A blog about my 2nd edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons campaign using Paizo's Rise of the Runelords Adventure Path.

Please note that there are spoilers throughout.

Saturday, July 31, 2010


I have added Perception as a new ability score as described in "Notice Anything Different?" from Dragon Magazine #133.

The number of d6's rolled depends on the race and class selected. Everyone starts with a base roll of 4d6 and keeping the highest three. If you pick elf or half-elf as your race you may roll an additional d6, and if you pick thief, monk or ranger as a class you may roll another d6. You always only keep the three highest. So, if you are making a half-elf ranger you get to roll 6d6 keeping the three highest.

Bonuses/Penalties for Perception: Perception of 3 or 4 gives a -1 penalty to surprise while 17 and 18 give a +1 bonus to surprise. Rangers get a modifier to Tracking of 18=+2, 17=+1, 4=-1, and 3=-2. Thieves get a modifier to Detect Noise and Find Traps (but not remove traps) of 18=+10%, 17=+5%, 4=-5%, and 3=-10%.

Perception checks are handled by rolling a d20 (+/- modifiers) under your Perception stat.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Roleplaying Intelligence

Page 15 of the 2nd edition Player's Handbook:
... the true capabilities of a mind lie not in numbers - I.Q., Intelligence score, or whatever. Many intelligent, even brilliant, people in the real world fail to apply their minds creatively and usefully, thus falling far below their potential. Don't rely too heavily on your character's Intelligence score; you must provide your characters with the creativity and energy he supposedly possesses! (emphasis mine)
I don't remember having read something like in any other edition.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Finding Secret Doors in 2E

It was only recently that I discovered that 2nd edition does not have rules for finding secret doors. The only rules that appear for spotting a secret door is that that elves and half-elves have a 1-in-6 chance of spotting a hidden or secret door when they pass within 10 feet of it. One could also use the dwarves stonework ability if it was relevant. However, there are now rules for everyone else.

Here's what Steve Winter, who was part of the development team for 2nd edition, said about this--

This is a significant quirk of 2nd Edition.

Zeb hated the idea of secret doors being found with dice rolls. The only reason we kept the thing about elves and dwarves was because it was a legacy of 1st edition. This is hinted at (in a toned-down way, I assure you) in the DMG passage about elves and no one understanding how they notice concealed doors without looking.

Aside from elves, there is no check to find a secret door. You simply point to a wall and you automatically search 20' of it in 10 minutes.

This is closest to correct, only it's not even meant to be automatic. Players are expected to tell the DM what they're doing. Like the DMG states, "characters tap, thump, twist, and poke" until they hit the right combination. Further down the page, it states clearly that "It is a good idea to note how each particular secret door works and how it is concealed." That's the rule. To find a secret door, players must literally find it.

This goes back to the earlier discussion of narrative. We placed a heavy emphasis on it. Creative narrative always was meant to carry more weight than any dice roll.

This didn't sit well with everybody, as evidenced by the Int check described in the DL product. That's a kludge tacked on by someone who didn't like the tap/thump/twist/poke approach. It's not the 'standard' rule.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

2nd Edition Specialty Priests of Desna

I don't know if this will get me in trouble or not. While I am use to reading legal documents such as underwriting agreements, purchase and sale agreements, and nondisclosure agreements, the OGL baffles me.

The name "Desna" and some of the associated fluff are intellectual property of Paizo Publishing and this is in no way intended to challenge Paizo's IP or any trademarks. This is just a conversion for use with 2nd edition AD&D. Go buy their stuff... it's all awesome.

Desna is the goddess of dreams, stars, travellers and luck

Wanderers at heart, the faithful of Desna travel the world in search of new experiences, while always trying to live life to its fullest. Their temples are light, open affairs, with most possessing a skylight to allow in the night sky and a significant number of astrological charts to mark important celestial events.

Minimum Ability Scores: Wisdom 12 and Charisma 12. Wisdom or Charisma 16 or great is +5% XP, Wisdom and Charisma 16 or great is +10% XP.

Races Allowed: Elves, gnomes, half-elves, halflings and humans.

Required Nonweapon Proficiencies: Astrology.

Recommended Nonweapon Proficiencies: Direction Sense, Gaming, Reading/Writing, Religion.

Weapons Permitted: Starknife (favoured, see below), club, knife, lasso, net, quarterstaff, sling, sling staff.
Note: Besides the starknife, these weapons reflect "weapons of opportunity", the sort of weapons characters can make from things found on the road. The priest doesn't have to find his weapons but these weapons are the sort that he could make from found items.

Required Weapon Proficiencies: Starknife.

Armour Permitted: None, no shields.

Spheres: Major - All, Astral, Chaos, Charm, Divination, Elemental, Healing, Protection, and Travellers. Minor - Animal, Creation, Guardian, Plant, Weather.

Additional Powers:
- Turn Undead: As a cleric of same level.
- Power over sleep: receive a +4 bonus for saves against sleep spells and effects.
- Found Mark - Placing a mark, typically the goddess' symbol, in some remote, distant place (appropriateness to be determined by the DM), earns the priest the favour of Desna and will be under the effect of a Bless spell for the next 24 hours.
- 1st Level: Can cast the wizards spell Suggestion, the priest can use this spell once per day in addition to his other spells. At 4th level twice per day, 8th level three times per day, etc.
- 3rd Level: Can use Traveling Dream (see below) once per day.
- 4th Level: Star Slinger - At 4th level or later, the priest can spend a second weapon proficiency for the Star Knife. The second proficiency enables the Star Knife to act as a boomerang and return to the priest on any missed thrown attack. There are no additional benefits for the second weapon proficiency slot.

Traveling Dream (Divination)
Functions as the wizard spell Wizard Eye. Upon casting the spell the priest falls asleep for its duration. If the priest is woken the spell ends.

New Spells:
Dream Speak (Divination)
4th level Priest Spell
As wizard Dream spell.

New Weapon:
Starknife cost 20 gp, weight 3, size M, type P, speed factor 2, damage 1d4(S-M) 1d6(L), Range S1 M2 L3

Friday, May 14, 2010

Can I do this?

I was going to post my version of a 2E specialty priest of Desna. However, I am unfamiliar with some of the specifics regarding the OGL and Paizo's IP. Anyone know if I would be offside if I post it here?

Monday, April 12, 2010

2E Rise of the Runelords - Session 12

Into the Mushfens

This adventure was played on March 30, 2010 and featured:
- Toran Stargazer, a human thief,
- Vicoren Brightshield, a human priest of Desna,
- Arug, an Alaghi pitfighter,
- Gabriel Solomon, a Chelaxian swashbuckler,
- Sephara 'Na, a half-elven magic-user, and
- Evo, the human Conjurer.

Summary: The party travels to the muddy village of Lonely Shore and follows Brodert to an ancient Thassilonian pyramid.

1. To Lonely Shore – Returning to Sandpoint from the Tomb of Blood Everflowing there is a note awaiting Sephara from Brodert saying that he had gone ahead to the village of Lonely Shore to set up a base for investigating a ruined pyramid. The party spent a couple of days preparing and then set off to the village which was located on the edge of the Mushfens.
2. What a nice place – Arriving at the small, muddy village of Lonely Shore the party meets Brodert and makes plans for journeying into the swamp. In the lone inn in the village, the party meets Evo the Conjurer who joins up with them.
3. Into the Mushfens – The journey into the swamp is uneventful even though it is rumoured to be the home of Bullywugs and Marsh Giants.
4. The Black Pyramid – Finding the black stepped pyramid the party fights a pair of fungal ogres and finds a trapdoor in a recessed face on the top level. Dropping down into the pyramid the most of party fights a giant worm-monster which infects Arug with a disease. They then find a runewell and some sinspawn which are quickly defeated.
5. Never Split the Party – Unwilling to drop down the trapdoor into the pyramid magic-users trying a secret side entrance where Evo quickly dies a mysterious death.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

My House Rules As They Currently Stand

The current house rules and rules clarifications/interpretations for the 2E campaign:

CHAPTER 1: Ability Scores

- Ability scores will be determined by rolling 4d6 and keeping the highest three. Roll two separate arrays of six results. You may then pick which array to use. The chosen array may be arranged for ability scores however you choose.

CHAPTER 2: Races

- Unchanged.

- Races from The Complete Humanoids Handbook will be considered on a case-by-case basis. However, I am biased against all but the half-orc (it is a pretty weak bias though as I typically say "yes" if it is something a player really wants to run).

CHAPTER 3: Classes

- Wizards: All Wizards will begin the game with Read Magic and Detect Magic in their spellbooks plus 1d6+1 more spells. The % to Know Spell roll must be made as the player selects each spell.

- You begin with maximum hit points for you first level. After that you roll normally.

CHAPTER 4: Alignment

- Unchanged.

CHAPTER 5: Proficiencies

Weapon Proficiencies

- Ambidexterity, Blind-fighting and Tumbling can only be taken using a Weapon Proficiency slot instead of Nonweapon proficiency slot. I also reserve the right to make any other nonweapon proficiencies require weapon proficiency slots if they have a combat effect.
- Ambidexterity costs one weapon proficiency slot.
- Blind-Fighting costs one weapon proficiency slot and is available to warriors and rogues.
- Tumbling costs one weapon proficiency slot and is available to warriors and rogues.

- All options from The Complete Fighter's Handbook will be used. Options from other Complete Handbooks will be considered on a case-by-case basis (and I am usually inclined to include them).

- Remember that only single class fighters (unless specified by a kit) can specialize with a weapon.

Nonweapon Proficiencies

- Intelligence: Number of Languages has been supplanted by Number of Bonus Nonweapon Proficiencies. Each of these bonus slots can be either used for either a language or nonweapon proficiency available to the character. Single class warriors (fighters, rangers and paladins) can also use these bonus proficiencies as weapon proficiency slots.

- Nonweapon proficiencies from the various Complete Handbooks are available, however, the DM reserves the right to exclude certain proficiencies if they harm play or do not fit the setting.

- Humans gain two additional proficiency slots which may be used for NWPs or languages (but not weapon proficiencies).

- Being able to speak a language and read & write a language are two separate Nonweapon Proficiencies of the General Category. All characters begin being able to speak Common and their racial tongue (if any).

- The "Alertness" and "Observation" proficiencies as listed in various Complete Handbooks are moved to a General Proficiency and available to all classes.

- Nonweapon proficiency checks use a gradiated difficulty system of Normal, Difficult, Very Difficult, Heroic and Impossible:
- Normal checks are as given in the PBH - roll a d20 under or equal to the adjusted ability score.
- Difficult checks have a -4 check modifier
- Very Difficult have a -8 check modifier
- Heroic checks have a -12 check modifier
- Impossible checks require a roll of 1 on a d20

Sidebar: I have been considering moving to a system very similar to the Omni System for nonweapon proficiencies.

Nonweapon Proficiencies are to be interpreted broadly, essentially as a broad skill or knowledge group. When utilizing a NWP, it is the player's prerogative to inform the DM of how that NWP is being used, and how it is applicable in a given situation. The DM will judge if it is a proper use of that NWP. You can always try to do something covered by a nonweapon proficiency even if you are not trained in it so long as it makes sense. The rule of thumb I use is that you make the same proficiency check but it is one step harder (normal becomes difficult, difficult become very difficult, etc). Of course, there are some nonweapon proficiencies that don't make sense to use untrained.

CHAPTER 6: Money & Equipment

- You receive maximum starting gold pieces with which you can buy starting equipment. If you are using a kit remember to check if it has a different starting gold limit.

- Remember that armour impacts certain DEX checks as given in The Complete Fighter's Handbook.

- Encumbrance will be in effect. Table 47 from the PHB details Encumbrance by category.

CHAPTER 7: Magic

- Material Components for Spells: In an effort to simplify the bookkeeping with regards to spell components I am going to add a new item to the equipment list - Arcane or Divine Materials. They are the catchall for material components for spells. If your wizard casts a spell that requires a 100 gp pearl, I am not going to make sure you have it on your equipment list but I do want you to make sure you have at least 100 gp of Arcane Materials on your character sheet which can be used. If there is no cost listed for a spell that has a material components assume the cost is equal to the spell level x 10 in gold pieces.

- Copying spells into a spell book takes a number of pages equal to the spell level + 0-5 pages (1d6-1) for each spell and each page costs 50 gp. It takes a day for each spell level to copy it.

CHAPTER 8: Experience

- XP will be awarded based on goals achieved. At the end of each session XP will be awarded based on what was accomplished relative to the adventure path. Sidetrek adventures will be worth less XP. Henchmen receive half of the awarded amount. Prime requisite bonuses or penalties will then be applied to the XP awarded.

CHAPTER 9: Combat

- Movement: The movement rate given based on a characters encumbrance is how many squares they can move in a full round action (12 = 12 squares, etc). Remember that you can move half of your movement rate and make a melee attack or missile attacks at half the normal rate of fire.

- Movement and Initiative: Even though movement is ongoing throughout a combat round sometimes it is important to know when someone is where. Therefore movement gets its own initiative modifier. If the characters base move is 12 then each 10-ft (1 square) has an initiative modifier of +1, if the base move is 6 then each 10-ft (1 square) is +2.
If the only action is to move then this modifier is added to the initiative roll and the result indicates when the move action is complete.

- If the character's action it to move and attack both the weapon speed and move modifier are added to the initiative roll to determine when the attack occurs.

- This can also be used to determine if a character can get past a bodyguard, etc. Use the roll + the appropriate amount of movement initiative modifiers to determine who gets to a square first.

- Remember that you cannot move and cast a spell in the same round.

- Charging: While initiative (including all appropriate modifiers) determines when a charge occurs, a weapons length supersedes initiative to determine who attacks first. Longer weapons attack first during a charge or receiving a charge.

- Some weapons have reach:
- Can Attack from 2nd Rank - lances, spears, most polearms.
- Can Attack from 3rd Rank - awl pike, whip.

- Missile Fire into Melee: The person firing the missile weapon gets to choose which system to use. System 1 is the default as given in the DMG where the actual target is randomly determined based on size. System 2 is making a called shot (-4 penalty) to the attack roll an the target gets cover from his opponents.

- Death & Dying
0 hit points = unconscious but stable. Healing will return the character to positive hit points by the amount healed.
negative hit points = unconscious and dying. When your character’s current hit points drop to between -1 and -9 inclusive, he’s dying. A dying character immediately falls unconscious and can take no actions. A dying character must make a system shock roll each round. If they succeed they are stable. A successful Healing Proficiency check or healing magic will also make a dying character stable. If they fail the system shock roll 3 times they are dead.
Negative hit points equal to -10 = dead. When your character’s current hit points drop to -10 or lower, or takes Massive Damage (see PHB pg 106), he’s dead.

CHAPTER 10 to 14

- Unchanged.


- Kits will be allowed on a case-by-case basis, to be approved by the DM. I am pretty open to kits though and will likely only prohibit a kit if it doesn't fit the setting.

- The Reaction chart on Page 140, Table 59, will be used for NPC reactions to such things as diplomacy, intimidate, bluff, etc.

2E Rise of the Runelords - Session 11

The Tomb of Blood Everflowing

This adventure was played on March 4, 2010 and featured:
- Toran Stargazer, a human thief,
- Vicoren Brightshield, a human priest of Desna,
- Arug, an Alaghi pitfighter,
- Gabriel Solomon, a Chelaxian swashbuckler,
- Sephara 'Na, a half-elven magic-user, and
- Cabell, a dwarven wayfinder (fighter/thief)

Summary: The party investigates the red marble amulet and sets off to an ancient tomb in search of the missing key and the stolen book.

My notes are a bit sparse for this session…
1. Residents of Sandpoint: The party spends a couple of weeks following their return from Thisletop to takae care of a number of things in Sandpoint. The group finally makes arrangements with the mayor for them to buy the rundown manor house that the Green Dagger Gang used for a hideout. The plan being to use it as a lodge for a fledgling adventurers' guild they are planning on establishing. Gabriel did some asking around about the Two Knight Brewery as he is interested in setting up a brewery of his own. Sephara spends some time copying spells into her spellbook, talking with Brodert and Ilsoari.

2. The Harrowing: While Gabell is returning from the armorer's shop, he runs into Madame Mvashti, the venerable varisian seer and historian. She tells him to bring his companions to her shack for a Harrowing (kind of like a tarot reading). At the reading she tells them 1) the locksmith is holding something back, 2) the final answer regarding marriage is still unclear, and 3) a dark pact lies in their future.

3. Chopper's Island: The party spends an evening investigating Chopper's Island. They find the island deserted with the burned and ruined foundations of Jervis Stoot's house. They are unable to move some of the beams that have been lying over the entrance to the old cellar. Vicoren cast Detect Evil and senses the undisturbed evil down below.

4. The Tomb of Blood Everflowing: After spending some time investigating the red marble amulet that was found previously, the group sets off in search of the ancient tomb to which the amulet belonged. Hoping to find the missing key and Ilsoari's missing book, they spend 3 or 4 days traveling north to the southern tip of the Fogscar Mountains. While travelling , the party encounters a large group of bandits that decided a well armed and obviously capable party of adventurers was not to their taste.

The party found the ancient tomb and explored its depths. The place was inhabited by undead and clerics of Norgorber including one that matched the description of the cleric that purchased the key from the Green Dagger gang. They found the missing key and the missing book, however, many pages of the book were torn out. They also found a note suggesting that a group had left the tomb with the torn out pages.

Body Count: The cleric was in the forefront as the party overcame a number of zombies and skeletons. They also overcame two clerics of Norgorber.

Treasure: The possessions of the two clerics and some reward money for returning the key and book.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

2E Proficiencies

From a thread at Dragonsfoot:

"Hi Zeb,
I was just wondering: so do you think that the addition of nonweapon proficiencies was, in general, a good thing? I've often found that it limits rather than frees players to try things that they have written down, at least in D&D, and I've never really understood why they were added to the game. Did Oriental Adventures influence 2e at all? What were the thoughts behind making them a part of the game?

Mr. Cook's answer:
"I think they were a good thing. One of the things dreadfully lacking from AD&D was any sense that your character had a real life beyond class skills. This gave players a way to create a more culturally informed background for their character. Well-used and applied, proficiencies were a way to say things like "This is the result of being raised by farmers/wolves/priests/pirates." It got people to think about their characters as something other than being sprung fully formed from the forehead of Zeus. Now proficiencies didn't work as well when they just became excuses to do special things in combat. At that point they lost the sense of making your character more than a class and became another way to munchkinize him.
- zeb"

Monday, February 15, 2010

2E Rise of the Runelords - Session 10

Session 10: Burnt Offering Finale

This adventure was played on February 14, 2010 and featured:
- Toran Stargazer, a human thief,
- Vicoren Brightshield, a human priest of Desna,
- Arug, an Alaghi pitfighter,
- Gabriel Solomon, a Chelaxian swashbuckler,
- Sephara 'Na, a half-elven magic-user, and
- Cabell, a dwarven wayfinder (fighter/thief)

Summary: The party returns to Thistletop and ends Nualia's threat to Sandpoint.

1. In Sandpoint: The group starts off in Sandpoint digging around for information about Titus Scarnetti. They don’t learn anything new but continue to hear rumours about his involvement in the fires that destroyed a number of nearby grain mills.

Toram buys an engagement ring and approaches Shayliss’ father, Ven Vinder, to ask his permission to marry his daughter. Ven threatens the young thief and chases him out of his store.

2. Vile Chapel: The party returned to Thistletop and continued to explore the dungeon below the goblin fort. The new dwarven wayfinder quickly proves his worth as he discovers a secret door that leads to a deeper dungeon level. The party decided to ignore the secret stairway for the meantime and enter a vile chapel to Lamashtu the demon goddess. They encounter a pair of ferocious, flying, black hounds. After a couple of failed saving throws, Gabriel and Cabell flee in terror from the fearful howling of the hounds. Arug’s mighty fists appear ineffective against the flying beasts but Toram quickly shoots a couple of magic arrows that put the hounds to sleep.

3. Deeper Darkness: Proceeding down the secret stairway, the party comes to an ancient cave complex. The dwarf again proves his worth as he discovers a deadly trap and deactivates it without harm to the party. Entering a nearby door, the party is confronted by the beautiful and deadly Nualia and a pair of her flying hound pets. A fearsome battle ensues. Many saving throws are failed against the hounds fearful howling leaving only Sephara the magic-user and Toram the thief facing the servant of Lamashtu and the hounds. Sephara brandishes the wand of fire and casts a fireball and her opponents. Realizing that the fireball only caused minor damage, Toram quickly retreats and slams the door shut. The party regroups in a room explored earlier and quickly prepares to defend themselves. Nualia and the hounds quickly appear in pursuit of the party and battle is rejoined. After a hard fought battle the party eventually prevails.

4. The Beast from Beyond: The party continues to explore the ancient complex and discover Malfeshnekor, a fearsome barghest. Fortunately the beast from the lower planes is bound to the room so the party quick retreats after the barghest shows how fearsome it is by nearly killing Arug the fighter in one round. A suggestion spell enables the party to negotiate with the barghest and offer Nualia’s body in return for grabbing the unconscious Arug.

5. Finally Some Treasure: Proceeding down the final set of stairs the party finds the sunken remains of a former treasury and after chasing off a giant crab gathers some treasure.

6. Back to Sandpoint: Returning to Sandpoint, the party finds themselves as heroes once again. Father Zantus is saddened that the party was unable to capture Nualia and the party does not tell him about the final fate of her body. The father is pleased, however, that the party was able to recover the remains of Father Tobyn from the chapel of Lamashtu.

7. Up Next: There are a number of avenues for the party to pursue:
- They are invited to Scarnetti Manor for dinner;
- Brodert Quink believes he has discovered the location of another Thassilonian ruin;
- They are still looking for the locksmith’s missing key;
- There is still the mysterious priest of Nethys;
- The headmaster of the school & orphanage is missing a locked book; and
- the opera “The Heroes of Sandpoint” premiers in a few days.

Bodycount: 4 Yeth Hounds, 3 Shadows and Nualia.

Treasure: 3,500 sp, 630 gp, 40 gems (10 gp each), a gigantic gold-plated domed helmet (200 gp), an amulet of protection +1, Nualia’s sword, her armour and a seven pointed star medallion, 20 pp.


Yay! We finished the first published adventure.

I was much happier with the level of difficulty of the encounters this session. They were difficult when I wanted them difficult and easy when I wanted them easy.

I was worried about how the party would deal with the Yeth Hounds but they did okay. The failed saving throws against the hounds fear effects kept the players on their toes.

I added a second yeth hound to the encounter with Nualia and it definitely made the encounter more difficult.

Here is the stats I used for Nualia:
Nualia - Aasimar w/ spell abilities of 3rd level cleric and +1 toughness
(source Planescape App2 pg 7)
Alignment CE
AC 2
Mv 12
HD 3+6 (28 hp + 7 from medallion)
Thac0 15 Falchion & 16 Claw
#AT 1 Falchion & 1 claw
Dmg 1d6+3 & 1d6+1
SA Spells, Lamashtu's Mark
SD +1 bonus for surprise
1/2 damage from fire & cold
+2 save vs charm, fear, etc.
+1 saves from medallion
MR 10%
ML fearless (20)
Equipment: +1 Falchion, + 1 Banded Mail, Sihedron Medallion, Gold Unholy Symbol (100gp), 20 pp

Lvl 1: Curse (CT 1 round, Dur 6 rounds) PHB 198, -1 attack rolls and morale
Protection from Good (CT5, Dur 9 rounds) PHB 201, -2 attack rolls, +2 saves

Lvl 2: Silence 15' (CT5, Dur 6 rounds) PHB 206

Lamashtu's Mark: 1/day, when striking an opponent impart a deformity, save vs spells or loose 1-6 from a random attribute for 1 day.

Sihedron Medallion:
+1 bonus for saving throws
1/day - Aid spell (PHB 202) +1 hit & saves and 1d8 temp hit points

The players were voicing some concern about the level of treasure but they had missed a couple of secret doors. I gave them some metagame knowledge about this fact since I thought it unlikely that they would return to Thistletop.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Conversion Note Keeping

My home is a Mac home. During my years of investment banking, I would not want to even count how many hours I spent dealing with the instability of Excel and frozen computers while trying to run complex financial simulations.

I am a subscriber to a number of Paizo product lines. One of the nice things about being a subscriber is that in addition to having a hardcopy mailed to me, I also receive a pdf of the product.

I learned today that Preview, the default Mac pdf reader, lets me annotate and mark-up pdfs. I'm sure that many (if not most) other Mac users already knew this but it was a major discovery moment for me. I spent this afternoon transferring my conversion notes for the remainder of Burnt Offerings into the pdf file.

I also have the 2E Core Rules 2.0 Expansion CD and we are keeping a campaign wiki. Besides the dice (which I will never give up) I am slowly going over to managing the game entirely using digital documents. This is quite a step for me. :)

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Encounter Design

The party recently encountered a large bugbear. In 3.5E terms it was a bugbear with 1 level of ranger - CR 3 and part of an EL 2 encounter. Now I have no real deep experience with 3.5E and a good feel for that editions CRs and ELs but I believe that an EL 2 encounter is one that is appropriate for a second level party that would use up something like 25% of their resources.

In converting the bugbear I used a leader bugbear from the Monstrous Manual and the method described in the DM Options: High Level Campaigns to add +1 toughness. So he looked like:

Bugbear Leader (AC 3, Mv 9, HD 4+4, hp 27, Thaco 15, #AT 3/2 footman's flail, Dmg 1d6+5, SA -3 surprise penalty for opponents, SD nil, MR nil, Morale 13)
I figured he would be fairly tough.

He was dead in 3 rounds. He did manage to knock Gabriel the swashbuckler unconscious in the process however. I can tell already though that if I want a dangerous and dramatic fight I either have to make single monsters tougher or increase the number of monsters in the converted encounters.

2E Rise of the Runelords - Session 9

This adventure was played on February 4, 2010 and featured:
- Toran Stargazer, human thief
- Vicoren Brightshield, human priest of Desna
- Arug, Alaghi pitfighter
- Gabriel Solomon, Chelaxian swashbuckler
- Sephara 'Na, half-elven magic-user

Summary: They quickly regroup in Sandpoint and return to Thistletop finding the dungeon beneath the fort.

1. The Cathedral: As the party returned to Sandpoint from the previous sessions adventure, they stopped at the Cathedral for some healing from Father Zantus and to check in with Vicoren on the progress of exhuming Nualia's grave. They learn that Nualia's grave was empty.

2. Mixed News: Sheriff Hemlock finds the party and informs them that Justice Ironbriar and the guardsmen from Magnimar have departed citing that there was "no apparent need" for them to remain in Sandpoint.

3. The Rusty Dragon: The party then returned to the Rust Dragon to rest before returning to Thistletop. At the Rusty Dragon they meet three dark cloaked travellers. The leader is Vale Temros and the three are part of a group called the Black Arrows. They hold Fort Rannick to the northeast of Sandpoint and guard the lowlands from incursions of Ogres and Giants from Hook Mountain and the Storval Plateau. They had pursued a group of half-ogres and stopped at the inn prior to returning to Fort Rannick.

4. Thistletop: Returning to Thistletop, the party continued to explore the goblin fort. They find various storage rooms, the chief's quarters and Shadowmist the warhorse (which they later return to the merchants in Sandpoint for the reward), and two stairways down to the dungeon below. However, they do not find any real treasure.

5. Dungeon: Descending the steps they find a conference room with evidence of planning the goblin raid on Sandpoint. In the next room they find a female magic-user who is studying some ancient scrolls, stone tablets, etc. They quickly jump her and take her prisoner.

Proceeding further into the dungeon, the party battles, a tentacled beast, a large bugbear who they find committing various carnal acts upon a group of female goblins, and Orik the mercenary who quickly surrenders and decides to thrown his lot in with the party. In a torture chamber the party finds Shalelu and a badly burned Asreal (a former PC). Rescuing the prisoners the party then returns to Sandpoint.

Body Count: A Tentamort, a large bugbear and four female goblins.

Treasure: The party recovered the bugbear's equipment, a wand and potion from the captured magic-user and the 300 gp reward for returning Shadowmist.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Levels and Looking Ahead

If you are one of my players, are a player in a Rise of the Runelords campaign, or want to play in a Rise of the Runelords campaign STOP reading now!
Following my previous post about XP and level advancement, the next step was to look at the future adventures and see how those target levels mesh with the combat encounters. All this conversion work becomes mute if the players lose interest after a third TPK.

So, looking at all six of the published adventures, layering in the two levels per published adventure baseline and taking a quick glance at the major/most interesting potential combat encounters (and what a possible conversion might look like) we get:

#1 Burnt Offerings
Level 1: Goblins, Tough Imp
Level 2: Goblins, NPCs, Tentamort, Yeth Hounds, maybe a barghest

#2 Skinsaw Murders
Level 3: Ghouls, Ghast
Level 4: Cultists, Flesh Golem or maybe a Scarecrow Golem, Lamia

#3 Hook Mountain Masacre
Level 5: Half-Ogres, Ogres, Lamia Noble
Level 6: Ogres, Trolls, Annis Hags, Ghost, Stone Giants

#4 Fortress of the Stone Giants
Level 7: Stone Giants, Mummies, Red Dragon
Level 8: Stone Giants, Lamias, a Skeleton Warrior

#5 Sins of the Saviors
Level 9: Glabrezu demon, white dragon, elementals
Level 10: Lich, succubus, iron golems, stone golem

#6 Spires of Xin-Shalast
Level 11: Cloud giants, storm giants
Level 12: rune giants, lamia nobles

Level 13: The big bad guy - an NPC magic-user

Everything looks pretty good up until level 6 or 7 when Stone Giants become the main enemy. From that point on the giants are just too tough for the targeted 2nd edition characters. A couple of possible solutions are:

1. Use 1st edition giants. With the bump in relative power that 2nd edition characters get vs 1st edition characters and the lower power level of 1st edition giants vs 2nd edition giants, the relative power levels might make the encounters survivable.


2. Replace the type of giants with weaker ones. Replace the stone giants that appear at level 6 or 7 with hill giants and later replace rune giants with stone giants.

Besides the problem with giants, the other encounters look survivable - some are tough though.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Converting 3.5E Adventures to 2E - XP

One thing about 2E versus older versions of AD&D was how experience points were rewarded. OD&D, B/X, BECMI, 1E AD&D, all had definitive systems for rewarding XP. I always found the 2E system to be much more ambiguous. Yes there were some rules and some optional rules given but there were no real examples given and lots of DM discretion.

I haven't played a lot (read hardly any) of 3rd edition. My understanding is that level progression is much faster than in earlier editions. The first published adventure in Rise of the Runelords, Burnt Offerings, is written for 3rd edition characters to advance from 1st to approximately 4th level. While I haven't been keeping an accurate tally of what XP would have been earned by the current PCs using any of the older systems, it definitely feels a lot faster.

I have been using an "XP Budget" to reward experience points. I know that I want a PC fighter to advance by 2 levels per published adventure (therefore, six adventures = 12 levels). Using fighters as the baseline means that some other classes will advance faster and others slower. Reading through each adventure, I pick 5 or 6 milestones. Each milestone then becomes worth one-fifth or sixth of the required XP to reach the target level for that adventure. If the PCs go off the rails and find new and creative ways to deal with things other than by following the milestones, I can just adapt the milestones.

For example, one of the milestones in the first adventure was rescuing Ameiko from her half-brother, Tsuto. This was one of six milestones I had in the first adventure. I also knew that I wanted a PC fighter to reach 3rd level by the end of the first adventure which requires 4,000 XP. Each milestone is then worth 4,000/6 = 667 XP.

I have also been awarding bonuses based on interesting circumstances. For example, when Toran the thief was caught in a compromising position by Vin Vender with the shop owner's daughter, Toran received bonus XP for extricating himself from the predicament.

I have been using a rule that if a character dies, the new character begins with an XP total equal to 50% of the previous characters XP. This makes the punishment for death equal to about one level at lower levels and maybe two levels at higher level. At lower levels, this penalty can easily be made up with sidequests. At higher levels, it is much less likely to have players die so I don't mind the slightly harsher penalty - at least not yet... we will see how it works if it actually happens.

Monday, February 1, 2010

2E Rise of the Runelords - Session 8

Note that there are spoilers for Paizo's Rise of the Runelords adventure path.

Session 8: The Goblin King

This adventure was played on January 27, 2010 and featured:
- Toran Stargazer, human thief
- Kurzek Irontusk, half-orc fighter/thief
- "The Wanderer", Shoanti druid
- Arug, Alaghi pitfigher
- Goalrath Shadowmoon, elven cleric of Sarenrae
- Gabriel Solomon, Chelaxian swashbuckler
- Sephara 'Na, half-elven magic-user

Summary: A quick recoup in Sandpoint and then back to Thistletop.

I. Heard Around Town: The party quickly tries to regroup for a rapid return to Thistletop before the goblins are ready to counter-attack. While they are in Sandpoint they hear the following:
a. Titus Scarnetti is blocking Ameiko taking her father's seat on the town council;
b. Titus is also blocking town funding for bricking up the passageway below the glassworks that leads to the ancient catacombs;
c. A patrol made up of some of the guardsmen from Magnimar have reported seeing signs of goblin activity;
d. Brodert Quink (the sage) is very excited at having discovered what he believes to be the location of ancient Thassilonian ruins;
e. Cyrdak Drokkus, proprietor of the Sandpoint Theatre has been working on an opera based on the Heroes of Sandpoint. It is to premier in a few days;
f. Aldern Foxglove has postponed his trip to Magnimar until after the premier of the opera and has offered to escort Sephara to the show;
g. The party met Farmer Grump who was well into his cups at the Rusty Dragon. Earlier in the day, he had brought a load of grain to town as mysterious fires had claimed the Soggy River Mill, the Biston Pond Mill, and the Cougar Creek Mill - leaving the Sandpoint Mill as the only one in the area; and
h. They asked for Nualia's grave to be exhumed.

II. Thistletop: After cautiously crossing the treacherous rope bridge, the party explored much of the ground level of the crude fort at Thistletop and fought many goblins. The final encounter came as the party entered the goblin throne room and fought the goblin leader, his giant lizard steed and the rest of his retinue made up of four bodyguards and a shaman.

Body Count: 10 goblins, 2 goblin dogs, 2 goblin commandos, 4 goblin bodyguards, 1 goblin undershaman, 1 giant lizard, 1 goblin chief. Alas, no PCs this time.

Treasure: The party recovered assorted coins from the bodies of various slain goblins, and a dented crown, a key ring and a potion from the goblin chief, and a wand and a whip from the goblin undershaman.

DM Notes:
We had six players for this session. For the first time in a while all of the original five players were able to attend and one of the players brought a friend that was interested in joining. Things were definitely slower with that many people.

I felt that the first party of the session was very rushed. Two of the players really wanted to do some poking around the town of Sandpoint for some roleplaying and information gathering, while the rest were quite intent on getting to the dungeon. I gave them one or two quick roleplaying opportunities and then abstracted out the rest of the information gathering. I will have to figure out a way to get everyone on the same page in the future.

The conversions for this session were very straight forward. Various goblins and a giant lizard - all from the Monstrous Manual.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Converting 3.5E Adventures to 2E - Thought 2


Using the 2E morale rules in the Rise of the Runelords campaign adds an extra dynamic that is fun. While the original published adventure might say the Evil Henchmen #3 fights to the death, using the 2E morale rules gives a number of possible outcomes which allows the adventure path to leave the rails.

What happens if the Evil Henchman instead surrenders? Does he give the PCs valuable information? What happens to him afterward? Does he make a reappearance? Does he seek revenge?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Encounter Conversion: B13 Erylium the Quasit

The "Boss" monster of the Catacombs of Wrath in Burnt Offerings is Erylium. In the published adventure she is a quasit with levels added. One of the key elements of the encounter was her ability to fly. A 2nd edition AD&D quasit does not fly so I changed her to an Imp, increased her toughness based on the mechanics given for doing so in the DM Options: High Level Campaigns (-3 to +3 to AC, hit points per hit dice, Thaco, damage and saving throws), and added a few more special abilities based on Erylium's relationship with the Demon Goddess Lamashtu.

Imp, +1 Toughness
AC 1
Move 6, Fl 18 (A)
Hit Dice 2+4 (15 hp)
Thaco 18
# of Attacks 1
Dmg 2-5
Special Attacks See Below
Special Defenses See Below
Magic Resistance 25%
Size T (2' tall)
Morale Average (8-10)

- Can polymorph into a large spider or giant rat

- Stinger tail does 2-5 damage plus poison (save or die)

- Able to detect good, detect magic, or become invisible at will

- Once per day can use suggestion and monster summoning I

- Immune to attacks based on cold, fire, or electricity and resist all other spell attacks as if it was a 7 HD creature

- Bonus of +1 to all saving throws

- Can belch a wad of phlegm with a range of 1/2/3. Anyone hit must roll a successful saving throw vs. poison or be reeling and unable to attack because of nausea for 1d4+1 rounds. Those who make successful saving throws do not suffer any ill effects.

- Can only be hit by silver or magical weapons

- Regenrate one hit point per melee round

Converting 3.5E Adventures to 2E - Thought 1

As I have been reposting the session summaries of our 2E game that I originally posted at Ode to Black Dougal I have been thinking about other posts I can make. One that quickly came to mind was about the process of converting a 3.5E adventure to 2E.

My first thought about these conversions was about how the different design parameters between the two rulesets would alter the difficulty of the encounters. The main thing that I was thinking about was 3.5's basic premise that a baseline encounter involves 4 characters and 1 level appropriate monster. 2nd edition does not have this same baseline.

These different design assumptions will likely require that when I convert an encounter I will have to focus not on making a one-for-one mechanical conversion but instead on keeping the same themes and flavour as well as making the encounter challenging and fun. Sometimes this will require me to make the opponent encountered tougher or increase the number of opponents in the encounter.

2E Rise of the Runelords - Session 6

Note that there are spoilers for Paizo's Rise of the Runelords adventure path.

Session 6: Return to the Catacombs of Wrath

This adventure was played on January 6th, 2010, and featured:
• Kobb “One Tusk”, the half-orc mercenary,
• Toran Stargazer, the young thief from Magnimar,

and introducing:
• Arug, the Alaghi pitfighter (the replacement character for the player of the now deceased Vardinil the elf)
• Kobb’s henchman, Kurzek Irontusk, a half-orc fighter/thief, and
• Toran’s henchman, Vicoren Shieldheart, a cleric of Desna.

Summary: Fearful that Nualia might emerge from the caverns below Sandpoint and seeking vengeance for the death of their fallen comrade, Vardinil the elf, the party re-enters to Catacombs of Wrath.

I. Introducing the new henchmen. During the party’s recovery in The Rusty Dragon following their last ill-fated adventure into the catacombs, the party is met by an old friend and mentor of Toran, Vicoren, who has come to Sandpoint to find the young lad and try to keep him out of trouble. Kobb is also accosted by Kurzek who is the brother of the half-orc that was slain by the party a couple of sessions ago. Kobb defeats Kurzek in battle but spares his life in return for Kurzek's service. DM Note: After the previous session we discussed having backup characters ready in the event of more character deaths. I use the house rule that replacement characters begin with 50% of the dead character's XP. I offered that the backup characters could be henchmen for the current characters and actually earn the 50% but the trade off is that the entire XP pool would have to be divided between more characters. A couple of players decided to go that route.

II. Sheriff Hemlock. As the party begins their preparations to return to the vile cathedral under the Old Light, they meet Sheriff Hemlock on the street. He is worried that Shalelu, the elven ranger, has not returned from scouting the lair of the goblins thought to have led the assault on Sandpoint. He also inquires if the party has asked Father Zantus about the Cleric of Nethys (god of magic) described in the ledgers recovered from the hideout of the Green Daggers. Finally, he warns the party to try to stay clear of Justice Ironbriar who views them as unlawful vigilantes. DM Note: I am trying to drive home the vigilante justice thing and may prove interesting later :)

III. Introducing the new PC and another hook. The party then proceeds to the Cathedral where they ask Father Zantus and Naffer Vosk about the cleric of Nethys. It turns out Naffer was accosted about a month ago by an assailant that matches the description. The ruffian demanded Naffer’s vestments, holy symbol and robes. Being a former pirate, Naffer fought the assailant off and managed to pull a stone pendant of red marble from around the neck of the would-be thief. Vicoren identifies the pendant as a “cairn charm”, a stone often hung inside ancient tombs found in the Fogscar Mountains. The party is also introduced to Arug, a hairy Alaghi, a race of shy and peaceful forest-dwellers. DM Note: This is from the Complete Humanoids Handbook. I was originally hesitant to allow the PC race but decided to focus on the "say yes" style.

IV. Other preparations. The group completes other preparations before entering the catacombs such as buying a vial containing an antitoxin and whatever silver weapons are available in Sandpoint. Toran also begins investigating Sandpoint’s marriage customs. DM Notes & a Spoiler: Man am I looking forward to how this plays out especially with the beginning of the next adventure in the path, The Skinsaw Murders.

V. Into the Catacombs. The party enters the catacombs and investigates a previously unexplored stairway where they are attacked by a hideous flying head with dark wings and crowned and bearded with writhing tentacles. Proving his worth to his new companions, Arug circles around the flying abomination and quickly slays it with a mighty strike with his polearm.

Exploring another passageway, the party enters a room occupied by a twisted, monsterous goblin wielding a sword, a handaxe and a dagger with its multiple twisted malformed limbs. The room contained eleven deep pits covered with rickety, fragile wooden covers and each containing shuffling undead. After a fierce battle, the twisted goblin was slain by Kobb. DM Note: My big regret from this session was that I didn't make the mutant goblin try to push someone into a pit. I focused too much on using the creatures "mutant" abilities to make him seem weird when pushing a PC into a pit would have made the encounter more tactically interesting and frightening.

VI. The Queen of the Catacombs. The party entered a strange spherical chamber with metal walls that rippled with silent black electricity that seemed to form incomprehensible runes and words. Levitating in the room were a number of objects and the Imp that had slain Vardinil the elf. A fierce battle ensued. Arug was poisoned by the Imp’s stinger tail but was saved by Vicoren and many other party members were grievously wounded. After all of the silver arrows were spent and the party was considering a full retreat, the Imp was final slain. DM Note: I thought I was taking it easy on the PCs by not using her "at will" Invisibility every round but I recently read in the 2E DMG that you can't use it and attack in the same round (pg 64) so I feel better now. I am still trying to get up to speed with some of the 2E rules.

Body Count: A vargouille, 11 zombies, a mutated goblin and a tough Imp.

Treasure: The party recovered:
• a longsword, handaxe and silver dagger from the twisted goblin,
• a scroll from an ancient study, and
• a bottle of wine, a scroll, a book, an iron wand, a magical dagger, a miniature tiara, and an obsidian unholy symbol of Lamashtu from the room where they fought the Imp.

DM Notes:

The battle with the Imp was a tough one as it was last time as well. For the Imp I started with the standard Imp from the MM but made it tougher and I also gave it the ability to cast Monster Summoning I as a cleric of Lamashtu, the Mother of Monsters. Given that the Imp had an AC of 2 and could only be hit by silver and magical weapons and the fact that the combat took place is a room affected by a permanent Levitate spell, the party had difficulty hitting.

Other creatures encountered were a vargouille, zombies and a mutated goblin.

For the vargouille, I didn't have a 2E version so I just used a 1E version.

The zombies were straight from the 2E MM but they were down in pits and quickly dispatched with oil and fire during which I rolled zero wandering monsters even with all of the smoke and stench of burning zombies.

The mutated goblin was a 2 HD bodyguard with 3 attacks (lots of arms wielding a longsword, a handaxe and a dagger) and an acid breath weapon that caused 2d4 damage (save for half) that was usable three times.

The player of Arug, the Alaghi, did a great job roleplaying the character's fear of magic and unnatural things. With his ability to grapple and possibly pin the Imp he could have made the combat a rather quick affair but the character was too afraid to enter the obviously magical room and greatly limited his combat effectiveness.

2E Rise of the Runelords - Session 5

Note that there are spoilers for Paizo's Rise of the Runelords adventure path.

Session 5: The Catacombs of Wrath

Session 5 took place on December 10th. This was the last session we had before everyones' hectic holiday schedules interfered with the campaign. My notes for session 5 are much more sparse than the previous sessions. It was a short session with a bunch of role-playing at the start and a short but vicious battle at the end.

This session saw our brave heroes:
- Met with a local mage and head of the village school to find out which of the items they have found to this point were magical. He offered to identify the items for free if the party would keep an eye out for leads about a large book that was stolen from the school's library. There was a number of magic items including various items of protection.

- The party then went to the Cathedral. Father Zantus was not back from visiting some of the outlying farms so the party spoke with Naffer. He recounted the sad tales about the Late Unpleasantness involving Nualia and Jervis Stoot. He also told them that Daylin from the Green Daggers had died.

- After hearing Nualia's story, the party went to talk to Hannah, the midwife, but she wasn't there. A passerby mentioned that she was often in the countryside in the mornings collecting herbs.

- Visiting the locksmith, the party pressed him for more information about the key but he insisted that he had told them all he knew.

- The party then returned to the catacombs below the Old Light. Cautiously proceeding down a previously unexplored hallway they first found an ancient shrine with a roughly carved black altar with a pool of filthy water on the top.

- They then proceeded through a set of double doors into a large cathedral. There they were confronted by an Imp.

- A ferocious battle ensued during which the Imp summoned a Sinspawn from a pool of roiling liquid, summoned a group of goblins, and displayed a number of other supernatural abilities - including poisoning Asreal with its stinger tail. Asreal fell to the ground precariously close to death (instead of save-or-die, I used save-or-nearly dead. He ended up nearly dead). All of the party's attacks appear to be ineffective. Toran heroically saved Asreal from certain death. Unfortunately, Vardinil, the elven fighter/magic-user was not as lucky as he fell before the summoned goblins' onslaught.

- The remaining members of the party quickly fled back through the Glassworks back to the surface and apparent safety.

- After recuperating for a few days, Sherrif Hemlock returned to Sandpoint with six troops from Magnimar and Justice Ironbriar, who reprimanded the party for dispensing vigilante justice.


DM Notes:

Looking back there were two key points:

1. The players and characters learned that things were dangerous. The party had been in trouble a couple of times in previous sessions but they really got their you-know-whats handed to them by the Imp. I think the players were a little stunned about how badly this encounter could have gone. They were lucky to just lose one character. The lack of much magic weaponry really hurt them. In the published adventure the Imp is actually a quaist with some levels and a template. I went with an Imp though because its ability to fly is an important part of the encounter. However, I didn't use a standard Imp from the Monstrous Manual. I will post my conversion in a future post.

2. Justice Ironbriar impressed upon the party that they could not act with impunity. We will see if this has any impact on the party's actions in the future. It also sets up other interesting aspects for future encounters!

2E Rise of the Runelords - Session 4

Note that there are spoilers for Paizo's Rise of the Runelords adventure path.

Session 4 - The Missing Key

This adventure happened on November 22nd and featured:

- Kobb “One Tusk”, the half-orc mercenary,
- Toran Stargazer, the young thief from Magnimar,
- Asreal Nom, the savage human ranger, and
- Vardinil, the elven fighter/magic-user.

Summary: While making preparations to re-enter the caves under the glassworks, the party encounters a different problem and hands out some vigilante justice.

I. Getting Ready: Session 4 began with the party splitting up and heading to various places in Sandpoint to take care of a few things before returning to the caves. Kobb remained at the Rusty Dragon Inn to have breakfast, Goalrath finished his morning devotions and met Kobb at the inn, Asreal went to the apothecary to find a remedy to the bad dreams he has been having and to help him sleep, Vardinil, after memorizing his spells, went to the village's academy and met the headmaster who is a former adventurer and mage to seek help with identifying some of the items the party has found, and Toran first went to the jeweller about buying a present for Shayliss and then went to a small shrine attended by a learned monk to try to find out some information about Sandpoint's history.

II. The Break-In: On his way to meet the others, Toran saw two ragged looking thugs ransacking the locksmith's shop. He quickly retreated to a shadowed spot to keep and eye on the thugs. When the dwarf locksmith arrived, he began shouting for the town guard and the thugs fled the scene. Toran darted after them, keeping far enough away not to be spotted but close enough to tail them. After the thugs fled into a disreputable tavern, Toran went and got the rest of the party and then returned to the tavern to try to find the two thugs.

III. A Chase on the Docks: Being unsuccessful finding the two thugs in the tavern, the party went out the backdoor and out onto the docks directly behind the tavern. After a few moments of investigating, the party spooked a nearby half-orc who quickly tried to flee. Jumping from dock, to barge, to boat, the chase ended with the half-orc turning and fighting the party. After the half-orc pushed a couple of party members off of the barge they were fighting on, the party decided that trying to capture him would be too difficult so the battle ended with the half-orc dead, a few party members soaking wet, and a number of dock workings looking on.

After explaining what had happened to the town guard, the party returned to the locksmith's shop, where Volioker, the locksmith, asked for their help to recover the only thing of any importance to locksmith that was stolen - a plain copper key.

IV. The Hideout of the Green Daggers: Following a clue they recovered from the dead half-orc, the party found an abandoned manor that was now being used as a hideout for small upstart gang of thieves, the Green Daggers. Many of the thieves were dead or dying from a "blinding sickness". After defeating a number of thieves and the thief/magic-user leader, the party found a number of clues indicating that the thieves started to get sick about two weeks ago. They were recently hired by a cleric of Nethys (god of magic) to recover a copper key from the locksmith shop in return for a cure for the blinding sickness. The cleric had picked up the key that morning left a number of doses of the cure but the doses don't seem to be working. The party also discovered a ledger detailing a transaction where the gang bought a charmed giant bird and then sold it to "Aspis".

Body Count: The half-orc on the docks, a couple of Green Dagger thieves that ambushed them in the hideout, a pair of identical twin halflings that used potions of invisibility to get the jump on the party, and Cyrathas, the elven leader of the Green Daggers.

Treasure: Most of what the party recovered was the possessions of Cyrathas, the leader of the Green Daggers.


DM Notes:
This was the first major diversion from Paizo's Rise of the Runelord's AP. I have been throwing some other hooks at the party but they have been so focused on Nualia's plot that this is the first one they have taken. I used the adventure from Dungeon #114 - Mad God's Key and adapted it for Sandpoint. I think it went well. It also allowed me to throw out a hook for Asreal's player to do some stuff related to his background (the giant hawk).

Conversion of the Mad God's Key
a 3.5E adventure from Dungeon #114

I typically use a very simple conversion process for NPCs to adapt a 3.5E adventure for my 2E campaign.

At low levels I keep the hit points as given in the published adventure. I higher levels I take between 50% and 75% of the given hit points.
I determined Hit Dice by dividing the hit points by 5. I then round up or down depending on how things are going or how evil I feel.
Thaco was calculated as 20-Hit Dice
For the most part AC = 20 - 3.5E AC, however if it is important I actually calculate based on the 2E rules.
And special abilities are approximated.

For example, the final encounter we had in session 4 was against Cyrathas, an elven mulitclassed rogue 1/sorcerer 2. So I wanted him to have some thief abilities and be able to cast magic-user spells.
He had 13 hp as given in the adventure

HD = 13 / 5 rounded up = 3
Thaco = 20-3 = 17
His AC was given as 15 so I used 20-15=5

Special abilities:
I used the base thieve abilities for a 1st level thief as printed on my 2E DM screen and didn't worry about making any racial or dexterity based adjustments.

For spells, in the adventure he has Burning Hands, Shield and a bunch of 0-level spells. So I just kept both of the 1st level spells as they have 2E equivalents and used Cantrip to replace the 0-level spells.

For magic items, I used the 2E equivalents for what he had in the published adventure.

Did all of this add up to a 1st level thief / 2nd level magic-user? Not exactly but he used a magic wand (Grease) to great effect, lost his Burning Hands spell when he was hit while trying to cast it, lit a pool of lantern oil on fire by knocking over a torch using Cantrip, drank a potion of healing and generally made for a fun encounter.

If you have Dungeon #114, my quick and dirty conversions resulted in the following encounters:

Chapter 1:
The Looted Locksmith - didn't convert as the two thugs fled and were not fought.

Barge End & Wharf Chase - lots of DEX and STR checks jumping from docks, barges and boats. Irontusk (AC 6, HD 4, hp 20, club & studded leather). He was killed - lots of explaining to do to the town guard!

Chapter 2:
G2 - Stirges (from the monsterous manual)
G4 - replaced Krenshar with a guard dog that was quickly made friendly by the Ranger
G9 - the Diseased Green Dagger Junior Gang Members were not converted because they were not fought.
G10 - Daylin (Half-elf, AC 5, HD 1, hp 5, shortsword & leather armour, level 1 thief skills) - he successfully hid in shadows and hit with a sneak attack on the Elven Fighter/Magic-user.
G11 - Spiked Iron Sphere trap - save vs magic wand or take 2d6 damage - this hit the thief after he opened the door without checking for traps. Fun!
G13 - Dalta Gwyn (AC I misread it in the adventure and used an AC of 7, HD 3, hp 13, shortsword, light crossbow, leather armour) and Collapsing Stairway trap - save vs breath weapon or fall taking 2d6 damage - the trap was sprung by Kobb the half-orc and he was severely hurt. More fun!
G19 - Tisa and Risa (twin halflings, AC 4, HD 1, hp 6, shortsword & leather armour) I gave each of them a potion of invisibility that they used just before the party came into the room. After the battle, Asrael the Ranger fell down one of the pit traps (save vs breath weapon or fall down to the 1st level and take 1d6 damage).
G21 - Cyrathas (conversion above).

2E Rise of the Runelords - Session 3

Note that there are spoilers for Paizo's Rise of the Runelords adventure path.

Session 3: The Glassworks

This adventure happened in mid-November and featured:
- Kobb “One Tusk”, the half-orc mercenary,
- Toran Stargazer, the young thief from Magnimar,
- Goalrath Shadowmoon, the elven cleric of Sarenrae
- Asreal Nom, the savage human ranger, and
- Vardinil, the elven fighter/magic-user.

Summary: The party explores the glassworks, rescues Ameiko and learns a bit about what is going on.

I. Goblins in the Glassworks: Session 3 began with our heroes quickly dispatching eight goblins with the aid of a well placed sleep spell. Unfortunately, two goblins that avoided the effects of the spell fled through a nearby door. Looking around the room the players saw the body of an old man who had been killed and had molten glass poured over him.

II. Rescuing Ameiko: Continuing on the party found some stairs down into the basement where they slew Tsuto and rescued Ameiko. She told the characters that Tsuto was working for his new love Nualia and that they were going to destroy the village and slaughter the inhabitants. They found Tsuto's journal which had a number of disturbing revelations. They also discovered a passage way that led to a cave complex below the Old Light - an old ruin which looks like a huge lighthouse.

After taking Ameiko to safety, the characters returned to the cave complex where they battled a number of fearsome aberrations (Sinspawn). Kobb was seriously injured (-2 hit points, another house rule) so the party returned to the surface and found aid for him at the Cathedral.

The party then spoke with a few NPCs to try to learn as much as they could about the origins of the cave complex. The local sage, Brodert Quink, told them about his theory that the Old Light was a ruin from the ancient empire of Thassilon and that it was an enormous war machine capable of hurling fire more than a mile.

The session ends with the party making plans to return to the cave complex.

Body Count: The party killed eight goblins, Tsuto and three Sinspawn.

Treasure: Once again this session was too long ago for clear recollection but I believe that the bulk of what was recovered was Tsuto's possessions.


DM Notes:

In the published adventure Tsuto is a half-elf multiclassed as a rogue/monk in the adventure. I don't have a good 2E monk class so I re did him as a 3rd level thief with the assassin template. He was equipped with blinding powder, a shortbow with 3 arrows with type A poison and 15 normal arrows, 2 potions of healing, a ring of protection +1, and a fragile glass vial filled with type J poison. Unfortunately, I was rolling poorly so the party quickly took him out even with a couple of goblin helpers.

The other conversion was the Sinspawn - another new creature in the adventure.

No. Appearing: 2-8
AC: 7
Mv: 9
HD: 3
No. Attacks: 2 claws & 1 bite
Damage: 1-4/1-4/1-6 + wrathful bite
Special Attacks: Wrathful Bite - save vs poison or be affected as a Confusion spell for 1d6 rounds.
Special Defenses: Spell Immunity - immune to sleep, charm and hold spells. Sneaky - opponents have a -2 penalty to their surprise roll.
Magic Resistance: Nil
Size: Medium
Morale: Fearless (20)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Some Preliminary Fresh Thoughts About 2E

As I mentioned earlier, it has been a number of years since I ran/played 2nd edition AD&D. Back in university we were poor students and stuck to the core books strictly due to the economics. Now that I have disposable income, when we decided that the Rise of the Runelords campaign would use 2nd edition, I went out and purchased all of the Complete [Insert Class] Handbooks for all of the classes in the Players' Handbook (so no ninjas, barbarians, monks, etc). I did this for three reasons:

1. I wanted to go for the whole big, messy 2E experience.

2. I wanted to give the PCs as many options as possible and to see if they were able to unbalance things so far as to break the system. And,

3. I like buying D&D books.

Out of the Complete Handbooks, the only things I have excluded have been for flavour reasons. I am trying to make the square peg of 2E fit onto the round hole of Paizo's Golarion setting which uses the Pathfinder system. This has led me to exclude things such as Amazon kits just because there are no Amazons in Golarion. However, I have also taken a very open view as to what to include - an example is the Alaghi pitfighter from the Complete Humanoids Handbook. I do not believe that Alaghi are a race included in Golarion but I didn't figure it would break anything.

How has it held up so far?

As I mentioned in my into post, I am really enjoying it. It is a very different experience than B/X D&D due to both the adventure path structure and the rules.

While I will post some more thoughts on the rules as we go, so far I am really enjoying the wonderful mishmash of rules. With the caveat that we are still at low level, I find the 2E ruleset to be quite tight and efficient. All of the options we have used so far have fit very seamlessly into the core systems.

The most common options we have used so far have been nonweapon proficiencies, kits and the combat options from the Complete Fighters Handbook.

Nonweapon Proficiencies and kits are an excellent way of adding depth to a character that does not interfere or dominate the standard class & race system. Your character is still mostly defined by their race and class but a whole new layer of detail can be added with these two simple subsystems. Nonweapon proficiencies do not exclude characters from trying anything but instead define what they are good or accomplished at. Kits are a great way to develop a characters backstory and roleplaying elements again without stepping on the toes of race and class or being overtly limiting mechanically.

I find the combat options also fit in very nicely with the base combat mechanics. In all of the cases I have seen so far in our campaign, if your character wants to try something a non-standard action it is handled very elegantly using either the standard attack roll or the base attribute check with maybe some modifiers. Very easy.

2E Rise of the Runelords - Session 2

Note that there are spoilers for Paizo's Rise of the Runelord adventure path.

Session 2: The Heroes of Sandpoint
This adventure happened in mid-November and featured:
- Kobb “One Tusk”, the half-orc mercenary,
- Toran Stargazer, the young thief from Magnimar,
- Asreal Nom, the savage human ranger, and
- Vardinil, the elven fighter/magic-user.

Summary: The party explores the village of Sandpoint, meets some residents and tries to figure out what is going on.

I. Noble Favours: The session picks up where the first session ended - battling goblins. The characters rescue a local noble, Aldern Foxglove, from a large goblin who was riding a fierce, hairless, dog-looking creature. Nobleman Foxglove subsequently rewards the party and take a particular interest in Asreal who stood toe-to-toe with the goblin and placed himself directly between the goblin and Aldern. He invites Asreal on a boar hunt and to his residence in Magnimar. Asreal gently but firmly declines.

II. Heroes Around Town: While investigating how the goblins entered to village, the party was received as heroes wherever they went. Word of their prowess at repelling the goblins had spread amongst the villagers.

While discussing the attack with Sheriff Hemlock and Father Zantus it is discovered that the grave of the former head priest, Father Tobyn, who died in the fire five years ago was dug up and the remains stolen during the attack. Next to the excavated gravesite was the grave of Nualia Tobyn and on it was fresh flowers.

III. Compromising Positions: The young rogue, Toran was approached by an attractive Shayliss Vinder, daughter of the owner of the General Store. She asked him to help her get rid of some huge rats in the basement of the store. When he went into the basement, her true motivation became apparent with a cot set up in the back corner. After a few amorous moments, Shayliss' large father came down the steps and discovered young Toran in a compromising position. A good tumbling check later, Toran was past Ven Vinder and fleeing up the stairs without his pants.

IV. The Protectors of Sandpoint: Sheriff Hemlock asked the party for a meeting at the village garrison. There he introduced them to Shalelu, an elven ranger and unofficial scout for the village. He asked the party to stay in the village and keep up a high profile while he travelled to the nearby city of Magnimar to get some troops to protect against any further goblin raids.

A few days later, a servant at the inn where most of the party was staying came and asked them for help. It seemed that the innkeeper, an exotic lady named Ameiko, had gone missing and a suspicious letter from her estranged brother, Tsuto, was found in her room. Following the lead in the note, the party searches the family's glassworks and finds the workers slaughtered and goblins frolicking amongst the gore in the workroom.

The session ended just as the party engaged the goblins in combat.

Body Count: Besides the opening combat this was a roleplaying heavy session. The party killed a Goblin Commando and a Goblin Dog. The party took no casualties.

Treasure: This session was too long ago for me to accurately recall what the party recovered. I do know they were paid a reward by Aldern Foxglove.


DM Notes: The initial encounters for Rise of the Runelords are with Goblins so the conversion has been pretty straight forward. Of course, the published adventure has a number of classed goblins and I wanted to retain some of the flavour so I have given some of the goblins special abilities. There is also a Goblin Commando riding a Goblin Dog which is a new monster in the adventure.

Goblin Warrior 1 = Normal 2E Goblins
Goblin Warchanter = Normal 2E Goblins + the ability to use the spell Taunt twice per day + armed with a whip
Goblin Commando = Goblin Leader as per 2E Goblin entry.

Goblin Dog
No. Appearing: 2-12
AC: 7
Mv: 15
HD: 1
THACO: 19 (note that for monster I use the simple formula of Thaco = 20 - HD)
No. Attacks: 1 bite
Damage: 1-6 + allergic reaction
Special Attacks: Allergic Reaction - Any non-goblinoid creature that is damaged by a goblin dog’s bite attack must make a save vs poison or break out in an itching rash. Any creature affected by this rash takes a – 2 penalty to Dexterity and Charisma for 1 day.
Special Defenses: Nil
Magic Resistance: Nil
Size: Medium
Morale: Average (10)

In the Beginning

Back in November, I began a 2E AD&D campaign running Paizo's Rise of the Runelords adventure path. I have been making a few posts over at Dragonsfoot about the campaign but I have decided to make some blog posts here as well. We are now six sessions in and I am really enjoying it.

We are about 2/3rds of the way through the first instalment and the adventure is quite good. We will see how it holds up as we go as we are not far enough along to have to deal with some of the issues involved with running an adventure path.

The group is made up of two players that I have been playing with for some time now and three new players. I have to admit that I am quite happy with how the group has meshed. So far this has been the funnest group I have had in a while.

Rules, Initial Character Generation and the First Session

For rules we are using:
2E Core
+ some of the Optional rules in the PHB
+ the Complete Handbooks (all material used from these must be vetted first)
+ some house rules

The house rules are basically:
- Humans gain two additional nonweapon proficiencies
- Ambidexterity, Blind-fighting and Two-Weapon fighting (and maybe a few more) can only be taken as Weapon Proficiencies instead of Nonweapon proficiencies
- Material components for spells are abstracted. Arcane materials have been added to the equipment list. They are the catchall for material components for spells. If your wizard casts a spell that requires a 100 gp pearl, I am not going to make sure you have it on your equipment list but I do want you to make sure you have at least 100 gp of Arcane Materials on your character sheet which can be used. If no cost is given for material components the cost will be 10 times the spell level in gps.

Initial Character Generation
We used 4d6, drop lowest and each player rolled two arrays. The player then got to choose which array they wanted to use. The resulting PCs were:

- Kobb One Tusk, a half-orc fighter with the sell-sword kit and specialization with a spear.

- Goalrath Shadowmoon, an elven cleric of Sarenrae (a Sun specialty priest from Complete Priest's Handbook plus allowed to use a scimitar and a few other minor changes).

- Vardinil, an elven fighter/magic-user. I allowed him to spend a couple of weapon proficiencies to be able to cast spells while wearing chainmail. He still has to make an INT check with a penalty equal to the spell level. If he fails he loses the spell. The player has also been warned that I reserve the right to screw with his character if he rolls a "1".

- Asreal Nom, a human ranger (Shoanti for those who are familiar with Paizo's world of Golarion).

- Toran Stargazer, a human thief focused on breaking and entering instead of traps and combat.

First Session
Following character generation the players wanted to get right to the action so we began a short session.

All of the characters were in the village of Sandpoint enjoying the Swallowtail Festival. Toran and Goalrath were eagerly awaiting the dedication of the new cathedral that had been built to replace the old chapel that was destroyed by fire five year ago. Kobb was enjoying some ale. Asreal was scanning the crowd. And Vardinil was listening to the speeches.

Suddenly the festival was interrupted by goblins rampaging through the streets - setting fires, butchering dogs and terrorizing villagers. The characters quickly joined forces and battled the goblins.

The quick session ended after the characters had defeated two different groups of goblins and were about to confront a goblin riding a fierce, hairless, dog-looking creature.

A Different Stream of Thought

This blog is for me to keep my 2nd edition AD&D campaign seperate from my regular blog at Ode to Black Dougal which focuses on my favourite version of D&D - the Basic/Expert version.

While B/X D&D is my favourite, I am really enjoying my 2nd edition AD&D campaign. It is using Paizo's Rise of the Runelords Adventure Path as its core with some side-quests thrown in.

This is the first time I have run 2nd edition since I was in college, oh so long ago. It is also the first time I have ever run an Adventure Path.

I am hoping this blog gives me the opportunity to relate my thoughts about both 2nd edition AD&D and running an Adventure Path. I am hoping to include session summaries, conversion notes and general thoughts. I hope you enjoy.