13th Sage: Forgotten Monk & Drunken Monk


Greg’s Stolze’s 13th Age novel, The Forgotten Monk, is punching through Kickstarter goals for another 7 days. That’s Pat Loboyko’s wonderful cover art above.

The earliest stretch goal summoned stat write-ups for several of the characters and monsters in the novel. My advice will be that the protagonist, a monk who acquires the name Cipher because he has misplaced his true name, should not be one of the characters getting stats! Yet. . . . .

Part of the fun of the 13th Age novel-creation process is that authors are free to play with the world in surprising ways. We’re asking writers to stick to the core story of the thirteen icons, but details of the icons’ personalities, the military fate of cities, speech patterns of elves, and the details of how a specific monster fights are all up for adjustment, just as they’re open to creative changes in every 13th Age campaign,

This also applies to character class mechanics. Cipher is a kick-ass monk. His fighting style will seem perfectly monk-like to anyone reading the book. But not, perhaps, to someone whose only exposure to how monks fight are the character class rules in 13 True Ways!

We hadn’t written 13 True Ways when Greg did the most work on the novel. I knew early on that our monk was going to play with unique mechanics and I told Greg not to worry about it. Because yes, there’s room in fantasy gaming and in 13th Age for many different types of monks and martial artists.

We got some playtest feedback asking us to create a more straightforward martial artist. We designed a couple steps in that direction, and someday I bet we’ll bring that class out, and when we do it’s going to look a lot more like how Cipher fights in The Forgotten Monk.




Drunken Style

Introducing what’s effectively a new class is beyond me in a 13th Sage column. But I can introduce a new monk fighting style that didn’t make it into 13 True Ways.

Those of you who were part of 13 True Ways playtests may remember that there was originally a Drunken Style option as one of the Deadly Secrets. The mechanics didn’t work out happily. They had math problems and play dynamic problems. But after some revision, the talent that follows is worth playtesting. If you try it, let me know how it goes with feedback emailed to 13thAgePlaytest@gmail.com. If this works out we’ll publish it eventually with more support and accompanied by a few other monk talents and forms.

New Adventurer-Tier Talent: Drunken Style is a new talent. It is not one of the Seven Deadly Secrets, so if you want to combine it with Flurry or Greeting Fist, go right ahead. As you’ll see, drunken monks tend to be tough rather than wise, but if you don’t like that angle on the story you can stick to being wise but drunken.


Drunken Style

You can’t choose Drunken Style if you have chosen the Diamond Focus talent, and vice versa . . . and if you wonder why, reread Diamond Focus and you’ll see that its mechanics just don’t apply to fighting Drunken Style.

You can combine Drunken Style with Overworld Lineage . . . but if you do you’ll have to decide whether you use Constitution or Charisma in place of Wisdom.

If you wish, any time an element of the monk class refers to Wisdom, you can replace that element with a reference to Constitution. You can skip this aspect of the talent if you choose.

Giving up control: Playing a Drunken Style monk is a somewhat different experience than playing a regular monk. You still know the same number of forms, but the normal sequence of monk attacks doesn’t apply to you.

If the escalation die is 0, you must use an opening attack. When the escalation die is 1+, each time you want to use an element of one of your monk forms during your turn, at the start of your turn you must first roll a d6 to determine which element you can use. Roll a d6:

1: You must use an opening attack this turn.

2–5: You must use a flow attack this turn.

6: You must use a finishing attack this turn.

Combat as drinking game: But wait! Maybe you don’t like rolling a 1 and having to use an opening attack. So you’re fighting with a drink in your hand, or tucked into your belt, right? Sure you are! You can spend one quick action on each of your turns to take a quick drink and reroll the d6. Not only do you have to live with the reroll, you also take damage equal to what you rolled on the reroll plus the number of drinks you’ve had during this battle.

For example, you have taken one drink earlier in the fight and you’ve rolled a 1 on the d6 at the start of your turn. You knock back another quick shot and reroll the die. This time you roll a 4. This is your second drink, so you’ll take 6 points of damage, and you get to use a flow attack this turn instead of an opening attack.

The drinking stops now: If your reroll is a 1, that ends the drink-rerolls of your drunken style die this battle. You’re not handling your liquor well and you can keep drinking if you wish, but it won’t let you reroll the die.

And to be clear, we’re aware that the casual style of 13th Age that uses ‘you’ to refer to both player and player character might turn drunken style into an actual drinking game, but that is not the intent. The the hit point damage is meant for your player character!

Corner cases: You always have the option of saying that you aren’t going to use a monk attack on your turn, in which case you don’t roll at the start of your turn and do something else like rally. But you can’t roll and then decide to do something else because you don’t like the option you get.

If you gain an extra standard action in the same turn (like from elven grace, for example), your second (and subsequent!) attacks in the same turn must be opening attacks.

If obstinacy or odd circumstances prevent you from having a legal way to use any of the elements you’re allowed to use on your turn, clearly you couldn’t handle your wine: you burn your standard action to no effect this turn. (This is only possible if you choose multiple forms that have odd targeting limitations, and even then you’d sort of have to work to screw yourself, but drunken monks aren’t known for their caution, so the rule is here.)

Fighting more-or-less-sober: No alcohol to hand? You still fight drunken style, but you don’t have access to your rerolls. On the bright side you’re not drinking away your own hit points.


Ki Power (Drunken Lurch): When an enemy attacks and rolls a natural odd roll against your AC, you can spend 1 point of ki as an interrupt action to gain resist damage 12+ against that attack.

Adventurer Feat: The ki power now affects attacks against both your AC and PD.

Champion Feat: The resistance you gain from the ki power is now 16+.

Epic Feat: If you use the ki power against an enemy engaged with you and the natural attack roll was a 1 or a 3, you can make a JAB attack against that enemy as a free action after the attack.

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