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13th Age Converting 13th Age's Eyes of the Stone Thief to D&D 5E

Eyes of the Stone Thief is a mid-level adventure for 13th Age which involves a living mega-dungeon which hunts the PCs. It's tag line is "Can you kill the dungeon before it kills you?" It's a big, 360-page hardcover. Publisher Pelgrane Press has converted two sections from the campaign to 5th Edition, which you can pick up free if you've got Eyes of the Stone Thief, or which you can purchase at their web store or DTRPG.

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13th Age is - rightly - known for it's interesting monster design, and it's excellent ENnie-nominated Bestiary, which includes lore, variations, related rules, lairs, environments, plot hooks, and more. You can see their take on the standard Orc here. As you can see, their approach to monsters is a little different to 5th Edition's.

This 39-page 5E conversion contains The Maw and The Gauntlet, two sections of this vast living dungeon. If you're a 5E fan, but are curious about how other "D&D-based" variations approach things, this is a good way to dip a toe in and take a look.

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Talking of 13th Age, you can grab the PDFs from the Bundle of Holding right now at a knock-down price. There's the 13th Age Core Set ($19.95 gets you the 325-page 13th Age rulebook, the 13 True Ways rules expansion, and the 13th Age Soundtrack), and there's the 13th Age Adventures ($14.95 gets you The Book of Demons, The Book of Ages, and the newest collection of magical treasures, Loot Harder). And if you pay a little more, you get a whole ton more stuff. And 10% goes to charity!
 
Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey



EthanSental

Adventurer
I think fantasy art in rpgs can vary and how it’s viewed depends on the viewers preference...13th age bestiary with Richard longmore’s interior art doesn’t strike my fancy, like a weird amalgamation of DiTerlizzi 2e and a high kid trying to mimic it in his trapper keeper but with his own style. It was the main reason I couldn’t get into the game, flipping the pages didn’t fill my imagination, like DeTerlizzis art in 2e books. Half his legs looked like they’d snap under their own weight.
 

JeffB

Legend
13th Age is my favourite F20 game. It has shed the stuff most people don't care about, and is full of flavour. 13th Age is a lot of fun.

And in place of what it has shed, 13A has added plenty of new/innovative and easy to apply mechanics & ideas to bring the game forward in to the 21st Century instead of going backwards -cough ;)

It's my preferred/fave version of non-T/OSR D&D.

I do hope that Pelgrane follows the Troll Lord Games model of not putting the priority on 5E products and instead offering 5E conversions/updates of in-house game system material.
 

Retreater

Legend
I wish my group didn't take such a strong aversion to 13A. I invested pretty heavily in the system when it first released, but it fell out of favor in actual play.
Glad to see they're converting material to 5e, so it might see some use at my table.
 



BrokenTwin

Explorer
I've been (slowly) working on converting Eyes of the Stone Thief to Shadow of the Demon Lord, so this document does interest me to see if I'm on the right track.
13th Age does look like a great system, but I'm not sure if I'd be able to convince my players to try another new game (getting them to try SotDL was effort enough). I do agree with the hope that the publishers focus on releasing content for 13th Age over D&D, and but continue to provide conversion material for their popular adventures.
 


5atbu

Explorer
13th Age is my favourite F20 game. I have a feeling SoDL might be next but I rarely get to play it. 5e is still 2nd or maybe 3rd so don't fret.
 

Retreater

Legend
My group specifically disliked the Icons and rolling relationships every session that turned each game into a confusing hodgepodge of conflicting alliances and disconnected stories. That would be the first thing to go.
Next, the number inflation of rolling massive piles of dice for damage. (Isn't it like a die of damage every level for a basic attack?)
As an experiment, it worked okay. I ran a campaign in it for about 6 months. It just didn't have the legs to continue.
 

Pobman

Explorer
My group specifically disliked the Icons and rolling relationships every session that turned each game into a confusing hodgepodge of conflicting alliances and disconnected stories. That would be the first thing to go.
Next, the number inflation of rolling massive piles of dice for damage. (Isn't it like a die of damage every level for a basic attack?)
As an experiment, it worked okay. I ran a campaign in it for about 6 months. It just didn't have the legs to continue.
13th age is my favourite RPG, but I agree with you about the icons. When I have run a campaign, I've got the players to roll at the end of a session so I can work out by the time of the next session what all the rolls means, but I would still be interested in alternatives to the Icon rolls and relationships.

As for lots of dice rolling, the book states this:
Page 160 of 13th Age Core Rule Book said:
Dice Rolling Conventions
Obviously rolling huge handfuls of dice as you rise in level can become a pain. Some players love that pain, but their friends and GMs are less keen on waiting for them to finish adding up six d12s and four d6s. Up to 4th or 5th level, we’re happy rolling all the dice. But after that, we like to speed play by asking each player to choose one of the following dice conventions. Of course, if you or one of your players has another suggestion that provides average results, go for it.
No roll, just average them all: Some of our players don’t want to roll damage dice at high levels. They’re happier just taking average damage and hoping for crits to give them a boost.
Average most dice, roll two or three of them: Rolling two or three dice for varied results preserves the experience of rolling damage. Roll between two and four dice, average the rest.
Average the normal stuff, roll the specials: Players with characters who have power attacks and sneak attacks frequently opt to average their normal damage rolls and roll the cool bonus
damage that isn’t always applicable.
Roll if it’s cool to rule: If the drama of the situation calls for a full roll that everyone will pay attention to, go for it.
 

5atbu

Explorer
We loved the way that icon rolls drove the unfurling nature of our campaign and tailored it around our table and our interests.

Also loved the way damage escalated, but I like playing lots of dice as a player. As a ref I always use average.

Maybe we just had the legs for it.. we played that one for about 18 months.
 

BrokenTwin

Explorer
The combat escalation die intrigued me, but the number bloat that comes with leveling is part of what drove me away from later editions of D&D to begin with.

I love the concept of the Icons, but the way they're implemented leaves me a bit cold. Edge of the Empire did something similar with obligations, and more often than not we found the results to just get in the way.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
My group specifically disliked the Icons and rolling relationships every session that turned each game into a confusing hodgepodge of conflicting alliances and disconnected stories. That would be the first thing to go.

I ran a 4.5 year campaign in it. I didn't try to emulate the "one shot" where trhe rolls each time determined who was behind things and who was a patron - that doesn't work for the highly serial game I ran. Instead they became player narrative tokens in how they would make sense, or moderate bonuses (Lick King roll became "Gnolls revere their ancestors and fear the spirits of them, if we fight in that cemetery we saw, they will be constrained on how they will move."). Or flashbacks to get things done.

The way that one-shots and demos did it would not have been viable in a long term campaign, like you said.

Next, the number inflation of rolling massive piles of dice for damage. (Isn't it like a die of damage every level for a basic attack?)
As an experiment, it worked okay. I ran a campaign in it for about 6 months. It just didn't have the legs to continue.

As a former Champions player, the idea that 10 dice at the absolute max (since it's a 1-10 system) is a "massive pile" makes me grin. Starting characters had 10d6 Energy Blasts. And you needed to count them two different ways - numbers of the dice for STUN damage, and then 1=0 / 2-5=1 / 6=2 for BODY damage. (So 2,3,6 = 4 BODY.)

However, since it removes multiple attacks, it's comparable to the number of dice rolled in an action in 5e.

Looking at half way through the progression.
5th level 13th Age weapon wielder with great sword: 1 attack + 5 weapon damage dice on hit = 1 on miss, 6 on hit.
11th level D&D 5e fighter with great sword: 3 attacks + 6 weapon damage dice on hit = 3 on misses up to 9 on hits.
11th level D&D 5e vengeance paladin with great sword: 2 attacks w/ advantage + 4 weapon dice and 4 smite dice on hit (1st level slots) = 4 on misses up to 10 on hits.

Yes, you can reduce the dice with a different weapon - but it's still comparable to 13th age.
 
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Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
The combat escalation die intrigued me, but the number bloat that comes with leveling is part of what drove me away from later editions of D&D to begin with.

The Escalation Die is genius. Math works out against the players at the start of any encounter, and like 4e saves are also defenses to hit like AC is. So the default "I'll toss my big AoE nova" of D&D suddenly becomes "Do I do it now when I am less likely to affect them, or later when there will be less targets but a better chance to get them?"

It also works as a pacing mechanism, as some class features and many monster abilities are controlled by it. ("If the escalation die is even, then ...."). Not every round is the same in terms of what is available.

Plus the more obvious that it's a perfect anti-grind tool - once you get to the end, mop-up is quick. No more lingering combats.
 

JeffB

Legend
For the first two years I did not use Icons at all and the game runs fine without them.

Then I introduced a few. Lich King Rocks.

My last session was in GH, and I used GH people/power groups..Rangers of the Gnarley Forest , Circle of Eight, Scarlet Brotherhood, etc.

Icon Rolls are tricky- Like Dungeon World Fronts. There are a ton of ways to approach them- fandom has come up with alternatives, and the game encourages you to do your own thing- which I do.
 

Arilyn

Hero
13th Age Icons do take getting used to, and requires practice coming up with engaging ways to use them. As JeffB mentioned, there are a lot of good ideas for them generated by the designers and fan community. Really worth using them.

I also like how weapon damage and armour are built into the class. When I first read this, I wasn't impressed, but after one session, I learned to really appreciate it.

It's super easy to reskin and the game allows you to swap class abilities, as long as it won't unbalance things too much. The game trusts players and GMs and assumes that at least the GM has role playing experience. The game doesn't hold your hand. I love the side bars where the designers each state their own approaches, and often disagree.

Oh, and characters don't level up all at one. At the end of a session, you may be able to choose an ability or stat boost from your upcoming level. That's cool, and reduces the sense of major overnight changes that happen in traditional levelling games.

I love the background system. Now I look at other games' lists of skills and sigh.

After all this gushing, I realize that 13th Age is not for everyone. It's worth trying because it has cool mechanics to steal, and some things work better in play than on the page.
 

Retreater

Legend
As someone who has played Shadowrun, I can also attest that the "large piles of dice" in 13A wasn't by default the biggest deal breaker for our group. It just came across as artificial number inflation. But it was a contributor. I think that the 13A game was just supplanted for our group by other narrative-focused (and less crunchy) fantasy RPG options. We were looking for a counter to 4E and Pathfinder. 13A filled the gap for a time. But then came Fantasy Age, Dungeon World, and 5E, all of which filled our needs better. I do wish the designers (and the fans of their system) all the luck.
However, I tend to lump it in the "and then there are these other systems" category, along with Castles & Crusades and Forbidden Lands. These are systems that do a couple of things very well and can be mined for ideas, but at the end of the day, they aren't going to be my system of choice. [Out of all of them, I think Castles & Crusades probably got the short shrift for being close to 5e but lost in the shuffle - but that's a topic for another thread.]
 

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