[Malatra] Would Factions Make Good 13th Age Icons?

Soaring above the jungles of southern Kara-Tur, the Malatran Plateau has been invisible to the natives of Abeir-Toril for thousands of years. Most sages consider the area nothing more than an uninteresting wilderness.

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Tim Baker
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[Malatra] Would Factions Make Good 13th Age Icons?

Post by Tim Baker » Mon Sep 24, 2018 12:47 am

I was recently made aware of the factions in Malatra. If you're familiar with 13th Age icons, I'd love if you'd provide your opinion on whether or not the Malatra factions would make good 13th Age icons.

Briefly, the icons in 13th Age are the NPCs or factions that exert influence in the setting. They give PCs motivations to adventure (either because they support an icon or they oppose one), offer support (contacts that are loyal to an icon, magic items, and other boons), and immediately give the PCs a hook that's associated with the setting. Well designed icons are in conflict with other icons -- not necessarily open hostility, but perhaps a cold war type opposition -- which drives stories forward. By seeding a setting with icons, you can play in a more sandbox-y style without having to wonder where the action is at, so to speak.

Hopefully, the brief description above helps to understand whether the Malatra factions meet some or all of the definition of a 13th Age icon.
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Re: [Malatra] Would Factions Make Good 13th Age Icons?

Post by Big Mac » Mon Sep 24, 2018 1:43 pm

The [Malatra] Other Malatra Websites (& Free Downloads) sticky has a list of the Humanoid Races of Malatra:
  • Aarakocra, Malatran - Flying birdmen from the highest mountains (Wayback Machine archive of RPGA page)
  • Butu - Kobold-like creatures that run very fast (Wayback Machine archive of RPGA page)
  • Katanga shapechangers who can take the form of one of eight types of animal (Wayback Machine archive of RPGA page)
  • Korobokuru, Malatran -Dwarf-like humanoids descended from Kara Turan stock (Wayback Machine archive of RPGA page)
  • Lacerials - Four dinosaur-like humanoids (Finhead, Bladebacks, Flyers andHornheads) from the Valley of Spirits (Wayback Machine archive of RPGA page)
  • Lizardman, Malatran - Lizardmen (Wayback Machine archive of RPGA page)
  • Oscray - Grim and hog-faced humanoids from a distant land (Wayback Machine archive of RPGA page)
  • Plantman (Malatran mold man) - Plant-based humanoids (Wayback Machine archive of RPGA page)
  • Saru - Ape-like humanoids (Wayback Machine archive of RPGA page)
  • Shu - Halfling-like humanoids who are afraid to be alone (Wayback Machine archive of RPGA page)
  • Tam'hi - Humanoid jungle spirits of the trees or the water (Wayback Machine archive of RPGA page)
I'm not sure if you would need individual NPCs within each tribal group, but any 13th Age conversion of Living Jungle would need to support those groups.

There is one more group - an absent group.

Long ago, a mysterious race from space constructed the magical shield around Malatra: The Living Jungle. Some of the stuff going on in the setting, like the fact that people can not easily get in and out, is down to plans they put in place long ago, before they vanished.

I've got a feeling that the RPGA might have eventually revealed what was going on with these ancient aliens, but I think the setting needed a bit more time to pull the loose ends together.
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Re: [Malatra] Would Factions Make Good 13th Age Icons?

Post by Tim Baker » Tue Sep 25, 2018 4:35 am

I didn't realize the races were what were being referred to as factions -- that's helpful to understand. Are they well organized? While 13th Age icons don't require an NPC represent them (although they generally have this feature in the default setting), it's important that the icon represents a fairly unified force. Sure, there can be plots in 13th Age where there's a rogue lieutenant of the Orc Lord pillaging a village against the Orc Lord's wishes (And why is that? Is there a tactical reason why his forces shouldn't bother with that village? Some sort of alliance forged behind the scenes that is being broken by his lieutenant's actions?), these are the exceptions and not the rule. It's typically the relationships between the icons that drive the adventures in 13th Age, so they need to be cohesive enough that the tropes remain true.
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Re: [Malatra] Would Factions Make Good 13th Age Icons?

Post by Big Mac » Tue Sep 25, 2018 1:42 pm

I'm not sure of the exact motivations of the various races, but they are all trapped in the magical zone the ancient aliens created and they are all threatened by the dangerous monsters that populate the Living Jungle.

The Oscray might want to rediscover the ability to fly ships, so they could go back up into Wildspace.

I'm not sure what motivations the other factions might have.

Don't forget that the RPGA set up this area to contain all the races, so the official adventures might not have ever blown open the invisible cage that imprisons everyone, unless they decided to run an endgame year, where the Malatran Plateau became visible.

Stephen Jay hangs talks to fans on Facebook. Perhaps he would be willing to pop over and give you some pointers. :)
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