ROB_tileThe Icon Riffs series offers inspiration for adventure design and improvisation at the table. The ideas presented aren’t numbered, because numbered lists imply a certain consistency between results. These lists are evocative rather than consistent.

They’re also not thorough. This isn’t an attempt to list all the things that could be associated with the icons. There are huge numbers of worthwhile connections already scattered through our books and through players’ and GM’s websites. Instead of cataloging existing ideas, these notes are a brainstorm touching on ideas we haven’t already presented in detail. Some ideas may feed into future products.

The Crusader

13th Age Crusader colorTemples where demons are destroyed permanently in rituals that siphon their power away to the Crusader’s gods; ‘airships’ powered by winds that blow only from hellhole to hellhole, so that the Crusader’s armies can float between hellholes when the ‘winds’ are right—or wrong, depending on what’s actually going on here; bridges built where bridges are most required that can be freely used by the populace, so long as everyone crossing provides their true name (lies are often detected) and their intentions for this travel.

Occasional ‘high cullings,’ in which the temples and worshippers of the weakest of the dark gods—at that time—are destroyed and sacrificed or driven away so that the strongest gods get stronger—and so that the strongest gods are careful to make sure they never become weak. Public-minded pension programs that provide additional assistance to widows and families of Imperial veterans, so long as those families send one daughter or son to join the Crusader’s armies; literacy initiatives that create generations of readers with an extremely dark vocabulary.

Knights or warriors in full plate who ride forth to accomplish their mission and then seem to freeze, and when someone finally dares to investigate the motionless armor, it’s empty—at least for now; likewise, walls and fortifications that appear to be patrolled by dozens or hundreds of warriors, but it’s difficult to say which armor is occupied and which is not, especially since the unoccupied armor sometimes moves.

Renamed holidays and festivals, so that every worthwhile celebration is named after a past or present general or mighty crusader, with new ‘traditions’ playing off the original traditions in ways that sometimes get adopted by people who otherwise oppose everything the Crusader stands for; unpredictable amnesties for crimes that do not support the Diabolist or (generally) damage the Emperor.

13th Age High Druid colorThe High Druid

Ancient magical stones that have been allowed to weather; holy stones that have not been carved upon but instead gradually grown into somehow organic shapes; menhirs sprouting living trees; plinths covered in flowers, in patterns that reveal problems in the forest.

Great monsters that break through the Sea Wall, but somehow subside and find a hole to burrow into deep within the Wild Wood; great subterranean creatures that more or less follow the Koru behemoths; great creatures never seen on the surface, that have occasionally been known to swallow an entire living dungeon; beasts that used to live in the Midland Sea but now sleep somewhere upriver, waiting for the day when the wizardry that tames the Midland Sea falls shattered; rangers or druids or monster killers or manipulative wizards who take it upon themselves to uncover and learn about the giant creatures that live just beyond the Empire.

Forests with canopies shorter than humans, cultivated or guarded by gnomes, pixies, or halflings; traveling human raft communities that convert to lake towns on pole houses when they reach their magically prepared seasonal moorings; human tribes who reincarnate into the local otter population and then back again into the human clans, so that the two groups have distantly understood kinships and fur hunting will get you killed either way; animals that talk to people but only at specific phases of the moon, which makes it the beasts’ equivalent of lycanthropy, a blessing to some and horrible disease to others.


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.

13thAgeAllianceOnWhiteDownload Battle of Axis and Race to Starport

Season Two of 13th Age organized play kicked off with Race to Starport, which features a bizarre and creepy new threat to the Dragon Empire. We’ve updated the Organized Play Google Doc to include download links to Race to Starport and The Battle of Axis, the grand finale to Season One.

Not a 13th Age Alliance GM yet? Sign up here.

If you’re a 13th Age Monthly subscriber, you can download Race to Starport from your order page. (RPGNow/DriveThruRPG/OneBookshelf subscriptions to 13th Age Monthly will include the new organized play adventures.)

The first three Season Two adventures will be available FREE to all 13th Age Alliance GMs and 13th Age Monthly subscribers. Which brings us to….

13th Age Monthly LogoSubscribe to 13th Age Monthly, Get All of Season Two

If you like Race to Starport,  subscribe to 13th Age Monthly and you’ll get ALL of Season Two as a free add-on—not just the first three adventures.

Plus you’ll get new 13th Age stuff every month, such as dragon riding mechanics, summoning spells for demons, elementals and archons, Jonathan Tweet’s 7-icon campaign, and much more.

Actual Play: Saving Throw Show

ST_GREY_blogheaderPeople often ask us for Actual Play podcasts or videos that spotlight what makes 13th Age distinctive. There are lots of great Actual Play shows out there, but if you’re not already familiar with 13th Age mechanics such as One Unique Thing, icon relationships, backgrounds and the escalation die, it can be hard to tell when those elements are in play.

Earlier this year, Saving Throw Show recorded a live streaming 13th Age session as part of their 24-Hour Marathon to End Alzheimer’s. It’s a good intro to the game because it starts with an overview of what makes 13th Age different from other F20 games, and those elements are explicitly called out during play. Watch here or embedded below:

The Forgotten Monk front cover_350A Man Without A Past

A novel of the 13th Age

Cipher is a monk: a master of the Deadly Arts, able to dismantle enemies using his bare hands. He is immune to lies, and can see volumes of information in the smallest detail.

Unfortunately, that’s all he knows. His real name, his history – all stolen by an unknown foe.

Without memory or purpose, Cipher can only follow his instinct to find bad people, and hit them until they stop doing bad things. Joining a crime-fighting cavalry unit in a remote corner of the Dragon Empire, he finds himself allied with a singing orc, an indecisive elf, and a flying carpet that doesn’t like heights. Together they’ll take on a crazy halfling death cultist, a love-maddened alchemist, a charming drunkard dog-thief, a blinded arch-demon in chains, and the bizarre Mantischorgoth.

The Forgotten Monk is high fantasy and high adventure, woven into a story of strong friendships, deadly hatreds, ingenious criminal mysteries and baffling affairs of the heart.

Download Chapter One in PDF format.

When you pre-order The Forgotten Monk, you get the EPUB, AZW3 and PDF version.

Stock #: SSP09 Author: Greg Stolze
Artist: Pat Loboyko Format: 288 page novel

Pre-order

13thAgeAllianceOnWhiteComing Soon

Keep watching the skies! Race to Starport, the first adventure in Season Two of 13th Age organized play, is coming in the next few days. Keep an eye out for the email—13th Age Monthly subscribers will be able to download it from their order page, and non-subscribers will receive a download link.

In this adventure the player characters discover a new threat, face strange beings banished to the stars in a previous age, and must race to stop a portal being created that will bring more monsters into the Dragon Empire.

Race to Starport is split into six two-hour sessions (for a total of 12 hours run time) and is designed for characters of levels 1 to 4. The accompanying Race to Starport Bestiary includes human bandits, new zombie types, cultists, and extradimensional horrors!

GM Perks

If you took our organized play survey a while back, and you live in North America, your gift is in the mail. We’re shipping the reward postcards now and you can expect to see them in the next 2-4 weeks (depending on location).

ROB_tileAn interviewer once asked us, “If someone has never played a tabletop RPG, why would 13th Age be a good game for them to try?”

Well, that interview never ran, so we’re going to share our answers here. We designed 13th Age for experienced GMs, but it can be a great entry point into the hobby for new players. Here’s why:

Jonathan: Number one: creativity. When new players try a tabletop RPG, they often get excited about the creativity and imagination that go into creating their characters. They’ll say things like, “I want to have a pet fire lizard like one from the Pern books,” or “I want to be a princess.” In other games, you can try to make these unusual features work somehow, but in 13th Age inventing unique traits for your character is built right into the rules. The system is flexible enough to accommodate oddball ideas without having to make them fit some pre-existing character template.

These days, computer games make it easy to create characters “by the book,” but only tabletop games really give you free-form, creative flexibility, and we really dialed up the creativity with 13th Age. A beginner will see right away that this isn’t just a computer game on paper.

Rob: The character’s “One Unique Thing” really goes over well with young players. “I’m the only person who can talk with birds,” said a 7-year old in a friend’s game. “I’m the Last of the Clockwork Knights,” said another friend’s 12-year old, who decided that 13th Age would be the first game his father would run for the family. Instead of telling new players, “No, that’s not what this game is about,” 13th Age starts with a half-designed world that asks players to help start the stories and background ideas that matter to them. The character who talks with birds ends up getting messages from the Game Master that couldn’t be delivered to anyone else. The clockwork knight turns out to be the last of the mechanical people we called forgeborn, but in this world they’re going to be called clockwork knights.

(Actually I’m not going to run games for beginners again without using the One Unique Thing, and I mean any game, not just 13th Age. To get new players seriously involved in a tabletop RPG quickly, check out our implementation of the One Unique Thing and apply it when you are running other games.)

Another great reason to start with 13th Age is that the game is grounded in the traditions of fantasy gaming and fantasy fiction. By providing players with the comfort of the familiar, along with various twists that inspire them to take things a step further, the game frees them to create exciting new stories.

A third reason to start with 13th Age is that we tried not to waste the reader’s time. Playing tabletop RPGs is the opposite of boring, but even some of the best RPGs have boring sections. If you take the time to read a page in 13th Age, we aimed to provide ideas, sentences, and small surprises that would make that time well spent. For examples of what I mean, look at the price list, the example of play, or the index. Even I feel silly saying that—who wants to look at those sections?  But we found ways to make even those pieces worthwhile.


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.

7 Icon Campaign front cover 350Start with a thought experiment: What would happen if we compressed the 13 icons into 7? Build on GM notes and player questionnaires from Jonathan’s 7-icon home campaign. Polish to a dangerous sheen with six new feats, spells, and talents inspired by the stories of the ‘new’ icons and usable in any 13th Age game.

7 Icon Campaign is the eighth installment of the 13th Age Monthly subscription. It will be available to buy in the webstore in August. When you subscribe to 13th Age Monthly, you will get all issues of the subscription to date.

 

Stock #: PEL13AM09D Author: Rob Heinsoo, Jonathan Tweet
Artist: Lee Moyer Type: PDF

Endzeitgeist reviewed the Book of Loot on their website, giving it 5 stars, the Seal of Approval, and nominating it for the Top Ten of 2015! You can read the full review here. Thanks Endzeitgeist! Endzeitgeist says,

Book_of_Loot_cover“This book, much like the superb Bestiary of 13th Age, is more inspired than I ever believed it to be possible – the 
Book of Loot was NOT a book I looked forward to reading and when I did, I was continuously and constantly blown away – so much so, that I have used A LOT of the items herein – in 13th Age, PFRPG, DCC – their playfulness and imaginative potential is downright genius and they bring back a sense of the unpredictable, of the MAGICAL.”

“Author Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan delivers an absolutely stunning assortment of items that breathe narrative potential, that inspire, that actually feel like they could spring straight from the pages of your favorite fantasy novels, with the vast majority of them being able to support a story all on their own – or even a campaign. Add to that the novice-friendly advice in the beginning and we have a book that is a little masterpiece – it constitutes one of the best magic item books I’ve read since 2nd edition and brings back defining characteristics of what magic items can be – more than a sum of endlessly recombined numbers, bonuses and parts, more than just a mathematical bonus-machinery. And yes, there are such items herein, but ultimately, even these have some sort of component that makes them transcend their system-dependency. I consider this book an excellent buy for all d20-based systems and as such, this book receives 5 stars + my seal of approval and status as a candidate of my Top Ten of 2015 – a capable GM who understands the mechanics of 13th Age and another system can easily convert them. GLORIOUS!”

 

Endzeitgeist reviewed the 13th Age Bestiary, and even gave it the Seal of Approval! Thanks Endzeitgeist! You can read the full review here. Endzeitgeist says,
Screenshot 2015-08-13 at 3.59.12 PM
“From modifications of escalation or relationship dice to truly unique options, some of the abilities herein are, no hyperbole, GENIUS. Take the redcap. Tried and true delightfully evil fey – we all know and love the iron-shodded menaces. Well, herein, they have taboo-words – even if you *think* them, they get power from it and may teleport et al., gaining potentially a nasty array of additional actions. Now how is this represented? When a PLAYER says the taboo word, the ability kicks in. Yes. This is pretty much brilliant and can provide quite a mind-blowing experience when handled with care. This is just ONE example out of a bunch of them. This book’s abilities OOZE creativity and will enrich ANY d20-based game I run for years to come.”

“Rob Heinsoo, Ryven Cedrylle, Kenneth Hite, Kevin Kulp, Ash Law, Cal Moore, Steve Townshend, Rob Watkins, Rob Wieland – congratulations. You have actually managed to craft the first “Bestiary I” since the days of second edition I liked to *read*, the first that inspired me. This book manages what neither monster manuals of 3rd or 4th edition or PFRPG’s bestiary-line has succeeded in doing – actually inspire me to use creatures, to craft adventures around them, to use them to make the world feel more alive. While a rare few 3pp bestiaries over the years manage this sense of wonder, it usually stems from clever mechanics or uncommon concepts, only rarely from actual narrative potential. Ultimately, this book, in spite of its “1st bestiary”-handicap, did all of that and more and makes me giddy with anticipation and hopeful we’ll see more far-out creatures in the level of detail as provided herein.”

I had Intentions of writing this post on the Monday of Gencon itself, when it was due. That’s the sort of stupid idea you have after six days of little sleep and absurd heat. Plus, we had a Pelgrane planning meeting, where we discussed awesome things to come, and how we’re going to celebrate the 10th anniversary of GUMSHOE.

Between panels and selling books, I ran a few demos, including another run-through of my toy 13th Age demo, Midnight in the Bazaar. I’ve run it at multiple cons, and it’s done yeoman service. The text of it is below, although in all those multitudinous demos at many cons, I’ve never played it quite as written. The trick to 13th Age demos is to grab the players’ One Unique Things and run with them.

For example, this year I had four wonderful players who came up with:

  • I’m the ambitious daughter of the Dwarf Lord (6th 3rd in line for the throne)
  • I’ve got Seven Evil Exes from my time studying at the Diabolist’s Academy
  • I’m always fashionably dressed, no matter what the situation
  • I’m a spy for the Blue Dragon (I may be misremembering this one, but the player definitely had a Positive Relationship with the Three).

(I may have also completely forgotten the line in the adventure where the PCs are all supposed to have a 1-point relationship with the Emperor. Sunday of Gencon – don’t stop there, it’s bat country.)

With that set, I dropped the initial hook entirely, and instead had the Dwarf noble attending a wedding at Glitterhaegen where the groom got kidnapped by some of the Seven Evil Exes, so the party had to chase after the kidnappers and rescue the poor fellow. The wedding covered the two “social” OUTs, and I just reskinned the Diabolist foes described below to match how the player described the Evil Exes. Pigeons from Hell, for example, became a breath weapon attack.

For Icon rolls, the only 5s and 6s were a double 6 for the Dwarf Lord and a 6 for the Three. I gave away a magic item for the Dwarf Lord roll – I don’t generally like giving items for Icon rolls, but it’s fine for a quick demo. I promised to work the Three benefit into the game, and had a fantastic opportunity to do so when one of the players described the Bazaar as being guarded by lizard men, so I was able to hint at a plot by the Black Dragon to infiltrate Glitterhaegen with his lizard mercenaries, and let the player spend that benefit to recruit some lizard men scouts to help him find the missing groom.

13th Age - The Three

Midnight in the Bazaar

A 45 minute (or less) 13th Age demo

The characters have finally tracked down the vile instigator of the evils that have befallen the city of Glitterhaegen. Now, they’re about to confront him in the great marketplace just as he puts his scheme into motion.

Character Creation

The pregenerated characters have their ability scores, attacks and spells pre-selected, as well as brief notes on how each power works. What they don’t have are:

  • Full Icon Relationships
  • Backgrounds
  • One Unique Things

For Icon Relationships, all the characters have a 1-point positive relationship with the Emperor – they’re a band of adventurers and troubleshooters with a good reputation.

Each player now chooses their remaining Icons. Use these as a guideline to pick the nature of the bad guy. If there’s a clear majority for one villain, then the bad guy works for him and uses the appropriate theming and mooks.

 

 

What’s Going On?

A mysterious foe has done something evil in the city. The nature of the threat depends on who the bad guy’s working for:

  • Lich King: There’s a necromancer in town, the Grey Rat, stirring up the catacombs and awakening the dead. The characters have spent weeks crawling through dungeons and hunting zombies. The necromancer seems to be concentrating on the tombs of the wealthy families.
    • The Grey Rat’s secretly interrogating the dead; he’s searching for the location of the fabled Bank of the Dead, a secret treasury managed by undead merchants who rise once a century to make long-term investments.
  • Orc Lord: An orc army approaches from the west, and there’s a Traitor in the city, trying to weaken Glitterhagen’s defences before the siege begins. Many have already fled the city.
    • The Traitor is secretly a pirate captain – by sparking panic, he’s forcing all the rich nobles to flee by ship, and his pirate armada’s going to sweep in and loot the laden refugee ships
  • Diabolist: The characters were hired to investigate a spate of possessions and strange events, and they’ve learned that the one thing all the victims had in common was that they bargained with a mysterious merchant – a Soul Broker – in the marketplace.
    • All those souls are going to get used in a ritual to invoke a demon of greed.

Now, the characters are on the verge of tracking down their foe in the Grand Bazaar.

Scene Setup

Ask a player who got a 5 or 6 on an Icon roll how their Icon ally helped them find the villain. (If no-one got an appropriate 5 or 6, then go for the most suitable background and ask the player how they tracked down the villain).

If you can, use the other 5s or 6s now – maybe hand out a +1 weapon or some other benefit. Put any outstanding 5s and 6s in front of the players and explain that they can use them in the game if they can think of something suitably cool.

Next, go around the table, focusing on players who didn’t get Icon benefits, and flesh the scene out with leading questions.

  • The Bazaar is a huge open-air market square. Lots of booths and tents. What’s the biggest landmark in the Bazaar?
  • How do you arrive in the Bazaar? Are you going for speed or stealth as you pursue your quarry?
  • Something’s happening in the Bazaar that’s going to be an obstacle. What is it?
  • The guard in the Bazaar are unusual in some way. How so?
  • You’ve got a bad feeling about this. What’s worrying you?

The villain’s somewhere in the Bazaar, moving through the crowds. The characters arrive and hunt for him, using whatever tools or clues they’ve established. After a few minutes’ hunting, they spot the villain approaching an ornate purple tent. As they move to stop him…

A Note On Timing

Intro, Character Setup, Basics – 15 minutes

Lead into first fight – 5 minutes

First fight – 15 minutes

Lead into second fight – 5 minutes

Second fight – 10 minutes

The Grey Rat (Lich King villain): The ground of the bazaar suddenly collapses. The old city catacombs run under the bazaar – they run under everywhere – and undead creatures swarm out. The Grey Rat scurries down into the catacombs. To get to him, the characters must fight through the skeletal horde.

Bazaar Fight

3 PCs 4 PCs 5 PCs 6 PCs
Skeleton Warriors 2 2 3 3
Decrepit Skeletons 5 10 10 15

Skeleton Warriors

2nd Level Troop [UNDEAD]

Initiative +8

Vulnerability: Holy

Spear +8 vs. AC – 6 damage

Resist Weapons 16+

 

AC16

PD 14 HP 26

MD 11

 

Decrepit Skeletons

1nd Level Mook [UNDEAD]

Initiative +6

Vulnerability: Holy

Spear +6 vs. AC – 3 damage

Resist Weapons 16+

AC 16

PD 14 HP 7 (mook)

MD 10

Once the undead are defeated (or bypassed), the characters can search the tent and find a map of the catacombs, clearly drawn by interrogating the dead. He’s pinpointed the location of the Bank of the Dead beneath the city. It’s located directly beneath the Well of Foresight, and there’s an old tradition that various trading houses throw copies of their annual reports down the well.

The characters then pursue the villain into the catacombs, following him to the vault of the Bank of the Dead. There are lots of coffins containing slumbering bank-liches, and lots of gold. The characters can either battle the villain and his Decrepit Skeleton horde, or else change the most recent financial reports to awaken the Dread Bankers.

Bank Fight

3 PCs 4 PCs 5 PCs 6 PCs
Grey Rat 1 1 1 1
Decrepit Skeletons 0 5 10 15

Grey Rat

2nd Level Triple-Strength Caster [Humanoid]

Initiative +7

Staff +7 vs AC – 15 damage

C: Death Curse +7 vs. PD (all nearby foes) – 7 damage, creates one Decrepit Skeleton per hit

Ratform (1/battle) – turn into a rat. Turns into a rat, avoiding one attack and disengaging.

AC 18

PD 12 HP 70

MD 16

The Traitor (Orc Lord villain): Suddenly, orcs emerge from the purple tent and start hacking and slashing. Most of the orcs are illusions, but there are a few orc warriors who are real and solid. The Traitor pops into the tent and flees through the sewers.

3 PCs 4 PCs 5 PCs 6 PCs
Orc Berserkers 2 2 3 3
Illusionary Orcs 5 10 10 15

Orc Berserkers

 

2nd Level Troop [Humanoid]

 

Initiative +5

 

Greataxe +7 vs. AC – 8 damage

Dangerous: Crit range increases by 3 unless staggered

AC 16

PD 15 HP 30

MD 13

 

Illusionary Orcs

1nd Level Mook [Illusion]

Initiative +3

 

Axe +6 vs. AC – 6 damage

Illusion: A partially damaged illusion is destroyed

AC16

PD14 HP7 (mook)

MD10

 

The orc attack starts a panic in the market. People hurry down to the docks towards the ships, and the great exodus begins. It’s clear that anyone who has a ship to go to is leaving the city.

The Traitor ran into a sewer entrance. Pursuing him through the sewers, the characters find their way to an exit on a waterside warehouse. There, they see a ship departing, its sails filled by a magical wind. The traitor’s standing at the tiller. The characters need to leap on board or otherwise stop the ship from leaving the harbor, or else the Traitor will send in his pirate fleet!

The Pirate Captain

2nd Level Triple-Strength Wrecker [Humanoid]

Initiative +8

Cutlass +7 vs AC (2 attacks) – 13 damage

Natural even hit: Swashbuckle! The captain moves, making the target vulnerable until they move to counter.

Miss: 6 damage

Ring of Illusion: When the captain is staggered, he adopts the illusion of one of the player characters.

AC 18

PD 16 HP 90

MD 12

The Soul Broker (Diabolist villain): The Soul Broker ducks into a strange curiosity shop down a side street – but when the characters try to follow him, the purple tent comes to life and attacks. Demonic imps pour of it, while the tent itself flails at them with viciously sharp tentpegs and whipping guy-ropes.

3 PCs 4 PCs 5 PCs 6 PCs
The Tent 1 1 1 1
Demon Imps 0 5 10 15

The Tent

2nd Level Triple-Strength Blocker [Construct]

Initiative +5

Ropes +7 vs. AC – 7 damage

Natural 16+: Target is grabbed

Engulf +7 vs. PD (grabbed targets only) – engulfed victim takes 10 ongoing damage

AC 18

PD 16 HP 90

MD 12

Demon Imps

1st level Mook [Demon]

Initiative +5

Claws +6 vs. AC – 4 damage

Mockery: If a character misses an attack on an imp, he takes 3 damage

AC 16

PD 11 HP 7 (mook)

MD 16

The curiosity shop is larger on the inside than on the outside, as the dimensions inside stretch absurdly. After blundering through aisles lined with strange things, the characters find their way onto the roof, where the Soul Broker’s engaged in a strange ritual with a flock of doves and a dozen glowing glass baubles. Each bauble contains a soul, and the broker argues that the rich nobles and spoiled brats whose souls he obtained had already damned themselves through greed. By incarnating them as birds, he’s giving them a chance to earn redemption – and the characters won’t stop him!

The characters must defeat the mad diabolist and his pigeons from hell.

Soul Broker

2nd Level Triple-Strength Caster [Humanoid]

Initiative +7

Staff +7 vs AC – 15 damage

C: Madness +7 vs. MD – 14 damage, and target is Confused (save ends)

Pigeons from Hell – free +7 vs AC attack on all nearby foes, 5 damage

AC 18

PD 12 HP 70

MD 16

ROB_tile

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.

 

 

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