3 Rules for Creating Compelling Fantasy Religions

Whether you are creating your own setting or just adding your own flare to an existing setting, creating your own fantasy religions can be fun for both you and your players. The gods and their religions is a way to emphasize something important in your campaign. Learning more about the god of stealth is important when fighting the thieves’ guild; discovering a particular blacksmith is a follower of the deity of war equipment may tip off the players to the NPC being more than they appear.

So how can you go about making your own, without shamelessly ripping off real world religions? Before I answer that, I wholeheartedly endorce “borrowing heavily” from mythology. Some exceptional tales are there and are a classic for a reason. Pick up a book on them, read and borrow.

But if you still feel you need to create a religion from whole cloth, I have three rules for you to follow.

1) Pick a Theme and Run With It

Start with a core concept that is going to be important enough that it could draw followers. Clearly define it in 1-3 words: war, art, thieving, servants, farming, birds, a particular celestial body, and crafting are but a few examples. Now take that core concept and let your mind wander on what else is related to that theme. Servants work hard all day long for little reward. Who else does that? Employees. So this moves beyond a Noble’s servants and incorporates the baker’s lowly assistant, the dock workers, the one that cooks for to the caravan guards, and so on. So this deity is not a good of servants, but a god to the downtrodden. When the downtrodden are about to be beaten by their master’s for some minor mistake (or because the master is in the mood), they call upon their deity and the deity shows them some place to hide, perhaps even helping them to plan for such eventualities. So this deity is also a god of forethought and hiding places. Now this deity is both fun and more fleshed out than just “servants.”

2) Add in Something Unexpected … And DON’T Explain it.

Players will latch in to that oddity and think about that far longer than anything else, trying to figure out how they work together? Why does the deity of understanding, reason, and time have a groundhog as their spirit animal? Sure it makes total sense if you’ve seen the movie Groundhog Day, but if you hadn’t, how long would you try puzzling that one through. More importantly, what crazy ideas would you come up with trying to make that one work.

The most important part of this step is to limit it to one or two things. Anything more and the theme to your carefully thought out deity starts to look like a collection of random ideas rolled up together. This is definitely a less-is-more situation. Take the deity of servants from the previous step. What if we make them associated with purple flowers? Or instead its sacred animal is a particular breed of goldfish? Maybe followers should always turn their glass or bowl of water counterclockwise three times before taking their first drink for the day. Obviously, there is a perfectly logical explanation for whatever oddity is chosen, but leaving such reasons said unspoken both adds an heir of mystery and makes the world feel more lived in. Besides, it is entirely possible no one knows why such oddity is the case. It could have been lost to time over the last 1,000+ years. Maybe the deity never felt the need to explain such oddities to their followers. Heck you could make the answer explainable should someone ask, but they have to ask someone in world so they can give an in-world explanation. No matter what it is, treat it as ordinary as a Catholic priest putting a wafer into your mouth saying that it is from the body of someone that died about two thousand years ago and you should eat that dead person’s flesh.

3) Describe How Mundane Followers Interact With Their Faith

In my experience, this more than anything else is forgotten by game designers and GMs when describing religions. While the religion is focused around the deity/deities, the followers are no less important. Without followers, gods lose power. Terry Pratchett described this relationship perfectly in his book Small Gods. The great god Om said several times throughout the book, “Smite you with lightning bolts!” when he got angry at someone, yet nothing happened until he gained a single follower. Even then, he got hit with the equivalent of static electricity. When many people believed in him, he swelled with power.

Mind you, that book was really about how the people in the church of Om had no faith and simply did the ceremony without knowing the reasons why. However, a religion without some type of regular way for the followers to participate in is a religion that is going to lose followers. How many books are forgotten after their author dies? Sure some classics are remembered, like Mary Shelley’s The Modern Prometheus is well remembered, but Percy Shelly is not nearly as well remembered despite the fact he was an established author when his wife created Dr Frankenstein and his monster. Same idea.

So yes, any religion needs a consistent way for the followers to interact with their faith. All of these should interact with stuff we decided above. Prayers at select times or for certain reasons. Eating / not eating certain foods on certain days. Regular community gatherings with preferred offerings. Ceremonies to mark important events in the religion as well as the lives of the followers. Perhaps the god of servants has a ceremony marking someone’s promotion. Similarly, prayers for enough energy and strength to make it through a hard day’s work comes at dawn while prayers of protection against an angry master’s wrath can come at any time. Compare that with a god of intellect and arcane study: prayers to that deity should be before sitting down at a desk to do some heavy reading and study. That same deity probably talks about the evils of eating excessive carbs as they will make one drowsy before a long night of study by candlelight.

I hope these tips help you create compelling religions in your game. Be sure to check out all of JBE’s Pathfinder 1e, D&D 5e, 13th Age, and Traveller at the JBE Shop.

13th Age: The Mother, an Alternate Icon

All year long we are releasing alternate icons for 13th Age. Read previous entries in the series: the Usurper, Deposed Heir, Fleshcrafter, Herald, Wandering Spirit, and the Guild Mistress. This month we leave civilization behind and bring in someone that doesn’t dish out cruelty as much as giving others permission to release their own cruelty, the Mother, the equal and opposite of the Great Druid.

In many ways, the Mother is not terribly dissimilar to the Guild Mistress, although both would slice your throat if you made the suggestion to their faces. Both make deals and trade goods, and those deals are always tipped in the icon’s favor. What they trade in is where they differ. Where the Guild Mistress trades in goods and services, mostly wanting gold in return, the Mother trades in secrets and power, wanting everything from their firstborn child, souls, or a day’s worth of memories in return. Only a fool walks away after having struck a bargain with the Mother thinking well of what had just transpired.

Quote

“Come. Let us see what you have to offer the dear Mother.”

Frequent Location

Swamp of Desperation, while it is said that the very trees emit this stench that makes one feel despair, the truth is the opposite, unfortunately. None come to this swamp if had any other option, bringing the stink of desperation with them. Over time, the trees, water, ground, and air have absorbed it, to the point that the smell overwhelms those coming here.

Common Knowledge

The Mother has the ability to grant wishes. The barren can have children. Those afflicted by some terrible disease are cured. Peasants find true love with royalty. Few speak of the price. The pain their eyes or the eyes of their lives ones does the speaking for them.

The Icon and Adventurers

Wise adventures will avoid the Mother. Far to many seek her out, hoping to get some deal made my a despite villager undone. Those same adventurers walk away either making the situation worse or having to collect the price from others that owe to the Mother. Even less wise are the adventurers seeking her out, looking for ways to defeat their enemies. She always knows their weaknesses. What price is an adventurer willing to pay to win?

Allies

No icon publicly says they have anything to do with the Mother. The truth is far more complicated. Both the Deposed Heir and the Usurper have avoided sending troops here, no matter how much someone begs them to. Even the Herald, avoids speaking about the Mother when someone comes to him about the pain she causes. Their silence make some wonder if this is how they attained such power. Agents of each of these have been rumored to occasionally collect the price from those foolish enough to strike a bargain with the Mother, but few believe such tales, and those that do believe that do not assume that they do so with their respective icon’s blessing.

Enemies

The Wandering Spirit and the Guild Mistress are the only two that openly talk about their emninty towards the Mother. Many skilled crafters and guild enforcers have lost their desire to keep plying their trade after paying the Mother’s price, costing the Guild Mistress a valuable members of her team.

The Wandering Spirit is sensitive to the anguish the people feel after paying her price. If anyone would be sympathetic to the cause of adventurers seeking to undo some deal struck with the Mother, it would be this one. Yet the Wandering Spirit will not strike at the Mother directly, fearing to be trapped in some soul crystal of hers. However if adventurers that helped the Wandering Spirit receive a reward of the location of some forgotten weapon or item and it coincidentally may defeat one of the Mother’s agents, that is not the Wandering Spirit’s problem.

History

The most powerful of the cruel and capricious fey, the Mother rose to prominence after recognizing the power of souls, stolen memories, and the list children. Whether she did not know or did not care that such power corrupted even the darkest of souls is not known. The longest lives elves that glimpsed her through the centuries spoke of her living body purifying over time. Supposedly she was once the model of grace and beauty; none would describe her as that today.

The Reason to Fear

No one exactly knows what she has done with the army of children she has taken. Between them and the souls and the memories she has collected, it is possible that she has more raw eldritch power available to her than any other icon.

While it may be rumored that some icons achieves their standing from the Mother granting a wish, one icon that achieves their standing through their own blood, sweat, and tears is the Tinkerer, the equal and opposite of the Dwarf King. Read all about this icon associated with the gnomish people next month at the JBE Blog.

Looking to play 13th Age while social distancing, Download Book of Heroic Races: Age of Races at the Fantasy Grounds Store. You can also find it at the JBE Shop and DriveThruRPG.

3 Rules for Plot Lines in a Long Term Campaign

This blog post is my latest in my 3 Rules series. Check out the others here.

During COVID-19, I’ve been running two D&D 5e games over Fantasy Grounds: one is for my daughter and her cousins, the other is for my wife and a group of adults. Through it all, I have a number of rules that help me tie plot lines together, even when weaving several different modules into a single campaign. These are not exclusive to Dungeons and Dragons or even fantasy games. These work no matter what your game.

1) Don’t Define Everything

When I started off the adult campaign, I had two PCs deliver messages to various NPCs. While the idea for them was to simply get them to go to the location I wanted them, I had absolutely no idea what was in those notes. I’m glad they didn’t look because I would have had to make it up on the spot. In my younger days as a GM, I would have had those notes detailed out; when the PCs didn’t look at them, that would have been work saved for a different day at best or at worst forgotten about when I needed it or simply no longer relevant.

Fast forward several sessions, I needed a way to get the PCs to investigate some orcs as I was transitioning from the Lost Mines of Phandelver to the Forge of Fury from Tales of the Yawning Portal. To help with this, I created a secret love affair between the one of those NPCs sending the note and its recipient, saying their love child (now an adult) that they sent away was coming to visit, and that their child was now missing so the recipient asked the adventurers to find the missing person. That got them to the orcs and worked great, until …

2) Turn Dropped Plot Threads into Plot Hooks

… Until the players got distracted and left that plot thread by the wayside. Part of this was my fault; I failed to leave them enough clues to lead them to their target. By the time I realized this, they were literally heading in the wrong direction to save this person.

In my younger days as a GM, I would have made it impossible for them to proceed until they turned back and saved the person. As a more mature GM, I know to turn this into an opportunity. I left the players an old journal from someone long dead, hoping that some superweapon never gets repaired and turned on again, citing a hope about how one born under a certain sign with various rare characteristics (that just happens to match the missing person) is never born. When they read the note I could hear them all collectively swallow hard, as they realized that the plot line they missed suddenly became very important.

And that is now the catalyst for the new adventure.

3) Leave Some Threads Unresolved

One of my characters in my adult game is seeking the sword of their fallen family member. So I gave him the detail that one vaguely like it was reportedly in a dragon’s treasure pile. Tonight they defeated the dragon, and it wasn’t his family’s sword but one similar. I did that so I could deal with the sword at a future point in time, but leave it for now as we transition from the Forge of Fury to the Tomb of Annihilation. The players raised the questions of why these swords are popping up, and are they being targeted. All of those are perfect to work into a future adventure down the line when the Tomb of Annihilation is in the rear view mirror. But for now, I left that plot thread unresolved. Picking it up later will help it make a more continuous story while still having different chapters within.

Get adventures for your Pathfinder or D&D campaign today at the JBE Shop. You can also find our books at DriveThruRPG, the Open Gaming Store, and Paizo.com.

13th Age: Guild Mistress, An Alternate Icon

All year long we are releasing alternate icons for 13th Age. Read previous entries in the series: the Usurper, Deposed Heir, Fleshcrafter, Herald, and the Wandering Spirit. This month we thought we would bring you a second icon, one that fights for better working conditions for crafters and artisans all the while taking a crippling cut of each sale: the Guild Mistress.

The Guild Mistress fights for better wages and better training for talented workers. From smiths to glass blowers, caravan masters to slave trainers, spellcasters to sellswords, they all have a guild to train them, hone their skills, and have a place to meet others of their kind. They all give a cut to the Guild Mistress whether they can afford it or not.

Quote

“Everything is for sale. The only question is what is the price.”

Frequent Location

Goldport, better knows as the Hub, sits where the largest river meets the ocean. It is the center of all trade traffic throughout the land.

Common Knowledge

The Guild Mistress controls all commerce in the land. The flow of good and services can be shut off at her whim.

The Icon and Adventurers

The Guild Mistress frequently works with adventurers, hiring them for additional security or as investigators to put down troublesome actors that threaten the guilds, even if they are guild members. However, she only goes so far with individual adventurers, cutting them off from guild employment if they do not join a guild themselves.

Allies

Allies is a strong word for Guild Mistress. As long as they do not disrupt business, she can work with them. While the Usurper’s actions caused business to come to a halt while seizing power, trade quickly returned once the political instability subsided. The Fleshcrafter relies on a constant flow of fresh spare parts. Both the Herald and the Deposed Heir’s forces need arms, armor, and supplies to address wounds.

Enemies

Today’s allies can be tomorrow’s enemies if the price is right or the other disrupts business. The Deposed Heir attacks trade caravans that supply the Usurper’s forces. The Usurper attacks crafter that harbor loyalties to the rightful monarch. The Herald attacks shop keepers that are secretly houses of worship for the Mad Cultist. All of these earn reprisals from the Guild Mistress, until these icons pay for their actions in gold.

Being insubstantial, the Wandering Spirit requires nothing from the Guild Mistress. Add to that a not-insignificant amount of the suffering the Wandering Spirit has returned to avenge has been caused by the Guild Mistress, and these two icons are forever enemies.

History

Starting her career as a slave trader, she organized the merchants into their own guild and got independent guilds to sign onto an organizing agreement. Through considerable blood, swear, and other people’s tears, she rose in power and influence throughout the known world.

The Reason to Fear

If you do not make the Guild Mistress enough money, she is only too happy to sell you to someone else.

Like the Wandering Spirit, one who has nothing to buy or sell to the Guild Mistress is the Mother, the equal and opposite of the Great Druid. Read all about this hag icon of the fey world next month at the JBE Blog.

Looking to play 13th Age while social distancing, Download Book of Heroic Races: Age of Races at the Fantasy Grounds Store. You can also find it at the JBE Shop and DriveThruRPG.

13th Age: Wandering Spirit, An Alternate Icon

All year long we are releasing alternate icons for 13th Age. Read the first ones in the series: the Usurper, Deposed Heir, Fleshcrafter, and the Herald. So now we present to you the Wandering Spirit, is the equal and opposite of the of the Lich Queen.

The Wandering Spirit was a living icon in a previous age. They were thought to have been at peace over a century ago, but the cries of pain by the living roused them from their eternal slumber to wreak havoc among the living.

Quote

“Dealing out justice after death may have less timely but no less necessary.”

Frequent Location

The Ashen Fields, the scene of a terrible battle in a previous age. To this day, the ground is ash grey and plants still refuse to grow there. However, the Wandering Spirit can show up anywhere.

Common Knowledge

While it is said that the Wandering Spirit meters out justice, no one is exactly sure what draws their attention in the first place or how heavy-handed that justice will be. Even worse, no one knows how small of an injustice a person commits before the Wandering Spirit hands out justice. The question everyone is afraid to ask is if injustices committed by their ancestors will come back to haunt them.

The Icon and Adventurers

The Wandering Spirit frequently communicates with adventurers personally, showing up in dreams or in unperson and asks for certain jobs to be completed. These jobs range from carrying out the death sentence the Wandering Spirit has pronounced on someone to finding a lost toy for a child. Most often, the instruction are vague, requiring adventurers to investigate and find a hidden source of a problem and make a judgment call on what should be done. It is rare for adventurers to turn down the Wandering Spirit if for no other reason than the icon knows where ancient magic items are hidden away or entombed and is happy to share such knowledge for carrying out such assignments. If anything, adventurers are the only true ally the Wandering Spirit possesses.

Allies

Unlike most icons, the Wandering Spirit has no true allies. Emissaries from other icons frequently return, unable to find the Wandering Spirit. The few emissaries return having met the icon carrying a message to the icons warning them to stay away. Some simply do not return. Most believe them dead, their souls devoured by the Wandering Spirit. Other rumors about such missing emissaries tell of them serving the ghostly icon, willingly or otherwise.

Some icons that the Wandering Spirit would form alliances with see the Wandering Spirit as some sort of abomination. The Herald sees the Wandering Spirit as another unholy undead. The Deposed Heir has ordered the execution of enough of the Usurper’s agents to fear the wrath of the Wandering Spirit. While it is true that agents of these icons may have to work with the Wandering Spirit, that day has not yet come.

Enemies

While few icons are stupid enough to try a direct attack on a powerful spirit who can appear in dreams, that does not mean they do not work against the Wandering Spirit either. Waylaying someone working on behalf of the ghostly icon that is interfering in their plans may not earn a reprisal, one hopes. Of course, if the offending agent of the icon dies in their sleep or is killed by some adventurers, was it the Wandering Spirit’s doing?

In his quest for power, the Usurper has sought the aid of the Wandering Spirit; those emissaries seldom return. The Fleshcrafter is both afraid of a confrontation with the Wandering Spirit and hoping to trap them. A spirit that powerful under the Fleshcrafter’s control joined to a golem would make for an unstoppable creation.

History

All anyone knows for sure about the Wandering Spirit is that they appeared out of seemingly nowhere approximately 5 years ago, telling adventurers to handle situations that no one else will. In fact few would even know of the Wandering Spirit’s existence were it not for adventurers carrying out such acts in the Wandering Spirit’s name. Whether the Wandering Spirit has any agenda beyond sowing chaos in the name of justice is not something widely known or demonstrated.

The Reason to Fear

Every living person should fear the Wandering Spirit, never knowing if the next judgement the Wandering Spirit pronounces will be upon their head.

One who professes to fear nothing, not even the Wandering Spirit is the Guild Mistress. Read all about this leader of organized labor as the next alternate icon we will be describing right here on the JBE Blog.

Support the series by sharing it on social media and by downloading 13 Rogue Talents and Powers at the JBE Shop, DriveThruRPG, and the Open Gaming Store.

13th Age: Beggar Thug

Personally, I consider myself a monster creator over any other part of roleplaying creation. I love making the perfect monster for the situation. It is something I enjoy more than anything else. Lately, I’ve been working on NPCs for Pathfinder in addition to the icons for 13th Age. So for today’s blog post, I decided to merge them and make an NPC for 13th Age themed to the alternate icons I’m working on. The Beggar Thug is a low-level henchman of the Queen of Beggars, one of the alternate icons I haven’t detailed yet. He’s one of those guys you see in movies where the hero punches him in the stomach, and he doesn’t flinch and then makes the hero regret getting into the fight. We’ve got that for you here.

Before we get to the stat block, I have to post my obligatory link to our 13th Age products at the JBE Shop, where the 40% off sale is ending soon. Download our products at our shop to support our 13th Age blog posts today. You can also find them at DriveThruRPG and the Open Gaming Store.

Beggar Thug

1st level wrecker [humanoid]
Initiative +4
C: Hammer Fists +6 vs PD—3 damage and the target is dazed until the start of the beggar thug’s next turn (normal save ends).
Natural 18+—The save is now a hard save ends.
R: Thrown Object +6 vs AC—2 damage
Natural 18+—The target is stunned until the start of the beggar thug’s next turn (normal save ends).
Tough as Nails: The beggar thug has resist weapons 12+.

Nastier Special

Pissed off: The beggar thug deals double damage for the rest of the battle if it survives a critical hit.
AC 17
PD 15
MD 11
HP 27

13th Age: The Herald, An Alternate Icon

All year long we are releasing alternate icons for 13th Age. Read the first ones in the series: the Usurper, Deposed Heir, and Fleshcrafter. This month’s entry, the Herald, is the equal and opposite of the of the Diabloist.

The Herald wields the power of Heaven and the gods. Not only that, the Herald leads an army of paladins, fighting to keep an army of unspeakable horrors from entering our realm. Agents of the Herald move throughout the Empire, watching to see if some untold nastiness slips into our realm unnoticed.

Quote

“By the gods’ will, we live to fight another day. May we be so fortunate again tomorrow.”

Frequent Location

Fort Divinity, the last piece of inhabitable land before entering the Blighten Lands and the Rift beyond.

Common Knowledge

The Herald is one of pure heart. Those that bear her symbol and work in her name are believed to be one of pure heart, even if they are only mortals.

The Icon and Adventurers

The Herald frequently works with adventurers because those that would cause destruction and pain everywhere. The Herald gladly works with those she disagrees with when directed to do so by the gods, trusting the deities know more than she.

Allies

The Herald and the Deposed Heir are allies but have a complicated relationship since he frequently asks where was Heaven and the gods when his family was slain. The Great Gold Dragon and the Herald have their difference but put them aside and work together since they share common goals. The Usurper wants the support of the Herald since it will help secure his claim on the throne. As such he works with the Herald, even if the Herald does not trust him.

Enemies

The Fleshcrafter rejects the gods, believing that trust should be placed in mortals and in their eldritch studies, pitting himself against the Herald. The Great Druid feels that the Herald’s people take what they want from the land in their pursuit of their aims and that this disrespect has gone on too long.

History

There was only one survivor of an attack by unspeakable horrors that slithered out of the sea that devoured much of a small coastal town, the one later knows as the Herald. Since that day, the Herald has worked tirelessly to that that never happens again. While she doesn’t always succeed in rescuing everyone, she always saves some and drives the horrors away.

The Reason to Fear

Those that deal with things so terrible that they will shatter a person’s sanity should fear the Herald for all the justice she will bring down upon them.

The Deposed Heir is not the only one that has a complicated relationship with the Herald; the Wandering Spirit is one that would join the Herald’s side, if the forces of Heaven did not find his very existence repugnant. Read all about the equal and opposite of the Lich Queen soon.

Support the series by sharing it on social media and by downloading 13 Cleric Domains and Spells at the JBE Shop, DriveThruRPG, and the Open Gaming Store.

13th Age: Fort Hope

In the same vein as Fort Strange and Watchtower Balleron, here we present for your enjoyment in your game a new location designed especially for 13th Age, Fort Hope.

Established as a joint venture of the Emperor and the Dwarf King as a way of blunting the influence of the Orc Warlord and the Diabloist in the region, these two powers have established a number of towers and fortresses to meet these forces with their own. Against small raiding bands and minor military incursions, Fort Hope is well equipped to handle themselves. Even a medium-sized army can be turned away by the facility’s jointly-trained dwarven fighters and imperial troops albeit costly. Should a demonic army and a full orc horde together march upon the region, however, Fort Hope will slow them down while messengers ride off to warn the larger army some distance away.

Nondrul Runemaker, the dwarven commander in charge of Fort Hope, knows his mission unofficially expends beyond the forces of the Orc Warlord and the Diabloist, but he keeps the troops out of the “little issues” the local people have. However, he does keep a board up in the courtyard area for the people to put up help wanted ads for those looking to hire adventurers. When sheep are torn to shreds or a person goes missing, Commander Runemaker will direct the petitioners to the adventurers’ board. While such adventures may not be requested by the Emperor or other icons, their agents will definitely hear about them and report the adventurers’ actions to those higher up. Current adventurer board postings include a request to help find missing sheep, someone asking for help locating their missing sibling’s corpse, and a reward to stop whatever is leaving dragon-sized filth every night in a massive pile on top of town’s crops.

Hardly a hotbed of magical items, the quartermaster at Fort Hope, Lieutenant Tinia Windflayer is willing to trade magic items of similar power. She believes that magic items in the hands of adventurers loyal to the Emperor will be put to better use than being in a warehouse waiting to be used. Her only requirement is that whatever item being gained by the joint forces must be, in her opinion, of a more obvious benefit to the military than the one she is relinquishing. She is certainly not about to give up a demon-wounding sword for a wand that causes laughter, for example. When she gets a lead on a powerful magic item, she will use her limited budget to hire adventurers to retrieve it for her.

The newest recruit at Fort Hope is Private Chester Tibbins. Chess, as everyone calls him, left the village he grew up in for the first time only last week when he left to serve at Fort Hope. With seven brothers and sisters, he knows he stands no chance to inherit the family farm. Dreaming of becoming a brave adventurer, his parents agreed to let him join the Empire’s forces as a way for him to get some training before striking out on his own. With less than a week’s worth of training, he is constantly pestering those going in and out of the fort’s gate with questions about the outside world. When not on duty, he will follow any adventurers around he can find with almost puppy-like admiration. His mother worries that something dreadful will happen to the youngest Tibbins family member and brings him food twice a week just to make sure he is still in one piece.

If you enjoyed this location and you want to see more like this for 13th Age, leave us a comment below. If you want to see places like this expanded upon greatly with more NPCs described, new magic items detailed, unique class options and spells that the people here know, and much more, definitely say so below. Your feedback helps us make more. While you are at it, check out our current 13th Age offerings in the JBE Shop.

13th Age: The Fleshcrafter, An Alternate Icon

All year long we are releasing alternate icons for 13th Age. We started this series off with the Usurper and continued it with the Deposed Heir. This month we continue the series with the Fleshcrafter, the equal and opposite of the Archmage.

In some ways the Fleshcrafter is just like the Archmage: they both seek knowledge and arcane power and want their followers to learn and educate themselves. That is where the similarities end, however. Where the Archmage wants lift many up with magic, the Fleshcrafter wants to suppress the masses with magic. The Archmage’s power comes from the living mastering eldritch power, while the Fleshcrafter’s power comes from a few crafting an unthinking army of the dead and various constructs. Where the Archmage thinks of the good of the many, the Fleshcrafter thinks only of the desires of the few.

Quote

“You displease me. Run fast or my hoard will devour you.”

Frequent Location

Bone Hill, a city that built around the Fleshcrafter’s tower.

Common Knowledge

The Fleshcrafter’s source of power centers around his mounds of dead bodies that he turns into his undead hoard. Such creations unerringly and unquestionably follow his orders.

The Icon and Adventurers

New adventurers seeking missions from the Fleshcrafter receive missions frequently involving disruptions in the flow of dead bodies to Bone Hill. He has also been known to hire adventurers to retrieve some new type of undead creature so he can study it. He may disguise these for those with a conflicting relationship as helping the people bringing corpses to the tower or by helping the local population by ridding them of some uncontrolled undead and bring it back to study.

Adventurers that the Fleshcrafter knows better and has more experience with are sent to find unique and exotic components to craft new golems and undead.

Allies

The Usurper supports the Fleshcrafter’s experiments like no other. In return, his undead armies keep the masses from rising up against the unlawful successor to the throne.

Enemies

The Lich Queen sees the Fleshcrafter as competition, stealing bodies that she can use to create for her undead army.

While the Dwarf King respects the Fleshcrafter’s skill in golem crafting, he finds the use of dead bodies, especially dwarven bodies, to form his creations as utterly repugnant.

History

Few considered the Fleshcrafter a person of consequence until his army of undead and golems marched upon the land. Before then, he was an overlooked wizard that the Archmage ignored. He was chased from town to town when the locals discovered what his creations involved. Now he is looking for payback for perceived wrongs.

The Reason to Fear

The Fleshcrafter believes that anyone not subservient to him is against him. He sends his creations after them.

The icon that opposed the Fleshcrafter more than anyone is the Herald, the one that knows how to call upon the power of Heaven and even bring angels into a fight in desperate times. Read all about this alternate icon next month.

Support the series by sharing it on social media and by downloading 13 Wizard Cantrips and Spells at the JBE Shop, DriveThruRPG, and the Open Gaming Store.

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