13 Deadly Venoms

September 22, 2012 by

It’s been a few weeks since I went on and on about 13th Age

So early in the playtesting there was a Monk class in the core rulebook. There were rules up to about level 5 Rob and Jonathan decided to pull it out because they felt it wasn’t ready for prime time. It will be included in the Kickstartered (and awesomely overfunded) 13 True Ways supplement due out next year.

But here’s the problem: I’m switching my campaign over from 4e to 13th Age, and I have a Monk in the party. Because my characters were about to enter the Epic tier, we converted over at 8th level.  And as I noted above, the draft stuff only went as high as lvl 5, and even that wasn’t complete (it is a beta document after all).

Which meant it was up to me to homebrew some extra stuff. I present it here in case anyone else finds themselves in the same boat, wanting to run an epic tier monk and not willing to wait until 13 True Ways drops to satisfy that itch. It’s not a full-on expansion to bring the class up to full options, but it’s one Epic tier Talent and a 7th level Form, and a handful of feats. It was all I needed for my campaign at present but I may make some other things up later.

Feel free to swipe,  but if you do please add a homebrew talent, feat or form of your own here.

(and no, I won’t post the partial Monk stuff from the earlier playtest.)

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Terraclips: Adventures in the Third Dimension

September 9, 2012 by

A confession: I’ve always loved looking at miniatures dioramas and terrain. I don’t play any tactical miniatures games (partly due to cost and partly because I completely lack any tactical sense), so I’ve always just admired from afar. But I always admired the setups at cons, and the first time I saw some Dwarven Forge stuff I needed new pants. But I knew that was more of an investment than I really wanted to sink into a hobby (pay no attention to the sagging bookshelf of games I haven’t ever played!!). And I’m just not crafty enough to do papercrafting.

Recently I came across some the sets of Terraclips at a local store and fell in love all over again. Configurable heavy cardboard terrain. They had a set of Buildings, Streets and Sewers out, and 3 Dungeon based sets dropping in late August (some really awesome pictures and info here). I liked the first 3 sets but didn’t love them – I thought the usefulness of streets and sewers to my personal game was limited, and the buildings were all wooden inn-like structures. But the “Vaults of Ruin” set from the new Dungeon Rise line really caught my eye. The “Dungeon Essentials” had a lot of the basics but was heavy on traps and such. The “Prison of the Forsaken” was full of torturey goodness but seemed a little specific. but Vaults had lots of crumbling walls and archways and I could see using it either for dungeons or as an outdoor ruined temple or a dozen other things. To my eye it had the greatest versatility, so I started there.  I ordered a set from my Friendly Local Game Shop, and here’s what I got. Read the rest of this entry »

A couple more 13th Age things

September 6, 2012 by

1. Session 3 of my one-shot went very well. It was an evening of almost entirely combat – 2 encounters plus some stuff in the middle. The encounters went very nicely and there was some sweet improvised stunting.

At one point the characters were on an airship that was plummeting to the ground, out of control.

Len (whose character had taken the ship’s helm and was looking for a place to crash land): “Is there a body of water nearby? or some woods?”
Me: “Well, there’s the Queen’s Wood…”
Len: “Do you think she’d mind?”

Next up for us is converting the characters from our 4e game!

2. Support the Kickstarter to fund the first supplement (which will include the Monk, Druid and Chaos Shaman classes as well as some really sweet setting stuff like Living Dungeons, which are awesome).

3. One thing my players didn’t like was the character sheet. The defenses are on the front (or page 1) but the basic attacks are on the back (or page 2), leading to constant flipping. So the redoubtable John O’Brien cut and pasted up a one-page version from the one that was provided. Since it was directly derived from their sheet I checked with Rob Heinsoo before posting it, and he said okay, 13th Age- New Sheet!

4. Dan – you remember Dan? From the last post? – played a demo at GenCon. Here’s his report:

Read the rest of this entry »

[Descent] Pixels iactae sunt

August 25, 2012 by

Yes yes, I know it’s all Descent and 13th Age all the time here lately. They’re my 2 current obsessions. Give it a week. And this is useful for other games as well, so get off my furry feathered ass. (also, I’m totally stabbing in the dark on the Latin up there.)

ANYWAY, Descent second edition uses different dice than the first edition. Which made me a sad owlbear, because I’d bought a bunch of extra sets if 1e dice. Also, FF isn’t selling extra sets of 2e dice (yet.  If there’s a penny to be sucked out of my pockets, FFG will find a way to do it).
So I poked around online and the folks at the Board Game Geek forum had the answer, at least for a digital replacement. Read the rest of this entry »

13th Age Seminar at GenCon

August 22, 2012 by

Friend of the Blog and general sexy beast Dan went to GenCon last weekend and files this report…

My time at GenCon was very limited this year, so I was reduced to the following two humble hopes:

  1. Leave GenCon with the same exact number of diseases as I had when I walked in (CON CRUD!!)
  2. A better understanding of 13th Age

The jury is still out on #1, but my understanding of 13th Age is much, much better after I sat in on a seminar, and then subsequently played in a demo run by Rob Heinsoo. Read the rest of this entry »

Descent (Second Edition) Actual Review

August 19, 2012 by

Last night I did something I’d long though impossible: I played a game of Descent to completion in about an hour.

Now, this was the introductory scenario for the Second Edition and it is designed to be a pretty quick encounter.  The board is tiny – only 2 “rooms” and some connecting “hallway” pieces.  And there aren’t many baddies to deal with – 2 ettins and a handful of goblins. But still, an hour. And it was fun.

Here then are my observations (aside from “it runs shorter”) on the second edition of Descent: Read the rest of this entry »

Changing Horses Pt 4, 13th Age part 2

August 19, 2012 by

We ran our second session of 13th Age this past week.  The overall verdict was very good. Everyone had a better handle on the characters and the rules this time around and things went much smoother.

I decided not to record this session for a couple of reasons, primary of which being that recording made me incredibly self-conscious the first time out.  Another big reason was that this session tied in very strongly with some stuff in the overall 4e campaign, and without that context I think the listener would be pretty confused.  Lastly, I knew this session was going to be a lot of talking/planning/thinking things through which would only barely touch the system at all (with some background tests and relationship checks) and although we are wildly entertaining I didn’t think that would have much interest for the half dozen or so of you who are reading this but not actually in the game. Read the rest of this entry »

Interlude – Descent: Journeys in the Dark, Second Edition proto-review

August 9, 2012 by

(Changing Horses will return this coming week, when I run the next 13th Age session. In the meantime…)

Descent is probably my favorite boardgame, although I always found it flawed in a number of ways. A session could easily run 4-5 hours, the rules required extensive FAQing and clarification and boy howdy were there a lot of bits and pieces, both physical and informational, to keep track of.

All that said, I still didn’t hesitate long before ordering the second edition of the game.  The rules are posted on the Fantasy Flight Games website so you can take a peek. I liked what I saw there enough that buying it was a foregone conclusion.

The big changes between first and second edition: no glyphs or going back to town, no money to manage (except in the campaign rules), no treasures or chests, no threat or conquest tokens, characters have classes that determine their abilities instead of random card draws, combat is now done with opposed rolls instead of static armor value.  Other than that last one, these all sound like great ideas to speed up and streamline the game. That last one, I don’t know. It feels like it might slow things down but who knows. One of my other favorite boardgames (Star Wars: The Queen’s Gambit) uses opposed combat rolls and I feel like it makes things more exciting there so I’m not completely “opposed” (I’m so very, very sorry) to the idea.

The rules claim a 1-2 hour playtime. Between the simplification of the game and what looks like simplified, shorter scenarios that looks about right to me.

This pseudo-review is based on reading the rules and looking over contents of the box. I haven’t had a chance to play yet but will post a follow-up when I do. Read the rest of this entry »

Changing Horses Pt 3: 13th Age Part 1

July 26, 2012 by

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))

Read the rest of this entry »

Changing Horses Pt 2: Savage Worlds

July 15, 2012 by

This past Wednesday the group kicked the tires on Savage Worlds as a possible contender as a new system for our D&D campaign. I was really in my heart of hearts looking more for a d20 based game so it wasn’t such a system shock, but I liked what I saw in SW and decided to give it a whirl. Read the rest of this entry »


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