Conversion Notes - Drakthar's Way


Alpha Release 3 General Discussion


Spoiler Alert!

Seriously. Spoilers for Drakthar's Way follow.

If you don't want to know secrets I suggest you leave now.

Or you could stay and have all the secrets spoiled.

But that wouldn't be very sporting now would it.

Now be a good little player and run along (unless you are a DM or a player who has no intention of playing Drakthar's Way or simply doesn't care).

I am a little more than halfway through converting Drakthar's Way to Alpha 3 and I wanted to make some notes. My group is using the complete Alpha 3 rules. The only house rules we have affect combat, not statistics. With that in mind, I have noticed a few things about converting a dozen or so monsters that I would like to share. Some are surprising, others less so.

To begin with, the task of converting is a bit more difficult that I had envisioned. Because of my desire to try to stick to the letter of the rules as much as possible without violating the spirit, I have run into a number of conundrums, particularly with skills. First of all, there are a fair number of low intelligence monsters whose only skills previously were Listen and Spot and they split their limited skill points between the two. Now that the two are combined, I am left with two options: a) try to keep the new Perception modifier similar to the previous Listen/Spot modifier and find new uses for the skill points or b) simply combine those ranks into Perception, resulting in a higher modifier.

Additionally, it should be noted that MANY monsters have the Alertness feat, but after conversion have little use for the bonus to Appraise (as many of the monsters I am converting carry no treasure). For creatures like goblins, who value treasure, it is reasonable enough to leave the feat alone, but for animals, it is hard to justify (true story: my dog clearly failed his Appraise check to determine the difference in value between my cell phone and a chew toy). In some cases, I have been swapping the feat with Skill Focus (Perception) and trying to reduce the Perception bonus back to its 3.5 range by putting points into something else. This is easy for monsters with flight as I have simply been able to put any extra skill points into Fly. But not all monsters fly. I am hoping they will do away with the Fly skill anyway, so my optimism in this regards paves the way for fear that this will be but a temporary fix. In other cases, I am swapping Alertness for Weapon Focus, Toughness, or something similar that almost any monster can benefit from.

Next, for most monsters with class levels, I have been left with a preponderance of extra skill points. In the cases of rogues, I usually look to place the extra skill points into classic rogue skills like Stealth, Climb, Use Magic Device, etc., but the choice is not as easy for classes like the ranger.

I have also noticed quite a few creatures get more hit points. All humans do because of the Favored Class rule. And since many NPCs are written with iconic roles in mind (i.e. dwarf fighters, goblin rogues) a fair number of demi-human and humanoid NPCs are gaining bonus hit points as well. Not to mention where I figure Toughness is warranted as a replacement for Alertness.

In all, it seems the power curve is being boosted all around. My biggest concern is the rising bonuses in Perception making it harder for the PCs to sneak around. I have already heard enough complaints about the "fact" that "every monster in the MM has Listen and Spot as class skills." This was mitigated in 3.5 by the fact that monsters with low Intelligence scores could only max one or the other, but were usually written as having their points split between the two. Now it is a different game. I am left with the decision of whether to keep them split by putting points in a brand new skill (and potentially creating a new role for the monster) or making the monster more perceptive than before.

More to come as I continue working. This will be something of a blog-post for the time being. Thoughts are welcome.


airwalkrr wrote:


To begin with, the task of converting is a bit more difficult that I had envisioned. Because of my desire to try to stick to the letter of the rules as much as possible without violating the spirit, I have run into a number of conundrums, particularly with skills.

I'm not entirely clear on your objective. Do you want to give the creatures a power boost on par with 3.p or do you want to keep the statistics as similar as possible? I'm assuming the prior and am basing the rest of my post on that assumption. If my assumtion is wrong, where do you want the extra power to go?

airwalkrr wrote:


First of all, there are a fair number of low intelligence monsters whose only skills previously were Listen and Spot and they split their limited skill points between the two. Now that the two are combined, I am left with two options: a) try to keep the new Perception modifier similar to the previous Listen/Spot modifier and find new uses for the skill points or b) simply combine those ranks into Perception, resulting in a higher modifier.

It seems the biggest problem in Drakthar's way is the animals and monstrous creatures. Have you considered maxing their perception skill and then putting the remaining skill points in stealth? It makes sense for most predatory (ambush) animals and makes sense for most prey too. Not being seen or heard is an oft used survival strategy after all.

airwalkrr wrote:


Next, for most monsters with class levels, I have been left with a preponderance of extra skill points. In the cases of rogues, I usually look to place the extra skill points into classic rogue skills like Stealth, Climb, Use Magic Device, etc., but the choice is not as easy for classes like the ranger.

I would go with perception and stealth, then put ranks in one or more physical skills (swim, athletics etc) for the martial classes or knowledges and concentration for the more cerebral classes. YMMV

airwalkrr wrote:


I have also noticed quite a few creatures get more hit points. All humans do because of the Favored Class rule. And since many NPCs are written with iconic roles in mind (i.e. dwarf fighters, goblin rogues) a fair number of demi-human and humanoid NPCs are gaining bonus hit points as well. Not to mention where I figure Toughness is warranted as a replacement for Alertness.

The rules make calculating the new hitpoins fairly easy, though. 1 hp per level / HD with favored classes and another hp per level for toughness.

Is the hitpoint bump a problem?

airwalkrr wrote:


In all, it seems the power curve is being boosted all around. My biggest concern is the rising bonuses in Perception making it harder for the PCs to sneak around. I have already heard enough complaints about the "fact" that "every monster in the MM has Listen and Spot as class skills." This was mitigated in 3.5 by the fact that monsters with low Intelligence scores could only max one or the other, but were usually written as having their points split between the two. Now it is a different game. I am left with the decision of whether to keep them split by putting points in a brand new skill (and potentially creating a new role for the monster) or making the monster more perceptive than before.

I think the power curve boost is deliberate. Most classes published in splatbooks of late are better than the core classes, barring a few. The adjustments levels the playing field and make the core classes interesting choices once more.

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