Continuing my Sunless Citadel conversion, it’s time to take all those lovely monsters and drop them into the encounters. I start off with something simple – the Wandering Monster Table. I’m a big fan of wandrin’ monsters as I feel they add just that little more life into an adventure and (if handled properly) give a feeling that the monsters really do wander around rather than just sit in rooms all day waiting for tasty adventurers to show up.
With a party of 5 we’re looking for 500XP or thereabouts; the lower the XP, the easier the challenge. That’s a heck of a lot easier than Third Edition where building an encounter involved a DM look-up table, differential calculus and sawing off your left leg.
OK, I lied about the differential calculus.
As these are wandering critters I’m going to hover around the 400XP mark. The PCs should come away feeling they’ve spilled some blood, but not lost too much of their own in the process. I end up with:
1 2 Kobold Slingers, 4 Minions, 1 Dire Rat, 400XP
2 1 Rat Swarm, 4 Giant Rats, 2 Dire Rats, 425XP
3 8 Goblin Cutters, 2 Goblin Blackblades, 400XP
4 3 Hobgoblin Grunts, 2 Goblin Sharpshooters, 364XP
5 2 Skeletons, 2 Decrepit Skeletons, 350XP
6 4 Twig Blights, 400XP
7-20 No encounter
My first impression is “Holy carp that’s twice the number of monsters per encounter!” closely followed by “So what?”. I intentionally don’t put many Kobold Slingers in the mix because I’ve already learned to my cost that my players attack those first and steal their stuff. Playing GM to a party that’s loaded down with Stinkpots, Firepots and Gluepots is funny for a while though – especially when they use the Firepots as bowling balls against Minions :D .
On to the encounters themselves. Here’s my as-written list, keyed to the Sunless Citadel encounter numbers. At this stage I’m working purely by-the-book, replacing what’s in each room with their 4e equals, adjusted for XP and funness (is that a word?). This dungeon suddenly gets a heck of a lot more crowded with 3 Kobolds being replaced with 8 or more at the drop of a hat.
On the second pass through I’ll consolidate a lot of these as 4e encounter design doesn’t work around the idea that 1 room = 1 encounter. Instead, an encounter can involve one region of a dungeon that’s made up of several rooms, all working and attacking together. That’s much, much cooler in play and there’s none of that “the room next door ignores the battle” syndrome common to old editions of D&D. For example, I’m likely to pull Rooms 16, 18, 19, and 23 into one encounter involving critters coming from all directions to battle the adventurers. The room numbers merely denote their starting locations; I’ll reduce the number of monsters in this one “encounter” accordingly.
I still don’t know what to do with that Water Mephit though. :sigh:.
1. 2 Rat Swarms, 4 Giant Rats, 2 Dire Rats, 525XP
3. Pitdoor Trap, 1 Dire Rat, 200XP
5. Needle Trap, 3 Skeletons, 550XP
6. 3 Dire Rats, 300XP
8. Arrow Trap, 150XP
10. Jot, Imp Lurker, 150XP
12. Dragonpriest Troll, 200XP
14. Water Mephit ???
15. MEEPO! Kobold Skirmisher, 100XP
16. Arrow Trap, 2 Kobold Skirmishers, 2 Kobold Dragonshields, 600XP
18. 3 Goblin Cutters, 75XP
19. 3 Kobold Minions, 3 Kobold Dragonshields, 450XP
20. 2 Kobold Dragonshields, 2 Kobold Slingers, 450XP
21. 2 Kobold Dragonshields, 8 Kobold Minions, Kobold Wyrmpriest, 600XP
23. 2 Kobold Dragonshields, 2 Kobold Slingers, 450XP
24. Pit Trap,100XP
27. Scythe Trap, 3 Skeletons, 4 Decrepit Skeletons, 675XP
28. 3 Dire Rats, 4 Giant Rats, 500XP
29. Naihuine Trap, 250XP
30. 1 Dire Rat, 12 Giant Rats, 1 Rat Swarm, 500XP
32. 4 Goblin Sharpshooters, 500XP
33. 2 Goblin Sharpshooters, 4 Goblin Cutters, 1 Goblin Blackblade, 450XP
35. Pit Trap,100XP
36. 8 Goblin Cutters, 2 Goblin Blackblades, 1 Goblin Warrior, 500XP
37. Calcryx, 750XP
40. 4 Hobgoblin Grunts, 4 Goblin Cutters, 4 Goblin Warriors, 652XP
41. Poison Needle Trap, 1 Twig Blight, 1 Goblin Hexer, 3 Hobgoblin Grunts, 1 Goblin Underboss, 1,014XP
42. 2 Twig Blights, 2 Skeletons, 400XP
43. 1 Bugbear, 2 Dire Wolves, 600XP
45. 1 Kruthik Adult, 3 Kruthik Young, 8 Kruthik Hatchlings, 767XP
47. 2 Goblin Sharpshooters, 4 Goblin Cutters, 1 Goblin Blackblade, 450XP
48. 2 Bugbear Warriors, 400XP
49. 2 Kruthik Young, 3 Skeletons, 4 Goblin Cutters, 750XP
50. 1 Deathlock Wight, 2 Skeletons, 2 Decrepit Skeletons, 475XP
54. 1 Goblin Hexer, 2 Goblin Warriors, 3 Goblin Cutters, 2 Twig Blights, 625XP
55. 7 Twig Blights, 700XP
56. Belak & Allies, 3 Twig Blights, 975XP
I picked up the idea of replacing the Thoqqua with Kruthiks, and love Room 49 in particular. The image of 4 Goblins and 2 Skeletons cowed into feeding a couple of Kruthik Young is terrific; I’d expect the Goblins to turn on their Kruthik handlers at the first opportunity meaning the players gain unexpected (if temporary) allies. I’m going to play the Kruthik straight out of Alien with Room 45 covered in slime, a small nest of eggs (a few of which are starting to open!) and the Kruthik Adult mean as heck. Call it foreshadowing for the Kruthik invasion I’m planning :D .
The toughest battle look like it’s going to be Room 41 weighing in at a whopping 1,014XP. As the adventurers should be second (or even third) level by this point, and it’s only against 6 monsters (of which 3 are minions), I’ll keep it as-is. It’s a climactic breakpoint for the adventure, after all.
That’s a total of 16,906XP just for the room encounters alone. Put another way, it’s 3381.2XP each for a party of 5. Add in the wandering monsters, assume they get the Quest Reward XP and anything gained for role-playing and they’ll be 4th level at the end. Yep. That’s fair. What I like is that I could just total up the XP right there on the page to see what level the PCs should be at the end. Compare that to 3e’s tortuous EL/CR mechanic.
I did mention sawing off my left leg, didn’t I?
I’ll review and consolidate the encounters later. Next up: Treasure Parcels!
In all this took around 40 minutes to pull together, which is a little longer than I expected. I was tired, mind you.
Total time so far: 55 minutes.