Last night I ran the first of a 2-part session of 13th Age, a game that is a strong favorite to be the system I convert my 4e campaign over to. It didn’t go as smoothly as I’d hoped but I still have faith. This system still “feels” like a right fit to me.
13th Age is a d20-based fantasy game. What another one? Yes, but this one is by Jonathan Tweet and Rob Heinsoo, two names with strong game development kung-fu. Right now the game is in “pre-release” stage; you can pre-order it from the link above and you get a draft pdf. It’s gone through a number of extensive playtesting rounds but its far from finished. Still I couldn’t wait to get my mitts on this game. It’s closer to 4e than other d20 variants in a number of ways but strips out a lot of the complexity of other versions and replaces it with a shot of indie game narrative control.
For example, where other games present players with a fixed laundry list of Skills, 13th Age uses “Backgrounds”, which are free-form player-created short phrases, much like Distinctions in the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying game or Tweet’s own Over the Edge. The result, I think, encourages players to be more creative to solve skill-based problems and requires that they think a little bit about their character background/values.
For this two-shot I statted up characters beforehand but left off the Backgrounds, the Relationships (connections the character has to the 13 most powerful NPCs/factions in the world) and the character’s One Unique Thing. Every 13th Age character has a Unique Thing about them, and developing these can help to shape the campaign world as well as defining the character and what makes them special.
(more behind the break, but hey you can download the actual audio of our session here! (please please right click and Save Link As instead of just streaming))