The newsletter for Pelgrane Press, See Page XX, heavily features 13th Age this month. The Escalation Edition has been upgraded to 4 pips (I haven't yet looked over the changes), but the biggest news is that 13 True Ways has been funded! There are still some stretch goals to be reached, the most notable being the Necromancer class, but 13th Age fans can breathe a collective sigh of relief, for this indicates that the game is being very well-received, and is sure to benefit from great support (it's already being supported before its release, after all!).
The article "What I Learned About 13th Age by Playing With Rob Heinsoo" is extremely informative, and makes me want to run an impromptu campaign with this system right now. This session sounds like it was a blast, and it really highlights the importance of Relationship Dice, Backgrounds, and a character's One Unique Thing in driving a campaign forward. Of course the system can handle a more "traditional" campaign structure as well. In fact, I was toying with the notion of running it without RD, Backgrounds, and OUT (haha, just discovered a new acronym!) to create a playtest experience similar to D&D Next for new players. While that speaks to the strength of the game's core mechanic, now I feel like such an endeavor would really sell the system short, though it might have potential for introducing shy, new gamers into the hobby. Perhaps the narrative mechanics can be added later, once players gain more familiarity with RPing and want to develop their characters more. Because that's what 13th Age really caters to: character development. The article makes it really obvious how the mechanics can give individual characters an incredible amount of narrative control.
The other noteworthy article was "When Icons Interfere," which could be a handy reference for GMs trying to get used to the Icon mechanics. I really like the notion of an "interference roll," since having rolls of 1-4 do nothing on a roll of the Relationship Dice seems anticlimactic. It also has the potential to cause players to want to roll their RD a lot during a session, in order to maximize the likelihood of something happening. I do not think this is intended, however, as Icon rolls should be reserved for particularly dramatic moments. Having a fair chance of Icon interference resulting in complications would cause most players to think twice before attempting to leverage their relationships.
I'm a bit unsure of how the dynamics of the RD will work in general. Specifically I'm wondering if it might become optimal to put all 3 points into a relationship with a single icon. But perhaps I'm wrong about that, and having multiple options will maximize the likelihood that a give character can justify calling on any icon in a given circumstance, though the chances of triggering interferences goes up. Personally I'm drawn to the middle ground; characters that have relationships with 2 Icons, a 2D and a 1D. Only time will tell. I really need to actually play this system!