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Adaptations

Hurray for d20 adaptations! One of the patrons over from Open Design turns out to have all sorts of conversion talents. He has updated a bunch of my monster material to 3.5 and much more besides, and it's worth a look. We may differ about the correct CR of the Flayed Man update (I think the CR is too high), but I like the Undead War Elephant and the True Ghoul template.

And one of my favorites, the Whispering Moths, now have the swarm template. I wrote the moths in a fit of "Lovecraft meets Underdark" enthusiasm for Dragon, oh, maybe 8 years ago. Properly presented to a party, I think they can creep people the hell out.

He also has excellent taste in British monsters: the shadow goblins and winter kobolds from White Dwarf, the Gloranthan duck, Donaldson's cavewight. Yes, the winter kobold is just a kobold with fur; that's the point. Good stuff.

Comments

( 8 sutras — Your wisdom )
ratmmjess
Aug. 24th, 2006 01:02 pm (UTC)
good gawd...Whispering Moths. Yeah, they would *definitely* creep me the hell out.
garnfellow
Aug. 24th, 2006 02:23 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the link. I certainly appreciate any and all comments, and hope other DMs get to use some of these monsters in their own games.

The flayed man’s Challenge Rating is a tough one, and demonstrates a problem in the current CR guidelines with spellcasters. By the book, an NPC with class levels and appropriate equipment has a CR equal to her total class levels. (Assuming no racial HD, templates, or other factors.) So a 10th level human wizard is CR 10.

One line of logic would go something like this: if a 10th level wizard is CR 10, then a creature that casts spells as a 10th level wizard should be *at least* CR 10.

Of course, class abilities are not the only thing that goes into an NPC’s challenge rating: equipment is also an important factor, though hard to quantify. What is the CR of a 10th level wizard with no gear? CR 9? CR 8? I’m not sure, but I do think that equipment plays an increasingly important role in CR at higher levels.

Now the flayed man has several monstrous abilities that mimic character gear, like its negative ray (which functions like a wand), natural armor bonus (like various rings and bracers), and so on. Using just a simplistic analysis, it appeared like the flayed man is roughly equivalent to a 10th level NPC with levels in a PC spellcasting class and with appropriate gear.

If such an NPC is CR 10, I went with the conservative school and gave the flayed man a CR of 10, too.

There’s one big problem with this, though: I don’t really think a 10th level NPC wizard is really worth CR 10. In my experience, a spellcaster’s CR usually lags behind its class levels, and this lag increases at higher levels.

Maybe a 1st level wizard is CR 1, but a 10th level wizard is probably more like CR 8 or 9, and a 20th level wizard seems more like a CR 17 or 18 encounter. (In my experience -- as always, YMMV.)

So I’m thinking that a flayed man’s "true" CR is less than 10. Probably not as low as 7, but somewhere around 8 or 9. Since I haven’t done enough playtesting to calibrate this guess, I’ve stuck with the conservative CR 10 for now. Would love to hear thoughts, though.
the_monkey_king
Aug. 24th, 2006 06:27 pm (UTC)
I agree that a 10th level wizard NPC isn't CR10. He needs a ton of support or prep time to make it as a challenge at that level.

The flayed man's AC is still pretty low for a CR 10 challenge, and his spells are nice but he'll only get to use a handful of them. So part of it depends on the circumstances of the encounter: if he's backed up by some minions to keep the melee at a distance, or if it's a ranged encounter, he's tougher. If PCs surprise him in a small room, it's over in one or two rounds and not much of a challenge. It's a problem that all the spell-based monsters share: their effectiveness depends on how long they stay out of melee.

I'm interested in your statement about gear. Some monsters are written with standard gear (usually weapons), but I often add magical treasure to creatures as part of their armament without upping the EL. Hm. Worth some thought.
garnfellow
Aug. 27th, 2006 12:00 pm (UTC)
Quantifying the effect of gear is a pretty tough nut to crack, since CR and gear levels aren't linear and follow deviating progressions. I think the best one could hope for would be some vague guideline like this: creature with PC level of gear or better = CR +1; creature with less than 1/2 NPC level of gear = CR -1.

I don't believe [i]Dungeon[/i] adjusts EL based on gear, though powerful items usually get factored into the ad hoc XP awards. The Age of Worms has a few encounters with artifact-wielding NPCs, and I don't think any of those encounters had adjusted ELs. And if the Hand of Vecna doesn't boost your Challenge Rating, that extra [i]potion of glibness[/i] probably doesn't, either.

On another note, I posted my 3.5 updates of your necromantic siege engines from [i]Secret College of Necromancy[/i] (http://home.gwi.net/~rdorman/frilond/rul/dm/necro.htm), including the dragon engine, ether tower, and zombie ram.

My mostly weekly game is probably about 6-8 months away from playing my 3.5 version of Kingdom of the Ghouls -- right now they're wrapping up Snurre's Hall and are about to enter my 3.5 version of Descent into the Depths of the Earth. Rather than end up in the Demonweb, though, they'll be visiting the White Kingdom.
garnfellow
Aug. 27th, 2006 12:19 pm (UTC)
Hmmm, I should have previewed that last post. Evidently Livejournal doesn't allow formatting or editing. Live and learn.

I should also point out that the CRs for these updates should be taken with a grain or two of salt. Constructs are another problem area for the CR guidelines: external factors (encounter setup, PC resources, etc.) can really swing their challenge wildly up or down, making them hard to pin down without playtesting.
sigtrent
Aug. 24th, 2006 03:52 pm (UTC)
I didn't have time to give it much of a once over much less make demanding patron type comments. :>

"I want a bronze statue of myself!" or something... I'm new to the patron thing.

Perhaps I'll have a chance to go over it at PAX this weekend on the laptop.

Anyhow, thanks to the other patrons for adding to the pot.
wahcrysob
Aug. 25th, 2006 01:17 pm (UTC)
The third Adventure Builder article is up here, though I don't have time to read it as I write this, I'll read it later and just assume it's good.
paka
Aug. 25th, 2006 08:06 pm (UTC)
I really like the true ghouls, but the whisper moths are definitely a great idea - they peg the Lovecraftian flavor very nicely and it'd be cool to use them in an actual Call of Cthulhu game, where nobody would expect them!
( 8 sutras — Your wisdom )

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