Gamble! Stunts in 13th Age

Gamble! Stunts in 13th Age

13th Age is almost here! We’ve been on a little bit of a break (OK, Ryven has been writing up a storm for Pelgrane and I’ve been on a break!), but with the game soon to be released, I want to share some ideas I intend to use with my next 13th Age game.

Gamble! is a small sub-system for fast and low-effort stunting. While you can always do this in your games, it usually takes a bit of adjudication and thinking to figure out what the rule should be and what, if any, side-effects there should be. What is the power level of the effect? How hard should it be? Again, any GM with experience can determine this, but what if you are GM who is not yet comfortable with the system, or simply don’t want to spend mental energy on this? The purpose of  Gamble! is to be there for you in these circumstances. It’s designed to be pretty simple and flexible and I’m sure that you can expand on it .

Once per combat, a player can make a gamble instead of her standard action. She declares this at the start of the turn, stating what in the game she is doing. She then picks an effect from the Gamble that she wants her action to cause. The GM then picks a risk. The gamble the player picks will determine the difficulty of the skill check the player needs to make. The player then makes a skill check. If the skill check succeeds, the player follows any further steps on the gamble. If the player fails, they suffer the risks determined by the GM.

Don’t spend too much time trying to determine the appropriateness of the description to an effect or risk. If someone wants to drop a chandelier to hit mulitple people (massive attack) or to gain a bonus (Gain Advantage) it doesn’t really matter. The player gets to do what they want, the GM gets to put the risk he wants, we’ve got a handy expression, let’s go to work!

Example: Susan’s ranger Nahai is being chased by an unruly mob. She’s apparently angered the wrong people with her investigations! She leads out the combat with a gamble. Nahai wants to intimidate the approaching mob with rapid fire fancy shots. She wants to knock weapons out of hands and make some intentional near misses of vital spots. She decides that will let her Gain Advantage, since the mob will be pretty intimidated by her. The GM nods and says that the risk here is that the shots will just incite the mob more and will leave Nahai Vulnerable for a turn. Nahai makes a moderate DC skill check using her Nehru Sharpshooter background. She succeeds, so she makes the mob deeply reconsider their attack. Nahai draws her twin spears and countercharges!

Gambles

Massive Attack (Hard DC) You can make a basic attack against d6+1 enemies. If attacking mooks, roll additional dice equal to half your level

Change State (Hard DC) You create a zone on the board that (choose one): is impassable; deals ongoing 10 damage of an appropriate type for anyone entering the zone (save ends); causes enemies to have a -2 to hit when in the zone.

Gain Advantage ( Moderate DC) Until the combat ends, you get (choose one): You get +1 on attack rolls; you get a +2 to damage rolls; you expand your crit range by 1.

Increase Momentum (Easy DC) Raise the Escalation Die immediately by 1. It cannot be raised more than once in a turn by a gamble.

Risks

Reversal. You can make an immediate attack against the character.

Vulnerable. Until the end of combat, all enemies gain a +2 to their crit range against the character.

Lost Momentum. Lower the Escalation Die by 1. You can’t lower the Escalation Die more than once a turn in this manner.

If you use this would love to hear how it goes! This system should be pretty easy to run and is easily extensible.

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5 Responses

  1. Love it!! I’m running Tales of the 13th Age, and I’m mildly tempted to drop this in. (Probably won’t since it’s not a regular group.) But that’s a really cool way to tweak encounters. I might steal some of these as one-offs to spice a specific encounter, though. So something like “there’s a chandelier in the room; you can Gamble on it for a Massive Attack, but failing invites a Reversal”. Just as a small way to tweak the rules without introducing a lot of them.

  2. I have a few comments.

    1. I wonder if it would be a good idea to have a special case of getting to use the Escalation Die when rolling for your Gamble. This will add some ‘do I wait a couple of turns first’? to the equation.

    2. Increase Momentum is clearly better than Gain Advantage if you’re looking for a bonus to hit. First it’s easier to attain. Second, the to-hit bonus applies to your entire side, not just you. In addition, the +2 bonus to damage will disappear into the noise once you get past level 2 (unless it was +2 per die).

  3. I love this idea! Already thinking of ways to tweak it, though I haven’t come up with anything definitive yet.

    I would like to point out that it’s somewhat similar to the improvised stunt system I’ve been using in my games. The way I’ve been running it is that you can make a skill check as a quick action, and if you succeed you can tack a “rider” onto your next attack. Knocking the enemy prone (Stuck until stands up), bull rushing them, throwing sand in their eyes (Dazed), etc. The DC is the opponent’s PD, occasionally modified depending on the specific effects.

    If the skill check fails, however, the opponent gets to make an opportunity attack (which is essentially your “Reversal” risk).

    I also agree that your Gain the Advantage option is way too weak. Maybe change it so that it only lasts one round, and is activated with a Quick Action?

    Likewise, Massive Attack looks too powerful. Maybe drop it down to 1d3 nearby grouped enemies.