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13th age help

tuxedoraptor

First Post
I got curious about 13th age recently and have been looking through it. My players are liking the system for the most part but we have a few sticking points. I was wondering if any more experienced 13th age GMs and players could help out.

Mostly what keeps halting us from starting a game is backgrounds. I am not sure what about them is grinding character creation to a standstill but my players just freeze up at this point.

As I am the GM I was also wondering how to handle magic items and how crucial they are to the game. This isn't a major sticking point for me but I tend to run very few magic items that aren't potions.

Also, since we hate point buy and rolling stats we have defaulted to a standard stat array of 16,14,13,12,10,8 spent however you want.
 

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tuxedoraptor

First Post
Update: We have started our group with a wood elf occultist, a half orc rogue and a human paladin. The paladin's one unique thing is that he secretly thinks that demons exist to keep the world in check.

The rogue's thing is that she is an infamous vigilante known for stalking the streets of places with lax law enforcement to protect the weak and defenseless by brutally and publicly slaughtering criminals.

The occultist's thing is that he can read the lines of fate to a degree. Mostly through seemingly normal patterns in every day life, like the way shadows dance from a flickering flame or the way water drips. Unfortunately, these divinations only spell out a horrendous and gruesome demise for the people closest to him. Though he rarely has overwhelming visions of important things to come, these future sights are hazy, jumbled and can take place decades ahead of time.

So far the occultist has managed to earn the emperors trust by falling over and convulsing in front of one of his trusted advisors while oozing purple froth from his orfices and giving an eerily accurate depiction of the lich kings plans to collude with the diabloist to tear down the empire. He never bothered to ask if it meant THIS emperor though....But hey, getting paid to wreck the lich kings plans and piss the diabloist off for no reason is a pretty good deal.
 

mkill

Adventurer
Mostly what keeps halting us from starting a game is backgrounds. I am not sure what about them is grinding character creation to a standstill but my players just freeze up at this point.

I've seen several dozens of characters in play, and the most handy backgrounds are always those that just represent what your character has learned. If you don't have a great idea, just default to...

(1) How / where has your character grown up? What did he/she do until he/she became an adult? -- Son of a carpenter in the Wild Wood, escaped elven princess, servant in a noble house in Axis, raised by wolves in the icy north

(2) How has your character learned what he does now (i.e. his or her class)? -- Failed graduate of the Glitterhagen wizard college, proud recruit of the Dwarf King's personal guard, fence for the Axis thieves guild

Note how I'm always connecting these backgrounds to a place or a person, so you can bring those up later in the game.

As I am the GM I was also wondering how to handle magic items and how crucial they are to the game. This isn't a major sticking point for me but I tend to run very few magic items that aren't potions.

In 13th Age, PCs are limited to one item per level, and levels only go to 10. Also, most items avoid static bonuses (aside from a standard bonus like +1 AC/tier for armor), and give a one-use ability instead. So there's only so far you can push a character with items. Unlike other versions of D&D, you can just throw loot at the party when you feel they've earned it (players love loot!) without breaking the game.

You can also run a game that has very little loot, but if the entire group has equipment below tier you may have to lower the levels of monsters you throw at them by 1 or 2.
 

tuxedoraptor

First Post
They are still level one, the occultist got replaced with a wizard as the occultist didn't fit the players theme of a back line caster causing mayhem. I will be giving them magic items that have unique bonuses, but mostly sticking to things that aren't too complex. Our rogue is a different case. She doesn't care for the momentum or the powers of the rogue class but wants the trapfinding feature and sneak attack. How badly would it break the game to give the ranger those features? I personally don't see an issue other than very high damage output. Is it a good idea? Also, our wizard is a wood elf who managed to get into a high elf magic academy. He then spread their magical secrets as a peace offering to the dark elves. The high elves are....less than amused. He has a positive relationship with the elf queen for this.
 

mkill

Adventurer
She doesn't care for the momentum or the powers of the rogue class but wants the trapfinding feature and sneak attack. How badly would it break the game to give the ranger those features?

Sneak attack AND double melee attack is probably a bit much. If you allow it, limit sneak attack to 1/round and make it cost a talent.

The value of Trapfinding depends on the campaign. If you plan on throwing tons of trap-filled dungeons at them,
It might be worth a talent, otherwise you can just throw it in as a freebie.
 

tuxedoraptor

First Post
Well, they plan on making the lich king very angry at some point. Undead are often living in tombs, tombs are often filled with traps. Sneak attack is already once a round. I will make her spend a talent on it. So far, in a smallish kingdom I normally use in my campaigns they have managed to accomplish three things: start a fight with a group of bandits, locate a group of deranged gnomish alchoholics causing widespread terror and panic via drunken kazoo playing, and accidentally maim the local mage.
 

Mostly what keeps halting us from starting a game is backgrounds. I am not sure what about them is grinding character creation to a standstill but my players just freeze up at this point.
13A Backgrounds are not a terribly healthy mechanic, IMHO. The problem with them is that you essentially get two, and it's reasonably smart to make one higher than the other, but, there's nothing in the way they're presented nor the examples used to keep you from shooting for very broadly-applicable backgrounds. Also, it can be hard to come up with backgrounds that make sense, but don't overlap too much. If your backgrounds overlap, the lower one is basically meaningless. If your backgrounds are too narrow, they can end up, between them, coming up less often than one of another character's backgrounds, alone.

They're just too 'soft' and open-ended a sub-system. I'd consider subbing in a simple effect-based skill system (that is 'skills' that are broad and about what they accomplish, not how - "know stuff" "advance plot" "find stuff" "avoid stuff" - that kinda thing) centered around stat checks.

As I am the GM I was also wondering how to handle magic items and how crucial they are to the game. This isn't a major sticking point for me but I tend to run very few magic items that aren't potions.
They're not as crucial/expected as in D&D, but they're certainly nice to have, and the 13A system makes them a little more colorful and interesting - and gives you a reason not just Xmass tree yourself with tons of 'em.
 

JeffB

Legend
Personally I love the background system, for the reason [MENTION=996]Tony Vargas[/MENTION] does not. I like the open ended nature.

We had fun things like "Sea Reaver of the Sword Coast" or " was a thief on the streets of Iriaebor as a youth ". Made for alot of interesting descriptions and checks. Much moreso than "ok, make a xyz skill check"..

Check out the 13th Age companion character supplement at 13thage.org for some great simple takes on the (overly fiddly, IMO) classes of the core rulebook. For us, that solved alot of gameplay issues we had initially with Clerics, Fighters,and Rogues in particular.

That said, I prefer to just yoink things from 13A and drop them into other D&D type systems..backgrounds, monster specials, abstract ranges and associated mechanics (disengage, intercepts), etc. The escalation die is a great idea but in practice we always forgot to either apply it to rolls, or even just advance it, even after I bought some gigantic foam six siders the size of a rubix cube. Always forgotten somehow :)

Never fiddled much with magic items, never found the 13thA ones compelling and gameplay doesn't really require them like PF or 3.x.
 

tuxedoraptor

First Post
I moddified sneak attack for our ranger/rogue hybrid so it only applies to the first attack she does that round. Even if she can hit twice, it only applies once. Her backround is axis praetor. The praetors of axis are sort of like the secret police, they exist to handle government level corruption outside of axis, like a local king being seduced by the diabloist or a lord allying with the lich king. Her job is simple; determine if the target is actually corrupt or is just challenging the emperors way of thinking to prevent stagnation. If they are actually corrupt. She kills them.

I am handling level ups VERY VERY slowly, normally they level up every three sessions in other games, here its every six.
 

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