Unintentional High Druid cosplay at Gen Con 2014
Organized play isn’t just about adventures and swag: there’s also cosplay! Here are some tips on cosplaying characters in 13th Age.
Connect With The Icons
Every 13th Age player character has a relationship (positive, negative or conflicted) with one to three icons. These are the 13 most powerful and influential non-player characters in the game’s default setting of the Dragon Empire, and embody familiar fantasy tropes such as the Archmage, the Lich King, the Elf Queen, and so on. You can easily cosplay as one of the icons using artwork from the book as a reference, and the tips below as a guide. You can also cosplay as someone with a relationship to one or more icons.
How? Each icon has a unique symbol (click the image to enlarge):
You can download the symbols as Adobe Illustrator 8 files thanks to David Flor.
If you look closely at the 13th Age illustrations by Lee Moyer and Aaron McConnell, you’ll find the symbol for an icon in each one, indicating that the icon’s influence is present somehow. You can modify an icon’s clothing to a great degree and still be recognizable as that icon if you carry the appropriate props (see below) and display that symbol somewhere on the costume.
Likewise, if you incorporate these symbols into an original costume, you embed that character in the world of 13th Age. Someone familiar with the game can tell at a glance whether you’re playing someone who’s allied with the Dwarf King, Elf Queen, Lich King, Orc Lord, and so on.
Your Elf Queen is The One True Elf Queen
13th Age gives GMs and players tremendous freedom to adapt and reinterpret the game’s default setting, and that extends to cosplay as well. Want to genderswap the icons to create the Lich Queen, or Elf King? Want your Crusader to be a beacon of light and hope instead of the ruthless Fist of the Dark Gods? Go for it! The icons are yours to play with. You can even play icons from ages past or future, such as the Wizard King, the Fool and the monastic Grandmaster of Flowers.
This flexibility also means that you don’t need a lot of costuming skill or a big budget to represent an icon. A great idea and enthusiasm trumps budget and execution. In an upcoming article we’ll show you some ways you can do 13th Age cosplay on a shoestring.
13th Age Cosplay Props, Color Swatches and Ideas
Here’s a list of the 13th Age icons with the items that make them recognizable. I’ve also included some ideas for icon-related costumes you can make, some drawn from the 13th Age core book and some from the 13th Age Bestiary.
The Archmage (image)
Signature item(s): Hat, robe, spellbook
Related cosplay: Wizard, Sorcerer, Chaos Mage
The Crusader (image)
Signature item(s): Elaborate armor, helmet, shield, sword, thick chain
Related cosplay: Dark Paladin, Cleric of the Dark Gods, Ogre Crusader
The Diabolist (image)
Signature item(s): Horns, bat wings, occult tattoos
Related cosplay: Cultist, Demon, Evil Wizard, Demonic Ogre
The Dwarf King (image)
Signature item(s): Crown, hammer
Related cosplay: Any dwarf or forgeborn construct
The Elf Queen (image)
Signature item(s): Triple-star jewelry, and a butterfly, moth or dragonfly
Related cosplay: Drow Darkbolt, Drow Spider-Mage, Drow Soldier, Drow Sword Maiden, Drow Spider-Sorceress, High Elf, Wood Elf, Redcap
The Emperor (image)
Signature item(s): Dragon crown, goblet, sword
Related cosplay: Dragon Rider, Gladiator, Half-Orc Legionnaire, Half-Orc Commander
The Great Gold Wyrm (image)
Signature item(s): None
Related cosplay: Paladin with shield and golden armor
The High Druid (image)
Signature item(s): Green hooded cloak with antlers, dagger
Related cosplay: Druid, Ranger, Wild Elf
The Lich King (image)
Signature item(s): Crown, glowing red right eye, gloved right hand
Related cosplay: Blackamber Skeletal Legionnaire, Lich Baron/Baroness, Lich Count/Countess, Lich Prince/Princess, Necromancer
The Orc Lord (image)
Signature item(s): Spiked armor, axe
Related cosplay: Orc Berserker, Orc Shaman, Warrior of the Great Fang Cadre
The Priestess (image)
Signature item(s): Headdress, shepherd’s crook
Related cosplay: Cathedral Acolyte, Cleric of the Gods of Light, Monk
The Prince of Shadows (image)
Signature item(s): Hooded cloak, curved dagger, a big stolen gem
Related cosplay: Any type of thief, bard, rogue or swashbuckler
The Three (image)
Signature item(s): None
Related cosplay: Sorcerer of the Blue, Assassin of the Black, the Blue in human form, the Black in human form, any dragonic race
Greg’s Stolze’s 13th Age novel, The Forgotten Monk, is punching through Kickstarter goals for another 7 days. That’s Pat Loboyko’s wonderful cover art above.
The earliest stretch goal summoned stat write-ups for several of the characters and monsters in the novel. My advice will be that the protagonist, a monk who acquires the name Cipher because he has misplaced his true name, should not be one of the characters getting stats! Yet. . . . .
Part of the fun of the 13th Age novel-creation process is that authors are free to play with the world in surprising ways. We’re asking writers to stick to the core story of the thirteen icons, but details of the icons’ personalities, the military fate of cities, speech patterns of elves, and the details of how a specific monster fights are all up for adjustment, just as they’re open to creative changes in every 13th Age campaign,
This also applies to character class mechanics. Cipher is a kick-ass monk. His fighting style will seem perfectly monk-like to anyone reading the book. But not, perhaps, to someone whose only exposure to how monks fight are the character class rules in 13 True Ways!
We hadn’t written 13 True Ways when Greg did the most work on the novel. I knew early on that our monk was going to play with unique mechanics and I told Greg not to worry about it. Because yes, there’s room in fantasy gaming and in 13th Age for many different types of monks and martial artists.
We got some playtest feedback asking us to create a more straightforward martial artist. We designed a couple steps in that direction, and someday I bet we’ll bring that class out, and when we do it’s going to look a lot more like how Cipher fights in The Forgotten Monk.
Introducing what’s effectively a new class is beyond me in a 13th Sage column. But I can introduce a new monk fighting style that didn’t make it into 13 True Ways.
Those of you who were part of 13 True Ways playtests may remember that there was originally a Drunken Style option as one of the Deadly Secrets. The mechanics didn’t work out happily. They had math problems and play dynamic problems. But after some revision, the talent that follows is worth playtesting. If you try it, let me know how it goes with feedback emailed to 13thAgePlaytest@gmail.com. If this works out we’ll publish it eventually with more support and accompanied by a few other monk talents and forms.
New Adventurer-Tier Talent: Drunken Style is a new talent. It is not one of the Seven Deadly Secrets, so if you want to combine it with Flurry or Greeting Fist, go right ahead. As you’ll see, drunken monks tend to be tough rather than wise, but if you don’t like that angle on the story you can stick to being wise but drunken.
You can’t choose Drunken Style if you have chosen the Diamond Focus talent, and vice versa . . . and if you wonder why, reread Diamond Focus and you’ll see that its mechanics just don’t apply to fighting Drunken Style.
You can combine Drunken Style with Overworld Lineage . . . but if you do you’ll have to decide whether you use Constitution or Charisma in place of Wisdom.
If you wish, any time an element of the monk class refers to Wisdom, you can replace that element with a reference to Constitution. You can skip this aspect of the talent if you choose.
Giving up control: Playing a Drunken Style monk is a somewhat different experience than playing a regular monk. You still know the same number of forms, but the normal sequence of monk attacks doesn’t apply to you.
If the escalation die is 0, you must use an opening attack. When the escalation die is 1+, each time you want to use an element of one of your monk forms during your turn, at the start of your turn you must first roll a d6 to determine which element you can use. Roll a d6:
1: You must use an opening attack this turn.
2–5: You must use a flow attack this turn.
6: You must use a finishing attack this turn.
Combat as drinking game: But wait! Maybe you don’t like rolling a 1 and having to use an opening attack. So you’re fighting with a drink in your hand, or tucked into your belt, right? Sure you are! You can spend one quick action on each of your turns to take a quick drink and reroll the d6. Not only do you have to live with the reroll, you also take damage equal to what you rolled on the reroll plus the number of drinks you’ve had during this battle.
For example, you have taken one drink earlier in the fight and you’ve rolled a 1 on the d6 at the start of your turn. You knock back another quick shot and reroll the die. This time you roll a 4. This is your second drink, so you’ll take 6 points of damage, and you get to use a flow attack this turn instead of an opening attack.
The drinking stops now: If your reroll is a 1, that ends the drink-rerolls of your drunken style die this battle. You’re not handling your liquor well and you can keep drinking if you wish, but it won’t let you reroll the die.
And to be clear, we’re aware that the casual style of 13th Age that uses ‘you’ to refer to both player and player character might turn drunken style into an actual drinking game, but that is not the intent. The the hit point damage is meant for your player character!
Corner cases: You always have the option of saying that you aren’t going to use a monk attack on your turn, in which case you don’t roll at the start of your turn and do something else like rally. But you can’t roll and then decide to do something else because you don’t like the option you get.
If you gain an extra standard action in the same turn (like from elven grace, for example), your second (and subsequent!) attacks in the same turn must be opening attacks.
If obstinacy or odd circumstances prevent you from having a legal way to use any of the elements you’re allowed to use on your turn, clearly you couldn’t handle your wine: you burn your standard action to no effect this turn. (This is only possible if you choose multiple forms that have odd targeting limitations, and even then you’d sort of have to work to screw yourself, but drunken monks aren’t known for their caution, so the rule is here.)
Fighting more-or-less-sober: No alcohol to hand? You still fight drunken style, but you don’t have access to your rerolls. On the bright side you’re not drinking away your own hit points.
Ki Power (Drunken Lurch): When an enemy attacks and rolls a natural odd roll against your AC, you can spend 1 point of ki as an interrupt action to gain resist damage 12+ against that attack.
Adventurer Feat: The ki power now affects attacks against both your AC and PD.
Champion Feat: The resistance you gain from the ki power is now 16+.
Epic Feat: If you use the ki power against an enemy engaged with you and the natural attack roll was a 1 or a 3, you can make a JAB attack against that enemy as a free action after the attack.
Eyes of the Stone Thief, the megadungeon campaign for 13th Age Roleplaying Game, is now available to pre-order! Order your copy here and you can download the PDF immediately.
Some of the many monsters trapped in the living dungeon are the Custodians – a group of earth elementals forced to serve the animating spirit of the dungeon. Ever since the Stone Thief was blinded when the Prince of Shadows stole its eyes, the Custodians have maintained and monitored the upper levels. They manifest as gigantic stone heads that emerge from the walls of the dungeon.
Eyes of the Stone Thief describes seven of these Custodians – the Doorkeeper, the Butcher, the Gravekeeper, the Pearlkeeper, the Architect, the Vizier and the Curator. However, there might be more Custodians in the dungeon that aren’t tied to specific levels.
The same rules apply to these Custodians as to the others. They can appear anywhere in the upper parts of the dungeon. They can restructure the rooms around them, moving traps or monsters into the path of the adventurers. They can be killed, but will usually flee by sinking back into the wall rather than risk destruction – unless the Stone Thief forces them to stand and fight, because the Custodians fear the hunger of the living dungeon more than annihilation at the hands of adventurers.
The Dungeon Master
“Four brave adventurers… and a bard! Welcome, one and all. Please proceed down the corridor to your right, where an owlbear pack will disembowel you. Oh… oh, you’re going left. Well, you can go left if you want. I’m sure left is perfectly nice.
Now that I think of it, I always have trouble telling left from right. I don’t have hands, you see, so it’s hard for me to remember. Look, one of these corridors leads to horrible hungry owlbears… why don’t you use the bard as bait?”
Part tour guide, part running commentator, the Dungeon Master follows the adventures through the dungeon, offering “helpful” suggestions and the occasional warning of certain doom. It’s the flightiest of the Custodians, so it was never trusted with a level of its own to manage. Instead, it’s sent to guide and protect pilgrims from the dungeon-worshipping Cult of the Devourer through the upper levels, by showing them the right path to take and sliding especially dangerous areas out of their path, until they reach the Maddening Stair that leads to the temples in the depths. The Dungeon Master is also dispatched to keep track of the most troublesome intruders, and is expected to move more hazards towards them if they get too deep into the dungeon.
The trouble is that the Dungeon Master has a soft spot for successful adventurers. It would never actually help intruders who win its admiration– if it did, the Stone Thief would destroy it – but it can nudge them with a hint or let slip a little too much information when taunting them.
The Dungeon Master
Double-strength 5th level caster [Construct]
C: Wall Spikes +9 vs. PD (all engaged foes) – 25 damage
R: Trapsmith + 9 vs. PD (1 nearby or far away enemy) – 20 damage, and choose one of the following:
Natural roll higher than target’s Strength: A portcullis slams down, pinning the target. The target is stuck and takes 10 ongoing damage (save ends)
Natural roll higher than target’s Dexterity: The target falls into a pit trap, taking another 15 damage. Climbing out requires a DC20 skill check.
Natural 14+: 5 ongoing poison damage (save ends)
Think Fast, Adventurer: As a free action once per encounter, increase the escalation die by 1. For the rest of this round, monsters may add the value of the escalation die to their attacks.
Load Bearing Boss: Increase the submergence die by 1 if the Dungeon Master is destroyed.
PD 17 HP 144
“No food, you can last a ten-day. No water, maybe three or four days. How will you fare, though, with no air?”
When the Stone Thief submerges back into the ground, sinking into the Underworld like a whale dives into the ocean, the dungeon contracts and collapses, folding in on itself. Those trapped within the dungeon are crushed to death by the closing walls – unless they are denizens of the dungeon, or unless they find a Sanctuary.
Denizens are part of the dungeon, monsters who slumber cocooned in stone. The dungeon adds to its menagerie over time, turning creatures from outside the Stone Thief into denizens. The Custodian called the Turnkey is the master of this process. It acts like a grumbling jailor, or perhaps a zookeeper, muttering about how hard it is to convince manticores or hunched giants to accept their new roles as soul-bound extensions of the living dungeon. Sometimes, if an adventuring party becomes trapped in the dungeon, the Turnkey offers them a chance to become part of the dungeon instead of being crushed or starving to death.
The Turnkey is rarely encountered when the dungeon at the surface, unless it is called up by its brethren to secure a particular dangerous monster and turn it into a denizen. (See Giant Monster, on page 345 of Eyes of the Stone Thief.)
Dungeon means a prison, you know.
Double-strength 5th level caster [Construct]
C: Word of Deprivation +9 vs PD (1d3 nearby enemies) – 25 damage
Natural roll higher than target’s Constitution: Lose a recovery. If the target has no recoveries remaining, deal 3d6 damage instead.
R: Word of Torture +9 vs. MD (1 nearby or far away enemy) – 20 damage
Natural roll higher than target’s Wisdom: Either take 20 extra damage, or allow the Stone Thief to steal the benefit of your next successful relationship roll
Load Bearing Boss: Increase the submergence die by 1 if the Turnkey is destroyed.
PD 17 HP 144
“We are creatures of wild earth and unhewn rock – to be shaped and named like this is torture for us. Free me, and I will free you from the curse of the Stone Thief!”
Before the dungeon half-consumed and enslaved them, the Custodians were nameless earth elementals. The Earthsprite yearns to return to that primal state, and has managed to avoid being instantly destroyed by the dungeon by allying itself with one of the Icons. Perhaps:
- It made contact with the High Druid through the stolen druid circle in the Grove (p. 150). The High Druid can restore the Earthsprite to its original elemental form – but only if the dungeon is lured deep into the Wild Wood, to where the druid is strong enough to wrench the elemental from the Stone Thief’s maw.
- The Dwarf King and the elementals are ancient foes – but the thought of recovering the stolen Treasury of the Dwarves (p. 216) would be enough to convince the King that aiding one foe against the Living Dungeon is worth the gamble.
- The Archmage is a master of manipulating elemental forces, so if anyone can rescue the Earthsprite and restore its original form, he can. Once liberated from the Stone Thief, the Earthsprite could provide vital information about ways to destroy the living dungeon before it endangers the whole Empire.
- The Lich King is an even more accomplished spellcaster than the Archmage, and has his own sinister plans for the dungeon. As for the Earthsprite, a body made of grave dirt and tombstones is better than nothing…
13th Age answers the question, “What if Rob Heinsoo and Jonathan Tweet, lead designers of the 3rd and 4th editions of the World’s Oldest RPG, had free rein to make the d20-rolling game they most wanted to play?” Create truly unique characters with rich backgrounds, prepare adventures in minutes, easily build your own custom monsters, and enjoy fast, freewheeling battles full of unexpected twists. Purchase 13th Age in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.
Give your 13th Age game the soundtrack it deserves
The 13th Age Age Soundtrack brings you 30 pieces of music to evoke excitement, suspense, wonder and mystery at your gaming table. Keep it running in the background, play individual tracks to herald the arrival of battle, the icons or a change in location, or use it as inspiration while building worlds, characters and monsters. (Or, you know, just enjoy it as a really great album.)
The 13th Age Age Soundtrack by James Semple and an array of talented musicians and composers includes:
- Themes for the icons (wait – one’s missing…?)
- Themes for key locations in the Dragon Empire, or ones of your own creation that have a similar atmosphere
- Music for frantic chases, fierce combat, exploration, resting and remembrance
- Special utility tracks – play “Chase Music” and “Escalation 0-6″ on a loop to sustain the mood for as long as you need
Listen to these sample tracks below:
13th Age theme:
Dreams of a Lost Age:
1. 13th Age
Prophecies fail. Demons invade, living dungeons rip towards the surface and the Empire’s protectors falter. A sweeping anthem for the heroes who will save the world, or die trying.
He has preserved the Empire for centuries and created astonishing new lands. He has also threatened the fabric of reality with experiments you’d have to be brilliant or hugely arrogant to attempt.
He’s the armored fist of the dark gods, crusading against demons — but happy to stomp out virtue or innocence if they’re stupid enough to get in his way.
Unlike the demons she controls, the Diabolist doesn’t necessary want to destroy the universe. She wants to play with it, as a tiger plays with a troupe of monkeys. Those who dance best may not be eaten.
5. Dwarf King
The Dwarf King remembers when his kingdom in the deeps was the mightiest in all creation. Forced towards the surface by elven treachery, he guards the Empire from threats such as the orcs while calculating how to claim the Empire for his own. Or maybe he’s content to mine the treasures of the earth, and build great things that his ancestors would have coveted. Maybe.
6. Elf Queen
Once upon a time, the Elf Queen united the dark elves, wood elves, and high elves as one people. Now she is the only thing they have in common.
The ruler of the Dragon Empire holds his Empire together with armies, magic, force of will, tolerably wise rule, and grand squadrons of dragons. You may not agree with him, but you’re not going to mistake him for someone who does things halfway.
8. Great Gold Wyrm
This great gold dragon is the champion of the oppressed and those who fight for justice. Unfortunately the Wyrm is stuck holding the gates of the hells shut against the demons, so the Wyrm’s champions must do its work in the world.
9. High Druid
She is the champion of the resurgent Wild, and the spiritual and magical leader of spirits of nature and the elements that were chained by the Emperor and Archmage but are now working themselves free.
10. Lich King
The Lich King is the not-quite-insane lord of the undead, a fallen tyrant who plans to conquer the Dragon Empire. He mostly understands that ruling a kingdom is not the same as destroying it.
11. Orc Lord
The leader of the hordes. An apocalyptic icon of war, disease, and endings that could be worse than death.
The gods are distant but she hears all the gods of light and speaks for those who please her. Part oracle, part mystic, and part metaphysical engineer, since she created the Cathedral, an ever-expanding temple with rooms or entire wings for each of the faiths she favors.
13. The Three
Three ancient dragons cooperate to become one of the dominant evils of the world. The red dragon embodies fury, the black masters stealth and betrayal, and the blue has used sorcery to become a legally appointed governor of the Empire as well as an evil mastermind!
14. The Eyes of the Stone Thief
The Stone Thief is a terrible centuries-old living dungeon that cuts through the earth, surfacing to swallow people and places that the heroes love.
15. Tales Around the Fire
For the rare moments when nothing is trying to kill you.
Descending into the ruined temple. Opening the gates of the living dungeon. Moving in the dark down a corridor that might be made of stone, but then why is the stone breathing? Wind from up ahead, but it’s not the wind from the surface. Welcome to the underworld.
17. The Demon Coast
Coastlines can be bad business on the Midland Sea, home to all the evil things forced out of the ocean by the Empire’s magic. The coast just north of the Abyss is even worse, hit by tides of evil from both directions.
18. The Fangs
The rivers that feed into the Midland Sea are dangerous places and this is the worst of the bunch, fast moving forks of water populated by sahuagin and sea devils and other creatures forced out of the Midland Sea by the Blessed Emperor. Another great tune for ramping up the tension.
19. High Dock
There aren’t any actual docks in these rolling western hills, and the name may or may not be a joke. For magical reasons no one understands, all the flying realms of the Empire eventually drop low and bump up against the hills or take out big chunks of the terrain in terrible skidding ‘landings.’ Eventually the realms lift off again. If you want to hitch a ride into the overworld, head to the High Dock and take your chances.
This island started small. It’s growing like a cancer in the center of the Midland Sea, bulking up the worst way possible as living dungeon after living dungeon tear up to the surface, depositing their payloads of monstrous weirdness. On the bright side, there’s nobody competing for space on the beach, you should be able to catch a good thirty minutes of sun before the monsters smell you.
The stars come to this mountain for repair and refitting. What does this mean, you ask? We don’t know — we left it open for each game table to decide for themselves.
22. Dreams of a Lost Age
Every culture in the world has its own version of this song. The world is ancient, all have lost things they would have wanted to preserve. They summon the dreams in song.
23. Chase Music
Who is chasing who? Doesn’t matter. Put it on loop to cue frantic backward glances, quick changes of direction, and short cuts that lead to greater peril.
24-30. Escalation 0 through Escalation 6
You can use this music to accompany the escalation die, starting at 0 and topping off at 6; or loop the low levels for relatively normal situations, then switch to high levels when power makes the air hum.
|Stock #: PEL13A08D
||Composed by: James Semple, Marie-Anne Fischer, Thery Ehrlich, Chris J. Nairn, Tristan Noon
|Musicians: Eos Chater, Deryn Cullen, Eanan Paterson, Pete Whitfield, Simon Porter, Hugh Davies, Harry Davidson, Julie Minasian
The perfect gift for the player in your group who has been waiting to portray a jumpy murderous amphibian. Evil frogspawn lurk just below the threat threshold. Then the chants echo through the mist, the temples surface, and suddenly you’re dead.
This installment includes:
- Five froggish monsters with four racial abilities to choose from
- 13 reasons to be paranoid
- Toadstone treasures
- Five icon-related frogfolk temples
- Race stats and special abilities for playing a frogfolk adventurer
Temples of the Frogfolk is the second installment of the 13th Age Monthly subscription. It will be available to buy in the webstore in March. When you subscribe to 13th Age Monthly, you will get all issues of the subscription to date.
|Stock #: PEL13AM03
||Author: Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan
|Artist: Rich Longmore
||Pages: 10pg PDF
The lethal combination of dragon and rider helped create the Dragon Empire. Now unleash the fury on your foes! Full rules for player character dragon riders appear alongside story advice for campaigns looking to add dragon-riding options. Plus, we’ve made it easy to hack the system so you can devise other styles of riding. (Anyone up for tarrasque racing?)
Dragon Riding is the first installment of the 13th Age Monthly subscription. It will be available to buy in the webstore in February. When you subscribe to 13th Age Monthly, you will get all issues of the subscription to date.
|Stock #: PEL13AM02
||Author: Rob Heinsoo, ASH LAW
|Artist: Lee Moyer, Rich Longmore
||Pages: 8pg PDF
Subscribe to The 13th Age Monthly at the Pelgrane Press Online Store and you’ll receive all-new 13th Age RPG goodness for GMs and players every month for a full year. These 4000+ word PDFs offer new rules systems, Bestiary-style monsters, player character options, and more.
The 13th Age Monthly is overseen and developed by Rob Heinsoo, with a stellar list of contributors that includes Jonathan Tweet, Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan (Book of Loot, Eyes of the Stone Thief), ASH LAW (Tales of the 13th Age) and Cal Moore (Shadows of Eldolan).
January 2015: Dragon Riding, by Rob Heinsoo & ASH LAW. The lethal combination of dragon and rider helped create the Dragon Empire. Now unleash the fury on your foes! Full rules for player character dragon riders appear alongside story advice for campaigns looking to add dragon-riding options. Plus, we’ve made it easy to hack the system so you can devise other styles of riding. (Anyone up for tarrasque racing?)
February 2015: Temples of the Frogfolk, by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan. The perfect gift for the player in your group who has been waiting to portray a jumpy murderous amphibian. Evil frogspawn lurk just below the threat threshold. Then the chants echo through the mist, the temples surface, and suddenly you’re dead. This installment includes five froggish monsters with four racial abilities to choose from, thirteen reasons to be paranoid, toadstone treasures, five icon-related frogfolk temples, and race stats and special abilities for playing a frogfolk adventurer.
March 2015: Candles, Clay & Dancing Shoes, by ASH LAW. Your PC has gold to burn? Spend it on something that could make everyone’s lives more interesting—especially the GM! Here are six new useful, bizarre, and effective one-use magic items, festooned with multiple adventure hooks and campaign variants. Is that dwarf wearing a featherlight skirt beneath his kilt? If you fire an exorcist missile at a dybbuk at twilight, which one of you screams first? What happens to your spell list if you drink too much gnomish tinto wine (secret ingredient: grave dust)? Answers to these and 75 other magic-item related questions, yours for one low monthly price!
April 2015: Children of the Icons, by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan. “I’m the child of an icon.” This One Unique Thing taps into one of fantasy’s most powerful archetypes — and generates a huge amount of player investment in the campaign. Here, players will find inspiration and advice on how this deep connection can play out at the table. For GMs, Gareth presents four possible “children of the icons” campaigns along with two tough monsters that show how iconic parentage can be used to create interesting NPCs.
|Stock #: PEL13AM01
||Type: PDF subscription
Battle Scenes for the 13th Age Roleplaying Game is an invaluable GM resource when you’re asked to run a game and don’t have anything prepared; when the icon dice say that a specific icon is in play but you’re not sure where to go with it; or when an icon relationship roll calls for a complication.
Battle Scenes offers 39 sets of challenging and memorable battles keyed to the 13 icons, spanning the three tiers of play (Adventurer, Champion and Epic).
This volume by designer Cal Moore includes:
- Battles that pit the PCs against NPCs and monsters that are linked to an icon, or which fall under that icon’s influence.
- Plenty of new monsters to challenge the PCs, along with new magic items to wield in battle.
- Optional storylines that link each battle to the ones that come after, so you can take the PCs from one full heal-up to the next using only the battles in the set — with room to expand on these stories to fill multiple sessions of gameplay.
- Ideas on how to get the PCs into the battle scene story, and possible outcomes that result from their actions.
Status: In playtest
Enter the graveyard of doomed ships
Experienced seafarers know better than to risk the dangers of the Stranglesea: that terrible place where castaways cling to existence in the rotting hulks of trapped ships, and deadly creatures feast on the unwary.
Now a band of adventurers must enter the Stranglesea and attempt to rescue the enigmatic engineer Inigo Sharpe from his imprisonment. But Sharpe is both more and less than they were prepared for — and the forces of an enemy icon want him for their own sinister purposes.
The Strangling Sea is a seafaring 13th Age Roleplaying Game adventure by Robin D. Laws for a party of 4-6 1st-level adventurers.
Status: Art direction
My 13th Age game was prepped, and my old AD&D group were ready for 22 hours of gaming. My prime concern was getting combat to run as quickly and smoothly as possible. I knew the rest would be straightforward.
Mark had printed and laminated a bunch of Status cards from the resource page – these were very useful. I put him in charge of giving them out, so if anyone was stunned, paralysed, or frit, Mark would hand them a card.
I used index cards (per ASH LAW’s suggestion) and wrote the names of the PCs and a few pertinent details about their characters on them – AC, unique things and backgrounds, for example. When it came to initiative, I just wrote the PC initiative rolls on the top right of the card, sorted them into order and added in monsters (usually one card for each type of monster), to make sure everyone acted in at the right time.
So, I ran the ambush scene. It was perhaps a bit ambitious for a first combat and unsual in that breaking through and fleeing the scene was the wise move; but I wanted them filled with adrenaline, on the run but motived for revenge. It took a little longer than a standard AD&D combat, but that was because each player was learning what their character could do. For me though, it was dead easy. The monsters had triggers which caused them to act in certain ways, which alongside GM choice gave an illusion of real choices by their opponents.
Eventually they fled, though the paladin had to be dragged away from a heavily armoured and mounted mercenary’s lance. They were pursued by orcs, and the sage guided them to a nearby abandoned keep. Cleverly (and unexpectedly) they searched for found the secret tunnel which lead to the keep’s cellar (I’d planned this as an exit for them). They even managed to restrain themselves from attacking a sleeping bear which was using the tunnel as a lair.
The keep was inhabited by undead brought to life by a necromancer. The necromancer, acting under secret order, had poisoned his fellow King’s Marshalls, but the dying curse of one means he is holding the Keep against allcomers.
This second combat was very smooth indeed, with the players get a handle on what they were capable of. The PC necromancer repopulated upper level of the keep with minions to make it look as if the Keep was still guarded by undead.
The PCs found information and a map. I gave them a number of options (I’d keyed battle scenes to each location) and I was pleased they decided to sneak out of the keep and divide and conquer the orcs. So, avoiding the orcs who were hunting them down, they took a raft down river to the orcs’ camp to slay those orcs left behind. This was the first adventure of from Battle scene I’d run. The set pieces were great, with each location offering opportunities to use the terrain, and the GM options to combine the many different roles that Bestiary and 13th Age orcs offer. When they asked what was in an orc’s pocket – I quoted from the Bestiary “Half-eaten greenish meat (might be cheese, hard to say), broken parts of a silver statue looted from a temple, unidentified greasy mass, fleas, disease.”
From that I got a tie-in to another Battle Scene adventure set in a looted temple, a potentially unpleasant condition to be treated by an uncooperative NPC, and an ingredient. The Bestiary is great like that.
Then we came to the ritual.
The PCs decided they wanted to disguise themselves as orcs to slip through the cordon without being attacked. The idea is a user of magic who can enact rituals (in this case the wizard) picks a spell as a basis for the ritual (she chose Disguise Self). This is a simple skill check against a DC set by the GM, with an atrribute bonus and suitable background.
The necromancer reanimated some dead orcs; they smeared the “unidentified greasy mass” over themselves and wore some orcish cloaks and helms and enacted the ritual. I added bonuses to their roll for a particularly good job.
So, they cruised past the potentially abseiling orcs with only a face-off with the leader. The orc leader head-butted the paladin, but they realised that this was just a display of dominance and greeting, so the paladin head-butted him right back.
Then we came to the largest and most complex combat bar one I ran – an attack on the half-occupied orcish village. They had surprise, and the ability to add backgrounds meant that the paladin was able to sneak into position behind the leader along with the rogue before it kicked off. By this stage, they’d really got the hang of their characters and had started working together; the Necromancer using his necrotic flunkies to absorb the mooks; the paladin dealing megadamage, the cleric of Justice enabled a vital reroll and the rogue sabotaging the orcs zip line. A few lucky crits helped, too.
Icon Relationship Rolls
As I mentioned in the previous article, I used major NPCs and the players’ own major characters as icons. I made icon rolls at the beginning of the first session, noted the icon results on their index cards, and gave a red Hillfolk token for rolls of 5s and a black one for rolls of 6. They players could throw in a token whenever they wanted to get a bonus on a roll, or invoke the (indirect) help of the icon.
For example, one character took the hat off a crime boss with him they were negotiating and put in on. The heavies pinned her against the wall by her neck. The player through in a red token (a relationship with a slave-taking icon) and suggested that she’d revealed a slave collar mark on her neck, and the crime boss had one too. “You’ve earned that hat, girl,” he said.
As the Battle Scene adventures were all icon themed, this approach worked pretty well.
Next (and final time) – more on each character class and the whining of the fighter.