Gender-flipped Icons in 13th Age

When I first heard the idea of gender-flipped icons I really liked the concept, so when I got the chance to turn the idea into words I was surprised at how hard it actually is. Just slapping a beard on the Priestess or a skirt on the Dwarf King doesn’t work … what is the point of being different if everything is the same? So I took a look at some of what made each icon cool and tried to flip that too. My favorite Star Trek episodes were always the mirror universe ones, evil Spock-beards and all.

Rather than the Emperor presiding over gladiatorial contests the Empress contentedly walks in her gardens (the flowers fed by the blood of her enemies). The Priestess tells people to open their ears to her message of hope, the Hierophant commands that they close their ears to heresy or suffer his inquisition. Where The Elf Queen unites the three elven races in her Court of Stars, the Lord of the Wild Hunt arranges ceremonial racial wars for elves to resolve disputes in his deadly Court of Scars. These mirror universe icons follow the story of the regular icons, but with twists. The Orc Lord still defeats the Wizard King, but in this universe the Orc Lord is the Dark Mother and instead of becoming the undead Lich King the defeated icon becomes the White Queen whose perfect unfading beauty is terrible to behold. The Great Gold Wyrm’s cognate is the Muse of Light, and while they both end up trapped they do so in interestingly different ways.

 

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Flipped Icon (Traditional Icon)

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Dark Mother (Orc Lord)

Duchess D’Arque (Prince of Shadows)

Empress (Emperor)

Gambling Man (Diabolist)

Green Man (High Druid)

Hierophant (Priestess)

Lord of the Wild Hunt (Elf Queen)

Muse of Light (Great Gold Wyrm)

Queen of Cogs (Dwarf King)

Rose Princess (Crusader)

Star Princess (Archmage)

The Triat (The Three)

White Queen (Lich King)

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There are several ways to use these gender-flipped icons in your game:

Past Days: Slightly tweaked versions of these icons represent past icons, and the ones in the core book are their present incarnations. For example adventurers digging into the past might uncover that the Prince of Shadows is actually the vampire known in a past age as Duchess D’Arque. The line of Dragon Emperors is descended from the Empress. The Archmage is inheritor of the Star Princess’ power.

Future Echoes: These icons represent possible future icons, either what the familiar icons might become or other proto-icons ready to step into the vacuum of power left if one or more of the icons fall.

Knights of Future Past: Due to time-travel chicanery the adventurers return to the present to find one or more of the icons changed from what they remember. How does a dwarven paladin who has been seeking out and returning lost treasures to his beloved Dwarf King react when faced with a world where the Queen of Cogs is commanding him to give those same treasures away?

One Step Beyond: Swap out some of your icons for some of these, perhaps getting an all-male or all-female set of icons, or tossing a coin for each icon to see which one you will use. Maybe double up on some icons – a Dragon Empire with a ruling couple of Emperor and Empress, or a world where the Lich King and White Queen are bitter rivals who used to be brothers, or a Wild Wood in which the High Druid serves her living god the Green Man, or an elf monarchy with the Lord of the Wild Hunt as the highest ranking noble in the Elf Queen’s court.

Through the Looking Glass: At the end of this article is an outline for an adventure ‘The Resurrection Shuffle’ where the characters visit a parallel world that is almost but not quite like their own beloved/beloathed Dragon Empire. It gives you cues and prompts to craft a 13th Age adventure suitable for almost any group of adventurers, from low level paladins to epic tier anti-heroes.

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DARK MOTHER

For the longest time the Dark Mother slumbered in her pit, long forgotten by the world, a myth. She has awoken in the current age, still bearing the scars of her battle with the Wizard King (now become the White Queen). The Dark Mother is spoiling for a fight, and has reclaimed her position as absolute leader of the northern orcish warbands.

Quote

“My beautiful children. See how they play as your city burns.”

Usual Location

Constantly prowling the edges of the empire, sending out her orcs raiders to test the defenses that the civilized races have erected.

Common Knowledge

According to legend the Dark Mother was created by the elves to be a progenitor of a new warrior race. They succeeded for the tyranny of the Wizard King was ended, but the orcs remained. The orcs have always been like locusts, swarming over civilization but then fading away quickly. Now the orcs have a leader and they show a fanatical religious devotion to her.

The Dark Mother lost a hand and an eye in her battle with the Wizard King, and her pet necromancers are constantly attaching replacements taken from prisoners. No replacement lasts long, her unholy vitality is no match for lesser flesh.

Adventurers & the Icon

Those who care only for slaughter and plunder have joined forces with the Dark Mother, and in the current age she has given birth to more than a few dark heroes. Many knights questing on behalf of the Rose Princess and the Queen of Cogs make their way north to retake this treasure or that, though orcs are notoriously careless with their loot and often break apart priceless artifacts to use the pieces in barter and trade.

Allies

The Dark Mother cares for two things, her many ‘children’ and her burning inborn desire for conflict. Exactly what she will do now that she is awoken is anybody’s guess – many of the other icons have put certain plans on hold waiting to see whose side she will be on.

Enemies

The Dark Mother hates the White Queen – a hate bred into her by her creators. The Lord of the Wild Hunt is a target for the Dark Mother, she was betrayed by the elves and she thirsts for hot elf blood. The Empress and the Queen of Cogs are the icons that most directly oppose her orcs, so the Dark Mother has a grudge against them too.

History

The Dark Mother seems to have briefly awoken before, each time spawning a new monstrous race. This is the first time since the fall of the Wizard King that the Dark Mother has left her chthonic lair and walked the land.

The True Danger

Everything will be alright unless she can calm her passions long enough to forge an alliance with another icon. With an alliance the scales of power will tip and the world will be plunged into a war that few save the Dark Mother are prepared for.

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DUCHESS D’ARQUE

Glittering socialite, society leader, and wielder of secret power. If a spy sends a report or an assassin fulfills a contract it is the Duchess that is probably pulling the strings. She is like a jeweled spider, so spectacular that it is hard see the web of which she is the center.

Quote

“How brave of you to wear that outfit dear, not many would attempt such a daringly different look. Now come meet this charming young lady I simply must introduce you to.”

Usual Location

Shadow Port, usually hosting fabulous masquerade balls or intimate gatherings. The whole city knows where the Duchess will be tonight, but getting an invitation or getting past her guards is another matter.

Common Knowledge

Everyone knows Duchess D’Arque, but few possess real knowledge about her. She smoothly deflects questions, and those that dig into her past go missing or suffer fatal accidents. She is immeasurably wealthy, has a thing for masks and mirrors, and holds the best and most fashionable parties. Her patronage can assure the success of an endeavor, and fortunes have been made and lost at the nod of her head or the tap of her fan.

The truth is that the Duchess is a rogue of the highest order, using the glitzy cover of her parties to slip away and commit daring exploits as her alter-ego “The Princess of Shadows”. The Duchess D’Arque already owns half the empire, her crimes are just a way for her to play a long game of move and counter-move with the other icons and stave off the boredom of a fantastically long existence. The secret organization ‘The League of Midnight’ exists throughout every level of society, a cadre of assassins and spies ready to do their mistresses’ bidding.

Adventurers & the Icon

The Duchess D’Arque is careful not to be seen to be interfering with imperial politics, so she requires any adventurers working for her to be discrete. Some adventurers hired through layers of middlemen work for her without ever knowing it.

Allies

The Gambling Man has appeared at certain of the Duchess’s soirees, and the two seem to be on friendly terms. The Empress relies upon the D’Arque fortune to run the affairs of empire, but does not trust the Duchess one bit.

Enemies

The Queen of Cogs wants Duchess D’Arque dead, a feud that apparently stretches back further than most can remember. The Star Princess hates the Duchess, though the two look like sisters. The Hierophant strongly disapproves of the glittering excess of the Duchess.

History

A Duchess D’Arque has lived in Shadow Port for as long as the official histories record. Older oral histories mention a vampire queen from the Bitter Wood who disappeared around the same time that the first Duchess D’Arque gained lands and holdings in the area.

The True Danger

The Duchess D’Arque knows the secrets of half the empire and owns the other half. If she should ever turn to evil the empire will surely fall.

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EMPRESS

The Dragon Empire is an extension of the iron will of the Empress, an eternal ruler who has shaped human civilization. While small kingdoms continue to exist the kings and queens all pay tribute to the Empress. As with all things even empires must die, and portents suggest a change is coming…

Quote

“As long as the Empire survives I must and shall exist.”

Usual Location

Axis, the capital of the Dragon Empire. Probably walking in a garden.

Common Knowledge

The Dragon Empress founded the current incarnation of human civilization, shaping it to her whims. Half the humans alive are directly descended from her. To the humans she is their undisputed and rightful leader, though the other races chafe under her autocratic rule. The gardens of Axis are fed by the blood of her enemies, and she has many gardens.

Adventurers & the Icon

The Imperial Bureaucracy employs adventurers as freelance trouble-shooters. Some adventurers join the Imperial Adventuring Corp for the regular pay, good housing, and the opportunity to advance in rank and status that it offers.

Allies

The Queen of Cogs and Lord of the Wild Hunt both work with the Empress, he hunting wild beasts and monsters that would bring ruin to civilized lands, and she by providing arms and armor to the Imperial Legions. The Rose Princess and Muse of Light both keep the empire safe, the Muse of Light by design and the Rose Princess as a side-effect of her obsessions. The Star Princess aids in the rituals that keep the Empress youthful, and it is through the Star Princess’s nodes and towers that the empire is kept safe and protected. The Hierophant protects the souls of the populace from the terrors of the unseen realms.

Enemies

The Dark Mother has designs on the Dragon Empire, seeing it as one vast plaything for her children. The White Queen claims dominion over everything, and despises the Dragon Empress for her temporal power.

History

The Dragon Empress has had many husbands, children, great-great-great-grandchildren… whole family lines descend from her. Elaborate and exacting ceremonies ensure that the original Empress lives on eternally youthful. The Empress has recently undergone one of her many rejuvenations and as is always the case after such a ceremony is recovering and not yet at her full powers. The Lord of Lightning has been seen recently at court, far from his city of Drakkenhall.

The True Danger

Everything will be all right as long as the Empress continues to keep civilization running.

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GAMBLING MAN

The Gambling Man is an agent of fate and chaos, a consort of demon princes and a tamperer with forces beyond understanding.

Quote

“This is much more than just a game, do you really want to risk your very soul? Very well then… double up or quit?”

Usual Location

He is known to live in Hell Marsh, in a simple hut at the center of an area swarming with demons and tentacled hell-beasts.

Common Knowledge

The Gambling Man’s appearance changes as he adds or loses body-parts that he gambles with in games of chance. Even his skills are in flux, one day he may win the skill at arms from a soldier only to lose it the next day wagering it against a wizard’s spells. The only thing he never wagers is his skill at gambling and his luck. The Gambling Man looks demonic most of the time, a mixture of unholy attributes won from the marshes around his home. His easy smile and smooth manner are the only constants.

The Gambling Man may be the only icon with no goals, or it may be that his gambits are so chaotic and plans so obscured that they are impenetrable to lesser minds. Many of his actions seem to be the results of the bets he has made with demons, and in gambling with him it is always possible that an unlucky mark might end up with a mission from hell. Some say that the Gambling Man controls the demons of Hell Marsh through a complicated series of wagers and gambling debts, others say that he is simply a force of chaos.

The Gambling Man is followed by half-mad drifters, addicted to winning and seeking a high from pacts with demons. They revere him, worshiping the Gambling Man as the god of luck. Occasionally he will host a Casino of Damnation, taking over a castle or great house or cave system for a while. During these grand events his followers might win strange new demonic powers or be left as limbless wrecks. Nobody knows just how many in the Empire owe their success to the Gambling Man, or how many nameless beggars act as his spies in exchange for the chance to roll the dice and win it all back.

The Gambling Man seems to be more chaotic than his equally dark counterpart the Rose Princess. She will indulge her every whim, her plans evolving as a result of her moods like a rose blooming; he is like a ball on a roulette wheel, letting his fate be decided by the turn of the cards or the roll of the dice. If the Gambling Man ever stopped and used his accumulated power he could easily challenge any of the other icons… maybe his plan is to accumulate enough power to challenge their combined power in a winner-takes-all game of war.

Adventurers & the Icon

It is a reckless adventurer who takes a bet with the Gambling Man, and each mission for him IS a gamble. The patronage of the Gambling Man assures luck to any venture so many adventurers pledge themselves to his service, only to remember too late that luck can be both good and bad. Some suspect that the Gambling Man’s insane ‘luck’ is carefully managed, a cover for his true mission.

Allies

The Gambling Man and the Duchess D’Arque are sometimes seen together at parties. So far neither has destroyed the other, though it is only a matter of time before one takes something that the other wanted to take for themselves.

Enemies

The Rose Princess likes receiving gifts of demon hearts, and the Gambling Man has dozens of them in his chest. The Muse of Light opposes all demons and devils, and considers the Gambling Man to be either their greatest agent or their secret leader. The Hierophant protects the innocent, and the Gambling Man is certainly an agent of chaos and ruin.

History

The Gambling Man seems to be eternal. None can say if the currently Gambling Man is the original, or if he somehow won the title from the previous Gambling Man. Ages have passed in which the Gambling Man was just a legend lurking in the background, but in the current age he is a major force to be reckoned with.

The True Danger

Everything will be all right provided that the Gambling Man is prevented from rolling the dice with another icon.

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GREEN MAN

The Green Man is the king of the druids, a living manifestation of nature magic, a green ur-god that walks. His druid followers might destroy the empire in their zeal to increase the reach of the ancient Wild or they might bring a new balance that leads to an age of prosperity and peace.

Quote

“For ten thousand years and ten thousand more have I watched your kingdoms flow and ebb. Your petty concerns mean nothing to the me. The Wild choses the Wild path. Woe to all that opposes us.”

Usual Location

Within the trees of the Wild Wood, in the night sky, in the rocks and in the water. Occasionally in physical form striding across the land as a giant made of forest and solidified spirit energy.

Common Knowledge

The Green Man predates the Goddesses both Dark and Light, the last remnant of a primal pantheon. In the early days of creation there were gods of magma and rock, gods of thunder and sky. They cared little for living things, and the first Green Man helped the newly created races to overthrow the primordial pantheon. In turn new gods arose and the forces of Light and Dark drove back the Wild into the corners of the world.

Some say that the Green Man is the latest in a long line of personifications of the natural world, using rituals and ceremony to keep his individuality intact and prevent the vast forces flowing through him from subsuming him into raw vital energy. Some of this power he siphons off to lesser druids, granting them a share of his magic in exchange for their aid in his schemes. Others say that the green Man is the original god and the druids merely share his strength. The truth is both, and somewhere in between… even the druids themselves can’t agree.

The Green Man is worshiped by peasants who seek to increase their crops or cure their ills and do not wish to involve themselves in the machinations of the Star Princess. Sometimes their crude devotion and half-remembered rituals work and bring miraculous growth, other times the dark forests creep that bit closer and the beasts of the wilderness grow larger and fiercer.

Adventurers & the Icon

Druids all draw their power from the Wild, so ultimately the Green Man is the personification of the source of their power. Rangers too owe the Green Man fealty, carrying tokens of respect and carrying out rituals in exchange for being granted safe passage through the more dangerous uncivilized lands. Almost all druids acknowledge the Green Man as the highest druid and their king and god, but sometimes have conflicting agendas – and are not beyond hiring adventurers to advance those agendas.

Allies

The Green Man is both ruled by the Wild and rules it. He has little respect for the other icons, save the Lord of the Wild Hunt with whom he is more a rival for control of the old Wild Magics than an ally. Their goals are aligned, but they are competitors.

Enemies

The Green Man chafes more than any other icon under the heel of the Empress, usurping her authority and destroying the roads that she builds. The Star Princess’s towers and nodes keep the forces of the Wild contained for now, but their two styles of magic do not mesh well and he has been finding ways to slip past the defenses of civilization.

History

The ruler of the Wild always starts as some champion of the older magics, but as his or her power grows so they change into an avatar of an ancient prehistoric god gain the memories of their predecessors. This current Green Man is more militant than many of his forebears and is pushing ever further into the Dragon Empire. The Green Man is mostly concerned with the doings of the Wild – he knows little of what goes on in the cities and prefers it that way. For their part if the civilized peoples knew of the horrors and wonders of the Wild they might never sleep well again.

The True Danger

Everything will be all right unless the Green Man feels threatened enough by the Empire that he finally frees the rest of his primal pantheon from their prisons.

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HIEROPHANT

The Hierophant hears the voices of the goddesses of Light and Dark and chooses to speak for the Light. The voices of the Dark Goddesses torment him and he rails against them, hunting witches and demons with equal burning-eyed fervor. From his torture-fortress the Cathedral he sends out his crusading paladins and clerics to crush those who would worship the wrong goddesses. Though he is ultimately a force for good he is neither as gentle nor as forgiving as the Muse of Light.

Quote

“Listen not to the siren song of sin. Repent and be cleansed!”

Usual Location

Touring the Dragon Empire looking for heretics to burn or take back to the Cathedral in Santa Cora.

Common Knowledge

The Hierophant puts the fear of the goddesses into the hearts of the common folk, and his followers are neither the most approachable nor the most flexible. He’s giving religion a bad name, is certainly a staunch defender of the innocent. His fearsome inquisitors uphold what is just and right, putting themselves in great danger to protect the world from the insidious forces of evil.

Adventurers & the Icon

The Hierophant grants  miracles and blessings of power to those who would fight against the forces of darkness, and many good aligned heroes work for him either directly or indirectly.

Allies

The Hierophant and the Star Princess both serve the Empress, though the two do not get along at all they grit their teeth and work together. The Muse of Light is on the side of good, but the necessary harshness of his teachings conflicts with her desire to inspire goodness through peace and love rather than enforce righteousness through fear.

Enemies

While the Hierophant may be harsh, he is a bulwark against the darkness. The Rose Princess seduces people to darkness. The Hierophant directly opposes her in all things. The Hierophant takes a distinctly dim view of the Gambling Man, as one is an agent of chaos and the other is trying to impose order.

History

The Hierophant is a new icon, or perhaps an old icon reborn in a radically new form. Nobody knows his origin, he simply walked out of the wilderness with a burning fervor in his eyes and the Goddesses on his side.

The True Danger

As long as people continue to fear him civilization can never truly fall into darkness, but if they wander astray away from his teachings…

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LORD OF THE WILD HUNT

The Lord of the Wild Hunt rules the Court of Scars, a gladiatorial city where wood elves, dark elves, and high elves come together in ritual combat to resolve their differences. Honed by centuries of internecine conflict, the Wild Hunt’s innate magic at least equals the Star Princess’s spells.

Quote

“Shouldn’t you be running? … TALLY HO!!!”

Usual Location

In the Court of Scars in King’s Wood, north of Drakkenhall and Concord. Also in other wild places, leading a supernatural hunt,

Common Knowledge

The King is connected to every elf, it is said that he hears every elven cry of anger and feels every sorrow.

Adventurers & the Icon

Elves try to avoid coming to their cruel king’s attention, yet wear the scars they gain at his ‘court’ with pride, and elven adventurers who do come to his attention try their best to please him lest they become the quarry for his huntsmen. Non-elves are rarely honored by the Lord of the Wild Hunt, those that do certainly have something to boast about. The Lord of the Wild Hunt sends nightmares to harry his subjects, goading them into working together to fulfill his goals.

Allies

The Green Man is ruler of the woods, and the Lord of the Wild Hunt hunts in woods – they have an ‘arrangement’ between them. The Queen of Cogs has an uneasy peace with the ruler of the elves, an annual exchange of gifts and captives ensures the peace for now. The Empress is an ally, but friction remains as the Lord of the Wild Hunt is forbidden from pursuing his quarry into cities. Both the Hierophant and Star Princess fear and distrust the magic of the Wild Hunt.

Enemies

The Dark Mother was originally a queen of the elves, and they hate what she has become. The Lord of the Wild Hunt would love to end the Dark Mother’s existence. When the Lord of the Wild Hunt takes on his dark elf aspect he becomes an enemy of the Queen of Cogs. The Triat resent the Lord of the Wild Hunt for seducing the Green and taking her as his wife.

History

The elves have always had an Elf King or Queen, but in the current age the Lord of the Wild Hunt has refused the crown. Nobody knows why.

The True Danger

Everything will be all right so long as the Lord of the Wild Hunt doesn’t let his dark side completely consume him. If the dark elves come to power in the Court of Scars by outright winning the yearly ceremonial war it will mean a wider war with all the other races.

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MUSE OF LIGHT

Although the Muse sacrificed her physical form to seals the gaps between worlds, her psychic priestesses speak her words and she appears in dreams to her paladins. She considers any who fight for what is right and good to be under her protection, and commands those that follow her to inspire others through their actions.

Quote

“No sacrifice is futile, our light lives on in others”

Usual Location

Centuries ago, the a great dragon threw herself into the Abyss to prevent the demonic forces from invading the world. Her physical body is trapped between worlds, but with her mind she reaches out to those that are psychically sensitive. Her spirit-form can be seen out of the corner of the eye near the abyss, locked in eternal combat with the armies of demons that seek to destroy the world.

Common Knowledge

Those that are brave and pure of heart receive psychic contact from the Muse of Light, her golden light encouraging them to acts of goodness. Those who choose to follow her often become paladins or clerics in her Golden Order, though some choose less obvious ways to do good deeds.

Adventurers & the Icon

Many holy and mystical orders are either led by the Muse of Light or draw inspiration from her fight. Heroes who do not hear the voice of the Muse of Light might still end up accepting gold in exchange for going on a quest to fight evil.

Allies

The Golden Order nominally serves the Dragon Empire, but their first loyalty is to the Muse of Light.

Enemies

The golden spirit is rivals with the still physical The Triat, they are a force for evil and she for good. The Gambling Man is not only an agent of chaos but consorts with the very demons that she fights constantly against, their rivalry is obvious. Less obvious is the fact that she will occasionally work with them or play them off against each other – the Muse of Light is not so inflexible as to throw away an advantage in her war on evil for the sake of dogma.

History

The Muse of Light has existed since the beginning of time, or so she claims. She may not exist for much longer, those who follow the paths of the heavens and read the signs say that soon a change will come. If her paladins can free her and hold off the demon armies she may be able to seal the rifts between worlds and bring in a new age of peace, but if the Muse of Light remains trapped she may fade away entirely.

The True Danger

Everything will be all right unless the Muse of Light loses her struggle and allows the dimensional rifts to open and consume reality.

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QUEEN OF COGS

The Queen of Cogs is first among all of the dwarves, leading by example from her home in the fortress-home in Forge.

Quote

“In the name of all our descendants who will prosper because of this day, pray accept these dwarf-made treasures.”

Usual Location

Forge, the dwarves’ underground throne city, usually touring the foundries or crafting some exquisite treasure.

Common Knowledge

The Queen of Cogs is the creator of treasures, giving gifts to the other races. Her halls are filled with legendary marvels. The Queen of Cogs lays claim to all lands below the soil, but in reality is more of a bulwark against the true darkness of the deeps than it’s ruler.

Adventurers & the Icon

The Queen of Cogs can offer amazing treasures to those that work for her, exchanging them for marvels bought from far and wide. Adventurers are often sent by her to dangerous places to retrieve this marvel or that.

Allies

The Queen of Cogs is as reliable as clockwork, helping the Empress to run things smoothly. The Queen avoids the Lord of the Wild Hunt, old truces keeping the two from meddling in each other’s affairs.

Enemies

The Queen of Cogs hates the dark elves due to past conflicts that only the longest lived of the two races remember, and the Lord of the Wild Hunt sometimes switches from ally to enemy in her mind when he is seen in his Dark aspect. The Queen of Cogs has offered anybody who drives a wooden stake through the heart of Duchess D’Arque a high position within her realm. The Dark Mother has laid claim to the territories on the north west of the empire and is pushing ever towards dwarven lands, making them instant enemies.

History

The dwarves have always had a monarch, and the current one doesn’t seem to be getting any older or slower… in fact the older she gets the more potent she becomes. If she does die it won’t be due to old age or accident – she is strong enough that she can beat metal with her hands and tough enough she can pour molten iron from palm to palm and cool it with her mighty breath.

The True Danger

Everything will be all right provided the Queen of Cogs does not seal the Hall of Forgiveness and with it the legendary Diadem of Seven Hearts.

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ROSE PRINCESS

The Rose Princess is the temptress of the Dark Goddesses. The Rose Princess has an army of suitors, it amuses her to have them prove their love for her and her goddesses by fighting demons and claiming new lands in her name. She attracts to her banner both those who believe in romance and chivalry and those who have a need to prove themselves, but reserves her ire for those who worship the Goddesses of Light.

Quote

“Fear nothing, for my heart is with you bravest warriors. Now bring me … oooh let’s say ten thousand flowers plucked from hell.”

Usual Location

First Kiss, a tower of thorns built directly over a sealed hellhole near Axis. Or out inspiring chivalric quests.

Common Knowledge

With a smile or a glance the Rose Princess can utterly ensnare the mind of another, a gift given to her by the Dark Goddesses that she serves. The Empress allows the Rose Princess to do as she pleases at the moment because the quests she sends her suitors on tend to benefit the empire as a whole. That doesn’t make the Rose Princess herself a good person. The Rose Princess worships the Dark Goddesses and sends innocents to their doom on a whim, but overall her actions have a positive effect. Demons are slain in her name, roads built, songs composed … but she is not above having a city raised to the ground if it spoils her view.

The Rose Princess is most commonly found reclining on silken cushions, a grand tactician who directs battles from a massive and opulent palanquin. She is herself a fearsomely accomplished warrior and self-taught spell caster, personally leading her elite Rose Guard of sword-mages into battle against those who scorn her. The aspirants who die in training attempting to join the Rose Guard are perhaps luckier than those who live on, as her elite troops are all haunted by unrequited love.

Adventurers & the Icon

Joining a quest sponsored by Rose Princess is considered a high honor, for such quests are never easy and prove the mettle of those that complete them. As both the Hierophant and the Muse of Light have set themselves at odds with the Rose Princess she often has her agents work through intermediaries when dealing with those two icon’s spheres of influence.

Allies

The Rose Princess and the Empress have a mutual respect for each other, though it is a wary respect like two cats slowly circling each other.

Enemies

The Gambling Man fears the Rose Princess, for love is the only thing he cannot gain or take through gambling. The Hierophant is in direct opposition to the Rose Princess and her Dark Goddesses, but is hampered by the Empress’ desire to keep such a useful person around. The Rose Princess and the Muse of Light are rivals – the Muse of Light truly loves and has compassion for her followers, but the Rose Princess is simply amused by puppets that she controls through heart-strings.

History

Bards recount tales of women who can enslave the hearts and minds of others, but never a woman as beautiful and cunning as the Rose Princess. The previous Rose Princess was a healer and patron of the arts who inspired great works through her power – the current Rose Princess is decidedly bloodier.

The True Danger

Everything will be all right provided her army of suitors keeps the Rose Princess occupied. The empire might not be wide enough to contain the Rose Princess’ dark ambitions.

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STAR PRINCESS

The Star Princess came from another realm centuries ago to preserve the Empire, and her magic has created many of the wonders of the 13th Age. Her silver tower ‘The Horizon’ descended on fire to land on an empty plain, and the city of wizards grown up around it bears the tower’s name.

Quote

“This device will repair your companion’s cells then a transfusion of … your pardon, I mean my magic wand will heal him and then I must give him a potion.”

Usual Location

Touring the Empire with her army of metal golems, appearing and disappearing in bursts of light.

Common Knowledge

The Star Princess maintains the magical energy fields that protect the Empire through a series of magical nodes defended by her silver golems, placed at strategic points across the land. The nodes tap into strange other-worldly forces and channel and direct arcane energy from them to the ward-towers. Thanks to her guidance crops are planted at the correct times, the weather is controlled, and extra-dimensional malevolences are kept at bay.

The Star Princess oversees the School of Imperial Wizardry, teaching her brand of magic to selected imperial citizens. Sometimes this school undertakes large-scale projects such as damming rivers or mining specific minerals for the Star Princess’ work inside her silver tower. The imperial wizards are notorious for being tight-lipped about their true intentions, and secretive about how their brand of magic works. No one holds her servants’ secretive nature against them; the magic that they work saves lives and so for the most part the common folk respect their privacy.

Adventurers & the Icon

Adventurers dread being hired into the Star Princess’s service. While she rewards adventurers well with magical weapons the Star Princess’s missions are notoriously difficult, with exacting instructions. Instead of guarding farmland against monsters or capturing bandits, adventurers hired by imperial wizards may find themselves burying packages in wastelands or placing arcane devices in secret locations. Somehow, it’s all very important to the Star Princess’ plans and thus to the empire.

The less-known truth is that the Star Princess is fighting a losing battle against time. Her nodes are decreasingly effective and the magics of her tower are fading. Her current flurry of activity is designed to restore power to her domain and thus keep the empire safe until her plans come to fruition.

Allies

The Star Princesses throughout history have sworn fealty to the Empress. Each Star Princess is identical to the last, but of late they have been becoming less identical and more erratic in behavior. The Star Princess and the Hierophant both serve the interests of the Empire, though in different ways. Some say that two icons unnerve each other and only directly work together when there is no other choice. The Star Princess helped build the Cathedral that stretches into the heavens, though it is said that she now regrets doing that for the Hierophant.

Enemies

The Star Princess’ magic is civilized and follows set rules, but the Green Man and the Lord of the Wild Hunt possess wild magic that she does not understand and fears. She carefully respects the agreed-upon boundaries of their realms, and reacts violently when they enter hers.

History

A Star Princess’s reign lasts for but a few years, and then a new younger Star Princess emerges from The Horizon with the full knowledge of her predecessor. There have been eras where no new Star Princess emerged and the silver tower was sealed – times of darkness and chaos.

The True Danger

Everything will be all right provided that the Star Princess maintains the flow of energies to and from her silver tower.

(NOTE – The literal meaning of the word ’arcane’ is ‘requiring specialist knowledge to understand’. The Star Princess … yes she is a clone of a clone of a clone of a space traveler who crash-landed and is trying to repair her ship and get back to the stars. Wizards in this world are techno-mages with battery-powered laser-wands up their sleeves and brain implants that activate the nanotech clouds and hidden field-emitters that are scattered around the Dragon Empire. The Star Princess has technology so advanced that it is indistinguishable from magic: teleport devices, mind-reading rays, cloning vats, rejuvenation drugs, etc. — OR NOT — I’ve written the Star Princess to leave it open because not everybody is a fan of mixing magic and technology like an old He-Man cartoon. Instead it may be that the Star Princess’ magic is so codified and ordered that it just looks like it could be hyper-technology. Really it isn’t technology and is truly and actually crystal balls and pointy-hats magic (just with a totally different style and look to the magic of the Archmage). If you are running your players through the adventure The Resurrection Shuffle feel free to keep them guessing.)

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THE TRIAT

The Triat were among the first dragons to walk the world. The Red Lady is a dangerous philosopher. The Lord of Lightning is a sorcerer, wielding the elemental forces that shaped the world. The Black Nun is ruler of darkness and killers. The Triat might have their differences, but are united in their plans.

Quote

“I have yet to hear a convincing argument why I shouldn’t eat you. You have three minutes to convince me of your worth as anything beyond a light snack”

Usual Location

From his blue tower the Lord of Lightning rules the twisted monster-city of Drakkenhall, his Blue Sorcerers patrolling the streets and keeping the peace. The mysterious dragon known as the Black Nun usually stays in monasteries in the mountains, dispensing wisdom to the monks and cults of assassins that serve the dark philosophies of The Triat. The Red Lady wanders the wastes that she herself created, alternating between the form of a piercing-eyed wise-woman and a huge dragon made of solidified flame. The Triat rarely meets anymore, they are united but work best when they don’t have to worry about conflicts between them.

Common Knowledge

The Muse of Light is the ancient enemy of The Triat, she espouses peace and love and they rule through threats and violence. Though the strength of the Muse is fading and her physical body is trapped between worlds her draconic rivals are still not potent enough to challenge her.

Adventurers & the Icon

Heroes are constantly trying to make a name for themselves by killing a member of the Triat, but the three dragons have gained so many followers that very few heroes even get within sight of one of the great beasts before they are betrayed to their deaths. Darker adventurers study under the dragons – learning sorcery from the Lord of Lightning, or the hidden ways of the Black Nun, or the combat-philosophies of the Red Lady. In Drakkenhall it is sometimes difficult to separate right from wrong, the morality in the city of monsters seems to only come in shades of grey.

Allies

The Triat are cunning and will temporarily ally themselves with other icons when it suits them. The Red Lady briefly fought alongside the Muse of light, their combined powers driving back the demons. At a vital moment the Red Lady withdrew and let the Muse of Light become trapped between worlds. Anybody who accepts an alliance with The Triat knows that they will probably be similarly betrayed.

Enemies

The Muse of Light would love to attack The Triat and end their sinister influence, but the Empress named the Lord of Lightning governor of Drakkenhall and so the Muse cannot act against the Triat without drawing the empire into a war.

History

Great dragons come and go, but the Triat remains. The Triat used to be the Pentat. The White Queen has the White and has hidden her away somewhere transformed into a scullery maid or a mouse. The Lord of the Wild Hunt seduced the Green dragon hand has taken her as his wife, a fact he flaunts before The Triat at every opportunity.

The True Danger

The Lord of Lightning seeks to seduce the Empress. It might mean that he is turning to the side of good. If he does become her consort the Red Lady and the Black Nun will almost certainly ally themselves with other icons and tip the empire into all-out war. Unless that is the plan…

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WHITE QUEEN

The White Queen is the undisputed ruler of the hexed, the cursed, and the undead. All hags and witches fearfully obey her commands. A former dark tyrant bought low, she has reinvented herself as a queen of the reborn. Partly insane and partly the greatest magical genius the world has ever known, her plans are as complex as the mazes on her island.

Quote

“I command you to love Me and bask in My glory”

Usual Location

In her palace on Hexopolis, an island south west of Omen Island. Or riding on a flying broom through the night to the high places of the Empire to meet with her followers.

Common Knowledge

Before the Dragon Empire and the current human civilization the land was ruled by the Wizard King. A powerful magic-user and a tyrant he was deposed by the first Dark Mother. At that time the Dragon Empress was a questing hero, the Star Princess had just arrived, and Orcs had not yet become common. All the races of Light and Dark, and even those of the Wild, betrayed and defeated the Wizard King.

Ages later the Wizard King was reborn as a beautiful and cunning woman. With the power of rebirth she caused the dead to rise to a semblance of life and herself rose to become the queen of all hags, witches, and enchantresses. Every soul that pledges to her grants her ever greater powers, and every unhallowed burial site is a recruiting ground for her swelling army.

At night the character of the Dragon Empire changes. The common folk may love the Empress, but the one they really fear and revere is the White Queen. Her blessings can cure any ill, but her curses can bring misery and transform the unlucky into undead abominations. The White Queen’s many children include powerful dark warriors, brilliant enchantresses, and of course witches and hags. The White Queen is known by the symbol of beauty and rebirth: the butterfly. Those who would rather not attract her attention by naming her directly call her “The Butterfly Princess”.

Adventurers & the Icon

Some clerics that focus on healing, resurrection, and transformation actually gain their power from the White Queen rather than from the Goddesses of Light. Many women who have to use their bodies and minds to survive call upon her name. Both men and women admire her from afar for her beauty and peerless power. Those who stand with her she rewards more richly than the servants of any other icon, those who betray her trust she destroys utterly.

Allies

Nobody, for she would rather stand apart and alone than be betrayed again. She trusts in her own strength and her own people, and that is it.

Enemies

Everybody, for she has set herself against the world. Even the Dark Goddesses shun her, and fear her increasing power.

History

There is only one true White Queen, the reborn Wizard King.

The True Danger

As long as her army of undead remains where it is and she is convinced that she can not take over the world she will bide her time, her beauty and strength unfading. If the other icons become embroiled in a conflict between themselves she’ll make her move and initiate a war against the Empress and whoever else stands against her.

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Adventure – THE RESURRECTION SHUFFLE

1. The Pitch

The party is approached by a very rich patron who wants their beloved resurrected. Roll icon relationship dice to determine who the patron is, who their beloved is, and why the patron’s beloved has died so many times.

Pick any names you need from below if you get stuck:

Achim, Boyd, Cale, Damon, Edbert, Frey, Gilderwood, Hendrick, Isambard, Jotham, Kendall, Lazar, Malvin, Nyrick, Orren, Peffer, Quan, Rockhill, Salwyn, Tell, Unwin, Vokos, Waleran, Xystus, Yale, Zoltan. Achasa, Bohild, Carelia, Dawn, Edina, Freya, Gilbera, Henma, Isolde, Jothena, Kenin, Lazanna, Malelon, Nysa, Orsola, Pesca, Quintilia, Rosehill, Salme, Teltu, Unelma, Volma, Walda, Xyna, Yvette, Zona.

The beloved has died and the patron wants a resurrection but no priest will do it – the beloved one has been killed and resurrected so many times that no sane cleric will attempt it. Lacking a sane plan the patron has come up with an insane plan, and the reward that is offered to the party is also insane enough to tempt the group of adventurers.

2. The Wondrous Plan

The patron has heard tell of a magic mirror that leads into another world. The mirror is called the Mirror of Wonder.

Mirror of Wonder (Unique Wondrous Item)

A Neat Trick… Whoever looks into this full-length mirror has their gender flipped. This happens each time the viewer looks into the mirror, each time they blink in fact! As magic items go this is both incredibly powerful and almost completely useless for anything but a party trick or instant disguise. While unbreakable it is too unwieldy to carry into battle and so heavy it needs a cart to move. Clever adventurers could use the mirror to disorient foes if they arranged to have a fight in front of the mirror, but would probably be better off laying traps.

A Better Trick… If the mirror is in complete darkness it forms a portal to another world almost but not quite like the one that travelers left.

The laws of reality in the other world will allow the patron’s beloved to be resurrected, or so the patron believes. All the players have to do is obtain the mirror, go through it with the corpse, locate a cleric from the other world willing to undertake a resurrection ritual, pay said cleric, and return with the now-living beloved. A simple quest, right?

3. The First Problem

The Mirror of Wonder doesn’t belong to the patron. The reward is amazing enough that the player characters will go looking for the mirror and will quickly discover where it is. As it turns out the mirror belongs to somebody the adventurers already dislike and is being transported by cart from one location to another. A simple ambush and they’ll have struck at one of their enemies and will have obtained the Mirror of Wonder. Use icon relationships and level-appropriate foes to determine who has the magic item the party seeks and how it is guarded.

4. Through the Looking Glass

Once through the mirror the adventurers find themselves in an unfamiliar place, with the ‘other side’ of the mirror mounted on a wall.

Use icon relationships rolls to figure out where the characters are and who owns the mirror in this world.

5. Getting the Job Done

The adventurers (carting around a corpse) must explore a world that is almost but not quite identical to their own. Everything is slightly off. They meet people who are similar to those they know, but vitally different in that alternate-universe way that we all love. People who are polite priests ‘back home’ are thuggish ruffians here, doughy nobodies are mighty heroes, the town drunk is the mayor, and the statue commemorating an important battle shows that the other side won. Some people are gender-flipped versions of their familiar counterparts, some are identical but are different in their outlook in life, in their station, or their profession. Some people they meet will have no counterparts in the other universe at all.

Most importantly each of the icons is different, the most noticeable difference being that they are all the opposite gender to what they are used to. Characters who assume that is the only difference with the icons might be in for a surprise.

6. Complications

Throw one or more of these complications at the players…

  • They meet their alternate universe selves who are facing a challenge familiar to the PCs or are about to go on a quest very similar to one that the PCs have already successfully completed. After some initial confusion their alternate universe counterparts offer to help the players with their task of finding a cleric to resurrect the body if they help them first. However…
  • The quest or challenge is not that familiar after all. The PCs are betrayed by their unfamiliarity with the creatures, customs, and places of this almost-mirror world. It’s the little differences that trip you up.
  • Somebody falls in love, complicating everybody’s lives.
  • Somebody is secretly evil, but not who might be expected to be.
  • They are opposed by the forces of one or more of the icons who believe that the party are up to no good. Other icons get involved on the adventurers’ side. Before they know it the party and their quest has become a playing piece in the grand games of power in this world.
  • The party must travel quite some distance to find a cleric who can resurrect the corpse. A regular corpse is no problem, this corpse from another world? Specialist knowledge is required and for that they need to visit another place far away.
  • The owner of the mirror in this world opposes the adventurers, and will try to prevent them from returning home or using the mirror again. The owner might move the mirror and hide it in a new location, have a wizard put wards up, send thugs after the party, install a fake mirror, hire guards, or just generally make the party’s life in a strange and unfamiliar place as hellish as they can.
  • The mirror on this side doesn’t work in complete darkness, it requires some other condition that the party must discover and create. Do they need to smear the mirror with mud from the Empress’ gardens? Do they need to immerse the mirror in milk? Do they need to pass through the mirror holding the intestines of a medusa?  The condition will not be impossible to create, just trickier than they might like.
  • The beloved comes back ‘wrong’ somehow. The party must deal with this before they return ‘home’ or find some way to disguise the wrongness until they are paid the rest of their reward. Maybe the beloved is possessed by a sentient hive of demonic insects from this world’s hell. Maybe they’ve created a mutant monster. Maybe the wrongness is subtle, a feeling that something … Just. Isn’t. Right.
  • The beloved isn’t who they thought it was. The party has been tricked into resurrecting somebody or something that they should have left dead. This is REALLY BAD. If you are stuck for ideas ask the players what the worst thing that could think of happening and when you hear something that makes you grin evilly – use that!
  • Apparently ‘true love’ isn’t cause enough for the cleric to attempt to raise the corpse. The cleric will perform the required ritual, but resurrections are risky so not only does the cleric want to be paid but he wants the party to go on a “simple” quest for him before he’ll start the ritual. Have fun storming the castle!
  • The corpse gets stolen, or turned into a zombie, or otherwise leaves their possession. (Who steals a corpse?)

7. Aftermath

Do the adventurers stay in the strange new world? Are there portals to other worlds? Can the Mirror of Wonder be used to trade between worlds? If the icons of one world become aware of the existence of icons from the other will the Mirror of Wonder become a sought-after artifact, and if so how will that complicate the adventurers’ lives? Who created the mirror, and why? Are there more mirrors out there leading between the two worlds, and if so how can the adventurers use that fact to their advantage? Does the person who the party took the Mirror of Wonder from know they have it, and if so what will they do to get it back?

 

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ASH LAW went through a magic mirror from the UK to the USA several years ago. Everything is similar but different. The light switches going ‘up’ for ‘on’ and driving on the other side threw him at first. The fact that Americans leave tea bags in the cup while drinking still bothers him. When not writing he enjoys sleeping, converting food into energy, and regular rhythmic respiration. He lives with his beautiful and tolerant-of-his-writing wife, a young son who has just got his first castle, and two cats who are sitting on his lap right now helpinh hi yfc type on the keyboard vbnmwith their paws.

8 Responses to “Gender-flipped Icons in 13th Age”

  1. Daniel says:

    Ohhh…I quite like these. Very nicely done.

  2. Bruce Gray says:

    What a great article. I may look for more from this author.

  3. Muneshige says:

    The Rose Princess ought to be called the Rose Queen.
    And the “Star Princess” ought to be called “The Sorceress” with a big emphasis on the “THE”.

    “Princess” is overused. It denotes only that one’s father or mother is important, suggests that though they are a prize of great value that they have little power or responsibility of their own. If none but the gods themselves stand above these women, they ought to use other terms. Although “Prince” has the connotation that someone is actively doing something in order to earn his way towards being a true “King”, that just isn’t true of “Princesses” who traditionally at best earn the favor of a Prince through their activities.

    Plus, it doesn’t sound like the “Star Princess” is even part of a royal lineage.

  4. Hjillsok says:

    This looks like a lot of interesting work, and a lot of thought went into it. Well written, so good job.

    However…why do you need to do anything to swap the gender? I can’t think of any icons that need to be changed in any substantive way in order to flip their gender. Change Orc King to Orc Queen, and you’re done. Nothing in the material needs to be changed for the Icon to feel just fine as a woman.

    And that’s actually a really good thing on the part of the writers. That’s how you spot sexism. If you have to change something significantly for it to make sense as another gender, then it is sexist. The Icons don’t feel sexist as written, so they really don’t need to change.

    That said, I like that the Icons all feel like the kinds of things that you *can* change and customize easily. They don’t feel like they have a ton of baggage weighing them down. Elminster and Drizzt are so specific that it would be kind of hard to change them without rewriting all of Forgotten Realms. 13th age walks a very nice line that lets people do stuff like this.

    So kudos all around :}

  5. […] took this from this great article about gender-flipped Icons. I wasn’t really going to use The Warlord and I like the idea of […]

  6. Bruce Gray says:

    Hey – I just thought of a cool idea – perhaps these are secondary Icons – not =quite= as powerful as the main icons, but still a force to be dealt with regardless. There are many ways to include them this way, such as having the Empress above married to the Emperor. I shall use this material…

  7. Meow says:

    Great ideas here. I understand that you wanted to do more than just a gender change. While these do conform to female tropes I can deal with the idea that pseudo-historical inspired fantasy settings have stricter ideas about gender than modern times.

    For the Star Princess an alternate source of power that would fit well is if she is actually some kind of Great Old One, or servitor of a Great Old One. The magics her and her wizards cast require horrific human sacrifices and do include some scientific principles that are incomprensible to any sane human mind and sanity-blasting non-euclidean geometry. The Empress is ageless because she is actually a worshipper herself and may have been the one who summoned her for eternal youth and power.

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