13th Age: Magic Items and Living Dungeons

I thought I’d use some free time on my birthday to talk about some more cool stuff in 13th Age. This time, I want to talk about two related subjects: magic items and living dungeons.

They’re related because both of them describe living, sentient things. Seriously! Let’s start with…

Magic items

13th Age divides magic items into two broad categories: weak, everyday items and true magic items. The everyday stuff are basically consumables like potions, oils, and runes. You can buy them from the local alchemist (or runescribe, or whoever you imaging sells runes that need to be drawn on the thing you want to enchant).

True magic items are altogether different. Each one is unique and has a history. More important, each one is alive and has a personality and motivation.

The rules state that a character can possess one true magic item per level without much trouble. Under those conditions, the strong personalities tug at your character but you are still in control. My friend Stephanie’s character, Iana, has a magical sword named Glaezentorg (from the introductory adventure). I made the sword desire blood and gore all the time, and it manifests in her a desire to eat raw meat. I never make her character do anything she doesn’t want to do, but she enjoys playing up the urges for violence and steak  tartar.

forcing you to kill people and lick the blood off the blade.

I assume that your multiple magic items are jealous of each other sometimes, too. But some could be friends. You have to really love them for them to give you their magic. You have to bond with them. Think of them as pets.

The new rules, released yesterday, are chock full of ideas for personalities and motivations for items. With those rules as an enhancement, I’d probably approach magic item creation with the Seven Deadly Sins and Seven Heavenly Virtues in mind…

Living dungeons

I am pretty sure that 13th Age didn’t invent the idea of a living dungeon. Maybe they didn’t even come up with the name. I remember reading some OSR stuff that might have given me the term “cthonic underworld” that I was using in my Labyrinth Lord campaign to describe exactly the same thing. In any case, I was excited to see the idea in 13th Age.

In my Tenrook setting, a living dungeon is a magical creature formed of negative elemental earth energy. It’s vaguely tentacle-like and it can take any form it wants, but its shape is always a hole in the ground. It is born deep underground and it burrows its way to the surface, growing and stretching until it hits the mortal world.

Like any good monster, the living dungeon wants to kill. It’s a mass murderer, gaining more and more power as it takes life. Like a clever virus, it knows that it can’t just instantly kill anything that enters it. It seduces and teases. It lures people into its depths with the promise of treasure. Some of the treasure it creates out of thin air. Sometimes it finds things buried in old and forgotten dwarven cities and it eats them and leaves them for adventurers to find. It doesn’t often understand the things it finds.

If it just left treasure laying around, people would get too suspicious, so it generates just enough monsters to make it an interesting challenge. Its goal is to kill off one or two adventurers from a party but make them rich and get them to go back to town and brag and get more and more adventurers to try their luck. Eventually, a living dungeon gets his fill of killing and moves on, leaving the tunnels empty and soulless.

The living dungeon is generally easier to get into than get out of, sort of like a prison. A lot of traps might be set up so they let people pass them once, but trigger when they’re running back out. Traps are often non-fatal, because it likes to injure adventurers and cause them pain.

However, deep inside of every living dungeon is its black heart. Each heart is as individual as its owner, but they’re always terrible things. One might have a tentacled amoeboid thing at its center. Another might have an actual thumping heart, ten feet across and dark brown, with veins extending into the walls. Another might have some strange clockwork set of gears and pullies. Kill the heart and the living dungeon dies.  Don’t expect that to be easy. The living dungeon protects its heart well, hiding it behind secret doors and terrible traps and guarding it with its fiercest monsters.

Of course, if you do kill a living dungeon, the ceilings might start caving in on you. A lot of these creatures are especially vengeful and will start yanking down support pillars and such as a last, hateful act. Better run! And remember where the traps were on your way out!

2 Trackbacks

You can leave a trackback using this URL: http://adam.legendary.org/thoughts/13th-age-magic-items-and-living-dungeons/trackback/

  1. By 13th Age in Toronto – Thoughts about Games on July 5, 2012 at 12:48 am

    [...] Thoughts about Games Adam Dray talks about role-playing games Skip to content « 13th Age: Magic Items and Living Dungeons [...]

  2. [...] Dray gives the best sense of the concept’s flavor. “Like any good monster, the living dungeon wants to kill. It’s a mass murderer, gaining more [...]


  1. I suspect that the game as a whole will be too complicated for my tastes, but it has so many good ideas that I think I’ll be getting it anyway, if only to steal stuff like this.

    Posted June 30, 2012 at 4:03 am | Permalink | Reply
    • What games do you play? What’s the right level of complexity for you?

      Posted June 30, 2012 at 8:30 am | Permalink | Reply
      • I prefer simpler systems. Savage Worlds or Call of Cthulhu are just right for me, but Pathfinder is too much.

        Posted July 2, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Permalink | Reply
        • Definitely check out 13th Age. It’s less crunchy than Pathfinder. Even if it turns out to be too much for you, strap a handful of the cooler options onto Labyrinth Lord or some other simple D&D chassis.

          Posted July 2, 2012 at 11:41 pm | Permalink | Reply
          • That is exactly my plan. I’m quite excited by what I’ve seen of the game so far.

            Posted July 3, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Permalink | Reply
  2. Johnny

    First of all- happy Birthday! Second- thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences about 13th Age. I’ve been gaming since the original red box of D&D and some of the concepts and changes that you’ve been talking about just sound like a blast. Really cool, really fun, marvelously inventive, and all about story. Love it. Keep up the great gaming and thanks again!

    Posted July 2, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Permalink | Reply
    • Thank you very much! What are you playing these days?

      Posted July 2, 2012 at 11:39 pm | Permalink | Reply
      • Johnny

        I have a group of friends that I’ve been gaming with over a decade now. We started back playing D&D 3.0- moved up to 3.5 and have now gone on to Pathfinder. I occasionally play with a smaller floating group that plays D&D 4E as well. Some games I played back in the day include all the iterations of D&D, Shadowrun, Champions, Top Secret, Gamma World, etc. I haven’t played it but I’m really intrigued by the ORE Kerebos Club Setting.

        Posted July 3, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Permalink | Reply
        • I like ORE but haven’t played it, but didn’t know about Kerberos Club. Sounds cool.

          I, too, started with the red box–in my case, Moldvay. Technically, I suppose I started with Holmes, but that was my friend calling me on the phone and asking me which way I went in the dungeon, until I ran into a monster and died. No dice, no stats. ;)

          Posted July 4, 2012 at 1:49 am | Permalink | Reply
  3. Acute back pain and sciatica can be one of the most common reasons that can cause
    you months of sleepless nights due to lower back pain, pain in the buttocks, and in some parts of your feet.
    Dallas, TX 19-June-2010 — Trinity Mills Chiropractic is pleased
    to announce that North Dallas Chiropractor, Dr. It is the financial and banking center,
    and the area is known for its focus on health and fitness.

    Posted November 15, 2014 at 7:50 am | Permalink | Reply
  4. For their patients, it can mean real medicine with a doctor who really cares.
    In 1982, he published his first book, The Agony of De-Feet:
    A Podiatrist Guide to Foot Care. Even though she has ALZ, she will not let me overfeed her.

    Posted November 18, 2014 at 4:49 am | Permalink | Reply
  5. This is not to say that pay per click marketing can not
    be used to increase the visibility of marketing, is
    simply a warning to consider when deciding what is best
    for your money. As a result, the concept of online marketing took center stage and had eventually taken its stride in the last couple of years.

    Whatever the challenge, there is always a way to achieve the goal.

    Posted November 18, 2014 at 6:23 am | Permalink | Reply
  6. This is not to say that pay per click marketing can not be used to increase the visibility of marketing, is simply
    a warning to consider when deciding what is best for your money.
    The desire to deliver the best possible result to the clients by
    restoring to a result-oriented approach to attain its goals, We – Know – Online – Marketing.
    Subscribers need to be carefully targeted based on their demographics, preferences etc.

    Posted January 17, 2015 at 7:23 am | Permalink | Reply
  7. Thank you for some other magnificent post. The place else may anybody get that
    type of info in such a perfect method of writing? I’ve a presentation subsequent
    week, and I’m at the look for such information.

    Posted January 29, 2015 at 11:21 am | Permalink | Reply
  8. Since this program requires determination and effort, patients may come to a point of quitting because they are tired.
    Your pets may like to be in the room with you when seeing clients.
    The combination of drugs was unsuccessful in helping the child.

    Posted February 13, 2015 at 11:32 am | Permalink | Reply
  9. The third and final opportunity is the affiliate program.
    There’s a high competition in every field nowadays.
    When you are observing Internet Marketing success you often only see the surface.

    Posted March 1, 2015 at 10:43 pm | Permalink | Reply
  10. Achilles tendon ruptures are fairly easy to diagnose for most
    physicians, although an MRI is often performed to confirm the
    rupture and assess the amount of tissue damage.
    When the knee is bent at about 30 degrees, the IT band changes position and moves
    backward behind a prominence (the lateral femoral condyle) at
    the outside of the knee. Corns and calluses are caused by pressure from bones as
    they squeeze overlying skin against your shoes or the ground.

    Posted March 6, 2015 at 6:51 am | Permalink | Reply
  11. Es una linda experiencia, conque si no viste películas en 3D aun, este largometraje es
    ideal para que sea tu primera vez.

    Posted May 3, 2015 at 3:58 am | Permalink | Reply
  12. Following the incredibly particular birthday magic trick, daughter or your son will be
    presented with Matt’s established Alakazam! child’s birthday with
    25+ kids|with 25+ kids at my 7 Locate an area for that magician that is far from paths or doors in order to avoid persons strolling in to the kids brand-of-picture while enjoying the magician.

    Posted October 10, 2015 at 4:48 am | Permalink | Reply
  13. Then browse the web and search out sites the place
    your children can play the quite finest Barbie Dress
    Up Games for her. There are many advantages to online bachelor degree, and these are just the most obvious.
    Last but not least, there are games which are absolutely new, coming up on a daily basis.

    Posted October 31, 2015 at 5:14 am | Permalink | Reply
  14. Nothing new about a so-called living dungeon. The earliest idea probably came from Leiber’s short story ” The Howling Tower” and I encountered something like that in a game at least 28 years ago.

    Posted November 13, 2015 at 6:11 am | Permalink | Reply
  15. This promotes cross-platform sharing, conmtent distribution, shared user input, andwidespread media intake across the organisation.

    Posted September 22, 2016 at 6:30 am | Permalink | Reply

Post a Comment

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *