Chatty’s “13th Age”: The Story So Far, Part 2

In Part 1, I started sharing a summary of my 13th Age campaign. In this post, I’ll catch up to current events and tell you a bit more about my players and table dynamics. If you’ve been reading my recent 13th Age posts, you should know that the next chapter is what inspired me to write the 13th Age hack about dealing with PC vs NPC contests

Chapter 5: The Trial of Three Teeth

While Hades, Myrmidon and Nysal were busy dealing with squabbling dark elves, Three-Teeth wandered in Santa Cora and was arrested by by the Imperial constabulary. A warrant had been issued and he was one of the most wanted man in the Empire. Being ever dutiful, he followed them without resistance to the imperial capital of Axis where he was imprisoned, awaiting to be tried for treason.

He was accused of not laying down his life to protect Mirandela, the Emperor’s youngest daughter when she was assassinated by hooded assailants seven years ago. While Mirandela’s mother had supported Three-Teeth’s testimony that he had nearly died trying to save her, she was now accusing him of being a traitor. She said that he acted out of cowardice and jealousy.

Imperial law prevented Three-Teeth from testifying in court so Hades and Myrmidon were summoned to act as character witnesses. Navigating the extremely annoying nooks and crannies of Imperial bureaucracy with the help of an unknown benefactor, the two heroes were able to have Three-Teeth released in their custody. They soon found out it was the public attorney in charge of the Paladin’s defense who’d hired the heroes as both character witnesses and investigators. He revealed that a lot of money was being spent in trying to take down Three-Teeth and he sent the heroes to find the source of that money.

They eventually found the source of these legal machinations: the orcish owner of Axis’s underground gladiatorial rings, an old enemy of the Paladin. The heroes ventured into the gladiatorial pits and vanquished him. They found one of Mirandella’s half-brothers imprisoned in one of the arena’s cells. Having uncovered the leverage the orc had on the Imperial concubine, they returned to Mirandella’s mother to confront her. Grateful, she changed her testimony and the case was eventually dismissed.

This is where we stand as of December 20th 2013. I can’t wait to play the next adventure. I have no idea where the story will go. There are so many unresolved plots and so many character backgrounds to explore. It’s going to be amazing.

Players and Table Dynamic

My current gaming group is a mix of old and new players which makes for a fascinating and fresh social experience.

Yan is one of my long time players, we met in high school. He likes to kick butt through brilliant tactics and loves to get lost in a good story. He plays Myrmidon the tiefling bard. So far he’s had a long streak of bad luck with his rolls, which has made it hard to establish if the bard is cool to play or not. Regardless, Myrmidon has a very solid part in the story and we all want to see it unfold.

François (Franky) is also an old timer. We go back to 1999 or so. He is a voracious setting explorer and can be swayed by a good story like none of my players can be. He plays Hades the half-elf Fighter. So far, he seems to be the most versatile and powerful character in the party but his story is yet to be told.

Chantal is a recent addition to our group. She’s a close friend of mine who joined us last year for our Marvel Heroic Roleplaying campaign. She’s the first woman to play with this particular group. She plays Nysal the elven Sorcerer, by far the most mysterious character to date, both in terms of story and mechanics. I haven’t quite pegged her playing style yet but she’s seems very motivated by story and loves to jostle the group’s social dynamics.

Maxime (Max) is our newest member. A fellow Ubisoft colleague and longtime GM, Maxime joined us for this campaign. He plays Three-Teeth, the half-orc Paladin. I also haven’t pegged Maxime’s style yet but from what I’ve seen so far and what he told me, he is a method actor and a great fan of immersive stories. The Paladin has been the least interesting class in terms of mechanics so far, but Maxime has made Three-Teeth into a fascinatingly complex character. I want to know where he’ll go with it.

Having four players who love story so much is probably one of the success factors of this campaign. Everyone actively participates in creating rich, engaging fiction. Each player buys into what others create. I try to give a lot of narrative freedom to them, letting them frame flashbacks and let them help me create scenes that make sense when I’m unsure where to send the adventure next. This is a HUGE help when you play heavily improvised adventures.

You might have noticed in the summaries that many chapters featured heroes who were separated or downright missing. I’ve tried to implement a few tweaks to the campaign to better handle the realities of missing players, the unavoidable scourge of playing RPGs as adults.

First, I try real hard to play self-contained adventures that fit in a 2-3 hour session. Making the campaign episodic means that some heroes can “stay at home” or be busy off screen while the others go adventuring.

Second, I try to work the absence as part of a plot element or part of the campaign’s myth arc. For instance, Nysal’s disappearances and amnesia are starting to add up to quite a mystery that will have to be investigated some day. Franky’s missed game lead to the heroes looking for Hades after losing him in SkullForge Keep. And when Maxime couldn’t show up, I worked with him to create the “Three-Teeth’s Trial” adventure, explaining his absence the session before.

So there you have it. Let me know if you’d like me to keep you posted on what’s to come.

Thanks for reading.