Homebrew Older Realms adventures questions, coming up with CR's
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  1. #1

    Older Realms adventures questions, coming up with CR's

    I thought maybe this post would fit better here...

    Hey, I am in the midst of doing some module updating, and I was wondering what some of your opinions would be on modified EL's for these two:

    1) Nightmare Keep, originally 1E for levels 18-20. The two main "baddies" at the end are a Mature Lichling (converted to CR 11) and a Demilich, which in 3.5 is CR 14 according to the Tomb of Horrors III and City of Brass. I estimate EL 15 to be decent for this adventure... does this seem right? Also, there are two Undead Dragon Turtles (CR 12 or 13 maybe each for being undead? Would you use the zombie template??) near the beginning and a lot of "continual harassment" which doesn't contribute towards the PC's getting a lot of chances for uninterrupted rest...

    2) Throne of Bloodstone, the 1E 18th-100th level adventure... Remember in 1E "leveling up" past 18th level really wasn't all that significant, so the difference between say a 12th-18th level character was much greater than the difference between say a 18th-40th level character. 100th level wasn't nearly as much of a "PC smack-down" as it is in 3.5... That being said, there's the initial battle vs. Zhengyi the Lich-King , I believe an 18th level wizard, which would make him a CR 20, and he also had some pretty deadly encounters in his tower, as well as a powerful white dragon... not too sure of the age category off the top of my head, but I think maybe Ancient, so CR 18... anyway, then there's the whole "stealing the wand of Orcus" (Orcus CR 28 per Libris Mortis and Book of Vile Darkness) and "getting Tiamat's heart" (Tiamat CR 25 per Dragon #272 and Manual of the Planes) deal... Anyway, my estimate (this one is a lot harder!) is maybe EL 18 for the first part of the adventure, and EL 23 for the second? Remember, you don't have to KILL Orcus, just get his wand... Tiamat though is a dual to the death, and she has her powerful consort chromatic dragons with her as well... Is that too light? Maybe EL 20 for the first part, and EL 25 for the second??

    Opinions would be greatly appreciated... I want to be a fair DM, after all...

  2. #2
    Acolyte (Lvl 2)

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    You know, I just read that whole Bloodstone series last month giving it serious thought to conversion. I almost popped a question to the boards myself to see if anyone had started the project for colaboration. Unfortunately, I also lost a significant database when one of my hard drives crashed earlier this month and I put all thoughts of conversions out of my head until I could recover that information. Anywho--

    Nightmare keep was an odd adventure, if my memory serves me. It was a high level and did not have anything leading up to it. I also think it was an early second edition adventure instead of a first ed. Not much of a difference there though. Unfortunately, direct conversion from first or second edition into third can produce some very unbalanced encounters or even adventures. What I have had to do (and I am not able to publish these conversions on the net because of the OGL) was to take each encounter as a unique entity and modify the opposition to fit more into a standard progression for the module at that point. For example, I converted an encounter with three water wierds with the first version of them from 3 ed MM2 (at least I think it was, it has been years since I did this) and discovered that they went from a minor nuisance as they should have been in the original edition to an equal to the main badguy at the end. To make it worse, once you finished them off or bypassed them, you had a 75% chance of encountering a mature adult black dragon in the next five minutes. I had to modify that encounter on the fly after about two rounds into it when I started mopping the floor with the PCs on a direct conversion. Basically, I cut the power of the weirds in half and dumb played them a bit. Fortunately, since then, another version of the water weird has been published that more closely resembles the nuisance weirds from that module and I can use that version as is. If you have access to Libris Mortis, I would use that to spice up those undead encounters, especially the ones at the end, and that can increase any encounter levels you may need. This also means you won't get to share it with us on the boards though, since Libris Mortis is not an OGL source book.

    For the Throne of Bloodstone, I am sure that one is a second edition. It was the only one of the series that was. In any case, that makes little difference in the overall scheme for conversion. Thoughts of encounter levels make my head hurt, especially since almost all random encounters are with demons of various types. In this adventure, I would make a pinnacle of a campaign. Whenever the PCs are getting that been there and killed that attitude, it is time to bring this one out and see if they can beat Orcus at his own game. A couple of points for your questions though: Orcus has an extensive overview in the Rappan Athuk (final book if you get the series instaed of reloaded). He even has three different versions based on some of the earlier encounter results that affect his "being". This would just be a source for you since in the ToB he is attacked in his home plane and not on the prime material. Also, using it would again prevent you from sharing with the rest of us. But I would highly recommend using everything you got in this conversion and not restricing yourself to just the SRD. Like I said, it should be a pinnacle...with Zenghyi, I suggest using Libris Mortis again. Bump him up to what you need to start this whole thing off. He is the leader of an entire nation afterall. I would also suggest using the Draconimicon and Races of the Dragon for an additional feat pool for the dragons in the adventure and to help flesh out Tiamat. She is the deity of the dragons at the time of this module. There may also be some info about her avatar in RoD or Draconimicon. This can be used as a starting point for her abilities and you can beef her up from there to any level you need to face the party in that final confrontation.....I just reread you info from the post and I see there is an entry on her in Manual of the planes. Just remember that that book was one of the final from the third edition before they revamped everything to 3.5, so it is not unreasonable to expect her to change as you need her to.

    Here is another thought....are the PCs bringing anything else on this grand quest other than themselves and their pool of magic? Followers, hirelings, an army maybe? I know that in the way the CR system is designed, these things are supposed to be taken into account as part of the PCs actual power level, but in reality, they are just as significant an addition as a low level wizard that somehow summons a mid level demon to help him out in a fight. Things get quickly unbalanced. At high level, this is even more prevelant. This may not have been much in the way of help in the encounter level or starting level areas you are looking for, but these are the kinds of thoughts I have when I am thinking of converting these adventures.

  3. #3
    Thanks for your suggestions, I do appreciate the thoughts... Yeah, these are some pretty tough adventures (both are 1st ed.) as such they are a little harder to convert over to 3.5. Like your water weird example, sometimes straight conversions lead to either way too tough or way too easy encounters, you almost have to first convert each one on a case-by-case basis and then adjust up or down to try to match the difficulty suggested for the initial adventure. And the potential random demon encounters in the Throne of Bloodstone can get REAL out-of-hand... but I feel that by then PC's of that level should be a little more "planes-savvy" and probably have means to get around some potentially deadly stuff. I am planning on using the Draconomicon and Libris Mortis, and most likely get a lot of use from Champions of Ruin, Book of Vile Darkness, Exemplars of Evil, and of course some epic-level stuff...

    As for "help" for the PC's that's a good question, I hadn't really thought of that-- I probably should though! I would think of cohorts or mounts, but that would take away from those PC's that would get them in-character like if they had a paladin that got a mount or if they chose leadership as a feat; it wouldn't be fair to them. A planetar or archon NPC might be cool, but then again it would attract WAY too much attention on the Lower Planes! Maybe something more neutral, like a Marut or something from Mechanus... or maybe during the fight with Tiamat I could "gate in" some metallic dragons to keep her cohorts busy while the PC's concentrate on the battle with Tiamat... that would make that particular fight MUCH easier... And probably I was thinking about making sure each PC, in addition to gear already owned, have a pretty powerful item maybe "loaned" to them-- like maybe the PC cleric might get a relic "loaned" from the church or something... What do you think? Also, how do you think it's best to "convert" traps from 1st to 3rd edition? Is there a formula or something, or is it again case-by-case??

    Well if you do some work on these , feel free to send me a message and maybe we can discuss things off the boards...

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