Icons are a neat bit from 13th Age - they are major larger-than-life NPCs who your character has a relationship with in some way, it can be positive, negative, or "complicated". What I like about this set-up is that these are powers with whom the characters interact, either directly, or with some part of their regime. They aren't gods, they aren't distant, they are right here, in this world, making decisions.
While the 13 icons they provide are good, they don't completely work with what I'm envisioning. Here's my first draft at developing Icons for the game.
The Emperor rules the single most powerful nation, subsuming three other nations. He is also a man scrambling to find purchase for his empire for he knows the other nations are waiting to feed on his carcass. However, those nations should be concerned for a desperate man can do desperate things and the Dragon Empire is still quite mighty.
The Merchant Lord is a deal maker, and generally gets the best of any bargain. He can buy armies and rule nations, but seems satisfied as the leader of the Principalities and his one own nation-state. But he was central to funding those behind the Fivefold War.
The High Priestess guides the young ruler who sits upon the Shining Throne. When the Fivefold War ended so disastrously, she was the one who sacrificed the former king to the gods as penance for the nation's failing. Now guided by visions she guides the next king into the future, trying to stave off the apocalypse foretold in their holy books.
The Shaman bound the wild tribes and chose the war leader, and brought them down and through the Dragon's Teeth onto the Empire's flanks. The Shaman is reaching the end of his life span and looks at the combined might of the tribes and what his tutelage has wrought. It is almost time for him to pick his successor.
The Warlord is mighty and commands a legion of elite soldiers and can summon more with the merest whisper. While his loyalty to his soldiers is legendary, his services are for sale, though he plays a game of his own and as the years wear on, he may choose this time to call all the soldier who have served him and forge himself a new destiny.
The Iconoclast is the rebel against the Empire. Hidden behind masks and intermediaries, the Iconoclast works against the Empire for some ancient grudge, some say it was the Iconoclast alone who moved the other nations against the Empire and started the conflict.
The Explorer takes pride in her ability to lead teams into the undiscovered bush, deal with the troubles there, and bring back discoveries and new resources for the Empire. And as long as the Empire continues to fund her adventures, she'll take no problem in this exchange.
The Serpent Queen has begun to notice the new colonies on her western and southern borders. From her throne she ponders what she will do with these odd strangers. Bind them to her cause against a common foe? Betray them? Or destroy them before they have a chance to find the things that should remain hidden? It may be time to send an emissary to the largest of these colonies.
The Pirate King is the fiercest of the pirates that sail amongst the Shatered Isles and the Gods' Teeth that surround the Godspire. While the merchants may try to sale the Teeth to cut short the route, they risk falling into the hands of his band, and the Pirate King is always willing to sell the goods, ships and men back to one of the nation's.
The Intercessor is a strange man, he makes little strife with the idea that he cavorts with demons and other unsavory sorts, providing connections, boons and favors for people both mighty and low. He is most definitely search for a lost book, which most presume contains more forbidden lore.
The Bard is older than her years belie. Somewhere in telling the stories and traveling across the land and across the wasteland she discovered a secret to staying young. And she has discovered many secrets in her years, some say if you listen to her stories you can find those secrets hidden away as parables and riddles, but she says that really, she's just a singer and storyteller and looking towards the new land for new stories to tell.
The Beast appeared and ended the Fivefold War. No one claims to have summoned this monstrous demon; however, everyone "knows" who summoned the Beast. While everyone turned to face the Beast and defeated it, few think that the beast is dead, and how long the Fivefold Concordance will hold in face of the underlying pressures if the Beast doesn't reappear soon.