To those of you who haven’t heard of 13th Age, yet it’s a new d20 game by Jonathan Tweet and Rob Heinsoo (who both previously worked on D&D) published by Pelgrane Press. It has your normal d20 standbys–your usual fantasy races and classes and the usual resolution mechanics. Much of the design is based on 4th Edition, but it also includes some new storytelling game elements, primarily those dealing with the Icons of the world, and the PCs’ relationships with them. These Icons are powerful figures in the world, such as the Emperor, the Archmage, and the High Druid. While the player may focus on these individuals themselves, the Relationship mechanic also utilizes the Icons’ organizations as well–a player might roll to influence the Archmage’s wizardly bureaucrats, the Orc Lord’s chieftains, or the Elf Queen’s woodland scouts.
I used this aspect of the game to replace the original 13 Icons with Factions of Waterdeep. Many of these are headed by individuals, some actual ruling Lords. Some are broader organizations with no clear leader to report to, although I’m sure my PC’s have their own bosses. Here’s a list of the Factions I have planned, with leaders in parentheses:
- City Guard/Watch (Piergeiron the Paladinson)
- Red Sashes (“The One”)
- Moonstars/Silverstars (Khelben “Blackstaff” Arunson)
- Knights of the Shield
- Temple of Lathander
- Merchant Guilds
- Red Wizards of Thay
- Xanathar’s Thieves Guild (Xanathar)
The latter three are the only outright villainous Factions, chosen primarily for the PC’s to have negative relationships with. Not to say they couldn’t have been rogues themselves, but they all created fairly Good characters.
Even if you’re not caught up on FR lore, if you’ve played the board game, you should recognize the first five Factions, as they’re the colored play mats you choose in the game. You’ll even recognize some of the Lords above as well. Most of the Lords in the board game are associated with the above Factions in some capacity, but I didn’t list several for two reasons. First, the PC’s may not report to those people directly or even know of their existence. Secondly, the Lords of Waterdeep are supposed to keep their identities secret, with only Piergeiron being an Open Lord.
Finally, I want to take a page from the last season of D&D Encounters, “Council of Spiders” and introduce secret objectives to the party based on the whims of their Faction. These might be random Quest cards I draw from the board game, but they’ll probably be more tailored to the scenario. For instance, maybe the party’s paladin of the City Guard is told to take at least one prisoner for questioning, but the Red Sash is commanded to make sure no one lives, as they may have information on the Red Sashes’ hideouts. Using these type of goals to create secondary tension in the party, without leading to full-scale conflict, leads to better roleplaying as agents of political bodies who may be in alliance, but not in agreeance.