13th Age: Module and Appendices

Well, I am sad to say that I have reached the end point of this book.  That is a huge thing to say right there because I am literally sad that I do not have more of this book to read.  It is so well written and so well thought out.  More than likely means that I will be investing in the 13 True Ways PDF in a very short amount of time just so I can get some more 13th Age Goodness.

Obligatory selfie 🙂
But enough soppy poor me rubbish, let us talk about the introductory adventure in the back of the book as well as the appendices.  I will start with the adventure though titled Blood and Lightning it is an adventure designed to take starting characters through to 2nd level while introducing some of the major points of 13th Age to them along the way.

The adventure is really quite a small adventure and it could almost fit into a single gaming session of three to four hours.  The adventure has the players fight some critters, undertake some roleplaying with some NPC’s in a cChampion environment.  Do a task for the NPC’s and then a climactic battle at the end.  Reading this adventure I thought “Wow, that is short” and that it is too short to get the players to level up to 2nd level, but then again they do say in the running the game chapter that first level is one of those levels you want to go by quickly to get the players into a more capable position.

The adventure does introduce the concepts well though.  The icons play a good healthy part here and there a good range of true Magic Items on show to detail how this game is different.  I am also going to sidetrack here and say that one of the strengths of this system is that role-playing matters just as much as anything else.  The reason behind this is that there is no experience points and so the discussion that is had with the NPC’s at a tower in this adventure is just as important as any other part in the game.

I know someone who plays Pathfinder or 3.5 or 4E are about to jump on me about that comment so let me clarify it.  In a game like Pathfinder roleplaying is only important in a situation where you can “lose” something.  For example, in the recent weeks of my Reign of Winter game the players came across a Treant that was suffering a mental disease.  The PC’s could either kill it or cure it, one path requires combat skills one role playing and skills.  In that circumstance the role-playing matters.  But say a character wants to chat up the bar man and develop their character’s personality they would likely earn no experience for the encounter.  In fact generally role playing in situations which give you information with no risk provide no experience points at all and therefore it is not often valued as a player.  With 13th Age there are no experience points although they do suggest the players level after 4 full rests which are 16 encounters I am going to change that so that it is just after a number of sessions.  that will mean that role-playing matters just as much as swinging a sword or casting a spell.

The module is a good introduction to the game and its style has given me as a GM good ideas on how to build my own work.  I do not think that I will use this adventure in my first game but I may use it later on to introduce my in-person game to the system.
Time to get some designing in!

The appendices start with a glossary of all the terms in the game which is nice.  I love games that do this as it gives me at least one place to find a brief description of a concept if not the full rule.  What is nicer is the glossary actually points you to the page number of the full rule so you can go further if you need to.  Following the glossary there is an Icon index which gives you pages in the book that contain hooks for adventures based on a particular icon.  That will be great help to me as I work on my skills with the Icons.

After the obligatory d20 licence page we have a brief description of the Icons laid out again and the remainder of the appendices lay out all of the important charts of the game.  Brilliant, I was a bit worried that when I built a GM screen that it would take me ages going through the PDF to print out the pages I need and here they are all in one place.

And I am done.  The read through of this game has been great.  I thoroughly enjoyed the 13th Age take on Fantasy and feel that this system has warranted so much attention because it has incorporated modern techniques in RPG’s in a unique fashion.  It also helps that this book is so well written.  The writing is straight forward with a laconic focus.  There is good use of humour in the book and it is written with gamers in mind, which may be an odd comment to make but I have read plenty of RPG’s which aren’t written for the gamers, they are written for the authors.

The one thing that I appreciated the most in this book was that +Rob Heinsoo and +Jonathan Tweet both shared their own house rules with us in side bars and mini conversational pieces.  Not only did they share the house rules but they shared the reasoning for them and when an author of an RPG thinks of us enough as players of that game to do that in a straightforward manner you know you are playing the right kind of game.  If you have not got this game, get it.  If you have already purchased it, I hope you are making the most of it.  13th Age is one hell of a game.  Keep rolling!

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