by Jay Godden, editing by Isaac Rolfe and Rob Heinsoo, art by Tangmo Cecchini)
Introduced in Loot Harder, by ASH LAW, magic item sets can help to enhance some of the storytelling potential of magic items. Even in a game like 13th Age where magic items are limited by level and by chakra, by epic tier most PCs end up resembling Christmas Trees and struggle to remember the powers or significance of many of their items. Bringing some of those items together into sets with a unified story can help maintain this focus. For example, when magic items are part of a set, the personalities of their Quirks can all complement one another, making it easier for players to remember them and lean into them if they wish.
All magic items are awesome places to inject worldbuilding, and giving items a story or history before the PCs found them is a great way to make your world feel deep and lived-in. With sets, the history of the items is shared with your players over a longer period of time as you acquire each new piece, meaning you can impart or invent lots of cool lore through them without having to do such big exposition dumps. Magic item sets also provide an excellent way for all the players to make suggestions about the nuances and details of the items as new ones join the party, promoting shared worldbuilding.
Sets can be used to hint at this depth when PCs only carry one or two of them (like the connected history of the swords the Hobbits find in the troll hoard), or you can craft entire campaign arcs around the acquisition of a full set (like the lead up to Avengers: Infinity War).
The storytelling potential doesn’t only apply to the item’s pasts. Bringing together important relics is often the stuff of prophecies, and set wielders can end up embroiled in the plots and legends of groups of NPCs they never could have predicted. Alternatively, acquiring a powerful magic item can be like painting a big magical target on your back for thieves and heroes alike, and magic item sets can make for great arcs like this, with rival individuals or groups trying to Catch ‘em All. NPCs tracking down and attacking PCs wielding parts of a set make for compelling recurring villains, and the players will love it when they finally take them out because they can probably loot more items for their set! Dropping such an NPC as a third faction into a scene is also a good complication for a roll of a five 5 with an icon dice.
Magic Item Sets can also be used as legacy pieces to pay homage to PCs from previous campaigns. The arms, armour, and symbols of a beloved PC Paladin might become holy relics, the powers and magic of some of their most iconic gear morphing into a set that can be found in a later campaign.
Some players also find in their second or third campaign that they want to play less typical characters, and magic item sets can be a great way to support archetypes and builds that don’t quite fit into the rules framework, though there are of course lots of other ways to do this, from reflavouring to homebrew powers and third party material.
Admittedly, lots of these points apply to Artefacts too, singular items that take up multiple chakras and have many powers. But this post is about Sets; maybe a list of Artefacts will follow in the future.
Despite all of these things that make magic item sets awesome, I haven’t seen much community engagement with these ideas. What follows are 13 Homebrewed Magic Item Sets, some of which are great for hinting at world history, some for having other wielders hunt you down, a few to facilitate niche build ideas I feel are lacking in the game, and some others that I just think are cool.
A reminder of Set mechanics:
As long as you are attuned to at least one magic item belonging to a set, you can use its Set Bonus. In Set Bonuses, treat “x” as the number of items from that set that you are attuned to.
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.