Inspired by Aaron de Orive's 2020 First Ten RPGs, a brief account of the roleplaying games I have played most recently, beginning with the most recent and working backwards. Number Five: Rob Heinsoo and Jonathan Tweet’s 13th Age fantasy roleplaying game.
13thAge is D&D-like in many respects, particularly in the use of character levels. Nevertheless, it has some interesting innovations. For example, while elements of the background are predetermined, a lot of the world-building is intended to be a group efforted, fleshed out as a side effect of character design. Rather than acquiring the entire suite of new abilities at once, as soon as the character advances from one level to the next, advancement is incremental. As well, it rejects specific skills in favour of broad backgrounds, which provide bonuses to circumstances related to the backgrounds. Finally, combat is sped up through the use of an escalation die, which adds a bonus to player character to hit rolls equal to the number of rounds that have passed since the first round.
We played this a couple of time. My characters were, if I recall correctly, a backwoods ranger with no concept of communities larger than a handful of people, and a Tiefling sorcerer who wanted very much for nobody to discover he was actually a reformed demon who commandeered a mortal body when the original owner discovered why one should not dabble in that in which one should not dabble. Wait, no: I played a half-orc fighter/accountant who did body guard work to get exposure for his accounting services.
It’s a perfectly functional little system, although we have not been back to it in a while. New horizons always beckon!