wealth flows to the People of Stone, it does so in spurts and unequally. The great dwarven clans have grown more ambitious then ever in their scheming against one another. Still, the King Under the Mountain is appreciating this time of overall peace and prosperity. Any Age where he does not have to visit the Halls of Vengeance is a good one.

Major Themes: Capitalism, Ingenuity, Tradition, Cutthroat Politics, Wealth, Revenge, Agelessness
Foes: The Three, The Prince of Shadows
Allies: The Elf Queen

The Elf Queen - The ageless Elf Queen has, since the dawn of time, ruled over the elves not because she is the greatest amongst them, but because they are bound to her just as she is bound to them. When the high elves are at their ascent, she is high-minded, curious, and artistic. When the silver elves are at their ascent she is ambitious, daring, and secretive. When the wood elves are at their ascent she is conserving, openly emotional, . Now, however, she finds it difficult to be any of the three. Her hesitation to join the Rebellion War lead many high elves to abandon her for the Archmage. Her creation of the orcish plague - and the accidental birth of the Orc Lord - has lead many wood elves to abandon her for the High Druid. Her general newly found weakness has lead many drow to abandon her not to any one Icon, but instead to their own fiefdoms, as a civil war in drow lands grows. Through it all, the Elf Queen must keep a strong face, but her facade is cracking, and this new Emperor is only making things worse. As the high elves more openly practice their magic, and the wood elves more openly oppose it, below the Queen's Wood a new leader has captivated the drow and has begun uniting the great family-clans in opposition to the old leaders - who in turn, with their lust for power, have begun turning to arts far darker then even most drow consider sane. The Elf Queen is left trying to repair the shambles of her court and reunite her children together, but she grows increasingly worried the elves of the 13th Age may finally lose their Icon.

Major Themes: Familial Ties (And Breaking Them), Scars of War, Forgiveness, Ambition, The War on Magic, Mourning, Unity (Or it's Opposite), Agelessness
Foes: The Elf Queen, The Orc Lord
Allies: The Dwarf King, The Archmage, The High Druid (sometimes), The Emperor (in theory)

The Emperor - There isn't a soul who doesn't know about the Emperor and who he is - or was. The first Emperor, The Golden Emperor, started and lead the Rebellion War, gaining the servitude of the dragons and destroying the great tyrant that was the Wizard King, bringing about a new era of prosperity. His face is on every coin, and every new structure in the Empire is sworn to him. He has multiple statues in every major city, and even many smaller towns find a way to pay homage to him. While not officially recognized as a god, that hasn't prevented the growth of the Imperial Cult. He was by all accounts an incredibly charismatic man, one who knew all his soldiers by name and face, who forged an alliance between himself, the Priestess, and the Archmage, who was a tactical genius and won an impossible war, and so on, and so forth. A hard name, then, to live up to. The current Empire, his grandson, is…little of that. Raised in an increasingly growing decadent court, only to leave his responsibilities to go out adventuring, only returning to take up the crown, the current Emperor never knew his grandfather. He is not an evil man, but he is absolutely the wrong one for the job, arrogant and short-sighted, easily fooled and poor at numbers and rulership all while demanding complete loyalty. Under his "leadership" the Empire has already begun to dwindle and stagnate. Some wonder if he has already lost the mandate of heaven. Recently the Empire has had a terrible harvest, and, as the older nobility of the 12th Age clashes in the courts with the new merchant-princes of the modern Age, the commoners and poor are being left to starve. Some - more and more each day - turn to new ideas of government. Anarchist philosophers crowd cafes to plot and take to boxes on busy street corners to preach their ideals. All through it all, the Red Hand Conspiracy grows stronger. Recently the Emperor has made near-enemies of the Three with his arrogance, and no small amount of dragonkin whisper that the Dragon Empire will be short lived after all.

Major Themes: Obedience, Tradition, Scars of War, Martial Supremacy, Law and Order, Loyalty to the Empire
Foes: The Prince of Shadows, The Diabolist, The Three, The Lich King, The Orc Lord
Allies: The Crusader, The Priestess, The Archmage, The Elf Queen, The Dwarf King, The GGW

The Great Gold Wyrm - Patron of paladins everywhere, the Great Gold Wyrm has an overall rather simplistic mission: Ensure the safety and prosperity of all, as much and as best as you can. Rather then the strict military hierarchy of the Crusader, the GGW's forces are more split and spread out in a variety of chivalric orders and monasteries. The Wyrm Himself lays in his eternal place where the Red Wastes begins, using his body to block the great hole that leads directly into the Abyss. A number of dragons who have by whatever means gained a direct connection to him run his various orders, attempting to ensure paladins, monks, clerics, and warriors are where they're needed, when they're needed. The GGW unintentionally runs the Empire's most robust foundling services; it is well known that they take in any babe left to them, and indeed continue their recruitment attempts regularly; no small number of honorable paladins were once thieving street rats who started attending lessons for the sake of food. As a result of the Wyrm's immortal age and neverending mission, it has become almost a hobby of his orders to understand and categorize martial arts and fighting styles throughout the ages, and it's neigh impossible to hold a fighting tournament without a scribe with a familiar gold patch showing up to observe things. Between these two facts, one can find devotees to the Wyrm in the most surprising places, be it an esoteric and bizarre monastery as old as the 2nd Age in lost countryside, to an entire clan of drow who hold themselves separated from the rest of their kin. His "rivalry" with the Crusader, if you asked his paladins, is decidedly one-sided on the Crusader's part - so long as the Crusader doesn't interfere with their mission, he and his can do whatever he wishes, including make bombastic claims of replacement. Likewise, while relations between him and his chromatic siblings and their progeny are still poor - there may not be standing orders to kill all chromatic dragons you see, but their attitudes and greed make it almost a given they'll be repressing someone - a few small inroads have been made with the Blue, and his relationship with his sister, the Red, is as enigmatic as ever. Still, in an Age of moral grey areas and unknown threats, the Wyrm continues to exist as a bastion of uncorrupted good. Justice, tempered with mercy.

Major Themes: Protection of the Innocent, Mastery of Martial Arts, Law and Order, Responsibility, Agelessness, Dragons, Hope
Foes: The Crusader (albeit one-sided), The Diabolist, The Three (it's complicated)
Allies: The Emperor, The Priestess, The High Druid, The Three (it's complicated)

The High Druid - Where the previous High Druid was aged, learned, wise, and split the powers of nature between himself and the Ranger Lord, guiding the natural world of the 12th Age in peace and seclusion, the new High Druid is…not most of those things. When the Rebellion War brought about the death of the Ranger Lord, and, not long before that, the mysterious disappearance of the previous High Druid, the natural world found suspicions made in previous Ages to be correct: Magic cannot be trusted. The new High Druid is young, half-elven, and easily influenced by the powers that rage and scream inside her for revenge. As her own people have largely split in two, she finds herself grappling with an unending hate that constantly seeks to seduce and corrupt her. Burdened further by knowledge of what the Elf Queen did and her involvement with the orcs, for the first time, the druidic forces and Elf Queen have split apart. At her best, when she aligns with the Menders, the High Druid champions the small folk, the farmers and hunters and woodsmen, who seek respite from the great cities and their decadent nobility, seeking to regrew the empire - literally - and fight against the dangers and evils of magic. At her worse, when she is aligned with the Myssilites, she is a a force of vengeance and anger, desiring to wipe the empire and it's arrogant cities out completely, ban magic and put it's practicioners to the flame, and reinstate the rule of the Wilder. At her ACTUAL worse, she is a hungering, slavering beast, who cannot be quenched - but that side of her has yet to show itself. For now.

Major Themes: Anti-Magic, The Bounty of Nature, Anti-theism, Ruralism, The Common Folk, Scars of War, Revenge
Foes: The Orc Lord, The Archmage, The Lich King
Allies: The Elf Queen (Sometimes), The GGW

The Lich King - The 11th Age, a time of chaos and despair, ended with the herald of the great Wizard King. Where once magic was banned and feared, he brought it back to it's glorious place in the spotlight. Where once city states warred with each other and the people were oppressed by petty tyrants and rulers, he united the empire and brought the rule of law to the land. And so on, and so forth. For an entire Age he ruled, unequaled, as the guiding light of civilization, a beacon to all the good magic could do. And then, slowly, something went terribly wrong. His magic turned more and more cruel and sinister, and in time, the people could no longer bear his evil, and the Rebellion War sprang up. The Wizard King died, and all was well. At least, so far as most know. Unbenownst to most - though the number slowly grows - on the day the Wizard King died, his last spell sundered away, the Lich King awoke. Though many guess, none truly know how far lost he is, but as he gathers his forces and claims dominion on the free undead that once existed, his mandate is clear: this is his Empire, be it living or dead, and if the living cannot be trusted to be ruled as true and proper servants…

Major Themes: Undeath, Agelessnes, Exaltation of Magic, Propriety, Law and Order, Loyalty Beyond the Grave
Foes: The Living
Allies: The Diabolist (but both are eager to backstab the other)

The Orc Lord - The orcs were created as a magical plague on the land by the Elf Queen, utilizing the forbidden Underworld Sciences which change and alter the soul. They were meant to be a weapon against the Wizard King that would turn his destruction against him, simultaniously creating a meat shield to save the elves and humans from the horrors of war. Somehow, it all went terribly wrong, and the Orc Lord was born. The orcs were made to be mindless, driven to destroy the Wizard King, and nothing more - but the Orc Lord, born with an intelligence of his own and the power to shape and redesign the orc plague, has far greater plans. Those orcs who follow him find their wills growing, their minds reshaping, their intellect blossoming. The first Emperor, in his magnanimity, offered the Orc Lord respite and a place to live in his new Dragon Empire - it was turned down. The orc plague was made to sunder an empire, and as far as the Orc Lord is concerned, that's just what he will do. He does not want a small corner. The entire Empire will become a promised land to the orcs - one dead and desolate.

Major Themes: Destruction
Foes: Every other Icon is antipathetic to the Orc Lord, and the feeling is mutual. However, he has his deepest mutual hate with the Elf Queen and the High Druid
Allies: None

The Priestess - There has never been a singular unifying Priestess of the gods before. For most people, she is a symbol of hope, proof that this 13th Age is truly blessed. From inside Santa Cora, her followers have etched themselves into a grand if sometimes loose hierarchy. Her church welcomes all, unifying the gods of the sun and their followers and protecting them from the forces of evil, asking them in turn to do the same. She herself was one of the three great Icons to fight in the Rebellion War, alongside the Archmage and the Emperor, and as impatient and testy as the new Emperor is, he knows and remembers her loyalty. However, as the Emperor begins to align himself more and more with the Crusader and his promises of loyalty and law, the Priestess has begun to look into the growing revolution against him. Her agents wine and converse with philosophers and politicos in the cafes and salons in the Empire, rubbing shoulders with anarchists and anti-monarchists. She knows there is a greater evil deep within the Red Hand Conspiracy, but rather then drag it into the light and scour it clean, she seeks it's center. The gods have told her of many blessed things that have been and can be still. The Diabolist will be found, and she will be redeemed - and perhaps with her, so too the Crusader. It is naive and idealistic, but the sun still shines bright. Let no love be forbidden. Let all be welcomed.

Major Themes: Forgiveness, Redemption, Liberty, Faith, The Common Folk, Forbidden Love, Hope
Foes: The Crusader
Allies: The Emperor, The Archmage, The GGW, The Prince of Shadows, The Diabolist…?

The Prince of Shadows - Though all Icons participated in the Rebellion War, many were surprised by just how much the Prince of Shadows helped. His smugglers ensured the rebellion army got needed supplies, often for little gold if not outright free. His assassins removed key generals and necromancers from the Wizard King's forces. His spies told the Emperor of enemy placements and weak locations. Once the war had ended, he settled into something of a strange and split situation. His domain is that of spies both loyal and disloyal to the Empire; both the cunning thief-catcher and the clever bandit they seek gain some measure of power from him. The Prince himself is a man with a love for chaos, anarchy, and freedom, and as the current Emperor cracks down further on the common people and enriches the nobility, he has, more and more, taken up his mantle of folk hero. For now, he has cast his lot with the Diabolist in her schemes to crack the Empire and institute a new form of government. It is unknown if he knows how far the Red Hand Rebellion wishes to reach - and if he did know, if he'd still back it. What is known, is that he is growing old, and tired. There can be only one Prince for each age, and one age for each Prince, and his was the 12th. When and who he will pick as his heir - and how he does such - is anyone's guess, but it is coming.

Major Themes: Wealth, Liberation, The Common Folk, Liberty, Chaos
Foes: The Dwarf King, The Emperor, The Lich King
Allies: The Diabolist, The Priestess

The Three - WIP

Major Themes: Tradition, Might Makes Right, Wealth, Agelessness, Dragons, Familial Ties, Cutthroat Politics
Foes: The GGW (it's complicated), The Emperor, The Dwarf King
Allies: The GGW (it's complicated)

Powers Outside the Kingdom

The 13 Icons of the 13th Age and the Dragon Empire are not the only powers out there. Other powers - powers from places Outside or Beyond - threaten the Dragon Empire. Very little about these powers is known - only that, at times, they seem to have a frightening amount of power, potentially similar to the Icons themselves. Or maybe even more.

The Drowned Man - A reckoning will not be postponed indefinitely.

Major Themes: Hunger, Revenge, Cannibalism, Drowning
Choice Foes: The High Druid, The Lich King, All That Lives

The Dukes - Hell has no singular prince of darkness - and hasn't in some time. In it's place are the Dukes. In a dimension ruled by chaos, where physicality is pliable and the laws of the gods have no place, beyond the fire-red outer realms, past the roiling seas of living flesh, through the icy corridors, into the very depths of the Abyss, where no light may shine, no air may surface, in a bubble sightless black liquid, they reign. The greatest of all demonkind, the Dukes of the Abyss may not even be CAPABLE of holding a stable physical form. Their desire is simple: To find a way to break into reality, and to sunder it and tear it apart until it becomes a new Abyss. And then, to find another new world to take. There is an intelligence and a cunning there, resting in their titanic, god-like power, but it is one fueled entirely by rage and hunger.

Major Themes: Chaos, Destruction, Corruption
Choice Foes: The GGW, The Crusader, The Diabolist