Demonologist

By ASH LAW

The demonologist is the class for players who like things a little risky—who like playing close to the edge. Sure, you get to raise demons and bind them to your will, but if you falter you’ll unleash something very nasty into the world (and potentially against the party).

Demonologists get three talents, and how those talents are spent determine the path or paths that your demonologist is on, and the benefits that those grant.

Dilettante Demonologist

Download Dilettante character sheets here.

This demonologist refuses to be bound to any one path, instead drawing power and using it as they choose. This makes for a character with a lot of flexibility, but at the cost of some of the benefits that fully committing to a path would grant. An initiate of all paths, master of none.

This build concentrates on keeping effects going, and trying to get extra actions. To that end the build focuses more on curses and dealing ongoing damage than on summoning demons.

As an initiate of all three path’s you’ll get: resist poison 12+, ignore poison resistance 14+ or lower, resist fire 12+, ignore fire resistance 14+ or lower, and resist melee damage 10+.

You also get these bonus spells: summon corruption demon (1x daily), summon fire demon (1x daily), and summon slaughter demon (1x daily)

Additionally, as a slaughter path initiate your base AC in light armor is 13 and your base AC in heavy armor is 14 with a -2 attack penalty.

Talents

Contagion

Transfer a save-ends effect from a dead enemy to a new enemy.

Flare Up

When an enemy saves with an odd roll against an effect you caused, move the effect to a new enemy.

Sacrificial Blade

When one of your attacks drops a non-mook enemy (or the last mook in a mob), roll a save to get an extra standard action.

Race

The wood elf’s elven grace gives a good chance of extra standard actions, a nice synergy with sacrificial blade.

Attributes

Charisma is vital, Constitution is secondary, and we don’t want to skimp in too many other areas so we’re going for a fairly balanced build: Str 14 (+2) Con 16 (+3) Dex 10 (0) Int 10 (0) Wis 10 (0) Cha 17 (+3).

1st level

Attributes: Str 14 (+2) Con 16 (+3) Dex 10 (0) Int 10 (0) Wis 10 (0) Cha 17 (+3).

Racial Power: Elven Grace

Talents: contagion, flare up, sacrificial blade

Path bonus spells (daily): summon corruption demon, summon fire demon, and summon slaughter demon

Demons on the roster: demon toad, burner, claw demon

Path of Corruption spells: stab in the soul

Path of Flame spells: feed the flame demons

Path of Slaughter spells: the rending

Resistances: resist poison 12+, resist fire 12+, resist melee damage 10+

Ignores resistances: ignore poison resistance 14+ or lower, ignore fire resistance 14+ or lower

Feats: sacrificial blade

2nd level

Corruption spells (stab in the soul), flame spells (feed the flame demons), slaughter spells (the rending), new feat (stab in the soul). Demons on the roster: demon toad, burner, claw demon.

3rd level

Corruption spells (stab in the soul, misfortune), flame spells (feed the flame demons, keep burning please), slaughter spells (the rending), new feat (keep burning please). Demons on the roster: hopping imp, hellhound, hungry maw.

4th level

+1 to three attributes (Strength, Dexterity, Charisma), corruption spells (stab in the soul, misfortune), flame spells (feed the flame demons, keep burning please), slaughter spells (the rending), new feat (misfortune). Demons on the roster: hopping imp, hellhound, hungry maw.

5th level

Corruption spells (stab in the soul, misfortune), flame spells (feed the flame demons, keep burning please), slaughter spells (the rending, implacable destruction), new feat (sacrificial blade). Demons on the roster: vulture demon, big burner, frenzy demon.

6th level

Corruption spells (stab in the soul, misfortune, killing doubt), flame spells (feed the flame demons, keep burning please, golden claw), slaughter spells (the rending, implacable destruction), new feat (elven grace). Demons on the roster: vulture demon, big burner, frenzy demon.

7th level

+1 to three attributes (Constitution, Dexterity, Charisma), corruption spells (stab in the soul, misfortune, abyssal bargain), flame spells (feed the flame demons, keep burning please, golden claw), slaughter spells (the rending, implacable destruction), new feat (keep burning please). Demons on the roster: hezrou, pincer demon, laughing demon.

8th level

Corruption spells (stab in the soul, misfortune, abyssal bargain), flame spells (feed the flame demons, keep burning please, golden claw), slaughter spells (the rending, implacable destruction), new feat (sacrificial blade). Demons on the roster: hezrou, pincer demon, laughing demon.

9th level

Corruption spells (stab in the soul, misfortune, herald of the apocalypse), flame spells (feed the flame demons, keep burning please, golden claw), slaughter spells (the rending, implacable destruction), new feat (keep burning please). Demons on the roster: boar demon, lesser balor, marilith.

10th level

+1 to three attributes (Strength, Constitution, Charisma), corruption spells (stab in the soul, misfortune, herald of the apocalypse), flame spells (feed the flame demons, keep burning please, golden claw), slaughter spells (the rending, implacable destruction, blood for blood), new feat (blood for blood). Demons on the roster: boar demon, lesser balor, marilith.

This month for me featured online games – a playtest of a Yellow King RPG adventure, new releases from virtual tabletop providers, and Steve Dempsey ran his 60th Fearful Symmetries session. It’s not quite the same as playing in person, but I find that aside from the convenience of online play, players spend more time actually playing than in the flesh. I am still too much of a fearful Luddite to run an online game myself, but that day will come. This month we are attending the Origins Game Fair, where will will be showcasing The Fall of DELTA GREEN to convention goers. I love Origins because of its more relaxed opening hours, and its more modest size allows us to connect with our fellow industry professionals and gamers much better. That, and Cthulhu Confidental has been nominated for an Origins Award for Roleplaying!

This month’s new releases and pre-orders include, for 13th Age, The Book of Ages, the 13th Age Dice Tray, Book of Demons and The Battle Scenes Complete Bundle. The Fall of DELTA GREEN has been landing with Kickstarter backers in the States, and will soon be shipped to the Rest of the World, so if you want to be included in the first wave of pre-orders, now is the time to order from the store.

The Fall of Delta Green

A few brave Kickstarter backers now have their copies of our blockbuster GUMSHOE release. I am unable to restrain myself from repeating what Delta Green co-creator John Scott Tynes emailed us. It’s unsolicited, I swear.

I received my copy of Fall of Delta Green today and it’s marvelous. Even setting aside its obvious utility as an improvised cudgel, it is an inspiring and engaging tome that meets and exceeds the standards we have always tried to achieve with Delta Green. Thank you for devoting such time and passion to exploring and expanding our shared world and for introducing a new generation of gamers to such a rich and turbulent historical period. Great work, all of you, and please accept my very best wishes for the project’s success.

Ken Hite has a copy in a his squamous hands, and he sent an image of his favourite spread:

 

13th Age on Fantasy Grounds and Roll20

The two major virtual tabletop platforms now feature 13th Age content, so you can play online with your friends. Aside from an online character sheet, Roll20 has three adventures available including the newly released Swords Against the Dead.

Fantasy Grounds has released the 13th Age ruleset and the 13th Age Bestiary allowing you to create and run your own adventures on that platform.

The GUMSHOE Bundles of Holding

Over on Bundle of Holding, they are running two GUMSHOE bundles – collections of our PDFs at a modest price. It’s an effective way to introduce yourself to our GUMSHOE lines or with the second,bundlem fill out your collections. We’ll add the PDFs to your bookshelf when the bundles are complete. Those of you with DriveThruRPG accounts can find them there, too.

The Yellow King RPG

The Yellow King RPG and its associated books are moving along nicely. I had the pleasure of being involved in a an online game in which Robin Laws ran the game he wrote for this year’s Gen Con GMs. Colleen and Cat were my co-students in Belle Epoque Paris, where we tracked down a copy of the forbidden play by following the destruction it left in the wake of its passage. The last time I experienced the game was in an early playtest Robin ran at Dragonmeet, and it was interesting to contrast this final, polished experience. The conflict resolution allows players to select their intended outcomes, and then each makes a test to meet a margin of difficulty. So, you can choose to flee, to restrain or to kill. With creatures from Carcosa, fleeing is a good option unless you are thoroughly prepared. The players in turn narrate the outcome of their roll, and the GM summarises the outcome. The level of detail in conflict narration was just right, and felt satisfying. The system (like Cthulhu Confidential) also uses pushes instead of spends – so instead of spending points from Investigative pools, you have a list of Investigative abilities, and a number of pushes you can use with any of those abilities. I don’t think it would be a great deal of work to convert any GUMSHOE game to using this approach, which I’ve found sits better with people used to Fate tokens and similar mechanics. It’s still possible to snag Yellow King kickstarter packages from the store.

Forthcoming Releases

You can see almost all of our forthcoming products on this tag.

GDPR Compliance

On 25th May 2018 the European Union General Data Protection Regulations came into force. They are designed to ensure that companies respect the wishes of their customers and other contacts when it comes to privacy and communication, and express their policy in clear language. All of us have received a plethora of emails informing us of updated privacy policies, offers to re-opt in to mail lists, or statements that you will remain opted in unless you opt out. It’s been a bit of a headache for some companies, but my own view it’s quite healthy. It doesn’t just protect company’s contacts. it encourages good data hygiene by companies, and makes them consider why they need certain information.

Where companies have been compliant with GDPR rules before it was introduced, there was no need for them to contact their customers. We are in that fortunate position. There were a handful of members on our mail list who were not customers, but subscribers acquired over many years, and because we were doubtful of their provenance, we contacted them so they could opt back in if they want. I’ll unsubscribe those would didn’t respond.

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Demonologist

The demonologist is the class for players who like things a little risky—who like playing close to the edge. Sure, you get to raise demons and bind them to your will, but if you falter you’ll unleash something very nasty into the world (and potentially against the party).

Demonologists get three talents, and how those talents are spent determine the path or paths that your demonologist is on, and the benefits that those grant.

Bloodcaller Demonologist

Download Bloodcaller Demonologist character sheets here.

Let’s face it, you picked this class to revel in slaughter, and that’s what this build does best. By focusing your talents in a single path, you become a slaughter path fanatic. You’ll a wade into battle, taking half damage from most melee attacks against you, and dealing out half damage with your own missed melee attacks!

This build isn’t subtle, and neither are the demons that you call forth. Most of your magic is focused on making your melee attacks magically destructive, drawing blood from your enemies—so expect to be right in the middle of the action.

As slaughter fanatic you’ll get: resist melee damage 14+. You also get bonus spells: summon slaughter demon (recharge 11+)

Additionally, as a slaughter path fanatic your base AC in light armor is 13 and your base AC in heavy armor is 14 and you have no penalty for using any armor or using a shield. You can use heavy weapons without penalty, deal your level in miss damage, and when you are not staggered you use your casting attribute (intelligence for this character) for attacks and damage instead of strength.

Talents

Blood and Slaughter

A bonus daily summoning of your slaughter demon.

Demonic Reinforcements

Call on demons to possess your enemies.

Ravager

Provided you are not staggered, when you miss with a melee attack you deal half damage.

Race

Tieflings with their curse of chaos power and unique ties to this class work well with the slaughter path.

Attributes

Instead of Charisma tieflings use Intelligence for demonologist class features and powers. A high Strength and Constitution are vital for this build: Str 14 (+2) Con 16 (+3) Dex 10 (0) Int 19 (+4) Wis 9 (-1) Cha 8 (-1).

1st level

Attributes: Str 14 (+2) Con 16 (+3) Dex 10 (0) Int 19 (+4) Wis 9 (-1) Cha 8 (-1).

Racial Power: Curse of Chaos

Talents: blood and slaughter, demonic reinforcements, ravager

Path bonus spells (recharge 11+, plus extra daily use): summon slaughter demon

Demons on the roster: claw demon

Path of Slaughter spells: blade polished in blood, hate, reckless slaughter

Resistances: resist melee damage 14+

Feats: reckless slaughter

2nd level

Slaughter spells (blade polished in blood, hate, reckless slaughter, the rending), new feat (resist melee damage). Demon on the roster: claw demon.

3rd level

Slaughter spells (blade polished in blood, hate, reckless slaughter, follow the blood), new feat (demonic reinforcements). Demon on the roster: hungry maw.

4th level

+1 to three attributes (Strength, Constitution, Intelligence), slaughter spells (blade polished in blood, hate, reckless slaughter, follow the blood, deceptive wound), new feat (blade polished in blood). Demon on the roster: hungry maw.

5th level

Slaughter spells (blade polished in blood, hate, reckless slaughter, follow the blood, deceptive wound), new feat (resist melee damage). Demon on the roster: frenzy demon.

6th level

Slaughter spells (blade polished in blood, hate, reckless slaughter, follow the blood, deceptive wound), new feat (demonic reinforcements). Demon on the roster: frenzy demon.

7th level

+1 to three attributes (Strength, Constitution, Intelligence), slaughter spells (blade polished in blood, hate, reckless slaughter, follow the blood, deceptive wound, mass slaughter), new feat (blade polished in blood). Demon on the roster: laughing demon.

8th level

Slaughter spells (blade polished in blood, hate, reckless slaughter, follow the blood, deceptive wound, mass slaughter) new feat (resist melee damage). Demon on the roster: laughing demon.

9th level

Slaughter spells (blade polished in blood, hate, reckless slaughter, follow the blood, deceptive wound, mass slaughter), new feat (demonic reinforcements). Demon on the roster: marilith.

10th level

+1 to three attributes (Wisdom, Charisma, Intelligence), slaughter spells (blade polished in blood, hate, reckless slaughter, follow the blood, deceptive wound, mass slaughter, blood for blood), new feat (blade polished in blood). Demon on the roster: marilith.

In Part One, I discussed the basics of running a pre-written GUMSHOE adventure. Based on a recent poll about half of you write your own adventures, or adapt ours, with a few brave souls improvising completely. This article covers the improvisation that’s required when characters go in unexpected directions or ask unexpected questions, whether in a pre-planned adventure or not.

Investigative Recap

I’ll start by reiterating a few core concepts for Investigative abilities:

  • If you have any rating in an Investigative ability at all, you are good at doing that stuff. If you run out of points, you are still good at it. If you walk into a scene, you are doing it through the lens of being a great architect, painter, researcher, or evidence collector. As the GM, you should deliver information to people with that ability anything which is obvious to a person with that ability, and if they ask questions using their ability, endeavour to provide as much information as possible through the lens of that ability.
  • Point spends should be confined to special benefits—information should be free. Benefits might speed up clue acquisition, but shouldn’t stop you from getting the information. For example, if you found a book, zero points and a few hours might extract what you need, or you could spend a point to have a flash of insight.
  • GUMSHOE doesn’t care whether the information is provided by the GM, or requested by the players. You can balance these approaches in reaction to your players’ style or even their energy on the night. But in general, it’s better for the players to interact with the scene in their imagination and suggest abilities they will use. Not only does it make the players more involved, it’s more likely to lead to fun improvised clues.
  • If a player with a suitable ability isn’t in a scene, there are three approaches for dealing with it. Either assume that everyone is kind-of, sort-of along for every scene, have the character remember a fact or technique taught to them by their absent teammates, or tweak the clue so it matches the abilities of the characters who are present.
  • Your attitude to giving out information will strongly affect the way your players act in-game. If they know they are going to extract all reasonable information in a scene, then they will stop the nasty habit of entirely tearing places apart and being too concerned they have missed something. So, my advice is, give out information, and if necessary, let them know there is nothing else to be found.
  • Finally and most importantly, Investigative abilities are not a straightjacket. Always err on the side of giving out information to players who propose plausible methods of obtaining information, and offer new ways of advancing to the next scene if they don’t get anywhere. Improvise around any blockages.

What Are Clues?

The investigative side of GUMSHOE is a way of delivering information that we call clues to the players. By a clue, I mean:

  • Information which takes you to another scene (a matchbook with a fingerprint on it)
  • Something which helps you prepare for a future encounter (you find the blackmail letter)
  • An item or information which provides a direct benefit like refreshing a pool or adding a new ability (a Mythos tome)
  • Background information which adds colour (the painting was created by famous cat artist Louis Wain)
  • Something which highlights themes of the game (a mummified foetus in a horror game)

Investigative abilities determine how the players will interact with the shared imaginary space of the game.  Sometimes these interactions provide pre-planned clues. When the adventure presents clues, it also suggests methods by which the clues can be delivered—one or more Investigative abilities. Any credible attempt to get information that would yield a given clue yields that clue, whether or not this is the ability you’ve specified in the scenario. So far, so good.

Improvised Clues

But what if the players examine something you didn’t consider or suggest great ideas in passing you want to incorporate? They really tend to glom on to things in the scene you hadn’t even considered—and that’s a great thing. For example, “Is there any correspondence around?”, “Is there a sale note for that painting?”, or “I look for scuff marks on the floor.” These are improvised clues.

The first thing to consider is what ability could plausibly interact with the clue? Encourage your players to be the ones to suggest what ability they use. Otherwise, check the ability matrix to see which abilities they have and might match (or just ask if they have an ability).

The next thing to consider is what type of improvised clue you want to deliver:

  • It can duplicate a pre-planned lead which takes you to another scene. This is easy, and very good practice as it encourages inventiveness and makes players feel clever. (Instead of the matchbook, it could be a cypher in a diary, an auction record, or some very distinctive mud marks on the floor.)
  • It can take you to another scene you hadn’t planned—an improvised lead (“We must visit cat painter Louis Wain to find out the provenance of this image.”). If you do this, you’ll need to consider how to move from the new scene back into the planned adventure, or whether it will lead to more improvised scenes. You don’t have to worry too much about when to do this—usually in a gap between scenes, and it’s easy to put another interesting breadcrumb in the way. First, for example, they might need to dig out Wain’s home address—throw it at the players how they might do this, and plan the encounter while they discuss it. If you have a scene diagram—add an arrow leading to this new scene.
  • It can provide a direct benefit. This one is easy and rewarding. In this case, it’s best to offer the benefit in conjunction with a point spend—see below. (For example, finding a case with antique guns and re-enabling the firing pin, or improvising gunpowder in a pharmacy.)
  • Background information which provides colour. If the players do you the courtesy of being fascinated by something in a scene, then add colour. (“Yes, the painting is very new, and you spot some ginger cat hairs on the antimacassars.”) These clues can easily turn into an improvised lead if players are really taken with them. If you aren’t feeling particularly inventive, or want to get things on track, make it clear that there isn’t anything special about it.
  • Something which highlights the theme of the game. If they insist on poking around in crevices in a horror game, reward them with something unpleasant. (There is a desiccated cat corpse under the bed, strangled by its own collar.)

Special Benefits

Finally, a note on special benefits. These are what players get if they spend their Investigative points. The mechanical role of Investigative pool points is to manage spotlight time, indicate to the GM how important something is to the player, and as a method for the players and GMs to signal “oncoming coolness” to each other. A player who says, “Can I spend a Bureaucracy point here?” is requesting something cool for his agent to do or discover during the scene. When the GM offers a spend she’s signaling that there’s something awesome available during this scene that she thinks the player (or players) would enjoy. This repartee will eventually become nearly seamless and automatic.

To reiterate core GUMSHOE rules, benefit spends include:

  • Giving you an advantage in a future contest of General abilities
  • Making supporting characters have a favourable impression of you
  • Giving you a flashback scene
  • Speeding up an investigation

In a more improvised game, special benefits can also be a way of players feeding the GM interesting suggestions without them explicitly having a GM role. These are usually in the form of a question: for example, “These old buildings often have priest holes, is there one around?” or “Is there another sketch concealed beneath the cat painting?” If this suits your group and play style—encourage this behaviour in your players. It will lead to more player involvement, and even take a little work for you.

Make sure that every point spend feels worthwhile, and if it’s at all possible, let them know what they are getting, and how many points it will cost before they spend.

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Here in London, it appears that an enthusiastic eight-year-old has taken over the weather control panel and is twiddling all the dials.

I often forget the weather when running games. When I do remember to highlight it, it really draws the players in, even if there is no mechanical effect. Picture a meeting between spy and handler with collars turned up in driving sleet, a high-speed pursuit through the streets of Lyon in the torrential rain, or a battle with a white dragon set in deep drifts with fat flakes of snow ambling down. You can mirror or exaggerate the real weather, or go for something very different. Huddled up in your basement in a cold snap, making the in-game weather balmy sun helps your group escape. Some settings feature the weather such as the threat of Fimbulwinter in the Albion’s Ransom campaign for The Esoterrorists.

This brings me like a mall security guard segue to the Book of Demons, this month’s new release in print.  It features six hellholes, which have ripped or crept through the gaps in reality to puncture the Dragon Empire. And there, unlike the London weather, it’s not subtle or restrained.

For example:

  • Flocks of flying teeth and burning fog face travellers on the High Heath of Unending Woe.
  • On Claw Peak, the raindrops are as sharp as spears—storms create a bloody mess of the unprepared.
  • Hellgout is afflicted with rains of fire, rocks tumbling from other realms and spontaneous magical storms.

The 13th Age Book of Demons is available now in print from the store.

The 13th Age Dice Tray

Envy of the dice tray produced by our excellent Korean licensees Dayspring Games was the inspiration for our own 13th Age Dice Tray. As well as its handy dice-constraining properties, it can also be used as a convenient protection against the rain, a mouse mat, and a fruit bowl. I look forward to your 101 uses for a 13th Age Dice Tray.

We’ve produced limited quantities, which are available from the store.

The Fall of DELTA GREEN

The Fall of DELTA GREEN is on the presses. Ken and Robin feature it in two episodes of their podcast; We Are Mutants reviews The Fall of DELTA GREEN and interviews FoDG designer Kenneth Kite, in-depth. It’s a great read. Ken will be outlining the adventure collection, and Gar will write it. They’ve collaborated on the The Zalozhniy Quartet and The Dracula Dossier, so it will be a sweet, sweet collection. Get The Fall of DELTA GREEN pre-order from the store.

GUMSHOE One-2-One – Cthulhu Confidential and Night’s Black Agents

With the launch of the Han Solo movie, we’ve given up on the excellent title SOLO for our Night’s Black Agents One-2-One game, but the manuscript is almost ready for playtesting.

The Cthulhu Confidential adventure collection Even Death Must Die is coming together with one adventure left to be written.

 

And the Rest

  • The manuscript for Emily Dresner and Kevin Kulp’s game of Swords of the Serpentine is halfway through the pre-playtest draft.
  • Fearful Symmetries is being rewritten to improve its structure. It features a group of magicians facing a terrible threat to England, rooted in folklore and the mythos. Writer Steve’s own campaign has run for more than 60 sessions.
  • The Poison Tree is an enormous history-spanning project, and requires many moving pieces working together. Currently, Scott, Paul, and Matthew are collaborating in Google Docs to produce the first of the adventures for internal Pelgrane playtesting.

ROGUE

By ASH LAW

Rogue Overview

The 13th Age rogue is a team player, using allies to help them gain sneak attack bonuses.

Rogues have a lot to track—momentum (a binary state, do you have it or not?), sneak attack bonuses, and complicated class talents make this class one for the pros (or for beginners who don’t mind a challenge).

The rogue has three class features. You gain momentum when you hit an enemy with an attack, lose it when you are hit, and some powers require you to have momentum or spend momentum. Secondly there is sneak attack bonus damage. Thirdly is a reroll on failed skill checks to find traps.

You should also note that for rogues, daggers and the like use d8s for damage instead of d4s.

Acrobatic Rogue

Download Acrobatic Rogue character sheets here.

This rogue build focuses on extreme battlefield mobility: leaping, jumping, tumbling, and dodging to avoid attacks and get into the best position to counter-attack. Use evasive strike to attack while cartwheeling away, and flying blade for enemies that you really don’t want to get close to.

If the assassin build is all about being sneaky, this build is its opposite—flashy and impressive. This character has no problem disengaging from enemies, or dodging attacks when they try to match you in melee combat.

This character’s low Charisma might be because they look untrustworthy, or perhaps they are easily distracted and excitable. They are quick though—very quick.

Talents

Improved Sneak Attack

Because of course we want to improve it.

Swashbuckle

Spend your momentum to automatically pull off a swashbuckling stunt.

Tumble

A +5 bonus to disengage checks, and you can dodge enemies that try to engage with you.

Race

Halflings are evasive and small, a perfect fit for a character who intends to do more than a smidgen of tumbling between the legs of larger creatures so they can lap up onto their backs for a good stabbing!

Attributes

Dexterity is the single most important attribute for this character: Str 8 (-1) Con 18 (+4) Dex 20 (+5) Int 8 (-1) Wis 10 (+0) Cha 8 (-1).

1st level

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

Racial Power: evasive

Talents: improved sneak attack, swashbuckle, tumble

Feats: sneak attack

Powers: evasive strike, flying blade, roll with it, tumbling strike

2nd level

Powers (evasive strike, flying blade, roll with it, tumbling strike, sure cut), new feat (improved initiative).

3rd level

Powers (evasive strike, flying blade, roll with it, tumbling strike, sure cut), new feat (tumble).

4th level

+1 to three attributes (Constitution, Dexterity, Intelligence), powers (evasive strike, flying blade, roll with it, tumbling strike, sure cut, deflection), new feat (improved sneak attack).

5th level

Powers (evasive strike, flying blade, roll with it, tumbling strike, sure cut, deflection), new feat (tumble).

6th level

Powers (evasive strike, flying blade, roll with it, tumbling strike, deflection, harmless misdirection), new feat (sneak attack).

7th level

+1 to three attributes (Constitution, Dexterity, Intelligence), powers (evasive strike, flying blade, roll with it, tumbling strike, deflection, harmless misdirection), new feat (improved sneak attack).

8th level

Powers (evasive strike, flying blade, roll with it, tumbling strike, deflection, harmless misdirection, swift riposte), new feat (tumble).

9th level

Powers (evasive strike, flying blade, roll with it, tumbling strike, deflection, harmless misdirection, swift riposte), new feat (sneak attack).

10th level

+1 to three attributes (Constitution, Dexterity, Charisma), powers (evasive strike, flying blade, roll with it, tumbling strike, deflection, harmless misdirection, swift riposte, true targeting), new feat (improved sneak attack).

 

ROGUE

By ASH LAW

Rogue Overview

The 13th Age rogue is a team player, using allies to help them gain sneak attack bonuses.

Rogues have a lot to track—momentum (a binary state, do you have it or not?), sneak attack bonuses, and complicated class talents make this class one for the pros (or for beginners who don’t mind a challenge).

The rogue has three class features. You gain momentum when you hit an enemy with an attack, lose it when you are hit, and some powers require you to have momentum or spend momentum. Secondly there is sneak attack bonus damage. Thirdly is a reroll on failed skill checks to find traps.

You should also note that for rogues, daggers and the like use d8s for damage instead of d4s.

Assassin Rogue

Download the Assassin Rogue character sheets here.

This rogue build revolves around making maximum use of sneak attacks and shadow walking, together with powers that improve damage output. Use deadly thrust on staggered enemies, evasive strike to get out of trouble and gain momentum, sure cut to deal maximum damage, and flying blade against ranged enemies. Bleeding strike and cruel let you deal lots of ongoing damage.

This character benefits from backgrounds relating to being sneaky, getting into places, and perhaps disguises. If you fancy playing a mysterious character with a deep hood and a love of poisons, this one’s for you.

Talents

Improved Sneak Attack

Your sneak attack bonus damage increases, and with the feats you’ll sneak attack more often.

Shadow Walk

Disappear, only to reappear later and deal double damage. Note that if you crit after shadow walking you deal x3 damage, not x4 damage.

Murderous

Your crit range against staggered enemies expands by 2, perfect for an assassin who appears from nowhere to finish enemies off with decisive attacks.

Race

Dark elves with their bonus to Dexterity or Charisma and their cruel racial power work well thematically with the assassin concept.

Attributes

Dexterity and Charisma are important, but Dexterity more so: Str 9 (-1) Con 12 (+1) Dex 19 (+4) Int 8 (-1) Wis 10 (0) Cha 17 (+3).

1st level

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

Racial Power: cruel

Talents: improved sneak attack, shadow walk, murderous

Feats: sneak attack

Powers: evasive strike, deadly thrust, sure cut, flying blade

2nd level

Powers (evasive strike, deadly thrust, sure cut, flying blade, roll with it), new racial feat (shadow walk).

3rd level

Powers (evasive strike, deadly thrust, sure cut, flying blade, roll with it), new feat (improved sneak attack).

4th level

+1 to three attributes (Constitution, Dexterity, Charisma), powers (evasive strike, deadly thrust, sure cut, flying blade, bleeding strike, roll with it), new feat (bleeding strike).

5th level

Powers (evasive strike, deadly thrust, sure cut, flying blade, bleeding strike, roll with it), new feat (improved sneak attack).

6th level

Powers (evasive strike, deadly thrust, sure cut, flying blade, bleeding strike, spiky bastard, roll with it), new feat (sneak attack).

7th level

+1 to three attributes (Constitution, Dexterity, Charisma), powers (evasive strike, deadly thrust, sure cut, flying blade, bleeding strike, spiky bastard, roll with it), new feat (improved initiative).

8th level

Powers (evasive strike, deadly thrust, sure cut, flying blade, bleeding strike, spiky bastard, assassin’s gambit, roll with it), new feat (sneak attack).

9th level

Powers (evasive strike, deadly thrust, sure cut, flying blade, bleeding strike, spiky bastard, assassin’s gambit, roll with it), new feat (improved sneak attack).

10th level

+1 to three attributes (Strength, Dexterity, Charisma), powers (evasive strike, deadly thrust, sure cut, flying blade, bleeding strike, spiky bastard, assassin’s gambit, death’s twin, roll with it), new feat (assassin’s gambit).

Contain your dice, but not your enthusiasm!

The 13th Age RPG puts a bunch of dice in your hands, and sometimes they go astray. The 13th Age Dice Tray keeps your dice where you need them—right in front of you, so you can tot up your epic damage.

When flat, this black leatherette collapsible dice tray slips neatly between your 13th Age books.

When assembled, four robust metal poppers hold the corners in a pinched position, keeping the walls of the tray upright to take the hail of dice for your 13th Age adventuring.

 

Stock #: PEL13DT01   Flat: 8″ x 11.5″
Specifications: Faux leather dice tray   Assembled: 6.5″ x 10″ x 1.5″

Buy

by Simon Rogers

In most cases, GUMSHOE puts the dice in the hands of the players. Instead of the GM making a Stealth test for a creature to sneak up on a character, players make a Sense Trouble test to avoid being surprised. When the roles are reversed, it’s the players who make a Stealth test to get the drop on their opponent. We call this approach “player-facing.” The only time GMs make die rolls is in combat and in other, longer contests.  This article suggests how we can tear the dice from the GM’s warm and clammy hands during combat and put them in the warm clammy hands of the players.

How It Works

In standard GUMSHOE, when a GMC opponent makes an attack, the GM makes a test against the PC’s Hit Threshold, adds some points from the creature’s combat pool, then rolls damage if the test is successful.

In this new player-facing combat, the player makes a test to resist the attack and takes consequences if they fail. Conceptually, with this approach, it’s easier if the players think of their Health pool as Defense or Endurance rather than a measure of how much actual damage their character is taking. If this better for your group, simply rename Health as Defense.

Calculate the Difficulty of the Health Test

The base Difficulty for the player’s Health test is 3. This is increased by any points the GM spends from the creature’s Attack pool. We call this number the Attack Difficulty.

Instead of adding points from the Attack pool, another, quicker approach, is that the GM just adds a fixed amount to the Attack Difficulty equal to the creature’s Attack pool divide by three and rounded down.

Attack Pool Modifier
0-2 +0
3-5 +1
6-8 +2
9-11 +3

In most GUMSHOE settings, the GM will state the Attack Difficulty, unless the PC has no combat training, or the PCs are entirely unfamiliar with the creature.

Make the Health Test

The player makes the Health test against the creature’s Attack Difficulty. The player adds their Hit Threshold minus three to the roll plus any Health points they want to spend. Usually Hit Threshold is 3, meaning you add nothing, or 4, so you add +1.

Take the Consequences of Failure

If the player fails the test, they take damage equal to the creature’s Damage Modifier, with a minimum of one, and will take a Condition. The Conditions are Staggered, Hurt, Seriously Wounded, and Dead. Staggered is new to GUMSHOE, the others, you know already.

The first time a PC is hit in a combat (whether they take damage or not), they are Staggered. Being Staggered increases the Difficulty of Health tests by 1, and means the next time you are hit you are Hurt, regardless of your Health pool, the time after that Seriously Wounded, and then, you guessed it, Dead. After combat, any Staggered PCs can lose this status simply by resting for a few minutes. If you are Hurt by an attack, your Heath falls to zero. If you are Seriously Wounded by an attack your Health falls to -6.

If the PC is not yet Hurt and hits zero Health through spends on Health tests and damage, then the standard wound rules apply, but if a PC is already Hurt, they become Seriously Wounded (and their Health falls to -5),  and if Seriously Wounded, Dead.

Regardless of how they end up Hurt or Seriously Wounded, the PC must make the usual Consciousness test to stay on their feet.

Armour

You can use armour to avoid taking a Condition, but only once per battle, for each +1 the armour provides. So, for example, light armour (+1) will give you one chance to avoid being Staggered, Hurt, or even Dead on a failed Health test. Heavy Armour (+2) gives you two chances.

An Example of Player-Facing Combat

Bertha Wiseman is facing off against a thug armed with a knife. She is wielding an épée. Her Health is 10, and her Hit Threshold is 4 (she has 8 in Athletics). Her Attack pool is 5.

The thug has 7 Health, a Hit Threshold of 3, and an Attack pool of 8. Using the quick approach, the thug’s Attack bonus is +2 (his Attack pool divided by 3, rounded down). A knife has a-1 Damage Modifier. The minimum damage is 1, so that -1 becomes 1.

  • Bertha goes first as she has the highest Attack rating, spends two points from her Attack pool to ensure her blade strikes and rolls 3 points of damage.
  • Now it’s the thug’s turn. The GM announces the Difficulty of Bertha’s Health test. It’s 3 plus the thug’s Attack bonus of 2, so 5.
  • Bertha makes a Difficulty 5 Health test against the thug’s attack, choosing to spend zero points of Health. She has a Hit Threshold of 4, so she adds one to her roll and luckily rolls a 4, so she takes no damage.
  • She makes her attack, again spending 2 points, and rolling 4 damage. The thug’s Health is now 3.
  • The thug attacks. Once again Bertha makes her test against her foe, spending 4 points of Health to ensure she isn’t hit. Her Health is now 6.
  • She attacks again, but she has no Attack points to spend, and rolls a 2—a miss.
  • Bertha makes her Health test against the attacking thug, spending no points, and fails to make the test. She takes 1 point of damage and her Health is 5. She is now Staggered. If she gets hit again, she will be Hurt.
  • Bertha lashes out at the thug with her poker. She needs to roll a 4 or higher rather than a 3, because she is Staggered. She rolls a 4, and does 2 points of damage to the thug. He is at 1 Health.
  • Bertha spends 4 points of Health to avoid being hit, leaving her with just 2 points left, but ensuring that she doesn’t get Hurt.

Now it’s Bertha’s turn…

We will leave the Staggered Bertha facing the thug, and wish her the best.

An alternative approach which was an inspiration for this article can be found in Diceless GMing in GUMSHOE by MP Duxbury.

For a more abstracted, quicker, and entirely placing-facing alternative to this suggestion, take a look at The Yellow King RPG.

 

 

 

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