Seven Answers to the 13th Sage

by Rob Heinsoo

Here are answers to the trivia questions from a few days ago, along with bonus stories and links.

A. What monster in the core 13th Age rulebook became one of the player characters in my home campaign?

The demon-touched human ranger on page 235 is one of just two human antagonists in the book. I came up with the monster when I wanted to show just how dangerous the Diabolist was to make deals with, in my campaign the character was an outlaw leader who’d proudly acquired a magic item, only to find that it was eating him. The PCs overcame the bandits and felt bad for him, since he was screaming about the demon eating his arm. So the PCs cut the bow off his arm and used magic to keep him alive in the process. They had the impression that the outlaw was going to do as they told him, now that he only had one arm, and that turned out to be true, he cooperated and talked what was left of his gang into taking the wagon they’d been stealing back into town while the PCs went into a dungeon after the piece of the treasure the Diabolist’s agents had managed to escape with.

Fast-forward to our next campaign, and one of the players said that his One Unique Thing was that he only had one arm. And that he was the demon-touched human ranger who had been scared straight by losing his arm and was now trying to become a hero! It worked for all of us.

It’s probably not even weird that the incident had an even bigger impact on the rulebook. The example of the ritual on page 194 and the full-page illlustration on page 193? That’s pretty much what had to happen to get rid of the demon bow after the PCs cut it off the ranger’s arm. The group tried to keep it around as a functional magic item but the bow started talking to people and making deals and the wizard stepped in with a ritual to destroy the demon-bow before the fighter could follow-up on its intriguing offers.

B. What is missing from the map published in the English version of the 13th Age core rulebook?

Paul guessed this one: thanks to a Photoshop layer problem, the roads between some of the Seven Cities didn’t show up in the maps on the endpages or center of the core rulebook. You can see pieces of the roads in the small cut-outs that show up near the write-ups of the various cities. You can download the the map with the roads on DriveThru RPG.

I missed this mistake for ever. I believe I didn’t realize it until the French translation wanted to do the map and someone mentioned that we had missed the roads. As mistakes go, I sure don’t care. I’m fine with the map either way.

C. What is the name from a monk power in 13 True Ways that I’ve used in many/many published game products over the years, for reasons that I won’t say yet because that would lead to the answer?

I got into game writing by writing for the Alarums & Excursions fanzine put out by Lee Gold. My zines were usually called Flagrant Blossoms, and I use that name where I can. A monk form in epic tier was the perfect spot.

D. What was the original shape of the Great Gold Wyrm’s symbol?

It was an ouroboros, a wyrm-like dragon with its tail in its mouth. I became dissatisfied with the symbol when I realized that it was playing off the wrong archetypes. The GGW isn’t an ouroboros, or at least we weren’t thinking of that style of symbolism at the time. Alchemically speaking, I suppose that might be an interesting variation on the Wyrm, so perhaps some version of this will come out some day! But Lee Moyer didn’t like the original symbol much either, he thought it was the weakest of the batch, so he created the much-improved symbol that went into the final book.

Somewhere in my dice jar I have a one-of-a-kind creation, a sample icon die that mistakenly used the original GGW symbol. It can stay there, for now.

E. Who originally created the Koru Behemoths?

Steve gave us the answer on the quiz page: the Koru Behemoths were created by Keith Baker, of Eberron & Gloom fame, presently putting together the fascinating Phoenix: Dawn Command game. Eventually we’re going to find a way to set a game on a Koru’s back with some fun maps, and now that I think of it again, maybe we need to find a way to tie in with some phoenixes.

F. What 13th Age monster tile was I shocked and happy to see for the first time while standing in the lobby of a hotel that happened to have the same name as the monster?

We were staying at a hotel in Kalkan, Turkey, that was in the middle of a name change. Originally it had been the Harpy Hotel, named after the harpies that were mostly-benevolent spirits, important creatures for the area, captured in wonderful stone on the Harpy Tomb that were removed from their homes in Xanthos and presently live in the British Museum. But the very sweet people running the hotel had become uncomfortably aware that many of their guests thought harpy were monsters, so the name change from Harpy to Happy was half-way finished, with some signs saying Happy and others still saying Harpy. As we checked out after a several day stay, and sent one final email from the hotel lobby, the first monster tile that Lee Moyer had sent me from the 13th Age book popped into my inbox. It was the harpy.

G. What power name is shared by two classes in 13 True Ways, approaching the same words from entirely different angles?

Alex Greene nailed the last question, and I wasn’t sure anyone was going to notice. I didn’t realize until editor Cal Moore mentioned that there is a power/spell called “You Know What to Do” in both the commander and the necromancer. The commander’s came first. Later in the playtest process, I got a complaint about the very dark name I’d originally used for the necromancer spell. I changed the name without realizing that name might have been in my head because I’d already used it earlier in the book. In context, the necromancer version is still very dark, but it’s subtle-dark instead of just-awful-dark. When Cal asked whether we could use the same name twice, I said, “Yes, definitely! You know what to do!”

2 Responses to “Seven Answers to the 13th Sage”

  1. Alex Greene says:

    *pumps fists in air*

    Do I win anything? =D

  2. Tim B. says:

    I love learning bits of trivia like this. Thanks for sharing, and I hope you’ll post more in the future!

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