Wednesday, September 14, 2011

ToEE 4E DM Notes - Levels and Treasure

This fighter's mark appears to be quite effective

Here's how the levels break down for each part of the adventure:

  • Moathouse Upper Level  - Level 1 (it's the starter section of the adventure and should let them get to Lvl 2)
  • Moathouse Dungeon Level - Level 2 (the party should be level 2 before they hit this)
  • Nulb and the surrounding countryside  - Level 3 (High enough to be dangerous for a few more levels but low enough to be ignored as the PC's ascend. I may stick a higher level young dragon or wyvern out in the woods too as a side trek in case they get tired of dungeon crawling.)
  • Ruins of the Temple - Level 4 (Party could be level 3 or 4 when they get here
  • 1st Temple level  - Level 5 (one level deeper = one level tougher)
  • 2nd Temple level  - Level 6
  • 3rd Temple Level  - Level 7
  • 4th Temple Level  - Level 8
  • Elemental Nodes - Level 9 (gets nasty here with some planar stuff leaking in, could be enough material to pick up two levels if they spend time in all four nodes)
  • Final battle - Level 10 (PC's should gain enough XP to advance to 11 when this is over. Paragon, here we come!)
This applies to the experience totals for each encounter on each level although the creatures will not be restricted to this level only - many will be stronger. A typical level will have the requisite 10 encounters but some may have a few more and some may have a few less - conversion means that things don't always line up perfectly. They might also miss some things as "1E Adventure" means lots of secret doors. Having only 4 characters will probably take some adjusting too but we'll see how it goes.

This level also applies to the DC's for typical unopposed skill checks like picking locks etc to reflect the equipment getting better as you get closer to the leaders of the place.  Not everything is affected by this - monster knowledge is driven by the monster's level, Stealth checks are opposed by a monster's Perception, etc. as normal.

The original adventure covers levels 1-8 and pretty much assumes the PC's are level 3 before they head for the temple itself. As I recall 3rd level felt a little low when we ran through it, even in 2nd Edition. Characters in 4E are a little different so I think 3rd - 4th will be just fine. Old school adventures are not as clear on the level breakdowns for each level but things do get tougher as one descends - I might as well spell it out with this edition and aim for certain amounts of XP and treasure.

When it comes to magic items I am going to try and keep roughly the same items but there are a LOT of magic items in this adventure and I'm not sure I'm going to be able to work in every one of them, but I'm going to hit the high points - flaming swords, wands, staves, Fragarach - you know, the good stuff. I like having a party loaded up with gear - it means they have fewer excuses when things go poorly.

Monetary treasure is where things get off track quickly. I'm picky enough about this that I went through and added up the treasure and magic for the Moathouse levels. Here is what I found:

  • Moathouse Level 1 max treasure: 1,762 gp, 4X +1 Arrows and a +1 Shield
  • Recommended 4E treasure for 1st level: 720 gp and 4 magic items

Ok, that's not too far off. I can probably just leave the gold as-is, but 4E doesn't have magical arrows like that so I'll have to adjust it a bit. Besides, the way the treasue tends to be hidden in these old school adventures, they may not find it all anyway.

  • Moathouse Level 2 max treasure: 28,800 gp, Cloak of Elvenkind, 2X Scrolls, Potion, Phylactery of Action, Staff of Striking, +1 Plate Mail
  • Recommended 4E treasure for 2nd level: 1,040 gp, 4 magic items

Wow do we have a problem there! That's comparable to the total treasure of a 9th level party in 4E! The magic  items are not far off so that part is alright but the difference in the gold is huge. One quirk is that most of the loot is tied up in just the final "boss" encounter in the moathouse - over 20,000 gp and those last 3 items are all found there.

Now I haven't done this for the rest of the adventure but right away I know I have a problem in that the gold does not easily translate 1 to 1. So I can ignore it and hand out the gold as written, or I can use it as written at a certain ratio, say 1/10th of the original (in other words a lot more silver pieces), or I can ignore the original and put in what the 4E DMG says are standard amounts.

The funny thing is that the prices for normal equipment in 4E are pretty close to those in 1E:

  • 1E Longsword 15gp, 4E longsword 15gp
  • 1E Footman's Mace 8gp, 4E Mace 5gp
  • 1E Battle Axe 5gp, 4E Battle Axe 15gp
  • 1E Longbow 60gp, 4E Longbow 30gp
  • 1E Chainmail 75gp, 4E Chainmail 40gp
  • 1E Scale mail 45gp, 4E Scale mail 45gp
Most mundane equipment ends up being pretty close in price with the exception of Plate, which was 400gp in 1E and is only 75gp in 4E, an amount very similar to what it was in Basic D&D.

So if the costs of normal gear are comparable, what's up with the huge difference in gold awards? Well, in AD&D, gold = experience points.  Experience points for the actual slaying of monsters was pretty low - most of your experience points came from the gold that you recover after slaying said monsters, to the tune of 1gp = 1xp. Now this was clearly stated as a rule in the books, but a lot of people had trouble wrapping their heads around it logically and dropped it from their campaigns. These are the people who talk about how slow level advancement was in the old days. Those of us who kept the rule tended to level up at a fairly steady pace until somewhere around 9th-11th level where you would suddenly hit a wall and need something like a million XP's to advance to the next level - that could take a while. Looking at the Moathouse, 31,000 gold means most characters in a party of six would advance to at least 3rd level upon finishing that part of the adventure and putting 2/3rds of it in one room means that they have to beat Lareth to earn it! That's pretty smart planning. Analyzing it though makes it clear that the amount is based on 1E levelling needs, not any sort of economic concern. So I think that if we stick pretty close to the 4E treasure guidelines we should do just fine - and now I have my solution to the monetary treasure problem.

Next up - Stocking The Moathouse!


Dangerous Brian said...

A good well thought out argument.

Dangerous Brian said...

Hmmm. Lost part of the post. What I meant to say was:

A good well thought out argument. But, have you considered keeping more of the 1E flavour by keeping the 1gp=1xp rule. Perhaps even ignoring XP for defeating creatures and overcoming skill challenges altogether?

Jeremy said...

That might have interesting effects...

DM: What do you mean you search the room again, you took 20! You've searched it for hours as long and hard as you are capable of.

Players: We know you are hiding a secret room with our next level in shiny gold coins in it around here somewhere. We all climb in and search again!

DM: But it's just a closet......

Blacksteel said...

DB - that is an awesome idea that I had not previously considered...

I need to think about that, call it something like the Ad&d 4E experience system - 10xp per monster level, 1xp per gp. I kind of like that. The numbers don't match up well with 4E prices as level 1 treasure is 720 and a party of 5 would need 5000 gp to level up, but it does shuft the focus back to greed instead of violence. That could be a lot of fun.

Taketoshi said...

you lost me at "4e doesn't have magic arrows".


Blacksteel said...

Hi Tak - That's not totally new in 4E. Even in 3E they noticed that being able to stack a +X Bow with +X Arrows is a pretty nasty trick and a loophole that makes archers quite a bit better than melee fighters. I bleieve that solution was to make bows a + to-hit only, and arrows a + to-damage only, but that's a little clunky. 4E just said to heck with it and made bows the magic part and arrows something you don't worry about too much.