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Tuesday, 21st August, 2012, 04:28 AM #1
Minor Trickster (Lvl 4)
Upscaling Reavers of Harkenwold and Campaign...
After some 25 years, my original role-playing group has gotten back together, using the 4th edition rules. I'm the DM this time around, and much to my surprise, this old crew who had given up on 1e AD&D for ICE's Rolemaster way back when, now quite enjoys 4th edition.
I don't plan this as an edition war by any stretch... rather, I'm asking for advice on stringing pieces of my campaign together.
At the moment, my group is on the final dungeon crawl of Keep on the Shadowfell. They've done quite well and enjoyed, advancing to 2nd level quite easily, and I can see them being 4th level by the time they (hopefully) defeat Kalarel.
I had originally intended to take them straight through H2-H3 and then on through P1-3 and E1-3. I own H1-3, but not the others. However, since then I have acquired both the Reavers of Harkenwold, and Madness at Gardmore Abbey... and I really am more excited about these two than H2-3. Partly because the backstories that my players have developed for their characters fit into a story involving the Iron Circle.
My plan is currently to complete H1, but then to move to the Reavers of Harkenwold, upscaling it to whatever level my group is at the end of H1 (I presume 4th). Hopefully they'll be 6th at the end of an upscaled Reavers, and then I can move them directly into Madness at Gardmore Abbey. I was admittedly not all that keen on the Cairn of the Winter King myself... but that's a personal taste thing.
Anyway, my questions are:
1. does anyone have experience upscaling Reavers? I know it's easily done with 4th edition, but did you change anything?
2. my plan is to have Nazin Redthorn as having the single card that the players start "Madness" with, with him having just commissioned the rival adventuring group to go retrieve the deck for Lord Vhennyk. They won't know about the rival group being commissioned, only that Vhennyk has given Redthorn orders to retrieve the deck. Does this seem a reasonable link?
3. Post-Gardmore Abbey, I'd eventually like to link things to P1, but I may need to do a homebrew adventure to bridge the gap. One possibility is to use Vor Rukhoth or Hammerfast as a setting to cover this territory. I had a thought of pulling the characters more seriously into the Iron Circle's sphere again, but bring it south into the IC's own territory near Sarthel. This is why Vor Rukhoth might play into this a little bit more.
Any thoughts or suggestions? Anywhere from upping Reavers to a 4th-6th adventure, to what to do post Gardmore Abbey?
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Tuesday, 21st August, 2012, 03:15 PM #2
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Congrats and good luck!
There are actually quite a few people who have made changes to and have posted about these modules. Search this forum and get on Google too. There is a lot of great stuff out there about these modules.
I am pretty certain someone will post in a little bit some threads here for ya... 3... 2...
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Tuesday, 21st August, 2012, 10:42 PM #3
Minor Trickster (Lvl 4)
I don't have direct access to the search function yet, as I'm not yet as subscriber to EN World... I felt kinda stupid when I couldn't find it, and then I found the fine print
I've done some google searches as well to see what people have done with Reavers. Mostly it has been about setting adjustments rather than level scaling.
Anyway, I realize now there's a spoilers tag, so I'm going to use it just in case:
I don't really want to change too much of the plot, although I have debated about adjusting the bullywug lair, especially given that with virtually everything else it doesn't seem to fit the vibe of the Nentir Vale. They seem rather out of place. Why use Bullywugs when the Iron Circle can easily work in partnership with the Daggerburg Goblins, as they appear to do in the south? I don't think it'd be too hard to build up similarly-levelled encounters to replace the Bullywug raiders... and it would also tie in with the Goblin harassment of the Woodsinger Elves and their requested mission to Dal Nystere.
I think the idea is, currently the Iron Circle has essentially bought off the Daggerburg Goblins with allowing them to harass the western part of Harkenwold, when once the western villages could rely upon protection from Baron Stockmer and Harken village. With that protection lifted, the Daggerburg Goblins have taken to looting the western edges. A blow against a Goblin raiding camp would certainly achieve a similar end result as the Bullywug caverns, and would tie even better into Dal Nystere as well.
As for the rest of the adventure, I think I'll essentially use it as is, either upscaling the various encounters but keeping the numbers the same (ie. making the various monsters 2 levels higher than they are as printed), or bulking out the numbers. I still want to keep it challenging enough, so bulked out numbers may not be as interesting as scaled-up monsters.
Tuesday, 21st August, 2012, 11:49 PM #4
Myrmidon (Lvl 10)
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I apologise if this sounds dumb, but I'll say it anyway- I tend to upscale lots of stuff and adapt and change lots of monsters. I do this-
Example encounter is
4 Brutes level 2
1 Artillery level 3
1 Soldier level 4
Check original encounter level to PC level, for example PCs should be level 1 at this point encounter is level 3 (825 XP), so it's a +2 encounter.
Work out what level PC's are going to be when they hit this spot, for example level 4, and add 2= I'm building a level 6 encounter (1250XP+ aim for around the top end say 1400XP).
Hit adventure tools and stick with same format-
4 brutes (maybe level 5-6)
1 artillery (maybe 6-7)
1 soldier (maybe level 7-8)
Actually I usually go for a spread, so for brutes search for level 4-7.
If I want to keep the same monsters, so for reavers of harkenwold, iron circle dudes- then I just find nice bad guys of about the right level (which are probably humanoids for iron circle guys) and then reskin- as in just change the names of the monsters, and drop in an existing iron circle power or trait, or whatever, maybe change the name of the power.
So the guys roll up to an encounter and tend not to know what they've got coming, the thuggish, moon-faced iron circle dude built like a brick-out house is actually a bloodspear ogrillon with re-named powers and a change or two. The iron circle priest dude is actually an Orc storm shaman with a few changes of power names.
Just to add with the core modules H-P-E, which one of my groups is going through now, then I've ripped and changed them as seemed cool at the time- I had the duergar in Thunderspire as religious fanatics, with demolitionist suicide bombers. Warforged in the halls doing all the mining, like the automatons from the film Westworld- with a few going rogue (after being corrupted by the aforesaid duergar). With all of the H, P & E adventures, use them as a jumping off point (whisper this but some of them are just very grindy and a little dull in places).
Hope that was helpful, and not too obvious.
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Wednesday, 22nd August, 2012, 05:59 AM #5
Minor Trickster (Lvl 4)
Thanks for the input. One of the things that I've noticed with DDI's tools is that with a complete library of monsters, I can call up all the critters/cretins in Reavers of Harkenwold, and edit them simply by upping their level and it takes care of the rest as per the DMG's guidelines (and any subsequent revisions). As such, I could potentially do the encounters straight up, with each creature presented at level +2. It doesn't change or add any new or nifty powers, the monsters simply hit harder, and hit their respective armour classes a bit easier. So I don't necessarily have to re-skin any monsters... but I will have to go through and up-level every creature in every encounter... unless I simply want to add X number of additional creatures in a given encounter until it matches up with the target experience. I guess what I am asking is that am I better to simply leave the quantity of monsters in a given encounter the same, but up their quality in order to make the encounters level appropriate?
If I do what I plan in terms of replacing the [spoiler]bullywugs[/spoiler] with [spoiler]Daggerburg Goblins[/spoiler], then those encounters I will of course be building from the ground up.
Thanks for the input so far.
Wednesday, 22nd August, 2012, 01:31 PM #6
Spellbinder (Lvl 16)
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Friday, 24th August, 2012, 12:39 PM #7
Thaumaturgist (Lvl 9)
Why not experiment with adding extra monsters in one encounter and up-levelling monsters in another and see which encounter the players enjoy more?
(Generally speaking, my players love fighting their way through a big group. We all find it more cinematic.)
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Friday, 24th August, 2012, 12:57 PM #8
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
If you're only talking about a couple of levels difference, then either way should work well. If you were talking about a 4 or 5+ level difference, then adding more monsters works less well, as the players will pretty much always hit and the monsters will struggle to hit back.
If I was doing it, and if I was happy with how the encounter looked in general, I'd scale up the existing monsters. Since levelling up 4e monsters is pretty much just adding +1 to everything per level and giving it some extra hit points, it's easy enough to do at the table without any extra preparation.
Saturday, 25th August, 2012, 09:15 AM #9
Minor Trickster (Lvl 4)
I've discovered masterplan, which makes scaling fairly easy. I've decided that I will do a mix, upping the levels of some creatures while increasing quantity of others. I'm also going to replace the bullywug encounters with Daggerburg Goblins, as I think it fits the intrigue angle better, and makes them a more consistent threat. That, and it gives me a chance to build 3 encounters from the ground up. I'll still use the Toadswallow setting, but use it was where the goblins have established a raiding base. I may even have them face a Mistmane Bugbear.
Saturday, 25th August, 2012, 01:54 PM #10
Spellbinder (Lvl 16)
When the adventure is played with 1st level characters the "goblin horde" is a serious threat because of the characters inexperience (monsters are a bit harder). When the adventure is played with 5th level characters I wanted the threat to be because of the enemy numbers.
I didn't so much increase the levels of the creatures. I increased their numbers, and gave them better advantage in numbers. The monsters always go for flanks, effectively increasing their level by 2 without doing much more damage, and they get a flank bonus to damage (sneak attack), increasing their damage output. This gave me some freedom to increase the numbers without increasing the monsters hit points, or defenses.
The heroes were always threatened because they were being hit, and for significant damage, but they were also mowing through the monsters. I also used a lot of minions. This shifted the combats to a "feel" of "we're bad-asses, but we're facing a metric ton of goblins."
I kept the bullywugs, mostly because I wanted to have more variety. I didn't want the entire campaign to be against "goblins". It also gave me the opportunity to introduce the next leg of the campaign, which had to do with the help the bullywugs are providing to the "Crimson Chalice"; an organization of slave traffickers that are "holed up" in the city if Highport.
Next stop is probably going to be Highport, and the Slavers mini-campaign.