Full 5e conversion?

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Full 5e conversion?

Postby stebehil » Sun Nov 19, 2017 3:13 pm

I was toying with the idea of doing a full-blown conversion of all things Known World/Mystara to 5e, or rather starting it. This would be quite a tremendous work, as seen by the 5e Mystara Players Handbook by Glen Welch: http://glen.stelio.net/ His work would be the Giant to stand on, for sure, but still, I think there might be other ideas about converting. As I find myself with some time on my hands right now, I will just start with a few basic thoughts on it. In general, I will try to keep as close to the original material, noting differences and optional additions. In general, I would advise to use the 5e rules whereever this seems fitting.

For reference, I will use the Rules Compendium (RC), refer to the standard AD&D 2nd Ed. Rules where needed (the 1989/90 version, not the later one) and note this as 2e, and the current rules edition, noted as 5e.

Lets start out at character generation. The RC gives us the standard "roll 3d6, write down in order" method, and lets change them around in minor ways. 2e presents us with no less than six methods for stat generation. 5e has the "roll 4d6, drop lowest" or the assign set values method. 5e also postpones stat generation after choosing class and race, writing player choice into the character generation rather than relegating this to chance. So, if you want to keep the RC feel intact, you would need to reverse that order, and think about how you want to generate stats. You might want to keep the RC method, and this might even work not too bad, considering that in 5e, even a 12 gives you a bonus already, and a 14 is at +2. This is, in fact, closer to the RC rules bonuses than in 2e, which is reflected with the more generous stat generation methods listed in 2e. I would only keep the stat change rules presented in RC if you keep the straight 3d6 method as well (and might consider leaving out the prohibition against lowering DEX). The 2e abilities do need to be much higher to generate any bonus at all

Next, ability requirements. In the RC, only demi-humans and the mystic do have ability requirements. In 2e, all races except humans, and all classes have minimum requirements. In 5e, this is all done away with. I would leave it at the 5e rule, but the RC rules regarding ability requirements are easily implemented if wanted.

Next part: Races
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Re: Full 5e conversion?

Postby stebehil » Sun Nov 19, 2017 3:45 pm

Races: This raises several questions. Do you want to keep it at the RC standard, or do you want to open up the gates? Furthermore, do you want to recreate the BECMI/RC D&D idea about races as classes or do you want to leave that idea in favor of more flexibility? In my opinion, this breaks down into three main answers:

1. Recreate as truthfully as possible.
2. Allowing more choices, but keeping it limited
3. Open it up completely.

1. This would include the original stance of races as classes, recreated with 5e rules. It raises the additional question if you keep demihuman level limits intact or not. This might warrant developing the "Dwarf" as an fighter archetype, and the "Halfling" as another, probably giving them a magic resistance of some sort via a feat. Additionally, the Elf class needs some thoughts, which I noted earlier: http://pandius.com/bto5eelf.html. This would also leave out many of the 5e races and classes.

I would not take this approach, as it severly limits the use of the 5e rules. If I were to use this approach, I would probably develop said demihuman Archetypes, and use the "Elf Gestalt" option I briefly described earlier. (The Eldritch Knight is not coming close to what the RC elf is, IMO.)

1b. This would include only the RC races, but opening up the possible class choices. I would probably restrict dwarves and halflings from arcane classes, though, and maybe require elves who want to take the Gestalt route to take a feat allowing just this.

2. Allowing races that would have a logical place in Mystara would include Gnomes, Half-Elves and Half-Orcs.

2a. Furthermore, typical Mystaran races, as described by Glen Welch, like the Lupin, Rakasta and Tortle, might be included. All other exotic races, like Dragonborn, Tiefling and others, would be a DMs call, but not being available as default. (Same goes for classes). I leave out GAZ 10 and the PC series on purpose here, but these might open up even more options.

3. Opening the gates wide, and allow any and all race options in 5e, and probably more that are Mystara-specific.

I would go for Option 2, and allow the "Elf Gestalt" option as well. With the additional options of 2a, I would allow them, but sparingly. Humans are so predominant throughout most of Mystara that I would want to keep that basically intact. A party of, say, a Lupin, a Rakasta, a Tortle and a Sidhe might seem to be fun, but deviates strongly from what is to be expected on Mystara.
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Re: Full 5e conversion?

Postby stebehil » Sun Nov 19, 2017 5:34 pm

Racial Abilities: Again, Glen Welch worked on this already and offers very good ideas. Still, I´ll break the racial abilities down by edition and see what we get from it. WIth the RC, we need to take apart what is gained from the race and what is a function of the class, so to speak.

Dwarf RC:
- Class: Prime Requisite Strength, d8 HD, Armor and Weapon Training, Fighter Maneuvers (note that while the Dwarf cannot use large weapons, he still can use a spear against charge, and use the Lance Attack, even though these weapons are listed as large), Combat Options. (Note: GAZ 6 introduces dwarf-clerics.)
- Race: Con 9 minimum, only small and medium Weapons, Infravision 60 ft., additional languages, detection ability, improved saving throws, one-half (or 1/4) damage from spells at high attack rank.

Dwarf 2e: min. STR 8, min. CON 11, max. DEX 17, max. CHA 17; +1 CON, -1 CHA. Classes are limited to cleric, fighter and thief, and c/f, f/t. Additional languages. Resistance to magic and poisons, calculated from CON. Magic item failure chance. Attack bonus against orcs and goblins. AC bonus against "giants". Detection ability. (no subraces in 2e PHB)

Dwarf 5e: CON +2, speed not reduced by armor, darkvision 60ft., Advantage with poison saves, resilience against poison, weapon proficiencies, stonecunning, extra language.
Subraces: Hill Dwarf: WIS +1, +1hp/level; Mountain Dwarf: STR +2, proficiency light and medium armor.

So, carrying over is a high CON, some resistance to harm, mostly from magic and poison, darkvision of some kind, and languages. Combat abilities are not as clearly attributable to the race, except in 2e.

Glen Welch does away with the standard subraces and instead creates the Mystara Dwarf. This gives STR +1, Advantage on saves against magic, and prohibits arcane caster classes. This fits well with the general magic resistance seen earlier. I would give the player the choice of adding the +1 to WIS instead of STR, or even requiring this for clerics, to reflect that the dwarf-clerics are a special case indeed.

The Modrigswerg from GAZ 7 are the purview of the DM and are most probably not fit as a PC race. They probably should not have any special resistance to magic, and sound like candidates for the Warlock class.
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Re: Full 5e conversion?

Postby stebehil » Sun Nov 19, 2017 8:59 pm

Elves:

RC:
- Class: Prime Requisites STR and INT, d6 HD, Armor and Weapon Training, Fighter Maneuvers, Combat Options, Spell Casting.
- Race: INT 9 minimum, Infravision 60 ft., additional languages, detection ability, improved saving throws, especially at later levels, immunity to ghoul paralysis, one-half (or 1/4) damage from breath attacks at high attack rank.
(Note: Obviously, a Fighter/Magic-User multiclass. http://pandius.com/bto5eelf.html In GAZ 5, the Elf Wizard as a class option is introduced, as is the shadow elf "race". In GAZ 13, the Shadow Elf Shaman as an additional class option is added.)

2e: min. DEX 7, CON 7, INT 8, CHA 8; +1 DEX, -1 CON. Classes are limited to cleric, fighter, mage, ranger and thief, with numerous combinations. Additional languages. Resistance to Charm and Sleep spells. Attack Bonus with bows. Enhanced surprise chance. Infravision. Secret Doors easily spotted. (Note: the 2e PHB lists various subraces, noting their difference as "cosmetic")

5e: DEX +2, darkvision 60ft., Proficiency with Perception, Advantage with Charm saves, immunity to magic sleep, trance, extra language.
Subraces: High Elf: INT +1, Prof. w. Swords and Bows, one Cantrip, extra Language. Wood Elf: WIS +1, Prof. w. Swords and Bows, higher walking speed, hide in woodlands. (Dark Elves left out, as they don´t exist on Mystara anyway).

Glen Welch does away with the Trance ability. He casts all "standard" elves as wood elves, and the Belcadiz elves as high elves with a different weapon training. He then continues to introduce several subraces: The shadow elves, the sea elves and the Vyalia elves.
Shadow Elves: WIS +1, prof. Religion, weapon training, superior dark vision.
Sea Elves: INT +1, weapon training, prof. water vehicles, advantage on navigation skill checks (Minrothad elves).
Vyalia Elves: INT +1, prof. Nature skill, Pass without trace once/short rest. (probably lacking weapon training here)

So, we get detection skills, some sort of weapon skill, some resistance or immunity to either paralysis, charm or sleep; language skills, darkvision. Note that Ability Requirements or Bonuses are not keyed to the same Attribute throughout, neither is magic skill. OTOH, the skill with magic is a signature ability of Mystara elves, so I would keep that. This means that all elves should have the Cantrip racial ability of the standard high elves. The Vyalia elves are noted for giving the Thyatian Foresters their training, so they should have spellcasting by all means. The INT +1 fits for being "magical" creatures as their spellcasting depends on INT. Overall, I would cast all Mystara elves as High Elves, with the variation between the Belcadiz elves and the others being more or less cosmetic.

I like the idea about giving the Shadow Elves a more religious outlook on life, given their backstory. To keep this in line with the magic skill, they might indeed have WIS +1, and the ability to cast a clerical Cantrip rather than arcane.

It might be more in line with the setting to give the Mystaran Elves INT +2, and the +1 to DEX, to stress their arcane heritage.
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Re: Full 5e conversion?

Postby stebehil » Sun Nov 19, 2017 9:59 pm

Halflings:

RC:
- Class: Prime Req. STR and DEX, d6 hp, Armor and Weapon training, Fighter Maneuver (spear vs. charge), combat options
- Race: DEX 9 and CON 9 min., small weapons, improved saves, combat bonuses, at higher levels resistance to spell damage and breath weapon damage, hide in woodlands, hide in buildings.
(GAZ 8 introduces the Halfling or Hin Master, and the Denial special ability)

2e: min. STR 7, DEX 7, CON 10, INT 6, max. WIS 17; +1 DEX, -1 STR (note: Halfling fighters don´t gain 18/percentile STR), Classes: cleric, fighter, thief and f/t, languages, resistance to magic and poison (CON-based, as dwarf), enhanced surprise. Infravision possible, as well as dwarvish detection abilities (depending on subrace, which are otherwise cosmetical).

5e: DEX +2, Small size, Lucky reroll, advantage against fear, Nimbleness, languages.
Subraces: Lightfoot: CHA +1, stealthy; Stout: CON +1, advantage and resistance to poison.

Glen Welch: He creates the Hin subrace and gives them CON +1, prof. Stealth.

Dex is important throughout, so the +2 is an obvious choice here. The lucky reroll seems fitting to reflect the heightened saves at least partially. I concur with Glens idea, but would exchange the basic advantage against fear into advantage against magic, and perhaps exchange the nimbleness against resistance to magic.
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Re: Full 5e conversion?

Postby stebehil » Sun Nov 19, 2017 10:25 pm

So, to recap what I´ve written so far:

Ability score generation: rolling 3d6 in order (and allowing exchange as per RC) will be close to the original game rules, and should still generate playable characters. The more modern methods from the 5e PHB probably won´t break anything, though. It is a matter of taste.

Races and classes: for purists, allow only the classes and demihuman rasses as classes as per RC. This will cut some potential from the 5e rules. Allowing more classes and divorcing them from the races is a more modern approach, and you might even throw the gates open and allow any class/race option.

Dwarves, elves and haflings can be modeled in a way that keeps the 5e basics intact, while making them more fitting to the Mystara setting in minor ways.
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Re: Full 5e conversion?

Postby CommanderCrud » Sun Nov 19, 2017 11:09 pm

I've been running a 5e Mystara campaign for a few months now, and been largely going with your "Recreate as truthfully as possible" approach. Very little converting, actually, and most of that on the fly during play. 90% of any changes I've made were on the DM side of the screen.
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Re: Full 5e conversion?

Postby RobJN » Sun Nov 19, 2017 11:48 pm

I've found the "5b" Basic Rules PDF to be fairly close to Red/Black box D&D in overall feel. I've been tinkering with the spell lists (still way too many!), and cataloguing and color coding the various monsters between the boxed sets and the Basic PDF and SRD in my spare time. Not that I have much of that during the holidays.
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Re: Full 5e conversion?

Postby TheGlen » Mon Nov 20, 2017 3:29 am

I can share my notes for the handbook, the races went through numerous versions before I reached the final versions.

The Alfheim elves were more akin to the wood elves with their lifestyles, so I made the wood elves the baseline elf in Mystara.

Belcadiz have always been a mystery since they just showed up in the timeline not related to any of the other elves so I made them the high elves as they are in Glantri. But since they have the heavy Spanish influence I replaced the spear with the rapier in their weapon proficiencies.

Vyalia are reskinned Eladrin from the DMG, only replacing one 2nd level spell with another. The bonus skill was added after players repeatedly pointed out the race was extremely underpowered compared to other elven variants.

Water (Sea) Elves are a unique build, gave them a natural direction sense and the ability to use water vessels as that's a major part of their upbringing.

Shadow Elves were originally going to be reskinned drow I scrapped that early. Their religion was the most important part of their lives, so Religion was a given. Extra dark vision was thematic and useful, but not overpowering.

As far as elves in general I restrict in canon the availability of several subclasses to elves normally. Eldritch knights are pretty much restricted to elves to reflect they are the only ones that can swing a sword and cast a spell like second nature. Arcane trickster is restricted for similar reasons. Elves can dabble with magic with their normal classes, something no other race can.

Dwarves are pretty much restricted to Rockborn, as Kogalar aren't viable and Modrigswerg are cursed. The magic resistance is a major part of the rockborn dwarves background.

Hin didn't really fit in with either of the two options given, so I gave them them all stealth, as that is a major part of their background.

Gnomes were easy, forest gnomes are the ground gnomes, rock gnomes are the Serraine gnomes. No change was needed.

As far as the other races from 5e, I kept 1/2 elves in the Savage Baronies. The Red Curse made the interbreeding possible, making the 1/2 elves more exotic because of their highly unusual background. Tielfings are extraplanar, so if you want them it's up to you. They aren't native to Mystara naturally. Half orcs and Dragonborn don't really fit. Orcs are always met with hostility with the exception of the Alfheim orcs. Orcs aren't interested in rape, but are perfectly okay with murder and cannibalism. Dragonborn just blend in with all the other lizard races, with Cayman, Gatormen, Sis'thik and Chameleon Men they are redundant.
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Re: Full 5e conversion?

Postby stebehil » Mon Nov 20, 2017 9:18 am

Thank you all for sharing your thoughts. Glen, I hope it is clear that I don´t criticize your work at all, and I don´t want to show you up or something. In fact, I love your work here, and think it is great. It is especially interesting to read the reasoning behind your designs. I concur that the Alfheim elves (and in fact most of the others) do live like wood elves, and that the Belcadiz are an oddball. Still, as the Alfheim elves (and the Callarii and others) are the default elves and not as reclusive as wood elves are usually portrayed, and are very much defined by their skill with magic, I think they are better represented with the high elf subrace. For the Vyalia, I would indeed see them as Wood Elves of some sort.

I love your take on the other elf subraces, and can go with restricting the combination of arcane casters and fighting skills. But I think there are some instances of Half-Elves outside the Savage Baronies, with the off-hand remark that they are either elves or humans, rules-wise. And we have one half-orc in GAZ 10, who is rules-wise treated as a human. But in general, I see half-orcs who are recognizable as such being subject to hostility almost everywhere, and they should be extremely rare. I mean, this is one example in hundreds of NPCs described across dozens of products, hardly a precedent for generally allowing the race. It is similar with half-elves, although I seem to recall a number of instances, but still a handful at most.

With dwarves, halflings and gnomes, I think your approach is very fitting. My remarks are very minor in comparison, and it is always easy to take an existing work and tinker with it.

I also would rule out tieflings, and see dragonborn as more or less being replaceable with other races described elsewhere.

In the end, the DM has to make the choice: does he want to use full 5e, or does he want to recreate Mystara more faithful to the "vanilla with sprinkles" setting that it has developed into. So any conversion can only be an individual take, starting from that decision. As CommanderCrud stated, this can be done on the fly.

I would aim to keep it faithful, but introducing a few elements from 5e to expand the options.
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Re: Full 5e conversion?

Postby stebehil » Mon Nov 20, 2017 11:06 am

So, further races:
Gnomes: As Glen wrote, I´d take the gnomes as being either forest gnomes if "groundlings" and rock gnomes for Serraines Skygnomes (and most probably for those living inside CM4 Earthshaker!). There might be the odd rock gnome amid his fellow groundliving cousins, however.

Halfelves and Halforcs: As these are normally not part of the setting, if the DM is trying to keep it "true", they should be disallowed. They may be allowed as "cosmetic" differences, as there is some precedent for this. If the DM wants to open up, he might allow these.

Dragonborn: They have no true place on Mystara. The progeny from G:KoM (p. 122-124, Grimoire) might be the source for an odd character, but as this is a later addition which feels to me somewhat unfitting, I would advise to ignore that. As Glen pointed out, there are quite some reptilian options available, if someone wants to play those.

Tieflings: I strongly advise to leave them out of Mystara, as well as Aasimar. They just don´t fit.

There are a lot of races added on later as playable characters, in GAZ 10, PC 1-4, and the Voyage of the Princess Ark series in Dragon (and I guess in the later Savage Coast 2e supplements). Most of these I would see as being only viable in their respective "subsettings", so to speak. Many of those are powerful monster races originally, and are only made (barely) playable with "juvenile" levels. Aside from being awkward rules-wise, the advancement would need to be slowed so strongly that this runs contrary to the 5e design idea of adding levels rather quickly. (Take the sphinx from PC 2 as an extreme example: it needs 300,000 xp for each level, and 3,000,000 xp to reach normal monster status - this amount takes a normal character to the end of their advancement, or at least well into Master levels. Sounds unplayable to me, and not worth translating into 5e.) I´d strongly recommend to take only those monster races into account that are feasible for a normal class advancement, and leaving all those others as NPCs and monsters. That said, the advancements can serve as inspiration for customized monsters.
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Re: Full 5e conversion?

Postby stebehil » Mon Nov 20, 2017 3:04 pm

Classes: per RC, we have Cleric, Fighter, Magic-User, Thief, Mystic and Druid, and the Paladin/Knight/Avenger variations on the Fighter. In theory, Dwarf, Elf and Halfling are classes as well, but to be honest, I would treat them as Fighters and Fighter/Mages (with the option to make those classes mandatory if you want to keep THAT close to the RC rules).
2e gives us Fighter/Ranger/Paladin, Cleric/Druid, Mage/Specialist and Rogue/Bard as classes. The Monk or Mystic is absent, unless you count the rehash of the 1e Monk in "The Scarlet Brotherhood" (TSR #11374, 1999, for Greyhawk). Or I missed another take.
5e has Barbarians, Bards, Clerics, Druids, Fighters, Monks, Paladins, Rangers, Rogues, Sorcerers, Warlocks and Wizards.

So, 2e has added Bards and Rangers already, and offers Paladins and Druids starting at 1st level. These might be considered canon if you take Mystara 2e into account. Barbarians, Sorcerers and Warlocks are new in town, and Monks/Mystics are back.

The original four classes and the rare mystic are standard for Mystara. With the Druid and the Fighter variations, this might be worth a look if these could be built as variations on the standard classes rather than separate classes. This should be relatively easy for the fighter variations, but maybe building a Cleric-going-Druid is not worth bothering, with the Druid class being distinct. The Fighter variations for the spellcasters could be built along the Eldritch Knight lines as Archetypes, with the RC Knight being another non-spellcasting Archetype.

Allowing the Bard as a full arcane caster is a DM´s call. The 2e Bard was not a full caster. The limited spell list and relatively few spells known balance the class against the other classes, but it is still not that perfect fitting into Mystara. I would allow it, but this a matter of personal preference.

Barbarians are easily integrated into Mystara and won´t damage anything. In CM 1, there are some folks called barbarians anyway, if memory serves right.

This leaves Sorcerers and Warlocks. The former might represent the few instinctive arcane casters in the world, like the hakomon of Ethengar, as Glen already noted. The Warlocks should be extremely rare.
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Re: Full 5e conversion?

Postby stebehil » Tue Nov 21, 2017 10:19 am

Lets see - how might a fighter look like if the Paladin Status was built like a martial archetype instead of being a separate class?

The RC Paladin has the following features:
- 9th level minimum
- Oath of fealty to a lawful church
- detect evil at will
- cleric spell casting if WIS >12 at 1/3 fighter level
- turning undead as cleric of 1/3 fighter level
- number of hirelings limited to cleric level
- obligation to help.

I regard the oath, the limited hirelings and the obligation as more of a roleplaying feature than something that should be included in rules.
This leaves the minimum level, detect evil, spell casting and turning undead as rule features. This is not a full-blown paladin as in 2e and 5e, obviously.

Minimum level - as in 5e the martial Archetypes come into play at 3rd level, I would see this as some sort of minimum level (a probation period for the wannabe paladin, maybe?).

Detect Evil at wil - that might be available at 3rd level as well. This is a signature ability of paladins across editions, and should be kept. It replaces the weapon bond of the Eldritch knight in a way.

Looking into the Eldritch Knight, we have an spellcasting archetype. Now, the regular 5e paladin has a separate spell list and spell casting progression, which differs from the Eldrich Knights progression. I would keep the paladin spell list and just import the paladin spell casting progression, starting spell casting at level 3 instead of 2. This cuts off level 20, obviously. Spells known would be taken from the regular paladin. This raises the additional question if the minimum WIS (or CHA, if true to 5e) should be kept as requirement. I would not require it, as this is no longer part of 5e at all. I would also leave CHA as relevant attribute intact. Note that the number of spells known is a function of the CHA bonus anyway, so we have a "the higher the better" situation here. I am not sure what this spell casting would mean game balance wise, however.

Turning Undead: This is in 5e subsumed unter the header channel divinity. I would give this at 7th level - yes, late in the progression, but otoh, the cleric gets it at lvl 2, and another use at lvls 6 and 18, so it is a relatively rare ability, and seems fitting to the overall progression. As per RC, the paladin is much weaker there in this regard, and the 5e spell casting is powerful.

At that point, the RC paladin is basically done. We still have the martial archetype powers at lvl 10, 15 and 18, however. I am thinking along the lines of integrating the abilities of the various Sacred Oaths, given at level 7, 15 and 20, into this progression, at these points.

What the "Mystara Paladin" would not have is smite, lay on hands and various other abilities of the full paladin.

Note: a Ranger variant might be built along the same lines.

What do you think? Worth considering, or not viable?
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Re: Full 5e conversion?

Postby Traianus » Wed Nov 22, 2017 4:59 pm

Quick question- You are clearly putting a lot of thought into this conversion, but who is your target audience for this? Is it 5e players new to Mystara, or Mystara players new to 5e? The reason I ask this is that if the former, you may want to make additions/moderate substitutions to 5e rather than place restrictions or ban things. With the paladin, for instance, it makes more sense to simply use the 5e class as is and offer an archetype to more closely mirrors the BECMI paladin for those who want it- a 5e player that wants to play a paladin would expect a 5e paladin and being forced to the Mystaran version (which is a very different) may be off-putting. When my old campaign went 3.5 then Pathfinder, the paladin was per the ruleset with a prestige class for the Mystaran paladin "Lawbringer" (3.5E) and a Mystaran paladin archtype (PF). Either one worked in the game, and it gave the player the choice.
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Re: Full 5e conversion?

Postby stebehil » Wed Nov 22, 2017 6:18 pm

That is a very good question. I wanted to see what I get when trying to recreate the Known World/Mystara feeling with 5e, so the answer would probably be 5e players new to Mystara. I am toying with the idea of offering a 5e Mystara campaign at some point. Up until that, I just wanted to see if changing things around in 5e makes sense rules-wise while recreating Mystara, or if I´m better off if I make some changes to Mystara to accomodate the ruleset. It is more or less a thought experiment at this point, to see what I get at the end.

IMO, the limits put on the options by the BECMI/RC ruleset have a certain charm up to a point when it gets too restrictive, but I absolutely see the merits of some ideas presented in the GAZ line, like the dwarf-cleric, the elf wizard or even the forester and the Ethengar shaman. (The Hin master and the Minrothad and Darokin Merchant-Wizards not so much, to be honest). OTOH, I personally don´t want to open up Mystara for all the things on the menu these days, as this would damage the charm the setting has IMO. In the end, I guess I want to balance limits against options while aiming at the keeping the spirit intact.
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Re: Full 5e conversion?

Postby RobJN » Thu Nov 23, 2017 6:16 pm

stebehil wrote:That is a very good question. I wanted to see what I get when trying to recreate the Known World/Mystara feeling with 5e, so the answer would probably be 5e players new to Mystara. I am toying with the idea of offering a 5e Mystara campaign at some point. Up until that, I just wanted to see if changing things around in 5e makes sense rules-wise while recreating Mystara, or if I´m better off if I make some changes to Mystara to accomodate the ruleset. It is more or less a thought experiment at this point, to see what I get at the end.

IMO, the limits put on the options by the BECMI/RC ruleset have a certain charm up to a point when it gets too restrictive, but I absolutely see the merits of some ideas presented in the GAZ line, like the dwarf-cleric, the elf wizard or even the forester and the Ethengar shaman. (The Hin master and the Minrothad and Darokin Merchant-Wizards not so much, to be honest). OTOH, I personally don´t want to open up Mystara for all the things on the menu these days, as this would damage the charm the setting has IMO. In the end, I guess I want to balance limits against options while aiming at the keeping the spirit intact.

I think a 5e Mystara definitely benefits from a "don't leave everything out on the table" approach: the setting has its quirks, most of which arose from its "not-Advanced" roots, and thus being cut off from the majority of options (baggage?) found in the likes of Greyhawk and the Realms.

Still, I think there is plenty of room for all of the 5e classes in the setting, with either a little bit of re-flavoring or some really good story-driven justification. "I want to play a dwarven paladin" really wouldn't cut it at my table, but "I want to play a dwarf on a one-dwarf crusade against orcs in the name of Kagyar?" Yeah, that is something I could work with.
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Re: Full 5e conversion?

Postby stebehil » Thu Nov 23, 2017 7:41 pm

RobJN wrote:I think a 5e Mystara definitely benefits from a "don't leave everything out on the table" approach: the setting has its quirks, most of which arose from its "not-Advanced" roots, and thus being cut off from the majority of options (baggage?) found in the likes of Greyhawk and the Realms.

I guess I try to find out what is baggage and what would be traveling too light, then. And to find out just what you need to pack, you have to dig through the wardrobe and review each and every piece. But enough of strange comparisons for now. :D
RobJN wrote:Still, I think there is plenty of room for all of the 5e classes in the setting, with either a little bit of re-flavoring or some really good story-driven justification. "I want to play a dwarven paladin" really wouldn't cut it at my table, but "I want to play a dwarf on a one-dwarf crusade against orcs in the name of Kagyar?" Yeah, that is something I could work with.

That is indeed a nice approach. Still, there are some things that just don´t feel "right" to me, like dwarf arcane casters or tieflings, and which I would have a hard time to justify. So, I think I would leave those out.
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Re: Full 5e conversion?

Postby RobJN » Thu Nov 23, 2017 10:04 pm

stebehil wrote:
RobJN wrote:Still, I think there is plenty of room for all of the 5e classes in the setting, with either a little bit of re-flavoring or some really good story-driven justification. "I want to play a dwarven paladin" really wouldn't cut it at my table, but "I want to play a dwarf on a one-dwarf crusade against orcs in the name of Kagyar?" Yeah, that is something I could work with.

That is indeed a nice approach. Still, there are some things that just don´t feel "right" to me, like dwarf arcane casters or tieflings, and which I would have a hard time to justify. So, I think I would leave those out.

Yeah, some of the races... would need a LOT of work. And I've got a version of a dwarven arcane caster, leaning heavily on the "Mordiswerg" side of things, that specialize in illusions and mind-magics. Again, it's all in the flavor, and that particular one works in the context of that part of the setting. Your own mileage may vary.
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Re: Full 5e conversion?

Postby stebehil » Thu Nov 23, 2017 11:06 pm

RobJN wrote:
stebehil wrote:
RobJN wrote:Still, I think there is plenty of room for all of the 5e classes in the setting, with either a little bit of re-flavoring or some really good story-driven justification. "I want to play a dwarven paladin" really wouldn't cut it at my table, but "I want to play a dwarf on a one-dwarf crusade against orcs in the name of Kagyar?" Yeah, that is something I could work with.

That is indeed a nice approach. Still, there are some things that just don´t feel "right" to me, like dwarf arcane casters or tieflings, and which I would have a hard time to justify. So, I think I would leave those out.

Yeah, some of the races... would need a LOT of work. And I've got a version of a dwarven arcane caster, leaning heavily on the "Mordiswerg" side of things, that specialize in illusions and mind-magics. Again, it's all in the flavor, and that particular one works in the context of that part of the setting. Your own mileage may vary.


The Modrigswerg are a special case for sure. As long as they are NPC artificers building extraordinary magic items, using (probably) some sort of the forge of power for this, I won´t need any definition in terms of class and level. In this portrayal, they are closer to the mythical sources than the stereotypical, tolkien-influenced dwarf. (Wasn´t there a rule in 3e that craftsmen with the relevant feats could make magical items?) Illusion and Mind-Magics comes close to some portrayals as faerie tricksters, which appear in the old myths. Still, probably the stereotype is too deeply set that I have some trouble imagining a dwarven spell slinger.
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Re: Full 5e conversion?

Postby Coronoides » Fri Nov 24, 2017 2:39 pm

Shameless plug (for free stuff)
My free fan mathematical analysis of the 5e races and race design system might be of help (see links in signature). A new version incorporating evidence from Volos and the Tortle Package will be out in a month or so.
Need to convert races to D&D 5e? Check out my mathematical analysis of canon races and design rules: https://rpggeek.com/filepage/120857/rev ... system-opt and excel sheet https://rpggeek.com/filepage/120858/exc ... on-article

Conversion & Review of Council of Wryms including dragon PCs compatible with other 5e settings (at level 5+). DRAFT: https://www.dropbox.com/s/kkanqpayp4v3t ... 8.pdf?dl=0
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Re: Full 5e conversion?

Postby Coronoides » Fri Nov 24, 2017 2:49 pm

stebehil wrote:So, further races:
Gnomes: As Glen wrote, I´d take the gnomes as being either forest gnomes if "groundlings" and rock gnomes for Serraines Skygnomes (and most probably for those living inside CM4 Earthshaker!). There might be the odd rock gnome amid his fellow groundliving cousins, however.

Halfelves and Halforcs: As these are normally not part of the setting, if the DM is trying to keep it "true", they should be disallowed. They may be allowed as "cosmetic" differences, as there is some precedent for this. If the DM wants to open up, he might allow these.

Dragonborn: They have no true place on Mystara. The progeny from G:KoM (p. 122-124, Grimoire) might be the source for an odd character, but as this is a later addition which feels to me somewhat unfitting, I would advise to ignore that. As Glen pointed out, there are quite some reptilian options available, if someone wants to play those.

Tieflings: I strongly advise to leave them out of Mystara, as well as Aasimar. They just don´t fit.

There are a lot of races added on later as playable characters, in GAZ 10, PC 1-4, and the Voyage of the Princess Ark series in Dragon (and I guess in the later Savage Coast 2e supplements). Most of these I would see as being only viable in their respective "subsettings", so to speak. Many of those are powerful monster races originally, and are only made (barely) playable with "juvenile" levels. Aside from being awkward rules-wise, the advancement would need to be slowed so strongly that this runs contrary to the 5e design idea of adding levels rather quickly. (Take the sphinx from PC 2 as an extreme example: it needs 300,000 xp for each level, and 3,000,000 xp to reach normal monster status - this amount takes a normal character to the end of their advancement, or at least well into Master levels. Sounds unplayable to me, and not worth translating into 5e.) I´d strongly recommend to take only those monster races into account that are feasible for a normal class advancement, and leaving all those others as NPCs and monsters. That said, the advancements can serve as inspiration for customized monsters.


My design document (see links in signature) has a lot of optional ideas for making more potent races based on the math and progressions in the 5e system (such as DPR by level). I have play tested this with my group (about 9 players at an average session) for 3 years, though admittedly at only the first 2 tiers of play for 5e. I have also done some math comparisons of high level canon race PCs to weird potent race PCs and they 'look right'. My stuff might be of use to this project and I'd like your feedback on my work.
Need to convert races to D&D 5e? Check out my mathematical analysis of canon races and design rules: https://rpggeek.com/filepage/120857/rev ... system-opt and excel sheet https://rpggeek.com/filepage/120858/exc ... on-article

Conversion & Review of Council of Wryms including dragon PCs compatible with other 5e settings (at level 5+). DRAFT: https://www.dropbox.com/s/kkanqpayp4v3t ... 8.pdf?dl=0
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Re: Full 5e conversion?

Postby Traianus » Fri Nov 24, 2017 9:14 pm

stebehil wrote:IMO, the limits put on the options by the BECMI/RC ruleset have a certain charm up to a point when it gets too restrictive, but I absolutely see the merits of some ideas presented in the GAZ line, like the dwarf-cleric, the elf wizard or even the forester and the Ethengar shaman. (The Hin master and the Minrothad and Darokin Merchant-Wizards not so much, to be honest). OTOH, I personally don´t want to open up Mystara for all the things on the menu these days, as this would damage the charm the setting has IMO. In the end, I guess I want to balance limits against options while aiming at the keeping the spirit intact.


For conversion, I always looked at the intent of the restrictions or absence of something. Dwarven arcane casters, in my opinion, were a restriction that made sense when considering the fluff of the setting and the history of the Rockborn, so we carried that forward. For paladins, nothing inherent in the setting either directly or indirectly said they shouldn't be allowed. The only plausible reason could be that Mystara is more about Law/Chaos than Good/Evil, but paladins are both Lawful and Good, and by adding the Prestige class/archetype for a more Mystaran version, we felt it was the best of both worlds. Ultimately, things were handled on a case by case basis.
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Re: Full 5e conversion?

Postby Havard » Sat Nov 25, 2017 2:00 pm

I think this is a great thread and I like that we are able to discuss the ideas behind the conversions as well as the conversions themselves. With every edition we get threads like this, but it seems to me that how we approach these conversions has matured over the years. I remember that the 3E conversions sometimes lead to less friendly discussions than we are normally used to in the Mystara community.

I think recognizing what several people have pointed out in this thread have said that there are different philosophies to what makes for a good conversion. As Traianus says there is a question of whether one should focus on the rules of the older edition or the intent behind them. None of these approaches are wrong per se. Of course if we do focus on intents that also has its problems since we are going to have to deal with some very subjective speculations boiling down to how each of us sees the setting. Still, I think there is no way around talking about these things and I think that actually adressing why we want to focus on one approach over another is what is making the discussions in this thread alot better than what we have seen in many communities a decade or so back.

As to Dwarven Paladins and similar combinations, I am personally leaning towards allowing most things for Mystara. One of the really deep philosophies of Mystara as a setting I think has always been the "anything goes" approach. On the other hand, allowing a bunch of races and race/class combinations that have no history in Mystara, you run the risk of drowning the more familiar elements in new ones. I think this is what Stebehil is talking about when he says bing too lenient will end up loosing the charm of the setting that in part was brought to it by BECMI/RC D&D. So I would allow Dwarf Paladins (of Kagyar), but these would be rare. I would also allow Tieflings. There are plenty of explanations why a Tiefling could show up on Mystara. But I would stress that these are very rare creatures, most likely of other planar origins.

I like Stebehil's take on Halflings. That seems to be a great way of highlighting the unique features of Mystara's Halflings while at the same time working very well within the framework of 5E.

But obviously what each of us allows at his or her table is of course down to the decisions made by the individual DM.

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Re: Full 5e conversion?

Postby stebehil » Sat Nov 25, 2017 5:11 pm

@ Coronoides: I browsed your document only very lightly so far. It seems to be a very thorough approach, which I will surely test regarding my ideas about converting the races, as above. To be honest, I do not intend to check the math, but just use the result. At the moment, I can´t really say anything more about it so far.

@ Traianus: Looking at the reason for limits is surely an important part, but this is something an individual DM has to do to see if these reasons are valid for his ideas about the setting. I aim at an earlier stage: To see if the status quo from the RC/GAZ era can be translated more or less verbatim into the current ruleset, and take this as a base for individual DMs decisions what he does with it.
The Paladin is an addition easily made, and I concur that this would not damage anything about what the Known World/Mystara is about. The dwarven Paladin is a bit more tricky. In GAZ 6, the dwarven clerics are noted for not being able to turn undead, as they are so highly resistant to magic that their immortal patron could not give this to them. (This was obviously no concern when designing the Hin Master, however). So, one might argue that abilities granted by the immortals beyond spellcasting are at least in need of review if someone wants to play a dwarf paladin. Or one might argue that it is a design point of 5e to not put any arbitrary limits on characters and throw that out - which could be argues as well, pointing to the Hin Master as an example. (The dwarf-cleric and the hin Master show very different takes on expanding the existing rules, for sure. I always had the impression that Ed Greenwood leans towards more powerful ideas in game and rule design.)

@ Havard: I recall very heated discussions about the merits of the varying rule systems almost everywhere. This was probably very strong from 2e to 3e, as 3e was a very different ruleset than, say, 1e and 2e, or even BECMI and AD&D. These days, I have a feeling that with two more iterations of the rules, people are getting more used to new ideas in the rules. This might be a reason why the discussions are generally more civil these days.

My take is (I guess I´m repeating myself here) that I want to have a thorough look at what is there, how this would translate and then see where I want to deviate from the strict limits resulting from the older ruleset. I don´t have much of a problem with adding more options as well, but want to have a more solid foundation for that. If anybody else can make use of this, so much the better.
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Re: Full 5e conversion?

Postby stebehil » Sat Nov 25, 2017 7:51 pm

I will try to build a Halfling with Koronoides work. Basically, he found that the PC Races work if they are built with a 12-pt. system, in which a +1 to an attribute is worth 2 pt. There are some lesser traits not worth any points.

The Halflings are broken down thus:

Halfling Base: Dex+2 (4), Small size (-2), Speed 25ft (-4), Lucky (3.75), Brave (3.75), Halfling Nimbleness (4).
Lightfoot Halfling: Cha+1 (2), Naturally Stealthy (0.5). Lesser traits: nil
Stout Halfling: Con+1 (2) Advantage on poison saves (0.5). Lesser traits: resistance to poison.

That way, the Halflings are 12-pt. builds.

To quote myself:

"Glen Welch: He creates the Hin subrace and gives them CON +1, prof. Stealth.

Dex is important throughout, so the +2 is an obvious choice here. The lucky reroll seems fitting to reflect the heightened saves at least partially. I concur with Glens idea, but would exchange the basic advantage against fear into advantage against magic, and perhaps exchange the nimbleness against resistance to magic."

This would remove the Brave trait, and probably the Halfling Nimbleness. This would free 7.75 build points. I would basically take the Stout subrace package, as it includes the advantage and resistance against poison already, and the +1 Con. These traits are close to what I think is fitting for the Hin. Now, advantage and resistance to magic is tricky. In Koronoides work, the Gnome Cunning trait, giving advantage on one attribute save against magic, is listed with 3 points (note that the pdf lists 4 points on page 14, while the excel file lists 3). So, advantage on all saves against magic would be beyond the rules, as this would cost 18 points. But this is not necessary anyway. According to the RC, they take half damage from spells. So, it would suffice to give them advantage to the saves that most often are associated with direct damage - dexterity and constitution. This coincides well with the strong points associated with the race, anyway. So: advantage on dex and con saves against magic (3+3= 6 points). This leaves us with 1.75 points. As a true magic resistance is way out there pointwise, I won´t bother with that. An advantage against breath weapons is probably too much to be covered as a racial ability, and might be relegated to a feat that expands the racial advantage to these attacks as well. As this special ability is gained quite late in the original ruleset, this feels fitting to me. I would add a proficiency with Stealth, as Glen proposed anyway. This nets -0.25 points. I´m willing to call it a day here, this difference being minor enough.

So, the Hin would look like as follows: DEX +2, CON +1, Lucky, Advantage against magic on dex and con saves, advantage on poison saves, resistance to poison, prof. with Stealth (and small size and slower speed, of course). The combination of Lucky and the Advantages can be quite powerful, but OTOH the Advantages are specific enough that this should be no major game balance problem. I have not included a reflection of the combat bonuses, but this might be argued to be covered by Lucka adequately enough.

Ideas, thoughts and critique on that?
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