Play the new fantasy roleplaying game from legendary RPG designers Jonathan Tweet and Rob Heinsoo.
This is the game that Rob (lead designer of 4th edition D&D®) and Jonathan (lead designer of 3rd edition D&D®, Over the Edge and Everway) play at their own tables. New mechanics such as backgrounds, icon relationships, escalation dice and uniques offer exciting storytelling possibilities, simple yet powerful skill rules and fun, fast-moving combat.
Pre-order 13th Age to download the the rules and start playing today.
Want to know more? Check out the Resources page for downloads, reviews, interviews, convention videos and actual play, and visit the 13th Age forums to talk with other GMs and players.
Want to create a 13th Age compatible commercial product? Email Simon Rogers at email@example.com
“13th Age is, perhaps, the first d20 game that I’ve ever played that treats the game inside of combat and the game outside of combat with equal love, attention, and innovation.” – Jon Spengler, Dorkadia
“[13th Age] has just enough of the freedom I want from a tabletop game while also being able to balance the crunchy aspects. I was just about to swear off D20 games, too. So I’m glad I found this.” – Kirby Smith, playtester
“The combination of a streamlined…system with fun and unique character creation and an interesting high fantasy world have completely won me over.” – Ed Grabianowski, Robot Viking
“The system is absolutely brilliant. For me, it brings a lot of the things I really enjoy about traditional fantasy gaming and infuses them with some new and really useful ideas that you often see in more indie gaming.” – Aaron R., GM of Forgotten Sagas of the 13th Age, Obsidian Portal’s March 2013 Campaign of the Month
In the 13th Age of the world, adventurers seek their fortunes in the Dragon Empire while powerful individuals known as Icons pursue goals that may preserve the empire from chaos, or send it over the edge.
Players decide which Icons their characters ally with, and which ones they oppose. These relationships, along with a personal history and a unique trait chosen during character creation, help define an adventurer’s place in the world of 13th Age and lay the groundwork for epic stories that emerge through play.
There are also fun new rules for hitting orcs and making them go splat.
13th Age was playtested in 2012 by more than 200 gaming groups around the world. The game will be published by Pelgrane Press in spring of 2013.
“Our goal with 13th Age is to recapture the free-wheeling style of old-school gaming by creating a game with more soul and fewer technical details. …13th Age makes the play group’s campaign the center of attention, with a toolkit of rules that you can pick and choose from based on the kind of game you want to play. The mechanics draw from classic games as well as newer, story-based games.” – Jonathan Tweet, co-designer
About Rob Heinsoo
Rob Heinsoo has created dozens of role-playing games, card games, miniatures games and board games. He led the design of the fourth edition of Dungeons & Dragons® and wrote or led the design of many 4e sourcebooks. Rob has just released the card game Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Duel at Mt. Skullzfyre. Other recent game designs include THREE-DRAGON ANTE, THREE-DRAGON ANTE: Emperor’s Gambit, Inn-Fighting, Dreamblade, FORGOTTEN REALMS® Campaign Setting, and the first nine sets of D&D Miniatures®. Games he worked on in the 90’s that have aged well include Shadowfist, Feng Shui, and King of Dragon Pass.
About Jonathan Tweet
Jonathan Tweet has been creating games professionally for 25 years. He created or co-created the roleplaying games Ars Magica (1987), Over the Edge (1992), and Everway (1995). He started writing for Dungeons & Dragons in 1992, and in 2000 he became the lead designer of the game’s third edition. In addition to roleplaying games, Jonathan has created and contributed to card games, miniatures games, computer games, and fiction. His games have won three Origins Awards, and he is in the Origins Award Hall of Fame.
Status: Available to Pre-Order
Rob Heinsoo returned from avenging the dishonor done to him by the Black Dragon clan to give us this update on 13 True Ways, the first 13th Age expansion book. One of the original playtest’s most exciting classes is back — and as we promised, it’s been made available to all 13th Age pre-order customers as well as the Kickstarter backers.
The new playtest draft of the monk is ready. For those of you who played earlier versions, you’ll recognize the core of the experience. The monk still uses forms that start with an opening attack, continue with a flow attack, and lead to a finishing attack before starting the cycle over again.
This draft of the monk is more polished than many of our playtest documents. That doesn’t mean that it will sail smoothly into publication in 13 True Ways. Our developer, Rob Watkins, is committed to getting the balance right and he says it’s going to take some work.
Internal playtests have already been great fun. If you’d like to help us smooth things out and fix what doesn’t work, we’d love to your comments from actual play. Send your playtest notes to 13thAgePlaytest@gmail.com.
Note that we’re not making you backers (and Escalation Edition supporters) sign an NDA for this playtest, but we do have a request: If you’d seriously like to help the playtest process, don’t post your playtest feedback publicly or discuss it on the internet. In our experience, publicly discussed playtests generate less useful data because people start agreeing and echoing each other (or getting concerned about disagreeing with other people) rather than testing things for themselves.
Comments that are reactions to reading the text rather than playing will be less useful but we’ll still read them.
Given that this is the first class ready for external playtest and there are five more coming, you have some time before the playtest notes won’t help. I’ll speak up about timing when we have a few more of the classes in testing.
Yours in a whirling kick,
Hi, I’m Chris Huth, and this was my fire.
It was just over a month ago that I was importing the credits page of 13th Age into InDesign thinking that I was mere days away from being done, and noting what I thought was the rustic scent of a neighbour’s fireplace.
Then my partner came into the room, asked me if I smelled something, and less than minute later she was outside with the cat and I was trying to wake up the unit below to let them know their back porch was probably on fire. Turned out I was wrong; it was the entire house next door.
Nobody died, which is the important thing. (Including the cats next door, I’m told.) In the month since we’ve dug for salvage through ashes and mud, moved six times, criss-crossed the city looking for a new apartment, lived with three other cats, and a dog, and a pigeon, and scraped soot and grime off of our remaining worldly possessions.
The aftermath could’ve been much worse if not for the support we’ve received. It’s been simply astonishing being the receipient, along with my partner (and cat) of the generosity not just of our friends and family but of distant acquaintances and complete strangers. And, since it wasn’t just my home but my work that was lost, having the support and understanding of not just Pelgrane and Fire Opal but also of the extended community of those who are gaming with the stuff they create… thanks, everybody.
13th Age: Current Status
The big break here was that the vast majority of what was going into the layout—art, text and most of the layout assets—was with Fire Opal Media, not me or my backups. Though getting new hardware and software was a bit of a hurdle, the last three weeks have brought us almost back to where we were before the fire.
Currently we’re just going over each page in turn, layering in the sidebars styles and tables to accompany the body of text and art already in place. After that is only the front matter—credits, table of contents, legalese—and the index to go.
To complete the promotional circle, I’d like to thank Chris Gwinn at Code42 for the Crashplan account we’re currently using as an online backup.
This past weekend I finished judging the Lost Magic spell design contest at Kobold Press (go vote on the finalists!) and so I had magic on the brain when I saw Dave Thompson’s 13th Age True Magic Item Mask of the Charred Zombie on his blog To Hit Arse Class 0.
It’s a fun item and Dave kindly gave me permission to repost it here.
Mask of the Charred Zombie: A plain, slightly charred-looking porcelain mask. (Alternatively, it could be made of burnt wood or something similar.) The mask is always warm, and becomes very hot when its power is used — often burning the face of the wearer.
Chakra: Helmet, Crown, Diadem, Circlet
Bonus: Mental defense; +1 MD (adventurer), +2 MD (champion), +3 MD (epic).
Once per day the wearer can remove a copy of the mask from the front of it, and place it onto a corpse. This chars the corpse and animates it as a Charred Zombie (see below.) The wearer can control 2 of these zombies per level, but can make more if they have another way of wrangling them.
Quirk: The wearer’s skin to starts to crisp; they become unsightly, and averse to cold temperatures.
1st level mook [undead]
As a zombie shuffler, but damage taken from fire attacks heals the charred zombie instead of damaging it. If a charred zombie catches fire (takes ongoing fire damage) it regenerates hit points equal to the damage.
Fire damage cannot heal a charred zombie to above its maximum number of hit points. If a burning charred zombie is hit with a cold damage attack, the fire is put out and it ceases to regenerate from any ongoing fire damage.
Oh great, now it’s burning: When a charred zombie taking ongoing fire damage makes a natural even hit, the target takes 5 ongoing fire damage.
Photo credit: Justin Hall, shared under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license
Our Seattle-area 13th Age GMs will run demos at Emerald City ComicCon this weekend. We haven’t heard exactly where yet, but here’s the gaming area map — you’ll find us somewhere in there. Or just wander around yelling, “I DECLARE FOR THE LICH KING!” and we’ll yell back.
Come by and join a game of 13th Age:
- Friday, March 1 4pm – 8pm
- Saturday, March 2 10am – 7pm
- Sunday, March 3 10am – 5pm
Also, head over to Artist’s Alley to meet artist Aaron McConnell, see art from the upcoming game, and commission a sketch of your character or one of the icons.
My own shift is on Sunday. I hope to see you there!
The Naperville Freaks, Geeks and Weirdos meetup group hosted a One-Shot RPG gathering at Fair Game in Downers Grove, IL. Ben Roby ran a modified version of the Blood & Lightning adventure from 13th Age and sent us the following play report.
Ben and his co-GM Sarah are running 13th Age again in March. Register for 13th Age: Quest for the Twilight Lotus.
The adventure was planned to fit into six hours with a short amount of character development in the beginning. Basically I had all the crunchy bits completed and let the players develop their own unique thing, backgrounds, and icon relationships. The adventure was a heavily modified and abbreviated version of Blood and Lightning. Basically I made the adventure adapt to whatever icons the characters chose to associate with.
As we sat down for the session I got a feel for everyone’s roleplaying experience. I explained that there would be a lot of familiar stuff but three big features characterized 13th Age: Unique Things, Icons, and Backgrounds.
The one unique thing got them excited to have a personalized touch to their character. Since I had been play testing 13th Age for several months, I used examples from our regular game to give them ideas of what to invent. The party consisted of a bard version of Indiana Jones, a paladin who was the beloved of the Elf King, a ranger raised by wolves, the last scion of a Demon Touched Drow noble house of sorcerers, and a Halfling who was fathered by the Prince of Shadows after stealing her from a God’s mind.
When we moved to Icon Relationships I jotted down everyone’s connections. It became apparent that the Elf Queen was the common thread and only one evil icon was present – The Lich King, who had a complicated relationship with the Bard in her exploration of tombs for magical artifacts. I jotted down some notes and circled the appropriate alterations in my adventure to make the villain the Lich King, and their patrons the Elf Queen and High Druid.
I explained the difference of backgrounds from a skill list and let the players define them using their unique thing and icon relationship as inspiration. The players wrote down ideas and allocated their points. I encouraged a few players to crank up the flavor in their backgrounds (Thieves Guild became “Brotherhood of 1,000 blades”, etc.)
Once all the characters were ready, we began the adventure. The Dark Elf sorcerer was given a chance to redeem his house in the Elven Court by retrieving an ancient artifact from Boltstrike Spire: Glazentorg, a gauntlet able to wield vast amounts of energy. The gauntlet was being used to charge one of the last remaining Grey Towers along the Iron Sea. Once fully charged, the tower would maintain the wards keeping the horrors of the sea at bay. The Elf queen had hired an expert in magical artifacts (The Bard), a military commander (Paladin), as well as two emissaries from the High Druid (Ranger and Rogue). The sorcerer eagerly agreed to regain some favor for his house.
A High Elf accompanied them as a guide and gave me the opportunity to casually inquire about their characters. As they did so, I occasionally interjected and described how the terrain was changing. It gave the players a chance to get into character and tell some stories relating to their backgrounds. Their travel was suddenly interrupted by the High Elf getting taken down by a crossbow bolt and screams coming out of the forest.
A raiding party of Goblins bore down on them while they were stuck in a Ravine. I was using a grid map and mini’s in the loosest way I could – Just to give players a visual representation of what was going on, not to limit or codify how they moved. The paladin quickly threw himself into the fray and got the first opportunity to see how great the Mook mechanic works: With a well placed smite he set three goblins flying in pieces. Our rogue hustled up the Ravine wall with a use of his Swashbuckle talent to hurl some archers down to his allies. The sorcerer and Ranger traded shot for shot with a pair of decaying shamans. The bard kept fumbling rolls and soon had a goblin on his back trying to shiv him with a dagger.
Every player quickly found something fun on their character sheet. The only amount of confusion came with how the Wood Elf’s Elven Grace ability played out. The escalation die steadily turned the tide of battle in the player’s favor. The battle eventually started winding down but not before the lifeless corpses of the goblins raised up for one last attack before crumpling. It became clear that Necromancy was afoot and the Bard was able to use his backgrounds to fill in the party on what to expect. Cautiously, the party journeyed on.
When the adventuring party reached Boltstrike Spire, they were greeted by Zanj, a high elf fighter. He led the party on to the grounds and explained the purpose of Boltstrike Spire: It channeled energy from the sea to help empower the surrounding wilderness and the wards. The Artifact, Glazentorg, was being used to help direct those energies and would need to finish its ritual before being disengaged from the spire. Zanj handed the party off to the commander, Quellis, a Druid who maintained the watch. Zanj departed, escorting mages up the spire to help with the ritual. When the party mentioned Goblins in the woods with necromantic energies, she was alarmed. They had beaten back a small nest of them lately and they would not return without help.
When Quellis took them to the cliff face that Boltstrike rested upon, all hell broke loose. With a deafening shockwave, the top of Bolstrike exploded raining down debris. The Bard and Paladin immediately ran up the tower followed by Quellis. The three remaining characters unexpectedly stayed on the ground (The rogue stating the money wasn’t worth the risk). Improvising, I narrated that giant arcs of lightning were streaking down from the tower, carving huge scars into the ground. The sorcerer, rogue, and Ranger had to try and find cover and shepherd several guards to safety. The rogue ended up getting hit pretty bad by a tree exploding in front of him.
When the Paladin and Bard reached the tower they had just enough time to see a great Dracolich take flight with Zanj on his back. Zanj raised Glazentorg and fired off a lethal bolt of lightning at Quellis, taking her down. With her last breath she commanded the adventurers to recover Glazentorg, no matter the cost.
Recovering from the chaos the party set about trying to figure out just where the dragon would have fled to. The rogue used his relationship with the Prince of Shadows to claim he had a contact in the tower who could help them out. The paladin and ranger combined their military and area knowledge to pinpoint a cave lying underneath a nearby Ruin, Greenstand. The bard and sorcerer discovered that the ruin had been booby trapped by Zanj when he was second in command and that the correct key word could disable its defenses.
The party set out once again, determined to punish Zanj and recover the glove. They got the drop on a horde of zombies and necromancers outside the fortress and hatched a plan. The paladin and sorcerer drew the mindless zombies out while the bard, ranger, and rogue swept around and decimated the casters. The rogue was especially happy to use his swashbuckle talent to handspring off a zombie’s head and get a lucky critical strike on one of the necromancers. The sorcerer blew apart the zombies with a nasty series of empowered Breath spells. And the Paladin loved being swarmed by seven zombies at once.
Once inside the ruins they found Zanj in a large chamber with stained glassed windows overlooking the ocean. When the rogue tried to fling a dagger into his back, it stopped in midair revealing a protective shell around him. At once the party was attacked by twisted abominations of magic gone wrong. Monstrosities who had been warped into scale-covered bodies with great claws for hands. Zanj continued to hurl lightning bolts out at the party, but with each abomination that died, his shell became weaker.
When the shell eventually shattered, he charged the bard and got a powerful critical strike, wrapping the gaunlet around his throat and electrocuting him. He eventually succumbed to a lethal pummeling in large part to the sorcerers Arc Lightning. When Zanj went to one knee, the Dracolich crashed through the stained glass windows. Zanj begged Glazentorg for aid and the gauntlet moved on its own to point toward the Dracolich. A stream of energy drained the undead dragon of its remaining power and Zanj mutated before the party’s eyes.
Zanj, now a horrific abomination, leaped into the party, viciously ripping into each member in turn. The Sorceror and Paladin went down, inspiring their allies with their sacrifice. The Bard managed to pry Glazentorg off of Zanj, and turn its power against him. As Glazentorg disintegrated Zanj into dust, the party was happy to have triumphed and saved the realm.
All in all, it was a fantastic session, I thoroughly enjoyed watching the parties figure out he character creation process. The combats were quick and highly cinematic. Three of the players were very eager to know when they could purchase the game.
Photo credit: Josh Stein
Rob Heinsoo recently flew down from the skies on a fire-breathing dragon, igniting several thatched-roof cottages before soaring off. The scorch marks he left behind spelled out this update on 13 True Ways:
There are three Alchemist-tier 13 True Ways Kickstarter backers who gave us magic items to illustrate.
The first item is the Feathered Crown from Jered Heeschen. Look at the art from Aaron McConnell (with a touch of radiant feathering from Lee Moyer)!
Jered very much wanted the item’s quirk to play as follows: Quirk: Not only do you compulsively eavesdrop, you also tend to misinterpret insults as compliments and bad news as good news.
I decided that it sounded like just the thing for a dragon-rider to wear. “Ah, they’re saying wonderful things about me. They do know what’s good for them.”
I like the item and the art so much that it has changed our plan about how we are going to stat up these specially illustrated treasures: we’re going to provide several different versions of the mechanics to fit into the panoply of different characters and campaigns!
Rules update: magic shields and belts
And speaking of changing plans about treasure, we’ve changed one small fact about magic shields during layout. Neither Jonathan nor I were happy with the fact that we had given shields no default magical bonus. That seemed bogus. So I rummaged through our options and changed things around. Magical shields in 13th Age now provide the default hit point boost that magical belts used to. Belts ended up with a default bonus to a character’s number of recoveries, which also doesn’t suck. A happy last minute correction for a muffed punt.
Our thanks to Jered,
Rob Heinsoo recently emerged from the woods near our Seattle offices to deliver this update on 13 True Ways before returning to the wild in the company of a pack of wolves that seemed to obey his telepathic commands.
Here’s the second rough sketch by Aaron McConnell showing off one of the winners from the Monster Art +13 contest. The treant was suggested by Martin Dickson. I liked the spirit of Martin’s entry, though I advised Aaron to focus on the central details, avoiding complications like animated trees, a second treant and the kin of Squirrel Nutkin. But don’t worry: I’ll work enraged squirrels into the monster’s Nastier Specials.
A treant follower of the High Druid, accompanied by its animated trees, attacks and destroys a New Road work camp in the Wild Wood. Tree-stumps can be seen outside the camp. The attackers smash the camp palisade, makeshift huts, and supply wagons and scatter human laborers and lumberjacks. Imperial guards fight back valiantly but are being overwhelmed and trampled, or in one instance thrown. In the background a second treant is tearing up a newly finished section of road, its roots tumbling the embankment and cracking the paving stones. Assisting in the attack, largely ineffectually and mostly for comic effect, are small woodland creatures; as the civilian workers flee to escape the treants’ wrath they are being furiously “savaged” by the kith and kin of Bambi, Thumper, and Squirrel Nutkin.
If you enjoy Aaron’s sketches and you’re going to be at Emerald City ComicCon in Seattle, check out this link and commission something personal for the show.
High on druids,
Over in the 13th Age community on Google+ Pavel Berlin noticed that the game’s (highly quirky) equipment list includes pipeweed, but not pipes. There had to be a perfectly logical explanation, and here are some offered in the comments:
Brian Rodriguez: Maybe it lists rolling papyrus?
Radaghast Kary: Magritte/Matrix crossover: There is no pipe.
Daniel Splitter: The pipe is assumed.
Ash Law: The pipe must be carved from a kobold skull.
Casey Garske: Proper pipes are carved from owlbear ivory.
Jared Rascher: The Dragon Emperor made pipeweed paraphanalia illegal after an unfortunate incident with the Archmage and invisible clothes.
Feel free to join the discussion and add to the Dragon Empire’s pipeweed lore, or leave a comment on this post.
Emerald City Comic Con is coming up the end of this month, and the 13th Age crew will be there — Rob Heinsoo and our volunteer GMs will run demos, and I’ll be in the Artist Alley.
I’ve had to turn commission requests down within the past year due to my work schedule, but I’m making the time in the weeks leading up to the convention to do some!
If you’re interested in getting an original drawing of your favorite 13th Age Icon or character, please email me at aranmcconnell(at)hotmail(dot)com with “COMMISSION” in the subject line, to pre-order yours now.
Here’s what I’m offering:
- A black and white single character sketch, full figure or head (like the icons below), 9″x12″ for $50.
Anything beyond that, such as a character along with an icon, is going to cost at least $75 and will depend on the complexity of the image. I think we’ll both be happiest with a straightforward concept that is boiled down to the elegant essence at the core of a character. The sketches at the bottom of the post were done with that sentiment in mind.
So, if you’re planning to be at ECCC please consider signing up for a demo of 13th Age and pre-ordering a sketch! Pre-ordering is the best way to ensure that you’ll be able to get a sketch.
The last time I attended a convention was PAX in Seattle last year and it was a good time. At one point, Lee Moyer and I were both at the table drawing collaborative sketches based on suggestions from fans of 13th Age. The two examples shown at the top of this post are The Leviathan, described to have a “lobster-esque body with the torso and head of a woman, braided beard and eyes without pupils,” and an “11 year old sorcerer boy with ties to the Elf King.”
We were able to work on suggestions like these at PAX because the “commission craze” hasn’t really caught on there like it has at ECCC. At the Comic Con word is out that artists are willing to do sketches for money…surprise, surprise. The pre-order concept has been a popular solution for the artists who want to do more commissions than they can accomplish in a single weekend.
Thank you, and I hope to see you in Seattle!