Temples of the Frogfolk

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

Dragon Riding

Dragon Riding coverThe lethal combination of dragon and rider helped create the Dragon Empire. Now unleash the fury on your foes! Full rules for player character dragon riders appear alongside story advice for campaigns looking to add dragon-riding options. Plus, we’ve made it easy to hack the system so you can devise other styles of riding. (Anyone up for tarrasque racing?)

Dragon Riding is the first installment of the 13th Age Monthly subscription. It will be available to buy in the webstore in February. When you subscribe to 13th Age Monthly, you will get all issues of the subscription to date.

Stock #: PEL13AM02 Author: Rob Heinsoo, ASH LAW
Artist: Lee Moyer, Rich Longmore Pages: 8pg PDF

13th Age Monthly

13th Age Monthly logoSubscribe to The 13th Age Monthly and you’ll receive all-new 13th Age RPG goodness for GMs and players every month for a full year. These 4000+ word PDFs offer new rules systems, Bestiary-style monsters, player character options, and more.

The 13th Age Monthly is overseen and developed by Rob Heinsoo, with a stellar list of contributors that includes Jonathan Tweet, Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan (Book of Loot, Eyes of the Stone Thief), ASH LAW (Tales of the 13th Age) and Cal Moore (Shadows of Eldolan).

Installments

January 2015: Dragon Riding, by Rob Heinsoo & ASH LAW. The lethal combination of dragon and rider helped create the Dragon Empire. Now unleash the fury on your foes! Full rules for player character dragon riders appear alongside story advice for campaigns looking to add dragon-riding options. Plus, we’ve made it easy to hack the system so you can devise other styles of riding. (Anyone up for tarrasque racing?)

February 2015: Temples of the Frogfolk, by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan. 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, thirteen reasons to be paranoid, toadstone treasures, five icon-related frogfolk temples, and race stats and special abilities for playing a frogfolk adventurer.

March 2015: Candles, Clay & Dancing Shoes, by ASH LAW. Your PC has gold to burn? Spend it on something that could make everyone’s lives more interesting—especially the GM! Here are six new useful, bizarre, and effective one-use magic items, festooned with multiple adventure hooks and campaign variants. Is that dwarf wearing a featherlight skirt beneath his kilt? If you fire an exorcist missile at a dybbuk at twilight, which one of you screams first? What happens to your spell list if you drink too much gnomish tinto wine (secret ingredient: grave dust)? Answers to these and 75 other magic-item related questions, yours for one low monthly price!

Stock #: PEL13AM01 Author: Various
Artist: Various Type: PDF subscription

Battle Scenes

BattleCaptDwarf_ThumbAIconic battles!

Battle Scenes for the 13th Age Roleplaying Game is an invaluable GM resource when you’re asked to run a game and don’t have anything prepared; when the icon dice say that a specific icon is in play but you’re not sure where to go with it; or when an icon relationship roll calls for a complication.

Battle Scenes offers 39 sets of challenging and memorable battles keyed to the 13 icons, spanning the three tiers of play (Adventurer, Champion and Epic).

This volume by designer Cal Moore includes:

  •  Battles that pit the PCs against NPCs and monsters that are linked to an icon, or which fall under that icon’s influence.
  • Plenty of new monsters to challenge the PCs, along with new magic items to wield in battle.
  • Optional storylines that link each battle to the ones that come after, so you can take the PCs from one full heal-up to the next using only the battles in the set — with room to expand on these stories to fill multiple sessions of gameplay.
  • Ideas on how to get the PCs into the battle scene story, and possible outcomes that result from their actions.

Status: In playtest

The Strangling Sea

Enter the graveyard of doomed ships

Experienced seafarers know better than to risk the dangers of the Stranglesea: that terrible place where castaways cling to existence in the rotting hulks of trapped ships, and deadly creatures feast on the unwary.

Now a band of adventurers must enter the Stranglesea and attempt to rescue the enigmatic engineer Inigo Sharpe from his imprisonment. But Sharpe is both more and less than they were prepared for — and the forces of an enemy icon want him for their own sinister purposes.

The Strangling Sea is a seafaring 13th Age Roleplaying Game adventure by Robin D. Laws for a party of 4-6 1st-level adventurers.

Status: Art direction

 

13th Age ThawCon: The Game

thawconMy 13th Age game was prepped, and my old AD&D group were ready for 22 hours of gaming. My prime concern was getting combat to run as quickly and smoothly as possible. I knew the rest would be straightforward.

Mark had printed and laminated a bunch of Status cards from the resource page – these were very useful. I put him in charge of giving them out, so if anyone was stunned, paralysed, or frit, Mark would hand them a card.

I used index cards (per ASH LAW’s suggestion) and wrote the names of the PCs and a few pertinent details about their characters on them – AC, unique things and backgrounds, for example. When it came to initiative, I just wrote the PC initiative rolls on the top right of the card, sorted them into order and added in monsters (usually one card for each type of monster), to make sure everyone acted in at the right time.

So, I ran the ambush scene. It was perhaps a bit ambitious for a first combat and unsual in that breaking through and fleeing the scene was the wise move; but I wanted them filled with adrenaline, on the run but motived for revenge. It took a little longer than a standard AD&D combat, but that was because each player was learning what their character could do. For me though, it was dead easy. The monsters had triggers which caused them to act in certain ways, which alongside GM choice gave an illusion of real choices by their opponents.

Eventually they fled, though the paladin had to be dragged away from a heavily armoured and mounted mercenary’s lance. They were pursued by orcs, and the sage guided them to a nearby abandoned keep. Cleverly (and unexpectedly) they searched for found the secret tunnel which lead to the keep’s cellar (I’d planned this as an exit for them). They even managed to restrain themselves from attacking a sleeping bear which was using the tunnel as a lair.

The keep was inhabited by undead brought to life by a necromancer. The necromancer, acting under secret order, had poisoned his fellow King’s Marshalls, but the dying curse of one means he is holding the Keep against allcomers.

This second combat was very smooth indeed, with the players get a handle on what they were capable of. The PC necromancer repopulated upper level of the keep with minions to make it look as if the Keep was still guarded by undead.

The PCs found information and a map. I gave them a number of options (I’d keyed battle scenes to each location) and I was pleased they decided to sneak out of the keep and divide and conquer the orcs. So, avoiding the orcs who were hunting them down, they took a raft down river to the orcs’ camp to slay those orcs left behind. This was the first adventure of from Battle scene I’d run. The set pieces were great, with each location offering opportunities to use the terrain, and the GM options to combine the many different roles that Bestiary and 13th Age orcs offer. When they asked what was in an orc’s pocket – I quoted from the Bestiary “Half-eaten greenish meat (might be cheese, hard to say), broken parts of a silver statue looted from a temple, unidentified greasy mass, fleas, disease.”

From that I got a tie-in to another Battle Scene adventure set in a looted temple, a potentially unpleasant condition to be treated by an uncooperative NPC, and an ingredient. The Bestiary is great like that.

Then we came to the ritual.

The PCs decided they wanted to disguise themselves as orcs to slip through the cordon without being attacked. The idea is a user of magic who can enact rituals (in this case the wizard) picks a spell as a basis for the ritual (she chose Disguise Self). This is a simple skill check against a DC set by the GM, with an atrribute bonus and suitable background.

The necromancer reanimated some dead orcs; they smeared the “unidentified greasy mass” over themselves and wore some orcish cloaks and helms and enacted the ritual. I added bonuses to their roll for a particularly good job.

So, they cruised past the potentially abseiling orcs with only a face-off with the leader. The orc leader head-butted the paladin, but they realised that this was just a display of dominance and greeting, so the paladin head-butted him right back.

Then we came to the largest and most complex combat bar one I ran – an attack on the half-occupied orcish village. They had surprise, and the ability to add backgrounds meant that the paladin was able to sneak into position behind the leader along with the rogue before it kicked off. By this stage, they’d really got the hang of their characters and had started working together; the Necromancer using his necrotic flunkies to absorb the mooks; the paladin dealing megadamage, the cleric of Justice enabled a vital reroll and the rogue sabotaging the orcs zip line. A few lucky crits helped, too.

Icon Relationship Rolls

As I mentioned in the previous article, I used major NPCs and the players’ own major characters as icons. I made icon rolls at the beginning of the first session, noted the icon results on their index cards, and gave a red Hillfolk token for rolls of 5s and a black one for rolls of 6. They players could throw in a token whenever they wanted to get a bonus on a roll, or invoke the (indirect) help of the icon.

For example, one character took the hat off a crime boss with him they were negotiating and put in on. The heavies pinned her against the wall by her neck. The player through in a red token (a relationship with a slave-taking icon) and suggested that she’d revealed a slave collar mark on her neck, and the crime boss had one too. “You’ve earned that hat, girl,” he said.

As the Battle Scene adventures were all icon themed, this approach worked pretty well.

Next (and final time) – more on each character class and the whining of the fighter.

The Plain People of Gaming: Trapped In The Stone Thief

Eyes of the Stone Thief, the megadungeon campaign for 13th Age Roleplaying Game, is now available to pre-order! Order your copy here and you can download the PDF immediately.

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!

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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 Eyes of the Stone Thief trailer

The Eyes of the Stone Thief is now available on pre-order in our webstore, and to celebrate this, Will Hindmarch has done a fantastic video trailer for it.

You can watch Will’s trailer below:

Sword-Mages!

by ASH LAW

When Simon offered me a chance to create a pair of fighting wizards I jumped at the chance. Swords and magic, what’s not to love? Sword-Mages, the Peanut-Butter-and-Jelly of the fantasy genre (or if you are British, the Custard-and-Bananas… I’ve no idea what the French would combine, maybe Croissants and Chocolate). Anyway… two great things combined into one.

Combining wizards with a close-up combat class is tricky. When multi-classing casters and hack-n-slashing ‘martial’ classes together weapon damage dice drop, which means that you’ve got to find a way to make the magic work harder and smarter.

My first concern was to up the damage slightly, so that the drop in damage dice would not be felt as keenly at lower levels. The elven racial feat Heritage of the Sword adds +2 damage. Normally a straight fighter or ranger would wield a long-sword and do 1d8 damage at 1st level (an average of 4.5 points of damage)… but a multi-classed caster-sword-wielder with heritage of the sword does 1d6+2 damage (an average of 5.5 points of damage). At 1st level we’re a bit ahead of the curve on something like a straight human fighter.

My next concern was to get a reliable ranged attack. I’m concentrating on sword-play, so I’m heading to the wizard part of the multi-classes for this. Magic Missile! An auto-hit ranged attack that our multi-class characters can use. I’m picturing this attack to be something like a dagger of force thrown out by the sword-mage, striking true at the most vulnerable spots on enemies. Maybe they are actually arrows of force. It all depends on the character, I suppose. It could even be reflavored as some sort of force-damage telekinetic choke or shove.

We know that these characters are elven sword-wielding wizards who create daggers of force and use a combination of wizardly magic and martial prowess to win the day. What sort of elf though? The drow seem like a good fit, and their racial cruelty power could easily be the result of cuts to tendons or quick thrusts to open arteries and blind foes. The wood elves might work well too, with their ability to gain a second attack in some rounds giving the option of casting and swordplay happening at the same time. However, I’m drawn to the high elves. The high-blood teleport gives them a way to close in quickly for the kill, or to withdraw to a safe distance to use spells; there is something as well, thematically, about high elves with swords and spells that appeals. High elves it is then.

So story-wise these two characters are part of a long tradition of high elf sword-mages. They fight with a wand in one hand and a sword in the other, dancing across the battlefield and surprising foes by teleporting in behind them when it is least expected. I might ask the GM to allow me some sort of special effect on my sword, like a blade-less hilt that grows a glowing blade of energy and makes a cool ‘Vrooosh’ sound when activated and goes ‘WhuuumWhuuuum’ when I whirl it around. I’m going to make one character ‘light’ with a strong focus on sword-play and arcane archery and one ‘dark’ with lots of telekinetic choking, mind-control, and lightning shooting from finger-tips.

Now on to the specifics of each character…

Malehea the Guardian, Sword-Mage Consular

I’m picturing this first character as a sort of protector of elves who are far from the Queen’s Wood. She wanders the highways and byways of the Dragon Empire protecting groups of travelling elves. Her motivation for adventuring is protecting her people from threats in a proactive way, killing monsters before they attack travelers. I want to focus on the blending of magic and fighting so a fighter/wizard is where I’m going with this character. She carries a bow and a sword. I’m going to flavor her spells as being mystical arrows that she conjures up. She also wears a large grey cloak that she swirls dramatically when she teleports. This character is our ‘light’ character, a fighter who uses magic to enhance her combat abilities with blade and bow.

For talents I’m she starting her out with High Arcana, which lets her shut down enemy magic via counter-magic, and lets her double up on her daily spells. The doubling-up means that she can have a smaller and more focused list of spells.

The next talent is Evocation. This lets her maximize the damage dice of one spell once per battle.

The third talent is Counter-Attack. This means that enemies need to be careful near me… if they attack me and miss I might attack them back.

As a multi-class wizard Malehea starts with four spells. While wizards can pick and choose their spells each day, I’m going to list her usual load-out of spells. Just remember that this is not a set list, and that we could change it up during play if we wanted to do so. My first choice is a utility spell slot, a general purpose spell that we can use for anything from disguising via illusion to casting feather-fall during an emergency.

The next spell is Acid Arrow. As this character levels up we’re going to keep that spell around with ever-higher level versions of it. As she’s armed with a bow I figure that Malehea creates the magical arrows by pulling back the string and conjuring them up… a sort of arcane archery.

The final spell is Magic Missile. Because Magic Missile. As I said before, it’s a never-miss at-will spell. What’s not to love about that? In situations where she needs to lay the hurt on something that can’t otherwise be harmed, or needs to strike true from a distance, then Magic Missile it is. Her ranged spells are all mystic arrows; these aren’t force daggers or orbs of energy, these are force arrows! If I ever get a magic bow I might ask the GM if it can be used as an implement for her ranged magical attacks too.

For her 1st level fighter maneuvers we are picking Grim Intent and Carve an Opening. These give us a maneuver to call upon every time this character misses with an attack, and half of the time that she hits too. My intent with this character is to build up a set of maneuvers where hitting is its own reward, and missing just increases the deadliness of the character.

At 2nd level we pick up shield to increase our survivability in combat. Shield is going to remain a staple, until we get to high enough level to get Teleport Shield. Heavy blows adds another miss-activated maneuver that increases the deadliness of the character. Grim Intent is the maneuver to use early in battles, and later I’d switch to Heavy Blows. Our 2nd level feat bumps Counter-Attack to full damage.

At 3rd level we add Blur to the roster of keeping-us-safe spells. Brace For It is added to the triggers-on-a-miss maneuvers, and we take the feat that improves the maneuver.

By 4th level we get our 3rd level spells (remember, multi-class characters lag one level behind in certain things). We use that to bump things like Acid Arrow and Magic Missile to their maximum. We use a feat to allow us to split Magic Missile between two targets.

At 5th level we get the Brace For It feat that lets us turn any crit against Malehea into just a hit, provided we triggered the maneuver by missing with a melee attack. We also get Punish Them, allowing us to daze enemies that are hit with Malehea’s sword. Teleport Shield joins the regular roster of spells. As we continue to level this character up this will become an important part of our teleporting-fighting-casting tactics.

At 6th level we boost Magic Missile with the champion feat—allowing us to crit with a spell that has no attack roll. Malehea’s tactics involve rushing in with the sword, then teleporting off to attack with her arcane archery, and if anybody gets too close she stabs them and with a swirl of her cloak sends them away from her (Teleport Shield). We also get Fireball, which I picture as Malehea conjuring dozens of burning arrows for her bow.

At 7th level we get the new talent Power-Attack, and the adventurer feat for it. This new fighter talent lets us make a once-per-battle all-out melee attack with bonus damage (+7d4 hit or miss at 7th level). We also get Hold Monster as a spell, finally dropping Shield. Hold Monster probably looks like an energy arrow that wraps bands of force around the limbs of enemies that it hits. Hero’s Skill, our newest maneuver, turns the occasional miss into a hit.

At 8th level we get a boost to HP and PD due to stat increases, and get a touch more damage based on our key attribute. We use our first epic tier feat to boost the damage dice of our magic missile (which also gets a boost to 7th level).

At 9th level we get Never Surrender, a maneuver that lets us save against effects that keep us from our full combat potential. We gain two new spells in our regular roster: Flight and Dimension Door. Dimension Door is obviousy an extension of Malehea’s cloak-swirling teleportation. The new spell Flight is probably a combination of gliding using her cloak and magically-enhanced jumps, at least that’s how I’ll describe it during play. The champion-tier feat for Fireball increases the number of targets.

At 10th level we level most of our spells that do damage to 9th level, and pick up a new spell Teleport, staying with the theme of battlefield maneuverability. The epic tier feat for Fireball further increases its number of targets. A boost to our attributes increases all our attack rolls.

Praxar the Dark, Exiled Sword-Mage

Praxar is a sword-mage that has been exiled from elven lands. He has been forced to become self-reliant and is much more focused on magic than the sword-and-arcane-archery Malehea. I picture this character enchanting his sword with mystical energy rather than relying on fighter manuvers, so I’m creating this character as a ranger/wizard. Why ranger? Well, for the talents Fey Queen’s Enchantments and Ranger ex Cathedra: access to cleric and sorcery spells. This character is our dark sword-mage, a cackling wizard with a glowing sword and a love of shooting lightning from his finger-tips.

For the Ranger ex Cathedra talent I’m choosing Hammer of Faith but calling it “Sword of Light”. Once per day Praxar can charge his sword up with burning light, increasing his damage dice to d12s! The Fey Queen’s Enchantments’ sorcerer spell gets us access to breath weapons, which I’m picturing as arcs of energy that fly from Praxar’s sword as he swings it. See, for this character these are not ‘spells’, but the fusion of swordplay and arcane power. OK, yes, they are still spells, but we’re going to describe them differently.

The remaining talent is Abjuration. Abjurers gain a +4 bonus to their AC whenever they cast a daily wizard spell. This talent is going to shape Praxar’s tactics: cast a daily spell at range, then close in for melee, then back off for a new daily spell, then back in for another round of slicing enemies apart with his enchanted sword.

Our 1st level spell picks are Magic Missile, Blur, Acid Arrow, and Shocking Grasp. Magic Missile here is more of a force-damage throat-choke that Praxar can perform at a distance… I picture Praxar as a character with a definite dark side, as it were. Shocking Grasp is lightning that shoots from Praxar’s outstretched hand. Blur represents Praxar’s ability to muddle the weaker minds of his opponents. Acid Arrow? Hmm… well I guess Praxar is from the same tradition of sword-mages as Malehea, so it is an arrow made of sizzling acid that he conjures up and launches from his bow. Shocking Grasp will see a lot of use with this character, as any time we are engaged with an enemy and want to not be engaged we can just whip it out and blast the foe away with lightning.

At 2nd level we get the spell Shield, which I’m going to describe during play as a forceful telekinetic shove that he applies to enemies that get too close (and will eventually become Teleport Shield). We’re also going to get the feat for Shocking Grasp that turns it into a quick action to use it… allowing us to blast enemies away from us so that we can use daily ranged attack spells with impunity. Shocking Grasp, however, does potentially damage the caster with lightning feedback, so we might not want to use it every single round.

At 3rd level our two daily ‘sword’ spells that Ranger ex Cathedra gives us boost to 3rd level. This means that Sword of Light (a renamed Hammer of Faith) becomes a quick action to use. We’re also going to get the feat for that talent that allows us to heal like a cleric. Given the dark nature of Praxar, he’s probably not going to share and will end up using this on himself (especially is he takes lots of lightning damage from shocking grasp). A utility spell slot is added to our roster of spells to give us added flexibility. Remember, though we’re listing the ‘usual’ spells that Praxar prepares, they can be changed out each day for a different set of spells.

At 4th level we’re adding three new spells to our roster: Confusion, Force Salvo, and Lightning Bolt. Lightning Bolt is obviously an outgrowth of Shocking Grasp… now Praxar can cackle and attack enemies with lightning shooting from his outstretched hand from across the battlefield. Confusion links to Blur, both forcing the weaker minds of his opponents to his stronger will. Force Salvo I’m going to go ahead and say is Praxar throwing his glowing sword and telekinetically whipping it around the battlefield before recalling it to his hand. We pause to pick up the adventurer feat for Abjuration, applying its bonus to defenses to PD as well as AC.

At 5th level we swap Sword of Ice (actually Breath of the White) for Sword of Darkness (actually Breath of the Black). I like the thematic element of Praxar having a sword that burns with light and darkness. The feat for the Fey Queen’s Enchantments talent means that we can use our key attribute for our attack bonus with Sword of Darkness. Teleport Shield Is added to the roster of spells that Praxar has, though in play I’ll probably describe it more as a huge telekinetic shove against enemies that throw them across the battlefield.

At 6th level we gain the ranger’s Archery talent and the multi-class feat for it that allows us to apply it to ranged wizard attacks; now, once per battle, Praxar can re-roll a missed ranged attack. We also pick up a load of 5th level spells. Denial and Invisibility are extensions of Praxar’s ability to bend lesser minds to his will. Dimension Door is Praxar’s (super-)natural elven ability to teleport, expanded through the use of magic. Fireball is just like Malehea’s Fireball: a volley of burning arrows.

At 7th level our attributes go up enough to give us a boost to all our attack rolls, HP, AC, PD, ad so on. Score! The adventurer-tier feat gives us a bonus to re-rolled attack rolls, and an expanded crit range. The sword spells (Sword of Light and Sword of Darkness, actually a reflavored Hammer of Faith and Breath of the Black) increase to 7th level. The improved Sword of Light lets us re-roll a missed melee attack once per battle.

At 8th level we get the champion feat for Abjuration, which gives us temporary hit points every time we cast a daily wizard spell… and apart from Shocking Grasp and Magic Missile all our spells are daily spells. The spell Blink combines Praxar’s love of teleportation with his ability to force the minds of others to his dark will.

At 9th level we get the last of our ranger talents: Animal Companion. Though it says ‘Animal’, I’m going to pick ‘Bear’ and say that in this case the animal is in fact an elf who has become Praxar’s dark apprentice or sword-mage squire. The epic Abjuration feat means that any time Praxar uses a daily spell he gains +2d12 HP and gains +4 to all defenses until the end of his next turn. The new spell Haste lets Praxar hold back to survey his foes, then burst into a blur of action for the rest of the battle.

At 10th level we’re going to invest in the feat Further Backgrounding. These new background points represent Praxar’s squire/apprentice aiding him. If I were playing Praxar, when it comes time to retire Praxar at the end of 10th level and start a new game of 13th Age I might play the apprentice of Praxar! The apprentice would probably be a sword-mage too, but with backgrounds and an outlook shaped by the epic-tier adventures of Praxar and whatever the stunning conclusion to the previous campaign was. The new spells Disintegrate and Meteor Swarm join the roster. Disintigrate is Praxar using his command of telekinetic force to tear apart a foe at the atomic level, and Meteor Swarm is Praxar grabbing scenery and hurling it about in a storm of destruction.

Other Sword-Mages

Of course that is just two ways to deal with wizards who fight. Using Kobold Press’s Deep Magic (written by me) I could create a fighter with a small roster of spells, including weapon-enhancing spells and arcane archery, yet still firmly a fighter. Picking a class combo from the core book, a Bard/Wizard who concentrates on bardic battle cries would make an interesting Sword-Mage, though I feel the yelling-casting-fighting multiclass might be better described as a dwarven Axe-Wizard. Those interested in heavy-armor wizards might want to look into a Paladin/Wizard with the paladin’s Armored in Life multi-class feats; such a character would benefit from a mix of healing-focused talents for the paladin’s side of things, and Abjuration on the wizard’s side to create a character that is hard to hit and heals itself… a spell-casting tank that wears enemies down through attrition and then blasts them apart with daily spells. A rogue/wizard with the rogue’s multi-class talents and access to Magic Missile can gain momentum when they decide to, and is a fighting character who has access to tumbling, teleportation, blurring, shadow-walking, and so on… the ultimate in battlefield sneaking and mobility. Of course you probably have 13 True Ways if you are multi-classing. Using 13 True Ways I could create a commander/wizard who focuses on reaching into the minds of their allies and offering mystic power-boosts and timely sage advice. Also using 13 True Ways I could make a Warrior Adept Druid/Wizard, a caster who either uses wizard spells or makes melee attacks that trigger mystical effects. The possibilities for multi-classing are near-endless.

Character Sheets

You can download two character sheets from levels 1-10 – one for a skilled swordswoman who uses arcane archery and a load of magically-enhanced leaps and teleports, and a force-choking glowing-sword-wielding lightning-shooting adventurer, with an apprentice – here.

13th Age – Behind the Music

Coming to an audio delivery device near you (very near you) in January 2015