13th Age FAQ

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13th Age core book

What is 13th Age?

13th Age is a d20-rolling fantasy roleplaying game by Rob Heinsoo and Jonathan Tweet, lead designers of 4th and 3rd editions of the World’s Most Famous RPG. 13th Age is a game of adventure in a world full of monsters and magic, with groundbreaking new rules that make each character unique, connect them to the world, and focus on what’s cool about having adventures in a world full of monsters and magic.

Also, owlbears rip your arms off and feed them to their young. That’s a thing.

Is 13th Age a good game for people new to roleplaying games? 

It’s a fantastic game for new players because it lets them play nearly any kind of character they want (“The only dwarf in the world with a clockwork heart built by a hidden race of dragon wizards? Done!”) and the rules for fighting, spellcasting and using skills are flexible enough that they rarely run into a “you can’t do that” situation.

It’s not a great game for a first-time GM, though. The book assumes some amount of experience with RPGs, and in particular d20-rolling RPGs. It also asks the GM to do some creative collaboration along with the players, rather than defining everything with a rule or a canonical fact about the game world. For example, wizards can make up creative names for their spells. In return for their putting more effort into the game, the GM improvises an additional cool or useful effect that’s not listed in the spell description.

Is the game kid-friendly?

The kids who’ve played in our demos absolutely love it. The rulebook is written for adults, and there’s a couple of mild swear words in it. But nothing you wouldn’t hear in a PG-rated movie.

When is the game coming out?

It’s out now! You can order it from the Pelgrane shop or your local retailer.

When is the PDF-only version coming out?

That’s also out now! You can order it from the Pelgrane shop or DriveThruRPG.

I love 13th Age and my local game store. But I want to order from Pelgrane directly because I also want a .pdf. Can I have both?

Yes!  Here’s how.

Will 13th Age be sold on Amazon?

From Pelgrane: “Amazon undercuts FLGS hugely, is happy to loss-lead, plus they want distributor-level discounts and free shipping. So, we have no plans to distribute it on Amazon, but you can be certain that someone will offer it through Amazon.”

Why doesn’t the 13th Age core book PDF have bookmarks?

It does now. Check your downloads folder on the Pelgrane order page.

Are there any PDF previews? Quick-start rules?

No. We hoped to do one, but delays in getting the core book out forced us to abandon that project and shift focus to getting the game completed.

Where’s the SRD?

Right here.

What products are coming in the future?

Currently on the schedule (dates to be announced):

How is 13th Age different from other d20 variants?

As a player you can invent things for your character in a free-form way rather than picking everything from lists. For example, you define your character’s skills in a free-form, story-oriented way using backgrounds.

Every character has one unique thing that sets them apart: something that is real in the world, but doesn’t provide a mechanical benefit.

Characters’ relationships with the icons–the most powerful non-player characters in the world–connect them to the world and provide a resource they can use during play. PCs aren’t powerful at 1st level, but they are important.

As a GM you can quickly build encounters (and even monsters) on the fly, and use the story mechanics to share the job of worldbuilding with the players. Once you’re comfortable with the rules it’s fairly easy to improvise a session.

Combat doesn’t use a grid to determine where combatants are, how far they can move, or different effects such as flanking, pushing, pulling, etc. Using miniatures makes it easier to visualize the scene, but all you really need to know is who’s nearby, who’s far away, and who’s engaged in battle.

The “escalation die” mechanic keeps combat moving, turning what might otherwise be a two-hour fight into a 30-minute fight–one that’s exciting and suspenseful to run. On the first round, the monsters have the advantage. But starting on the second round, the GM places a big 6-sided die n the table with the 1 facing up. The PCs (and some very scary monsters) get a +1 bonus to hit. On the third round, that bonus increases to +2…and so on, to a maximum of +6. That way, the longer the PCs stay in combat and fight hard to win, the better their chances get because they’ve learned their opponents’ strengths and weaknesses, and adapted.

The rules play off each other in interesting ways, so something fresh and different is happening all the time. For example, some classes and monsters have abilities that trigger when they roll an even number  on an attack, or a 16 or higher. Some abilities activate when the escalation die is odd or even, or reaches a certain number. Flexibility, randomness and surprise are a big part of 13th Age.

Why do you compare yourself to other d20 variants?

Two reasons. The first is that we want to highlight where we take an unusual approach to a common mechanic, so it’s not confusing to people. The second is that a lot of people who are interested in buying 13th Age ask us to explain how it’s different — if it’s exactly like any other d20 game, why bother with it?

This is basically 4e Pathfinder, right?

No. 13th Age inherits lots of ideas from 4e, but it’s an OGL (3.5) system that incorporates ideas pretty evenly from several editions of D&D, plus many cool new ideas and ideas from the world of indie games.

What’s the game’s default setting?

The default setting is the Dragon Empire, a high-magic realm that is in its 13th historical age. It is ruled by 13 demigodlike “icons” who are recognizable fantasy characters: the Emperor, the Archmage, the High Druid, the Lich King, and others.

We want each group to come up with the version of the Dragon Empire that’s most fun for them, so it’s very loosely described in the book. GMs and players can use it as a starting point and fill in the rest with their own ideas.

If I wanted to use another game’s setting, could I? How would Icons fit into that?

Of course you could! How the icons fit into it depends on the setting. We based them on common fantasy archetypes, so if there’s an emperor (or high king), an archmage, an undead villain, a king of the dwarves, a queen of the elves, a lord of thieves, you can easily adapt the icons presented in the game to the setting.

If that setting does not have very powerful individuals in it, determine which influential NPCs will figure into the characters’ adventures, and use them as icons. If the powerful forces in the world are organizations rather than individuals, have those factions, city-states, cults or whatever be the icons.

Are characters closer to the “Fantasy Superhero” ideal or the more grittier down-to-earth feeling of OSR?

Somewhere in between. Character generation is designed to create PCs who have a rich background, a cool trait that sets them apart from everyone else in the world, and some sort of tie to the most prominent people in the world — so you shouldn’t expect them to die on their first outing by stepping on the wrong flagstone.

But monsters in 13th Age are very tough compared to PCs, and do a fixed amount of damage with every hit. The first few rounds of combat tend to be dangerous. Then the escalation die (see below) starts to kick in, and the PCs have a better chance against the monsters.

What classes are in the core book?

Barbarian: Striding out of the wilderness come indomitable men and ferocious women, barbaric warriors who pit their sinew and will against everything that civilization and sorcery can throw at them. It’s a good class for a new player or the player who wants to have fun without worrying much about rules getting in the way of awesome attacks.

Bard: Bards travel the world, learning and teaching each other the ancient songs and arcane secrets of a hundred lands. They’re not the best character choice for beginning players, but can be a lot of fun for experienced and extroverted players who enjoy performing as jacks or jills of all trades.

Cleric: All mortals call on the gods, but when a cleric calls, the gods sometimes listen. Clerics can shape  battles using invocations, and their complexity depends on how you want to build them. The Justice, Trickery, and War domains require the most attention. For the simplest possible cleric choose the Healing, Protection, and Strength domains.

Fighter: Being a true fighter takes skill, discipline, toughness, and an uncanny ability to get in harm’s way . . . with a double dose of harm for the other guy. Fighters in 13th Age rely on flexible melee attacks, rolling against their enemies and then using the results to deliver attacks that take advantage of openings that present themselves. A couple of class talents can make your job more complicated, but overall, playing a fighter is simple.

Paladin: A heavily armored and fanatically devoted warrior of the gods—or of causes so pure they don’t require gods to make them holy. Like the barbarian, the paladin is simple to play: most every attack you make uses your basic melee attack, but you can augment it by using Smite Evil or one of the other abilities from your talents. Paladins who want a bit more complexity can choose talents that let them cast a cleric spell or use a cleric domain.

Ranger: Some rangers get their training in an official ranger corps, serving the Emperor or another legitimate authority. Others are initiates into half-wild gangs, resourceful nomads who know more ancient secrets than their rough manner might suggest. Like the barbarian and paladin, the ranger is simple to play: Most every attack you make uses your basic melee or ranged attack. You can choose to use your Strength or your Dexterity as your attack ability in melee. Choosing an animal companion gives you two creatures to act with each turn: your ranger and the animal you choose.

Rogue: Some are thugs who have learned enough tricks to get a step ahead of the other thugs. A few are mad, driven by a reckless sense of adventure. Most are quick with a smile, a blade, and a getaway. Our rogue is a bit of a challenge to play thanks to Sneak Attack powers that require the character to team up with allies and Momentum powers that depend heavily on whether you last hit an enemy or were hit yourself.

Sorcerer: Sorcerers are self-taught genius freaks with an intuitive mastery of magic and possibly some brain damage. A sorcerer isn’t the simplest class to play, but choosing whether you want to gather power or cast something right now isn’t all that tough. Players who can handle dice swinginess may enjoy the sorcerer more.

Wizard: Wizards are the masters of arcane energy. They use geometry, symbology, occult numerology, and a complex grammatical system to describe magic and thereby control it. Our wizard is designed for experienced players who like a bit of improvisation. Most of the wizard’s spells can only be used once per day, so timing matters. If you want to play the simplest possible wizard, choose the Abjuration, Evocation, and Familiar talents. To play as the flexible spellcaster who finds unique and amusing answers to problems, choose Cantrip Mastery, High Arcana, and Vance’s Polysyllabic Verbalizations.

Why are the Paladin, Barbarian, and Ranger such simple classes?

That’s intentional; while there are more complex and less complex options for every class, some classes are designed to be more accessible to players who are inexperienced and players who simply don’t care to spend a ton of time worrying about their class mechanics. More complex options for these classes are a common homebrew element. Additional options for the simple classes may be coming later.

Are the classes in 13th Age balanced?

Loosely balanced, with a design focus on making each character class fun to play. Each class has distinctive mechanics that bring out what’s cool about being a fighter, rogue, sorcerer, etc. Fighters adapt to changing conditions in a battle to make unexpected attacks and maneuvers. Rogues move around a lot and strike quickly. Sorcerers gather power and release it in spectacular displays of chaotic energy.

Is there much emphasis on non-combat abilities (spells, abilities, skills, etc.)?

Wizards have a special utility spell slot that lets them load up on non-combat spells.

Non-combat skills are a huge part of the game, through character backgrounds. For example, a PC might put 4 points into the background “Sailor,” giving him or her a +4 bonus to succeed with any skill a sailor might reasonably have.

Even better: the character could have the background, “First mate on a notorious pirate ship that raided off the coast of New Port.” This gives the PC a +4 to things like sailing, navigation, knot-tying, climbing, carpentry, and so on — but also evaluating treasure, knowledge of the criminal underworld, knowledge of the justice system, a reputation among pirates (and notoriety among everyone else), knowledge of the area around New Port, and an ability to lead.

Could a player put the maximum number of points into a background like “Good at Everything” and get a bonus to every skill check?

A GM might not allow it, because backgrounds are things any normal person could achieve with enough time and opportunity. But a more fun way to handle it could be to dig deep into why that character is good at everything (“I’m the result of secret experiments by the High Druid to produce a superhuman”) and what the consequences are (“Agents of the High Druid are trying to capture me. Also, all of my fellow escaped superhumans are evil and insane and want to turn me to the dark side”) and use that to make the character’s life extremely interesting. Check out this article.

How prevalent are the Icons? Aren’t PCs supposed to be the center of the game?

PCs are the center of the game. The backdrop for their adventures is a world where powerful individuals and factions pursue goals that could disrupt the Empire–perhaps even bring about the catastrophe that ends the Age. The PCs’ actions can avert this disaster, or help it along. Depending on the campaign, they may even rise in power and stature to become icons themselves.

To illustrate this, let’s look at the novel The Three Musketeers. D’Artagnan is the hero, and his swashbuckling exploits shape the course of history. But he’s far from being the most famous or powerful person in the story. If we were to map his icon relationships he would have a negative relationship with the villainous Cardinal Richelieu, a positive relationship with King Louis XIII, and perhaps a conflicted relationship with the Duke of Buckingham — enemy of France but lover of the Queen Consort (another icon.)

Is there a big bulleted list of information about 13th Age out there somewhere?

Well, besides this FAQ, there’s this Resource page at EN World.

13 True Ways

What’s 13 True Ways?

13 True Ways is a supplement book coming out for 13th Age. It contains an eclectic mix of world information, monsters, and character options, and will introduce the monk, druid, necromancer, occultist, commander and chaos shaman classes. Learn more.

Those classes sound awesome. What are they like?

Because they’re still in development, the design team hasn’t been super public about them. The monk is a martial artist that can channel his or her spirit into supernatural effects and uses combination attacks (openers, flow attacks, and finishing attacks). The necromancer wields undeath magic and has setting ties to the Lich King; the occultist has ties to the Diabolist. The commander is a squad leader in the vein of the marshal or 4e warlord. The druid is mostly an unknown, but presumably is a nature priest in the D&D tradition of druids with ties to the High Druid. The chaos shaman is a high-randomness class for people who like that.

How do I get 13 True Ways?

If you missed the Kickstarter, the book will be available for order down the line, probably early in 2014.

13th Age Bestiary

What’s the 13th Age Bestiary?

It’s a monster manual for 13th Age. The core book contains some monsters; the Bestiary will contain more. It’s available for pre-order from Pelgranepress.com. It’s all new monsters, no core book repeats, with lots of story elements and iconic tie-ins.

Shards of the Broken Sky

What’s Shards of the Broken Sky?

It’s an upcoming adventure for 13th Age in development by creator Rob Heinsoo. From the product description:

This sandbox adventure for 13th Age centers on the crash of one of the Archmage’s flying realms. As threats multiply, the flying land turns out to have been the control point for magical wards neutralizing three ancient evils. With the cone of secrecy shattered, each of the thirteen icons offers rival opportunities for glory, plunder, or heroic sacrifice.

Eyes of the Stone Thief

What’s Eyes of the Stone Thief?

It’s an upcoming adventure for 13th Age in development by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan. From the product description:

The Stone Thief is an old and cunning Living Dungeon. For unknown ages, it has slithered through the Underworld, rising to consume towers and cities or other, lesser dungeons. Now, it has your scent. It swims through the earth, eager to steal everything you cherish, eager to drag you down into its hellish labyrinth.

Organized Play

What’s “Tales of the 13th Age“?

Via http://www.pelgranepress.com/?p=12301Tales of the 13th Age is the ongoing organized play program for the 13th Age roleplaying game. Each game of 13th Age is different, because the One Unique Things and backgrounds of the characters in separate groups will be different. These rules give players the ability to help to define the world: there is no standard, universal Dragon Empire. Tales of the 13th Age lets players enjoy 13th Age games with a continuity of story that still leaves room for the freedom and flexibility that sets 13th Age apart.

How can I sign up to GM for Tales of the 13th Age?

Fill out this form.

How can I find a Tales of the 13th Age group in my area?

Check this forum thread.

What’s Tales of the 13th Age’s harassment policy?

Read the harassment policy and GM guidelines here.

Fan and third-party creation

Where are the best places to get user-created content?

Check out the resources page. In particular, Vault of the 13th Age is a large and growing repository of user-created content. There’s also a lot of stuff at the Google+ community.

Are there guidelines and licenses for making my own 13th Age compatible content?

Yes, there’s a complete overview available here – 13th Age Archmage Engine Licensing Overview.

Other Products

Will 13th Age work with my AD&D/3.5/4e/Pathfinder adventures?

Not directly, since 13th Age characters and creatures have different statistics from their counterparts in those systems, so if you try to use the numbers directly, various fights and challenges might be too hard or too easy. You can, of course, convert your favorite adventures to 13th Age by converting the monsters to appropriately-scaled 13th Age monsters. Have fun.

Rules FAQ

SPELL ACQUISITION & SPELLCASTING

How does spellcasting work in the 13th Age system?

  • There are currently four main magic-using classes: bard, cleric, sorcerer, and wizard. With a few exceptions (mostly obvious), the spellcasting classes all gain and use their spells the same way.
  • There are five spell levels: 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9. The levels correspond to the character level at which you gain access to those spells for the first time.
  • A PC that has a main magic-using class knows all of the spells in the rulebook for that class.
  • Each main magic-using class has a certain number of “spell slots” they can use. The number of spell slots you have of each level is listed on the class’s advancement table. These numbers are NOT cumulative. For example, a level 5 sorcerer has three 3rd-level slots, four 5th-level slots, and no slots of any other level. Unlike in some d20 systems, you do lose your lower-level slots as you level up. That’s okay; you’re expected to put lower-level spells in higher-level slots.
  • After a full heal-up, you fill up your spell slots with spells that you know.
  • Any spell you know can be chosen to fill a slot of its level or a higher level.
  • A spell’s effect is based on the level of the slot you put it in. For example, if you put Ray of Frost in a level 1 slot, it does 3d6 damage. If you put it in a level 7 slot, it does 7d10 damage. The level of the slot you choose for a spell does not affect your attack rolls with that spell—in other words, you always add your level to your attack rolls, not the level of the spell.
  • You don’t get the benefits of the level 3 version of a spell just because you’re level 3; you have to put it in a level 3 slot to get those benefits (no automatic scaling).
  • Unlike weapon attacks, spell damage does NOT improve just because you level up. For example, a sorcerer that puts Lightning Fork in a level 1 slot will do 3d6 + Cha damage with it regardless of whether the sorcerer is level 1, 2, or 3.
  • You must actually put the spell in a higher-level slot to get the damage increase listed for the higher-level spell. On the other hand, the ability score modifier added to damage does increase to double at level 5 and to triple at level 8 even if you are casting a spell that happens to be lower level than 5th/8th, but that’s it (not including wizards). The feats you’ve taken for a spell apply to the spell regardless of the spell slot you choose for it.

Can I choose the same spell more than once at the same time?

  • No, you can’t choose the same spell more than once, even if you’re trying to be tricky and choose the same spell at different levels. (Yes, this means that as a level 2 sorcerer you might be choosing five of the six spells available in the book every day. The range of options will increase as you gain levels, however, since each lower-level spell has higher-level options.) The two exceptions to the rule against choosing spells more than once both live in the wizard class. First, a wizard with the High Arcana talent can select one daily spell twice at the same level or at different levels. Second is the wizard’s Utility Spell. As a wizard, you can give up a spell slot to gain Utility Spell at the same level as the slot you gave up.

How many at-will spells can I put into my spell slots?

  • As many as you have available and have slots for, or as few as zero. They’re no different from any other spell.

Do I have to put my at-will spells in my lowest-level slots?

  • No. In fact, it’s often prudent to put an at-will spell in one of the highest-level slots you have available in order to give yourself a high-impact at-will option.

What happens to the feats that apply to spells that I didn’t choose that day?

  • The retraining rules written in the book list “spells” among the things that you get the feats refunded on when you swap them out. Some groups feel that that’s a bit too generous and that feats chosen should represent something a little more permanent, but by default when you swap out a spell, you can redistribute the feats you spent on it. Do the GM a favor, however, and make sure you’re clear how each set of feats and the spell they modify work together to avoid slowing the game down.

What’s the book talking about when it says “Go ahead and assume that all the wizard spells are part of the basic spellbook package, and swap them in and out as you will. But when there are other spells you want to learn, the GM can figure out what adventures are required to track down those new spells?”

  • Each class already knows all the spells listed in the rulebook. But you and your GM might want to create new spells that fit your character (with your GM’s permission, of course). The other spells mentioned here are new spells you create this way, and the rules are suggesting that the GM should require a quest or adventure the PC must undertake to gain the new spell(s) before allowing the PC to use it.

Does the “hampered” condition stop me from casting spells entirely?

  • Yes; being hampered is especially tough on spellcasters. That’s why you should always have a backup weapon. At the GM’s option, situations based on a PC’s unique or an icon relationship might allow some at-will spell leeway in extraordinary circumstances, but that’s a story thing, not a rules thing.

INCREMENTAL ADVANCES

How do incremental advances work with powers/spells?

  • Incremental advances are straightforward until you start taking powers that you would gain at your next level. We probably didn’t write quite enough rules to make power and spell acquisition clear and fully functional. Here’s some clarification:

Let’s take the example of a second level cleric who has five 1st level spells. Your cleric gains an incremental advance and you decide you want to gain a spell you would normally only be able to cast at 3rd level. As you can see from the Cleric Level Progression chart on page 94, as a level 3 cleric, you’ll be able to cast three 3rd level spells. You can definitely use your incremental advance to choose a 3rd level spell. But look again at the chart and you’ll see that the total number of spells you cast as a 3rd level cleric isn’t actually higher than the total number of spells you cast as a 2nd level cleric—you cast five total spells at both levels. Therefore you have to replace one of your 1st level spells with a 3rd level spell. This is straightforward except for the case in which you’ve used up some of your spells for the day.

No replacing used-up powers or spells: You can swap out any lower-level spell for a higher-level spell when you take an incremental advance, except that you can’t replace a spell or power you have already expended. For instance, using your incremental advance, you could only replace your 1st level shield of faith spell (with either its 3rd level version or a new 3rd level spell like combat boon, for example) if you had not already used your daily shield of faith spell. At-will spells and once per battle spells can usually be replaced when you get an incremental advance, but you can’t swap out a recharge power that is currently expended.

For a second example, let’s look at a level 2 sorcerer. Your level 2 sorcerer knows five spells, all of them 1st level. At 3rd level, the sorcerer goes up to six total spells and three of them are 3rd level. Therefore the sorcerer, unlike the cleric, can use its first incremental advance to choose an entirely new 3rd level spell—it doesn’t have to swap out any of its 1st level spells. If the sorcerer uses a second incremental advance to gain another 3rd level spell, this time it would have to swap out one of its 1st level spells.

This same logic applies to a level 5 cleric who will go from six total spells to seven total spells at 6th level. Using its first incremental advance for a new spell, the level 5 cleric who normally has two 3rd level spells and four 5th level spells will end up with two 3rd level spells and five 5th level spells. That same cleric’s second incremental advance choice of a new spell would result in one 3rd level spell and six 5th level spells, meaning that one of the lower level spells would have to be swapped out.

Designer Note: If we were using “Jonathan Says” sidebars in the FAQ, this is the point where Jonathan would say that his advice would be to only allow one incremental advance choice of a new power, even though we wrote the book and the character sheets allowing you to choose as many as you could. He thinks it’s a better game that way, and less confusing. Rob agrees with Jonathan, but doesn’t want to officially change the rule yet. If we’re going to change it, we’ll change it in 13 True Ways when we deal with all the issues around multi-classing.

 GENERAL

Why do I have so few spell/maneuver/battle cry/song choices at high levels?

  • Lower-level choices don’t go stale in 13th Age like they do in most other d20 games. Maneuvers and battle cries remain relevant forever, and lower-level spells and songs scale up when you put them in higher-level slots.

What does “Middle mod of Con/Dex/Wis” mean?

  • It means that if you order those three modifiers from highest to lowest, it’s the one in the middle. For example, if a character has a +4 Con mod, a +0 Dex mod, and a +1 Wis mod, the middle value is +1. It’s the one that’s not the highest and not the lowest. It’s what’s called the “median” value. In the case of ties, like with +3, +1, +1, the middle mod is +1. Doing it this way helps make no single ability modifier too important.

RECOVERIES

Can I rally as many times as I want in a single battle?

  • Yes. The first time you rally, it automatically works without any limitations. Each time after that during a battle that you want to rally, you need to succeed on a 11+ save (roll 11 or higher on a d20) to rally again. If you fail that save, you don’t get to rally that turn, but you also don’t expend the action (usually a standard) that rallying would require. You can use your action on something else, as normal. Some feats/talents/spells might allow a PC to rally additional times during a battle without needing to succeed on the roll.

What happens if I need to use a recovery, but I have no recoveries left?

  • You get half the healing you’d get for spending a recovery, and you take a –1 penalty to attacks and defenses until you’re able to take a full heal-up. The penalty stacks.

ENGAGEMENT

What’s engagement?

  • When two creatures are engaged with each other, it means that they’re close enough to hit with melee attacks. The chart on page 163 of the core rules covers what that means.

When do I become engaged?

  • As soon as a creature moves close enough to another creature to make a melee attack against it, they’re engaged (provided they’re hostile toward each other). Neither creature has to make an actual attack. You’re engaged until one of the creatures moves away, disengages, pops free, or dies.

If the fighter is engaged with two kobolds and the cleric engages one of the kobolds, is the cleric automatically engaged with the other kobold?

  • No.

ESCALATION DIE

What’s the escalation die in round one? Does it count as even?

  • It’s nothing. It’s not even or odd, because the die isn’t in effect yet. There is no escalation die value of 0. If an effect reduces the escalation die when it’s at +1, the same thing goes.

So what happens if the PCs just run around and hide until the escalation die reaches six, then start fighting the monsters?

  • That doesn’t work. It’s up the GM to decide if the PCs are taking actions that actively escalate the battle. If yes, the die increases. If no, the die doesn’t increase, or even decreases.

BACKGROUNDS

Aren’t really broad backgrounds better than super narrow backgrounds? Why shouldn’t I pick a “Good at everything +5″ background instead of a “Birdwatching +5″ background every time?

  • In general, it’s up to the GM to determine what an appropriate scope for a background is, and it’s up to the GM and the player to work out when different backgrounds apply. It’s a good idea for groups to agree on what’s a reasonable scope for backgrounds. There might be cases where very broad or very narrow backgrounds are interesting, however; Wade Rockett makes a case for sometimes allowing very broad backgrounds for compelling story reasons.
  • Part of the GM’s job is to help players focus too-broad backgrounds into things that are a bit more specific to help the game and the story.

FEATS

Do I have to take the feats for a particular character option in the order that they’re presented?

  • The default rules say yes, especially if they build on each other, but with a caveat. If they don’t build on each other, you might be able take a higher-tier one without having the lower-tier one, with the GM’s permission.

CLERICS

How do I put Heal into a spell slot? What’s up with that spell?

  • The Heal bonus spell is like your chosen spells, but it’s also different. You always have Heal available after each battle, and it doesn’t fill one of your normal spell slots. You can think of it as having its own slot that it’s always in. The slots listed on your advancement chart are for your other spells.

How does Turn Undead work against mobs of undead mooks?

  • Under the rules as written, it only affects 1d4 mooks in a mob, since each is a separate creature. This means rolling a hit at 8+ or 12+ might kill less mooks than the 4+ hit. Rob Heinsoo says: “That’s not the intent for Turn Undead. The problem is that the spell doesn’t really work right against undead mooks, which is who it should work extremely well against as an area effect spell.” So to make it more effective, here’s the revised rule for how Turn Undead works.
    • Use the +4 result as written.
    • Use the +8 and +12 results as written against non-mooks.
    • Against mooks, the +8 result now deals 4d10 x your level holy damage.
    • Against mooks, the +12 result now deals 4d20 x your level holy damage.

In other words, you should blow the mooks away but there’s a small chance you won’t. If there are mooks left after the +8 or +12 result, maybe the story is that they are surprisingly tough or lucky. See the FAQ entry on mook rules for how conditions affect them.

 PALADINS

The Paladin’s Divine Domain talent lets you have a cleric domain, but some of the domains have mechanics that interact with cleric-only abilities or that are redundant with a paladin’s existing features. What happens if I take those domains?

  • There’s no official way to handle those cases. As the talent notes, you may have to do some adaptation work to make the domain abilities make sense for your character.

ROGUES

When I get to level 3, how am I supposed to take a level 3 power? Rogues have 5 powers at both level 2 and level 3, so I’m not gaining a new power, right?

  • Whenever you level up, you can swap out any number of your rogue powers, taking any number from any of the levels you have access to. At level 3, rogues gain access to powers of up to 3rd level, so those five powers can now include the level 3 powers. Note that rogue powers don’t become obsolete—level 1 powers are still useful at level 10—so it’s not always correct to take all the highest-level powers you can. Look for powers that fit your character concept. For example, at level 2 you might have: evasive strike (1), deadly thrust (1), roll with it (1), sure cut (1), and tumbling strike (1). At level 3, you could switch to: evasive strike (1), roll with it (1), sure cut (1), deflection (3), and slick feint (3).

How does momentum work?

  • Momentum is either on or off. You don’t have a certain amount of momentum or multiple momentums; you either have it or you don’t. If you would get it when you already have it, you still just have it.
    • When you start a battle, you don’t have momentum.
    • When you hit an enemy with an attack, you gain momentum.
    • When an enemy hits you with an attack, you lose your momentum.
    • The attacks don’t have to do damage; they only need to hit. Similarly, even if it still does damage on a miss, an attack that misses you doesn’t cause you to lose momentum.
    • Some maneuvers require you to have momentum, or you can’t use them.
    • Some maneuvers require you to have momentum and to spend it on the maneuver. If you do that, you no longer have momentum.

What does “pool available” mean in the rogue’s advancement chart?

  • That’s the highest-level power you can know.

Does sneak attack work on any type of monster?

  • Yes. The 13th Age rules assume that for every monster, there’s some way that it’s possible to deliver an extra-powerful attack against it if you can line up your shot. A GM can choose to selectively make some monsters immune to sneak attack if they want to, but the RAW (rules as written) is that creatures are vulnerable to sneak attacks unless they have a specific ability saying that they aren’t.

Can I combine two of my powers, like using Deadly Thrust and Bleeding Strike at the same time to get both the bonus damage and the ongoing damage?

  • No. Like spells, rogue powers require a standard action to execute (unless they say otherwise.) Each one is a separate maneuver, and they can’t be combined into a single attack action any more than two spells can be combined into a single attack action.

SORCERERS

How do breath weapon spells work?

  • They work like any other daily spell, in that you can use them only once each day. The only difference is that once you use one, then every round for the rest of that battle—and that battle only—you roll at the start of your turn to see if you can use that breath weapon again. If you succeed, you can use the breath weapon attack again that round. (Also, if you make the roll but don’t want to use it that turn, you can’t save it; it’s now or never.) After the battle is over, the breath weapon is done for the day, just like any other daily spell.

WIZARDS

Why do Wizard spells do so much damage?

  • Most classes add an ability score to their damage, but wizards’ spells don’t add an ability score, which balances things out.

MULTICLASSING

How does multiclassing work?

  • Right now, there are no rules for multiclassing. (You’ll see them in the upcoming 13 True Ways supplement.) If you want options from multiple classes, you can work out tradeoffs with your GM. A good general rule of thumb is that you can trade talents for other talents and spells/maneuvers/etc. for their equivalents from other classes. The book emphasizes that this isn’t tightly balanced, so the GM should clamp down on rampant powergaming swap attempts. If a talent costs two slots to take, such as the ranger’s Animal Companion, you have to use two talent slots to swap for it.
  • Commonly suggested tradeoffs are giving other classes the ranger’s animal companion, and giving the fighter some access to the bard’s Battle Cries (in place of some of their normal maneuvers), to make a warlord-type character.

MOOKS

How do mooks work?

  • Mooks basically work like normal creatures, in terms of how they can be targeted and things like that. The only difference is that a collection of mooks has a collective HP pool equal to the sum of the HP of the mooks in the mob (so 5 mooks with 8 hp have a pool of 40 hp). Every time the mob takes an amount of damage equal to the HP of one of the creatures in it, one of the creatures dies. So if you hit a mob of 6-HP mooks for 15 damage, two will die, and the mob is 3 HP away from another one dying.
  • The point of mooks is to make the PCs feel special about wiping out a lot of enemies with a single attack. The point is also to let the players tell cool stories about how an attack that seemed like it was only going to hit a single creature managed to turn into an attack that wiped out a few mooks.
    • It’s worth noting that the only element of mooks that is collective is their hit points. If you use a spell or power against a mook that creates a condition like dazed or weakened or ongoing damage, the only mook or mooks affected by the condition are the mooks that you targeted. Dazing a single mook doesn’t daze the entire mob. Since a targeted mook is frequently just wiped out by an attack, it’s somewhat uncommon for mooks to end up suffering from conditions. It’s possible, just not that likely.

How do multiple-target attacks work against mook mobs?

  • You can target multiple mooks in a mob with a multiple-target attack, because mooks are individual creatures. The mob takes all the damage done to any of them. If you target more than one mook in the same mob with a multiple target spell, the mob takes damage for EACH mook you hit. Say you use burning hands targeting two mooks in the same mob. You roll to hit each one separately. If you hit them both and roll 17 damage, the mob takes 34 damage.

3 Responses to “13th Age FAQ”

  1. Jacob Wood says:

    “When is the PDF-only version coming out?
    A month after the books are in stores, so September. We did this so we wouldn’t undermine store sales by offering a PDF at the same time they get print copies.”

    I realize you’ve already made this decision, but I have to question: is this truly necessary? Are retailers asking you to hold off on PDF sales because they truly do drive down retail sales, or is this just a notion?

    It seems to me that there are two very different markets for the two very different mediums. Some people prefer printed material and will always buy the printed book. Others prefer PDFs and will always buy the PDFs instead of the printed product.

    Because I am legally blind, I fall into the latter camp. It’s not that I wouldn’t love a good print copy, and I truly do love to support my FLGSs, but I have absolutely no use for a book I can’t read. I must purchase my game books as PDFs and read them on a computer with screen magnification software.

    So where does that leave people with print disabilities? It leaves us waiting until a month after the release date of the book because someone decided the print versions need a head start.

    Is the boost to retail store sales real or imagined? Is it really worth alienating another (admittedly small) segment of the market?

    • Simon Rogers says:

      Hi Jacob,

      The issue of when we release ebooks is decided and is based on a great deal of data, previous experience and communication with our trade partners. Retailers are definitely not the only factor. In fact the crossover between ebook only and print version customers is vast, so we sell far more print books than we otherwise would as a result of this policy.

      However, in future, we will supply PDFs to people who are legally blind free of charge. Please email me.

  2. anon says:

    How does the feat Terrible soul work with mook HP?

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