For some time now, I was kicking around a campaign setting for our 13th Age game and using the features of the Icons and their dynamic relationships fit really well as I integrated them into my game world known as Maia (from the Hebrew word for seas or oceans). In Maia, we are only in the 7th Age and there have been some world-altering catastrophes in the Ages prior. Planar magic cause tremendous changes in the world whenever they have been used. Magical experimentation in the 1st Age opened an elemental rift and caused a tremendous storm to overwhelm many islands and over the Ages past, the sea levels rose dramatically leaving small land masses behind, which the civilized races have all worked hard to carve out for themselves. Planar magic is largely forbidden because of the strict consequences that have arisen over the years, so summoning and teleportation are taboo and the practitioners of this magic are hunted by many for the good of all.
Leader of a magical academy and master of all the schools of magic, the Archmage presides over the Academia Arcanis and his towers rises high above the raging waters not far from the tempest that dominates Maia. All wizards and other students of magic are under his supervision. The Archmage maintains the wards that hold back the Tempest and is also researching the means to eliminate the storm entirely. There is rumor that a great deal of previously forbidden magics fall under his “experimentation,” but none would dare bring light to this accusation.
Once the leader of the Academia Arcanis, in an Age long passed, and then the ruler of the Dragon Empire of Baen Nerath before his “death” to an unknown assassin, the Lich King was banished from his positions of power, but not truly defeated. Now an undying ruler of the dead, the Lich King has fled from the face of civilized races to continue his quest for greater power and influence. None have seen him for some time, but his presence is felt in every necromancer and wight that functions within the world. Some say that he extends his web of influence by spreading himself out through his evil phylacteries, but they may be mistaken.
Most assume the gods left Maia to its destruction as punishment for their lack of faith. The Priestess heartily disagrees. The Priestess holds that the gods attention must be earned and so do all those who follow her lead. The benevolent gods of Maia chose their Priestess for centuries, but when they all went silent the role of Priestess began to be passed down through a sequence of mentorship and trial. The current Priestess is a half-elf maiden who has served as the voice of the gods for five years. She is based out of the city island of Atminster in the Seven Island Nations (where the PCs start the campaign) and has established the temple services there. Many wonder to what length the Priestess would go to prove that the gods still care for the world.
Dwarves are one of the oldest races in Maia, but no one realized it. They mined underground for an Age, oblivious to the happenings above. But when the waters began to rise, the deep places began to fill with the new raging seas and the Dwarves were forced above ground. They discovered many strange races and in order to better stand as one, a particularly strong Dwarf took on the mantle of Dwarf King. When the Orcs burned the Dwarven nations, the Dwarf King forged the very first iron men and gave birth to the dwarforged race. Using their new metallic army, the Dwarf King drove back the Orc hordes and began to establish a peaceful kingdom. Since that time in the 2nd Age, there have been many Dwarf King’s all who rose to champion the causes of the Dwarven people and to establish the great mechanical city known as Grogan’s Gem. This metallic wonder is a mechanically powered vessel that stretches for miles that can surround a smaller land mass allowing the Dwarves who reside within to mine the various small islands of Maia. Many islands have been stripped bare by the Dwarves love of precious stones and some fear the approach of Grogan’s Gem and the bellowing forges of the Dwarf King.
It is the Orc Lord who strikes fear in the hearts of the civilized. A raging horde of orcs was the bane of the early Dwarven empire and their fearsome leader was the instigation of the massacres that led to the formation of the dwarforged. Having been repulsed by the revitalized Dwarven armies, the Orc Lord was lost to history. Gone far out to sea, many wondered if the barbarian lifestyle could be maintained. Did the Orc Lord become one of the pirates who sail the seas of Maia or was he truly killed off by the dwarforged army? If he were to return, many fear it would be at the head of a massive navy ready to wipe the dwarfs of the face of Maia.
Some planar mishap caused an inversion in the dimensions themselves and as a result, land masses shifted position from worlds much like Maia, but subtly different. From a land of brightness and magic, the people of Faed were drawn into the world. The gnomes, the bright elves, and the changekin were astonished at how mundane this new world was. Likewise, from a land of shadow and darkness, the people of Shaed were also brought into Maia. The duergar, the dark elves, and the shaar were aghast at how free and bright everything was. Large segments of populated cities, mere twists on what could-have-been, shifted into place in an amalgam-island city. The people of Faed and Shaed bonded together to face the new dangers of this strange world and established permanent peace between their peoples in the marriage of their two rulers, a bright elf prince and a dark elf queen. Intermingling that bloodline, the rulers took on the qualities of both their parents. Today, the child of Faed and Shaed is the Elf Queen. Depending on the time of day, she appears as either a bright or dark elf. She is mysterious and whimsical. Her mood is both ephemeral and ethereal and treating with her and her people requires care.
So that’s the first half of the Icons as they appear in my campaign setting. Next week I’ll have the second half!