This editorial originally appeared in the January issue of See Page XX as Trail of Cthulhu and 13th Age, and we want to make sure everyone who follows 13th Age news has a chance to see it. In it, Pelgrane Press publisher Simon Rogers makes a commitment to support for 13th Age that will match the support for its best-selling game line to date — Trail of Cthulhu.
If you’re deciding on your next fantasy RPG and publisher support is a factor, you can be confident that 13th Age is a strong product line with many adventures and supplements to come. Here are just a few.
Trail of Cthulhu was a game-changer for Pelgrane. I was very excited when Chaosium agreed to the license, and when I added Kenneth Hite to Robin Laws’ GUMSHOE system I was pretty sure we had horror gamer catnip.
The analogy with 13th Age is plain. Take the two developers of the previous versions of D&D, free them to do exactly as they wish, and we get something fresh, original and idiosyncratic for fantasy gamers. If you look at my business post – you can see what happened in 2008 when Trail was released, and in 2011 when 13th Age was placed on pre-order.
For both projects, the look and art was a given – it had to be Jérome Huguenin for Trail, and Lee Moyer and Aaron McConnell for 13th Age. Ken’s interactions with Jérome’s art influenced the final Trail manuscript, and Rob riffed off Aaron and Lee’s take on the 13th Age. These weren’t artists called into illustrate a finished project – their art influenced the writers and designers, and vice versa.
The two lines have another similarity. They are both commercial and critical successes. 13th Age is rapidly catching up with Trail in terms of core book sales, and reviews of both lines are stellar. So why am I banging on about this?
Well, 13th Age is at the stage where Trail of Cthulhu was in 2008, and I want to give 13th Age players an idea of the extent of support we will give 13th Age; so that if you mount the 13th Age dragon, you have some idea where the ride might take you.
Trail of Cthulhu
Since Trail launched in 2008, we’ve released 33 supplements, including music and compilations, racking up 13 ENnie awards, nominations and honourable mentions. Our most widely acknowledged contribution to Mythos gaming is in the breadth and innovation of our adventure design and 21 of these releases were adventures. The first supplement for Trail of Cthulhu was Stunning Eldritch Tales – Robin Laws establishing a benchmark for Trail adventures, which Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan followed up with Arkham Detective Tales. Here are a few more highlights:
Shadows over Filmland: this set of adventures mixes up the Mythos with the horror films of the 1930s, and includes the Backlot Gothic , the gloomy and torch-wieldling festooned setting for thos films. Each chapter has a frontispiece illustrated by Jérome in the style of a film still. So, meet the Lord of the Apes, Dracula, the invisible man, zombies and Dr Frankenstein – who has Herbert West’s lab notes.
Rough Magicks – Ken’s more detailed take of mythos spells and rituals was followed by Robin’s Armitage Files, a new take on GUMSHOE which encouraged improvised play, showing the versatility of the system (and the creator).
Graham Walmsley’s Purist adventures: featuring the sad and the soul-sapping, Graham brought a new aesthetic to Trail, where hope is lost, characters have no good choices and the Mythos is victorious. They have since been collected together in Final Revelation.
A series of PDF adventures: by authors including Jason Morningstar, Bill White and Adam Guantlett allowed those authors to play their own games in our playground of despond, giving us scenarios set in Georgian times, in the Great War, at the dawn of the Nuclear Age and in a 1930s apocalypse, now collected in Out of Time and Out of Space.
Bookhounds of London is Ken’s bravura take on a Mythos city book, which with its companion volume Paulas Dempsey’s Book of the Smoke formed part of the amazing Bookhounds of London limited edition.
Finally, I’ll mention the culmination of years of work from Will Hindmarch and Jeff Tidball, with help from many others: Eternal Lies, the world-spanning adventure inspired by Chaosium’s seminal campaigns. Combined with James Semple and his team’s music this is truly epic and the most ambitious book we have created to date.
We will continue to support Trail with vigour – it is evergreen. Coming up are Mythos Expeditions, Dreamhounds of Paris and Fearful Symmetry. Many more are in the pipeline.
Its clear that 13th Age will be bigger than Trail. We will support 13th Age just as solidly and vigourously as we have Trail of Cthulhu, bring in top writers and artists, and our own uninhibited take on fantasy roleplaying.
Fire Opal Media are producing some books in-house for Pelgrane to publish (13 True Ways) – with others we are working with various degrees of collaboration mainly with Rob Heinsoo on the Fire Opal side. So what should you expect?
We will work with the best people we can find who are inspired by 13th Age. Whether that’s our staff, freelancers we respect, or third-parties taking our open game license engine and having their own take on the Archmage Engine, we are happy.
So what’s to come?
The 13th Age Bestiary is in layout, and it combines everything we’ve learnt from monster creation in the Dying Earth, the Book of Unremitting Horror and Trail itself – that is, monsters should be entertaining and carefully constructed opponents, but also adventures in their own right with life and background – but they should not be set in stone. We want GMs to have the material they need to reimagine their creatures to fit their version of the 13th Age.
13 True Ways is a labour of love by the original designers at Fire Opal, and features the elements 13th Age fans have said are missing from their games – in particular a wider range of classes and creatures. Progress report here.
Shadows in Eldolan brings an urban mystery for 1st level adventurers featuring rival wizard schools and the undead – a benchmark adventure.
The Lair of the Stone Thief is Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan’s dungeon campaign featuring a living dungeon, malevolent and viscious with a similarity to a certain white whale.
Shards of the Broken Sky is a sandbox adventure for 13th Age centering on the crash of one of the Archmage’s flying realms. As threats multiply, the flying land turns out to have been the control point for magical wards neutralizing three ancient evils. With the cone of secrecy shattered, each of the thirteen icons offers rival opportunities for glory, plunder, or heroic sacrifice.
The Strangling Sea is Robin D Laws introductory adventure. In this 13th Age adventure for a party of 4-6 1st-level adventurers, our heroes attempt to retrieve the enigmatic engineer Inigo Sharpe from his unfortunate imprisonment in the Stranglesea. This fantastical equivalent of our world’s Sargasso Sea traps wrecked ships, strands castaways, and supports an array of dangerous animal life.
These are still at the pitch stage – let us have your comments:
A 13th Age GM’s screen which is based on The Noteboard, and a Noteboard based battlemat with the 13th Age map on one side and a whiteboard on the other.
All for Love: (1st to 10th level campaign) Every generation, the rich, beautiful, politically powerful Orlando family introduces its sons and daughters into Imperial court life in a series of balls, jousts, tournaments, and increasingly perilous quests.
Every generation, the Orlandos’ rivals (human and otherwise) try to destroy them in a series of vendettas, assassinations, and increasingly unhinged proposals of marriage. You and your fellow heroes have fallen in love with the newest generation of Orlandos — or at least with their wealth, beauty, and political power. What will you do to win their attentions, to protect the things — and perhaps even the people — you love? Everything it takes, of course.
A book on Icons and their organisations.
Kenneth Hite’s Swords and Mythos – either a straight Earth port, or set in an earlier age: both of Ken’s pitches follow:
Swords and Mythos – Terran Version
From Sarnath to Mu to Hyperborea to Cimmeria, the ancient Earth swarms with dark cults, eldritch horrors, and foul magics — and with mighty heroes who drive them back into nightmare or master inhuman lore for human gain. This sourcebook reframes 13th Age for the primal Earth of heroic dark fantasists like Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, Karl Edward Wagner, and Richard Tierney — and for a surprising amount of Lovecraft! Gods and monsters of the antediluvian Earth appear, ready to topple civilization or sink a continent. Magic, Icons, Relationships, and One Unique Things get their own spin for a world where attracting something more powerful than you isn’t always the best idea … but you’ve got the steel to meet them in the shadows.
Swords and Mythos – 13th Age Version
Before the Dragon Empire, before the storms calmed in the Midland Sea, before the Elf Queen took her oaken throne, before the Orcs were formed from the corpse-meat of a forgotten species, there was an age of terror and wonder — the Zeroth Age. The oldest Icons ruled, then: the Tattered King, the Dreamer in the Deep, and the Crawling Chaos, Icons that walked the world as Avatars and selected heroes to carry steel and shape sorcery in the names of those Great Old Ones. In this “swords and Mythos” setting, the familiar 13th Age rules and Relationships get their own spin for a world where attracting something more powerful than you isn’t always the best idea … but you’ve got what it takes to meet them in the shadows.
The OGL and Third Party Publishers
We’ve presented a clear and complete SRD, and in the next week or two, expect to see compatibilty licenses for publishers similar to those used for Pathfinder (we thank Paizo for the use of their license). The following creators have added 13th Age to their project.
Sasquatch Game Studio: Features Richard Baker (3rd edition, Pathfinder), Stephen Schubert (3e, 4e, D&D Miniatures), and David Noonan (3e, 4e, Pathfinder) and their Primeval Thule offers 13th Age rules alongside D&D and Pathfinder
Vorpal Games: Brian R. James (3e, 4e, Pathfinder), Matt James (4e, Pathfinder) in their Red Aegis RPG.
RKDN Studios: artist Chris McFann, whose work with publishers helps him bring designers such as Monte Cook, Wolfgang Baur and Ed Greenwood to projects such as the Bestiary of the Curiously Odd .
Watch out for a big announcement in the next couple of months, featuring a big RPG name.
The Uchawa (taken from the Old Gnomish Uczaáła “sand-borer”) is a gigantic crustacean found beneath the sands of many of the world’s deserts. Uchawa have a yellow-orange carapace, a dozen short reddish legs protruding from the underside and four forward-facing arms, each ending in a three-pincered claw. The claws are capable of grasping even mostly rounded objects and can close tightly to create a sort of shovel or chisel. The arms are stacked two to a side, one above the other. The uchawa’s carapace is light and sturdy. It contains no nerve endings so the creature is not hurt if the carapace is damaged.
The strangest thing about the uchawa is its dietary habits. It surfaces by day and basks in the sunlight, which provides enough energy for normal activity. Small herds of uchawa can regularly be seen lounging around in the heat. At night it burrows back underground to seek water. About twice a year, however, an uchawa needs to molt as its carapace becomes too small for the rest of its body. During this time it becomes strictly and abundantly carnivorous, devouring whatever animals or humanoids it can to build up reserves from which to build the next carapace.
Wild uchawa are nearly impossible to tame, but those raised in captivity can be used as mounts and tunnelers. There is a thriving business around raising and loaning out uchawa to travelers who must traverse desert for a long period of time. The skin and carapace are also useful for a small number of rituals and are highly prized by cults to various sun gods and goddesses.
Uchawa Juvenile (4th molt)
2rd level wrecker [BEAST]
M: Claw Cutter +7 vs. AC—10 damage
16+: Deal 5 damage to an engaged enemy.
M: Claw Clamper +6 vs PD—8 damage
Natural even hit: The target is grabbed (save ends).
Special: An uchawa can spend its standard action to deal 10 damage to a grabbed enemy.
C: Heat Burst +5 vs PD(1d4 nearby enemies)—8 fire damage to characters in light or no armor, 14 damage to characters in heavy armor
Limited use: 1/battle.
Burrowing: An uchawa juvenile can burrow through the ground, but not fast enough to be helpful in combat.
Retract: An uchawa that has pulled back in its shell is effectively impervious to direct damage from either normal weapons or spells. It can still be affected by mind-altering spells or ongoing damage from poisons and acids. Special weapons or rituals are required to break this defense.
Lumbering: The uchawa can not make opportunity attacks or intercept an enemy.
Improved Coordination: The uchawa can make two melee attacks each turn.
PD 17 HP 38
Uchawa Adult (17th molt)
5th level wrecker [BEAST]
M: Claw Cutter +10 vs. AC—20 damage
16+: Deal 10 damage to an engaged enemy.
M: Claw Clamper +9 vs PD—18 damage
Natural even hit: The target is grabbed (save ends).
Special: An uchawa can spend its standard action to deal 20 damage to a grabbed enemy.
C: Heat Burst +8 vs PD(1d4 nearby enemies)—18 fire damage to characters in light or no armor, 28 damage to characters in heavy armor.
Limited use: 1/battle.
Four Arms: The uchawa can make two melee attacks each turn.
Burrowing: An uchawa adult can burrow through the ground, but not fast enough to be helpful in combat.
Retract: An uchawa that has pulled back in its shell is effectively impervious to direct damage from either normal weapons or spells. It can still be affected by mind-altering spells or ongoing damage from poisons and acids. Special weapons or rituals are required to break this defense.
Lumbering: The uchawa can not make opportunity attacks or intercept an enemy.
Burning Up: Any enemy engaged with the uchawa takes 6 fire damage at the start of its turn.
PD 21 HP 88
Uchawa make excellent war mounts for large creatures or groups of small ones. WIld uchawa are generally only dangerous during molting season, though when that is exactly is unique to each individual. An uchawa who has turned on its master or riders also makes for a surprising and fearsome encounter.
Uchawa and the Icons
The Diabolist loves uchawa. They dig caves and pits quickly, they dispose of dead flesh thoroughly and those insulated shells are just ideal for hatching demon larvae. What’s not to like? If you see an unattended uchawa somewhere bizarre, there’s a good chance the Diabolist’s associates are nearby.
The Orc Lord also has a solid appreciation for uchawa. Rather, he appreciates discarded uchawa shells. The smaller abandoned carapaces are decent instant platemail when supplies run low, but they don’t fit well and eventually become brittle. The better thing to do is load the carapaces into catapults; the bigger the better. Old uchawa shells shatter and fragment on impact, making them excellent anti-personnel pieces against organized waves of the Emperor’s troops.
The Dwarf King has tried on previous occasions to put uchawa to work in his mines. Unfortunately for him, the lack of sunlight drives them to needing meat and that just never ends well for anyone.
The Archmage has sponsored research into isolating the components of uchawa skin that make them gather energy from the sun. So far he has not succeeded.
Things Uchawa Carry
Most of the time, uchawa aren’t carrying anything. Domesticated uchawa might be obviously carrying a rider or some gear, but that’s about it. A few brave individuals will try to hide their valuables inside the uchawa’s carapace. Even an uchawa you raised from an egg won’t take well to its shell being invaded. The odds of finding random useful items in a wild uchawa shell are almost zero. The odds of finding something useful in a domesticated uchawa shell depend on how desperate or insane the owner happened to be.
1) A famous crafter wants to incorporate uchawa carapace into a special set of armor. It would be easier to find a molted carapace than trying to get the material from the live creature but sometimes you have to take what you can get.
2) From time to time, desert settlements just disappear – people, structures, the whole shebang – lost into a sinkhole created by active uchawa. Relatives come themselves or send others to seek out the lost. Treasure hunters and explorers soon follow behind to see what can be salvaged and what new finds might be unearthed.
3) No one’s quite sure how you steal a herd of uchawa out from the stables of the Glittergeld Golden Dune Company, but apparently it’s possible because it’s been done. Time to round up some crab rustlers.
We’ve provided the fine folks at RPG.net with an exclusive preview of the white dragon from the upcoming 13th Age Bestiary. This full-colour PDF includes the white dragon hatchling, cenotaph dragon, mausoleum dragon, blizzard dragon and moon dragon. You’ll also find adventure hooks, advice on building battles with these monsters, and their relationship to the icons.
The window for pre-ordering the 13th Age Bestiary Hatchling Edition is closing soon! If you want your name listed in the credits and right of first refusal to the Limited Edition, order before Dec. 6! After that it turns into a regular pre-order with no additional perks.
This week’s playtest of the new commander and the half-revised monk went well.
In the commander’s case I didn’t make any changes after the playtest. Partly that’s because the design is in OK shape for now. Partly it’s because Thorinn, the 5th level dwarf commander who used to be a bard, was hapless. He had no hap. When you’re rolling d20s, playtesting every so often devolves into “Wow, so this is what the character class looks like when you suck.” The dybbuks who had possessed the party’s erstwhile paladin friend turned out to have Mental Defenses that deviated from the monstrous norm and even the commander’s last-ditch outmaneuver attempt came to naught. The class design mission is to somehow make even these sucky moments potentially worthwhile.
The potential doesn’t always get realized. Thorinn has had a slightly rocky road since he transitioned out of being a bard. Weird things happen when your story-oriented 13th Age campaign is also the campaign that’s being used to test all the new classes. Thorinn who was once a bard became a bardmander and is now a full-on commander who is likely to shift even more when we adjust for results of public playtesting.
There will be a new playtest document some time next week. The talent half of the monk is revised, the forms half is still underway. Some of the early monk talents worked so well that the rest of the talents were somewhat irrelevant. The monk could vary from hugely powerful to utterly feeble because the talents and forms were so uneven. That’s not entirely surprising, given that the class hasn’t had an official development pass, but I’m trying to avoid it on this pass. The next version of the monk design aims to make all the talents worthwhile, eliminates one of the pieces of the class that wasn’t working (daily options for finishing attacks), makes ki powers a more integral part of the class (instead of only appearing as feats), and opens up some of the unnecessary restrictions on icon relationships and weapon choice and flavor that were getting in the way of character design. Those of you who sent playtest comments? Your comments helped a lot.
Playtest Distribution Plan
As before, we’ll be sharing the monk & commander playtest files with people who bought the 13th Age Escalation Edition and people who supported 13 True Ways. We’re also planning to go one step further. The publication of 13th Age has brought in many new players and GMs. People are writing us every week asking to help playtest, particularly people who seem to be converting over from other systems and want to know how we’re handling classes that aren’t in the core book. We’ve settled on a cunning plan that seems fair. People who pre-order the 13th Age Bestiary by ordering the Hatchling Edition will also get the 13 True Ways playtest files. If you’ve supported us by buying the Bestiary in advance, you’ll see the playtest versions of the new classes and whatever else we decide to send out for wide playtesting on 13 True Ways.
Dragon Kings Kickstarter
There’s another Kickstarter with 13th Age connections surging towards the finish line this week. Timothy Brown’s Dragon Kings project is a campaign world and rock and roll project in the spirit of Dark Sun. The project is funded and is presently a few thousand dollars away from a stretch goal that would create a 13th Age-compatible rules PDF as part of the package. Darren Pearce is the designer slated to tackle the 13th Age aspect of the project and I’d love to see what he comes up with. Give the project a push if you can.
And elsewhere in video…
Mike Shea interviewed me about 13th Age for Critical Hits earlier this week. The first half hour or forty minutes is a discussion of icon relationship rolls, including verbal notes on advice Jonathan and I will be formalizing in the GM chapter of 13 True Ways. The video amounts to working notes on the topic. Other topics include the formats of upcoming adventures and Heisenberg’s Monster, Mike’s wonderful term for the sense in which 13th Age frees GMs up by allowing them to be surprised by what comes out of the box.
Everyone else seems to be decorating for Halloween so I thought we’d meet the holiday on the threshold with a horror-tinted monster preview from the 13th Age Bestiary.
The dybbuk is a creature from Jewish mythology. The version ASH LAW designed takes just as much from Japanese and Korean horror films. Rich Longmore’s art nailed the fantasy/horror crossover.
The Dybbuk Legends section is a good example of our approach to the half-created world of 13th Age. We provide multiple interesting options and trust each GM and their players to come up with the ideas that make for the campaign’s best story. The half-created world completes its creation in each separate campaign.
The Dybbuk Possession section might spark weird horror-haunting stories or it might just go into the background as an explanation of what’s going on when dybbuks aren’t actively possessing someone like the poor elven priestess shown here.
The I Cast Thee Out! sidebar touches on the fun mechanical twist to this monster. If you hit it with holy attacks, there is a chance of blasting the dybbuk out of the body it is possessing. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the dybbuk becomes an undamaged higher level ethereal dybbuk that will wreck your souls. Fortunately for some PCs, the ethereal dybbuk can’t maintain its presence in the world without its host, and fades round by round, so just . . . hold . . . . on . . .
We’ll let you find the current mechanics for yourself when you buy the finished book or pre-order the Hatchling Edition from the Pelgrane Press online store.
Possessing ghosts, demonic intruders, or alien visitors. Who can say for sure?
The stories surrounding dybbuks are often contradictory, probably muddied by the dybbuk themselves. For your game decide which one or more of the following ideas are true:
Dybbuks are demons who seek physical bodies to do evil deeds. They imitate the recently departed to confuse demon-hunters who hear about them. [demon]
Dybbuks are the souls of the dead who wish to continue living in warm bodies. [undead]
Dybbuks are strange visitors from another realm who use the memories of the dead as their guides and the bodies of the living as their vessels. [aberration]
Dybbuks are possibility-echoes of those who never were, people who could have existed if not for the birth of another. [aberration]
Dybbuks are the souls of those who were rewritten out of existence by magic. [undead]
The monster entries for the dybbuk show their type as “demon,” but that dybbuk origin might not apply in your game. Feel free to change their type to suit your story.
Dybbuks are blown about by spectral winds no one else can see and must cling to people and objects. Spellcasters and others who have more spirit vision than most occasionally see dybbuks clinging to the sides of buildings like fluttering flags or desperately clinging to the shoulders of animals and people like shadowy capes. Characters who can see the other-world will mistake the translucent shade of a dybbuk for a trick of the light unless they make a DC 30 check.
Once a dybbuk finds a host it wishes to possess, it anchors itself to the victim’s body. Thereafter it lives inside its host’s physical shadow and is no longer buffeted by other-world storms. Over time the dybbuk warps the mind and body of its host, and eventually inhabits it entirely.
I Cast Thee Out!
Using holy damage on a dybbuk possessing a corpse (a corpse dybbuk) or a living victim (a parasitic dybbuk) can force the dybbuk to leave that body, but it produces a new, slightly tougher monster. Thankfully, the ethereal dybbuk fades away after a short time, because it can’t maintain a physical presence in the world for long without a host. Exposing a dybbuk to holy water or dragging it onto holy ground might have a similar effect, or not—that is the GM’s call.
Rob Heinsoo had a few minutes to spare before it was time to feed the miniature koru behemoths who migrate ceaselessly through his back yard, and shared some insights on the new 13th Age Bestiary and 13 True Ways:
The 13th Age Bestiaryis now available for pre-order and pre-publication playtesting! Like the Escalation Edition for the original 13th Age book, purchase of this Hatchling Edition of the Bestiary from the Pelgrane Press store gets you a PDF, updates whenever they’re available, and then the final printed book and PDF. Unlike the Escalation Edition’s many long moons, this pre-order Bestiary is already nearly finished and publishing is going to be a quick process. Simon expects to have the final book out early in 2014.
Now that the Bestiary is on its way, I’m switching back to full work on 13 True Ways with Jonathan. One of the curious effects of the Bestiary is that it’s going to change the way we approach monsters in 13 True Ways. Originally we were sticking to the just-the-facts approach of the core book, very short stat-based entries. But the Bestiary shows how we can present full entries on monsters and stick with the game’s half-designed-world that leaves important decisions up to each campaign. So the monster entries in 13 True Ways are going to use the full approach from the Bestiary wherever it’s warranted.
But enough about the future. Check out the Pelgrane Press Hatchling Edition announcement page that charmingly lists the names of all the monsters in the book. You might have to buy the PDF to figure out what some of the base entries are, others will be clear. We’ve chosen not to call out which authors were principally responsible for individual entries, so I figured for this introduction blog post I’d go ahead and list one monster that made a special impression on me from each of the other authors. Let’s take it in alphabetical order by designer’s first name.
ASH LAW did a lot of great work in the book. His chuul entry gets the CREEPY INNOVATOR prize for adding something to an existing monster that makes a lot of sense and opens up all manner of story ideas.
Cal Moore improved every monster as an editor, many monsters as a developer, and Kevin Kulp’s whispering prophet and others as a mechanical designer.
Ken Hite made the original monster selection and assignments. Ordinarily I’d have to credit his catastrophic (to PCs) tarrasque, but I *love* the arch tone and precise language of Ken’s entry for the manticore, so sorry tarrasque, you just got beat by a manticore.
You may have already seen Kevin Kulp’s redcap’sfirst appearance on EN World. I’m also pretty fond of the lammasu as epic tier creatures that may be a touch too overworldly for the PC’s good.
Rich Longmore didn’t design any monsters but he’s doing all the art and gave us the wonderful little hatchling above so hey, he gets thanked and mentioned.
Rob Watkins wrote a psychologically insightful story for some new white dragons who are entangled with the Lich King and then did some great mechanics to back the story up.
Rob Wieland did something elegant with the story of the lich that seems likely to get a lot of use in 13th Age games and storylines. He’s also got the monster that ends with z, the zorigami, and I think they’re cool enough that I broke the rules again and mentioned two of his critters.
Ryven Cedrylle got a tough assignment, the intellect devourer, and, well, yikes. There are a couple surprising wrinkles in this one. Campaign impact entirely possible.
Steve Townshend has a 5th level warp beast wedged within the madness of rather larger elder beasts; I love the warp beast’s shifting impact on each battle and the fact that it makes sense for all sorts of warpage.
Have fun with the Hatchling Edition and send us playtest comments as indicated in the file!
13th Age is a d20-rolling fantasy roleplaying game by Rob Heinsoo and Jonathan Tweet, lead designers of 4th and 3rd editions of the World’s Most Famous RPG. 13th Age is a game of adventure in a world full of monsters and magic, with groundbreaking new rules that make each character unique, connect them to the world, and focus on what’s cool about having adventures in a world full of monsters and magic.
Also, owlbears rip your arms off and feed them to their young. That’s a thing.
Is 13th Age a good game for people new to roleplaying games?
It’s a fantastic game for new players because it lets them play nearly any kind of character they want (“The only dwarf in the world with a clockwork heart built by a hidden race of dragon wizards? Done!”) and the rules for fighting, spellcasting and using skills are flexible enough that they rarely run into a “you can’t do that” situation.
It’s not a great game for a first-time GM, though. The book assumes some amount of experience with RPGs, and in particular d20-rolling RPGs. It also asks the GM to do some creative collaboration along with the players, rather than defining everything with a rule or a canonical fact about the game world. For example, wizards can make up creative names for their spells. In return for their putting more effort into the game, the GM improvises an additional cool or useful effect that’s not listed in the spell description.
Is the game kid-friendly?
The kids who’ve played in our demos absolutely love it. The rulebook is written for adults, and there’s a couple of mild swear words in it. But nothing you wouldn’t hear in a PG-rated movie.
When is the game coming out?
It’s out now! You can order it from the Pelgrane shop or your local retailer.
When is the PDF-only version coming out?
That’s also out now! You can order it from the Pelgrane shop or DriveThruRPG.
I love 13th Age and my local game store. But I want to order from Pelgrane directly because I also want a .pdf. Can I have both?
From Pelgrane: “Amazon undercuts FLGS hugely, is happy to loss-lead, plus they want distributor-level discounts and free shipping. So, we have no plans to distribute it on Amazon, but you can be certain that someone will offer it through Amazon.”
Why doesn’t the 13th Age core book PDF have bookmarks?
It does now. Check your downloads folder on the Pelgrane order page.
Are there any PDF previews? Quick-start rules?
No. We hoped to do one, but delays in getting the core book out forced us to abandon that project and shift focus to getting the game completed.
How is 13th Age different from other d20 variants?
As a player you can invent things for your character in a free-form way rather than picking everything from lists. For example, you define your character’s skills in a free-form, story-oriented way using backgrounds.
Every character has one unique thing that sets them apart: something that is real in the world, but doesn’t provide a mechanical benefit.
Characters’ relationships with the icons–the most powerful non-player characters in the world–connect them to the world and provide a resource they can use during play. PCs aren’t powerful at 1st level, but they are important.
As a GM you can quickly build encounters (and even monsters) on the fly, and use the story mechanics to share the job of worldbuilding with the players. Once you’re comfortable with the rules it’s fairly easy to improvise a session.
Combat doesn’t use a grid to determine where combatants are, how far they can move, or different effects such as flanking, pushing, pulling, etc. Using miniatures makes it easier to visualize the scene, but all you really need to know is who’s nearby, who’s far away, and who’s engaged in battle.
The “escalation die” mechanic keeps combat moving, turning what might otherwise be a two-hour fight into a 30-minute fight–one that’s exciting and suspenseful to run. On the first round, the monsters have the advantage. But starting on the second round, the GM places a big 6-sided die n the table with the 1 facing up. The PCs (and some very scary monsters) get a +1 bonus to hit. On the third round, that bonus increases to +2…and so on, to a maximum of +6. That way, the longer the PCs stay in combat and fight hard to win, the better their chances get because they’ve learned their opponents’ strengths and weaknesses, and adapted.
The rules play off each other in interesting ways, so something fresh and different is happening all the time. For example, some classes and monsters have abilities that trigger when they roll an even number on an attack, or a 16 or higher. Some abilities activate when the escalation die is odd or even, or reaches a certain number. Flexibility, randomness and surprise are a big part of 13th Age.
Why do you compare yourself to other d20 variants?
Two reasons. The first is that we want to highlight where we take an unusual approach to a common mechanic, so it’s not confusing to people. The second is that a lot of people who are interested in buying 13th Age ask us to explain how it’s different — if it’s exactly like any other d20 game, why bother with it?
This is basically 4e Pathfinder, right?
No. 13th Age inherits lots of ideas from 4e, but it’s an OGL (3.5) system that incorporates ideas pretty evenly from several editions of D&D, plus many cool new ideas and ideas from the world of indie games.
What’s the game’s default setting?
The default setting is the Dragon Empire, a high-magic realm that is in its 13th historical age. It is ruled by 13 demigodlike “icons” who are recognizable fantasy characters: the Emperor, the Archmage, the High Druid, the Lich King, and others.
We want each group to come up with the version of the Dragon Empire that’s most fun for them, so it’s very loosely described in the book. GMs and players can use it as a starting point and fill in the rest with their own ideas.
If I wanted to use another game’s setting, could I? How would Icons fit into that?
Of course you could! How the icons fit into it depends on the setting. We based them on common fantasy archetypes, so if there’s an emperor (or high king), an archmage, an undead villain, a king of the dwarves, a queen of the elves, a lord of thieves, you can easily adapt the icons presented in the game to the setting.
If that setting does not have very powerful individuals in it, determine which influential NPCs will figure into the characters’ adventures, and use them as icons. If the powerful forces in the world are organizations rather than individuals, have those factions, city-states, cults or whatever be the icons.
Are characters closer to the “Fantasy Superhero” ideal or the more grittier down-to-earth feeling of OSR?
Somewhere in between. Character generation is designed to create PCs who have a rich background, a cool trait that sets them apart from everyone else in the world, and some sort of tie to the most prominent people in the world — so you shouldn’t expect them to die on their first outing by stepping on the wrong flagstone.
But monsters in 13th Age are very tough compared to PCs, and do a fixed amount of damage with every hit. The first few rounds of combat tend to be dangerous. Then the escalation die (see below) starts to kick in, and the PCs have a better chance against the monsters.
What classes are in the core book?
Barbarian: Striding out of the wilderness come indomitable men and ferocious women, barbaric warriors who pit their sinew and will against everything that civilization and sorcery can throw at them. It’s a good class for a new player or the player who wants to have fun without worrying much about rules getting in the way of awesome attacks.
Bard: Bards travel the world, learning and teaching each other the ancient songs and arcane secrets of a hundred lands. They’re not the best character choice for beginning players, but can be a lot of fun for experienced and extroverted players who enjoy performing as jacks or jills of all trades.
Cleric: All mortals call on the gods, but when a cleric calls, the gods sometimes listen. Clerics can shape battles using invocations, and their complexity depends on how you want to build them. The Justice, Trickery, and War domains require the most attention. For the simplest possible cleric choose the Healing, Protection, and Strength domains.
Fighter: Being a true fighter takes skill, discipline, toughness, and an uncanny ability to get in harm’s way . . . with a double dose of harm for the other guy. Fighters in 13th Age rely on flexible melee attacks, rolling against their enemies and then using the results to deliver attacks that take advantage of openings that present themselves. A couple of class talents can make your job more complicated, but overall, playing a fighter is simple.
Paladin: A heavily armored and fanatically devoted warrior of the gods—or of causes so pure they don’t require gods to make them holy. Like the barbarian, the paladin is simple to play: most every attack you make uses your basic melee attack, but you can augment it by using Smite Evil or one of the other abilities from your talents. Paladins who want a bit more complexity can choose talents that let them cast a cleric spell or use a cleric domain.
Ranger: Some rangers get their training in an official ranger corps, serving the Emperor or another legitimate authority. Others are initiates into half-wild gangs, resourceful nomads who know more ancient secrets than their rough manner might suggest. Like the barbarian and paladin, the ranger is simple to play: Most every attack you make uses your basic melee or ranged attack. You can choose to use your Strength or your Dexterity as your attack ability in melee. Choosing an animal companion gives you two creatures to act with each turn: your ranger and the animal you choose.
Rogue: Some are thugs who have learned enough tricks to get a step ahead of the other thugs. A few are mad, driven by a reckless sense of adventure. Most are quick with a smile, a blade, and a getaway. Our rogue is a bit of a challenge to play thanks to Sneak Attack powers that require the character to team up with allies and Momentum powers that depend heavily on whether you last hit an enemy or were hit yourself.
Sorcerer: Sorcerers are self-taught genius freaks with an intuitive mastery of magic and possibly some brain damage. A sorcerer isn’t the simplest class to play, but choosing whether you want to gather power or cast something right now isn’t all that tough. Players who can handle dice swinginess may enjoy the sorcerer more.
Wizard: Wizards are the masters of arcane energy. They use geometry, symbology, occult numerology, and a complex grammatical system to describe magic and thereby control it. Our wizard is designed for experienced players who like a bit of improvisation. Most of the wizard’s spells can only be used once per day, so timing matters. If you want to play the simplest possible wizard, choose the Abjuration, Evocation, and Familiar talents. To play as the flexible spellcaster who finds unique and amusing answers to problems, choose Cantrip Mastery, High Arcana, and Vance’s Polysyllabic Verbalizations.
Why are the Paladin, Barbarian, and Ranger such simple classes?
That’s intentional; while there are more complex and less complex options for every class, some classes are designed to be more accessible to players who are inexperienced and players who simply don’t care to spend a ton of time worrying about their class mechanics. More complex options for these classes are a common homebrew element. Additional options for the simple classes may be coming later.
Are the classes in 13th Age balanced?
Loosely balanced, with a design focus on making each character class fun to play. Each class has distinctive mechanics that bring out what’s cool about being a fighter, rogue, sorcerer, etc. Fighters adapt to changing conditions in a battle to make unexpected attacks and maneuvers. Rogues move around a lot and strike quickly. Sorcerers gather power and release it in spectacular displays of chaotic energy.
Is there much emphasis on non-combat abilities (spells, abilities, skills, etc.)?
Wizards have a special utility spell slot that lets them load up on non-combat spells.
Non-combat skills are a huge part of the game, through character backgrounds. For example, a PC might put 4 points into the background “Sailor,” giving him or her a +4 bonus to succeed with any skill a sailor might reasonably have.
Even better: the character could have the background, “First mate on a notorious pirate ship that raided off the coast of New Port.” This gives the PC a +4 to things like sailing, navigation, knot-tying, climbing, carpentry, and so on — but also evaluating treasure, knowledge of the criminal underworld, knowledge of the justice system, a reputation among pirates (and notoriety among everyone else), knowledge of the area around New Port, and an ability to lead.
Could a player put the maximum number of points into a background like “Good at Everything” and get a bonus to every skill check?
A GM might not allow it, because backgrounds are things any normal person could achieve with enough time and opportunity. But a more fun way to handle it could be to dig deep into why that character is good at everything (“I’m the result of secret experiments by the High Druid to produce a superhuman”) and what the consequences are (“Agents of the High Druid are trying to capture me. Also, all of my fellow escaped superhumans are evil and insane and want to turn me to the dark side”) and use that to make the character’s life extremely interesting. Check out this article.
How prevalent are the Icons? Aren’t PCs supposed to be the center of the game?
PCs are the center of the game. The backdrop for their adventures is a world where powerful individuals and factions pursue goals that could disrupt the Empire–perhaps even bring about the catastrophe that ends the Age. The PCs’ actions can avert this disaster, or help it along. Depending on the campaign, they may even rise in power and stature to become icons themselves.
To illustrate this, let’s look at the novel The Three Musketeers. D’Artagnan is the hero, and his swashbuckling exploits shape the course of history. But he’s far from being the most famous or powerful person in the story. If we were to map his icon relationships he would have a negative relationship with the villainous Cardinal Richelieu, a positive relationship with King Louis XIII, and perhaps a conflicted relationship with the Duke of Buckingham — enemy of France but lover of the Queen Consort (another icon.)
Is there a big bulleted list of information about 13th Age out there somewhere?
13 True Ways is a supplement book coming out for 13th Age. It contains an eclectic mix of world information, monsters, and character options, and will introduce the monk, druid, necromancer, occultist, commander and chaos shaman classes. Learn more.
Those classes sound awesome. What are they like?
Because they’re still in development, the design team hasn’t been super public about them. The monk is a martial artist that can channel his or her spirit into supernatural effects and uses combination attacks (openers, flow attacks, and finishing attacks). The necromancer wields undeath magic and has setting ties to the Lich King; the occultist has ties to the Diabolist. The commander is a squad leader in the vein of the marshal or 4e warlord. The druid is mostly an unknown, but presumably is a nature priest in the D&D tradition of druids with ties to the High Druid. The chaos shaman is a high-randomness class for people who like that.
How do I get 13 True Ways?
If you missed the Kickstarter, the book will be available for order down the line, probably early in 2014.
13th Age Bestiary
What’s the 13th Age Bestiary?
It’s a monster manual for 13th Age. The core book contains some monsters; the Bestiary will contain more. It’s available for pre-order from Pelgranepress.com. It’s all new monsters, no core book repeats, with lots of story elements and iconic tie-ins.
Shards of the Broken Sky
What’s Shards of the Broken Sky?
It’s an upcoming adventure for 13th Age in development by creator Rob Heinsoo. From the product description:
This sandbox adventure for 13th Age centers on the crash of one of the Archmage’s flying realms. As threats multiply, the flying land turns out to have been the control point for magical wards neutralizing three ancient evils. With the cone of secrecy shattered, each of the thirteen icons offers rival opportunities for glory, plunder, or heroic sacrifice.
Eyes of the Stone Thief
What’s Eyes of the Stone Thief?
It’s an upcoming adventure for 13th Age in development by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan. From the product description:
The Stone Thief is an old and cunning Living Dungeon. For unknown ages, it has slithered through the Underworld, rising to consume towers and cities or other, lesser dungeons. Now, it has your scent. It swims through the earth, eager to steal everything you cherish, eager to drag you down into its hellish labyrinth.
What’s “Tales of the 13th Age“?
Via http://www.pelgranepress.com/?p=12301: Tales of the 13th Age is the ongoing organized play program for the 13th Age roleplaying game. Each game of 13th Age is different, because the One Unique Things and backgrounds of the characters in separate groups will be different. These rules give players the ability to help to define the world: there is no standard, universal Dragon Empire. Tales of the 13th Age lets players enjoy 13th Age games with a continuity of story that still leaves room for the freedom and flexibility that sets 13th Age apart.
How can I sign up to GM for Tales of the 13th Age?
Will 13th Age work with my AD&D/3.5/4e/Pathfinder adventures?
Not directly, since 13th Age characters and creatures have different statistics from their counterparts in those systems, so if you try to use the numbers directly, various fights and challenges might be too hard or too easy. You can, of course, convert your favorite adventures to 13th Age by converting the monsters to appropriately-scaled 13th Age monsters. Have fun.
SPELL ACQUISITION & SPELLCASTING
How does spellcasting work in the 13th Age system?
There are currently four main magic-using classes: bard, cleric, sorcerer, and wizard. With a few exceptions (mostly obvious), the spellcasting classes all gain and use their spells the same way.
There are five spell levels: 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9. The levels correspond to the character level at which you gain access to those spells for the first time.
A PC that has a main magic-using class knows all of the spells in the rulebook for that class.
Each main magic-using class has a certain number of “spell slots” they can use. The number of spell slots you have of each level is listed on the class’s advancement table. These numbers are NOT cumulative. For example, a level 5 sorcerer has three 3rd-level slots, four 5th-level slots, and no slots of any other level. Unlike in some d20 systems, you do lose your lower-level slots as you level up. That’s okay; you’re expected to put lower-level spells in higher-level slots.
After a full heal-up, you fill up your spell slots with spells that you know.
Any spell you know can be chosen to fill a slot of its level or a higher level.
A spell’s effect is based on the level of the slot you put it in. For example, if you put Ray of Frost in a level 1 slot, it does 3d6 damage. If you put it in a level 7 slot, it does 7d10 damage. The level of the slot you choose for a spell does not affect your attack rolls with that spell—in other words, you always add your level to your attack rolls, not the level of the spell.
You don’t get the benefits of the level 3 version of a spell just because you’re level 3; you have to put it in a level 3 slot to get those benefits (no automatic scaling).
Unlike weapon attacks, spell damage does NOT improve just because you level up. For example, a sorcerer that puts Lightning Fork in a level 1 slot will do 3d6 + Cha damage with it regardless of whether the sorcerer is level 1, 2, or 3.
You must actually put the spell in a higher-level slot to get the damage increase listed for the higher-level spell. On the other hand, the ability score modifier added to damage does increase to double at level 5 and to triple at level 8 even if you are casting a spell that happens to be lower level than 5th/8th, but that’s it (not including wizards). The feats you’ve taken for a spell apply to the spell regardless of the spell slot you choose for it.
Can I choose the same spell more than once at the same time?
No, you can’t choose the same spell more than once, even if you’re trying to be tricky and choose the same spell at different levels. (Yes, this means that as a level 2 sorcerer you might be choosing five of the six spells available in the book every day. The range of options will increase as you gain levels, however, since each lower-level spell has higher-level options.) The two exceptions to the rule against choosing spells more than once both live in the wizard class. First, a wizard with the High Arcana talent can select one daily spell twice at the same level or at different levels. Second is the wizard’s Utility Spell. As a wizard, you can give up a spell slot to gain Utility Spell at the same level as the slot you gave up.
How many at-will spells can I put into my spell slots?
As many as you have available and have slots for, or as few as zero. They’re no different from any other spell.
Do I have to put my at-will spells in my lowest-level slots?
No. In fact, it’s often prudent to put an at-will spell in one of the highest-level slots you have available in order to give yourself a high-impact at-will option.
What happens to the feats that apply to spells that I didn’t choose that day?
The retraining rules written in the book list “spells” among the things that you get the feats refunded on when you swap them out. Some groups feel that that’s a bit too generous and that feats chosen should represent something a little more permanent, but by default when you swap out a spell, you can redistribute the feats you spent on it. Do the GM a favor, however, and make sure you’re clear how each set of feats and the spell they modify work together to avoid slowing the game down.
What’s the book talking about when it says “Go ahead and assume that all the wizard spells are part of the basic spellbook package, and swap them in and out as you will. But when there are other spells you want to learn, the GM can figure out what adventures are required to track down those new spells?”
Each class already knows all the spells listed in the rulebook. But you and your GM might want to create new spells that fit your character (with your GM’s permission, of course). The other spells mentioned here are new spells you create this way, and the rules are suggesting that the GM should require a quest or adventure the PC must undertake to gain the new spell(s) before allowing the PC to use it.
Does the “hampered” condition stop me from casting spells entirely?
Yes; being hampered is especially tough on spellcasters. That’s why you should always have a backup weapon. At the GM’s option, situations based on a PC’s unique or an icon relationship might allow some at-will spell leeway in extraordinary circumstances, but that’s a story thing, not a rules thing.
How do incremental advances work with powers/spells?
Incremental advances are straightforward until you start taking powers that you would gain at your next level. We probably didn’t write quite enough rules to make power and spell acquisition clear and fully functional. Here’s some clarification:
Let’s take the example of a second level cleric who has five 1st level spells. Your cleric gains an incremental advance and you decide you want to gain a spell you would normally only be able to cast at 3rd level. As you can see from the Cleric Level Progression chart on page 94, as a level 3 cleric, you’ll be able to cast three 3rd level spells. You can definitely use your incremental advance to choose a 3rd level spell. But look again at the chart and you’ll see that the total number of spells you cast as a 3rd level cleric isn’t actually higher than the total number of spells you cast as a 2nd level cleric—you cast five total spells at both levels. Therefore you have to replace one of your 1st level spells with a 3rd level spell. This is straightforward except for the case in which you’ve used up some of your spells for the day.
No replacing used-up powers or spells: You can swap out any lower-level spell for a higher-level spell when you take an incremental advance, except that you can’t replace a spell or power you have already expended. For instance, using your incremental advance, you could only replace your 1st level shield of faith spell (with either its 3rd level version or a new 3rd level spell like combat boon, for example) if you had not already used your daily shield of faith spell. At-will spells and once per battle spells can usually be replaced when you get an incremental advance, but you can’t swap out a recharge power that is currently expended.
For a second example, let’s look at a level 2 sorcerer. Your level 2 sorcerer knows five spells, all of them 1st level. At 3rd level, the sorcerer goes up to six total spells and three of them are 3rd level. Therefore the sorcerer, unlike the cleric, can use its first incremental advance to choose an entirely new 3rd level spell—it doesn’t have to swap out any of its 1st level spells. If the sorcerer uses a second incremental advance to gain another 3rd level spell, this time it would have to swap out one of its 1st level spells.
This same logic applies to a level 5 cleric who will go from six total spells to seven total spells at 6th level. Using its first incremental advance for a new spell, the level 5 cleric who normally has two 3rd level spells and four 5th level spells will end up with two 3rd level spells and five 5th level spells. That same cleric’s second incremental advance choice of a new spell would result in one 3rd level spell and six 5th level spells, meaning that one of the lower level spells would have to be swapped out.
Designer Note:If we were using “Jonathan Says” sidebars in the FAQ, this is the point where Jonathan would say that his advice would be to only allow one incremental advance choice of a new power, even though we wrote the book and the character sheets allowing you to choose as many as you could. He thinks it’s a better game that way, and less confusing. Rob agrees with Jonathan, but doesn’t want to officially change the rule yet. If we’re going to change it, we’ll change it in 13 True Ways when we deal with all the issues around multi-classing.
Why do I have so few spell/maneuver/battle cry/song choices at high levels?
Lower-level choices don’t go stale in 13th Age like they do in most other d20 games. Maneuvers and battle cries remain relevant forever, and lower-level spells and songs scale up when you put them in higher-level slots.
What does “Middle mod of Con/Dex/Wis” mean?
It means that if you order those three modifiers from highest to lowest, it’s the one in the middle. For example, if a character has a +4 Con mod, a +0 Dex mod, and a +1 Wis mod, the middle value is +1. It’s the one that’s not the highest and not the lowest. It’s what’s called the “median” value. In the case of ties, like with +3, +1, +1, the middle mod is +1. Doing it this way helps make no single ability modifier too important.
Can I rally as many times as I want in a single battle?
Yes. The first time you rally, it automatically works without any limitations. Each time after that during a battle that you want to rally, you need to succeed on a 11+ save (roll 11 or higher on a d20) to rally again. If you fail that save, you don’t get to rally that turn, but you also don’t expend the action (usually a standard) that rallying would require. You can use your action on something else, as normal. Some feats/talents/spells might allow a PC to rally additional times during a battle without needing to succeed on the roll.
What happens if I need to use a recovery, but I have no recoveries left?
You get half the healing you’d get for spending a recovery, and you take a –1 penalty to attacks and defenses until you’re able to take a full heal-up. The penalty stacks.
When two creatures are engaged with each other, it means that they’re close enough to hit with melee attacks. The chart on page 163 of the core rules covers what that means.
When do I become engaged?
As soon as a creature moves close enough to another creature to make a melee attack against it, they’re engaged (provided they’re hostile toward each other). Neither creature has to make an actual attack. You’re engaged until one of the creatures moves away, disengages, pops free, or dies.
If the fighter is engaged with two kobolds and the cleric engages one of the kobolds, is the cleric automatically engaged with the other kobold?
What’s the escalation die in round one? Does it count as even?
It’s nothing. It’s not even or odd, because the die isn’t in effect yet. There is no escalation die value of 0. If an effect reduces the escalation die when it’s at +1, the same thing goes.
So what happens if the PCs just run around and hide until the escalation die reaches six, then start fighting the monsters?
That doesn’t work. It’s up the GM to decide if the PCs are taking actions that actively escalate the battle. If yes, the die increases. If no, the die doesn’t increase, or even decreases.
Aren’t really broad backgrounds better than super narrow backgrounds? Why shouldn’t I pick a “Good at everything +5″ background instead of a “Birdwatching +5″ background every time?
In general, it’s up to the GM to determine what an appropriate scope for a background is, and it’s up to the GM and the player to work out when different backgrounds apply. It’s a good idea for groups to agree on what’s a reasonable scope for backgrounds. There might be cases where very broad or very narrow backgrounds are interesting, however; Wade Rockett makes a case for sometimes allowing very broad backgrounds for compelling story reasons.
Part of the GM’s job is to help players focus too-broad backgrounds into things that are a bit more specific to help the game and the story.
Do I have to take the feats for a particular character option in the order that they’re presented?
The default rules say yes, especially if they build on each other, but with a caveat. If they don’t build on each other, you might be able take a higher-tier one without having the lower-tier one, with the GM’s permission.
How do I put Heal into a spell slot? What’s up with that spell?
The Heal bonus spell is like your chosen spells, but it’s also different. You always have Heal available after each battle, and it doesn’t fill one of your normal spell slots. You can think of it as having its own slot that it’s always in. The slots listed on your advancement chart are for your other spells.
How does Turn Undead work against mobs of undead mooks?
Under the rules as written, it only affects 1d4 mooks in a mob, since each is a separate creature. This means rolling a hit at 8+ or 12+ might kill less mooks than the 4+ hit. Rob Heinsoo says: “That’s not the intent for Turn Undead. The problem is that the spell doesn’t really work right against undead mooks, which is who it should work extremely well against as an area effect spell.” So to make it more effective, here’s the revised rule for how Turn Undead works.
Use the +4 result as written.
Use the +8 and +12 results as written against non-mooks.
Against mooks, the +8 result now deals 4d10 x your level holy damage.
Against mooks, the +12 result now deals 4d20 x your level holy damage.
In other words, you should blow the mooks away but there’s a small chance you won’t. If there are mooks left after the +8 or +12 result, maybe the story is that they are surprisingly tough or lucky. See the FAQ entry on mook rules for how conditions affect them.
The Paladin’s Divine Domain talent lets you have a cleric domain, but some of the domains have mechanics that interact with cleric-only abilities or that are redundant with a paladin’s existing features. What happens if I take those domains?
There’s no official way to handle those cases. As the talent notes, you may have to do some adaptation work to make the domain abilities make sense for your character.
When I get to level 3, how am I supposed to take a level 3 power? Rogues have 5 powers at both level 2 and level 3, so I’m not gaining a new power, right?
Whenever you level up, you can swap out any number of your rogue powers, taking any number from any of the levels you have access to. At level 3, rogues gain access to powers of up to 3rd level, so those five powers can now include the level 3 powers. Note that rogue powers don’t become obsolete—level 1 powers are still useful at level 10—so it’s not always correct to take all the highest-level powers you can. Look for powers that fit your character concept. For example, at level 2 you might have: evasive strike (1), deadly thrust (1), roll with it (1), sure cut (1), and tumbling strike (1). At level 3, you could switch to: evasive strike (1), roll with it (1), sure cut (1), deflection (3), and slick feint (3).
How does momentum work?
Momentum is either on or off. You don’t have a certain amount of momentum or multiple momentums; you either have it or you don’t. If you would get it when you already have it, you still just have it.
When you start a battle, you don’t have momentum.
When you hit an enemy with an attack, you gain momentum.
When an enemy hits you with an attack, you lose your momentum.
The attacks don’t have to do damage; they only need to hit. Similarly, even if it still does damage on a miss, an attack that misses you doesn’t cause you to lose momentum.
Some maneuvers require you to have momentum, or you can’t use them.
Some maneuvers require you to have momentum and to spend it on the maneuver. If you do that, you no longer have momentum.
What does “pool available” mean in the rogue’s advancement chart?
That’s the highest-level power you can know.
Does sneak attack work on any type of monster?
Yes. The 13th Age rules assume that for every monster, there’s some way that it’s possible to deliver an extra-powerful attack against it if you can line up your shot. A GM can choose to selectively make some monsters immune to sneak attack if they want to, but the RAW (rules as written) is that creatures are vulnerable to sneak attacks unless they have a specific ability saying that they aren’t.
Can I combine two of my powers, like using Deadly Thrust and Bleeding Strike at the same time to get both the bonus damage and the ongoing damage?
No. Like spells, rogue powers require a standard action to execute (unless they say otherwise.) Each one is a separate maneuver, and they can’t be combined into a single attack action any more than two spells can be combined into a single attack action.
How do breath weapon spells work?
They work like any other daily spell, in that you can use them only once each day. The only difference is that once you use one, then every round for the rest of that battle—and that battle only—you roll at the start of your turn to see if you can use that breath weapon again. If you succeed, you can use the breath weapon attack again that round. (Also, if you make the roll but don’t want to use it that turn, you can’t save it; it’s now or never.) After the battle is over, the breath weapon is done for the day, just like any other daily spell.
Why do Wizard spells do so much damage?
Most classes add an ability score to their damage, but wizards’ spells don’t add an ability score, which balances things out.
How does multiclassing work?
Right now, there are no rules for multiclassing. (You’ll see them in the upcoming 13 True Ways supplement.) If you want options from multiple classes, you can work out tradeoffs with your GM. A good general rule of thumb is that you can trade talents for other talents and spells/maneuvers/etc. for their equivalents from other classes. The book emphasizes that this isn’t tightly balanced, so the GM should clamp down on rampant powergaming swap attempts. If a talent costs two slots to take, such as the ranger’s Animal Companion, you have to use two talent slots to swap for it.
Commonly suggested tradeoffs are giving other classes the ranger’s animal companion, and giving the fighter some access to the bard’s Battle Cries (in place of some of their normal maneuvers), to make a warlord-type character.
How do mooks work?
Mooks basically work like normal creatures, in terms of how they can be targeted and things like that. The only difference is that a collection of mooks has a collective HP pool equal to the sum of the HP of the mooks in the mob (so 5 mooks with 8 hp have a pool of 40 hp). Every time the mob takes an amount of damage equal to the HP of one of the creatures in it, one of the creatures dies. So if you hit a mob of 6-HP mooks for 15 damage, two will die, and the mob is 3 HP away from another one dying.
The point of mooks is to make the PCs feel special about wiping out a lot of enemies with a single attack. The point is also to let the players tell cool stories about how an attack that seemed like it was only going to hit a single creature managed to turn into an attack that wiped out a few mooks.
It’s worth noting that the only element of mooks that is collective is their hit points. If you use a spell or power against a mook that creates a condition like dazed or weakened or ongoing damage, the only mook or mooks affected by the condition are the mooks that you targeted. Dazing a single mook doesn’t daze the entire mob. Since a targeted mook is frequently just wiped out by an attack, it’s somewhat uncommon for mooks to end up suffering from conditions. It’s possible, just not that likely.
How do multiple-target attacks work against mook mobs?
You can target multiple mooks in a mob with a multiple-target attack, because mooks are individual creatures. The mob takes all the damage done to any of them. If you target more than one mook in the same mob with a multiple target spell, the mob takes damage for EACH mook you hit. Say you use burning hands targeting two mooks in the same mob. You roll to hit each one separately. If you hit them both and roll 17 damage, the mob takes 34 damage.
In this article I’m going to talk about a new playable race for 13th Age, but before I get there let me meander for a bit.
As some of you might know I’m currently working with Rob and a handful of talented writers on the bestiary for 13th Age. At the beginning of the project I submitted a monster on spec, naturally it was a hound, and naturally the answer was ‘no’. Apparently Rob fawning candy blink dogs make Rob twitch.
The next stage after being told ‘no dogs’ was being assigned monsters. I got some good solid standard monsters to riff on: Orcs, Bulettes, Kobolds, Ogres. I also got handed some odd stuff. The deadly chuul. The vexing shadow dragon. Chuuls. Oh that chuulishly chuulish chuul – maybe one day I’ll write about that.
In each monster I tried to find a new take on the classic. Chameleonic kobold ninjas. Psychic orcs with pulsing brains down their spines. New types of bulette that catch you with their frog-like tongues. The chuul… ah the chuul.
Then there was the Ambulatory Fungus…
What do you do with a walking mushroom? I started with a basic monster, a slow-moving cave fungus that could attack adventurers. I called this beast the Fellshroom. It was a simple wall-crawling toxic fungus that gives off a loud shriek. Then I started designing outwards from there. What hangs out with fellshrooms? Obviously some sort of floating man-o-war aerial spore monster. What else? Ah, maybe a simple farmer-type fungus that acts as a fungal gardner (killing adventurers to feed its fungal buddies). Then it struck me… the fungal kingdom! Of course. Not just a collection of biological specimens but an actual kingdom made of and populated by funguses. Or fungi. Or fungaloids.
Sometimes it takes me a while to see the obvious… I wrote up fungal wizards and soldiers and kings and finally the gargantuan fungal empress.
You’ll be pleased to hear that Rob found better names and toned down the size and level of some of these. Part of the process of writing the bestiary has been the swift sword of Cal Moore. Cal is our editor and his job is to splash cold water in our faces, get us to cut down entries to a reasonable size, and spot what we might have missed. Without Cal’s cuts the book would be twice as long and half as legible. Rob and Cal together cut a lot out, but they were pruning a bonsai tree rather than attacking a zombie with a chainsaw. Ideas shift, stuff is sent back for cutting or modification, and names are changed (ambulatory funguses became mycotics became fungals became fungoids became fungaloids).
That night I dreamed of pallid palaces hidden in dank sunless marshes and deepest dungeons… pale figures moving under moss-covered branches… alien and other… and I woke up with the tywyzog fresh in my mind.
So what is a tywyzog? At first I wanted a type of fungus that adventurers could meet in a tavern. Sure multi-lobed fungal brains and toadstool men are all well and good, but can they enter a tavern to give a map to the adventurers? Can they sneak into town to assassinate the person who ordered the draining of the marsh? Can they be employed as torturers by The Three? Nope. I needed something that under a cloak could move and talk like one of the playable races.
After noodling around with mechanics and names like “Mycotic Emissary” and “Fungal Sneak” and “Knight of Fungi” it occurred to me that a ‘zog could be any of those things. If the fungal kingdoms had kings and empresses and so forth why not make these minor nobility and let players play them. (The name is from a welsh word meaning ‘prince’, though with a Z instead of an S.)
So I slipped it in …
Here is a new race with an interesting background. A lone spore finds fertile land and starts producing fungal terrain. Once the terrain has spread far enough simple fungal creatures begin to sprout, then fungus farmers, then soldiers and so on. Eventually a form of higher-functioning royalty is produced to lead the fungaloid kingdom, acting as the decision making node, allowing for the kingdom to go from simple instinctive grow-and-defend to more complex strategies. Eventually the fungaloid kingdom will encounter a problem that requires an agent who can act in the wider world with independent thought and volition, and pass among humanoids relatively unnoticed.
However, no matter how humanoid they might look they are still alien. They weren’t born, they sprouted fully formed. They come from a ‘perfect society’ where every creature has a role and a purpose and work in union, and communication is via thought-carrying spore-clouds. They are not even an animal, humanoids to them are walking sacks of fertilizer that talk.
… and Rob said yes.
So there we have it. The first new playable race for 13th Age. If you pre-ordered you have a link to the bestiary playtest document and can find the playtest version of the tywyzog race in there.
Like most of 13th Age we’ve left room for you as a player or GM to define your game-world. Here are some questions to which you should supply the answers. Just want are ‘zogs like in your game?
Do fungus pray to gods? If so, why?
Can a tywyzog experience love or hate?
Do fungus have art or literature, and if so would we recognize it?
What happens to a dead tywyzog? Do they decompose, sprout a new kingdom and eventually reincarnate? Do they simply turn to mush? Are they edible?
Tywyzog have no gender, what do they think of gender in humanoids?
What weapons would a tywyzog prefer to use, and why?
Can tywyzog rebel? What would a rebel tywyzog look like?
What do tywyzog eat and drink? What do they wear if they wear clothes?
Do fungaloid kingdoms resemble humanoid kingdoms, are they full of alien spires and twisted tunnels, or are they devoid of solid structures at all?
As a taster, here is a fungaloid monster that didn’t quite survive to the final version. The deadly fellshroom, the monster that was the genesis of the fungaloid kingdoms idea.
The luminescent five-legged toadstool hop-slides around the cavern leaving a trail of glowing liquid behind it. They may look cute, but most of these are far from edible . . . some would like to eat YOU.
1st level spoiler [plant]
C: Poison tentacles 6 vs. PD (1d3 nearby enemies)—4 poison damage, and the target is vulnerable to piercing shriek (save ends)
Slow: A fellshroom doesn’t get a move action when the escalation die is odd.
Wall-crawler: A fellshroom can climb on ceilings and walls as easily as it moves on the ground.
PD 11 HP 27
As a bonus, have a new template to add to undead. If animals can be dire, undead can certainly be fungal hosts!
Undead that exist in or near to a fungal kingdom can become infested with fungi, giving them new and unusual features.
Fungal Host features (d4)
1: Fungal bounty—The host is more fungus than undead now, its body is twisted and evil-looking. Add 30-40% to the fungal host’s HP, but it gains vulnerability to fire and cold in addition to any existing vulnerabilities.
2: Fungal spores—Plate-like fungi sprout from the body of the undead. Whenever an enemy hits the fungal host undead with a melee attack the attacker takes ongoing poison damage equal to the undead’s level.
3: Parasitic mycelium—The undead is covered with white hair-like structures that seek to infest new hosts. When the escalation die is even, any nearby staggered or dying enemies take twice their own level in poison damage. If this kills them, in the following round they rise as a new undead identical to the one that killed them.
4: Psychic screech—This hybrid undead’s skull is home to a bulging mass of fungaloid brain tissue. The undead’s main attack also deals ongoing psychic damage (5 ongoing psychic at levels 1–4, 10 at 5–7, 15 at 8-10).