Silver ENnie award winner for Best Rules; nominee for Best Game and Product of the Year. 13th Age combines the best parts of traditional d20-rolling fantasy gaming with new story-focused rules, designed so you can run the kind of game you most want to play with your group. Created by Rob Heinsoo and Jonathan Tweet, 13th Age gives you all the tools you need to make unique characters who are immediately embedded in the setting in important ways; quickly prepare adventures based on the PCs’ backgrounds and goals; create your own monsters; fight exciting battles; and focus on what’s always been cool and fun about fantasy adventure gaming: Icon relationships and One Unique Things offer exciting storytelling possibilities Backgrounds provide a simple, flexible skill system drawn from characters’ personal histories Escalation dice enable fun, fast-moving d20 combat. Owlbears will rip PC’s limbs off to feed their young. Get your copy of 13th Age today at the Pelgrane Shop or your local game store. “13th Age RPG delivers an incredible fantasy storytelling experience.” – io9 “13th Age is, perhaps, the first d20 game that I’ve ever played that treats the game inside of combat and the game outside of combat with equal love, attention, and innovation.” – Dorkadia Learn more about 13th […]

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Here’s what I love about the giant shark bowl ooze from Tome of Beasts 2: Creature Codex by Kobold Press: it’s a perfect over-the-top addition to a master villain’s lair in 13th Age. Spy movie masterminds often have tanks full of sharks, alligators, piranhas, and other menaces in their headquarters. These remind everyone who they’re dealing with, and are also handy ways to dispose of intruding heroes and unlucky henchmen.

The giant shark bowl ooze does them one better—not only is the shark deadly, the aquarium itself is a monster.

The original is designed for 5th Edition under the OGL, and as soon as I saw it, I sat down and statted it for 13th Age. (Many thanks to Rob Heinsoo for giving it a development pass before posting.) Whereas the original is treated as one monster, my version treats it as two. The ooze is a variant of the gelatinous dodecahedron, and the shark is a non-mook version of the Iron Sea shark, both from the 13th Age Bestiary.

Giant Shark Bowl Ooze

A giant shark swims within a huge fishbowl, circling above a sandy floor strewn with seashells, a small castle, and a treasure chest. While you’re figuring out how to kill the shark and get the treasure, the bowl lashes out with a gelatinous pseudopod and engulfs you.

Huge 7th level blocker [ooze]

Initiative: +7

Shlup’n’schlorp +13 vs. PD—30 damage, and the giant shark bowl ooze engulfs the target if it’s smaller than the ooze.

Miss: The ooze can make a spasms attack as a free action.

[Special trigger] C: Spasms +13 vs. AC (up to 2 attacks, each against a different nearby enemy)—20 damage

Engulf and suffocate: Engulfed targets automatically take 20 damage at the start of the ooze’s turn, and are consider nearby to (and soon to be engaged with!) the giant shark swimming inside the ooze. The shark acts after the ooze’s turn, and can engage any engulfed targets. The shark cannot attack targets outside the ooze (unless it moves out of the ooze, see its stats below). Engulfed targets can escape the ooze with a successful disengage check at a -5 penalty.

Instinctive actions: Gelatinous creatures have no brains, sometimes they just do things. When the escalation die is odd, instead of making an attack or moving, roll a d8 to see what the giant shark bowl ooze does. If an option is not available (you roll a 1 but there are no nearby enemies), reroll until you get a valid option.

  1. The giant shark bowl ooze makes a squash attack against 1d4 nearby enemies as it rolls and shlorps around the area. Any enemies already engulfed by the giant shark bowl ooze take 10 thunder damage.

C: Squash +10 vs. PD (1d4 nearby enemies)—20 damage, and the target is stunned (easy save ends, 6+)

  1. The giant shark bowl ooze throws out whip-like tendrils and makes a sudden orifice attack against each enemy engaged with it. Then it pulls each nearby enemy next to it and engages that creature.

Sudden orifice +15 vs. PD (each enemy engaged with it)—The giant shark bowl ooze engulfs the target if it’s smaller than the giant shark bowl ooze

  1. Hundreds of finger-size slimes slither out from the interior of the giant shark bowl ooze and begin worming their way across the bodies of each of its enemies in the battle. Until the end of the battle, when a non-ooze creature takes any damage besides ongoing acid damage, it also takes 10 acid damage.
  2. The giant shark bowl ooze produces spikes. It gains a +4 bonus to all defenses until the end of the battle.
  3. The giant shark bowl ooze makes a spasms attack. If it misses with either attack roll, after the attacks, it can make a stretch and engulf attack as a free action.C: Stretch and engulf +13 vs. PD (one nearby or far away enemy)—30 thunder damage, and the giant shark bowl ooze engulfs the target if it’s smaller than the ooze
  4. C: Pseudopod slaps +13 vs. AC (one nearby enemy)—40 thunder damage

    Natural odd hit: The target pops free from the giant shark bowl ooze and is knocked far away, and the ooze makes the attack again against a different nearby enemy as a free action.

    Natural even hit: The giant shark bowl ooze engulfs the target if it’s smaller than the giant shark bowl ooze.

AC 21

PD 19     HP 400

MD 16

 

Giant Shark

Double-strength 5th level wrecker [beast]

Initiative: +7 (but don’t roll for the giant shark, it acts immediately after the giant shark bowl ooze)

Massive jaws +10 vs. AC—36 damage

Miss: 18 damage.

Frenzy: While staggered, if the giant shark is unengaged at the start of its turn, it must roll an easy save (6+). On a failure, the giant shark must move and attack a random nearby enemy that’s staggered, or a random nearby non-ooze creature if there are no staggered enemies. Yes, this means the giant shark might propel itself torpedo-like out of the ooze at a target.

Shredder: When an enemy misses with a melee attack against the giant shark and rolls a natural 1–5, the attacker takes 18 damage.

In a bowl, yo: As mentioned above in the its ooze bowl’s stats, the giant shark can’t attack enemies unless they’re in the ooze with it; the ooze was reduced to 0 hp and has dissolved; a PC thought that getting the shark out of its bowl would somehow be a good idea; or the shark has erupted from the ooze during frenzy. Likewise, thanks to the ooze’s protection, very few attacks from outside the bowl can affect the giant shark. If you decide that a particularly powerful or clever attack from outside the bowl can choose the shark as a target, the shark gets a +5 to all its defenses against that attack.

Last, dying thrash: If the giant shark is outside of its bowl, the shark takes 25 damage at the end of its turns. When it reaches 0 hit points and dies, roll this attack against all nearby non-ooze creatures: +12 vs. PD—18 damage

AC 22

PD 19     HP 140

MD 14

 

About 13th Age

13th Age combines the best parts of traditional d20-rolling fantasy gaming with new story-focused rules, designed so you can run the kind of game you most want to play with your group. Created by Rob Heinsoo and Jonathan Tweet, 13th Age gives you all the tools you need to make unique characters who are immediately embedded in the setting in important ways; quickly prepare adventures based on the PCs’ backgrounds and goals; create your own monsters; fight exciting battles; and focus on what’s always been cool and fun about fantasy adventure gaming. Purchase 13th Age in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

If you use background music in your 13thAge games – such as the wonderful 13thAge soundtrack – you can replace the regular rules for icon relationships with a more improvisational approach. Here’s how it works.

  1. Players choose their icon relationships as normal during character creation.
  2. The GM creates a playlist, mixing in the songs for each players’ icons plus a few more suitably atmospheric tracks. The playlist should be longer than the expected length of the game session. Play it on random shuffle.
  3. Instead of rolling relationship dice, whenever an icon’s song comes up, the first player to invoke that song gets to call on it for a suitable story-based benefit, or a +d6 bonus to an attack roll or background check.
  4. More than one player can invoke the same icon at the same time, but that’s the equivalent of rolling a 5 on a regular icon die – it’s a benefit with strings attached. There’ll be an icon-related complication later on.

The trick here is that the songs act as immediate prompts. Players who freeze at the question “how might your relationship with the Priestess help you in this session?” have far less trouble with the question “how might the Priestess help you right now, in the middle of this conversation you’re in?” It’s an approach better suited to a free-wheeling, anarchic, anything-goes campaign than a carefully plotted one.

Possible variants

  • Bardic balladeers get to add songs to the playlist.
  • The GM adds hostile icons to the mix – badness gets triggered when they play
  • Hit next whenever anyone gets a crit
  • Hit next whenever the escalation die increases
  • Players can add their personal theme songs as well as their icon relationships

13th Age combines the best parts of traditional d20-rolling fantasy gaming with new story-focused rules, designed so you can run the kind of game you most want to play with your group. Created by Rob Heinsoo and Jonathan Tweet, 13th Age gives you all the tools you need to make unique characters who are immediately embedded in the setting in important ways; quickly prepare adventures based on the PCs’ backgrounds and goals; create your own monsters; fight exciting battles; and focus on what’s always been cool and fun about fantasy adventure gaming. Purchase 13th Age in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

Wanna bend the rules a little and play a character who has the ultimate in conflicted relationships? Choose one icon that suits your character’s story best. Spend your three icon relationship points like so: take one relationship point that’s positive, one that’s conflicted, and one that’s negative. Yes, all with the same icon.

What interwoven stories will explain your situation? Let’s use the Archmage as an example. Perhaps you are devoted to the Archmage as a Spark within the almost extinct but now resurgent Order of the Blue Flame. That’s your positive relationship point.

But the Blue Flame has a rival order (possibly responsible for their fall?) in the service of the Archmage that opposes everything they stand for, politically and metaphysically, so your negative relationship point is connected to opposing a secretive faction of Archmage-devoted definite-enemies. You’re probably not lethal rivals, but you’d rather see everything about them fail, and vice versa.

The conflicted point might be most all the other factions in the Archmage’s service, who probably appreciate your faction’s fervent return to power but are concerned about in-fighting. Some times they help you, other times you’re figuring out how to keep them from helping your rival.

I’m sure the High Druid, Priestess, and Prince of Shadows are ripe for this type of treatment. And we haven’t even mentioned the most obvious icon for three-part disharmony: The Three! In the simplest interpretation, you could be on great terms with one of the Three, mixed up in both positive and negative relations with followers of another, and directly opposed to the third, perhaps for personal reasons or perhaps for reasons connected to your most-positive aspect of the icon.

Soldiers of the Emperor, happily unaware that they might soon be statted up as monsters. “We’re only NPCs!” they say to each other. “We’re safe!”

NPC followers of icons like the Priestess, Emperor, and Archmage aren’t usually monsters—but that doesn’t stop player characters from wanting to fight them!

Icon Followers will focus on playable monster-stats for human and humanoid NPCs of the Dragon Empire. Want stats for a city guard, gladiator, traveling priest, bardic college student, or Imperial Legionnaire? Icon Followers gives you options for many such NPCs, further distinguished by their chosen icon or their home environment. Less generic write-ups cover intriguing agents of the icons such as the Blue’s diplomatic envoys and the Priestess’ minotaur labyrinth-keepers.

Authors include Rob Heinsoo, ASH LAW, Cal Moore, Liz Argall, Lynne Hardy, Steven Warzeha, and Wade Rockett.

Icon Followers is currently in development. Stay tuned for a release date!

Elf Queen SketchThe 13th Age core book tells us little about the Queen’s Wood, where the Elf Queen rules: it’s a sprawling elven wood, largely empty now, whose trees have leaves that are “a riot of silver and gold and green and indigo.” In the lengthy description of the elven Court of Stars in 13 True Ways, we learn a bit more:

The Queen’s Wood redounds with the magic of nature, to which the elves of all mortal races remain most bound. The Court of Stars moves in harmony with the other, inaccessible natural worlds hanging high in the heavens. It moves across the magical forest as the constellations proceed through the night sky above. As such it comprises the central vortex of the ever-growing, ever-breathing collection of living things that is the Queen’s Wood. Just as the plants of the forest floor can grow from seed to maturity in a few short hours, the forest transforms itself as the Court approaches. To try to map it is fruitless. It’s not that you can’t perceive it properly—all the details of the physical environment exist in literal reality. But by the time you’ve drawn up your map, the details have faded into obsolescence.

So, here we have a fairy wood, ever-changing under the Queen’s influence. This is more than enough to spark the imagination when it comes to adventures inside the Queen’s Wood: this place is magic, but of a vastly different kind than the Archmage’s in Horizon. Time and space behave differently here, not because someone harnessed the power of wizardry and, through force of will, made it that way. There’s no “because” here; things simply are, the way they simply are in a fairy tale.

How do you represent this in your game, should you decide to send your heroes on a quest within in the Queen’s Wood? Here’s how two of my favorite fantasy authors handled the matter of the deep, magical forest, and those who dwell within.

Little, Big: The Further In You Go, The Bigger It Gets

John Crowley’s novel Little, Big chronicles the lives of the Drinkwater family, whose destiny is mysteriously bound up with the fairies. In a flashback to the Victorian era, we hear an ancestor, Dr. Bramble, explain why he believes descriptions of the little folk vary so wildly—from tiny people with “spears of locust-thorns and their chariots made of nutshells” to fully-formed men and women three feet tall, all the way up to “fairy warriors on great steeds, banshees and pookahs and ogres who are huge, larger by far than men.”

His theory is that the universe consists of worlds or layers of reality in concentric circles. Our world is the outermost, largest ring; but paradoxically, the further in you go, the bigger those innermost worlds are. Passing through a “door” into the next circle brings one into contact with the smallest of the fey. Entering the next circle, you meet larger fey. At the center is the infinite realm of Faery.

Using this approach in an adventure within the Queen’s Wood makes the journey a multidimensional one that plays with the idea of perception vs. reality. The characters may perceive themselves to be traveling through a forest, but they’re actually transitioning between parallel worlds. Each world, zone, circle—however you want to frame it—is home to different types of fey creatures found in 13th Age. But perhaps in the Queen’s Wood, elves, pixies, sprites,  and so on only appear to be different types of creatures because the PCs encounter them in different places. Maybe the next time they glance over at the pixie NPC who agreed to be their guide, that tiny, winged creature has become a faun, or a tall elven warrior with a shining spear. (See the fey entry in the 13th Age Bestiary 2, particularly the power of a name mechanic which gives fey different powers depending on which name they’ve taken.)

Lavondyss: Old Forbidden Place

In Robert Holdstock’s book Lavondyss, Ryhope Wood is England’s last primeval forest, and the way into the Otherworld, or “Old Forbidden Place” as the book’s hero Tallis calls it. Here, “mythagos”—hero-forms from myth, legend, and folklore—take material form from the power of the forest and the often dark, violent subconscious of humanity. You could meet Guinevere, or Robin Hood, or olderheroes from humanity’s prehistoric past here. But the Robin Hood you meet might not be the version you’re familiar with, or want: a winking rogue in Lincoln Green, or a strange, silent predator. Arthur might look like Malory’s noble Once and Future King, or might be Artorius, a Latin-speaking military commander covered in mud and blood.

If you like the idea of ancient heroes and legends (or their phantoms) dwelling in the Queen’s Wood, here’s where you open your copy of The Book of Ages and dive in—because past icons make great mythagos. This version of your players’ journey through the forest has a dreamlike feeling where past and present are mingled, and turning a corner might lead them to the scene of the Barbarian King’s last battle, a tangled path where the Huntsman has laid his snares, or to the foot of the Hermit’s tower. These shadow forms of the icons might be friends, foes, or both. It’s likely that the elves will warn you away from them, but maybe there’s a piece of vital information you need, and only the Spelljack (or his memory) has it.

For this approach, I recommend checking out the chapter on Heroquesting in 13th Age Glorantha. The PCs might perform a ritual in the Queen’s Wood, where the barriers of time and space are flexible, to enter a timeless realm of heroes and participate in the significant events of past ages as they exist in myth and dream. Success there could provide mythic insights or special magic items, or even alter the world in the present day by setting right an ancient wrong.

About 13th Age

13th Age combines the best parts of traditional d20-rolling fantasy gaming with new story-focused rules, designed so you can run the kind of game you most want to play with your group. Created by Rob Heinsoo and Jonathan Tweet, 13th Age gives you all the tools you need to make unique characters who are immediately embedded in the setting in important ways; quickly prepare adventures based on the PCs’ backgrounds and goals; create your own monsters; fight exciting battles; and focus on what’s always been cool and fun about fantasy adventure gaming. Purchase 13th Age in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

Chaos Mage

By ASH LAW

The chaos mage is my second favorite class, right behind the wizard. It is certainly, in my opinion, the most fun class to play. The fun for me with this class is not in being effective in combat, but from being weird in combat and discovering what happens—because that is what the chaos mage is about: unleashing the weirdness. The good news is that as you unleash the weirdness, you are effective in combat as a side-effect of that.

Play this class if you want to bring strangeness into your game. Avoid this class if you like a character who can be relied upon—some games you’ll find that the chaos mage rocks, sometimes it rocks less (though if you can think on your feet you can turn that around), but it is always interesting. If you like the idea of accidentally switching gender mid-combat, or twisting space about as a side-effect of your magic, or getting to fight in spirit alongside yourself then this is the class for you. I wrote the ‘high weirdness’ table for this class, and though Rob trimmed out the stranger entries it makes each battle that involves a chaos mage unexpectedly odd. High weirdnesses are beneficial 50% of the time, bad (but not too bad) for you or your allies 10% of the time, and the rest of the time is either purely cosmetic or is strange in a way that is exploitable by clever players.

As a chaos mage you can’t quite control what magic you’ll get each turn. At that start of each of your turns you draw a bead or tile from a bag and that determines what sort of spell you’ll be casting. You don’t learn or memorize spells like other caster classes—you can potentially cast anything that a chaos mage of your level can cast. For you, life is like a box of chocolates—you never know what you are going to get, and often it will be a nutty surprise. A tentacle of force, silver arrows, a bone-shattering sound, burning claws—you can only guess at what sort of magic you will unleash from one moment to the next. You know how many daily and per-battle spells you can cast, but outside of that you rely on luck to determine what you get to cast each turn.

Because your spells are random, you don’t select new spells when leveling up. Really the only choices you make after character creation are what feats to take, and what attributes to increase. In some ways this is the simplest class to create, and one of the most challenging (and stimulating) to play.

Highly Weird Chaos mage

Download Highly Weird Chaos Mage character sheets here.

This chaos mage build maximizes your chances each turn of rolling on the warp tables and high weirdness tables. With this build any spell you cast will introduce a new high weirdness thanks to the adventurer tier high weirdness feat and the talent selection.

My advice with this character is to embrace the strange! This build is never dull, with an ever-changing strangeness triggering at the start of each of your turns. Hang back in a fight (but not too far back) and try to use ranged spells whenever possible. Stick in the middle—let your allies protect you but give cover to those that need to fight at a range.

Talents

Attacking Warp

Whenever you pull a bead/tile that means you can roll an attack spell, you get to roll on the attacking warp random element warp table—and roll a new high weirdness.

Defensive Warp

As per attacking warp, but for defensive spells.

Iconic Warp

As per attacking warp, but for iconic spells.

Race

The human’s extra feat is worthwhile, and the ability to roll twice for initiative and take the better roll is nothing to be sniffed at either.

Attributes

Charisma helps you hit with your spells, and Dexterity, Wisdom, and Intelligence help your warps: Str 8 (-1) Con 10 (0) Dex 14 (+2) Int 14 (+2) Wis 14 (+2) Cha 18 (+4).

1st level

Attributes: Str 8 (-1) Con 10 (0) Dex 14 (+2) Int 14 (+2) Wis 14 (+2) Cha 18 (+4).

Racial Power: quick to fight

Talents: attacking warp, defensive warp, iconic warp

Spells: 1st level (Daily: 2, Once-Per-Battle: 1)

Feats: high weirdness, toughness

2nd level

Spells 1st level (Daily: 3, Once-Per-Battle: 1), new feat (attacking warp).

3rd level

Spells 3rd level (Daily: 3, Once-Per-Battle: 1), new feat (defensive warp).

4th level

+1 to three attributes (Dexterity, Wisdom, Charisma), spells 3rd level (Daily: 4, Once-Per-Battle: 1), new feat (iconic warp).

5th level

Spells 5th level (Daily: 4, Once-Per-Battle: 1), new feat (high weirdness).

6th level

Spells 5th level (Daily: 4, Once-Per-Battle: 2), new feat (attacking warp).

7th level

+1 to three attributes (Dexterity, Intelligence, Charisma), spells 7th level (Daily: 4, Once-Per-Battle: 2), new feat (iconic warp).

8th level

Spells 7th level (Daily: 5, Once-Per-Battle: 2), new feat (high weirdness).

9th level

Spells 9th level (Daily: 5, Once-Per-Battle: 2), new feat (defensive warp).

10th level

+1 to three attributes (Intelligence, Wisdom, Charisma), spells 9th level (Daily: 6, Once-Per-Battle: 2), new feat (iconic warp).

Chaos Mage

by ASH LAW

The chaos mage is my second favorite class, right behind the wizard. It is certainly, in my opinion, the most fun class to play. The fun for me with this class is not in being effective in combat, but from being weird in combat and discovering what happens—because that is what the chaos mage is about: unleashing the weirdness. The good news is that as you unleash the weirdness, you are effective in combat as a side-effect of that.

Play this class if you want to bring strangeness into your game. Avoid this class if you like a character who can be relied upon—some games you’ll find that the chaos mage rocks, sometimes it rocks less (though if you can think on your feet you can turn that around), but it is always interesting. If you like the idea of accidentally switching gender mid-combat, or twisting space about as a side-effect of your magic, or getting to fight in spirit alongside yourself then this is the class for you. I wrote the ‘high weirdness’ table for this class, and though Rob trimmed out the stranger entries it makes each battle that involves a chaos mage unexpectedly odd. High weirdnesses are beneficial 50% of the time, bad (but not too bad) for you or your allies 10% of the time, and the rest of the time is either purely cosmetic or is strange in a way that is exploitable by clever players.

As a chaos mage you can’t quite control what magic you’ll get each turn. At that start of each of your turns you draw a bead or tile from a bag and that determines what sort of spell you’ll be casting. You don’t learn or memorize spells like other caster classes—you can potentially cast anything that a chaos mage of your level can cast. For you, life is like a box of chocolates—you never know what you are going to get, and often it will be a nutty surprise. A tentacle of force, silver arrows, a bone-shattering sound, burning claws—you can only guess at what sort of magic you will unleash from one moment to the next. You know how many daily and per-battle spells you can cast, but outside of that you rely on luck to determine what you get to cast each turn.

Because your spells are random, you don’t select new spells when leveling up. Really the only choices you make after character creation are what feats to take, and what attributes to increase. In some ways this is the simplest class to create, and one of the most challenging (and stimulating) to play.

Space Oddity Chaos Mage

Download Space Oddity Chaos Mage character sheets here.

This Chaos Mage build is designed to give you the maximum chance of teleporting—and thanks to the separate existence talent and feats you needn’t worry as much about damage from opportunity attacks against you nor taking damage when a monster misses you.

The separate existence talent is our first choice, leaving us with two talents to pick. There are seven remaining talents, of which four give us spells from other non-chaotic caster classes. Yes, we could choose one of these non-warp talents, but where’s the fun in that? So attacking warp and defensive warp it is then: the former gives us a chance to fly and teleport, and the latter warp gives us chances to heal. We’re missing out on iconic warp, but it is worth it for the separate existence talent.

With this character getting stuck into melee combat is a good idea, or in any case not an entirely terrible one—letting you roll with the chaotic nature of your magic instead of having to keep your distance. You are not a front-line fighter, but when space warps at least you will be comfortable ending up beside one.

This build doesn’t trigger high weirdness as often as the ‘highly weird’ chaos mage build, but makes up for that with a slightly higher chance to hit in combat and an improved force tentacle spell.

Talents

Attacking Warp

Whenever you pull a bead/tile that means you can roll an attack spell, you get to roll on the attacking warp random element warp table—and roll a new high weirdness.

Defensive Warp

As per attacking warp, but for defensive spells.

Separate Existence

Make ranged attacks while engaged without provoking, and most of the time you take no damage from missed attacks against you.

Race

High elves with their highblood teleport pair well with the champion feat for separate existence to give guaranteed once-per-battle self-healing.

Attributes

Charisma helps you hit, and Dexterity, Wisdom, are useful for our warps. Constitution is useful to keep you up and running when the going gets tough: Str 8 (-1) Con 12 (+1) Dex 12 (+1) Int 10 (0) Wis 12 (+1) Cha 20 (+5).

1st level

Attributes: Str 8 (-1) Con 12 (+1) Dex 12 (+1) Int 10 (0) Wis 12 (+1) Cha 20 (+5).

Racial Power: highblood teleport

Talents: attacking warp, defensive warp, separate existence

Spells: 1st level (Daily: 2, Once-Per-Battle: 1)

Feats: separate existence

2nd level

Spells 1st level (Daily: 3, Once-Per-Battle: 1), new feat (high weirdness).

3rd level

Spells 3rd level (Daily: 3, Once-Per-Battle: 1), new feat (attack warp).

4th level

+1 to three attributes (Dexterity, Wisdom, Charisma), spells 3rd level (Daily: 4, Once-Per-Battle: 1), new feat (force tentacle).

5th level

Spells 5th level (Daily: 4, Once-Per-Battle: 1), new feat (separate existence).

6th level

Spells 5th level (Daily: 4, Once-Per-Battle: 2), new feat (highblood teleport).

7th level

+1 to three attributes (Dexterity, Constitution, Charisma), spells 7th level (Daily: 4, Once-Per-Battle: 2), new feat (attack warp).

8th level

Spells 7th level (Daily: 5, Once-Per-Battle: 2), new feat (attack warp).

9th level

Spells 9th level (Daily: 5, Once-Per-Battle: 2), new feat (force tentacle).

10th level

+1 to three attributes (Constitution, Wisdom, Charisma), spells 9th level (Daily: 6, Once-Per-Battle: 2), new feat (force tentacle).

Only 100 copies of the faux-leatherbound limited edition the 13th Age Bestiary 2 exist. 50 are available to customers in the U.S. and Canada, and 50 are available to customers outside the U.S. and Canada. The books are faux leather with silver foil, and each one includes a sticky-backed bookplate signed by Rob Heinsoo which you can add to your book.

Limited edition with bookplate

Fallen icons, apocalyptic fire giants, and a purple dragon who throws the best parties: welcome to the 13th Age Bestiary 2!

More than 250 individual stat blocks appear in 51 entries, along with with story hooks, icon relationships, customizable campaign variants, and advice on creating exciting battles.

New monsters for your campaign include:

  • The Gold King and the Forest that Walks, fallen icons who must be defeated by a blend of swords, spells, and campaign victories.
  • A wizard bonded to their spellbook, a rogue bonded to their magic cloak, and other former heroes who took shortcuts to power by merging with their magic items.
  • The Lich King’s covert undead propaganda force: the Cult of the Silver Hand.
  • Fomorians, monstrous worshipers and children of the ancient chaos gods.
  • Malatyne, the purple dragon whose entertainments are legendary—and the player characters might be the main attraction…
  • Lions (temple); tigers (elemental and rakshasa); and owlbears (snowy and great horned).

Plus an appendix on using these monsters when playing 13th Age in Glorantha!

  • Lead Designers: Rob Heinsoo, ASH LAW
  • Developer: Rob Heinsoo
  • Art Direction: Rob Heinsoo, Cathriona Tobin
  • Interior Art: Rich Longmore, Ania Kryczkowska, Aaron McConnell, Lee Moyer, Patricia Smith, Naomi VanDoren
  • Authors: Liz Argall, Paul Fanning, Jaym Gates, Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan, Lynne Hardy, Rob Heinsoo, ASH LAW, Cal Moore, Carrie Rasmussen-Law, Wade Rockett, Aaron Roudabush, Michael E. Shea, Ruth Tillman, Jonathan Tweet, Steven Warzeha, Emily Westfall
  • Product code: PEL13A14L
  • Pages: 304 pages, hardback, full colour

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At the Imperial College of the Arcane, students struggle to master the art of magic, both theoretical and applied. And wherever there are students laboring under intense pressure—both academic and social—there will always be student societies. Most tend to be small, informal groups of close friends. However, some are powerful secret societies whose histories span the ages, and whose rituals remain forever hidden from outsiders.

This article provides a brief overview of five secret societies of the College Arcane, located in the Archmage’s city of Horizon (which you can read about in 13 True Ways). These aren’t official additions to Dragon Empire lore, but players and GMs might find them useful for adventure seeds, character backgrounds, NPC opponents, and even One Unique Things.

Common Features:

  • 15-30 current, active members, usually chosen from specific areas of magical study or types of spellcasters. First-year students are almost never invited to become members of a secret society—society members keep an eye on promising first-year students to see if they’d be suitable candidates in the future. Belonging to multiple secret societies is forbidden, and anyone found doing so will be cast out and shunned. However, some societies are friendly with one another, and may collaborate on joint activities.
  • An official name, and sometimes a nickname that’s more commonly used to refer to the society
  • An associated icon, who might be symbolic of the society’s focus, an inspiration to its members, or even its official head
  • An enchanted badge or token which, when worn, signals membership in the society to other members who are nearby—perhaps by changing temperature, tingling, or whispering in the wearer’s ear
  • A motto
  • An initiation rite that includes a challenging ordeal and an oath of secrecy
  • A clubhouse, which at the College Arcane is called a “lair”. A secret society’s lair might take any form, whether mundane or fantastical. The key thing is that outsiders cannot see or hear what goes on inside a lair, and members can enter and exit without being seen.
  • Society activities, such as the discussion of academic topics, formal debate, carousing, public service, or tasks performed on behalf of the society’s patron icon. Depending on the nature of the society, some of these may be done publicly while others are private and subject to the oath of secrecy.

The Good Fellows

Nickname: The Hellhole Club

Membership: Primarily wizards and demonologists (from Book of Demons), if your campaign’s version of the College Arcane accepts demonologists as students.

Associated icon: The Diabolist.

Motto: “From Shadows, Light. From Light, Understanding.”

Badge or token: Two hands clasped in friendship.

Initiation includes: The candidate’s courage and will is tested by branding the society’s badge on their exposed skin. The brand (and associated pain) vanishes within seconds.

Principal activities: Discussion of magic related to demons, devils, and the Abyss; the pursuit of power and influence.

In reality, the Good Fellows are a recruiting funnel for the cult of the Diabolist. As part of the society’s fun and games, members are required to carry out “secret missions” in the Diabolists’ name. These tasks are harmless pranks at first, but gradually become more sinister. Any member who refuses is reminded that the society now has quite a long record of that member’s diabolical acts. It would be such a shame if it ever became public… (For more on the Diabolist’s cult in Horizon, see “The Diabolist’s ‘Moderates’” in 13 True Ways, p. 148; and the Hell Marsh Cult monster entry in 13th Age Bestiary 2, p. 134.)

Society for the Advancement and Promotion of the Defensive Magical Arts

Nickname: B.B.F. (Blast, Burn, and Freeze)

Membership: All spellcasters, but primarily sorcerers.

Associated icon: The Archmage, in his capacity as defender of the Empire and caster of some wicked destructive spells.

Motto: “Courage Under (And Possibly While On) Fire.”

Badge or token: Two wands, crossed.

Initiation includes: On “Dueling Day”, candidates—dressed in ridiculous costumes—must fight public “duels of honor” on college grounds using absurd weapons chosen by society members.

Principal activities: Discussion of magic as it relates to warfare and battle; re-enacting historical battles using magical miniature landscapes and animated figurines (some dating back to the society’s founding).

Scroll and Staff

Nickname: The Page-Shufflers

Membership: Wizards

Associated icon: The Archmage, in his capacity as the Empire’s greatest master of magical learning.

Motto: “Read Thrice, Speak Once.” (Often paraphrased as, “Know your sh*t before you open your mouth.”)

Badge or token: An open book with the flame of the Archmage rising from its pages.

Initiation includes: The retrieval and reading of a scroll—the society’s founding document—hidden within the College Arcane’s vast library. The member must never speak of its contents to anyone, not even other society members.

Principal activities: Debate, study, and the discussion of magical texts from past ages. After final exams, truly legendary carousing.

The Cacophonous Society

Nickname: The Bleating Herd

Membership: Primarily bards and chaos mages.

Associated icons: Elf Queen, Spelljack (See “The Age of Founding”, Book of Ages)

Motto: “Wit, Harmony, and Friendship.”

Badge or token: A lyre within a laurel wreath

Initiation includes: Candidates are given music and lyrics for the society’s anthem (an almost impossibly difficult song) and must perform it in public while the current members heap good-natured ridicule on them.

Principal activities: Discussion of the intersection of magic and the performing arts; musical, dramatic, and comedic composition and performance (both public and private); carousing.

Hand and Eye

Nickname: Rag and Bone

Membership: Primarily necromancers, wizards, and clerics of death gods.

Associated icon: The Lich King

Motto: “Silence.”

Badge or token: A skull with a skeletal hand covering its right eye.

Initiation includes: Candidates are abducted from their rooms in the dead of night and led blindfolded to a certain cemetery on College grounds. There, they experience a ceremonial death and resurrection in which they are buried alive and then dug up again an hour later. The new members are welcomed joyfully with a lavish feast.

Principal activities: Discussion of necromantic magic, philosophy, and ethics; charitable works related to death, dying, and grieving, always performed anonymously—for example, providing a poor family with funds for the proper burial of a deceased loved one.

 

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A funny thing happens over time with an RPG that you’ve designed: your opinions can change. As you play it, and as new designers bring fresh perspectives and approaches to the table, you discover some unexpected things that work really well, and some things that…could be better.

With that in mind, here are  two do’s and a don’t for 13th Age that I’ve learned recently—two from playing the game with my home group, and one that surfaced during the design stage for Book of Ages.

Do. . .

. . . use the improvement to the incremental advance rules that we came up with while working on 13th Age Glorantha (page 74), limiting the choice of a new class power or spell to one per level when choosing incremental advances.

The new rule is simpler and avoids a couple thorny corner-cases I’d rather not go into. It’s also fun and dramatically proper to save some of the new-power goodness for when your character levels up.

Don’t . . . .

. . . pay attention to the way that Jonathan and I actually chose our own characters’ backgrounds in our home campaign. Please don’t. I beg you.

We wrote some good advice in Chapter 2 of 13th Age about avoiding overly broad backgrounds that demonstrate your desire to control . . . . well . . . . everything. But in the most recent session of our group’s current Eyes of the Stone Thief campaign, Jonathan’s cleric/spirit-talker and my monk both ended up making skill checks using lesser backgrounds that hadn’t surfaced much before. Our problem was that we hadn’t phrased them as ‘lesser,’ and when we had to say them out loud, side-by-side, we made quite a pair. Jonathan’s spirit-talker’s background is physical agent and my monk’s 2-point background is as a metaphysical artist. Oh dear. That about covers reality, then. Cue hooting and hollering and laughter as we faced our sin together.

Do . . . .

. . . look to Book of Ages for hints on how we’ll be handling races in the future.

I’ve often been a stick-in-the-mud about adding new races. But Paul Fanning has been doing more and more development work on the 13th Age line, and when I talked with him about my plans to cut most of the races out of Gareth’s wonderful book, Paul made a persuasive case for keeping many of the races in. We developed the mechanics together, and I wrote a paragraph on the option of using new ‘races’ as interesting One Unique Things (page 24). Book of Ages is one of my favorite 13th Age creations, mostly thanks to Gareth, of course, but Paul’s help with the new races also makes me happy. There’ll be more such shifts in approach in future books.

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