General Discussion

Malrex

So ... slow work day? Every day?
Coming at it from the complete opposite end, I've considered putting in an Appendix with a brief summary of how the playtesters experienced the sandbox. I think it would help a DM see how things could go down, especially in a larger sandbox where all the interconnections are buried in the main text. I know I value the hints scattered in T1 about Gygax's campaign.
That's an interesting idea. Ive wondered if others would find value/interest in it. I thought about writing something like that for Vermilion because I threw all these cool quests and tasks and the party decided to go save a sheep instead...lol.
 

grodog

Should be playing D&D instead
Coming at it from the complete opposite end, I've considered putting in an Appendix with a brief summary of how the playtesters experienced the sandbox. I think it would help a DM see how things could go down, especially in a larger sandbox where all the interconnections are buried in the main text. I know I value the hints scattered in T1 about Gygax's campaign.
I find these kinds of sidebar asides very useful in general, and in particular for more complex and/or plot-convoluted adventures.

Pagan Publishing doing them in the 1990s in their CoC campaigns is the first time I recall seeing PT reports regularly in adventures.

Allan.
 

The1True

8, 8, I forget what is for
There are "From my campaign to yours" side bars in Ptolus and Barrowmaze. They're interesting and occasionally useful. The problem is referencing the useful ones can be hard. Memory confuses them with the body of the functional text and tends to think of side bars as fluff, and they become a blind spot when you're scanning for something.

Also, no shade on Ptolus or Barrowmaze, both of which have been excellent, but side bars, shout outs, footnotes etc. often seem like self indulgence on the part of the writer to me as a reader. I wish I could put my finger on why since I usually enjoy taking a look behind the curtain, but I've been making an effort to remove references to myself or personal comments from my module writing as a result.
 

squeen

8, 8, I forget what is for
I was thinking more along the line of "When entering the City of Fubar, the party decided to do X which resulted in Fraction A doing this...". Or "the stalemate in region Y can be broken a number of ways. In the original campaign, the party zigged towards A which caused the following chain reaction..."

I did not have in mind anything that took it down to the player-name/class level or was long winded. Just practical examples of how to use the setting.
 

Beoric

8, 8, I forget what is for
I was thinking more along the line of "When entering the City of Fubar, the party decided to do X which resulted in Fraction A doing this...". Or "the stalemate in region Y can be broken a number of ways. In the original campaign, the party zigged towards A which caused the following chain reaction..."

I did not have in mind anything that took it down to the player-name/class level or was long winded. Just practical examples of how to use the setting.
This would be especially good in a teaching module, where it shows the DM how the environment can change based on PC actions. I think that can be a tough thing for beginning DMs to grok, which may be yet another reason that railroaded modules are so popular.
 

squeen

8, 8, I forget what is for
The difference would be, instead of telling a DM an elaborate chain of IF-THEN-ELSE set of instructions, you are just telling them (in an Appendix) what actually did happen in one or more cases of actual play. I think it would be less dry and more inspiring.
 

grodog

Should be playing D&D instead
Agreed. Anthony Huso has done this to good effect in some of his adventures, too.

Allan.
 

robertsconley

Should be playing D&D instead
Coming at it from the complete opposite end, I've considered putting in an Appendix with a brief summary of how the playtesters experienced the sandbox. I think it would help a DM see how things could go down, especially in a larger sandbox where all the interconnections are buried in the main text. I know I value the hints scattered in T1 about Gygax's campaign.
In Scrouge of Demon Wolf, I felt my observations flowed better when I wrote them up as strategically placed Rob's Notes relevant to the portion of the adventure being described.

The Slain Tinker
Halfway between Kensla and Denison’s Crossing the party will encounter an overturned cart. There is a body next to the cart with several stab wounds in the front and three parallel bloody gashes on his back. The gashes appear to have been made by a large claw. An observant party member will see that the stab wounds in the front appear to be made by a weapon. The site of the attack is about 2 miles from Dension’s Crossing and 3 miles from Kensla in the midst of a forest.

The body is of Anvald, a local tinker. He makes a circuit covering the villages of the Barony of Westtower. He peddles pots, pans, and trinkets. He visits Kensla once every month or two. There is nothing left of his stock, only a few trinkets (worth 10d) lie scattered on the ground.

There is no sign of the animal that was pulling the cart. A tracking check at +5[+25%] will determine it was a mule. A tracking check will uncover several large clawed footprints leading north. They disappear about 200 yards into the woods. A tracking check at –5[-25%] will uncover normal man size tracks that circle around the site of the attack. These tracks can be followed a quarter of a mile to an escarpment where the bandit cave can be spotted.

Rob’s Note: Half of the groups failed to find the bandit tracks. They either blew their roll or just plain didn’t check. Most parties noticed the difference between the stab wounds in the front and the claws in the back. This led some to conclude that werewolves were involved. Remember the bandit encounters are optional and not critical to the resolution of the adventure. One party repaired the cart to return the body of the tinker to the village.
 

Beoric

8, 8, I forget what is for
In Scrouge of Demon Wolf, I felt my observations flowed better when I wrote them up as strategically placed Rob's Notes relevant to the portion of the adventure being described.
I like that. Make short comments an easily ignorable sidebar. But I also like the "Secret History" in ToEE, which is basically a play summary from Gary's campaign involving the Temple.
 

DangerousPuhson

So ... slow work day? Every day?
Coming at it from the complete opposite end, I've considered putting in an Appendix with a brief summary of how the playtesters experienced the sandbox. I think it would help a DM see how things could go down, especially in a larger sandbox where all the interconnections are buried in the main text. I know I value the hints scattered in T1 about Gygax's campaign.
Always a fun idea, so long as it's not something intrusive like putting the bodies of your past parties onto the official map for publication, or something crazy like that...

I joke Melan, I joke. That was actually pretty cool in CX.
 

Beoric

8, 8, I forget what is for
I've always suspected this was the case with the carnage at that first intersection in B1.
 

Beoric

8, 8, I forget what is for
5e question for @DangerousPuhson. The DMG at p. 82 has an encounter difficulty which goes to 20th level, with a 12,700 XP "deadly" encounter being the highest XP on there. But there are quite a few monters more difficult than that, for instance a Marilith is worth15,000 XP, and a Balor is worth 22,000. Is there an extension of the chart for higher level characters/higher CR monsters? Or how is this supposed to be handled?
 

DangerousPuhson

So ... slow work day? Every day?
5e question for @DangerousPuhson. The DMG at p. 82 has an encounter difficulty which goes to 20th level, with a 12,700 XP "deadly" encounter being the highest XP on there. But there are quite a few monters more difficult than that, for instance a Marilith is worth15,000 XP, and a Balor is worth 22,000. Is there an extension of the chart for higher level characters/higher CR monsters? Or how is this supposed to be handled?
Honestly I ignore most of the 5e DMG, including its guidelines about Challenge Ratings, Adventuring Days, and Encounter Balance. The CR system is 90% of most people's complaints about 5e, and I hate to say it, but they aren't wrong - WotC fucked it from the start. Nonetheless...

That 12,700 is not a ceiling. The idea is that "deadly" is a threshold; a number to be crossed. 12,700XP is "deadly". 15,000XP is also "deadly", as is 22,000XP. There is no ceiling as to what you can throw at the players - encounter labels like "deadly" are only meant to indicate the general difficulty of that match-up (i.e. "according to our MonsterXP-to-CharacterLevel formula, if you use this monster against these characters at this level, it will probably result in the death of at least one of them"). "Deadly" just means "highly inadvisable, don't expect much more fight out of your PCs today".

In a nutshell - you don't need to extend the chart because "deadly" is the highest encounter difficulty there is.
 
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Beoric

8, 8, I forget what is for
The reason I ask because I sometimes convert 5e material to 4e. So I want to know the relative power of a monster in relation to the PCs. I generally to that assuming that what a system says about itself is true. So for conversions from 1e I use monster XP, for 3e I use CR.

For 5e I've been calculating the encounter XP, and assuming that the minimum threshhold for "deadly" corresponds roughly to the level of PC. So for instance if a single creature is worth XP 10,900, I convert that as a solo monster of 19th level; whereas if 4-5 monsters are worth 10,900, I convert them as 19th level standard monsters (it's a bit more complicated than that, but you get the gist). The results have been unexpectedly consistent. But I have no way of doing that for any creature with a CR larger than 15.

So an extended chart would have been helpful, even if it doesn't really work that way in practice. I have tried just following the pattern of XP increases on the chart, and that has worked... ok, but something official would be better.
 

DangerousPuhson

So ... slow work day? Every day?
Personally, I get the best conversion results by assigning comparative AC, HP, and damage output to a similar existing creature at that level. All the rest is flavor and tactics. I find that with a few obvious exceptions, the real heart of converting monster stats are just tweaking those three values to something level-appropriate. At least, that's how it goes in my admittedly limited experience with conversions...
 

Beoric

8, 8, I forget what is for
Yeah, those are wildly different values in 4e than in any other edition. And it doesn't tell me how tough the encounter is relative to a party of any given level.

Like, I re-use these monsters, so I like to be able to just drop them whenever whatever module I am using refers to them, or if I am DMing on the fly, without customizing them for the particular party level. For instance, I know that a 0e or Basic orc is a 4e level 3 standard monster or a level 11 minion; whereas a 1e or 3e orc is a 4e level 4 standard monster or a level 12 minion; every time, for all purposes.

And when I am using a module, I want to make the experience as close to the original as possible. So I need to know the relative difficulty of every challenge. But it looks like I'm just going to have to wing it when it comes to higher CR 5e monsters.
 

DangerousPuhson

So ... slow work day? Every day?
I think if you try to use the already unbalanced 5e encounter design mechanics to try and design/balance 4e encounters, you're gonna have a bad time. Might be easier to find an existing 4e monster (or two) of an appropriate challenge to the party to use as a stat range template, and reskin it with the relevant abilities (provided they aren't gamebreaking enough to bump up the challenge beyond reason).

Also, I'm not sure why you are doing so, but you probably shouldn't balance against the "deadly" level in encounter design as your baseline. A "deadly" encounter is already considered decidedly unbalanced for 5e; the kind of encounter your party can bear once before they need to recover entirely. Plus it has no ceiling, as you've identified earlier. A Marilith and a Balor will be wildly different challenges, but both are "deadly" encounters. And given that the 5e to 4e conversion mechanics are held together by hopes and prayers as they are, maybe not a great approach to rely on any of it beyond an informal, experimental way.

If you want to start somewhere doing direct XP conversions, look at the creatures through the lens of CR (a specific number that equates directly to player character level), not the arbitrary labels of 5e encounter balance that basically equate to "this is easy" and "this is hard".
 
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