On the 13th Age Facebook group, there was a suggestion by Simon Rogers to do a post about “re-skinning” enemies into “normal people”. In interests of full disclosure, Simon has paid me to write 13th Age things in the past, and therefore, if he says it’s a good idea, I’ll probably do it. So that’s what I’m going to do here. If you came for shape-shifting shenanigans, there’s one in there, I promise.
“Reskinning” is as old as RPG’s itself. You take one set of stats and use it to represent something else. Sometimes it’s built in, like in the Lions & Tigers & Owlbears: 13th Age Bestiary 2 entries for the Fey and the Fauns. (Shameless plug for some of what I wrote). But most often you’ll turn a Bugbear into a back-alley mugger, or a Human Thug into Town Militia. Simple coat of new paint and off you go. Sometimes you can use the same entry for many different creatures, especially if there are already variations. I’m going to work similarly to my other post, Iconic Weapons of the 13th Age. Giving 13 variations on the same mechanics with different flavors.
Thus we have the Dire Bear. A mainstay of classic fantasy with extra spiky danger because real bears aren’t scary enough. I was going to copy excerpts from the SRD, but it really messed with the flow and you know how hyperlinks work. The salient features are that it’s a large or double-strength 4th level creature that has a better attack against staggered enemies and deals more damage on natural even rolls. It also has a random or semi-random dire feature that I’ll leverage for all I can. All of these are going to be humanoid, so they have that creature type instead.
These are also less distinct than the main entry, so maybe use them as general troops around champion tier. They count 1:1 on 5th level PC’s.
The factions here are totally not analogues for the official ones listed in the original alphabetical order. Not at all.
Wards of retribution guard these spellswords. They use incantations on their blades to take down errant arcane experiments and other threats. Disciplined and relentless, their mandate is to slay any target to which they are assigned. Use the “Spiky Bits” Dire Feature.
From behind their thick armor and closed helmets, it’s hard to tell if they are big men, or small ogres. But you can be assured they likely smell the same. They relish in putting down demons, “demons”, and alleged “demons”. Use the “Armor Plates” Dire Feature
Supposedly servants of a “respectable family”, these people are really vessels for incubating demons. When in danger, they lose all pretense and hit harder than anyone would guess. Use the “Fury” Dire Feature.
Lord of the Dwarves
Liquid courage and ancestors’ blessings are the main theories on the legendary stamina of the dwarven vanguard. Just don’t denigrate the latter theory when any are around. Use the “Dire Regeneration” Dire Feature.
There are shadows in the forest that remain unacknowledged in public. They are the knives in the dark, disavowed agents of their liege. Success is less important than secrecy, but they rarely fail. Use the “Fury” Dire Feature.
Rigid training is core to the Imperium’s armies. These soldiers don’t have it yet. They likely enjoy fighting, but aren’t good enough for the arena. Reprobates and washouts from the main corps find their way into disposable expeditionary forces. Reports of a living dungeon breaking through near the trade road? Send them in first. Use the “Spiky Bits” Dire Feature.
The ranks of the Golden Order are popular among those seeking stability and purpose, as well as a bit of adventure. Many would otherwise become “free-lancers” or “troubleshooters”, or whatever euphemism for wandering ruffians. Use the “Carnage” Dire Feature to make them feel like not-quite-PC’s.
Gruff and kind, the skin-walkers of the Great Forest try to maintain a balance because people are natural creatures too. Mostly loners unless pressed, they tend to prefer to drive threats off rather than kill. However, they will kill if it’s necessary, as violence is just as much a part of nature as the dawn. Their malleable skin is a bit stronger than most folks’. Use the “Armor Plates” Dire Feature.
Death is the constant companion of warriors. Some rash mercenaries try to make friends. Vicious soldiers with a looming debt to undeath have bargained for just a little more time. Use the “Dire Regeneration” Dire Feature.
There’s a saying among the nomadic tribes west of the Imperium, “Kru’gal fartan oh, thannaki bey”. I don’t know what it means, it’s just something they scream when charging into battle. Their warriors are practiced at striking unpredictably, tempering parries and getting cheap shots. Use the “Carnage” Dire Feature.
Burly monks from a pacifist god have doubled down on the paci-fist pun and only fight unarmed. Their faith is rewarded with spiritual combos pummeling their foes further. Use the “Poison” Dire Feature, but make it force or holy damage instead.
Bruisers, bouncers, and muggers with less subtlety and brains than most cat burglars, but they’re good in a fight. Their knuckle dusters and practiced punches from years on the wrong side of every dock make them scrappy and dangerous in close. Use the “Spiky Bits” Dire Feature
The Dragon Kings
Assassins who have the favor of the Scaled Lords are often gifted special daggers to improve their efficiency. They often bear the insignia and a little bonus from their patron. Use the “Poison” Dire Feature, and change the damage type if their dragon master would find it appropriate.
Go forth, and change things up. Revel in narrative opportunities with minimal math homework.