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And in the [13th Age] there arose powerful Icons

ToxTox I kill threadsPunch DimensionRegistered User regular
edited June 2016 in Critical Failures
13Age.jpg


Yo what is all this?
13th Age is a d20 roleplaying game that was released in 2013 by Rob Heinsoo and Jonathan Tweet. Setting wise, it's mostly a standard sword-and-sorcery medieval tabletop RPG, with its own unique twists and gimmicks.

Hey those names sound familiar! Where do I know them from?
Rob Heinsoo was a lead developer for D&D 4th edition and Jonathan Tweet was a lead designer for D&D 3rd edition. They worked together on the D&D Miniatures Game, and were laid off from Wizards of the Coast in 2009 and 2008, respectively.

Oh so this is just another D&D-style miniatures RPG?
Not even at all! In fact 13th Age arguably goes further than even D&D 5th edition at de-emphasizing minis and invoking "theater of the mind." Distances and ranges in combat are very vaguely defined (nearby, adjacent, far away, engaged) and while you can use a map in combat, a grid is virtually useless. I'll quote the game itself:
So the designers worked on 3e and on 4e. How does this compare?
Critics complained that 3E weighed the game down with rules for everything, turning an open-ended roleplaying game into a complicated simulation, arithmetic on a grid. 13th Age is a rules-light, free-form, gridless way to play a story-oriented campaign.
3E took the game forward in terms of player options and universal mechanics, and we have followed suit.
Critics compared 4E to a board game or miniatures game that distanced itself from its roots. 13th Age is about story-oriented campaigns not minis, and it revisits its roots with its setting and rules.
4E took the game forward in terms of balance and game play, and so do we.

So what do I need to know about?
For my money, there's three Main Ideas that set 13th Age apart among d20 games

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ICONS
Setting wise, the most unique facet of 13th Age is the presence of the Icons. These are 13th personas that range from notably powerful NPCs (the Emperor, the Elf Queen, the Archmage, the Dwarf King) to potential antagonists (the Crusader, the Orc Lord, the Three, the Lich King) to near god-like entities (the Diabolist, the Priestess, the Great Gold Wyrm, the High Druid). All player characters start with a few (generally 3, sometimes more) Icon Relationship Points. These are defined by the player at character creation and help feed the story. Relationships can be Positive, Conflicted, or Negative, and are easiest to think of as a low-level reputation system, with the Icons representing either particularly large or particularly powerful factions. Both the Icons and the Relationship Dice exist to help players and GMs set up the story they want to tell.
It should probably be noted that while the Icon Relationship Dice are a really great way to help define how a character is aligned with various factions and NPCs at character creation, in actual play the dice, as designed in the game, can be a bit clunky and sometimes feel irrelevant. It's...tricky, and most GMs end up appropriating the dice in different ways. The game devotes quite a few pages to introducing the Icons, and to explaining what Icon Relationships are, how they translate into dice, and how they can influence the game. Still, the Icons and Relationships with them remain one of the most standout features of 13th Age. You might even say the Icons are the game's One Unique Thing

Hey what about alignment?
What about it!? The short answer is that Alignment doesn't exist in any meaningful way in 13th Age

What's the long answer?
Player Characters don't have any meaningful Alignment in 13th Age. Icons do, though! Well, sort of. More accurately, there's a chart (13th Age core, p 27) that shows the general position of the Icons on the traditional 3x3 alignment grid. This is just a tool to help players better understand where the Icons stand, and doesn't directly influence your character in any way. It doesn't even directly inform how many points you can spend on a given Icon Relationship. That is determined by whether a given Icon is considered to be Heroic, Ambiguous, or Villainous (and the initial listings are only "Usually" and "Possibly" so GMs still have some ability to tailor the game for their story).

So how do Icon Relationships work?
I'm glad you asked!
At character creation, each character has at least 3 Icon Relationship points (some classes have Talents that grant them extra). The GM clarifies which Icons are Heroic, Ambiguous, and Villainous in this story. Players then spend their dice in any of the following ways:
- Up to 3 points on either Positive or Conflicted relationships with either Heroic or Ambiguous Icons
- Up to 2 points on either Conflicted or Negative relationships with Villainous Icons or Negative relationships with Ambiguous Icons
- Up to 1 point on either a Negative relationship with a Heroic Icon or a Positive relationship with a Villainous Icon

These points, in addition to generally giving an outline of how the PC views the world and its movers and shakers (and vice versa), translate directly into Icon Relationship Dice. Here's a couple of splats from the book:
when you’re called on to check your icon relationships, you’ll roll a single d6 for each point of relationship. You roll 1, 2, or 3 (or possibly 4 at epic level) six-sided dice, the same number of dice as the points you spent for the relationship with that icon.
Hope for 6s: If any die is a 6, you get some meaningful advantage from the relationship without having complications. If two or three dice come up 6, that’s even better.
Look out for 5s: If any die is a 5, your connection to the icon is going to work out as well as a 6 would, but with some unexpected complication. If it’s a good icon, you might be drawn into some obligation. If it’s a villainous icon, you might attract unwanted attention.
Both 5s and 6s: Rolling 5s when you also rolled 6s should make life both interesting and advantageous!
Why the d6? Yes, this is a d20-based game. Yes, most of the mechanics that matter use a d20. By using d6s for relationship rolls, we’re singling them out. This is the moment when the story pivots on your possible connection to one of the beings who shape reality. Level, Charisma, a good head-chakra item, none of that helps.
As GMs, we use player characters’ icon relationships three different ways.
Starting a session: All players roll their PC’s icon relationship dice at the start of each session, and everybody sees the results. By the end of the session, each 6 or 5 should contribute to the story somehow, either at the GM’s or player’s initiative.
The GM uses the results to think ahead about which icons come to the fore this session. Players use the results to start thinking about how their icon relationships might manifest in the story.
In-game dramatic events: Players roll all of their relationship dice for a particular icon when their PCs are confronting that icon’s representatives, agents, or minions. The GM decides when an event-based roll is called for. At their best, dramatic event rolls can map a surprising path that you and the players will make sense of via shared storytelling and the game’s other tools.
Discovery & Surprise: At the GM’s option, players may roll icon relationship dice to find out which icons are involved in a plot element, if any. When the characters have slalomed onto paths and adventures you did not anticipate, icon relationship rolls can serve as an idea generator with mechanics that everyone already understands.
There's one other method that's been mentioned/discussed in another thread that I want to mention:
End of level: When the party reaches a new level, before the end of the session, the GM should have all the players roll their Icon Relationship Dice (any newly acquired dice would be rolled along with any previously held dice). The GM notes down who rolled what and with which Icons, and uses these notes to aid in determine how the story develops over the next level. Of course the players, having seen their rolls, will probably have a very general idea of which Icons they may have to deal with (for better or worse), so they're free to offer any ideas, especially if they have any particular story beats they'd like their character to experience.

OUT
The One Unique Thing is another significant idea 13th Age brings to the table. The general idea is that PCs are special. Sure there's other fighters or wizards or even monks in the world, but yours has something about them that sets them apart from all the others, and this One Unique Thing is why your character is destined to be a hero in the world. The OUT is a strictly storytelling tool that should have little to no mechanical impact, and is used as a character hook, and the game encourages letting players have a wide berth to determine what their character's OUT is. Examples include "I am a dwarf who was born covered in scales from the egg of a dragon," or "I am the daughter that the Archmage doesn't know he has. Unfortunately, I don't have any proof, but I believe what my late mother told me," to "The stars sing to me. Sometimes they tell me things, and sometimes those things are true," to even "I'm the only human to be called into the dwarven priesthood - Ever." The OUT exists to allow the player a to define the character in a way that numbers on a sheet just can't, and to help provide GMs some information about who the character is deep down.

Backgrounds
While maybe not quite as significant as Icons or OUTs (depending on your game), Backgrounds sort of round out the storytelling trifecta for players in 13th Age. Backgrounds are the skills system, and have both storytelling and mechanical implications on the game. Players generally get 8 points to spend on backgrounds (but a few classes, especially "skillful" ones, can get more), and backgrounds are defined by the player. GMs are again encouraged to give players a lot of leniency in defining their characters' backgrounds. Lots of examples are given in the book, both in a short section under character creation, and in each individual class' write-up. Backgrounds can be pretty much anything you define, but are generally very short phrases such as "traveling caravan guard," or "temple scribe," or one that I've used was "remarkable unremarkable" as a way of showing "this character isn't stealthy per se, but still sometimes hears or sees things most don't, because people tend to find him beneath their notice or too harmless to worry about" It's a fantasy game, use your imagination!

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Okay! So what else?
Well those are probably the three most significant things from a story perspective for the game.

Here's a little blurb about races and classes, which I'll throw in spoilers so it doesn't take up too much more space

On Races and Feats
Races in 13th Age are pretty standard. Humans, dwarves, gnomes, halflings, half elves, half orc, half dragons, and tiefling, and aasimar (demon- and god-touched, respectively). Elves are treated as both three distinct races and one general race, the result of a civil war (literal) ages ago. Drow are not necessarily capital-E Evil but are generally regarded poorly, the other two branches (High and Wood) are regarded about the same as in most games. There are also the Forgeborn or Dwarf-forged, generally Warforged, who are defined as being constructs made by Dwarves and usually kept in the underworld, out of public sight. Forgeborn, Tieflings, Aasimar, and Draconics are all optional races that GMs may exclude from their game. The 13th Age Bestiary also introduced the Twygzog (mushroom people). Each race gives you two different ability scores that you may receive a +2 in (humans can choose any one). You only receive the boost to one of the listed abilities (your other +2 comes from your class, and cannot be to the same ability), and each race also has some sort of racial power
Feats are generally pretty straightforward. You start with one (humans get a bonus feat), and gain a feat at every level. Feats in 13th Age are generally treated as ways to slightly beef up an existing ability, and to this end they are typically listed under the game element that they modify or augment (which is considered as a pre-requisite for the relevant feat). There is a list of feats in the core book, including general feats with no pre-reqs, such as Further Backgrounding (gain more background points), or Improved Initiative (bonus to init checks). There are also several "feat trees" which amount to one feat per tier (Adventurer, Champion, Epic), where you usually must have the lower tier feats to be able to take the higher one. This is vastly less egregious than feat trees in other games for two reasons - you gain a feat every level, and each such tree is only 3 feats deep. Spending feats this way is viewed as focusing the character.

Classes
Nine player classes are detailed in the 13th Age core book, with another six added in the 13 True Ways supplement. One openly acknowledged fact of classes in 13th Age is that all classes do not operate the same way at all. There is an intentional discrepancy in the complexity with which each class works. On one end are classes that are designed to be simple and straightforward, like the Barbarian, Ranger, and Paladin, who operate more or less in standard ways (basic attacks only, with class features/talents that modify how these attacks work and the damage they do). Toward the middle are classes like the Fighter, Rogue, and Monk, that are still fairly standard, but have a bit more choice and flexibility in what they can do round to round and some variance in how they build and use combat abilities. Spellcasters like the Cleric, Wizard, Necromancer, and Sorcerer are a bit more advanced, with a slightly more complicated mix of class features, and spells that can be at-will, Daily, or a range of options in between. Then there are classes like the Commander or The Occultist who are just plain weird, with a focus on off-turn actions, these classes typically require a more experienced player who can pay close attention round-to-round, to make sure they jump in at the right time.
Now, all that said, classes are still very well balanced. Over the course of the game's 10 levels, no one class is going to clearly and obviously always be better than any others. Some may be more useful in certain situations, but those cases will generally vary with the group, and a great amount of care is taken to make sure that there are no huge power creeps. Each class, like each race, offers two ability scores to choose between for another +2, with the same caveat that both +2s cannot go to the same score. Classes also determine starting defenses (Armor Class, Physical Defense, Mental Defense), which get bonuses based on your ability scores.
Multiclassing was introduced in 13 True Ways and is more correctly a system for Dual Classing. You pick two classes, apply the requisite benefits and advantages of the MC system, and you level up both classes simultaneously as you go. The biggest disadvantage is that you will always effectively be one level behind with respect to gaining class-based combat abilities, feats, and talents.
Class Briefs
13th Age, core rulebook, p 75, lists the 9 classes by how they rate the ease/complexity of play -
The barbarian is designed for the player who wants to roll dice and slay without worrying too much about the rules.
Like the barbarian, the ranger relies on base attacks augmented by class talents instead of a power list.
The paladin also relies on a short list of class talents instead of powers. Like the ranger, it can be slightly more complex if you choose its more involved talents.
The fighter is simple to play but asks you to make interesting choices between flexible attacks before and during combat.
The cleric is probably the easiest of the spellcasters. It requires a touch of patience.
The sorcerer is probably more complex than the cleric because of variant spells and the option to cast spells for double the effect in two rounds. Not a decision that new players may feel comfortable with.
The rogue can be more complex than other classes because you are tracking whether or not you have momentum, constantly disengaging, and trying to use your Sneak Attack damage effectively.
The bard has a variety of options that include battle cries, spells, and songs. Figuring out how to use these options in combat and during roleplaying is probably best for a confident player.
The wizard is the most complex class if you choose all the options that allow improvisation and ad-libbing; without those free-form talents, it’s no more difficult than the sorcerer.
13 True Ways introduces more classes, outlining them on p 12 -
Chaos mage: It might be simple to play because its randomness offers a small number of choices. The choices matter, but a beginning player might not feel pressured about them.
Commander: Classes that are all about acquiring resources to boss their allies around aren’t usually great for beginners. The commander wants to pay attention at all times and figure out when to interject with a command.
Druid: This class sits at the very top limit of options and spells available to one class. The design goal was to enable players to create the variety of druid they want to play, and there have been many over the years. There’s a lot of options to explore.
Monk: They’re fun for people who want to jump around and fight with a blend of old-time monk abilities and Hong Kong action movie styles. Unlike the druid, the monk isn’t designed with an eye toward pleasing multiple demographics.
Necromancer: A somewhat straightforward nasty spellcaster that uses undead allies to good effect.
The Occultist: Rarity of rarities, a class designed to be a singular individual! The occultist is a highly powerful manipulator of reality who needs to pay attention during everyone else’s turn. It’s also somewhat crocked. It’s not a class likely to appeal to everyone . . . and it’s not meant to. Just you, the one person for whom the class was designed.

I'll likely do another big post later today, with more info. But for more information you can check out The 13th Age System Reference Document online here as well as The 13th Age FAQ here
Also there are currently only four books in the 13th Age Line: 13th Age (the core rulebook), 13 True Ways (which adds additional 6 additional classes and multiclassing rules, and adds lots of new story and GM content), 13th Age Bestiary (which introduces one new race, the Twyzgog, and otherwise has lots of new monsters), and the 13th Age Book of Loot (which has loads of new magic items, flavored to different icons).

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Fuselage
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Posts

  • JoshmviiJoshmvii Registered User regular
    Glad you decided to make this. In the coming months when I start really planning my 13th Age world and start the campaign I'm going to run, I'll definitely have more questions, and now I can ask them here instead of in the RPG thread.

    Just one thing, it might be useful to link to the SRD straight from the publisher. They added the 13 True Ways content to it, but the one you linked hasn't been updated to reflect that.

    http://site.pelgranepress.com/index.php/the-archmage-engine-13th-age-srd/

    That's where i've been going to use the SRD when i'm not close to my books. It has the whole thing in PDF, or just individual sections you can open as well.

    Tox
  • ToxTox I kill threads Punch DimensionRegistered User regular
    Done, ty

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  • OptimusZedOptimusZed Registered User regular
    I keep looking at 13th Age as a system to run my D&D settings in. My players tend to either want more fiddly bits and options like 4E or less mechanical focus like Fate, where we can just sit down and tell a story.

    I own the core book and 13 True Ways, but I'm not sure it actually has a place in my rotation.

    We're reading Rifts. You should too. You know you want to. Now With Ninjas!

    They tried to bury us. They didn't know that we were seeds. 2018 Midterms. Get your shit together.
  • Endless_SerpentsEndless_Serpents Registered User regular
    Huh, those are some very clever design choices.

    How important and how glued-to-the-mechanics are the Icons? What would it take for me to drop the Orc Lord and make up say, the Great Wolf in his stead?

  • ToxTox I kill threads Punch DimensionRegistered User regular
    Huh, those are some very clever design choices.

    How important and how glued-to-the-mechanics are the Icons? What would it take for me to drop the Orc Lord and make up say, the Great Wolf in his stead?

    Icons have no real mechanical bearing on the system, in general.

    That said, there are a number of mechanical options that are flavored as being relevant to a particular Icon. For instance, the Chaos mage has a large swath of powers that are flavored as being linked to a specific Icon. The Sorcerer has "Heritage" talents that are linked to specific Icons in both flavor and mechanics (Such as the Elf Queen talent granting elven racial powers, and the Lich King talent granting benefits against undead). The Necromancer is probably the class most explicitly connected to an Icon (the Lich King), as a "class feature" all necromancers must have at least 1 point of Relationship with the Necromancer (it can be Positive, Conflicted, or Negative).

    So unless you have a Necromancer, Chaos Mage, or Sorcerer, you're probably in the clear to stylize the Icons however you want. Even having those classes, you've still got plenty of room to tinker, you just want to be aware of how it impacts those classes, and work with the affected player.

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    Fuselage
  • jdarksunjdarksun Scion of Chaos Registered User regular
    How important and how glued-to-the-mechanics are the Icons? What would it take for me to drop the Orc Lord and make up say, the Great Wolf in his stead?
    You're basically already done. Figure out what you want the Great Wolf to be in relation to the other Icons, figure out where they fit into the schemes of the world, and what sorts of schemes they're interested in.

    TheRoadVirus
  • OptimusZedOptimusZed Registered User regular
    When I first got 13th Age I put together a list of Icons for Dark Sun. I think I posted it here. It wound up on their google roundup page at one point.

    I'm pretty sure that as long as you have Icons that run enough of the gamut to appeal to your players, it doesn't really matter who they are. The important thing is that they all sort of interlace and help define the movers and shakers of the setting.

    We're reading Rifts. You should too. You know you want to. Now With Ninjas!

    They tried to bury us. They didn't know that we were seeds. 2018 Midterms. Get your shit together.
  • ToxTox I kill threads Punch DimensionRegistered User regular
    The biggest things to take into account are all story, though. You want to consider the hole the Orc Lord would be leaving behind, and how the Great Wolf would fit that hole.

    If the Great Wolf is really just a sort of DireWere type creature, who is revered by orcish races, then yeah sure that could work. Maybe give them a slightly more shamanistic bend, they're not straight up evil races, they're just a bit more "savage" in the eyes of the Emperor and the Archmage.

    Perhaps the Great Wolf, like the Orc Lord, was originally created by the Elves (maybe with the help of the Druids?) to help take down the evil Wizard King (now Lich King). So that would preserve those dynamics. Maybe after this the Great Wolf was cast out as being too savage and unpredictable (even compared to the Crusader!) So the Elf Queen, the Emperor, and the new Archmage cast him out. Maybe this is part of why the High Druid doesn't get along so well with those Icons! Perhaps the Great Wolf was shown kindness by some orcish races, and in return taught them how to ride wolves, or even created direwolves, or maybe even Werewolves! That would put him more at odds with the Crusader, and maybe give the Great Wolf a sort of competitiveness with the Lich King (undead) and the Diabolist (devils)
    OptimusZed wrote: »
    I'm pretty sure that as long as you have Icons that run enough of the gamut to appeal to your players, it doesn't really matter who they are. The important thing is that they all sort of interlace and help define the movers and shakers of the setting.

    Pretty much this, yeah. It's a pretty significant change to the story, so you'd definitely want to address how that changes the backstory of the world and "How we got here" sort of questions.
    OptimusZed wrote: »
    When I first got 13th Age I put together a list of Icons for Dark Sun. I think I posted it here. It wound up on their google roundup page at one point.

    That's awesome! Care to share if you can find it?

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    Fuselage
  • JoshmviiJoshmvii Registered User regular
    My 13th Age game is going to be in a homebrewed setting, so nearly all the icons will be changed. I will keep dwarf king, elf queen, probably prince of shadows, have an arch druid type, probably keep lich king and orc lord or some variation, etc. But I'm also planning to probably have some organizations as icons.

    There are definitely some class mechanics that will have to be tinkered with if my players want to use them, but I'm down to do that.

    To me the real important thing is just that you're making the icons a living part of the story, active in the goings on of the world.

  • Endless_SerpentsEndless_Serpents Registered User regular
    edited June 2016
    I see! Very nice, I thought as much but wanted to know for sure.

    Hey, those are some cool ideas @Tox, I just pulled Great Wolf out of thin air.

    Endless_Serpents on
    Tox
  • OptimusZedOptimusZed Registered User regular
    We're reading Rifts. You should too. You know you want to. Now With Ninjas!

    They tried to bury us. They didn't know that we were seeds. 2018 Midterms. Get your shit together.
  • OptimusZedOptimusZed Registered User regular
    Ok, found 'em.

    I'd just quote myself, but that thread's been closed for years.

    Interestingly, a page later I leveled the same concerns about the system overall that I basically still have.
    2013 Me wrote:
    Some choices don't feel meaningful, either because they don't really do anything or because they're a no-brainer. In other cases, options that are presented are deeply situational and can be rendered useless.

    In many cases one must choose between combat prowess and non-combat utility.

    Fighters are pretty deeply uninspiring, at least to me personally.

    I still hate /day action economies, but I'm willing to roll with it for now. (4E has this, too.)

    Race doesn't seem to mean much outside of initial bonuses. (This can potentially change, it started off pretty weak in 4E as well.)

    Magical items provide numerical bonuses. (note that this is also an issue I have with 4E)

    They fixed (at least partially) the duality of caster and non-caster, but casters are still hugely more flexible.

    I'm not sure what I'm going to do about some of these, but I've got plans for a few of them. First step is strapping things to the race entries until they feel done.

    We're reading Rifts. You should too. You know you want to. Now With Ninjas!

    They tried to bury us. They didn't know that we were seeds. 2018 Midterms. Get your shit together.
    jdarksun
  • FuselageFuselage Bantha Three ValhallaRegistered User regular
    I've got to say, between the One Unique Thing from 13A and DM Moves/ Player relations in Dungeon World I'm pretty well set to flavor up the next encounter I DM.

  • ToxTox I kill threads Punch DimensionRegistered User regular
    One thing that I didn't really notice at all until after I'd already been heavily invested in the game, is just how much control the GM gets over the story. It really is the GMs game. The difference is that they don't use any real oppositional language about it. It's not "ask your GM" it's "work with your GM" and GMs are heavily instructed to work with their players in the interest of a better story. The mechanics can always be tweaked more later if it's needed.

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  • jdarksunjdarksun Scion of Chaos Registered User regular
    Fuselage wrote: »
    I've got to say, between the One Unique Thing from 13A and DM Moves/ Player relations in Dungeon World I'm pretty well set to flavor up the next encounter I DM.
    Toss in scene attributes from FATE/Dresden Files: doodads the players can interact with in every encounter.

    FuselageTheRoadVirus
  • ToxTox I kill threads Punch DimensionRegistered User regular
    Also I think I'm gonna do more in-depth write-ups on each Icon individually, in a post-of-the-week type fashion. Not sure what day yet (may not be the same day), but I'll try to keep it consistent, and I'm just gonna run through them alphabetically.

    Might do it bi-weekly and on the off weeks do a Class write-up, or I may just wait and do Classes after.

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  • FuselageFuselage Bantha Three ValhallaRegistered User regular
    Is there always a fixes number of icons or are you free with fiddle with whatever work you're willing to make for yourself?

  • JoshmviiJoshmvii Registered User regular
    No, you can have however many icons you want. I can't remember if they say why in the book, but I'm pretty sure the reason there are 13 in 13th Age is that they wanted to have at least 4/4/4 heroic/ambiguous/villainous icons and then they realized they could have 13 and the game is called 13th Age. =P

    You could have whatever number you liked, I just think the idea is you should have a number of interesting heroic/ambiguous/villainous ones for players to choose from, so you don't want too few. And if you have too many then each individual one may not be as interesting. I'm aiming to have about 12 or 13 in my homebrew world.

    Fuselage
  • AspectVoidAspectVoid Registered User regular
    They even say that the 13th Age is unique because all of the icons are active, and normally only some of the Icons are around in an Age.

    PSN|AspectVoid
    FuselageToxOats
  • ToxTox I kill threads Punch DimensionRegistered User regular
    edited June 2016
    Yeah you can have as many as you want. One thing they do is demonstrate how the Icons are "aligned" on the traditional alignment grid. So one thing you could do is have 9 icons, one representing each alignment, and have the Icon Relationship Points be a more nuanced way to express Alignment. You can have more than 1 point with a given Icon, so if your character is more on the line between Lawful Good and Neutral good, you could have 2 points with the NG Icon and 1 point with the LG Icon. Or even have 1 point with each "Good" Icon, but have the Lawful/Chaotic Relationships be "Conflicted" since they feel like you're generally on their side, but not fully dedicated to their cause.

    e: Which brings up another thing I didn't really notice about 13A for a while. Player Characters do not have alignment. You are defined way more by your background, your OUT, and your relationships with the Icons than you are by any generic philosophic view of the world.

    Tox on
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  • Endless_SerpentsEndless_Serpents Registered User regular
    edited June 2016
    I'm going to look into the system more, since I think there is at least a lot to steal, even if I don't outright use the system.

    While we're on Icons, I can't help but want to make a little conversion for Dark Souls (just Icons, not the whole thing), just for fun, as I feel that's a setting that really expresses being a hero in a world where outside forces are actively vying for control and your hand in bringing about their desires...

    Endless_Serpents on
  • ToxTox I kill threads Punch DimensionRegistered User regular
    'Mechanics' of Icon Relationship Points/Dice (threw this up in the OP as well)
    At character creation, each character has at least 3 Icon Relationship points (some classes have Talents that grant them extra). The GM clarifies which Icons are Heroic, Ambiguous, and Villainous in this story (the core rulebook gives some guidelines, but Icons are listed as either "Usually" or "Possibly" falling into each category). Players then spend their dice in any of the following ways:
    - Up to 3 points on either Positive or Conflicted relationships with either Heroic or Ambiguous Icons
    - Up to 2 points on either Conflicted or Negative relationships with Villainous Icons or Negative relationships with Ambiguous Icons
    - Up to 1 point on either a Negative relationship with a Heroic Icon or a Positive relationship with a Villainous Icon

    These points, in addition to generally giving an outline of how the PC views the world and its movers and shakers (and vice versa), translate directly into Icon Relationship Dice. Here's a couple of splats from the book:
    when you’re called on to check your icon relationships, you’ll roll a single d6 for each point of relationship. You roll 1, 2, or 3 (or possibly 4 at epic level) six-sided dice, the same number of dice as the points you spent for the relationship with that icon.
    Hope for 6s: If any die is a 6, you get some meaningful advantage from the relationship without having complications. If two or three dice come up 6, that’s even better.
    Look out for 5s: If any die is a 5, your connection to the icon is going to work out as well as a 6 would, but with some unexpected complication. If it’s a good icon, you might be drawn into some obligation. If it’s a villainous icon, you might attract unwanted attention.
    Both 5s and 6s: Rolling 5s when you also rolled 6s should make life both interesting and advantageous!
    Why the d6? Yes, this is a d20-based game. Yes, most of the mechanics that matter use a d20. By using d6s for relationship rolls, we’re singling them out. This is the moment when the story pivots on your possible connection to one of the beings who shape reality. Level, Charisma, a good head-chakra item, none of that helps.
    As GMs, we use player characters’ icon relationships three different ways.
    Starting a session: All players roll their PC’s icon relationship dice at the start of each session, and everybody sees the results. By the end of the session, each 6 or 5 should contribute to the story somehow, either at the GM’s or player’s initiative.
    The GM uses the results to think ahead about which icons come to the fore this session. Players use the results to start thinking about how their icon relationships might manifest in the story.
    In-game dramatic events: Players roll all of their relationship dice for a particular icon when their PCs are confronting that icon’s representatives, agents, or minions. The GM decides when an event-based roll is called for. At their best, dramatic event rolls can map a surprising path that you and the players will make sense of via shared storytelling and the game’s other tools.
    Discovery & Surprise: At the GM’s option, players may roll icon relationship dice to find out which icons are involved in a plot element, if any. When the characters have slalomed onto paths and adventures you did not anticipate, icon relationship rolls can serve as an idea generator with mechanics that everyone already understands.
    There's one other method that's been mentioned/discussed in another thread that I want to mention:
    End of level: When the party reaches a new level, before the end of the session, the GM should have all the players roll their Icon Relationship Dice (any newly acquired dice would be rolled along with any previously held dice). The GM notes down who rolled what and with which Icons, and uses these notes to aid in determine how the story develops over the next level. Of course the players, having seen their rolls, will probably have a very general idea of which Icons they may have to deal with (for better or worse), so they're free to offer any ideas, especially if they have any particular story beats they'd like their character to experience.

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  • ElvenshaeElvenshae Registered User regular
    Is the 13th Age SRD nonfunctional at the moment?

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  • ToxTox I kill threads Punch DimensionRegistered User regular
    Elvenshae wrote: »
    Is the 13th Age SRD nonfunctional at the moment?

    http://site.pelgranepress.com/index.php/the-archmage-engine-13th-age-srd/

    Loads fine for me?

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  • Endless_SerpentsEndless_Serpents Registered User regular
    edited June 2016
    Super Quick Icons for Dark Souls or Whatever
    The Flame Eternal (Ambiguous)
    The very spark from which the primordial Icons drew sovereignty from, and the forge that birthed the 1st Age. The Flame burns with glory and vitality, making true the ambitious of the great, though it consumes those that dare drawn too near to fuel its endless hunger. The Flame Eternal may be smothered to cinders, but it will always reignite, brilliant and tall as the kingdoms that rise with it's power. While it is perhaps mindless, it tends to latch onto emperors and great beasts, through which their own designs seem ever to fulfil the needs of the Flame.

    The Waiting Dark (Ambiguous)
    After day comes the night. So to does the Dark overcome the Flame, time and again. Most see the Dark as a sinister force, the force that drives the most terrifying of creatures and once-men monstrosities, and perhaps that is true, yet the Dark offers change. It is there when the corrupt lord is overthrown, when the chains are shattered, when the dust is blown away. Many have served the dark willingly, but while the Flame consumes, the Dark twists and rots and whispers of a million wants; nations crumble before it and stark savagery is left in its wake. Though the Waiting Dark may be pushed back into the depths, it is nothing if not patient.

    The Old Raven (Heroic)
    A figure of many names and forms, and a weaver of fates. The Old Raven has been known to appear before those who will change the world, and has at times literally carried them to where they need to be. She has sympathy for mortal and undead alike, absolving those that seek her of sin in return for service. She holds all other Icons in contempt, save the Knight, each of them having committed too many crimes to be forgiven in her eyes.

    The Radient Knight (Heroic)
    From humble mortal beginnings this young, by their standards, Icon lives to bring hope to the hearts of weary adventurers. A worshiper of the sun, granted divinity by faith and song of those he aided in battle, the Radient Knight has gained no arrogance since his ascent to pormiance. He watches over the good, and will offer gifts to those deserving, whether they know their luck comes from him or not. However, be wary, he is not untainted, a curse laid upon him by the profaned remnants of a witch eats away at him slowly...

    The Cosmic Pilgrim (Ambiguous)
    Once advisor to a ruined king of a forgotten kingdom, a scholar sought answers to the riddles of existence. On his journey he passed beyond the material, finding a strange immortality at the cost of his form. An Age or more he travelled until at last he found an apprentice, a true monarch, unrivalled and unthroned, his protege slew him and carried on his pilgrimage, far from the scope and reach of any elder Icon before them. They seek the unknown, wish to know all there can be to know, and ultimately create a new, final Age.

    The Moonlight Duke (Evil)
    Beauty and madness, the two traits of the Duke, the master of magic and last of the true dragons. Willing to strike a deal, to play the genteel ally, the Duke has survived many Ages and trick even those that know to beware his manipulation. He betrayed his kind to the first Icons, then left an illusion in his place when they faced their ends against the scourge of undead. He has his scaly fingers in many a pie, from the schools of mages to the pettiest of criminal guilds. The pale dragon survives, and will see the next Age, by any cost.

    The Hollow Queen (Ambiguous)
    Chosen long ago to venture north and face the Gods, such as they were, the Hollow Queen of the undead murdered the Icons as they rotted away at the dying embers of their Age. Her fabled choice, how the next Age should be, is shrouded in mystery. Some say she sides with Flame, some with Dark- All anyone really knows, is that she favours those that bare her curse, and are willing to fight tooth and nail for what they alone desire.

    I could go on, but I think that would be a fun start.

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  • ElvenshaeElvenshae Registered User regular
    Tox wrote: »
    Elvenshae wrote: »
    Is the 13th Age SRD nonfunctional at the moment?

    http://site.pelgranepress.com/index.php/the-archmage-engine-13th-age-srd/

    Loads fine for me?

    Sorry - google was telling me it was 13agesrd.com

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  • ToxTox I kill threads Punch DimensionRegistered User regular
    Elvenshae wrote: »
    Tox wrote: »
    Elvenshae wrote: »
    Is the 13th Age SRD nonfunctional at the moment?

    http://site.pelgranepress.com/index.php/the-archmage-engine-13th-age-srd/

    Loads fine for me?

    Sorry - google was telling me it was 13agesrd.com

    That's a 3rd Party SRD that someone made personally. It...sometimes works? I don't know, but it's incomplete (as was pointed out to me previously). That's the actual correct link.

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  • ElvenshaeElvenshae Registered User regular
    Thanks for pointing me to the right one! Forgot to say that earlier. :D

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  • JoshmviiJoshmvii Registered User regular
    I can't wait to see what direction my players want to go with icon stuff in my forthcoming campaign. I have a feeling they're going to want to go with rolling relationship dice at the beginning of levels or campaign arcs. We're not the types that want a fully fluid "whatever we roll at the beginning of the session or mid session steers the story in very different ways." I am pretty confident they're all going to want a more familiar and structured story experience, with the relationships just informing and supplementing the story rather than steering it fully.

    To me icons are just a really nice way of reminding everybody that the king of the dwarves or whatever other powerful people in the setting should be a living part of the world, rather than just background information. I think it'll really help me running my game.

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  • ToxTox I kill threads Punch DimensionRegistered User regular
    I kind of like the idea of using Icon Points in two ways simultaneously. For the players, the actual points translate more or less directly into a sort of reputation. Now, even a 3pt reputation isn't going to translate into anything like "audience on demand" or anything. It'd be more like a +3 Positive relationship with an Icon means they're more likely to believe or trust you versus someone with no Positive points. It also likely means that those affiliated with an Icon more or less know of you, at least. It wouldn't translate into anything mechanical, but it would be a storytelling element.

    For the dice themselves, have the GM roll them in secret. That way the players don't actually know exactly what's going to happen. That way you get some random story elements, but don't necessarily need to worry about who got what, specifically.

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  • Grunt's GhostsGrunt's Ghosts Registered User regular
    One of my favorite places to go to for 13th Age stuff is Vault of the 13th Age, which is fan-made stuff, including new items, classes, icons, and two issues of ICON Fanzine, which include some really good stuff. I think that they quit doing ICON because of 13th Age Monthly official magazine started coming out but it is still worth the look.

  • jdarksunjdarksun Scion of Chaos Registered User regular
    We must dissent!

    I think the Icons are the weakest part of the fluff. There's like two that are interesting.

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  • doomybeardoomybear Hi People Registered User regular
    Aren't the icons like that on purpose though? They're generic placeholders for standard high fantasy tropes.

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  • OptimusZedOptimusZed Registered User regular
    I think the default setting is generic and unobtrusive enough to allow for just about any kind of campaign setup. That also makes it pretty uninspiring if you're not into sandboxing your way across middle earth.

    I think the icon system can be a great campaign resource for GMs, but I'm definitely with jdarksun. There really isn't any there there for me personally with the presented icons.

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  • Grunt's GhostsGrunt's Ghosts Registered User regular
    jdarksun wrote: »
    We must dissent!

    I think the Icons are the weakest part of the fluff. There's like two that are interesting.

    They are like that on purpose. As the GM and players, we are suppose to define them ourselves to fit our view on the 13th Age. Like my Archmage is normally a means justifies the ends kinda of person so he has no problems playing with dark magics if it means that we gain a better understanding of magic as a whole. My Priestess is basically like Church of the 7 Gods in this current season of Game of Thrones. I try to make every Icon sit on the shades of gray when it comes to Good or Evil, which is why I hate the Alignment chart for them. One of the things people gloss over when it comes to Icons is The True Danger. In the intro to the Icons, every one of them have their friends, enemies, and True Danger. The Dragon Empire is held together by frail strings of allegiances and hope. If one Icon tips the scales, even a little, the whole place goes into chaos. If the Archmage's magic goes crazy or he decides to use magic to gain more power, then the Emperor has lost his magical right hand, the High Druid will declare war on the Archmage, which could weaken the Archmage's wards enough for the Orc Lord to push fully into the Empire, which would bring the Dwarf King and the Forge under attack, which could give the Elf Queen reason to destroy her old foe, and so on and so forth. As adventurers, you are the small gears that either keep or break that balance of people, and players should feel that more and more as the game goes on.

  • ArdentArdent Registered User regular
    Huh, those are some very clever design choices.

    How important and how glued-to-the-mechanics are the Icons? What would it take for me to drop the Orc Lord and make up say, the Great Wolf in his stead?
    Icons are swappable; they're written into "the setting" per se, but if you swap one out you're just acknowledging that the setting is slightly different.

    There are a lot of hacks out there to put the Icon system into other settings; there's a Faerun hack with Elminster, Jarlaxle, Drizzt, Bruenor, the Symbul, etc as the Icons.

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  • Grunt's GhostsGrunt's Ghosts Registered User regular
    I personally like some of the Gender Swap Icons I found once: The White Queen being my personal favorite.

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  • jdarksunjdarksun Scion of Chaos Registered User regular
    edited June 2016
    doomybear wrote: »
    Aren't the icons like that on purpose though? They're generic placeholders for standard high fantasy tropes.
    That's an excuse; if they're meant to be replaceable, there's no reason not to go all-in on something evocative and interesting! If you're selling me a cookbook, don't showcase with something from the back of a box of pre-made cake mix! Give me cybernoir! High noon fantasy! The creeping dread that lurked in the darkness beyond the firelight of pre-history! The roaring 20s with dragons!

    (or at least don't make them blatant ripoffs of D&D deities, sheesh.)

    Hextor The Crusader is pretty rad, though.
    They are like that on purpose. As the GM and players, we are suppose to define them ourselves to fit our view on the 13th Age.
    This is like the biggest cop-out I've ever seen:
    Ordinarily one of our published campaign settings would choose names for key NPCs that evoke wonder and a sense of a specific individual history. But we didn’t choose that route for 13th Age. Instead we chose somewhat generic names for the icons to leave room for you to customize icon identities in each of your campaigns.
    "We could have made, like, a totally evocative game filled with wonder! But we made a generic setting instead, you should go do that yourselves."
    Reading this book after watching Legend of Korra is like abandoning a steak to chew on a bar of soap! These mechanics deserve better! Let's get a list of alternate Icons and settings going!

    (also, re: "Player Characters don't have any meaningful Alignment in 13th Age" ... sure they do. The player's relationship (Positive / Conflicted / Negative) to the various categories of Icons (Heroic / Ambiguous / Villainous) is absolutely a version of Alignment. They might not have "Lawful Evil" on their character sheet, but a character with a Positive relationship with the Lich King is going to have just as explaining to do as one that worships Vecna)

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  • jdarksunjdarksun Scion of Chaos Registered User regular
    We must dissent!

    There are other ways of resolving disputes than combat! Where are the rules for social encounters!

    ...seriously, does anybody have any good info for social stuff in this game? The best I can find on the web is like "uhhh, use Backgrounds I guess?"

    Oats
  • ToxTox I kill threads Punch DimensionRegistered User regular
    Can you elaborate on "social stuff" ?

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