Horizon, Commanders, Mummies: a 13 True Ways Update

13TrueWaysCover_May11_2013By Rob Heinsoo

Given the push we are making to finish design and art on 13 True Ways, it’s time for an update. I’m not going to talk about the things we’re doing that aren’t done yet, those will appear in upcoming updates.

Jonathan has written a wonderful take on Horizon, City of Wonders. As Jonathan says in the introduction to the 10,000 word piece:

The metropolis of Horizon is probably the most daunting of the Dragon Empire’s seven great cities, certainly the most unearthly. Some find it to be a higher order of reality, more rational and perfect than the everyday world. To others, it is an impenetrable labyrinth of riddles and forbiddance. You come to Horizon because you have to, and you often leave under the same circumstances. Here, the skeins of destiny tangle with the Archmage’s ley lines, and reality will never be the same.

Jonathan’s Horizon hovers on the constructive edge between inspirational ideas and solid questions for each campaign. I’d show off a piece of the wonderful Horizon city art from Lee and Aaron here, but it might give the wrong impression, because part of Jonathan’s approach to our half-designed world is to explain a dozen ways that the art and map of the City of Wonders can be interpreted in each campaign! So we’ll let that art wait to be unveiled later!

The Commander
The commander class has been through a fruitful round of playtesting and development and will be sent anew to people who are getting the updates. The designer note I left out of the first iteration of the class was that I’d deliberately designed the commander’s weakest possible version. It was an experiment, starting weak in order to be able to increase the power level in later drafts. And yes, all the playtesters who sent us comments noticed that they’d been handed weak beer and several people had great suggestions. The new commander is stronger and more fun. To find the things that have changed, you’ll only need to look for the yellow and green highlighting.

13 True Ways Dwarf Commander DwarfAs we close on the final version of the commander stats, here’s the first draft of a piece of commander art, a dwarven commander whose troops will be carrying the flag of the Emperor. This guy is still fighting under the original name of the class, but Battle Captain is the name of one of my favorite talents from the class, a talent that got a lot better in this draft, so I’m going to shake off the guilt of showing off the old name.

Monsters! Monsters! 

After I worked all-out on 13th Age Bestiary monsters for months, Jonathan has taken the reins for recent batches of monsters that include the werebeasts, the metallic dragons, a heap of undead, and the devils, including four new sometimes-covertly operating devils created by Robin Laws as part of the Kickstarter goals.

As a sample of the writing in the new monsters, here is Jonathan’s story-riff on mummies, followed by a beautiful but still rough draft of a piece of art that was one of the Monster Art +13 winners in the Kickstarter.

Mummies: Down through the ages, powerful magicians have endeavored to preserve their own lives, escaping both the mystery of death and the horror of undeath. The secrets by which they preserve themselves at the end of their mortal lives are lost, but someone always finds or recreates those secrets. Ideally, these carefully preserved mummies live on in a sort of passive false life of the mind, dreaming endlessly in their sarcophagi but never passing on into death itself. It’s good work if you can get it. The problem is that the Lich King is dead set against letting anyone enjoy such a happy ending. When his servitors discover mummies, they invariably animate them and turn them into proper undead minions.

As those who have unnaturally extended their lives, mummies make exceptionally dangerous undead. The most powerful mummies reanimate as masterminds who take charge of those around them, while the lesser ones submit to their new masters’ commands. In any event, these unnatural creatures, trapped between life and death, are among the most spine-chilling of the Lich King’s minions. In theory, mummies might have enough humanity left that living souls could appeal to it and perhaps reach some sort of accord. In practice, it’s mummy rot for all those who tamper with the mighty who refuse to die.

13 True Ways Mummy and NecromancerThe mummy art: Evan Franke originally asked for somewhat South American/Tibetan mummies being called forth by a high priest. I thought that was a good place to bring in a necromancer. This version by Aaron is considerably advanced from the version we showed Evan earlier, but it’s still going to get a bunch of finishing work from Lee, including the finished spiral stair that leads to adventurers or a world ripe for conquest.

And Speaking of the Necromancer . . . 

I had an epiphany about this class. It’s not a class. It’s a multiclass. A multiclass that works especially well as a multiclass option for other spellcasting classes. So the sorcerer, cleric, and wizard are getting detailed multiclass combinations with the necromancer multiclass. Other people can do it but they’re not as cool, and that’s kind of the way 13th Age multiclassing tends to work: some combinations are deliberately more fun than others.

The Monk
There’s a new version of the monk coming as part of the playtest update. It features interesting solutions to the demand for multiple high ability scores, ki powers that matter, and high-graded fun options for monk talents instead of some of the earlier talents that didn’t compare well.

See you with another 13 True Ways update later next week.

7 Responses to “Horizon, Commanders, Mummies: a 13 True Ways Update”

  1. Robert says:

    Little confused–you mention a playtest update, but is that supposed to already be out, or coming in the future? Just making sure I’m not missing something I should have in my files. :-)

    Glad to see more news on 13 True Ways and multi classing. Very interested to see what you guys came up with for that. One concern: I do understand that some combos may be better than others, but I hope that every class does have multi class options with every other class. In a game as free as 13th Age, that would really help players play the heroes they want.

    I love 13th Age. :-) So easy to run games in, while still providing a lot of depth and options. Waiting with great anticipation for 13 True Ways and other further content. :-)

    (Also hoping that this eventually becomes a system you release things in other genres with–Archmage Engine sci-fi or superhero stuff would be cool. :-) )

  2. Gabriel says:

    Will Paladins be made to not be borring/terrible? Its hard to determine why you would want to play one over a Fighter (one less AC). The class features and abilities for paladins are generally pretty bad, they are slow/monotonous to play and their damage output is generally pretty low compared to other classes.

    I feel like id like to enjoy 13th age more, but as a fan of 4e its hard for me to get into how devoid of flavor and tactics many of my favorite classes are. If every class got the attention that the rogue and sorcerer did that be one hell of a system, but Paladin/Ranger/Barbarian are just too uninteresting.

    • Khaleb says:

      Oddly we did not consider the paladin to be ‘boring’ (He was the most effective character in our demo)… With the OUT and skill systems this is the first D&D variant we’ve played that characters were more than a sheet full of modifiers with a name slapped on as an afterthought.

    • Wade Rockett says:

      During the 13th Age panel at Gen Con, Rob said he’d like to revisit the paladin class in a future supplement. Whether that’s 13 True Ways or not remains to be seen — their priorities for that book are the promised monk, druid, necromancer, occultist, commander and chaos shaman.

  3. Robert says:

    I’ve been running a play-by-post 13th age game using Paizo’s Adventure paths. I’m super excited to hear about modules/adventures for 13th age itself!

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