One of the easiest ways to quickly add iconic flavour to an adventure is to rework the monsters. If one of your players rolls a 6 on their Negative relationship with the Dwarf King, you can just hastily glue some beards to those ghosts in room 7 and call them the Spectres of the Tombless Dead. Need to work out how the Emperor plays into an adventure set deep underground? Turn those xorn into, er, Imperial Xorn. This trick is especially useful in the Underworld, which is (a) far from the regular haunts of the Icons and (b) already brimming with weirdness.

For the abilities listed below, use the attack bonuses and damages for creatures of the appropriate toughness and level on pgs. 254-255 of 13th Age. +X is the creature’s attack bonus, +XX is the creature’s damage.

A character with the appropriate Iconic relationships might know something about the powers and weaknesses of an Icon-warped entity.

Archmage

Magical Spirit: The creature is only partially manifest in our reality; it’s got Resist Non-Magic Damage 16+ in any round it doesn’t attack. Quirk: see-through.
Erudite: The creature can cast at least one spell (+X vs. MD, XX/2 damage, plus the target is Confused or Weakened, save ends). Quirk: long sagely beard.
Illusory: The creature isn’t really real; all attacks target MD. At the end of the battle, all participant regain one Recovery. Quirk: ham actor
Bound: The creature is magically anchored to an object or place; it’s got +1 to all defences while near the spot, but cannot move more than a short distance away. Quirk: little arcs of magical lightning link creature to its cage.

 Crusader

Spiky: -2 to disengage attempts; characters who try and fail to disengage take 3 damage (Champion: 6; Epic: 15). Quirk: Irritable
Blazing: Fire aura deals damage equal to the Escalation Die to any foes who start their turn engaged with this monster (Champion: x2; Epic: x3). Quirk: On fire. If already on fire, complains about it.
Relentless: The creature gets an additional saving throw at the start of its turn. Quirk: Rants and  raves about demons.
Bound: The creature is magically anchored to an object or place; it’s got +1 to all defences while near the spot, but cannot move more than a short distance away. Quirk: little arcs of magical lightning link creature to its cage.

 

 Diabolist

Demonic: The creature gains resist fire 12+ and Quirk: Little bat wings, reddish skin.
Beguiling: It’s hard to bring yourself to attack the creature; anyone attempting to do so must make a normal save. Fail, and pick another target for the attack. Add the escalation die’s value to the save roll. Quirk: cute, in a sinister way.
Summoner: When first staggered, the creature can summon a demon guardian as a free action. (Adventurer: dretch, Champion: Despoiler; Epic: 1d4 hooked demons)
Soul-Stealer: A character knocked unconscious by this creature has their soul stolen. A soul-less character rolls one fewer die for all recoveries, and may be vulnerable to other supernatural attacks or possession. Get that soul back before it’s sold! Quirk: Keeps other captured souls in jars, talks to them.

Dwarf King

Stone: Initiative bonus halved, -25%HP +2AC, +2PD. Quirk: Contains a relic or valuable item inside its hollow chest.
Begrudging: May add the escalation die to its attacks against the first foe to damage it. Quirk: If it survives the encounter, it continues to stalk the PCs.
Rune-Inscribed: Gains Resist Energy 12+ against the first type of energy-based damage it suffers. Quirk: Magic rune serves as key to some ancient dwarven door or treasure chest.
Armoured: -2 to attacks, +2 AC. Quirk: Grizzled grognard.

 

 

Elf Queen

Immortal: This creature has been around for many Ages, giving it great wisdom. It can talk, and is much clever and wiser than others of its kind. Oh, and it can’t due through physical damage – it can be reduced to 0 hit points only by a suitably thematic attack. Quirk: irritatingly long-winded.
Fae: Vulnerable to iron, but elusive – it cannot be intercepted and doesn’t provoke opportunity attacks by moving Speaks in dodgy Shakespearian verse.
Stargazer: At the start of the battle, roll a d6. While the escalation die matches that value, the creature gains +2 to all defences and may add the escalation die to its attack rolls. Quirk: Claims to have foreseen the future of the PCs.
Elven Grace: At the start of each round, roll a d6. If the roll is equal to or lower than the value of the escalation die, the creature gains an extra action and the die rolled increased by one step (d6 to d8, d8 to d10 etc). Quirk: Snooty

 Emperor

Disciplined: If there are two or more creatures with this trait all fighting side by side, they all gain +1AC.
Quirk: Martial martinet – snaps to attention, marches up and down, calls out attacks like a drill instructor.
Royal: The pride of this creature cannot be diminished by mere damage.
If it’s not staggered, reduce all damage taken by 5 (Champion: 10; Epic: 15).
Quirk: Lazy and condescending to the commoners.
Gladiator: If this creature is engaged with a lone foe, it may add the escalation die to its attacks.
Quirk: Can you smeeeelllllllll what sort of pop-culture trope this creature is cooking?
Glorious: Gains a fear Quirk: Speaks with solemn gravity and authority.

 

Great Gold Wyrm

Dream-creature: The creature isn’t really real; all attacks target MD. At the end of the battle, all participant regain one Recovery. Quirk: Speaks with the voice of someone important to the player characters.
Fire-Breathing: Once per battle, the creature may make a free fire breath attack (C: +X to hit (1d3 nearby foes in a group), XX/2 fire damage). Quirk: Hot-headed and quick to charge.
Glorious: Gains a fear Quirk: Seeks to inspire everyone, even foes. (“You can hit me better than that! Keep trying!”)
Smiter: Once per battle, the creature make a smite attack, gaining +4 to hit and dealing an extra d12 holy damage (Champion: 2d12; Epic: 4d12). Quirk: Hunts down evil with extreme prejudice.

High Druid

Elemental: Roll a d4. 1: Earth – gains +1AC while in contact with the ground; 2: Air – can fly; 3 – Fire: Anyone engaged with the creature at the start of their turn takes fire damage equal to the value of the escalation die (Champion: x2; Epic: x3); 4: Water – any critical hits have a 50% chance of turning into normal hits. Quirk: Seeks balance between elemental forces.
Plant: -5 penalty to attempts to disengage from this creature; also, it can hide in forests and other overgrown environments, attacking from ambush. Quirk: Speaks slooooooooooooowly.
Regenerating: Heals 5 points of damage at the start of its turn, up to five times per battle. Healing back up to full doesn’t count towards its total; fire and acid damage turn off regeneration. Troll stuff, right? (Champion: Heals 10; Epic: Heals 25). Quirk: Unrelenting in all aspects of its life.
Savage: If the creature’s attack roll is equal to or lower than the escalation die, and it’s a miss, reroll. Quirk: Pick some absolutely trivial aspect of the PCs’ appearance or background, and complain about it constantly. (“I’ll kill you! And your hat! I’ll especially kill your hat!”)

Lich King

Skeletal: Resist weapons 16+. Quirk: Philosophical and detached; mordantly humourous.
Zombie: On a natural 16+, both zombie and target take +1d6 damage (champion: 3d6; epic: 4d10). Quirk: Eats brains.
Spectral: Resist Damage 12+, except force or holy damage. Walks through walls. Quirk: Gets confused and forgets it’s not the (roll 1d12)th Age.
Alive But Creepy and Spooky: If slain, comes back to life with 10% of its starting hit points. Well, comes back to undead. It only self-resurrects once. Quirk: Fired from a Hammer Horror movie for over-acting.

 Orc Lord

Brutal: Increase the creature’s crit threshold by 3 if it’s not staggered. Quirk: Loudly proclaims impending triumph of orc lord.
Overwhelming Assault: Every time the creature misses, increase its damage by +1d6. Quirk: Sadistic and willing to use dirty tricks against PCs.
Savage: If the creature’s attack roll is equal to or lower than the escalation die, and it’s a miss, reroll. Quirk: Superstitious, laden down with amulets, performs rituals before battle.
Furious: Every time the creature makes a successful save against a condition or ongoing damage, increase its damage by +1d6. Quirk: Mocks weakness of PCs.

Priestess

Radiant: The creature’s surrounded by a holy aura; any nearby allies get a +5 bonus to saves. Quirk: Annoyingly serene.
Winged: It flies. Quirk: Annoyingly serene.
Redeemed: The creature’s usually associated with evil; this one serves the Light – and has a spear of light attack to boot (R: +X to hit, +XX holy damage). Quirk: Annoyingly serene.
Divine Emissary: The creature bears the symbols of a god associated with one of the player characters; that character is weakened in combat with the creature. Quirk: Annoyingly serene and knows all your embarrassing childhood secrets.

Prince of Shadows

Pickpocket: On a natural 1-5, the creature steals an item from the target. Quirk: Talks like a used car salesman.
Backstabber: If at least one other ally is engaged with the same target as this creature, it deals an extra 2d6 damage (Champion: 4d6; Epic: 8d6). Quirk: Whispers threats in your ear as it stabs you.
Whisperer: Every time this creature inflicts a critical hit, move one of the target’s Icon relationships one step towards Negative. The relationship die resets to normal after it’s next rolled. Quirk: Malicious gossip.
Elusive: When hit, the creature may make a normal save (11+) to turn that attack into a miss. Limited Use: 1/battle. Quirk: Shadowy and wears a dark cloak, regardless of the nature of the creature. So, yeah, it’s a dire bear in a dark cloak, a hydra in a dark cloak, a koru behemoth in a dark cloak.

The Three

Three-Headed: If the creature has a bite attack, then add “Natural 16+: Make another bite attack on a different target as a free action”). If it doesn’t have a bite attack, +2MD. Quirk: Argues with itself.
Fire-Breathing: Fire-Breathing: Once per battle, the creature may make a free fire breath attack (C: +X to hit (1d3 nearby foes in a group), XX/2 fire damage). Quirk: Apocalyptic prophet.
Sorcerer: Gain a spell attack (C: +X to hit, XX/2 damage, and the target is Confused or Weakened, save ends). Quirk: Talks in arcane mumbles.
Poisonous: The creature’s attack now deals 5 ongoing poison damage, save ends (Champion: 10 ongoing; Epic: 15 ongoing). Quirk: Communicates only in gestures.

staring eyeA lot of us with a long history of d20 fantasy gaming have shiver-inducing memories of the first time a certain grinning, many-eyed monster absolutely demolished our group of adventurers. Sadly, that iconic monster isn’t available under the OGL; but the concept is so compelling that a lot of fantasy RPGs have taken it in interesting, non-copyright-violating directions.

When designing the overseer of the Eye Mother, my guiding principles were:

  • It’s a monster players love to hate and fear
  • Like a sadistic GM it sees everything the PCs do, and punishes them for their actions in highly specific ways designed to neutralize their strengths.
  • It prevents magic from working properly

In a stroke of luck, there were already horrifying eye-themed blasphemies in 13th Age: the fomori Daughters Of Dehothu, the Eye-Mother from the 13th Age Bestiary 2. This monster wouldn’t be powerful enough to be a true-fomori like the Daughters, but could be an intermediary between them and their servants—which fit nicely with the “punishing” concept.

I hope you enjoy the overseer of the Eye-Mother! Thanks to Rob Heinsoo for his feedback on the various drafts, and to the folks who playtested it: Tim Baker, J-M DeFoggi, Kenneth Hite, and the players in my home campaign.

(For his Poikila Hellenistika campaign, Ken reskinned it as as the animated eye and beak of a bas-relief of Ashur, tutelary god of the Assyrian Empire, and came up with the wonderfully evil spell theft nastier special.)

Overseer of the Eye Mother

Overseers of the Eye Mother are lesser true-fomori associated with Dehothu. These monstrous high priests and taskmasters ensure that cultists, unclean-ones, and fomorians do the fomori’s will, and they sadistically punish those who fail. Overseers are highly intelligent, and unlike other true-fomori, do not require a host.

Although the overseer is a large monster for the purposes of stats, there is never more than one overseer present in a battle—unless it’s an apocalyptic, campaign-ending climax where the skies are filled with squadrons of them, which would be frankly terrifying.

Overseer of the Eye-Mother

You hear the creature’s mocking laughter over your companions’ screams, as rays from the giant, glistening eyeballs that orbit its writhing, shapeless body strike them down one after another.

Large 9th level spoiler [aberration]

Initiative: +16

C: Punishing gaze +15 vs. PD75 damage

Eye ray: After an enemy takes all its actions during their turn, they make a normal save (11+). If it fails, the overseer makes an eye ray attack against that enemy as a free action. The overseer can’t use the same eye ray effect twice in a single round. (See example at the end of the writeup.)

[special trigger] R: Eye ray +17 vs. PD (one nearby or far away enemy)

Hit: Choose the eye ray effect from the table below based on the actions of the target during that turn. For example, the overseer might use charm person on an enemy (such as a cleric or commander) that uses powers and spells to benefit their allies. It might use stun against an enemy with strong defenses, and disintegration or petrification against an enemy that’s really pissed it off.

  1. Charm person: the target is confused. It can’t make opportunity attacks or use limited powers, and its next attack action will be a basic or at-will attack against any nearby ally, determined randomly (11+ save ends).
  2. Slow: starting next round, the target goes last in initiative order, and can’t delay or ready an action. On a successful save (11+) the target returns to the previous initiative order.
  3. Fear: the target takes a –4 penalty to attacks and can’t use the escalation die (11+ save ends)
  4. Petrification: the target must start making last gasp saves as it turns to stone. See the 13th Age core book for detailed rules on last gasp saves. (Limited use: once per battle.)
  5. Stun: The target takes a –4 penalty to defenses and can’t take any actions (11+ save ends)
  6. Invisibility purge: If the target is invisible, it turns visible and cannot become invisible again this battle
  7. Transfer enchantment: If the overseer or a nearby ally is suffering from a condition caused by an enemy spell (or spell-like power or ability), the overseer can transfer one condition to the target. If timing is required, interpret the transferred condition as if the overseer had caused it with this attack.
  8. Disintegration: 75 damage, and attacks against the target have their crit range expanded by 2 (save ends). If the attack reduces the target to negative hit points equal to half its maximum hit points, the target is disintegrated along with everything on their person except true magic items. A merciful GM may decide that the target was actually teleported to a “phantom zone” type prison, and might still be rescued by the group—either by killing the overseer, convincing it to release the character, or going wherever the overseer sent that character.
    • Miss: 35 damage

Anti-magic aura: When a nearby or far-away enemy uses a spell attack against the overseer, they must roll twice to attack and use the lower result unless one of the rolls is a critical hit. Anti-magic aura and the sorcerer’s spell frenzy cancel each other out: sorcerers roll a single die to attack.

Hovering flight: The overseer drifts through the air like an enormous soap bubble.

Go for the eyes!: When an enemy makes a critical hit against the overseer, one of its eyes is destroyed and the overseer loses a random eye ray effect. If an enemy declares it is aiming for an eye, a successful hit does not decrease the overseer’s hit point total—instead it destroys the eye, causing the overseer to lose a randomly-chosen eye ray effect. If all its eyes are destroyed, the overseer cannot use eye ray again until it has regrown them after a month or two.

Made of eyes: The overseer can’t be surprised or ambushed, and it has true sight (spells like blur, invisibility, etc. don’t work on it).

Uncanny willpower: If the confused condition is applied to the overseer, the overseer rolls a save at the end of each turn in which it acts, including when it makes an eye rays attack. In addition, the hampered condition does not prevent the overseer from using eye rays.

Nastier Specials

Eye theft: When a nearby or far-away creature (enemy, ally, or bystander) is staggered, it begins to feel as if its eyes are being pulled out by an invisible force. It takes a –1 penalty to hit and damage. Enemies that die in the presence of the overseer do indeed have their eyes sucked out as it absorbs the eyeballs.

Spell theft: As a standard action during its turn, the overseer can cast any failed spell attack made against it as a steal spell attack.

[special trigger] R: Steal spell +15 vs. the defense in the original spell—if the spell does damage, the target takes 75 damage of the type described. If the original spell does ongoing damage, the target takes 10 ongoing damage of the type described. The target suffers any conditions described in the spell description.

 

AC 25

PD 23    HP 360

MD 23

Tactics

The oveseer has zero interest in mixing it up in melee combat with heroes, whom it views as scurrying insects to be tormented for its amusement. It hovers at a distance, letting fomori cultists (unclean-ones, kobolds, troglodytes, orcs, and so forth) to fight and die while it uses punishing gaze and eye ray. The overseer has a strong sense of self-preservation and attempts to leave the battle as soon as it looks like there’s a real chance it might be killed. If possible, it takes an enemy confused by the charm person ray with it as a hostage.

An example of the overseer in combat:

  1. A cleric, a rogue, and a wizard face off against an overseer in a temple ruin. The rogue goes first in order of initiative, and makes a ranged attack against the overseer for 20 damage. At the end of the rogue’s turn, the player rolls a saving throw and fails. The overseer makes a successful eye ray attack against the rogue as a free action. The overseer wants to slow the rogue down, so it uses the slow ray.
  2. The cleric goes next in initiative order and invokes the domain of strength. The cleric then casts javelin of faith and hits the overseer for 30 damage. At the end of the cleric’s turn, that player rolls a saving throw, and fails. The overseer makes an eye ray attack against the cleric (only one, even though the cleric took multiple actions during their turn). The overseer uses its petrification ray to gradually turn the cleric into stone.
  3. The wizard goes next, and casts acid arrow at the overseer. Due to the overseer’s anti-magic aura the wizard rolls twice and uses the lower result. The wizard’s attack misses. At the end of the wizard’s turn the player rolls a saving throw and succeeds. The overseer does not make an eye ray attack against the wizard on that turn.
  4. The overseer goes next. Because this overseer has the nastier special magic theft, it casts the wizard’s failed acid arrow at the rogue. The rogue takes 75 points of damage, and will take 10 ongoing damage on their next turn.
  5. A new round begins. Because of the slow ray’s effect, the rogue goes last instead of first this round.
  6. The cleric moves to engage the overseer and makes a successful hammer of faith attack. It’s a critical hit, and does significant damage. The overseer makes an eye ray attack and, enraged at this affront, chooses disintegration.
  7. The cleric, now staggered and vulnerable, fails their last gasp save and continues to turn into stone.
  8. The players announce that they wish to flee the battle.

Image by Anna Langova.


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. 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.

Halloween is nigh, so I’m going to stat up some spooky monsters—in this case, pirate ghosts! These restless undead might haunt the Iron Sea coast, the rivers of the Fangs, or the Midland Sea around Necropolis and Omen.

You can find all sorts of ghosts in the 13th Age Bestiary, from the Petulant Never-Was to an Epic Haunting. The monsters below are based on the disgraced legionnaire and major haunting. The dead men tell no tales ability is a modified version of the death marker’s marked for death ability.

Abilities for Most Ghosts

Most ghosts have several or all of the following abilities:

Bound hauntings: Most ghosts are bound to an area, usually the area of their death. This ability won’t come up much in play, but it does make it seem likely that ghosts can be easier to get away from than other monsters. Move far enough fast enough and the ghost returns to the area it’s bound to. Occasionally festivals for the dead or other rituals can call bound ghosts from their hauntings, but those are unusual and temporary circumstances.

Exceptions: There may be ghosts that are bound to people, or events, or phenomena that travel. There might even be ghosts that aren’t bound to anything, but at that stage there are several other questions that surface and odd magical, iconic, or unique intervention seems likely.

Flight: Most ghosts fly, though some may be quite slow, seeming to drift or walking on air. Ghosts that fly in unusual ways will be flagged with their own abilities.

Exceptions: Not all ghosts fly. Some seem constrained to act much like they acted when they were alive, and flying wasn’t part of their life package.

Unnatural touch: Many ghosts can alter the temperature of their environment to more closely match the underworld or afterlife that they’ve so far evaded. Sometimes that’s icy cold, sometimes that’s burning hot, and sometimes it’s just kind of normal, which would go unnoticed unless the ghost is somewhere abnormal!

Exceptions: This is more of a special effect of ghost stories than part of a creature’s combat abilities, and you can safely ignore it unless you find telling moments when it adds to the game.

The Black Spot: A New Ability for Pirate Ghosts

The black spot: If someone has wronged a pirate ghost, either in life or after their death, a ghostly pirate crew member appears before them 1-6 months later (ideally on a dark and stormy night) and presents them with a scrap of paper marked with a black smudge. To resist the magical compulsion to accept the black spot, the target must succeed at a 16+ save. If the save is failed, the target takes the black spot. From then on, the offended pirate ghosts can teleport to the target’s location at will to attack them, and will keep coming until the target is dead.

Pirate Ghost Captain

Come now, surely ye haven’t forgotten yer old shipmates? Why, it feels like it were only yesterday we dangled at at the end of a hangman’s rope, while you went on to live all respectable and proper-like.

Double-strength 6th level wrecker [undead]

Initiative: +12

Vulnerability: holy

Phantom cutlass +13 vs. PD—40 negative energy damage

Natural even hit or miss: The ghost pirate captain can make a dead men tell no tales attack as a free action against a nearby staggered enemy.

C: Dead men tell no tales +11 vs. MD (nearby staggered enemy)—5 ongoing psychic damage (11+ save ends).

Target is hit by a dead men tell no tales attack for the second time this battle: Until the end of the battle, when the target tries to spend a recovery they have to succeed at a save (11+) first. If they fail, they haven’t used their action but can’t spend recoveries that turn.

Target is hit by a dead men tell no tales attack for the third time this battle:The save to spend a recovery is now a hard save (16+).

Target is hit for the fourth time this battle: Until the end of the battle the target cannot spend recoveries.

Ghostly: This creature has resist damage 12+ to all damage except holy damage. A ghost can move through solid objects, but can’t end its turn inside them.

Mark of the Jonah: Each enemy that has a background or One Unique Thing related to sailing or the sea that misses an attack with a natural odd roll takes a -2 penalty to all its defenses until the end of the battle.

Nastier Specials

Fear aura: While engaged with this ghost, if the target has 30 hp or fewer, it’s dazed (–4 to attack) and does not add the escalation die to its attacks.

Swarm of pirates: If there are three or more ghost pirate crew member mooks in a battle, the pirate ghost captain’s fear aura ability affects enemies with 60 hp or fewer.

AC 22

PD 19     HP 140

MD 16

 

Pirate Ghost Crew Member

Arrrrr!

6th level mook [undead]

Initiative: +9

Phantom cutlass +10 vs. PD—8 negative energy damage

Mob-based: For every separate mob of ghost pirate crew member mooks in the battle (mobs start with at least four mooks), add a +1 bonus to the ghost pirate crew member’s attacks and +2 to its damage.

Ghostly: This creature has resist damage 14+ to all damage except holy damage. A ghost can move through solid objects, but can’t end its turn inside them.

AC 21

PD 19 .      HP 18 (mook)

MD 16

Mook: Kill one ghost pirate crew member mook for every 18 damage you deal to the mob.


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. 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.

If you’ve ever played a 13th Age demo with me, it might be obvious that I love miniatures. It’s less obvious that I like miniatures so much that I also love cardboard miniatures, the kind you print out and glue onto cardboard or have sold to you in helpful cardboard packs.

These days my favorite cardboard miniatures are made by my favorite fantasy cartoonist, Rich Burlew. In an art style you’ll recognize from his Order of the Stick comics, Burlew has published four sets of wonderful cardboard minis. The sets are called A Monster for Every Season and they’re for sale at Gumroad. Autumn is probably my favorite. They’re all great.

Earlier today, while working on 13th Age design, I realized I could draft one of Rich’s critters for this column. From the Summer set, here’s the front of what Rich called a magma para-elemental, used with his permission. (Of course all his monsters and heroes have both a front and a back, but for that, buy the set.)

In 13th-Age-world, I’m in the midst of creating adversary groups for an upcoming book. One group is a mix of demons and elementals surfacing from a magically suppressed volcano. Here are stats for one of the critters who embodies a self-destructive collision of demon and elemental.

Twisted Magma Elemental

Fire elementals weren’t meant to spend centuries trapped in a demonic volcano.

4th level archer [ELEMENTAL]

Initiative: +7

Fiery smash +8 vs. AC—10 damage

Natural even hit: 5 ongoing fire damage.

R: Flying magma +8 vs. PD (one nearby or far away enemy)—8 damage to a far away target, or 12 damage to a nearby target

Natural even hit: 5 ongoing fire damage.

C: Local eruption +8 vs. PD (1d4 + 1 nearby enemies)—15 fire damage

Limited use: 1/battle when the escalation die is even. Magma elemental deals 4d6 damage to itself when it uses this ability, and won’t hesitate to blow itself up!

Conditional escalator: The magma elemental adds the escalation die to its attacks when it attacks an enemy that did not move on its previous turn or is delaying or holding a readied action.

Resist fire 16+: When a fire attack targets this creature, the attacker must roll a natural 16+ on the attack roll or it only deals half damage.

AC   21

PD    17                 HP 50

MD  14

 

Eyecloud

By ASH LAW, development by Rob Heinsoo

From the moment we entered the tomb, we felt like we were being watched. We all felt it, even Sigurd. I admit I was almost grateful to watch him squirm, for a change.

—Mamoru the Justly Paranoid

Heralds of warped magic

Clouds of floating eyes appear near rifts in time and space, in areas where old magic has turned in on itself, and near the graves of wizards who died horrible deaths due to magical misadventure.

Some wizards say that these eyeclouds are reality’s way of checking in on where things have gone wrong—a bit like wibbles (13th Age Bestiary), but more proactive. Even if true, this has the advantage of not ruling out other possibilities. Maybe eyeclouds are forward scouts, or heralds of a strange pantheon from elsewhere. Maybe they’re related to the fomori from 13th Age Bestiary 2 (page 80)Or maybe eyeclouds are associated with creatures forbidden to enter official 13th Age products, though there’d be no keeping them out of your home games if you chose.

Eyeclouds are sometimes ‘tamed’ through magical rituals and set as guardians over tombs, or used by some of the darker icons as watchdogs. Some rituals allow a sort of twisted attunement to the monster, allowing its master to see what the floating eyes see.

Interpreting the warp: The reality warp attack below has a trigger that asks the GM or the player to figure out which ally the targeted PC happens to look at next. It’s a fun ability to determine by roleplay, but a truly determined PC could try to use their willpower to look at no one, or at the ally who can best take the hit. GMs, if you feel like a PC is trying to control their vision better than you think they could, make them pass a hard skill check (DC 20) using Wisdom or Intelligence to handle the warp without an unwary or unconscious glance at an ally they’d been trying to avoid: “Mustn’t look at Kevitch, he’s nearly dead! . . .Whoops.” .

Eyecloud

This monster looks like trouble.

Double-strength 4th level spoiler [aberration]

Initiative: +9

 

Reality warp +9 vs. PD—16 force damage and 4 ongoing force damage

Natural even hit or miss: The target deals 8 force damage to the next ally that they look at (or deals the damage to themselves at the end of their next turn if they haven’t looked at an ally).

 

R: Wearying gaze +9 vs. MD—Target is hampered, easy save ends (if the target rolls a natural 16+ to save, this attack recharges!)

Limited use: 1/battle as a quick action

 

Flight: This eyecloud moves like a swarm of bees.

 

Nastier specials

Hard to hit: This eyecloud takes half damage from melee and ranged attacks on turns when the escalation die is odd.

 

AC  20

PD  18           HP 112

MD 15

 

Dread Eyecloud

You’re guessing most of the eyes in the cloud aren’t human eyes, but if you spend any time really looking at it, you’re going to be in trouble.

Double-strength 10th level spoiler [aberration]

Initiative: +15

 

Flesh warp +15 vs. PD (two attacks)—40 damage and 20 ongoing damage

Hit against an enemy taking ongoing damage from this attack already: The target grows an extra eye, through which enemies can see. Until the eye is cut out (standard action, 20 damage) the target has a -2 penalty to all defenses against ranged and close attacks.

 

R: Dread gaze +15 vs. MD—Target is confused, save ends but recharges the power.

Limited use: 1/battle as a quick action

 

Flight: This monster moves like a mid-migration colony of bats.

 

Nastier specials

Even harder to hit: This eyecloud takes half damage from melee and ranged attacks, unless it has been hit by a close attack since its previous turn.

See the opening: The flesh warp’s power to cause an enemy to grow an extra eye now works on any enemy taking ongoing damage, regardless of the source of the damage.

 

AC  24

PD  26           HP 380

MD 25

 

Unfamiliar familiars

A lone floating eyeball, somehow separated from its cloud, makes for an interesting familiar for magic-users who are used to dealing with the outer realms of reality. A weird wizard might have one, sure. But what about a necromancer, or a chaos mage? True, these classes don’t normally get familiars—but a GM could make an exception for a player who is willing to invest a talent.

Getting a floating eye: A floating eye familiar could be the last eye from a swarm of floating eyeballs, or could be the magically enchanted eye of another slain monster. Imagine a ranger walking around with the magically preserved eye of a dragon as a pet. The occultist could even decide to ‘free’ one of their own eyes and imbue it with a demi-life of its own.

Familiar abilities: Floating eyeballs miss out on some familiar abilities from page 150 of the 13th Age core rulebook (no counter-bite, mimic, poisonous, tough, or talkative). Floating eyes always get the alert ability as one of their two starting abilities, and get the option of some new abilities too:

Sight beyond sight: You can see what your familiar sees, as though it were your own eye

Insightful vision: When you are in the presence of something invisible your familiar rolls a save (11+) to see it anyway

Keen eye: Once per battle when you would normally miss with a ranged attack, add 1d3 to the attack roll (the natural roll is unaffected)

Flying?: FYI, a floating eye without the flight ability just hovers about near your head, and must have the flight ability before it gains the scout ability.

Adventure Hooks

Delve complications—The adventurers are dungeon-delving, and whoever or whatever is at the heart of the dungeon knows their every move. Soon the cause becomes apparent: floating eyes spying on them. Do the adventurers chase after and fight the eyes, or would they be heading into a trap?

The eyes of the cabal—A cabal of wizards have died, and their eyes have returned to life as a monster. The adventurers must find the cabal’s bodies and properly inter them, or face eyecloud monsters that resurrect each nightfall.

Watchful eyes—The adventurers are offered a ‘tame’ cloud of eyeballs to act as a watchdog for their base of operations. The cost? One of them must give up an eye to become the new owner of the watchful eyes. The twist is that whoever gives up an eye gains a secret relationship die with an unexpected icon who is now able to spy on the party.

Warped vision—The adventures encounter an area of warped wild magic, and one of their eyeballs detaches and floats away. Later the party encounters a cloud of floating eyes. Can the party somehow subdue the eyecloud and ‘rescue’ the lost eye?


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.

I’ve started running a new 13th Age campaign for my Fire Opal Games comrades and their families. The PCs are (apparently) questing to recover a goddess who most of the world has forgotten. The Elf Queen has several statues of the missing goddess in one of the halls she devotes to her friends, and she wants to know who it was and why the goddess is lost to her.

The quest took the PCs to a uniquely laid out halfling tavern in Concord. (Actually, I don’t think it’s unique, it’s how most halfling establishments should be organized; but that’s a story for another time!) Viv—the former adventurer who owned the bar—had the info the PCs needed, but asked for a service from the PCs: an exorcism of sorts, a cleansing of the bad spirits that had taken over her tavern’s original location. Not just bad spirits, bad alcohol spirits. They’d been weakened over time by the evaporation of the worst of the lot, the Grimtooth Ale. But Viv’s age and the death of her dwarf pal, Rak, meant she needed help. Adventurers who’d finagled heavy winnings out of her tavern’s mantis-fights seemed like people who might get the job done.

All of this prologue is to explain why this month’s installment of 13th Sage is a couple of spirits-related spirits. For the battle I used wibbles (13th Age Bestiary) recast as bad-champagne bubble mooks. A couple of natural 1s with spells cast during the battle probably should have created more wibble-bubbles, but it was more important to keep the game moving for the all-new players. Happily for the newcomers, they cruised through this battle without encountering the worst the spirits had to offer. Your PCs may not be so lucky.

Roll initiative!

 

Rockfist Ale Dreg

Hic.

1st level troop [spirit]

Initiative: +4

 

Thump go boom +6 vs. AC—6 damage

Natural 18+: PC is hampered (hard save ends, 16+, but PC receives a +8 bonus on save if they can tell a story worth hearing that involves beer—the save automatically fails if the story is longer than one minute)

Miss: 3 damage

 

Spirit body: For each attack against this spirit, a PC uses their best mental ability score (Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma) instead of the ability score they normally use for attacks. Use the same mental ability score to determine damage.

 

AC   17

PD    15                 HP 32

MD  11

 

Bad Wine Spirit

Disgusting oozy ectoplasmic slime that won’t stop whining.

2nd level spoiler [spirit]

Initiative: +6

 

Wet slap +6 vs. AC—6 damage

Natural even hit: target slides somewhere the spirit thinks is funny; may require a second +6 attack vs. PD if the location is going to result in serious damage to the target.

 

R: Bubbly laughter +7 vs. MD (one nearby enemy)—4 ongoing psychic damage and confused (save ends both)

Limited use: Only on the turn after it scores a natural even hit with wet slap (but against any target, not just the one it slapped).

 

Spirit body: For each attack against this spirit, a PC uses their best mental ability score (Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma) instead of the ability score they normally use for attacks. Use the same mental ability score to determine damage.

 

AC   16

PD    13                 HP 40

MD  15

 

Part of the fun of developing adventures like Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan’s Red Crag Castle section of Book of Demons is adding monsters that complete the theme. Sometimes those missing bits turn out to be things that fill a gap in all of 13th Age, not just the one adventure.

That turned out to be true for the demonic forces that guard the hellhole centered on Red Crag Castle. One of the demonic factions is all about swords, steel, and a sadistic impression of military discipline. A sword-sword-sword (etc.)-wielding marilith-style demon seemed like a natural fit, but our mariliths are epic 12th level creatures, far too powerful for the champion-tier environment of Red Crag Castle.

What was needed was a 7th level version of something like a marilith. As I poked around our monster lists, I realized that we had precious few normal-sized demons at 7th level, and nothing that could stand in for a melee troop. So I added the minor serpent demon to Redcrag Castle, along with a couple of other generally-useful demonic warriors.

This minor serpent demon uses the same core mechanics as the marilith. It’s useful enough that I think it deserves to be in 13th Age monster lists that might not normally pay attention to demons in specific adventures. I’m going to reprint its stats here, along with two other stat blocks for demon warriors that could physically resemble the minor serpent demon and the marilith, or could be reskinned as you require.

To make them more useful, I’ve placed the new demons on either side of the 7th level minor serpent demon, and designed them for different roles. As you’ll see, each of the demons has a different approach to the question of how to force magically-competent enemies into melee, and how to punish enemies once they’re engaged. The minor variations in stats and abilities are deliberate. They should team up well with each other.

Minor Serpent Demon

Progressing sword by sword and death by death toward a full marilith.

7th level troop [demon]

Initiative: +13

 

Four whirling swords +12 vs. AC (4 attacks)—7 damage

Miss: 2 damage

 

C: Beguiling gaze +12 vs. MD (one nearby or far away unengaged enemy)As a free action, the target immediately moves toward the minor serpent demon, attempting to engage it or get as close as possible to it

Limited use: 1/round, as a quick action.

 

Terrible swords: When the escalation die is even, the minor serpent demon’s crit range with melee attacks expands by a number equal to the escalation die.

 

AC   23

PD    16                 HP 98

MD  20

 

Serpent Demon Slasher

A one-on-one fight may be the best way to face this demon, but is it really one-on-one when she wields three massive two-handed swords?

6th level wrecker [demon]

Initiative: +12

 

Three two-handed swords +10 vs. AC (3 attacks)—7 damage

 

Six-handed devastation: The serpent demon slasher gains a bonus to its attacks equal to the number of different enemies that it has attacked or been attacked by this battle; maximum +6.

 

AC   21

PD    17                 HP 94

MD  18

Bladeweaver Demon

You know how you’re supposed to keep your eye on the enemy’s blade? Don’t.

8th level blocker [demon]

Initiative: +14

 

Churning swords +13 vs. AC (2 attacks that add the escalation die as a bonus)—14 damage

If both attacks hit: Bladeweaver demon can use deadly swords attack below.

 

Deadly swords +13 vs. AC (2 attacks)—16 damage

Miss: 8 damage

Limited use: 1/round, as a quick action and only when triggered by churning swords.

 

Terrible compulsion: Each round, the first enemy that misses the bladeweaver demon with an attack when it is not engaged with the bladeweaver demon must immediately move toward the bladeweaver as a free action, attempting to engage it or get as close as possible to it.

 

AC   24

PD    18                 HP 124

MD  20

Download the free 13th Age Bestiary 2 preview pack, with the Great Ghoul, chaos hydra, and rakshasa!

It’s Adopt-a-Monster month, when we urge you to take home some of the adorable beasties in our 13th Age product line. (Whose heart wouldn’t melt at the sight of a little intellect devourer scampering up when they come home in the evening?) This year’s Adopt-a-Monster mascot is this cuddly rakshasa kitten by artist Rich Longmore.

The rakshasa is featured in the first 13th Age Bestiary, and really comes into its own in Lions, Tigers & Owlbears: The 13th Age Bestiary 2. There it receives an expansive 7-page treatment, with entries that include the rakshasa sybarite, devourer of wizards, delver, mastermind, saint, and magician. There’s also a section on rakshasas and the icons, building battles, lairs and treasures, adventure hooks, and more!

You can pick up a print copy of the 13th Age Bestiary 2 in the Pelgrane Store.

Here’s just one of the many monsters you can adopt today—and it’s a great example of 13th Age monster design for a more complex creature…

Rakshasa Sybarite

A keen interest in alchemy and an understanding of the physiology and psychology of humanoids makes this hedonistic monster mad, bad, and dangerous to know.

Double strength 6th level caster [humanoid]

Initiative: +11

Silver-shod claws +11 vs. AC (2 attacks)—12 damage

Attack also beats the target’s PD: 12 ongoing poison damage.

C: Powders, potions, and lotions +11 vs. PD (1d3 nearby enemies in a group)—20 poison damage

Natural 2 or 12 hit: Target is weakened until they next take damage.

Natural 3 or 13 hit: Target is vulnerable to poison attacks until the end of the battle.

Natural 4 or 14 hit: Target is hampered until they next heal or gain temporary hp.

Natural 5 or 15 hit: Target is hampered until they next hit with an attack.

Natural 6 or 16 hit: Target is stuck, save ends.

Natural 7 or 17 hit: Target is dazed, easy save ends.

Natural 8 or 18 hit: Target is stunned until the end of its next turn.

Natural 9 or 19 hit: Target is confused, easy save ends.

Miss: 7 poison damage.

[once per battle] C: Psychic seduction +11 vs. MD (1d3+1 nearby or far away enemies in a group, group must contain at least two targets)—20 psychic damage, and the target is confused (hard save ends).

Miss, but another target in the group was hit: Target is confused until the end of its next turn.

All targets missed: The psychic seduction attack is not expended can be used again this battle.

Shapechange: As a standard action, the rakshasa can change its form to that of any humanoid, or back to its own shape. Seeing through the shapechange requires a DC 20 skill check.

Nastier Specials

Contrabando: The rakshasa has a stash of illicit substances—once per battle as a quick action, it can either deal 20 ongoing poison damage to one enemy that it has just left engagement with OR become dazed but heal 30 hit points at the end of each of its turns (save ends).

Shapechanger’s surprise: Once per battle as a quick action the rakshasa changes forms to something that causes consternation and misunderstanding among its enemies— causing each enemy to become dazed until the enemy with the lowest MD saves.

AC 20

PD 20     HP 230

MD 19

 

ROB_tileCal Moore created the lightning elemental as part of the newly published High Magic & Low Cunning: Battle Scenes for Four Icons. I tweaked the stats a bit to get them to play more like our other elementals.

High Magic & Low Cunning includes stats for the 7th level version of the lighting elemental. The monster tile Lee Moyer created for the lightning elemental is snazzy, and I’m taking this chance to show it off in color by presenting stats for the other lightning elementals at 3rd, 5th, and 9th level.

Technically, given the standardized sizes we used for elementals in 13 True Ways, we should have called the 7th level lightning elemental in the book the ‘big lightning elemental.’ No harm done, and I’m using the elemental standard in this article. I’m also ever-so-slightly massaging the stats of these new versions, but I can’t imagine you’ll notice!

Bzzzzt!

Small Lightning Elemental

Lightning elementals don’t have natural shapes of their own, unless you count bolts and sparks as shapes. They tend to pulse rapidly between jagged bolts and outlines borrowed from the creatures around them.

3rd level spoiler [elemental]

Initiative: +10

Lightning zap +8 vs. AC—7 lightning damage

Natural odd hit: The target is dazed until the end of its next turn.

R: Lightning strike +8 vs. PD (one nearby enemy)—9 lightning damage

Flight: Lightning elementals zip from place to place about half-as-quick as lightning, hovering above the ground to avoid being grounded.

Metal affinity+: The lightning elemental’s attacks gain a +2 bonus against an enemy wearing metal armor or wielding a metal weapon.

Resist lightning and thunder 16+: When a lightning or thunder attack targets this creature, the attacker must roll a natural 16+ on the attack roll or it only deals half damage.

AC   18

PD    18                 HP 38

MD  11

 

Lightning Elemental

Webs of lightning repeatedly streak in all directions, outlining the form of the creature and then dissipating. Each flash happens so fast, it leaves the thing’s image burned into your eyes.

5th level spoiler [elemental]

Initiative: +12

Lightning zap +10 vs. AC—12 lightning damage

Natural odd hit: The target is dazed until the end of its next turn.

R: Lightning strike +10 vs. PD (one nearby enemy, or far away enemy at -2 attack)—17 lightning damage

Lightning storm transformation: Roll a d10 at the start of each of the lightning elemental’s turns. If you roll less than or equal to the escalation die, it shifts into lightning storm form until the end of the battle. While in this form it gains the following improved attack (and you stop rolling lightning storm transformation checks):

C: Storm strike +10 vs. PD (up to 2 nearby enemies)—14 lightning damage

Natural even roll: The elemental can include an additional target in the attack (requires attack roll) that hasn’t been hit by storm strike this turn, but the attack only deals half damage.

Flight: Lightning elementals zip from place to place about half-as-quick as lightning, hovering above the ground to avoid being grounded.

Metal affinity+: The lightning elemental’s attacks gain a +2 bonus against an enemy wearing metal armor or wielding a metal weapon.

Resist lightning and thunder 16+: When a lightning or thunder attack targets this creature, the attacker must roll a natural 16+ on the attack roll or it only deals half damage.

AC   20

PD    20                 HP 66

MD  13

 

Epic Lightning Elemental

Epic lightning elementals that serve the Archmage have often been forced into somewhat regular forms in order to be able to hold a conversation. Epic lightning elementals associated with the High Druid let their current do the talking.

9th level spoiler [elemental]

Initiative: +16

Lightning zap +14 vs. AC—35 lightning damage

Natural odd hit: The target is dazed until the end of its next turn.

R: Lightning strike +14 vs. PD (one nearby enemy)—45 lightning damage

Lightning storm transformation: Roll a d6 at the start of each of the lightning elemental’s turns. If you roll less than or equal to the escalation die, it shifts into lightning storm form until the end of the battle. While in this form it gains the following improved attack (and you stop rolling lightning storm transformation checks):

C: Storm strike +14 vs. PD (up to 2 nearby enemies)—40 lightning damage

Natural even roll: The elemental can include an additional target in the attack (requires attack roll) that hasn’t been hit by storm strike this turn, but the attack only deals half damage.

Flight: Lightning elementals zip from place to place about half-as-quick as lightning, hovering above the ground to avoid being grounded.

Metal affinity+: The lightning elemental’s attacks gain a +2 bonus against an enemy wearing metal armor or wielding a metal weapon.

Resist lightning and thunder 16+: When a lightning or thunder attack targets this creature, the attacker must roll a natural 16+ on the attack roll or it only deals half damage.

AC   24

PD    24                 HP 164

MD  15

 

13th Age Monthly PhoenixPhoenixes are more than a symbol—they seem functionally immortal, though there may be years or decades or even centuries between some rebirths. Rob Heinsoo and ASH LAW bring these fiery elementals to 13th Age, with writeups for the flamebird phoenix, resurgent phoenix, void phoenix, and solar phoenix. You’ll also find phoenix-themed magic items, adventure hooks, and more!

Phoenix is the second installment of the second 13th Age Monthly subscription. You can buy it as a stand-alone PDF, or purchase the collected Volume 2 to get all 12 issues plus the 2015 Free RPG Day adventure Swords Against the Dead!

 

Stock #: PEL13AM16D Author: ASH LAW, Rob Heinsoo
Artist: Patricia Smith Type: 10-page PDF

Buy now

Previous Entries