[spoiler zone] Running this AP as a D&D 3.5 campaign?


Strange Aeons


Hi there! I'm planning to DM this AP with D&D 3.5 rules and was wondering if anyone here has tried this before or has enough experience with 3.5 to say something about possible challenges, and/or can recommend classes etc. to use.

My hope is that I won't have to modify the monsters that much, and that the rest will go pretty smoothly as well. The main issue I've seen so far is that I'll have to divide Perception back into Spot/Listen/Search, bother with Grapple modifiers etc., and if someone plays a rogue type then we'll have to find out whether to reintroduce immunity to sneak attacks (probably not, it's neither fun nor very balanced).

Nobody in our group has played Pathfinder, but most of the players are very experienced with D&D. From what we've gathered, they are really similar but both PCs and NPCs/monsters are more powerful in PF - so we're thinking that five 3.5 characters instead of four PF ones will balance things out somewhat..? We do plan on using PF hit die sizes.

Class-wise, I figured Archivist would be a good fit and hopefully make the unpopular Cleric unnecessary (though probably still wise), and I'm trying to get them to have a Rogue or Scout. One of them loves necromancers, so a Dread Necromancer might make for hilarious shenanigans (I'd ask everyone if they're fine with such a character and a not-all-serious campaign). I haven't gotten around to checking out the chapters beyond the first, though. Any recommendations?


It shouldn't be a serious problem. Most of the low-level monsters should port pretty easily. There are some encounters that can be unforgiving, especially the ghouls in the later part if you don't have a turnbot cleric. Keep an eye on the DCs -- those can vary by 1 or 2 between editions, and that can make some encounters noticeably easier / harder.

If you go beyond this module it will get more complicated for sure, so come back again if you get that far.

Doug M.


Douglas Muir 406 wrote:


If you go beyond this module it will get more complicated for sure, so come back again if you get that far.

Oh... Big differences to 3.5 in the other modules? In what way? NPC classes?

We've talked about using PF rules, but figured it would be easier for me to adjust the adventures than for me and everyone else to adjust to yet another system (several of us are already getting confused from playing both 3.5 and 5e D&D). Any opinions?

Thanks for the heads-up on DC differences, I hadn't thought of that!


It's been so long since I played 3.5 (I think the last time was ... literally over a decade ago) that I can't honestly remember the details. You may want to bring this up on one of the other forums here at Paizo -- either PF1 Advice, or Conversions, or the D&D 4th-and-earlier subforum.

That said, I do recall that as you get to middle and higher levels, PF tends to diverge more from 3.5 in terms of actual play. It's still not a huge difference and you can totally convert one to the other. But the minor differences add up and can begin to interact with each other unpredictably. Also, a lot of spells in 3.0 / 3.5 were problematic or broken; PF did a lot of housecleaning. Also-also, for god's sake be careful about allowing 3.0 or 3.5 prestige classes -- a lot of them were VERY broken. Do not even think about letting anyway play a Tainted Scholar. (In fact, I'd avoid Heroes of Horror altogether if I were you -- it's thematic, but it was also incredibly badly edited.)

Somewhere out there, someone should have created a list of "differences to watch out for between 3.5 and PF1". It's probably old, going all the way back to the birth of PFRPG in 2010-11. [googles briefly] Well I see a bunch of old Reddit and forum threads that might be helpful. So try (1) asking on the Paizo forums above, and/or (2) googling something like "what are the biggest differences between 3.5 and Pathfinder". I literally just did that and got a bunch of hits.

Good luck,

Doug M.


Thank you for the advice and referrals!

Haha yeah, I was going to find out how much of a challenge my players want before giving that one guy green light for playing an Archivist (from Heroes of Horror) with the Church Inquisitor prestige class, which would give him unlimited Detect Evil from level 3 and make him an expert at seeing through disguises and illusions and whatnot...

Going to have a closer look at the general differences then. I was just hoping to find someone who'd go "Oh yes, we've tried playing this in 3.5 and it went like this and that".


dndiplomancer wrote:
Thank you for the advice and referrals!

HTH!

Quote:
Haha yeah, I was going to find out how much of a challenge my players want before giving that one guy green light for playing an Archivist (from Heroes of Horror) with the Church Inquisitor prestige class, which would give him unlimited Detect Evil from level 3 and make him an expert at seeing through disguises and illusions and whatnot...

Uggh, Heroes of Horror. There's a lot to like there, but it's so darn sloppy. There are editorial mistakes all over it -- from errors in the stat blocks, to stuff that's inconsistent, both with other splatbooks and with itself. Almost everything in the book gives the strong impression of never having been playtested, and some of it seems to have just been throw together without much thought.

I mentioned the Tainted Scholar? With a very modest effort, you can design a character who by 6th level is getting DCs of 40 + spell level. Yes, DC 44 Phantasmal Killers, DC 45 Dominates, you name it. So, so broken.

Quote:
Going to have a closer look at the general differences then. I was just hoping to find someone who'd go "Oh yes, we've tried playing this in 3.5 and it went like this and that".

I won't say that never happens, but by the time this module came out -- 2016 or so? -- backwards conversions had become very rare. Honestly, PF1 is overall a slightly better system than 3.5. Not HUGELY better, but it's really 3.75 -- 3.5 with a lot of the bugs fixed and the rules cleaned up a bit. By 2016 most people had already migrated, and having migrated, were unlikely to go back.

This is in sharp contrast to 3.5 vs. 4th edition; a lot of people tried 4th and bounced back to 3.5. But PF1's whole schtick was "it's 3.5, just a little bit better". So the traffic from 3.5 to PF1 was much more one-way.

You might find conversions of some of the earlier APs and modules, or at least posts by people who ran them under 3.5. But by the time Strange Aeons came out, 3.5 was years out of print and the community of 3.5 players had become pretty small. Now, small isn't nonexistent, and probably someone, somewhere has played Strange Aeons in 3.5! But if they ever posted their experience online, I'm not aware of it.

One last thought: 3.5 -> PF1 is probably the easiest of conversions between editions, much easier than moving to 4th or 5th. That's because PF1 was very deliberately designed to be back-compatible and welcoming to 3.5 players. So if you or your players feel like switching at some point, it probably won't be too difficult. Just, you know, as long as you don't allow any crazy-ass 3.5 PrCs.

cheers,

Doug M.

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