Pelgrane Press’ 13th Age is a D20-based RPG created by a couple of the lead designers from previous editions of Dungeons & Dragons. I’ve played the game once, using a Forgeborn (like D&D’s Warforged) Necromancer. The idea of the character was that as fleshy engineers tinkered with metal and wood to make machines, he tinkered with flesh and bone. He was a swell guy.
Bundle of Holding has a couple of 13th Age Bundles up at the moment. There’s a core bundle and then an adventure-themed one. let’s take the core one first.
13th Age Bundle
This bundle is, as tradition dictates, broken down into two tiers. The first tier, priced at $14.95 contains three items:
The core book is obviously the most essential item in this bundle. Players and GMs will need a copy of this for character creation and the actual rules of the game. The book is beautifully produced, with some really nice artwork throughout. This book does not represent a huge departure from D&D, thematically, but it does do some interesting things – particularly in regards to making it really easy and practical to play without maps and minis by tweaking how distances are reported.
13 True Ways is where I think 13th Age starts to develop more of its own voice. The book fleshes out the setting with information about various cities and types of monster. it adds new magic items and artifacts. Most importantly, it adds new classes. My favourite additions are the Chaos Mage (which is crazy fun) and the Necromancer.
The second tier of this bundle is pretty big, with 7 additional items on top of what you got in the first tier. It is priced on a threshold which, at the time of writing, is sitting at $33.21.
There are a couple of highlights in this tier. The most useful book is the 13th Age Bestiary, the Monster Manual of 13th Age. The book has your typical offerings like Bugbears, Hags, Ogres and the like, but also a few unique offerings. I like the entries for the demonic Cambions, the interesting Warbanners, and the terrifying Ettercaps.
Eyes of the Stone Thief really appeals to me. it’s a sizable campaign that focuses on a living dungeon. The living dungeon concept is one I’ve been talking about with friends recently, so it’s a cool coincidence that this bundle with this particular book should come out just now! The book is very detailed, with even small areas of the map broken down, developed and explained to the GM. If you’re looking for an epic dungeon delve with a nice twist, this is a good book.
The Book of Loot is quite interesting. Unlike a lot of equipment books, this one organises the various magic items by theme rather than function. It’s an interesting approach where it lists themes such as ‘Archmage’, ‘Emperor’ and ‘Lich King’. This is a decent book for a GM to keep handy.
There’s some additional content in this tier, including some material from 13th Age Monthly, some first level adventures, and an exclusive campaign that is only available as part of this bundle.
This is a really solid bundle and should be an auto-buy for anyone interesting in running a game of 13th Age. I say ‘running’ because, as is common with these bundles, there’s a lot of material here that’s only really going to be useful to the GM. Players should definitely look to pick up the first tier, though.
13th Age Adventures Bundle
This bundle does rely on the core materials that were offered in the previous bundle. The first tier of this bundle costs $14.95 and contains three items:
Loot Harder is another treasure book, much like Book of Loot in the previous bundle. it follows a similar, thematically-focused structure, too.
The Book of Demons is a big sourcebook with a clear focus on the demonic places and denizens of the world. The demonologist class is a solid addition to the game and I’m always a fan of any pet-based class, particularly where summoning is involved.
The Book of Ages is a bit different. It gives examples of what might have happened in the 12 ages preceding the 13th Age. In presenting the possible vision of the past, the book introduces a ton of material, including playable races (I especially like the Space Fleet Explorer, along with their trusty Space Fleet survival belt!), monsters, treasures, locations, class abilities… There’s a lot of content here.
The next tier is priced on a threshold that is currently sitting at $28.24. It will get you all the stuff from the previous tier, plus:
This tier consists of a total of 121 battle scenes. Battle scenes, according to the bundle age, are:
short combat scenarios keyed to the 13 iconic characters who rule the Dragon Empire. Each set describes challenging fights at all levels (one set of battles for each of the three tiers of play) with dangerous foes on unusual terrain, all mapped in full color.
Battle scenes are not an area of 13th Age that I’m particularly familiar with, so I can’t speak about this tier is particular detail. What I do know is that combat encounters can, for some GMs, be tricky to design. Having these plug-and-play battle scenarios would definitely be useful to many people. The inclusion of maps is particularly handy to just ensure that the GM has everything that would needed to run these encounters.
All in all, this is a bundle aimed at GMs and is very good in that regard. There’s not much that would be needed here for players, with the possible exceptions of those who want to use some of the new races or the demonologist class that are present in the first tier. It’s also a lot less essential than the first bundle that I covered in this post as nothing here is actually needed to play 13th Age.
If you’re keen to check out these bundles for yourself, you can click here for the core bundle or here for the adventures bundle. Some of the proceeds will also go to support Human Rights Watch, which is a pretty worthy cause.