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 […]

More...

Friday the 13th Age LogoIt’s Friday the 13th, and you know what that means: it’s 13th Age DayTo celebrate, we’re offering a 13% discount on select 13th Age products at the Pelgrane Store and DriveThruRPG until Monday.

Use the code 13TH@FRI at the Pelgrane Store.

The discount applies to all 13th Age PDFs on both stores, and all print items except bundles, Bestiary 2, and Fire and Faith. Check out the game for the first time by buying the core book, or fill the gaps in your collection!

How can YOU participate in Friday the 13th Age (besides buying stuff)? Post something cool and useful for the game online with the hashtag #FridayThe13thAge. We’ll happily reshare the best of the bunch!

For example:

  • Link to a monster, magic item, icon, setting, homebrew class, house rule or play aid that you or someone else in the community created.
  • Share helpful 13th Age GM tips,.
  • Tell people about your favorite 13th Age product, whether it’s by Pelgrane Press or a third party publisher who’s creating great 13th Age material.
  • Link to a 13th Age podcast or YouTube channel that deserves more attention.
  • Play 13th Age and post a pic; or play online via Google Hangout or Roll20.
  • One Unique Things!
  • OWLBEARS

Friday the 13th Age comes but once a year. (Maybe two or three times, depending on the year.) Take advantage of this special offer while it lasts!

 

We were as surprised as anyone that our announcement of 13th Age—a new d20-rolling fantasy RPG by the lead designers of 3rd edition and 4th edition—happened right when Wizards of the Coast announced that 5th edition was on the way. Though part of the same tradition, the games had fundamental differences in approach, and provide very different experiences of the same genre.

So, which one is right for your group? We’ve linked to some forum threads and blog posts on that very topic below!

From “Fifth Edition D&D versus 13th Age (the good, the bad and the damned)”

5e D&D tries to keep some “classic” D&D features, while 13A has more experimentation and innovation. As far as quality goes, I think both options are equally valid.

From “What are the ‘use cases’ for using DnD5e over 13th Age?”

M. Weasel: I chose to use 5e for my current campaign (a player-driven hex crawl), and had a great time using 13th Age for my previous D&D-type game (investigation/big-damn-heroes action in Eberron). The biggest reason for me was that 5e feels more down-to-earth and traditional, while 13th Age feels like it has that big-damn-heroes style baked into it. That comes from a mix of what powers characters get, how hard characters are to kill, how magic items are designed and capped in each system, etc. Based on that, the feel of 5e was a better match for what I was aiming for with my game (relatively traditional D&D world, little fish in a big pond). Beyond that, I changed groups since my 13th Age campaign – some of my current players are not fond of Backgrounds (which is a pity, since I personally love them), and one of them loves the ol’ D&D-Puzzle-Wizard thing, which 5e does better than 13th Age. That said, I do miss many parts of 13th Age, especially in terms of monster design – it just has so many brilliant monsters.

Lemurion: I want to essentially replicate the AD&D 1e play style with a more modern rule set.  From everything I’ve seen, 5E is better at reproducing that kind of gaming experience than 13th Age. …5E is a good compromise for those who prefer modern rules to the Gygaxian prose of 1e, but still want to play in a similar style.

From Google+

Michael Kailus: In practice, 5E works much better for games where the players roleplaying creativity goes more towards “playing an adventurer” vs. “telling a fun action story.” 5E answers the question “how would I get past the trolls if I was Bilbo Baggins” and 13th Age answers the question “what is the sickest shield kickflip I could do if I was Orlando Bloom Legolas?” …As a GM, this has an interesting effect. GMing 5E is largely about prepping a story and situation and then seeing what the characters do. In 13th Age, meanwhile, you pretty much plan out a series of combat encounters (the actual action) but develop the story behind them collaboratively with the players. You know they’re going to fight five level three monsters before the “third act” of the adventure, but you might not know who hired those monsters or why the players need to stop them. By contrast, in 5E I’d plan out a group of monsters and their leader and the players might not fight them at all.

Martin Killmann: I have a very short explanation for you: The DC cinematic universe runs on 5E, but the Marvel cinematic universe runs on 13th Age. DCU is trying to be serious about conserving the legacy of iconic characters like Superman and Batman, whereas Marvel is like, “here’s a talking raccoon.”

From “13th Age vs. 5e?”

padgettish: 5e added a lot of stuff to up the presence of your character’s character in the mechanics of the game. When it comes down to it, backgrounds and inspiration don’t really stack up against a one true thing and icons. 13th Age will always do a better job at weaving the players into the narrative and empowering them to make their characters narratively important. 5e’s skill system is much less abstracted, though, and its mundane elements feel a lot more grounded in a living setting. If you’re running your typical fantasy story, 13th Age will be a lot better, but 5e will edge it out if you’re playing something like “all the characters are running a guild/merchant cartel” or a sandbox game where touches of minutia and simulation are important.

13th Age‘s combat is much tighter within a single encounter, and there’s a bit more of a game to it. At present, 5e’s design seems built more around one or two characters dropping a spell or ability to drastically change the circumstances of an encounter (at level one Sleep or Dragon Breath can easily wipe out a group of equal level monsters) and tactically mopping up the survivors. In 13th Age I feel you can really stress out the players without relying on tapping out their p/day resources, while thus far 5e seems to focus more on budgeting your resources from one encounter to the next. My group’s been playing through Tyranny of Dragons Rules as Written to get a feel for the “intended game,” and it even goes so far as structuring the story so taking short rests is something you have to budget and can’t just do after every encounter.

From “13th Age and 5ed”

wheloc: A lot of groups like to have freeform exploration but tight and tactical combat, and this is what 13th Age offers in spades. The exploration rules, like backgrounds and icons, are very loose and mostly amount to “do whatever seems fun”. Combat is more robust, with specific rules to do combat-stuff, and classes mostly consisting of bundles of combat abilities. It does encourage combat “set-pieces” and “everything looks like a nail” use of combat abilities, but for groups that enjoy this sort of thing this is a feature rather than a bug.

For groups that want more specific exploration rules, and maybe less specific combat rules (or at least different specific combat rules), D&D 5th edition might be a better choice. The classes and backgrounds (at least some of them) are a mix of combat and exploration abilities. Combat isn’t exactly freeform, but there’s more of a broad pool of combat options to draw from, and less of a restrictive list of combat abilities for each class.

From “[5E or 13th Age] Which is easier to run? Which is easier to play?”

Dionysos: In my opinion, as somebody currently running campaigns in both systems, 5th edition is far simpler to play and to run. The rules are easy and straightforward. 13th Age, while much simpler than 3e or 4e, is a strange fusion of traditional adventure game and artsy storygame, and so it will naturally be a little tougher to get your head around. Having said that, 13th Age is the more interesting of the two.

Lesp: For a brand-new, no-experience group, I’d probably say that, while there are pros and cons to each in terms of accessibility, 13th Age is probably a hair easier. 5e has a little more counterintuitive baggage sitting at its core than 13th Age does. However – and this is important – the 5e Core Rulebook is more clearly written. The 13th Age rulebook isn’t bad or anything, but there are definitely places where referring to the FAQ will save you a huge amount of time in trying to understand things, because there are rules that are in very odd places. …Both systems are top notch in terms of ease of play compared to most other D&D-alikes, and I don’t think you can really go wrong with either choice. 13th Age is arguably more demanding on DMs when it comes to thinking on your feet (it has significant improvisation vectors built in on both sides of the screen), while 5e is more demanding of DMs in terms of managing mechanical references and requires more work to produce satisfying combat encounters, but neither game is super demanding in any of those regards.

Extrakun: I believe whether you like 13th Age “background checks” depends on your play-style and the kind of game you like. From my reading of the rules, the game is supposed to be a constant back and forth between GM and players—this is even the style of the organized play scenarios. The GM will outright ask players questions such as, “All right, Jen, you used to run with the Thief’s Guild at Drakkenhall, but were chased out. Why?” …In 13th Age, the authors see “skill checks” as more of a narrative experience than a gameplay one.

neowolf: For running I think they’re about on par. 5e is a little more mechanically complex, 13th Age is a little more improv demanding. So this could depend on what your strengths and weaknesses are as a GM, but overall I don’t think either is much worse than the other to run. For playing, I don’t think either stands out either, however I do think that 13th Age has the advantage and disadvantage of being written in a fairly conversational tone, that assumes this isn’t your first rodeo. A lot of terms go unexplained and there’s no sitting down to explain to you what a roleplaying game is. For an experienced player, I think this is great. It helps it to be a more enjoyable read. For a completely new player, I think it can be a little confusing. Though I think this is mitigated pretty much entirely if you’ve got a group showing you the ropes as well.

Want to see 13th Age in action? Check out this actual play video from Saving Throw:

by Rob Heinsoo

I’ve known editors who agonize over the placement of a comma in a card game rulebook ten years after the game released . . . and other editors who nodded knowingly when I told the stories as what I thought was an example of caring way too much! My own nibbling regrets, years after a book is published, often have something to do with the way I wasn’t able to make final text live up to the art.

Unlike my comma-troubled editor friends, I’m able to follow-up! So today’s column has monster stats meant to capture the spirit of the nasty centaur lancer devoted to the Lich King pictured on page 36 of the first 13th Age Bestiary. That’s him below, in war paint blessed by necromancers.

When I commissioned this art from Rich Longmore, I intended to have a number of centaur champions devoted to different icons in the centaur entry. The lancer with the Lich King’s symbol on his shield was going to be one of four or five icon-focused warriors. But then the story and the mechanical design went in a different direction. I used text about devotion to nasty icons to account for Rich’s illustration, but I had the lingering feeling that I’d let the art down by providing generic stats.

Well no longer. The nigh-dead lancer that follows counts as an elite monster, half-again as tough as a normal monster (see page 7 in Bestiary 2 for a discussion of elite creatures and page 303 for a Building Battles table that accounts for them.)

About these elite stats: If you look carefully at the lancer’s stats, it won’t look tougher than most other 5th level monsters. It counts as elite because when it dies, the Lich King’s power transforms it into another undead creature, ready to fight on against the enemies that ended its life.

The math here is interesting. Both the living and undead versions are normal-strength monsters. They shouldn’t count as double-strength because you only fight one at a time. They also shouldn’t count as only a single monster because you’ll have to fight two, one after the other. I’m guessing that splitting the difference is right, hence the designation as elite.

Level choice: I put the new creature at 5th level instead of 4th for a few reasons. First, I wanted to team the nigh-dead lancer up with 5th level wraiths (13th Age core book, page 250). Second, I figured I might as well give you a centaur one level higher than the existing lancer instead of duplicating stats. So I rewrote several mechanics. If you want to use it as a regular 5th level creature instead of elite, just skip the death unmasked ability. Likewise you can use both the zombie centaur and the wraith lancer as standard 5th level monsters.

Punishing option: If your game table is anything like mine, you may want to pronounce this creature’s name as ‘neigh-dead’ lancer. It’s neigh-dead. Until it is.

 

Nigh-Dead Lancer

Your death or its, both work.

Elite 5th level troop [humanoid]

Initiative: +11

 

Terrible lance +11 vs. AC—17 damage, and the target pops free from the centaur

Hit ’em hard: The crit range of the attack expands by 2 and instead deals 22 damage on a hit if the centaur first moves before attacking an enemy it wasn’t engaged with at the start of its turn.

Natural 18+: The nigh-dead lancer gains the ability to make a single kick attack as a quick action later this battle; these uses can accumulate.

 

Kick +11 vs. PD—7 damage, and the target pops free from the nigh-dead lancer.

 

R: Horse bow +10 vs AC (1 nearby or faraway enemy)—14 damage

 

Death unmasked: When the nigh-dead lancer drops to 0 hit points, even if the PCs say they’re only trying to knock it unconscious, it dies. Roll a d6, add the escalation die, and replace the nigh-dead lancer with the indicated creature. 1-5: zombie centaur; 6+: wraith lancer. The new creature keeps the same initiative as the now-dead lancer.

Harnessed speed: The nigh-dead lancer gains a +4 AC bonus against opportunity attacks.

AC   21

PD    18                 HP 64

MD  17

 

Zombie Centaur

Faith isn’t always fully rewarded.

5th level wrecker [undead]

Initiative: +7 (but uses nigh-dead lancer’s initiative if that’s how it entered the battle)

Vulnerability: holy

 

Flailing hooves +10 vs. AC (2 attacks)—8 damage

Natural even hit or miss: Both the zombie centaur and its target take 2d6 damage!

 

Headshot: A critical hit against a zombie drops it to 0-hit points.

AC   18

PD    18                 HP 100

MD  14

 

Wraith Lancer

Destroy this creature utterly, or it’s bound for the marshalling grounds of the Necropolis.

5th level spoiler [undead]

Initiative: +11 (but uses nigh-dead lancer’s initiative if that’s how it entered the battle)

Vulnerability: holy

 

Wraith-lance +11 vs. PD—13 negative energy damage

Natural 2-5: Target is weakened until the end of its next turn.

 

C: Spiral charge +11 vs. PD (1d4 nearby enemies)—13 negative energy damage, and after the attack the wraith lancer teleports to and engages with one target it hit

Limited use: The wraith lancer can use spiral charge only when the escalation die is even.

 

Flight: The wraith lancer hovers, zooms, and stampedes mid-air.

Ghostly: This creature has resist damage 16+ to all damage except force damage, which damages it normally. It can move through solid objects, but it can’t ends its movement inside them.

AC   19

PD    15                 HP 70

MD  16

 

THE MONK

By ASH LAW

In this series by ASH LAW, we feature two different builds for every 13th Age character class, at all levels. ASH suggests how the builds might be used, and offers tips on playing each character. Stats are based on the point-buy method, and the characters have no non-standard elements.

 

THE MONK

 

The mighty monk: never unarmed because their fists (and feet, and foreheads) are weapons. Wielding the power of ki, monks are by default also fighting with two weapons. Monks don’t make weapon attacks, nor unarmed attacks like other classes—instead they make special attacks known as Jab, Punch, and Kick attacks. You also use attack forms (opening, flow, finishing) that grant AC bonuses (+1, +2, +3). As the combat progresses you cycle through forms, dealing damage for Jabs, Punches, and Kicks.

As a monk expect to be very mobile on the battlefield, but be careful not to get too far ahead of the rest of the party. You should also expect to track ki, work out which forms to use and when, and to know when to activate your ki powers. This class has a lot of moving parts to track and isn’t for those who prefer a simpler combatant.

 

PHOENIX-FIST MONK

 

Download the Phoenix-Fist Monk character sheets here.

 

This monk is all about avoiding damage while dishing it out. Talents like flurry give extra attacks, and phoenix-touched and spinning willow style let us heal or avoid damage.

This monk build works well as a defender, soaking up attacks that would otherwise target your allies. You are that unusual class build—one that actively relishes being engaged with multiple tougher enemies.

 

Talents

 

Flurry

Make extra quick action attacks each round, provided the escalation die is high enough.

Phoenix-Touched

Use Charisma in place of Wisdom for monk class attacks, talents, features, etc. Plus heal yourself. Plus deal extra damage to engaged enemies.

Spinning Willow Style

Take half (or no) damage from certain attacks.

 

Race

Half orcs get a once-per-battle re-roll on attacks, very useful for this monk as it will be making a lot of attacks.

 

Attributes

For this build, Charisma replaces Wisdom as one of the most important attributes, but being a monk it’s still important to keep attributes balanced: Str 16 (+3) Con 14 (+2) Dex 16 (+3) Int 10 (0) Wis 10 (0) Cha 16 (+3).

1st level

Attributes: Str 16 (+3) Con 14 (+2) Dex 16 (+3) Int 10 (0) Wis 10 (0) Cha 16 (+3)

Racial Power: lethal

Talents: flurry, phoenix-touched, spinning willow style

Feats: toughness

Ki: 4

Ki Powers: a thousand palms, imperial phoenix flare, the willow bends

Attack Forms: dutiful guardian (one must be free, wind horse shakes mane, temple lion stands true), way of the metallic dragon (bronze thwarts an army, silver warrior advances, general slays the hordes)

 

2nd level

New feat (flurry), ki (5), ki powers (a thousand palms, imperial phoenix flare, the willow bends), attack forms (dutiful guardian (one must be free, wind horse shakes mane, temple lion stands true), way of the metallic dragon (bronze thwarts an army, silver warrior advances, general slays the hordes)).

 

3rd level

New feat (phoenix-touched), ki (5), ki powers (a thousand palms, imperial phoenix flare, the willow bends), attack forms (dutiful guardian (one must be free, wind horse shakes mane, temple lion stands true), way of the metallic dragon (bronze thwarts an army, silver warrior advances, general slays the hordes), dance of the mantis (springing mantis strike, the pincer whirls shut, precise mantis kick)).

 

4th level

+1 to three attributes (Strength, Dexterity, Charisma), new feat (spinning willow style), ki (5), ki powers (a thousand palms, imperial phoenix flare, the willow bends), attack forms (dutiful guardian (one must be free, wind horse shakes mane, temple lion stands true), way of the metallic dragon (bronze thwarts an army, silver warrior advances, general slays the hordes), dance of the mantis (springing mantis strike, the pincer whirls shut, precise mantis kick)).

 

5th level

New feat (flurry), ki (6), ki powers (a thousand palms, imperial phoenix flare, the willow bends), attack forms (dutiful guardian (one must be free, wind horse shakes mane, temple lion stands true), way of the metallic dragon (bronze thwarts an army, silver warrior advances, general slays the hordes), dance of the mantis (springing mantis strike, the pincer whirls shut, precise mantis kick), iron crusader form (no retreat, no mercy, no weakness)).

 

6th level

New feat (phoenix-touched), new talent (path of the perfect warrior), ki (6), ki powers (a thousand palms, imperial phoenix flare, the willow bends, perfect breath), attack forms (dutiful guardian (one must be free, wind horse shakes mane, temple lion stands true), way of the metallic dragon (bronze thwarts an army, silver warrior advances, general slays the hordes), dance of the mantis (springing mantis strike, the pincer whirls shut, precise mantis kick), iron crusader form (no retreat, no mercy, no weakness)).

 

7th level

+1 to three attributes (Strength, Dexterity, Charisma), new feat (spinning willow style), ki (7), ki powers (a thousand palms, imperial phoenix flare, the willow bends, perfect breath), attack forms (dutiful guardian (one must be free, wind horse shakes mane, temple lion stands true), way of the metallic dragon (bronze thwarts an army, silver warrior advances, general slays the hordes), iron crusader form (no retreat, no mercy, no weakness), tiger in storm (stalking tiger, tiger follows blood, striped lightning roars)).

 

8th level

New feat (flurry), ki (7), ki powers (a thousand palms, imperial phoenix flare, the willow bends, perfect breath), attack forms (dutiful guardian (one must be free, wind horse shakes mane, temple lion stands true), way of the metallic dragon (bronze thwarts an army, silver warrior advances, general slays the hordes), iron crusader form (no retreat, no mercy, no weakness), tiger in storm (stalking tiger, tiger follows blood, striped lightning roars), death’s quivering shadow (invoke the name, stunning fist, ghostwalk of the fallen king)).

 

9th level

New feat (phoenix-touched), new talent (champion of three worlds), ki (7), ki powers (a thousand palms, imperial phoenix flare, the willow bends, perfect breath), attack forms (dutiful guardian (one must be free, wind horse shakes mane, temple lion stands true), way of the metallic dragon (bronze thwarts an army, silver warrior advances, general slays the hordes), iron crusader form (no retreat, no mercy, no weakness), tiger in storm (stalking tiger, tiger follows blood, striped lightning roars), death’s quivering shadow (invoke the name, stunning fist, ghostwalk of the fallen king)).

 

10th level

+1 to three attributes (Strength, Dexterity, Charisma), new feat (spinning willow style), ki (7), ki powers (a thousand palms, imperial phoenix flare, the willow bends, perfect breath), attack forms (dutiful guardian (one must be free, wind horse shakes mane, temple lion stands true), way of the metallic dragon (bronze thwarts an army, silver warrior advances, general slays the hordes), iron crusader form (no retreat, no mercy, no weakness), tiger in storm (stalking tiger, tiger follows blood, striped lightning roars), death’s quivering shadow (invoke the name, stunning fist, ghostwalk of the fallen king), flagrant blossoms (the petals open, fist shows the path to wisdom, lotus dreams the world)).

THE MONK

By ASH LAW

In this series by ASH LAW, we feature two different builds for every 13th Age character class, at all levels. ASH suggests how the builds might be used, and offers tips on playing each character. Stats are based on the point-buy method, and the characters have no non-standard elements.

 

THE MONK

 

The mighty monk: never unarmed because their fists (and feet, and foreheads) are weapons. Wielding the power of ki, monks are by default also fighting with two weapons. Monks don’t make weapon attacks, nor unarmed attacks like other classes—instead they make special attacks known as Jab, Punch, and Kick attacks. You also use attack forms (opening, flow, finishing) that grant AC bonuses (+1, +2, +3). As the combat progresses you cycle through forms, dealing damage for Jabs, Punches, and Kicks.

As a monk expect to be very mobile on the battlefield, but be careful not to get too far ahead of the rest of the party. You should also expect to track ki, work out which forms to use and when, and to know when to activate your ki powers. This class has a lot of moving parts to track and isn’t for those who prefer a simpler combatant.

 

FLYING DAGGERS MONK

 

Download the Flying Daggers Monk character sheets here.

 

This monk is all about battlefield mobility, with access to ranged attacks that add extra flexibility to the build. When using your attacks (opening, flow, finishing) pick ones that allow you to pop free if you are engaged, or ones that grant extra movement, or that allow you to fly.

This monk isn’t exactly fragile, but works best when it is darting from foe to foe and avoiding getting bogged down, so don’t be afraid to pull back and make ranged attacks when monsters are too tough for you to face one-on-one.

 

Talents

 

Temple Weapon Master

Turn misses into hits when you are fighting with a weapon that fits your style, which for this build would be throwing stars, arrows, etc.

Heavens Arrow

You have no penalties for using ranged weapons, and you can sometimes make ranged attacks in place of melee attacks as part of your fighting forms.

Leaf on the Wind

Gain extra move actions, fall without damage by using nearby handholds to slow you, and sometimes you fly.

 

Race

Halflings have the neat evasive and small powers that lets them dodge through battles—perfect for a flying daggers monk.

 

Attributes

Wisdom gives us ki, Dexterity and Strength are important for attacks, and Constitution is needed for hit points—the monk needs to be a balanced character. Fortunately the monk gets two +2 attribute bonuses from its class, instead of the usual one!: Str 16 (+3) Con 14 (+2) Dex 16 (+3) Int 10 (0) Wis 16 (+3) Cha 10 (0).

1st level

Attributes: Str 16 (+3) Con 14 (+2) Dex 16 (+3) Int 10 (0) Wis 16 (+3) Cha 10 (0).

Racial Power: small, evasive

Talents: temple weapon master, heavens arrow, leaf on wind

Feats: ki

Ki: 1

Ki Powers: supreme warrior discipline, wind from heaven, wind’s comrade

Attack Forms: claws of the panther (panther spins free, cat cuts between hounds, twinned panther claws), three cunning tricksters (fox senses weakness, monkey taps the shoulder, crane summons carp)

 

2nd level

New feat (leaf on wind), ki (6), ki powers (supreme warrior discipline, wind from heaven, wind’s comrade), attack forms (claws of the panther (panther spins free, cat cuts between hounds, twinned panther claws), three cunning tricksters (fox senses weakness, monkey taps the shoulder, crane summons carp)).

 

3rd level

New feat (heavens arrow), ki (6), ki powers (supreme warrior discipline, wind from heaven, wind’s comrade), attack forms (claws of the panther (panther spins free, cat cuts between hounds, twinned panther claws), three cunning tricksters (fox senses weakness, monkey taps the shoulder, crane summons carp), dance of the mantis (springing mantis strike, the pincer whirls shut, precise mantis kick)).

 

4th level

+1 to three attributes (Strength, Dexterity, Wisdom), new feat (precise shot), ki (6), ki powers (supreme warrior discipline, wind from heaven, wind’s comrade), attack forms (claws of the panther (panther spins free, cat cuts between hounds, twinned panther claws), three cunning tricksters (fox senses weakness, monkey taps the shoulder, crane summons carp), dance of the mantis (springing mantis strike, the pincer whirls shut, precise mantis kick)).

 

5th level

New feat (ki), ki (7), ki powers (supreme warrior discipline, wind from heaven, wind’s comrade), attack forms (claws of the panther (panther spins free, cat cuts between hounds, twinned panther claws), three cunning tricksters (fox senses weakness, monkey taps the shoulder, crane summons carp), dance of the mantis (springing mantis strike, the pincer whirls shut, precise mantis kick), rising phoenix (rising phoenix fist, becomes the pillar of flame, life burning fire fist)).

 

6th level

New feat (leaf on wind), new talent (improbable stunt), ki (7), ki powers (supreme warrior discipline, wind from heaven, wind’s comrade, ludicrous improbability manoeuvre), attack forms (claws of the panther (panther spins free, cat cuts between hounds, twinned panther claws), three cunning tricksters (fox senses weakness, monkey taps the shoulder, crane summons carp), dance of the mantis (springing mantis strike, the pincer whirls shut, precise mantis kick), rising phoenix (rising phoenix fist, becomes the pillar of flame, life burning fire fist)).

 

7th level

+1 to three attributes (Strength, Dexterity, Wisdom), new feat (heavens arrow), ki (8), ki powers (supreme warrior discipline, wind from heaven, wind’s comrade, ludicrous improbability maneuver), attack forms (claws of the panther (panther spins free, cat cuts between hounds, twinned panther claws), three cunning tricksters (fox senses weakness, monkey taps the shoulder, crane summons carp), three evil dragons (the burning shadow, blue lightning fist, red fury), rising phoenix (rising phoenix fist, becomes the pillar of flame, life burning fire fist)).

 

8th level

New feat (leaf on wind), ki (8), ki powers (supreme warrior discipline, wind from heaven, wind’s comrade, ludicrous improbability maneuver), attack forms (claws of the panther (panther spins free, cat cuts between hounds, twinned panther claws), three cunning tricksters (fox senses weakness, monkey taps the shoulder, crane summons carp), three evil dragons (the burning shadow, blue lightning fist, red fury), rising phoenix (rising phoenix fist, becomes the pillar of flame, life burning fire fist), feathered serpent (coils dispense blessings, feathers on talons on scales, poisoned heaven kick)).

 

9th level

New feat (heavens arrow), new talent (abundant step), ki (8), ki powers (supreme warrior discipline, wind from heaven, wind’s comrade, ludicrous improbability maneuver), attack forms (claws of the panther (panther spins free, cat cuts between hounds, twinned panther claws), three cunning tricksters (fox senses weakness, monkey taps the shoulder, crane summons carp), three evil dragons (the burning shadow, blue lightning fist, red fury), rising phoenix (rising phoenix fist, becomes the pillar of flame, life burning fire fist), feathered serpent (coils dispense blessings, feathers on talons on scales, poisoned heaven kick)).

 

10th level

+1 to three attributes (Strength, Dexterity, Wisdom), new feat (abundant step), ki (8), ki powers (supreme warrior discipline, wind from heaven, wind’s comrade, ludicrous improbability maneuver), attack forms (claws of the panther (panther spins free, cat cuts between hounds, twinned panther claws), three cunning tricksters (fox senses weakness, monkey taps the shoulder, crane summons carp), three evil dragons (the burning shadow, blue lightning fist, red fury), rising phoenix (rising phoenix fist, becomes the pillar of flame, life burning fire fist), spiral path (the cycle opens, spiral ascension widens, star joins as ally), feathered serpent (coils dispense blessings, feathers on talons on scales, poisoned heaven kick)).

 

In the demonologist playtest I ran a week ago, the non-demonologist character in the party cast turn undead against a mixed group of zombie mooks and ghostly mooks. We were halfway through the attack when we all realized, no, this couldn’t be right, something was wrong with our results.

I must have half-remembered an earlier moment with the cleric’s spellbook because I decided to look at the 13th Age FAQ here on the Pelgrane website. Half a minute later I was reading the turn undead FAQ entry from the cleric section to my players, who guffawed when I read the part that said the turn undead spell isn’t playing as intended against mooks, and that “Rob Heinsoo says . . . .” The FAQ goes on to explain how the spell can be revised to work properly against mooks.

Now that I’ve designed many more classes, I realize that turn undead could use a bit of a tune-up. The version of the spell below is what I’ll use in my game. I’m sorry that it’s wordier, but it now folds in the mook usage notes from the FAQ. It also has slightly improved adventure-tier and champion-tier feats. Not so much that the feats are must-haves, because spells that only target one or two types of enemy are either heavenly-useful or hellishly-irrelevant. But if you’re going to take feats that are attached to a questionably relevant daily spell, you should have a little more fun with it.  The improvements make it less likely that casting the spell at its proper targets will play out as an unlucky waste of time.

 

Turn Undead

Close-quarters spell

Daily

Target: 1d4 nearby undead creatures, each with 55 hp or fewer

Attack: Wisdom + Charisma + Level vs. MD

Hit: The target is dazed until end of your next turn.

Hit by 4: 1d10 x your level holy damage, and the target is dazed until end of your next turn.

Hit by 8+ vs. non-mook: Holy damage equal to half the target’s maximum hit points, and the target is dazed (save ends).

Hit by 8+ vs. mook: 4d10 x your level holy damage, and any mooks left in the mob after this attack is over are dazed (save ends).

Hit by 12+ or Natural 20 vs. non-mook: The target is destroyed.

Hit by 12+ or Natural 20 vs. mook: 4d20 x your level holy damage, and any mooks left in the mob after this attack is over are dazed (hard save ends).

 

3rd level spell       Target with 90 hp or fewer.

5th level spell       Target with 150 hp or fewer.

7th level spell       Target with 240 hp or fewer.

9th level spell       Target with 400 hp or fewer.

Adventurer Feat: If you wish, you can expend your daily use of turn undead to gain an additional use of heal in one battle. Cast against undead targets, the spell now targets 1d3 +1 undead instead of 1d4 undead.

Champion Feat: You can choose to target either demons or undead with the spell (but not both with the same casting). In addition, natural even attack rolls with the spell weaken targets instead of dazing them.

Epic Feat: Increase the targeting limit by 100 hp.

THE NECROMANCER

By ASH LAW

In this series by ASH LAW, we feature two different builds for every 13th Age character class, at all levels. ASH suggests how the builds might be used, and offers tips on playing each character. Stats are based on the point-buy method, and the characters have no non-standard elements.

 

MORTAL MAGICS NECROMANCER

 

Download the Mortal Magics Necromancer character sheets here.

 

This necromancer is all about magic, deadly magic. The magic of the dead.
As with other necromancers this one avoids penalties from high Constitution, and benefits from the wasting away class feature via feats.

The mortal magics build avoids summoning, in favor of direct magical attacks. This means that you’ll have no shambling army of undead to stand behind. Your best plan is to hit enemies hard and fast, then retreat behind tougher party members.
Your spells let you do things like temporarily turning your allies (or yourself) into terrifying undead monsters—as well as more direct attacks. You can switch out spells at the start of each day, so these are suggestions only.

You are not tough, and have no undead minions to hide behind—but the death knell class feature and the death’s call spell let you heal yourself, as does cackling soliloquist. Add to that the fact that your wasting away class feature means that you just won’t stay dead.

 

Talents

 

Cackling Soliloquist

Take a bit longer (and make a grand speech) while casting a daily spell and it becomes a recharge (18+) spell, and you get a minor improvement to the spell.

Deathknell

As a quick action kill a nearby enemy that is at or below a certain hit point threshold.

It’s Complicated

Your icon relationships are worse, but get an extra daily spell.

 

Race

Dark elven cruelty is the order of the day for this necromancer.

 

Attributes

Low Constitution, high Intelligence, a dash of Charisma: Str 8 (-1) Con 8 (-1) Dex 8 (-1) Int 20 (+5) Wis 10 (0) Cha 18 (+3).

1st level

Attributes: Str 8 (-1) Con 8 (-1) Dex 8 (-1) Int 20 (+5) Wis 10 (0) Cha 16 (+3)

Racial Power: cruelty

Talents: cackling soliloquist, deathknell, it’s complicated

Feats: wasting away

Skeletal Minion Level: 1

Spells: zombie form, channel life, unholy blast, chant of endings, terror

2nd level

New feat (deathknell), spells (1st level: zombie form, channel life, unholy blast, chant of endings, death’s gauntlet, terror).

3rd level

New feat (cackling soliloquist), spells (1st level: unholy blast, chant of endings, death’s gauntlet, 3rd level: zombie form, ghoul form, channel life, terror).

4th level

+1 to three attributes (Intelligence, Wisdom, Charisma), new feat (terror), spells (3rd level: zombie form, ghoul form, channel life, unholy blast, chant of endings, death’s gauntlet, terror).

5th level

New feat (deathknell), spells (3rd level: unholy blast, chant of endings, death’s gauntlet, 5th level: zombie form, ghoul form, channel life, death’s call, terror).

6th level

New feat (wasting away), spells (5th level: zombie form, ghoul form, channel life, unholy blast, chant of endings, death’s gauntlet, death’s call, terror).

7th level

+1 to three attributes (Intelligence, Wisdom, Charisma), new feat (cackling soliloquist), spells (5th level: unholy blast, chant of endings, death’s gauntlet, 7th level: zombie form, ghoul form, channel life, negative energy shield, death’s call, terror).

8th level

New feat (wasting away), spells (7th level: zombie form, ghoul form, channel life, negative energy shield, unholy blast, chant of endings, death’s gauntlet, death’s call, terror).

9th level

New feat (deathknell), spells (7th level: unholy blast, death’s gauntlet, chant of endings, 9th level: zombie form, ghoul form, vampiric form, channel life, negative energy shield, death’s call, terror).

10th level

+1 to three attributes (Intelligence, Wisdom, Charisma), new feat (cackling soliloquist), spells (9th level: zombie form, ghoul form, vampiric form, channel life, negative energy shield, unholy blast, chant of endings, death’s gauntlet, death’s call, terror).

THE NECROMANCER

By ASH LAW

In this series by ASH LAW, we feature two different builds for every 13th Age character class, at all levels. ASH suggests how the builds might be used, and offers tips on playing each character. Stats are based on the point-buy method, and the characters have no non-standard elements.

The Necromancer: digging up old acquaintances and making new friends!

This class is for players who like things a little darker, and can handle a bit more complexity and decision-making than is found in most other classes. The necromancer has aspects of battlefield control (by deploying undead servants to engage enemies, and hindering enemies via spells), healer (via things like channel life and deathknell), and part buffer (via the various turn-into-undead spells). More than other classes, the necromancer helps to define the shape and terms of a battle.

DEATH GRIP NECROMANCER

 

Download the Death-Grip Necromancer character sheets here.

 

This necromancer build is all about maximizing the number and potency of your undead followers. I’ve called this build ‘death-grip’ because leader-of-undead-multitude is a bit of a mouthful.

The spells you have tend to focus around improving the abilities of your undead followers, or summoning even more of them. You’ll even end up with powers that kill enemies and bring them back as undead under your command. Meanwhile your feats focus on improving your loyal skeletal minion, and getting the most out of a negative constitution modifier via the wasting away class feature.

You can cast your spells as rituals, so look forward to ritually raising graveyards full of workers to build a tower for you. Like a wizard you can pick new spells at the start of each day (so this build has only ‘suggested’ spells, rather than an inviolable list). You also gain a benefit from the wasting away feature, giving you FIVE death saves to fail before you die, and an identical number of last gasp saves.

Necromancers aren’t known for being tough (quite the opposite), so avoid getting into situations where you are a target. Hang back, and flood the battlefield with undead. Your skeletal minion isn’t the most impressive of your array of undead friends, so use it more as a disposable bodyguard than as your main offensive ploy.

 

Talents

 

Death Priest

Perform seances to commune with the spirits of the dead, gaining useful information.

Redeemer

When your followers die, you release them to their afterlife—as a result they fight for you with greater potency.

Skeletal Minion

You have a loyal servant/bodyguard, and when it inevitably falls apart you just go dig up a new servant.

 

Race

Dragonics get a handy breath weapon, useful if an enemy gets too close. Our dragon will be bone-white, naturally.

 

Attributes

For necromancers Constitution is a dump stat—in fact it is beneficial for necromancers to have as low a constitution as possible. What we do want is lots of Intelligence and a touch of Charisma: Str 8 (-1) Con 8 (-1) Dex 8 (-1) Int 20 (+5) Wis 10 (0) Cha 18 (+4).

1st level

Attributes: Str 8 (-1) Con 8 (-1) Dex 8 (-1) Int 20 (+5) Wis 10 (0) Cha 18 (+4)

Racial Power: breath weapon

Talents: death priest, redeemer, skeletal minion

Feats: wasting away

Skeletal Minion Level: 1

Spells: summon undead, command undead, death’s gauntlet, channel life

2nd level

New feat (skeletal minion (1st adventurer feat)), skeletal minion level (2), spells (1st level: summon undead, command undead, death’s gauntlet, channel life, unholy blast).

3rd level

New feat (skeletal minion (2nd adventurer feat)), skeletal minion level (3), spells (1st level: command undead, death’s gauntlet, channel life, 3rd level: summon undead, the bones beneath, summon horror).

4th level

+1 to three attributes (Intelligence, Wisdom, Charisma), new feat (skeletal minion (3rd adventurer feat)), skeletal minion level (4), spells (3rd level: summon undead, the bones beneath, summon horror, command undead, death’s gauntlet, channel life).

5th level

New feat (wasting away), skeletal minion level (5), spells (3rd level: command undead, death’s gauntlet, channel life, 5th level: summon undead, the bones beneath, summon horror, summon wraith).

6th level

New feat (skeletal minion (1st champion feat)), skeletal minion level (6), spells (5th level: summon undead, the bones beneath, summon horror, summon wraith, command undead, death’s gauntlet, channel life).

7th level

+1 to three attributes (Intelligence, Wisdom, Charisma), new feat (skeletal minion, (2nd champion feat)), skeletal minion level (7), spells (5th level: command undead, death’s gauntlet, channel life, 7th level: summon undead, the bones beneath, summon horror, summon wraith, death’s call).

8th level

New feat (wasting away), skeletal minion level (8), spells (7th level: summon undead, the bones beneath, summon horror, summon wraith, command undead, death’s gauntlet, channel life, death’s call).

9th level

New feat (skeletal minion (1st epic feat)), skeletal minion level (9), spells (7th level: command undead, death’s gauntlet, channel life, 9th level: summon undead, the bones beneath, summon horror, summon wraith, finger of death, death’s call).

10th level

+1 to three attributes (Intelligence, Wisdom, Charisma), new feat (skeletal minion (2nd epic feat)), skeletal minion level (10), spells (9th level: summon undead, the bones beneath, summon horror, summon wraith, command undead, death’s gauntlet, channel life, finger of death, death’s call).

 

Publishing Lions & Tigers & Owlbears: 13th Age Bestiary 2 feels like a celebration! As part of the fun, we’re offering sample monsters from the book to a few gaming and geek culture sites, and I’m taking a sage moment here to tease out the origin stories.

Rakshasa: The rakshasa entry started with art. Lee Moyer created a couple wonderful rakshasa illustrations and asked me if I liked them. I loved them enough to write them up as part of a 13th Age Monthly installment, but didn’t think to create the rakshasa saint who surely appears in at least one of the pictures. ASH LAW wrote adventure hooks, added stats for the rakshasa saint and the rakshasa delver, and then I drafted a rakshasa into service as the tigerish-mastermind creating the conflict on the Bestiary 2 cover, with pencils by Aaron McConnell and paints by Lee.

Rakshasas are complex creatures. They can be handled so many different ways in fantasy games, and even in different 13th Age campaigns. We’ve made them tough in combat, with new ideas in the descriptive text to suggest that combat could be the least of your worries when rakshasas are involved. In fact, part of the reason we keep shapechanging rare in 13th Age is to make it a scary part of the arsenal of rakshasas and other evil masterminds. . . .

Great Ghoul: Did you read Ruth Tillman’s Eldritch Icons columns on the Illuminerdy website? If not, do so now!

When ASH came up with the concept of fallen icons, I thought immediately about the ghoul king that Ruth had started to write up, and its jackal priests. I didn’t want to introduce a whole new ecology of icons (proper term: an icology) in the Dragon Empire, but a single eldritch icon, left over from a previous dark era, lingering as a fallen icon? Yes! And wow, did Ruth deliver. Along with Paul Fanning’s Gold King (a part of which was previously excerpted here on the Pelgrane website), the Great Ghoul is a fallen icon that can have story consequences through an entire campaign.

Hydra: The second page of the Bestiary 2 hydra entry explains why I needed to include the hydra in this book. In an issue of 13th Age Monthly, and in offhand remarks in a video, I mistakenly said that the math on the hydra was off in the core book. Yes, it’s true that there are monsters in the core book whose stats are too forgiving to the PCs—and that will make a good 13th Sage column someday. But as I explain in the new hydra entry, the core book hydra only seemed to fall into that category because of an unfortunate special ability.

Anyway, enough about mistakes! The chaos hydra was something I knew I wanted to design and Ania Kryczkowska provided the perfect illustration. It’s probably going to be the most fun when the players have no idea what’s about to happen, but foreknowledge won’t actually help them.

claw demonIn The Book of Demons, we introduce the idea of hellhole-specific demon powers. Instead of using the standard random demon power table, the book provides tailored tables of random powers, so demons from the Ratwood are more likely to have, well, ratty-woody themed powers, and demons from the Floating Market have a chance of powers reflecting the anything-goes-as-long-as-The-Diabolist-approves laws of the place.

Now, why should the Hellholes from the 13th Age core rulebook be left out of the fun? This article gives site-specific power tables for those hellholes on p. 271…

 

Random Hum Demon Powers (d4 for lesser demons, d8 for bigger ones)

  1. Bug Eyes. The demon is immune to invisibility and ignores any illusions.
  2. Carapace. +1 AC
  3. Bug Wings. The demon can buzz into the air on furiously beating insect wings. If the demon can already fly, reroll.
  4. Blind Instinct. At the start of the encounter, pick a target for this demon. The demon gets a +1 bonus to all attacks on that target, but may not attack other enemies as long as that target is still in the battle. (The demon can use attacks that hit multiple foes, as long as the chosen target is one of those foes.)
  5. Egg of Doom. When this demon is slain, it lays a demonic egg. If the egg is not destroyed, the reborn demon hatches from this egg at the start of the next round at half its starting hit points. The egg can be destroyed before it hatches; treat it as having the defences and hit points of a basic mook of level equal to the demon.
  6. Stinger. On a natural 16+ with a melee attack, the demon also inflicts 5 ongoing poison damage (save ends). Champion-tier demons: 10 ongoing poison damage; epic-tier, 15 ongoing damage.
  7. Swarm. Once per battle, when the escalation die is 4+, this demon may grant all nearby demon allies an extra action this round.
  8. Protect The Queen! Once per turn, when an attack hits this demon, the demon may attempt a save. If successful, the attack is redirected to a nearby demon ally.

 

Random Blackfort Demon Powers (d4 for lesser demons, d8 for bigger ones)

  1. Implements of Torture. The demon gets a bonus to damage equal to its level when attacking staggered foes.
  2. To The Barricades! The demon gets a +2 bonus to AC and PD against ranged attacks thanks to its mastery of the terrain.
  3. Hold The Line! If fighting alongside two other demons, this demon gets a +1 bonus to attack rolls.
  4. The demon starts the battle invisible. It becomes visible when it attacks.
  5. Terrain Stunt. The demon may pull of a terrain stunt, as per the ranger power (13th Age, 120).
  6. Strength of the Earth. The demon has a +5 bonus to saves as long as it’s in contact with the ground.
  7. Master Torturer. Whenever the demon inflicts a critical hit, it heals a number of hit points equal to its level x 3.
  8. Once per battle, the demon may summon up a fortress from the earth, changing the terrain of the battlefield. The fortress comes with a garrison of mook reinforcements.

 

Random Bubble Demon Powers (d4 for lesser demons, d8 for bigger ones)

  1. Smoke shroud. If the demon doesn’t attack this round, it gains a smoky shroud that gives attacks against it a 25% miss chance. The shroud vanishes when the demon attacks.
  2. Resist Fire 18+.
  3. When the demon dies, it inflicts fire damage equal to its level x 2 to all nearby enemies.
  4. Resist Fire 18+.
  5. Demonic Flame. The demon’s got a fiery aura; any foes engaged with the demon at the start of the demon’s turn take 1d10 damage (Champion-tier: 2d10; Epic: 4d10).
  6. Demonic Hatred. If the escalation die is 3+, the demon gets an extra action each round. This extra action may only be used to attack a foe it’s already attacked this round.
  7. Demonic Aristocrat. The first time this demon is staggered, it vanishes, and a demon bodyguard two levels lower appears on the battlefield. When the bodyguard’s defeated, the original demon reappears.
  8. Once per battle as a standard action, if the demon is staggered, the demon may trigger a localised volcanic eruption. Treat this as a ridiculously hard impromptu challenge (13th Age, p. 186).

SaveSave

Previous Entries