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What are the 'use cases' for using DnD5e over 13th Age?


Thoroughly mediocre GM.
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I really hope that this thread doesn't turn into a war, and so I apologise to any mods and readers if this goes awry!

I think that there are reasons to play each DnD edition. Even if I personally prefer DnD4e to 5e, for example, I can see why some might prefer 5e - like a slimmed down combat system, a trimmed action economy, lower bonuses, and so on.

But when I look at 5e and 13th Age - I'm sort of struggling to see what itch 5e scratches that 13th Age doesn't?

Both of them are fantasy fighting and dungeon/[dangerous place]-exploring RPGs, that have levels and races and classes.
Both are simpler in their own way than 4e.
13th Age is actually gridless, something that 5e was hyped up as going back to despite having everything measured in 5foot increments, adjacency, etc.
13th Age also has backgrounds, although they're more freeform, and give more freedom in what skills apply to them.
13th Age probably does a better job of class balance on the whole - either way, everyone scales roughly evenly.
13th Age generally has more interesting and more concise monster design - although it admits that its own challenge level system is wonky in the case of monster abilities, it does hold all monsters to mostly the same numerical building blocks.

And lastly, getting way out of the realm of any actual published material, and so this shouldn't be taken as a serious comparison point - 13th Age has a pretty neat 'Death to Ability Scores' variant where you can just assign backgrounds to combat stats - no more needing to roll 4d6-drop-1, or point buy, or pick an array.

What am I missing about 5e that would make it more attractive to someone?


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I like both games, but currently I like 5e more.

- Bounded accuracy and overall smaller numbers (HP, etc - "HP inflation" is one thing I don't like about 13th age).
- Adding +level to everything is a bit much for my tastes. I preferred 4e +1/2 level. Although I dislike 5e´s "+0 if not proficient", and 13th age has only 10 levels IIRC... But I like the extra levels.
- I dislike the thing where you roll the dice to find out if you can hit with your shield, etc.
- I like 5e saves and AC better than 13th Ages.
- It is D&D. It is more popular, easier to find players, etc.
- TO ME, 5e feels a lot easier to tweak.
- Most of all, the most awesome parts of 13th age can easily be used in 5e. Backgrounds, OUT, escalation die, etc.

13th age is a great game, thought.

EDIT: also, 13th age has too many feats and, specially "kinds" of feats for my tastes.
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Vitruvian manticore
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Speaking as a big fan of 13th Age, I'm pretty sure that the main draw of 5e is that it is much more respectful of the 'sacred cows' of D&D, which 13th Age slays with reckless abandon.

Remember the outcry among some folks over a single build of one class that did damage on a miss with melee attacks in 5e. 13th Age has that for Every. Single. Class.

From the perspective of those of us who like innovation, it doesn't seem that radical; but by the hidebound standards of traditional D&D, 13th Age is the rebellious younger sibling with an eyebrow piercing.

Doctor Crunch

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There are things I really like about 13th age (one unique thing, zones, escalation die), but 5E manages to combine being a little more flexible, a little less fiddly, and a lot smoother. Nothing wrong with 13th Age. It just spends a lot of time on "if you roll even x if odd y, on Tuesday z" and not enough on "what the heck does 'hoopy frood who knows where his towel is' mean as a skill." Also, there's enough baked in setting to get in the way of homebrew, without it being enough to inspire me.

Just my taste though. Both games are fine. I am SUPER impressed that the 13th Age crew started with 4E and ended up with a game as good as 13A.
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Sir Corvus

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I love both games a hell of a lot, but right now I'm using 5e because it has fewer "feats" and "powers" to keep track of. Not that they're bad in 13th Age. It's just a playstyle thing.

In a perfect world I'd have three campaigns going on at the same time: 5e D&D, 13th Age and Dungeon World. Frankly, my house rules combine all three (especially the 13th Age Bestiary: what a work of art!).


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I chose to use 5e for my current campaign (a player-driven hex crawl), and had a great time using 13th Age for my previous D&D-type game (investigation/big-damn-heroes action in Eberron).

The biggest reason for me was that 5e feels more down-to-earth and traditional, while 13th Age feels like it has that big-damn-heroes style baked into it. That comes from a mix of what powers characters get, how hard characters are to kill, how magic items are designed and capped in each system, etc. Based on that, the feel of 5e was a better match for what I was aiming for with my game (relatively traditional D&D world, little fish in a big pond). Beyond that, I changed groups since my 13th Age campaign - some of my current players are not fond of Backgrounds (which is a pity, since I personally love them), and one of them loves the ol' D&D-Puzzle-Wizard thing, which 5e does better than 13th Age.

That said, I do miss many parts of 13th Age, especially in terms of monster design - it just has so many brilliant monsters. I got Eyes of the Stone Thief recently as a gift, and it's also brilliant... I expect I'll be adapting pieces of it for my 5e game.
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Old & New-School Gestalt
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The biggest reason for me was that 5e feels more down-to-earth and traditional, while 13th Age feels like it has that big-damn-heroes style baked into it.
Mostly the above.

They are now my two favorite games (and the only ones I currently collect) and feel very different in play. 13th Age is noticeably more narrativist. I don't mind GMing both games (which I've done but my players chose to stick with 5E) but I'd rather play 13th Age (which I'm also doing). You can make more colorful characters with it, there's no "copper counting" involved, and you can get involved in epic quests right out of the box. On the other hand, 5E offers the familiarity and rich history craved by many. It's essentially high quality vanilla ice cream.

Both are fine games but 5E takes the "zero to hero" approach while 13th Age goes for "hero to superhero".
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Both great games, but IMHO here's the edge cases:

13th Age works best for smaller more consistent groups. Since %age-wise every player should be able to get an Icon interaction every session I would hate to try to use more than 3-4 Icon rolls per session. That will limit the number of players you have. The narrativist focus others have mentioned makes it harder to have players "in a plot hole" for a session. And may the gods help you if you rolled Icon relationships before the session and the player who's Icon roll was going to be key can't make it. I personally have a hard time running theatre of the mind with more than ten characters on the board, but that may just be me. And forget about having players at different levels. The power difference is noticeable.

5e works better than 13A in larger groups where attendance can shift. Bounded accuracy means you can have players at different levels and can still contribute in fights. If your a mapmaking kind of DM, combat with minis is a lot more rewarding...and a bunch easier for bigger fights. Player turns run faster, so you're less likely to lose player interest as they wait for their turn. I think 5e is easier to plan ahead for, because their are fewer moving parts plotwise.

If I was running a game for my family a couple times a year, I'd run 13A. If I was running a side game for my local gaming buddies, it would be 5e.


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- ... (HP, etc - "HP inflation" is one thing I don't like about 13th age).
Given that 13th Age levels are definitely not equal to their 5e counterparts, I see no real difference between both games here.
If 1st level characters have about 3 times the hit points a 5e 1st level character has, it's because they're equivalent to 5e 3rd level characters.

More problematic is the fact base attacks use dice pools which grow bigger with levels, however.
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First, background.

Played D&D since the mid-80s. We enjoyed 4e up until combats became a slog. Players don't like playtesting so we didn't get involved in that, and started playing 13th Age instead. 13th Age is generally our go-to game at the moment, but we don't use Icon relationships. We play a much more 'straight' version.

Reasons to play 13th Age

1. Epic Levels. Best handling of the Epic levels of any d20 system IMO. Yes, the hit points may get kinda crazy, but the combats at 10th level are barely longer than they are at 1st, because of how 13th Age handles powers as you go up in level. If I were to play a Mystara campaign? I'd use 13th Age easily.

2. Set Piece Battles. Now, admittedly I haven't played 5e, but reading through it and having played 2e and 3e, I get the feeling that 13th Age still would do the set piece battle better. I'm talking the big complicated, dramatic-end-of-movie battle. 13th Age is based on encounters, whereas 5e, like the earlier editions, is more of a 'resource based' game.

3. Monsters. The monsters in 13th Age IMO are more varied with lots of neat things to do...and they don't require any referencing of spells in order to use them. Also, they've got a new take on many of the monsters (Basilisks man...basilisks) that are really cool.

4. Low prep. With 13th Age, you can sit down, have a grain of an idea for that evening's session, roll some Icon dice to see who the main players are, and you can go. It's very easy to improvise (no maps!).

5. No grid. Honestly, any game I play now I'm going to house rule into a no-grid format anyway. 13th Age's Engaged/Nearby/Far Away system is sooooo smooth.

Reasons to play D&D 5e

1. Dungeon Crawling. If you're looking for that old school experience of exploring dungeons, and mapping, and dealing with traps, and individual monsters, and random encounters, and such. D&D is far superior to 13th Age IMO. 5e is more fluid from encounter to encounter...lots of little ones as opposed to a few big ones in 13th Age. That doesn't mean that 13th Age can't do dungeon crawls...(see Eyes of the Stone Thief)...but it does them differently.

2. Old School Feel. If you're wanting a unified spell list, which all spellcasters dip into, 5e is it. If you're wanting to use spells as elements to puzzle solving, 5e works wayyyyyyyyy better.

3. Adventure Paths and D&D Classics. If you're looking to play published adventures, especially the ones WotC is putting out now, go with 5e. I've tried converting a Pathfinder AP to 13th Age and....it just doesn't work very well.
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