Saturday, July 12, 2008

Tangent: Updating the Rise of the Runelords Player's Guide

The Player's Guide for the Rise of the Runelords adventure path is relatively light on the mechanics. It has a handful of feats and some new equipment, which could stand to be converted. In addition, the new deities should be assigned Channeled Divinity feats.

Let's first deal with the deities. NChance has put together an excellent set of new Channeled Divinity feats for the Golarion deities. They are provided below with his permission:

Abadar's Decree [Divinity]
Prerequisites:
Channel Divinity Class feature, must worship Abadar
Benefit: You can invoke the power of your deity and use Abadar's Decree.



Arcana of Nethys [Divinity]
Prerequisites:
Channel Divinity Class feature, must worship Nethys
Benefit: You can invoke the power of your deity and use Arcana of Nethys.



Calistria's Sting [Divinity]
Prerequisites:
Channel Divinity Class feature, must worship Calistria
Benefit: You can invoke the power of your deity and use Calistria's Sting.



Cayden's Courage [Divinity]
Prerequisites:
Channel Divinity Class feature, must worship Cayden Cailean
Benefit: You can invoke the power of your deity and use Cayden's Courage.



Desna's Liberation [Divinity]
Prerequisites:
Channel Divinity Class feature, must worship Desna
Benefit: You can invoke the power of your deity and use Desna's Liberation.



Eye of Erastil [Divinity]
Prerequisites:
Channel Divinity Class feature, must worship Erastil
Benefit: You can invoke the power of your deity and use Eye of Erastil.



Gorum's Steel [Divinity]
Prerequisites:
Channel Divinity Class feature, must worship Gorum
Benefit: You can invoke the power of your deity and use Gorum's Steel.



Gozreh's Rain [Divinity]
Prerequisites:
Channel Divinity Class feature, must worship Gozreh
Benefit: You can invoke the power of your deity and use Gozreh's Rain.



Iomedae's Sword [Divinity]
Prerequisites:
Channel Divinity Class feature, must worship Iomedae
Benefit: You can invoke the power of your deity and use Iomedae's Sword.



Patience of Irori [Divinity]
Prerequisites:
Channel Divinity Class feature, must worship Irori
Benefit: You can invoke the power of your deity and use Patience of Irori.



Pharasma's Caress [Divinity]
Prerequisites:
Channel Divinity Class feature, must worship Pharasma
Benefit: You can invoke the power of your deity and use Pharasma's Caress.



Sarenrae's Corona [Divinity]
Prerequisites:
Channel Divinity Class feature, must worship Sarenrae
Benefit: You can invoke the power of your deity and use Sarenrae's Corona.



Shelyn's Grace [Divinity]
Prerequisites:
Channel Divinity Class feature, must worship Shelyn
Benefit: You can invoke the power of your deity and use Shelyn's Grace.



Torag's Hammer [Divinity]
Prerequisites:
Channel Divinity Class feature, must worship Torag
Benefit: You can invoke the power of your deity and use Torag's Hammer.



Evil deities should be off-limits to players. I prefer to disallow evil characters in my games as a rule of thumb, unless the adventure is designed for an all-evil party. It's just asking for trouble and the bad sort of drama.

On to the other feats. Remove Big Game Hunter. It is strictly better than the Paragon-tier feat Light Blade Precision. Use the following replacements for the other feats in the Player's Guide (all of these are, of course, Heroic tier feats):

City Born
Prerequisite: 1st-level character, cannot have Country Born or Lone Wolf.
Benefit: Choose Magnimar, Korvosa, or Riddleport as your home city. The frantic bustle of the city has honed your reactions - you gain a +1 feat bonus to your Reflex defense. If you’re from Magnimar, you gain a +1 feat bonus on Diplomacy checks. If you’re from Korvosa, you gain a +1 feat bonus on Intimidate checks. And if you’re from Riddleport, you gain a +1 feat bonus on Bluff checks.

Country Born
Prerequisites: 1st-level character, cannot have City Born or Lone Wolf.
Benefit: A childhood of farm work, apprenticeship, or similar toil has granted you reserves of endurance. Once per day, when you would be weakened or slowed, you may make a saving throw against that effect (and any effects tied to it) as a free action. Your traditional upbringing has sharpened your willpower as well, granting a +1 feat bonus to your Will defense.

Lone Wolf
Prerequisites: 1st-level character, cannot have City Born or Country Born.
Benefit: You have a +2 feat bonus on saving throws to avoid dying when reduced to negative hit points. Your vigorous health also grants you a +1 feat bonus to your Will defense.

Totem Spirit
Prerequisites: Member of a Shoanti tribe.
Benefit: The benefit granted by this feat depends on which Shoanti tribe you belong to:
Lyrune-Quah (Moon Clan): You gain a +1 feat bonus to your Will defense and a +1 feat bonus on Perception checks.
Shadde-Quah (Axe Clan): Enemies that you mark take a penalty of -3 to attack rolls when attacking targets other than you (instead of a -2 penalty). You also gain a +1 feat bonus on Intimidate checks.
Shriikirri-Quah (Hawk Clan): You gain a +1 feat bonus on Initiative checks and a +1 feat bonus on Athletics checks.
Shundar-Quah (Spire Clan): You gain a +1 feat bonus to your Fortitude defense and a +1 feat bonus on Perception checks.
Sklar-Quah (Sun Clan): You gain a +1 feat bonus to your Reflex defense and a +1 feat bonus on Acrobatics checks.
Skoan-Quah (Skull Clan): You gain a +2 bonus on weapon damage against undead and a +1 feat bonus on Heal checks. The bonus damage increases to 4 at 11th level and increases to 6 at 21st level.
Tamiir-Quah (Wind Clan): You may move an additional 1 square when using the run or charge actions. You also gain a +1 feat bonus on Athletics checks.

Varisian Tattoo
Prerequisites: Con 13, wizard
Benefit: When you take this feat, choose a type of damage from the following list: fire, cold, thunder, lightning, psychic, necrotic, force. Your spells that deal this type of damage deal an additional 1 point of that damage when they hit. The bonus damage increases to 2 at 11th level and increases to 3 at 21st level. In addition, you may have five Prestidigitation effects active at the same time (instead of three).

As for equipment, we'll focus on weapons first, then armor and miscellany. There are seven weapons listed in the Player's Guide: the dogslicer, starknife, war razor, klar, earth breaker, ogre hook and bladed scarf. The klar is also a shield, and hide shirt is a new armor type.

The dogslicer and war razor are basically a re-flavored short sword and dagger, respectively. They can be treated as such. The starknife best functions as a heavy thrown light blade. The klar is both a light shield and light blade with the off-hand tag, which loses its AC and Reflex Defense bonus if used as a weapon (dealing 1d6 damage) until the end of the wielder's next turn. The earth breaker can use the heavy flail's mechanics, and the ogre hook is similar to a greataxe, though the chances of the players finding one in an appropriate size is small. The bladed scarf is a superior light blade weapon (requiring specific training to use) with reach which deals 1d6 damage. Why anyone would want to wield one beyond for flavor beats me.

If this is more than you want to deal with, just use the following simple conversions:

  • Dogslicer - short sword
  • Starknife - shuriken
  • War razor - dagger
  • Klar - remove entirely
  • Earth Breaker - heavy flail
  • Ogre Hook - greataxe
  • Bladed Scarf - spiked chain
The hide shirt really doesn't have a place in 4th Edition, just as there is no chainmail/chain shirt distinction anymore. Just treat it as hide armor.

Most of the miscellaneous equipment listed in the Player's Guide can be done without in 4th Edition, especially since the beneficiaries of the two most interesting (the barbarian chew and Varisian idol) haven't seen a 4th Edition incarnation yet. My advice is to simply not update this extra equipment.

That should do it! The Rise of the Runelords Player's Guide is now updated to 4th Edition.

8 comments:

Dan said...

Well first off, all those incremental bonuses from the feats you describe should definitely be explicitly 'feat' bonuses so they won't stack with each other or similar feats.

Country Born
While highly situational, this completely negates that particular situation. I'd recommend either granting an automatic saving throw against weakening (maybe slowing as well) effects or allowing them to negate such an effect with a minor or move action.

Totem spirits:
For the Axe Clan, you may be misunderstanding the 'marked' condition. It normally only imposes an attack roll penalty, not damage. Also, damage penalties should scale to tier. -3 damage is significant in heroic but meaningless in epic.

For the Skull Clan, something just seems wrong to me about this feat, I'll need to think more about it before I know what though. Unlike the others, you might keep this one an untyped bonus, but I'm not sure.

Varisian Tattoo
Include a comprehensive list of the damage types permitted, otherwise you run into problems where 'weapon' or 'untyped' damage is chosen.

Scott said...

Awesome, that stuff is really helpful. Ted pointed out that some of the feats are more in-line with Paragon-tier feats than Heroic-, and I'm inclined to agree with him.

Yes, you're right, when I wrote the Player's Guide update I was under the very mistaken impression that marks imposed penalties to attack and damage. Thanks for pointing that out, I'd forgotten that it was still in there.

Varisian Tattoo definitely needs damage types, you're right. We have, what, Thunder, Lightning, Fire, Acid, Cold, Poison and Force? Am I missing any? Should Force be disallowed as a choice? I know in 3.5 that force damage was inherently more useful than other types. Is that true to the same extent in 4th Edition?

I'm trying to keep the flavor and basic purpose of the original 3.5 feats intact while bringing them in-line with 4th Edition. I'll work on revising them tomorrow.

isaacc said...

Scott, could you comment on your design choices. Take for example the City Born feat. The Player's Guide gives +2 bonuses to the various skill checks. You changed them to +1 bonuses for 4e, but why? What was your thinking behind this choice (as an example)?

Scott said...

Feats in 4th Edition are designed to have a slightly lesser impact on gameplay than they did in D&D 3.5. In addition, the feats are separated into tiers - heroic, paragon and epic - to coincide with the same level tiers. Epic feats are more powerful than paragon, and paragon feats are more powerful than heroic. As character creation feats, all of these must be heroic-tier, which necessitates a small decrease in power from how they appeared in the D&D 3.5 version of the Player's Guide.

That said, none of this has been playtested. If your group plays with this particular part of the conversion and feels that the feats are underpowered compared to other options available to them at 1st-level, please let me know.

isaacc said...

Scott, one more queston: You convert monsters from Pathfinder to 4e, but the weapons mentioned in the Player's Guide are dropped because they are not 4e. But, neither are the monsters. Why not select equivalent monsters from the 4e MM? This is not a criticism. I'm trying to understand your design choices. Why do you convert in one case but not convert in the other?

Scott said...

One of the issues with weapons is that, as designed in 4th Edition, there is very little "wiggle room" to play with different combinations of mechanics in order to create unique weapons. There are only so many damage dice, proficiency bonuses and weapon properties.

Compare this with monsters, where a huge amount of room exists within the 4th Edition design philosophy for creating unique and interesting monsters, from a mechanical perspective.

Also note that a couple of the weapons listed in the Player's Guide are originally created for use by monsters (see: dogslicers, horsechoppers). In 4th Edition the monsters' attack statistics can be easily fudged around this - creating full statistics for those weapons is no longer strictly necessary.

That said, the Adventurer's Vault supplement is due out soon. It will contain some new weapons (and weapon properties), so I'll reevaluate the weapon conversions then.

Gomez said...

I've found your blog while planning a 4E conversion of Rise of the Runelords. I will certainly use some of your stuff.

I'm a little perplexed about the Pharasma's Caress. 1 single point of damage is pretty meaningless, even if the target is surrounded by enemies. I'm thinking about increasing this to 5 damages. Not enough to worry anyone but a little better. What do you think?

Scott said...

It's difficult for me to comment on intent of design, since I didn't design the powers, but keep a few things in mind when looking at Pharasma's Caress:

1. It kills all minions surrounding the target.
2. Taking the feat gives you an extra option. If you don't think it's going to be useful in that fight, use Divine Fortune instead.
3. Channel Divinity powers are usually not as powerful as other encounter utility powers might be.

Taken as a minion-killing device, it strikes me as possibly quite effective. Feel free to adjust it for your own game and let me know how it goes, though. Thanks for following along!