Mutant_City_Blues_Cover01Continuing Ken’s theme of looting 13th Age for GUMSHOE twists, let’s talk about monsters. In 13th Age, monsters have a sort of rudimentary AI – instead of the GM deciding to use their special abilities in advance, they’re triggered by the result of the attack roll. So, for example, if a ghoul gets a natural even hit, it gets to make its target vulnerable. If a frost giant rolls a 16 or higher when attacking, it also gets to freeze its foe.

For example, here’s a basic human thug:

13th Age Human Thug 

1st Level troop [Humanoid]

Initiative: +3

Heavy Mace +5 vs AC – 4 damage

Natural even hit or miss: The thug deals +6 damage with its next attack this battle. (GM, be sure to let the PCs know this is coming; it’s not a secret.)


PD14    HP 27


Automating monsters like that makes the GM’s life easier. Instead of having to make decisions before rolling the dice, the GM can just attack and let the triggered abilities make the fight more interesting and complex. The thugs, for example, encourage the player characters to focus their fire or dodge away from the ones who have extra damage lined up for next round. Some of the work of making the monster cool gets shifted from the actual play part of the game to pre-game preparation, leaving the GM free to concentrate on evocative descriptions. tactics and other immediate concerns. (Triggered powers can also surprise the GM, which is always fun.)

GUMSHOE monsters and foes have a limited number of points to spend on their attacks, possibly mediated by an attack pattern. While the attack pattern does take some of the heavy lifting away, the GM still has to make decisions about when to spend the bad guy’s ability pools. Let’s try taking away as much resource management as possible from the GM. For general abilities, for every 4 points a creature has in its pool, give it a +1 bonus, to a maximum of +3, and modelling special abilities as special-case rules or powers triggered by a dice roll instead of the GM having to make a choice. Health, obviously, is unchanged.

Obviously, GUMSHOE’s smaller range of random results means that you’ll have to be a little more restrained when it comes to special powers – there’s a big difference between a power that triggers on a natural 20 in 13th Age and a natural 6 in GUMSHOE. Possible triggers for powers include:

  • Natural even or odd rolls – good for alternate attacks or special effects
  • Natural 1s or 6s
  • 5s & 6s – generically ‘good rolls’, useful for foes that have a chance of doing extra damage or inflicting some special condition, like stunning or knocking prone
  • Health reaches a certain threshold – perfect for countdown mechanics, where the fie gets nastier towards the end of the fight
  • The attacking player character has no points left in a pool – if you’re out of Shooting, the alien monster breaks from cover and rushes towards yo

You can also have a power be limited to a certain number of uses – a ghoul in Night’s Black Agents might get an extra attack on the first three times it rolls a natural 6, but no more.

All these rules are just for monsters and NPCs – player characters still get to juggle points and manage their resources as per the standard GUMSHOE rules.


Esoterrorist Security Guard

General Abilities: Scuffling +1, Shooting +2,

Health 4

Hit Threshold: 3

Alertness Modifier: +1

Stealth Modifier: +0

Damage Modifier: +0 (Pistol), -1 (nightstick)

Freeze!: +2 bonus to Shooting in the first round of combat if the security guard isn’t surprised.

Natural 1: The guard calls for backup. If help’s available, it’ll arrive in the next few minutes. The guard misses his next attack. Treat further natural 1s as simple misses.


Night’s Black Agents Thug (pg. 70)

General abilities: Athletics +2, Driving +1, Hand to Hand +2, Shooting +1, Weapons +2

Health 6

Hit Threshold: 3

Alertness Modifier: +0

Stealth Modifier: -1

Damage Modifier: -2 (fist), +0 (club), +1 (9mm pistol)

Wall of Fire: If three or more thugs shoot at the same target, the last thug gets +1 Shooting

Gang Assault: If three or more thugs attack the same target with Hand to Hand or Weapons, they all get +1 damage.


Night’s Black Agents Bodyguard (pg. 69)

General abilities: Athletics +3, Driving +2, Hand to Hand +3, Medic +1, Shooting +2, Weapons +2

Health 8

Hit Threshold: 3

Alertness Modifier: +2

Stealth Modifier: -0

Damage Modifier: -2 (fist), -1 (flexible baton), +1 (9mm pistol)

Armor: -1 vs bullets

Protect the Principal: On a natural 5 or 6 when making an Athletics, Driving or Shooting test, the Hit Threshold of whoever the bodyguard’s guarding increases by +2 for the rest of the round.

Stunning Blow: On a natural 6 when making a Hand to Hand attack, the target loses their next action unless they spend 3 Health or Athletics.


Ashen Stars All-Shredder Klorn

General abilities: Athletics +3, Scuffling +3

Health 30

Hit Threshold: 3

Alertness Modifier: +2

Stealth Modifier: -3

Damage Modifier: +6

Armor: -3

Natural Even Roll: +2 bonus to Scuffling

Natural Odd Roll: Smash! The klorn destroys some obstacle or object nearby – it breaks through a wall, kicks over a computer console, smashes its spiked tail through the engine coolant tanks, knocks over a nearby ground car or something equally cinematic.

Natural 6: The klorn’s target is impaled on its spear-teeth; +4 bonus damage

Frenzy: When the klorn’s reduced to 10 or less Health, it immediately makes a free Scuffling attack on the nearest foe.

Special: Refreshes health pool when struck by non-lethal disruption fire




BattleCaptDwarf_ThumbA[Ed: I like the 13th Age fighter. In combat,  you make a roll, and depending on the result, you are able to chose between a set of options – these are called flexible attacks. Your fighter moves, sees an opening then makes a choice. A better roll reflects better maneuvering and usually offers more choices. There are, however, some people who don’t like the idea of deciding after a roll what happens, or otherwise object to the class. It’s possible of course to build rangers or paladins which work as fighters, but some non-fighter flavour is inevitable.

So, I asked ASH LAW to create two fighters using the dual class system from 13 True Ways – strictly they are paladin / rangers hybrids, but they play just like a different kind of fighter, and all the mechanics are there on the sheets.

He’s done one for every level from 1st to 10th. They are easy to customise, particularly if you have 13 True Ways. Over to ASH…]

Download the light fighter and the heavy fighter

The Dual-wielder and the Slayer


Fighters, eh? Those stalwarts of sword-and board, at the front laying down the pain and keeping the squishier characters safe from danger. Well, here we present two new fighters (that are not actually fighters at all), as pregens from level 1 to 10! They are both built as multi-class paladin/rangers, and have identical attributes— the difference is in feat and talent selection.

There is also a clarification on a ranger talent coming up in this article, so ranger players read on…

The Dual-wielder: Two Swords are Better than One

1st Level

We’ll start with the dual-wielder. This human character wears light armor and carries two longswords. At first level we start strong with the dual-wielding concept with the double melee attack and two-weapon mastery talents from the ranger’s class. For the paladin talent we start with bastion, giving us a boost to AC and letting us help out the party in emergencies by pushing allies out of the way of dragon fire (and taking damage ourselves in the process). For feats we get two-weapon mastery so that our miss damage is raised, and for our bonus human feat we get the multi-class ranger feat that lets us apply all our lovely two-weapon mastery bonuses to paladin attacks too.

Our fighting style with this character at 1st level is probably going to involve engaging multiple foes with the double melee attack and reserving the mighty blow for tougher opponents or to finish up stubborn mook groups to open up the battlefield.

2nd Level

At second level we pick up the paladin’s smite feat to give us a +4 bonus to attack with the smite attack, which we are calling here ‘Mighty Blow’. After all our dual-wielder really isn’t a paladin… but he is somebody who has perhaps trained in their fighting styles.

3rd Level

Our dual-wielder gains the double melee attack feat, giving him a bonus on his second melee attack if he’s targeting a second enemy. I picture him standing in a field with a load of scarecrows and pumpkins, slashing and practicing stances, simultaneously attacking multiple scarecrows while his companion the slayer rolls her eyes.

4th Level

All that exercise is staring to pay off as our dual-wielder gains an extra recovery thanks to the bastion feat.

5th Level

As we enter champion tier we pick up the two-weapon mastery champion feat. Now when enemies roll a 1 the dual-wielder pounces and strikes.

6th Level

Now is the time to pick some new talents. First up is implacable, allowing us to roll saves at the start of each turn. I picture our lightly armored dual-wielder practicing kick-flips to get up quickly from getting knocked down. Yeah he’s not as heavily protected as his slayer companion, but he can quickly shake off things that would rattle her.

From the ranger side of things we pick up tracker with associated the adventurer tier feat. These two are obviously monster-hunters or bounty-hunters of some sort. He is the one who bends over to stare at footprints while the slayer watches out for rustling in the bushes. All that practicing with scarecrows and pumpkins is paying off, as the dual-wielder is able to perform terrain stunts now. Once per battle the dual-wielder can make use of the terrain around him to disadvantage and disorient opponents.

7th & 8th Level

At 7th level the dual-wielder starts learning a few moves from the slayer, as we picks up the smite champion feat for his mighty attack. At 8th level we get the epic feat for the smite class feature. Our dual-wielder is learning that sometimes you just have to hit a foe once, if you hit hard enough.

9th Level

At 9th level we get a couple of new talents. Way of evil bastards lets us keep using our mighty when we drop an enemy. First strike increases the dual-wielder’s crit ranges for the first hit against enemies. Our tactics at this point in most fights is to open with a double melee attack against two enemies (with an increased crit range), and then use mighty attacks when the enemies have taken a couple of big hits.

For the feat we’re going to go ahead and get improved initiative. Hit fast, hit hard, hit often… and hit first!

10th Level

By 10th level the dual-wielder has a super-powerful mighty blow attack that he can potentially use many times per battle, can perform terrain stunts, attacks when enemies roll 1s, rolls saves at the start of his turn, and on his first hit with his double-melee attack crits on 17+.

For the 10th level feat we’re going to get the two weapon mastery epic feat. For one battle each day we can add 10 to all our miss damage. With the blades whirling around in the dual-wielder’s hand it’s impossible for enemies to avoid getting sliced by a passing blade.

At the end of 10th level, after an epic career this character will probably settle down for a well-deserved rest, retiring to spend more time with his huge pile of gold.

The Slayer: Deadly Accuracy with Heavy Armour

1st Level

The slayer is in many ways the mirror of the dual-wielder. The slayer wears heavy armor and carries a shield, though they can instead choose to drop that shield and pull out a two-handed greatsword in order to roll d10s for damage. The first thing we do is pick up the Favored Enemy (Humanoid) ranger talent; this means that whenever making a basic (ranger) melee attack against a humanoid enemy we crit on an 18+! Yes, this costs us two of our starting talents, but it is well worth it. Orcs, trolls, bandits, evil wizards, minotaurs… most of the things our slayer will face are humanoids. As this character levels up we’ll concentrate on expanding that crit range, with the aim of eventually critting half of the time we attack.

With our remaining talent we get the paladin talent way of evil bastards. This character may or may not be evil, but they do fight dirty… ahem I mean ‘they fight to win’. When the slayer’s mighty blow (actually a paladin’s smite) drops a non-mook enemy it is not expended.

Our tactics with this character are probably going to be opening with a mighty blow on any non-humanoid enemies then switching to attacking humanoids and trying for multiple crits.

2nd Level

At second level we pick up the feat for favored enemy. This allows us, during a full heal-up, to switch our favored enemy from humanoid to TWO other monster types.

Favored Enemy – A clarification

So how does it work when you use the two-talent version of Favored Enemy and switch from humanoid as a favored foe to another type of monster? The answer is that since you spent two talents on it, and the regular version costs only one talent, you can switch out humanoid for two monsters.

Here’s what 13th Age designer Rob Heinsoo and Editor Cal Moore have to say:

ROB: Changing away from humanoid looks like it could go ahead and let you have two favored enemies. Because why not? Really, no reason. Which either reads like errata, a clarification or GM choice, depending on how you squint. 

CAL: It’s probably a clarification more than errata.

So a character with Favored Enemy (Humanoid) who is headed into a dungeon full of oozes and undead could spend some time meditating, researching, or otherwise preparing for the upcoming dungeon… and after their next full heal-up can use Favored Enemy (Ooze) and Favored Enemy (Undead). After their next full heal-up they can switch back to Favored Enemy (Humanoid), keep their current favored enemies, or switch to something new like Favored Enemy (Dragon) and Favored Enemy (Plant).

Cool. Now our slayer can go from preparing to slay humanoids to a full-on monster hunting role. I can picture her rolling into a village, having defeated kobold bandits on the road. She sits down in the tavern and as she’s taking off her boots a villager comes up to her and offers to pay her to deal with the dragon that the kobolds were worshiping. She looks at the dual-wielder and sighs; later that night she hauls her books out of her packs and starts researching dragons. “Aha,” she says “they have a weak spot under their wishbone. Fascinating.”, and lights another candle. The dual-wielder grunts from his side of the room and pulls the covers up over his head, trying to get some rest before their quest tomorrow.

3rd Level

At 3rd level we pick up toughness. The slayer goes toe-to-toe with too many monsters to scrimp on hit points.

4th Level

At 4th level we take the way of evil bastards adventurer feat. Wither or not this character is evil, dark forces have certainly noticed her.

5th Level

This is our first opportunity to get a champion feat and it goes straight away on increasing the damage on our smite attack, which is becoming this character’s signature finishing move.

6th Level

At 6th level we get some new talents. Tis character has been fighting scary monsters, and winning— sounds like the fearless talent to me. Now not only is she immune to fear but she is an expert in fighting alone and exploiting the over-confidence of her enemies (especially those who expect her to be afraid).

Our ranger talent is lethal hunter. When the slayer sets her sights upon an enemy, they had best run! Her crit range against her lethal hunter target is 18+, and due to the favored enemy champion feat that we’re getting this level if she’s had a chance to hit the books the night beforehand then her crit range is 15+ against her lethal hunter target!

Maybe she’s inherited new books on monster hunting, or maybe she’s just got really good at extrapolating from her past experiences to guess how best to defeat her enemies.

7th Level

At 7th level we gain the way of evil bastards champion feat. Her signature Mighty Attack (paladin’s smite) is now really useful against mobs of mooks. When the slayer gets up and going she can really clear rooms.

8th Level

At 8th level the epic smite feat comes into play, giving us even more damage with her signature finishing move.

9th Level

At 9th level we get the first strike talent and the adventurer feat for it. Our crit range for basic ranger attacks is anywhere between 18+ and 12+ when our favored enemy, first strike, and lethal hunter talents come into play. Our slayer is probably only using her mighty attack against enemies that she is solo against. Her bonus to attacks with her basic attacks is +12 with a potential crit range of 12+, but her mighty attack has a potential +20 to attack with a huge amount of damage and half damage on a miss.

10th Level

At 10th level we finish our crit expansion project with a lethal hunter feat, now we potentially crit on an 11+. Our slayer’s once-(or-more)-per-battle melee attack is ultra-powerful, and our at-will attack has a chance of critting half of the time.

After one last grand world-changing adventure our slayer decides to retire to a small village in the mountains, where she will doubtlessly be sought out by young fighters who want to learn the techniques of her legendary fighting style. Eventually she’ll write of her experiences, and some lucky adventurer will inherit her book.

And because I can’t resist magic items…

Book of the Slayer (Recharge 16+)

This heavy book bound in dragon hide has been added to by many monster-hunters. The tome is full of illustrations, anatomical diagrams, and tips for monster hunting. Pick a monster (Green Dragons, Gnolls, Herzou, Fungaloids, etc) and research it in the book; the next time you face that monster your crit range against that specific monster expands by 1 until the end of the battle. You may only have one monster researched at a time, and you cannot perform research mid-battle.

Quirk: Can’t resist showing off scars from monster hunting.

Forgery ColourHave you ever noticed that having one really beautiful set of mechanics next to another really beautiful set of mechanics leads to lots and lots of friction and unforeseen attraction between them? It’s like the set of a CW show up in this Pelgrane design space, sometimes.

Here’s how to take the wonderful Relationship rules from 13th Age (pp. 35-37, 179-183) and use them to add still more behind-the-scenes action and maneuvering to your Night’s Black Agents game.

Relationship Points

At the beginning of the game, each player may spend up to 3 build points (total) on Relationships with … not Icons, exactly, but mighty powers with their own agenda and overweening ego. You know, like the CIA. The Relationships need to be with entities capable of operating at a distance most places in the world, and capable of low-profile, high-power maneuvering: intelligence agencies, multinationals, major NGOs, the Vatican, non-vampire conspiracies, etc. (All right, Icons it is.) All Icons are Ambiguous or Villainous, except in Stakes-mode games, where agencies of the good guys (defined however) can be Heroic. Likewise, the game group’s politics likely determines which are which.

You can put all 3 points in one Relationship, split them up, whatever. (In Mirror mode, you can save them to be “revealed” later.) You then characterize each Relationship, as in 13th Age, as Positive, Conflicted, or Negative. So you might have: CIA (Positive) 1, Mossad (Negative) 1, Royal Dutch Shell Oil 1 (Conflicted). This doesn’t outweigh your Network contacts (or any other spends) with individuals in those agencies; this is a “default” based on your dossier, past, and general rep with the Icon. But a Positive agency asset NPC might be open to Reassurance in a way a Negative agency operator wouldn’t.

Relationship build points come out of the General build point pool.

In Burn-mode games, no Icon Relationship can be Positive.

In Mirror-mode games, starting with a Positive Relationship gives that Icon 2 Trust points from your agent. Each time you get a 6 on a Relationship roll for that Icon, it gets 1 more Trust point from you.

Relationship Rolls

Just like in 13th Age, at the beginning of each session (or if the Director suspects this will introduce too much chaos, at the beginning of each operation), roll one die per Relationship point. 6s and 5s are just like it says in 13th Age: positive boons from the Relationship, or favors with strings very much attached.

However, in the darker world of espionage, you also need to look at 1s. Those mean someone will screw you over — maybe send a wet-worker after you, maybe just rat you out to the locals and raise your Heat (by +1 per 1 rolled), maybe anything the Director’s cruel heart can surmise. And yes, the Director can absolutely save up those 1s for a less propitious time. Who, exactly, is gunning for you depends on your Relationship: If it’s Negative, it’s the Icon or one of its cut-outs; if Conflicted, it might just be extra Heat or unwanted interference; if it’s Positive, it’s not the Icon but its enemies who are griefing you — your CIA (Positive) earns you the enmity of the Chinese MSS or al-Qaeda. (And vice-versa for 6s from Negative Relationships, of course.)

If your Relationship is part of (or has been infiltrated by) the Conspiracy — if, in our example above, Shell Oil is vampire-riddled — that should get some story juice (blood) flowing for sure. Clever players may even be able to guess at such vampiric subversion when a few too many of their Shell favors come with a side of Renfield attacks.

Relationship Spends

You can also spend Relationship points as a dedicated Investigative ability pool for finding things out involving that Icon. You can also spend 1 Relationship pool point to get a +2 on a related General test; e.g., spending 1 pool point of FSB for +2 on an Infiltration test to break into an FSB facility, or on a Surveillance test to shed FSB watchers. Relationship pool points refresh like Investigative pool points, at the end of an operation.

You can also spend Relationship pool points (1 for only +1) on Network contact tests if the contact is either part of that Icon or actively opposing the Icon in that test.

Relationship rolls are based on ratings, not pools, so “spending yourself invisible” is impossible.

Relationship Shifts

While at Heat 6+ your Relationship automatically shifts to Conflicted or stays Negative; it shifts back one session after the Heat dies back down.

The Director may also shift your Relationship negatively if she senses you’ve abused it too much; conversely, she may just have the Icon demand a favor right now at the most inconvenient possible time in order to “balance the books.”

If you are the sort of teacher’s pet agents who go around doing favors for globally powerful entities (or if in a Stakes-mode game you do something unimpeachably heroic) you might be able to shift a Relationship from Conflicted to Positive. Only in the sunniest possible game can you shift a Negative Relationship to Conflicted, much less to Positive.

We found the shark man washed up on the shore, north of the spot where the Old Wall reaches the sea. The others, eager as always to declare themselves free from the constraints of mercy, would not aid him. I gave him a share of my meager catch and went hungry myself. He ate sparingly; a few hours later he rallied enough to speak. Cursed as I am to question and chronicle, I asked him of life beneath the waves. These are the words, as I marked them down.

“Though I thank you for the food, you should know that I am dreaming now. This waterless surface world, though you might believe it to be real, is but a place we go in nightmares, when the waters grow turbid and sleep eludes us.”

Surely this could not be true, I told him. The might of our 13 icons surely intrudes below the waves, undeniably affecting the lives of air- and water-breathers alike. Yet deny it the shark-man did:

“Your supposed icons are but strange reflections of the 13 true icons, who rule the lightless depths,” he said.

“First among them is the Shark Mother, queen and progenitor of my people, who keeps the waves safe for our hunting and slakes our ceaseless hunger.

“Our greatest enemy is the Lizard King, potentate of the accursed reptile men, who dare to compete with us for cruelty.

“Others, like the Colony, neither oppose our aims or force us to oppose them. The Colony rises from the ocean floor, a vast complex of colorful spires, always building and creating.

“The Vent sends lava and dust into the seas from its deepest trench. She keeps the demons from draining the waters of life-giving air.

“Her daughter, the restless Crab, scours the world for stray demons, yet eats many others in her compulsive quest to clean it all.

“Opposing her is the Shell-Borer and its many drilling minions, who pierce through shells and armor and seek to split the Vent for good.

“The Mermaid rules the sunken cities of men who once breathed air, but now swim with the tails of fishes. Her people fear us, though they are not so good to eat as they assume.

“Kelp Woman protects the vegetation, and the things that are neither plant nor animal. This is good, for without her bounty, the things we eat could not maintain their numbers.

“The Phantom imposes a semblance of order on the revenants of sunken sailors. Some of you dreamlings call him Davy Jones, though I don’t know why.

“Many-Arms waits for us to falter, so that his formless servitors may take our hunting grounds. We fear only the largest of them.

“The Collector fills a palace with the messages from the distant gods, imprinted on the surfaces and mottles of shells. In them he reads omens, from which his ever-changing doctrines grow.

“Sharpjaw aids the weak and darting creatures. Beneath his japes and jests lies deadly intent. Feel the currents and sense his presence.

“Of Leviathan I will not speak. To name him is to summon him, and his wrath is a mountain.”

My companions, who fate had rendered impecunious, chose to take the shark man inland in hopes of selling him to an Imperial official. A few days into the journey his skin dried out, and he piteously died.

Because I breathe air and not water, I have never managed to confirm the truth or fancy of his account. Yet chronicle I must.

13th Age answers the question, “What if Rob Heinsoo and Jonathan Tweet, lead designers of the 3rd and 4th editions of the World’s Oldest RPG, had free rein to make the d20-rolling game they most wanted to play?” Create truly unique characters with rich backgrounds, prepare adventures in minutes, easily build your own custom monsters, and enjoy fast, freewheeling battles full of unexpected twists. Purchase 13th Age in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

GenCon logo_websiteComing to you live…

Well, obviously not live live – while I may be writing this from a hotel room in Indianapolis, it won’t be up on the Pelgrane site for a week. And for that matter, I’m hardly alive either, after the arguably best but very definitely longest four days in gaming.

Let us start again. That seems to be a wise move.

I ran two or three 13th Age demos each day of GenCon, using pregenerated characters that had basic mechanics but no Icon, backgrounds or OUTs, and a very simple intro scenario that can be summarised as “something bad is happening in Glitterhaegen that is neatly resolved in an hour with two quick fight scenes and a skill roll”. While all the demos (bar one) followed that basic story, bringing in elements from the players’ contributions meant every game felt radically different.

I’ll use the last demo I ran, late on the Sunday afternoon as an example. Even though five people had signed up, only one actually showed (every other demo had between three and six players) – a lovely chap named Edgar, and I hope he doesn’t mind being used in this article. With only one player, Edgar asked for a halfling rogue pregen, so after running through the basic mechanics, we started on what makes 13th Age different from other F20 games and such a joy to run.

I gave all the demo characters a 1-point Positive relationship with the Emperor, mainly so I could use “you’re all working for the Emperor” as a fallback story if nothing else suggested itself. I then showed Edgar the full list of Icons, and asked him to pick one more.

Negative with the Elf Queen, says he, picking an unexpected Icon relationship. I asked him to go into a little more detail on this, and he describes how he was the only thief to successfully steal from the Queen’s court, coming up with his One Unique Thing at the same time.

I told him to leave Backgrounds blank for now – in a one-shot demo, or even in a campaign for that matter, it’s often more fun to fill in backgrounds when they’re needed in play. As there was only one player, I added a GMPC, a half-elf paladin of the Crusader (OUT: On Fire).

I had three different variations of my simple little plot based around three different Icons – a soul-stealing merchant for the Diabolist, a grave-robbing necromancer for the Lich King, and a pirate plotting to take advantage of an impending Orc Lord attack. I could have just said “because you’re servants of the Emperor, you’re called upon to help Glitterhaegen” and introduced any of the three variations or used my GMPC paladin’s Crusader relationship to bring the PCs in to investigate the soul thief, but instead I changed ‘Orc Lord invasion’ to ‘demonic elves out of the Bitterwood’ and brought in Edgar’s antipathy towards the Elf Queen. I always try to tie plots to the player characters; even if the connection is a bit tenuous, it’s worth it to be able to go “because of this thing about you, in particular, you’re involved in this adventure.”

Next, we rolled Icon relationships; Edgar’s Emperor came up with a 6, and I gave him a belt of the city (from the Book of Loot) to help with the investigation.

Actual play time! I described how the city was under threat of invasion by dangerous, isolationist elves who considered humans to be usurpers. While the Imperial Legion manned the walls, there were rumours of elven commando units sneaking into the city, and traitors were said to be in league with the elves. The PCs had traced one such traitor to the grand bazaar, a huge, crowded open-air market in Glitterhaegen.

I planned to set my first fight scene in the market. My original notes called for an attack by a band of illusory orcs, but I could use disguised elves just as easily. I then asked Edgar a few questions about the market.

  • The grand bazaar’s dominated by a structure or monument of some sort. What is it?”
  • “Something’s happening in the market that’s going to make your investigation harder – what is it?”

By asking these questions after I’d set the initial parameters of the scene, I gave Edgar control over specific details of the scene while retaining overall control. No matter what he came up with, I could still use my attacking elves. It gave him a sense of engagement with the setting, which is great. It also forced me to stay awake and keep thinking on my feet – setting up situations where the GM gets surprised is super valuable, especially when you’re running a bunch of convention demos in a row. If there’s no challenge for the GM, it gets boring and the players pick up on that boredom. Finding tools to keep your own energy and enthusiasm up is a good habit for a GM to cultivate.

I deliberately didn’t ask open-ended questions, like “where do you find the traitor?” Some players freeze when given that much freedom of choice – for that matter, I wouldn’t be completely confident about my ability to improvise a scene that would still work within the constraints of a demo if the player came up with something completely unexpected (“I find the traitor in a dragon’s lair under the city!”).

Edgar proposed a giant statue of a former admiral, blowing a horn, and a street preacher, both of which worked perfectly with my intended plot. I decided that the street preacher was the traitor in disguise, trying to convince people to abandon Glitterhaegen and flee on the waiting ships – which his pirate fleet would then capture and despoil. The giant statue was a great image and focal point for the fight. (Previous demos gave answers like “a huge crystal gazebo”, “a temple to Mammon”, or “an elven graveyard” and “a children’s festival” or “a funeral procession”).

Edgar’s halfling went off to listen to the preacher, so I got to ambush him with my fake demon elves who attacked the gathered crowds. Cue a quick fight scene. I used the orc stats I’d prepared earlier for my elves instead, hastily reskinning them. If any of them had critted, I’d have described their expanded-crit-range ability as a blast of magical hellfire or something suitably infernal.

Afterwards, I didn’t bother to make him to roll to see if his rogue noticed that these elves were common wood elves, not the fabled demon elves that threatened to attack Glitterhaegen. Instead, GUMSHOE-style, I just told him that because of his experience in the elven court (his OUT of “I stole from the Elf Queen”), he recognised these elves for what they were, and he quickly deduced that they were deliberately trying to whip up terror and dismay in the city. The flipside of the ‘fail forward’ principle is that if failure is boring, don’t ask for a roll. He quickly deduced that the elves and the street preacher were in league, and scampered up the statue to confront the traitor.

Instead of attacking, he launched into his own speech, rebutting the traitor’s tales of gloom and doom. I asked Edgar to roll, and he decided to create a background on the spot to give him a bonus. He was, he announced, the former mayor of a Halfling town, and so was experienced in public speaking. Defining backgrounds in play often generates surprising juxtapositions like that – if I’d insisted that he fill in all his backgrounds during the brief character creation phase at the start of the demo instead of leaving them blank, he’d probably have gone for something like “burglar” or “forester” to fit in with his One Unique Thing of having stolen from the Elf Queen, not “ex-mayor”.

Between his not-bad Charisma, his belt of the city, his background and a good roll, Edgar’s Halfling convinced the people of Glitterhaegen to rally to the defence of the city instead of fleeing on board the waiting ships. The frustrated preacher revealed himself to be the treacherous pirate, dropping his act and acquiring an outrageous accent – YARR! – in the process. While my original notes called for the player characters to encounter the traitor on board a ship, a swashbuckling fight on the shoulders and head of a giant statue worked just as well.

Fight scene, players win, demo ends. Huzzah!

One could argue – and in certain moods, I’d agree with this – that 13th Age is a game of two halves. There’s the relatively detailed and balanced combat engine, and the considerably looser and fuzzier story-generating mash of backgrounds, Icons and OUTs. Certainly, in a simple 45-minute demo like this one, I was able to use that divide to my advantage by warping the mutable story-side elements around the player’s choices and answers, while leaving the mechanical side unchanged.

Interestingly, one of the take-aways from the 13th Age adventure design panel seminar was that people preferred using adventures for inspiration and pre-prepared encounters to use in their own games instead of running the adventures as written in the book. While we’re unlikely to go so far as to publish a book that’s half stats, half fuzzy ideas on how to put those stats into context, that flexibility is one strength of 13th Age that we’ll build on as we look towards GenCon 2015.



Gen Con is almost here, and we have some great seminars lined up. Pelgrane Press has also submitted a GUMSHOE panel as well as an overall Pelgrane Press panel, and we hope to see those go live soon.

13th Age Adventure Design
Date & Time: Thursday at 1:00 PM
Duration: 1 hours
Location: Crowne Plaza : Pennsylvania Stn C
The freeform story rules in 13th Age require a different approach to adventure design. Rob Heinsoo, Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan, Philippe-Antoine Ménard and ASH LAW will talk about how to design with icons, backgrounds, uniques and more, and answer your questions.

13th Age GM Roundtable
Date & Time: Friday at 3:00 PM
Duration: 1 hours
Location: Crowne Plaza: Grand Central D
Rob Heinsoo, Mike Shea, Ruth Tillman and Wade Rockett share their advice on how to run 13th Age, from handling icon rolls to collaborative world building and beyond. Got questions? Bring ‘em!

13th Age: Year One
Date & Time: Saturday at 3:00 PM
Duration: 1 hours
Location: Crowne Plaza: Victoria Stn A/B
13th Age debuted one year ago at Gen Con! Join Rob Heinsoo, Simon Rogers and Wade Rockett as they talk about where the game is now, share what’s coming next and answer your burning questions.

13th Age Monster Workshop
Date & Time: Sunday at 2:00 PM
Duration: 1 hours
Location: Crowne Plaza: Pennsylvania Stn C
Join Rob Heinsoo, Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan and ASH LAW as they build a new monster that’ll take advantage of the game’s mechanics to deliver all sorts of nasty surprises at the table.

Pelgrane Press has received 15 nominations in 11 categories for 9 products in this year’s ENnie awards, in a field festooned with stellar games and publishers. And this year, 13th Age is up for Best Game, Best Rules, and Product of the Year.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE. Midgard Bestiary: 13th Age Compatible Edition from Kobold Press (designed by ASH LAW and edited by me) is nominated forBest Monster/Adversary.

There are so many great RPGs in the running this year that it’s hard to go wrong. But if you honor us with your vote, we’d be incredibly grateful.

(And hey, check out the free ENnies Sampler 2014 that Pelgrane posted on DriveThruRPG, with excerpts from each nominated book and music from the two nominated game soundtrack albums.)

Black DragonOver on the very active Google+ 13th Age community, Sean Dunstan has pulled together a complete list of monsters from the core 13th Age rulebook, the 13th Age Bestiary and 13 True Ways. John Clayton has kindly reproduced that here in table format; you can also download it as a zipped Excel spreadsheet on the 13th Age Resources page.


Level Monster Size Role Type Book Page #
0 giant ant normal troop beast Core 206
0 kobold grand wizard normal mook humanoid Bestiary 123
0 squib swarm normal mook beast Bestiary 179
0 stirge normal troop beast Bestiary 197
0 stirgelings normal mook beast Bestiary 197
1 archer stirge normal archer beast Bestiary 197
1 cobbler stirge normal blocker beast Bestiary 197
1 decrepit skeleton normal mook undead Core 246
1 dire rat normal mook beast Core 206
1 ettercap acolyte normal mook humanoid Bestiary 73
1 fungaloid creeper normal troop plant Bestiary 83
1 giant scorpion normal wrecker beast Core 206
1 goblin grunt normal troop humanoid Core 229
1 goblin scum normal mook humanoid Core 229
1 gravemeat normal mook undead Bestiary 97
1 human thug normal troop humanoid Core 235
1 kobold archer normal mook humanoid Core 237
1 kobold warrior normal troop humanoid Core 237
1 orc warrior normal troop humanoid Core 242
1 skeletal hound normal blocker undead Core 246
1 skeleton archer normal archer undead Core 246
1 swarm of bats normal spoiler beast Bestiary 13
1 watch skull normal troop undead Bestiary 109
1 white dragon hatchling normal troop dragon Bestiary 219
1 wibble normal mook construct Bestiary 223
1 wolf normal troop beast Core 207
1 zombie shuffler normal mook undead Core 251
2 aerial spore normal mook plant Bestiary 83
2 ankheg large troop beast Core 208
2 avenging orb normal caster humanoid Bestiary 204
2 bat cavalry large wrecker beast/humanoid Bestiary 14
2 bear normal troop beast Core 207
2 boombug normal troop beast Bestiary 113
2 bugbear scout double-strength troop humanoid Bestiary 24
2 claw flower normal spoiler plant Bestiary 161
2 destroying sword normal wrecker humanoid Bestiary 204
2 dire bat normal troop beast Bestiary 14
2 enduring shield normal blocker humanoid Bestiary 204
2 ettercap hunter normal blocker humanoid Bestiary 73
2 feral warbanner double-strength caster construct Bestiary 207
2 giant web spider large blocker beast Core 207
2 goblin shaman normal caster humanoid Core 229
2 hellwasp normal spoiler beast Bestiary 113
2 hobgoblin warrior normal troop humanoid Core 230
2 hook scuttler normal blocker beast Bestiary 113
2 human rabble normal mook humanoid Bestiary 208
2 human zombie normal troop undead Core 251
2 hunting spider normal wrecker beast Core 206
2 kobold hero normal leader humanoid Core 237
2 kobold skyclaw normal mook humanoid Bestiary 124
2 lizardman savage normal wrecker humanoid Core 237
2 medium brass dragon normal troop dragon 13 True Ways 184
2 medium white dragon normal troop dragon Core 218
2 newly-risen ghoul normal mook undead Core 225
2 orc archer normal archer humanoid Bestiary 156
2 orc berserker normal troop humanoid Core 242
2 orc shaman normal leader humanoid Core 242
2 pit-spawn orc double-strength mook humanoid Bestiary 156
2 razor shark normal mook beast Bestiary 187
2 sahuagin raider normal troop humanoid Bestiary 187
2 skeleton warrior normal troop undead Core 246
2 skin devil normal troop devil 13 True Ways 168
2 splotchcap normal archer humanoid Bestiary 175
2 sporrior normal wrecker plant Bestiary 84
2 swarming maw normal wrecker beast Bestiary 113
2 trog normal spoiler humanoid Core 247
2 wererat normal troop beast 13 True Ways 205
2 zombie beast large troop undead 13 True Ways 207
3 barbellite normal troop beast Bestiary 179
3 blue sorcerer normal caster humanoid Bestiary 21
3 braincap double-strength wrecker plant Bestiary 84
3 bugbear normal troop humanoid Core 230
3 bugbear schemer normal leader humanoid Bestiary 25
3 catacomb dragon large wrecker dragon Bestiary 17
3 cave orc normal mook humanoid Bestiary 156
3 cenotaph dragon normal troop dragon Bestiary 219
3 Crusader warbanner double-strength caster construct Bestiary 208
3 dawn zorigami normal spoiler construct Bestiary 225
3 death-plague orc large spoiler humanoid Bestiary 158
3 dire wolf large troop beast Core 207
3 dretch normal mook demon Core 210
3 drow spider-mage normal caster humanoid Bestiary 58
3 ettercap supplicant normal caster humanoid Bestiary 73
3 ettercap warrior normal blocker humanoid Bestiary 74
3 fire bat normal mook beast 13 True Ways 162
3 fungaloid drudge normal troop plant Bestiary 84
3 ghoul normal spoiler humanoid Core 225
3 gnoll ranger normal archer humanoid Core 229
3 gnoll savage normal troop humanoid Core 228
3 goblin bat mage normal spoiler beast/humanoid Bestiary 14
3 hell hound normal wrecker beast Core 234
3 hungry star normal wrecker aberration Core 235
3 imp normal spoiler demon Core 210
3 intellect devourer normal spoiler aberration Bestiary 116
3 kobold dog rider normal troop humanoid Bestiary 124
3 kobold engineer normal leader humanoid Bestiary 124
3 large brass dragon large troop dragon 13 True Ways 184
3 lemure normal mook devil 13 True Ways 169
3 magma brute normal wrecker construct 13 True Ways 163
3 medium black dragon normal wrecker dragon Core 218
3 medium bronze dragon normal wrecker dragon 13 True Ways 184
3 ochre jelly large wrecker ooze Core 241
3 ogre large troop giant Core 240
3 ogre penitent large blocker giant Bestiary 149
3 orc battle screamer normal leader humanoid Bestiary 157
3 Orc Lord warbanner double-strength caster construct Bestiary 209
3 orc tusker normal troop humanoid Bestiary 157
3 otyugh large blocker aberration Core 243
3 pixie pod double-strength leader plant Bestiary 161
3 pixie warrior normal spoiler humanoid 13 True Ways 198
3 poddling normal mook plant Bestiary 161
3 redcap normal wrecker humanoid Bestiary 175
3 rust monster normal spoiler aberration Bestiary 184
3 slime skull normal spoiler undead Bestiary 109
3 small air elemental normal wrecker elemental 13 True Ways 189
3 small earth elemental normal troop elemental 13 True Ways 189
3 small fire elemental normal troop elemental 13 True Ways 189
3 small water elemental normal blocker elemental 13 True Ways 189
3 spinneret doxy normal spoiler humanoid Bestiary 120
3 trog chanter normal leader humanoid Core 247
3 weaver swarm normal mook beast Bestiary 61
3 werewolf normal troop beast 13 True Ways 205
4 awakened trees normal mook plant 13 True Ways 202
4 azer soldier normal troop dwarf 13 True Ways 162
4 barbarous bugbear normal wrecker humanoid Bestiary 25
4 basilisk large wrecker beast Bestiary 10
4 Blackamber skeletal legionnaire normal troop undead Core 246
4 cambion dirk normal mook demon Bestiary 31
4 centaur lancer normal troop humanoid Bestiary 35
4 chaos beast normal troop aberration Bestiary 39
4 chaos behemoth huge spoiler aberration Bestiary 40
4 chaos brute large wrecker aberration Bestiary 39
4 chaos glorp normal mook aberration Bestiary 39
4 chuulish slave normal troop aberration Bestiary 51
4 demonic ogre large spoiler giant Bestiary 149
4 derro maniac normal troop humanoid Core 216
4 derro sage normal caster humanoid Core 216
4 despoiler normal caster demon Core 210
4 dire bear large troop beast Core 207
4 drow soldier normal mook humanoid Bestiary 58
4 elder spore normal mook plant Bestiary 85
4 ettercap keeper normal leader humanoid Bestiary 74
4 flesh golem large blocker construct Core 231
4 fungaloid empress huge wrecker plant Bestiary 85
4 fungaloid monarch double-strength leader plant Bestiary 84
4 gelatinous tetrahedron huge blocker ooze Bestiary 88
4 ghoul fleshwripper normal wrecker undead Bestiary 97
4 ghoul licklash normal blocker undead Bestiary 97
4 ghoul pusbuster normal spoiler undead Bestiary 97
4 gnoll war leader normal leader humanoid Core 229
4 half-orc legionnaire normal troop humanoid Core 233
4 harpy normal spoiler humanoid Core 234
4 hell imp normal spoiler devil 13 True Ways 170
4 hobgoblin captain normal leader humanoid Core 230
4 honey devil (slime devil) normal troop devil 13 True Ways 171
4 huge brass dragon huge troop dragon 13 True Ways 185
4 jest bones normal spoiler undead Bestiary 109
4 kobold bravescale normal blocker humanoid Bestiary 125
4 kobold dungeon-shaman double-strength caster humanoid Bestiary 125
4 kobold shadow-warrior normal mook humanoid Bestiary 125
4 large white dragon large troop dragon Core 218
4 lethal lothario normal leader humanoid Bestiary 121
4 lich baroness normal spoiler undead Bestiary 135
4 Lich King warbanner double-strength caster construct Bestiary 210
4 medium copper dragon normal spoiler dragon 13 True Ways 185
4 medium green dragon normal spoiler dragon Core 219
4 minotaur large troop humanoid Core 239
4 ogre berserker large wrecker giant Bestiary 149
4 ogre crusader large troop giant Bestiary 150
4 owl bear large wrecker beast Core 243
4 ravenous cannibal normal mook humanoid Bestiary 212
4 screaming skull normal troop undead Bestiary 110
4 troll large troop giant Core 248
4 wereboar double-strength troop beast 13 True Ways 205
4 wight normal spoiler undead Core 249
4 woven normal mook humanoid Bestiary 121
4 zombie of the silver rose normal mook undead 13 True Ways 207
5 air elemental normal wrecker elemental 13 True Ways 190
5 binding bride normal spoiler humanoid Bestiary 121
5 bulette large wrecker beast Core 208
5 cambion sickle normal troop demon Bestiary 31
5 centaur raider normal wrecker humanoid Bestiary 35
5 common treant normal spoiler plant 13 True Ways 202
5 demon-touched human ranger normal archer humanoid Core 235
5 dire boar large troop beast 13 True Ways 160
5 drow sword maiden normal troop humanoid Bestiary 58
5 earth elemental normal blocker elemental 13 True Ways 190
5 ettin large troop giant Core 224
5 fire elemental normal wrecker elemental 13 True Ways 190
5 flaming skull normal caster undead Bestiary 110
5 frenzy demon normal wrecker demon Core 211
5 gargoyle normal troop construct Core 224
5 gelatinous cubahedron huge blocker ooze Bestiary 89
5 gelatinous cube huge blocker ooze Core 241
5 ghast normal wrecker undead Bestiary 98
5 gorge dragon large spoiler dragon Bestiary 17
5 green bulette large wrecker beast Bestiary 27
5 half-orc tribal champion normal wrecker humanoid Core 233
5 hobgoblin warmage normal caster humanoid Core 230
5 huge white dragon huge troop dragon Core 219
5 hydra, 5 heads huge wrecker beast Core 236
5 Iron Sea shark double-strength mook beast Bestiary 188
5 kobold dragon-soul normal troop humanoid Bestiary 125
5 lumberland dirt-fisher huge wrecker beast Bestiary 28
5 manticore bard large caster beast Bestiary 139
5 mantikumhar large spoiler beast Bestiary 139
5 mausoleum dragon large troop dragon Bestiary 219
5 medium blue dragon normal caster dragon Core 219
5 ogre champion large wrecker giant Bestiary 150
5 ravenous bumoorah normal wrecker beast Bestiary 28
5 rust monster obliterator normal spoiler demon Bestiary 184
5 sahuagin normal wrecker humanoid Core 245
5 sahuagin glow priest normal caster humanoid Bestiary 188
5 smoke devil normal troop devil 13 True Ways 172
5 swarm prince normal spoiler humanoid Bestiary 121
5 swaysong naga large leader beast Bestiary 143
5 thunder bat normal archer beast Bestiary 15
5 warped beast normal wrecker aberration Bestiary 70
5 water elemental normal blocker elemental 13 True Ways 190
5 wendigo spirit large wrecker undead Bestiary 212
5 werebear large troop beast 13 True Ways 206
5 whispering prophet normal leader aberration Bestiary 216
5 wraith normal spoiler undead Core 250
5 wyvern large wrecker beast Core 250
6 apex zorigami normal spoiler construct Bestiary 225
6 bat demon (squishy) normal mook demon 13 True Ways 164
6 bearded devil (barbazu) large blocker devil 13 True Ways 173
6 blizzard dragon large wrecker dragon Bestiary 220
6 blood rose double-strength wrecker undead 13 True Ways 195
6 cambion katar normal wrecker demon Bestiary 31
6 centaur champion double-strength leader humanoid Bestiary 36
6 centaur ranger normal archer humanoid Bestiary 35
6 chuul large spoiler aberration Bestiary 47
6 chuulish swarm normal troop aberration Bestiary 47
6 clay golem large spoiler construct Core 231
6 corpse dybbuk double-strength troop demon Bestiary 64
6 coursing manticore large spoiler beast Bestiary 140
6 crimsoncap normal spoiler humanoid Bestiary 175
6 death blossom double-strength caster undead 13 True Ways 194
6 dire tiger large troop beast 13 True Ways 160
6 drider large caster aberration Core 223
6 drow spider-sorceress normal caster humanoid Bestiary 59
6 frost-wurm large troop beast Bestiary 180
6 gelatinous octahedron huge blocker ooze Bestiary 89
6 hag normal spoiler humanoid Bestiary 105
6 hill giant large troop giant Core 225
6 ice zombie normal mook undead Bestiary 79
6 intellect assassin normal spoiler aberration Bestiary 118
6 jotun auroch huge mook beast Bestiary 78
6 large black dragon large wrecker dragon Core 220
6 large bronze dragon large wrecker dragon 13 True Ways 185
6 lich flower double-strength blocker undead 13 True Ways 194
6 lokkris normal mook beast Bestiary 61
6 manticore large archer beast Core 238
6 medium red dragon normal wrecker dragon Core 220
6 medium silver dragon normal spoiler dragon 13 True Ways 185
6 Medusa outlaw double-strength wrecker humanoid Core 238
6 ogre mage knight large wrecker giant Bestiary 152
6 parasitic dybbuk double-strength spoiler demon Bestiary 64
6 poison dandelion double-strength spoiler undead 13 True Ways 195
6 sahuagin mutant double-strength wrecker humanoid Bestiary 189
6 sparkscale naga large leader beast Bestiary 144
6 specter double-strength wrecker undead 13 True Ways 201
6 spider mount large troop beast Bestiary 60
6 vampire spawn normal spoiler undead Core 249
6 vrock normal spoiler demon Core 211
6 weretiger large troop beast 13 True Ways 206
6 winter beast large troop beast Bestiary 79
7 bergship raider large spoiler giant Bestiary 77
7 big air elemental normal wrecker elemental 13 True Ways 191
7 big earth elemental normal blocker elemental 13 True Ways 191
7 big fire elemental normal wrecker elemental 13 True Ways 191
7 big water elemental normal blocker elemental 13 True Ways 191
7 bronze golem large blocker construct Bestiary 100
7 cloud giant mage huge caster giant 13 True Ways 165
7 cloud giant thane huge wrecker giant 13 True Ways 165
7 crustycap normal wrecker humanoid Bestiary 176
7 devil of the fangs huge spoiler devil 13 True Ways 180
7 drow darkbolt normal archer humanoid Bestiary 59
7 ethereal dybbuk double-strength wrecker demon Bestiary 65
7 fallen lammasu large wrecker beast Bestiary 131
7 frost giant large spoiler giant Core 226
7 gelatinous dodecahedron huge blocker ooze Bestiary 90
7 gnoll fiendfletch normal archer humanoid 13 True Ways 196
7 gnoll shredder normal blocker humanoid 13 True Ways 196
7 hezrou large troop demon Core 212
7 hooded devil normal troop devil 13 True Ways 174
7 hydra, 7 heads huge wrecker beast Core 236
7 ice sorceress large caster giant Bestiary 77
7 lammasu warrior large troop beast Bestiary 131
7 large green dragon large spoiler dragon Core 220
7 manafang naga large leader beast Bestiary 144
7 medium gold dragon normal caster dragon 13 True Ways 186
7 moon dragon huge troop dragon Bestiary 220
7 ogre mage large caster giant Core 240
7 orc rager normal mook humanoid Core 242
7 phase spider large wrecker beast Core 244
7 umluppuk huge spoiler aberration Bestiary 69
7 void dragon huge caster dragon Bestiary 18
7 volcano dragon large wrecker dragon Bestiary 168
8 adult remorhaz large wrecker beast Bestiary 180
8 black skull normal caster undead Bestiary 110
8 cambion hellblade normal wrecker demon Bestiary 32
8 Carid, reseeded triple-strength troop plant 13 True Ways 254
8 couatl large spoiler beast Bestiary 52
8 elder swaysong naga normal leader beast Bestiary 144
8 fire giant large wrecker giant Core 227
8 frost giant adventurer large spoiler giant Bestiary 78
8 fury devil (erinyes) normal wrecker devil 13 True Ways 175
8 giant praying mantis large blocker beast 13 True Ways 161
8 glabrezou large caster demon Core 212
8 iconic chimera large wrecker beast Bestiary 42
8 lammasu wizard large spoiler beast Bestiary 132
8 large blue dragon large caster dragon Core 221
8 lich count double-strength spoiler undead Bestiary 135
8 marble golem large troop construct Bestiary 101
8 mummy double-strength wrecker undead 13 True Ways 197
8 ogre lightning mage large caster giant Bestiary 152
8 parasitic lightning beetle normal mook beast Bestiary 164
8 purple larvae normal mook beast Bestiary 165
8 purple worm huge wrecker beast Bestiary 164
8 rakshasa double-strength caster humanoid Core 245
8 shadow dragon large caster dragon Bestiary 193
8 shadow thief normal mook dragon Bestiary 193
8 stone giant large troop giant Core 226
8 stone golem large blocker ooze Core 232
9 black pudding huge wrecker ooze Core 241
9 bone devil (osyluth) large troop devil 13 True Ways 176
9 chimera large wrecker beast Core 209
9 deep bulette huge wrecker beast Bestiary 28
9 despoiler mage normal caster demon Core 213
9 djinn large spoiler giant Bestiary 93
9 dread specter triple-strength wrecker undead 13 True Ways 201
9 drow cavalry double-strength wrecker humanoid Bestiary 59
9 elder sparkscale naga normal leader beast Bestiary 145
9 elder wendigo huge spoiler demon Bestiary 212
9 empyrean dragon huge spoiler dragon Bestiary 18
9 epic air elemental normal wrecker elemental 13 True Ways 192
9 epic earth elemental normal blocker elemental 13 True Ways 192
9 epic fire elemental normal wrecker elemental 13 True Ways 193
9 epic water elemental normal blocker elemental 13 True Ways 193
9 fire giant warlord large leader giant Core 227
9 giant vrock large spoiler demon Core 214
9 headless zombie normal troop undead 13 True Ways 207
9 hoard spirit normal mook construct Bestiary 169
9 hoardsong dragon large spoiler dragon Bestiary 169
9 hooked demon normal mook demon Core 213
9 huge black dragon huge wrecker dragon Core 221
9 huge bronze dragon huge wrecker dragon 13 True Ways 186
9 lammasu priest large caster beast Bestiary 132
9 large copper dragon large spoiler dragon 13 True Ways 186
9 ogre minion large mook giant Bestiary 150
9 prismatic ogre mage large caster giant Bestiary 153
9 skull of the beast large wrecker undead Bestiary 110
9 soul flenser normal spoiler aberration 13 True Ways 199
9 the flensed normal mook aberration 13 True Ways 200
9 wraith bat normal mook undead Bestiary 15
10 barbed devil (hamatula) normal caster devil 13 True Ways 176
10 dusk zorigami normal wrecker construct Bestiary 225
10 efreet large wrecker giant Bestiary 93
10 elder manafang naga normal leader beast Bestiary 145
10 great fang cadre (orc) normal mook humanoid Core 242
10 iron golem large wrecker construct Core 232
10 large red dragon large wrecker dragon Core 222
10 large silver dragon large spoiler dragon 13 True Ways 187
10 massive mutant chuul huge wrecker aberration Bestiary 48
10 nalfeshnee large caster demon Core 214
10 river devil normal wrecker devil 13 True Ways 180
10 spawn of the master (vampire) normal mook undead Core 249
10 storm giant huge archer giant Core 228
10 treant titan large spoiler plant 13 True Ways 203
10 vampire normal spoiler undead Core 248
11 elder couatl large spoiler beast Bestiary 53
11 greathoard elder huge wrecker dragon Bestiary 170
11 huge copper dragon huge spoiler dragon 13 True Ways 187
11 huge green dragon huge spoiler dragon Core 222
11 ice devil (gelugon) normal leader devil 13 True Ways 177
11 large gold dragon large caster dragon 13 True Ways 187
11 medusa noble double-strength caster humanoid Core 239
11 remorhaz queen large wrecker beast Bestiary 180
12 ancient purple worm huge wrecker beast Bestiary 164
12 flamewreathed dragon huge spoiler dragon Bestiary 170
12 horned devil (conugon) large troop devil 13 True Ways 177
12 huge blue dragon huge caster dragon Core 222
12 lich prince double-strength spoiler undead Bestiary 136
12 marilith large troop demon Core 215
12 smoke minions normal mook construct Bestiary 171
13 balor large wrecker demon Core 215
13 Hagunemnon large wrecker aberration Bestiary 69
13 huge red dragon huge wrecker dragon Core 223
13 huge silver dragon huge spoiler dragon 13 True Ways 188
13 river devil minion normal mook devil 13 True Ways 181
13 the final devil huge leader devil 13 True Ways 181
14 huge gold dragon huge caster dragon 13 True Ways 188
14 pit fiend huge wrecker devil 13 True Ways 178
15 tarrasque huge wrecker beast Bestiary 201

01LootEven as I write this, the indefatigable Chris Huth toils into the Canadian night, putting the finishing touches to The Book of Loot, our upcoming compendium of new magic items for 13th Age. The book’s crammed full of wonderful treasures and potent creations of sorcery, along with several items that we ourselves call out as utterly unforgivable puns.

Not every item written made it into the book for one reason or another. Some were cut for thematic reasons, others for balance. Here’s one that fell early on, on grounds of complexity. It’s an Epic-tier item associated primarily with the Emperor icon.


Chessboard of the Ages: There is no mistaking this item; the board of onyx and marble, and the gold and ruby playing pieces are described in songs and sagas from previous ages. However, the pieces are subtly different each time – the pawns change to resemble the allies and enemies of the chessboard’s bearer, while the features of the Icons of the Age appear on the other pieces.

When you first take possession of the chessboard, the GM gives the role of your opponent to some rival, ongoing villain or even an enemy Icon (GM: roll relationship dice if you want). Usually, it’s the Lich King or Orc Lord. You have the opening move. Once per battle, you may ‘move’ by activating one of the chess pieces as a free action. Each piece has a different ability. You may use each ability once per piece (so, you can use the pawn power eight times total in your life, most of the other powers twice ever, and the king and queen powers once each). A piece disappears when used.

Unlike most magic items, the chessboard doesn’t have a recharge value. Once you use a power, you can’t activate any of the chess pieces again until your opponent takes a move (or until your opponent voluntarily forfeits the chance to use a power – see the King, below, for why that might be a good option)

The powers possessed by the chess pieces are:

  • Pawn: One nearby ally may take an extra standard action in their next turn or heal using a recovery as a free action.
  • Rook: Cast teleport (as the wizard spell) to travel to any stronghold or flee from a battle without incurring a campaign loss
  • Knight: Gain three paladin talents with all associated feats until the end of a battle or call a legendary hero to aid you for one battle
  • Bishop: Cast any one Divine spell of up to ninth level or automatically succeed at any one skill check, no matter the difficulty
  • Queen: Either copy the powers of any  other chess piece remaining on your board (other than the king) or sacrifice the queen to remove any one piece possessed by your opponent, other than the king.
  • King: You may only use the king’s power if you have at least twice as many pieces left as your opponent, and your opponent has suffered a significant defeat in the real world outside the chess game. When you use it, the chess game ends and the chessboard vanishes. However, your opponent is magically compelled to perform one task for you as a forfeit for losing the game. You may specify the task as you wish, and the opponent must obey.

Quirk: You share your opponent’s dreams while playing. 

I may be mad – no, I am mad – but I can count. Eight pieces for good, eight for evil, that makes sixteen. But they say there are but thirteen Icons in the Empire. Who are the other three? Or do some play both sides, like the treacherous harlots they are?

–        Erach, crazed preacher


13th Age answers the question, “What if Rob Heinsoo and Jonathan Tweet, lead designers of the 3rd and 4th editions of the World’s Oldest RPG, had free rein to make the d20-rolling game they most wanted to play?” Create truly unique characters with rich backgrounds, prepare adventures in minutes, easily build your own custom monsters, and enjoy fast, freewheeling battles full of unexpected twists. Purchase 13th Age in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.


Grr'OwlNow that the 13th Age Bestiary is about to ship, and design on 13 True Ways is finished, we can turn our attention back to other important things. Like announcing a contest winner!

We invited readers to submit captions for Rich Longmore’s great illustration of a bronze golem looming over an owlbear cub. We selected three finalists, which went to Rob Heinsoo for judging.

The winner of the Limited Edition 13th Age Bestiary:

Daniel Gallaher: “Mr. Snuggles Murderton! I’ve been looking all over for you!”

Runners up ($20 Pelgrane vouchers):

Jace Parker: “Perhaps a Clockwork Golem could learn to love. An Owlbear, however, will never learn to show mercy.”

Dennis Newcomb: “And what happened, then? Well, in Axis they say – that the Forgeborn’s small heart grew three sizes that day. And then – the true meaning of love came through, and the Forgeborn found the strength of ten Forgeborns, plus two!”

Daniel, Jace and Dennis, please email to claim your prizes.

Congrats to the winners, and thanks to everyone who sent in an entry!

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