13th Age

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13th Age
Designer(s) Rob Heinsoo, Jonathan Tweet
Publisher(s) Pelgrane Press
Publication date 3 August 2013
Genre(s) Fantasy
System(s) d20
Random chance Dice rolling

13th Age is a d20 fantasy tabletop role-playing game, designed by Rob Heinsoo (lead designer of D&D 4e)[1]:289–290 and Jonathan Tweet (lead designer of D&D 3E),[2] and published by Pelgrane Press. It was released on 3 August 2013[3] and the pre-release version was a nominee for the RPG Geek RPG of the Year 2013.[4] As of December 2013 the ENWorld hot games list showed that discussions of it were responsible for 2.6% of all D&D related web traffic they had been able to index.[5]


The setting of 13th Age is intended to be fleshed out in the course of play. Although there are default places, 13 default Icons that are archetypes of powerful Gods and NPCs in standard Fantasy settings,[6] and a default monster manual, a lot of the setting is dependent on character creation. This is done by means of having freeform backgrounds rather than predefined skills, and by each character having One Unique Thing that can be anything which has no direct mechanics; examples in the rulebook include I am the only halfling knight of the Dragon Emperor and I have a clockwork heart made by the dwarves, both of which have an impact on both character and the entire setting.[7]


Like many d20 variant games, 13th Age was released under the Open Game License, meaning that an outline of the rules is available for free online.[8]

13th age was designed to be familiar in terms of setting conceits to D&D players, so it is a class based game with the main rulebook containing standard D&D classes. It's also level based, with ten levels grouped into three tiers. Unlike most other d20 games, 13th age was designed from the ground up to not use miniatures or a grid, and instead uses abstract distances and positioning. In order to speed up combat the Player Characters gain an escalating bonus to hit equal to the number of rounds that have passed.

The skills systems often associated with recent versions of Dungeons and Dragons have been replaced with backgrounds by 13th Age. Players are encouraged to create backstories for their characters that give them bonuses to actions in the game, often asking them to refer to a time in their fictional past when they have dealt with a similar obstacle and how they overcame it or what they learnt from the experience.

Other differences from standard d20 games include the backgrounds taking the place of most utility magic, weapon damage dice being determined by class (a feature shared with Dungeon World), spells that are only expended on bad rolls, and recoveries that resemble D&D 4e healing surges.


After they had both left Wizards of the Coast, long term friends and gaming partners[9] Rob Heinsoo and Jonathan Tweet decided to create a game together.[6] By GenCon 2012 the game was ready for playtesting, and they used the hype created at GenCon to Kickstart a supplement called 13 True Ways even before 13th Age was released.[10] and it was officially launched a week before GenCon 2013.