B/X'ing Karameikos and Gazetteers

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B/X'ing Karameikos and Gazetteers

Postby bestialwarlust » Tue Feb 06, 2018 10:54 pm

So my preferred version of classic is B/X which caps out at level 14. I prefer the level cap there and though I have a liking for BECMI, I started with B/X so that's my go to version. How have others handled using the Gazetteers, if you use them, handle the higher level NPC's? I'm working through some idea's now such as:

Very few if any NPC's above 9th level this way the pc's can truly make a mark on the world
King Stefan would cap at 9 and maybe some of the more powerful wizards of Glantri might make it to 11.

Demihuman npc's would cap at level 1 or 2 there may be a few exceptions that go higher but not much.

Most other human rulers would go to level 5 or maybe 6 at max they would be the exception. Really the only way one will get past level 2 is being an adventurer. This also means that NPC healing won't be as prominent as clerics don't cast spells at level 1 most tend to the temples/shrines/etc...

Has anyone else done something similar?
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Re: B/X'ing Karameikos and Gazetteers

Postby rabindranath72 » Wed Feb 07, 2018 11:53 am

Apart from Thieves (and Clerics getting 4th level spells earlier), level capping in B/X doesn't have much of an impact from a game mechanical point of view; the rules weren't meant to cap at 14 anyway.
However, I think your idea has merit, and I thought about it; at least in my case, I simply don't have the time to run 36 levels games anymore.
If you really want to go the 1-14 route, I suggest you look at the "Adventurer, Conqueror, King System" (ACKS) game. It's a sort of Rules Cyclopedia, implemented with B/X in mind. It effectively compresses the whole range of D&D (explicit in BECMI, implicit in B/X) to levels 1-14, by having "stuff" happen earlier, and changing how magic is approached. For example, spellcasters can create magic items at 5th level; also, spells of 7-9th level (for wizards) and 6-7th level (for clerics) are considered rituals and don't use the usual spellcasting rules. The game also implements a very effective system of Proficiencies, which is fully integrated into the game (rather than being haphazardly patched-on like General Skills in BECMI.) Also, classes are generally more interesting than their B/X (and BECMI) counterparts, and it introduces a few human and demihuman classes, like Assassins, Dwarf Craftpriest, Elven Nightblade, etc.

In terms of conversion of existing GAZ material, I'd probably map levels 4 to 1 beyond 8th level, so for example a 9-12th level BECMI Fighter would become a 9th level B/X/ACKS Fighter, so a 36th level character would become a 15th level character (or cap at 14.)
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Re: B/X'ing Karameikos and Gazetteers

Postby bestialwarlust » Wed Feb 07, 2018 4:53 pm

I do use ACKS which is one reason I'm working on level capping certain npc's. I do like your 4 to 1 level suggestion.
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Re: B/X'ing Karameikos and Gazetteers

Postby rabindranath72 » Wed Feb 07, 2018 5:42 pm

bestialwarlust wrote:I do use ACKS which is one reason I'm working on level capping certain npc's. I do like your 4 to 1 level suggestion.

One issue you might face is use of heavyweight monsters in the CM range, which poses problems if you run CM scenarios. Reducing hit dice in the same ratio might be a solution (but I haven't tried it.)
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Re: B/X'ing Karameikos and Gazetteers

Postby bestialwarlust » Wed Feb 07, 2018 5:50 pm

It will be a while before my players reach that range. I'll have to look at some of the CM creatures and see how they look.
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Re: B/X'ing Karameikos and Gazetteers

Postby Mike » Thu Feb 08, 2018 5:47 am

Scaling the world 1-14 is my preferred way of running the Known World. I think the Wilderlands of High Fantasy makes a good model:
- Soldiers are generally F1-F2
- Knights and Military officers are F3-F8
- Most barons and other rules are in the 4th-8th level range. A typical town will only have a 2-4 characters in this range, and they will be key personalities.
- NPCs in the 9th-14th range are unusual and edging into epic territory
- Almost nobody exceeds 11th level or so.

This means that "heroes" (4th+ level) are quite rare. In a local town run by a 5th level dwarf with assistance from one 4th level cleric and one 3rd level ranger, there is really nobody to deal with the local owlbear or goblin king. If adventurer-heroes wander into town, the locals count themselves fortunate and hope they can finally get rid of a nearby monster.

That said I don't mind an occasional crazy-high level NPC in the 20+ level range, but that is going to be an epic villain, probably the chief recurring bad guy of the entire campaign. Everyone else gets cut down to something reasonable. I don't use a formula, just pick something that feels right. I think the ideas in the original post are perfect. The easy way to handle high level spellcasters is as a plot device: they can cast any standard spell (up to 6th) once per round. Don't mess with them unless you have a plan to neutralize them fast. But this is a legendary character like the wicked witch of west or the king of elfland or the undying high priest of law. Thoth Amon, Sauron, Merlin, Hercules, iuz. Nearly godlike, and probably half-demon or something.

Spells higher than 6th level exist, but they are rituals usable by an wizard level 9+. You have to find them, copy them into your book, and then cast them by means of "spell research." You can surely call a meteor swarm but it may take a week-long ritual and have to be cast on a mountaintop at midnight, and that's after you obtain the only copy from a dragon. Things like Gate or Wish lend themselves well to long rituals. Other spells like power word kill would be created as a unique one-use scroll, at great time and cost. This means that nothing is impossible, and in fact is within reach of any name-level spellcaster, but it is still epic and rare and difficult to obtain.

We invented an alternate path to immortality for BX campaigns. No mortal can exceed 4th level or so. The only way is to align with Law or Chaos; such a character upon reaching 5th level becomes a superhuman demigod, semi-immortal. A semi-immortal is still mortal, but can contend directly with immortals, can hit creatures only struck by magic, has a detectable aura and is subject to "protection from evil", and can dispel immortal magic. Anyone reaching 14th level is truly immortal, and if killed they ascend to the planes. No sponsorship is needed, just dedicated service to your alignment and luck to survive. (There is a neutral path, but a character aligned with neutrality is forever bound to the planet. They will not ascend to the planes, but will linger forever as a ghost or fairy spirit. Their immortality is of the fairy or elemental kind.)
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Re: B/X'ing Karameikos and Gazetteers

Postby bestialwarlust » Fri Feb 09, 2018 5:23 pm

Mike wrote:Scaling the world 1-14 is my preferred way of running the Known World. I think the Wilderlands of High Fantasy makes a good model:
- Soldiers are generally F1-F2
- Knights and Military officers are F3-F8
- Most barons and other rules are in the 4th-8th level range. A typical town will only have a 2-4 characters in this range, and they will be key personalities.
- NPCs in the 9th-14th range are unusual and edging into epic territory
- Almost nobody exceeds 11th level or so.

This means that "heroes" (4th+ level) are quite rare. In a local town run by a 5th level dwarf with assistance from one 4th level cleric and one 3rd level ranger, there is really nobody to deal with the local owlbear or goblin king. If adventurer-heroes wander into town, the locals count themselves fortunate and hope they can finally get rid of a nearby monster.

That said I don't mind an occasional crazy-high level NPC in the 20+ level range, but that is going to be an epic villain, probably the chief recurring bad guy of the entire campaign. Everyone else gets cut down to something reasonable. I don't use a formula, just pick something that feels right. I think the ideas in the original post are perfect. The easy way to handle high level spellcasters is as a plot device: they can cast any standard spell (up to 6th) once per round. Don't mess with them unless you have a plan to neutralize them fast. But this is a legendary character like the wicked witch of west or the king of elfland or the undying high priest of law. Thoth Amon, Sauron, Merlin, Hercules, iuz. Nearly godlike, and probably half-demon or something.

Spells higher than 6th level exist, but they are rituals usable by an wizard level 9+. You have to find them, copy them into your book, and then cast them by means of "spell research." You can surely call a meteor swarm but it may take a week-long ritual and have to be cast on a mountaintop at midnight, and that's after you obtain the only copy from a dragon. Things like Gate or Wish lend themselves well to long rituals. Other spells like power word kill would be created as a unique one-use scroll, at great time and cost. This means that nothing is impossible, and in fact is within reach of any name-level spellcaster, but it is still epic and rare and difficult to obtain.

We invented an alternate path to immortality for BX campaigns. No mortal can exceed 4th level or so. The only way is to align with Law or Chaos; such a character upon reaching 5th level becomes a superhuman demigod, semi-immortal. A semi-immortal is still mortal, but can contend directly with immortals, can hit creatures only struck by magic, has a detectable aura and is subject to "protection from evil", and can dispel immortal magic. Anyone reaching 14th level is truly immortal, and if killed they ascend to the planes. No sponsorship is needed, just dedicated service to your alignment and luck to survive. (There is a neutral path, but a character aligned with neutrality is forever bound to the planet. They will not ascend to the planes, but will linger forever as a ghost or fairy spirit. Their immortality is of the fairy or elemental kind.)


Some interesting idea's and things to ponder thanks.
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