Friday, May 17, 2019

Escalation Special: Under Pressure Adventure is Available

I'm pleased to announce that the second Escalation Special is now available! This issue is dedicated to Under Pressure, a 13th Age Glorantha adventure. You can find it on the Vault of the 13th Age.  This adventure was written by Ulf Bengtsson, with editing by Scott Martin and art by Patricia Baker. It includes five pre-gen 13th Age Glorantha characters. It's free, so take a moment to download it and give it a read.

We love to hear feedback, so let us know what you think of the Special Issue format. Would you be interested in future Specials? This is the community's fanzine, and we want to make it as useful as possible for you.

We're working hard on Issue 7, and aren't seeking articles with a particular theme at this time.  However, we're always open to new articles that will be of general interest to 13th Age players and game master, so don't hesitate to send more content our way. See the information on the right side of the page if you'd like to submit an article or art.

Thanks again to everyone who made this possible!

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Articles Needed: The Divine

Work on Issue 7 is underway while Sherm wraps up layout on Escalation Special 2. Going through the submissions that we've received thus far, I noticed that we still had a few gaps.

  • What celestial beings inhabit your version of the Dragon Empire? As Christopher LaHaise put it: "I want to see those angels and archons and daevas and such, how they tick, how they can act as protagonists and antagonists, how they can provide aid to heroes like the demons and devils can aid enemies."
  • Have you created a pantheon for your Dragon Empire? What deities are in it? How do they interact with the icons? Do you use them in addition to the icons? As substitutes? Note: Please don't use the names of deities from other games' intellectual property.
  • Are you a Glorantha expert? Much of the 13th Age community is just starting to learn about the setting. What can you tell us about the divine in Glorantha what wasn't already included in 13G?

Take a look at the link at the top right corner of the page for submission guidelines and contact information.  Please spread the word and help us create an issue that will be praised from the Overworld!

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Preservation of the 13th Age Google+ Community's History

The 13th Age Google+ community's history has been preserved at Tapatalk! Yes, the six years of fantastic discussion is all there, and you can continue the conversation by logging into Tapatalk using your Google account, if you so choose. You can also login with your Facebook account or create an account with an email address.

Please check it out, and let me know if you run into any issues. The developers have been super easy to work with when I found a couple of issues.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Escalation Issue 6 is Available

I'm pleased to announce that Escalation Issue 6 is now available! You can find it on the Vault of the 13th Age.  This issue's theme is The Underworld and Dungeons.  Inside, you'll find numerous dungeons, ranging from the traditional to the gonzo.  We also offer some new options for both GMs and players, including icon-themed one-use items, the Warrior class, new racial options, and living spellbooks.

We love to hear feedback, so let us know what you enjoy and would like to see more of in the future.  What's missing that you'd like us to include next time?  What didn't work so well, and we should consider omitting?  This is the community's fanzine, and we want to make it as useful as possible for you.

Please consider submitting articles that expand upon the theme of Faith and the Divine for Issue 7.  This isn't limited to the Dragon Empire but can include Glorantha, too.  See the information on the right side of the page if you'd like to submit an article or art.

Thanks again to everyone who made this possible!

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Escalation Special: Skyfall – Actual Play

In September, Escalation published the 13th Age Glorantha adventure Skyfall.  Much to my delight, I just learned that Play from Ponape has started an actual play using the adventure.  Two episodes have been provided so far.  Here are links to Episode 1 and Episode 2.

If you'd like to hear how this group ran the adventure, queue it up on your podcast app of choice and give it a listen!  This adventure was written by Ulf Bengtsson and Richard Black, Jr., with editing by Scott Martin and art by Patricia Baker.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Iconic Interview

Sherm and I were interviewed by the fine folks at the Iconic Podcast, recently.  We love Iconic, and are incredibly thankful that it returned from hiatus to continue bringing us 13th Age news, reviews, interviews, and creative ideas for campaigns.  If you're not listening to Iconic and you're a 13th Age fan, you're missing out!

You can download the interview from their website:

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Why 13th Age is a Good Fit for the Nentir Vale Setting – Part 1

13th Age provides a wealth of tools that lend themselves well to the default setting for 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons, the Nentir Vale. When I (Tim) made this statement in a Google+ group several months ago, a member of the community asked me if I’d be willing to share more details. Recently, I gave the topic further consideration and jotted down my thoughts. I found three categories where 13th Age fit the Nentir Vale—also known as Nerath or the “Points of Light” setting: (1) support for the 4e designers’ key conceits for a D&D world, (2) support for the core races and classes of the setting, and (3) the presence of NPCs or factions that fit the role of 13th Age icons. This blog post covers the first topic.

Key Conceits of the Nentir Vale

In Wizards Presents: Worlds and Monsters, the 4e design team describes the assumed setting for any basic D&D world. Matt Sernett provides a list of 14 key conceits, and 13th Age supports each of these concepts. Some are implicitly supported due to the lack of anything in 13th Age that contradicts a particular conceit. Others are explicitly supported by the system’s rules. As an interesting aside, some—but not all—of these concepts are present in 13th Age’s default setting, The Dragon Empire. I’ll call a few of these out as I go.

The World is More Fantastic: Cultures can be fantastic and don’t need a real-world analog. 13th Age doesn’t have much to say about the cultures of the PCs. There are no 13th Age mechanics that tie character races or classes to a particular place or time on Earth. Even the Dragon Empire is largely silent on the matter. While many GMs are likely to project “standard fantasy” cultures onto the Dragon Empire, the setting could just as easily be run with a different set of assumptions. There’s nothing that prevents 13th Age from being compatible with Nentir Vale’s fantastic cultures.

The World is Ancient: Empires rise and fall, and adventurers are likely to come across relics of ancient civilizations. If an “age” is hundreds or even thousands of years in duration, then a world with 12 previous ages qualifies as ancient. 13th Age explicitly supports the use of former icons—powerful NPCs from prior ages or the remnants of their factions.

The World is Mysterious: There are many wild and unexplored locations in the world. 13th Age is built on the assumption that the setting will be created collaboratively between the GM and the players. While using an established campaign setting is certainly possible, the system itself doesn’t provide mechanics that require a well-defined world.

Monsters Exist All Over: The world is populated with a great variety of monsters. 13th Age provides dozens of monsters in the core book, has published two dedicated bestiaries, and introduces additional monsters in various adventures and supplements. There’s no shortage of monsters for 13th Age.

Creatures Need a Place in the World: Monsters and races should occupy a space of their own. The descriptions of the monsters in the bestiaries are some of the most thorough presentations I’ve come across in any creature book. Not only do the creatures have a place in the world, GMs are given several options and are allowed to tailor their monsters’ niche for their table.

Adventurers are Exceptional: PCs are built with different rules than NPCs, are expected to be the noteworthy characters in the story. This is where 13th Age shines. Each PC has “one unique thing” that sets them apart and informs the players about what makes this character worthy of their own prequel story. Mechanically, PCs are completely different from monsters and NPCs. They also start adventuring as capable heroes and already have ties to the icons of the world.

Magic is not Everyday, but it is Natural: People might see evidence of magic on a regular basis, but it’s not so prevalent as to become ordinary. There’s plenty of magic in 13th Age, from spell-casting classes to monsters with spell-like abilities to magic items. There are no rules for crafting magic items or even creating scrolls, for that matter. By omitting the kinds of systems that would allow for commonplace magic items, 13th Age at least makes it harder to run a game in such a setting.

“Good” and “Evil” Mean More: Heroes fight for what’s right and villains are evil, but you can’t use magic to determine a creature’s alignment. 13th Age doesn’t have an alignment system, but instead allows PCs to associate themselves with icons, who in turn have their own morals. Good icons are often shining beacons of righteousness, whereas evil icons recite cackling soliloquies. With no alignments, there are no spells or abilities that allow characters to magically determine if someone is good or evil.

Remote Gods: Gods are largely distant and detached from the world. 13th Age doesn’t even offer a default pantheon of deities. While gods are mentioned, and clerics still receive their spells from gods, these beings are assumed to be distant.

One Sun, One Moon: With all the unusual elements in a fantasy world, it’s important that there are also familiar elements that players can relate to. 13th Age doesn’t feature any mechanics that require the phases of multiple moons or that assume a world in perpetual darkness.

No Forced Race Relations: There’s no forced hostility between races. Similar to the lack of detail around its cultures, 13th Age doesn’t provide any information about how the cultures interact with one another. There are no tables that provide bonuses and penalties to NPC attitudes based on their race (or anything else, for that matter).

Death Matters Differently: While it’s hard for a PC to die, once they do, it’s not easy for them to be raised from the dead. 13th Age gives even 1st-level characters plenty of ways to avoid death, ranging from generous starting hit points to their access to the Rally action during combat. There’s an optional rule that prevents PCs from being killed by anything but a named monster or NPC. But once a PC has died, resurrection is a 7th-level spell, and can only be cast once per level by a sufficiently powerful cleric, and can only be cast four times by a cleric before the toll becomes fatal.

Fantastic Locations: Adventures aren’t limited to subterranean dungeons, but can span the most interesting parts of the world or even the multiverse. 13th Age supports three environmental tiers that are analogous to the three tiers of play. By Epic Tier, PCs are traveling to the overworld (the outer planes) or delving deep into the underworld, encountering environmental hazards that would be impossible for an Adventurer Tier hero to overcome. The Dragon Empire embodies this key conceit, featuring locations such as Starport, where stars doc for rest and refitting, or the Sea Wall, which holds back the kaijus that the Iron Sea throws at the Empire.

Less Evil Fighting Evil: The focus should be on the conflicts that the PCs can easily take sides in. There’s nothing like the Blood War described in 13th Age. Evil icons aren’t described as fighting one another. Instead, the icons are set up in an uneasy balance, where their agents have the possibility of tipping the scales.

What do you think?  Does 13th Age (the game system, not the default setting) work well with the concepts that Wizards of the Coast used to create the Nentir Vale setting?  Comment below with your thoughts.