For Free RPG Day 2017, Pelgrane Press distributed the TimeWatch: Font of Knowledge/13th Age: Swords Against Owlbears double feature while Paizo shared a teaser for their upcoming system, Starfinder. These products offered a taste of adventure at the perfect price point, free. Warning: This article contains adventure spoilers.
13th Age: Swords Against Owlbears is a light-hearted murder romp (that’s the only way to describe the tone). You play a pre-gen, kidnapped mutant-hybrid-experiment that escapes when your master disappears. However, due to the mutation grafted onto your prisoner character, you have to find your former master or die. This is a fantasy-stab-kill type of scenario. Expect rampaging and GM notes about next steps if the party murders integral plot NPCs.
The writing style keeps the tone light despite the subject matter. The pacing includes lots of shiny encounters. There’s a mechanic to mutate your character’s appearance and powers offering combat variety and role-playing opportunities. As an introductory adventure to 13th Age, you’ll get a solid handle on the game, and you’ll remember the mutation piece fondly.
The book’s other offering, TimeWatch: Font of Knowledge, is not on the same level. The first paragraph presents an adventure overview – you’re going to stop the person that killed the composer that made Hitler evil. However, that’s not the plot for the adventure nor is it brought up again… Instead, the party pursues an evil artificial intelligence bent on wiping out humanity by:
- traveling back in time
- introducing the Comic Sans font in the year 1001 AD
- causing a steampunk Renaissance
Humanity dies due to Comic Sans. There’s a string of events including time travel, Leonardo da Vinci, and the end of all life on earth that originate with your arch-enemy and an unloved font. TimeWatch: FoK is a ludicrous lark built on a rocky joke that precludes it from taking flight. By comparison, 13th Age: SAO promises an enjoyable bit of dice slinging.
The next freebie is Paizo’s Starfinder: First Contact, a 16-page feature demo and monster exhibition. The book teases information about the upcoming system:
- a map of the Starfinder planets
- a summary of the notable Starfinder to Pathfinder differences
- an outer space bestiary
As Christopher Helton’s Free RPG Day article on EN World mentioned, Starfinder will lighten the Pathfinder rules a bit. Not so much that you’ll have trouble using it with Pathfinder, just simplifying some aspects. As demonstrated in the book, this results in easier to read monster stats. The space bestiary ranges from Paizo’s signature “Goblins, Space” to the Necrovite, an undead from a planet of undead, and a creature steeped in the flavor of this setting.
Paizo offers enough information to get a feel for the system-to-come. It reassures that, if you know Pathfinder or any d20 system, Starfinder will be a comfortable concept without a difficult learning curve. Like Pelgrane Press’ book, this trailer is worth sampling. I want to thank Paizo and Pelgrane Press (and Get Some Game where I picked these up) for making a great Free RPG Day.