Paladins are among the simplest class to play—high hp, high AC, and hitting the unrighteous with a big weapon. They have no special powers, and are in some ways even simpler than barbarians.

The first paladin build of these two plays to those strengths—focused on smiting others as hard as they can.

The second paladin build (this one) is a holy warrior, optimized for smiting and using cleric-style powers that work alongside the paladin’s smite ability.

Divine Paladin

Download the Divine Paladin character sheets here.

Paladins are holy warriors, with shared access to features found in the cleric class. This paladin is focused on melee combat (as paladins should be) but aids their allies too, shining good’s light upon evil to banish it… or you could play this character as a servant of evil, granted strength by dark gods to further their malign agenda.

This paladin uses a longsword and shield, valuing defense over offence. Your job with this paladin build is to get out in front of the squishier members of the party and take the attacks that would otherwise be targeting them, while providing your allies with healing and buffs. Tactically you are a mix of front-line fighter and support/healer—ideal for smaller parties who need both roles covered. This character is a bit more complex to play than other paladins, as you’ll need to monitor the rest of your party to make best use of your healing and other support abilities.

Divine-domain wise this character’s story probably revolves around a sun god who sends mirages and warm healing light to protect the faithful (domains of sun, illusion, and healing).


Cleric Training

You can cast one cleric spell of your level or lower, which you can switch out each day for a different spell. Bless, cure wounds, shield of faith, turn undead, etc… are all available to you from the start, but you choose ahead of time which one you’ll pick so think ahead. If in doubt pick cure wounds, you can’t go wrong with a bit of extra healing to hand out when the going gets tough.

Divine Domain (Sun)

Your attacks deal HOLY damage.

Lay on Hands

Additional healing for your party.


It’s aasimar for this character—the halo ability fits perfectly with the build concept of a warrior with a link to divine power.


This character keeps things balanced: Str 16 (+3) Con 14 (+2) Dex 14 (+2) Int 10 (0) Wis 10 (0) Cha 16 (+3).

1st level

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

Racial Power: halo

Talents: cleric training, divine domain (sun), lay on hands

Feat: toughness

Spells: One 1st level cleric spell, can change each day

2nd level

New feat (smite evil).

3rd level

New feat (cleric training).

4th level

+1 to three attributes (Strength, Constitution, Dexterity), new feat (lay on hands).

5th level

New talent (divine domain: illusion), new feat (smite evil).

6th level

New feat (cleric training).

7th level

+1 to three attributes (Strength, Constitution, Dexterity), new feat (lay on hands).

8th level

New talent (divine domain: healing), new feat (lay on hands).

9th level

New feat (cleric training).

10th level

+1 to three attributes (Constitution, Dexterity, Charisma), new feat (smite evil).



Paladins are among the simplest class to play—high hp, high AC, and hitting the unrighteous with a big weapon. They have no special powers, and are in some ways even simpler than barbarians.

The first paladin build of these two plays to those strengths—focused on smiting others as hard as they can.

The second paladin build is a holy warrior, optimized for smiting and using cleric-style powers that work alongside the paladin’s smite ability.

Thrash Paladin

Download the Thrash Paladin character sheets here.

This paladin is focused around beating up the bad guys in melee combat, and not much else. They are a ‘glass cannon’ in that their AC and hp are relatively low (for a front-line combatant)… but what a cannon! Your smite attacks will be the envy of all other warriors.

Your tactics are to hit hard and fast, finish enemies quickly, and hope for healing to pick you back up; this build is best for groups with strong teamwork, where you can depend on the support of a healer character. Thankfully your lay on hands talent means that you can do some self-healing when the situation calls for it.

This paladin uses a halberd (a combined spear and battle-ax) which we’ll be pairing with the reach trick feat for once-per-battle unexpected attacks. Smite early and often, using it to clear out mobs of mooks or hammer tougher foes into the dirt. Save your lay on hands healing for yourself, you’ll need it! If possible avoid using bastion to take damage for allies, unless you are protecting the party healer in which case protect them at all costs (and remind them of that fact when you need healing).

This paladin’s third talent implies that they are not entirely righteous—perhaps they are an avowed servant of evil, or merely a tarnished knight seeking redemption. Don’t be afraid to ‘kill-steal’ with your smite attack, it lets you avoid expending it and your allies are freed up to go fight something else.



A +1 bonus to AC, and the ability to aid allies by taking the brunt of blows.

Lay on Hands

Heal an ally (or most likely yourself) when the going gets tough.

Way of Evil Bastards

When we smite somebody to death that use of smite is not expended.


We need something with a Constitution bonus to get our hit points as high as possible. The dwarf’s is that your best shot? power makes sense for a paladin who is likely to need a mid-battle pick-me-up.


This build is all about high charisma to gain as many smites per day as possible, and high Strength to hit enemies: Str 19 (+4) Con 10 (+0) Dex 8 (-1) Int 8 (-1) Wis 8 (-1) Cha 19 (+4).

1st level

Attributes: Str 19 (+4) Con 10 (+0) Dex 8 (-1) Int 8 (-1) Wis 8 (-1) Cha 19 (+4).

Racial Power: is that your best shot?

Talents: bastion, lay on hands, way of evil bastards

Feat: reach trick

2nd level

New feat (smite evil).

3rd level

New feat (lay on hands).

4th level

+1 to three attributes (Strength, Constitution, Charisma), new feat (way of evil bastards).

5th level

New talent (implacable), new feat (smite evil).

6th level

New feat (lay on hands).

7th level

+1 to three attributes (Strength, Constitution, Charisma), new feat (way of evil bastards).

8th level

New talent (fearless), new feat (smite evil).

9th level

New feat (lay on hands).

10th level

+1 to three attributes (Strength, Constitution, Charisma), new feat (implacable).

[Author Roland Rogers is a 14-year-old 13th Age player whose One Unique Thing is that he Knows All the Monsters. ]

In my opinion, there aren’t enough races in 13th Age that can cause the fun kind of trouble with NPCs in adventuring parties, though the half-orc and the tiefling are good candidates. The possibility of using creatures such as goblins and kobolds as part of your team might cause interesting tensions, and opens a lot of doors for exceptional Backgrounds and One Unique Things.

So here are some optional and very unofficial races for you to consider.


+2 Dex or +2 Int

Bonus Feat: Goblinoids gain a +2 on rolls to filch things.

Filch (Racial Power)

Once per day, you can ‘take 19’ on a roll to steal an inanimate object (money, magic items) off a person, or out of a trap, etc. this means you don’t roll, instead taking a natural roll of 19, meaning you will almost always succeed.

Goblinoids are generally part Human, Halfling or Gnome. Very rarely will Goblinoids be part Elf, Dwarf, or Half-Orc.

Overall, Goblinoids are seen by most as scum, whether fairly or not. It is odd for Goblinoids to be in a group with other races, so the reason you are working in a group could be part of your backgrounds or one unique things.



+2 Str or +2 Con

Bonus Feat: Ogrespawn gain a +2 on rolls to lift things or force things to move.

Fortitude (Racial Power)

Twice per day as a standard action you can heal using a free recovery, but the hit points are temporary hit points, that last until you gain more temporary hit points. (You can use this ability out of battle.)

Adventurer Feat: Add your strength modifier to the temporary hit points. At Champion tier you add twice your Strength modifier; at epic tier: three times your Strength modifier).

Champion Feat: You gain an extra recovery per day.

Epic Feat: You can use this ability three times a day instead of two.

Ogres are not noted for their intelligence, and where they are not fighting, they often work as labourers. Ogrespawn can be more intelligent because they can take after their non-Ogre parent, but they are often expected to do the heavy lifting in adventuring parties.


+2 Dex or +2 Int

Alchemical Knowledge (Racial Power)

Twice per day as a quick action, the Kobold can throw a potion. Roll a D3 on the potion chart below.

1: Poison potion: Level + Dex or Str vs PD – 5 ongoing poison damage.

Level 3: 10 ongoing damage.

Level 5: 15 ongoing damage.

Level 7: 20 ongoing damage.

Level 9: 28 ongoing damage.

2: Flight potion: you can fly for the next 1d3 turns, but you have to land before the end of the final turn.

3: Life draining potion: Level + Dex or Str vs PD – the target is Weakened (save ends) and you heal half of a recovery.

Champion Feat: Once per level, you can, instead of rolling, use a Confusion potion. Make a Level + Dex or Str vs PD – the target is Confused (save ends).

Epic Feat: the Poison potion deals 10 more damage, the flight potion lasts for 1d3 +1 rounds instead of 1d3, and you heal extra hit points equal to triple your Dex modifier when you use the life draining potion.

The kobolds most likely to be found amongst the more numerous PC races are often talented alchemists

Kobolds often work for dragons, or powerful lizardfolk . They are viewed as weaker, or as lower creatures. This might affect how they slot into an adventuring party.


+2 Dex or +2 Con.

Regeneration (Racial Power)

Every round, at the end of your turn, you heal hit points equal to half your Constitution modifier (Champion tier: your Constitution modifier, Epic tier: twice your Constitution modifier). You don’t regenerate when you are below 0 hit points.

On a round when you are hit by an attack that deals acid or fire damage, or if you are Stunned you do not heal.

Adventurer Feat: Heal one more hit point whenever you heal.

Champion Feat: You heal an extra one more hit point whenever you heal.

Trolls are devious tricksters, who also excel in physical combat. Their regeneration ability makes them hard to kill, unless you have acid or fire handy. As a Trollspawn, you are only half troll, which makes your regeneration less potent. You are viewed kindly upon by trolls, who value your intelligence, and welcomed amongst them.

Trollish regeneration has been speculated upon by wizards, sorcerers and the like for many ages. Is it the Trollish flesh, infused with magic? Is it a spell cast on every troll at birth? Or could it be a gift from an Icon, given at the start of the First Age?




You’ve defeated the monsters, now it’s time to loot the lair!

By ENnie award-winning author ASH LAW, Loot Harder: A Book of Treasures brings you hundreds of new magic items for your 13th Age game, including true magic items, consumables, and items for new classes.

Brave adventurers (and GMs) will also find game-changing, campaign-defining iconic relics; “minor” magical treasures that require no attunement; and of course (or should we say, “of curse”), those rare riches that exact a price. Plus: adventure hooks, new item types (scepters, chalices, orbs), lair items, linked thematic item sets, and iconic artifacts!

Think you’ve looted as hard as you can? Get ready to LOOT HARDER!

Status: In development


Montages—first introduced in our organized play adventures and later expanded on in the 13th Age Game Master’s Resource Book—can quickly advance a story while co-creating events and interactions that might contribute in surprising ways later in the session or the campaign.

Here are the basics of running a montage:

  1. Start with a player who is comfortable improvising, and ask them to describe a problem that the party faces as they travel or undertake an activity, without offering a solution.
  2. Turn to the player to the left of the starting player, and ask them how their PC does something clever or awesome to solve the problem. After they narrate a solution, ask that same player to describe the next obstacle that the group must deal with.
  3. The next player clockwise gets to solve the new problem, then offer up a new obstacle.
  4. Keep going around the table until everyone has both invented, and solved, a problem.

Typically you won’t call for any die rolls, even when the solution to a challenge involves combat. These events occur in quick narrative time, and allow the players to invent stories to reinforce their characters’ defining qualities. (They also won’t actually use any resources, even if they describe doing so.)

For GMs who’ve run games where the PCs take long journeys over land or sea to get to the “real” adventure, the usefulness of the montage is clear: you can make the journey eventful without spending a ton of time, or eating up the PCs’ recoveries, powers, and spells. It’s also a great opportunity for players to warm up for the session with some low-consequence, fast-paced play; and it gives players an opportunity to do two of their favorite things—make trouble for other players’ characters, and make their own character look cool (or entertainingly uncool).

But there are plenty of other uses for montages besides travel. You can apply the technique to any extended activity that the RPG you’re playing doesn’t have mechanics for, or which might be more interesting to resolve with round-robin narration than dice rolls. Here are some ideas and examples of montages from games that we’ve run here at Pelgrane:

  • Two sides—individual champions, groups, or even armies—face off in combat as the PCs watch as spectators. Using the montage technique, the players describe how each side attacks and defends against their foe, with the GM providing colorful descriptions where appropriate. If the battle is uninterrupted, so one side wins and the other loses, you could determine the outcome through narration (deciding as a group who would likely win given what they’ve described). You could also rack up +1 bonuses for each side whenever a player came up with an especially good narration for an attack or defensive move, then roll a d20 for each side against a normal DC.
  • If there’s a battle you want to treat as a cutscene rather than run as combat, use a montage to narrate the fight. This is a handy option when you’re running a prologue to the adventure, a flashback to a fight from the group’s past, or a flashback to a long-ago historic battle that’s relevant to the present-day campaign.
  • Casting a massive ritual often requires special items and ingredients, sometimes hard to obtain. One option is to build an entire adventure or even a campaign arc around this quest, or series of quests. However, you can also run it as a montage. Give the players the list of items, then go around the circle, introducing problems and solutions. (“The first item on the list is the Prince of Shadows’ lucky coin. Jim, where is it located? And if it’s guarded, who or what is guarding it?”)
  • If you’re a fan of police procedurals, you might have seen scenes that compress part of the investigation into a montage. You can use the montage technique in your game to show the PCs interrogating multiple sources of information, and/or canvassing an area to find clues. In each case, there should be a player-narrated obstacle, and a player-narrated way to overcome the obstacle. Upon each solution to a challenge, give the character a clue, or a resource to help the group solve the mystery. (You’ll see this  approach in my adventure Temple of the Sun Cabal when the group is searching for the vampire Eleodra Malfador)
  • Sometimes the PCs might need a small army of their own—for example, when repelling the troll siege in Make Your Own Luck. Let them narrate a Magnificent Seven style montage to describe how each PC gradually trains a group of townspeople to be a formidable fighting force, and cleverly prepares the terrain for the upcoming battle.

Have you used a montage in other ways in your game, or added your own twist to the mechanic? Share it in the 13th Age Facebook group or Google+ community!



On the Google+ 13th Age community, Stefano Gaburri posted a question about the casting sequence of the 13th Age chaos mage class:

A while ago I asked about “daily” spells for Chaos Mages, namely: since they’re limited, can a mage cast the same spell multiple times, since he’s gonna cast the same maximum number of dailies anyway?

General response was, it’s possible to cast the same “daily” spell more than once, which was also my opinion (but not my GM’s… oh well).

Now I noticed that there’s another column, cryptically labeled “Once-per-battle spells”, that goes from 1 to 2. Now, this cannot possibly be a pool—the number must refer to each single spell, meaning that it becomes possible to cast the same “once per battle” (these names keep losing meaning!) spell twice per battle.

In conclusion (and that’s what bugs me), it seems we have different semantics in the two columns, without any explanation in the text. The number of dailies is a pool of “slots” you get to consume, 5th ed warlock-like, while the other column simply states that once-per-battle spells become twice-per-battle at some point (ie 6th level).

Did I get it right?

Here’s the level progression chart Stefano refers to. As you can see, at 1st level a chaos mage has access to two daily spells, and one once-per-battle spell. By 6th level, a chaos mage has access to four daily spells, and two once-per-battle spells.



Chaos mage level progression chart

Here’s where some of the confusion around this class comes from: The chaos mage class has its own spells, and it has talents which give it access to spells from other classes. Both types of spells are accessed randomly; and on a given turn, a chaos mage might or might not be able to cast the daily or once-per-battle spells it has access to. Such is the nature of randomness!

How Chaos Mage Spellcasting Works (It’s Weird)

The chaos mage’s spell list has three types of spells: attack (one at-will spell, one once-per-battle spell, and one daily spell), defense (same), and iconic (a mix of at-will and daily spells). These spells are the spells those numbers in the chart above refer to.

The chaos mage’s class talents include ones that give it access to a randomly-chosen spell from another class: cleric, necromancer, sorcerer, or wizard. The spell they randomly choose is categorized as either an attack spell, or a defense spell. These spells do not count against the number of daily and once-per-battle spells in the level progression chart.

The chaos mage’s player has a bag of colored stones (or other tokens) representing three types of spells: attack, defense, and iconic. During a battle, the player draws a stone to see what type of spell the chaos mage can cast on their turn. The player then looks at the appropriate spell list to see what’s available:

  • If they drew an iconic spell stone, they look at the chaos mage’s iconic spell list
  • If they drew an attack spell stone, they look at the chaos mage’s attack spell list. If one of their class talents gave them access to a randomly-chosen spell from another class that happened to be an attack spell, that’s one of the options as well.
  • If they drew a defense spell stone, they look at the chaos mage’s defense spell list. If one of their class talents gave them access to a randomly-chosen spell from another class that happened to be an defense spell, that’s one of the options as well.

The chaos mage cannot cast any listed daily spells that they’ve already cast that day, or any once-per-battle spells that they’ve already cast that battle.

Clear as mud? Here’s an example of how it looks in play.

A 6th Level Chaos Mage in Action

Anna Blossom is a 6th level chaos mage.* She can access up to four chaos mage daily spells, and up to two chaos mage once-per-battle spells.

Anna has the Trace of the Divine class talent. This talent lets her randomly choose a cleric spell of the highest level she can cast. For the rest of the day, Anna knows this cleric spell and can cast it according to its normal usage pattern—at-will, cyclic, once per battle, recharge, or daily—when that option comes up during Anna’s chaos mage spellcasting sequence.

Using the Trace of the Divine talent, Anna’s player randomly chooses the spell spirits of the righteous (once per battle). This spell does not count against Anna’s maximum of two once-per-battle spells, because that maximum only applies to chaos mage class spells—not spells from other classes accessed through a talent.

Suddenly, Anna’s band of adventurers is attacked by redcaps! Battle is joined!

Anna’s player pulls an iconic stone from the bag, and rolls to see which icon she can cast a spell from. The die result is the Archmage. Looking at the Archmage iconic spell list, Anna could cast silver arrows (at-will) or cascading power (daily).

Anna casts cascading power.

On Anna’s next turn, the player pulls a second iconic stone from the bag, and rolls Archmage again. She cannot cast cascading power again, because it’s a daily spell and she already cast it. Yes, Anna has access to four daily spells; but this one has already been used, so it’s not available to her anymore until after her next full heal-up. This means the only spell that’s available to Anna in the Archmage iconic spell list during that round is silver arrows (at-will).

On Anna’s next turn, the player pulls an attack stone from the bag. Anna’s options from the chaos mage spell list are: force tentacle (at-will), chaos ray (once per battle), or Blarrrrgh! (daily). Thanks to Trace of the Divine, she can also cast spirits of the righteous (once per battle) because it’s an attack spell.

Anna casts spirits of the righteous.

On Anna’s next turn, the player pulls another attack stone from the bag. Anna’s options from the chaos mage spell list are: force tentacle (at-will), chaos ray (once per battle), or Blarrrrgh! (daily). Anna cannot cast spirits of the righteous again, because it’s a once-per-battle spell and she’s already cast it this battle.

Anna casts chaos ray.

Here’s where Anna is now at this point:

Anna, at 6th level, has access to four daily spells in the chaos mage spell list.

  • She’s cast one of those four (cascading power). She can’t cast it again for the rest of the day, even if her player keeps drawing the iconic spell stone and rolling Archmage over and over again. It’s just gone until Anna’s next full heal-up.
  • Anna has access to three more daily spells, but she’ll only have the opportunity to use them if her player either draws an attack stone (because she hasn’t yet cast Blarrrrrrgh! today), or draws an iconic stone and rolls one of the icons that has a daily spell Anna hasn’t cast yet.

Anna also has access to two once-per-battle spells in the chaos mage spell list.

  • In this battle, Anna’s cast one of her two once-per-battle spells (chaos ray).
  • Anna also cast spirits of the righteous, the once-per-battle spell she got via Trace of the Divine.
  • Even if the player keeps drawing an attack stone from the bag during this battle, Anna doesn’t get to cast spirits of the righteous again, because it’s her one and only cleric spell, and it’s a once-per-battle spell, and she already cast it this battle.
  • Anna also doesn’t get to cast chaos ray again, because she only has access to two chaos mage once-per-battle spells, and she already cast it this battle.
  • However! If the player drew a defense stone, Anna could cast warped healing (the other chaos mage once-per-battle spell) because she hasn’t cast it yet during this battle.
  • Once Anna casts spirits of the righteous, chaos ray, and warped healing, she is all out of once-per-battle spells for the rest of this battle.

I hope this helps clear up the chaos mage’s use of various spell types. If you’re the kind of player who likes the challenge of making choices based on randomly-generated circumstances, maybe you’ll want to give this class a try!

*One Unique Thing: Has wheels.

Art by Lee Moyer and Aaron McConnell

By Rob Heinsoo, with Jonathan Tweet

Another 13th Age campaign, another experiment with the icon relationship dice!

My previous campaign was using a riff on the way that 13th Age Glorantha handles rune narrations. This time, in a campaign I’m referring to as 13th Arduin*, I’m using an idea from Jonathan that he hasn’t gotten around to trying yet because he’s been busy testing the new version of Over the Edge.

In this new campaign, icon relationships aren’t a once per session thing. Instead, you can roll your icon relationships (at least) once per day. (As a reminder, a “day” in 13th Age consists of approximately 4 regular battles, or 3 hard battles, or 2 regular battles and 1 very hard battle.)

Instead of rolling your icon relationships at the start of the day, roll your icon relationship dice at a dramatic moment during play when you’re hoping that an icon relationship might come up and give you a chance to narrate an advantage. The choice of when to roll is up to you, the player, as is the choice of which dice to roll. A player might, for example, roll the die associated with one icon but not another, depending on the situation.

If at least one die is a 5 or a 6, all the 5s and 6s apply to the current situation. At the GM’s option, the player can instead choose one 5/6 result to be the active die. (This gives the GM the right to be merciful when a player has come up with a great story for one icon relationship and isn’t sure about another.)

Like rune narration in 13G, it’s up to the player to tell the story of how their character’s icon relationship gives them an advantage in that situation. At minimum, the player starts the story and the GM can step in and help finish it up. Some players can be trusted to handle their own complications; others require help. Using this system means that complications generally can’t be avoided unless the GM allows it, since all 5s and 6s that are rolled must be narrated.

Using up dice: If the icon roll resulted in at least one 5 or 6, then all the icon dice you rolled are used up for the rest of the day. If there are other icon dice that you didn’t roll, you still have the option of rolling them later in the day. I like to break out Campaign Coins icon tokens to show which dice players can still use, removing an icon token when a specific relationship’s die is done for the day.

Keeping dice: If the icon dice you chose to roll don’t generate any 5s or 6s, you don’t get to narrate any icon relationship advantages at this point. Connections with the icons aren’t in play, so you’re going to have to deal with whatever’s going on in the game with your own powers and ingenuity and hit points.

But you haven’t lost out completely on your icon relationships. Because all the dice you rolled whiffed, you can roll them again later in the day in some other situation. That holds true even for your reroll. You may end up running out of time in the adventuring day, but as a rule, every PC should end up with some advantage from their icon dice. You can’t be sure exactly when your icon relationships will make a difference, but if you get a couple of chances to roll, you should get roughly one successful relationship roll per day.

*EDITOR’S NOTE: For more on how David Hargrave’s mid-1970s Arduin Grimoire provided inspiration for 13th Age, check out this 2012 EN World interview with Jonathan Tweet.

by Mikhail Bonch-Osmolovskiy

For all their seeming simplicity, Icon relationships can be tricky to use in a game, as some GMs, myself included, occasionally struggle to offer a satisfying use for them. Icons are just too abstract, too detached, too far away from the daily life of a low-level adventurer. They need intermediaries, something to connect the dungeons to the floating towers, the blood to the idea, the PCs to Icons. They need factions.

At their most basic, factions are NPC organizations who serve one or more Icons. In this article you’ll find advice on preparing factions and their use, as well as optional mechanics for tracking the changing influence of factions.

Making and using factions

Like any organization, factions form in order to achieve a goal. It can be something specific, like “return the Lich King to his rightful place as the ruler of the Dragon Empire”, or abstract like “keep the citizens of Axis safe”. That’s where we start: for each faction you have in mind, figure out its agenda. You’re not writing the faction’s manifesto, a single sentence will do.

Not every faction declares its agenda outright – a decadent high society faction dedicated to opening a new Hellmouth probably doesn’t advertise the fact to outsiders. But it’s this true purpose you’re interested in. Leave lies to your NPCs.

Speaking of NPCs, a faction needs a face (or three), someone the party will interact with when they deal with the faction. It can be the faction leader, but it can just as easily be an approachable rank-and-file member.

Similarly to PCs, factions have relationships with Icons, though these relationships are never rolled, and are purely indicative of the faction’s allegiances. As a rule of thumb, a faction should have at least one positive and one negative relationship, and no more than three relationships overall. The faction’s agenda should make it clear which Icons a given faction supports and opposes. And just as with PCs and their relationships with Icons, thinking of the relationships your factions have may reveal unexpected facets of their “personality”.

Ideally, your factions will cover every Icon with which the PCs have a relationship with both positive and negative relationships of their own. For the frequently referenced Icons, you may wish to have multiple factions that are interested in them. Ties to other Icons are nice, but less essential. In this way, the Icons your players pick will impact your worldbuilding, helping you to further focus on the aspects of the world your players find interesting.

If you use the “Icon relations story-guide results” table from the core book, you may wish to amend it with names of factions supporting or opposing the Icons.

Armed with this information, the next time your players want to use a relationship roll, you’ll have a faction or two with the same Icon relationship that fits the bill. Maybe one of its “face” NPCs shows up to offer assistance, or you suggest the PCs visit them to ask for help.

If the relationship die was a 5, you have a starting point for what the faction may ask for in return for its help – its agenda. Alternatively, a 5 on a positive relationship could indicate the involvement of a faction with a negative relationship to that Icon, and vice versa.

Note that this doesn’t rule out any other use of Icon relationship rolls the books suggest or you come up with. Indeed, factions merely offer a framework for some of these suggestions.

Faction influence level

In case you’re looking for some extra granularity in distinguishing between factions, you can assign levels to them. A faction’s level determines the average level of its significant assets and personnel. To put it another way, kicking down the door to the faction’s headquarters and taking them on would constitute an adventure of the faction’s level.

A level 1 faction is not much more than a group of local thugs, a level 5 faction can run a town, while a level 9 faction is a continent-spanning organization.

A faction’s level indicates the resources they have access to, helping determine what kind of assistance or opposition they offer to the PCs. An adventurer-tier faction can’t hand out champion-tier magic items, for instance. Additionally, faction levels provide some ideas for the likely outcome of a faction-vs-faction conflict.

Faction levels aren’t set in stone. At the end of every adventure, as well as whenever some significant change happens, ask yourself: did any faction get more powerful or otherwise achieve a major victory? Did any faction lose major holdings or important allies? Adjust their level by 1 in either direction. Where appropriate, campaign loss caused by PCs fleeing may also result in a faction losing a level.

As a rule of thumb, PCs can’t affect the level of a faction that is three or more levels above theirs without major plot upheaval to assist them. However, large and high-level factions are rarely monolithic. Consider introducing local chapters or sub-factions of a level closer to the level of PCs so they can more easily influence each other.

The changes to faction influence levels represent tangible consequences to the PCs’ efforts, making it easier to see how their adventures affect the world around them.

Example – factions of the Sea Wall

Let’s say your group has decided upon the Sea Wall as the starting location for the campaign. Sea breeze and giant monsters, what can be better. The player characters have positive relationships with the Archmage, the Dwarf King, and the Prince of Shadows; they have conflicted relationship with the High Druid and the Diabolist; and a negative relationship with the Three.

Looking at the map, we see a slight problem: there’s the Iron Sea on the one side, the Blood Wood on the other, and not much else. With the chosen Icons in mind, let’s start with the obvious options and expand to accommodate the more esoteric choices.

Sea Wall Maintenance Crew

Level 5 faction

Agenda: keep the wall standing. Currently occupied with repairing a massive breach that occurred last month. Nominally subordinate to the Sea Wall Guard (a faction with positive relationship to the Emperor, in which we’re not as interested).

Relationships: positive with the Archmage and the Dwarf King, ambiguous with the High Druid.

Faces: Prince Azbarn Stonebeard, fifteenth in line to the Dwarven Throne (dwarf, naturally), and magister Ariel Thornfist (high elf) are in joint command. Both are highly ambitious and competitive, with views of distinguishing themselves and leaving this backwater post behind.

Leviathan Hunters

Level 3 faction

Agenda: to safeguard the Blood Wood (and the Empire, as a secondary consideration) from the sea monsters.

Relationships: positive with the High Druid, ambiguous with the Orc Lord, negative with the Diabolist.

Face: Uzg (orc) left his clan and his clan name behind to serve High Druid. An unlikely but enthusiastic guardian of Blood Wood, he’s assembled a warband of other renegade orcs, wood elves and beasts of the forest. Currently weakened from their continued skirmishes with the sea monsters that got through last month, Leviathan Hunters would love to live up to their name and take the fight to the enemy – if their level reaches 5, Uzg will lead an expedition beyond the Sea Wall.

Red Right Pincer

Level 4 faction

Agenda: to bring down the Sea Wall by summoning a mighty leviathan from the depths.

Relationships: positive with the Diabolist, negative with the High Druid, the Emperor, and the Archmage.

Face: Deep priest Kashtarak (sahuagin). The designated bad guy for the first few levels of the campaign. Red Right Pincer currently hunts for mystic beasts to slaughter in the Blood Wood, in order to use their hearts for an unholy ritual that would weaken the magic protection of the Sea Wall. Should the Pincer’s level exceed that of the Sea Wall Maintenance Crew, a new massive breach is all but guaranteed.

Storm’s Bane

Level 2 faction

Agenda: recover the treasure that has cursed them to undeath.

Relationships: positive with Prince of Shadows, negative with the Three.

Face: Captain Sam Kellock (human) was a daring pirate, his ship Storm’s Bane feared by all. That is, until he robbed one too many ships that belonged to the Three, fled from their pursuit into the Iron Sea, and met his end in the jaws of a leviathan. That would have been bad enough, but unbeknownst to him the treasure he carried was cursed. Now ghostly remains of his crew plague the shore, looking for fools to help them recover the gold and break the curse. After a century of torment, Kellock is desperate and sees the PCs as his last best hope. Should their relationship go awry, he would even help sahuagin bring the leviathan that swallowed his treasure to the shore, in hopes of someone killing it for him.


Mikhail Bonch-Osmolovskiy is a game designer and a writer. He’s currently looking for a publisher for his board game, Passages & Plunder; writing a blog,; and planning on resuming his YA horror serial at He lives in Sydney, Australia and has given up on teaching the locals how to pronounce his name.

This month’s column introduces a new monster that will be useful for people playing with the two newest 13th Age books, Fire & Faith and Book of Demons (as of now, both available for pre-order). The mini-adventures collected in Fire & Faith feature the same icons who are most prominent in Book of Demons: the Diabolist, Crusader, and Great Gold Wyrm, icons who are tangled with demons, one way or another.

Book of Demons includes monster stats for a number of demons, including hellhole denizens and the creatures summoned by demonologists. But as I compared the two books, I realized there’s a specific demon that appears more often than I expected: the despoiler from page 210 of the 13th Age core rulebook. Fire & Faith includes a named despoiler, Fastulii, who has a couple of special abilities and is less of a wimp in melee; but in lots of other places, Fire & Faith refers to normal despoilers and the higher-level despoiler mages.

Despoilers are an interesting monster, but why do they appear so often? I suspect it’s because they’re the only normal-sized demon spellcaster that’s presented as a generic demon. Maybe there’s room for another demon caster that might appear anywhere in your campaign rather than in a specific adventure or hellhole.

The demon caster below should also be useful when you’re running the hellhole adventures in Book of Demons. As we did for the despoiler, I’ve also provided a higher level version, since building battles is a lot easier when you have normal monsters to work with as well as large and huge creatures.

As the flavor text suggests, you should make them look like anything you wish! I think it might be more fun to have demonic spellcasters occupying a variety of forms, instead of putting them into a single mold.

Abyssal Mage

Sometimes they’re stocky and twisted little creatures, easy to overlook until they’ve set you on fire. Other times they’re tall hooded demons in flamboyant robes that mock the Empire’s arcane traditions.

5th level caster [demon]

Initiative: +8


Warp rod +10 vs. PD—14 damage, and teleport the abyssal blaster to a nearby location it can see

   Natural 1-5: Deal 2d6 damage to both the abyssal mage and the target, and this warp rod attack no longer teleports the mage when it hits.


R: Abyssal blast +10 vs. PD—14 fire damage

   Natural even hit: 1d6 ongoing fire damage per point on the escalation die when the attack hits.

   Natural 18+: The abyssal mage can make another abyssal blast as a quick action.


Nastier Special

Fed by fire: Add +2 to the abyssal mage’s defenses for each enemy taking ongoing fire damage.


AC   21

PD    19                 HP 68

MD  17


Greater Abyssal Mage

By now you know they’re going to look like whatever worries you most.

8th level caster [demon]

Initiative: +13


Warp staff +13 vs. PD—30 damage, and teleport the greater abyssal mage to a nearby location it can see

   Natural 1-5: Deal 2d12 damage to both the greater abyssal mage and the target, and this warp staff attack no longer teleports the mage when it hits.


R: Abyssal blast +13 vs. PD—30 fire OR negative energy damage (greater abyssal mage chooses)

   Natural even hit: 1d12 ongoing fire or ongoing negative energy damage per point on the escalation die when the attack hits.

   Natural 18+: The greater abyssal mage can make another abyssal blast as a quick action.


Nastier Special

Fed by calamity: Add +2 to the greater abyssal mage’s defenses for each enemy taking ongoing fire and/or negative energy damage.

Unholy pyres: Also add +1 to the defenses of other demons in the battle for each enemy taking ongoing fire and/or negative energy damage.


AC   24

PD    22                 HP 136

MD  20


The ranger is one of the simplest classes to build and play, but your choices of talents will determine what kind of ranger you are. Rangers can vary from animal-companion assisted trackers, deadly archers, to frighteningly efficient melee characters.

The ranger is a simple class, nothing flashy. Basic attacks, modified with expanding crit ranges or increasing the number of attacks possible. The first build focuses on multiple attacks, the second here on expanded crit ranges.

A third build possible involves magic (fey queen’s enchantments and ranger ex cathedra), animal companions, and ranger’s pets. This has the ranger as a magic user who supports their animal companion with spells. I’ve seen such builds work very well in the past, with a panther as the front line fighter and the ranger staying in cover and picking off enemies that try to hurt the beast.

Ranger talent clarifications

You should note two important things about the ranger’s talents. The first is that the ranger’s animal companion talent is superseded by the druid’s version found in 13 True Ways. If you only have the core book don’t worry about it, if you have both books use the updated version of the talent.

The second note about talents is a tiny wrinkle in favored enemy. Favored enemy lets us pick a race type (aberration, beast, construct, dragon, etc…) against which our attacks have an expanded crit range. Picking the humanoid type as your favored enemy is worth two talent slots instead of just one. The wrinkle comes in the adventurer-tier feat which lets us switch favored enemies during a full heal-up. What happens if you spend two talents on favored enemy to get humanoid but then switch to a non-humanoid favored enemy? The answer is that if you spend two talent slots and a feat you can get humanoid as your favored enemy and switch to two non-humanoid monster types simultaneously (dragon and ooze, beast and plant, devil and demon, etc).

Multi-attack ranger

Download the Multi-Attack Ranger character sheets here.

This ranger focuses on making as many attacks in a round as possible. It’s simple to play—attack and see if you can keep attacking.

Tactically your best bet in a fight is to get stuck in to melee, withdrawing and switching to ranged attacks when you get hurt, and returning to the fray once you’ve received some healing.

At champion tier you get access to a tiny bit of healing magic (a once per battle heal and a daily cure wounds), which you should use wisely to keep yourself and your allies in the fight. Being a ranger we’ll rename heal ‘Verdant Vitality’ and cure wounds ‘Wild Restoration’ on our character sheet.


Double Melee Attack

This talent drops damage dice down one die type (d8s become d6s, d6s become d4s), but when a melee attack roll is a natural even (hit or miss) a second melee attack is possible.

Double Ranged Attack

This is the same as double melee attack, but for ranged weapons.

Two-Weapon Mastery

This gives a +1 bonus when fighting with two melee weapons, with feats that increase miss damage and give extra attacks when enemies fumble.


Wood elves’ elven grace grant extra standard actions, increasing the potential number of attacks.


For this ranger, Dexterity is most vital, with Strength important for melee damage: Str 17 (+3) Con 12 (+1) Dex 19 (+4) Int 9 (-1) Wis 10 (+0) Cha 8 (-1)

1st level

Attributes: Str 17 (+3) Con 12 (+1) Dex 19 (+4) Int 9 (-1) Wis 10 (+0) Cha 8 (-1)

Racial Power: elven grace

Talents: double ranged attack, double melee attack, two-weapon mastery

Feats: heritage of the sword

2nd level

New feat (two-weapon mastery).

3rd level

New feat (double melee attack).

4th level

+1 to three attributes (Strength, Constitution, Dexterity), new feat (double ranged attack).

5th level

New talent (ranger ex cathedral: cure wounds as 5th level spell), new feat (ranger ex cathedral: heal).

6th level

New feat (double melee attack).

7th level

+1 to three attributes (Strength, Constitution, Dexterity), new feat (elven grace), level-up spells (cure wounds).

8th level

New talent (favored enemy), new feat (double melee attack).

9th level

New feat (favored enemy), level-up spells (cure wounds).

10th level

+1 to three attributes (Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence), new feat (favored enemy).

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