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Tell me of 13th Age please!

Chikahiro

Neo•Geo Fanboy
Validated User
So this thread has me looking at 4e once again. The edition I'm most in love with even though I've never read or played it.
https://forum.rpg.net/index.php?threads/what-did-d-d-4e-do-right.840771/

So, 13th Age comes up as well. I don't know much about it. Please tell me more!

For the record I consider miniature support to be very important as well as "cool combat" (4e and Iron Kingdoms RPG). Its not a deal breaker, but does influence things.
 

Eric_Diaz

Registered User
Validated User
So this thread has me looking at 4e once again. The edition I'm most in love with even though I've never read or played it.
https://forum.rpg.net/index.php?threads/what-did-d-d-4e-do-right.840771/

So, 13th Age comes up as well. I don't know much about it. Please tell me more!
Here is a comparison with 5e, if you're familiar with it.

https://methodsetmadness.blogspot.com/2017/01/fifth-edition-d-versus-13th-age-good.html

As you can see, I like 13A best in some respects, but overall prefer 5e (or my own system).

For the record I consider miniature support to be very important as well as "cool combat" (4e and Iron Kingdoms RPG). Its not a deal breaker, but does influence things.
FWIW, 13A does not use miniatures or even easy-to-convert distances. It is built with Theater of the Mind in... well, in mind. It is not good for minis.

Compare 13th Ages's "Combat is dynamic and fluid, so miniatures can’t really represent where a character ‘really is" to 4e's "Position is everything: With a battle grid, you can easily determine whether your character can see a monster, whether the monster has cover, and whether you flank the monster". There is a clear difference.
 

Chikahiro

Neo•Geo Fanboy
Validated User
FWIW, 13A does not use miniatures or even easy-to-convert distances. It is built with Theater of the Mind in... well, in mind.
D'oh. Like Numenera then. Which is fine, but does mean I wouldn't use it for my big gaming group.

I'll read up there :)
 

ezekiel

Follower of the Way
Validated User
If the miniatures combat is important to you, you may find 13A a little disappointing. It's not absolute TotM, but it feels to me too abstracted. The range bands still give me a headache if I think about them too hard (they don't consistently obey the transitive property for example: you can be "near" two or more people, all of whom are "far" from each other.)

However, as far as design goes, I think it's top-notch. They solved the 3e "druid problem" in a way that seems very elegant to me. And the Monk is a great martial-type class that has complexity without feeling at all like a spellcaster. If you can get your head around the Icons as "plot-driver NPCs/organizations," it's a good system with lots of interesting elements that don't feel like they get overly technical or bogged down.

It does only cover 10 levels, but the rules for doling out partial bonuses on the way to a full level-up are solid for keeping a game going for the long haul.
 

kvltjam

Async
Validated User
In short: it’s my favorite D&D-alike.

In not-so-short:

Given that the developers are Jonathan Tweet and Rob Heinsoo, you shouldn’t be surprised to see some design language from 3/4E D&D spill over. It’s got the complexity variance of 3E with a lot of the same power structure as 4E. The powers that classes get look like 4E powers, but they don’t hew so cleanly to AEDU. There’s more of a recharge mechanic tied to a good chunk of them. 1/battle and 1/day abilities are still there too. But not all classes get even this level of crunch. Barbarians, Paladins and Rangers (well, pre-13 True Ways) stick exclusively to minor combat-enhancing abilities and static bonuses.

Monster design is very straightforward and, again, the 4E influence shows. Stat blocks are self-contained, the math is standardized, and monsters can be thrown together on the fly since the math breaks down to just a few lookup tables. I find it extremely liberating. The math in the core book’s offerings is admittedly a little off, to the player’s benefit.

The two big innovations that 13A brings are the Escalation Die and the Icon Relationships. The Escalation Die gives the characters (and sometimes their opponents!) an escalating bonus to-hit, which in practice keeps battles going quickly. Icon Relationships have been a little contentious in my group - I like the unpredictable narrative options they give me as a GM, but some of my players don’t like player-authorship. There are other ways of handling them, but be prepared to do some digging online - the core book doesn’t do a good job of explaining it, and it actualy sort of admits this in a sidebar.

As others point out, combat is TotM, but abstracted into range bands like “Near” or “Far”. Having a map or some sort of battlefield sketch may come in handy just to keep the story straight in everyone’s heads, with the disclaimer that the map isn’t an exact representation of what’s going on.
 

ESkemp

Registered User
Validated User
I would definitely say that if you like fighting games, you would appreciate the monk. It's not Virtua Fighter complex, but it uses a simple combo system that is a lot of fun.

We use minis in our 13th Age game. There's not much for rules support, but your basic tracking of who's where or engaged with whom works without issue.
 
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Kuildeous

Registered User
Validated User
13th Age is my favorite D&D-type game. It still has much of the problems of D&D, but there are some mechanics that help make up for it. Like I tell people, whether or not you like 13th Age, there are great elements to steal for other games.

My favorite bits to steal include:
  • One Unique Thing - Your character has a trait that cannot be said about anyone else. It's mostly for story purposes and not a mechanical benefit, though it could give you some story advantages (or hindrances). This is interesting in that each character's OUT can define the story. My wife came up with a OUT of "Faced the Diabolist and lived." Instantly my wife defined the world as one where nobody else who's run afoul of the Diabolist has survived. So what made her special? Was the Diabolist incapable of harming her? Did she let her go? Were there other forces at play? This aspect is really cool, but it could really jack with your world.
  • Backgrounds - There is no skill list. You get 2 or more backgrounds and put points into them. If you were once a cat burglar, then you might get +3 to all tests that fall under the purview of cat burglars (sneaking, appraising something's worth on the fly, finding traps). If you were once a military advisor, you might get +4 to identifying fighting styles, enacting battle tactics, and knowing political facts. This is very obviously lifted from Over the Edge.
  • Icon Relationships - The open world of 13th Age gives you 13 high-level icons that shape the world. They're not quite gods, but they are very influential. Examples are the High Priestess, the Emperor, the Orc King, and the Diabolist. You can have positive, negative, or conflicted relationships with these icons, and if their influence has any sway over the current story (by rolling dice at the beginning of each session), then the GM has some tools to shift the story that way. For example, a negative influence with the Archmage could mean that the foe you face was once a student of the Archmage. Or maybe the treasure in the cave is part of a prophecy that could overthrow the Archmage.
  • Escalation Die - Each combat, the GM puts out a d6 starting on the 2nd round at +1. Each round, the die increments up to +6 by round 7. The Escalation Die is added to each PC attack. The nice thing about this is that combats tend to start off on the villains' side (since they are beefed up a bit in comparison) but as the fight moves on, the PCs are able to make a comeback. It allows for combats to finish more quickly than they were in D&D4. Some classes and monsters actually make use of the Escalation Die, including artificially bumping the die up or down.

And yeah, if you want miniatures, this game will not fulfill that itch like D&D4 did. I actually find this a point in its favor vs. D&D4, but that's because of my style. You can still use maps. You have foes that are Engaged, Nearby, and Far Away. If you want to use grid maps, I suppose you could. Engaged means base-to-base, Nearby could be within 30 feet (or 50 or 60), and Far Away is outside of that range. Give each PC a movement rate that is fitting for them, such as 30 feet. It won't give you the degree of control like D&D4, but it still lets you visualize what happens and gives you an idea of whether or not the fighter can truly intercept that incoming goblin or not.

I don't run D&D any longer because that game bugs me to GM, but I'm more apt to actually run some 13th Age games. In any case, I can steal bits from it for use in other games.
 

ezekiel

Follower of the Way
Validated User
What is the "druid problem"?
What does a Druid do in 3.5e?
- Cast spells like a "greatest hits" version of Wizard and Cleric (not a perfect analogy, but they have an excellent mix of healing, buffing, control, damage, *and* summoning)
- Shapeshift into things powerful enough to go toe-to-toe with any melee (without even *trying* for cheese!)
- Have an animal friend who's almost as good at fighting as a decently-built Fighter
- Have personal stats that still work decently for a little fighting themselves (medium armor, medium HP, scimitar or spear and shield)

In any other system, these would simply be broken into 3-4 distinct classes. In 3.x, they made a class so broken OP, even all the best splats in the WHOLE GAME only managed to improve it once (Planar Shepherd, the most overpowered prestige class ever made). 13A says, no, we can keep it one class, but prevent the ridiculous option overload: make players choose what kind of Druid they are.

Druids (like most classes) get some talents. They pick 3 at first level, which can be spent on initiate (basic, 1 talent) or adept (full, 2 talents) access to:
- "warrior" stuff (Fighter-like abilities, but Druid-focused)
- animal companion (adept gives a few pet-focused spells, too)
- wild healer
- shapeshifting
- terrain caster (natural spells reflecting a particular environment association)
- elemental caster (spells that evoke elements or summons elementals)

No more "Druidzilla." Anyone can get the parts of being a Druid that they like best, but no one gets all the goodies all the time.

Edit: I will say, I dislike the baseline Paladin. It gets very very few active options, and the ones it does are, ahem, bland as hell. This is something of a problem for me, see sig.
 

manwhat

Thoroughly mediocre GM.
RPGnet Member
Validated User
13th Age has a legit free SRD - so if anything mentioned in the thread interests you, you can click around in there for more info.
 
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