Last night I started my second 13th Age campaign, with a different group. Like my other group, I'm running through the Dungeon World front The Great Wyrm Axtalrath. I'm interested to find out how much the two campaigns diverge given the exact same open-ended, sandbox-y scenario. While I'll comment on mechanical bits in future posts, I probably won't delve too deep into the narrative with proper session summaries. Partially due to time constraints, partially because it could potentially get confusing, and partially because I'm likely to reuse stuff which would spoil things if my players from either group read them.
That said, so far the two groups are taking things in very different directions, which I'm happy to see.
I guess one of the first orders of business should be to introduce the new group:
Wood Elf Cleric
Icons: 1 (neg) The Three, 1 (conf) High Druid, 1 (pos) Priestess
Backgrounds: +4 Linguist, +4 Wanderer
OUT: Pieces of metal sometimes speak to him, and he either destroys them or incorporates them into his mish-mash equipment.
Icons: 2 (conf) Dwarf King, 1 (neg) The Three
Backgrounds: +4 Bodyguard, +4 Diplomat
OUT: He's a noble in exile; he abandoned his clan because he couldn't stand the dirty politics.
Icons: 2 (pos) Great Gold Wyrm, 1 (conf) Emperor
Backgrounds: +4 Soldier, +4 Blacksmith
OUT: He's the only person known to have insulted the Emperor and survive to tell the tale.
Iltisine was built as a melee Str Cleric, but the player purposefully gave him an 8 Con. Yes, this is an experience D&D player who knew what he was getting into. He also intentionally passed over most healing resources, having only his class feature and its associated feat. Lowthesis grudgingly took Lay on Hands because of this. Truth be told, I was interested in seeing how such a party would fare, but after the first session the player has asked to re-spec his Cleric into more of a spellcaster, and with more of a healing focus. I'm allowing it, so I'll have to wait for another time to see a 13th Age party with no Cleric (or a non-healer Cleric) in action.
While we're on the subject of Iltisine, Elven Grace is an extremely powerful racial feature. In our first (short) fight he managed to get 1 extra standard action, and in the second he got 3, one on the d12. I know that it's balanced around the fact that poor rolls could mean you don't get any extra standard actions in some combats, but given that most of the fights that I've run have seen the Escalation Die reach 6, the odds favor getting extra actions. I might re-evaluate the power after we're a few sessions in, because as it stands it's hands-down the best race.
Both battles were against kobolds, and Evasive is a surprisingly nasty trait. Granted, this group is used to the d4 HD kobolds of 3.x/Pathfinder, but these battles still ran a bit tougher than I'd expected based on my experience with the system. But perhaps that also has something to do with the exploding clay pots that I gave them. Still, the Paladin wasn't too happy when his Smite Evil, which normally does half damage on a miss, was essentially wasted because the shifty little buggers just refused to get pinned down.
The highlight of the session (or lowlight, depending how you look at it) was a display of bad luck during the second battle that was worse than anything I'd seen in an RPG before. It ran 9 rounds (I believe), and both Lowthesis and Argus both hit exactly twice. It was pathetic, and made more pathetic by the lack of miss damage (kobolds). Argus was getting to-hit buffs from Iltisine, and essentially got a permanent +2 bonus thanks to Two Weapon Pressure (that's not a maneuver you want to trigger almost every turn, lol). His 2 hits both occurred in one round; he rolled a 19 which crit (thanks to Carve an Opening) and dropped his foe, and then he followed up with Cleave. His one shining moment that battle. At least Lowthesis was soaking up TONS of damage so his misses weren't quite as frustrating (Paladins being much more about tanking than dealing damage anyways).
Iltisine ended up killing all but two of the kobolds (re: 3 extra standards thanks to Elven Grace). He also demonstrated that even as a Standard Action, Hammer of the Gods isn't a bad spell (especially if you cast it when you have 2 standards that turn anyways!). Another high point in the battle was when he took out 3 mooks with one attack (I think it was a crit with that sweet, sweet d12). He was engaged with two of them, and I think it blew his mind when I moved the mini over to the third and said he took that one out as well. Being used to gridded Pathfinder combat he was a bit incredulous at first, but when I explained what happened cinematically (he ran past the first two, sliced them clean through while on-the-run, and then stabbed the third) I think it made more sense to him.
This is what I LOVE about the mook rules - it helps free you from the restrictions of the Move/Standard/Quick turn structure. Fourth Edition D&D had powers that allowed you to move and attack with one standard action, but the 13th Age rules go beyond even that. It's a rule that instead of limiting what you can do, gives you even more flexibility. The rule says "you kill an extra mook," and you do whatever you can with your character to make that mook die in a believable way, even if that means moving between two attacks.