The Eyes of the Stone Thief campaign pits the player characters against a vengeful Living Dungeon that steals things from the surface. Castles, mostly, but also wizard’s towers, druid circles, enchanted waterfalls, dragon’s lairs, unholy temples, kobold-infested gold mines or unattended oceans. One of the amusing consequences of this is that the GM can throw in almost any sort of encounter in the dungeon; the player characters turn a corner in the dungeon, and find themselves clambering through the branches of a mile-tall oak tree stolen from the heart of the Elf Queen’s lands.
On one of the deeper levels, the Pit of Undigested Ages, the PCs may come across one of the Dwarf King’s treasure vaults, stolen long ago by the dungeon. We’re going to do that particular section as a homage to classic dungeons of yore, complete with compressed monster write-ups (7th level wrecker [Hm]; Init +10, Hammer +12 vs. AC, 30 dmg; nat even hit gain esc. die next round, n/s gain extra att when at ½ hp; AC24 PD20 MD18 HP 110). So when it came time to actually stick some treasure in the treasure vault, I reached for my trusty D&D Rules Cyclopedia (purchased, according to the annotation on the flyleaf, on the 23rd of November, 1991) and rolled up a pile of Treasure Type H.
Looking through the Cyclopedia, I was struck by how it resembled the 13th Age rulebook.
Both are single-volume tomes, covering character creation and class abilities, combat, gear, adventuring, magic, monsters and setting details. (13th Age has a starting adventure, but the Cyclopedia has rules on time-travelling forward to ensure your descendants stay on the throne of the giant empire you create in order to become a god, so we’ll call that a draw.) Parts of the two games are so similar that it’s easy to convert material back and forth – I rolled a Staff of Striking in that Treasure Type H, so there’s a 13th Age version of the staff in there.
Other elements of the game, though, have fallen by the wayside. Dungeon crawls rarely involve hiring dozens of porters, henchmen and hirelings, and it’s no longer common practice for player characters to build strongholds and rule domains.
This makes me sad: I love political games, intrigue, and domain management. More to the point, if the player characters don’t have strongholds and domains, I can’t have the Living Dungeon steal them. This month, let’s look at strongholds in 13th Age.
Barbarian Ring Fort– 2,500 gp
Shrine to the Ancestors in a mountain shaped like a skull – 25,000 gp
(Bards don’t usually build strongholds, but 3,000gp should buy you a luxurious townhouse in Axis or Concord, and 30,000gp gets a palace that’s both sybaritic and acoustically perfect)
Cleric’s Shrine – 5,000 gp
Cathedral to the Gods that attracts pilgrims from across the Empire – 50,000gp
Fighter’s Castle (small keep and wall) – 4,000 gp
Mighty Fortress against whose walls the armies of the Orc Lord might contend in vain – 40,000 gp
Paladin’s Temple – 4,000gp
Great Temple-Fortress of the Order – 40,000gp
Ranger’s Hidden Sanctum – 2,500 gp
Secret Valley in the Mountains blessed by the spirits of nature – 25,000 gp, and it probably has dinosaurs.
Thieves’ (Rogues’) Guildhall – 4,000 gp
Network of secret passages linking half the cellars in a city to the underground kingdom of thieves – 40,000 gp.
Sorcerer’s Tower – 5,000 gp
Tower that channels the fury of the elements through your wild soul – 50,000 gp
Wizard’s Tower – 6,000 gp
Wizard’s Academy – 60,000 gp
Barracks – 500gp
Cellars, fully stocked for a siege – 1,000gp
Chapel – 500gp
Gatehouse & Drawbridge – 500gp
Library – 500gp
Luxurious Furnishings – 500gp
Moat – 200gp
Ornamental Gardens -200gp
Servant’s Quarters – 200gp
Arcane laboratory – 5,000 gp
Barracks of elite Crusader-trained warriors – 2,500gp
Dungeon full of interesting monsters – 5,000gp
Chapel blessed by the Priestess – 1,500 gp
Flying Fortress – 25,000gp
Magical wards and spell-guards – 2,500 gp
Library of Blasphemous and Forbidden Lore – one soul, payable to the Diabolist
Library of Arcane Secrets and Erudite Tomes – 5,000 gp, more if you get into a bidding war with the Archmage.
The finest luxuries in the Empire – 10,000gp, and you owe the Prince a favour.
Skymoat – 2,500gp
Ornamental and Carnivorous Gardens – 1,000gp or a favour for the High Druid
Hunting Forest That Wasn’t There Yesterday – 2,000gp, payable in elven triunes only
Servants Quarter’s, Unseen – 1,000gp
Smithy, Dwarven Masters – 2,000gp
Stables, Dragon – 2,000gp (riding dragon not included)
In addition to these costs, assume annual running costs of between 5% and 20% of the building price, depending on circumstances and numbers of staff. That’s a lot of money – in fact, more than most adventures can afford. If you want the prestige of having a stronghold, then you’ll need to either rob richer tombs, or have another source of income…
Benefits of a Stronghold
Lording it over your neighbours and living in luxury isn’t enough? Depending on the campaign…:
- Your stronghold is a place of refuge. If you take a quick rest there, you get to recharge all expended powers automatically, and your companions get to automatically succeed on one recharge roll each. The stronghold also absorbs one campaign loss per level – you can take a full heal-up there when you need it, regardless of circumstances.
- When you’re at home in your stronghold, you get an extra ‘wild’ relationship die. Each time you roll your relationships, choose which Icon that die is for. You can only choose Icons you have a normal relationship with, unless you can come up with a good reason why agents of another Icon might visit your stronghold.
- Your stronghold has a bevy of servants and guards. They’re too low-level to go adventuring on your tier, but they can run errands and gather information for you. They’re also generally loyal and trustworthy, which is more than you can say for a mercenary off the streets of Shadowport.
Next month – domains!
13th Age combines the best parts of traditional d20-rolling fantasy gaming with new story-focused rules, designed so you can run the kind of game you most want to play with your group. 13th Age gives you all the tools you need to make unique characters who are immediately embedded in the setting in important ways; quickly prepare adventures based on the PCs’ backgrounds and goals; create your own monsters; fight exciting battles; and focus on what’s always been cool and fun about fantasy adventure gaming. Purchase 13th Age in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.