13 Facts About 13th Age

13th Age LogoSeveral people who are interested in picking up 13th Age have told us that it would help to have a short but detailed overview of the game available on the site. This is entirely reasonable, and so we offer 13 Fast Facts About 13th Age:

    1. 13th Age is a story-focused fantasy roleplaying game co-designed by Rob Heinsoo and Jonathan Tweet. Rob and Jonathan designed 13th Age based on how they run their own games at home. Because they have different styles, there are sidebars throughout 13th Age where one or the other offers a different take on a mechanic, or style of play.
    2. You can pre-order 13th Age now and download a playable PDF of the current draft, which will be updated as new versions are available. The game is planned for release when it’s ready, which we hope will be in fall 2012. Nobody wants to rush it.
    3. 13th Age is a d20-based game with standard actions, attack rolls, damage, Armor Class, hit points, STR through CHA, wizards and sorcerers both, halfling rogues, dwarf fighters, half-orc barbarians, chromatic dragons, owlbears, ogre mages, healing potions, +1 swords, cloaks of elvenkind, and even the manual of puissant skill at arms. The formula for a skill check is d20 + the relevant ability modifier + your level + the number of points you have in a relevant background. You calculate attack and damage rolls based on the ability scores favored by your class, or by the specific powers you choose within your class.
    4. 13th Age provides a smorgasbord of options that you can use in other games. Don’t want to switch from your favorite fantasy RPG? No problem. 13th Age can be played as a standalone game, but can also be used as a book of house rules to use in whatever game you prefer to play.
    5. 13th Age is designed to empower game masters and players. The game empowers GMs with rules for on-the-fly monster design, multiple options for many rules (or the option to ignore them entirely), and a default setting that is easily adapted to the type of campaign they want to run. It empowers players by making them co-creators and storytellers along with the GM, through rules such as backgrounds, icon relationships and unique features. Player options in character creation extend to deciding which of multiple abilities associated with a race gives their character a racial bonus, and the game provides how-to tips for players who want to play a race that’s not in the book.
    6. Backgrounds are 13th Age‘s answer to a skill system. If you want to play a character who was once a soldier, write down a background of “Soldier” and you’re assumed to have all the skills a soldier would have: maintaining weapons and armor, navigating a command structure, the ability to call on your contacts in the military for help, and so on. If instead of “soldier” you write, “Imperial infantryman and veteran of the battle of Foothold,” you could also have skills such as knowledge of that area and the forces that fought there, Imperial army contacts, and the ability to befriend or intimidate people because you survived such a bloody battle.
    7. Every player character class gets special powers it can use, but the classes play very differently from each other. Your class — fighter, wizard, rogue, etc. — gives you a bonus to your primary or secondary ability, and determines the damage you do with various weapon types. (For example, rogues do more damage with light weapons than other classes.) The character classes in the core game are: barbarian, bard, cleric, fighter, monk, paladin, ranger, rogue, sorcerer and wizard.
    8. 13th Age is full of magic. The game’s default setting, the Dragon Empire, is protected by dragon-riding knights and wizards who maintain the empire’s magical ley lines. Living dungeons rise from the depths to bring evil and chaos to the world above, while flying realms drift overhead. The map is dotted with demon-filled hellholes and mysterious portals to other worlds. The magic available to player characters includes sorcerers’ chaotic powers, wizards’ efficacious polysyllabic conjurations, and clerical invocations. By casting any spell as a ritual, characters can improvise cool and unexpected effects.
    9. Each player character starts with positive, negative or conflicted relationships with up to three of the 13 most powerful NPCs in the world. These “icons” are familiar fantasy archetypes such as the Archmage, the Lich King, the Diabolist and the High Druid. You can roll dice to use your icon relationships to gain information or to move the story along in ways that produce more interesting and dramatic results (good or bad) than a standard skill check.
    10. Each 13th Age player character has one unique thing that differentiates them from everyone else. Depending on the campaign, this could mean “everyone else you are likely to meet,” or it could mean, “everyone else in the entire world.” These features don’t offer numeric bonuses and are interpreted in a free-form way. A PC might be the oldest elf in the world, or the sole heir to a kingdom of ghosts, or a bear transformed into human shape by the magic of the High Druid.
    11. Combat in 13th Age is free-form and gridless, and battles speed up over time because of the escalation die. As the characters fight in a battle, they build up momentum and tactical advantages that are represented by a six-sided escalation die. Each PC gains a bonus to attack rolls equal to the current value on the escalation die. At the start of the second round, the GM sets the escalation die at 1. Each round, the escalation die advances by +1, to a maximum of +6. Movement and position are considered in simple terms such as nearby, far away and engaged. It emphasizes where people are and who’s fighting whom, but it doesn’t count squares.
    12. Legions of monsters fall before you. The game’s mook rules treat a big group of low-level monsters as one big pool of hit points when determining how much damage you do to them. If you do 25 points of damage to a group of monsters with 10 hit points each, two of them die and a third is in serious pain.
    13. True magic items are alive, and if you have too many, they will own you. Characters can easily buy low-power, consumable magic items such as potions, magic oils and runes. But the sorts of magic items you really hunger for have intelligences and personalities – strong ones. As long as you only carry a few, you remain in charge. Carry too many, and suddenly your brain is run by a committee consisting of your sword, ring, boots and bag of holding. Nobody wants that.

 Pre-order the 13th Age Escalation Edition at the Pelgrane Shop.


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