13th Age : The Character Classes

I have now read the character classes in the main book and I have to say that I am still very impressed with this game and its focus on story in nearly every mechanic and area that I read.  This is a game that is totally about the role play over the roll play.  Its primary focus from a character point of view is the telling of interesting stories around the table, and having the characters be the main focus for the majority of the game.

Before I talk about the classes at an individual level I will say that some of the classes have a real focus on how they interact with the Icons of the game.  As I stated in a previous post, I am not a real fan of the Icons.  I know that they are a mechanic designed to assist design and storytelling but I just do not like having them forced on me.  I can design a story with iconic characters in it with any system, I do not need them forced on me.  By tying some of these character classes talents and spells to the Icons you force this mechanic to be used and I was disappointed to see that here.  That said, my dislike of the Icons is not so deep that I want to throw away the book and read no more.  In fact it is far from it and the focus of the rest of the game is so brilliant that I really want to play it regardless.  So, on to the character classes.

Barbarian

As with most games of the d20 variety, we start with the barbarian.  Arnold Schwarzenneger must be proud that a staple of the fantasy genre for so long has been the magic allergic beefy barbarian!  I have to say up front with this, each class is described from a point of view about how easy they are to play.  This gives players a great idea about how involved they need to be.  Great job people!  
A very good read thus far
The barbarian is a nice simple character and tends to focus on combat (strangely enough!).  There are some really nice touches but my favourite is the Ancestral Warband power.  The colour that would bring to a fight would be phenomenal and though the other Epic Tier feat is probably the best mechanically to choose I would go Ancestral Warband every time.

Bard

There is so much colour to play with when you take a bard in this game.  It is literally hard to pick the best bits in this class because they are all so good!  The bard is one of the classes that is tied up with the Icons a little, which makes sense as the tales that bards propogate would matter to the Icons and the bard might get repercussions because of them.  The talents lend brilliantly to the story telling style of the class and the bardic ability to cast spells through their magic.

The bard offered me my first insight into spells for 13th Age and I have to say that I can understand why I have heard great things about the system of magic.  There are few spell choices but the spells increase in power and often flexibility too as you level up!  This is a great idea and one that is just so well done in each of the classes that can cast spells.

A bard character also learns battle cries.  I think these were one of my favourite things in the read through as they offer some real colour in combat for the player whilst offering great benefits also.  If I were to take a bard character in a game I am fairly certain I would take the Battle Skald talent just so I could maximise the amount of battle cries I could use because they would be so much fun to roleplay in combat!

Cleric

I really like the flexibility that is inherent in the good old cleric.  The class is assumed to follow a group of gods rather than being devoted to just one.  But if you want to devote to just one you can do that too.  Oh, and what gods do they provide for you to follow? None!  Which is awesome!  They allow for you to use whatever you want, or just make it up as you go.  I love that!

There is a real combat focus to the class too which has gradually been veered away from in a lot of the other d20 style games.  In 13th Age there is a real focus on the cleric being that holy warrior style class and I know a player who would LOVE that in my game.  The cleric chooses talents in the form of domains and also picks up spells to boot!  The domains grant some nice powers and the spells are also brilliantly designed.

My main love of this class though is the Resurrection spell.  This spell is utterly brilliant in its style, story focus and just all round awesomeness.  It is a 7th level spell in this game and the cleric has a limited number of castings of the spell because each time they cast it it takes so much out of the character.  the first casting is nice and easy, the next takes a bit longer and leaves the character tired and so on until the 5th casting of the spell which kills you.  This is not a daily effect by the way, you can cast the spell only 5 times ever.  period.  That is it.  Brilliance!

Fighter

I have to say here that the fighter was probably my least favourite of all the classes.  I did like the way that the authors gave us up front ideas of if you want to play and then a style of play.  They then told you which talents to focus on which was really handy.  The fighter works off talents and manoeuvres which are good but the read was very technical focussed as opposed to the focus on story creating opportunities.

That is not to say that you could not play a fighter with a story focus, it is just that the talents and other abilities do not support it as well as other classes do.  I am not sure if the authors thought that the type of player that takes a plain fighter is more interested in hitting things than story.  If you want to play a strong story driven fighter make sure your one unique thing layers it on thick and use the points for your Icon relationships wisely!

Paladin

I like the take on the Paladin in this game.  They remove some of his expected abilities like spells and focus more on their role as combatants and servants of the gods.  They are a good class with some good talents to back them up.  I especially like the way that they use talents like Bastion to give the paladin a feeling of a protector class.

There is not a great deal to the paladin though and the simplicity makes it a good colourful class for beginners to sink their teeth into.

What class will I choose?

Ranger

This is a good take on the ranger class also.  There are some excellent talents to choose from which gives you some nice flexibility in the style of ranger that you are going to focus on.  There are some excellent talents that make this fighter-esque class truly move into a nice utility role.  I love the animal companion section of this class , not to mention the Fey Queen’s Enchantments talent.  They really make the class for me.

Rogue

The part of the rogue that makes me the most happy is the notion of momentum and the ability to use it for great effect in game.  In fact, if I ever have a rogue in a game of 13th Age it will be that and Swashbuckle that are the two most important things to me.  This allows for you to build up some amazing stunts from your characters perspective.  Good to grab the limelight!

Many of the talents for the rogue offer good opportunity for story telling and it is a great utility class.  The rogue also gets to beef up on rogue powers that allow for some great combat moves and some annoying defences (annoying for your opponent that is).  By and large though the rogue has the same focus as most of the other d20 games on the market.

Sorcerer

This is hands down my favourite class.  everything about this class is story geared.  In all other d20 games I do not feel there is a huge distinction between the Sorcerer and the Wizard but in 13th Age the Sorcerer is very very impressive.

The class acts much like a natural or wild magic well with chaotic occurrences with their magic essentially just a part of a normal day for them.  Their ability to gather power and cause their magic to double in effectiveness is equally impressive and gives the class a real themed focus.

If ever I sit at a table to be a player of 13th Age, this is the class for me.  I love everything about this class and am extremely impressed at the opportunities this class has to add to the story.

Wizard

The final class is the wizard and it gives a good representation of the spellcaster.  The focus here is really on the studied wizard as the manipulator of magic proper.  Tradition and focus is strong with this group as opposed to the wild sorcerer.  This class is also one of my favourites (it is funny because I rarely play spell casters) because of the excellent spells and talents available to them.

The most impressive talent to me in this class is Vance’s Polysyllabic Verbalizations which I spoke about in yesterday’s blog.  It just does so well at describing the focus of the game,  Fun story telling

So, there you have my thoughts on each of the classes in the main book.  I am now reading through the rule set that does not necessarily involve character generation and also includes the sections for GM’s so I expect to find some interesting material very soon.  I’ll share where I can, keep rolling 🙂

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