Conversion BECMI Karameikos to 5e - ideas (possible spoilers

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Conversion BECMI Karameikos to 5e - ideas (possible spoilers

Postby stebehil » Sun Apr 30, 2017 11:29 am

Following my thoughts on conversing NPCs to 5e here viewtopic.php?f=81&t=17104, I want to note a few ideas I´m in the process of developing for 5e, starting with Karameikos, as per tradition...

First, all Gazetteers give adventure ideas, sorting them to the BECM(I) rulesets. I think this would translate to the 5e tiers almost seamlessly. Basic = 1st tier (level 1-4), Expert = 2nd tier (level 5-10), Companion = 3rd tier (level 11-16), Master = 4th tier (level 17-20). With Karameikos, Master level adventures really don´t fit into the picture, the Grand Duchy being too insignificant for this level of game play. If you read the adventure ideas given in the GAZ (p.62-64) and compare the notes there to the tier explanation in the PH (p. 15), it fits quite well IMO. With regard to level conversion, I would recommend the "3 to 2" rule given in the 5e conversion notes for directly converting from BECM to 5e. This leaves out characters above level 30, but these august personages call for a special treatment from the DM anyways. It would be fitting that Emperor Thincol is already above and beyond written game rules, for example.

For adventurers, the possibility to raise dead is always of big interest. With the converted rules, there are but three clerics in the whole of Karameikos being able to cast the spell: Olliver Jowett (L 12), Alfric Oderbry (L 9) and Sherlane Haralan (L 9). If you leave it at that, no cleric is able to cast Resurrection, so you better make haste to reach and convince one of these holy men within nine days, to allow for one day of learning the spell - and don´t forget to provide the material component. Keep those Revivify spells handy! Resurrection is a special case: Jowett is one level shy to cast that spell, so a DM might decide to give him that level just in case. (As a side note, anybody who is not important and wealthy has no chance to be raised at all - adventurers had better proven their worth beforehand and have somebody speaking on their behalf.)

But I see an opportunity here: The spell is quite taxing for the caster as well, so if Jowett were to cast the spell, it might send him into a coma or worse. In a worst-case scenario, one of the family members of the ducal family (or even one of the ambassadors, if you want some diplomatic troubles) dies and is found too late to be raised, so the only option would be Resurrection. So, if Jowett were to cast Resurrection, it might throw the realm in turmoil as he falls into a coma, and the power struggle for his succession commences, perhaps while the duke has his hands full dealing with the aftermath of the death and resurrection of someone important. This would work best if the PCs (presumably of at least middling levels, well into the 2nd tier and perhaps close to 3rd tier) are already involved with the ducal palace and the politics in some way. In fact, this whole scenario might be the perfect opportunity to introduce them to the 3rd tier.
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Re: Conversion BECMI Karameikos to 5e - ideas (possible spoi

Postby stebehil » Sun Apr 30, 2017 5:38 pm

Further things to note, even if they have surely been noted in earlier conversions:

PC races: Half-elves are a natural fit IMO, but are rare. I would rule out Vyalia Half-elves, as they are very reclusive.
Half-orcs better be prepared to be attacked or at least thrown out if they enter civilised areas, and generally mistreated, hated and feared everywhere.
Tieflings and Dragonblooded do not really fit into Karameikos. I can see a few in Glantri and some in Alphatia, but they will probably be (mis-)treated as Half-orcs in most places. I would not allow them in a Karameikos game.
Gnomes obviously do exist already, but got a major rewrite since first appearing in the BECM rules, especially regarding their outlook in life. Dorfus Hilltopper seems to be a rather dour, reclusive type, and according to the GAZ entry for Highforge, a "typical" gnome. This seems quite different from the description given in the 5e PH. Perhaps this playful, curious outlook in life is a thing younger gnomes have, and are expected to leave behind after a few decades living out in the world. Or maybe these PH gnomes are different than the regular ones. Or the description of Dorfus Hilltopper is just wrong, and just a facade he puts on. Most gnome PCs will be rock gnomes, with forest gnomes being as rare as Vyalia elves at least.
I would rule out any more monstrous races as PCs - Mystara always had a feeling of a "human" world to me.

Classes: Cleric, Fighter, Rogue and Wizard are obvious class choices available, with dwarves, halflings and gnomes being regular fighters if "translated" from the older rules. It is not a perfect fit for halflings, obviously. Elves could be simulated as Eldritch Knights, probably having this archetype as an (almost) exclusive elven speciality on Mystara. As the Eldritch Knight is strongly combat-oriented and somewhat limited in his spellcasting, multiclassing would be another way to simulate elves, even limiting them as to the max. levels they can reach in each class. WIth the options given in the PH, the sorcerer does not fit for elves IMO. Maybe racial Archetypes are called for, especially for elves and halflings. As an option, any arcane magic might be ruled out for dwarves and halflings.

Bards, Druids, Paladins and Rangers would fit into a Karameikos game as well, but should be rare. I think in 3.x there were rules to determine the number of classes in any community, they might give an idea as to the rarity of these classes. Perhaps rangers and druids are more common among elves.

Monks, Sorcerers and Warlocks should be very rare in Karameikos. I would probably rule them out as PCs.

EDIT: I forgot about Barbarians. I guess they would not fit too well into Karameikos, so I lean towards not allowing them there.
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Re: Conversion BECMI Karameikos to 5e - ideas (possible spoi

Postby happylarry » Sun Apr 30, 2017 10:28 pm

Interesting ideas.

You could always designate the Karameikos gnomes as hill gnomes, and give them a slightly different outlook on life to the PHB ones.

Other than that, I think I largely agree on your view of classes.

If you wanted to do something particularly elven, you could use the eldritch knight as a template and then offer a different selection of spells - depends whether you lean towards the original BECMI vision of elves, or the more druidic version of GAZ5, or even do something with the Ranger
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Re: Conversion BECMI Karameikos to 5e - ideas (possible spoi

Postby stebehil » Sun Apr 30, 2017 11:04 pm

The idea of calling them hill gnomes (while technically keeping them as rock gnomes) and just define them differently is probably a good one. Or even changing the rock gnomes in a small way.

It is always a question just how close one wants to stay to the original rules when using new rulesets. This is especially true with elves. I just think it could be ok to open up the spell selection for elvish eldritch knights - with 13 spells known at level 20, this probably won´t be all that unbalancing, considering that max spell level is 4, and three of those 13 spells can be from any school anyways. If you want to compensate for that, you could always throw out weapon bond and/or arcane charge. Druidic eldritch knights are an interesting option as well, but they might basically be considered rangers anyway.
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Re: Conversion BECMI Karameikos to 5e - ideas (possible spoi

Postby stebehil » Sun Apr 30, 2017 11:28 pm

I started converting an NPC, Sergeant Arthol from B10. I saw a recommendation to just use the knight NPC stats from the Monster Manual, but I wanted to try and see what happens if you rebuild an NPC with a PC class. I did not do a full write-up.

Sergeant Arthol, human male fighter 3 (originally level 5)
TP 31 (3d10), AC 16 (Chain mail), 30 ft
S18 (+4), C 17(+3), D 9(-1), I 10, W 11, Ch 14 (+2)
Saving Throws Str +6, Con+5
Proficiencies (+2 bonus): Athletics+6, Intimidation +4, Insight +2, Perception +2
Passive Perception 12
Attack: Longsword +1,
Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 1d8 + 5 slashing damage. Critical 19-20.
Fighting Style: Defense (+1 AC while wearing armor)

I kept the original stats, which work very well with 5e. Hit points are max. at 1st level, average (6) thereafter. The AC would be 15 for Dex penalty, but I think that Defense is a good choice for a guard. I took the soldier background, which gives him the Athletics and Intimidation prof, with insight and perception being vital for a guard. He would take the champion archetype and get improved critical. I did not note down Second Wind and Action Surge as per PH class description. Regarding Equipment, he is not described as using a shield, but as having a +2 chain mail and +2 long sword originally. As magical armor starts at rare in 5e and a +2 weapon would be rare as well, both would not be regular equipment for him, so I decided to give him a +1 weapon and no magical armor. In the original write-up, his AC is 2, but with just chainmail +2 and neither shield nor dex bonus, it should be 3 instead, unless he uses a shield. If he would, his AC would be 18. His alignment is given as Neutral originally, I would see him as Lawful Neutral here.
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Re: Conversion BECMI Karameikos to 5e - ideas (possible spoi

Postby stebehil » Mon May 01, 2017 11:34 am

I tried to convert Baron Halaran to 5e. The spellcasting suffers from major discrepancies, of course. (Taking GAZ 1 as starting point, p. 56-57)

Baron Sherlane Halaran
Cleric 9, Human, LG (Church of Karameikos), Acolyte Background
AC 10 HP 39 (9D8) Speed 30 ft
S9 (-1), D10, C8 (-1), I14 (+2) , W18 (+4), Ch14 (+2)
Proficiency Bonus +4
Skills: Insight+8, Religion +6, Persuasion+6, History +6; Passive Perception 14
Saves: Wisdom +8, Charisma +6
Languages: Thyathian, Traladaran
Attack +3, Mace, Damage 1d6-1 bludgeoning
Spells: 4 Cantrips, 4/3/3/3/1, Spell Save DC 16, Spell Attack +8
Cleric features: Spellcasting, Divine Domain, Channel Divinity 2/Rest, Destroy Undead CR 1, Ability Improvement (2)
Divine Domain: Healing
Feats (optional) Inspiring Leader, War Caster

I let the ability scores stand as they were, without modifying them for the overall +1 for being human and without the improvements at later levels. This could be handled differently, of course. From his characterisation, I see him as being Lawful Good. His rather low physical attributes are due to his age, I´d say, and leave them at this, even though he has a negative mod to strength he did not have before. His backstory points to no other background but a church background, so I defaulted to Acolyte. As the Church of Karameikos does not venerate a single Immortal, I did not give him one of the Divine Domains from Glen Welchs 5e Mystara Players Guide, but instead took healing as an appropriate Domain. It grants proficiency with heavy armor as a bonus, which fits nicely to the "warrior-cleric" tradition in Karameikos. In keeping the ability scores intact, it might be an option to use Feats instead of ability improvements. The two feats I found fitting are listed above.

EDIT: Using K:KoA as starting point, and converting the levels directly would make him 14th level, of course. This keeps his spellcasting ability closer to the original writeup, so this might be worth considering. The conversion from GAZ1 to K:KoA levels was 1-to-1 for the most part, it seems. I still think that this gives levels that are too high, considering the tier structure of 5e. Furthermore, it takes the spotlight away from the PCs once they reach double digit levels themselves if too many NPCs of levels 10+ are around. My own level conversion shows six NPCs of levels 10+ in all of Karameikos, with 17 listed originally, three of those are level 18. So one could argue that only three NPCs had even reached half of the potential possible, with three more just out of the Expert Set level range. It depends on personal taste, I guess - do you want powerful NPCs, or do you want to portray Karameikos as a low-powered place? I´d rather take it low-powered - if a baron of a small backwater town in a minor realm is already a powerful cleric, it gets difficult to portray more powerful places.
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Re: Conversion BECMI Karameikos to 5e - ideas (possible spoi

Postby stebehil » Mon May 01, 2017 4:18 pm

Warning: Spoilers ahead

I was just looking at the "Lost Mines of Phandelver" from the Starter Set to see if this can be placed in Karameikos. Turns out, it is not that easy. Krimson has placed the locations here: http://pandius.com/phndlver.html, with the discussion here:
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=12374

The description given for the town of Phandalin describes it as "the area has no local lord or authority" to chase a band of ruffians off who control the town and give the settlers a hard time. Furthermore, "Phandalin has no functioning government, but the townsfolk elect someone to serve as town master each year." That does not sound too fitting for Karameikos IMO.

Krimsons placement of Phandalin a few miles west of Verge would put this new settlement under the purview of the Antonics, I´d say. If there was a new settlement that close to Verge, the Antonics would surely install some authority, and news of some brigands there would reach them quickly. Now, the brigands are not to be trifled with and present some real danger. But it would be more fitting to have this village placed somewhere farther away from authority and power. The story sure gives a "frontier feel". Zendrolions work for northern Karameikos http://pandius.com/thrshld.html introduces and places Highdell and Utica from Dungeon #42. While I think that a "bandit town" as Utica is described does not make much sense, an independent frontier settlement could well be there and turn a blind eye towards banditry, while everybody struggles to get ahead. So, I would rather place LMoP here. The characters start with their supplies in Highdell or even in Threshold, which would explain why the dwarf is so much faster than a trek with provisions. In the original adventure, the distance from Neverwinter to Phandalin is about 70 miles, while according to Zendrolions map, Threshold to Utica is about 40 miles.

You might even place the story in Highdell, if you either ignore Sir Reynald or have him gone, perhaps due to the aftermath of the adventure in Dungeon #24. But the distance is "only" some 20 miles to Threshold, so it is pretty much the same situation as with Krimsons placement.
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Re: Conversion BECMI Karameikos to 5e - ideas (possible spoi

Postby stebehil » Sun May 07, 2017 7:53 pm

I thought about converting Duchess Olivia Karameikos the other day. The writeup in the GAZ shows by removing two thieves skills that the usage of the Thief class was a compromise or an approximation, probably stemming from a desire to stay within the rules but the need to give her more abilities than possible with the Normal Man stats.

Looking at the 5e Rogue class, it seems not to be fitting here, but then, the Thief class was not really fitting anyway. 3e addressed these issues with the NPC classes, the Noble in particular. With 5e, NPC stats are much more loosely defined, which is not a bad thing IMO. According to the DMG, you can either build an NPC based on the classes given in the PH, or build the stats as monster stats. The NPC stats in the MM show that NPCs are more or less given the abilities they need to fulfill their role, and don´t worry about class specifics. This would be a way to go here. Duchess Olivia is a creature of the noble courts, and as such has no need for "adventuring" skills and abilities. On the other hand, she is quite experiencend, and while surely no real threat in combat, she is no less dangerous in other ways.

So, by looking at the NPC stat blocks in the MM, the spy stats seem close to what was probably intended by the author of the GAZ - quite a high number of skills, a more socially oriented stat distribution seems to fit the bill. On the other hand, fighting skills are not fitting at all, so I would throw them out (perhaps leaving one attack at low values), and add Expertise from the Rogue (which might give her a substancial bonus on up to four skills). I would even keep the 6 HD to reflect her experience, and which would amazingly fit to recalculating the levels to 5e using the 2/3 rule from the conversion sheet for 4e to 5e, if you take the HD as class level equivalents.
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Re: Conversion BECMI Karameikos to 5e - ideas (possible spoi

Postby Hugin » Tue May 09, 2017 4:58 am

Nice work, stebehil. I seem to agree with most things you're saying here.

I began my D&D DM'ing/playing with BECMI, and thus my love of Mystara as well. Now I DM/play 5E, and so ponder these same questions that you are.

About two and a half years ago I ran Lost Mines of Phandelver as our first 5E adventure and placed it roughly between Threshold and High Forge. [Actually, you can see it on this map, renamed Mirkos]. Mind you, I heavily re-skinned it (changed names for example), but kept the general adventure underneath.

I've also started converting Rules Cyclopedia monsters that aren't in the 5E Monster Manual over on this thread. Life has kept me away from it for a while now, though I do have some more progress to post.

On the topic of converting BECMI levels to 5E levels, my feeling is to do a non-linear comparison. I haven't thought out the details of it (like I said, it's a feeling at the moment). OK, so I just spent the last hour or so comparing the levels contained in the tiers of play between BECMI and 5E, and the levels at which spell-casters get access to the spell-levels.

Have a look at this set-up and see what you think: the lower levels, up to level 10 are 1:1, then it is 1:2 for levels 11-24, and 1:4 for levels 25-36. Here it is chart form:


This may need some tweaking but I think it will solve some of the spell casting issues; i.e. not having the casters being able to cast the spells they used to be able to. It also keeps the tiers somewhat close to what you have in your original post.
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Re: Conversion BECMI Karameikos to 5e - ideas (possible spoi

Postby stebehil » Tue May 09, 2017 7:02 am

Hugin, that level conversion chart you made there probably solves most problems with the relative power levels in the game. Very nice!
I think I will re-do my level conversion based on your idea here and see how it turns out.

I saw your hand-drawn map earlier, but apparently missed your redone map. Both are very nice, and the latter map is especially useful.

Your work of converting monsters is great. I can easily see why a task like that takes quite some time to complete, as it isn´t immediately useful.
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Re: Conversion BECMI Karameikos to 5e - ideas (possible spoi

Postby stebehil » Tue May 09, 2017 7:26 am

I started yesterday to have a look at the PCs given in the Starter Set, and how they fit into Karameikos. I got only two so far, with more to come.

Human Fighter, Folk Hero background:
The folk hero seems to be fitting for someone who fled from the Black Eagle Barony, of course. His parents fled to Threshold, and he had to make a living as logger. He might have stood up to an abusive taskmaster, or if you want to spice up things a little, even to some members of the thieves guild.
His goal is to free the land from the Black Eagle. He should be of traladaran descent.
Perhaps his melee weapon should be changed to to a greataxe. A greatsword is more a weapon of professional soldiers, while an axe is easily obtained by a logger. It is much cheaper, too. For that difference, you might equip him with a studded leather armor instead.

Elf Wizard, Acolyte background
The background concerning the faith of Oghma and the defiled altar has to go. If venerating an Immortal, Ilsundal would be an obvious choice. The character probably hails from Rifflian and is a Callarii Elf. For now, I would leave this character as a Wizard. Having him as yet another fighter becoming an Eldritch Knight later defeats the point (he would qualify for multiclassing into fighter, however).
The Acolyte background does not fit the elves of Karameikos, I cannot imagine them as having temples. As he is a wizard, one might consider a sage background. Overall, the backgrounds given in the PH don´t seem to fit too well, this might call for developing some backgrounds for the various races here.
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Re: Conversion BECMI Karameikos to 5e - ideas (possible spoi

Postby Hugin » Tue May 09, 2017 3:16 pm

stebehil wrote:Hugin, that level conversion chart you made there probably solves most problems with the relative power levels in the game. Very nice!
I think I will re-do my level conversion based on your idea here and see how it turns out.

Thanks. It would be a good idea to test it out to see how it actually works in practice. As I said, it was purely hypothetical. I might even try it out on a few Gazetteer NPCs myself.

The most significant change to NPCs in my opinion will be to their equipment; just about every NPC above the first few levels has at least one, if not several, magical items. You mentioned this before in an earlier post and I agree with you.

I saw your hand-drawn map earlier, but apparently missed your redone map. Both are very nice, and the latter map is especially useful.

Thanks again. I scan it as I went to give it more uses - people can take the unlabeled one and make it their own.

Your work of converting monsters is great. I can easily see why a task like that takes quite some time to complete, as it isn´t immediately useful.

So true. I love working on them and wanted to be able to do write ups for them like in the 5E MM but I just don't have the time. That's why you'll notice that the descriptions stopped after a while. I just went through my busiest time of the year and am hoping I'll have some time to get back at it. I find it fun, strange enough.
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Re: Conversion BECMI Karameikos to 5e - ideas (possible spoi

Postby stebehil » Tue May 09, 2017 8:51 pm

Some more thoughts about the PCs from the Starter Set:

The Halfling rogue
This depends upon the Redbrands as they are transferred to Karameikos, so I will touch that later. I can imagine Lightfoot as well as Stout Halflings here, and will keep the Lightfoot as described.

Dwarven Cleric
Hill Dwarf aptly describes the Karameikos Dwarves (with Rockhome Dwarves probably being Mountain Dwarves). While the Soldier Background is fitting, Mercenary does not sound right. This dwarf is a Highforge Soldier, probably of a NCO rank, and thus Comfortable. Maybe he is not content with the Gnome Kings isolationism any more, and goes out adventuring. But the real question is the Cleric part. For one, does a dwarf show that he is a cleric? If you go by the ideas laid down in GAZ6, then he won´t. But this is an individual decision, to be made by player and DM. Furthermore, a dwarf probably venerates Kagyar. But what Domain would he have? Knowledge is given for smith deities, and Moradin is mentioned, so this might be the PH default, even if the PC originally has the Life Domain. Or you might want to try the Matter Domain from the Mystara 5e players handbook.

Human Fighter, Noble
This cries out to be a Thyathian noble fallen on hard times. Maybe his parents failed at an attempt to build their own fief in the early days of Karameikos, and now have nothing more than a noble title to their name. I would change that Greataxe to a Greatsword, as this befits a noble better IMO. The two fighters would be a perfect opportunity to show off the tensions between Traladarans and Thyatians.
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Re: Conversion BECMI Karameikos to 5e - ideas (possible spoi

Postby stebehil » Tue May 09, 2017 10:32 pm

With level conversion, I looked at the table Hugin put together. For fighters and thieves, it is pretty straightforward.

- Duke Stefan Fighter 15 originally, now F 12
- Admiral Hyraksos F 12/ F 11
- Gunter Schonberg F 11/F 10
- Abdallah ibn Hamid F 11/F 10
- Flameflicker Thief 18/Rogue 14
- Anton Radu Thief 12/Rogue 11
- Mistress Sascia of Luln F 12/ F 11
- Baron Ludwig von Hendriks F 12/ F 11

As these classes are more or less completely redefined within the 5e rules, I would recommend rebuilding these NPCs according to the new rules.

Spellcasters are more complicated. I compared the spell levels the characters reached in the original rules (Magic-User and Cleric) to the spell levels in the 5e rules, where clerics and wizards have the same number of spells per day, spell levels (up to 9) and reach the spell levels at the same character levels. Of course, the old cleric only had 7 spell levels, while now they have 9. So, I had a look just at what level the classes reach the spell levels. Hugins table holds up pretty well there also.

The old M-U gets one new spell level every odd level, up to level 11/Spell level 6. The old cleric gets one new spell level every even level, up to level 12/Spell level 6. Up to this level, the old levels are more or less identical to the new spell levels. In fact, up to level 11, it is identical with the old M-U, the old cleric being one level behind. The only discrepancy would be that a level 11 M-U would be converted to level 10, and thus lose access to lvl 6 spells. If this would be crucial for the NPC in question, just add that one level.

After these levels, it does not fit as well anymore. The M-U gets access to higher spell levels earlier than the converted level Wizard:
M-U 15 Spell level 7, which would convert to Wizard 12 and Spell level 6. This is corrected at level 13 already, so, again, add a level if needed. As original lvl 15 is the first CM set level, this might be fitting.
M-U 18 Spell level 8, which would convert to Wizard 14 and Spell level 7. Again, at level 15, Spell level 8 is gained, so this can be fixed.
M-U 21 Spell level 9, which would convert to Wizard 15 and Spell level 8. Level 9 spells are gained at level 17, so this is probably the most major discrepancy.

Clerics gained spell level 7 at level 17, which would convert to level 13. While 5e clerics get spell level 7 at the converted level 13, this does not mean the same spells, of course. So, with clerics, a close look at the spells would be needed to find any discrepancies in spellcasting.

For the sake of it, I recalculated the clerics and wizards as well:

- Lady Marianita M-U 18/Wizard 14 - so she would not be able to cast 8th level, unless we make her level 15.
- Lord Olliver Jowett C 18/C 14 - here, checking spells would be mandatory. But at least, Resurrection would be accessible.
- Alfric Oderbry C 14/C 12 - spell level 6 in both cases, but check needed.
- Aleksyev Nikelnevic C 11/C 10 - spell level 5 in both cases.
- Sergyev C 9 in both cases.

- Teldon M-U 15/Wizard 12 - he loses access to 7th level. I´d just make him level 13.

- Baron Desmond Kelvin II C 10 in both cases.
- Baron Sherlane Halaran C 14/C 12 - spell level 6 in both cases, but check needed.
- Aleena Halaran C 12/C 11 - spell level 6 in both cases, but check needed.

- Bargle the Infamous Magic-User 15/ Wizard 12 - same as Teldon, but here, level 13 should go without saying.
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Re: Conversion BECMI Karameikos to 5e - ideas (possible spoi

Postby Hugin » Wed May 10, 2017 1:10 am

Thanks for doing the leg work for my estimates! It seems to be relatively close.

Do you think there are any tweaks that can be done to match it any closer, without getting too wonky? On the the other hand I know we won't be able to get it perfectly since we are talking about two different systems here. It may be better to, as you say, start with this conversion guideline and "rebuilding these NPCs according to the new rules".
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Re: Conversion BECMI Karameikos to 5e - ideas (possible spoi

Postby Hugin » Wed May 10, 2017 2:33 am

Alright, I did some more analytical work on when the spell levels are gained, as you've pointed them out.

The first three columns are the same as the previous table, with the exception of just a couple of tweaks to the level ratio. This was done to match up the BECMI M-U's spell levels with the 5E's spell levels. As we've already discussed, the BECMI's cleric spell levels simply will not match up.



I actually created a conversion chart based on the XP of the BECMI character, but I feel it is overly complicated when the above does the trick well enough (IMO).
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Re: Conversion BECMI Karameikos to 5e - ideas (possible spoi

Postby Mike » Wed May 10, 2017 7:06 am

Some notes on accurate conversions...

I find that MU spell levels are the most important to overall balance in play, so I use those as a basis in conversion.

BECMI characters are balanced by XP, not level. The Thief hits 36th level and immortality when the fighter is 26th and the MU is 21st and just getting 9th level spells. The XP difference is very important to balance; clerics and MUs gain spells (1st-6th) at the same time, despite an average difference of 3 character levels. At 2,000,000 XP the Thief and Fighter have the same hit points and same Attack bonus; hit points and Attack bonus are both twice as good as a Magic User.

Direct level equivalence for all classes is a fallacy that was implied by TSR modules targeted at a "party level" -- but no party should have matching levels by the time they have 1,000,000 XP, unless the Thief and Cleric are falling seriously behind. The way I think of all this is that Thieves and Clerics have an effective level cap governed by their XP at 36th level.

I would equate 5E levels to MU levels up through 9th, and to MU XP up through 17th level. After 17th level I chose a fixed 480,000 XP per 5E level, since this maps to two fighter levels. To convert a character, lookup the character's XP on the table to find the correct 5E level. The following table shows what this looks like:



APL = average party level (7 characters, one of each class on the table plus an extra fighter), shown for comparison. Asterisks are computed as if max level for the class.

For 5E levels above 20th, assign Epic Boons from DMG page 231. For example, a 30th level MU converts to a level 23 character in 5E, which is a 20th level character with +3 epic boons.

I'm sure a better table could be devised. The table above mainly illustrates the idea of XP equivalence rather than universal level equivalence.
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Re: Conversion BECMI Karameikos to 5e - ideas (possible spoi

Postby stebehil » Wed May 10, 2017 7:08 am

Hugin, this is a very good refinement of your previous table, I think. The Cleric simply does not match, so there is nothing to do about it. The spell levels of the Wizard are probably most important, and your work reflects that pretty well. I will use your modified table for conversions (and if I have a lot of time on my hands, I would check for spell casting differences with the cleric).

One variant might be to leave levels 30+ out of the conversion chart, as the number of spells/day get very high at those levels, and leave those NPCs as a special case to the individual DM.

I concur that recalculating the xp probably leads nowhere - it would be a huge amount of work, and is important for PCs only anyway, as NPCs are not listed with their xp sums. I do recall that someone did that for AD&D2 to D&D3, which was interesting to see, but of little practical relevance. If somebody was to convert the old PCs to the new system, I would recommend converting the level, not the XP, and give an amount of xp towards the next level based on an estimate of how close the PC was to the next level.

I thought about matching the tiers to the BECM sets, but this led nowhere, as the level ranges don´t match at all - wich BECM, you have 3/11/11/11 levels in the sets, and the tiers give a 4/6/6/4 spread. If they were to match, you would need a 2/6/6/6 spread, which is too far away from the design in 5e, and would wreak havoc to spellcasting.
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Re: Conversion BECMI Karameikos to 5e - ideas (possible spoi

Postby stebehil » Wed May 10, 2017 7:20 am

Mike, thanks for pointing that out. Honestly, I did not see that, probably because not only were the modules given a level range for all characters, but the rule sets as well. Your chart would also catch the demi-human attack ranks with only minor modifications, which came to my mind just now after posting the previous post.

Now, we have two different approaches - one based on level and spell-casting conversion, one based on XP/level range conversion. I think both are valid approaches. With Mikes chart, one of the odd NPCs would be set to a more fitting (IMO) level - Flameflicker would come out as a level 11 Rogue now, which seems more fitting than my previous lvl 14.
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Re: Conversion BECMI Karameikos to 5e - ideas (possible spoi

Postby stebehil » Wed May 10, 2017 9:56 pm

I had a closer look at the cleric spells for conversion. Turns out, quite a few high-level cleric spells don´t exist anymore (or are perhaps on the wizard spell list - did not check that.) I took the RC list as basis and tried to find the 5e spell matching. I don´t claim that this list is without errors. A few spells are now on the druid list, and are noted with a "D". Cure Wounds depends upon the spell level used in 5e, so this is listed for every healing spell here. Raise Dead Fully has a shorter time allowance than Resurrection, and True Resurrection is even more powerful, so matching these spells works fine IMO. In the end, it does not matter all that much that the cleric can´t be converted as exactly as the M-U/wizard. Just take care to give the cleric access to level 7 spells if you need Resurrection in 5e, and it should be fine.

First Level 5e spell level
Cure Light Wounds 1 (Cure Wounds)
Detect Evil 1
Detect Magic 1
Light 0
Protection from Evil 1
Purify Food and Water 0
Remove Fear 2 (Calm Emotions)
Resist Cold 0 (Resistance)

Second Level
Bless 1
Find Traps 2
Hold Person 2
Know Alignment 1 (Detect Evil and Good)
Resist Fire 3 (Protection from Energy)
Silence 15' Radius 2
Snake Charm -
Speak with Animal D 1

Third Level
Continual Light 3 (Daylight)
Cure Blindness 2 (Lesser Restoration)
Cure Disease -
Growth of Animal 0
Locate Object 2
Remove Curse 3
Speak with the Dead 3
Striking -

Fourth Level
Animate Dead 3
Create Water 1
Cure Serious Wounds 1 (Cure Wounds)
Dispel Magic 3
Neutralize Poison -
Protection from Evil 10' radius 3 (Magic Circle)
Speak with Plants D 3
Sticks to Snakes -

Fifth Level
Commune 5
Create Food 3
Cure Critical Wounds 1 (Cure Wounds)
Dispel Evil 5 (Dispel Evil and Good)
Insect Plague 5
Quest 5 (Geas)
Raise Dead 5
Truesight 6

Sixth Level
Aerial Servant -
Animate Objects -
Barrier 6 (Blade Barrier)
Create Normal Animals-
Cureall 6 (Heal)
Find the Path 6
Speak with Monsters 3 (Tongues)
Word of Recall 6

Seventh Level
Earthquake 8
Holy Word 7 (Divine Word)
Raise Dead Fully 7 (Resurrection)
Restore -
Survival -
Travel -
Wish -
Wizardry -
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Re: Conversion BECMI Karameikos to 5e - ideas (possible spoi

Postby Hugin » Thu May 11, 2017 1:09 am

Mike wrote:Some notes on accurate conversions...

I find that MU spell levels are the most important to overall balance in play, so I use those as a basis in conversion.

BECMI characters are balanced by XP, not level.

I did a conversion based on XP too, as I mentioned in my last post. It isn't that different than yours actually, except for how I handled the highest levels.

Essentially, I converted based on the Magic-User's spell casting levels, referencing XPs at those levels. But then at the Magic-User's level 21 I paced the 5E levels to bring a 36th level BECMI Cleric to a 5E 20th level. (The cleric requiring the least amount of XP to get to 36th level). I did this so as to be able to use a single-reference chart rather than one with multiple class references.

What really surprised me though was just how close it was to yours! I take that to mean that we're fairly "on target".

The biggest advantage I'd give to using a chart like this is the potential flexibility in assigning a 5E level; since the BECMI level is a range of XP you could pick a value either high or low within that range to possibly be a 5E level higher or lower. (That said, if we're going to fudge it a bit anyway, why not just use the simpler level-to-level conversion chart and fudge that.)

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Re: Conversion BECMI Karameikos to 5e - ideas (possible spoi

Postby Hugin » Thu May 11, 2017 1:12 am

stebehil wrote:I had a closer look at the cleric spells for conversion.

That's a great way to get a visual of the cleric's respective power levels. Although it doesn't give any indication of the relative power of the spells themselves between the two editions. Still, it's handy to see.
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Re: Conversion BECMI Karameikos to 5e - ideas (possible spoi

Postby Mike » Thu May 11, 2017 5:01 am

Hugin wrote:I did a conversion based on XP too, as I mentioned in my last post.

I saw your comment, but since you didn't post it I decided to post mine. You're right its very interesting how close our results were.

Hugin wrote:The biggest advantage I'd give to using a chart like this is the potential flexibility in assigning a 5E level; since the BECMI level is a range of XP you could pick a value either high or low within that range to possibly be a 5E level higher or lower. (That said, if we're going to fudge it a bit anyway, why not just use the simpler level-to-level conversion chart and fudge that.)

This thought occurred to me. Often shifting a level up or down gives a better match, and I typically do that myself.

Most likely I would just make a matrix with all classes and levels, and just look it up that way, instead of a formula. I like formulas but D&D is already chock full of tables, and converting levels is something I'd only do once anyway. A table lets me fine tune the conversion.

I did take a stab at boiling my table down into formulas, because I couldn't resist. I had to split the 36 level into three segments to get smooth continuity, but got nice simple formulas. I'm a big fan of race-as-class and like to maintain some differentiation so kept classes separate, but it would be easy to collapse these into a single formula if you feel the differences are not worth the complexity.


L = BECMI Level
**1st level Clerics convert to 1st level Fighters since they have no spells

These tables are an exact match for Cleric and Wizard spell levels, and maintain approximate XP ratio for D&D classes, but are otherwise not reality checked against class abilities.

Example: an 17th level Cleric would be 13th level in 5E (2 x 17 / 5 + 6), able to use 7th level spells.

Note: If you prefer all classes to fit neatly into a 20-level spread, here is a modified version. It also maintains the spell level compatibility for both Cleric and Wizard, but compresses the levels above 21st.

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Re: Conversion BECMI Karameikos to 5e - ideas (possible spoi

Postby Hugin » Fri May 12, 2017 1:34 am

Those are really interesting, Mike! And cool. I honestly don't know which of the various methods we've discussed that I would use. They all seem useful.
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Re: Conversion BECMI Karameikos to 5e - ideas (possible spoi

Postby stebehil » Fri May 12, 2017 12:27 pm

Thanks for your work, Hugin and Mike. I will probably convert the NPCs starting with the M-U/wizard level to see that they keep their spell levels intact, as I think this is important. Starting with that, I would apply those levels and conversions to other NPCs as well. While this is not true to the original rules with their widely varying XP requirements, it is in keeping with the PCs given as sample PCs in the various BECM Adventures, who are of identical level, ignoring the XP problem. The adventures are given a level range, but I think this only helps within the first 10 levels or thereabouts, so even the adventure design itself seems to ignore that. This was one point in the design of D&D3.x and onward: to ger rid of that problem. So, there is an unavoidable discrepancy to converting from any D&D prior to 3.0 to later systems.


Another problem is the original Elf Class. To keep in the spirit of the Known World, Elves would have to be able to cast arcane spells and fight. While the Eldritch Knight adresses that, this class starts spellcasting only at third level and severely limits the available spells, which differs from the Elf class.

In fact, one point of the Known World Elf is that any Elf, no matter how lowly, knows to cast at least one spell. This is adressed with the high elf racial description in the 5e PH, as every High Elf is able to cast a Cantrip. If you introduce other Elf races, like the Wood Elf, you might want to change their racial description to give them one cantrip as well. While most "everyday" Elves will probably have Mage Hand, Mending or Prestidigitation as cantrip, the fighters will probably have something like Blade Ward or True Strike. It is good enough IMO for "normal" elves.

Still, this does not adress the problem with other elves. Have a look at the Karameikos Elvenguard (GAZ1, p. 26):
"The Elvenguard is led by a 10th level elf captain; the officers under him average 4th level; the troops are typically 2d level. They
wear chain mail and carry swords, daggers, and longbows." They number 122.

So, represent that force with the Eldritch Knight would mean that the troops have only one cantrip each - not bad, but surely not the same as being able to cast two first level spells (imagine 120 spell casters casting first sleep on an enemy army to weed out the rank and file troops, and then magic missile on those individuals still standing - probably the officers). It only gets worse - the old 4th level Elf had 2/2 spells, the EK would have three at 1st level. No more Mirror Image or Invisibility. And don´t get me started on the 10th level Elf captain (I only noticed now that he has the fourth-highest arcane caster level in Karameikos, being 10th level, but we don´t even know a name).

Multiclassing: This would assume that every elf has at least 13 Str or Dex, and 13 Int. At 2nd level, with fighter 1 and wizard 1, they would be close to the original. After 2nd level, if they would continue to advance as wizards only, they would reach the spellcasting capabilities needed to come close to what they originally were, but would hamper their fighting prowess, of course. Spreading levels evenly would hamper spellcasting seriously, and give not that much of a fighting ability. Still not a close representation of the Elf.

Gestalt character: as was an option in 3e, you might consider allowing elves (only) to progress in both classes simultaneously, perhaps stopping progress in one or the other at level 10. If you are feeling stingy, you might even require to split XP even after level 10 is reached. This might actually be the closest representation. I would give this a d8 hd for levels 1-10, and then according to class afterwards. Another consideration is the necessity of minimum attributes as with multiclassing. I did not check this for any problems that might occur.

Forester class or substitute: looking at the bard and the sorcerer, both have full spell progression. The bard has a d8 hit die. Perhaps taking the sorcerer spell list and number of spells known, the d8 from the bard, and getting rid of pretty much every other special ability, and replacing these with weapon and armour skills, would come close to the old Elf class. Getting rid of sorcerer points and sorcerer origins would be needed to avoid overpowering the class. Maybe the number of spells known of the bard class would be ok as well, this are not so many more spells. This is similar to the Gestalt idea above, but with some possible balance issues.
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