13 for 13th: Cyberpunk v13

category19796On the 13th day of each of the 13 months, we will bring you some content and ideas for 13th Age, our absolute favorite D&Derivative game.

It is the opinion of this humble columnist that CP2020 is the best Cyberpunk game, primarily because of the way cyberpsychosis is handled.

If I had more time, I would do a full-on conversion of the original game, instead, I will present to you this quick-and-dirty (an Internet term for QA) hack.

130d01da92a03e7e348aef2fa75670cbFirst, I will start with how to do cybernetics: Characters have an Empathy score equal to the sum of their stat bonuses for CON+WIS+CHA. Every 10 points of Humanity cost (see the CP2020 core book), the character loses 1 from their CHA modifier. If they have a 0 Empathy, they are done.

I thought long and hard about the Icons, and considered using various Corps, but thought I would provide the tools for you to make the Icons significant to your table. With the exception of the first Icon, instead of assigning each one to a specific individual, players will define them to a specific NPC in your world.

  • Saburo Arasaka
  • Cop
  • Corp
  • Crystaljock
  • Fixer
  • Max Tec Agent
  • Media
  • Netrunner
  • Nomad
  • Panzerboy
  • Rockerboy
  • Solo
  • Techie




13 For 13: DC Multiverse

category19796On the 13th day of each of the 13 months, we will bring you some content and ideas for 13th Age, our absolute favorite D&Derivative game.

You might want to go Elseworlds, you might want to just run a straight up game in the DCU, either way, we have your DC Icons:

  • Superman
  • Batman
  • Hippolyta
  • Ares
  • League_of_Justice_Vol_1_1

    Guardians of the Universe

  • Anti-Monitor
  • Joker
  • Speed Force
  • Spectre
  • Lords of Order
  • Lords of Chaos
  • Lex Luthor

13 for 13: The 13th Age of 616!

category19796On the 13th day of each of the 13 months, we will bring you some content and ideas for 13th Age, our absolute favorite D&Derivative game.

MikeG is somewhere wishing this was an article statting up characters from Avataars. Sorry, Mad Dog. Trust me, I have put time and energy into this idea, and you can too.

However, instead, I am just going to focus on the utter brilliance of Icons and how they work, and what some Marvel Icons (not cinematic) would look like.

If you’re playing in the Marvel U, why not give these marvelous icons a try.

  • Captain America
  • Odin
  • Red Skull
  • Norman Osborn
  • Professor X
  • Hellfire Club
  • Tony Stark
  • Nick Fury
  • Dr. Doom
  • Kingpin
  • Dr. Strange
  • Dormannu
  • The Watcher (or if you’re playing in current continuity… Ben Grimm)

As for the tease of 13th Age versions of Marvel characters…


13 for 13th: Star Wars

dc42732ca94c1105cf5ecbc5c7fb0ad1--boris-vallejo-star-wars-posterOn the 13th day of each of the 13 months, we will bring you some content and ideas for 13th Age, our absolute favorite D&Derivative game.

This month, we are presenting to you an idea, so that come May, you can run a Star Wars game!

Is it Space Opera, or is Fantasy in Space?

Does it matter?

I know there is a current, licensed Star Wars game out there.

But, I think a fun, engaging, Star Wars flavored game could be had using 13th Age with minimal alterations.

Keep magic to a minimum, unless force users. Use the monk or psion for jedi/ force users.

Use the Force:

One thing 13th Age does not have is Hero Points, luck points, etc.

Call it the Force.

The Force is an energy field generated by all living things.

Characters begin with 1 Force Point, and gain 1 Force Point at each level.

Force Points can be shared between characters, if one character has none left, and if they have not used a Force Point on a particular action.

Force Points refresh every session.

(I do not like systems that reward certain types of play, as the game sessions can break down to arguing about whether a particular action qualifies as heroic or in-character, etc. One Force Point per level solves this.)

Force Points allow a character to add to an action (d20) roll.

Non-Force Users add 1d6 for every two levels. 1d6 for levels 1-2, 2d6 for levels 3-4, etc.

Force Users use points in a different way: they must decide to tap into the Light or Dark Side.

If they tap into the Light Side, they roll an additional d20(s), and keep the best result.

If they tap into the Dark Side, they can add 1d6 to a roll as Non-Force Users.

Force Points may be spent after a roll.

And, Dark Side points may be spent after a Light Side point.

Example: The Young Padawan (2nd level) Blaba Nopec is attempting an action. Their first d20 roll is an 8. They spend a Force Point and roll another d20: 11, which is still not good enough for a success. They can tap into the Dark Side and add 1d6 to the roll.

If a GM is feeling truly sinister, and wants a Star Wars game that is about the Fall of Jedi, they can offer another dark Side Point to continue adding dice. In the above example, Blaba only rolled a 2 on the d6, which was still not a success. He has accumulated 1 dark Side Point, the GM offers him another d6 for a second Dark Side point…

Additionally, they must track their expenditure of Dark Side points. A character can accumulate as many Dark Sides points as their Wis+Cha modifiers. Once they have accumulated as many, they are lost to the Dark Side? Can they be redeemed? Of course, but it is not an easy path.

What about Icons:

  • Jabba
  • Darth Vader
  • Obi-Wan
  • Lando
  • Boba-Fett
  • Imperial Senate
  • Han Solo
  • Admiral Ackbar
  • Grand Moff Tarkin
  • R2-D2
  • Emperor Palpatine
  • Princess Leia
  • Wicket


13 for 13: A Round Table

category19796On the 13th day of each of the 13 months, we will bring you some content and ideas for 13th Age, our absolute favorite D&Derivative game.

One of the awesome things about 13th Age is how “skills” work, in this game, they are called Backgrounds, and more to the point, they allow characters of the same class to be drastically different. In one game I ran, one character was an Assassin-Paladin, mainly because all they needed was the Assassin Background, 13th Age does not concern itself so much with penalties for wearing armor and using Move Silently.

So, what about a game where many of the characters were the same class, or a small selection of classes, and even more to the point, classes with options limited, for campaign flavor.

In this case, experiencing a King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table, most of the characters would likely be paladins, and more, they would not have access to Cleric Training, and possibly Lay on Hands. Backgrounds would allow the characters to be different as well. Magic items don’t need to be prevalent.

arthur_round_tableBut, because this is a roleplaying game, players might want to roleplay. And, you might think I will know delve deep and list 13 Arthurian Icons, Merlin, Arthur, Galahad, Morgan, etc.


Instead, in a circumstance of incredible synergy, I am detailing 13 Personality Trait Groupings, and declaring that characters should use these are their Icons, choosing one of each Trait (Chaste or Lustful, for example) for a positive or negative, or if conflicted for a character who is conflicted.

I would suggest sticking with 3 points, lest campaigns become too weighted down in having to pay heed to these Iconic Personality Traits.  Or perhaps, allow each player 6 points, but allow them to distribute those points among only 3 Personality Groupings.

So, my knight is Merciful/Cruel conflicted 1, Reckless 2, Valorous 3. The Knights were often paragons and exemplars of specific virtues, your 13th Age Knightly game can now be the same.

At the end of each session (using the end of session rules on p.179) I roll, and the GM has plot seeds for my knight, incorporating these personal dilemmas with greater story arcs.

  • Chaste/ Lustful
  • Energetic/ Lazy
  • Forgiving/ Vengeful
  • Generous/ Selfish
  • Honest/ Deceitful
  • Just/ Arbitrary
  • Merciful/ Cruel
  • Modest/ Proud
  • Pious/ Worldly
  • Prudent/ Reckless
  • Temperate/ Indulgent
  • Trusting/ Suspicious
  • Valorous/ Cowardly


13 for 13: The 13th Age Animated Series

category19796On the 13th day of each of the 13 months, we will bring you some content and ideas for 13th Age, our absolute favorite D&Derivative game.

One of the things I love about 13th Age is the magic items. Not only do they have flavor, and do cool things, but characters do not need to have a slew of them to do be awesome.

As a matter of fact, I have run hi-level games of 13th Age and characters had 3 or less items and it was great.

If you want a game where the magic items have flavor and one doesn’t need to get in the business of magic items feeling expendable… 13th Age is the game for you.

Now, when I think of characters having only one magic item, how about that D&D Cartoon?


I know that there is a belief that the characters were in the Forgotten Realms, but I imagine them in a world all their own.

sheila_from_dungeons_n_dragons_by_santi_ikariAnd then, I imagine running characters in the same world, or perhaps a convention game where characters are the stars of the show:

  • Hank, the Ranger
  • Eric, the Cavalier (Paladin)
  • Diana, the Acrobat (Monk)
  • Presto, the Magician (Wizard? Sorcerer?)
  • Sheila, the Thief
  • Bobby, the Barbarian

What might a magic item look like?

Taking inspiration from the “official” 3.5 stats…

CLOAK OF THE THIEF (interrupt action, recharge 12+): the cloaks provides an additional  +2 to PD if an attack allows for partial damage on a Miss. Upon activating, character becomes Invisible. On any actions that might negate Invisibility, the Invisibility ends on a roll of 5+Escalation Dice or less. The characters gains +2 to any rolls to sneak, but any natural rolls of 1-5 end the invisibility at the end of the turn. Quirk: character develops monophobia (fear of being alone).

This item will be the same tier as the character (Adventurer, Champion, Epic) and provide a +1/+2/+3 to PD depending on tier.


How about those Icons though?

  • Dungeon Master
  • Venger
  • Tiamat
  • Silvermane the Unicorn
  • Warduke
  • Strongheart
  • Sir Lawrence
  • Lolth
  • Zandora
  • Alfor
  • The Golden Dragon
  • Queen Sulinara
  • Kosar the Stargazer


13 for 13: The 13th Age of Dragonlance

category19796On the 13th day of each of the 13 months, we will bring you some content and ideas for 13th Age, our absolute favorite D&Derivative game.

Dragonlance folks will jump on my use of the ages of Dragonlance, to them I apologize and ask for forgiveness.

I have long thought it would be an awesome campaign to re-play the Dragonlance Sage without telling the players about it, and having it be brand new. I don’t think it would be too difficult, but I think I would change the way Icons work slightly, and more to the point, create Icons appropriate for the setting in a different way.

Icon dice would be rolled at the end of each session, allowing the GM time to plan.

The Icons would not so much be All-Powerful semi-deities, rather they would be NPCs and organizations of significance, who serve to enrich and complicate the lives of the PCs Using the original trilogy and those characters, here are the Icons I would use:

  • Kitiara- 1/2 sister to a PC(s), and lover for another
  • Knights of Solamnia- specific characters would interact with any character with a connection to the Knights
  • Wizards of High Sorcery- any magic using character would have interactions, good and bad, with this organization
  • The Silvanesti Elves- as with the Knights, specific characters could pull elvish characters in different directions
  • Qualinesti Elves- as above
  • The Everman
  • Gully Dwarves- I include them, as I think they could bring some of the strange levity that was definitively a part of the Sagas, and like the idea of them showing up at random times to assist the heroes
  • Astinus of Palanthas- a necessary foil and wonderful way to bring in the Library of Palanthas
  • Dragon Emperor Ariakas- might he have a past relationship with a PC, or might he just be eeeeeevilllll?
  • Lord Soth- of course
  • Kingpriest of Istar- seemingly good, but perhaps unable to see a different POV
  • Laurana- I struggled with this, as she is likely a PC, but is far more interesting as an NPC
  • Kender something or other- it could be finding out a piece of equipment is missing, or that you have just the right thing

I would argue, and have, that Tanis is a ranger and Riverwind a Barbarian. I think the most complicated piece of this would be the magic, both clerical and the various colored robes and how they worked, but with that said, I really like the idea of the NPCs being the Icons and complicating and assisting the players in their adventures. I would probably use the archetypes in the most recent DL modules: Prophet, Leader, Rogue, Sage, etc… and I would want the Icons to come into play organically which might require some retcon roleplay (where a character is introduced and the GM explains their connection to the characters. this only works if the players accept it and trust the GM). Retcon roleplay would allow for the Kitiara level reveal.

If I can ever get a steady group together, this is one of the things I want to do.


The Greatest Trick…

The devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.

The greatest trick I ever pulled was sacrificing myself to save the world, guarantee the ascension of my allies to godhood, and make them question their own noble and heroic natures.

So, it ended, in the most epic of fashions. The Seven of Steel was reunited: Maxius the LG Crusader of Heironiu, grumpy goody-two-shoes stick in the mud; Pentus, LN Monk of Cyndor, not quite OCD, and humorless but not-not OCD; Tirah, CG elven Bladesinger, Sleeyag through and through; Kallr, tough grugach ranger, of course still plays with bunnies, but kicks major ass; Dwin, spellfilcher, lover of Tirah, sleeyag; Uyag Gnarlfist, 1/2 giant gladiator, 1/2 of the BAMF team, and my BFF, and me, Damien Abisson, blade bard, rabble-rouser, trash-talker, and voted most likely to irritate everyone else in the party!

First we finally got our hands on the Tarrasque. Uyag, of course beat it. Uyag also had my sword (most might know it as the Sword of Kas, but it truly is the Sword of Damien), but was all pouty because I hadn’t visited. Sorry, Yagger, I was busy underground railroading people to safety. You know, helping people. Plus, I think Uyag might have taken to wearing an old-man diaper, 1/2 Giants don’t age that well. I swapped it out with my duplicate, because that’s how I roll.

Tarrasque went down, because we truly are BAMFs, and oh yeah, we had descended to godhood, because some black tentacley thing was killing all the gods. Blah blah blah Pentus and Dwin said words that I am sure were important.

We had to deal with Iuz, and Ivid, and Vecna. We went in that order, not before Pentus one-touch death-punched our frenemy Majere Arctus, nihilist and all-around jerk. Tirah pouted a bit, thinking maybe we shouldn’t have one-pounched him to death. If he hadn’t been an utter jerk maybe he’d still be alive.

Iuz first, and his Fiend-Knights. We killed him dead. Next, we had to bring the smack-down on some guards in the Great Kingdom protecting Ivid, and, to the surprise of no one, Damien had the highest body-count. Again, that’s how I roll. Uyag and Kallir might be more effective, but I look better.

Ivid is a big ole baby, and ran away after I brought the hurt.

We went to fight Vecna, of course, and he had gotten all necro-magic on his Frenemy Kas and we had to get through Kas first. Dwin stripped him naked, except for his mantle, and Pentus rewound time so Uyag could break it. I challenged him to a duel, he accepted, and hurt me dead, but Maxius hooked a brother up and raised me from the deadbook. And then, when his mantle was gone, I told him I’d give him his sword back after we killed Vecna. I was lying, but not really, because I didn’t have his sword, he wanted to call my sword his. That was his mistake. God of Deception, hello.

So, we jumped to Vecna’s plane. We hadn’t had the best of times there in the past. D’oh, Dwin had brain-farted and realized we needed to close some sort of gate and we should have done that before coming here. Silly sleeyags, always forgetting stuff that might save the world. Dwin ran away to seal the gate, and no doubt trap us all here, to die. Leaving Dwin and Ivid as the only deities on Oerth. But as Luck would have it, the gate was still open, and I was able to try and get all my allies and myself through it before it closed, trapping Vecna in his realm, powerless as a deity, and soon to be appetizer for the black mass of tentacles chomping on all the other gods.

I’m a Lucky cat, it’s one of my domains. So, this was a “as luck would have it moment.” Maxius was an old man, and probably just wanted to get home and watch golf, Pentus of course, thought me up to no good, and resisted. So, it all came down to a roll. Pentus could be a big jerk. I rolled my d20, and, as fate would have it this day:

NATURAL 20! Pentus had no recourse and was through the portal, leaving me and Vecna, but fate was not done this day. I had to roll to get myself through.


Thus, my fate was sealed, and I would be devoured, along with my sword and my new best frenemy Vecna, by the black mass of tentacles. Ewwww.

But every hero there that day, they know, that fate stepped in and made my sacrifice the most noble. Faced against a power greater than our might combined, one hero stood above them all, and sacrificed himself so that Oerth could be the one world saved, so that my friends and allies might take their place as mighty gods. But only one individual from that day will have worshipers of all the seven deities tithe in his name. The greatest hero of all, Damien Abisson.

And like that, he’s gone.

The greatest trick the greatest hero ever pulled was convincing the world he was a jerk, a reluctant ally worthy of disdain and mistrust.

El Jefe was getting the gang back together for a birthday game for The Jen, and this time it was a reunion of the Lords of the Land, AKA The Seven of Steel. For many years, Jeff had resisted revisiting this 2e campaign, having moved past 2e, but not happy with anything that has come along since. I made my pitch for a 13th Age version, because anyone who knows me knows I love the 13th Age! El Jefe wasn’t biting. But when the announcement went out, he declared he had finally found the system, a retro-clone worthy of the Seven of Steel.

My tastes and play-style have changed, and I made a pitch for Damien having found love and mellowed in the years since the team went their separate ways. El Jefe could neither confirm nor deny my unrequited love (his notes had no mention of it).

185960What El Jefe was doing was being very cagey about the system. It was not until our first combat, with the Tarrasque, that we all felt imbued, and he delivered unto us our sheets of character, tomes worthy of godhood indeed, as we had become Godbound!

Trouble was, we were only 1st level godlings.

But, it was great. As is my wont, if I play a game, I buy the game, it is my way of supporting the industry I love so, and so El Jefe handed me his copy.

The game itself was a great deal of fun, it captured the epic nature of our characters and our enemies, and as disappointed as I am that my character is the only one that isn’t living the good life as a god on Oerth, I take solace in the fact that every member of the Seven who always thought Damien more trouble than he was worth knows that I willingly sacrificed myself so that they all may live, and so that every being remaining in existence would be able to draw breath. And they will know that I did it, and not them.

Because, that is the kind of jerk hero Damien is.

And, i am looking forward to playing around with this game and system, as it scratches an itch I have had for some time, a game that allows for players to take on the role of gods.

GAME THE GAME: Friday the 13th Age and Beyond

It’s the 13th Age. 13 Icons. There are mentions of prior Ages, and prior Icons, I got to wondering, did the 1st Age have only 1 Icon? Will the 21st Age have 21 Icons?

Icons Who Came Before

The Fool
Grandmaster of Flowers
Grandfather Assassin
The Inquisitor
The Sliding Princess
The Summoner
The Wizard King

Some of these Icons and their brief write-ups greatly intrigue me. When Acts of Geeks ran an extensive playtest of 13th Age, our game ended at Epic Level with the PCs assuming their place as Icons, replacing some of the current Icons!

It was perfect and awesome and beyond Epic (was there a 3.x book that detailed beyond epic?).

But, extrapolating beyond the 14th Age (with potentially 14 Icons), I imagined a far future (isn’t that how Shadowrun came to be) with awesome new Icons, though some of the current Icons would surely still be around.

The Lich King of course. The Emperor.  The Priestess.

But what new Icons would take their place? With forgeborn being a thing, are cybernetics that far behind?

Stealing from my own game, I present:

gg_logoG33k Grrl

If her stories are to be believed, she is all natural. Her ability to interface with technology, that is. And the rest too, get your minds out of the gutters. She is the ultimate information broker. She talks to machines, she jokingly calls herself the computer whisperer, but few would dispute the veracity of her claims. If it is out there, somewhere, she can access it. She is a great friend to have, but she doesn’t make friends too easily.


“Who is buying me drinks? You? Yeah, your husband knows about your girlfriend already, I don’t want to deal with that.”




GAME THE GAME: Friday The 13th Age Monk

The monk has always been anomalous in the inherent, implied setting of D&D. While every other classic character class has a clear high-fantasy analogue, the monk is clearly rooted in eastern traditions. Given the release date of AD&D, I can only imagine that Mr. Gygax was a big fan of the television series Kung-Fu. But, as cool as the idea of the 1e monk was, they were ultimately all the same. Yes, stats might differ, but the abilities would be the same. As game design has moved forward, players were given more choices, and we have seen many different iterations of the monk, some hewing closely to the original, and others changing with the times and edition.

gtgma13th Age, a game written from the ground up to make sense of and integrate all that came before, presents, in my opinion, the coolest, most versatile, fun to play monk yet. My index cards for my character are great fun. I have one card with my opening moves (jab), one card for my flow attacks (punch), and on for my closing (kick). I can easily imagine my monk doing awesome stuff worthy of any martial arts film. If you want to ensure you have the Flurry of Blows prevalent in many previous iterations of D&D, you can do that, but if you want to fire a bow, or do wire-fu, that is there too. One can easily imagine creating multiple schools of monks, each with their own specialties.Shoot fireballs DBZ style? Check! Jackie Chan? Ding! It’s all there, and my monk will be different than your monk.

Intrigued? Interested? Seeking enlightenment? Pick up a copy of 13 True Ways, as always, it is my opinion that you will not be disappointed.