Here’s a little Gods and Icons preview from Connor Marvin. This and other Unhallowed Places will include sections on using them for both roleplaying and combat settings.
A secluded mountain lake, referred to by locals as “Ghost Lake” due to the number of disappearances, strange lights, and terrifying stories surrounding it, is a day’s hike through rocky mountain terrain. On the surface it appears to be an ordinary lake. Under the lake, however, there is a sunken temple. A spell put on the temple long ago created an invisible bubble surrounding it. Fish still swim through this magic sphere, but once it is entered by air-breathing creatures they fall through to the temple’s grounds and are able to breathe as normal.
The temple compound consists of one central building surrounded by statues. The columns of the central temple have spiraling patterns of snake scales carved in them, and the apex of the temple is surmounted by a stylized pinecone. The statues that surround the temple are carved snakes coiled around each-other into double-helixes, with stone bat-wings emerging from the snakes’ backs near the top. Strings of seaweed float from the lake floor as if in water, and sunlight filters from the surface of the lake forty feet above.
13 Rumors About Ghost Lake
Hell fighter Lord Ikal periodically visits Ghost Lake, and each time, drops in a small, black box.
Those who sleep in the temple enter the dreams of Aurum Rex, king of the metallic dragons.
Dwarf King Thorbal’s banished daughter, Princess Kori, hides in the temple. She’s been changed.
A promise made in the temple must be kept, or one’s very soul is forfeit.
Visiting the temple ensures healthy children.
A ghost dragon guards the lake.
Infernals cannot enter the blue waters. Or leave them.
If you swallow even a drop of the lake water, you will be inhabited by ghosts.
Only the dead can leave the temple.
Black cats surround the lake during full moons, hissing and spitting at the water.
The waters heal broken bones.
Baron Von Vorlatch the vampire necromancer, has cursed the lake.
Dunking yourself in the lake cures all disorders of the mind.
I wanted some graphical symbols to represent my icons in Gods and Icons. You could say they are icon icons, but that way lies madness. I’ll call them symbols.
Doug Scott, who worked with us on The Sun Below: City on the Edge and The Sun Below: Sleeping Lady is working on the symbols. Here’s a few examples of his work in progress:
Thrice Wise Mercurius is the master of arcane magic, whose symbol is a stylized armillary sphere. Thrice Wise Mercurius is constantly searching for new magic and portents. He is a master alchemist and astrologer. When he supplies magic items, they are ornate, and covered in magical sigils. When he supplies information, it often comes in the form of a divination.
“The stars predict trouble ahead. To avoid it, look for the hidden entrance behind the stone fist.”
Hierophant Nephthys (HY-ro-fant NEF-tis) presides over the church of the Bright Gods, the official pantheon of the Espairian Empire. The church is bigger than just the empire, since the gods don’t stop at the border. She oversees a vast church bureaucracy. Temples must be built and maintained. The clergy needs to be trained and focused. The people depend on their church.
Emperor Roland the Unbreakable is a hard working emperor who sits at the top of the imperial apparatus of the Espairian Empire. His honor guard flies griffons into battle. He helps stamp out hell breaches into his lands. He funds the church and promotes trade.
On the other hand, he’s not much of a free thinker, and he’s got his eye on a number of lands outside the empire. He’d rather they joined the empire peacefully, but whatever it takes.
Gods and Icons is all coming together. It’s exciting!
When a player rolls a 5 on their icon relationship roll, they get a complication. Sure, the icon will help them out, but something else happens to make the story more interesting.
Here’s an example from Gods and Icons. Instead of rolling dice, for this example we’ll have you scan the tables and pick a fun complication.
The players are outside the Espairian Empire in the city state of Paxbellum (substitute place names from your own world). The drow paladin in the party rolls a 5 with his positive relationship with Tanadil, High Queen of the Fey (see her preview here, or substitute with an icon from your own world).
You’re in town, not a dungeon, so you look at the social complications. You scan down and pick
A local power is opposed to the icon. Embarrass them at an upcoming social event. Sabotage the event.
That sounds fun. Who’s opposed to Tanadil? You could pick King Thorbal of the dwarves, but you’ve been hinting that Emperor Roland wants to take the city state into his empire, so you pick locals working for the emperor.
You can down to the local power table, and pick a member of the ruling council. She’s setting up the event to advance the emperor’s agenda.
Then down to the event. You scan down this list and hit on a public feast, commoners invited.
So that’s your complication, Tanadil wants the PC to disrupt a feast where the commoners are being fed by the largess of the emperor. Make the emperor’s toadys look bad. You decide councilwoman Chale calls it the “Friendship Feast” and invites one of the emperor’s numerous bastards to speak at it.
Now it’s up to the PCs. Who doesn’t want to make some lord high muckty-mucks look bad?
Gods and Icons includes a new race for the 13th Age Roleplaying game, the Dhampir.
The Dhampir is the child of a vampire and a human. Dhampir’s are found in folklore of various Balkan cultures and in Romany culture. The etymology of the word dhampir comes from Albanian where it means “to drink with teeth.” I’m not the first one to put them in a roleplaying game, for example you can find them in Pathfinder as a playable race and Nights Black Agents as NPCs.
I chose to add dhampirs in order to highlight one of the new icons in Gods and Icons, Baron von Vorlatch. The baron is a vampire who rules the barony of Borgostnya*, a part of Emperor Roland’s Espairian Empire. So, we have the largest human dominated culture including a barony controlled by an undead. Most dhampir player characters will have some icon relationship with the baron.
Gods and Icon’s Dhampirs receive two racial powers: Regeneration and Identify Vampire.
* The Borgo part in the name Borgostnya comes from the Borgo Pass, famously used by Bram Stoker in Dracula. Borgo Pass was the Hungarian name. The modern Romanian name is the Tihuţa Pass.
You can stick Borgostnya in your own world in any big human empire or kingdom where want to add a little undead adventure and intrigue.