13th Age at Origins 2014Many thanks to our GM team and all the players who attended our games at Origins this year. We sold out of all of our games, and even squeezed in some walk-ups in the scheduled games. Kendall Jung did an amazing job of managing our play events at the show. Onward to Gen Con!

Free RPG Day

Make Your Own Luck, Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan’s prequel to the upcoming Eyes of the Stone Thief campaign, is our contribution to this year’s Free RPG Day — you can get it on Saturday, June 21 at your nearest participating game retailer. We’ve heard that some stores are giving GMs their copies in advance so they can run the adventure on the day of release, so you might want to ring up your local store and see if they’ve scheduled a play event.

(Because some folks have asked: Free RPG Day is a retailer-sponsored event created to support game stores, so we’re not giving away PDF copies of the game.)

Make Your Own Luck: Live Play Crossover Event!

In much the same way that Nick Fury assembled the Avengers, for Free RPG Day we’ve assembled a team of players to play Make Your Own Luck via Google Hangout and Roll20 on Saturday, June 21st at 3:00 PM EST / noon Pacific:

Join us live on Aaron’s YouTube channel on Saturday, and watch the mayhem unfold.

Upcoming Adventures

Domain of the Dwarf King will go live soon. At Rob Heinsoo’s request it features a dwarf centipede. (I guess I know what Dutch horror movie Rob watched last night.)

Domain of the Dwarf King concludes the Orc War trilogy, and will see the final defeat of General Gul. Or not — that’s up to the adventurers.

The next big Organized Play installment after Domain of the Dwarf King is the first of our champion-tier games: Escape from the Diabolist’s Dungeon!

State of Play

We’e now up to 1186 GMs running Tales of the 13th Age worldwide, on every continent except Antarctica. If you know anybody in an Antarctic research station who wants a copy of 13th Age let us know!


by Rob Heinsoo

Orc TileWhen I read the fun Wrath of the Orc Lord organized-play adventure written by ALL CAPS MAN, aka ASH LAW, I decided I’d want another orc variety or two if I was running the adventure myself. For those keeping pace with the 13th Age OP seasons, Wrath of the Orc Lord is just about over. But I suspect a lot of groups will still be experiencing Wrath and (not-really-a-spoiler-alert) ASH says that the Domain of the Dwarf King adventure coming up in a few weeks also features orcs.

So here’s a new 3rd level orc mook that can sub in for 3rd level Cave Orc mooks or used any other way you like.

My thought process designing the monster went like this:

  1. I’ve got some nice orc minis with spears and shields.
  2. What’s an interesting reason orcs would be fighting with spears?
  3. To keep them at a distance from their foes, so that they wouldn’t lapse into bestial bloodlust, throw away their weapons, and fight with their bare hands and teeth.
  4. OK, so the Orc Lord equips these savage grunts with spears and cheap shields because they do fight better with weapons, but when they lose control or things go badly for them they throw away their weapons and shields and revert to scavenger behavior. So they’re not even trained in throwing spears, and the spears are probably deliberately badly-balanced for throwing.
  5. Looks like two different stat blocks, one for fighting with weapons, one for when the Orc Lord’s discipline has been shattered and they’re fighting tooth and claw.

The results follow. Start battles using the orc spear grunt, which are tougher than most other mooks. Their bestial reversion ability means they might turn into savage grunts midway through the battle.

The savage grunts have a strange ability which is me messing around a bit: their feral aversion ability kicks in whenever they start their turn engaged with a non-staggered enemy, you roll a die and you don’t know if the orc is going to use that die roll to attack (standard action) or disengage (move action).

Orc Spear Grunt

3rd level mook [humanoid]

Initiative: +5

Spear +8 vs. AC—7 damage

Mob of seven: The maximum size of a mob of orc spear grunts is 7 mooks. When you include more than seven orc spear grunts in a battle, use another mob.

Bestial reversion: When an orc spear grunt’s attack drops an enemy to 0 hp or below, or when one or more orc spear grunts drops, roll a single normal save for the orc spear grunt mob, with a bonus to the roll equal to the number of remaining mooks in the mob (for example, 4 mooks left = +4). If the save fails, all the remaining mooks in the mob cast away their weapons and shields and become savage grunts until the end of the battle (use that stat block instead).

AC   20

PD    16                 HP 13 (mook)

MD  12

Mook: Kill one orc spear grunt for every 13 damage you deal to the mob.

 

Savage Grunt

3rd level mook [humanoid]

Initiative: +5

Claw and teeth +6 vs. AC—5 damage

Feral aversion: When a savage grunt is engaged with a non-staggered target at the start of its turn, roll a d20 that will become either an attack roll or a disengage check!

On a natural even roll, the grunt uses the roll as a claws and teeth attack.

On a natural odd roll, the grunt uses that roll as disengage check that may or may not succeed. If the grunt disengages, it will move to engage and attack a staggered enemy, if possible. If the grunt doesn’t disengage, it will stay and fight.

AC   17

PD    15                 HP 10 (mook)

MD  12

Mook: Kill one savage grunt for every 10 damage you deal to the mob.

 

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.

Pelgrane Press will be at Origins Game Fair on June 11-14, running the following 4-hour games in the Hyatt Regency Ballroom. You can find a master spreadsheet at http://originsgamefair.com/events/games/. Hope to see you there!

Event Number Event Name Event Start Date/Time Game Master
7011 13th Age – Omenquest Thu 10:00 AM Jacob Wachtman
6981 13th Age – Caverns & Cave-Creepers Thu 6:00 PM Kendall Jung
6982 13th Age – The Folding of Screamhaunt Castle Fri 10:00 AM Jacob Wachtman
6984 13th Age – Omenquest Fri 2:00 PM Kendall Jung
6985 13th Age – Caverns & Cave-Creepers Sat 10:00 AM Jacob Wachtman
6986 13th Age – Omenquest Sat 11:00 AM Randy White
6988 13th Age – Fungaloid Infection Sat 2:00 PM Kendall Jung
6989 13th Age – The Folding of Screamhaunt Castle Sat 4:00 PM Randy White
6990 Trail of Cthulhu – Voices from the Other Side Sat 4:00 PM Rob Bush
6991 13th Age – Danger at Deathless Gulch Sun 10:00 AM Jacob Wachtman
6992 13th Age – Caverns & Cave-Creepers Sun 11:00 AM Randy White

13th Age Bestiary Limited Edition

Bestiary_Limited_Edition_Mockup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’ve printed 100 limited editions in all, and we are releasing them now for Hatchling Edition pre-orderers only. The books are faux black leather with gold foil. Each one includes a numbered book plate signed by Rob Heinsoo for you to add to the book. They will also include a limited edition A5 print of everyone’s favourite baby owlbear facing off a bronze golem.

Grr'Owl

We are not offering an upgrade version to existing Bestiary customers.

The book retails at $80 / £50 plus shipping.

As promised, we are emailing all 13th Age Bestiary Hatchling Edition customers with instructions how to order. If we don’t sell out, we’ll open it up next to the rest of the Bestiary pre-orderers, and if there are any left after that, we’ll open it up to everyone.

by Wade Rockett

13th Age OP graph May 2014I’ll start this update by sharing a graph that ASH made, showing what almost a year of 13th Age Organized Play looks like in terms of GMs and sign-ups — click the image on the right to see it more clearly. The initial bump and flatish-line represents our pre-launch OP announcement. Once we went live we saw the numbers really start to go up.

I was going to use the rest of this post to list all 21 Gen Con games we’d scheduled, but THEY ALL SOLD OUT IN A HALF HOUR. Which is wonderful and amazing, because there was always the terrifying possibility that we’d underestimated demand for play and would end up struggling to fill our events. But the enthusiasm and support for 13th Age is greater than ever.

The good news for you is that we received a lot of GM applications after the deadline, so  expect to see a second wave of 13th Age games added to the schedule. We’ll let you know as soon as they go live.

13th Age Seminars at Gen Con: GM advice, design workshops & more

But maybe you’re interested in becoming a better 13th Age GM, or learning how to design adventures and monsters for the game? You’re in luck! We’re offering four seminars at Gen Con:

13th Age Adventure Design
Date & Time: Thursday at 1:00 PM
Duration: 1 hours
Location: TBD
The freeform story rules in 13th Age require a different approach to adventure design. We’ll talk about how to design with icons, backgrounds, uniques and more, and answer your questions.

13th Age GM Roundtable
Date & Time: Friday at 3:00 PM
Duration: 1 hours
Location: Crowne Plaza: Grand Central D
Rob Heinsoo, Mike Shea, Ruth Tillman and Wade Rockett share their advice on how to run 13th Age, from handling icon rolls to collaborative world building and beyond. Got questions? Bring ‘em!

13th Age: Year One
Date & Time: Saturday at 3:00 PM
Duration: 1 hours
Location: Crowne Plaza: Victoria Stn A/B
13th Age debuted one year ago at Gen Con! Join Rob Heinsoo, Simon Rogers and Wade Rockett as they talk about where the game is now, share what’s coming next and answer your burning questions.

13th Age Monster Workshop
Date & Time: Sunday at 2:00 PM
Duration: 1 hours
Location: Crowne Plaza: Pennsylvania Stn C
Join 13th Age designers as they build a new monster that’ll take advantage of the game’s mechanics to deliver all sorts of nasty surprises at the table.

13th Age at Origins

We’re also running games at Origins Game Fair  June 11-15 —  download the Origins event grid.

The Flesh TailorIn his April View from the Pelgrane’s Nest column, Simon provided updates on all of Pelgrane’s current projects. Here’s the latest news on 13th Age:

The 13th Age Bestiary is with the printers, on target for a mid-June delivery date. Pre-order your copy now from the Pelgrane store. It’s available on Bits and Mortar, too, so you can pre-order it from your local retailer and get the PDF now.

The Bestiary limited edition is in the changing rooms at the boutique, trying out new outfits of faux leather colours and gold foil. The limited B is currently available for pre-order, with Hatchling edition customers geting first dibs.

13 True Ways is finally in layout. We apologize for the extreme delay in getting this Kickstarted product out to you – we think it’s worth the wait. We’ll put in on pre-order this month. It’s touch and go if we’ll have it out in time for GenCon and Kickstarter backers come first. A non-laid out PDF version should be out with backers in the next couple of weeks.

For FreeRPGDay , Saturday 21st June, we’ll be releasing a new retail-exclusive adventure Make Your Own Luck. 3500 of these adventures will be distributed free in up to 700 hobby stores. Stores can sign up here  and you can find your nearest participating retailer here.

Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan is nursing the great whale that is The Eyes of the Stone Thief into the the deep waters of art direction; Rich Longmore, Anna Kryczkowska, Juha Makkonen and Pat Loboyko are doing the interior work, and Ben Wootten the cover.

Cartographer Pär Lindstrom is producing maps for Shadows of Eldolan, and we have a first colour draft of the cover by Joshua Calloway here.

ASH LAW has delivered a draft of Shards of the Broken Sky, which Rob will look at when 13 True Ways is laid out.

The Book of Loot, a delicious collection of potent and quirky Icon-featured items is in first draft, also awaiting Rob’s seal of approval.

13 True Ways Pit Fiend Tile SketchA 13 True Ways Preview

Chapter five of 13 True Ways is all about devils—those malevolent creatures from the Pit who delight in corrupting, binding and tormenting mortals. Where demons rage, devils persuade; where demons destroy, devils subvert and dominate.

Typically their role in your campaign depends on which icon you associate them with. If devils are most closely identified with the Archmage in your campaign, they are the servants and betrayers of wizards. If you prefer to tie them to the Elf Queen, they are haters and despoilers of beauty. If you choose to tie them to the High Druid, they work to transform the Wild into a desolate, industrial wasteland.

And then there are ideas that don’t follow the standard format tying the devils to icons. Some of these apply better to monstrous devils, and others work with the new covert devils you’ll find described for the first time in 13 True Ways.

Continue reading…

13th Age icon symbolsby Wade Rockett

Greyhawk. Golarion. Eberron. Mystara. The names of these settings ring out in the history of roleplaying games. It’s no surprise that many 13th Age fans want to run campaigns in them, or others that are equally beloved. And one question comes up all the time: how do I figure out who the icons are in that setting? 

That was the project I undertook when I turned 13 powerful NPCs from the Midgard Campaign Setting into icons for the Midgard Bestiary by Kobold Press. Here’s what I learned: When you’re identifying the icons in a setting, whether it’s an existing product or your own homebrew campaign, focus on Connections, Goals, Geography and Flavor.

Connections

There’s only one mechanic for icons: relationship dice. This is the most important thing to understand about icons. They are all social by nature. A powerful dragon who spends all of his time in the heart of a mountain, sleeping on a mound of treasure, is not an icon. But a dragon who rules a city-state could be an icon, because she has followers, factions, allies, enemies and a need to employ adventurers.

This is important on a practical level because someone has to provide the benefit of an icon relationship roll to a player character, whether it’s gold, a magic item, a map, a copy of a key, a crew of henchmen, or valuable information. Even if the benefit comes in the form of a flashback, it’s still a flashback to a past interaction with a follower or foe of the icon. (Or at high levels, the icon itself.)

Goals

Here’s another reason that greedy dragon I mentioned isn’t an icon: he doesn’t have goals. All icons want something, and they use their power and influence to chase after that thing. Usually what they want gets in the way of something another icon wants, and that’s when the fun really starts. Goals make icons more than just vending machines for benefits — it makes them compelling and exciting additions to your campaign. If a setting’s NPC isn’t driven to accomplish or prevent something, they won’t be a very interesting icon.

Geography

An icon’s influence can span the globe, but most of them have a center of power somewhere. A few, such as Midgard’s Baba Yaga, are nomads who might turn up anywhere; but such beings aren’t the rule. (And adventurers are still more likely to find that cunning Feywitch in the Old Margreve forest than they are in the Southlands.)

When choosing the icons for your campaign, consider the extent to which an NPC’s influence is determined by geography. In 13th Age‘s default setting, the icons are most powerful and influential on their home turf, but their actions can affect events setting-wide. But not every setting includes people whose influence could be felt anywhere, no matter how far.

Depending on your comfort level, you can take one of two approaches here:

  • Decide where you want your campaign to take place, and choose icons based on which powerful NPCs with goals and followers could reasonably influence events in that place. For example, if your campaign takes place in and around a single city, your icons could be the ruler of the city, the local crime lord, the dwarf clan chief up in the nearby mountains, the northern barbarian king whose mercenaries fill the army’s ranks, the elf queen of the woods surrounding the city, and the scheming undead lord of a neighboring principality. If the city is important enough, faraway icons (even ones on other planes) could take an active interest in what happens there.
  • Present your players with all the possible icons in the setting, and have them decide which ones they want to be involved with. Then apply the above process in reverse, identifying a place where all these powers could be in play.

You can also use the involvement of icons who are distant, and their influence limited, to foreshadow that something important is going to happen that makes them want to have agents on the ground. If a baron sends assassins to kill a high priest on the other side of a continent, there must be a good reason he went to all that trouble. Maybe the baron has a direct interest in the affairs of church and state halfway around the world; or maybe he’s allied with, or being blackmailed by, a faction closer to where the PCs are based.

Flavor

Your choice of icons influences the type of campaign you’ll run, and which your players will play. Ask yourself whether making a particular NPC an icon helps to create the kind of game you’ll enjoy playing.

If the PCs never venture far from their city, but a distant sultana bent on conquest is an icon, it probably means her agents are in (or very near) the city, and your campaign will have a flavor of international intrigue. If the decadent, demon-summoning ruler of a slaver kingdom is an icon, you’ll focus heavily on the criminal and occult underworld — particularly smuggling, drugs, slavery and black magic.

How many?

You might be wondering how many NPCs to elevate to icon status. Five? Thirteen? More? Less?

Again, let’s look at practicalities. Just because you have 13 icons in a setting doesn’t mean that all 13 are going to be active in your campaign. And an even smaller number will play a major role in your adventures through successful icon relationship rolls. But in my experience, knowing that there are other powers striving and clashing in the world gives a setting depth, and makes it more dynamic. Even if things are relatively quiet in your neck of the woods, a mighty necromancer’s army might be steadily marching on a distant trade city — where a siege could mean a hungry winter for the dwarves in the North.

Me, I like to go with 13. It’s traditional, you know?

 

 

Necromancerby Rob Heinsoo

ASH LAW and I are both going to be running quick 13th Age games at the new AFK Tavern in Renton tomorrow, April 5th, as part of International Tabletop Day.

ASH is showing up around 11 am, I’ll be there around 12:30 to run a couple two hour games before I return to my regularly scheduled work weekend.

I’ll be running demo style games, the usual pregen character sheets that the players get to add the interesting stuff to, backgrounds and icon relationships and the One Unique Thing.

But not all the pregen sheets will be the usual sheets. Tomorrow I’m going to bring pregen sheets for characters like the woman pictured here,  in art by Aaron McConnell and Lee Moyer: the necromancer. I know that class hasn’t gone out to wider playtesting yet but it went a round within Fire Opal and it will be fun to bring it into the game tomorrow. What type of fun? Well, here’s one of the popular talents from the necromancer in its pre-edited form. Not everyone wants to play this way, but for those who do . . . .

Cackling Soliloquist
If you spend your move action, your quick action and your standard action casting a daily spell that ordinarily only requires a standard action—while screaming grandeloquently, cackling maniacally, or megalomaniacally describing the grandeur of your plans and the futility of your enemies’ resistance—the daily spell you are casting becomes a recharge 18+ spell (roll after the battle) and you can invent a slight improvement to the spell, especially if it’s at least partly story-oriented.

Adventurer Feat: The sound of your own voice invigorates you and you gain 1d6 + your level + Charisma temporary hit points when you use Cackling Soliloquist.

We may or may not play with the chaos mage’s special brand of crazy tomorrow. I’m working on the first revision for that class today and if works out we’ll probably use it, if I’m not happy yet it will have to wait outside the tavern.

Looking forward to tomorrow and seeing friends I haven’t seen for awhile as well as new souls and necromancers.

Join Rob Heinsoo and ASH LAW at AFK Elixirs and Eatery in Renton, WA on Saturday, April 5th for International TableTop Day! Here’s the schedule at the table:

  • 11:00 AM to approximately 1:00 PM – ASH
  • Approximately 1:30 PM to 5:00 – Rob

First come, first gets-to-play. As a special bonus they’ll have pre-generated characters for the never-before-seen necromancer and chaos mage classes from 13 True Ways. We hope to see you there!

Wil and Felicia are heroicWhile we’re on the subject of TableTop Day, we realized that we do not have tabletop tokens to represent Wil Wheaton and Felicia Day in our games. ASH used ProFantasy Software’s Character Artist 3 to rectify the situation.

Download the printable tokens

 

 

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