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

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

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

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

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

GenCon logo_websiteWith Gencon upon us like an amorous gorilla of fun, here are six precepts that have served me well when running games at conventions.

1. Know The Player Characters

The PCs are the players’ interface with your adventure. If there’s one bit of preparation you can never skimp on, it’s the player characters. You don’t need to memorise everything, but you need to remember any key plot hooks or powers that you can use to bring that character into the action. Point out places where a particular PC might use one of their abilities (“hey, your spy has Traffic Analysis, so you can intercept the bad guys’ radio communications and work out their movements”) and things they need to know (“as a Paladin of the Great Gold Wyrm, you probably know someone in the Imperial Legion. You could try tapping them for information”). You can’t rely on the players to volunteer information like they might in a regular campaign game.

2.Go Around The Table

At a table of six, you’re going to have a mix of players – loud ones, quiet ones, shy ones, dominant ones, rules-lovers and people who don’t care what dice they’re rolling, combat monsters and character actors, hardcore fans of the game, and people who wandered in because there was a free spot at your table. It’s easy to fall into the trap of catering to the really enthusiastic, engaged players at the expense of others. So, always go around the table and make sure all the players have the opportunity to get involved in the action. Suggest ways for them to contribute if necessary.

Also, go physically around the table, especially if it’s a noisy room. If you need to have a one-on-one conversation with a player, don’t shout across the table. Get up and walk around to that player if you can.

3. Observe The Rules

Don’t necessarily obey them, mind, but don’t completely ignore them. Many people play convention games to see how a particular rules system plays. They want to see how the game works, especially the elements that are especially thematic or distinctive. For example, you can run an Aliens-inspired bug hunt mission in any science-fiction rpg, and it’s always a good model for a convention game – but show off the distinctive elements of your game of choice in the bug hunt. An Ashen Stars bug hunt might highlight the use of investigative abilities to find a way to escape the remorseless aliens, while a Gaean Reach bug hunt might spend more time talking about how this is a trap set by the hated Quandos Vorn.

4. Beware of Time Dilation

In a four-hour convention slot, you can assume that the first 30-45 minutes are lost to late arrivals, reading character sheets, introductions, trips to the bathroom and/or snack bar and other administrivia, and you should aim to finish up half an hour before the end of the slot, to give yourself a buffer in case scenes overrun, players need to leave early, and to handle any post-game debriefings. That leaves you with a shade under three hours of actual game time. Expect your first few scenes to take much longer than planned, as players struggle to find their character’s voice and role in the group, and to get to grips with the setting. Expect later scenes to go much more quickly than you’d expect, as convention players take bigger risks and make grander gestures than they might in campaign play.

5. Be Prepared!

Character sheets, dice, pencils, scratch paper (enough for you and the players), copy of your scenario, enthusiasm, quick-reference sheets, a rulebook, bottle of water, more dice because the first lot are going to roll under tables and get lost, more enthusiasm. Phone, set to silent. Throat lozenges, because you’re going to be hoarse after running a few games. Get some sleep and eat some real food if you can manage it.

In extremis, enthusiasm may be simulated with sufficient sugar and caffeine.

6. Let the Game Breathe

Part of your role as a convention GM is to make sure that everyone has a good time at your table. Sometimes that means giving the players things to do by throwing interesting NPCs and mysterious and action scenes at them, but it also involves stepping back when the players are having fun just roleplaying their characters or planning their next move. If everyone’s talking animatedly about events in the game, just step back for a moment. This can be hard to do in the heat of the moment, especially with that remorseless clock ticking down towards the end of the slot, but it’ll pay dividends with a good table players.

Pelgrane Press will be at Origins Game Fair on June 11-14, running the following 4-hour games in the Hyatt Regency Ballroom. You can find a master spreadsheet at Hope to see you there!

Event Number Event Name Event Start Date/Time Game Master
7011 13th Age – Omenquest Thu 10:00 AM Jacob Wachtman
6981 13th Age – Caverns & Cave-Creepers Thu 6:00 PM Kendall Jung
6982 13th Age – The Folding of Screamhaunt Castle Fri 10:00 AM Jacob Wachtman
6984 13th Age – Omenquest Fri 2:00 PM Kendall Jung
6985 13th Age – Caverns & Cave-Creepers Sat 10:00 AM Jacob Wachtman
6986 13th Age – Omenquest Sat 11:00 AM Randy White
6988 13th Age – Fungaloid Infection Sat 2:00 PM Kendall Jung
6989 13th Age – The Folding of Screamhaunt Castle Sat 4:00 PM Randy White
6990 Trail of Cthulhu – Voices from the Other Side Sat 4:00 PM Rob Bush
6991 13th Age – Danger at Deathless Gulch Sun 10:00 AM Jacob Wachtman
6992 13th Age – Caverns & Cave-Creepers Sun 11:00 AM Randy White

Pelgrane gamesYou might have noticed this post announcing our GenCon 2014 attendee survey (if you’re going to GenCon, be sure to enter before the end of February to go into a prize draw for Pelgrane vouchers – the survey link is here). We’re still working out the fine details of our GenCon GM package, so if you’re interested in running games at GenCon, email me for more information and to stay updated on our plans.

It’s not just GenCon, though – we’re always looking for GMs for other conventions. At the moment, conventions we’re attending and recruiting GMs for include UK Games Expo (Birmingham, UK – May 30th to June 1st) and Origins Game Fair (Columbus, OH – June 11th to 15th), but we also need GMs for Pax East (Boston, MA – April 11th to 13th) and Pax Prime (Seattle, WA – August 29th to September 1st).

We’re also keen to support conventions that we can’t make it to, but you can! If you’d like to run Pelgrane games at your local games convention, email me and let me know – we can help out with demo game and full game scenarios for all our lines, and we might even be able to offer incentives and prizes for your Pelgrane Press games.

Maybe you heard that Night’s Black Agents, the supernatural spy-thriller game by Kenneth Hite, scored two silver ENnie awards at Gen Con; and that its new expansion Double Tap sold out at the show.

I ca hear you asking, “Can I try this amazing-sounding game at PAX?” and “Is this an opportunity for me to get my first-person shooter console-loving friends into tabletop RPGs?” YES YOU CAN, and YES IT IS.

Peter Darley is GMing Night’s Black Agents at Indie RPGs on Demand, Washington State Convention Center room #305/306 on these days and times:

  • Friday, 1PM-6PM
  • Saturday, 11AM-4PM and 5PM-10PM
  • Sunday, 1PM-6PM

I’m serious about the FPS thing, by the way. Night’s Black Agents lets you play a badass Jason Bourne or Ziva David style covert operative, going up against a sinister vampire conspiracy in exotic locations across the world. Using high-tech weapons, networks of contacts and cool spy gear, you can evade, outwit and destroy your foes in exciting cinematic ways.

Drag your friends to Indie RPGs on Demand and try this game! You won’t be sorry.

13th Age banners at Norwescon

Are you going to PAX Prime in Seattle? Hey, us too! Here’s a roundup of all things 13th Age:

Play 13th Age - 13 awesome GMs will run 13th Age at Indie RPGs on Demand, Washington State Convention Center Room #305/306, with games starting every hour. We’ll also have Very Special Guest GMs, and never-before-seen monsters from the 13th Age Bestiary.

  • Friday, 10AM-7PM - Guest GM: Rob Heinsoo, all day.
  • Saturday, 10AM-7PM  – Guest GM: KISW’s The Rev. En Fuego, 3PM-7PM
  • Sunday, 10AM-7PM – Guest GM: EA BioWare’s Patrick Weekes, Noon-4PM
  • Monday, 10AM-4PM

Buy 13th Age - Gamma Ray Games is in the same room as Indie RPGs on Demand, and has stacks of 13th Age books to sell. Get your copy at PAX!

Get a 13th Age poster map, art print or original sketch from artist Aaron McConnell - Aaron will be at the 13th Age table, WSCC level 2 on Saturday and Sunday, 2PM-4PM. His wares include:

  • 11×14 prints of icons and other 13th Age art ($20)
  • High-quality 18×24 map posters ($40)
  • Custom 11×14 sketches ($50)

Not at PAX? Play online with Aaron R. on Saturday at 9PM EST – We’re happy to announce that Aaron (aka WolfSamurai and Phelanar) has joined the 13th Age team as our official Online Organized Play GM. Aaron runs an award-winning online 13th Age campaign and demoed the game for Erik Kain at Forbes magazine. He’ll be running a one-shot on Saturday for those of you who aren’t at PAX. Contact him on Twitter or Google+ for details.

Ask us questions - We have a table at WSCC level 2, where friendly and helpful people from Fire Opal Media will happily talk to you about the game. Look for the banners with the Diabolist and Archmage on them.

Play Night’s Black Agents - Want to take a break from 13th Age and play a Pelgrane Press game where you kill vampires and do cool spy stuff? Peter Darley is GMing this awesome RPG by Kenneth Hite at Indie RPGs on Demand:

  • Friday, 1PM-6PM
  • Saturday, 11AM-4PM and 5PM-10PM
  • Sunday, 1PM-6PM

We hope to see you there!


UPDATE: All of our events but one (The Lost Tower of Suln in the VIG Lounge) are sold out! If you want to play 13th Age at Gen Con, find us at Booth #101 and sign up for the 2-hour demo with GM Rob Heinsoo. See you in Indy!

Want to play 13th Age at Gen Con? As of right now we still have a few openings in these games — anywhere from 1 seat to 4 seats. Grab your place at the table!

RPG1352025 – Danger At Deathless Gulch SOLD OUT
Start Date & Time: Thursday at 11:00 AM
Duration: 2 hours
Location: Marriott : Indiana Blrm D : 2
Journey to the badlands of Midgard’s magic-blasted Wasted West to recover a magical tome from a crashed dwarven airship. This adventure will use icons from the Midgard Campaign Setting.

RPG1351150 – The Lost Tower of Suln (VIG only)
Thursday at 2:00 PM
4 hours
ICC : VIG Lounge
The tower is back, and the Icons are moving to control an artifact of Achmos. Pre-gen characters provided. Generate Uniques, Backgrounds, and Icons then play the module. VIG and VIG Companion only.

RPG1352435 – Blood and Lightning (Fast and Furious Version) SOLD OUT
Thursday at 7:00 PM
2 hours
Marriott : Indiana Blrm D : 3
Boltstrike Pillar is under attack! Fight, fast-talk or sneak past squads of mooks and nightmare creatures as you ascend the pillar toward your ultimate foe. Every game will be different.

RPG1352023 – Blood & Lightning SOLD OUT
Friday at 1:00 PM
4 hours
Marriott Blrm 3 : 6
A hidden enemy threatens Boltstrike Pillar, one of the Dragon Empire’s magical nodes. Defend it at all costs! Your choices during character generation ensure that no two games will be the same.

RPG1352021 – Blood and Lightning (Fast and Furious Version) SOLD OUT
Saturday at 10:00 AM
2 hours
Marriott Blrm 7 : 4

RPG1352034 – Caverns & Cave-Creepers SOLD OUT
Saturday at 11:00 AM
2 hours
Marriott Blrm 7 : 3
A spider cave, and a wizard who will pay well for their eggs. But so will his sorceress rival. And someone else will pay to see the eggs destroyed. Wait, is this 13th Age or Fiasco?

RPG1352039 – Blood and Lightning (Fast and Furious Version) SOLD OUT
Saturday at 1:00 PM
2 hours
Marriott Blrm 7 : 3

RPG1352031 – Caverns & Cave-Creepers SOLD OUT
Saturday at 5:00 PM
2 hours
Marriott Blrm 7 : 6

RPG1352022 – Blood and Lightning (Fast and Furious Version) SOLD OUT
Sunday at 11:00 AM
2 hours
Marriott Blrm 7 : 5

13th Age logoMAYDAY: Two of our Gen Con volunteer GMs had to cancel their con plans. That’s 14 hours of 13th Age gaming that won’t happen, unless heroic GMs step up to take over their slots.

If you can help, please email!

In return for your help we can offer swag, and a chance to hobnob with our designers — including a daily GM huddle with Rob Heinsoo.



We have learned that last year’s operation in Morristown, New Jersey failed to end the vampire threat. Kenneth Hite and John Adamus urgently request assistance at DEXCON 16 from 10:00AM – 6:00PM, Saturday, July 6, 2013 to counter yet another assault by the undead…

…or to participate in it.

The Operation: The 2013 World Night’s Black Agents Championship will be run in two rounds by Night’s Black Agents designer Kenneth Hite, assisted by John Adamus. Players can come for either, or both sessions:

  • The first round is a LIVE ACTION session in which players portray agents, vampires, and the holders of the clues to a terrifying conspiracy.
  • Surviving agents follow those clues to an explosive final tabletop round.

Prizes: Up to five winners (determined by survival and excellence) will receive FREE 2014 combo memberships to METATOPIA 2013, DREAMATION 2014 and DEXCON 17.

Get more details, and order Night’s Black Agents from the Pelgrane Shop.

Night’s Black Agents brings the GUMSHOE engine to the spy thriller genre, combining the propulsive paranoia of movies like Ronin and The Bourne Identity with supernatural horror straight out of Bram Stoker. Investigation is crucial, but it never slows down the action, which explodes with expanded options for bone-crunching combat, high-tech tradecraft, and adrenaline-fueled chases.

Jon Spengler of Dorkadia volunteered to run 13th Age at Norwescon in Seattle, and posted about the experience on his blog. He’s kindly given us permission to share his article here.

If you’re interested in running 13th Age at a con or at your local game store, we’d love to know! Contact me at

13th Age banners at Norwescon

I was introduced to 13th Age through a demo run at PAX Prime 2012. The demo was so unique and so fun that I preordered the game immediately after PAX. It was the hands-on experience that made me fall in love with the game. When I was asked by Wade Rockett to run a few demo games at Norwescon 36 this past weekend I jumped at the opportunity!

The Material

The convention material for 13th Age is perfectly crafted to show off the strengths of the system. (And it’s publicly available.) It’s a simple two hour structure: in the first hour the players at the table pick from a selection of pregenerated characters and brainstorm their one unique thing, icon relationships, and backgrounds. The second hour is an improv adventure born from those unique things that features a single combat encounter.

The demo is truly bare bones, little more than guidelines for adventure improv and a few sets of monsters to throw at the heroes. But because the meat of the demo is character creation, the players start the game engaged, leaning forward, and invested. In fact, the demo consists almost solely of what makes 13th Age so different from other “d20 rolling games”: the mechanics that give narrative voice to the players. Players of more traditional games start out wary of such mechanics, but by the end everyone is pitching ideas on why exactly “thick headed” is just about the best damn background for a barbarian ever. (It bashes down doors AND helps in social situations!) The improv, player-centric nature of the demo material is brilliant.

I also created PC and monster tokens for the demo using 1-1/2 inch rubber grippies made to protect hardwood floors from furniture. I’m going to make a post about these before long, they were easy to make and really work well for GMs like me that have to pack everything they need in a bag before they head out to game.

The Experience

The demo I ran was a hoot. All five of my players were engaging with the mechanics, laughing, and buying into the narrative mechanics. I did forget to have the players roll their icon relationships (which I’m kicking myself for) but ultimately it didn’t get in the way. One of the players was a friend of mine that had only tangentially been introduced to roleplaying games. I’m happy to say that she enjoyed herself.

The one unique things were exactly the sort of gonzo flavor that 13th Age revels in that other games would shy from. We had a bard that could sing the dead awake, a paladin that received visions, a half-elf half-dwarf, a barbarian cursed with eternal rage, and a sorcerer that punched the god of honor and lightning, receiving some of its power. That was a fun one to workshop out! There was very little story game experience in the group but it only took the gentlest of nudges to get every single person exploiting the hell out of the creative power they were given. It was really great to see the trepidation melt away as the players took the reigns and ran with the system.

The combat was fast and furious, most of the players immediately grasped their class powers in a matter of a single round of combat. The cleric buffed, the barbarian smashed, paladin smote with impunity. Huge success.

Jonathan Tweet and head of 13th Age Organized Play Ash Law at Norwescon 36

Jonathan Tweet and Ash Law, head of 13th Age Organized Play

The Conclusion

I had a great time running the demo and hanging out with the 13th Age crew. I know that all five of the players at my table enjoyed the freedom of the character creation and enjoyed the combat. I had more than one person walk away with their character sheet in their pocket, which is exactly what I did when I left my demo at PAX 2012 and preordered the game. The demo was a success; my only true regret is not being able to run a second game due to time constraints!

In case you haven’t gotten the message yet, you should all really check out 13th Age. (It should be on store shelves in a month or so.)

I have to add a special shout out to Ash Law. He was so busy coordinating the demos and gathering players that it seems like I only got to speak with him for a few minutes. But in the small amount of time I watched him run his demo I realized he was one of the most charismatic, energetic, and creative GMs I’ve ever seen in action. Just reading his comments on the 13th Age G+ community shows his passion for the hobby and his complete understanding of the dynamics of roleplaying. I’m going to try to take some of that magic I saw and apply it at my table.

13th Age is scheduled to be published June 2013 by Pelgrane Press. Pre-order 13th Age at the Pelgrane Shop, and download the v.6 draft of the rules to start playing now! 

Previous Entries