One of the more interesting and campaign-dependent features of 13th Age is the Icon system, which is a mostly role-play driven mechanic in which players pick up to three iconic entities of great power or influence and each game session you roll dice to see if there's a chance you interact with, gain benefit from (or advantage against) or otherwise influence or are influenced by that particular icon. The mechanic is really simple: roll a D6 per icon point. Each 5 is a "benefit with complications" and each 6 is a benefit without strings. You can have positive, conflicted and negative relationships with icons.
Icons as presented in the core rules are designed to conform to a specific template of fantasy and do so remarkably well; they map almost perfectly to key figures in my Ages of Lingusia campaign, for example. However in more exotic and detailed worlds you may need more specific icons, or even icons designed specifically for certain regions. What follows is an example of how I mapped out the Icons for the Realms of Chirak...
13th Age Icons in the Realms of Chirak:
Lady Poe – The Dark Queen (ambiguous)
Lady Poe is the queen of Kasdalan, mother to more than a dozen magically gifted daughters, and nearly immortal. Her reach from the south is felt throughout the Sea of Chirak region. Thanks to Lady Poe the dark kingdom of Kasdalan has a great reach, and she relies on her loyal daughters to enforce that power. Though regarded as a sorceress of darkest power, Lady Poe is not inherently evil or even inimical to the world at large, and would prefer to keep the realms as they are, a world for her to conquer and rule rather than let the forces of chaos…including her ex husband….gain any ground towards its destruction.
An iconic relationship with Lady Poe will almost always be complicated, but a dedicated servant can earn her trust in time. Lady Poe will not always crush enemies….but she takes exception for male sorcerers and wizards, who are despised in Kasdalan and killed by her orders on sight. A male sorcerer who has a complicated or negative relationship with Lady Poe is almost certainly one who has met one of her daughters and earned the queen’s ire for it.
Zam Redar - The Diabolist (villainous)
Zam Redar is the most potent and conniving of the Thousandspawn, who most recently attempted to utilize the demiurge Apophis to change the past so that he may permanently create a future in which he ruled all. He is currently lying low in the north, near Maegar territories. Zam Redar was once the husband of Lady Poe, and his centuries of adventure and mischief have led him down the path of the conqueror and the destroyer on many an occasion. It is his close connection to his father-deity, Ga’Thon, which makes him most dangerous.
An iconic relationship with Zam Redar is always dangerous for both allies and enemies alike. Zam Redar sees those who would court him for power, knowledge or to benefit from his own machinations as tools, regardless of their outlook on the relationship. A negative relationship with Zam Redar is a very dangerous thing to have, for the thousandspawn has a wide reach and many resources to destroy you.
Marcus Darego – The High King (heroic)
The uniting king of Espanea, Marcus Darego has survived a great war and recovered his throne from the schemes of Minhaurous himself. Darego fosters knowledge and unity in the Sea of Chirak region wherever he can, and employs heroes of the land to get the job done.
Many heroes have strong affiliation with King Darego, and he also spends much effort to track and eliminate the enemies to his kingdom and the Sea of Chirak. A negative relationship with King Darego could be for any number of reasons, from being a bandit or pirate against Espanea to having the blood of the Old Sea Kings in your veins.
Mardieur Mardieux – The Prophet (heroic)
Mardieur Mardieux is the first new true avatar of this last century, though others are manifesting. He bears the weight of a unified Aquarius Stone, and is guided by the spirit of Akquinarios as well as the voice of Kalie’yana.
Mardieur Mardieux is a young avatar and his inspiration has led to the resurgence of cults dedicated to the memory of Akquinarios. He is careful in what allies he chooses, and equally involved in crushing his enemies.
Milina – The Daughter of Chaos (ambiguous)
Milina, daughter of Minhauros is a potent demiurge who travels the planes of existence as well as the physical world seeking relics of lost power and lore, while trying to recover the missing aspects of power that her father deposited across the many realms of existence. Her nature makes trust difficult; she means to do well, but finds the chaos in her soul often leads to betrayal.
Milina, like her father, is prone to using and discarding allies and enemies alike; she often works both with and against those who swear fealty to her, and her motives are never clear. Despite this, many seek to attain a portion of the power one can get from serving the daughter of chaos.
Kalie’Yana – The Maiden of Lore (heroic)
The demiurge of the seas has an active interest in thwarting the efforts of Piscrael in the Sea of Chirak region, and works actively with trustworthy heroes to aid them with divine lore whenever possible. She does all she can to steer the Sea of Chirak region toward betterment and greatness where she can, though she has only been on the path of the divine for six centuries.
A relationship with Kalie’Yana is usually one of trust, where she seeks to aid those who truly need it and do great deeds. She may on occasion see goodness where none is evident and set about a process of trying to reform an otherwise irredeemable villain, as well.
Piscrael – The Conqueror (villainous)
Piscrael is another potent demiurge who stole power from his predecessor Malib, and uses it to turn himself into a charnel beast of chaos. He has designs on enslaving all of the peoples of the Sea of Chirak to his will, and an army of demons from the aquatic Chaos Rift to do it.
Piscrael seeks out agents and allies to build a relationship with, and he seeks to destroy or harry those who would thwart him.
Kal Vassos – The Archmage (heroic)
Kal Vassos is a lord of the Tower of Kaledon as well as secret master of the Chronomancers from the Island outside of Time. He is the most portent near-immortal to achieve his power through the mastery of sorcery in the world and has worked across the centuries now to defeat enemies such as Piscrael and Tiamat that would complete the dark goals of the Betrayer Gods.
A relationship with Kal Vassos is one of comraderie and reliance; Kal depends heavily on his agents throughout the world to set aright the deviations put in place by the chaotic relics of the world. He also likes to keep close tabs on potential enemies.
Minhauros – The Vestige of Darkness (villainous)
The only relic of The Twelve known to exist (for Malib’s imprisonment in death is largely unknown) is Minhauros, and even then his vestigial spirit was believed to have been locked away, never to be released again. Only recently did this spirit escape by virtue of happenstance, and Minhauros’s dispossessed form once again roams free to determine how he will restore himself and fulfill his destiny as the destroyer of worlds.
A Relationship with Minhauros is fraught with danger for the one seeking some sort of allegiance or servitude. Minhauros uses allies as readily as he seeks to destroy enemies, and he is desperate to find a means of corporeal resurrection; his spirit can only be destroyed when someone at last integrates all parts of the Taurus Stone into one and makes it their own as a semiurge…until then, his mind seeks a means of at last fulfilling his destiny, and he will use his agents to any ends to do it.
The Demon Gods – The 113 (Villainous)
The demon gods are the one hundred and thirteen warlords of Perdition as well as other being, such as corrupt spirit lords, immortals, and thousandspawn who collectively amount to the old generals and support for the Betrayer Gods. In truth there are probably far less than 113 still active, alive or not imprisoned, but they are given strength by the worship of the Xoxtocharit and other cultures that revere them, and allow them to creep back into the mortal plane through planar gates.
A relationship with the 113 is a relationship of great peril whether it be positive, negative or ambiguous though some groups such as the Xoxtocharit revel in these connections. The specific demon gods which might take particular interest will vary, but the results will always be the same: chaos and suffering.
Malenkin – The Lich King (ambiguous)
The sorcerer who was Malenkin preserved his soul in undead centuries ago and bides his time in the Kraggit Mountains of Mercurious, working behind the scenes to attain more power and seek to gain advantage against all other icons. He has allied himself with Minhauros in the past but regrets it. He has entertained the idea of allying himself with other icons at different times, but his self-serving nature makes this difficult.
To have an iconic relationship with Malenkin is to be a mercenary for one who seeks to accumulate power and knowledge at the expense of all others. Malenkin is opposed to the chaos forces that would destroy the world only insofar as it would set him back on his own quest for sorcerous immortality and lore. Those who would thwart these goals are his sworn enemies.
Rovas, Kaos, Tyriath and Shadamas – The Wyrmlords (ambiguous)
The Wyrmlords are the council of the dragons, the ancient dragon lords who still try and hold the diaspora of their kin together while they await the final resolution of Tiamat. These particular wyrmlords have determined that the manifest destiny of Tiamat is necessary, although it is opposed by Kaos, who is the immortal reincarnation of Bahamut, and it is regarded as a grim necessity by Rovas, the guardian of the goddess who is also the reincarnation of ancient Marduk. The wyrmlords operate under the principle that all dragons everywhere must be ready for the great rebirth, when Tiamat destroys the world and remakes it in the image of dragonkind….for better or worse.
Tiamat is a force of nature as much as anything, and she is currently loose in the planar realms, but her destiny seems to be to have her followers coax her back to Chirak to initiate the destruction of the material plane, allowing for its rebirth into the Next World, an idyllic paradise the dragons have foretold will happen when the world is unmade. This incarnation of Tiamat is conflicted, for her spirit is that of the draconian Von, who flinches at the power she wields even as it overwhelms her with power and lust.
Iconic relations with the wyrmlords means a generally better relationship with dragonkin in general, but it also means a grim acceptance of the manifest destiny of the dragon goddess….be that destiny one where she destroys the world now, or in some future incarnation. To stand in opposition to the wyrmlords is to stand against the manifest destiny of Tiamat.
Addeas Immortas – The 13th Divinity (villainous, ambiguous or heroic…time will tell!)
Recently reborn, laboring under a curse in which his mere existence is forgotten by all, the being called Addeas Immortas possessed the mind of a common band named Madaran Sath it in the south while seeking to fulfill a vague destiny as the 13th God. Forged from a shard of each of the twelve Zodiac Stones, the divine stone which Addeas Immortas holds contains an amalgamation of all other divine powers combined. His worth to those who would control him is immeasurable. His value to the other icons is unknown or suspect, but his own aims and goals are equally suspicious, for his last incarnation was not unifying as intended but instead sought to destroy the other gods entirely. He works now with his vampiric spouse Irtralia while avoiding the Razaphar, ancient seraphim charged with his containment…or destruction.
Those who have been contacted by the mind fo Addeas Immortas are sought for their singularly unique abilities and the need of the “god” to seek out their talents to aid him. Those he marks enemies are watched carefully that they may be contained or destroyed. His reach in the Sea of Chirak so far is limited, for he is a young unknown by the standards of the current era but he is also the oldest known being in existence right now upon the world.