For those of you who read my posts about 4th Edition D&D here http://solonexus.blogspot.de/2012/05/carstens-d-4th-edition-solo-tips-part-1.html know that I make no secret out of my love for 4th Edition D&D. So I got curious about 13th Age and read the system reference document that you can find here
At least the parts about character creation, classes, combat, building battles etc. I really like some of the mechanics:
The open-ended skill system (which I already tested in Risus using cliches, it’s basically the same) and the abstract but structured combat rules that seem to combine (at least in theory) the best of both worlds:
You can use miniatures and maps but don’t have to count squares and worry to much about what the best move or position would be.
Like I wrote before my plan is to use Ren “Ash” Ashfield, corellian smuggler and hot-shot pilot, for one-shot adventures in the Tamesh sector, converting him to different rulesets.
As a little interlude to my EotE campaign I will test parts of the 13th Age system in an adventure featuring Ash. After he completed his last assignment I figure he is level 2 now by 13th Age (or d20) standards.
I will use the 13th Age reference document to create him as a scoundrel using the rogue class as a template and re-skinning powers or talents as necessary to fit the sci-fi theme.
So let’s get to it:
To generate my ability scores I will use the 28 point buy method, giving me the following array:
16, 14, 14, 12, 10, 8
As race I pick human (technically corellian, but that counts as human) and choose +2 Dexterity as my racial ability bonus.
As class I pick Rogue and choose +2 Charisma as my class ability bonus.
As human I start with two feats (instead of one) and have the racial power “Quick to Fight” which means I can roll twice for initiative and choose the better result.
For my feats I choose: Further Backgrounding, giving me +2 background points and Improved Initiative, giving me +4 to my initiative rolls (if Han shot first, Ash can too).
I assign my ability scores as follows:
Str 8, Con 12, Dex 18, Int 10, Wis 14, Cha 16
and pick the following backgrounds:
Daring Corellian Smuggler +5 (gained through talent, see below)
Fast-Talking, Well-Connected Man of the Streets +4
Luck-Independent Gambler +4
Unconventional Mechanic +2
Ash is wearing a heavy leather jacket (lets make it plastoid weave leather which is leather with energy resistant plastoid fibers woven in) which I count as light armor, which, according to the Rogue class table gives me an AC of 16 (12 base + 2 level + 2 as middle mod of Con/Dex/Wis).
His mental defense is 14 (10 base + 2 level + 2 as middle mod of Int/Wis/Cha).
His physical defense is 15 (12 base + 2 level + 1 as middle mod of Str/Con/Dex).
Now for some re-skinning:
Since 13th Age is a fantasy rpg it focuses on melee combat and according to all the weapon tables for the classes most weapons deal 1d8 damage (per level). The Rogue deals 1d8 per level with melee weapons but only 1d6 with ranged weapons.
However, melee combat is not such a big thing anymore in a sci-fi setting (except for some exotic lightsabers and vibroblades) and range weapons dominate. So I switch the weapons table around and rule that Ash deals 1d8 per level with his heavy blaster pistol (and should he ever use a melee weapon it will only be 1d6 instead).
Three class talents:
I pick Swashbuckle (as written), Tumble (as written) and Smuggler (instead of the Thievery talent of the rogue, it gives me the smuggler background at the highest possible bonus (+5) without spending any background points on it).
I figure for a sci-fi reskin the rogue class covers archetypes like slicer, outlaw tech, space pirate or smuggler so therefore these talents should be available as an alternative to the Thievery talent.
The three class features (Momentum, Sneak Attack and Trap Sense) are kept as written. Even if not that common, Star Wars features traps as well (hidden blaster turrets, monifilament wire traps etc.) and Sneak Attack is always useful, however, as a lone hero Ash will probably not get to use it often, since he has no allies that can engage enemies.
So I just rule that he can always use it once in the first round of combat against an enemy with a lower initiative than he has.
Now for powers I just rule that all powers that function with melee attacks function with ranged attacks as well and pick the following:
Evasive Shot (as Evasive Strike, just with a blaster pistol)
Tumbling Shot (as Tumbling Strike, just with a blaster pistol)
Roll with It! (works as written against ranged attacks as well, think of it as a last minute dodge which turns a hit into a grazing miss, therefore half damage)
Deadly Shot (as Deadly Thrust, instead of Dex + Str modifier for the attack I use Dex + Wis modifier for a ranged attack)
So now I have my talents, feats, powers and class features as well as backgrounds. That leaves me with HP and recoveries.
I decide to forget recoveries (it is just more bookkeeping) and take the heroic 4th Edition Gamma World approach where all HP are regained after a short rest. Yep, that is true, short rest, meaning basically after every battle.
For starting HP I get (6 + Con mod) x 4 at level 2 for 28 HP.
I will not use the Icons of 13th Age (obviously) and I will also skip the One Unique Thing, as these things are very much fantasy themed.
Ash is basically ready now, what I need to think about now is how to handle space combat. I always felt d20 systems didn’t really capture space combat or vehicle combat well, so I will try something new for this test: I will handle space combat in a narrative, skill challenge kind of way.
Basically, every player hero ship has only two relevant combat stats (in addition to the “fluff” stats like cargo capacity, consumables etc.): Hull and Combat Capability (or CC). Hull is a number that indicates how many hits the ship can take before being crippled or destroyed and CC is an all around stat that abstracts the ships fire control, handling, shields and firepower into a single stat which is expressed as a modifier (+2 for example).
If space combat breaks out, it is handled like a skill challenge. The player (or players) take turns making piloting (or other) checks against a DC. The DC is determined by the number and type of enemy ships and set by the GM, together with the number of successes needed to “win” the space combat.
Every successful skill check gains the players one success towards victory.
Every failure means one hit for the ship the failing hero is on. The CC of the ship of the hero making the check is added as a bonus to the skill check.
Example: Let’s say Ash’s standard YT-1300 (that he stole) has 4 hull and a Combat Capability (CC) of +0 (nothing special here, it is an “off the rack” ship).
He is intercepted by two TIE-fighters (standard TIE/ln model) and the shooting starts. The GM sets the DC for the combat at DC 15 and rules that two successes are needed to win. Ash’ s pilot roll will be his Dex modifier (+4) + his background bonus (+5 for smuggler) + 2 for his level + 0 for the ship’s CC for a total of +11.
He now rolls piloting checks. Every successful roll earns him one success, a failure reduces his ship’s hull by one point.
A ship’s hull damage does not regenerate like a character’s HP after the battle, it has to be repaired.
So, in space combat, only the players roll. The GM doesn’t have to worry about stats, initiative etc. He just sets the DC and number of needed successes according to what he thinks is a fitting difficulty as determined by the opposition the players face. The GM in turn provides an exciting narrative to every roll and describes the action fast and furious (of course playing solo, you have to imagine the excitement in your head by yourself).
Coming up next will be a stand-alone adventure featuring Ash, testing 13th Age mechanics, as an interlude to the EotE campaign.
Edit: I just realized that as a level two hero I will get another adventurer feat and I have a total of 5 powers instead of 4, according to the rogue class table. For the adventurer feat I pick the Adventurer Feat for my Tumble talent, meaning I can ignore the penalty to disengage checks if I am trying to disengage from multiple enemies.
I can’t really decide on a 5th power from the remaining 1st level powers, so I make up my own:
Target: one nearby non-mook enemy.
Attack: Dexterity + Level vs. AC
Hit: WEAPON + Dexterity damage.
Miss: Damage equal to your level.
Allways: You can choose to take a -2 or a -4 penalty to the attack roll to improve your crit range by one (-2 attack penalty) or by two (-4 attack penalty).