13th age style escalation die for BBEG monsters idea


I had this thought over the weekend about “boss fights” in Crown & Skull and thought it might be fun to try out. Basically, during the BBEGs tactic die rolls if the result is below a certain value you would increment the “escalation die” by 1. Once the escalation die + the tactic roll = 6, BBEG uses itss AOE attack. Maybe this represents the aggressive nature of the enemy or its desperate attempts to thwart the heroes etc. I was thinking that a D4 would be the ideal die to use as that would allow for the player safe roll of repositioning to still apply without causing attrition.

Then I started thinking that this could be a neat way to maybe add in some “nova” bbeg attacks with totals that exceed 6, like maybe a total of 10, but I felt like I might be getting ahead of myself at that point.

Any way, just an idea that rolled around in my head this weekend, any thoughts or suggestions are appreciated!



I like the train of thought regarding this. I remember the Escalation Die was a mechanic in combat to give bonus to the to-hit rolls and damage of everyone involved in the conflict, going from 0 to 6. Enemy creatures would benefit from this in the normal way but bigger and more dangerous creatures would use up the Escalation Die as a resource to do some powerful abilities, like an Ultimate ability.

Since enemies in Crown & Skull are asymmetrical with the players, you can set it to be 0 to 4 (d4 die) and have all players benefit from the bonuses to damage rolls, skill rolls, Flat rolls, or effect rolls on spells. However, powerful enemies can take the Escalation Die when it hits 4 to do their 6 tactic ability, recover something useful, or worsen the situation for the players in that conflict. Once used, it resets the die to 1.

Make sure that only special creatures can really use that Escalation Die as a resource. In most cases, enemies don’t make use of it. Some may just use the Die to make Defense rolls harder on the players.


Oh no, my intention was to NOT apply the escalation die to players at all. Only for BBEG/boss fights. You’re right though, in 13th age it always applied to players and occasionally applied to monsters.

In my head, the relief a player/group feels when the tactic die comes up as a 1 would immediately be followed with the realization that the BOSS is still building up towards that big attack. Create that feeling of power building when maybe a 4 on tactic die could have been “defended”.


Crown & Skull alread pooy has many ways to make the monsters more dangerous by providing up to 3 phases it can act, up to 3 Tactics it can roll per phase, and the different levels of Attrition it can inflict. At this point, it is almost overkill with more bookkeeping.

If you are having issues with your bosses not feeling strong or dangerous enough, I’d adjust the phases and tactics.


You’re not wrong about the monsters being dangerous. My intent isn’t to make them be more dangerous just for the sake of being more dangerous. The idea is really just a play off of timers: “After four ineffective attacks the Dragon is enraged and unleashes a deadly blast of flame breath!” Totally your call as to what counts as an “ineffective attack”. Personally, the more powerful the monsters AOE attack, the lower the tactic roll must be to increment the escalation die…for the dragon, I’d say the tactic die must be a 1 to increase the escalation die.


I add modifiers and events (p. 286 & 287) to my (bigger) monsters. But they are not in play from the beginning of the fight and will kick in when a timer is reached. While the timer is ticking down I start to telegraph the new behaviors until it gets an actual mechanical effect.


That sounds pretty cool.