Thule is here! And I am disappointed...

edited August 2014 in 13th Age
So I got the links to download the Primeval Thule pdf, a setting "tailored" to three different rules set. As I admittedly expected, the 13th Age treatment is definitely sub-par. Here's what I posted on the Kickstarter page this morning:

I am a 13th Age backer, and I found some problems in the 13th Age version of the pdfs:

1) We don't have warlocks nor warlords in 13th Age core book. I know I can ignore the references, but why? The setting was advertised as tailored to the different rules sets. That's clearly not the case.

2) Where are the cleric domains for the Great Old Ones? They are present only in the Pathfinder version. Also, since this setting seems to emphasise gods more than the core 13th Age setting, there should be a table which lists which of the gods are associated with which of the domains in the core 13th Age book.

3) Where are the new weapon stats? In 13th Age-speak, these should be listed for their properties (whether they are light, martial etc.) and how they are tied to the classes that can wield them and at what attack penalty and damage dice. I see the 4e version has a full table for the new weapons.

4) Many, many class features in 13th Age are tied to the Icons of the setting. I expect the same here; instead, we only get half a page. That's nearly not enough for something so fundamental to the game.

5) Character Literacy table DCs seem designed for Pathfinder; most of those DCs are too low for 13th Age.

I understand that 13th Age is not as mainstream as Pathfinder and D&D 4e, but I would have expected an equal treatment. It's clear the book was designed with Pathfinder and 4e in mind, and the 13th Age version really doesn't shine.

I hope the above points can be fixed before the books are sent into print, otherwise I won't be a very happy customer.



  • And I understand more backers chose 13th Age than 4e - seems like they should be served better.
  • Honestly, I would have thought they had hired someone expert in 13th Age. Someone like ASH LAW or Wade Rockett, which given the results I don't think they did. The PF and 4e versions "work" out of the box because the designers were experts in both systems. A huge disappointment coming from a respected designer like Rich Baker.
  • Same here, especially after the recent batch of excellent releases for 13th Age (Midgard Bestiary, 13th Age Bestiary, 13 True Ways), this feels a lot like somebody took the 4E stats and tried to convert them over to the 13th Age maths.

    I guess we were a bit spoilt by recent releases, but I still feel the 13A version was neglected. I'm rather happy that I went for digital-only so I get to use the PF/4E versions to base my own conversions on.
  • yea...

    I think the setting is good. I think the art is solid (if a touch sparse). I like the ideas presented quite a lot. I think it is a full and rich campaign setting potentially. I will even base my next campaign around it, because I really do like the setting, and it provides lots of fodder from the creative perspective.

    But... well, it's missing the quality that I've come to expect with 13th Age products.

    I don't blame Pelgrane or any of the regular 13th age folks for that (it's not theirs). I don't think it reflects on them in the slightest and continue to be overjoyed at all of their products.

    As Antonio pointed out, it seems to have not been run through the 13th age.. um... methodology? Things like monsters with random damage. DCs listed as numbers instead of Normal/hard/Ridiculously hard. The narratives (which is sort of powered up background) could be done much more efficiently by just putting in "you get a background called X at +2" and then adding in the level 4 and level 8 powers. None of the clerical domains listed have any feats associated with them, which would make them singular among all clerical domains.

    I'm not sure the balance is there either. Things like spend a feat for "once per day you can make a roll a 19" for a feat vs "+2 to interact with animals" vs "once per day when you can make an OA, you can make a standard action and a move instead". The atlanean race getting an ability score adjustment, a bonus to MD, a magic item, a rank in a background AND a racial ability with a feat associated.

    It does very much feel like they didn't have a 13th Age person working on it. They had a "close enough" person working on it.

    I also picked up the PDF only version. I'll probably run though those for conversion elements, but mostly I'll end up rewriting large portions of the 13th Age section for it to me more 13th Age
  • I was a backer of an Early Bird, at $80 plus shipping to UK, it cost me around £100. Needless to say, I am NOT happy, and I am thinking of stepping down to digital only. I am so pissed off :(
  • Oh yeah, certainly didn't mean that Pelgrane Press had anything to do with the problems (if people read my post that way).

    Regarding the initial criticisms, though, I think criticising the mention of warlocks and warlords is understandable (since only the appendices are system-specific, the PF class chapter mentions them, too). Same is true for the literacy table - though it really should be in the appendix!

    Same with the weapon stats, I don't feel like 13th Age really "does" weapon stats, but it would've been nice to see a list with the new weapons and what characters usually use them as simple/martial weapons - even without full stats.

    What quite disappointed me was the treatment of the icons. They were set up nicely in the main part... and then next to nothing in the appendix.

    The "character narrative" seems like a poor man's version of the 4E themes and overlap massively with backgrounds. The small +2s are really fiddly compared to the rest of 13th Age, this should've just gone into "character narratives are suggested backgrounds" (which would fit wonderfully).

    It really is a shame, because the more I read, the more I actually like the setting, it really hits a sweet spot between detail and leaving it open to your imagination and getting that S&S feel.
  • Apparently ASH LAW offered to help! YAY!

    Yes, the Icons are a huge let down. Many class abilities depend on Icons in 13A, how's a Bard or Sorcerer's abilities going to change (at least in flavour, if not mechanics) with the new icons?
  • I had to eat a couple retractions on things that I criticized in here as well. Monster DCs showing up as numbers, random, poison damage, etc. These do have precedent although many not until the Bestiary. Those particular things are also relatively minor and easily fixable.

    I will still stand by my view that it, as a 13th age supplement, doesn't hold well on the 13th age side of things. It's just not as good :)

    I will also stand by my view that I'm going to use it for my next campaign, regardless of what I have to rewrite or not :)
  • @raleel
    I totally agree that the 13A version is definitely subpar when compared with the Pathfinder and 4e versions. Understandable since the designers were most prolific for these systems; but not a good excuse for a commercial product.
  • I am still trying to wrap my head around some choices. The Warlock that is referenced in the 2nd chapter is the 4e class, which doesn't exist in Pathfinder nor in 13A. Analogously when they talk about the sorcerer, they refer to the Pathfinder bloodlines (and slightly to the 4e sources) and tie them to aspects of the setting (e.g. serpentmen, rakshasa, genies.)

    13A players are simply left with handful of dust; considering all the Heritage Talents the 13A sorcerer has, it would be nice to see a mention of them in a similar way. Since the first part of the book is supposed to be rules-agnostic, I don't see why Pathfinder and 4e should be favoured over 13th Age. Similar arguments for some of the 13A Bard class abilities, or some of the Ranger talents. Sure, it's something we can do by ourselves, but I still question the wisdom of going the current route. Classes are an artifact of a particular game; classes ARE mechanics; any and all descriptions which could have potentially impacted the interactions with different games should have been deferred to the Appendix, so every game system got their proper and accurate treatment. In particular, deferring the whole Character Classes section (pages 42 to 48) would not impact the organisation of the book, and would allow a separate treatment of each game system. As it stands, the setting is clearly tailored to Pathfinder and 4e. It's quite clear this aspect was not planned very well, if the aim was to allow each system an equal spotlight.

    If ASH LAW reads this, I hope he can do something about it, too.
  • Hi folks!

    Wanted to give you all a post GenCon update. We had some rollicking conversations with Rob (kinda felt like a class reunion to me) about Thule and some followups with ASH during the show. Based on that, we made some adjustments to the 13th Age version during the show--adjustments reflected in both the printed book (currently at the press) and the digital version (where we're waiting for DriveThruRPG to work their magic--they probably have quite a GenCon backlog).

    I apologize for the turbulence we created when we included mentions of warlocks and warlords, and we've tweaked some of the other 13th Age bits, too. And that leads to a question--as we work on future 13A books (which won't be multiplatform like the campaign setting is), would you prefer content that refers only to stuff from the 13A core rulebook, or would you prefer content that also references 13TW and the bestiary? My personal inclination is to incorporate everything 13ish, but we want to be extra careful about references that not all readers have access to.

    Oh, and I know anecdotes aren't data, but as a guy manning the Sasquatch booth at GenCon, I'd estimate that 13th Age players inquiring about Thule were running neck-and-neck with Pathfinder players inquiring about Thule. The proverbial escalation die is at 6!

    --David Noonan, one of the Sasquatches.
  • edited August 2014
    Howdy Dave!

    I've been a somewhat vocal critic, but I am glad that you all are posting on here. Thank you for stepping up!

    I like having stuff that refers to all three books. Many folks do use all three now, as they are available, or they are hot to use them (they are waiting for the print). I know I am, and am already running a game that is semi-Thulian (few magic items, tentacle monsters from the deep, etc).

    In particular, there is material in the Bestiary which is a strong fit for Thule (elder beasts, chuul, Whispering Prophet, zorigami as Atlantean constructions, Rust Monsters as a truly scary threat, Nagas, etc) as well as True Ways (Occultist, Chaos Mage, Champion, flowers of unlife, devil of the fangs, etc).

    edit: irrelevant content.
  • I'd say go with all three books. I can't imagine there are very many people who will invest in multiple books for a campaign setting tied to a particular system but only have a single book for that system. Also, the books really form a "core three" comparable to the standard set of D&D books so anyone serious about 13th Age will most likely have them all.

    I would also like to mention that I really like the finished product and will start a campaign in Thule as soon as the book arrives. This is actually the first published setting that has interested me at all. At some point I will do a post listing everything I like about it because there's a lot. Thanks for all your hard work, it's obvious you guys put a ton of effort into this.
  • I say all three too, because while it's not like D&D in NEEDING all of them, 13 True Ways and the Bestiary provide some perspective and changes that refine the core a bit. That's important.

    While I was finding Thule not great initially, I'm still hoping to see more, and I'm sure you'll have awesome things for us. :)
  • edited August 2014
    Posted By: HomegrownHydraThanks for all your hard work, it's obvious you guys put a ton of effort into this.
    Sure, but let's not kid ourselves: this project was totally fun!

    Thanks for the feedback, everyone, and as a quick update, the 13A version of Primeval Thule is now up at DriveThruRPG ( Now back to this "Thirteen for Thule" file someone keeps leaving open on my desktop...
  • What's the next project for Primeval Thule?
  • Posted By: HomegrownHydraWhat's the next project for Primeval Thule?
    Our current project is: trying our hardest not to start new projects until the Primeval Thule Campaign Setting is completely fulfilled for our backers. It's at the printing press now, so the finish line is in sight, but I don't want us to lose focus now.

    That said, I have some ideas...some are grounded in 13A (mostly things I want more of as a 13A GM), and some are grounded in Thule (lots of named places on that continent map with stories we haven't told yet). I know that's vague, but like I said, I'm really just writing down ideas for later, when they'll coalesce into a project. And one of the things I jotted down was "13A core rules only, or include 13TW and 13B?"

  • Anyone look at thr updated pdf yet? I'm on the fence about this one and leaning towards no based on what folks are saying,13th age wise.
  • I have mine. Fixed some typos that I noticed. I've not done a really strong comparison.
  • Not all typos were fixed; for example, in the section that mentions the equipment that doesn't exist in Thule, two items are listed which don't appear in 13th Age anyway: warhorse and everburning torch (apparently a residual of a copy-paste from PF or 4e.)

    There's also the header of the Atlantean race which lists physical measurements; again, taken from 4e as 13th Age doesn't care about these details.

    I think the thing I like least is the fact that Icons are not dealt with properly; scarcely half a page is devoted to them in terms of game mechanics, and no mentions of how the many class abilities that interact with Icons in the 13A core book, should interact with the Icons in Thule instead. How does the Chromatic Heritage of the sorcerer, say, translate in Thule if dragons don't even exist in the setting? (at least, not Iconic dragons.)

    Overall, I must say I am still not happy; and the fact I paid £100 for my pledge makes me sad :(
  • And none of the Cleric picks come with feats - what are Thulian clerics supposed to pick as they level up?
  • Ah yes, Cleric feats; that's another issue.
    In fact, we don't even know what OTHER domains the gods of Thule favour (and some of the suggested, specific domains overlap with existing domains, e.g. Ishtar's.) We also don't know about Great Old Ones domains; there aren't even specific domains like the Pathfinder version.
    It seems they assumed that 13A domains work like 4e domains (the previous pdf still had [Dvinity] tags on some domains.)

    Really, most of the deeper issues haven't been fixed. And the authors didn't reply to these comments (which I already made on the Kickstarter page.)
  • edited July 2015
    I browsed a 13th age copy at local store and as stoked as i am re/s&s setting i couldnt pull the trigger on it. I liked the work sasquatch did on dnd5 elemental evil but after reading they're planning a 5e thule decided to wait for that. Why? Well lack of cthulhu cleric domains and inclusion of warlocks was a bit of a head scratcher. Not to say i couldnt have dealt with it but $50 tag swayyed me. I dont doubt that 5e will be worth it considering their exp w/the system tho. So im waiting.
    (Happy with 13a setting i guess; happy too to pull my dnd5e outve forgotten realms. Not that theres anything wrong w/f.r)
    Not an easy decision tho i must say.
  • What with last entry b4 me being almost yr old im feeling antiquated but then again why no other recent comments other than mine i cant say. Ergo
    hey you 13a folk who bought the book how you making out?
  • So Shadows of Eldolan it was
  • In the end I got the pdf only, but I haven't done anything with it. I am waiting to see how the 5e version pans out.
  • In the end, I'm pretty glad I never got into this. Sounds like a trainwreck.
  • Well. I recently did buy Thule 13a. I really like it. Really really like it. I expressed some..reservations about it few months ago so felt obliged to leave an update. This book is GOOD. Thank you Sasquatch :)
  • Yeah, it started badly, but they realized it wasn't working out and quickly (once the initial version wasn't going well) redid it with the help of Ash Law. Superb now. Worth me having a limited ed.
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