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...
by Rob Heinsoo
The true magic items of 13th Age are meant to be quirky. But if you’ve played several times with the same magic item, its originally-funny quirk may not seem that special anymore. A good magic item quirk is a license to roleplay, and if you or someone else in the group has exploited a quirk in a previous game, you may not want to go back to the well.
Of course some of the quirks we wrote up weren’t actually funny or interesting to begin with. A bloodthirsty weapon (13th Age core rulebook, page 290), has the quirk “has a taste for red meat.” Turn the page to puissance and you’ll find the quirk “tremendous appetite for meat.” Apparently that was the best we could do at the time.*
But you can do better!
When a character gets hold of a bloodthirsty weapon or a shield of resilience, don’t feel like the quirks we assigned are part of the rules of the game. Treat them as examples, the way we provided examples of backgrounds and One Unique Things, and see if you can come up with something better that will feel right and fit your current campaign.
The next character in my game who gets a bloodthirsty sword is going to get the quirk “Seeks peaceful resolutions against the sword’s wishes.” The next person who gets a shield of resilience gets the quirk “Remembers and quotes poetry by obscure writers of the 11th Age,” and I’ll be inviting the player to focus that, if they wish.
You don’t have to do all the work yourself. I wanted something different for the helm of the undaunted hero in my game (published as “favors traditional battle hymns.” The player who’d won the treasure suggested “Over-rationalizes everything,” which felt like a great way of explaining a hero getting to make a save at the beginning of their turn and also being a bit obnoxious about it, so yes, player input accepted!
Just remember that the quirks are meant to be something of a surprise, not a commonly understood piece of the way the world is known to work. It’s OK to make items change their minds! Maybe a true magic item will change its personality over time, responding to events in its association with the player characters. Maybe a character’s magic item quirks aren’t existing in isolation, maybe the items ‘talk’ with each other and shift to gain more influence. Maybe an item will express a strong opinion about trading places with an item owned by a different member of the party!
You probably have a sense of how much attention magic item quirks should get in your campaign, but that’s probably a rule-of-thumb that could be broken once or twice by exceptional events. Quirkify!
*I talked with Jonathan about why so many of our original quirks are about meat-eating or vegetarianism. He reminded me that our quirks were originally heavily influenced by the Yelmalio and maybe Humakti geases from RuneQuest. The Yelmalio geases had all kinds of stuff about not eating birds’ eggs and other elemental magic prohibitions, and we probably didn’t quite veer far enough away from our original concept.
More random tables for your player characters’ between-adventure mini-stories—this time for heroes connected to the Great Gold Wyrm, High Druid, Lich King, Orc Lord, Priestess, Prince of Shadows, and the Three. Each mini-story includes a reward, a temporary background, or a temporary contact; plus a question or two that will help players contribute to the campaign. By Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan.
Further Alarums – Downtime for Seven Icons is the eleventh installment of the second 13th Age Monthly subscription. When you subscribe to 13th Age Monthly, you will get all issues of the subscription to date.
|Stock #: PEL13AM25D||Author: Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan|
|Artist: Rich Longmore||Type: 17-page PDF|
by Rob Heinsoo
We started a new 13th Age campaign a couple weeks ago with me in the GM-seat. Jonathan lobbied to start at 8th level. I turned down the petition, writing faux-earnest advice text as if lifting from some book that’s not quite 13A:
Although it’s not an evolutionary process, the metaphor of progress, of the capability to advance, is an important part of the F20-gaming experience. Players will try to shortchange themselves by wheedling to gain the benefits of that progress without having put in the work. The answer to the question, “Do we level up, GM?” is “Do you? Did you put in the work to become better, more capable people?”
Of course Jonathan’s response was that yes, the group had put in the work.
Have we leveled up? Have we earned it? I don’t think there’s a game group on the planet that more deserves to level up.
Paul Hughes’ answer was also funny. And half of it was printable:
That is a compelling argument. In fact, I think even at 1st level, I may be shortchanging myself too much. Can I start at negative 8th level? I don’t think I’d be a “player character” per se, just more like an evolutionary antecedent.
Yeah. Well. Fine.
It’s good to find out what type of experience the players are hoping for and run a game at that level. But in practice, we’re just now starting our first-ever 13th Age campaign that’s expressly not a playtesting campaign. I want to try playing all the way up. So I chose to ignore the votes for high level play. I can imagine doing a call-back to the worthy-to-level trope—surely at some point later this campaign, I’ll ask for an honest assessment of whether the player characters have done enough to earn a level.
Maybe I’ll do more than that. I’ve always taken the high volume of our play-group’s bantering desire to level up in the way the group intends me to take it: they’re partly serious but they also enjoy mocking me as a harsh GM who won’t give them the fun toys soon enough. Maybe it’s time to offer incentives. I have a sense of how long and how many good things it takes the party to level up. (I generally go a touch faster than the core book suggests in early levels, then stick to the book when the PCs have reached 3rd.)
So in this campaign I think I’ll mix things up a bit. I’m going to look for ways of telling the PCs that there are great things they can accomplish that will allow them to level up faster. Risky things, perhaps. Or in some cases, time pressure to finish battles in a short number of rounds so that they can prevent some off-stage atrocity.
Instead of keeping “Do we level up now?” as the post-session chorus, I need to set clear expectations, with occasional opportunities for truly heroic accomplishments that will forge true heroes.
Perhaps other GMs do this all the time. Happy to hear examples if that’s true. And I’ll mention some example of how this works out when we’ve engineered some!
A 13th Age Bestiary-style entry for magical guardians created by the Elf Queen, who gradually leave the Queen’s magic behind and become part of nature’s rhythms—as controlled by the High Druid. What happens to ancient elven secrets when they’re finally allowed to blossom? By Cal Moore & Rob Heinsoo.
Nymphs is the tenth installment of the second 13th Age Monthly subscription. When you subscribe to 13th Age Monthly, you will get all issues of the subscription to date.
|Stock #: PEL13AM24D||Author: Rob Heinsoo, Cal Moore|
|Artist: Naomi VanDoren, Rich Longmore||Type: 9-page PDF|
Return to Screamhaunt Castle
Screamhaunt Castle disappeared years ago. Tonight, it returned to its birthplace of Gravenstein. Now the adventurers must contend with ghosts, ghouls, and things that go bump in the night to investigate the cursed place. To add to their worries, Madame Vex the seer has given the adventurers a very disturbing card reading. Has she read their fate…or sealed their doom?
Return to Screamhaunt Castle is the upcoming 13th Age Alliance organized play adventure, designed for characters of 2nd level to be played in four two-hour sessions. If you’re a 13th Age Monthly subscriber, you can download organized play adventures from your Bookshelf. RPGNow/DriveThruRPG/OneBookshelf subscriptions to 13th Age Monthly also include organized play adventures.
Become a 13th Age Volunteer GM
There’s so much demand for 13th Age play at conventions that we can always use more help from GMs. If you want to join our crew as a volunteer GM, fill out this form!
Let’s Play: Shadows of Eldolan, Roll20 Edition
For International Pelgrane Day, GM Aaron Roudabush ran the new Roll20 edition of Shadows of Eldolan for Rob Heinsoo, Justin “The Rev. En Fuego” Robinson, Sean “The Heavy Metal GM” Clark, and Philip Pepin. Get the adventure here, and watch the sessions below:
Return to Screamhaunt Castle Monster Preview: The Guardian
Double-strength 4th level caster [UNDEAD]
Bone storm +9 vs. PD—14 damage
Natural even hit: 14 negative energy damage to the enemy with the most hit points.
Natural odd hit: 14 ongoing thunder damage.
R: Bone shield +9 vs. PD—14 ongoing lightning damage, and the target is weakened (save ends both)
Frightening Thirteen: If the ghost rolls a natural 13, then for the rest of the battle the enemy with the most hit points at the start of the round (GM chooses on ties) must roll a save in order to take a move action. Failure to save indicates the character is too busy trying to stop their own skeleton from crawling out of their mouth to move.
Strength from pain: The ghost heals 4d6 hp every time an enemy rolls a death save.
Fear: While engaged with this creature, enemies that have 18 hp or fewer are dazed (–4 attack) and do not add the escalation die to their attacks.
PD 16 HP 100
Rules for riding horses, war rhinos, giant lizards, bison, giant spiders, sable antelopes, and other critters into 13th Age battles. If you recognized some of these as Gloranthan creatures, that’s because this issue of the Monthly will include content aimed at 13th Age in Glorantha that will be perfectly at home in other fantasy campaign worlds. By Rob Heinsoo.
Mounted Combat is the ninth installment of the second 13th Age Monthly subscription. When you subscribe to 13th Age Monthly, you will get all issues of the subscription to date.
|Stock #: PEL13AM23D||Author: Rob Heinsoo|
|Artist: Rich Longmore||Type: 10-page PDF|
I’ve been looking through old design files, finding interesting mechanics that we never got around to exploiting, and passages of writing that dropped through the cracks through no faults of their own. Here’s one such passage, an introductory paragraph that Jonathan must have written back when the druid was going to appear in the core book instead of waiting for its star turn in 13 True Ways. It’s often hard to tell whether Jonathan or I have written a section, even for us, but I’m pretty sure this was written by Jonathan because of the passage’s ironic parallelism, because I never highlight words using underlines, and because I would have used the word ‘rumors’ at the end instead of ‘fable.’ Three clues!
If you compare this passage to what we eventually published in 13 True Ways, you’ll see that our thinking progressed towards a storyline in which the resurgence of the High Druid was making druidical magic and the power of nature something that even folks in “more civilized lands” would have to think about very soon, if not yesterday.
The world isn’t just ruled by the forces of nature, the world _is_ the forces of nature. Druids devote themselves to these forces. On one hand, the forces compel the druids, pushing or drawing them along unknown paths. On the other, the druids use these forces to compel, heal, or destroy others. For druids, this means giving up mere individuality for a truer selfhood, tied flesh and bone to the natural world. In some places, especially in forgotten valleys far from the imperial highways, druids are the priests rather than clerics. In more civilized lands, druids are rarities, subjects of curiosity and fable.
The epic conclusion of the battle against the star-masks is here! Board the legendary flying ship the Ostulti and ascend into the starlit sky, where you’ll attempt to kill the living dungeon that spawns the star-masks, and end their menace once and for all.
Dungeon Moon is the latest 13th Age Alliance organized play adventure, designed for characters of 9th and 10 level to be played in four two-hour sessions. If you’re a 13th Age Monthly subscriber, you can download organized play adventures from your Bookshelf. RPGNow/DriveThruRPG/OneBookshelf subscriptions to 13th Age Monthly also include organized play adventures.
Become a 13th Age Volunteer GM
There’s so much demand for 13th Age play at conventions that we can always use more help from GMs. If you want to join our crew as a volunteer GM, fill out this form!
Dungeon Moon Monster Preview: Ghost Rider
Their faces are gaunt, their eyes are haunted, and their horses snort fire.
10th level wrecker [SPIRIT]
Burning hooves +15 vs. AC (1d3 engaged enemies)—20 thunder damage and 10 ongoing fire damage
Hit against an enemy taking ongoing fire damage from this attack already: The target becomes a valid target for burning whip.
[Only against valid targets (see burning hooves)] C: Burning whip +15 vs. AC (one nearby valid target)—60 fire damage.
Horse and rider: The riders can’t be separated from their steeds, nor vise-versa. They are as one, for better or worse.
Fear: While engaged with this creature, enemies that have 72 hp or fewer are dazed (-4 attack) and do not add the escalation die to their attacks.
Flight: Well, more of a running on air, really. They can gain altitude, but only by running forward.
Endless skies: Adventurers who die in a fight that involves a ghost rider are doomed to join the great range in the sky. That means no resurrection, unless their friends can somehow rescue their soul.
Really scary: The fear threshold is now 120 hp.
PD 20 HP 210
By Darren W. Pearce
Nocturne is a gothic horror / dark fantasy setting, the result of a resurrected Kickstarter (It’s aliiiiive!), an undertaking of massive proportions to save a book that reverted back to the writer (me) when the original publishers disappeared with the money.
Written for the backers, Nocturne is now a reality thanks to the help of Savage Mojo’s talented team.
The lands you’ll find in Nocturne are under the oppressive, malignant grip of the Nightfall, a terrible event that changed bad places into really bad places.
Key to the design of the setting are the struggles between opposing Icons, the lords and ladies of the lands, but where it’s often difficult to know who’s the hero and who’s the villain.
Let’s take a look at one land now….
Count Federmir, our bloodthirsty forgeborn, is the blood-soaked standard bearer for the book – indeed, he appears on the front cover! Federmir represents the Nightfall’s sense of the macabre, and acts as a direct, ever-present danger for your group of intrepid characters.
Federmir’s power is balanced in the land of Sombria by Von Halzinger, Federmir’s eternal foe and deadliest rival. However, Von Halzinger is a half-crazed zealot, just as blood-soaked as his nemesis. The land of Sombria is a dangerous place, defined by the struggle between these two Icons.
Here’s a quick taste of the very life-blood of Nocturne, the detailed descriptions of the lands and their Icons. They give you GMs all you need to run the full campaign which is in the book, or to strike out and design your own.
In the whole of Sombria, there’s only a single patch of real earth. This precious spot is surrounded by a high, spiked wall and guarded vigilantly by the last living things in the land. The town of Katal is the only true settlement in Sombria, though it’s not the desperate outpost you might expect. Residents here live well; the drudgeries of daily life have, in large part, been automated. Machines powered by oil, coal, and steam handle much of the hard labor and the town water pump is powerful enough to pull fresh (and real) water from the nearby River Tend and deliver it to every home.
Townsfolk live and work beside a variety of automata which do not appear corrupted by Count Federmir or the Nightfall. Many of these clockwork neighbors perform important tasks for the city, including guarding the walls.
Beyond the walls of Katal lies Eisenwald, a place of clockwork leaves, metal branches, and hollow trunks. The constant whirr of clockwork insects and the ticks of tiny clockwork animals flit through this place during the day.
By night the wood transforms. The air becomes cold, an artificial fog curls around the tree trunks, and eerie creaking sounds can be heard in the darkness. Throughout the forest, mechanical trees skitter on tiny clockwork roots taking new positions, obscuring paths, and confounding travelers.
Atop a hill rising out of Eisenwald, Castle Von Halzinger stands like a sentinel. The oil lamps within burn brightly at all hours, day and night, giving off a welcome glow in the foreboding darkness. The dimmer the glow, the further afield, and further into danger, you have wandered. The River Ticker divides Eisenwald in the east from Izvorul in the west. Clockwork fish of all shapes and sizes swim through beautiful, crystal clear oil and the bottom of the river is a perfect painted image of a river bed. On the left hand shore, a clockwork fisherman casts his line in the water, completing the strange tableau. This facsimile of a peaceful country scene belies the ugly truth: no life is safe west of the River.
In the far distance, a massive and imposing mountain looms, crowned by an iron castle, rusted to the color of blood. The foothills approaching the mountain give a somewhat disturbing reminder of this land’s nature; many foothills remain unfinished. Half painted rocks fail to disguise massive springs and gears as they churn along, breathing a half-life into this mechanical world. Anyone foolish enough to continue the trek up Mount Izvorul can’t claim he wasn’t warned.
Monsters and Men
While the lands are defined by the struggle between Icons, your heroes deal with the regular denizens for the most part. In a land like Sombria, you can imagine there’s nothing normal about the regular townsfolk. Take the settlement of Cog, for instance….
Denizens of Cog
Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock goes the heart’s red clock!
3rd level troop [CONSTRUCT]
When you take that which is made of machine, and that which is made of flesh, combine them both in an unholy manner, what do you get? A denizen of Cog, a machine-being which shows remnants of its former life, with blood pumping through clear tubes into a heart that’s patched with scraps of leather and metal.
Pummeling Pistons +8 vs AC – 10 damage.
R: Steam Blast +7 vs PD (1d3 enemies in a group) – 7 damage.
Pick one of the following attacks for each denizen of Cog.
Stolen Strength +8 vs AC – 8 damage.
Natural Even Hit: Deal an additional 5 ongoing damage (save ends).
C: Stolen Arcana+7 vs MD (1d3 targets) – 6 damage.
Natural Even Miss: The next ally to attack the target does an additional 2 damage.
R: Stolen Divinity +8 vs PD – 9 damage, +2 damage for each non-mook ally engaged with the target (max +4 damage).
Nastier special – Dynamic Assimilation: [once per battle] When a nearby construct dies this creature gains a +1 bonus to attack and damage for the rest of battle.
Nastier special – Adaptive Combat: [one use by one denizen of cog per battle] When targeted by a spell, the denizen of cog rolls a save (11+). On a success it gains the ability to use that same spell as though it were a 3rd level caster with +7 to attack.
PD 13 HP 44
A Glimpse into the Darkness
Of course, I can only give you a tiny glimpse at the many and varied horrors which await in the lands under the Nightfall’s curse. For the Kickstarter backers though, the curse is lifted. Thanks to the selfless efforts of a whole team of dedicated and talented people, Nocturne is a reality.
Fun random tables to generate mini-stories for player characters between adventures, or figure out what a character was up to when their player couldn’t make it to Game Night. Each icon-related task or experience includes a suggested contact, a temporary background, or a reward. GMs can also use these tables to generate zany plot ideas for NPCs related to the Archmage, Crusader, Diabolist, Dwarf King, Elf Queen, and Emperor. By Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan.
Alarums & Incursions: Downtime for Six Icons is the eighth installment of the second 13th Age Monthly subscription. When you subscribe to 13th Age Monthly, you will get all issues of the subscription to date.
|Stock #: PEL13AM22D||Author: Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan|
|Artist: Rich Longmore, Aaron McConnell||Type: 14-page PDF|
- 13th Age
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