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D&D 5E I have a hankering for freeing Phalan!

Starfox

Adventurer
Has anyone looked at a 5E version of TSR 9238 FRC1 Ruins of Adventure? I have a PDF of the old adventure, and the presentation sucks, so it would be a lot of work to do it right. I would place it in the World of Greyhawk city of Highport - north coast of the Pomarj, where the A1 starting module to the original A1-A4 adventures against the salve lords were set. But that is another story.

I suspect this work has not been done, so I wonder if there is another adventure/campaign for 5E that has a similar premise? To sum up the premise: There is a small zone of safety at the docks, from which you mount expeditions into the city and try to clear parts of it. Repeat until done. Insert metaplot and evil retribution to taste.

I am rather new to the 5E scene.
 

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Count_Zero

Adventurer
One of the things I'd consider doing is, once Paizo's 5e Kingmaker conversion comes out, using the Kingmaker domain management rules and use that to partially cover the reconstruction of Phlan.
 

Blue Orange

Adventurer
Use the Epic 6 system ;)

As you probably know, it was a conversion of a video game, Pool of Radiance, the first ever attempt to port D&D rules to computer, back in 1988, using 384K of RAM and 16-color EGA graphics. Here is a more detailed FAQ on the game than you would ever want to know:

Here are Wizards' official rules for conversions from earlier editions to 5th:

These folks converted a bunch of other classic modules, though not Ruins of Adventure:
 

I've long idly contemplated turning the Pools series of games (of which the Ruins of Adventure module was basically a print version of the first game) into a long campaign. The problem is trying to edit them into a single coherent story would require a lot of work (especially with Secrets of the Silver Blades, which has little to do with the other three and is little more than a unmemorable hack-n-slash fest, even more so than the other games). Another issue getting started is that you simply can't just throw characters of levels 1 - 4 into fights with the simply massive numbers of weak foes like you could in 1e - for example with kobolds having only 3 hit points and being able to be swept by fighters. A group of 1st level 5e characters going against a dozen kobolds like in the game would likely result in them getting slaughtered, or weakened enough that the next encounter would finish them off...
 


Blue Orange

Adventurer
I've long idly contemplated turning the Pools series of games (of which the Ruins of Adventure module was basically a print version of the first game) into a long campaign. The problem is trying to edit them into a single coherent story would require a lot of work (especially with Secrets of the Silver Blades, which has little to do with the other three and is little more than a unmemorable hack-n-slash fest, even more so than the other games). Another issue getting started is that you simply can't just throw characters of levels 1 - 4 into fights with the simply massive numbers of weak foes like you could in 1e - for example with kobolds having only 3 hit points and being able to be swept by fighters. A group of 1st level 5e characters going against a dozen kobolds like in the game would likely result in them getting slaughtered, or weakened enough that the next encounter would finish them off...

You could decrease the numbers appropriately. The FAQ actually has the 'party strength' calculation the game used to work out the party's overall ability and the way it plugs into encounter sizes, so you could figure out a conversion factor.

For Secret, you can similarly decrease the number of encounters--there's no reason you have to have more than two or three fights in the ice caves, for instance.

Pools of Darkness had a great post-apocalyptic-with-petty-warlords Realms setting I'm sorry we never saw more of and that would be great for a high-level party. You'd have to adjust encounter strength again, of course--5e stops at 20th level, whereas Pools lets your party get up to 40 (TBH, they had IP issues, but at that point you should be fighting gods, not demons...)
 

Starfox

Adventurer
Thanks for all the replies, will check the links asap. I am already running a Kingmaker game, tough it is on Covid hiatus.
 

Count_Zero

Adventurer
Use the Epic 6 system ;)

As you probably know, it was a conversion of a video game, Pool of Radiance, the first ever attempt to port D&D rules to computer, back in 1988, using 384K of RAM and 16-color EGA graphics. Here is a more detailed FAQ on the game than you would ever want to know:

Here are Wizards' official rules for conversions from earlier editions to 5th:

These folks converted a bunch of other classic modules, though not Ruins of Adventure:
I played through the first game a while back (and reviewed it) - and the big issue with approaching the game, is that the game is 1E RAW, complete with treasure for XP, but with the side bit that you get giant piles of money (and all the encumbrance that goes with it), and not a lot to do with it. There isn't even a bank in town you can leave extra cash in. Also, because interactions with named NPCs are used so sparingly, and there's so little characterization, it becomes very obvious who the traitor is.

It's Cadorna. The traitor is Cadorna.

Ultimately, the three things that the adventure needs - which aren't covered in the PC game - are:
  1. Political maneuvering among the specific faction's in town are - flesh out the major NPCs, with enough grey where it stops being obvious who the party needs to suspect.
  2. Let the player characters financially invest in the town's reconstruction - which in turn will help give more emotional investment in the state of the town, and will also get the players more involved in the politics. This is where borrowing from the 5E version of Kingmaker (or something similar) comes in.
  3. Related to 2 - Ruins of Adventure works best as a jumping off point of a campaign around the Moonsea, with Phlan as the PCs' base of operations. Once the players have gotten invested, they're going to want to keep tabs on the town, so you might as well lean into it. This is helped tremendously by the fact that, if you use the pre-Time-of-Troubles Realms setting, Zhentil Keep is right there, and the players will have had some interactions with them over the course of the adventure. Consequently, once you start moving into higher-level play, especially if you want to get into the equivalent of what would have been "Name Level" play in 1e, Ruins of Adventure gives you a solid position to do that, and get into Realms Geopolitics, if your players are interested.
 

AtomicPope

Adventurer
I suspect this work has not been done, so I wonder if there is another adventure/campaign for 5E that has a similar premise? To sum up the premise: There is a small zone of safety at the docks, from which you mount expeditions into the city and try to clear parts of it. Repeat until done. Insert metaplot and evil retribution to taste.
The metaplot of the Pool of Radiance is pretty convoluted, with Tyranthraxus possessing things willy-nilly. TBH, I'm shocked I remember anything about it at all since I played the video game and "Curse of the Azure Bonds" some 30 plus years ago. Really, hamfisted plothooks in that one. Anyway, WotC released a module that takes place in Greyhawk which has some similarities, "Ghosts of Saltmarsh". Here are some of the similarities:
1. Reinhabiting a Lost Coastal Region
2. Evil Armies (sort of)
3. Ancient Evil Outsider Possessing and Controlling Others
4. Aristocrats and Merchants funding expeditions
5. Abandoned Island Keep
6. Haunted Houses

"Ghosts of Saltmarsh" is really a campaign module. "Ruins of Adventure" is a hackfest, where the PCs are clearing out an area of monsters. There are a few surprises but unless you stumble into the wrong area, it's an outdoor dungeon. GoSM has diplomacy and some Scooby-Doo intrigue. Not to mention, the finale is open-ended. The module gives lots of ways for the DM to end the module, build on it, or alter it for their needs. It's actually quite helpful. If I had to choose, I'd go with the ready-made 5e adventure.

If you really want to convert, AD&D adventures can be difficult because the monsters and levels don't match up. Monsters like Vampires and Dragons got a huge boost in 5e and can easily TPK a party if they're not ready. Often it's easier to build Level Zones, and then populate it with monsters that fit a theme and CR you're looking for. In 5e with the various monster books there's a huge variety of Orcs (even a dark Orc assassin cult) you can use allowing you to build several levels of encounters with just Orcs. Same goes for Gnolls and Ogres. I'd focus more on thematic encounters that were CR appropriate then worry about fitting all of the monsters in there.
 

thullgrim

Explorer
I worked on this a while back and actually ran a couple of sessions under 4e.
I used both computer game clue book to develop news and rumors and treated the whole city as an above ground mega dungeon with each block/ neighborhood as a unique dungeon level. The patrols for the boss were a common denominator between areas and the clues to the greater evil.
Other adventuring groups could help contribute to the kill count necessary to clear an area so sometimes our heroes despite having cleared the majority of block would not necessarily get credit for it another random group got the final kill.
the goal there is to encourage the feeling a living world.
I think it’s super important to make civilized Phlan feel alive with the various merchants, hirelings, and city politics.
 

Count_Zero

Adventurer
One setting tweak I'd make with this - the River Lis, which connects the Moonsea with the Sea of Fallen Stars, in Setting As Written (SAW), is not generally navigable (for reasons unrelated to harassment from raiders along the shoreline - it's a shallow marshy river). Change that to make the river navigable, or at require someone who traveled it before to avoid obstacles. This means politically the players aren't stuck with dealing with Zhentil Keep (if set earlier in the timeline), Mulmaster, and Hillsfar in the Moonsea - giving them some more favorable options.
 

You could decrease the numbers appropriately. The FAQ actually has the 'party strength' calculation the game used to work out the party's overall ability and the way it plugs into encounter sizes, so you could figure out a conversion factor.

For Secret, you can similarly decrease the number of encounters--there's no reason you have to have more than two or three fights in the ice caves, for instance.

Pools of Darkness had a great post-apocalyptic-with-petty-warlords Realms setting I'm sorry we never saw more of and that would be great for a high-level party. You'd have to adjust encounter strength again, of course--5e stops at 20th level, whereas Pools lets your party get up to 40 (TBH, they had IP issues, but at that point you should be fighting gods, not demons...)
Heh, I know what to do with PoR, it's just a matter of sitting down and doing it!

There are three real problems with SotSB. 1. It doesn't fit in with the Tyranthraxus/Bane story line of the other three. Bane says at the start of PoD that he ordered the Dreadlord to fight the party, but that's really not brought up during SotSB, and it's an awkward fit. 2. It's very repetitious. Nine boringly similar levels of the mines, then multiple similar levels of the castle lower levels, and finally the endless glacial crevasses. And the monsters fought are usually from a small set of creatures. It's nice when something different like the lizardfolk section in the mines or the frost giant settlement come up, but these are rare events in comparison to the mind-numbing tedium of the rest. 3. It's very linear and railroaded. PoR gives you some choices between missions at any given time; CotAB has five main sections, but the middle three can be done in any order; and PoD allows you to go around the ruins of the Moonsea and visit pretty much anything at will. Obviously, there are optimal ways to go through the various areas in those three games, but you are certainly not beholden to do so. SotSB, outside random exploration of the ruins of Old Verdigris near the start, pretty much has to be done in a particular order. It really needs to have some work done to make it a proper and interesting Tier 3 adventure, and allow for greater player agency and choice.

PoD's levels really shouldn't be too much of an issue. In my rough work-throughs, the characters would reach level 20 around halfway through, but further advancement would still be possible using the Epic Boons section of the DMG. I would honestly end it all with an epic battle with an aspect of Bane himself instead of with just a balor (and what was LE Bane doing working with demons anyway? I'd probably turn Gothmenes, who would be the penultimate fight, into a pit fiend or unique archdevil). Since Kallistes is an obvious substitution for Lolth, that section would become the Demonweb Pits itself, while the dragon part would be run by Tiamat. Basically, it the events would be the result of a Bane-Tiamat-Lolth alliance, which of course would never hold and all three looking to backstab the other two as soon as they were able (the cultists of Moander are there as well, but the other three just humor their delusions of grandeur while they tap into the residual divine essence of Moander's body). I could even see Tiamat, after her forces were vanquished, using the party to wreck the plans of the other two in revenge...

(CotAB would probably be the most straightforward to adapt, other than making it so the Bonds don't take away player agency more than absolutely necessary. Luckily, it only happens a few times anyway...)
 
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cowpie

Explorer
Another Implementation of this that could serve as a campaign model is Chaosium's classic Runequest campaign set: Pavis+Big Rubble.
Pavis is a small Jerusalem-like city on frontier edge of the Lunar Empire. It serves as a home base for the PCs, as well as a source of city adventures. It's full of warring factions. The Lunar Governor wants a flashy success that he can report to the Capital so he can return home (since Pavis is as bad a posting for him, as Jerusalem was for Pontius Pilate). There are local rebels who want to kick out the Imperial Troops, and declare the place a free city state. There are criminals, merchant houses, desert tribes, Barbarian mercenaries who hate the Lunars for conquering their homeland (etc).
Then there's the "Big Rubble", the vast ruins of an ancient city built by giants, surrounded by enormous, near-unscalable walls, containing the remains of a fallen "kaiju-like" golem. Outlaws, exiles, mythical beasts, and strange phenomena populate the ruins, but are mostly contained within the walls. Pavis huddles next to the Big Rubble, but a gate manned by Lunars offers access to the ruins. PCs can purchase permits from the Lunars authorizing entry into the Big Rubble, with the stipulation that they have to pay a tax on all treasure they find. The Lunars are also interested in any magical artifacts the PCs recover. Of course, the PCs could find other ways in...
Finally there's the mythical "River of Cradles" that runs between Pavis and Big Rubble. It's a major trade route offering access to the rest of the frontier. When one of the legendary "Cradles", a huge ark-like vessel, is spotted coming down the river, rebels, Lunars, and bandits alike all race to board and loot it first, only to find that it has powerful magical defenses.

Even if I didn't use this setting, the basic ideas in it would work well for running Phlan as a TTRPG. Have warring city factions in a New City, next to the ruins of the Old City, which serves as an urban dungeon. Different factions offer faction play, and can serve as patrons hiring the players to go on specific missions into the ruins. Make the ruins hard to get in, and for monsters to get out of the Old City ruins, otherwise they would overrun Phlan. Very dangerous flying monsters should be dormant for the same reason -- it would be too dangerous to resettle New Phlan. PCs can use the new city as a home base to explore the ruins, or to range out into the wilderness to other adventuring sites.
 

toucanbuzz

Legend
My first 5E campaign was to convert Ruins of Adventure, combine it with the Gold Box game, and mix in some early 5E maps/adventure elements, trying to create a political and sandbox adventure.

My notes end at 99 pages because, through sheer mishap I lost about 50 pages (e.g. Valhingen Graveyard, Stojanow Gate, finale), and I was too angry about it that I didn't redo all the work. But, still plenty before that for your use. We completed it at 7th level and I had left the door open to continue the adventure with Curse of the Azure Bonds, but moved onto other things.
 

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Starfox

Adventurer
Another Implementation of this that could serve as a campaign model is Chaosium's classic Runequest campaign set: Pavis+Big Rubble.
This is an interesting idea, but Pavis and the Big Rubble are hard to find. I actually owned both when they just came out, but had to sell them. Teenage bad economy - or early 20s.
 

Starfox

Adventurer
My first 5E campaign was to convert Ruins of Adventure, combine it with the Gold Box game, and mix in some early 5E maps/adventure elements, trying to create a political and sandbox adventure.
* Giggles with glee.

I'll look at this tomorrow, or actually later today, 8 AM here now after a sleepless night.
 

Starfox

Adventurer
Another Implementation of this that could serve as a campaign model is Chaosium's classic Runequest campaign set: Pavis+Big Rubble...
Also, this campaign would be interesting, but much more complex than the rather simple thing I had in mind. Complex is cool, simple is cheap. Sometimes I want cheap. Still, thanks for the input, its a really cool way way to use Pavis/The Big Rubble, which I found incomprehensible back then.
 

cowpie

Explorer
Still not a bad source of material for such a campaign -- and yes, a much more complex alternative to the city with the megadungeon underneath. Incidentally, Chaosium has the originals, and the 1999 single book editions available on drivethrurpg.com.
 

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