13th Age

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13th Age
13th Age, role-playing game.jpg
Designer(s)Rob Heinsoo, Jonathan Tweet
Publisher(s)Pelgrane Press
Publication dateAugust 3, 2013
System(s)Archmage Engine
Random chanceDice rolling
WebsiteOfficial website

13th Age is a d20 fantasy tabletop role-playing game designed by Rob Heinsoo (lead designer of Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition)[1]:289–290 and Jonathan Tweet (lead designer of D&D 3rd Edition),[2] and published by Pelgrane Press.

Publication history[edit]

13th Age was released on August 3, 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 bestiary, 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 affect both character and the entire setting.[7]


Like many d20-variant games, 13th Age was released under the Open Game License, meaning that its open game content can be copied or modified. An outline of the rules is available for free online.[8]

13th Age was designed to be familiar in terms of setting concepts to D&D players, so it is a class-based game with the main rulebook containing standard D&D classes. It is also level-based, with ten levels grouped into three tiers. 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, known as the "escalation die".

The skills systems often associated with recent versions of Dungeons & Dragons have been replaced with "backgrounds" in 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, 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-time friends and gaming partners Heinsoo and Tweet decided to create a game together.[6][9] 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] The game was officially launched a week before GenCon 2013.

13th Age Glorantha[edit]

Kickstarter was again successfully used in October 2014 to fund 13th Age in Glorantha, a sourcebook for using the 13th Age rules with the Glorantha setting.[11]


  1. ^ Shannon Appelcline (2011). Designers & Dragons. Mongoose Publishing. ISBN 978-1-907702-58-7.
  2. ^ "Wizards of the Coast: Player's Handbook Exclusive Preview!".
  3. ^ Pelgrane Press press release
  4. ^ RPG Geek listing
  5. ^ ENWorld Hot Games listing as of December 12, 2013
  6. ^ a b Io9 Interview with Jonathan Tweet and Rob Heinsoo about 13th Age
  7. ^ SF Signal Review
  8. ^ "13th Age System Reference Document". enworld.com. 2013. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
  9. ^ Forbes.com review of 13th Age
  10. ^ 13 True Ways Kickstarter
  11. ^ https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/416625372/13th-age-in-glorantha