13th Age-Style Icons in the Sandbox, Part 3: Creation, First Pass

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.

  1. Giant
  2. Nature
  3. Fey
  4. Church/Organized Religion
  5. Prophecy
  6. Craft/Artifice
  7. Ocean/Lake/River
  8. Raiding
  9. Quest
  10. Mountain
  11. Animal
  12. Glory
  13. Civilization
  14. Storm/Wind
  15. Forest
  16. Death/Spirit
  17. Curse
  18. Sun (Sun/Moon/Stars probably)
  19. Art/Music
  20. Wisdom/Knowledge

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):

Element Icon Icon Icon
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.

Icon Name Element Element Element Element Element Preliminary Notes
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.

One Comment

  1. Pingback: 13th Age-Style Icons in the Sandbox, Part 4 | In My Campaign - Thoughts on RPG design and play

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