Friday, February 28, 2014

The Anvil Heart Heist

At the center of every Dwarf city, their greatest treasures are collected in what's known as the Heart Vault.

Anvil's Heart is most impressive, being the second largest Dwarf city and the only city outsiders are allowed to visit. Inside the heart are several of the clerics of Yrd, moved during the ongoing construction of the Undermarch.

Those seeking to plunder the riches of Anvil's Heart must contest with three major hurdles.

Hearthearth Hall: Some might classify the central building of Anvil as a tamed, living dungeon. The building can reshape itself in its own defense and turn any hallway into a deadly, trap-filled obstacle.

Rgns's Vault: The great Yrd cleric of the 10th age constructed the vault himself.

The Plunder: Thousands of gold pieces and 500-pound stone statues aren't easy to move

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Agents of an Icon - Patchwork Friars

Though the Priestess works in mysterious ways, she's smart enough to have a good organization on the ground. It's nice to have clerics and paladins who can touch the powers of the divine, but those are specialized resources can't help everyone. Plenty of people have faith in the Goddess even if they don't have the whiz-bang ability to seal bleeding wounds with glowing hands. Those who have faith if not power join the Patchwork Friars.

The Friars get their name from their hand-sewn robes. Those who enter her service as friars show this by wearing coats of many colors. The tradition is the coat is made from a scrap of fabric from each family in the community, given to the Friar to stitch together during a period of meditation and sanctification. Richer parishes feature lavish coats stitched together by seamstresses. The Friar should be able to tell a story about each patch on the robe and use it to spin some homey wisdom about the Gods of Light.

The Priestess restricts a few colors. Besides the unfortunate associations with the Puritan, white is restricted to those followers of the Goddess who do have the touch of divine power. A Friar may incorporate white into a design if they are gifted with divine power or if they encounter someone who does. A white patch over a rip caused by a spear hit fighting along side a paladin is perfectly acceptable. Gold is frowned upon too, both for its connection to the Great Gold Wyrm and it's financial connotations.

Friar Dar serves as the Friar for the lands of Harker's Keep. He was one of the few to stand up to the excesses of Abbadon Company and only his faith in his Goddess kept him from bleeding out on a chapel's floor. Now he organizes the resistance efforts, while the Dragon Squires rub elbows with the big players in the area.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Magic Items - Hellgloves and Helmet of Stone's Patience

My players got some good loot after their first battles with Abbadon Company. Let's take a look at what they got.


Courtesy of
Crafted from the skin of a demon's hands. Each glove has a gem bathed in the fires of a hellhole embedded in each palm. (Diabolist)

(Recharge 11+) Once per battle, you may increase the die of an attack dealing fire damage up to a d12. You take the damage rolled on the increased dice. Quirk: Your hands are always ice cold.

Helmet of Stone's Patience

Found in the sanctuary where Friar Dar was held. When active, the tassels form the Preistess's symbol.

(Recharge 6+) At the beginning of the a battle, you may choose to go last. If you do so, the escalation die increases by one at the beginning of your turn rather then at the end.  Quirk: It's never a simple yes or no answer with you.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Alternate Icon - The Puritan

The blood I spill consecrates the ground for a new age.

The Puritan protects the common people of the world from the devils, demons and monsters that roam the Empire. Unless you're an elf. Or a dwarf. Or a wingling. Then, he'll tell you that the Gods help those who help themselves as you get eaten.

Usual Location

The Puritan built up a fortress now known as First Triumph, where the majority of his army is amassing. Or out crusading.

Common Knowledge

Luxor Urelius was a commander in the Dragon Empire's guard that was also a rising star. His bracing honesty and immunity to the politics and intrigue of Axis garnered him the attention of the puppetmasters. They did what they usually do - send the solider on a fool's crusade like purifying a hellhole and use him as a martyr and symbol as needed.

And then he won.

He believed that his human heritage was what kept him from succumbing to the temptations and terrors he found in the hellhole. The men who survived were all also human. These men formed the first companies of the Puritan and they believe that humanity will save the Dragon Empire. Humans will be the kings and queens of a brand new age, bringing all the races of the Empire to heel, not just the dragons.

Adventurers & the Icon

Adventurers looking for experience in slaying monsters without the vagary of mysterious tavern-based quest dispensers might sign on to one of the Puritan's companies.  If you're willing to fight, if you're willing to die, the Puritan will have you slaying monsters in no time. Despite his rhetoric about the purity of human, other races are accepted into his companies. Of course, those units are often the most poorly equipped and the first in to a hellhole, but that's mere coincidence.


So long as The Puritan bends his knee to the Emperor, the Emperor turns a blind eye to the Puritan's discrimination. The Lich King views him as a potential tool to cast down the Dragon Empire, and often sends anonymous tips on demon whereabouts. The Great Gold Wyrm wishes he would shut up and fight, but notes that more and more of his paladins fight alongside the white tunics of the Puritan.


The Diabolist can't stand the Puritan, especially since the stories she's told about the nights they've spent together don't seem to stick. Both the Elf Queen and Dwarf King dislike him, but have written him off as the Dragon Emperor's problem for now. The Priestess thinks his means do not justify his means, since whereveer his companies go they rattle the harmony of peaceful communities.


Throughout the ages, there have been racist enclaves of mercenaries that have siexes an enclave or terrorized a fiefdom. The Puritan is the first to do it on a global scale. His mix of populism and human supremacy

The True Danger

Cleaning up all the monsters in the world will take time. Maybe even an age or two. But what happens once the Puritan turns his troops on those blood he views as unclean.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Agents of An Icon - Abbadon Company

For the next level of our campaign, the heroes face a piece of the Crusader's army. The army protects the area from the gnoll raiders that moved in to terrorize the locals, but the price for that protection is quickly becoming apparent. After they defeat Abbadon Company, the heroes will discover why the Crusader in this Age is known as The Puritan.

After the victory of First Triumph, the Puritan set about organizing the massive army he raised as a more permanent concern. Each company he organized was named about one of the portals he passed through to secure his new base. The companies are rotated throughout the lands of the Dragon Empire. In most cases, the companies away from the hellhole are tasked with securing resources to send back home. The commanders are given leeway in how they provide their resources. Funding the War of White is more important than the details of how it gets done.

Abbadon was the first of these rings, so the troops are new to the cause. The line between "believer in the destiny of human ascension" and "hiding behind a uniform to beat people up" is very thing. Most of these virtues, as the Crusader's soldiers are called, have seen no action against demons. Their cruelty to the non-human subjects of the barony is on display, though truth be told, their treatment of the humans outside the Puritan's company is not much better,

Industus Nazim Rojaspina leads Abbadon Company. The company arrived at the behest of Baron Jonn Harker. When Harker went missing, the troops moved into the keep to maintain order while they searched for the missing lord. Nazim vows that once Harker is found and the gnolls are finally defeated, the company will leave. He appreciates the sacrifices the barony makes in the meantime to keep the company fighting fit.

The Dragon Emperor is unhappy with large, organized military companies roaming the countryside, but the Puritan's actions at First Triumph kept his armies from being overrun by demons. Supplicants to the Throne were sent months ago and have yet to return. Anything that makes the Dragon Emperor uncomfortable, of course, makes the Three hiss with delight. Rumors of a Blue Dragon Sorceress have been enough to keep any organized resistance against Abbadon Company to a minimum.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Icon Relationships: It's Complicated

The icon rules are one of the big selling points of 13th Age. They connect characters to the setting and give first level characters some stake in the way the world works. The relationship roll at the beginning of each session offers an interesting challenge in plotting sessions. The GM needs to leave in some space to play with. If there's a magic item to be found, or a potential foil for the heroes, its best to leave the specifics of one element up to the opening roll.

I wanted some clear difference between a complicated relationship and a complicated connection roll. It is far too easy to make a six on a complicated relationship feel like a five on a positive relationship roll. A simple fix? Rolling a five allows for a benefit from the icon, but one that complicates a relationship with another player. That buddy of yours allied to the Prince of Shadows? Turns out he's on the Crusader's most wanted list. Or the High Druid gives you a magical item originally dedicated to the Priestess.

Using a relationship roll like this also keeps players who whiff on their opening roll from disappointment. Everyone likes plot candy, so no fives or sixes feels like opening an empty wrapper. Whatever players that don't pull anything on the opening roll come into conflict with the ones who roll fives and stay engaged with the icons even if this session started out on an empty tank.

For those cases where a player makes it through a session without cashing in a five or six, they can roll it forward to a later session. In the later session, they can use it to make a fresh full relationship roll at that time. The certainty of help now becomes the uncertainty of more help later. Sometimes the narrative of the episode doesn't quite get to a place where it makes sense for the icon to show up. The GM can still use a banked roll to weave into the story - that icon's true machinations just didn't become apparent until the right moment. How did the Lich King and the Archmage conspire to make the Elf Queen help out the party's wizard? That sounds like a fun exercise for the GM.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Skyharbor Abbey

Courtesy of
Much of the Dragon Emperor's power comes from the Dragon Knights that fight in his name. Knights are made at Skyharbor Abbey, a floating castle that drifts along the winds in the Overworld. By the time it makes a cycle of the Overworld, the squires have either been hardened into the emperor's instruments or washed out like the melting ice from the frost dragon who protects the castle.

The current dragon in residence calls itself Glacius. Glacius bonded with the Dragon Lord Gabriel Sunswerd. When the last abbot retired, Gabriel and Glacius took over duties of training the next generation of Dragon Knights. Squires are accepted from all parts of the Empire, regardless of their connections with icons. The politics usually balance themselves out, since the icons find having a Dragon Knight or two at their beck and call to be quite useful.

The process begins with learning to fearlessly fly. Each squire is taught how to fly on a wyvern, a small, winged creature roughly the side of a horse. The castle's mobility allows it to moved to troubled areas and dispatch a squadron of wyvern riders. The Lord of the Abbey rarely gets involved directly, though it is up to him or her what pleas of help to answer and which to leave alone.

Dragon knights appear from time to time, using the Abbey as a mobile keep and place to recover between adventures.These stays are short due to the territorial nature of dragon's lairs. So long as the Lord of the Abbey is there, so to does the Lord's dragon. A dragon may have multiple lairs, but they only truly call one home.

Rarely do other Dragon Lords visit. Doing so is considered a breach of protocol and a vote of no confidence in the Lord of the Abbey. Since the Lords wish to have Dragon Knights to do their bidding, keeping things friendly with the Lord of the Abbey is a good idea.