In what is now an ongoing series of porting over cool mechanics from other modern RPGs, today I want to look at grabbing Icons from the fantasy roleplaying game 13th Age and adapting it for use in the kind of campaign I would like to run. The 13th Age core rulebook, as well as various sources on the internet, have a much more extensive description of how to use Icons, when to use Icons, and other tips and tricks. Here, I will simply give a barebones overview of my own particular method.
Icons are the powerful forces in any given campaign setting. They are the powerful benefactors, machiavellian secret guilds, and dreaded nemeses of the world; often with divine or semi-divine powers. In a Star Wars setting, Icons take the form of the most iconic figures in the galaxy; Luke Skywalker, Rebel Alliance Intelligence, The Emperor. They also occupy roles that are closer to heart to the Player Characters, representing personalities that may be small-time in the galaxy, but are of the utmost importance to the protagonists of the story; their mentors, family, friends, and old rivals.
At the start of your Star Wars campaign (or right now if you are currently running a campaign), sit down with your players and map out the major Icons you want to see in the galaxy. Try to create a mix of over-the-top figures from the movies, powerful groups or institutions, and more sympathetic and down-to-earth folks; for some examples, see Suggestions below. In many ways, the Icons will be filling the roles that Obligations, Duty, and Motivations do in FFG Star Wars RPGs. When creating Icons, look for ways to wrap up multiple Obligations, Duty, and Motivations into the interests of those Icons. In fact, you may find that using Icons eliminates the need for these other game mechanics entirely as the benefits and difficulties bequeathed to a character by his or her connection to an Icon can function with the same mechanics.
Each player character then assigns a disposition to up to 3 different icons being either positive, negative, or conflicted. Dispositions describe the general feelings and relationship on how a character interacts with an Icon, the Icon’s servants, and the Icon’s allies. Next, the player assigns 3 Relationship Points spread among these chosen Icons, representing the depth of the relationship and how often the player wants that Icon to influence the campaign. For each of these Relationship Points, the player character will be rolling a Force Die at certain times as dictated by the Galaxy Master to uncover the course of galactic events.
At the start of a new adventure or the conclusion of an old adventure, have each player character roll a Force Die for each Relationship Point.
On a die showing two Light Side, the character’s relationship to the Icon makes its presence felt in the upcoming story by providing the player character with a positive benefit; such as granting useful equipment, special insider information, or unlikely allies. On multiple dice showing two Light Side, double or triple the overall magnitude of the effect.
On a die showing two Dark Side, a complication or twist crops up related to the Icon’s relationship to the player character; such as triggering an Obligation, adding additional rivals, or threatening that which the player characters hold most dear. On multiple dice showing two Dark Side, double or triple the overall magnitude of the effect.
In either case, use these random results and combination of benefactors’ involvement to spur your imagination in crafting a unique, surprising, and above all entertaining next session.
WHEN IN DOUBT …
Icons provide another useful tool, in this case for jumpstarting in-game dramatic events, floundering roleplaying encounters, or stalling puzzle-solving. When stuck in such a manner, call for Relationship rolls with the Icons. Like Destiny above, these results provide a means to explain the situation, expound upon the plot, and develop new ways of moving the fiction forward via the surprise involvement of important Icons. Use this as an idea generator of discovery and surprise.
an engine of ruthless efficiency that stands to maintain peace and order in a galaxy splitting apart at the seams.
Motivations: Status, Local Politics, Capitalism, Support the Empire, Peace, Order, Military, Intelligence
the obsidian fist of The Empire, striking out with passion and rage to smite his enemies. A master swordsman, he is the last known living Jedi Knight, a relic from a forgotten age.
Motivations: Expertise, Religion/Spirituality, Support the Empire, Former Nemesis, Honor, The Force, The Sith, Vengeance
a dark and cunning figure, The Emperor is the shadowy puppet master of the entire galaxy, everything proceeding according to his design. All his thoughts center around finding lost secrets, accumulating power and holding onto it for as long as possible.
Motivations: Expertise, Religion/Spirituality, Power, Status, The Force, The Sith, Lost Treasures, Influence
Rebel Alliance Military
a desperate band of freedom fighters, constantly on the defensive and on the run from the far better equipped Galactic Empire.
Motivations: Overthrow the Empire, Species Rights, Droid Rights, Emancipation, Military, Intelligence, The Republic, Rescue
a strong headed leader within the Alliance command structure, Princess Leia has a patrician upbringing, lofty ideals, and a soft heart which often lead her to bite off more than she can chew in the name of what is morally right, no matter the cost.
Motivations: Family, The Weak/Charity, Overthrow the Empire, Local Politics, Political, Freedom, The Republic, Species Rights
Jedi Master Kenobi
the spirit of a fallen Jedi warrior, Obi-Wan Kenobi believes that the restoration of the Jedi Knights will be the only true way to peace in the galaxy.
Motivations: Religion/Spirituality, The Weak/Charity, Mentor, Childhood Friend, Honor, The Force, The Jedi Knights, Peace
Jabba the Hutt
a disgusting Hutt crime boss with a penchant for strange and exotic entertainment.
Motivations: Greed, Wanderlust/Novelty, Crime, Local Politics, Family, The Underworld, Economic, Vengeance
The Black Sun Sydicate
a shadowy, efficient criminal empire with an insatiable hunger for more and more wealth.
Motivations: Greed, Expertise, Power, Crime, Influence, The Underworld, Free Enterprise, Lost Treasures
a cold, deadly droid bounty hunter who seeks a way to elevate his species to their rightful place of superiority in the galaxy.
Motivations: Fame, Status, Droid Rights, Expertise, Justice, Rival, Glory, Purpose