Classes for 13th Age
This page explains how to use the 13th Age classes when playing in Difinia. It describes the role of each class in the world.
In most cases, “class” is a collection of combat abilities and not a whole lot of background. If you play a Cleric, you’re not necessarily a priest at a temple or even a holy person; you’re just someone who has learned to cast certain spells and fight a certain way. Your Backgrounds will determine who you are and why you’re doing it.
Each entry lists ideas for “formal” and “informal” class choices. A formal class choice means you self-identify as a cleric or wizard or whatever. An informal class choice means you self-identify as something else, but know you have a bunch of useful class skills.
Barbarians are simple, straightforward warriors who get more powerful as they fight. Any warrior in Difinia could be a barbarian. There is no requirement that a barbarian be from a “savage” or nomadic culture. There is no requirement that the Barbarian Rage ability represent anger or lack of control, either. The barbarian could just get more dangerous (all the while grinning), while raging.
The epic tier talent Ancestral Warband does suggest spiritual connection. Interpret this as help from friendly spirits: they could be your ancestors, your fallen comrades, or victims of the enemy you’re fighting.
Formal: nomad, savage, horseman, Onamai clansman, Kervathan icewalker, Temberian treefighter
Informal: gladiator, street bully, Norosian pirate, Aridhonian centurion, champion of Eddir
Bards are charismatic troublemakers who know a bit about everything and are good at inspiring others to do their dirty work. They appear all over Difinia in different forms.
Interpret your battle cries and songs as non-magical inspiration. Spells are magic, and work like wizard spells.
Formal: singer, dancer, scribe, court jester, diplomat, messenger
Informal: barkeep, smuggler, practical joker, traveling salesman, con artist, mercenary
Clerics appear all over the world, even where organized religion is forbidden (such as Wujjai and Keljai).
A cleric must be attached to a temple to get power. That means that a cleric that travels far from his temple cannot gain new spells or refresh his daily powers. In hierarchical churches, where smaller temples are ordained by larger central temples, a cleric can go to any temple and expect his powers to follow him. To make up for this limitation, clerics gain the Talk with Spirits class feature and the Potent Holy Symbol class feature.
Informal clerics are rare, because of the temple requirement. They must have some kind of place they go to to focus on their religion, talk to followers, and gain the power of prayer.
Formal: temple acolyte, torchbearer, village pastor
Informal: crazed oracle, cult leader
Fighters are everywhere. Anyone who can swing a fist or sword, throw a rock or spear, or shoot a bow or firetube can be a fighter.
Formal: soldier, city guard, bouncer, Knight of Sentium, Gantusite bowman
Informal: street punk, collegiate wrestler, Thunisian noble
Paladins are warriors who fight for icons or some other cause. Their normal fighting abilities are fortified with loyalty, faith, and moral support from others.
Some of the paladin talents are clerical in nature: Cleric Training and Divine Domain. If you choose these abilities, you are subject to the rules about clerics returning to temples to refresh their daily abilities.
The Lay on Hands class talent is not magical; it’s just saying some encouraging words to get someone back on their feet. It does not normally work on a character with 0 or fewer hit points. As a daily power, the paladin can use Lay on Hands on a character with 0 or fewer hit points (and the daily refresh happens only at a temple).
The default icon of focus for the paladin is the Priestess or the Torchbearer (you choose). Of course, the Way of Evil Bastards class talent allows you to choose any icon (good, neutral, or otherwise), including any of Difinia’s new icons. Whatever you choose, you are devoted to that icon’s cause and it that devotion that gives you your powers. Lose your devotion and you become a fighter and lose a level.
Formal: Templar, king’s guard, Bissanian warden, Aridhonian Imperial Knight
Informal: inquisitor, vengeful father
Rangers are shock troops meant to hit hard and fast, often with stealth. Many train in wilderness survival.
The Animal Companion class feature requires a spirit-bound animal. Ranger’s Pet does not, though it is an option for the player.
If you choose the Ranger ex Cathedral class feature, your daily cleric spells recharge only at the temple, as a cleric.
Formal: scout, Fianhan Patrol, Gantusian archer, caravan guard
Informal: city guide, beast trainer, forest brigand, weapons trainer
Rogues are like bards who focus more on the physical side of things than the social. They live at the edges of society, or at least set themselves apart when they’re among other people.
Formal: cutpurse, burglar, thief, spy, pirate, crime boss
Informal: con artist, gymnast, gambler, city street messenger, parkour artist
Sorcerers have fleeting command over elemental magic in the world. It’s hard to control and dangerous when you mess up.
Formal: tribal shaman, failed wizard, Vesnorian Justiciar, Ulyosian water priest, Dothosian artillerist
Informal: latent talent, arsonist, wind child, master mason
The 13th Age rules go on about a sorcerer’s connections to dragons. That’s not true in Difinia. Sorcerers get their powers through a connection directly to the world and its elemental power.
The energy types in this game are (remember ‘FLAWED’):
- Fire is as the book.
- Light replaces Lightning, and includes magical light.
- Air includes wind and magical force.
- Water replaces Cold and Acid.
- Earth replaces Thunder, and includes dust and rocks.
- Darkness replaces Negative Energy and Poison, and includes magical darkness and life-sapping pain.
Psychic damage can be a bunch of things. You could blast someone’s eyes with magical Light, fill their body with life-sapping pain (Darkness), freeze their brain (Water), crush their skull (Air), and so on.
Breath Weapon spells don’t literally cause you to breathe fire or whatever. You’re summoning elemental power in a raw form and heaving it at your opponents. You can breathe fire or belch water on your enemies if you want to, though, but it’s not because you come from dragons.
The Heritage Talents need some adjustment.
- Arcane Heritage (Archmage) works as it stands. You can also point it at the Marsh Witches.
- Chromatic Destroyer (The Three) changes to Elemental Destroyer (The Four).
- Fey Heritage (The Elf Queen) changes to Fey Heritage (The Elf Empress).
- Infernal Heritage (Diabolist) changes to Demonic Heritage (Demon Lord).
- Metallic Protector Heritage (Great Gold Wyrm) changes to Protector Heritage (Torchbearer). You can also point it at the Priestess.
- Undead Remnant Heritage (Lich King) changes to Undead Remnant Heritage (Necromancer).
If you have a Sorcerer’s Familiar, then it’s spirit bound to you.
Reinterpret some of the spells gently:
- Breath of the White Dragon summons water, not cold.
- Lightning Fork causes light damage, not lightning.
- Breath of the Green summons darkness, not poison.
- Echoing Thunder summons earth, not thunder.
- Breath of the Black summons water, not acid.
- Unearthly Glamour uses light to make you more charismatic.
- Breath of the Blue summons light, not lightning.
- Breath of the Void summons darkness, not negative energy.
Some of the higher-level spells are about stealing powers. These make no sense for a sorcerer who is purely an elementalist. However, here’s how you can make them work: Stolen Faces and Touch of Evil are arcane incantations available to sorcerers at high level, for whatever reason. They’re not related to the elements at all, but mastery of the six elements gives the sorcerer mastery over some difficult arcane spell. Calling the Blood is similar, but it suggests connection with some icon’s elemental power.
Wherever a sorcerer is granted a power or spell from the wizard list, remember that there are wizard laws that control where and when and how a spellcaster can use arcane power. These generally are enforced by the icon who has power in that country (the Marsh Witches in Vesnor, the Crusader in Thunis, the Elf Empress in Fianha, the Archmage in Aridhon and its satellites, and so on). This also applies to the non-elemental spells like Stolen Faces and Touch of Evil. Sorcerers don’t always care about laws though.
Wizards generally have formal training and support throughout the world. In most countries, a wizard can find arcane allies just by mentioning his or her credentials and school. Masterless wizards are another matter. They are typically hunted, arrested, and sometimes killed—usually by other wizards. They guard their arcane secrets carefully and punish any wizard who shares knowledge outside the carefully structured paths set down by the High Arcane Council (chaired by the Archmage).
In magocracies like Vesnor (ruled by the Marsh Witches), Haxiane (ruled by Kyanth the Traveler), and Yugala (ruled by the Goblin King, who is rightfully a sorcerer but he hates and fears wizards), the ruling class either expressly forbids the use and teaching of magic or it regulates and controls it for its own purposes. Spellcasting monarchs don’t want another, more powerful spellcaster kicking them off the throne.
Some countries fear arcane magic, hearkening back to the cataclysm of the 5th Age.
Formal: college apprentice, hedge wizard, court mage, Vesnorian Seer, shaman
Informal: scribe, idiot savant, hitman
Each tier of magic (adventurer spells 1st through 3rd, champion spells, 5th through 7th, and epic spells at 9th) requires the wizard to learn secrets from a teacher. These secrets are not written down in books. A wizard who cuts herself off from the world faces a time when she will not be able to advance her training further. Evil wizards solve this problem in creative ways, figuring out how to capture more powerful wizards and torture them for the information. A wizard who advances to 5th level cannot learn new 5th level spells without training, but can advance his or her 1st and 3rd level spells to 5th level. The same applies when a wizard reaches 9th level and could learn new 9th level spells. The training usually takes years, but presumably has been happening all along in a wizard’s career. A few more weeks of training and a few released secrets for a ready wizard is all that is required to put the puzzle pieces together and master the new forms.
Cantrips are essentially pure arcane magic, though the player can choose to interpret cantrip magic as compelling minor spirits to do one’s bidding. Utility Spell is a set of spirit bindings the wizard develops over a lifetime to make life easier and safer. Utility Spell includes a 1st level spell called Detect Magic. The 3rd level Speak with Item utility is basically “Identify,” if you think about it.
Most wizard class talents require permanent spirit binding. The main exception, Major Arcana, is not spirit binding but requires secret knowledge that is carefully guarded by arcane orders. It is not available to every background, and it comes with a lot of social responsibilities.
Vance’s Polysyllabic Verbalizations is a style of casting taught by some schools around the world. It involves working with whatever available spirits and elements are nearby, using quick, temporary bindings to solve problems. Some schools use spirits without much thought or care. Others place great pride in doing the least harm to spirits and the elements.