I had Intentions of writing this post on the Monday of Gencon itself, when it was due. That’s the sort of stupid idea you have after six days of little sleep and absurd heat. Plus, we had a Pelgrane planning meeting, where we discussed awesome things to come, and how we’re going to celebrate the 10th anniversary of GUMSHOE.

Between panels and selling books, I ran a few demos, including another run-through of my toy 13th Age demo, Midnight in the Bazaar. I’ve run it at multiple cons, and it’s done yeoman service. The text of it is below, although in all those multitudinous demos at many cons, I’ve never played it quite as written. The trick to 13th Age demos is to grab the players’ One Unique Things and run with them.

For example, this year I had four wonderful players who came up with:

  • I’m the ambitious daughter of the Dwarf Lord (6th 3rd in line for the throne)
  • I’ve got Seven Evil Exes from my time studying at the Diabolist’s Academy
  • I’m always fashionably dressed, no matter what the situation
  • I’m a spy for the Blue Dragon (I may be misremembering this one, but the player definitely had a Positive Relationship with the Three).

(I may have also completely forgotten the line in the adventure where the PCs are all supposed to have a 1-point relationship with the Emperor. Sunday of Gencon – don’t stop there, it’s bat country.)

With that set, I dropped the initial hook entirely, and instead had the Dwarf noble attending a wedding at Glitterhaegen where the groom got kidnapped by some of the Seven Evil Exes, so the party had to chase after the kidnappers and rescue the poor fellow. The wedding covered the two “social” OUTs, and I just reskinned the Diabolist foes described below to match how the player described the Evil Exes. Pigeons from Hell, for example, became a breath weapon attack.

For Icon rolls, the only 5s and 6s were a double 6 for the Dwarf Lord and a 6 for the Three. I gave away a magic item for the Dwarf Lord roll – I don’t generally like giving items for Icon rolls, but it’s fine for a quick demo. I promised to work the Three benefit into the game, and had a fantastic opportunity to do so when one of the players described the Bazaar as being guarded by lizard men, so I was able to hint at a plot by the Black Dragon to infiltrate Glitterhaegen with his lizard mercenaries, and let the player spend that benefit to recruit some lizard men scouts to help him find the missing groom.

13th Age - The Three

Midnight in the Bazaar

A 45 minute (or less) 13th Age demo

The characters have finally tracked down the vile instigator of the evils that have befallen the city of Glitterhaegen. Now, they’re about to confront him in the great marketplace just as he puts his scheme into motion.

Character Creation

The pregenerated characters have their ability scores, attacks and spells pre-selected, as well as brief notes on how each power works. What they don’t have are:

  • Full Icon Relationships
  • Backgrounds
  • One Unique Things

For Icon Relationships, all the characters have a 1-point positive relationship with the Emperor – they’re a band of adventurers and troubleshooters with a good reputation.

Each player now chooses their remaining Icons. Use these as a guideline to pick the nature of the bad guy. If there’s a clear majority for one villain, then the bad guy works for him and uses the appropriate theming and mooks.

 

 

What’s Going On?

A mysterious foe has done something evil in the city. The nature of the threat depends on who the bad guy’s working for:

  • Lich King: There’s a necromancer in town, the Grey Rat, stirring up the catacombs and awakening the dead. The characters have spent weeks crawling through dungeons and hunting zombies. The necromancer seems to be concentrating on the tombs of the wealthy families.
    • The Grey Rat’s secretly interrogating the dead; he’s searching for the location of the fabled Bank of the Dead, a secret treasury managed by undead merchants who rise once a century to make long-term investments.
  • Orc Lord: An orc army approaches from the west, and there’s a Traitor in the city, trying to weaken Glitterhagen’s defences before the siege begins. Many have already fled the city.
    • The Traitor is secretly a pirate captain – by sparking panic, he’s forcing all the rich nobles to flee by ship, and his pirate armada’s going to sweep in and loot the laden refugee ships
  • Diabolist: The characters were hired to investigate a spate of possessions and strange events, and they’ve learned that the one thing all the victims had in common was that they bargained with a mysterious merchant – a Soul Broker – in the marketplace.
    • All those souls are going to get used in a ritual to invoke a demon of greed.

Now, the characters are on the verge of tracking down their foe in the Grand Bazaar.

Scene Setup

Ask a player who got a 5 or 6 on an Icon roll how their Icon ally helped them find the villain. (If no-one got an appropriate 5 or 6, then go for the most suitable background and ask the player how they tracked down the villain).

If you can, use the other 5s or 6s now – maybe hand out a +1 weapon or some other benefit. Put any outstanding 5s and 6s in front of the players and explain that they can use them in the game if they can think of something suitably cool.

Next, go around the table, focusing on players who didn’t get Icon benefits, and flesh the scene out with leading questions.

  • The Bazaar is a huge open-air market square. Lots of booths and tents. What’s the biggest landmark in the Bazaar?
  • How do you arrive in the Bazaar? Are you going for speed or stealth as you pursue your quarry?
  • Something’s happening in the Bazaar that’s going to be an obstacle. What is it?
  • The guard in the Bazaar are unusual in some way. How so?
  • You’ve got a bad feeling about this. What’s worrying you?

The villain’s somewhere in the Bazaar, moving through the crowds. The characters arrive and hunt for him, using whatever tools or clues they’ve established. After a few minutes’ hunting, they spot the villain approaching an ornate purple tent. As they move to stop him…

A Note On Timing

Intro, Character Setup, Basics – 15 minutes

Lead into first fight – 5 minutes

First fight – 15 minutes

Lead into second fight – 5 minutes

Second fight – 10 minutes

The Grey Rat (Lich King villain): The ground of the bazaar suddenly collapses. The old city catacombs run under the bazaar – they run under everywhere – and undead creatures swarm out. The Grey Rat scurries down into the catacombs. To get to him, the characters must fight through the skeletal horde.

Bazaar Fight

3 PCs 4 PCs 5 PCs 6 PCs
Skeleton Warriors 2 2 3 3
Decrepit Skeletons 5 10 10 15

Skeleton Warriors

2nd Level Troop [UNDEAD]

Initiative +8

Vulnerability: Holy

Spear +8 vs. AC – 6 damage

Resist Weapons 16+

 

AC16

PD 14 HP 26

MD 11

 

Decrepit Skeletons

1nd Level Mook [UNDEAD]

Initiative +6

Vulnerability: Holy

Spear +6 vs. AC – 3 damage

Resist Weapons 16+

AC 16

PD 14 HP 7 (mook)

MD 10

Once the undead are defeated (or bypassed), the characters can search the tent and find a map of the catacombs, clearly drawn by interrogating the dead. He’s pinpointed the location of the Bank of the Dead beneath the city. It’s located directly beneath the Well of Foresight, and there’s an old tradition that various trading houses throw copies of their annual reports down the well.

The characters then pursue the villain into the catacombs, following him to the vault of the Bank of the Dead. There are lots of coffins containing slumbering bank-liches, and lots of gold. The characters can either battle the villain and his Decrepit Skeleton horde, or else change the most recent financial reports to awaken the Dread Bankers.

Bank Fight

3 PCs 4 PCs 5 PCs 6 PCs
Grey Rat 1 1 1 1
Decrepit Skeletons 0 5 10 15

Grey Rat

2nd Level Triple-Strength Caster [Humanoid]

Initiative +7

Staff +7 vs AC – 15 damage

C: Death Curse +7 vs. PD (all nearby foes) – 7 damage, creates one Decrepit Skeleton per hit

Ratform (1/battle) – turn into a rat. Turns into a rat, avoiding one attack and disengaging.

AC 18

PD 12 HP 70

MD 16

The Traitor (Orc Lord villain): Suddenly, orcs emerge from the purple tent and start hacking and slashing. Most of the orcs are illusions, but there are a few orc warriors who are real and solid. The Traitor pops into the tent and flees through the sewers.

3 PCs 4 PCs 5 PCs 6 PCs
Orc Berserkers 2 2 3 3
Illusionary Orcs 5 10 10 15

Orc Berserkers

 

2nd Level Troop [Humanoid]

 

Initiative +5

 

Greataxe +7 vs. AC – 8 damage

Dangerous: Crit range increases by 3 unless staggered

AC 16

PD 15 HP 30

MD 13

 

Illusionary Orcs

1nd Level Mook [Illusion]

Initiative +3

 

Axe +6 vs. AC – 6 damage

Illusion: A partially damaged illusion is destroyed

AC16

PD14 HP7 (mook)

MD10

 

The orc attack starts a panic in the market. People hurry down to the docks towards the ships, and the great exodus begins. It’s clear that anyone who has a ship to go to is leaving the city.

The Traitor ran into a sewer entrance. Pursuing him through the sewers, the characters find their way to an exit on a waterside warehouse. There, they see a ship departing, its sails filled by a magical wind. The traitor’s standing at the tiller. The characters need to leap on board or otherwise stop the ship from leaving the harbor, or else the Traitor will send in his pirate fleet!

The Pirate Captain

2nd Level Triple-Strength Wrecker [Humanoid]

Initiative +8

Cutlass +7 vs AC (2 attacks) – 13 damage

Natural even hit: Swashbuckle! The captain moves, making the target vulnerable until they move to counter.

Miss: 6 damage

Ring of Illusion: When the captain is staggered, he adopts the illusion of one of the player characters.

AC 18

PD 16 HP 90

MD 12

The Soul Broker (Diabolist villain): The Soul Broker ducks into a strange curiosity shop down a side street – but when the characters try to follow him, the purple tent comes to life and attacks. Demonic imps pour of it, while the tent itself flails at them with viciously sharp tentpegs and whipping guy-ropes.

3 PCs 4 PCs 5 PCs 6 PCs
The Tent 1 1 1 1
Demon Imps 0 5 10 15

The Tent

2nd Level Triple-Strength Blocker [Construct]

Initiative +5

Ropes +7 vs. AC – 7 damage

Natural 16+: Target is grabbed

Engulf +7 vs. PD (grabbed targets only) – engulfed victim takes 10 ongoing damage

AC 18

PD 16 HP 90

MD 12

Demon Imps

1st level Mook [Demon]

Initiative +5

Claws +6 vs. AC – 4 damage

Mockery: If a character misses an attack on an imp, he takes 3 damage

AC 16

PD 11 HP 7 (mook)

MD 16

The curiosity shop is larger on the inside than on the outside, as the dimensions inside stretch absurdly. After blundering through aisles lined with strange things, the characters find their way onto the roof, where the Soul Broker’s engaged in a strange ritual with a flock of doves and a dozen glowing glass baubles. Each bauble contains a soul, and the broker argues that the rich nobles and spoiled brats whose souls he obtained had already damned themselves through greed. By incarnating them as birds, he’s giving them a chance to earn redemption – and the characters won’t stop him!

The characters must defeat the mad diabolist and his pigeons from hell.

Soul Broker

2nd Level Triple-Strength Caster [Humanoid]

Initiative +7

Staff +7 vs AC – 15 damage

C: Madness +7 vs. MD – 14 damage, and target is Confused (save ends)

Pigeons from Hell – free +7 vs AC attack on all nearby foes, 5 damage

AC 18

PD 12 HP 70

MD 16