Power level


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I'm thinking of using the beta rules for our upcoming RotRL campaign, but am worried that the AP will be too easy for the beefed up PCs. PFRP suggests handling the PCs as one level higher than they are, but that seems a bit harsh.

What are your thoughts? Are the encounters challenging enough, even for PF characters? Has anyone tried to keep the PCs one level below what the modules expect?


I'm DMing Savage Tide. I introduced PRPG in the fifth adventure. And it has proven far easier than all the adventures before. But at first, I thought it would have been as deadlier.
Characters are considrably more powerful, and it's not of my taste. I'm considering dropping the PRPG to go back to 3.5, because I don't want to make adjustements to stat blocks (because of PRPG changes themselves and for encounter balance). I will stil be using some minor changes that I like from PRPG.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I have not yet read through RotRL so I can't make specific recommendations, but I am running a Curse of the Crimson Throne game right now and what I have noticed is that you have to add 6hp and 1 hp per HD to everything. The hardest thing after that is PC class encounters, you want to update their powers and abilities (cleric's channel instead of turning, rogues get the talents, Fighters have those trainings , etc). Also quite often domains and schools cause a bit of difficulty for conversion here and there. Really there is nothing that can't be dealt with, and it is much faster and easier than creating my own campaign.

Overall, you can skip some of the messy stuff if you don't want to deal with it and just add the HP's, but I like to tinker with the abilities, it gives me more opportunities to play with the beta rules and see what works and how it interracts.

A hint on converting Grapples to CMB's. Start at the beginning, don't try to adjust based on size or whatever. Just take the BAB and add str and size modifiers. It can get odd really fast to subtract 3 for large creatures (large used to be +4 but now is only +1) It can take a bit of extra time to recalculate from scratch but IMHO it is more accurate and not much extra time to just figure it out all over. (Note: I add Dex to CMB's and use 10+CMB for calculating maneuvers, try it some time I bet you'll like it)


I should have mentioned that I don't have much time to convert the modules. Also I feel a conversion would only bring NPCs with core class levels up to par. Of course I will be using the new spell versions and CMB etc.

Right now I'm leaning towards the following:

- Use the modules as is. No extra HPs for the monsters, NPCs use the 3.5 races and classes.

- The PCs stay one level below what is expected. They start out with three PCs at level 1 and instead of becoming level 2, they must expend their XP to let the fourth PC join.

- Every PC starts with one Fate point, which can be expended to avoid death. It also grants 1 reroll/day. At the end of each module, if the PCs succesfully twart the evil guys' plans, their fate point is replenished. (Shamelessly stolen from Warhammer FRP).

This way I hope to keep the game balanced with a minimum of work.


Just a heads-up, I used one of the alternative rules for starting hp, and found that I had to give the npcs similar bonuses to keep them up to snuff against my pcs. If you're using alternative hp rules, you might keep it in mind.


I'm running a CotCT campaign using Pathfinder RPG, and my PCs are having an easy time of it. I'm not sure how much is due to their play style (more cautious), but over the course of the next few adventures I'm planning to let them get about a level behind and see if that makes things more challenging.


Zavarov wrote:

I'm thinking of using the beta rules for our upcoming RotRL campaign, but am worried that the AP will be too easy for the beefed up PCs. PFRP suggests handling the PCs as one level higher than they are, but that seems a bit harsh.

What are your thoughts? Are the encounters challenging enough, even for PF characters? Has anyone tried to keep the PCs one level below what the modules expect?

I have run my pc's through the rise of the runelords using the pfrpg rules and it is still very challenging for the players. I have done no conversions to the mods either with the exception of the feats. It was particularly deadly for the pc's when they attempted to go through the thistletop briars, it took them twice with one pc death; and of course I let up on them a little bit. I say go for it, the pcs and you will have a blast!


Zavarov wrote:

I should have mentioned that I don't have much time to convert the modules. Also I feel a conversion would only bring NPCs with core class levels up to par. Of course I will be using the new spell versions and CMB etc.

Right now I'm leaning towards the following:

- Use the modules as is. No extra HPs for the monsters, NPCs use the 3.5 races and classes.

- The PCs stay one level below what is expected. They start out with three PCs at level 1 and instead of becoming level 2, they must expend their XP to let the fourth PC join.

- Every PC starts with one Fate point, which can be expended to avoid death. It also grants 1 reroll/day. At the end of each module, if the PCs succesfully twart the evil guys' plans, their fate point is replenished. (Shamelessly stolen from Warhammer FRP).

This way I hope to keep the game balanced with a minimum of work.

IMO I would keep the pc's at the recommended level...That's just me though. My players are very experienced players and they still found it very difficult.


Don't forget, with all this talk of "a level behind", that it's either going to fix itself or you'll have to spend the whole campaign working to keep them a level behind.

For example, to DM who said he planned to make them spend their 1st level of XP to bring in the 4th player, that only means they are 2,000 XP behind the campaign. What happens down the road when they have 300,000 XP? Will the perform worse than if they had 302,000 XP?

Of course not.

So you'll have to work to keep them a level behind the whole campaign.

That sounds like an awful lot of work.

So here are some thoughts.

Suppose you play Age of Wyrms. That campaign was designed for the 3.5e rules that progressed XP as 1,000 for 2nd level, 3,000 for 3rd level, etc.

Pathfinder gives more xp per encounter, but not a whole lot more. About 25% more.

If you look at the Slow, Medium, and Fast XP charts on page 13 of the Pathfinder Beta, you can probably find an XP progression that will keep your players from leveling too fast.

I would even expect that it's possible you won't have to change any monster stat blocks, treasure, XP rewards, or anything. Maybe, during the really low-level stuff, the PCs will feel overpowered with extra HP and better skills, etc., but that will fade quickly.

Even if you don't find this to be true, and you're still advancing too quickly, just take leave the adventures alone, calculate the XP, and slice of 10% or 20% of the XP right off the top. One simple calculation, no change to your pregenerated adventures, no DM upkeep to manage this. And the players won't even know unless you tell them.


I'm keeping the 3.5 XP rules and calculate XP as if the PCs are one level higher than they actually are. Then if they would have leveled from, say, 2 to 3, they level from 1 to 2 instead.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

eirip wrote:
IMO I would keep the pc's at the recommended level...That's just me though. My players are very experienced players and they still found it very difficult.

Yes, one or two TPKs, and you will realize that the power level difference between 3.5 and Pathfinder actually works in the GM's favor!

The adventure path is really tough!

Scarab Sages

Lord Fyre wrote:
eirip wrote:
IMO I would keep the pc's at the recommended level...That's just me though. My players are very experienced players and they still found it very difficult.

Yes, one or two TPKs, and you will realize that the power level difference between 3.5 and Pathfinder actually works in the GM's favor!

The adventure path is really tough!

I was very generous with character creation -- lots of HP and a very high point-buy (the only limit is no stat above 18 after making racial adjustments). And I'm using the fast progression chart. With 7 PCs, they just leveled to 3rd and are about to finish the first book. The encounters have been pretty easy so far, but they've been lucky and tactical in the right spots. However...

Spoiler:
In the Dead Warrens they definitely spent their "25%" of resources in the first room! The noise from the skeleton combat brought a couple of derro running. The one who was handling the stirges let them sly out to area 1 while he used a tunnel to come up behind the party and get a ranged sneak attack.

They then left and recovered, returning the following day. This time I had updated the necromancer derro. The party made enough noise to attract Cabbagehead and the remaining two derro. This was a very tough encounter -- the rogue was blinded by the necromancer early in the combat, but he had lousy luck with his wand of ghoul touch and spectral hand because the party made their saves a lot.

The necromancer had updated HD and a bonded item instead of a familiar.


One problem I have with leaving the party one level behind is the spell progression. Having eight PCs of level 3 is not the same as four PCs of level 5 (although the CR math says they are) because of the difference in spell capabilities and the ability to concentrate loot amongst four characters instead of eight.

Having said all that, I expect to simply level them up at appropriate times and not track XP too closely. I did that for these first three levels and I had leveled them up almost exactly when the XP says they would've leveled. Although the curve changes a bit now, so I'll need to monitor it somewhat.


azhrei_fje wrote:
Lord Fyre wrote:
eirip wrote:
IMO I would keep the pc's at the recommended level...That's just me though. My players are very experienced players and they still found it very difficult.

Yes, one or two TPKs, and you will realize that the power level difference between 3.5 and Pathfinder actually works in the GM's favor!

The adventure path is really tough!

I was very generous with character creation -- lots of HP and a very high point-buy (the only limit is no stat above 18 after making racial adjustments). And I'm using the fast progression chart. With 7 PCs, they just leveled to 3rd and are about to finish the first book.

Wow, seven pc's, that is a lot. My players had four. I felt they needed some help so I let them run Seoni, the pre-gen, they ended up getting her killed.

Scarab Sages

eirip wrote:
Wow, seven pc's, that is a lot. My players had four. I felt they needed some help so I let them run Seoni, the pre-gen, they ended up getting her killed.

My games tend to get a pretty large group.

I prefer 4 or 5 reliable players, but that's not always possible. So one or two extra helps fill out the group when a player or two can't make it.


The boards just ate my post but to briefly recap, we have 5 players and just finished our first session of Runelords and it went well, with one player even mentioning afterwards that the challenge level seemed spot on, with them feeling in danger at a few points but not being overpowered.

Of course, I did update a few of the enemies...

Spoiler:
including Tsuto, who was the final battle of the session. They took him down (captured, not killed), rescued Ameiko and discovered the smugglers' tunnel and we stopped there. Previously, they had handled the raid at the festival, the boar hunt with Aldern, the encounter with Shayliss, and did some investigations on their own down at the junk beach and in the nearby woods.


Okay, you guys have convinced me to try it out "as is". I'll convert NPCs with core classes/races to the beta as per Option 2: Complete Conversion on p. 299.

As for the monsters and other NPCs, I think I'll compensate for the power increase by giving them a +2 on their highest stat and +1 hp per hit die (but see below).

My players use the standard starting hit points option (max + Con modifier) and the elite array, just like the iconics.

I think the reason why I'm having trouble on deciding how to balance the modules with the beta rules, is that I'm not sure if they are balanced with the iconic party in mind (which is pretty underpowered imo) or one that uses all the 3.5 splat books, prestige classes and whatnot.

If the RotRL AP is balanced with the latter in mind, no adjustments seem necessary.

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