A new 13th Age system (to feel distinct from D&D)

Written by Grimcleaver.

For a lot of people one of the attractions of 13th Age is it's familiarity, it feels like the fantasy games you've always played.

And if that's you, then great!

For me though, I'm more interested in unique fantasy settings and part of the fun of exploring a new world is having a new system to play with--and with 13th Age I kinda' fell down the rabbit hole with this idea. I put so much work into it, I thought I'd share:

Revised Ability Scores:

Might

Grace

Awareness

Charm

Reason

A few changes you might notice is that Constitution (which has never had any good skills tied to it) got consolidated into Might, which is now a measure of overall brawniness. There's also an Awareness score instead of Wisdom. Wisdom always felt like a bit of a junk drawer--half of it's uses felt like they should be a part of what's become Reason, the other half were a bunch of perception related rolls which feel more like their own thing, now Awareness. Awareness functions as a mix of physical perceptiveness and intuitive insight into people's motives and the supernatural vibes and mystic energies that infuse the world.

 

Generating Ability Scores

Rather than roll 3d6, get a raw ability score then run that score through a formula to get the modifier you actually use in the game--the hope is in this version of the rules to jump straight to the modifier. To create a character you roll 7d6 and divide the dice between your five abilities. They start at -3 each and have a max score (before Race and Class adjustments) of +3. Therefore a roll of 3 raises an Ability to 0, and a 6 raises an Ability all the way to +3. The results of your roll can be combined in any combination, but if you don't have any dice to allocate to a score, it remains a -3. You get to roll dice in this system, but there's some of the freeform fun of point buy too, and the math tends to make characters feel pretty well balanced--but if the numbers are too low or high you can feel free to add or subtract a couple of dice from the starting pool.

 

Renaming the Classes:

Again this is more of a flavor consideration, but playing a game with Clerics and Bards really snaps you into a D&D headspace. If you're looking for more of an original feeling fantasy game, feel free to use some or all of the following renamings:

Bard - Troubador

Barbarian - Berzerker

Chaos Mage - Chaomancer

Cleric - Chosen

Commander - (Fine as is)

Druid - Shaman

Fighter - Warrior

Monk - Ascetic

Necromancer - (Perfect as is)

Paladin - Templar

Ranger - Scout

Rogue - Knave

Sorcerer - Inheritor

Wizard - Savant

 

Hit Points as Guard

In this version of the rules, the concept of hit points has been reconcepted into the idea of Guard: a representation of a character's ability to defend themselves. So long as you have points of Guard remaining, every time an opponent is able to land a hit, the character may deflect or endure the blow without lasting harm. Half your Guard value comes from your class, with the other half coming from your race. Armor you weild adds straight to Guard as "temporary hit points". Rather than making clompy armor making you harder to hit (which it totally doesn't) it helps you to absorb punishment until the enemy can bash knocks and weak spots into it, at which point it's still there--but needs to be repaired before you can get any use out of it again. The big thing with Guard is that it overcomes a lot of my difficulties with hit points--it makes sense that it increases each level and can be renewed nonmagically with rest. When guard reaches zero, successful attacks inflict escalating penalties on character actions (a character taking 6 damage after their guard is down takes -6 on all rolls) until the character is incapacitated by such high penalties that they are effectively defeated. The perview of magical healing is the removing these cumulative penalties.

 

Feats and Flaws

Feats have always felt like a chore to me, so the thought was to do something to make them a fun optional rule rather than something you need to take. Basically it works a lot like the various Advantage / Disadvantage systems of other systems. For every feat you want, you need to take a flaw (basically a feat with the positive effect reversed into a negative). I haven't had a chance to really playtest this bit yet--so your milage may vary, but so far I really like the idea.

 

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