I am exploring the creation of icons for a sandbox campaign setting. Icons can be useful in a sandbox for several reasons.
- Icon agendas provide a overarching plots for PCs to interfere with;
- Icon relationships provide many ‘sides’ for PCs to align with, often with conflicting or ambiguous goals;
- Icons can illuminate and personify themes within the campaign.
I’ve drafted a list of twenty elements that could be significant in a Celtic-style setting. I will combine them using the polyhedral process to make twelve sets of campaign elements that might each be the basis of an icon. The elements are in fairly abstract form, because (unlike domains as used in Polyhedral Pantheons) they do not have concrete definitions. Instead, they can have different interpretations based on the other elements of the icons. For instance, one is ‘giant’: one of the icons is set against giants and wants to see them destroyed or chased away, another is a giant, and I don’t know yet about the third. I generally would like to see one icon with a ‘positive association’ with the element, one with a ‘negative association’ with the element, and one with a ‘conflicted association’ with the element… but it is only a preference, not a hard requirement.
- Church/Organized Religion
- Sun (Sun/Moon/Stars probably)
Now to combine them. I have a few relationships I want to ensure, but the rest can be fairly random and interpreted afterward. I have assigned the twenty elements to the points of a dodecahedron (d12):
|Giant||Nature’s Heart||Giant King||Great Stag|
|Craft/Artifice||Broken King||Star King Undersea||Radiant Queen|
|Death/Spirit||Nature’s Heart||Haunted Queen||Wild Wind|
|Civilization||Lost Seeker||Lion Crusader||Radiant Queen|
|Curse||Giant King||Lost Seeker||Broken King|
|Raid||Haunted Queen||Lion Crusader||Sea Reaver|
|Prophecy||Nature’s Heart||Giant King||Queen Underhill|
|Ocean||Wild Wind||Star King Undersea||Sea Reaver|
|Church||Great Stag||Haunted Queen||Lion Crusader|
|Art/Music||Queen Underhill||Wild Wind||Star King Undersea|
|Animal||Great Stag||Lost Seeker||Lion Crusader|
|Fey||Queen Underhill||Broken King||Star King Undersea|
|Mountain||Giant King||Great Stag||Lost Seeker|
|Glory||Lion Crusader||Sea Reaver||Radiant Queen|
|King||Giant King||Queen Underhill||Broken King|
|Storm||Haunted Queen||Wild Wind||Sea Reaver|
|Nature||Nature’s Heart||Queen Underhill||Wild Wind|
|Quest||Lost Seeker||Broken King||Radiant Queen|
|Forest||Nature’s Heart||Great Stag||Haunted Queen|
|Sun/Moon||Star King Undersea||Sea Reaver||Radiant Queen|
This gives me the following icons and their elements. I’ve done some preliminary interpretation of the results.
|1||Nature’s Heart||Giant||Death/Spirit||Prophecy||Nature||Forest||Contends with the Giant King (conflict over prophecy?).|
|2||Giant King||Giant||Curse||Prophecy||Mountain||King||Rules over the giants… cursed by prophecy?|
|3||The Great Stag||Giant||Church||Animal||Mountain||Forest||Champion of nature|
|4||The Queen Underhill||Prophecy||Art/Music||Fey||King||Nature||Ruler of the fey (‘seelie court’?)|
|5||The Haunted Queen||Death/Spirit||Raid||Church||Storm||Forest||Spirit of the land, rising up against the invaders.|
|6||The Wild Wind||Death/Spirit||Ocean||Art/Music||Storm||Nature||‘Force of nature’ of some sort; probably spirit and inspiration rather than death|
|7||The Lost Seeker||Civilization||Curse||Animal||Mountain||Quest||Civilized but outcast, seeking redemption?|
|8||The Broken King||Craft/Artifice||Curse||Fey||King||Quest||Deposed king of the fey (‘unseelie court’?)|
|9||The Lion Crusader||Civilization||Raid||Church||Animal||Glory||Seeks to bring civilization to the barbaric savages|
|10||Star King Undersea||Craft/Artifice||Ocean||Art/Music||Fey||Sun/Moon||Ruler of the fey court under the sea|
|11||The Sea Reaver||Raid||Ocean||Glory||Storm||Sun/Moon||Vikings?|
|12||The Radiant Queen||Craft/Artifice||Civilization||Glory||Quest||Sun/Moon||Seeks to bring light to all corners of the world|
Some of the pairings surprised me a little (church and raiding?), but I am very pleased with how some of these fit together. Already I have something of a feel for these icons, and it feels like there is the potential for some complex texture to this setting. I see all sorts of possible relationships and links between the different icons. I’ll explore that in the next post in this series.
I mentioned yesterday aiming for thirteen icons, but have shown only twelve. The thirteenth will be much as 13th Age‘s Prince of Shadows, who breaks the rules and doesn’t fit in with the rest of the patterns.