CV Icon Rules

Icon Rules

Icon Relationships

Your character’s relationship with icons is an important way to draw him or her into your game world. An icon may have its own champions and heroes (including you) to advance its cause in the game world.

Relationship Points

At 1st level, each character gets 3 relationship points. Each point represents one d6 to be used when trying to leverage your connection to the icon. (See Using Icon Relationships.) The number of points you invest in a relationship with an icon doesn’t necessarily correlate with the closeness of the connection or the strength of the relationship. It does correlate with the utility of the relationship. It’s not necessarily about how well the icon knows you or how strong the icon feels about you. Instead, the points reflect the chance that your relationship will be helpful to you.

The Icons Relationships Master Chart summarizes the likely roleplaying and story-oriented consequences of positive, conflicted, and negative relationships with heroic, ambiguous, and villainous icons.

Rolling Icon Relationship Dice

To check your icon relationship (your relationship with a particular icon), roll a d6 for each point you have in the relationship. This means that you will usually roll 1, 2, or 3 dice. (At epic level, it may be 4.)

If any die is a 6, you get some meaningful advantage from the relationship without having complications. If two or three dice come up 6, that’s even better.

If any die is a 5, your connection to the icon is going to work out as well as a 6 would, but with some unexpected complication. If it’s a good icon, you might be drawn into some obligation. If it’s a villainous icon, you might attract unwanted attention.

Rolling 5s when you also rolled 6s should make life both interesting and advantageous!

Icons’ Organizations

Icons are usually not directly part of the campaign. They rarely make an appearance personally, except perhaps at Master of the World level. Most of the time, interacting with an icon means that you’re actually interacting with his or her lower-level functionaries, acolytes, disciples, bureaucrats, lieutenants, barons, priests, etc. In fact, any level of relationship with an icon can be enough to get you noticed by other people who are connected to that icon.

Using Icon Relationships

The most straightforward way to use your relationship points is on positive or conflicted connections that generally provide you with outright assistance and useful information. Negative relationships usually provide inside knowledge, special skills, opportunistic allies, and possibly some sort of supernatural advantage against a villain. Often you might find that enemies of your rival see you as an opportunity to strike against that mutual enemy. You might get help, wealth and resources, and even magic items from quite unexpected sources, some of which may not be entirely to your liking.

In addition to aid from others, icon relationships provide characters with special knowledge. A negative relationship with a thoroughly villainous icon is more in keeping with the heroic lifestyle, but you should expect that the assistance you get from a negative relationship may end up being more directly confrontational than more conventional conflicted and positive relationships.

Changing Relationships

When your character achieves Hero of the Realm level (5th), you gain an extra relationship point. Use it to increase an existing relationship by one die or gain a 1-point relationship with a new icon to match your character’s story thus far. You can save the extra relationship die and decide to apply it later.

At 5th level, or any time thereafter, you can switch an existing relationship point from one icon to another, including to a new icon. You owe the GM and other players an entertaining  explanation of what this big change represents for your character personally, of course.

When you reach Master of the Realm level (11th), you gain another relationship point, which you can use to increase an existing icon relationship by one die, including up to 1 point over maximum. As at 5th level, if switching a relationship point from one icon to another makes sense for your 11th level character, go for it.

When you reach Master of the World level (17th), you gain another relationship point, which you can use to increase an existing icon relationship by one die, including up to 1 point over maximum. As at 5th level, if switching a relationship point from one icon to another makes sense for your 17th level character, go for it.

Class Specific Notes

Bard

Gain an extra icon relationship point.

Take a single point of relationship with an icon. Add the point to a relationship you already have up to your normal maximum, or start a new one—positive, conflicted, or negative.

Master Storyteller (gained at 7th level)

Once per session when one of your allies rolls relationship dice for an icon, you can roleplay a one or two sentence story (usually related to the icon, but perhaps otherwise pivotal) that allows them to reroll the relationship check if they don’t like the first result.

Paladin

Once per session, you can reroll your relationship dice with a heroic (Oath of Devotion) or ambiguous (Oath of Vengence) icon.

You gain an additional relationship point with a heroic or ambiguous icon at 13th level.

Using Icon Relationships

For basic icon relationship rules, see Icon Relationships.

As a GM, use a PCs’ icon relationships three different ways: for starting a session, for in-game dramatic events, and for discovery and surprise.

Rolling Relationships at the Start of a Session

All players roll their PC’s icon relationship dice at the start of each session, and everybody sees the results. As usual, rolling a 6 with an icon die provides an unambiguous advantage.

Rolling a 5 provides a similar advantage, but the benefit is balanced by complications and obligations that advance the story. By the end of the session, each 6 or 5 should contribute to the story somehow, either at the GM’s or player’s initiative.

The GM uses the results to think ahead about which icons come to the fore this session.

Players use the results to start thinking about how their icon relationships might manifest in the story.

As GM, you bear most of the burden of improvising story elements based on the PCs’ icon relationship results. Your players may have great suggestions, but it’s on you to weave them together with the story elements and battles you have already prepared…or are planning to improvise on the spot.

Rolling New Story-guide Dice Mid-session

Story events and talents can create new icon relationships in the middle of play. Allow players to roll newly acquired icon dice right away as if they’d had them at the start of the session.

Icon Relationship Rolls as Dramatic Events

Players roll all of their relationship dice for a particular icon when their PCs are confronting that icon’s representatives, agents, or minions. The GM decides when an event-based roll is called for.

Story-guide rolls should occur most every session. Event-based rolls rise out of circumstances during play.

It’s never the player’s choice to roll icon relationship dice for dramatic events. When new circumstances and dramatic events force or suggest interactions or confrontations with forces or situations associated with a particular icon, the GM can call for an icon relationship roll as a shorthand guide to the dramatic results of the situation.

Rolling a 5 with Icon Events

Getting a 5 on an icon relationship check moves the story forward, just like a 6 does, but it also generates a complication. A 5 means both good and bad results. The negative result might be secret, it might be delayed, and it might be nothing more than a promise until you figure out what it really means.

Discovery & Surprise

At the GM’s option, players may roll icon relationship dice to find out which icons are involved in a plot element, if any. When the characters have slalomed onto paths and adventures you did not anticipate, icon relationship rolls can serve as an idea generator with mechanics that everyone already understands.

Discovery dice aren’t interpreted as positively as other icon relationship rolls. You’re using the icon dice more to determine whether an icon has a stake in what’s involved, not necessarily whether the situation is going to work to a PC’s advantage.

You’ll probably use this style of roll most often when the characters have gone off your map, chasing enemies you hadn’t anticipated, seeking treasures you referred to earlier without having a clear idea about, and taking forest paths you hadn’t been aware existed. GMs who enjoy being surprised by new developments may opt for discovery rolls before improvising the consequences of the PCs’ unexpected steps.

Using icon relationship rolls from one or more characters keeps the new developments relevant to the players and possibly relevant to the overarching plot.

 

The Icons Relationships Master Chart summarizes the likely roleplaying and story-oriented consequences of positive, conflicted, and negative relationships with heroic, ambiguous, and villainous icons.

Icon Relationships Master Chart

Icon Positive Relationship Conflicted Relationship Negative Relationship
Heroic Icon Spend 1, 2, or 3 points.

As far as this icon is concerned, you’re one of the good guys, a white-hat hero. Authorities often help you, and civilians often trust you. On the down side, you may be called on to serve representatives of the icon even when you have other plans. You might also be a target of villainous icons or this heroic icon’s rivals.

Spend 1, 2, or 3 points.

You’re probably one of the good guys, but for some reason you’re suspect to the icon. Maybe you’re a convict who has served his time, or an imperial soldier who was too good and got drummed out of his legion. You have insider knowledge and allies who are in good with the icon, but you also have enemies associated with the icon.

Spend 1 point.

In the icon’s eyes, you’re a dissident, opponent, rival, or foe. You may have contacts or inside knowledge that you can use to your advantage, but some form of trouble waits for you wherever this heroic icon has influence.

Ambiguous Icon Spend 1, 2, or 3 points.

Thanks to your relationship with the icon, you are a hero to some, a villain to others, and possibly even a monster to a few. The enemies of your friends may turn out to be your friends, and vice versa. Advantages and complications will come from all sides.

Spend 1, 2, or 3 points.

Your relationship with the icon is complex, an uneven relationship with an icon who’s a hero to some and a villain to others. One way or another, you can find help or hostility anywhere. You don’t just live in interesting times—you create them.

Spend 1 or 2 points.

Your enmity with this icon makes you some enemies, but it also makes you some useful friends. You may be a dissenter, unwanted family member, or even a traitor in some way.

Villainous Icon Spend 1 point.

You are able to gain secrets or secretive allies, but your connection to this icon brings trouble from people associated with the heroic icons who oppose the villain. Be prepared to justify why you’re not imprisoned, interrogated, or otherwise harassed by the heroic icons and their representatives whenever they encounter you. Or for that matter, by the other PCs.

Spend 1 or 2 points.

You mostly work against the icon, but you’re also connected to the icon in a way you can’t deny. Your connection sometimes gives you special knowledge or contacts, but it also makes you suspect in the eyes of many right-minded would-be heroes.

Spend 1 or 2 points.

You mostly work against the icon, but you’re also connected to the icon in a way you can’t deny. Your connection sometimes gives you special knowledge or contacts, but it also makes you suspect in the eyes of many right-minded would-be heroes.

Using Negative Relationships in a Positive Way

The most straightforward way to use your relationship points is on positive or conflicted connections that generally provide you with outright assistance and useful information. What, then, is the use of a negative relationship? Usually it provides inside knowledge, special skills, opportunistic allies, and possibly some sort of supernatural advantage against a villain.

If you have a negative relationship with an icon, you have a definite connection with that NPC that can be exploited. It’s the old adage about not being able to hate someone properly if you don’t love them first. A negative relationship with an icon implies that you know enough about the icon to be a thorn in their side, or at least in their organization. Your knowledge might even amount to some form of destiny, a fated or seemingly “just lucky” ability to thwart the icon’s plans. Confronting the icon’s efforts needs to be part of your character arc, and the information and opportunities that fall into your lap thanks to using your negative relationship need to help you have bigger and better confrontations with your enemy, rival, or jilted lover—however you choose to phrase the conflict!

Often you might find that enemies of your rival see you as an opportunity to strike against that mutual enemy. You might get help, wealth and resources, and even magic items from quite unexpected sources, some of which may not be entirely to your liking. Choosing a negative relationship with a heroic or ambiguous icon is tantamount to asking for dramatic and unexpected twists to be thrown into your life . . . often.