Midgard Icons presents some of the Midgard Campaign Setting’s major NPCs as icons for use in 13th Age, the new fantasy roleplaying game from Rob Heinsoo and Jonathan Tweet. Bring them into your 13th Age campaign; run 13th Age in the world of Midgard; or port the icon relationship rules into your system of choice.
In our ninth installment we travel to the Northlands to seek audience with the larger-than-life king of a wild, strange realm…
The King of Bears
The King of Bears rules the bears and lycanthropes of the North, served by a cadre of witches and oracles. His royal court spends most of its time hunting, feasting, brawling, and drinking the finest honey mead from immense stone bowls.
“Ah, well. Who wants to live forever?”
On Gloaming Crag, in the foothills of the Reaching Mountains.
The rolling hills and coastal plains south of the Reaching Mountains are claimed by the Kingdom of the Bear, which has no other name in humanoid tongues. The bears (awakened, werebears, and normal bears) claim a wide region. But the population is sparse and doesn’t mind trespassers, as long as they respect the King of Bears and defer to his people when challenged.
The current King of Bears is Mesikämmen, a werebear nicknamed “Old Honey Paws.” He rules from Gloaming Crag, a precipice that looks like a petrified wave. Caves and tunnels riddle its interior, occupied by the king and his ursine, human, and lycanthropic retinue.
Adventurers and the Icon
Being around the Bear King is like living in one of the Northlands’ more freewheeling, high-spirited legends. Adventurers will find plenty of opportunities for daring treks, epic contests, and fierce battles against monsters of the North. Success is rewarded with rich treasure, and — even more valuable — the Bear King’s loyal friendship.
The Bear King and First Duke-Admiral Cadua share a great mutual respect and affection — it is rumored in court that the two of them adventured together once, and they owe each other their lives. The Bear King’s interest in robust trade for his realm keeps him on good terms with the Free City Council of Zobeck.
Never one for reading the fine print, the Bear King once made a bargain with Baba Yaga that ended with him empty-handed and looking foolish. He angrily refuses to discuss the incident, but would love to find someone clever enough and brave enough to help him get revenge on the Feywitch.
Rulership of the Kingdom of the Bear is decided by yearly challenges. These opportunities are theoretically open to any bear, but lycanthropes and the awakened have an obvious advantage. Old Honey Paws has survived many of these challenges. But his reign has been so prosperous, and the Bear King himself so generally well-liked, that many of these trials by combat are undertaken simply for the honor and pleasure of fighting such a worthy opponent as the king.
Each year, many casks of mead travel north from the town of Bjeornstad in tribute to the Bear King. It is brewed by Bjeornstad’s ruler, the queen Yohana Honeyhair: an elderly but still golden-haired werebear druid of the Bear Maiden. Some say that Old Honey Paws has his eye on her and may someday seek to make her his Bear Queen.
The True Danger
Everything will be all right as long as the Bear King’s desire to get back at Baba Yaga doesn’t lead to a scheme that brings down the wrath of the Feywitch.