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We played 13th Age with Jan, Leonie, Jonna and Misha, and ran by Yohann on Google Hangouts. I do love trying out new systems, even the more hack and slashy ones, to see what they are all about. 13th Age is a kind of D&D/Pathfinder clone that wants to streamline combat and add more narrative features. I’m not sure it’s a success!

But then, please keep in mind that I’m a self-identifying card-carrying storygamer, and thus probably not the target demographic for this game. Jan does at least like to play with a crunchy system and see what he can build out of those blocks. Regardless, this is my blog, so you’ll get to hear what I think :)

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Narrative features

First off, I really  like how you can use backgrounds and any other tags to give a bonus to your roll, just like in Fate/Fudge. It feels like your character and the way you play it can matter. It’s a positive spiral, since the the talents, the icon relationships, and the ‘One Unique Thing’ are all really inspiring for roleplay scenes. Positive stuff!

Combat

But then there’s the combat. I can’t really judge if it’s more streamlined than D&D or Pathfinder. I’ve never played the latter, and my D&D days are long gone. But combat still takes far too long for my liking and is not very engaging.

All the cool tags and modifiers lenghten combat quite a lot – it’s kind of the shadowside of trying to provide mechanical incentive for roleplay.

The escalation die is awesome, but it’s not enough by itself to make combat fast and furious. I think our combat lasted three rounds with five players and it still took over an hour.

It’s also very cool that if you miss, you still hit. But still, two people chicken-scratching each other round after round gets old fast as well.

Roleplay

I did what I normally do when we go play a crunchy game, I made a fun, inefficient character (usually a bard) that oozes roleplay and flavor and hammed it up something fierce in game.

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Phineas Merryweather the bard’s tagline was “Lock up your daughter and cute sons!”. His One Unique Thing was Accused of getting the Barbarian King’s daughter pregnant. He SO did!”. His starring moments have been songs about partymember’s buttocks and how much they need a date, pretending to die in order to receive a lay on hands on my naked chest, and generally making every innocuous statements sound bawdy. My favorite was when our local questgiver guy said “Look, I’ll be straight with you” and he replied “Oh, please don’t be straight with me!”

So, much badwrongfun :) We had a great time, mostly despite the system. Yohann has a very distinct and elegant way of describing things sometimes that may originate in his French. When someone said: “I touch the circlet with my spear”, he said “You touch it with your spear, and it touches your spear back”. We all blinked and he said “Which is to say, nothing happens.” Poetic!

I was happy to get to try out 13th Age, and I’d still like to try out Pathfinder to see how they differ (Jonna was very positive about 13th age in comparison to Pathfinder), but I wouldn’t quickly play a campaign of it.

There’s a nice read about 13th Age here: A Pathfinder/3.5 Player’s Guide to 13th Age by Jonathan Tweet

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