13th Sage: Borrowing from Glorantha

The soon-to-arrive 13th Age Glorantha (13G) book from Moon Design is more than 6/8ths of the way through layout. I’ll share some monster conversion notes from Glorantha to the Dragon Empire when the layout is complete and the book is available to order on BackerKit.

For now, let’s look at a couple of mechanical elements in 13G that could have a place in core 13A games. We’ll start with a small mechanical wrinkle, and finish with a new play-style.

Battle healing

Compared to the core 13A environment, there’s a lot less healing available mid-fight at most 13G tables. Characters can still rally, and many classes have abilities that let them recover hit points once or twice, but there aren’t any focused healing classes. There’s no cleric, and even the earth priestess is more likely to occasionally heal heroes who are fighting well rather than getting themselves badly cut up.

Instead of mid-combat healing spells (which is how some other Gloranthan RPGs have handled it), we opted to let an action called ‘battle healing’ give characters a chance to help fallen allies get back into the fight. Depending on your character, the action can represent anything from performing minor magic to kicking your ‘friend’ until they get up and fight!

If you end up playing a 13A campaign with no cleric, no druid, no healer-identified-healer, you should consider borrowing the 13G battle healing rules as an alternative to loading the PCs down with healing potions.

At present, I suspect that combining battle healing rules with the type of ready healing that comes from having a cleric in the party may be too much of a good-healing thing. However, as a one-time dramatic event, particularly in combination with icon relationship advantages, it could be a good way to balance a ridiculously nasty-special battle.

Myth-crawling

Heroquesting is a powerful element in the lives of Gloranthan characters, who enter the otherworld to defend the cosmos and gain personal power by recreating the mythic actions of their gods. Chapter 7 of 13G has detailed rules for creating new heroquests—including heroquests for lost and broken myths where things didn’t go so well for your gods, and you need to do better!

The Dragon Empire isn’t usually about the gods. But it is all about the icons! And given that the Dragon Empire has had 12 previous ages, each of which has presumably had its own ascendant and teetering icons, well, it’s easy enough to adapt the mechanics of heroquesting as ritual adventures that quest back into previous ages. In the Dragon Empire, I’d call this style of adventuring mythcrawling, keeping it distinct from heroquesting.

The book I’m developing now, Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan’s Book of Ages, has many examples of ascendant and teetering icons, spread through example ages that GMs are meant to adapt and blend as they choose. I’m not going to add mythcrawl notes everywhere in the book, but I’ll  have a couple of examples in sidebars to complement Gareth’s notes on time travel and resurgent histories.

For a more detailed introduction of this idea, and a Dragon Empire example that I wrote back in 2014, see Heroquesting the Dragon Empire. It has taken awhile, but it’s nice to see that most of what I wrote about heroquesting/mythcrawling as 13G was starting still plays true.

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