Character Rules

Character Creation

These rules are for the character you create, your PC (playable character).

Choose a Race

Choose your character’s race. This game is less restrictive than other d20 games, and your racial choice won’t limit your class selection.

The most common races are humans, dwarves, elves, gnomes, half-elves, half-orcs, and halflings. Of course, there may be characters of unusual races in your campaign.

Nonstandard races: If you want to play a different race from ones listed here, pitch the idea to your GM. You might find your pitch easier to make if your new choice lines up closely to the mechanical features of a supported race even if its flavor is very different. For example, if you want to be a one-off, half-successful experiment in artificial life, you can bolster your case if you say you’ll take the racial features of a supported race. “Half-orc” would be an obvious choice, but it could be anything.

Each race provides a +2 bonus to one of your ability scores.

Choose a Class

Every character has a class (see Classes). Pick one of these.

If you would like to combine two classes, see the multiclassing rules.

Each class provides a +2 bonus to one of your ability scores.

Determine Your Ability Scores

The six ability scores in 13th Age are Strength, Constitution, Dexterity, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma.

The Six Ability Scores

Strength (Str)

Your bodily power and capacity for force. It’s good for more than hurting things (as if hurting things weren’t enough). This ability is especially important for fighters, barbarians, and paladins, because it helps them prevail in melee combat.

You apply your character’s Strength modifier to:

  • Melee attack and damage rolls (for most classes)
  • Skill checks for athletic activities, such as climbing, jumping, and swimming, pure feats of strength, such as breaking down doors, and intimidating people via a show of force
  • Physical Defense (PD), together with Con and Dex, to avoid fireballs and other attacks that you can escape by moving quickly

Constitution (Con)

Constitution represents your character’s toughness and endurance. A Constitution bonus increases a character’s hit points, so the ability is important for all classes (except necromancers).

You apply your character’s Constitution modifier to:

  • Hit points
  • PD, together with Str and Dex
  • Armor Class (AC), together with Dex and Wis, for avoiding melee attacks
  • Skill checks that require endurance, such as a long march or withstanding the effects of alcohol and the like

Dexterity (Dex)

Dexterity measures hand-eye coordination, agility, reflexes, and balance. This ability is the most important one for rogues, and for anyone who wants to be a skilled archer.

You apply your character’s Dexterity modifier to:

  • Ranged attack and damage rolls with weapons such as bows, crossbows, throwing axes
  • PD, together with Str and Con
  • AC, together with Con and Wis
  • Initiative
  • Skill checks for balance, escaping ropes, hiding, moving silently, opening locks, riding mounts, sleight of hand tricks, and acrobatics

Intelligence (Int)

Intelligence determines your capacity for analytical and abstract thought. It is not the same as bookishness, just correlated. This ability is important for wizards because it affects how powerful their spells are.

You apply your character’s Intelligence modifier to:

  • Mental Defense (MD), together with Wis and Cha, to avoid getting charmed and other mind-affecting attacks
  • Skill checks such as appraising an object’s value, deciphering a script, disabling mechanical traps, forging documents, book knowledge, identifying magic
  • Wizard and necromancer spellcasting

Wisdom (Wis)

Wisdom describes a character’s intuition, insight, and perceptiveness. Unfortunately, this trait seems to serve unholiness as well as it serves holiness—maybe even better. While Intelligence represents one’s ability to analyze information, Wisdom represents being in tune with and aware of one’s surroundings. If you want your character to have acute senses, put a high score in Wisdom.

You apply your character’s Wisdom modifier to:

  • MD, together with Int and Cha
  • AC, together with Con and Dex
  • Skill checks to perceive things with your senses, determining an NPCs motivations, healing the wounded, finding directions
  • Stabilizing an unconscious ally
  • Cleric and druid spellcasting

Charisma (Cha)

Charisma measures a character’s force of personality and social grace. Hard to define, hard to miss when it walks by. It can signify persuasiveness, personal magnetism, ability to lead, and physical attractiveness. This ability represents actual strength of personality, not merely how one is perceived by others in a social setting.

You apply your character’s Charisma modifier to:

  • MD, together with Int and Wis
  • Skill checks to bluff or influence people, be diplomatic, pretend to be someone else, gathering information by asking around, handling animals, intimidating people by exploiting their weak points, entertaining people with the performing arts
  • Sorcerer spellcasting
  • Paladin class features

Roll ’em

Roll 4d6 for each of the six ability scores (Strength, Constitution, Dexterity, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma). Drop the low die in each roll. Put the scores into any order to best fit the character you want to play.

(This method produces an average of 12.24, for an expected total of 73.44 for 6 stats.)

Point Buy

You get 28 points to buy your ability scores using the chart below.


(This method creates an array of up to 76 total if no stat is increased above 14)

Base 13 Random Stat Generation DATP

Roll six d6, line them up, and assign a letter to each: A B C D E F.
Calculate your stats using pairs of adjacent dice as follows:
13 + A – B
13 + B – C
13 + C – D
13 + D – E
13 + E – F
13 + F – A

(This method creates a randomized stat array that always adds up to 78, since each die is both added and subtracted from the total, with a range of 8 to 18 for each stat.)

No-Risk-No-Fun variant: Switch the dice to d8s, to increase the outcome range to 6 to 20, while still keeping the total at 78.

Determine Your Combat Stats

For details on how combat works, see Combat Rules.

Although Armor Class, Physical Defense, and Mental Defense are based on a single ability score, the score each defense uses depends on the character. In each case, you look at three ability modifiers and use the middle value (not the highest or the lowest). If two or more modifiers are tied, you use one of those tied scores as the middle score.

Determine Your 1st level Hit Points

  1. Find the base value for your class (6, 7, or 8) in the Starting Stats for 1st Level Characters chart.
  2. Add your Con modifier to get your ‘hit point value.’
  3. Multiply your hit point value by 3 to get your total hit points at 1st level.

Determine Your Armor Class

  1. Find the base AC value for your class (10 to 16) in the Starting Stats for 1st Level Characters chart.
  2. Find the middle value among your Con modifier, Dex modifier, and Wis modifier. That value is your AC modifier.
  3. Add the AC modifier to your base AC value.
  4. Add +1 at 1st level (and increase by +1 at each additional class level).

Determine Your Physical Defense

  1. Find the base PD for your class (10 to 12) in the Starting Stats for 1st Level Characters chart.
  2. Find the middle value among your Str modifier, Con modifier, and Dex modifier. That value is your PD modifier.
  3. Add the PD modifier to your base PD.
  4. Add +1 at 1st level (and increase by +1 at each additional class level).

Determine Your Mental Defense

  1. Find the base MD for your class (10 to 12) in the Starting Stats for 1st Level Characters chart.
  2. Find the middle value among your Int modifier, Wis modifier, and Cha modifier. That value is your MD modifier.
  3. Add the MD modifier to your base MD.
  4. Add +1 at 1st level (and increase by +1 for each class level).

Determine Your Initiative Bonus

Your Initiative bonus is a d20 check, not a static value.

  1. Start with your Dexterity modifier.
  2. Add +1 at 1st level (and increase by +1 at each additional class level).

Determine Your Recoveries & Recovery Dice

Most characters start the game with 8 recoveries. (See Recoveries.) Some classes and talent choices may give you more recoveries.

Each class also has a different recovery die, usually a d6, d8, or d10, as specified in the class write-up. When you roll a recovery, you’ll roll a number of recovery dice equal to your level and add your Constitution modifier.

Determine Your Attacks and Powers

You calculate attack and damage rolls based on the ability scores favored by your class or by the specific powers you choose within your class. Most classes use one specific ability score for most of their attacks. See Classes for more information.

Choose Your One Unique Thing

Your character’s One Unique Thing (their unique) is a special feature invented by you, the player, which sets your character apart from every other hero. It is a unique and special trait to your player, and markedly unusual. The intent is that it provides a special flavor to the campaign and can assist the GM in determining how your character can interact with characters and story in the campaign.

Your character’s unique should not provide general practical value in combat. That is not the intent. The intent is to open up story arcs and fun roleplaying opportunities.

Determine Your Icon Relationships

See Icons.

Backgrounds & Skill Checks

Backgrounds represent pieces of your character’s history that contributes to your character’s history as well as their ability to succeed with non-combat skills.

Each character has a number of points to allocate to a set of backgrounds. These are broad categories of experience (cat burglar, for example) rather than specific implementations of that experience (climbing and hiding).

Backgrounds don’t sync to a specific ability score, though some backgrounds obviously may get used more often with certain ability scores than others.

Choosing Your Backgrounds

Choose backgrounds that help you make sense of your characters past, jobs, and settings. Background and skill use is meant to be about fun in-character methods of attempting to advance the plot.

A few possible backgrounds include: acrobat, alchemist, animal trainer, architect, aristocratic noble, assassin, chef, con-woman, goblin exterminator, hunted outlaw, knight errant, magecraft, priest, refugee, scout, shepherd, soldier, spy, temple acolyte, thief, torturer, transformed animal, traveling martial arts pupil, tribal healer, tunnel scout, wandering minstrel, warrior poet, and so on.

Assigning Background Points

Each character gets 8 background points, plus any extra that your class’s talents award. Assign your background points to as many backgrounds as you want, up to your total points. You can assign a maximum of 5 points to a single background (and minimum of 1).

Making Skill Checks

When you roll a skill check to find out if you succeed at a task or trick, the GM tells you which ability score is being tested. Then you choose the background you think is relevant to gain the points you have in that background as a bonus to the skill check.

Most skill checks require you to equal or beat a Difficulty Class (DC), set by the environment you are operating in, to succeed.

To make a skill check, use this formula:

D20 + relevant ability modifier + level + relevant background points


DC set by the environment

You can’t apply multiple backgrounds to the same check; the background with the highest (or tied for highest) bonus applies.


Section 15: Copyright Notice

System Reference Document Copyright ©2000-2003, Wizards of the Coast, Inc.; Authors Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams, Rich Baker, Andy Collins, David Noonan, Rich Redman, Bruce R. Cordell, John D. Rateliff, Thomas Reid, James Wyatt, based on original material by E. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson.

13th Age Archmage Engine, version 3.0. Copyright © 2013-2015 Fire Opal Media. All Rights Reserved. Licensed under the Open Game License.

Dark Alleys & Twisted Paths. © 2019, Kinoko Games

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