Expedition to Castle Ravenloft in the 13th Age: Session 0

Familiar Disclamer: I should remind you that even though I’m a veteran DM, I’ve never run the 13th Age befor this game, and I only played a single session at PAX East. We’re learning as we play, which isn’t always entertaining, but may be useful for new DMs. Also, I don’t know or have the time for edits, so you’re getting the raw session. Fortunately for you, I like to keep them short!


This is an actual play broadcast of Expedition to Castle Ravenloft using the 13th Age RPG.

We spent the first hour introducing characters and talking about what’s different about the 13th Age compared to D&D.

The last half-hour was the start of the game. I am running The Ghosts of Aniel by Stephen Kenson, a free one-shot adventure written for 3rd edition D&D. This short adventure will run directly into the Ravenloft campaign.

Our characters are are:
Ember, the human fighter–played by Bryant (@gamercow).
Vasile, the 1/2-elven bard–played by Jesse
Heinrich, the human cleric–played by Pierce (@sorcerer_blob)

13th Age makes use of some deceptively simple techniques to encourage role-playing from the players and a collaborative atmosphere for world building.

My players already had characters made, but we spend a good portion of the time discussing backgrounds and One Unique Things (OUTs). These aspect of the characters are not set in stone. We continue to refine our understanding of what these things can be as we play. Part of the fun that I have running this game is finding opportunities to ask the players to elaborate on their backgrounds or OUT.

Around the 25 minute mark, we start answering questions about the rules. Because of the deep similarity between the 13th Age and 3rd/4th edition D&D the points where these RPGs diverge can be perplexing or simply overlooked! I tried to cover all the big stuff based on the class selections that people chose.

At the 49 minute mark, we begin the first adventure.

The Dragon Empire is vast and composed of many realms. South of the Midland Sea, in the Wild Wood, the current High Druid has made her home. Since her arrival, the primal energies of her rituals have made the Wood even more hostile to the forces of civilization. Yet, people still live in the Wild Wood. The larger settlements have been abandoned and overrun, but small villages still persist when they are careful to live in harmony with Nature.

The Emperor only rules here in name but that does not mean that he has abandoned the Wild Wood. Agents of the Empire patrol the settlements, take census of the people who remain, hear their needs, and chart the progress of the Druid’s power through the forest.

You are one such band of adventurers and your next stop is the Elven hamlet of Aniel. The rumor in nearby settlements is that the entire population of Aniel disappeared and that the hamlet is now haunted.

I chose The Ghosts of Aniel, which is a free one-shot adventure by Stephen Kenson. (The adventure used to be available for free on the Wizards of the Coast site, but has since been taken down.) We don’t get much momentum in this episode, but we’re well set up to do a full session for the next episode.

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~ by Hunter Rose on July 29, 2014.

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