RPG Mini-Review - 13th Age

This is a game I preordered but didn't really look at much as I received the preliminary materials. It's a bit of a hybrid of D&D 3.x and 4th editions as well as taking a lot of elements from more narrative based games.

13th Age takes a nod from 4e D&D by giving each class its own set of neat powers but it avoids 4e's tendency to make everything balance out perfectly. It also makes the classes more distinctive from one another, evoking much of their feel from 3.x D&D.

While it has a nice set of customization options for your characters it avoids the tendency of D&D 3.x to punish those who do not have every detail of their character planned and avoids the need to hyper-optimize your character.

It also avoids the dreaded "grind" I experienced when I played 4e, as the game has an "escalation die" which gives bonuses to characters as combats last longer. It also has a number of mechanical tweaks to allow failures to be interesting. Perhaps best from my perspective is the removal of a full grid-based combat while at the same time having rules that nevertheless encourage motion and variety in combat.

13th Age is clearly not an "old school" game - beyond taking much of D&D 3.x and 4e it is clearly influenced by games like FATE and Sorcerer. It is also a far less cruel world to PCs than one would find in old school games - in my ACKS campaign 1st level characters are very fragile. 


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