The designers of 3rd edition and 4th edition D&D combined forces to create 13th Age. While maintaining the core d20 mechanics familiar to D&D players, they stripped away some of the complexities and added storytelling elements found in many newer games.
13th Age encourages players to adjust the rules as they see fit. While there is a default setting, tweaking it or using other settings is encouraged. This is a high fantasy game that works well for campaigns that emphasize heroic characters engaged in dramatic adventures.
Here’s how the creators of 13th Age describe the game:
We have targeted the game toward experienced gamemasters and players at all levels of roleplaying experience. With 13th Age, you can play an OGL d20-rolling campaign that uses story-oriented tricks that other games have used for years. The rules are designed to be a dramatic experience at the game table rather than an accurate simulation.
Three Things About 13th Age
- One unique thing: Every player character has a special quality created by the player, that makes that character unique in the game world.
- Icon relationships: Player characters have defined relationships with powerful non-player characters, creating built-in motivation and adventure hooks.
- Escalation die: In combat player characters improve their odds of success as the battle continues, leading to fewer drawn-out combat scenes.
- “Three things get me about the game: its elegant simplicity, the boiled down D&D 3e and 4e rules and mentality, and the encouragement to just play.” — Cerri’glok, Ereth’cerri
- “Overall, if you and your players enjoy improvisation and world building, and one of you is an experienced GM, this might just be the game for you.” — Melody Heron Anderson, Gaming As Women
- Pelgrane Press maintains an active 13th Age forum and a twitter account
- RPG StackExchange
See 13th Age in Action
The folks at Saving Throw show off 13th Age in this actual play session, which highlights how the game differs from other d20 fantasy systems.