Written by Jeremy Morgan, tabletop games editor, gamer, and software developer.
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Initial Thoughts on Planescape Icons

17 August 2012

Rob Donoghue has been doing a very thought-provoking series of articles on Icons in 13th Age. In case you didn’t know, Rob’s one of the best designers I’ve come across because his thought process is meticulous and yet easy to follow. Before reading this post, go and read his posts here and here.

Done with his? Good. Rob commented on one of those posts that it’d be easy to do this with the Lady of Pain and the factions in Sigil. I responded that it would be even more awesome to personify the planes themselves and have the powers be these new Planar Icons’ most powerful representatives.

Initial Thoughts

Let’s start to unpack my thinking here. One of the conceits of 13th Age and the Icon concept is that there are 13 Icons. If we use one for each outer plane, that gives us 16 already, not including the Outlands. It also seems reasonable that we need to have the Lady of Pain and the elemental planes represented, and we have to account for the Astral and the Ethereal as well. I’m not too worried about the Prime Material, as I’d say that the Powers should be the ultimate thing those worlds know of. It’s only when they begin to travel the planes that they discover the Icons and what they represent.

If you’re playing along at home, that gives us 21 at minimum. I could charge ahead, but I think that’s too many. The whole point of 13 (I presume) is to give a good range of options without a lot of overlap; in other words, we’re striving for meaningful choices.

Narrowing It Down

Having said that, we can play with the cosmology a bit and say that some Icons represent more than one plane. For instance, if we abstract away the concept of war being good or evil, and just talk about war, we can represent Ysgard and Acheron with one Icon, who I’ll call the Eternal Warrior. Likewise, we could say that both the Beastlands and Arborea are the domain of an Icon I’ll call the Wild Queen.

There are more similarities that we can draw. Suffice to say that I’ve managed to narrow down the list to 15 as of the writing of this blog post. Later in the week I’ll post my list (although I’ve already teased you with two here).


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