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Despite our chatty and occasionally informative sidebars, we don’t get around to explaining all our design decisions in 13th Age. Today we’ll take a look at a 13 True Ways design choice that could use a bit of explanation.

Multiclass penalties

The multiclass system in chapter 2 of 13 True Ways is a tool whose significance depends heavily on the user. I know players who have never read the chapter and never will. I know other players who picked up 13 True Ways, skimmed a bit, then turned to the multiclassing chapter and read every word before even looking at the new classes.

As a game designer, I originally told myself that I wasn’t that interested in multiclassing. Jonathan cared more about it, mostly because he knew we needed it and he was being the responsible one. But I was the one who ended up handling the fiddly and in-depth work, and along the way I carved a multiclassing system that creates characters I enjoy playing.

The key is that multiclass characters sacrifice a bit of power for flexibility. That’s pretty obvious when it comes to classes like the sorcerer and wizard, characters who depend on spells. Getting access to spells one level behind a single class character is an obvious reduction in raw power.

Weapon-users were trickier to handle. With a few exceptions for classes that are all about weapon-use and shouldn’t be penalized (exceptions mentioned at the bottom of page 107), multiclass characters suffer a die-size reduction, using WEAPON dice that are one size smaller. The point is that weapon-using multiclass characters who need to take a hit to their raw power take that hit through dealing slightly less damage every time they attack with weapons. It’s not crippling, since you’re still rolling one WEAPON die per level, but the point is that this damage reduction parallels the damage reduction that spellcasting multiclass characters suffer.

Questions about corner-cases we didn’t handle should consider our design intent. A multiclass character who has found a way to roll a number of damage dice equal to their level, all the time, should probably be taking the die-step penalty unless both their classes are from the classes listed as taking no weapon damage die penalty.

Those classes, again, are the barbarian, bard, commander, fighter, paladin, ranger, and rogue. It made no sense to us to put two classes that are great at using weapons together and produce a multiclass that was worse at using weapons. Happily, game balance works out fine allowing these multiclass characters to keep their full weapon damage. They all take some form of hit from lagging a level behind on class features, the class-by-class exceptions detailed in the chapter curb specific excesses, and their raw power isn’t so great that the increased flexibility of multiclassing somehow pushes them above other classes.

 

 

13AgeLogoFull_small-300x300This week, Tales of the 13th Age GMs receive The Battle of Axis — an adventure that brings the first season of 13th Age organized play to a thundering conclusion!

The fact that 13th Age organized play exists at all is a minor miracle wrought by ASH LAW. Rob Heinsoo originally believed that 13th Age’s flexible and customizable approach made an OP program impossible, because OP relies heavily on everyone playing by the same set of rules. ASH proved that it could be done, and our free, play-anywhere-you-want program helped build word of mouth and was a critical part of the game’s early success.

Now we enter the next phase of organized play, with an approach that reflects where the game and its community of fans are today.

Tales of the 13th Age Concludes

With the Archmage’s Comet passing over the Dragon Empire and playing havoc with the Archmage’s wards, the Lich King has decided now is the time to strike and seize an ancient source of power! Battle of Axis drops this week, and the email to GMs will include a special offer for those who take 5 minutes to complete a quick survey.

The 13th Age Alliance Begins

13th Age Alliance black bkgrnd13th Age organized play is more than creating and delivering new content: it’s a community of GMs and players. That’s why, starting with the new season, the 13th Age Alliance will take its place among the Societies and Leagues of the roleplaying world.

(If you signed up for Tales, you are already in the Alliance — no need to complete a separate sign-up process.)

Signing up for organized play will continue to be free.

13th Age Alliance members will have access to all Season 1 adventures for free. We have other exclusive OP community stuff planned, but it’s too early to talk about those right now.

13th Age Alliance members will ALSO get the first three episodes of Season 2 for free. If you aren’t already familiar with our OP adventures, download the ENnie award nominated Archmage’s Orrery to get an idea of their quality.

The remaining ten Season 2 adventures will be bundled with 13th Age Monthly, and will be available exclusively to 13AM subscribers over the next year. We knew that we couldn’t repeat the Season 1 experience of giving away 70+ hours worth of official adventures for free, but we also didn’t want to charge for OP. Bundling the adventures with 13AM was the best solution, especially if we included a free option that would help take 13th Age OP to the next level.

Which brings us to…

FLGS Support

We want to encourage retailers to host organized play, so people can walk into their FLGS and see in person what 13th Age is all about. That’s why retailers who sign up to Bits and Mortar will have free access to 13th Age Monthly material for in-store use — including the new adventures. If you’re running OP at a game store and need the latest adventure, plus rules for summoning or dragon riding, just ask the owners.

Join Us At Gen Con!

We’re debuting the first Season 2 adventure at Gen Con Indy. Didn’t get in to one of our play sessions? We’re also doing a 13th Age organized play panel on Thursday, July 30 at 1 PM in Crowne Plaza, Pennsylvania Station B. Hearing me and ASH talk about organized play is almost as fun as playing, right?

Have questions in the meantime? Please leave a comment, or post to our Google+ or Facebook communities.

13 True Ways introduced druids and necromancers as the first summoning spellcasters. Now this installment of the Monthly adds:

  • Updated summoning mechanics for 13th Age
  • New demon and elemental summoning spells for the wizard’s spellbook
  • New archon summoning spells for the cleric’s prayer-roster
  • Stats for summoned archons, demons and elementals
  • A new demon type: the laughing demon!

Summoning Spells is the sixth installment of the 13th Age Monthly subscription. It will be available to buy in the webstore in July. When you subscribe to 13th Age Monthly, you will get all issues of the subscription to date.

Stock #: PEL13AM07D Author: Rob Heinsoo
Artist: Rich Longmore Pages: 13pg PDF
Eidolons_cover

Eidolons cover

These bizarre, other-dimensional creatures present themselves as aspects of mortal concepts — meanwhile twisting reality into shapes that have nothing to do with mortal concepts. This comprehensive 13th Age Bestiary-style monster writeup is a gift to GMs who don’t mind shaking the tree until walruses and new philosophies fall out.

Eidolons is the fifth installment of the 13th Age Monthly subscription. It will be available to buy in the webstore in June. When you subscribe to 13th Age Monthly, you will get all issues of the subscription to date.

 

Stock #: PEL13AM06 Author: ASH LAW
Artist: Rich Longmore Type: PDF

Tales-of-the-13th-Age-LogoComing Soon

ASH LAW reports that The Battle of Axis will be the next adventure in our Tales of the 13th Age organized play program. This epic-tier adventure features a multi-session battle against the undead in the very heart of the Dragon Empire!

Gen Con Play Events Sold Out

We submitted nearly 70 organized play events for Gen Con, and tickets for all of them have been snapped up. Which is partly great news, and partly a bummer if you weren’t able to get tickets. We’ve heard of at least one GM who’ll be set up in Games on Demand to run Pelgrane games, and we might get additional volunteer GMs to run more official slots for us.

Girl Scouts Demo 13th Age

A Girl Scout troop in Colorado is going to start hosting tabletop games demos in the meeting room at their local library, and 13th Age is one of them! The scouts will demo a different game each week to acquire badges, learn valuable business and life skills, and (of course) have fun. We sent them PDFs of our more kid-friendly adventures, and an organized play kit that included a copy of 13th Age, a t-shirt for the organizer, promotional flyers, pre-generated characters, printable minis and icon postcards.

Play 13th Age at DexCon 18

Andrew Heo is organizing a team of GMs to run a 13th Age track at DexCon 18. Here’s the planned schedule:

Thursday: Shadow Port Shuffle, Wyrd of the Wild Wood, Quest in the Cathedral

Friday: Fungaloid Infection, The Folding of Screamhaunt Castle, Tower of the Ogre Mage

Saturday: Wrath of the Orc Lord, The Elf Queen’s Enchantment, Domain of the Dwarf King

Sunday: Three Hearts Over Glitterhaegen, The Feast of Gold

Keep an eye on the DexCon website, where event signup should be open soon!

13A Dark Lanterns LightWatch Dark Lantern’s Light Online

Hey, did you know that we have a head of online organized play, and that you can watch his group (including Seattle radio personality Rev. En Fuego) play online? It’s true — watch Aaron R.’s 13th Age Eberron campaign Dark Lantern’s Light and follow it on Obsidian Portal.

13a_soundtrack_cover_editedJonathan Hicks reviewed the 13th Age Soundtrack on rpg.net. Thanks Jonathan! Jonathan says,

“First off, let me be blunt – if, like me, you’re a lover of music in your game then this soundtrack is fantastic whether you intend to use it in a 13th Age game or not. The themes stand out and once the group hears them during their first few games then they’ll forever associate the music with the sessions, up to a point where an evening’s play will feel peculiar without having the music playing in the background.”

“It’s an amazing selection of music and I can’t see any gaming group not getting something out of it. More than anything, it’s unique; there are no movies, shows or games that have this music so the player’s will not have heard any of it before and will always equate it with their 13th Age games, or whatever ongoing RPG setting they’re gaming in. If that’s not perfect for a gaming group then I don’t know what is.”

“And that, at the end of the day, is what this soundtrack does – it delivers iconic music that not only suits the epic atmosphere of 13th Age but is so varied it contains a style of music that will suit most games in pretty much any fantasy setting. Left on loop in the background it’s perfect for any gaming session and has enough variety to help enhance the atmosphere of many playing styles.

The team of composers and performers on this album have done a sterling job on this soundtrack and they should be commended; I’ve got a few game-centric soundtracks and this is, by far, the best one yet. If you’re looking for an album that’ll help to take your games up a notch, or if you feel that your games are missing that little something that’ll take it to the next level, then this album is an absolute must.”

“A great album filled with solid, wonderfully crafted music. It’s a soundtrack waiting for a movie to be put to it.”


 

13th Age combines the best parts of traditional d20-rolling fantasy gaming with new story-focused rules, designed so you can run the kind of game you most want to play with your group. Created by Rob Heinsoo and Jonathan Tweet, 13th Age gives you all the tools you need to make unique characters who are immediately embedded in the setting in important ways; quickly prepare adventures based on the PCs’ backgrounds and goals; create your own monsters; fight exciting battles; and focus on what’s always been cool and fun about fantasy adventure gaming. Purchase 13th Age in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

 

Children of the Icons cover“I’m the child of an icon.” This One Unique Thing taps into one of fantasy’s most powerful archetypes — and generates a huge amount of player investment in the campaign. Here, players will find inspiration and advice on how this deep connection can play out at the table. For GMs, Gareth presents four possible “children of the icons” campaigns along with two tough monsters that show how iconic parentage can be used to create interesting NPCs.

Children of the Icons is the fourth installment of the 13th Age Monthly subscription. It will be available to buy in the webstore in May. When you subscribe to 13th Age Monthly, you will get all issues of the subscription to date.

 

Stock #: PEL13AM05 Author: Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan
Artist: Rich Longmore Type: PDF

13AgeLogoFull_small-300x300The Complete 13th Age RPG Starter Kit at More Than 25% Off

Get the ENnie award-winning 13th Age roleplaying game, 13th Age Bestiary, 13 True Ways, AND ALSO the 13th Age Soundtrack — all at more than 25% off what you’d pay if you bought these titles individually. Go to the Pelgrane Online Store and look for 13th Age Bundle under the 13th Age heading.

What hast thou in thy bundle, friend owlbear?

13th Age features everything you need to play the d20-rolling fantasy game, with core classes (barbarian, bard, cleric, fighter, paladin, ranger, rogue, sorcerer, wizard); rules for icon relationships, One Unique Things and backgrounds; mechanics and guidance for building fast, exciting battles; new and classic monsters, plus DIY monster rules; gear and magic items; and lots of advice for hacking and customizing the rules to fit your needs.

13 True Ways is the first supplement for 13th Age, with more character classes (chaos mage, commander, druid, monk and necromancer); more monsters and magic items; more details about the Dragon Empire; and a brimstone-scented* chapter on devils by Robin D. Laws.

The 13th Age Bestiary brings new takes on familiar monsters, plus GM guidance for building battles with multiple creatures, the hierarchy of liches, a playable fungaloid race, odd trivia**, and much more.

The 13th Age Soundtrack features themes for each icon and locations in the Dragon Empire, battle music that gets more dramatic as the Escalation Die climbs, and evocative background music for chases, rests and remembrance.

Buy Now

* Not literally brimstone-scented. Please don’t contact customer service because your PDF doesn’t smell like rotten eggs. (If your PDF does smell like rotten eggs, contact your doctor.)

** Bugbears are funny. Sure, they’re also psychopathically cruel and may hammer your skull after stealing the loot you were both supposed to share, but they’ll probably say something funny in the process and prop your unconscious body in an inappropriate and hilarious position.

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13th Age combines the best parts of traditional d20-rolling fantasy gaming with new story-focused rules, designed so you can run the kind of game you most want to play with your group. Created by Rob Heinsoo and Jonathan Tweet, 13th Age gives you all the tools you need to make unique characters who are immediately embedded in the setting in important ways; quickly prepare adventures based on the PCs’ backgrounds and goals; create your own monsters; fight exciting battles; and focus on what’s always been cool and fun about fantasy adventure gaming. Purchase 13th Age in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

Dungeons of DrakkenhallTales of the 13th Age is our free organized play program for the 13th Age roleplaying game. Each month’s adventure is designed so that GMs can customize it for their own group, but players can easily bring their characters to other Tales of the 13th Age events. Register here and embark on a world-spanning epic campaign across the Dragon Empire!

A classic dungeon crawl, 13th Age style! Any journey to Drakkenhall, the city of monsters, would be eventful enough. But when disaster strikes, you have an opportunity to infiltrate the personal vault of the Blue and steal her secrets. You’ll have to face cunning traps, horrific monsters and dragonic mother of all sorcery herself. Can you survive the Dungeons of Drakkenhall?

Dungeons of Drakkenhall is an 8-hour organized play adventure for 3-7 8th level characters, designed to be played in four weekly 2-hour sessions. It is the 12th icon-themed adventure in the Tales of the 13th Age series and comes with a free, full-size downloadable 22″ x 25.5″ poster-sized dungeon map.

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13th Age combines the best parts of traditional d20-rolling fantasy gaming with new story-focused rules, designed so you can run the kind of game you most want to play with your group. Created by Rob Heinsoo and Jonathan Tweet, 13th Age gives you all the tools you need to make unique characters who are immediately embedded in the setting in important ways; quickly prepare adventures based on the PCs’ backgrounds and goals; create your own monsters; fight exciting battles; and focus on what’s always been cool and fun about fantasy adventure gaming. Purchase 13th Age in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

ROB_tileMy Playtest Feedback Process

by Rob Heinsoo

I’m just about to start going through playtest feedback for 13th Age in Glorantha. I thought readers of this blog might be interested in how I process playtest feedback for 13th Age books.
Sometimes I read playtest feedback right away. But usually I wait and read as much of it as possible in a single big batch. Glorantha’s first playtest is going to take the big batch approach.

In either case, I take the good ideas I like out of it, or notes that seem to be identifying major problems, and write them down in my own words in single sentence summaries, sometimes noted as to whose feedback they came from. I keep these notebook pages of possible playtest changes going through the entire process. (I write small so I can fit a lot on a two page spread!)

When I’m ready to implement the changes, I start by reading the whole list of possible changes. After crossing off notes that have proven incorrect, I start in and work through the notebook pages list, crossing notes off as I deal with them or decide they aren’t actually problems. How do I decide when comments aren’t problems? A few ways, but mostly through uncovering that the rest of the feedback supports a feature a couple people found problematic, or discovering that the original comments were in fact inaccurate, or by creating new design elements that sidestep the issue, or by weighing the evidence and judging that what bothered the tester is a feature instead of a bug!

Sometimes I’ll get playtest advice that’s so good, accurate, and important that I want to make changes immediately. That happens most often during playtest feedback on classes, when something sparks that can fix a lingering problem or create a wonderful new dynamic.

In most cases, it’s better to wait a few days or weeks longer and make changes in one thoughtful extended pass, because even small changes can require multiple revisions scattered throughout the document. Revising the same sections multiple times because of repeated changes is not only maddening, it also seems to increase the risk of me screwing up a change that should have rippled out to multiple pages of the book.

I suspect that other designers handle playtest feedback differently. But I admit that I’m not sure. I haven’t asked many other designers how they handle the playtest revision process with RPGs.

Here’s a picture of what a typical page of playtest process looks like in my notebooks. These were notes from last year on Robin’s The Strangling Sea.

Yes, I’m still writing in notebooks. When I’m rolling with design work I’m usually just typing into a computer, but when I’m noodling ideas or writing notes about things I want to think about before acting on, I use a pen.

 

 

And while I’m taking photos, here’s the pile of all the notebooks I’ve used for 13th Age design. They’re all from my friend Sara’s company, MakeMyNotebook.com, I love the weight of the paper and their spiral-bound durability as well as the fun covers. I’ve used one full book already for 13th Age in Glorantha (blue robot) and it looks like I’ll use up at least another half (black fish).

(This was previously posted on Rob’s personal blog, robheinsoo.blogspot.com)

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