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[Let's Read] 13th Age Bestiary

Nate_MI

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Also, having the PC's scramble for ghoul coins and saying "they're not even real coins" would piss me off, as a player. Much better to say, "you've got a fortune in ghoul money that's only spendable over here *points to crapsack pirate port that the PCs have been avoiding like the plague*
Weirdly, 13th Age has much less of a Monty Haul situation than most D&D adaptations. There's magic items, but nothing to suggest that they're for sale and in fact I don't think there's a single equipment list in the entire game.
 

Bira

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It seems to me that the official setup for ghoul coins doesn't preclude the existence of a lively black-market exchange trade between them and official currency. Sure, the Empire officially hates them, but I'm guessing there would be plenty of less "official" places that would accept them as currency. Pirate ports, dubious necropoli, or perhaps Drakenhall the monster city has an official and exchange rate between them and its own currency, which is accepted in the Empire.
 

Nate_MI

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There's a note that ghoul coins can be turned in for a quarter of their stated value, just so the empire can melt them down, so I suppose some place might accept them at half or one third value. Just be careful if someone prefers to deal in ghoul coins!
 

Strange Visitor

Grumpy Grognard
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Weirdly, 13th Age has much less of a Monty Haul situation than most D&D adaptations. There's magic items, but nothing to suggest that they're for sale and in fact I don't think there's a single equipment list in the entire game.
About the only thing money is usable for under normal circumstances is buying expendable magic consumables (potions, oils, rune and such).
 

AndrewTBP

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I've used briar elves in my 13th Age campaign. They were enemies of the Stoneroost barbarian tribe.
I'm using them in my forthcoming 13th Age Glorantha campaign as Aldryami. Straight out of the Appendix. Also all the other plant and fungi monsters.
 

AndrewTBP

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I don't think there's a single equipment list in the entire game.
There is, in the core book, and it's an amusing read for Dragon Empire color. I used it the first time I played, carefully equipping my Halfling Rogue with gear appropriate to Background.
 

Nate_MI

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I've used briar elves in my 13th Age campaign. They were enemies of the Stoneroost barbarian tribe.
I'm using them in my forthcoming 13th Age Glorantha campaign as Aldryami. Straight out of the Appendix. Also all the other plant and fungi monsters.
They do work pretty good at Aldryami. Make those barbarians fear the woods.
 

Nate_MI

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Join us as we delve too greedily and too deep and uncover the secrets of the

Derro
Ages ago, the dwarves lived even deeper than they do now. Some unknown and unspoken-of calamity forced closer to the surface. Some, though, refused to leave even as they were driven mad by the horrid magic of the deep places of the earth. These twisted, mad specimens became derro, terrors of the deep, dark places.

Derro exist almost as dark reflections of dwarves. Rather than barrel-chested and bearded warriors in heavy armor, derro are gaunt figures with pale, nearly translucent skin. They shave their facial hair and their heads into bizarre, frightening patterns and practice ritual scarring and disfigurement. It's not for beauty -- everything a derro does is designed for pain. Derro are universally cruel and sadistic and if that sounds like it wouldn't be a sustainable society, you'd be right! They are constantly fragmenting and reforming into cells, warbands, and raiding parties as they seek to enslave and murder all other races. The derro don't make anything -- they raid and steal for what they want, pillaging weapons, food, slaves, and magic items. Prisoners don't last long before they become ritual sacrifices or food.

Because of their madness, derro are immune to the confused condition unless they don't want to be.

Your average madman is a derro berserker, a 3rd lvl Troop [Humanoid] with 40 HP. They attack with scavenged weaponry vs AC for damage and on a natural 16+ the target takes ongoing damage. When the berserker is staggered it deals extra damage, and its madness allows it a form of damage resistance where it ignores some of the damage it takes each turn.

Even among derro, there is disdain for the fallen derro, 3rd lvl Mooks [Humanoid] with 9 HP apiece. They attack with dirty fists and bites vs AC for damage and on a nautral 16+ they deal ongoing damage. When a fallen derro dies it unleashes a psychotic scream vs MD. If a target is hit, it is dazed. If the natural roll is above the target's Wisdom score, the target is confused as well, until after its next turn.

The core book gives us the derro maniac, a 4th lvl Troop [Humanoid] with 52 HP. They attack with a shortsword vs AC for damage and on a natural 16+, they can unleash a squeal that causes thunder damage to everyone nearby. At range they can use a light repeating crossbow vs AC for damage and on a natural 16+ they cause ongoing poison damage, and on a natural 19+ they can make another crossbow attack as a free action! There's no limit on that, so a particularly lucky derro could ping down the entire party.

The second derro in the core book is the derro sage, a 4th lvl Caster [Humanoid] with 40 HP. They have a staff vs AC for damage, and on a natural 16+ their magic gives all nearby derro a bonus to attacks and defenses. Their other attack is a mind scream vs MD for psychic damage and the target is confused until the end of the derro sage's next turn. On a natural 16+ the derro sage can make another mind scream attack against a nearby target as a free action.

Back in the Bestiary we'll find the derro whisperer, a 4th lvl Archer [Humanoid] with 52 HP. They can use an obsidian blade vs AC for damage, but they prefer to use their cutting whisper vs MD for psychic damage. On a natural even miss the target's ally still takes psychic damage and on a natural 16+ the target is stuck (save ends).

The last one we'll look at is the derro seer, a 4th lvl Leader [Humanoid] with 50 HP. They can use a clubstaff vs AC for damage or they can utilize ripples of dark magic vs PD to cause force damage. On a natural 16+ the target is teleported to somewhere the seer can see, potentially messing up the party's defensive line or pulling a spellcaster in melee. As a quick action once per turn, a seer can proclaim a prophecy of death on a given enemy. Any ally has an attack bonus against that target and if it falls, the ally who struck the last blow gets to heal. Only one such target can be marked that way per seer.

Derro are too mad to work with most creatures. Sometimes drow will manipulate raiding parties of derro to attack their enemies, but even then the silver elves don't like to spend time near them. Sometimes derro will train creatures like dire rats, or will use jellies as traps. What derro like to do above everything else, though, is to hitch a ride on a living dungeon. In the belly of a dungeon, anyone can be an ally.

Icons
- Derro should be beneath the notice of the Archmage, but they aren't. Perhaps there's something to the rumor that derro don't just ride living dungeons but they know the secrets to controlling them.
- Dwarves are obviously the most common target of derro attacks, so the Dwarf King maintains a bounty on them. There's not much more he can do; expeditions of dwarves into the deeper underworld to clear them out just end up with well-armed derro. Perhaps some adventurers can be convinced to help with a particular derro infestation?
- Haughty elves claim there's not much difference between a derro and other dwarves. Sensible elves who don't want to be chopped in the knees keep quiet about it.
- Even orcs would prefer to avoid derro than attack them. That's how crazy the deep dwarves are.

Adventure
- A town near Anvil has torn itself apart in a frenzy of violence for no good reason. When the adventurers investigative, they're ambushed by derro dressed like the townspeople! Is this a derro plot, more madness by the deep dwarves, or something more sinister?
- Magical alarms have detected a living dungeon, piloted by derro, making a beeline for a particular village. If the heroes can't stop the dungeon and the derro, the entire town will be swallowed whole.
- A dwarf scholar thinks he can cure derro, but to try his serum the PCs will have to capture some alive...

Thoughts
Derro are a classic D&D monster, using the old method of "good race but now they're all evil." Rather than the sadism and elegance of the drow we have madness and savagery. This version of the derro works for me. I like that the writing leans into the notion that evil, sadistic societies don't work by having them constantly split apart and reform. The note about ritual scarification has the potential to fall into "non-European societies = savage & evil" problem that a lot of older D&D had, so GMs should tread carefully there.

Up Next: The multiverse, you say?
 

Lord Shark

Varoonik!
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They do work pretty good at Aldryami. Make those barbarians fear the woods.
The briar elves remind me of the Nightmare Court from Guild Wars 2; for those who haven't played GW2, the elf stand-ins are a race of plant people, who have an evil counterpart who go in for thorns and corruption in a big way.

I also like the mechanic where a group of derro can do psychic damage every round just from their insane chanting. I adapted it for a gang of bullywugs in one of my games.
 

Bira

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Earthdawn has something similar to the Briar Elves, IIRC. That setting is kinda post-apocalyptic in that it was invaded by lovecraftian Horrors who recently left and every existing civilization is defined by the strategies they used to deal with tha

The elves of a charming place called the Blood Wood used a ritual to make themselves unappetizing to the Horrors, which caused thorns to grow from their bodies. They're in perpetual pain from the thorns, which as you might expect does wonders for their disposition.
 
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