I am running the AP with 4 pathfinder characters.
I figured that since PF characters tend to be more powerful than 3.5 characters that I would just run monsters with 3.5 stats and that would balance out the problem with only having a party of 4 and not six.
And also solve the problem with me not wanting to be bothered with doing the conversions.
I also gave them the max point buy and full HP at every level.
Has anyone else done this? Am I wrong in my thinking. How necessary is do the conversion anyways?
I think you would could definitely just use the stats as 3.5. If anything, the monsters/NPCs would be underpowered. I am running the game using PF rules and have found lots of aids in conversion on this forum and other websites.
In some cases, conversion, or at least partial conversion may be necessary. (No spot, listen, move silently, etc in PF as well as combat maneuvers.)
I'm running the game with only 2 players, though each player has a main hero (level x) and a sidekick (level x-2). I have the heroes 1 level higher than the suggested level for each of the adventures, which means the sidekicks are one level lower and the APL averages out to being right on par with where they're at.
As far as conversions, I've been running everything with the 3.5 stats and have done very, very few updates. So far, the challenge level has been pretty even and steady, the only notable challenges that really threatened the group so far have been Skaven (due to bad tactics on my players' behalf) and I expect a tough time with Dhorlat (that'll happen in the next session or two).
All in all, I think you'll be fine skipping over the conversions with a smaller party size. One thing I might also suggest that my players absolutely love is that I've houseruled for them that out-of-combat healing is always maximized.
That's been surprisingly effective in eliminating our 15-minute adventuring day and has been helpful considering the smaller number of total hps amongst the lot of them.
I just finished chapter 10 with my players and we play pathfinder, 5 players.
I find that at lower level it doesn't make much difference if you convert or not.
But later on, challenges are going to be underwhelming if you keep them at 3.5.
That is my opinion from experience.
I tried to use pathfinder stats for everything that had a pathfinder equivalent, and starting chapter... 7 ? 8 ? I started converting anything that didn't have a straight up conversion (like NPCs)
a level 4 npc in pathfinder is almost identical in 3.5, but at level 15, they would be missing many feats and abilities that would make them a fair challenge for the characters.
no, the 3.5 CR are (from experience) between 1 or 2 below CR in pathfinder.
AND I run the game one level below (but we have strong rolled stats I have to say).
So basically, if the chapter is for level 10-11, they'll be 9-10 during that.
I then switch 3.5 for pathfinder, sometimes compare the two if it's more than rabble, and add a template if it seems a bit underwhelming.
Like the hydra before going to see the Kua-toas, I pimped it yo.
What happened in my case is that there was a low death count in the first chapters (althought they "failed" the bazaar right off the bat, they failed to save the slaves) but now at higher levels they are eating it (2 tpks already, not counting when only 1 or 2 died)
One quick fix, since you're not into the conversion process, is more intelligent dungeon monsters.
Don't let the group just kick in door after door. Always have one monster run out and alert the entire complex. Give them a defensive plan where are the critters meet in one room for a showdown.
( 1 ) It makes dungeon crawls go faster without so many small combats.
( 2 ) It makes it tougher because there are a lot more mooks around the lieutenants and boss.
If you do this with Gau in 13 Cages and have her alert the complex (because, most likely, the group won't detect her behind the wall), the final fight at the Tree of Shackled Souls will be truly daunting. Almost all of the Cagewrights with a dozen or so flame warders and a few demons, too. It'll be tough enough, even without converting.
Althought I agree with Mykull in general, I don't agree about the chapter of the tree. Make them run the chapter without leveling, without resting, and with the time constraint, and they'll sweat enough (+ it specifically says that each guy thinks they can take the party because they are slowly getting insane)
But aside from that, more intelligent monsters is definitely awesome, ask yourself the question often : would that monster think he can take on the party ? Does he care if he can or not ? Would he fight to the death ? Would he seek revenge ?
I had a lot of the baddies that they left for dead in flood season come back later to get revenge, that was an amazing showdown in secret of the soul pillars. Also the imp sold a wand of water control for his life and that has had repercussion all the way to chapter 11.
Intelligent baddies can really ruin your player's day :)
From the start of Foundation of Flame to the end of Thirteen Cages, the clock is ticking (READ: You rest, you fail). On the other hand, I do allow them to level instantly during that time.
I'm not saying that my way is better, just an alternative way of doing things.
If the group misses the secret door where Gau lives (very likely), don't have her go to Area 5 to stage an ambush. Have her alert the entire complex. The Cagewrights have been working for years to subvert Cauldron to bring about a plan set in motion by the demodands some 500 years ago. They are arrogant, yes, but not stupid. They know this group has been undermining their plans for months, raided the cathedral of Wee Jas, took out Rhiavadi and her guests at her party, and stormed Oblivion. The Cagewrights know this group isn't to be trifled with. That said, they're not going to just wait, room by room trying to take them out one at a time.
Remember that Gau has a move of 40', which is probably faster than the average group speed. The group will get slowed for a few rounds by the farastus in rooms 4 & 5, so Gau will have plenty of time to alert the complex. ALL of the Cagewrights should be at the Tree of Shackled Souls, except for the paranoid one, he's paranoid after all. Ti'irok should gather all of his Flamewarders (16 iirc) and await the party in room 10. If the party doesn't arrive in 5-10 minutes, then he should fall back to the Tree. A kelubar in 7 should get the vrocks in 6 and head to 16 to spring upon the group from behind the stone curtain (also falling back to the Tree if it seems the group has gone the other way). There should be plenty of evidence of recent occupation (i.e. a knocked over cup that's still dripping) so the party knows that they've been detected and the complex is on alert.
I know this makes 13 Cages MUCH harder. A total meat-grinder, but it's a lot more tense. Players should recognize that its time to call in Nidrama, the hound archon from Test of the Smoking Eye, Saureya (if feasible), and any other big guns they can.
* I allowed them to level immediately.
* All healing spells, wands, potions, etc. were blessed by St. Cuthbert and were empowered and maximized. I would ask for random things at first to cover this; "What's your CHA score?" "Make a Heal check." "I need a WIL save." That sort of thing. After about the fifth time, the cleric stopped to cast divination. St. Cuthbert said something like, "You tread the righteous path; the dangerous path. So, yea, I pad the soles of your shoes as you walk it." Players thought it was cool. It made combats liveable, but by no means a cake-walk.