Working on a few different posts, and unfortunately still stumbling into the ‘internal editor isn’t happy enough to publish’ pitfall. In the meantime, y’all should pick up the new Darkest of the Hillside Thickets album, The Dukes of Alhazred. It’s joyous, silly, and a lot of fun. This upbeat-yet-misanthropic song is one of my favorites of late.
Talking 13th Age on the Modifier Podcast!
Hey, look! I’m on a podcast that came out today, talking about hacking, modding, and drifting the 13th Age system and setting! The host, Meghan Dorbrock, is a great interviewer who got me talking (a lot), and our cats added background ambiance.
Modding 13th Age
During the discussion, I mention that I need to do a better job taking things from Scrivener and my notebooks and putting them here. As such, here’s what’s on tap:
A follow-up to the Kostroma post, looking at the process & inspirations behind creating stat blocks for scarecrows and effigies. The question of, how do we want players to feel as they’re fighting the monster? (to quote the 13th Age GM’s Resource Book)
More Monster Groups
Insect swarms, cyclopes, and teratorns (giant birds). The cyclopes entry is something I really enjoyed coming up with, as I feel it highlights another design/mod question — how does this monster fit into this specific world?
The Alchemist Class
I still want more playtesting for the actual rules, but I can post the concept and mechanics as they’re pretty far along. I’d describe it as the opposite side of the same coin as the Druid class. I’ve also written up an NPC that is set up in a general support configuration, kind of like a Zenyatta character (yes, I’ve recently been introduced to Overwatch).
Non-13th Age Stuff
There’s a Mythos scenario skeleton that’s been in draft for over a while; Ghatanothoa cult meets the Teapot Dome scandal is the elevator pitch. Oh, and there’s something that’s in the works for the new Reflections RPG…
Monstrous Dramaturgy: Kostroma
I may need to revise the idea of waiting to playtest ideas before I put them up here. It’s a good idea, but not when it means I’ve got notebooks and Scrivener files full of unposted ideas. Since today is International Pelgrane Day, I think I should pull one of these untested 13th Age ideas out for a post.
Some of the things I’ve been writing up are Bestiary-style entries for cyclopes, teratorns (giant birds), insect swarms, and scarecrows. Halloween is little more than a week away, so that last group would be perfect to pluck a work-in-progress from. The stat blocks I have range from the mook-ish (straw-stuffed upper body on a stick) to the large (a wicker giant who looks to trap you within it’s burning frame). But it also gave me a chance to bring in something from Slavic folklore: Kostroma.
Cleric Domain: Moon OR Shadow
“Let not us that are squires of the night’s body be called thieves of the day’s beauty.
Let us be Her harvesters, gentlefolk of the shade, minions of the moon.”
— Brother Gustave Ersetzen, from his clandestine tavern speeches
Welcome to the other domain of light, that of reflection and obfuscation — of moon and shadow.
This domain completes the quadrumvirate introduced in the Midgard setting book, each of which represent an important concept in Midgard that sets it apart from standard fantasy. Clockwork and Beer domains both point to the early stirrings of industry, from the entry points of engineering and practical alchemy. The Hunger domain adds a darkness and horror borne of the monstrous desire for prolonged survival. The domain of Moon/Shadow exhibits the Grimm folkloric aspects of Midgard, both whimsical and deadly.}
Undead Clerics in 13th Age
I don’t mind stealing flesh
From the hides of decadence.
–Temple of the Darakhul, “Hunger Strike”
You can thank MTV Live for infecting my brain while I was sick, if you like the horrible mashup in the epigram.
But my musings on sickness were for last post. This time around, I want to focus on player-characters in 13th Age who were living, died, and live again. Not in a warboy way, but in the way of the living dead. As part of the 12 Days of Cleric-mas, I thought it important to muse on how to accommodate the possibility of an undead cleric in 13th Age.
The Midgard setting that I’ve been mining introduces a couple of PC race options that are not among the living: the darakhul and some goblins of the Ghost Goblin tribe. In both cases, a living individual either contracted a disease (darakhul fever) or took part in a ritual (Ghost Goblins), and were reborn after death with their faculties still fully in place. It’s a type of character that has become prominent in pop culture of late — iZombie being the most recent I can think of — where the trope of the mindless and terrifying undead character is portrayed in a way that subverts their traditional role.
Cleric Domain: Hunger OR Survival
“Burning the ground, I break from the crowd;
I’m on the hunt, I’m after you.”
— D’rand ur’An, acolyte of Vardesain
And we’re back! The needs of the dayjob have held this next Cleric-mas installment in ‘draft’ for too long, but finally we arrive at the domain of Hunger or Survival.
This another domain taking direct inspiration from the Midgard setting by Kobold Press. Within Midgard, one of the big powers is the Ghoul Imperium, and at the heart of their culture is the compulsion to feed. So the idea was to design a domain that would both play directly to a living-dead priest but also to clerics and ascetics who are alive — but who put all their devotion to the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
At first glance, this domain seems a bit anti-cleric. Negative energy? Free bite attacks? Optimized for undead or ghoulish PCs like the darakhul? Indeed. But this domain also encompasses ascetic traditions, as well as the deities who value survival and self-discipline. However the public at large may view their alignment, the Hunger/Survival cleric knows two things: that their path is righteous, and that they will survive.
Cleric Spell: Summon Saint of Rava
You can move mountains;
It all makes sense to you.
You just need the love of a gearforged goddess.
We round out the Clockwork/Artifice domain with the second, champion-tier summoning spell. Once again, this spell uses the expanded and updated summoning rules from 13th Age Monthly, and continues the concept of feats that are dependent upon a cleric’s chosen domains.
Unlike the other clockwork summon spell, the Saint of Rava is explicitly drawn from Midgard, and you can find the original listing for this “monster” in the Midgard Bestiary. The summoned creature is slightly different from the Bestiary version, as it plays off the concept of the Clockwork/Artifice domain never ‘wasting’ move actions.
Cleric Spell: Summon Clockwork Archon
You’ve got [CLANG] ssssteam heat
You’ve got [CLANG] ssssteam heat
C’mon, I need your blast to keep away that kobold.
When I was looking at spells related to a cleric of the Clockwork/Artifice domain, I knew I wanted something that would create an interesting scene. The Deep Magic book from Kobold Press has an animate construct spell for arcane magic-users; for the clerics, it seemed more aligned to their class to make it a summon spell. I leave it up to you and your patron deity to envision and describe what a “summon” means to a gearforged god or goddess.
This spell uses the expanded and updated summoning rules from 13th Age Monthly, and continues the concept of feats that are dependent upon a cleric’s chosen domains. Unlike the other clockwork summon spell, the clockwork archon isn’t explicitly drawn from Midgard. That said, many aspects of this summoned creature are directly based off ideas and mechanics from the Midgard Bestiary and Deep Magic.
(Which, by the way, are two fantastic resources for 13th Age mechanics and abilities even if you’re not playing in Midgard.)
Cleric Domain: Clockwork OR Artifice
Turn, you tiny engines;
Let your faith be the power that turns the coils of my everwound springs.
Turn, my adventurers!
Turn me on!
Uff da. This has been a big gap between days 1 and 2. Every project hitting deadline at the same time at the dayjob will do that, I guess. In ‘celebration’ of my recent spate of over-working myself, I’m presenting the most industrious of cleric domains for Day 2: Clockwork OR Artifice!
Cleric Spell: Anoint
We’ll stay out ’til 4:00 and we’ll get into fights,
With a bottle to show you just how…
Initially, I planned on including spells and domains in the same post for Cleric-mas, but I realized that the upcoming summon spells will require a LOT of text. Plus, having the anoint spell as its own post gives me an excuse to use The Malört Song as an epigraph.
The adventurer feat for the anoint spell presages a trend you’ll see through a lot of the spells I’m posting for Cleric-mas. In the 13th Age Monthly issue about summoning spells, the designers introduced feats that key off a cleric’s domain choices. I ran with this idea as a way to further define the relationship between domains and spells.