Exclusive 13TH AGE BESTIARY Preview: The Redcap!

13th AGE, the most anticipated RPG of 2013, will hit our store shelves very soon, and Pelgrane Press has very kindly provided us with an exclusive preview of the 13TH AGE BESTIARY! This sneak peak is the Redcap entry from that book - nasty little creeps just waiting to ambush you!



13th AGE is the upcoming "love letter to D&D" by Rob Heinsoo and Jonathan Tweet. "New mechanics such as backgrounds, icon relationships, escalation dice and uniques offer exciting storytelling possibilities, simple yet powerful skill rules and fun, fast-moving combat."

Redcap design by Kevin Kulp and Rob Heinsoo, Art by Rich Longmore, Editing by Cal Moore; Read more about 13TH AGE!

Redcap


Top of the list for noises you don’t want to hear? Sharpened fingernails digging into wood, the snapping of filed teeth, and a giggle followed by the faint, hollow clang of iron boots as a redcap readies itself to spring.

Sadistic Little Creeps


Redcaps are neither brawny nor capable of earthshaking magic. Thanks to their insane giggling and stompy iron boots they’re not even particularly stealthy, unless they’re waiting in ambush or have teleported into the liquor cabinet, waiting for you to go for a nightcap. They compensate for their shortcomings with a bad attitude—they’re flat-out meaner and crueler than sadistic sociopaths ten times their size.

Redcaps are small, perhaps two to three feet tall at most, and bulky like dwarves. This bulk hides their tremendous agility, and they tumble and spring infuriatingly around larger foes. Redcaps fight using straight razors, cleavers, axes, sharp knives, or most any sharp or jagged object, really, including their teeth. They will also use their spiked iron boots at every opportunity during battle, being inordinately proud of their footwear. It’s traditional for a redcap to give a downed enemy one final stomp for good measure before moving on to the next foe. Few can tolerate redcaps, but this practice guarantees that no one actually likes them.

Redcaps have the ability to teleport into an unobserved space when they’re lucky in combat or when foes err by saying, or even thinking, the bad word. The word changes all the time. Obviously we aren’t really going to punish you for what your character thinks, but the idea that thinking the bad word is enough lets us punish a player who says the word, even if their PC didn’t.

Redcaps usually prefer vanishing into small constrained spaces such as closets and chests, and beneath beds. The redcaps’ magic even lets them fit into spaces that are technically too small for them. When they emerge from their tight hiding spot, they unfold or pop-out like jack-in-the-boxes. It can be humorous . . . in a deadly, disturbing way.

The Bad Word


Before every battle against redcaps, the GM should determine the bad word for that battle. For PCs who don’t have any idea what’s coming, “cap” or “redcap,” is a good option. For characters who have fought redcaps before or for players who like to read monster entries, a word like “guy” or “escalation” or “attack” might suffice. Whenever a PC or a player at the table says the word, every redcap in the battle can use its impossible teleport ability as a free action that interrupts whatever action is currently happening. At least the PCs will then know what the word is . . . well maybe after the second time it happens. Let the players try not to think about the word now!

Those Reddish Caps


Perhaps the players are wondering how those caps get so red as they’re trying not to think about the word. Redcaps dip their hats in the blood of their kills. Steal a redcap’s hat and you steal both its power and its prestige, earning you an enemy for life. A redcap with a white or pale red cap has little experience in murder and mayhem. On the other hand, one with a blood-clotted, deep carmine hat is likely to be very dangerous. Plan accordingly.

Splotchcap


Their caps have obvious bloodstains, but some white still shows through and they haven’t earned their boots. Call one “splotchcap no-boots” and you’ll have an enemy forever, or at least for one busy minute.

2nd level archer [Humanoid]
Initiative: +8
Stabby knife +5 vs. AC—6 damage
Natural 16+: The target also takes 2 ongoing damage.
R: Smashy slingstone +7 vs. AC—7 damage
Natural 18+: The target can’t cast a spell until the end of its next turn or until the splotchcap drops to 0 hp, whichever comes first.
[Special trigger] C: Pop-out and stab ‘em +7 vs. AC (one nearby enemy)—8 damage
Miss: Damage equal to the escalation die.
Impossible teleport: When the splotchcap scores a critical hit OR when a PC or a player at the table says the bad word, the splotchcap can teleport to a nearby hidden location it can see as a free action.
Pop-out surprise: When the splotchcap starts its turn and no enemy can see it, it can make a pop-out and stab ‘em attack that turn as a standard action.
AC 16

PD 17HP 32
MD 14





Redcap


Warriors who’ve fought redcaps once too often shudder at the thought of giving their own children piggy-back rides.

3rd level wrecker [humanoid]
Initiative: +9
Twin skinning knives +8 vs. AC (2 attacks)—6 damage
Miss: Damage equal to the escalation die.
Stompy iron boots +8 vs. PD (one staggered or unconscious enemy)—12 damage
Miss: 5 damage.
[Special trigger] C: Pop-out and ride ‘em +10 vs. AC (one nearby enemy)—10 damage, and 5 ongoing damage
Ridey-horsey: While the target is taking ongoing damage from this attack, the redcap is riding the target’s shoulders with its knives in the target’s ears, and once during its turn the redcap can use a move action to make the target move anywhere nearby that won’t directly cause it harm (but opportunity attacks are fair game).
Miss: 5 damage.
Impossible teleport: When the redcap scores a critical hit OR when a PC or a player at the table says the bad word, the redcap can teleport to a nearby hidden location it can see as a free action.
Pop-out surprise: When the redcap starts its turn and no enemy can see it, it can make a pop-out and ride ‘em attack that turn as a standard action.
AC 17

PD 18HP 42
MD 15





Crimsoncap


“Crimsons’n’crusties” was a curse frequently heard on the docks of Shadow Port . . . until the redcaps heard it and “transferred” half a shift of dockworkers over to the beggars’ guilds.

6th level spoiler [humanoid]
Initiative: +11
Huge bloody cleavers +11 vs. AC (2 attacks)—13 damage, and the crimsoncap can pop free from the target.
Horrible stompy boots +11 vs. PD (one staggered or unconscious enemy)—20 damage, and the target is hampered (save ends)
Miss: 5 damage.
[Special trigger] C: Pop-out and slash ‘em +11 vs. AC (1d4 nearby enemies)—15 damage, and 5 ongoing damage
Miss: 10 damage.
Impossible teleport: When the crimsoncap scores a critical hit OR when a PC or a player at the table says the bad word, the crimsoncap can teleport to a nearby hidden location it can see or can’t see (like inside a closet) as a free action.
Pop-out surprise: When the crimsoncap starts its turn and no enemy can see it, it can make a pop-out and slash ‘em attack that turn as a standard actio
Nastier Specials

F*** T***: The crimsoncap has two bad words instead of one. And the PCs find that out the hard way. Write the words down ahead of time to prove you’re not just being a mean GM.

AC 20

PD 21HP 84
MD 18





Crustycap


When the blood no longer sticks because there’s too much ancient scabbing on your cap, you’ve done your part.

7th level wrecker [humanoid]
Initiative: +14
Big bloody axe +12 vs. AC (2 attacks)—10 damage
Natural even hit: The crustycap can make a single big bloody axe attack against a nearby enemy as a free action.
Miss: 5 ongoing damage.
Devastating stompy boots +12 vs. PD (one staggered or unconscious enemy)—40 damage
Miss: 10 damage.
Oh no oh no: When a PC or a player at the table says the bad word, the crustycap can take an extra standard action during its next turn. Feel free to let the extra actions stack a few times if someone gets cocky.
Nastier Specials

Just plain mean: When the crustycap scores a critical hit OR when a PC or a player at the table says the bad word, the crustycap can teleport away as a free action. Far away, even to a location it can’t see. Then at the start of the PCs’ next battle, it teleports back and attacks the PCs, no matter what enemies they are fighting. It will continue to use this power if it can until the PCs take a full heal-up, at which point, if it’s still alive, it loses interest.

AC 21

PD 22HP 100
MD 19






Building Battles


Redcaps are most fun to fight (where “fun” is defined as “bedeviling and challenging the player characters, who seem to be getting repeatedly attacked from every side at once”) in deep woods, urban buildings, or ruined castles. They like to take advantage of places they can hide, so if there is little such terrain, they lose a lot of their impact. Whatever the setting, they prefer to operate at night, or in deep shadows during the day.

Redcaps are mean little buggers, and they like to take it out on those around them. In forest settings, consider pairing them with beasts such as dire animals or owlbears that have been driven mad from the redcaps’ surprise attacks. The slightly bleeding beast barrels into the party, followed by a pack of giggling redcaps on its heels.

In urban settings, they like to play with giant vermin like spiders and dire rats, or hive creatures like stirges. They will lure people into the nests of such creatures, then make surprise attacks as the vermin defend their lair.

The worst redcap infestations occur in places where they forge short-term bonds with the Diabolist’s pets, such as imps and despoilers. Once the redcaps get into demon worship, they’re even worse than usual.

Redcaps and the Icons


Redcaps have a sly and feral intelligence, but it’s usually masked by unquenchable cruelty and a bubbling insanity that would be fun to watch if it weren’t attached to something so dangerous.

Dwarf King: Loremasters for the Dwarf King suspect that redcaps were once normal dwarves who were magically altered and manipulated to produce the giggling menaces that now exist. If so, it’s possible that someone or something is even now kidnapping dwarves and transforming them into redcaps. Dwarves are generally instructed to capture redcaps instead of killing them, in order to find out the truth, but the task has proven almost impossible.
Elf Queen: The Elf Queen has no shame about setting redcaps upon her foes. For their part, redcaps seem to pay her a certain amount of deference and often listen to her messengers first instead of just slaying them. In combat, redcaps have been known to spontaneously bow to the Elf Queen’s followers . . . right before trying to eviscerate them.
Emperor: The Emperor occasionally mentions redcaps as a symbol of the ancient chaos that needs to be wiped out utterly in order for civilization to thrive. If this has affected the number or behavior of redcaps either way, no one has noticed
Lich King: It’s rumored that the Lich King has a clan of undead redcaps specially reanimated to preserve their psychotic enthusiasm while vastly increasing their deadliness. Their boots drain life and blood, and the redcaps sustain themselves on the blood absorbed by their caps. If true, the icon doubtless reserves them for enemies he particularly wants to send a message to. If false, it’s not hard to imagine a redcap clan painting itself zombie-style just for kicks.
Prince of Shadows: Redcaps would deny it, but their natural affinity for shadow and predilection for stealth makes many people think they are a creation of the Prince of Shadows. He’s never confirmed this, but he also has never hesitated to manipulate a clan of redcaps into attacking a particularly repellent target.
The Three: Clans of redcaps are occasionally found serving as spies, guards, and servants of dragons. They gravitate toward dragons that show particular cruelty, and they never seem to mind the inevitable loss of life to their own clan that occurs near a dragon. For their part, dragons seem to find them amusing.

Names


Redcaps cleave to the style of dwarven first names, with their status as their last name. Thrommel Splotchcap, Honjor Crimsoncap, and Thorja Crustycap are a few examples.

Adventure Hooks


Redcaps don’t take direction well, although they have been used as troops by leaders who don’t mind pointing them in one direction and letting them rampage. They live in clans or gangs and attack in groups, competing to see which one will collect the most (or most spectacular) kills. A lone redcap is usually an exile from their gang, and the only reason a redcap is typically exiled is for insufficient bloodlust. It isn’t uncommon for exiles to be hunted by the rest of their clan, so they don’t usually survive alone for long unless they are particularly cunning.

Redcaps provide a chaotic and tumultuous battle, but they aren’t entirely devoid of subtlety and subterfuge. They will often have a “secret” up their metaphorical sleeve that can change the storyline dramatically.

I Have a Secret—Redcaps know many secrets, although it isn’t clear how or why this happens. When it’s obvious that they have been beaten, and there are no good hiding places left to use for a teleporting escape, the last redcap standing may bargain for freedom in exchange for revealing a true secret about someone or something personal that one or more PCs cares about. A redcap will never reveal such a secret before a bargain is made; oddly enough, mind-reading magic has suggested that the redcaps don’t even know the secrets themselves until they utter them, leading sages to believe that they draw their secrets from some hidden shared source. There are also ramifications for breaking such bargains, even if the redcap who struck the deal is slain. Usually it takes the form of heavy redcap harassment.

Look Out Below—After a baron’s estate becomes riddled with redcaps who start murdering his servants, the baron hires/asks the PCs to fix the problem. As the PCs are cleaning out the estate, including the chimney, well, outhouse, cellar, secret passages, and every other hiding place they can find, they discover an important political secret related to one of the icons and redcaps. If the secret got out, it would be very damaging. . . .

Red Contract—After a nasty battle, the PCs uncover an arrangement by which redcap gangs are hired by agents of the Court of Stars to exterminate goblinoid squatters in former elven forests. The redcaps are paid with one-use teleport items to take them to the far side of the Midland Sea. And not all their victims are goblins. Will the PCs scrag the redcaps and attempt to take over the contract, or is something more noble in store?

The Crimson Caps—The last three mornings, strange reddish caps have been found at the three main intersections of a village. The third day the caps were dipped in actual blood (up to you what type . . .). Most people in the village don't really know what redcaps are, but they know the caps aren’t a good sign. Is this a gang of redcaps ramping up the fear before they start picking off villagers night by night? Or is it a con to get people to flee their homes? Or someone’s idea of a joke? Or is someone performing a ritual to summon redcaps?

What Enemies Say


“I have it under good recommendation that powdered redcap hats, combined with the molten iron from their melted-down boots, makes a superb teleportation token. Go fetch me a few, won’t you?” —Ecruvius the Ancient, to an appalled apprentice
It crushed my foot! Oh Lords it’s on my head with knives. Get it off get it off get it off!” —Jovan the Unlucky, dark paladin
“We ended up burning down the fane to get rid of them. I still don’t think it killed them. One more instance of giggling through the floorboards, and I’m summoning Her to finish the job.” —Solthra Halfblade, blood wizard
“Sing a song of pools of blood / sing of spikes that clitter-clack / sing of giggling child-men / sing of blades within your back.” —traditional elven children’s jumping-rhyme
“Where the redcap goes, the Red Dragon comes, for they are the minions and heralds of the Wicked Wyrm. Exterminate them while there still remains time and you shall be blessed.” —Usman, herald of the Shining Wing
“They’re simply misunderstood. Show no fear, walk to them slowly, and offer them meat. If you do, you shall have a friend for life, as they are more afraid of you than you are of them.” —Hixus Snowhair, confusing redcaps with red bears
And yea, they breed like the vermin of the festering pits below, and on their heads do they wear their sins made manifest, and on their feet do they bear the clattering of coming war. Sing a hymn to ease their passage from this world.” —The Lays of Benifel, 31:12
 
Russ Morrissey

Comments

JeffB

Adventurer
Wow..I think this monster entry just totally turned my interest in this game, off.

Why?

Way too much fluff , bad gamer humor (stompy boots,.stabby knives,.etc), and a general poor attempt @ whimsy throughout the entry. Not that I take my gaming that seriously, but I do not want to read a book for inspiration and have to suffer through someone's attempt at humor (that rubs me the wrong way).

Too bad.
 

Corrosive

Adventurer
Opposite for me. I like how the abilities do what they say on the tin. I know what a big stompy boot is, unlike a lot of 4E where the names didn't match the mechanics well and random effects just seemed to happen for no reason.

Don't like damage on a miss though. Never have.
 

Piratecat

Writing Fantasy Gumshoe!
The monsters in the core book are nothing but stats, pretty much. In the monster book, they're built out with a lot of back-story, relationships and variants. I find them to be laden with plot hooks and a joy to read. Mind you, I'm totally prejudiced because I wrote this sample entry (Rob did the combat mechanics). I'll argue that understanding how monsters fit in with the icons add a hugely useful dimension to using them in a game.

There's a scene I half-remember in the old comic book Mage (the comic about a modern King Arthur wielding a baseball bat as Excalibur) when redcaps clatter into a cave, iron boots ringing out on the stone and cleavers waving. It made an impression on me, no question about it.

Jeff, this is not intended to be funny per se -- I was going for entertaining, casual, and descriptive. The core book has a very casual tone that I love.
 
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JeffB

Adventurer
No worries Kevin. I do not expect everyone to cater to *my* whims. I just prefer a more straightforward game manual approach as opposed to having a conversation with my buddies approach...that ruins immersion for me.
 

Piratecat

Writing Fantasy Gumshoe!
Right. I'm the other way; one of the reasons that I stopped being an ENnies judge is that holy cow, most rule books are torturous for me to read. Looking back at my older RPG games, I'm reminded by how many were just plain fun to read even when you weren't looking up a rule. For me, 13th Age really fills a sweet spot.
 

JeffB

Adventurer
I am with you on reading college text book games :cough: 3.5 and PF : cough. Those make me cry,.and turn me off too. But I feel ( a general) you can have a less casual approach that is also an entertaining/good read... CoC... chasoiums RQ2, Moldvay/Cook/Marsh, etc. All lean games though compared to today's offerings.

Thanks for giving me your perspective. I do get it, even if it is not my preference.
 

waderockett

Visitor
bad gamer humor (stompy boots,.stabby knives,.etc), and a general poor attempt @ whimsy throughout the entry.
Those things are specifically written for the redcaps to give you a feel for how to run them in your game -- as demented, giggling, horrible little fairy tale creatures. By contrast, lizardmen don't have "stabby spears" and "smashy clubs" because that's not the flavor of the monster.

Also, the Bestiary is WAYYYY heavier on flavor text than the core rulebook is. You may want to check that out once it's on shelves and see if it's more to your taste.
 

Dragonblade

Adventurer
Love it! Good stuff, Piratecat! I've never used a redcap in a game before. They've always struck me as sort of "meh" fairy tale monster whose flavor and threat level has never been backed up by their mechanics. Until now, that is. Can't wait to throw one of these nasty buggers against my 13th Age players! :)

The flavor is evocative and fun, and I love how the mechanics really capture the capricious and unpredictable nature of their fey magic. Brilliant! Man, I love 13th Age! Its pretty much my dream D&D, reading awesome stuff like this only confirms it. Well done! :)
 

JeffB

Adventurer
Those things are specifically written for the redcaps to give you a feel for how to run them in your game -- as demented, giggling, horrible little fairy tale creatures. By contrast, lizardmen don't have "stabby spears" and "smashy clubs" because that's not the flavor of the monster.

Also, the Bestiary is WAYYYY heavier on flavor text than the core rulebook is. You may want to check that out once it's on shelves and see if it's more to your taste.

Okey doke. This is good to hear. I should clarify I do not MIND lots of flavor text, if it is done in a style that grabs me, and suits my needs for the setting (e.g. the old SAGA Dragonlance Bestiary, or any number of Chaosium RQ supplements like Cults of Prax). But a whole book of monsters with stuff like ridey horsey, smashy facey, ugly wuggly would drive me nuckin futsy! ;)


The only thing I have seen for 13th Age is the 2 hour demo stats, and the pre gens. I did not do any play-testing and I avoid PDF copies of game books if at all possible. I am waiting to look at a hardcopy. Thus when something like the Redcap is presented as being a monster entry in the new Bestiary, I assume that is what all the entries are going to be like.
 

waderockett

Visitor
There's a scene I half-remember in the old comic book Mage (the comic about a modern King Arthur wielding a baseball bat as Excalibur) when redcaps clatter into a cave, iron boots ringing out on the stone and cleavers waving. It made an impression on me, no question about it.
I loved the redcaps in Mage, and wondered if they inspired this! That's awesome.
 

mach1.9pants

Adventurer
I still am not a huge fan of the word usage, but I see what you are aiming for. The image doesn't seem match the stocky description (and the cleavers are too large to wield but that is the new norm)

However if the books is full of such awesome info and inspiration the Hacklopedia of Beasts has a new rival... Awesome
 

Hangfire

Visitor
I really liked the presentation Piratecat. It felt very 'right' for this particular monster's write up. I can't wait to get my hands on the book.
 

MoutonRustique

Explorer
This makes me very sad that I missed the kickstarter... But so glad that it's coming out soon !!! *squeal in glee*

Yes, I am a grown man and I did just squeal in glee.
 

waderockett

Visitor
This makes me very sad that I missed the kickstarter... But so glad that it's coming out soon !!! *squeal in glee*

Yes, I am a grown man and I did just squeal in glee.
You're in luck! There was no Kickstarter for this book. Pelgrane is putting out the Bestiary the old-fashioned way, so you're actually in at the beginning here.
 

howandwhy99

Visitor
"The Bad Word" is good game mechanics. Ripe for fun every time one encounters these little beasts. It defines them nicely and plays a metagame with the players as they try not to become too elaborate in their speech when fighting them. I'm unsure how it is supposed to play out for NPC vs. NPC battles, but I would definitely keep the rule and think of a way to account for it.
 

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