Character Creation

13th Age, p.29

13 Vaults currently only has information for 13th Age first edition only. Information on 13 Vaults may not reflect newer editions of the game.

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. You cannot choose one that is the same ability you increase with your +2 class bonus.

Choose a Class

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

Each class provides a +2 bonus to one of your ability scores. You cannot choose one that is the same ability you increase with your +2 race bonus.

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.


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 character, 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.


Characters choose a feat at 1st level, and at every subsequent level.

Feats appear in three tiers: adventurer feats, champion feats, and epic feats. Adventurer feats are available to any character between level 1 and level 10. Champion feats are available starting at level 5. Epic feats are available starting at level 8.

Feats per Level

LevelPlayer Character
11 adventurer
22 adventurer
33 adventurer
44 adventurer
54 adventurer 1 champion
64 adventurer 2 champion
74 adventurer 3 champion
84 adventurer 3 champion 1 epic
94 adventurer 3 champion 2 epic
104 adventurer 3 champion 3 epic

Since humans start with an additional feat at 1st level, add one to the number of adventurer feats humans possess all the way up the chart.

Most of the feats in the game are attached to specific class talents, attacks, and spells. If a feat is attached to a talent, power, or spell, you must have the talent, power, or spell in order to choose the feat. When there is more than one feat attached to a specific talent or power, you have to choose the lower tier feats before you pick up the higher tier feats.

General Feats

These are general feats available to any character. A character can’t take a specific feat more than once. A few general feats only have adventurer-tier versions; others also have champion- and epic-tier versions that can be added later in your career.

Further Backgrounding

General Feat

  • Adventurer Feat:

    Add a total of 2 points to backgrounds you already have, or choose 2 points of new backgrounds that make sense for your character. You still can’t go over the 5-point-per-background maximum.

  • Champion Feat:

    Add a total of 3 points to backgrounds you already have, or choose 3 points of new backgrounds that make sense for your character. You still can’t go over the 5-point-per-background maximum.

  • Epic Feat:

    Add a total of 2 points to backgrounds you already have, or choose 2 points of new backgrounds that make sense for your character. These points can take one of your backgrounds over 5, to a maximum of 7.

Improved Initiative

General Feat

  • Adventurer Feat:

    Gain a +4 bonus to Initiative checks.


General Feat

  • Adventurer Feat:

    This feat allows you to speak enough arcana, dwarven, elven, gnomish, gnoll, goblin, orcish, and other standard humanoid languages to comprehend enough of what most other humanoids are saying or screaming during battle. You are not fluent in all these languages, no one will mistake you for a native speaker, and your vocabulary is adventurer-centric (heavy on words connected to danger rather than philosophy or emotions). You can also read enough to get by in all these languages.

  • Champion Feat:

    You can speak, read, and write all the humanoid languages fluently. Stranger languages are no problem for you either. If someone is speaking it, you can figure it out.

Precise Shot

General Feat

  • Adventurer Feat:

    When your ranged attack targets an enemy who is engaged with an ally, you have no chance of hitting that ally.

Rapid Reload

General Feat

  • Adventurer Feat:

    Reloading a heavy crossbow now takes only a quick action. Reloading a hand or light crossbow is a free action.

Reach Tricks

General Feat

  • Adventurer Feat:

    Once per battle, tell the GM how you are using your weapon’s reach to perform an unexpected stunt with a reach weapon such as a longspear or halberd. To use the stunt, you must roll a 6+ on a d20.

Ritual Casting

General Feat

  • Adventurer Feat:

    You can cast any spells you know as rituals. Classes that are already ritual casters (cleric, wizard) don’t need this feat. (See Rituals for ritual casting rules.)

Skill Escalation

General Feat

  • Adventurer Feat:

    Twice per day, you can add the escalation die to one of your skill checks. Choose after you roll the check.

Strong Recovery

General Feat

  • Adventurer Feat:

    When you roll recovery dice, reroll one of the dice and use the higher result. At 5th level, reroll two of the dice. At 8th level, reroll three.


General Feat

  • Adventurer Feat:

    You get additional hit points equal to half your baseline class hit points (rounded down). At 5th level, the total hp bonus increases to your baseline hp value. At 8th level, the total hp bonus increases to double your baseline hp value.