S3-E06: Interview with Rob Heinsoo

This week we welcome 13th Age game designer, Rob Heinsoo, back to the show to discuss a variety of topics: from what’s being played at his game table to reminiscing over the joys and pains of creating 13th Age in the first place.

While there were some technical difficulties with the phone call, we had an excellent time with him and hope you, our listeners, enjoy it too!


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Playing Without a Cleric

Playing Without a Cleric

Most times, in F20 games, playing with a cleric is a forgone conclusion. It is one of the most, if not THE most, vital roles in the dungeon delving party. Few things will stress a party out as quickly as the cleric hitting 0 HP. And, as we know, 13th Age provides many great options for the cleric, not the least of which is allowing them to heal as quick actions, allowing them to play more than just a mobile bandaid box. All that being said, here is a secret. Come closer. Are you ready for this?

You don’t need one. That is right, you really do not NEED a cleric in 13th Age. I know what you are thinking. Iconic, I come to you for Epic Tier advice on 13th Age, and this seems like a quick way to turn my game into a 0-level funnel. But wait, hear us out. There are plenty of options for your groups if you want to leave the cleric behind in Santa Cora praying to the Priestess.

 

Option 1 – Other Choices

Dust off some of those classes from 13 True Ways! 13th Age is rife with alternative choices for healers besides the Cleric. Bards can heal. Commanders can heal. Druids can heal. That is not counting the fact other classes have spot healing (the Necromancer & Paladin come to mind) and that all characters can heal as an action at least once a fight. If you are going to adventure without a cleric, try to plan ahead and include some of these other classes. Additionally, give the group extra potions as a way for them to deal with their healing needs.

Option 2 – Go Mythic

13th Age Glorantha has less available healing classes than core 13th Age. To counter that, they include the Battle Healing rule (page 64). Steal this for your core 13th Age game to help offset the lack of power healing. Let everyone have the ability to trigger someone else’s recovery, possibly even before they hit 0 HP. An encouraging word, a slap upside the head, or a kick in the rear is all it could take to get someone back into the fight. Remember, hit points are an abstraction of luck, endurance, fighting spirit, and toughness. Theme Battle Healing however you like, but this option opens up a lot more flexibility in the party where healing is concerned.

Option 3 – Fudge the Rules

If nothing else feels like it works, you can make a couple of simple rules changes to increase the available healing. Perhaps you make drinking/administering a potion a quick action? You know your players already wish that was the case already. You could make the first use of Rally (each battle, each heal up) a quick action for characters, representing that first rush of adrenaline when the character realizes how dire the straights are. Or perhaps it goes to a quick action after the Escalation Die reaches 4, representing the surge of confidence as the party knows the battle is turning in their favor. Play around with these ideas to find a good feel for your table.

 

Last Words

Anyway you look at it, 13th Age provides a lot of options for non-standard party make-ups. As a GM, I would caution to you start off a bit friendlier than you normally would with a party like this. Use basic build math and no nastier specials, at least until you get used to the party dynamics. It gives your players time to figure out the ebb and flow of combat sans clerics.

Players, if you are going to play without a cleric remember that you need to be more on top of your own healing; instead of just yelling ‘cleric!!’ when your HP gets low. Keep an eye on the ebb and flow of the fight to figure out when to heal and when to flee. Keep these tips in mind and you should be able to survive without a cleric.

 

Are you playing in a group without a Cleric? Want to try out some of these ideas? Drop us a line and let us know how it goes.

Written by JM

S3-E05: Crown of Charon Review

This week we give our take on the 13th Age adventure, The Crown of Charon. It’s a tournament adventure, which is different from other products we’ve reviewed in the past.

Listen in as we give a high-level overview of it as well as some things worth bearing in mind as you consider picking up this product, which you can do over at DriveThruRPG.

 

 


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S3-E04: Ending a Campaign

All good things must come to an end, and a 13th Age campaign is no exception. Whether it be because everyone hits level 10 or the party needs to disband for some reason, it’s a good idea to start thinking about how you’re going to bring your campaign to a close. In this episode we talk about some things that are good to keep in mind as you anticipate that ‘final session.’


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Fear in 13th Age

As GMs and as players, we want to immerse ourselves into the story that’s being told. Many games ask the GM to craft an elaborate world for the PCs to learn about. While the imagination can certainly take hold while describing that world, one of the best ways to get a player invested in it is to get their emotions invested. As a GM, you can’t expect your players to fall in love with all the NPCs you portray or want to prove their loyalty to the guild you’ve slaved over creating. But you could probably get them to fear the monsters they encounter. Yes, describing the demon in all its slavering glory could get the players trembling, but 13th Age has a mechanic built in to create fear within the character. This fear effect seems simple enough, but it comes with dire consequences.

Fear, at its very basic mechanic, forces the PC to be dazed and prevents them from using the escalation die. While not obviously dire, when the PCs are facing a Large Red Dragon with an AC of 25, (who does get to use that escalation die) the bonus from the escalation die goes a long way to helping the party land a hit. If the fighter has a -4 penalty due to being dazed and cannot use the escalation die from being afraid, the player is going experience some frustration as well as fear for their character’s life.

Typical monsters who have this effect are demons, devils, dragons, and really nasty minotaurs. Usually these monsters are the bigger, badder, out-to-wreck-the-party monsters. They will have a fear aura, which is based on the amount of hit points the character has. For example, a large red dragon is a level 10 monster. Any enemy engaged with this monster who has less than 72 hit points will succumb to fear. This penalty is intense as between the -4 Attack and lack of Escalation Die bonus, it’s doubling down on the PCs’ ability to fight the monster.

Players have a couple of different avenues for combating fear. The paladin class has a talent called Fearless, which allows them to be immune to fear. It has a few other sweet perks such as actually giving the player a bonus against enemies who have that fear aura and abilities. An Occultist can also choose a talent that has a feat which negates fear, but because that’s a champion feat; it’ll take some time to get that ability. Since all of the characters probably won’t be Paladins or Occultists that take those Talents, the other way to beat that fear aura is to either remove themselves from being engaged with that particular monster or to heal themselves above the fear threshold. There are very few monsters who allow the PCs to roll saving throws and shake off that fear.

As you run your next 13th Age game, we at Iconic hope that you will consider how to use this fear mechanic to further invest the players into the game, and we look forward to hearing your creative uses of it. Is there a room in the castle that has a fear threshold? Or will the characters inch closer to the unseen monster who lurks, waiting to devour all will and bravery? Would you let your players roll a wisdom check to see if they can withstand the horror?

Written by Becca

S3-E03: Being a Better GM

Not that long ago, we did an episode on Being a Better Player, and we wanted to do a followup to that with a discussion about how to be a Better GM, especially when running 13th Age.

As a part of this episode, we briefly talk about the Wangrod Defense as discussed by Matt Colville, which you can watch here.


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S3-E02: Why 13th Age?

This week we answer a question that we should have answered back in Season 1: Why do we love 13th Age so much? Join us as we talk about the various aspects of the game that make it one of our favorites, and leave a comment as to why you love it!

 


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And a special thank you to all of our awesome Patrons!

 

S3-E01: Shards of the Broken Sky Review

For our first episode of Season 3, we take a look at the soon-to-be-released Shards of the Broken Sky. It’s a great sandbox setting that you can run through multiple times or pull bits and pieces out for your own campaign. Listen in as we give a chapter-by-chapter breakdown of what’s in the book!

The long-anticipated book is now available for pre-order at Pelgrane Press’ website, and for the fantastic listeners of the Iconic Podcast, you can use this voucher code to receive a 10% discount off your pre-order!

POD#ICONSHARDS


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S2-E26: The Occultist

This week, in another Class Acts segment, we take an in-depth look at The Occultist. This class is based on the idea of someone being able to bend reality to their will, and we talk about how that’s handled mechanically, as well as a number of ways to bring that in through One Unique Things and Backgrounds. And remember, there’s only ever one in the game at a time! This is truly an Unique class!

This topic was selected by our patrons, and one had commented that he doesn’t allow the Occultist to be played at his table. When asked for clarification, this is what he responded:

I think it is related to my take on the Occultist as a “world-breaker.” I don’t mind the class if it was a one-on-one game where the Occultist plays a solo campaign with a GM. But around a table I think it would risk being a spot-light-hogging machine. Every Hero is “unique” in some way, but the Occultist is doubly so, and it’s hard to NOT build the whole campaign around that one person and make everyone else feel like side-kicks.

And the caution to not let this become a ‘spotlight-hogging machine’ is excellent advice. If you have had a player play an Occultist or have played on yourself, leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts on it!


If you enjoy listening to the Iconic Podcast, please consider supporting us by becoming a patron or by using our Amazon referral link to do your online shopping.

And a special thank you to all of our awesome Patrons!