Another amazing feat from 13th Age, the first rule book comes with a built in first/second level adventure. It goes by the name Blood and Lightning. What more could you want out of a book, I mean seriously. It’s a player’s handbook, dungeon master’s guide and bestiary all built in one with a nice starting adventure to get things rolling. So cool.
Now that I’m done fan boying yet again about this game, we can talk about the adventure. The adventure summary in the book as written: “The PCs journey to a magical location under attack from one villainous icon from without and betrayed within by an agent of the Three. Eventually they must cope with an insane mutating traitor and a crippled dragon.” Sounds cool to me. So right off the bat, I’m going to lay a disclaimer: I actually have not run this little adventure… yet. I have, however, read through it and was very impressed.
For starters, one thing you’ll notice about the description in the book, it doesn’t tell you what icons are involved besides The Three. In the beginning segment on how to run the adventure, it poses a couple different bits of information for some heroic icons, and tells you to pick the icon that has the most relationship points dispersed about the group. I really like this about the adventure because it brings the focus to the players and their characters’ personal stories. Depending on which Icons come into play, it tells you what the characters know about Boltstrike Pillar (the main place the PCs need to go) and what it looks like. This is nice because it keeps the same over arcing story, but it makes each game and set of PCs have a slightly different and unique experience with the adventure. In the first combat of the adventure, it does the same thing in the opposite manner with the enemies. It gives you a couple of different iterations of what the goblins might look like, depending on the villainous icon that they are associated with, in accordance to what relationships are present amongst the group. Flavor text is my favorite, but what makes this even better is that depending on the villainous icon, the enemies also can have some different abilities. Of course, this is designed with players new to d20 in mind also and tells you to forgo the extra boons for the enemies if your players aren’t comfortable with d20 games yet and are still learning. Thanks Pelgrane Press!
Falling in suit with how they wrote the adventure to begin with, when the PCs get to Boltstrike Pillar, it’s guarded/garrisoned by some NPCs in league with the heroic icon in play, and the book displays who’s there according to such. So basically what happens when the PCs get to Boltstrike Pillar, the NPC running the place sends them somewhere else to investigate a town called Greenstand, which is often times a massing place for enemies who are going to attempt to attack Boltstrike Pillar. The NPC knows this is common, and thinks the whole situation is futile on the enemies’ end and is a bit of joke. The plot twist revolves around this and I don’t want to spoil it for any players that may play this adventure but it is really something that happens by the end of this.
So besides the icons being so influential in the adventure, what’s there to like about it? It’s really good at making the players feel badass. 13th Age as a whole is good at this but this adventure really displays this well for the game as a whole. The flexibility of the situation also is very nice and seems like it wouldn’t make the players feel rabbit holed into following a path too bad. Moreover, the small story itself is simply good. It shows how the idea of the icons can impose political complexities and complications that make the game just interesting as a whole. It sets a fantastic example of the story potential this game has for good story writers, and how easy it can be for even novice story writers. Buy 13th Age for this experience alone, if nothing else!
Stay Metal \m/