Rob Heinsoo burrowed his way out of the ground, startling the Pelgrane staff tremendously, and delivered this 13 True Ways update.
13th Age is almost here! Quick – reserve your copy today at the Pelgrane Shop or your local game store and download the finished PDF!
Matt Nelson entered the Monster Art +13 contest for 13 True Ways with the following proposal:
The older fantasy art that stands out to me depicts the moment right before a losing battle. It doesn’t show what happens in the fight – the threat of doom can be more captivating than the violence itself. Instead, it focuses on that moment when the heroes realize they’re outclassed – seeing the dragon’s eye looking in through the window or dozens of undead crawling out of the ground around them.
I suggest a piece depicting a party trekking through the Frost Range. A gigantic Remorhaz bursts out of the snowy ground behind them, and the fur-clad heroes turn to face the monster, drawing their weapons and realizing that their luck has run out.
Want something smaller? Lose the snow and make it an Ankheg. (Any monster with a silent “h” works.”)
The remorhraz is getting loving attention in the 13th Age Bestiary and I didn’t want to double-cover it in 13 True Ways. The ankheg waved a pincer signifying “I would love to ambush some halflings and gnomes.”
Hence this great thumbnail from Aaron McConnell. Maybe it’s called “I’m Your Silent H.”
I feel a little awful about this illustration. Not because of the panic on the faces of the fleeing halflings. No. I feel something awful because the brave halfling woman standing her ground is NOT a Shaman. Another title of this rough sketch could be “This is not a chaos shaman.” Doesn’t matter what Aaron wrote up on top of the illustration. This woman is a druid.
We’ll show you the chaos guys quasi-soonish.
Rob Heinsoo crawled miraculously unharmed out of the massive footprint left by a Koru Behemoth to give us this sneak peek at more 13 True Ways monster art…
The Monster Art +13 contest we ran after the 13 True Ways Kickstarter had one entry that I discarded immediately. It was from Christoper Tatro and it read like so:
Ever see a dog in a stand-off against three larger animals it doesn’t quite know what to make of, like turkeys or goats or something outside its realm of experience? How it crouches its front end down and growls, its back end still raised and ready to spring or run? And the other animals just look on unphased and unimpressed?That, but with a tarrasque facing down three Koru Behemoths, in a clearing with a nearby forest coming up only to about belly-level for scale.
I laughed. Christopher wanted his tarrasque and he wanted it with Koru Behemoths on top! He’d only forgotten the part that said that one of the Koru Behemoths was swinging an aircraft carrier as a baseball bat.
My first reaction was because I’d decided to avoid illustrating any Behemoths for awhile, to let people’s imagination carry them wherever they wished . . . a plan that pays off with great fan art like the piece done by Temporalpyradox on the Impossible Forge tumblr. Also, Ken Hite was already going to run the tarrasque in the 13th Age Bestiary, and I didn’t want to horn in on that action.
But the more I thought about the image the more it appealed to me. And I remembered our guiding principle that showing off one flavor of Behemoth meant nothing about all the other flavors. So I asked Aaron McConnell what he thought of the illustration, implying that I thought it was crazy. And of course Aaron said, “Oh, I don’t know. It sounds kind of challenging. I could get into that.”
So here you are. I’m showing the rough draft of this two page spread though the final may be somewhat different. There are going to be more elements that show scale, there are going to be more features and carapaces and such on the behemoths, maybe small changes to the tarrasque. I think of this look for the Behemoth as moving forests, probably more connected to the High Druid than others.
And yes, the tarrasque will appear first in the Bestiary, with a great writeup from Ken. Jonathan and I will find some other Way of the Tarrasque in 13 True Ways.
- The 13 True Ways cover above is our first rough draft. Aaron and Lee still have lots of work they plan to do on it. That’s a wind-and-lightning powered druid fighting a dragon who has yet to be revealed. It gives us game designers something to strive towards.
- Lee calls the piece Over Drakkenhall. I love the name, partly because it reminds me of the WWI airplane battles that were my entry into gaming playing Fight in the Skies/Dawn Patrol. I guess I can confess that my slang for the cover-dragon is ‘the Bloody Red Golden,’but don’t worry, the story behind this has everything to do with Lee’s/Aaron’s art mixed with the sorcery of the Blue and nothing further to do with WWI ace jokes.
- On other 13 True Ways work, Lee and Aaron continue to roll through the art, Robin Laws has turned over great work on devils, Drakkenhall, and Axis, and Jonathan is carving his own twisty multi-icon passages through the ruins of Drakkenhall.
- While Jonathan, Aaron, and Lee press forward on 13 True Ways, I’m using my designer-head for a few weeks to help with the 13th Age Bestiary that Ken Hite has organized for Pelgrane. It’s mainly designed by people including ASH Law, Ken, Kevin Kulp, Rob Wieland, Ryven Cedrylle, and Steven Townshend, with editing by Cal Moore. There are innumerable dangerous and quirky touches that deserve to be touched on in later posts. For now I’m developing monsters, improving mechanics and suggesting ways that the monsters’ stories can dare more in individual campaigns.
- And in regard to the book you’ve all been waiting for…. Once upon a time my page count estimates suggested we wouldn’t have room to print the last chapter of 13th Age, the mini-adventure called Blood & Lightning. We said we would put the adventure on line since we couldn’t fit it into the book. Well the good news is that I was wrong and the adventure does fit into the book. Last week, with the 304 page layout finished except for page xx’s, Simon and I decided to add the revised Blood & Lightning adventure back into the mix. We’ve got a 320 page book now with no need for an adventure download and it looks like the decision is only going to cost us three days. So we’ll have more good news soon, I think.
Rob Heinsoo recently emerged from the depths of the Queen’s Wood with disturbing tales of the little folk — and a piece of art from 13 True Ways.
David Kaehler was one of the winners of the Monster Art +13 contest for the 13 True Ways Kickstarter.
David asked for a somewhat straightforward illustration of pixies in a mushroom circle firing sleep arrows at surprised adventurers.
I decided that Aaron McConnell’s amazing talents meant I didn’t have to settle for a somewhat standard image. I rolled the picture forward a few minutes. What happens to adventurers brought low in a pixie circle? Aaron’s first draft is below.
It’s dark, it’s a ritual, and that’s one pumped-up pixie.
Haven’t done the mechanics yet, but they’re going to be fun.
The final illustration will bring out what’s going on at the bottom of the illustration with a bit more clarity while still maintaining the frayed boundaries of good taste.
Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, murder pixies.
- Rob Heinsoo
Rob Heinsoo emerged from his incense-befogged meditation chamber in a state of divine communion with the gods of Light, to bring us yet another update on 13 True Ways…
The fire/layout situation claimed most of my attention, and I just realized that we never officially let you know the outcome of the I Hate This Town voting.
As most all of you suspected, the voting for I Hate this Town followed the pattern established when you voted for Drakkenhall and Horizon as the cities you wanted to see most. Yes, Santa Cora is the city that’s going to get pasted with slanders.
So we set up a halfling robbery illustration to get the hatred started:
I’d describe the architectural style that Aaron McConnell brought to this wing of the Cathedral as monolithic-papacy. All the better for our freedom-loving halfling to plunder.
Aaron and I have talked about how we’ll change things around for the final version. We’ll share that with you once it’s ready.
We’ve just received the prototype images of the 13th Age icon ring. You’ll be able to use it to randomly determine which of the game’s 13 icons is involved in a particular scene — or perhaps pulling the strings in secret.
Dice Rings certainly outdid themselves with the final product and we couldn’t wait to share it with you! We’ll let the image speak for itself.
If you backed the 13 True Ways expansion Kickstarter at $300 or more, you’re getting a gold icon ring along with your other rewards. You can also get a gold ring with the one of the one hundred limited edition 13th Age core books we’ll be releasing.
We’ll be putting the black icon rings up for sale in the Pelgrane shop soon!
Note that all rings will be size 10 only.
The other two rings are prototypes, and won’t be part of the run. Sorry, blue ring fans.
So! Are you as excited about the 13th Age icon dice ring as we are? Let us know in this scientific survey.
We’ll have another status report on the rings as things progress!
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,
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!
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,