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[Let's Read] 13th Age Bestiary

Nate_MI

Formerly 'Raveled'
Validated User
Join us on a trip into another world as we look at

The Ebon Gauntlet
This is going to be a bit of a weird one because the Ebon Gauntlet is a weird concept. Essentially, if the Crusader is the iron fist then the Gauntlet is his darkened stiletto. They're inquisitors and investigators and assassins, elites of the Crusader's army and totally, fanatically loyal to the Crusader and his ideals. They are known for crossing the Empire in just a few days and while that isn't too remarkable in a setting with teleportation magic and airships, they method they use is. They travel into an alternate dimension known as the Echo; the entry doesn't have a lot of information on how the Echo differs from the main Dragon Empire except for a few details. One is that mental magic is more effective in the Echo, meaning that if the Crusader can drag them in there he can break the will and reshape the mind of even his most strident foe. Memories are reshaped and reworked with an even towards providing loyalty to the Crusader. Old traumas are emphasized and triumphs reduced, all with an eye towards making the convert a fanatic to the cause.

Those who are rebuilt this way can be recognized by a collar of dark iron they wear, inscribed with runes and symbols significant to the Crusader's dark gods. They may be a form of control over the Gauntlet or they may give the bearer more control over the desolate Echo, but along with the Crusader's banner it's the most reliable way to recognize agents of the Ebon Gauntlet. Not that many recognize what the collars mean, though, because the Gauntlet usually kills anyone they encounter.

The rank and file of the Gauntlet are Ebon Gauntlet swords, 4th lvl Troops [Humanoid] with 52 HP. They wield an echoing blade vs AC for damage, and on a natural even hit a duplicate of the sword appears and makes another attack versus the target. This only happens once per turn, and once the attack is done the duplicate disappears... or maybe the original disappears. You're never quite sure, when dealing with the Ebon Gauntlet.

A much nastier customer is the Ebon Gauntlet adjudicator, a large 5th lvl Wrecker [Humanoid] with 130 HP. They carry a blade of adjudication vs AC for damage and if they make a natural even hit they can use their other attack as a free action. Echo of decay vs PD causes ongoing negative energy damage that causes animals and plants near the target to wither and decay. The adjudicator also has a degree of regeneration, that can be forestalled by it taking acid or force damage.

A spellcaster who gets dragged into the Echo will find an iron mask clapped on their face and secured with an iron spike in either eye as they become an Ebon Gauntlet eye. This 6th lvl Caster [Humanoid] has 78 HP. They can cast touch of pain vs PD for damage or mind spike vs MD for psychic damage. They also have echo of nightmares vs MD for psychic damage and the target is hampered and dazed (save ends both); the target can avoid the effects by letting nearby allies take psychic damage as well. The eye can only use the last spell when it has already succeeded on at least one mind spike attack in an encounter.

If you want more warm bodies to throw at your players try a Guantlet's mascot, a 6th lvl Blocker [... Beast? Demon? Humanoid?] that has 70 HP. It looks vaguely like a dog in beaten iron armor, but it screams like a human and eats like a creature from the Abyss. It attacks with raking claws vs AC for damage and on a natural even hit the target takes a cumulative penalty to disengage attacks for the rest of the encounter. Or maybe just use a greater Ebon Gauntlet sword, a 7th lvl Troop [Humanoid] with 102 HP. It still has an echoing blade and still summons a duplicate, just with higher numbers.

The field leaders of the Ebon Gauntlet are the Ebon Gauntlet inquisitors, 7th lvl double-strength Leaders [Humanoid] with 190 HP. They wield a rune dagger vs AC for damage and on a natural even hit the target is weakened (save ends). They can also deliver the judgement of the Crusader vs MD for psychic damage. On a natural odd hit the target is forced prone, giving everyone an attack bonus against them. Once per turn, the inquisitor can even order an ally to make a free attack.

The Ebon Gauntlet are the elite strike force of the Crusader and so they could be found alongside any of the Crusader's regular forces, like enslaved demons or broken-spirited ogres or hordes of fanatical cultists. More often, though, they operate in small forces and use their paths through the Echo to attack specific targets.

Thoughts
The amount of use you get out of the Ebon Gauntlet is directly proportional to how much you use the Crusader in your games. I like the idea of a secretive, quiet killing force that has the same ruthlessness as the Crusader's hordes. The writing does a good job of making sure you realize these are not the good guys and it successfully ties them to their Icon in a satisfying way. That being said, I'm not sure how much use the Gauntlet will see unless the Crusader becomes a central figure in your games.

They do provide a fun way to have a villain recur at a higher level, though; deliver them into the hands of the Crusader and watch them come back with an iron collar around their neck.

Up Next: I'm not even sure if this entry exists.
 

NobodyImportant

Registered User
Validated User
Man, 13th Age gets dark when it talks about the Crusader. I guess it has to, to make the foremost demon-slayer of the setting an out-and-out villain.
 
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DannyK

One Shot Man
Validated User
I feel 13th Age’s most famous edgelord (and eligible bachelor) didn’t need a whole ‘nother dimension for his nightmare games.
 

AndrewTBP

You are Number 6
RPGnet Member
Validated User
The Crusader hasn't had much screen time in my campaign, but the Ebon Gauntlet showed up crewing a sky barge one session.
 

Leliel

SJ Road Warrior
Validated User
Man, 13th Age gets dark when it talks about the Crusader. I guess it has to, to make the foremost demon-slayer of the setting an out-and-out villain.
Keep in mind he's supposed to be an ambiguous icon, not a villainous one. His entire thing is asking everyone what they're willing to do to stop demons.

In other words, he's what happens when you take a D&D setting and drop a guy from Warhammer Fantasy into it, after telling him he can use Chaos' tools without being corrupted now. It's up to the players if he's a psycho or the only one who fully understands how bad things are. Either way, noble goals, horrific execution.

It's why he's probably my favorite icon, he asks some very pointed questions.
 

Nate_MI

Formerly 'Raveled'
Validated User
The Crusader is pretty much LE played properly. He's the Punisher in a fantasy setting, willing to do whatever it takes to destroy an enemy that pretty much everyone agrees is horrible enough that whatever he ends up doing is justified.
 

Strange Visitor

Grumpy Grognard
Validated User
The Crusader is pretty much LE played properly. He's the Punisher in a fantasy setting, willing to do whatever it takes to destroy an enemy that pretty much everyone agrees is horrible enough that whatever he ends up doing is justified.
Eh. I'm not sold that "Being protected from the demons destroying the world means being enslaved to the Dark Gods forever" is something that everyone agrees is an acceptable trade-off. Its just that a fair number of people only see some of what he's doing, so he can look like the lesser evil.
 

Nate_MI

Formerly 'Raveled'
Validated User
Eh. I'm not sold that "Being protected from the demons destroying the world means being enslaved to the Dark Gods forever" is something that everyone agrees is an acceptable trade-off. Its just that a fair number of people only see some of what he's doing, so he can look like the lesser evil.
Well he hasn't gotten to the whole "enslaving the world to the Dark Gods" thing yet. And a fair number of people think he never will, that the forces of the Abyss are endless. So it's setting an evil (the Crusader) to contain an evil (the Diabolist) and stopping either of them from mustering enough power to threaten the right-thinking folks of the Empire.
 
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