Organized Play? No, Never Again! Well, Maybe. (13th Age)
I mentioned making up a character for 13th Age a few weeks back, but I didn’t get much into the reasons for that particular development. I was going to play in the first session of the current series of adventures for Fire Opal Media’s organized play.
Yeah, I know, I’m not big on organized play. Even when I was big on organized play, organized play reminded me why I wasn’t big on it. Doesn’t matter whose organized play, it just seems like once said OP gets to a certain size, they take on the same characteristics that tend to turn me off of them.
But for now, the 13th Age organized play is a bit of a different animal. The adventures are two hour long episodes that are more in line with D&D Encounters than Paizo’s Pathfinder Society. It’s a good and a bad thing. I was ready for more when we got to the end, but I can appreciate having a more manageable time slot for the events to run.
My initial impressions of the game support what seemed to be true of the read through of the rulebook: it feels a bit like 4th edition, but three time faster, and not quite as “artificial,” i.e. there aren’t as many elements that hit you over the head and remind you that it’s a tactical game rather than a set of rules for simulating fantasy stories that involve lots of violence and over the top action.
It does make me wonder how well higher level play will work in the two hour episode environment. It may work just fine, since we only went a little over two hours, and that included coming up with One Unique Things as Backgrounds for people that had never played the game before.
I enjoyed the Tiefling fighter I made up, and never got too frustrated that I wasn’t “doing what I was suppose to be doing.” Fighter do feel a bit more sure and steady and dependable versus the paladin and barbarians being “if this works, it’s going to be really impressive” vibe, but I’m okay with that. I had more to actually think about on my turns when it came to tactics, it seemed.
It did seem that the One Unique Things, Backgrounds, and Icon Relationships gave everyone a set of roleplaying hooks right off the bat. We may not have had deep roleplaying scenes going on, but it seemed like everyone at least had an “angle” that they wanted to play, which was nice.
The scenario itself started right up with the action, and introduced some of the more gonzo elements of the setting, like assuming that its a perfectly normal thing in a fantasy setting to have hovering prisons that are built on clouds. I’m fine with that, because the setting does seem to be about traditional d20 fantasy taken to a bit of an extreme. I can’t speak much to the overall story, because it was intentionally a two hour short cliffhanger to get you to come back for more.
There aren’t a lot of us at the FLGS that are onboard for this right now, and I’m not sure I can make the regular night that is being set up. I’d love to see more people join the group, since I really do like the system, and I think there are a lot of people that are part of the FLGS community that would enjoy it. I’m not entirely sure if being a d20 fantasy game with an organized play program is a plus or a minus at this point when it comes to recruiting, so I wish our GM the best of luck getting more players.