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13th Age Core Book


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13th Age

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13th Age combines the best parts of traditional d20-rolling fantasy gaming with new story-focused rules, designed so you can run the kind of game you most want to play with your group. Created by Rob Heinsoo and Jonathan Tweet, 13th Age gives you all the tools you need to make unique characters who are immediately embedded in the setting in important ways; quickly prepare adventures based on the PCs’ backgrounds and goals; create your own monsters; fight exciting battles; and focus on what’s always been cool and fun about fantasy adventure gaming:

About 13th Age

In the 13th Age of the world, adventurers seek their fortunes in the Dragon Empire while powerful individuals known as Icons pursue goals that may preserve the empire from chaos, or send it over the edge.

Players decide which Icons their characters ally with, and which ones they oppose. These relationships, along with a personal history and a unique trait chosen during character creation, help define an adventurer’s place in the world of 13th Age and lay the groundwork for epic stories that emerge through play.

There are also fun new rules for hitting orcs and making them go splat.

“Our goal with 13th Age is to recapture the free-wheeling style of old-school gaming by creating a game with more soul and fewer technical details. …13th Age makes the play group’s campaign the center of attention, with a toolkit of rules that you can pick and choose from based on the kind of game you want to play. The mechanics draw from classic games as well as newer, story-based games.” – Jonathan Tweet, co-designer

Designed for experienced GMs and any type of player, 13th Age offers a fresh take on a familiar tabletop experience. Pelgrane Press gave Rob and Jonathan total freedom to create the game they most wanted to play. They brought the best parts of the great d20-rolling fantasy tradition together with innovative new rules, resulting in a game that EN World readers named “2013’s Most Anticipated RPG”.

Play 13th Age as a standalone game, or use it as a source of cool ideas and add-on rules for make your favorite RPG. This 320-page core rulebook features:

  • Character creation that gives your adventurer a place in the world (and the GM dozens of adventure hooks) through Icon relationships and your One Unique Things

  • A simple, flexible skill system through Backgrounds that bring your character’s personal history into the game with every dice roll

  • Streamlined, free-form combat with new rules that make battles fast, fun and dramatic

  • DIY monster and encounter building sections so GMs can create adventures with little or no preparation

  • Notes from Rob and Jonathan on how they approach their own games—and where they disagree


About Rob Heinsoo
Rob Heinsoo has created dozens of role-playing games, card games, miniatures games and board games. He led the design of the fourth edition of Dungeons & Dragons® and wrote or led the design of many 4e sourcebooks. Rob has just released the card game Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Duel at Mt. Skullzfyre. Other recent game designs include THREE-DRAGON ANTE, THREE-DRAGON ANTE: Emperor’s Gambit, Inn-Fighting, Dreamblade, FORGOTTEN REALMS® Campaign Setting, and the first nine sets of D&D Miniatures®. Games he worked on in the 90’s that have aged well include Shadowfist, Feng Shui, and King of Dragon Pass.

About Jonathan Tweet

Jonathan Tweet has been creating games professionally for 25 years. He created or co-created the roleplaying games Ars Magica (1987), Over the Edge (1992), and Everway (1995). He started writing for Dungeons & Dragons in 1992, and in 2000 he became the lead designer of the game’s third edition. In addition to roleplaying games, Jonathan has created and contributed to card games, miniatures games, computer games, and fiction. His games have won three Origins Awards, and he is in the Origins Award Hall of Fame.

“13th Age RPG delivers an incredible fantasy storytelling experience.”

– io9

“One of the best systems I’ve encountered—and I’ve either played or read the rules to countless d20 systems at this point—is 13th Age… It’s fun, fast and accessible.”

– Forbes

“[13th Age] has just enough of the freedom I want from a tabletop game while also being able to balance the crunchy aspects. I was just about to swear off D20 games, too. So I’m glad I found this.” – Kirby Smith, playtester

“The system is absolutely brilliant. For me, it brings a lot of the things I really enjoy about traditional fantasy gaming and infuses them with some new and really useful ideas that you often see in more indie gaming.”

– Aaron R., GM of Forgotten Sagas of the 13th Age, Obsidian Portal’s March 2013 Campaign of the Month

OBS_mere.pngStaff Pick

I love how 13th Age RPG uses "Icons" throughout the session: Icons are 13th Age's NPCs that have an influence on the world, based on your relationship and rolls. The Icon system not only keeps players on their toes, but also provides an opportunity for storytellers to alter their plot easily in new and interesting ways.

The classes are familiar to most who play fantasy RPGs, but they are changed in a way that allows more flexibility. (This makes it a little difficult to pick which class to play because all of them are so much fun!) A lot of the rules are is left "up to GM and Players," which helps the game remain flexible and combats the fact that there just can't be rules written for every situation.

The rules are what I'd call "medium crunch," which appeals to a wide variety of player types, including someone like me, who loves getting right into the game as soon as possible.

—Meredith Gerber, Maven of Mythology (DriveThruRPG Publisher Service)

13th Age

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Reviews (13)
Discussions (6)
Customer avatar
James B January 01, 2024 10:40 am UTC
Preview so worthless I was not willing to evaluate this offering, no for someone who would waste their chance to gain my interest.
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Jeremy H April 02, 2022 1:39 am UTC
I've been meaning to pick this one up for awhile. How often does it go on sale? I'll probably get it printed at a local shop, what size is it (a4 or Letter?).
Customer avatar
Timothy B April 02, 2022 4:35 am UTC
I've seen this on sale a few times. I suspect it's flagged to go on sale at each of the larger DTRPG sales (like Christmas in July, Cyber Monday, and GMs Day).

The book is 8½ x 11" (Letter) size.
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Timothy G December 25, 2022 11:01 am UTC
I know it's been months and you may have it already, but a large part of the collection is currently available on Bundle of Holding! DTRPG files.
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Dario T April 25, 2018 10:57 am UTC
A great game for introduce more story and less rules in D&D-like games. A longer review is in
Customer avatar
Oliver K January 27, 2014 4:10 pm UTC
This is of course purely a matter of taste, but here's my opinion:

- Damage increases by level, based on your damage die. This helps making the non-magic classes competitive - as they have bigger damage dice for melee and ranged in general.
- No battlemat: 13th Age moves away from the mini skirmisher game feel of later iterations of D&D. I for one welcome that.
- Beautiful background system: Defines your character's story and history through a set of jobs and backgrounds it had. Very powerful and simple way to do skills, great for getting players engaged and coming up with creative applications during play. (It feels like Barbarians of Lemuria which I also like.)
- Escalator Die: Simple and elegant means of portraying battle momentum. I like it!

- Different mechanics for each class. (And each have a degree of complexity you should master.)
- The Icons: I find the 13 Icons being the big archetypal players in the setting not to my taste,...See more
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John P. H April 06, 2014 8:33 pm UTC
You mention that 13th Age does away with using a battle map; does it entirely lack any mechanism for miniatures? I hadn't used minis very much until I started playing Savage Worlds a couple of years ago, and we like that very much for being able to visualize what is happening in a confrontation.
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Simon R April 07, 2014 10:29 am UTC
Hi - we use a battlemat, but it's not required. Distances are more abstracted. I do find it useful for visualisations as you do.
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John P. H April 08, 2014 8:59 pm UTC
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Bryce W September 18, 2013 7:12 pm UTC
This game is what I want from a d20 fantasy core rules. The fights are quicker (thanks to an escalation die) the monsters are more flavorful than 3.X and 4.0. (granted I've only seen the monsters in the core book). The modular choice of class abilities means I can actually have a paladin that doesn't lay on hands but has a different talent (why didn't D&D think of this before?). The fact that you take incremental advances after each session rather than waiting for a whole level makes my players happy. It takes what I liked about 4E, that being streamlined mechanics, and what I liked of 3.X, lots of player powers that all aren't forced into the template of damage, move, or condition like 4E was and creates something that I would call simply D&D streamlined. If you like the classes of 3X but want more choice, and you like the ease in which 4E played, this game is for you.
Customer avatar
Rory H September 15, 2013 7:05 am UTC
Although I've head people argue otherwise, to me, this game is very much a '4.5' Edition of D&D. The tropes and mechanical basis of the game is similar, which is obviously the Heinsoo influence. One could argue that the Tweet influence lies in the more 'storytelling' aspects of the mechanics, and it is true that it has more of an appeal to this style than the heavy 'boardgame' elements of 4e. The production and pdf standards are very high (the only problem being the missing Druid Class, as far as I can see), but it's not quite the game for me. There are good ideas in there, like the easy-to-use monster stats, and Icons. It's just I still feel, like with 4e, that the Classes and characters are too power driven rather than truly character driven. That may be just me though.
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Linda L September 18, 2013 12:07 am UTC
The Druid will be included in the Supplement : 13th Age True Ways (According to the Kickstarter page)
Customer avatar
Blake C December 17, 2013 8:24 pm UTC
First off, a brief statement. I purchased this direct from Pelgrane, hard copy, as a pre-order. I've seen a good bit of teh beta process, and the amount of feedback that they went through and actually listened to was astounding.

I'd call it more of a 3.75 (what Pathfinder claims and fails to be) than 4.5, but either number you use, it is really a mix of things that just -work- for RPG's. There's no massive tables no complicated rules, nothing that slows down a game. The removal of a grid gets rid of the boardgame feel that 3.5 and 4e had. The flavor of the monsters and how that's reflected in their stats (and their SIMPLE yet complete stats) is heads above any other OGL system out there currently.

As to the missing classes: Druid and Monk were both originally planned for the core book, but they were delayed because they didn't feel right. To me, even though I love both classes, and was very impatient to see them, was the right decision. I've seen a playtest version of the monk, and the...See more
Customer avatar
Kyle W December 19, 2013 5:19 am UTC
On the contrary, I think it's actually more like a 3.75. While it certainly maintains some of the concepts of 4, such as having combat equity for characters and plentiful at-will abilities, I note a distinct opposite direction-rather than being combat focused, combat actually feels like it's less centered on in this, instead the focus is on skills and interesting characters. Where 4 resembles an MMORPG, 13th Age is more like an interactive fiction; fewer rules and more story.

I do, however, agree that the missing Druid is somewhat annoying; with a whole Icon devoted to it, the Druid really needs a presence.
Customer avatar
John P. H April 06, 2014 8:34 pm UTC
Does the game lack provision for use of a battle map? See my comment/question to Oliver K, above.
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This title was added to our catalog on September 13, 2013.