Something I’ve thought about for years is a number of alternate icons for 13th Age games. Some are radical changes from the standard icons. Others are an equal and opposites from the norm. For too long I have kept them to myself. Today I am sharing the first of them with you.
The Usurper is the equal and opposite of the Emperor. Where the Emperor tries to be a unifying force for the good of all, the Usurper cares only for himself. He may have ousted the Emperor from power, but he does not have complete control over the land. He has the support of orcs, hobgoblins, and many other monstrous races that helped him attain power. The nobility are not entirely convinced supporting the Usurper is a great idea, but those that want to live pay lip service and taxes required of them.
The Usurper does not care for those that do not support him and is more than willing to let them succumb to the ravening hungers of his supporters. He wants to prove to everyone, especially himself and his long since dead and unloving parents, that he is just as important than those that came before him.
“Those disloyal to me shall not live to see the dawn.”
Farenia, his makeshift capital and the center of his support.
The Usurper is the symbol of uncertainty throughout the Empire. No one knows which of his whims will win the day, law and order or pettiness and revenge.
The Icon and Adventurers
The Usurper frequently hires adventurers to keep peace throughout the Empire, but the best paying jobs go to those with a positive relationship towards him. Those higher paying jobs range from disposing of guards still loyal to the former monarch to rounding up villagers that spit at mention of the new ruler and bring them to the Usurper for reeducation.
The Usurper is supposed by the Orc Warlord. Without his armies, the Usurper would not have had the strength to sieze control. The Orc Warlord is allowed to terrorize a part of the Empire he has wanted for some time. The Three Dragons also supported the Usurper as they provided air support during the fight for control for the Empire. They were paid a considerable amount of gold from the Empire’s coffers for their assistance. Rumor has it they send a messenger with “requests” that the Usurper dare not refuse.
Where the Emperor and the Great Druid held an uneasy truce, the Usurper blatently ignores That long held truce in an effort to prop up his government. The Great Druid sees the clear-cutting of forests and wholesale slaughter of animals as a declaration of war and is responding in kind. Both the Dwarf King and the High Elf have met with Usurper and have found him wanting; both have told their people to not support him. The Usurper takes such a stance as proof of hostility from these icons.
A former well-funded noble, the Usurper rose to power through a mix of cult of personality and paying others to support him. Few thought him truly dangerous until after he seized control and began executing detractors.
The Reason to Fear
All will be fine with the Usurper in charge until he decides that you are the enemy.
All of this leads us to the next in the series of Alternate Icons, The Deposed Heir, as a replacement for the Crusadress. But that is for next time.