Silver ENnie award winner for Best Rules; nominee for Best Game and Product of the Year.

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

Get your copy of 13th Age today at the Pelgrane Shop or your local game store.

“13th Age RPG delivers an incredible fantasy storytelling experience.” – io9

“13th Age is, perhaps, the first d20 game that I’ve ever played that treats the game inside of combat and the game outside of combat with equal love, attention, and innovation.” – Dorkadia

Learn more about 13th Age.

ennies 2014 silverCheck out the Resources page for downloads, reviews, interviews, convention videos and actual play, and visit the 13th Age Facebook group to talk with other GMs and players.

Want to create 13th Age compatible content? See here.

Play 5th Edition? See here and here.

“One of the best systems I’ve encountered—and I’ve either played or read the rules to countless d20 systems at this point—is 13th Age… It’s fun, fast and accessible.” – Forbes

“[13th Age] has just enough of the freedom I want from a tabletop game while also being able to balance the crunchy aspects. I was just about to swear off D20 games, too. So I’m glad I found this.” – Kirby Smith, playtester

“The system is absolutely brilliant. For me, it brings a lot of the things I really enjoy about traditional fantasy gaming and infuses them with some new and really useful ideas that you often see in more indie gaming.” – Aaron R., GM of Forgotten Sagas of the 13th Age, Obsidian Portal’s March 2013 Campaign of the Month

13th Age - The Three

About 13th Age
In the 13th Age of the world, adventurers seek their fortunes in the Dragon Empire while powerful individuals known as Icons pursue goals that may preserve the empire from chaos, or send it over the edge.

Players decide which Icons their characters ally with, and which ones they oppose. These relationships, along with a personal history and a unique trait chosen during character creation, help define an adventurer’s place in the world of 13th Age and lay the groundwork for epic stories that emerge through play.

There are also fun new rules for hitting orcs and making them go splat.

“Our goal with 13th Age is to recapture the free-wheeling style of old-school gaming by creating a game with more soul and fewer technical details. …13th Age makes the play group’s campaign the center of attention, with a toolkit of rules that you can pick and choose from based on the kind of game you want to play. The mechanics draw from classic games as well as newer, story-based games.” – Jonathan Tweet, co-designer

About Rob Heinsoo
Rob Heinsoo has created dozens of role-playing games, card games, miniatures games and board games. He led the design of the fourth edition of Dungeons & Dragons® and wrote or led the design of many 4e sourcebooks. Rob has just released the card game Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Duel at Mt. Skullzfyre. Other recent game designs include THREE-DRAGON ANTE, THREE-DRAGON ANTE: Emperor’s Gambit, Inn-Fighting, Dreamblade, FORGOTTEN REALMS® Campaign Setting, and the first nine sets of D&D Miniatures®. Games he worked on in the 90’s that have aged well include Shadowfist, Feng Shui, and King of Dragon Pass.

About Jonathan Tweet
Jonathan Tweet has been creating games professionally for 25 years. He created or co-created the roleplaying games Ars Magica (1987), Over the Edge (1992), and Everway (1995). He started writing for Dungeons & Dragons in 1992, and in 2000 he became the lead designer of the game’s third edition. In addition to roleplaying games, Jonathan has created and contributed to card games, miniatures games, computer games, and fiction. His games have won three Origins Awards, and he is in the Origins Award Hall of Fame.

Price: $44.95

 

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The following materials are available for use by all agents. If you have any questions or concerns, contact the Special Activities Division through PERISCOPE NORWAY channels.

GM Advice

Character Sheets

Sample Characters

Adventures

GM Resources and Cheat Sheets

Chase Cards

Reviews

  • A review of Night’s Black Agents from rpg.net
  • A review of Night’ Black Agents from therewillbe.games
  • A review of Night’s Black Agents from critical-hits.com
  • A review of Night’s Black Agents from flamesrising.com

Articles

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Social media resources

Michael Wolf over at Stargazer’s World has written a detailed and balanced review of Kenneth Hite’s newest GUMSHOE offering, Night’s Black Agents. You can read the full review here.

It’s very well written, basically allows you to run or play in every spy thriller subgenre with vampires or not, and it adds a lot to the Gumshoe system without feeling too complicated. If you are interested in spy games you should definitely check this game out, I doubt you’ll find anything better anytime soon.

Kafka over at RPGNet has given an in-depth, 9/10 review of Out of Space. There is a slight error in the review when he says we have included nothing extra in the book, when in fact there is an extra 10% (8,000 words) but this is acknowledged in the thread below the review. You can review the full review here.

Pelgrane Press always manages to create such a visually beautiful product and one that will have additional rules to make it all worthwhile. Thus, despite my misgivings about nothing extra added to these scenarios – they are all first rate and play as one or two shots. Even, if you do not play Cthulhu and have a generic horror game that will explore the “real world” through a distorted mirror of the occult and otherworldly horror…you will find that this is a rich mine for your nightly game.

 

Can vs. Should

By Robin D. Laws

A while back I foisted on an innocent social media landscape the following roleplaying koan, written to meet Twitter’s telegraphic character count:

If your RPG sentence has the verb “should” and a subject of “players”, “GM”, or “group”, change verb to “can.”

This occasioned a surprising amount of debate, due largely I’m sure to the difficulty of debating something Tweet-sized, let alone doing it on Twitter itself. This reminds us once again all that it’s a medium better restricted to jokes, links, and complaints about the minor hassles of your day. In future I’ll do my best to abstain from the unfair practice of using the format for meaningful-seeming pronouncements.

As further atonement, I’ll now expand the thought into the infinitely more debate-ready column format. See if you still agree or disagree with it after I layer on the nuance.

In setting and adventure text, you often find constructions like:

  • The GM should keep relentless pressure on the investigators throughout their escape from the monastery, letting up only when they reach the outskirts of town.
  • Initial sessions should revolve around the visitor’s exploration of the island.
  • The characters should mostly come from the village, with maybe one or two outsiders familiar with the wider world beyond.

In this context “should” behaves as a weasel word. It urges the GM to take action without quite copping to it. It gives an instruction which the writer assumes will be flubbed or flouted by a significant number of readers. If you observe that someone should do something, the implication is that some of them probably won’t. When you think about it, something Eeyorish is going on here.

“Should” also implies an alternate course of action the passage does not further elucidate. Apparently I have the option not to keep relentless pressure on the investigators, to center early sessions around something other than island exploration, or to let the adventuring team consist of mostly characters from outside the village. But what happens if I choose to do any of these things, by active decision or bumbling omission?

As roleplaying writers, we use this construction reflexively. It slipped into standard phrasebook during the formative years of the medium and we reach for it without any particular ideological agenda. But when you stop to think about it, the should construction shines a revealing light on game writer psychology.

When you write RPG material, you cede control to play groups, who ultimately decide what to do with the blueprint you’ve laid out for them. The GM might not succeed in keeping up relentless pressure, or might not see this as a rewarding choice when the time comes for the characters to escape the monastery. Yet as you write, you are undoubtedly picturing the fun and gripping game you would run—or perhaps did run, for your own group. Your natural urge toward creative control pulls you toward a series of instructions to do it your way. But you don’t want to come out and say that. Sometimes what you really mean to say, but can’t admit, is that, if we’re to have the experience you’re envisioning:

  • The GM must keep relentless pressure on the investigators…
  • Initial sessions must revolve around exploration of the island…
  • Characters must come mostly from the village…

Once you put it that way, the presumption becomes evident. You’re trying to control the game experience from afar, which is not only undesirable, but impossible. As a designer, you’re at best one member of the collaboration—the one who drops off the blueprint and leaves. In truth, none of these things must occur. The GM can relax the pressure during the monastery escape yet still deliver a riveting game. A group might have a great time doing something other than exploring the island. A campaign featuring non-villagers requires some adjustments from the assumptions you lay out in the setting pack, but scarcely guarantees hideous failure.

If you substitute “can”, either literally or implicitly, you remind yourself that you’re not the builder, but the architect. You’re laying out options rather than dictating the experience.

  • By keeping relentless pressure on the investigators, you can intensify their desire to break up the monastery gang once and for all.
  • By nudging the characters toward initial island exploration, you can create a sense of escalation when the darkspurs invade.
  • If characters mostly come from the village, they can bring out the conflict between parochialism and cosmopolitanism central to the setting.

Note what happens when you switch from “should” to “can.” Now you’re not issuing an instruction, but a recommendation. Even better, the construction encourages you to show your work, to describe the benefits of following it. You’ve given the GM and players the tools to evaluate your choice. And, by implication, you’re indicating what might happen if they ignore your recommendation—other than failing to recreate the experience you’ve either had already with your own group, or conjured in your head.

Now I know that the consequence of not keeping pressure up during the monastery escape might be lowered emotional commitment to wiping out the evil monks. Well, maybe the group already hates the evil monks plenty, based on what transpired in the monastery prior to the escape sequence. Or we don’t care about repercussions, because it’s a convention game, and with time constraints it’s best to elide the escape so there’s still time for the final confrontation. I see not just that a tense escape fits the writer’s vision, but how it fits. To further torture the architectural metaphor, I can now tell whether the element in question is a load-bearing wall, or a decorative I can take or leave, as the moment demands.

The “can” construction forces the writer to consciously weigh that exact same question, understanding why she’s issuing the instruction. Is it considered advice, or just an attempt to tell the group to play it as imagined, dammit? Is a tense monastery escape really a must, or something you’re thinking might be cool. If the latter, is the writer really saying anything other than, “When you play this, remember not to be boring”? Which, once understood as such, uselessly pads the word count with a statement as obvious as it is condescending.

A Man and His Satsumas

by Beth Lewis

If the last 3 years at Pelgrane have taught me anything, it’s the difference between satsumas and any other small citrus fruits. This is an important lesson, not only has it taught me precision in labelling which I’ve applied to my day-to-day work, but it has also given me greater appreciation and patience for one man’s strange obsession. It is safe to say that Simon Rogers is obsessed with satsumas. Not quite dangerously so, but when satsuma season ends and the shops are out of stock, a Jekyll and Hyde moment comes over the Pelgrane offices and all I can say to you, and to the lovely Cat who is taking over from me, is run. Run far and run fast.

Simon’s satsuma fetish can be seen in all things Pelgrane and Stone Skin, from the orangey Stone Skin website, to the Golden Satsuma Design competition. When the season is in full swing and two, sometimes three, bags of the small citrus can be found in the office, Simon’s skin takes on a distinctly orange hue. I worry that if the season lasted all year, he may start growing pith.

So as you may know, I am leaving Pelgrane to head into the wilds of Titan Books and manage the publication of their illustrated books. This position was too good an opportunity to pass up and although I am very sad to be leaving, I take comfort in the fact I am leaving Pelgrane Press in the best possible hands. Over the last few weeks many people have asked me what is it that prompted my departure and don’t I love RPGs anymore and whhhhhhhyyyyyyy. There are many reasons, new challenge, new opportunities etc etc, but really it is my own safety I fear for as last month the satsumas disappeared from Sainsburys…

 

A shorter than usual Page XX this month as it’s a shorter than usual month, but what we’re lacking in length we’re making up for in quality.

In this edition, Robin D Laws talks about how significant a difference to your game writing a simple verbal change can be in Can vs Should, and Kenneth Hite talks about monster wrangling in the 13th Age Bestiary. Wade Rockett rocks us with tips on how to get the most from your teleportation spells in our upcoming game 13th Age, and James “Baron Munchausen” Wallis talks about the Kickstarter for Alas Vegas, his first RPG in twelve years set in a mysterious desert city that looks like Las Vegas but isn’t.

This month sees not one, but three articles from the Pelgrane’s Nest with Simon’s monthly update on all things Pelgrane, a farewell article from Pelgranista Beth and a hello from newbie Cat. Finishing us off this Page XX are some open calls for artists and Trail of Cthulhu adventure playtesters.

Articles

  • View from the Pelgrane’s Nest by Simon Rogers, all you need to know about the inner workings of Pelgrane Press.
  • Can vs Should by Robin D Laws, on how changing your phrasing can improve your design mindset.
  • Call of Chicago by Kenneth Hite, where he wrangles monsters in the 13th Age bestiary.
  • Alas Vegas – by James Wallis, where he talks about his RPG Kickstarter set in a mysterious desert city.
  • A Man and his Satsumas – say goodbye to Beth, and find out what she learned during her time at Pelgrane.
  • Hello World! – meet Cat. She’s new, and a bit excitable.
  • Call for Artists – we need more artists so please take a look and send us your work.
  • February playtesting – adventures for Trail of Cthulhu.

13th Age

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January is often seen as the most depressing month of the year, the weather is awful, the holiday weight just won’t shift and you’ve already broken your New Year’s Resolutions. Let Page XX rid you of your January Blues with a bumper January/February edition including articles from Robin D Laws and Kenneth Hite, a new 13th Age monster from Ryven Cedrylle,  and a new playable 13th Age Race from Casey Peavler, as well as interviews with the designers. Mystic Moo has dropped by to give us her 2013 predictions and Jason Morningstar has kindly let us reproduce his Fight Fire Tables from Fate Core as they are a handy guide for any game. We have a set of player aids for Ashen Stars in the form of easy to use Tech Cards from Ralf Schemmann. For the first time, we have an open call for Artists with examples of what we’re looking for in terms of style. Head honcho Simon Rogers provides the usual round up of all things Pelgrane and we have some playtest opportunities.

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13th Age

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February Playtesting

Dead Horse Corner

System: Trail of Cthulhu

Author: Adam Gauntlett (Flying Coffins, Sisters of Sorrow)

Duration: 1-2 sessions

Deadline: 1st April

Description: Formerly titled ‘A Better Hole’. The investigators discover that a trench which ought to have been occupied by their fellow soldiers has been abandoned. Twenty men vanished without a trace, food still on the table and coffee cooling in their mugs.  Was it an enemy attack or something altogether more sinister?

 

Cthulhu Apocalypse: Slaves of the Green Man

System: Trail of Cthulhu

Author: Gareth Hanrahan & Graham Walmsley

Duration: 2-4 sessions

Deadline: 1st April

Description: These three scenarios comprise the second quarter of the Cthulhu Apocalypse campaign and pick up three years after the final part of The Dead White World. It is now the summer of 1939. The decision that the characters made at the end of The Dead White World continues to haunt England. Horrors now stalk the empty and overgrown streets of the civilisation that once existed here. The passage of three long, strange years has transformed the world into an unrecognisable landscape of horrors. There are a few survivors, living in the ruins of the past, but under the unfathomable pressure of the Mythos, their humanity is slipping away, cracking and moulting in the process of becoming something new.

 

If you are interested any of these games, please email me with the game you wish to playtest in the subject line.

Ashen Stars Tech Cards

Ralf Schemmann of Profantasy Software and long-time fan of Ashen Stars, has made up some Tech Cards. These are to aid in tracking tech, gear and viroware and contain all the info players need to keep all their add-ons in order. You can download the zipped PDFs here.

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