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New Campaign, New DM, New to 4E

 
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the-golem
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 07, 2010 2:37 am    Post subject: New Campaign, New DM, New to 4E Reply with quote

As the title suggests, I am relatively new to 4E, but I have been playing D&D since just after 3E was released. (To be frank, I like the feel of 4E more than 3E, but that's a topic for another time.)

I was just nominated DM to start a new campaign with my role-playing group, and since I'm particularly infatuated with WoG, my first official act as DM is to place the campaign in this setting.

Since WotC feels it unnecessary to publish any Greyhawk materials, I resorted to my old TSR supplements and things, and I'm rather taken with WGQ1: Patriots of Ulek. However, since I came onto the D&D scene just after the fall of AD&D 2E, I never really grasped the rules of that edition very well.

To summarize, I was wondering if anyone had success in converting old adventures into the new 4E ruleset.

I would appreciate any tips or comments you send my way.
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PaulN6
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 07, 2010 9:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So far I've converted the Champion's Belt (Dungeon adventure), a few Living Greyhawk modules, and a triolgy of adventures set in Sterich (also Dungeon) - which we haven't played yet. Champions Belt was great as the main combat involves fights and so it gave us a chance to playtest our newly converted pcs. We're currently playing an adventure cobbled together from the LG mods Will of the People and Last Dance at Midnight.

It can be a pain converting monsters and traps sometimes but all you have to do is get out of the previous edition mindset. Monster levels need to be withing 4 levels below or 7 levels above the party level depending on what kind of threat you want them to be - luckily it is easy to do this using the Monster Generator tool on DDI. Quite a lot of sample traps now show up in teh Compendium too. It's more of a pain if you are not a subscriber but I think the subscription is worth it for the Monster Generator, Character Generator, and Compendium access plus unique races and classes like the Revenant and Assassin.

I'm not a fan of the 4e tendency to suggest mixing and matching seemingly unrelated monsters together but where you have multiples of one type of monster, mix and match examples so that you have multiple fighting styles - this is easiest with humanoids.

In my experience you have to playtest a few adventures before you get the balance right. My Ulgurstasta and Froghemoth solo monsters weren't quite tough enough in the Champion's Belt so I'd build them a bit different now. You will also find that some monsters are much tougher to kill depending on party composition - I had great fun with lamia in a group with no wizard.

You might find that some monsters are much tougher in 4e (e.g. giants). The official advice is never to deviate a monster level by more than 4 and some may be too tough even if you lower them like this (I found this with the Bebilith). I left the Bebilith in as they will meet it early on in the adventure and I'm hoping that they realise it is too tough and flee. If not I might end up killing my party - oh well. Generally just up the level of the module if possible, or reduce the number of monsters. If all else fails, replace them with a lower level equivalent.

Finally, the rules on Companion Characters are handy if you need to pad out a group. In our group we've statted out the paladin's warhorse, the fighter's trained hawk, and a gnome henchman whose principal purpose is carrying the beer. Our group doesn't need spare characters so I made it clear that the npcs were not to be used as cannon-fodder, free Aid Another or Flanking, or as battle-field control. They're there largely for roleplaying fun and for when a main pc gets knocked out/killed. However, I agreed that if they want to use their companion character to do so something worthwhile once per encounter, as long as it isn't out of character for them in the particular circumsntance, then that would be ok.

So far the adventures have been fun, possibly a bit easy because I didn't want to risk a TPK until I had a better handle on the rules.
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the-golem
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 23, 2010 3:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well. My apologies for the delayed response.

As it turns out, the original DM has not left yet, and I haven't had a chance to DM myself, yet. To tell you the truth, I'm having one helluva time. The original module was designed for a large party, 6-8, and I'm needing it toned town, as I'll probably have 4-6.

I'm having issues with balance, I don't know how many of the monsters to make into minions, or not, or if I should make them elites. As an example, the first "planned" encounter deals with 6 orcs, and 8 goblins on wolves.

So, by the simple numbers, I have 24 monsters to deal with. Looking at their stats, they all have relatively low hitpoints; the orcs are at 6, the goblins have 4, and the wolves have 14. Regardless, this seems like alot of baddies for the amount of people. However, the text does state that the humanoids make a morale check after every round to see if they run off.

I guess part of my problem is due to that I've never actually played any editions older than 3E. I don't know if I should treat the wolves seperately from the gobin riders, or treat them as one entity.

In addition to simply converting the module, I'm also trying to plan a "master plan" as far as the campaign goes. Part of the problem *there* is that I actually don't want the characters to level too fast. The idea is to have the campaign span several years in the game world. The character

This seems a bit .. difficult .. due to the nature of a game. For example, characters are expected to advance to 3rd by the modules end, a mere 2 weeks later. If I were to use a super-module, its possible that characters could advance 10 levels in mere days of game-world time. This itself is a bit rediculous, as some of the NPCs in the world aren't that high, and they've been around for years. (Take for example Olinstaad Corond. He's over 300 and is still just lvl 15ish).

To top it off, I *don't* have access to the compendium, as I'm not a DDI subscriber. The Monster Creator helps .. some.

So, overall ... I'm a bit stuck.

Thanks in advance!
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PaulN6
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 23, 2010 4:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think there is an encounter builder on DDI. You put in the monsters and they tell you whether that will be an easy of difficult enounter for x number of pcs at x level. It's a reasnable guide but the ease of any encounter will vary depending on the exact group make-up.

I'd use the mount rules for the wolf riders. They have one set of actions between them (usually the wolf's move and the goblins' attack) but you can check out any special powers they have listed in the DMG with the mount keyword. These may affect your tactics if you decide that the golbins can make use of these powers too.
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the-golem
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 24, 2010 3:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmmm.. In researching the module, I found that it got a horrible review here on Canonfire. Although somewhat dismayed at this, the writer brings up some very credible points ... It *is* basically a module where all you do is run around and kill orcs and goblins all day. Any meta-plot "just happens" through the flavor text, and the PCs are kinda led through the nose.

That said, I've been thinking of re-writing it, primarily to convert it to 4E. However, I'm interested in introducing more flavor, including a bit more variety in the combat. I'd like to introduce some skill challenges as well, and attempt to let the characters actually manipulate the plot themselves.

What do you all think? Is it worth converting? What would you add to the adventure to make it more fun, more memorable?
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PaulN6
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 24, 2010 4:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well our campaign has been running for 20 years so we have lots of dangling sub-plots to work with.

I don't recall the plot of the module but sub-plots can include encountering hostile dwarf mercenaries who have to be bargained with (skill challenge), stumbling across a large camp of humanoids with prisoners who need to be rescued (mix in an overall skill challenge with a few smaller fights, failures in the skill challenges increases the number of foes that must be fought - you can even add in the rescued person as a companion character and/or love interest if your players need help), infiltrating a ruined keep to retrieve documents or a magic item, reaching a tower or grove in occcupied territory to consult with a reclusive sage/wizard/warlock/artificer or druid/warden and link the side treks into the main module somehow.

If you can access some Living Greyhawk mods, some of those have adventures that you can bolt together to make a pretty decent adventure.
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andurion
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 24, 2010 4:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't know anything about the adventure in question, but here are some of my suggestions for converting older modules to 4e.

First and foremost, focus on the spirit of the module as opposed a direct conversion. Determine which elements of the module make it stand out in your mind and try to bring those into your conversion.

Second, if the module comes with maps, most of the rooms are going to be too small and cramped for your standard 4e combat. In order to make things more interesting, I'd recommend linking rooms together into larger encounter areas.

If an encounter calls for many monsters and you want a potential combat to be "balanced," minions are a good way to go. Roughly speaking, 4 minions are equivalent to one PC. But I don't think there's a problem in just having a room full of 24 standard monsters and having PCs make their way in through guile and cunning. Just be aware that if a fight breaks out, 4-6 PCs wouldn't have a prayer against so many standard monsters.

There are a couple of ways to approach the wolf-riding goblins. First, the wolf and the goblin could be treated as separate monsters. You could have both be standard monsters, one be a minion and the other a standard, or both be minions. If I decided to go this route, I probably would do as PaulN6 suggests and have goblin and wolf share the same pool of actions. A second option is to treat the goblin and wolf as a single monster - there is, in fact, a goblin wolfrider in the compendium (it's a level 5 skirmisher monster).
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the-golem
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 24, 2010 5:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmmm. I would love to see the stats and the writeup on that goblin wolfrider. Unfortunately, as I said, I cant afford DDI and thus cant access the compendium. I wish I could.

Regardless, I'm pretty excited. I've this whole meta-plot planned out.

Synopsis: Tarrosh Mak wages war on Principality of Ulek. Ulek looses half of territory. Desperate, the Prince authorises an expedition to find the lost dwaven citadel deep in the Lortmils (Enter Forge of Fury 3E adventure). Assuming the party is successful, they attempt to return, but are somehow automagically transported to another realm (I'm thinking of using the orginal Ravenloft adventure here.) After gruesome travels in this mysterious realm, the characters are able to return to the World Greyhawk, but they find that something like 10 years have passed. At this point, I'm expecting them to be approx level 10.

The prince is astonished at their return, having assumed they all perished. At some point after that, the characters will have to go head to head with Tarrosh Mak himself, and in defeating him, find out that the reason why he was so successful (Orcs willingly being led by a half-orc scumbag?) was due to some magical nefarious assistance from some pseudo-godling. Iuz the Old, or Ivid the Undying, or perhaps even Rary the Traitor?

Thats the gist of it. When I think about it, I get all giddy inside.

Anyhow, thanks all for your comments. Hopefully, I can churn out something worth writing about. I plan on chronicling the players (and characters) events and writing them into some sort of story.
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smillan_31
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 02, 2010 10:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

PaulN6 wrote:
I'd use the mount rules for the wolf riders. They have one set of actions between them (usually the wolf's move and the goblins' attack) but you can check out any special powers they have listed in the DMG with the mount keyword. These may affect your tactics if you decide that the golbins can make use of these powers too.


I just got several of the Goblin Wolfrider minis from Savage Encounters. They handled it as one creature, making it a lvl 5 skirmisher combining combat features of goblin and gray wolf. The stats are on the mini card. They're pretty easy to find for sale as singles .They haven't added it to the D&DI Compendium yet.
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the-golem
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 02, 2010 10:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for that. I was going through the Monster Creator tool thingy, and found that entry, but was unclear whether they treated it as a single entity or not. This actually helps me alot, as I can simply just edit that creature and downgrade it to a level 1 or 2 monster. I actually tried to make it a level zero, but no dice.

I'm going to take those, and mix them with some goblin archers turned minion on regular wolves I think. Maybe.

It's late right now, Im pushing the envelope for sleep, so its coming out a bit fuzzy probably.
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PaulN6
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2010 1:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

When customising monsters, I'm finding that it's better to make minions at least one level higher than the pcs if you have anybody with encounter bursts or blasts. They don't last long so it's more important that they get a hit in before they die.
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smillan_31
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2010 2:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey, thanks for reminding me I needed to install the update for my Adventure Tools. I haven't used it since I became a player instead of the DM a couple of months ago.
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