Okay I’ll admit it, I jumped the gun a little bit with the classes. The Fighter is near and dear to my heart, so I feel like it deserved the first post. Let’s talk about the 13th Age classes in general before we go any further. Each class entry has some pretty awesome information attached to it before sharing the actual mechanics of it. I often use the prefaces and art work for inspiration when designing a character to really help me capture the class.
To make things even easier for newer players, the first few sections under the classes section of the book lists them by ease of play! How convenient. What’s nice as well is that same page describes the overall spell/weapon damage progression that works throughout leveling for pretty much all classes. The spell progression is a little long winded to talk about but the weapon damage is easy: a damage die per level. No more measly 3d8 damage in epic tier play. Thank you, 13th Age. You took the one thing I hated about 3rd and 4th edition and flipped it the bird. One thing to note, however, is that 13h Age level caps at 10. I have no complaints, because most game systems break down in higher levels anyway.
Back to classes in general. So every class entry’s first page has a couple of prefaces to help visualize everything. It starts with a quick narrative and then describes the play style, ability score bonuses, typical races, typical backgrounds, and the typical icons the class is associated with. Of course, the great thing about 13th Age is that almost everything in the book is merely a suggestion. The writers say throughout the piece that they encourage players and GMs to tinker around with what’s there to make the rules the most fun at your particular table.
After the class overview is where the crunchy stuff starts. This starts with your gear. Another shining star in the night sky that is this game is that all non-magical gear is available to all classes. I specifically say non-magical because there’s just a quick rule that says it makes sense for wizards to have magical implements rather than holy symbols, which are more the clerics forte. But regardless, all magic items are able to be reskinned so that rule doesn’t matter much anyway. The fact that non-magical gear is available to everybody is cool because this allows you to really hammer it home and create the character image you want. When a specific character uses gear that doesn’t exactly make sense for their class, i.e. a wizard using heavy armor, they simply take an attack penalty. That’s it. I’ll be honest here, because it’s never come up, I’m not wholly sure that if a wizard using heavy armor and a two handed weapon would have stacking attack penalties. At my table, I would make it so. However, there’s nowhere (that I know of, and I checked) specifically in the book that says yay or nay to that idea.
Every class gets a set of what’s called Class Features. A Class Feature is basically an ability that the class has inherently, you don’t have to spend any sort of talent or power slots to gain the ability. As an example, the wizard has Cantrip spells as a class feature (and there’s a list to boot). Some classes have more than others but all of the features make sense and are really helpful. Then there are Class Talents, which have slots. Each Class Talent really sets the tone for your desired “class variant,” if you will. For example, you can choose the Dead Eye Archer fighter talent if you want a ranged fighter, or conversely the Heavy Warrior talent if you envision your fighter to be more of the tank type. Those are only a couple of examples but the idea with every class is universal. Class Talents are usually have specific uses, like once per battle or day. Some depend on the Escalation Die while some depend on the condition of your enemy or your own character, every talent is unique. After all that comes your typical powers and spells, the mostly at-will boons that your character will use. If you’ve played 4e, you’ll already be familiar with the once per day, once per battle and at-will system. For those who aren’t, once per day pertains to in-game time and at-will can be used always. Once per battle is self explanatory.
The actual math of every class varies between them, which can be a little difficult to keep track of. This is a problem I often see in RPG books, 3.5 mainly comes to mind because the tables were in obscure places. Every Class’ section in the book has what’s called a Level Progression Chart before any of the features or talents. It’s an insight to show how the math works for your class from levels 1-10 and also your base stats underneath said table. The layout is painfully simple with the level, total hit points calculation, total feats, powers known, level pool of powers available to you, if you have any ability bonuses you can use and your damage bonus from the appropriate ability score.
I can’t lie here, when it comes to character stats, the most annoying to generate is your defenses. Your defenses are split into three categories; Armor Class, Physical Defense and Mental Defense. Physical defense and mental defense are basically replacing Reflex, Will and Constitution saves and are numbers that function like armor class. It’s a solid number that the enemy has to meet or exceed. To calculate each you have a base number and you add the middle modifier of three stats attributed to the defense (armor class uses Con, Dex and Wis). You put whatever mods in order numerically, not by as it’s listed under the defense calculation. Then you pick the middle one out of the numerically ordered list. It took my group forever to figure out the correct way to do this but we’ve all agreed that this is it.
From there your character is built and ready to play. The way everything is laid out in this book is perfectly relevant and user friendly. Some powers and talents are crazy specific to battle conditions and it’s easy to forget about them. When you do remember and get to use your awesome Counter Attack ability, man, is it awesome. So one thing that’s probably important to think about, what freaking classes are available?!
13 True Ways
This is a dated list, obviously, but this is what’s available to us that’s official at the moment of this post. I’ve played 7 of these classes and each of them feels unique, some a little more unappealing to my style than others. Good, solid roleplay usually can take the bore out of a class, always keep that in mind.
Stay Metal \m/