Whiffless Icon Rolls

Written by Martin K.

I've been DMing 13th Age since the first public playtest, but I had some problems making the icon relationship rolls work as by the book. Some issues that we faced:

* Players were disappointed when all their Icon rolls failed for the session

* Rolling them all at the session gives the DM a bucket list, but it's hard to bring them all up in the session (especially if you have seven players, like me)

So I made a few changes. First of all, give results 1 to 4 a meaning. Second, stop rolling them at the start of the session. Instead, players call for an Icon relationship roll when they think they need help. To stop players from just relying on the icons to get them out of whatever trouble they are in, 1 and 2 will usually cause even more trouble - but still drive the story.

Here is the table. Roll d6 as usual.



(6) Support - The Icon chooses to tilt fate in the PC's favor, usually through one of its supporters. Support can be in the form of a gift, allies in combat, a political favor, a mystical ability, a sudden turn of events and similar.

(5) Favor with strings attached - As above, but with consequences. The favor works to the icon's benefit, but not necessarily the PC. There could be betrayal, new enemies, material loss, a new obstacle, or a debt to be paid.

(4) Information - The Icon does not interfere directly, but the hero is presented with the chance to gain information. This could be an NPC contact, access to a library, a map, a vision, evidence to a crime... The information may be a half-truth or an outright lie, especially if the Icon is hostile.

(3) Trial - The party is presented with a challenge. Examples include combat, a tussle of words, a puzzle, a riddle or a quest. The PC can win a favor, depending on whether he or she succeeds.

(2) Conflict - Two forces are struggling, and the PC is caught in between and has to take sides. This could be a direct attack, like a mob of dragon cultists, an assassination attempt or multi-layered political scheming. In any case, this is more likely to make the PC's situation worse, even if they are on the winning side.

(1) Request - Instead of helping the PC, the Icon (or its enemies) request a favor from their side for continued support. The PC can choose to decline, but he or she will lose the relationship die permanently. If the PC chooses to do the opposite, it can change the relationship from friendly to hostile, or vice versa.



Players can call an Icon relationship roll at any time during the session.

Icon rolls are resolved as soon as possible within the limits of the story. While one icon roll is being resolved, no other rolls can be called (DM may grant an exception). The DM can allow the party to roll up to three relationship dice in one go, including for different icons by different PCs. These rolls are then resolved together.

Once relationship die is rolled, it is gone for the session and regained in the next one.

A little crib to remember:

6 - Sixess
5 - Nickled and dimed
4 - Infourmation
3 - Trial
2 - Conflict between two parties
1 - One-sided request



Props to Ryven Cedrylle / Mystic Theurge, who sparked the initial idea.

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