Monday, May 5, 2014

The Solidification of 13th Age as a Go-To Game

Roleplaying games in my gaming circles generally fall into one of three types:

--Interesting games we might talk about but never can spare the time to actually try (Numenera, FATE, Edge of the Empire). They either have some flaw (weird dice, exotic mechanics), some level of buy-in (too many tomes, no PDF available) or are just a bit out of the overlap on the venn diagram of the local group's interests to permit it a chance.

--Games that are a fun occasional "break game" or alternatively the "beer & pretzels" rpg; something you play when you're looking from a temporary break from the regular game (Tunnels & Trolls, Savage Worlds, about 90% of all indie games out there)

--And last but most importantly is the bread-and-butter "go-to" game. This is the one (or two) that your group will play religiously....the one which brings everyone to the table. You can usually identify this one by how many of your regulars actually buy copies of the game; buy-in is serious business among gamers.

Until recently for me that "bring them to the table" game was Pathfinder (with BRP as my backup), but lately it's slowly but surely starting to turn into 13th Age. With two regular 13th Age games going now, one weekly Wednesday and one every other Saturday....and Magic World on the off-Saturday, it's basically the first time in ages that I am essentially "D&D free" depending on how loosely you want to define the D&D term. 13th Age feels like an offspring, not quite the same as the real deal....but it's damned interesting that it's apparently got the muscle to tow two game nights and more than half my players seemed to have bought copies...and at least one of my cohorts plans to run it soon. Good stuff!

Makes me wonder how August (assuming D&D 5E is still on track for an August release.....) is going to play out....


  1. Interesting, so have you gotten past your concerns about some of the combat disadvantages you posted about awhile ago? Just curious. I'm trying to nail down my next campaign, and am shopping around.

    1. Interestingly yes. I now realize it was a learning curve, both for the players (getting used to the flow/style of play) and me as DM (learning what makes a good encounter in 13th Age). I've now run games where the players have faced hordes of zombies and insectoid aliens, fought a giant and horse-golems and explored a very lage dungeon, all in four hours....the game's flow once you're over the learning hump is very smooth and quick for a contemporary D20 RPG. The mapless combat system is so easy to apply now that I find myself thinking of ways I can implement the rules for Pathfinder to speed things up.

    2. A funny complaint for the Saturday game is that they often don't reach Escalation 2 while in combat; most combats on Saturday have wrapped up at the end of Escalation 1 (round 2). Wednesday has had the opposite issue with combats wrapping up around escalation 6.

      I'll post more about combat flow in 13th Age soon, I think....the days of that one bad night are long past, and this game is probably the fastest-flowing combat system of the D20 brand era.

  2. Thanks for the response. Fast combat is a definite plus, I like the variety with Pathfinder but with that variety comes long character creation time and some long combats, so I'm definitely interested in hearing more about 13th Age.