Monday, March 15, 2010

Runeforged Weapons

Inevitably, the PCs are going to want to craft runeforged weapons for themselves in order to take on Karzoug. I want to talk a little about how I see these being implemented in a 4th edition game. There are a number of considerations to take into account here - Should the runeforged enchantment replace the weapon's enchantment, or simply augment it? How should the traits manifest (the actual mechanics of the enchantment)? Should PCs be allowed to enchant implements in addition to weapons? Should an associated increase in value be added (in case, for instance, the party wanted to sell or disenchant the item)? Should the Transfer Enchantment ritual affect the runeforged enchantment, and if so, how? Let's break it down.

In the original adventure, as part of the 3.5 mechanics, the runeforged weapons were simply additional enchantments that a weapon could gain (they had a +2 bonus attached, and increased the value of the weapon accordingly). The goal here should be to provide the PCs with a weapon they will actually want to wield. To that end, having the new enchantment replace the old would be counter-productive; it would not be unlikely for a PC to decide that the current enchantment on his weapon is a better fit for him than whatever enchantment a runeforged weapon might provide. On the other hand, simply providing an additional effect will make the PCs slightly more powerful than is expected of them at this level. This is a balance consideration, then. One thought I had was to remove a couple treasure parcels from the allotment in order to offset this new source of magic item power.

In order to avoid penalizing implement-wielding characters for no particular reason, runeforged enchantments should apply just as easily to implements as they do to weapons.

Regarding the actual properties of the runeforged weapon enchantments, each should definitely be unique. While some mechanics are easy to translate over to 4th edition, others are less straightforward. Covetous weapons, for instance, are easy to adjudicate - fire resistance and the fire subtype both exist in 4th edition. The Tyrannical enchantment, on the other hand, runs into issues; PCs do not usually fight monsters that are "summoned" in the same sense that PCs can use powers with the summoning keyword, and an effect equivalent to dismissal is clearly too strong an effect to attach to the weapon. Additionally, the spellcaster-damaging property on each weapon is a problem, as school distinctions no longer exist. Here are my thoughts on each enchantment, for right now:

Miserly Weapon/Implement
Property: Whenever you make an attack using this weapon or implement, you gain an item bonus to the attack's damage rolls against shadow creatures equal to the weapon's (or implement's) enhancement bonus.
Power (Daily): As a minor action, you touch your weapon or implement to any adjacent illusion you have seen through with a successful Insight check. Effect: All allies within 10 squares can also see through the illusion as though they had made a successful Insight check.

Covetous Weapon/Implement
Property: Whenever you make an attack using this weapon or implement, you gain an item bonus to the attack's damage rolls against creatures with the fire keyword equal to the weapon's (or implement's) enhancement bonus.
Property: You gain resist 5 fire.

Jealous Weapon/Implement
Property: Whenever you make an attack using this weapon or implement, you gain an item bonus to the attack's damage rolls against undead creatures equal to the weapon's (or implement's) enhancement bonus.
Power (Daily): Free Action. Trigger: You would take necrotic damage from an attack. Effect: You ignore all damage from the triggering attack.

Domineering Weapon/Implement
Property: Whenever you make an attack using this weapon or implement, you gain an item bonus to the attack's damage rolls against creatures with the shapechanger keyword equal to the weapon's (or implement's) enhancement bonus.
Power (Daily): Free Action. Select a penalty from a single source that you are currently suffering from. Until the end of the encounter or until that penalty would expire (whichever comes first), you are no longer suffering from that penalty.

Tyrannical Weapon/Implement
Property: Whenever you hit a minion with an attack using this weapon or implement, you gain temporary hit points equal to the weapon's (or implement's) enhancement bonus.
Power (Daily): Free Action. Trigger: You hit an immortal creature with an attack using this weapon or implement. Effect: The immortal creature is dismissed (save ends). While dismissed, the target cannot take actions and cannot be targeted. On a save, it returns to the space it was last in. If that space is occupied, the target returns to the nearest unoccupied space of its choice.

Sadistic Weapon/Implement
Property: Whenever you make an attack using this weapon or implement, you gain an item bonus to the attack's damage rolls against creatures marking you equal to the weapon's (or implement's) enhancement bonus. 
Power (Daily): Immediate Interrupt. Trigger: An enemy within 10 squares succeeds on a saving throw against an effect caused by you. Effect: The triggering enemy fails the saving throw instead.

Parasitic Weapon/Implement
Property: Whenever you make an attack using this weapon or implement, you gain an item bonus to the attack's damage rolls against any creature suffering from a charm effect equal to the weapon's (or implement's) enhancement bonus.
Power (Daily • Healing): Free Action. Trigger: You hit an enemy suffering from a charm effect with an attack using this weapon or implement. Effect: You gain hit points as though you had spent a healing surge, and one charm effect of your choice on the target ends immediately.

The question of value is one that must be addressed. If a runeforged enchantment adds potent abilities, shouldn't that be reflected in the item's value? This is especially true if we then reduce the number of magic items the party will receive in order to balance the enchantments out. My current thoughts are to simply increase the effective level of any runeforged weapon or implement by 1 for the purposes of determining its value.

Transfer Enchantment should work to the players' benefit here, allowing them the choice of transferring either all of a given weapon's (or implement's) enchantments (both magical and runeforged) to a new weapon or implement, or just the runeforged enchantment. A runeforged enchantment cannot be transferred to a non-magical weapon or implement, however.

Let me know what you think of these ideas. Given the very limited nature of these enchantments' use (only a handful can be made, and they are only intended to be used for the final adventure of a single campaign), issues of balance aren't of critical importance, but should still be kept in mind.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Improved Clone

As you're probably aware, this conversion is aimed at ending mid-epic tier. I'm know, however, that many groups will want to continue on past that point, to greater things. In Sins of the Saviors, the party can recover information on the Improved Clone spell, allowing a spellcaster so inclined to spend a great deal of time researching and perfecting it until it was able to provide him with virtual immortality. This is a prime target for implementation as a ritual in 4e. Here's what I'm thinking:

First, Improved Clone would represent the upper end of what a ritual could do - in fact, immortality of some sort is an inherent part of each character's epic destiny. Improved Clone will therefore likely end up as a 30th level ritual.

Next, it will have a substantial cost, in components, time, and personal investiture. Obviously, this will be a monetarily expensive ritual. It needs to account for the game utility of essentially having a backup character in the event of an untimely demise - in many ways, it is far superior to the raise dead ritual. Time-wise, the ritual should take either a year and a day, or ten years and a day to successfully perform, with each passing day requiring a payment of healing surges to sustain its casting. All of these costs would need to be paid each time the ritual is performed; once the original body dies, it would be assumed as part of the ritual that the cloned character would forget the particulars of the ritual, and would need to spend the time and money associated with the ritual to become reacquainted with it.

Give me your thoughts on this ritual. What should be required to perform it? Should it have any side effects on the character? Because of the attractiveness of this ritual, it can have some significant hurdles or downsides, without dissuading players from pursuing it. How long should it take to sustain it to completion? Let's hear it!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Fortress of the Stone Giants Conversion v0.1

Here it is: the compiled PDF of my Fortress of the Stone Giants conversion. As always, please leave comments and suggestions here, and please point out any errors you find (I already discovered that I forgot to give Mokmurian languages). Enjoy!

Fortress of the Stone Giants Conversion v0.1

Friday, February 26, 2010

Reflected Enmity

My players have decided to explore the Shimmering Veils of Pride first, which means we're coming up on the mirrors of opposition at the entrance. How should I make these function in the 4e conversion? Simply copying their entire character twice seems like overkill - that's a lot of extra abilities and powers that probably won't be used (and, if they were used, would probably represent a much greater challenge for the party than they can handle). I could also create new monster stat blocks for each PC, in anticipation of their activation of the mirrors, or I could turn each character into an NPC stat block (using the class templates presented in the DMGs). The last option is to simply make each PC-reflection monster the same: a generic mirror entity monster that simply wears the face of whichever PC brought it forth.

What do you think? Some options are clearly more work than others, but would be more flavorful. I'm currently leaning towards the NPC-stat-block solution, but this poses some difficulties for a published conversion: there's no way I can know what your own party is comprised of. If I decided to use customized stat blocks for each individual party member, you as the DM would have to create them yourself to match your own party once you reached this point in the adventure.

Monday, February 22, 2010


At the end of the last session of my playtest game, the PCs woke the elder white dragon Arkrhyst from his slumber, and he barreled down at them from Rimeskull.

At this point in the campaign, the PCs are 17th level. It is ideal, then, that an Elder White Dragon is a level 17 solo brute. I don't think a single white dragon makes for a particularly interesting fight, so I'm planning on spicing it up with a couple of the new living spells released in this month's Dragon - it seems reasonable to rule that the presence of a portal to one of the most magically potent locations in existence might give rise to some stray magical anomalies. In fact, I like the idea that Arkrhyst's substantial time spent here has given him a few extra abilities - specifically the power to create and control a couple of these living spells.

I also want to drop Arkrhyst's hit points down to Monster Manual 2 standards, and give him a couple more abilities to even things out. First, to help with his damage output, I'll give him something to break through some of the PCs' cold resistance, especially when bloodied. PCs should be rewarded for having powers that supply them with the appropriate resistances, but in a fight like this featuring so much cold damage it can easily become an "I win" button.

So here are a couple questions that I'd love to hear interesting answers to:

  • How should the Stone Runelord Heads feature in this fight? Should they be little more than terrain, or should they have a fantastical power that can be taken advantage of in the fight? Should they explode if caught in the crossfire of the battle with Arkrhyst?
  • What other power or ability should I grant Arkrhyst, in addition to being able to reduce resistances? Should he have something that lets him command living spells actively? Something else that highlights his arcane strengths?
Comment quickly!

The Best Use of This Space

I've been giving this blog's purpose a lot of thought recently. Don't worry, this project is still going full-steam ahead, even if the publishing side of it is way, way behind. The process of essentially publishing everything twice - once to the blog in the form of posts, and then once to a file-sharing site in a compiled format - is fairly inefficient. It lets you take a look at my design process, to a certain extent, and that's good. It generates feedback, and I can always incorporate that feedback into the next iteration of the conversion material. But I don't need the blog to do that, really. I always end up making changes to the conversions even after they're published in compiled form.

I'd rather do something else with this space.

From now on, I'll be posting regular updates on the material I'm currently working on, occasionally even before my players get around to it. These will be in-depth looks at my design choices, and I'll be looking for a lot of feedback to help me make these conversions the best they can be. This might take the form of a poll on what direction I should take an encounter, or a critique of a stat block, or simply advice on how to break down a section of the adventure into manageable chunks.

The conversions themselves will be published as finished adventure compilations, just as they have been.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Revisions Uploaded

I've posted revised versions of both the Burnt Offerings compiled conversion and The Skinsaw Murders compiled conversion.

You'll notice that I also removed the Player's Guide elements from the Burnt Offerings conversion. These are now located in the Pathfinder Adventures Character Elements document, along with other options from the Curse of the Crimson Throne Player's Guide. This new document will serve as a collection of options that should be made available to players at the beginning of a 4th Edition Pathfinder campaign. I am considering moving all player options to this document, including options presented in the adventure path itself (things like the lyrakien familiar, for instance). Let me know what you think about that idea.

As far as other changes go, I've added new rules elements from the Desna article in The Skinsaw Murders. You can now play a Spherewalker in 4th Edition. I've largely divorced the paragon path from the starknife, though its encounter power does require a weapon with the light thrown or heavy thrown property. It retains its dream-associated abilities, and its connection to Desna, and is intended for multiclass (either martial/arcane or martial/divine) characters. I'm anxious for feedback on the paragon path, as its my deepest foray into player elements design yet. You'll also find new rituals for the two spells presented in the Desna article. I think they translated to the new edition very nicely; both spells fit the ritual mold solidly to begin with.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Tangent: Long Live Korvosa

I've begun a second conversion campaign, which will receive the same treatment as Rise of the Runelords has.

My Curse of the Crimson Throne 4th Edition conversion can be found at Long Live Korvosa. Conversion notes will be posted there starting next week.

Monday, October 12, 2009

B7a & B7b (Enga and the Redcaps)

Enga's purpose in Mokmurian's forces might be tough for the players to discover normally, but if they encounter her during one of her regular trips to demand tribute from the local redcap tribe they'll have some idea of the part she plays.

In introducing this encounter, describe a short conversation between the kobold and the fey - her demands for gold, their reluctant, begrudging compliance, and so on. Unless the party is taking care to hide (with Stealth checks), Enga notices them nearby and orders the redcaps to attack (as though they needed the encouragement). I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

Total: 4,600 xp (Level 14 Encounter)

If the party has fallen behind in terms of treasure over the course of the adventure (by failing to recover stolen Scarnetti goods, for instance), this is a good place to give them a boost. Simply include some of the missing gold as part of the redcaps' tribute to Mokmurian.

Stat block:

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A4 (Deathweb Cave)

If the mere sight of the deathwebs isn't enough to deter the PCs from coming through this way, they've got a whole lot of spider to deal with. The beasts display some rudimentary teamwork, overlaying swarm attacks to ensure that all enemies are dazed and covered in biting spiders. They lunge forward and retreat, depending on the size of their swarm aura; those who have lost their aura move to the rear of the fight to recover. I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

Total: 4,800 xp (Level 14 Encounter)

Among the mundane goods caught up in the webbing at the back of the cave are treasure parcels 2 and 4 from level 13.

Iron Peak Patrols

This is a straightforward encounter, though it can prove troublesome for the PCs if the giants are allowed to escape back to Jorgenfist. I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

Total: 4,300 xp (Level 13 Encounter)

The Storval Stairs

When constructing the terrain for this encounter, do make use of the illustration pointed out in the original adventure (located in the Rise of the Runelords Player's Guide). Position a boulder pile in each square at the top of the Stairs. Until the giants feel comfortable engaging in melee, they spend their actions shoving boulders towards the party. I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

Total: 3,700 xp (Level 12 Encounter)

The stash of treasure here breaks down as follows: the anklet is worth 1,400 gold pieces, the jeweled eye patch is worth 1,250 gold pieces, the mammoth bone statue is worth 1,000 gold pieces, and the pile of coin holds 7,500 silver pieces (altogether treasure parcel 7 from level 12).

The jeweled gold crown can be identified properly with a History check (DC 20), and if returned will net the party 9,500 gold pieces (treasure parcel 5 from level 13). Give the PCs a minor quest to return the the dwarven crown to Janderhoff if they identify it. If they fail to identify the crown, it can still be sold for 4,000 gold pieces.

Note: This encounter makes use of terrain powers, introduced in the Dungeon Master's Guide 2. Terrain powers are features of the terrain that can be interacted with in concrete ways by the PCs, the monsters, or both.

Stat block:

Ogre Cattle Rustlers

This encounter should be something of a flashback to the events of The Hook Mountain Massacre - more ogres, this time raiding the Varisian farmlands. I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

Total: 3,800 xp (Level 13 Encounter)

The barrels of brandy and silver-filled chest are worth exactly as much as they were in the original adventure (treasure parcel 10 from level 13).

Tangent: Treasure and Leveling in Fortress of the Stone Giants

This is where all information on experience point totals, level marks and treasure parcels for Fortress of the Stone Giants will go. This post will be updated as the adventure is converted.

Treasure Parcels for Level 12:

  • Parcel 1 is found with Teraktinus.
  • Parcel 2 is found with Teraktinus.
  • Parcel 3 is allocated in The Hook Mountain Massacre.
  • Parcel 4 is allocated in The Hook Mountain Massacre.
  • Parcel 6 is allocated in The Hook Mountain Massacre.
  • Parcel 7 is found on the giants at the top of the Storval Stairs.
  • Parcel 9 is the reward for exposing the Scarnetti connection to the mill arsons.
  • Parcel 10 is the reward for thwarting the theft of the Scarnetti goods.

Treasure Parcels for Level 13:

  • Parcel 2 is found in the deathweb cave.
  • Parcel 4 is found in the deathweb cave.
  • Parcel 5 is the Lost Crown of the Pallgreves clan.
  • Parcel 10 is carried by the ogre cattle rustlers.

Journey to Jorgenfist

Provide the PCs with a major quest to scout out the situation at Jorgenfist. The trek is a lengthy one, but it can be made shorter if the PCs are in possession of the rune pattern of the teleportation circle at Fort Rannick, and swifter if they employ travel magic or fast mounts.

Plan ahead when using the following encounters during the journey. The trip will probably take more than a single day, and PCs who refresh their allotment of daily powers and healing surges after each wilderness encounter will find the fights much less challenging. Consider arranging all three encounters within the space of a single day - the ogres just before the party reaches the Stairs, the giants guarding the Stairs themselves, and then the stone giant patrol soon after the party reaches the top of the Storval Rise.

The Prisoner

There are a number of potential ways for the PCs to discover the location of Jorgenfist. Interrogating a captured stone giant is just one. If the PCs choose to take a different route (using rituals, tracking retreating giants, etc.) absolutely allow them to do so, and if they prove successful award them experience as though they successfully completed the skill challenge.

Skill Challenge: The Prisoner

Setup: As the skill challenge progresses, the giant can reveal minor details or tangential information following each success. Have the PCs ask questions to go along with some of the skill checks, and tailor the answers to the results. Successfully completing the challenge causes the giant to divulge the location of Jorgenfist. He will also answer any other questions the PCs pose to him after that point. Use the list of example questions on page 15 of the original adventure as a guide for what sorts of hints to provide for successful Insight checks.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


At some point, the raid on Sandpoint will end. There are a number of possible ways this can happen.

First, Teraktinus and Longtooth can both be slain or driven out of town forcibly, before the giants can retrieve a stone from the Old Light. In this case the PCs have little reason to pursue these particular giants unless the fleeing raiding party has taken prisoners or valuables. Award the party experience for completing all encounters in the raid, as well as extra experience equivalent to a level 14 minor quest (1,000 xp).

Teraktinus and his raiding party can be forced to retreat after they recover a suitable stone. In this case the PCs might express interest in tracking down the giants in order to discover why they were after such a superficially trivial trophy to begin with. Award them experience for completing all the encounters, and assign them with a level 14 minor quest to track down the fleeing giants.

Finally, Teraktinus can prove victorious. If the PCs are prevented from dealing with all the giant threats before Teraktinus sounds the retreat of his own accord, the giants escape with a hefty score of prisoners and valuables. Only award the PCs experience from encounters they completed. Assign them a level 14 minor quest to track down the giants and rescue their stolen goods and prisoners. If they succeed in doing so (presumably defeating the remaining raiding party giants in the process), award them all the remaining experience from the raid encounters.

Locating the giants (and Jorgenfist) is another matter. The next section will deal with how to handle revealing Jorgenfist and Mokmurian's army to the party.

Looting Scarnetti Manor

This encounter gives the PCs a chance to solve one final local mystery before they head off to Jorgenfist. If the giants have left by the time the party arrives on the scene, they find few lingering valuables (all of which are owned by the Scarnettis) but can uncover the letters from Jubrayl Vhiski with a Perception check (DC 23).

If the giants have not retreated by this point, they can still be found here looting. I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

Total: 3,400 xp (Level 12 Encounter)

As this is chronologically the final encounter of the raid, the party should have a chance to rest after it is resolved. As such, no special objectives are provided here.

If the theft of the goods from the Scarnetti Manor can be prevented, the PCs are awarded 1,000 gold pieces by the grateful family (treasure parcel 10 from level 12).

If the PCs choose to expose the Scarnetti connection to the mill arsons that have been plaguing Sandpoint, they are awarded a further 2,000 gold pieces (treasure parcel 9 from level 12).

Mill Pond

I have essentially eliminated the "Beer or Death" encounter from this conversion. It's just more of the same, and doesn't really serve to advance the story beyond providing a bit of comic insight into how stone giants operate. Teraktinus and his squad are still present, and the party ought to encounter them at some point in order to get their curiosity piqued as to the raid leader's true mission. I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

Total: 3,900 xp (Level 13 Encounter)

PC Objectives

  • Humiliated: If Teraktinus is bloodied before any of the other giants, each party member gains an additional use of their second wind this encounter.
  • Too Big for this Town: If the encounter is completed before the end of the fifth round of combat, each PC regains the use of all encounter powers with the Healing keyword.
  • Thwarted: If Teraktinus is prevented from acquiring a suitable stone from the Old Light before he retreats from Sandpoint, each PC regains the use of up to two expended encounter powers of their choice, and may spend a healing surge (even if unconscious).
If Teraktinus retreats and calls off the raid, the party may or may not have time to deal with the final stone giant threat located at the noble manors across the creek from the town proper.

If Teraktinus is defeated, the PCs find treasure parcels 1 and 2 from level 12 among his equipment or personal trophies.

Stat block:

Dragonfire Inferno

I'm made a couple changes to a typical red dragon adult for this fight. As one of the monsters originally designed for the Monster Manual, it has some pretty steep defenses, even for a soldier. Its hit points are also at quintuple that of a standard monster, rather than quadruple. I've reduced both of these qualities to make the dragon more manageable, in addition to dropping its level to 14. I then added the phantom image power to add some variety.

Longtooth fights only as long as he thinks is necessary against the PCs. If he is bloodied, he retreats back to Jorgenfist, figuring he's done enough to delay the party's defense of the town. I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

Total: 5,000 xp (Level 14 Encounter)

PC Objectives

  • Dragon Slayer: If Longtooth is reduced to 0 or fewer hit points, each member of the party gains an extra action point and an additional use of a daily magic item power.
  • Dragon Dodger: Whenever Longtooth misses a target with his breath weapon, that character can regain the use of an expended encounter utility power. If the target takes no damage from the attack, the character instead regains the use of any expended encounter power.
  • Defenders of Sandpoint: When the encounter is completed, each PC regains the use of up to two expended encounter powers of their choice, and may spend a healing surge (even if unconscious).
Stat block: