Friday, December 28, 2012

13th Age Rpg

I've become curious about the 13th Age RPG coming out in March from Pelgrane Press and written by Johnathan Tweet and Rob Heinsoo. I get the sense that while I might not choose the game as my system of preference, that it will likely be filled with stuff to transplant into whatever system I do use.

The Icons story mechanic or whatever one would call it, in which characters at time of creation are given relationships of a sort with from one to three powerful organizations or entities and this influences things throughout the campaign. I can see using that and converting it into something very useful for a Ptolus campaign for tieing the characters more into the goings on in the city. It could serve as plot points and motivators for the player characters.

For example, there are numerous noble families, criminal organizations, political factions, cults/religious orders, and others pushing and pulling at the setting. If a character had some connection, be it positive, conflicted, or negative with an organization that creates all sorts of fun possibilities. Maybe a character has a minor negative (adversarial) connection with the Balacazar Crime Family, when the DM rolls to see if that connection comes into play it might mean the Balacazar's district enforcer is up to something that will impact the character, or it could also mean that someone with a dislike for the Balacazar's might aid or involve the character in something that affects the crime family.

The character may also have conflicted ties to the Inverted Pyramid. Some members are friendly to the character, some not as friendly. At times the character might get aid and at others interference from the group.

The system looks to me like it would really be a boon for getting the players to involve their characters in all sorts of activities.

Backgrounds as it appears they are handled in 13th Age may also prove useful for similar reasons, and the One Unique Thing idea is also worthy of borrowing.

The mechanic for speeding up combat, the Escalation Die, works sort of like the doubling die from Backgammon, except the escalation die just gives an increasing bonus beginning in the second round to all attack rolls for the characters and some more important villains. This sounds like a nice way to handle using flatter math and avoiding grind as opposed to what seems to be happening in the current WotC 5th edition playtest with outrageous amounts of damage escalation.

I suggest looking up the game info and playtest reviews on the web and you may also want to visit BJ Shea's Geek Nation and listen to all 5 episodes of the podcast of Rob Heinsoo running the hosts through character creation and a short bit of play.

There is still a lot I do not know about the 13th Age RPG so I am non-committal about purchasing it until I learn more. Any reader insights are welcome in the comments!

1 comment:

Ashley said...

Since I introduced my players to this, I'm hard pressed to get them to play anything else. It's definitely worth a buy even if it's only to pick apart and add your favourite bits to your other games. It's been a long time since a game made me over-enthusiastic to the point of being told to be quiet about it, so I probably shouldn't give you a FULL run down, but here's the main points (for me, at least).

Backgrounds. One thing that's always irked me is why a class of character gets specific class skills, as if every fighter was raised the same way. Not so in 13th. With backgrounds instead of skills, you pick your own class skills, basically, but it goes even further than that. A rogue with Circus Acrobat may leap through a trap room using DEX to avoid the trap. A wizard with Puzzle Master may roll his INT to carefully choose his steps. A barbarian with Desert Survivor may just barrel through with a CON check to see if he can brush aside the trap.

Classes. For far too long, there has been an approach that makes all classes need to feel the same. This is good on one hand, but boring, ultimately. Each class in 13th has it's own mechanic, meaning that while one class never out-paces another in terms of power, you get a new game experience every time you roll a new class. Rogues have momentum. THey can only perform certain attacks after they've hit someone, but not if they've just been hit. Rangers get the opportunity to make multiple attacks per round. Barbarians deal a lot of damage even on misses (frenzied flailing with a greatsword will do that).

Story. Story takes precedence. If you'd rather your character be defined by who she is rather than what he can do, then get 13th Age. The descriptions the players come up with even help shape the world, meaning that reusing a campaign world could even lead to a vastly different game.