I just finished the final pass on the “page XX” references for Shards of the Broken Sky. Some designers dislike this type of finicky work, but I sort of love it. Partly it’s a great moment in the lifecycle of a book—it’s actually about to be finished! Partly you get to take a last look at things; and when you’re working with a great layout artist like Jen McCleary, it’s a calm look at things that are very much where they should be.

So a couple days later, I’m thinking about the finished adventure and asking myself: what isn’t in Shards that could have been? My first thought is that it would be interesting to think about how specific character classes could find special uses or unique stories in a Shards campaign. We generally don’t tailor elements of our adventures to individual classes; from a design perspective it’s usually better to avoid spending too much time on ideas that only apply to some characters. But a quick blog post is just about right!

Shards was first conceived of before 13 True Ways was released, so the default adventuring group at the time consisted of classes from the core book. Here are some ideas for how players whose characters’ classes come from 13TW might experience the adventure differently.

  • Chaos Mage: There is a whole lot of chaos in Shards of the Broken Sky. So much chaos that a chaos mage player character is either going to feel supremely at home OR feel a bit resentful that the world has barged in and taken over their party trick. Maybe this will be a chance for the chaos mage to develop in a new direction, towards taming some of the weirdness-from-on-high that fell to earth with Vantage.
  • Commander: For an early approach to the post-Fall chaos, a commander PC might be the imperial legionnaire who is ostensibly next in command after the disaster. But with no soldiers to command and a catastrophe in progress, maybe an adventuring party of misfits will do!
  • Druid: If I ever play in a Shards campaign, I’m going to play a druid with the Terrain Caster talent; and then I’m going to have SO MUCH FUN with the smashed and scattered terrain across Redfield Valley.
  • Monk: None of the big secrets in Shards directly relate to the monk class or its themes, so if I were running it with a monk character in the group, I’d start by changing that. In this campaign, the secret of the death/disappearance/status of the Grand Master of Flowers can be found in Redfields.
  • Necromancer: Unlike the monk, the necromancer gets LOTS of love in Shards. Indirect love, in the sense that the valley is full of ancient quasi-living battlefields, but that’s love a necromancer understands. 
  • The Occultist: Vantage falls, the Occultist rises from the wreckage. 

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

The wicker golem appears in Shards of the Broken Sky, where it’s one of several golems performing various magical maintenance functions. But its inspiration, of course, is the 1973 British horror film The Wicker Man—making it a great monster for a creepy adventure set deep in the High Druid’s woods, where the people still hold fast to the Old Ways…

Pre-order Shards of the Broken Sky and download the PDF right away!

Wicker Golem

It burns well, you’d just better hope you are not inside it at the time. Some use wicker golems as a means of capturing rather than killing, others to sacrifice their enemies mid-battle.

Huge 0 level wrecker [CONSTRUCT]Initiative: +4
Vulnerability: fire

Wicker hands +5 vs. AC (two attacks)—5 damage. If at least one attack hits a target, the target is grabbed.

Entrap: If a grabbed target does not escape the grab by the end of its next turn, the golem stuffs the target into its body cavity. Once a target is in the golem’s body cavity, it moves with the golem until it escapes and is stuck, dazed, and unable to affect anything except the wicker golem. The target also takes any fire damage the wicker golem takes. If the target deals 5 or more damage with an attack, the golem’s body cavity briefly pops open and the target can make a disengage check to try to escape.

Golem immunity: Wicker golems are immune to effects. They can’t be dazed, weakened, confused, made vulnerable, or touched by ongoing damage (except fire damage).

Burning man: Whenever the wicker golem takes fire damage, it also takes 5 ongoing fire damage. While the wicker golem takes ongoing fire damage, a natural even hit with wicker hands does the same amount of ongoing fire damage to its target.

Deliberate conflagration: If the golem has an enemy trapped inside, it may set itself on fire (5 ongoing fire damage) at any time.

Blood sacrifice: If a non-mook creature is reduced to 0 hp while within the golem’s body cavity, the golem immediately heals to 55 hp.

AC 14
PD 14 HP 55
MD 10


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

Shards of the Broken Sky has more oozes than you can hold in just one dungeon. Stirring the ooze-pot, I realized that the original black pudding from page 240 of the 13th Age core rulebook is one of the worst-designed monsters in the game. Not if you’ve been playing 13th Age. No, if you’ve been a player, the black pudding has been your secret best friend, a huge 9th level wrecker that deals damage like a spilled pudding cup.

I didn’t add the revised black pudding into Shards, instead I put in a lower level version, saving the updated 9th level monster for today. Accompanying the stats, another great cardboard miniature from Rich Burlew’s A Monster for Every Season: Winter pack.

 

Black Pudding

Sadly, the curse the Archmage had inflicted on these creatures has just worn off.

 

9th level wrecker [ooze]

Initiative: +8

 

Acid-drenched pseudopod +14 v PD (up to 4 attacks, each against a different nearby enemy)—60 acid damage, and 15 ongoing acid damage.

Miss: 20 damage, and 5 ongoing acid damage

 

Climber: A black pudding sticks to ceilings and walls when it wishes, sliding along as easily as on the floor.

Slippery: The pudding has resist weapons 12+.

Flows where it likes: The ooze is immune to opportunity attacks.

Ooze: The ooze is immune to effects. When an attack applies a condition to an ooze (dazed, hampered, weakened, ongoing damage, etc.), that condition doesn’t affect it.

 

AC 23

PD 20      HP 470

MD 19


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

The Flesh TailorIn his April View from the Pelgrane’s Nest column, Simon provided updates on all of Pelgrane’s current projects. Here’s the latest news on 13th Age:

The 13th Age Bestiary is with the printers, on target for a mid-June delivery date. Pre-order your copy now from the Pelgrane store. It’s available on Bits and Mortar, too, so you can pre-order it from your local retailer and get the PDF now.

The Bestiary limited edition is in the changing rooms at the boutique, trying out new outfits of faux leather colours and gold foil. The limited B is currently available for pre-order, with Hatchling edition customers geting first dibs.

13 True Ways is finally in layout. We apologize for the extreme delay in getting this Kickstarted product out to you – we think it’s worth the wait. We’ll put in on pre-order this month. It’s touch and go if we’ll have it out in time for GenCon and Kickstarter backers come first. A non-laid out PDF version should be out with backers in the next couple of weeks.

For FreeRPGDay , Saturday 21st June, we’ll be releasing a new retail-exclusive adventure Make Your Own Luck. 3500 of these adventures will be distributed free in up to 700 hobby stores. Stores can sign up here  and you can find your nearest participating retailer here.

Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan is nursing the great whale that is The Eyes of the Stone Thief into the the deep waters of art direction; Rich Longmore, Anna Kryczkowska, Juha Makkonen and Pat Loboyko are doing the interior work, and Ben Wootten the cover.

Cartographer Pär Lindstrom is producing maps for Shadows of Eldolan, and we have a first colour draft of the cover by Joshua Calloway here.

ASH LAW has delivered a draft of Shards of the Broken Sky, which Rob will look at when 13 True Ways is laid out.

The Book of Loot, a delicious collection of potent and quirky Icon-featured items is in first draft, also awaiting Rob’s seal of approval.

Flying realm down!13th Age Roleplaying Game sandbox adventure for player characters level 1-7 (and a bit beyond).

When the flying realm of Vantage crashes to earth in the Dragon Empire, a long-kept secret is revealed: it was the control point for magical wards that kept a dozen ancient evils in check.

The icons have offered you rival opportunities for glory, plunder, and/or heroic sacrifice in Vantage. Will you rescue its survivors? Restore its magical wards? Or loot everything that isn’t nailed down while trying to stay one step ahead of the apocalypse?

Use Shards of the Broken Sky however you like: as an entire campaign in and around this fallen flying realm, a one-shot or mini-arc, or a source of new races, monsters, and magic items! If you run it as a campaign, the characters’ icon relationships will shape the plot, NPCs, and locations, keeping the story relevant to their backstories and goals. You’ve played through once? Enter the Shards sandbox again with new PCs—it’s never the same adventure twice.

Shards of the Broken Sky includes:

  • A full 13th Age campaign for characters level 1-7
  • 100 new monsters including thunder orc, dark druid, glass spider, elite wizard, and goblin wolfrider
  • Icon-specific monster abilities to customize agents of the Prince of Shadows
  • 14 new magic treasures including Shard of Frozen Lightning, Glowing Rune-Carved Pebble, and Crystal Blade
  • Three new optional PC races: lava dwarf, oozefolk, and ophidian

Designers & Developers: ASH LAW, Rob Heinsoo, Paul Fanning

Art Direction: ASH LAW, Rob Heinsoo, Cathriona Tobin

Art: Pascal Quidault, Gislaine Avila, Wagner Chrissante, Lauren Covarrubias, Rich Longmore, Dagmara Matuszak, Jeremy McHugh, Ernanda Souza

Cartography: ASH LAW, Gill Pearce, Christina Trani

Stock #: PEL13A19 Pages: 232 pages, case bound, B&W

Pre-order now

13th Age Escalation Edition v6Rob Heinsoo emerged from his subterranean lair to give us this update on the status of the 13th Age RPG, the 13 True Ways expansion, his new Shards of the Broken Sky adventure and more.

As you might have seen in Simon Rogers’ Through the Scrying Glass column, I finished the manuscript for 13th Age in November and turned the final text over for layout by the talented Chris Huth (Night’s Black AgentsLorefinder.) In December, we sold the last of our 1,000 Escalation Edition pre-orders. People can still pre-order the game and download the final rules, but the window for getting your name listed in the book, and first refusal of the eventual leatherbound edition has closed.

After getting the final text into layout, I turned my attention to some non-13th Age projects on my plate, including design help and flavor on the recently announced Shadowrun: Crossfire, a deckbuilding game designed by Fire Opal Media and published by Catalyst that will lead into their cool new Shadowrun 5 RPG.

Timing of 13th Age

Now that we’ve hit 2013, I’m back at work on two 13th Age books: Shards of the Broken Sky is an adventure for Pelgrane Press, 13 True Ways is the book funded via Kickstarter.

The core 13th Age book should arrive in stores in April. That’s based on two months between the start of printing and final distribution and the likelihood that layout won’t be complete until February.

The delay largely stems from the complexity of the layout. Our vision was for a full-color layout with subtle touches and a variety of sidebars. We had some false starts but now Chris Huth’s work is going smoothly. Simon will share sample laid out chapters in the next See Page XX from Pelgrane Press.

I’m aiming to turn in the draft of Shards by the end of February. The goal is an adventurer tier sandbox adventure that could even be played twice by the same group with different characters and icon connections.

13 True Ways is underway with the rest of the team. Lee is working on the Horizon map. Jonathan is working on Drakkenhall and taverns. Aaron starts this week on art supporting the monsters, magic items, and characters created by our high level backers. I’m doing initial drafts of the new monk, druid, chaos shaman, battle captain, occultist and necromancer classes. I think its best if I skip publication date guesses for now. I’ll have a much clearer estimate toward the end of February.

Meanwhile Gerald is coordinating the 13th Age dice sets and the new Escalation Die (and eventually the t-shirt). ASH LAW has come aboard to help run that thing I would have sworn we wouldn’t be able to handle: an Organized Play program, of sorts; and there are more developments afoot for next week.

And for me, back to work.

Yours in battle captaincy,
Rob Heinsoo