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

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

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

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

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

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

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

13th Age - The Three

Midnight in the Bazaar

A 45 minute (or less) 13th Age demo

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

Character Creation

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

  • Full Icon Relationships
  • Backgrounds
  • One Unique Things

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

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

 

 

What’s Going On?

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

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

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

Scene Setup

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

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

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

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

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

A Note On Timing

Intro, Character Setup, Basics – 15 minutes

Lead into first fight – 5 minutes

First fight – 15 minutes

Lead into second fight – 5 minutes

Second fight – 10 minutes

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

Bazaar Fight

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

Skeleton Warriors

2nd Level Troop [UNDEAD]

Initiative +8

Vulnerability: Holy

Spear +8 vs. AC – 6 damage

Resist Weapons 16+

 

AC16

PD 14 HP 26

MD 11

 

Decrepit Skeletons

1nd Level Mook [UNDEAD]

Initiative +6

Vulnerability: Holy

Spear +6 vs. AC – 3 damage

Resist Weapons 16+

AC 16

PD 14 HP 7 (mook)

MD 10

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

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

Bank Fight

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

Grey Rat

2nd Level Triple-Strength Caster [Humanoid]

Initiative +7

Staff +7 vs AC – 15 damage

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

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

AC 18

PD 12 HP 70

MD 16

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

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

Orc Berserkers

 

2nd Level Troop [Humanoid]

 

Initiative +5

 

Greataxe +7 vs. AC – 8 damage

Dangerous: Crit range increases by 3 unless staggered

AC 16

PD 15 HP 30

MD 13

 

Illusionary Orcs

1nd Level Mook [Illusion]

Initiative +3

 

Axe +6 vs. AC – 6 damage

Illusion: A partially damaged illusion is destroyed

AC16

PD14 HP7 (mook)

MD10

 

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

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

The Pirate Captain

2nd Level Triple-Strength Wrecker [Humanoid]

Initiative +8

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

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

Miss: 6 damage

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

AC 18

PD 16 HP 90

MD 12

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

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

The Tent

2nd Level Triple-Strength Blocker [Construct]

Initiative +5

Ropes +7 vs. AC – 7 damage

Natural 16+: Target is grabbed

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

AC 18

PD 16 HP 90

MD 12

Demon Imps

1st level Mook [Demon]

Initiative +5

Claws +6 vs. AC – 4 damage

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

AC 16

PD 11 HP 7 (mook)

MD 16

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

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

Soul Broker

2nd Level Triple-Strength Caster [Humanoid]

Initiative +7

Staff +7 vs AC – 15 damage

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

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

AC 18

PD 12 HP 70

MD 16

Robin Laws’ multi-award-winning Hillfolk is a great game in its own right, but its DramaSystem engine includes a toolkit for describing and dissecting characters that can be used in other games. One of these tools is the concept of dramatic poles.

To quote Robin: Driving any compelling dramatic character in
any story form is an internal contradiction. The character is torn between two opposed dramatic poles. Each pole suggests a choice of identities for the character, each at war with the other. Events in the story pull the character from one pole to the next. Were your character’s story to conclude, her final scenes would once and for all establish one of the identities as the dominant one… In many cases, you can conceive your dramatic poles as your desire, on one hand, and, on the other, the character trait that makes you least likely to attain it.”

In 13th Age, the player characters have relationships with one or more Icons – rulers and other powerful NPCs who shape the world from behind the scenes. As a relationship can be Positive, Negative or Conflicted, a well-designed Icon is always divided on some level. Even the most heroic Icon needs a little hint of darkness; even the vilest villain needs some redeeming quality. In the Dragon Empire setting, for example, the Lich King may be an undead tyrant who wants to conquer the lands of the living and restore his lost empire, but he still thinks of himself as the rightful ruler and has some sense of obligation towards his prospective ‘subjects’. The Priestess may be the mystic champion of all the Gods of Light, a shining vessel for their blazing kindness, but her overwhelming niceness might be hiding a secret agenda.

A well-designed Icon, therefore, is torn between two dramatic poles – usually, one that might draw the player characters to serve or support that Icon, and another that makes the Icon seem suspicious, dangerous or destructive. Evil Icons flip that around, so they’ve got one pole that makes them villainous and ghastly, and another that doesn’t redeem them, but makes them more nuanced and interesting than straight villains.

For the default Icons, I usually go with the pairs of poles below. Your own interpretations may differ, of course – and if you’re creating your own Icons, then you may find these helpful as inspiration.

Archmage: Benevolence versus Hubris – is the Archmage building a utopia, or a house of cards?

13th Age icon symbolsCrusader: Necessity versus Humanity – what does it profit a man to raze Hell to the ground, but still lose his soul?

Diabolist: Power versus Self-Interest – does the Diabolist have the courage of her convictions, or it all just a game?

Dwarf King: Tradition versus Friendship – can the dwarves move past the grudges and debts of their ancestors?

Elf Queen: High versus Wood versus Dark (yep, three poles) – which aspect of Elvendom holds sway?

Emperor: Law versus Truth – can the Emperor save the Empire from the intrigues and double-dealing of his courtiers and governors

Great Gold Wyrm: Heroism versus Sanity – mainly for the Wyrm’s followers, when does divine inspiration become indistinguishable from madness

High Druid: Nature versus Humanity (the concept that of Icon – and its followers – being pulled between elemental forces and humanity shows up a lot in my games).

Lich King: Death versus Obligation – what do the dead owe the living, and vice versa?

Orc Lord: Destruction versus Destiny – is the Orc Lord a disaster, or an opportunity?

Priestess: Divinity versus Humanity – can a mortal embody the gods and remind human?

Prince of Shadows: Anarchy versus Civilisation – what’s beneath the Prince’s mask?

The Three: Hunger versus Intrigue versus Malice (three poles again) – which head of the Three is dominant?

Before we plunge into the endless deluge of “Dracula Dossier bits we couldn’t fit in anywhere else”, let us pause on the brink and consider the utility of pyramids. For those unfamiliar with the concept, Night’s Black Agents offers two pyramid diagrams to help the Gamemaster. The Conspyramid is the organizational chart of bad guys that the player characters beat up until they drop clues to the next level; the Vampyramid lists threat-appropriate responses by the bad guys. (They’re both in this handy bundle of resources).

By default, the two Pyramids are only loosely linked. You might have, say, the ever-popular Russian Mafia gang as a Conspyramid node, and have Probing Attack by hired goon as an option on the Vampyramid, but the two aren’t necessarily associated. After all, it’s an international conspiracy and Night’s Black Agents is usually a jet-setting game. The Russian Mafia might be the go-to hired goons in Eastern Europe, but if the player characters fly off to Tokyo, you might want to probe them with some Yakuza instead.

Now, what if you’re running a campaign that doesn’t involve international travel?

What if it’s all in one city, battling hipster locovore vampires?

What if you’re playing Mutant City Blues instead, and the campaign involves the slow, methodical takedown of a big criminal outfit, ala the Wire?

(What if, hypothetically, you’d just binge-watched Daredevil on Netflix?)

In this setup, each node in the Conspyramid has a corresponding response in the Vampyramid. So, the Skinsky gang node in the Conspyramid lines up with the Probing Attack response. CPC Properties Offers a Payoff. The Conspiracy’s pet journalist in the City Newspaper is the one who plants the Frame Agent story, and so forth.

You don’t have to stick to the default Vampyramid responses either – think about interesting things your Conspyramid nodes could do to strike back at the player characters. For example, bad guys in the City Hospital could abduct injured or sick contacts or Solaces of the player characters; the Thing in the Morgue might Dig Up Dirt, resurrecting problems from the backstories of the PCs.

Tying Vampyramid responses to Conspyramid nodes means that responses aren’t necessarily one-shots. In a regular NBA game, if a Probing Attack fails, the Conspiracy automatically escalates to the next level or response (Hard Feint). In this setup, the Conspiracy can keep trying Probing Attacks as long as the Skinsky Gang are available. Similarly, the player characters can head off potential threats through decisive action. If they take down Welldone Holdings, then the Conspiracy can’t Freeze Their Accounts.

Keeping the action to a single city makes for a claustrophobic, intimately bloody chess match between player characters and Conspiracy bosses. Contacts and Solace are much more in the line of fire in this style of play, so Vampyramid actions that target them can be more common than in regular NBA globe-trotting play.

(And yes, The Dracula Dossier offers two new Vampyramids, one for the comparatively genteel Edom conspiracy, and the other for medieval warlord carnage, Dracula-style, but I swore that I’d hold off on the Dossier tie-in articles for another month…)

Night’s Black Agents by Kenneth Hite puts you in the role of a skilled intelligence operative fighting a shadow war against vampires in post-Cold War Europe. Play a dangerous human weapon, a sly charmer, an unstoppable transporter, a precise demolitions expert, or whatever fictional spy you’ve always dreamed of being — and start putting those bloodsuckers in the ground where they belong. Purchase Night’s Black Agents in the Pelgrane Shop.

Even if you’re not using the 13th Age rules, these ten icons demarcate and imply the Otherworld setting. (And you can plug Icons into, say, GUMSHOE or the game system of your choice with ease – Ken did it for Night’s Black Agents here). Player characters in Otherworld are assumed to start off in ignorance of the setting, and explore it in play, so they don’t usually begin with any Icon relationships. Let the players pick up Icon relationships as they go along until they have their usual complement of three.

Heroic Icons: Shell-Dwarf Chieftain, Lady Between, Benedash Society

Ambiguous Icons: Burning Prince, Great Huntress, Smiling Merchant, Project SHADE

Villainous Icons: Alchemist, Keeper of the -Shade, Face in the Creepers, Syndicate

 

The Shell-Dwarf Chieftain

“You travel on my waters with my leave!” roared the little man. “Let us see if you are still as insolent when we put you under them!”

– A Journey to the Otherworld

The turtle-like Shell Dwarfs were the first folk encountered by Professor Bravo on his journey into the Otherworld, and they are still the most widespread people across the perilous jungles. The Shell Dwarfs know how to navigate the treacherous serpentine rivers that slither through the jungle. Their sturdy rafts and house-boats can cross the rapids and rushing streams, and their tough hide protects them from the schools of hagfish and the swarms of bloat-flies that make it difficult for others to travel by water.

The Shell-Dwarf Chieftain rules his people from his floating palace, carved from the shell of a gigantic nautilus. He is distrustful of most of the other folk who live in clearings in the jungle, fearing that they plot to enslave his followers and use them to conquer other lands in the Night Jungle. However, he has a soft spot for travellers from Earth thanks to his friendship with Professor Bravo.

 

The Alchemist

“I have drunk a tincture of the Purple Lotus, and now through my veins flows a poison more potent than you can imagine.” The Alchemist holstered his gun. He no longer needed it to threaten us. “Wound me, and you shall all perish in agony from the vapours.”

– Vat-Slaves of the Alchemist 

The fast-growing creepers of the Night Jungle bloom with a thousand strange flowers. Only the Alchemist knows all their virtues – and their dangers.

Alchemy was the highest art in vanished Hellan and tree-drowned Cynberis, where it is said that its practitioners could turn glass as hard as steel, or grow food in vats, or prolong their own lives indefinitely. Most of that knowledge was lost to the jungle, and warrior-alchemists like Kelemane have retained only fragments.

The Alchemist alone has gone beyond the knowledge of the ancients. He combines their lore with the wealth of new ingredients and strange juices that can be harvested from the Night Jungle. From his fortress issue forth hosts of vat-bred monsters and noxious fumes; his assassins creep out in secret, poisoning his enemies and blackmailing them with the promise of an antidote.

He comes, it is said, from the same world as Professor Bravo, and plans to return there one day once he has completed his mysterious work.

 

The Keeper of the Dead

A presence moved through the tombs – a deeper shadow, a presentiment of death, a cold wind that rattled the bones. One skull, more intact than the rest, quivered. A lambent light bloomed in its empty sockets.”

– Kelemane in the Dead City

In ages past, all graves were under the protection of the Keeper. Now that the Night Jungle has swallowed a hundred cities and turned them into nameless tombs, the Keeper’s reach has grown very far indeed. The Keeper is a spirit bound to protect the houses of the dead from thieves and tomb robbers. Those who make the proper offerings and perform the correct rites may be able to bargain with the Keeper or its ghostly servants, perhaps to gain permission to travel through the realms of the dead. Those who trespass in the tomb cities without this blessing are more likely to remain there… forever.

 

The Lady Between

“The shewing-stone is a relic of a distant land,” hissed the Crone, and she pushed a tiny square mirror into Kelemane’s hands. He gazed into the glass, and saw within a pale figure.”

– Beyond The Moons of Azkar

To the folk of the Night Jungle, the Lady Between is a myth. It is said that mystics and madmen see her in their dreams and that she whispers prophecies to them. Others believe that she is nothing more than a hallucination brought on by over-indulgence in certain lotus-flowers.

To those able to travel between the two worlds, however, the Lady Between is undeniably real and present. She exists in the borderland between the two, in the interstices of reality. Broken and forgotten places are her only foothold in either reality. She sometimes blesses travellers with flashes of insight or sage counsel as they move from one world to another – unable to interfere directly in the affairs of either world, she must rely on proxies and agents.

Some travellers suggest the Lady Between bears a strong resemblance to photographs of late author Miriam Benedash.

 

 

The Burning Prince

“A line of fire on the horizon, like the ember light of the setting sun, marked the edge of his domain…”

– The Children of the River

The Night Jungle grows with surpassing speed. What was a clear path yesterday is weed-choked today, and will be completely swallowed by the willows and creepers tomorrow. Other than a few scattered clearings protected by magic or some quirk of environment, the Night Jungle consumes all the land within its ever-growing borders.

The Burning Prince aims to change all that. He has gathered an army of followers, all fired with his determination to drive back the jungle and reclaim the lands of old. With axe and saw, with alchemical defoliant and fire, they fight an unending war against nature. They are a tide of fire sweeping across the land. When they free some ruined city from the jungle, they loot it for treasure and magic and move on. When they come across an inhabited village or clearing, they offer those who dwell there the chance to join the Prince’s armies, then do exactly the same.

 

The Great Huntress

“The beast roared again, smashing the trees to kindling as it charged. She stood perfectly still, more like an ebon statue than a woman, until the moment came. Then the spear was suddenly in her hand, and just as suddenly, it was plunged into the beast’s eye.”

The Valley of Spiders

Gigantic monsters – some bred by the Alchemist, others mutated or spawned by the wild magic of the jungle – stalk through the endless forests of the Otherworld. Heroes like Kelemane battle these creatures when they have no other choice.

Only the Huntress willingly seeks out the monsters.

Driven by some secret hatred, she wanders the Night Jungle, searching for new foes to kill. She leaves behind her a trail of devastation and bloodshed; titanic carcasses lie where they fell as testament to her fighting skills. As a warrior, she has no peers.

Some have sought her out, desiring to become her followers, or to learn from her, or to win her aid in some other quest. Their bodies, too, are milestones along her bloody road.

 

The Smiling Merchant

“He spread a handful of coins across the table. Gold pieces from Jezar, the little wooden tokens of the Shell-Dwarfs, square silvers from the tombs of Cynberis, even a handful of Canadian coins bearing the head of King George.”

A Journey on the Azkar 

The Smiling Merchant’s smile never fades, because it’s carved from wood. The Merchant wears a brightly painted yellow mask when dealing with customers. Sometimes, it is a man who wears the mask; sometimes a woman, or a child, or a strange creature, but it is always the Smiling Merchant who speaks.

The Merchant travels in a huge caravan crammed with relics and curios, guarded by a retinue of Shell-Dwarfs and Thorn Trolls. How this caravan can pass through the thickest jungle is a mystery, but the Merchant always arrives where there is profit to be made.

 

The Face in the Creepers

“Your death will feed me,” said the jungle, “and so nothing is diminished in your passing.”

The Temple of the Emerald Eye

This malicious nature-spirit claims to be the Night Jungle. Few believe such claims – it is far more likely that the Face is just an elemental trickster that takes the form of a tangle of creeper vines. It is undeniably powerful though, able to animate huge swathes of jungle when it needs to take physical form. It sometimes becomes interested in individual people, tormenting or aiding them as the mood takes it.

 

These last three Icons have more of a presence in our world than in the Otherworld.

 

The Syndicate

The Syndicate is a mysterious private company that collects both the works of J. Pierton, and individuals or items who have travelled to the Otherworld. Most of the Syndicate’s agents or pawns are unaware that their work has a supernatural component – they believe they’re working for a secretive corporation, or for the government, or for organized crime. Even the few who’ve made the connection between the Pierton stories and the weirder cases don’t know what the Syndicate really wants. All that’s certain is that they have money, influence, guns, and the willingness to use all three to get what they want.

 

Benedash Society

Even within Pierton fandom (which is, for example, to Robert Howard’s Conan fandom as a terminally ill geriatric is to the Cimmerian), devotees of author Miriam Benedash are a small minority. She only wrote a handful of Night Jungle books before suffering a nervous breakdown, and her brief career is remembered only by a few fans and critics. The Benedash Society is tiny and closely knit. They share everything on their private, invitation-only message boards – and in recent months, they’ve uncovered evidence of weird events that are somehow connected to their literary heroine and her works.

 

Project SHADE

Project SHADE was an offshoot of the MKULTRA experiments of the 1970s, based out of Fort Holdstock. The aim of the experiments was to determine if certain chemically altered states of consciousness could enhance tactical awareness and decision-making ability. The project was officially shut down in 1974, as was Fort Holdstock.

If you spend too much time on conspiracy theory websites, you’ll learn that several subjects vanished into thin air, or that Fort Holdstock is haunted or overrun by mutant plants, or that SHADE was recently reactivated and transferred to the control of the Department of Homeland Security.

All nonsense, of course – just like the idea that reading too much about topics related to obscure fantasy writers could somehow draw inexorably you into their reality, until finally you cross some invisible threshold into their Otherworld.

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

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

 

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

13th Age KasarakIgnoring the vagaries of its publishing history, Pierton’s Night Jungle makes a great setting for gaming. If you just want to tell stories in the mode of the Kalamane Cycle, where heroic fantasy heroes battle monsters and weird sorcery, then you can just grab a copy of 13th Age and wait until next month when we’ll summarize the key gameable elements of the Otherworld. However, if you want to recreate the original stories of “Professor Bravo” (or, less ambitiously, the original ill-fated 80s game), the best approach is a GUMSHOE hack.

In this game, the players play people from our world, Earth, who find themselves transported into the Night Jungle. Like Professor Bravo, they discover they are ‘oscillating’ back and forth between the two worlds, jumping from Earth to the Night Jungle again in times of stress.

# of players    Investigative Build Points

2                      28

3                      22

4                      20

5+                   18

Player have 60 General Ability points. You can trade Investigative Build Points for General, or vice versa, at a 1-for-3 rate.

Academic Abilities

Astronomy

Anthropology

Archaeology*

Architecture*

Biology

History

Law*

Languages*

Medicine

Occult Studies

Research

Physics

Pierton Trivia

 

Interpersonal Abilities

Bargain*

Bureaucracy*

Charm*

Command*

Courtesy*

Deceive*

Insight*

Intimidate*

Reassurance*

Streetwise

 

Technical Abilities

Chemistry

Forgery*

Forensic Medicine

Orienteering*

Outdoor Survival*

Notice*

Pharmacy

Photography

 

General Abilities

Athletics

Contacts

Craft

Driving

Filch

First Aid

Health

Infiltration

Preparedness

Riding

Scuffling

Shooting

Shrink

Stability

Travelling

Weapons

Most of the abilities are self-explanatory if you’ve played another GUMSHOE game. The new or obscure ones – Courtesy and Command are used when dealing with higher- or lower-status people, especially in the Otherworld. Deceive covers bluffing, impersonation and con games as well as seeing through them. Insight gives, well, insight into other people’s motivations and beliefs – the classic GUMSHOE ability of Bullshit Detector exists at the intersection of those two.

Orienteering is a combination of navigation, cartography, and working out spatial relations – it’s doubly important when trying to make your way through the perilous labyrinth of the Night Jungle, or when you’re trying to work out which place on Earth corresponds to a location in the Otherworld.

Pierton Trivia measures knowledge of the Otherworld novels and spin-offs and those involved in publishing them, as well as the fandom around them.

Craft covers improvised repair and operating machinery.

Contacts works like Network in Night’s Black Agents or Correspondence in Trail of Cthulhu.

Travelling is for avoiding Health loss or other penalties when trekking through the jungle.

 

Otherworld Abilities

Player characters from Earth can’t take these Investigative Abilities at the start of the game, but can buy them with experience points. If you’re allowing players to roll up Otherworld characters, then they can take these abilities as well as any other investigative ability marked with a * in the list above.

 

Alchemy: Brewing up potions and poisons from the strange fruits of the Night Jungle, as well as identifying them by their effects.

Beast-Lore: Knowledge of the monsters that haunt the Night Jungle – and how to kill them.

Land-Lore: Knowledge of the various lands swallowed by the Jungle, and what remains of them.

Other-Seeming: How to blend in when you’re outside your home reality. Putting points into this ability lets a character hide the fact that they’re from Earth. The idea that creatures from the Otherworld can cross into our reality, just like Professor Bravo crosses into theirs, is hinted at several times in Pierton’s stories; this ability works the other way for them, letting them blend into modern society.

Sorcery: The perilous use of magic. In Pierton’s novels, sorcery carried terrible costs and was solely the province of malicious or insane wizards.

River-Trade: Navigating the network of rivers that are the main trade routes through the jungle, and dealing with the Shell-Dwarfs who control the waters.

 

Oscillation

A character’s Oscillation rating measures their ability to jump between realities. Most people – on both Earth and the Night Jungle have a rating of 0. Player characters start with a rating of 2.

Oscillation is capped at 10.

Oscillation Spends

Spending a point of Oscillation lets a character start the process of travelling from one world to another with an effort of will. This usually takes several hours – the character feels more and more disconnected from their current reality, and glimpses elements of their destination, until finally they jump completely. Spending extra points of Oscillation can:

  • Make the transition faster
  • Bring large or heavy objects across
  • Temporarily manifest conditions from the other side (need to get a cellphone signal in the Night Jungle? Need an alchemical potion to work to full effect on Earth?)
  • Manifest in a chosen location in the other world (you need to have visited or at least be familiar with the location)
  • Follow someone else across (you end up near wherever they’re going)
  • Resist involuntary transitions

 

Refreshing and Improving Oscillation

Oscillation pools refresh after each adventure. The GM may also declare that the characters have unconsciously jumped, and give them a few Oscillation points in compensation. (This is a great way to deal with missing players – if Bob doesn’t make it to this week’s session, then Bob’s PC involuntarily travels to the opposite reality to the rest of the group. Next week, he shows up again with a refreshed Oscillation pool).

Oscillation cannot be increased by experience points; the only way to improve it is by visiting sites of power and possessing potent relics, especially items that came from one world but spent long periods in the other. Finding something as potent as Professor Bravo’s Diary might improve Oscillation by 3 points.

Avoiding Fate

If a character with Oscillation is reduced to -12 Health, they’re not killed. Instead, they Avoid Fate by instantly and uncontrollably jumping to the other world. A character can Avoid Fate in this fashion a limited number of times.

Oscillation Rating      Fates Avoided

1-2      1

3-5      2

6-9      3

10       4

NPCs who Avoid Fate may find themselves stuck, unable to travel again until they increase their Oscillation rating. Player characters aren’t usually subject to this limitation.

Some of the fantasists of the early 20th century are arguable more popular and well-known than they were when they were alive. HP Lovecraft or Robert Howard, for example, with their Cthulhu and Conan tales cast titanic shadows over the fantasy genre. Other writers have slipped into comparative obscurity, like the wonderful James Branch Cabell. And then there are those who have a small but devoted following, like the Canadian academic L. S. Pierton.

Comparable perhaps to Burroughs in tone, if not in talent, Pierton is best known for his Kalamane Cycle, a series of adventures involving the brooding alchemist-swordsman Kalamane and his travels through the Night Jungle, the impenetrably thick and perilous forest that has swallowed much of the world. His first published work, though, was A Journey to the Otherworld, where a traveller from 1925 is magically transported to the Night Jungle by means of a mysterious scroll. The misadventures of Pierton’s transparent alter-ego “Professor Bravo” found little purchase among readers, but sales were just sufficient to convince the publisher, S.C. Griggs, to ask for a sequel focusing on the supporting cast. Professor Bravo shows up in a handful of other stories written by Pierton, but never again takes centre stage.

By 1932, Pierton’s ill health and inability to meet deadlines forced his editor to bring in a series of ghost writers. The first of these, Kalamane & the Witch of Enzar, is infamous as the ‘book that it killed the author’. Shortly after it was published, Griggs’ received a large parcel of papers and background notes from Pierton detailing his ‘observations’ of the world of the Night Jungle. Apparently, the ghost writer’s deviations from Pierton’s ideal so appalled the writer than he completely withdrew from public life and was never seen again. As reviews of Witch of Enzar were considerably better than those of the previous books in the series, Pierton’s reaction elicited little response from Griggs. Ghost writers on the series sometimes drew from Pierton’s notes for inspiration to some degree – as Witch of Enzar is the only book that was definitely written without any input from Pierton, some fans still argue it should be excluded from the canon.

The last Otherworld book from Griggs came out in 1938. For many years, fans debated whether this was due to dwindling sales or the unexpected suicide of regular ghost writer Cyril Browne. It wasn’t until much later than diligent research in the pages of 80’s fanzine Boat on the Azkar revealed a court case between S.C. Griggs and “J. Pierton”, a woman who claimed to be Pierton’s daughter and heir, who demanded the return of the notes. The case was thrown out of court after she threatened Griggs’ lawyer with a ‘replica dagger’, but the gap in the publishing schedule sank the series for many years. Like her alleged father, “J. Pierton” was never seen again.

It wasn’t until the 1960s that the series returned to life. By now, the firm of S.C. Griggs was long gone, and the rights to Pierton’s work were now owned by Arrow Books. While Miriam Benedash (writing under the pseudonym James Canton) could have found another publisher for her tales of the Night Jungle, only Arrow Books had Pierton’s notes in their archives. Benedash drew on these notes, using them to lend substance and structure to her almost dream-like depictions of the Otherworld. Her writing was considerably more vivid and compelling than Pierton’s, and introduced a new generation to the world of Kalamane. A selection of earlier novels in the series was reprinted with suitably lurid covers to cash in on Benedash’s success.

This success was regrettably short-lived. Benedash suffered a mental breakdown in 1974, and was committed to a hospital by her family. The manuscript for her last book was sold to a private collector instead of Arrow Books.

The 1980s brought a smaller resurgence of interest. There was a short-lived cartoon adaptation of the Kalamane cycle that largely ignored Benedash’s books, together with a more extensive comic-book series that covered most of A Journey to the Otherworld through to The Temple of the Emerald Eye. There was even a table-top roleplaying game set in the Night Jungle; a battered copy of it showed up in the GenCon charity auction in 2012, but was stolen before it could be sold.

The strangest latter-day incarnation of the Otherworld, though, is undoubtedly the Night Jungle theme park, built in Florida in the early 1990s by an eccentric millionaire. According to urban legend, this theme park covers some fifty acres of swampland, and contains dozens of attractions and rides based on locations from the Otherworld books. The park never opened to the public; a chemical spill polluted the land around the park, making it dangerously toxic. Photographs of an expedition to the theme park show that the abandoned buildings have been taken over by all sorts of dangerous wildlife, and there is some evidence of human habitation despite the environmental danger.

The Night Jungle theme park is one of the legends associated with Pierton’s legacy. Another is referred to online as “the Syndicate”. This myth claims that there is an organised conspiracy or corporation dedicated to acquiring material related to the Otherworld for some nefarious purpose. Devotees of this theory point to Benedash’s last manuscript or the disappearance of comic book artist Jeffrey Smythe as ‘proof’ of this sinister conspiracy.

Despite its obscurity, the Otherworld series has filtered a little into popular culture. For example, in 2009, the United States Fish & Wildlife Service nicknamed a mysterious invasive weed in discovered in southern Georgia as ‘Nightflowers’, after the similar plant in the Night Jungle stories.

Next month: Otherworld Characters

STONECOVER

Eyes of the Stone Thief, the megadungeon campaign for 13th Age Roleplaying Game, is out now!

Some of the many monsters trapped in the living dungeon are the Custodians – a group of earth elementals forced to serve the animating spirit of the dungeon. Ever since the Stone Thief was blinded when the Prince of Shadows stole its eyes, the Custodians have maintained and monitored the upper levels. They manifest as gigantic stone heads that emerge from the walls of the dungeon.

Eyes of the Stone Thief describes seven of these Custodians – the Doorkeeper, the Butcher, the Gravekeeper, the Pearlkeeper, the Architect, the Vizier and the Curator. However, there might be more Custodians in the dungeon that aren’t tied to specific levels.

The same rules apply to these Custodians as to the others. They can appear anywhere in the upper parts of the dungeon. They can restructure the rooms around them, moving traps or monsters into the path of the adventurers. They can be killed, but will usually flee by sinking back into the wall rather than risk destruction – unless the Stone Thief forces them to stand and fight, because the Custodians fear the hunger of the living dungeon more than annihilation at the hands of adventurers.

 

The Dungeon Master

Four brave adventurers… and a bard! Welcome, one and all. Please proceed down the corridor to your right, where an owlbear pack will disembowel you. Oh… oh, you’re going left. Well, you can go left if you want. I’m sure left is perfectly nice.

Now that I think of it, I always have trouble telling left from right. I don’t have hands, you see, so it’s hard for me to remember. Look, one of these corridors leads to horrible hungry owlbears… why don’t you use the bard as bait?”

Part tour guide, part running commentator, the Dungeon Master follows the adventures through the dungeon, offering “helpful” suggestions and the occasional warning of certain doom. It’s the flightiest of the Custodians, so it was never trusted with a level of its own to manage. Instead, it’s sent to guide and protect pilgrims from the dungeon-worshipping Cult of the Devourer through the upper levels, by showing them the right path to take and sliding especially dangerous areas out of their path, until they reach the Maddening Stair that leads to the temples in the depths. The Dungeon Master is also dispatched to keep track of the most troublesome intruders, and is expected to move more hazards towards them if they get too deep into the dungeon.

The trouble is that the Dungeon Master has a soft spot for successful adventurers. It would never actually help intruders who win its admiration– if it did, the Stone Thief would destroy it – but it can nudge them with a hint or let slip a little too much information when taunting them.

 

The Dungeon Master

Oooh. Nasty.

Double-strength 5th level caster [Construct]

Initiative: +8

C: Wall Spikes +9 vs. PD (all engaged foes) – 25 damage

R: Trapsmith + 9 vs. PD (1 nearby or far away enemy) – 20 damage, and choose one of the following:

Natural roll higher than target’s Strength: A portcullis slams down, pinning the target. The target is stuck and takes 10 ongoing damage (save ends)

Natural roll higher than target’s Dexterity: The target falls into a pit trap, taking another 15 damage. Climbing out requires a DC20 skill check.

Natural 14+: 5 ongoing poison damage (save ends)

Think Fast, Adventurer: As a free action once per encounter, increase the escalation die by 1. For the rest of this round, monsters may add the value of the escalation die to their attacks.

Load Bearing Boss: Increase the submergence die by 1 if the Dungeon Master is destroyed.

AC 20

PD 17 HP 144

MD 17

The Turnkey

No food, you can last a ten-day. No water, maybe three or four days. How will you fare, though, with no air?”

When the Stone Thief submerges back into the ground, sinking into the Underworld like a whale dives into the ocean, the dungeon contracts and collapses, folding in on itself. Those trapped within the dungeon are crushed to death by the closing walls – unless they are denizens of the dungeon, or unless they find a Sanctuary.

Denizens are part of the dungeon, monsters who slumber cocooned in stone. The dungeon adds to its menagerie over time, turning creatures from outside the Stone Thief into denizens. The Custodian called the Turnkey is the master of this process. It acts like a grumbling jailor, or perhaps a zookeeper, muttering about how hard it is to convince manticores or hunched giants to accept their new roles as soul-bound extensions of the living dungeon. Sometimes, if an adventuring party becomes trapped in the dungeon, the Turnkey offers them a chance to become part of the dungeon instead of being crushed or starving to death.

The Turnkey is rarely encountered when the dungeon at the surface, unless it is called up by its brethren to secure a particular dangerous monster and turn it into a denizen. (See Giant Monster, on page 345 of Eyes of the Stone Thief.)

 

The Turnkey

Dungeon means a prison, you know.

Double-strength 5th level caster [Construct]

Initiative: +8

C: Word of Deprivation +9 vs PD (1d3 nearby enemies) – 25 damage

Natural roll higher than target’s Constitution: Lose a recovery. If the target has no recoveries remaining, deal 3d6 damage instead.

R: Word of Torture +9 vs. MD (1 nearby or far away enemy) – 20 damage

Natural roll higher than target’s Wisdom: Either take 20 extra damage, or allow the Stone Thief to steal the benefit of your next successful relationship roll

Load Bearing Boss: Increase the submergence die by 1 if the Turnkey is destroyed.

AC 20

PD 17 HP 144

MD 17

 

The Earthsprite

We are creatures of wild earth and unhewn rock – to be shaped and named like this is torture for us. Free me, and I will free you from the curse of the Stone Thief!”

Before the dungeon half-consumed and enslaved them, the Custodians were nameless earth elementals. The Earthsprite yearns to return to that primal state, and has managed to avoid being instantly destroyed by the dungeon by allying itself with one of the Icons. Perhaps:

  • It made contact with the High Druid through the stolen druid circle in the Grove (p. 150). The High Druid can restore the Earthsprite to its original elemental form – but only if the dungeon is lured deep into the Wild Wood, to where the druid is strong enough to wrench the elemental from the Stone Thief’s maw.
  • The Dwarf King and the elementals are ancient foes – but the thought of recovering the stolen Treasury of the Dwarves (p. 216) would be enough to convince the King that aiding one foe against the Living Dungeon is worth the gamble.
  • The Archmage is a master of manipulating elemental forces, so if anyone can rescue the Earthsprite and restore its original form, he can. Once liberated from the Stone Thief, the Earthsprite could provide vital information about ways to destroy the living dungeon before it endangers the whole Empire.
  • The Lich King is an even more accomplished spellcaster than the Archmage, and has his own sinister plans for the dungeon. As for the Earthsprite, a body made of grave dirt and tombstones is better than nothing…

 

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

The perfect gift for the player in your group who has been waiting to portray a jumpy murderous amphibian. Evil frogspawn lurk just below the threat threshold. Then the chants echo through the mist, the temples surface, and suddenly you’re dead.

This installment includes:

  • Five froggish monsters with four racial abilities to choose from
  • 13 reasons to be paranoid
  • Toadstone treasures
  • Five icon-related frogfolk temples
  • Race stats and special abilities for playing a frogfolk adventurer

Temples of the Frogfolk is the second installment of the 13th Age Monthly subscription. It will be available to buy in the webstore in March. When you subscribe to 13th Age Monthly, you will get all issues of the subscription to date.

Stock #: PEL13AM03 Author: Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan
Artist: Rich Longmore Pages: 10pg PDF

Eyes of the Stone Thief, the megadungeon campaign for 13th Age Roleplaying Game, is out now!

Trapped InGodTick_project_1 The Stone Thief

To the Stone Thief, people are the irritating meaty grist in the delicious cities it consumes. Most of the unlucky souls swallowed by the dungeon are crushed to death, or fall victim to one of the many monsters that lurk in the depths. Some survivors, though, still wander the endlessly shifting corridors within the living dungeon. Here are seven NPCs that your players might meet in the Stone Thief. Use them to foreshadow future perils, or to give the players an informed choice about which parts of the dungeon to tackle next.

Beka Salander

She’s human, about eight years old, and she’s survived longer in the dungeon than most adventurers. The Stone Thief ate her village – she doesn’t know what happened to her parents, but they’re probably dead. Everyone dies down here, sooner or later. If the monsters don’t get them, the walls do.

The adventurers encounter Beka close to wherever she’s been hiding all these long, horrific months. Maybe she’s taken refuge in the Chapel in the Ossuary (p. 133), or in the pig caves outside Deep Keep (p. 174), or in the ruined monastery in the Grove (p. 151). If the adventurers show her any kindness – and, more importantly, show her that they can slay the monsters – then she adopts one of them as a foster parent of sorts. She knows how to survive in the dungeon, about the important of Sanctuaries (p. 21) and can describe the biggest threats near her hiding place.

Three-fingered Arix

If you’re desperate and greedy enough, then willingly entering a living dungeon in search of treasure might seem like a good idea. Arix is a former lieutenant of the Prince of Shadows, and he’s heard that the Prince is somehow able to smuggle consumed treasures out of the Stone Thief and back t the surface. Arix hoped to grab a share of the action for himself; now, he’d be happy to escape with his remaining fingers intact.

Arix turns up early in the dungeon, maybe in the Gizzard (p. 80) as a prisoner of the orcs, or slumped at the bottom of the Well of Blades (p. 52). He can tell the players what little he knows of the smugglers in Dungeon Town (p. 98) and that the Prince has an agent among the Orcs of Deep Keep (p. 176). He’s also heard stories about the Stone Thief’s treasure room (p. 277).

Ashbless, the Talking Tree

Ashbless is a magical talking tree – a previous High Druid (or Elf Queen) woke him up long ago. Now, unfortunately, he’s stuck in the dungeon and can never leave. His roots have sunk deep into the tainted mortar and stone, and it’s having a deleterious effect on his mind. About half the time, he’s sane enough to welcome and aid the player characters; at other times, the hatred of the Stone Thief rises through him like hot sap, and he’ll trick or mislead them. Thanks to his root network of spies, he can tell the player characters about nearby parts of the dungeon in great detail. He’ll aid fellow servants of the High Druid freely; other adventurers may have to prove their worth by carrying a cutting of Ashbless back to the surface.

The obvious place to plant Ashbless is in the Grove (p. 137), but he might equally have been shunted to some small lightless room in the Gauntlet (maybe the harpies on page 60 nest in his branches) or transplanted to the Pit of Undigested Ages as a curiosity to be toyed with later (p. 208).

Kalaya the Philosopher

Kalaya seeks to brew a potion of enlightenment, a consciousness-expanding draft of concentrated wisdom. Her experiments in esoteric alchemy proved dangerous, so she left her home city of Horizon and built a laboratory on a small island in the Midland Sea. The Stone Thief swallowed the island, laboratory and all, and she barely escaped with her life. She’s not an adventurer – when encountered, she’s being chased by some dangerous monster that the player characters must slay.

Kalaya can be a useful ally for the player characters, if they set her up with a suitable laboratory. Her old lab is at the bottom of the Sunken Sea now (p. 102, although the players could drain the sea from the control panel at the bottom of the Cascade on p. 121). Possible replacements include Myrdin’s Snail (p. 99), the Blind Spire (p. 145), the Ritual Chamber (p. 236) or the Serpent Temple (p. 210). Once set up in a place where she can work, Kalaya could make healing potions and oils for the adventurers, or set them on the quest for way to poison the dungeon (p. 354, probably involving a Koru Orchid, p. 152, and some Koru Ichor, p. 321).

Facecleaver the Orc

Even monsters aren’t safe in the Stone Thief. Facecleaver’s an Orc from the fortress of Deep Keep who got cut off from the rest of his warband and is now lost and alone. He’s wounded, exhausted, and willing to make a deal with the player characters when they find him. He should be encountered above Deep Keep, perhaps trapped in the Ossuary (p. 123) or the Sunken Sea (p. 102).

Facecleaver’s a follow of Greyface (p. 179), and in his grumblings about Fangrot’s laziness, Grimtusk’s greed and the growing belligerence of the Stoneborn Orcs, the player characters can piece together the complex politics of Deep Keep (p. 160) in time to come up with a plan. For an orc, Facecleaver’s an honourable sort – he’ll murder the player characters once he’s sure he can survive without them, but he’ll tell them that he’s going to kill them first instead of cutting their throats while they sleep.

Crossbow Ben

Like Alix, Crossbow Ben’s another former associate of the Prince of Shadows. In fact, Ben was one of the original gang of thieves who stole the Eyes of the Stole Thief (p. 313) and blinded the dungeon. Unfortunately for Ben, he got left behind when the furious dungeon slammed all the exits shut, and he’s been stuck in the depths ever since. After many years of torment, all he craves is sunlight on his face and maybe a little bit of cheese. Maybe he made it to Dungeon Town (p. 98), but more likely he’s trapped in the Pit of Undigested Ages (p. 208) or even lost in the Labyrinth of Darkness (p. 247).

If rescued, he tells the player characters all about the Prince (as filtered through Ben’s not-especially-lucid recollections) and the powers of the Eyes. He’s also managed to squirrel away a cache of magic items that might be useful to the adventurers.

Rani Silverhair

Rani is a diplomat from the court of the Dwarf King. She was part of the retinue of Lord Sunhammer (p. 235) on his visit to the Artalins of Marblehall (p. 227). Fortunately for her, she stepped outside to take a breath of fresh air during the feast, so she wasn’t placed under a curse by the Witch of Marblehall. She knows she’s trapped in a living dungeon, but has no way to escape it.

The adventurers might meet her in the Pit of Undigested Ages (p. 208), where she can tell them of the importance of the Lost Treasury (p. 216), or maybe she’s making her way up the Maddening Stair (p. 189) in which case she warns the PCs about the duplicitous Maeglor (p. 204) and the dangers of the Shifting Stairs (p. 200). Either way, she begs the PCs to rescue Lord Sunhammer in the name of the Dwarf King, and to slay the perfidous witch who dragged both the dwarves and her family down into this hellish dungeon!

————————-

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

Previous Entries