Sunday, September 6, 2020

The 13th Age Community-Selected Icons

Sketch of the Mageflame

A month back, we ran a survey asking the 13th Age community to select their favorite icons from the sets of Open Game Content (OGC) icons that work seamlessly with official material. The results are in, and we're pleased to share them with you. As a third-party publisher, you're allowed to use these icons in your products under the Open Game License. Pelgrane Press is going to commission art for each icon symbol, which will also be OGC. In a very real way, these are the community's icons!

  • The Mageflame – The most powerful wizard in the world is said to possess a special spark, the Mageflame, that allows him or her to rise above the other masters of the arcane. The current bearer of the Mageflame is a powerful wizard who commands a small army of magic wielders to place and maintain grave wards, beast barriers, and weather towers across the land. His realm is a giant floating city in the sky. He is nominally allied to the Ivory Throne, but it’s unclear what role the surface world plays in his larger agenda.
  • The Conqueror – The chosen champion of the dark gods. He rallies armies and razes demonic strongholds, capturing them to make his army stronger and fight ever more demons. He is the counterpoint to the Godspeaker, and in open warfare with the the Tempter.
  • The Tempter – The youngest of the current icons, her predecessor, the Dark Master, having been destroyed by the Elven Court. Because she is currently fighting both the Conqueror and the Elven Court, she is having problems expanding her power base. The Tempter serves as a conduit that allows demons to come into the world. In other words – she is the portal.
  • The Lord of the Forge – Deep below the mountains, the ruler of the dwarves keeps the different keeps and strongholds united as a kingdom. His position places him in control of a powerful forge from Ages past that allows for the production of new magic items, albeit at great cost of time and resources.
  • The Elven Court – The ruling court that oversees the alliance between three factions of elves – Wood, High, and Dark. A tentative peace is held between the factions to keep them from acting out on ancient rivalries and grudges. Elves have long lives and even longer memories. For now, the elves understand that only by working together they can keep the younger races from encroaching on their territory. But still, that doesn’t prevent the occasional conflict to be resolved with arrow, magic spell, and poison.
  • The Ivory Throne – In the imperial capital, the king or queen of men rules from a splendorous seat of power. Over the ages, their realm has risen and waned, and today, the sovereign doesn’t control even half the territory they claim to be theirs. But as long as the throne stands, the kingdom will not fall. The Ivory Throne is allied with the Mageflame, the Godspeaker, and the Gatekeeper to keep civilization from teetering back into darkness.
  • The Gatekeeper – A gigantic ancient being that some claim to be the physical embodiment of a God. Others claim it is a celestial left to watch over the world they created. The Gatekeeper spends their days locked in battle with the demons that would otherwise destroy the world. A massive battle in a previous Age has left the Gatekeeper in a diminished state – some fear he is on the verge of death. The Gatekeeper is served by a noble order of Paladins who have sworn to fight demonic incursions. They directly oppose the Temptress, but they are wary allies of the Conqueror. In the short term, their goals may be aligned, but the endgame is very different.
  • The Wildwalker – As civilization grew, nature retreated. But as the forests shrank, a powerful voice emerged to make their pain heard. The current Wildwalker is a young druid with a powerful rallying cry to fight back. Before, the balance of civilization and nature tilted towards civilization, but she wants to tip the scales back, and many fear this will lead to war with the Ivory Throne.
  • The Deathless One – The master of undead and wielder of the raw power that animates such creatures. The Deathless One was once the Mageflame and achieved a state of deathless immortality through control over negative energy. Once his fellows learned that he would neither die nor abdicate, he was forcibly removed from his position and the benefits it provided. Shortly after, he took control of a small kingdom through the expedient of murdering everyone and raising them under his control. He has been quiet for some centuries, tinkering away at making better and stronger undead creations. Biding his time, waiting to strike and liberate the world from the cruelties of life.
  • The Devourer – The savage races of the north, the orcs, goblins, ogres and giants, are too locked up in tribal warfare and seasonal raids to pose a threat to civilization. But every now and then, a leader of such strength, ferocity, and cunning rises up to unite the tribes and propels them onto the main stage of history. In this Age, the orcs have proven to be worthy of everyone’s attention under the leadership of one who embodies a terrifying concept – relentless hunger.
  • The Godspeaker – The bright gods play a distant role in this world, but in this Age they have blessed someone with the ability to consult with them directly in return for spreading their will. The Godspeaker has unified disparate divinities under one umbrella, but that doesn’t come without petty squabbles among competing clergy. The Godspeaker may speak, but to act, they would have to unite many diverse and stubborn voices with opposing beliefs on anything from the meaning of marriage to what meats are acceptable to eat. They act as the counterpoint to The Conqueror, champion of the dark gods, and like the Ivory Throne, they serve to protect civilization.
  • The Faceless – Nobody really knows who the Faceless is or what they truly represent, but everyone is willing to sell you their theory for good coin. Some call the Faceless the one true god, enjoying playing with the toys of the world. Others say the Faceless is “only” a highly successful band of rogues, and that the Faceless’s claim of the theft of a star was merely the hunger of the Devourer that they took credit for. Whatever the truth, the Faceless is always at the heart of yet another riddle and mystery.
  • The Council of Scales – By itself, a dragon is a worthy adversary of a band of adventurers. The eldest dragon of each chromatic color rivals the power of entire small nations. Together, as a council, they control entire cities, mountain ranges, and seas, and rival the Ivory Throne in the size of lands they control. If one day they decide to seize their internal squabbles and march their scaled armies into human lands, the throne could finally fall.
  • The Dweller Below – A dark reflection of the Wildwalker, ruling over the creatures and sentients who live away from the light, either in caves or deep beneath the waves. Most surface dwellers have forgotten about the Dweller Below or believe him to be a fable crafted to scare children. He simply sleeps in his nest, but will rise if his realm is disturbed.
Note that we have adjusted the icon descriptions slightly so that when other icons are mentioned, they align with the synthesized community list. Also, the Tempter was originally named the Dark Mistress at the time of the survey, but has since been updated.

Sketch from Maximilian Schmuecker's work on the Mageflame icons.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Community Project: The Mageflame Chronicles

Mageflame Icon Sketches
Martin Killmann, designer of Dark Pacts & Ancient Secrets and Dark Alleys & Twisted Paths, as well as frequent contributor to Escalation, just launched a new project. This one's a little different than his previous works, because he's seeking help from freelancers. You don't need design credits to participate, either. This could be your opportunity to contribute to a hefty 13th Age project and eventually see your name in print!

Here's what Martin recently said about the project:

Fine folks of 13th Age, let me give a quick update on the Mageflame Chronicles project: This came up as the idea to build a community-created setting around the Mageflame Icons originally created by Cody Swendrowski.

By now, we’ve got a rough idea where we’re going and seven community members creating the first pieces.

The project is open to anyone, so come in, have a look, and start your freelancing resume.

For more information, including compensation per word, how to contact Martin, and were to watch the project unfold, check out the project document.

Sketches from Maximilian Schmuecker's work on the Mageflame icons.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Articles Needed: House Rules

Unearthed Arcana Cover
Work on Issue 9 is underway, now that we've completed Issue 8. Before the latest issue had even been finalized, we had received several articles that appear to have a common theme: house rules. So we're going to run with the theme and flesh out the next issue with the fun additions, variants, options, and omissions that make 13th Age unique to you and your table.

Interested in submitting an article? Here are some general categories that might spark your imagination.

  • How do you handle icons in your game? This may be the largest element that differentiates one 13th Age group from another. We'd love to hear your ideas. Did you replace them with a different system? Add mechanical benefits that icon advantages grant during combat? Use icon relationships as a replacement or addition to backgrounds?
  • Have you added mechanics that were intended to capture the feel of a particular adventure or encounter?
  • Have you borrowed a system that you enjoyed in another game and added it to 13th Age? How did you incorporate it?
  • Do you handle backgrounds differently? Do you use a skill system from another game?
  • Have you used One Unique Things to grant mechanical bonuses to your characters?
  • Did you need to change any mechanics to support a different genre, such as mysteries, sci-fi, or gritty, low fantasy?

Take a look at the link at the top right corner of the page for submission guidelines and contact information. Please spread the word and help the community tailor 13th Age so it matches their needs perfectly!

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Escalation Issue 8 is Available

Escalation Issue 8 CoverI'm pleased to announce that Escalation Issue 8 is now available! You can find it on the Vault of the 13th Age. This issue's theme is Midgard, the campaign setting made famous by the fine folks at Kobold Press. We’re pleased to present the official Midgard icons, written by Wade Rockett, featuring new art that was commissioned for this issue. An introductory adventure features two of Midgard’s most well-known locations: the Margreve Forest and the Free City of Zobeck. Midgard is known for its diverse drakes and dragonkin, so we offer some new variations. Players needn’t fear, because this issue is filled with character options, including ley line magic, alcohol-themed talents, the trollkin playable race, a new take on gearforged, and a collection of Midgard character options from Martin Killmann.

We love to hear feedback, so let us know what you enjoy and would like to see more of in the future. What's missing that you'd like us to include next time? What didn't work so well, and we should consider omitting? This is the community's fanzine, and we want to make it as useful as possible for you.

Please consider submitting articles that expand upon the theme of House Rules for Issue 9. See the information on the right side of the page if you'd like to submit an article or art.

Thanks again to everyone who made this possible!

Monday, July 20, 2020

Vote for the 13th Age Community Icons

Since Escalation operates using Fire Opal Media's generous community use policy, we're able to refer to the Dragon Empire's icons by name in our free publications. Third party publishers need to create icons of their own, since the Dragon Empire icons aren't included in the 13th Age SRD. Over the years, this has led to several different sets of third party icons, some of which can be found at 13thagesrd.com/icons.

Pelgrane Press would like to show its support of the community by commissioning icon symbols for a list of Open Gaming Content (OGC) icons. These icons and their accompanying artwork will be OGC, and available for third party publishers to use, if they so choose.

Pelgrane Press reached out to us here at Escalation, and asked us to help create a set of Community Icons. We decided we'd put it up to a vote between existing sets of icons. We selected the Mageflame and C.A. Wright icons as candidates, because they work seamlessly with official material.

Now's your chance to vote for your favorite OGC icons. Winning icons and their symbols will appear in a set of Community Icons. Voting will end on Tuesday, July 28, at 12:01 AM EDT.


Icons are courtesy of Dungeons & Dragons ©Wizards of the Coast.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Escalation Issue 7 is Available

I'm pleased to announce that the whopping, 124-page Escalation Issue 7 is now available! You can find it on the Vault of the 13th Age. This issue's theme is The Divine. We dive into pantheons that you can use in your 13th Age game. Signs of the gods are manifested in their followers in the world. New barbarian talents expand the class and add complexity. God Time and heroquesting is discussed for our Glorantha fans. Ashley Law presents new divine spells, magic items, and flavorful options from the overworld. John Marvin provides sample gods from Gods and Icons. And remember, in a world where the gods (potentially) fuel the magic of their followers, these articles aren’t just for clerics and paladins in your party. We sought to include content that’s useful for world building and for PCs of all varieties.

We love to hear feedback, so let us know what you enjoy and would like to see more of in the future. What's missing that you'd like us to include next time? What didn't work so well, and we should consider omitting? This is the community's fanzine, and we want to make it as useful as possible for you.

Please consider submitting articles that expand upon Kobold Press' support of 13th Age in the Midgard campaign setting. Issue 8 is dedicated to bringing Midgard to life using 13th Age. See the information on the right side of the page if you'd like to submit an article or art.

Thanks again to everyone who made this possible!

Monday, October 21, 2019

Articles Needed: Midgard

As a long-time fan of the awesome products from Kobold Press, I'm excited to announce that we're ready to begin work on the next issue of Escalation, focused on the Midgard campaign setting. Not familiar with Midgard? Then check out this short primer.

The Midgard Bestiary: 13th Age Edition offers dozens of Midgard creatures and NPCs, thirteen icons, and nine PC races. Combined with the Midgard Worldbook, the bestiary provides the basis for entire Midgard campaigns using 13th Age. Yet, available 13th Age content only scratches the surface of Midgard. We need the help of the community to flesh out Midgard for 13th Age gaming groups.

Here are some ideas for articles:

  • There are many Midgard races that aren't detailed in the Midgard Bestiary. A selection includes alseid, bearfolk, shadow fey, trollkin, derro, dhampir, jinnborn, lamia, ratfolk, sahuagin, lizardfolk, hiveless, werelions, and winterfolk halflings.
  • The icons presented in the Midgard Bestiary were drawn from a time period about a decade in the Midgard metaplot's past. What icons are present, now?
  • Midgard features several continents. Many powerful NPCs—potential icons—are limited in scope. What advice can you offer GMs to select the right icons for their adventures and campaigns? What might the icons in a Zobeck- or Margreve-focused campaign look like? How would they differ from a campaign where PCs are from all over Midgard?
  • Deities are more present and important in Midgard than they are in 13th Age's Dragon Empire. This leads to several cleric domains that haven't been explored in 13th Age. These include apocalypse, beer (yes, beer!), bird, cat, clockwork, dragon, glyphs, hunger, hunting, insect, labyrinth, mountain, ocean, prophecy, speed, travel, and void domains. 
  • Ley lines are an important aspect of arcane magic in Midgard. How can they be represented mechanically in 13th Age?
  • The Status attribute offers mechanical benefits and drawbacks in Midgard. The system wouldn't be hard to port to 13th Age, but how can it be syncretized with icon relationships?
  • Some archetypes might work well as talents. For example, Midgard features ghost knight fighters, vampire slayer rangers, and clockwork wizards.
  • Ring magic, rune magic, blood magic, and void magic offer new spells and even approaches to tapping into the arcane. How can these be represented in 13th Age?
  • The Tome of Beasts and Creature Codex are filled with hundreds of new Midgard monsters. What 13th Age campaign wouldn't be richer with more foes?

For further ideas, the Midgard Swords & Wizardry Guidebook could serve as a good template for bringing Midgard to 13th Age.

Take a look at the link at the top right corner of the page for submission guidelines and contact information.  Please spread the word and help us create an issue that will help the World Tree grow!