by Rob Heinsoo
One of the great touches that Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan added to the unique hellholes he created for the upcoming Book of Demons is a customized random demon ability table for each hellhole. While developing the book, I realized that Gareth’s work was pointing to something that has bothered me for a while: I’m not fond of the way I designed the original Random Demon Abilities Table (13th Age core rulebook, page 209). My problem with the table I wrote for the core book is that several of the abilities it generates don’t often make the game more fun. A couple of the abilities (true seeing, resist fire) are irrelevant in many battles. Another ability, gating in a lower level demon, is interesting (and highly traditional!), but adding another lower level enemy to a fight interferes with pacing and may not warrant the trouble.
There are still times I’ll use the original table, but I’m more likely to use one of Gar’s customized tables or the new table I’ve added to the monster-stats section of Book of Demons. Here’s the new table.
There’s a bit more commentary on sources of random demon abilities and using the new table in the book. As you’ll see, the point of these new abilities is that they’re most always capable of having some form of impact on a battle. In one case, that impact could even be on future sessions.
New Random Demon Abilities (d6 or d8)
1: Deathwish—The demon takes a –2 penalty to all defenses and gains a +3 attack bonus.
2: Entropic warp—When an enemy deals miss damage to the demon, that enemy also takes half that amount of damage.
3: Bad ending—While staggered, the demon gains a +2 bonus with its attacks.
4: Big hate: Each battle, the demon gains a +4 attack bonus until the end of the battle against the first enemy that hits it with an attack.
5: Loophole—When the demon starts its turn with 10 hit points or fewer, it can teleport out of the battle as a move action. If it does it will return to face the PCs soon. Add the full-strength demon to an upcoming battle as a nasty complication to an upcoming battle, having it teleport in during the first or second round of combat. (Champion tier: 25 hp or fewer; epic tier: 50 hp or fewer).
6: Teleport 1d3 times each battle—As a move action, the demon can teleport anywhere it can see nearby.
7: Demonic speed—The demon can take an extra action each turn while the escalation die is 4+.
8: Theft of fate—At the start of each round, the demon rolls a hard save. If the save succeeds, it steals the escalation die that round, adding the escalation die to its own attacks but preventing the PCs from adding the die to their attacks.