A Lazy Sequence

13th Age character creation

12 August 2014

My weekly gaming group has begun playing 13th Age. As with most games the first session was devoted to character creation. Prior to this session I had created a few characters (including porting one from Pathfinder) to get a handle on the process.

With character creation spread across four chapters of the book there is a fair bit of page flipping. I have yet to internalise the process, but the simplicity of characters (for a d20 fantasy game) means that the checklist on page 29 and character sheet are sufficient for guiding creation.

In 13th Age characters are described with a mix of traditional crunchy bits and also mechanised fluff. I have found I like to alternate between the two kinds of content as I generate the character. When working out crunch, my brain can process fluff in the background and vice versa. This back-and-forth has proved to be an effective feedback cycle.

I have enjoyed how easily I can simply start building a character with no concept, quickly lift an idea from an example somewhere in the book, and without any specific thought, the activity of filling out the character sheet has pushed that idea into something I would not have created myself. No analysis paralysis, no worries about clichéd (or anti-clichéd) characters.

Without getting too “Let me tell you about my character…”, an example. At this weeks session I decided that I would play a gnome sorcerer, but beyond that I had no concept. While trying to figure out why the character would choose a poor ranged weapon (throwing daggers) and a moderate melée weapon (a spear) when the stats suggest he shouldn’t ever get into melée, I read some of the sorcerer class overview: “…If your sorcerer was cursed at birth to wield the power of the Lich King…” (pg 132). It was obvious that a gnome (gnomes live underground) with an inappropriate weapon would have stolen it from a crypt of the Lich King, and that the weapon was cursed. That provided both the one unique thing for my character and all the direction I needed.

I have been impressed with the careful balance between providing detail and ideas and leaving the setting open that the text achieves.

On the mechanised fluff:

The one unique thing rule is great. I found that creating a couple of different characters and coming up with multiple uniques for them was an important exercise for getting the hang of them. The rules provide a lot of examples and discussion so creating my own and then comparing them to the discussions was helpful for getting a good grasp on these.

Backgrounds are a cool skill system. I like the concept but they have proved to be the most difficult aspect of character creation for me. I think this is one aspect of having a less specified setting can be a challenge for new players. Perhaps this will become easier with more experience with the system and setting, or with additional material in 13 True Ways?

Guitar Amp Recording

31 July 2014


Mike Senior for Sound on Sound:

I love reading interviews with engineers and producers, but the more of them I read, the more I come up against the basic problem that my brain is like a sieve. I'm forever thinking to myself "I really must remember that technique", but unless I dash off and use it right away the knowledge just skips out of my ear and heads for the hills, probably glad to be free. And even if I vaguely remember reading a fascinating passage about de-essing nose-flutes, I'm damned if I can recall where I read it or who recommended it.

A few months ago, I decided that enough was enough, so I began to trawl systematically through Sound On Sound's interview archive, collating and comparing different producers' views on a variety of recording and mixing topics.…

The article is a great survey of techniques for miking electric guitar for recording. Senior has supplied a plethora of sample recordings to illustrate the various techniques mentioned by the producers he has looked at.

Mouse Guard: Swords & Strongholds kickstarter

30 July 2014


If board games are more your think than RPGs, Luke Crane and David Petersen also have a Kickstarter for a Mouse Guard board game going too.

We developed a light strategy game for two players that takes 10 to 20 minutes time per game. It's exactly the sweet spot we hoped for—a game you can play while you're sitting at the June Alley Inn listening to tales, or when you're waiting for your friends to arrive for a game night, or when you're waiting in long lines at comicons!

Mouse Guard RPG 2nd edition coming

30 July 2014

Mouse Guard RPG 2e Box Art by David Petersen.
Used with permission.

Luke Crane:

Tonight, I delivered the Mouse Guard second edition rulebook file to Archaia. David and I have been at work on the second edition for the last six months. We've been gently tweaking rules and reediting the book, both in the text and art. It's been my pleasure to have David involved at every step of the process. A few weeks ago he was here in NYC and sat with me as we recreated all of the patrols using the revised recruitment rules. It's been great to work so closely with him.

I am a big fan of the first edition of the Mouse Guard RPG. The game – both in hardcover, and the amazing boxed set – has been out of print now for a few years. It is excited that both formats are being reprinted.

It will be great to once again being able to recommend this game to people new to tabletop RPGs. From Luke Crane’s post it sounds like the already streamlined rules have been given a light shake up with lessons learned in Torchbearer (a game descended from the Mouse Guard RPG) being folded back into this new edition. Keep an eye out for this online or in your local game and/or comic shop.

David Petersen has written some articles detailing the process behind the new art for the the rulebook cover, and the boxed set (seen above). The new rulebook cover is especially evocative both of Mouse Guard, but also classic RPG books. Worth checking out if you are interested in art or comics.