5E Jonathan Tweet & Rob Heinsoo: Making their own 5th Edition?
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  1. #1
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    Jonathan Tweet & Rob Heinsoo: Making their own 5th Edition?

    An interesting press release dropped into my inbox in the wee hours of this morning. It seems that Jonathan Tweet (lead designer on D&D 3E) and Rob Heinsoo (D&D 4E) have joined forced to create what they call their "love letter to their favorite dungeon-crawling fantasy game".

    While I don't currently know any more than what's in the release (which I've posted below in full), it talks of "a toolkit of rules that you can pick and choose from based on the kind of game you want to play", which is the type of verbiage we've heard coming out of WotC recently. And when Heinsoo says "I realized that together, Jonathan and I could make the version of the classic dungeon-crawling fantasy adventure game that we both really wanted to play now" it does sound like they're aiming straight at the post-4E market. With a release date of August 2012, it will beat D&D 5E by at least a year.

    Wade Rocket, who is handling the marketing for the game, said in his email to me: "Rob told me in our first conversation that they don't see 13th Age as something to play instead of 5e. Obviously it can be played as a standalone game, but DMs can also approach it as a collection of Rob and Jonathan's house rules for FRPGs, to pick and choose from as they see fit. When they call 13th Age a "love letter" to their favorite fantasy game (as the Heinsoo-penned playtest blurb says) it's not marketing fluff -- it's central to how they think of the game."

    Here's the full release:
    Veteran Game Designers Rob Heinsoo and Jonathan Tweet Announce 13th Age: a “Love Letter” to Their Favorite Dungeon-Crawling Fantasy Game

    Upcoming game to combine old-school aesthetics with innovations in independent game design

    Seattle, WA— This past weekend, Jonathan Tweet – lead designer of Dungeons & Dragons® third edition – spoke publicly for the first time about 13th Age, the new fantasy roleplaying game that he is designing with Rob Heinsoo, the lead designer of the fourth edition of D&D®.

    "Our goal with 13th Age is to recapture the free-wheeling style of old-school gaming by creating a game with more soul and fewer technical details,” said Tweet, who spoke alongside other game industry veterans on panels at Norwescon 35, a fantasy, science fiction and gaming convention in Seattle.

    Tweet continued, “13th Age makes the play group’s campaign the center of attention, with a toolkit of rules that you can pick and choose from based on the kind of game you want to play. The mechanics of 13th Age draw from classic games as well as newer, story-based games.”

    Players of 13th Age take the roles of fortune-seeking adventurers in a world where powerful individuals called Icons pursue goals that may preserve an ancient empire that teeters on the brink of chaos, or destroy it. When players create their characters, they decide which Icons their adventurers ally with, and which ones they oppose. These relationships, along with a personal history and a unique trait chosen during character creation, help define an adventurer’s place in the world of 13th Age and lay the groundwork for epic stories that emerge through play.

    An early draft of 13th Age is being playtested by more than 200 gaming groups around the world. The game will be published in August 2012 by Pelgrane Press under an Open Game License that will allow other designers to take advantage of its contents to create their own products.

    Although they can’t yet share details about 13th Age to others, playtesters have been enthusiastic about it on online message forums. Playtester Adam Dray said, “Tonight, the one player who comes to the game for mostly social reasons said after a test combat, ‘That was fun!’ and engaged with her character in a deeper way than she ever has.”

    Another playester, Eric Provost, said simply, "I want to play this until I can't play anymore."

    Rob Heinsoo says that the idea for the game grew out of his and Tweet’s experiences playing together in the same Seattle gaming group. “I realized that together, Jonathan and I could make the version of the classic dungeon-crawling fantasy adventure game that we both really wanted to play now. Also, if we found the right publisher, we could entertain other people in the process. We’re very fortunate to be working with Pelgrane Press, which has a history of publishing high-concept, artistically daring games. They're giving us complete freedom as designers to make the game that we've envisioned."

    Simon Rogers of Pelgrane Press says, “I’ve been playing roleplaying games now for more than 30 years, and publishing them for nearly a dozen, so it’s an honor and pleasure to be working with these two games design powerhouses and publishing the results of their collaboration.”

    The official source for information about the 13th Age roleplaying game on the Web is http://www.pelgranepress.com/site/?p=7649

    About Rob Heinsoo
    Rob Heinsoo has created dozens of role-playing games, card games, miniatures games and board games. He led the design of the fourth edition of Dungeons & Dragons® and wrote or led the design of many 4e sourcebooks. Rob has just released the critically acclaimed card game Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Duel at Mt. Skullzfyre. Other recent game designs include THREE-DRAGON ANTE, THREE-DRAGON ANTE: Emperor's Gambit, Inn-Fighting, Dreamblade, FORGOTTEN REALMS® Campaign Setting, and the first nine sets of D&D Miniatures®. Games he worked on in the 90’s that have aged well include Shadowfist, Feng Shui, and King of Dragon Pass.

    About Jonathan Tweet
    Jonathan Tweet has been creating games professionally for 25 years. He created or co-created the roleplaying games Ars Magica (1987), Over the Edge (1992), and Everway (1995). He started writing for Dungeons & Dragons in 1992, and in 2000 he became the lead designer of the game's third edition. In addition to roleplaying games, Jonathan has created and contributed to card games, miniatures games, computer games, and fiction. His games have won three Origins Awards, and he is in the Origins Award Hall of Fame.

    About Pelgrane Press
    Pelgrane Press publishes award-winning tabletop roleplaying games, including Trail of Cthulhu and Night’s Black Agents by Kenneth Hite, The Dying Earth and Ashen Stars by Robin D. Laws. Pelgrane Press is also the home of the webzine Page XX, the Stone Skin Press fiction imprint, The Birds comic and music for RPGs by James Semple and fellow composers.

    In the world of 13th Age, the magic of the Archmage has held the Dragon Empire together for centuries - but unpredictable forces have risen to challenge him.

    Centuries ago the previous Orc Lord helped bring down the Lich King. Who will the new Orc Lord bring down this time?

    A champion of the Wild. the High Druid might shake the Empire to pieces or point to a new way to live.

    The Lich King was a powerful wizard who ruled the land in ancient times, and has risen from the dead to reclaim it.
    Last edited by Morrus; Tuesday, 10th April, 2012 at 01:34 PM.

  2. #2
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    Interesting timing. I think they're trying to get their foot in the door before 5e has the potential to close it on them. I'm wonder if they smelled blood in the water when they decided to start working on this.

  3. #3
    This is interesting. In a way things are starting to feel ike the old days when there were real alternatives to D&D for fantasy gaming. I realize there have always been such alternatives, but back wen i started people took them seriously. Given that Heinsoo was such a key player with 4e (and given what i have heard about this project elsewhere) i dont thik it is going to be for me. But the 4e fanbase is loyal enough that he could easily create a Paizo-like company (and i kind of hope he does).

  4. #4
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    The industry is going with the 3E mantra: Options, not restrictions.

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    Actually, WotC is the one that's jumping on the bandwagon. Other publishers, such as Goodman Games, have been pushing the Old Game feel for a while and from the beta game they put out, I think they've done a good job. I'm a bit leery of WotC's ability to really do what they are hoping they are going to do. I think they are too big with too many cooks in the kitchen and will have to adjust their design to meet some corporate executive's view of how D&D should be or to get it to mesh with some other product line that Hasbro wants to put out. I'm much more excited about the new stuff coming out from these smaller publishers because they only have to do one thing very well: put out a great RPG that people want to play.

  6. #6
    3rd edition and 4th edition era designers going retroclone already. Man, time is flying!

  7. #7
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    I've been participating in the playtest for this and so far I really like it. I think it does a good job of riding the terrain between "traditional gaming" and "indy gaming" in a fun, innovative way.

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    it'll be interesting to see what happens when major designers of the two big editions work together.

    That said, I think this is a sign that the industry is getting wider if smaller: cottage shop games are able to compete so long as people can access them via the internet.

  10. #10
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    I think this is interesting, but while I'll definitely take a look at it, I suspect that it will be mostly to mine it for ideas and mechanics. I'm happy with my current game of choice, and while I'll try to give 13th Age a fair shake, it'll have to be unbelievably spectacular to make me switch outright.

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