So you want to play in a 13th Age game, but have no idea where to start. First, I would talk to your GM to learn about their game if it has already started. If it’s a new game, then all the players and GM should sit down and discuss what kind of game they want to play. Next, you should think about what kind of character you want to role play. A big burly fighter, a quick sly rogue, a mighty wizard, or a pious cleric? Of course there are also multiclass combos to mix it up. In the 13th Age core book and supplements, there are many choices to try. I always ask my players what is their concept for their character before we even choose a class. This is why you should, if you are able, do character creation together as a group. Nothing is worse than creating your Sherlock Holmes style sleuth for the city based mystery campaign in your head, when everyone else wants to go off and fight demons in the Red Wastes. If you want to use a third party supplement, always get with your GM to make sure they are OK with the class.
After you decide on what kind of character you want to play, next it’s time to decide on the class. Don’t overwhelm yourself with the most complicated class to play. Both you and the GM will get frustrated. If you really want to go that route make sure you know the challenge and be prepared to ask for help with rules. It helps if you have an experienced player who is willing to help you with rules and choices for the character.
Along with class, you need to choose a race. Human, dwarf, and elf have been a standard in F20 games for years. 13th Age allows for a wide variety of humanoid races to play. Again, if it is from a third party supplement, check with your GM to see if they will allow it.
Now that you have decided on class and race, it’s time to generate your abilities. Some people like to randomly roll, some use a point buy; either works just fine. Remember what your character concept is and assign your abilities to what you want your character to do. Now this does not mean that you cannot have a smart fighter or a strong wizard. And there is even the concept of purposely designing a weak character, but that will be covered in another article. For this, let us put the abilities in the corresponding slots to make our character effective as a fighter/rogue/wizard/cleric. Remember your racial/class bonus to abilities and the limits to what you can add to those bonuses.
Once that is done, or even before, you should come up with backgrounds and your One Unique Thing (OUT). These aspects of 13th Age really set it apart from other F20 games. You might even come up with these during your discussion about the character concept. In 13th Age, you start with eight points to assign to your backgrounds, no more than five in any one background. These backgrounds replace the traditional set of skills in other games. Instead of this skill list you have life experiences that have taught you how to climb that wall or disarm the trap or even build a bridge to escape the rampaging horde. The earlier you work with your GM about those the better. If you both understand the concept in your head, then when it comes up during play, everyone is happy and entertained. OUTs are unique to 13th Age. Your OUT is what sets you apart from other characters. It should not be a power booster but rather a story booster. In our campaigns at Iconic, OUTs have driven whole campaigns. It would take a whole article to cover all the ideas and use, but luckily the core rules have a great section explaining OUTs with some fine examples for players who get stuck coming up with one.
Along with backgrounds and OUT, Icon relationships are unique to 13th Age. Characters start with three points to spend on relationships. You not only have to decide which Icons, but also if your relationship is positive, negative, or conflicted. Again these should be specific to your character and not a way to game the system. Make the relationships fit with who your character is and you will be surprised how it moves and shapes the story.
Once these choices are made then all there is to do is to select feats/talents/powers particular to your class, determine defenses, and equip your character. These are found under each class description.
The more you create/play 13th Age characters, the quicker this process becomes. Oh, I almost forgot. Select your character’s name and go have fun.
Written by Mark