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The Balanced Game
EVERY encounter is "party appropriate encounter level" exactly. No deviation up or down.
EVERY treasure is carefully moderated to produce "expected level treasure".
EVERY character and NPC has EXACTLY the treasure described as "typical for their level" in the book.
Not to be a spoiler here, but I run a RQ6 game set in the Hellenistic Era (circa 250 BC). I used Egypt for Necropolis, and am using Mesopotamia as written - it's largely a matter of providing appropriate magic to the various gods and magicians.
Of course, I also converted Goodman Game's "Sunken Ziggurat" module, and some other classic adventures. "Lost City of Barakus" is currently situated in what is now Romania, but the players haven't been there yet.
So... I'm happy with Mesopotamia as written. But I agree that an update to Pathfinder will be a lot of fun!
Good article, I particularly liked where you pointed out that the term paladin didn't come into use until ~1590, long after the events of the "paladins". I wonder how this would apply to medieval/renaissance literature - was this the time period when the "matter of France" was being publishing in book form?
I think the direct lineage of the gaming paladin also lies in Holger Carlson, (Ogier du Dane) in Poul Anderson's Three Hearts and Three Lions. The character is a modern man, sent back to take part in Carolingian adventures. We see the paladin mount, detecting evil, aura of courage, laying on hands, and, of course, the holy sword that dispels enchantments...
A great book, by the way, and a key title in "Appendix N".
1) Check out the Monstrous Codex. it provides monsters with class levels and appropriate abilities.
2) Tactics s the key. i know it doesn't sound like much when your monsters only hit on a natural 20, but tactics is only partially about hitting.
2a) Dragon Mountain, a massive D&D 2E module for 17th+ level characters featured kobolds as the primary adversaries. No levels, mostly, just kobolds. The module discussed their tactics:
The monsters know their limitations against the PC's: Play them smarter.
If you really want Stealth as a skill, whip out Advanced Players Guide for the "Additional Traits" feat, and Ultimate Campaign for "Indomitable Faith" (+1 on all will saves), and "Highlander" (+1 Stealth, Stealth is always a class skill). If you don't like the background associated with these, talk to your GM, and see if he or she will allow you to create backgrounds that grant these abilities, but fit better with your character idea.
So desu ka!
Okay. I agree with Brandon Hodge's observation: Haunting of Harrowstone is a good plot-driven dungeon crawl, and would set the player up very nicely for Ravenloft. That also leaves you an opening to go into Carrion Crown, if you and your players are so inclined. They'll walk out of Harrowstone with some good anti-undead experience, and at about 4th level. Then run one more short adventure between Harrowstone and Ravenloft, and they'll be ready for the letter: "Hail to thee of might and valor...
Check out the classic: Expedition to Castle Ravenloft. It's D&D 3.5, converts to Pathfinder easily, and is a great adventure. I'm running it now. Average CR seems to be about CR 8. I converted the fortunetelling sequence to Harrow cards, to keep the Pathfinder theme. It's working very well.
Take "Torchbearer" feat at 5th level (Dungeoneer's Handbook). Choose a bard as your torchbearer. This gets you your first minstral earlier.
Have something useful you do for your party, so your fellow players don't say "Ni!" at you until you die.
Thejeff is exactly right.
I asked Gary Gygax about the "experience points for gold" rules at Origins '78. - Really nice man, by the way, willing to take time to talk and explain things to snotty teenagers - His rule was that the piles of gold that earned you experience were out of the game in some way - invested in land and resources for fighters who were going to build castles at 9th level, in their churches for clerics, in magical libraries and resources for wizards, in their influence in the guild for thieves. Leveling up included a socio-politico component. The gold was out of the game and not available to buy magic items. Thus huge piles of gold were not a problem in his game. He had never more than referenced that in the rules, as most players were not interested in playing out that development.
I scale the loot back, myself.
Korvosa would have no more issues with a party of adventurers wandering around in heavy armor and carrying big weapons than Austin, TX, would have with people wandering around wearing (visible) bulletproof vests and carrying AK-47's.
I could see witch. I think he calls himself a "sorcerer" in the movie because it sounds more evil than "wizard". In game terms, I think I'd make him a wizard, with leadership as a feat and Iago as his cohort.
There are a lot of good suggestions here.
Check out Dungeon Crawl Classics:
Also check out GRAmel's
For adventures that will take less conversion, check out Goodman Game's 3E line - most are only $3 as pdf's.
I have converted a large number of D&D 1st through AD&D 2nd adventures, and I've never really found a problem with encounter levels. But you have to remember, in the older adventures, it was given that some encounters were going to be pushovers, and some were going to be encounters that the players should avoid or flee - knowing when to hold'em, and knowing when to run was just part of character survival.
I did this conversion a while ago, and stored the data on a spreadsheet. I don't think I can attach a file, or I would.
You don’t need to do much conversion. I just plugged Pathfinder stats for the existing monsters. So where the module says "4 ogres" just use ogres. The encounters have some diplomacy, but mostly are combat. There are very few traps. The encounter levels are pretty consistent in the modules. The modules are about as old school as you can get, so you may want to rework treasure.
Also, there are a lot of detailed areas in these dungeons; players were not expected to explore everything (although many try).
Steading of the Hill Giant Chief Most encounters are CR 6 to 10. Encounters above those levels are something the PC's should avoid. A party of 4 - 8th level characters on a 15 or 20 point build will handle this fine (if they are intelligent). I estimate the party will earn about 300,000 XP (total) in the scenario (about 500,000 is possible, if they do everything right). Expect the characters to gain 2 levels on slow or medium advancement rate.
Rift of the Frost Giant Most encounters are CR 11 to 13. There are a lot of CR 13 encounters, but very little higher than that. Again, there are a lot of encounters (about 48). You probably want a party of 11th or 12th level characters. I estimate the party will earn around 500,000 XP (total) (about 800,000 are possible). Again, expect characters to gain 2 about 2 levels. Possession of fire, heat, or anti-giant weapons could make this too easy, but it's a way to buff up a party that is otherwise too low of level.
Hall of the Fire Giant The encounters in this one are all over the place. Most are CR12, with a normal range of 10 to 13, but a substantial number of CR 16 encounters. After the more consistent Frost Giant adventure, players will find this one easier most of the time. Just the result of changes in the system. However, there are a lot of encounters – you can keep the danger level up by not giving them opportunities to rest and recover very often. I estimate the party will earn about 1,250,000 XP, out of a possible ~2,000,000 XP. Again, enough to raise them 2 levels on a medium or slow advancement rate.
Will your party be moving on to the Vault of the Drow?
I've got my group playing Dungeon Crawl Classics on 'off' days, and like your group the loved the funnel (16 commoners went in: 6 adventurers came out). They're having a great time building up their characters - lousy stats and all.
Highly recommended; for a change of pace if nothing else.
I've seen this happen (it just happened to me when I set up a "Ravenloft" game).
I think what happens is the players all think something like: "Oh, everyone else in the game will be playing a standard western-type character. I want to create something different from everyone else."
The chargen session, suggested by Pan, may be your best way to manage this. But it really doesn't work if the players are trying to assert their control of your game.
Player Says (whines): "I'm just playing my character!"
Player Says (before GM explains campaign): "I have this great idea for a character."
Player Says: "I try to play character concepts."
Player Says: "I've worked out a great [race/class] build!"
Player Says: "My last GM let me do/have/play "X""
We use roll, then if rolled total is less than 78(which is will be, 95+% of the time), the character gets the difference in points to add, distributed as evenly as possible: So if you rolled 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, you would get 15 points to distribute; +3 on 3 of the attributes, and +2 on the other three.
If you rolled over 78, well, you got lucky.
All die rolls are on the table, in front of GM and fellow players.
Before GM outlines game concept:
Player says: I have this great character concept with really cool backstory.
Player says (whines): I'm just playing my character!!!
+1 on the Goodman Modules.
I'm having good luck with Wizard's pdf's on DriveThruRPG: Running "Expedition to Castle Ravenloft" - an excellent update of the classic adventure. Good storyline - good NPC's.
Also check out Necromancer Game's modules. "Lost City of Barakus" gives you a good setting, and a level 1-5 mini-campaign for 3.x, Pathfinder, or Swords & Wizardry.
+1 on the bard. Failing that, sorcerer. Although Xen is right, the Harrower is a perfect role-playing and thematic character.
Carrion Crown is speed-heavy (your characters often, literally, race from adventure to adventure) and treasure-light. Without too many spoilers, a wizard does not have many opporunities to add additional spells to his spellbook; and this negates the biggest advantage the wizard has over the sorcerer.
I'd probably go with a Celestial bloodline, as the campaign path theme is fighting undead. Concentrate on buffing spells, and attack spells that will damage undead - forget the enchantments and illusions.
On the other hand, bardic knowledge, and the fact that a bard can do some healing, could make a real difference. We've found that knowledge makes world of difference when getting ready to fight some of our opponenents.
Orfamay Quest wrote:
Uh - no.
The first official coins, Croseus's Lydian coins, were electrum: an alloy of gold and silver.
Graeme Lewis wrote:
No, no, if you start at the stomach you'll only get to his spinal cord. The way to a man's heart is through his ribcage.
Ribs are pretty effective armor for the heart. You really are better off stabbing up through the stomach.
The Crusader wrote:
Heck, +5 and Vorpal!
What makes one tribe good and the other evil?
2) It takes time to wipe out a people - even for a dragon. How long have the silver dragons been gone? If the "good tribe" is laying low in wetlands or a rainy forest (which can be hard to search, and harder to burn out), it could take a dragon years to hunt them down. What generally happened in the real world is the men of the warrior class would be killed off and the tribe would be declared "destroyed" and everyone else (about 99% of the people) would accept a new set of overlords and get on with their lives. Possibly, the dragon and the "evil tribe" don't want to simply burn the land to ash - after all that would wipe out the food supply, and the "evil tribe" needs that land, due to a population boom.
3) The silver dragons are dead. However, by talking to the good tribe's oracle (after the first fight or two), the oracle reveals that the silvers had once told him that they had a mentor. In their glacial mountaintop cave - which has been taken over by frost giants and white dragons (dungeon crawl) - is the information the players will need to go and find the ancient gold dragon who was the silver dragon's mentor. This gold is difficult to reach (another plane of existance, perhaps, but requiring a quest to find). The gold cannot come himself, but is willing to rally a number of younger good dragons (each with CR's about equal to the PC's level) to act as mounts and companions for the party during the grand conclusion fight.
My wife plays a Ranger/Paladin of Erastil. She never scolds anybody - she guides by example (and sighs alot...).
Other than that, your build sounds fine. Power Attack is a good choice. So is weapon focus. We rarely fight groups of small critters in our game, so Combat Reflexes is not something we use much.
Before you play a paladin, talk with the GM and other players: confirm that they will be okay with a paladin in the party. Find out your GM's attitude towards paladins. Some like the class. Some take it as a point of pride to make you fall as fast as possible.
No class brings out jerk arguments faster than "paladin".
If the GM and other players do not accept the idea ofa paladin with good grace, then play a fighter or a cleric.
+1 on Savage Worlds. If you need a setting: check out Hellfrost (Triple Ace Games) for a High Fantasy with a twist, or Beasts and Barbarians (GRAemel) for a Conan-esq swords and sorcery setting.
Swords and Wizardry d20'd tribute to original D&D: They kept the rules the same, but streamlined and simplified them. It's a really good system for adventuring.
Likewise, Castles and Crusades (Troll Lord Games) is a simplified take on the D20 system. I've only played it a little but it plays well.
My group is playing a lot of Dungeon Crawl Classics (Goodman Games) lately. Like S&W and C&C, DCC takes the idea that D20 games have gotten too complicated. It plays fast and well.
Remember, when you are talking about a simpler game, you are talking about a game that leaves out rules and leaves it up to the GM to adjudacate a lot of situations. This can make it harder on the GM and players when in play. Also, a "simpler system" means there are less customization tricks for PC's, so unless your players are decent role players and storytellers, all of the characters of a given class will tend to look alike. (I should mention that Castles and Crusades has a good game mechanic for dealing with this.)
A 36-point build? That is pretty generous. But on the other hand, it's great for characters meant to be heroic.
In our game, once the characters had good cooking skill, we simply described the food, and left it to the player's imaginations. That worked pretty well.
Player 1: Don Miguel serves up dinner: spiced quail stuffed with olives, a flavored rice pilaf, and escalivada on the side.
Of course, to be fair about all this.
When I'm running Pathfinder in Golarion, I use 50 coins/lb., and tell the players that a copper piece is roughly $.5, a silver piece $5, a gold piece $50, and a platinum piece $500.
While I like using historic settings, with appropriate details, it's often more trouble than it's worth.
Relative value scale from medieval or renaissance:
Values are hard to estimate, due to the fact that values of the base metal varied over time and location. We're talking about a thousand years of history here! So, we'll oversimplify.
The roman denarius was a 'standard value'. It was initially 4.5 grams of nearly purse silver (~100 lb). It became the English silver penny (which varied in size, but by the medieval period you could say ~1.7 grams ~260/lb), as well as the Byzantine Miliaresion, and Arabic Dirham (both of which were about 3 grams ~150/lb). Although these medieval prices really don't correspond to modern prices, you could say that one of any these coins was worth about U.S.$20 to $30 in buying power.
Note that there was just more silver and gold in the east than the west.
A gold piece - English shilling, French sou, Roman (and Byzantine) solidus, and Arabic Dinar, was worth 20 silver. So, about $500 to $600. It was a slightly heavier coin - about 2 grams in the west (~200+ per lb), and about 4.3 grams in the east (~110/lb.).
Copper coins did not really exist. A simplified historic ratio of the value of copper to silver is 100 copper = 1 silver. Romans (and Byzantines produced coins that were described as "bronze" but were actually copper with a small amount of silver added. 25 Byzantine Follis made up a miliaresion. This gives a follis a buying value of about ~$1. The follis ranged in size, but ~9 grams is reasonable for the 9th century.
In fact, this tendency to alloy makes game coinage possible. Instead of being pure copper, silver, or gold, you have alloy coins.
Platinum coinage simply did not exist. Platinum is a very hard to work metal, and platinum-working capability did not come into existance until after the medieval period. In fact, Spanish Conquistadores abandoned two gold mines in Central America because of their high platinum content! I hate to say “we use magic” because that puts so much reliance on magic as technology.
So in game terms:
Here's the website where I got my primary information: http://www.luminarium.org/medlit/medprice.htm
Also check out:
Check out a Byzantine Follis. You should be able to find one at a decent coin collector shop. Get one from the early Macedonian dynasty. They run anywhere from $60 to a couple of hundred.
The follis was a "bronze" coin. Actually, copper with a tiny amount of silver (romans called almost any alloy "bronze"). It massed about 10 grams (this of course changed over time). This is the only real "copper piece" I've found in regular medieval circulation. Okay, it's bronze. There were 25 follis to miliaresion (a silver coin, comparable buying power to an english silver penny), or 500 follis to a gold solidus (comparable to an english gold shilling).
An easier and cheaper way to get coins of the right size is a good fantasy coin company. These guys: fantasycoinhq.3dcartstores.com make coins that are about 10 grams each. They're inexpensive too. Campaigncoins.com sells coins that are smaller, but has a good variety.
Winning in a Role-Playing Game = Invited to play with that group again.
Unconditional Winning = Having the group hunt you down to say: "We want to start a new game and hope you will join us."
But somebody still has to want to buy the item in question.
I can't picture dragons buying many. And for adventurers to buy them, they have to (a) not be able to make items themselves, and (b) there as to be a relatively large number of successful adventurers.
Oddly, I think the number one buyers of magic items would be crime lords; they have money, and they're going to need special equipment to fight, detect, and pass detection. Which makes that artificer an accessory to a drug- or slave- smuggling ring.
Keep in mind the issue is not just arable land, but it's how much land one person can work. You're right about druids - or fertility cults - or other magic that could boost crop yields. The real question is how much should civilization be dependent on druids to be fed? That give the druids a lot of political power.
Also, it is easy to remember the magic that boosts food and crop yields, but don't forget the counterbalancing magic that damages them - farmers in the middle ages didn't need to worry about giant ooze eating their crops and livestock. Magic cuts both ways - a culture that has easy access to healing spells will be more inclined to solve problems with violence.
Well, MissGrey did say she was going to have more "magic and D&D Elements". I have the Conan D20 game. It's a well done D20 variant.
One easy way to limit magic - without outright banning casters - is to change the time it takes to cast a spell. This is what TSR did with their Historical Reference D&D books (a great line of books). Multiply the casting time by 10 for all spells. Direct combat spells become almost useless, but buffs and information gathering spells remain relatively useful - IF the players plan and strategize well.
I like these suggestions. The armor suggestion allows you to brush off minor attacks; the additional skill points would help characters have the skills they'll need when there's not a lot of magic going around.
Medieval farming could support about 200 people per square mile of farmland. France had a population of ~100 people per square mile. Germany about 80. England about 40.
I put NPC's on the "slow advancement" track, and award them ~1,000 XP per year (proportional to race aging rate). So:
and so on. Individuals can be [u]+[/u]3 levels, based on life experience. This is larely a rule of thumb, but it does mean that Sergeant Eckstern of the city guard, with 20 years on the force, is probably 4th level warrior.
I looked it up. Today, gold is selling for ~$40 (US) per gram. So at an approximate value of 1 GP = $100, that would be a 2.5 gram coin. That's the size of a modern US penny. If you're buying the "Campaign Coins", a "1" value coin is about about that size. An old english silver penny or gold shilling was, I believe about 1.7 grams. So if you accept the 1 GP = $100, you can set the size of your coins at ~2.5 grams (180 per lb, instead of 50), and the value of gold matches the real world.
As for the value of gold pieces: For an investment of 19,640 gp (~$2 million) I can build a palace. This sounds about right. OR I could found a chain of taverns, generating useful income OR I can buy a Trident of Fish Command.
So, I want to know: When the party wizard decides to get rich(er) making magic items. Who is buying them?
The Xoth adventures are good. The same author (Wm. John Wheeler, xoth.net) converted three classic D&D modules to the Conan D20 RPG. They are available on his website (free, last I checked) and can be converted to Pathfinder with minimum effort. Dave Cook did three adventures for Basic D&D, that are widely considered good models for Swords and Sorcery adventures: X4: Master of the Desert Nomads, X5: Temple of Death, and X10: Red Arrow/Black Shield. It would be a bit more work to convert these, but it might pay off. I'm also fond of the Serpent's Skull adventure path, which contains many appropriate elements.
I assume you have read the original stories? If not, I suggest The Devil in Iron and The Jewels of Gwahlure; both can easily be converted into an RPG adventure.
The hallmarks of a Conanesque sword-and-sorcery game include:
Drop the players into the middle of things. In a normal game, if you want the players to explore a lost city in the middle of the desest, you give them a map to the city. In a swords and sorcery style game, they start stranded in the desert without food and water. But look, on the horizon! That looks like a city!
Encourage players to do dramatic things - again, bonus XP are one way.
I'd suggest giving players a 25-point build, but then tell them at the outset that "suggested weath by level" magic and money is just not going to happen. Encourage them to waste their money - maybe give then bonus XP for loosing their cash. Conan-esque heroes live for the day, not for long-range planning. You'll have to balance encounters carefully to allow for the lower level equipment.
You've already stated "with more magic and D&D elements", so I won't advocate cutting back on magic items or restricting classes or races. But you'll need to find ways to inspire fear and horror;
Unless, of course, what your players really want is a testosterone-soaked romp through piles of bodies as they defeat hapless opponents - I think you can figure out what to do in that case.
There's ususally some lag in the posts. (I was a member a year or so ago, but haven't done anything with them lately).
Send an email to the monitor, and he'll set you up.
Some of the boards are more active than others.
Matt Thomason wrote:
This is what my GM does in the adventure path in which I'm currently playing: She just levels us up at the appropriate times. It works, and we focus more on playing our characters, and less on getting every possible XP out of the encounters.
Straight cleric is fine. You might buy Bastard Sword proficiency, fight with your sword and heavy shield. Get every magic plus you can on your armor and shield, plus ring of protection and amulet of natural armor. Buy weapon focus if you really feel like you needed.
We have one of these in our party, and he's our party tank.