Today we’re taking a look at 13th Age’s take on a suggested setting in the form of The Dragon Empire. Right from the get go the authors come up and say that the setting itself is not meant to be exhaustive, definitive or authoritative. While the setting is certainly usable, it’s meant to be taken by GMs and customized to their own campaigns.
In many ways this resembles Creation from Exalted in the sense that it represents the baseline from which the Player Characters are unleashed. I’ve always felt that this should be the norm for any setting, as it curbs the mentality of some GMs that NPCs trump player character all the time.
The Empire itself is interesting, as it presents three major realms in the form of the Land, the Underworld and the Overworld. The idea of an Overworld where clouds can support weight and serves as an entirely different layer of adventuring is neat and gives me some flashbacks to the manga “One Piece.”
The chapter goes on to detail the more interesting adventuring locations, including the seven major cities of the setting. As established in the earlier chapters, everything is related to the Icons. The Cities are written clearly with notes on their nature, special features and which Icons are dominant in the location. There are plot hooks scattered liberally through the setting.
The Dragon Empire is a fairly robust setting, but one written in broad strokes. In some ways, it’s a good thing, as it forces the GMs to go and fill in the gaps with their own ideas. There’s a deliberate exercise to place hooks, but not to overload it with elaborate detail as to make it difficult to understand.
New GMs will find the setting to be easy to work with. There’s enough hooks to work with, and you can just swap the Icon’s name with something and pretend you thought of it. Add a few NPCs of your design and you can fake it.