Anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock in regards to 13th Age for the past month has surely seen the amazing work of Campaign Coins and their Icon Tokens kickstarter. The fantastic work has inspired Rob Heinsoo and Lynne Hardy to cook up a special edition of 13th Age Monthly talking about currency! I figure, since these two pieces go hand in and, why not cover both?! Make sure your reading glasses are clean, because this one is going to be a doozy.

Mark Morrison over at Campaign Coins was more than generous to send me a review sample of the Icon Tokens with one of each of the Dwarven Tower Coins to review on here (seriously, I can’t thank you enough) although I had already backed the kickstarter and planned on doing a review anyway.

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As a first impression, all I can say is one word: Wow. The detail on these is simply amazing. It’s a little difficult to tell from the picture, but there’s little bits of the work metal-type finish even within the colored surface of the actual icon symbol, giving the image this really amazing depth to it. The detail on the scale of The Three is so intricate and small that if you don’t have this thing under a big light, it’s almost easy to overlook it. As my girlfriend had pointed out, as a mother of her late lizard, the similarity to an actual scale is quite striking.

The Dwarven Towers, the pieces I will probably never use in-game, are actually my favorite pieces. I’m a bit of a sucker for dwarven art and these really smash my soft spot. These coins are split into three different tiers:

  1. Soldiers
  2. Captain
  3. General

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Each coin represents a different value in dwarven society, much like we have pennies, nickels and dimes (if you live in the U.S). But the beauty in these in both the rule book and the real life manifestation of the Dwarven Tower does not lie in the parallel to reality, but to how they relate to dwarves culturally. They stack perfectly, with each other and with their larger/smaller counterparts, thus earning the name towers. Campaign Coins knocked it out of the park bringing this idea to life.

At first, when I stacked my Towers, the fact that they didn’t fit snugly kind of bothered me. I almost expected them to be expertly machined by a computer, but then it dawned on me. Even dwarves are mortal and can’t craft as perfectly as they lead us to believe. The small, and I mean small, amount of play between the stacked Towers really brings to life the idea of these being crafted by the calloused hands of dwarven craftsmen.

Craftsmen they certainly are, might I add! The Towers have very Tolkien-esque artwork on them depicting typical geometric patterns associated with the race, but with a helmet as well symbolizing the rank of the Tower. This makes them recognizable beyond their size, and is very visually appealing to the one who is looking closely at their Tower. Too bad Peter Jackson couldn’t get in touch with these guys, because if Erebor had been full of these coins, MAN that would have been awesome!

This being a review piece, I almost feel obliged to point out some negatives in this product. If I’m being completely honest with everybody who is reading, however, these “negatives” are complete and total nit-picks on my part. Firstly, I wish that some of the Icon Tokens had stayed true to the color scheme of the original artwork. If the Emperor token had the purple on the outside, the star remained gold, and the dragon symbol on the inside had been the red or green toned piece, it would even further capture Lee Moyer’s art. Or if the scale of The Three had been a blue with the fade to white towards the center as opposed to the copper color it is. Like I said, total nit-picks. I understand why it wasn’t made this way, considering it would likely drive up cost and/or make the green/red lacquer hard to see. However, I still would have liked to at least seen it either way. Perhaps it was there in the initial design of them and the team decided against it, who knows, but the visual would have at least been nice to choose between. Secondly, I wish that the scale of The Three was a tiny bit bigger, so that we could see the lacquer a little better since the logo itself is so large to fit on such a small piece.

So! In essence:

Pros:

  • Detailed
  • Accurate design to original art
  • Aesthetically pleasing
  • Double sided for a 5 Icon relationship or a 6
  • Dwarven Towers stack

Cons:

  • Not 100% accurate to original color scheme
  • The Three symbol seems a little hard to determine color due to size

This may be updated once the kickstarter is over and I get my full set of Icon tokens, so keep an eye out for that! If you check back and this message is gone, my opinion stands as is.

Coin Tricks

The newest edition of 13th Age Monthly, Coin Tricks, is a clear companion piece to this marvelous kickstarter. As a person who doesn’t use currency in his game, I almost overlooked it at first, if I’m to tell it true. But I figured, hey, what the heck, I bought the subscription and these guys rock so I might as well read it.

Boy, am I glad I did! Coin Tricks is less about currency than you would expect. Overall, it touches on how currency effect culture in the Dragon Empire and the realms of dwarves and elves. Not only that, but how they intermingle with one another. The subject was touched upon in the core rules on pages 56 and 57. We see a refresher at the beginning of this edition of 13th Age monthly before is spins in a downward spiral to the interesting world that is the Dragon Empire.

However, it is noteworthy that the big Icons talked about in this edition are:

  1. The Lich King
  2. The Emperor
  3. The Dwarf King
  4. The Diabolist

and how they handle currency and make each others lives miserable, in essence. As standard with their products, everything is presented as rumors or possibilities rather than cold, hard fact. Furthermore all the ideas presented can also be made as reality together, though that approach would be very politically complex. If you and your players like that sort of complicated structure in your games, let’er rip!

 

What would an edition of this fantastic product be without some form of monster/adversary? Coin Tricks doesn’t fail to bring the heat. We get two new monsters that pertain to the theme of the piece; Coin Zombies, a creation of the Lich King in order to trap the weak willed and simple minded and New Imps, a joke created by the Diabolist to get under the skin of greedy adventurers or get into the minds of wealthy merchants.

Both of them come with a write-up on perhaps how they came into existence in your campaign. Again, the beauty of this is that you can use all of them at once if you so choose. These new creatures have such depth and use outside of just being something to absorb hit points that they may be among my top 5 monsters in all of the 13th Age Monthly editions.

So, there you have it! A great physical product and another fantastic supplement to the wonder that is 13th Age. Here are some links to go a-searchin’ for either Campaign Coins or this edition of 13th Age Monthly:

Once again, a huge shout out goes to Mark Morrison for giving me a sneak preview of the product I backed on Kickstarter. Words can’t describe my gratitude and I’m more than impressed with the product.

Stay Metal \m/