Triskaidekaphilia

October is always the month related to Halloween, even if it is celebrated on its last day. The whole month is little more than an anticipation for that frightening evening, right? And it seems I’m not the only one, as Scot Newbury, the mastermind behind “of Dice and Dragons” has selected superstitions as the theme for this month’s RPG Blog Carnival.

If you know this blog, you may have noticed I’m a BIG fan of the Eberron Campaign Setting. And, as it turns out, the number 13 is quite an important detail in this setting. Just as a quick example, these are a few of the things we’re talking about:

  • There are thirteen dragonmarks, but one is never seen anymore.
  • There are thirteen planes of existence, but one is shielded from the Prime.
  • There are thirteen moons, but only twelve left in the sky.
  • There were thirteen clans of dwarves, but one vanished without trace.

As Keith Baker, its creator told me in an interview, “it’s intentional that you have the same number of planes and moons. However, it was actually something of a coincidence that the number was thirteen”. Since I noticed and confirmed that detail was not a coincidence, I always place some emphasis about it to my players, and now it has become a classic staple (some of my players may say “cliché”) in my campaigns. The 13th of anything has become something the players look for, knowing it will be there, and that it will be related to the mystery at hand.

And given that this theme’s month is “superstitions”, I’ll give you a little detail about something that is about to happen in my campaign. You’ll see, the main villain is the 13th son… and when the characters uncover it has been so for 13 generations, they will activate a curse on them: a curse than can only be removed “after cleansing for 13 hours exactly between the end of a year and the beginning of the next”. How do you spend 13 hours in a second?

The answer starts with the problem: Eberron, as most settings, has only 12 months. Yes, twelve. Not thirteen. Got it?

That’s when I hope they will notice the catch: months and moons are related, and there are 13 moons in Eberron: but one is not visible. They will have to find a way to see it in order to unlock a powerful ritual that bends time, effectively allowing them access to a frozen-time demiplane in which one can spend exactly 13 hours. The ritual must be performed exactly at midnight between the last month and the first of the next year, and of course, 13 items will be needed to accomplish this.

Triskaidekaphobia-Shadows-over-Innistrad-Art

The lesson here as usual is: if your player metaplay a little, allow yourself to metamaster in same measure. If they’re expecting something because you usally do it, don’t feel obligated to introduce it in your campaign. The best results of course come of you can manage to make your players’ thoought and their characters’ one and the same.

Note about the art: Talking about meta, the super-mega-archi-meta art by the extremely talented William Murai features 13 drops of blood, 13 shards of glass, 13 stones in the arch, 13 more stones forming the fireplace, 13 logs in the fireplace, 13 boards in the ceiling, 13 boards on the wall, 13 bolts on the barrel, 13 kitchen utensils hanging… along with 13 instances of the letter “t” on the card, 13 words in each mode (excluding the numbers), and the mana cost being ONE black and THREE generic, this whole thing brings the total number of 13’s in the card up to… yeap: Thirteen.

P.S.>> I wrote this yesterday, but I couldn’t help myself to keep it for a day in order to publish it on a Friday the 13th, precisely at 13:13. You’re welcome.

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