In this month's "See Page XX" over at the Pelgrane Press website is an article discussing elements that can be added to a game of 13th Age which will help it feel more "old school." Those elements include how mapping out dungeons could provide a bonus to die rolls to the players, how to include alignments and accoutrement related to alignments from past D&D style games, as well as, giving the enemy NPCs an escalation die of their own, and a few other ideas.
The basic idea of "The Meat Grinder" portion of the ideas (I'll wait here while you go read it), is as more enemies enter the fray or are encountered, the enemy escalation die (called the Dungeon Dice) number increases. It is not done every round. The article lists six ways to increase or decrease the number on the dungeon dice. I like the ideas presented here. I think it adds more crunch in a simple way. It also forces the players to play smarter, not use their characters to hit harder.
Reading through the article, I was struck with another idea on providing the enemy with an escalation die of their own. Instead of using what the article provides, my dungeon dice would be the goatee'd twin of the players' escalation dice. At the start of a combat, wherein the enemy has the advantage or elements of surprise, the dungeon dice starts at "6." Every round after this, as the escalation dice increases, the dungeon dice decreases. It represents the changing tide of battle. The enemies are losing steam, they no longer have the element of surprise, and the heroes are working their way towards another win.
So, what happens when the dungeon dice hits "0?" Nothing. The dice stays there, at "0." There is only one way for the dungeon dice to re-set in a combat. If a Big Bad or Level Boss enters into the combat after it has begun, the dungeon dice re-sets to "6." This is meant to represent their ability to encourage or rally their troops on to victory.
I have not used this rule in the game, yet. I think I may try it out during my next session. I have a scene where it would be appropriate by the standards of usage that I have set.
I also need to re-read the mook rules to see if I can use those anytime soon.