Monday, February 9, 2015

Back to the 13th Age

Back to running 13th Age online for a few of my oldest Bros. This time I opted to try one of the modules for organized play that seemed like it would fit where we are in the story. Without too much fiddling, it seemed to work. But there's an odd aspect to it that I didn't realize at first: the 13th Age adventure suggested making it very indie by having the players constantly suggest what they expected.

Now, I decided to go along with this, even though its not quite what I think of as my 'style'. Though I didn't really let go and run with it right away. Also the players maybe weren't aware of what I was vaguely hinting at in the beginning, but I tried to run with their choices. Then we got into the dungeon. The adventure suggests just doing a montage over most of the exploration to get right to the encounters. I kinda see the point there. It feels very 4th edition to me though. But I can also attest to how trying to visualize a poorly defined map and many branching passageways can lead to a whole lot of no fun. So, whatever, I figured I might give this hokey technique a shot.

I kinda liked it. Playing online, the players can't see me smiling as they suggest what sort of troubles they had on in the dungeon and then suggest how they overcame them. And after re-reading some of the examples in the module I had to throw one of my own in to raise the gonzo stakes a bit. But I kinda enjoyed it.

I'm not sure I'd like to do that all the time, or as much as they kinda suggest in this adventure. Maybe the others don't involve quite as much: I'll have to skim another one or two in a bit. I did like it as a quick way to get back to the action. Though the combats didn't challenge the PCs much, in part because the second one was just a big ambush and the PCs can both deal some pretty serious damage.

Another issue with this collaborative montage is in TSR D&D, part of the point of travel was to wear down the party's resources a bit. The montage didn't really do that. Maybe I could have asked for a skill check or something to see how well they fared. Swinging across a pit, or topping a column into a stream were fairly easy ways across the obstacles, but a failed check could have still cost a recovery or dealt a little damage. Or even expended a spell or power. Fail forward and all. Though that wouldn't showcase the party's awesomeness, which is what the adventure suggested the montage would/should do...

As I keep thinking about an Al-Qadim game I'd like to run, I'm wondering how I could incorporate some more collaborative world- and story-building into it. I want to run it a bit as an old-school style: here's the world, you explore it and carve out your new kingdom. But maybe I could (in the hypothetical world where I run it) let the players help define their backstories more. Their families, their home villages, their temples, or their sorcerous masters. That's not too hard. Maybe they can also suggest some ideas for the types of adventures they might go on. And maybe I could get the action moving now and then with a good collaborative montage scene.


  1. I quite enjoyed the collaborative montage and actually think that you could adapt it easily so that it used up resources, just by changing up the question a little like "You used up 50' of rope, what obstacle did you overcome using it?" or "What monster did the party best using four of their torches in the fight?"

    1. Yeah, I like that idea but then you have to be tracking equipment more than I might in a 13th Age game. Maybe using that variant where you actually made an appropriate check (skill, attack, etc.) could work well. Success means you're good to go, failure means things got complicated. Equipment could be a good resource to lose as well as HP/recoveries or encounter/daily powers. To keep it collaborative, you could ask the same or another player to describe how it got complicated and what they lost.