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

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!

S2-E23: Son of the Living Dungeon

This week Becca joins us again for another Random Encounter brainstorm session! The thought behind this week’s topic is how we might introduce a living dungeon to an Adventurer-Tier party. The theme? An Epic-Tier party botched slaying a Living Dungeon, and now your party is handling the cleanup.

Don’t forget that we’re currently running a 13th Age Contest, and it’d be great if you could participate! For more information, please visit the announcement post!


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.

S2-E19: Adventure Site Creation: Sleigh Down!

This week Becca joins us again as we create another adventure site! This one is themed for the holiday as we build up the situation surrounding Santa’s sleigh crashing!

And like we mentioned, if you haven’t read the 13th Age novel written by Greg Stolze The Forgotten Monk, be sure to pick it up this holiday season. It’s great!

And for more 13th Age holiday festival ideas, check out Volume 3 of the Escalation Fanzine!


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.

S2-E15: Adventure Site Creation: Castle Ruins

This week we brainstorm another adventure site. Back in Episode 10, we crafted a Champion Tier Swamp, and this time we come up with some ideas for some Epic Tier Castle Ruins for you to use at your table.

 

 


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S2-E14: High Magic & Low Cunning Review

This week we take a look at the 13th Age book Battle Scenes: High Magic & Low Cunning. We talk about how the Battle Scenes books are useful to GMs and what our favorite bits of High Magic & Low Cunning are.

If you’re interested in picking up the books, you can do so at your FLGS (like Petrie’s Family Games) or Pelgrane Press, and you can purchase some of the individual adventures at DriveThruRPG.

And if you’re unfamiliar with Tucker’s Kobolds, you can read about them here. 


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.

 

S2-E10: Adventure Site Creation: Swamp

This week we’re trying something new for the show! We brainstorm encounter ideas centered around a location that you might find useful in your campaign. The location we chose this time is a champion-tier cursed swamp that’s consuming a nearby village.

Listen in, take notes, and be inspired to use it at your table. And if you do, we’d love to hear about it, and what you named the swamp and village.

And let us know how you liked this sort of encounter-creation brainstorming session!


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

S2-E09: Magic Items

Every player loves good loot, especially if it’s magical. And in this episode we talk about about that magical loot: how much is too much, when it’s appropriate to take it away, making your own items, and more!

Since recording this episode, Pelgrane Press opened up the pre-order for Loot Harder: A Book of Treasures – a book chock full of magical items ready to be used at your table. July’s not quite over yet, so you can still receive a 10% discount off your pre-orders of Loot Harder: A Book of Treasures and The Book of Ages by using the promo code POD#ICON18LHBA

S2-E08: The Book of Demons

On the heels of last episode’s discussion of the Diabolist comes a review of the 13th Age Book of Demons. In this episode, we talk through what’s found between the covers: the new Demonologist class, hellholes, more demon stats, and the citadels of a couple Icons. All in all, this is a great book!

We had previously discussed using demons in a campaign in Episode 10 of last season, so be sure to go back and listen to that for additional inspiration!

If you want to pick up a copy of this book, you can purchase it at your FLGS or online at Pelgrane’s store. And don’t forget that in the month of July, you can receive a 10% discount off your pre-orders of Loot Harder: A Book of Treasures and The Book of Ages by using the promo code POD#ICON18LHBA

Since the publication of this book, Pelgrane Press has released an errata for it, which you can access here: http://site.pelgranepress.com/index.php/the-book-of-demons/

S2-E07: Campaign Creation: The Diabolist

This week we focus our attention on one of the 13th Age Icons of the Dragon Empire: the Diabolist. We discuss various perspectives of who she might be, what might motivate her, and even toss around some ideas on a campaign arc with her as a primary feature.

If she is prominent in your campaign, leave a comment, and let us know what your take on her is!

The 7 Icon Campaign article discussed in the show is actually one of the 13th Age Monthly installments. You can find out more about that here.

And don’t forget that in the month of July, you can receive a 10% discount off your pre-orders of Loot Harder: A Book of Treasures and The Book of Ages by using the promo code POD#ICON18LHBA