13th Age – My First Game is Complete

13th Age character
Elendir – Image Courtesy of rare wallpapers.com

Elendir Moonweaver eyed off the floating island of the Archmage knowing that something here was very wrong.  She had a birds eye view as she was flying in on the back of a giant raven.  She could see the people below going about there business but there was a feeling in the pit of her stomach that there was a tale to tell.  As a Half Elven Bard experienced as a battle skald she would find that tale and inspire her companions in battle with its tale and how it fits in this 13th Age.

My First 13th Age Game

I had wanted to run a game of 13th Age after finishing reading the book some weeks ago but unfortunately my life has been filled with busy schedules, needy students and changing blogs!  This past week I saw an opportunity though that would allow me to become a player of this grand game with none other than Aaron R over at Google+ who does a lot of work with this game.  I am not going to tell you anything about the content of the game (apart from what you can glean from the in-character text above) but I am going to talk about my expectations of the game and if they were met or if they were not.

I like 13th Age a lot.  The game has a great focus and some nifty mechanics in it but I have just not had the time to run or watch a game recently.  To play in this game I had to actually make time (that is I got up at 4 in the morning to play a 5 o’clock kick off).  I was just glad to be playing it though and with a guy that knows so much about the game.  I have to hand it to him, Aaron is a top notch GM.  He had thought about all the right things and had me intrigued in this mystery that he laid out for us.

To the game though.  I played a 4th level female half-elf bard/battle skald as I was immediately interested in playing a character that acted as an enabler in tactical situations.  I got to make her story a couple of days ahead of the game including her backgrounds, one unique thing and her Icon relationships.  I had a lot of fun actually doing that and it was a very enjoyable task.  Unfortunately none of these were to come into play so I can’t really comment on them which is a shame as I had really wanted to look at the mechanic of the Icon relationship in 13th Age.

There were a couple of technical glitches through the game of people dropping out etc. and some time was lost to some of the “how to use roll 20” segment but the game got under way OK.  Up front there was a lot of description followed by a lot of role-play which was a good test of how the system prepared me for using the character.  I have to say that the character creation process of the one unique thing, background and Icon relationship had me in a place that I easily felt able to represent this character.  In fact these rules of 13th Age had me confident of how I would play her from the first moment so I was really happy with these mechanics.

Having had one of my in-person game players make a 13th Age character for me showed that this had the opportunity to make character creation a long process.  That said, from this experience I can see it as a long and valuable process that prepares the player to think about where they fit in 13th Age and that is a great thing right from the opening scene.  Much of what we played was role playing based as opposed to combat based though we came nowhere near finishing the adventure.  We got involved in one combat at the end and it opened my eyes to a couple of things.

Having looked at the book I thought that combat would be well streamlined and much faster than some of the battles that I run for Pathfinder.  In short, it wasn’t.  Sure, the players rolled poorly and the monsters got the better of us early on but I really felt that it would have been quicker with the 13th Age escalation die in play and the simplified rules surrounding weapons and damage choices.

I have to say that in combat I did not reach for a weapon BUT the abstraction of what type of weapon I had was not a huge concern to me.  13th Age uses a rather abstract focus on weapons where if a weapon belongs to a certain class they all do the same damage dice and are essentially the same weapon.  This did not bother me too much but when our Barbarian talked about her great sword I really wished that I knew what everyone else was fighting with.  I felt as if there was something missing here.

Secondly, I felt a bit restricted in the combat as I looked at the menu of options I had listed on the character sheet and I felt like I should only choose from those options.  That is not really what 13th Age says it should be like but as they are all laid out so plainly on the character sheet I just felt like that is all I should or could use.

The good thing in this was I was the one with the least experience in 13th Age.  Everyone else had played it before and understood the system really well.  I would have my turn and then while the others were acting I was busily looking for rules to see how certain things should be handled etc. but I think I got away with it.  13th Age has a certain something, that I can not deny.

Overall I had a good time in the game.  I was a bit perplexed as to why the combat did not run as fast as I thought it would and this will lead me to keep the dream alive of running this game in the future to test such theories.  The character generation process is right on the money and I really like the story focus that this game has.  After all, Aaron was play testing a module he was developing but he still made it feel like it was part of my character’s story and I think hat is because of the focus of 13th Age.  So overall, still a big smile and a happy bunch of thoughts after my first actual game of 13th Age.  Give it a try and keep rolling!

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