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RPG observations, wisdom and tools from an early adopter

Month: October, 2013

13th Age – Second Darkness – Session 3

photo (3)My 13th Age conversion of  the “Second Darkness” adventure path continued last night and my 3 players completed book 1.  I’ll be purposely vague on plot details here but the first battle of the evening was in a gambling hall.  Which you can see in the picture, our group assembled with one of my player’s new Dwarven Forge tiles.  The barbarian had a moment of glory, with a one shot kill due to a well-rolled crit.  It’s good to see this class putting up some decent damage numbers finally.  The new cleric PC played quite well.  All the players commented on how they appreciate the feature of all heals being a quick action.  “You still get to do something fun” was one player’s commentary and I agree completely.  The battle lasted about 30 minutes at most (the longest fight yet for me) but since it was climactic in many ways, it was not overlong.  This session could have been split up into a few days (game time) but it ended up that the PCs just kept on going despite having nearly exhausted the clerics’ spells.  I was delighted they chose to continue because it gave me a chance to stretch the abilities of the group over the course of their first “cavern crawl”.   However, after battling a few troglodytes, a wight and a nasty otyugh, my PCs opted to rest for the night.   The evening was coming to a close so I shortened the end a bit and skipped over some minor content to ensure we could finish the book but no one seemed to mind.  At this point the Dwarven Forge construction project was expanding to cover the entire tabletop.

photo (4)

As all this Dwarven Forge craziness was ensuing, my players kept apologizing.  We’re a good solid bunch of people and we all know about distractions at the table and what that can do to the flow.  However, I have to say, and I did say in fact, is that 13th Age’s system is so simple in its design, that as a GM I don’t have as high a stress level when running a game.  I’m more relaxed not having to monitor positioning or extensive conditions.  It made the evening all the more enjoyable.

So what was supposed to be a demo session of one adventure path book is now going to continue into book 2, Children of the Void.

Fire Elemental – 13th Age

fire elemental

Fire Elemental

A roiling mass of living flame scorches everything in its path.

5th level wrecker (Elemental)                                                               Initiative: +8                                                                                   Vulnerability: cold

HP: 100   AC: 19   PD: 18   MD: 19

Scorching blow +8 vs. AC – 10 fire damage                                                    Natural even hit: The target also suffers 5 ongoing fire damage (save ends 11+).                                                                                                               Natural 16+: The fire elemental can make a second scorching blow attack vs. the same target as a free action.

R: Flame jet + 9 vs. PD – 20 fire damage

Feeding the fire:  If the fire elemental takes any fire damage, it heals that amount of damage instead.

Fiery aura: At the start of the fire elemental’s turn, each enemy engaged with it takes 2d8 fire damage; any die result of 8 is kept and the die is rerolled.

Flight: The fire elemental hovers and flies effortlessly.

13th Age – Second Session

ImageMy second session of a conversion to 13th Age of Pathfinder’s Second Darkness just went down and so did one of my PCs.  Done in by a were-rat to be precise; a creature I had to put together for this session.  Several player errors contributed to the death, which I can attribute to a few things; unfamiliarity with what is possible in regards to non-magical healing and poor communication between the players as to how dire the situation was becoming as death saves were failing.  For myself, I could have and should have drawn more attention to what the situation was with the dying PC.  The actual death was an anti-climax too as the last enemy dropped and the PC died one round later as he was first in the initiative order.  I don’t enjoy PC deaths.  I find it counter to story in most cases.  However there were zero complaints and truly, while harsher than 4E’s rules for dying, it felt right to everyone.   On the positive side, I’ll get to see a new class in action next time around.

A second session allowed for more combat opportunities and a I leveled the PCS mid-session too.  The barbarian PC was thrilled with her new damage output, while the rogue and soon to be ex-wizard didn’t visibly notice as much of an impact.  Our Tiefling Rogue was able to use her curse power to great effect, causing a foe to lodge their sword in some nearby furniture for a round.  She also is enjoying Thief’s Strike’s extra benefits of bonus loot.

The death of the wizard means the loss of a large amount of damage for my 3 PCs.  Hopefully, the barbarian can manage the load as the replacement character will be a cleric.   The only complaint this time around involved the character sheets I used.  More color variation was requested by one of the players to help with differentiating between abilities.  A minor quibble.  There is a noticeable difference in how each class feels to me and that’s a great thing.  The wizard’s evoking ability is loads of fun and the rogue feels more like an old time D&D thief.  The barbarian is the only class that seems flat so far, although once she hit second level things improved.

The story-line itself continues to hold the players’ attention, especially since they have now been betrayed by their former benefactor.  I found the battles a bit repetitive as it was thugs and thieves over and over until the were-rats.  There was a bit of opportunity for role-play at a local flophouse that allowed for some improvisation but mainly this was a combat focused session.  Next session brings us the cleric and a some “dungeon-crawling”.

Bounty Hunter – 13th Age

Bounty Hunters never start out as such.  Their beginnings were typical; ordinary even.  Perhaps they earned their keep as a mercenary soldier, or a huntsman or common thief.  In time though, natural ability, training or pure ruthlessness set them apart and their path is inevitable in its practicality.  They excel at tracking, the art of the ambush and scruples are something that most in their profession utterly lack.  The “job” is all that matters and woe to their prey when they are on the hunt.


Play Style: Bounty hunters straddle the line between fighter and rogue in terms of difficulty of play.                                                                                Ability Scores:  Strength and Dexterity are the most important scores for a bounty hunter. Bounty hunters gain a +2 class bonus to Strength or Dexterity, as long as it isn’t the same ability you increase with you +2 racial bonus.                                                                                             Races: Humans, drow and half-orcs are most commonly seen as bounty hunters.                                                                                                        Backgrounds: Thief, soldier, mercenary, hunter, criminal, investigator, spy, con artist, assassin, scout.


At 1st level, bounty hunters start with light armor, a melee weapon or two, a ranged weapon or two, and other mundane gear suggested by their backgrounds or a life of someone that typically survives on the edges of polite society.  Bounty hunters are motivated by “pay” and as such, start with 1d8x10 gp.

Armor                                                                                                                Bounty hunters typically wear light armor for freedom of movement and noise reduction qualities.

Bounty hunter Armor and AC                                                                  Type      Base AC       Attack Penalty                                                     None            11                                                                                           Light              12                                                                                        Heavy           13                    -1                                                                     Shield           +1                      -1

Class Features

Bounty hunters come from varied backgrounds but what they all have in common is a particular set of skills; tracking down their quarry, killing it quickly and making their escape unnoticed if at all possible.

Murderous                                                                                             Against staggered enemies, your crit range with bounty hunter attacks expands by 2.                                                                                  Adventurer Feat: You gain a +2 attack bonus against staggered enemies. Champion Feat: Your crit range against staggered enemies expands by 2 (now +4).                                                                                                          Epic Feat: Whenever a staggered enemy misses you with a melee attack, it’s vulnerable to your attacks for the rest of the battle.

Quarry                                                                                                                 Once per battle the bounty hunter may declare any enemy his quarry. The bounty hunter receives a +1 bonus to the escalation die for the duration of the battle against his chosen quarry.                                                 Champion Feat: You can now use Quarry twice per battle.

Class Talents

Extra Tough                                                                                                  You start with nine recoveries instead of the usual eight.                             Adventurer Feat: Increase your total recoveries by 1.

Finishing Moves                                                                                                Once per battle the bounty hunter may reroll all 1s and 2s on damage rolls against a staggered enemy, keeping the 1s and 2s as well.                           Champion Feat: The bounty hunter may now use Finishing Moves twice per battle.                                                                                                      Epic Feat: The bounty hunter may now also reroll all 3s on damage rolls, keeping the 3s as well.

First Strike                                                                                                    The first time you attack an enemy during a battle, your crit range for that attack expands by 2 (usually to 18+). A mob of mooks counts as a single enemy.                                                                                                 Adventurer Feat: The crit range of your First Strike attacks expands by 1 (to +3).                                                                                                   Champion Feat: Once per day, deal triple damage with a First Strike crit instead of double damage.                                                                                Epic Feat: Whenever you hits with a First Strike attack, you can reroll your damage once and use the higher roll.

Lethal Weapon                                                                                         Upon taking this talent, the bounty hunter must choose a single weapon type to be their favored weapon. This cannot be altered at any time. The bounty hunter gains a +1 attack bonus when fighting with their favored weapon.                                                                                             Champion Feat: The bounty hunter may choose a second weapon type for this talent.                                                                                                Epic Feat: The crit range for any attacks used with your favored weapons expands by 1.

Natural Will                                                                                                    One battle per day as a quick action, you gain a +2 bonus to your Mental Defense until the end of the battle.                                                           Adventurer Feat: You can now use Natural Will in two battles per day.     Champion Feat: The bonus increases to +4 Mental Defense.                     Epic Feat: You can now use Natural Will as a free action when an enemy attacks you.

Sneak Attack                                                                                                   Once per round when you make a bounty hunter melee weapon attack against an enemy engaged with one or more of your allies, you can deal +1d4 damage if your attack hits.                                                                     2nd level bounty hunter +1d6 damage                                                         4th level bounty hunter +2d6 damage                                                           6th level bounty hunter +3d6 damage                                                             8th level bounty hunter +5d6 damage                                                             10th level bounty hunter +7d6 damage                                                             Adventurer Feat: Your Sneak Attack feature also works the first round of combat against enemies with a lower initiative than you.                   Champion Feat: Your Sneak Attack feature also works against enemies who are confused, dazed, vulnerable to your attack, or weakened.          Epic Feat: Once per battle when you miss with an attack that would have allowed you to deal Sneak Attack damage, replace the normal miss damage with your full Sneak Attack damage.

1st Level Maneuvers

A Thing of Beauty                                                                                       Melee attack                                                                                                    At-Will (once per battle)                                                                                Target: One enemy                                                                                      Hit: WEAPON + Strength damage and  you gain a bonus to the damage roll equal to the escalation die. At 5th level, the damage bonus increases to double the escalation die; at 8th level the damage bonus triples.                    Adventurer Feat: You can now use a thing of beauty attack with a ranged attack.

Determined Assault                                                                                Melee attack                                                                                                   At-Will                                                                                                   Target: One enemy                                                                                        Attack: Dexterity + Level vs. AC                                                                Hit: WEAPON + Dexterity damage and your crit range expands by a cumulative +1 this battle until you score a melee critical hit. When you score a melee critical hit, your crit range drops back to normal.            Champion Feat: The crit range bonus from determined assault expands by a cumulative +2 instead pf +1.

Evasive Strike                                                                                              Melee attack                                                                                                   At-Will                                                                                                    Target: One enemy                                                                                         Attack: Dexterity + Level vs. AC                                                                  Hit: WEAPON + Dexterity damage, and you can pop free from the target.   Miss: Damage equal to your level.                                                  Adventurer Feat: If you drop the target with your evasive strike attack, you can pop free from all enemies instead.                                                        Champion Feat: If you hit with evasive strike and the natural attack roll was even, you gain a +2 bonus to AC and PD against the next attack that targets you this battle.                                                                                       Epic Feat: If you hit with evasive strike and the natural attack roll was even, you gain a +2 bonus to all defenses against the next attack that targets you this battle.

Marked for Death                                                                                     Melee attack                                                                                                    At- Will                                                                                                    Target: Your Quarry only                                                                            Hit: WEAPON + Strength damage and if your target is staggered, you may make a second melee basic attack as a free action.                                  Miss: Damage equal to your level.                                                              Epic Feat: Your target does not need to be staggered to make a second melee basic attack.

3rd Level Maneuvers

Slashing Strike                                                                                             Melee attack                                                                                                    At-Will                                                                                                        Target: One enemy who is not taking ongoing damage                                 Attack: Dexterity + Level vs. AC                                                                 Hit: WEAPON + Dexterity damage, and if your natural attack roll was even, the targetalso takes 3 ongoing damage.                                           Miss: Damage equal to your level.                                                   Adventurer Feat: The ongoing damage increases to 5.                                 Champion Feat: The ongoing damage increases to 10.

Hamstring                                                                                                      Melee attack                                                                                                    At-Will                                                                                                          Target: One enemy that is engaged with an ally                                       Hit: WEAPON + Strength damage and on a natural even hit the target is also vulnerable.                                                                                              Adventurer Feat: On any hit that target becomes vulnerable.

5th Level Maneuvers

Kill Shot                                                                                                            Ranged attack                                                                                             Daily                                                                                                        Target: Your quarry                                                                                 Attack: Dexterity + Level vs. AC                                                                 Hit: Weapon + Dexterity damage and if your natural attack roll is even, you can use your Sneak Attack damage for the round.                               Miss:  Damage equal to your level.                                                                   Champion Feat: If you score a critical hit with Kill shot, the target is also dazed (-4 attack) until the end of your next turn.                                 Epic Feat: As long as one of your allies is engaged with the target, your Kill shot attack rolls no longer need to be even to add your Sneak Attack damage.

Parry                                                                                                                 At-Will (once per battle)                                                                          Interrupt action                                                                                     Trigger: You are hit by a melee attack against AC                                          Effect: The attacker must reroll the attack                                                   Champion Feat: The power also triggers on a melee attack against PD.         Epic Feat: The attack reroll takes a -2 penalty.

7th Level Maneuvers

Pay the Price                                                                                                 Daily                                                                                                                 Melee Attack                                                                                                Trigger: Your quarry misses a melee attack against you                        Effect: You may make a melee basic attack against the target as a free action.                                                                                                  Champion Feat: You can heal using a free recovery as well.

Under Pressure                                                                                           Melee attack                                                                                                   At-Will                                                                                                        Target: Your quarry                                                                            Attack: Weapon + Strength damage and your target becomes dazed (-4 attack) until the end of your next turn.                                                              Miss: Damage equal to your level.                                                              Epic Feat: The target also becomes vulnerable

9th Level Maneuvers

Go for the Kill                                                                                               Daily                                                                                                                  Free Action                                                                                               Trigger: You hit your quarry with a crit on any melee attack               Effect:  You may make a second attack as a free action against the same target.                                                                                                            Epic Feat: Your target is also vulnerable to your second attack.

Water Elemental – 13th Age


Water Elemental

A wrathful wave of water approaches, seeking to drown any who dare oppose it.

5th level wrecker (Elemental)                                                                        Initiative:+8                                                                                   Vulnerability: cold

HP: 100   AC: 19   PD: 18   MD: 19

Drenching blow +8 vs. AC – 10 damage                                                 Natural even hit: The target also becomes hampered until the end of the water elemental’s next turn (only basic attacks).                                 Natural 16+: The water elemental can make a second drenching blow attack vs. the same target as a free action.

Engulf + 11 vs. PD – 10 damage, the target is stuck, hampered and takes 10 ongoing damage per round as the water elemental completely engulfs the target. Once engulfed, the water elemental will not release its target until it becomes unconscious.  It may only engulf one target at a time.

Siphoning:  If the water elemental is able to maintain contact with a large body of water, it heals 2d8 hp per round as a free action.

Soaking aura: At the start of each enemy’s turn, each enemy engaged with the water elemental must make an easy save (6+) to maintain their balance on the water soaked surface near it. If the save fails, the enemy falls prone and is hampered until their next turn.

Banshee – 13th Age


October is here. Here’s a ghostly foe for your consideration.


The twisted and hate-filled spirit of an elven sorceress; consumed with jealousy of the living.

4th level spoiler (Undead)                                                                            Initiative: +8                                                                                                 Vulnerability: holy

HP: 60   AC: 18   PD: 15   MD: 18                                                               Deadly touch +8 vs. AC – 10 negative energy damage                         Natural 16+: The banshee can make a second deadly touch attack vs. the same target as a free action.

R: Keening wail + 9 vs. MD (1d3 enemies) – The target(s) is stunned (save ends, 16+)

Ethereal: This creature has resist damage 16+ to all damage except holy damage.  A banshee can move through solid objects but can’t end its movement inside them.

Fear aura: While engaged with this creature, enemies that have 18 hp or fewer are dazed (-4 attack) and do not add the escalation die to their attacks.

Flight: The banshee hovers and flies effortlessly.

Author Recommendation – Bernard Cornwell


I’m nearly finished with the above title and Mr. Cornwell again fails to disappoint.  If realistic depictions of dark age life and combat appeal to you, you can’t go wrong with  Bernard Cornwell’s; Warrior Chronicles.  Starting with “The Last Kingdom” and proceeding up to the 7th and just released (in the UK) title, Cornwell takes the reader on a journey across the dying age of the Anglo-Saxon.  Primal, colorful and entertaining, the Warrior Chronicles can’t be topped for in the mud, visceral imagery.

No mention of Bernard Cornwell, can go without also suggesting his King Arthur Trilogy; The Warlord Chronicles, starting with “The Winter King”.  I’ve read many iterations of the Arthurian mythos but none has surpassed Cornwell’s vision of post-Roman Britain.

An inspiring author to be certain with an emphasis less on the fantastic, and more on the grim reality of life in the dark ages.