Thursday, April 21, 2016

My Converted Campaign: Converting Magic Items

As I mentioned in my last post, bringing over magic and masterwork items as is, or as now described in the core rule books would HUGELY break the bounded accuracy of the game. The current campaign was based on the 8th level characters having legendary weapons which effective balance quite a bit to start, and then add in the copious amounts of magic stuff 3.5E and I allowed in the game would create a difficult to manage situation. 

I wanted to:
  • keep the story continuity - limit items just disappearing
  • avoid making the players feel like they lost out
  • have some sense of just how much of what I do allow them to keep impacts what kind of challenge I need to throw at them
  • not make a stupid mistake and need to retcon something because I broke my campaign
After only played in the Lost Mines of Phandelver up to a 3rd level character, this may have been a tall order to meet.  I read the rule books multiple times, went on line and read other peoples experiences, and relied heavily on other editions of the D&D gaming experience I have acquired since 1979.  Here is what I did.

Items Which Mostly Stayed The Same

Magic Weapons

If they had a +1 weapon in their possession, they may keep it. If they had any > +1, it is now a +1. This did not include their legendary weapon (campaign specific weapon)

Magic Armor

Magic Armor is rare and the maximum plus for anyone to own at this time is 1. If they had +2 armor, we discussed if it might have another advantage instead of the additional plus.

Bracers of Defense

This would be another rare item with a maximum of +2 AC, and it requires attunement.

Cloak of Resistance

If they had one of these in their possession the max I would allow is +1 (bonus to all saving throws), and it requires attunement

Items Which Changed

Masterwork Weapons

These are now nicely made, perhaps with fine materials, metals and gems, and worth money. They no longer have numerical advantages in combat.

Ring of protection

This would instead be a lessor item with limited uses/charges:
  • Use a bonus action to activate, the next attack roll against this character within the next 1 minute is at disadvantage.
  • Roll d6 for number of charges. No recharge.

Ability Score Plus Items

If they had one of these we converted it to a limited use item related to ability

Amulet of Natural Armor

We converted to a limited use item
  • Use reaction to gain resistance to one weapon damage type for one attack; bludgeoning, piercing, slashing. 
  • Roll 2d4 for number of charges. No recharge

MetaMagic Rods

If anyone had one of these I asked them to assume that any metamagic rods they had were items which had charges and the last time they used it was the last charge it held. These items do not really fit any more, as far as I can see reading through the spell descriptions. I don't think they are worth the time to figure out how to make them fair, easy and fit.

The Game Specific Legendary Weapons

In our campaign in 3rd edition, I build the campaign around a group of legendary weapons which once located, with the approval of the King who you were supposed to support, would become soul bound to a character for its life.  This was a sort of permanent attunement.  As part of our conversion I just ruled these weapons used up an attunement slot. 

Additionally these weapons are crazy powerful.  At 8th level characters they had unlocked +2 weapon status and a host of other abilities and damage bonuses.  Now, this really does stretch bounded accuracy.  To compensate, I have been treating them as 10th level characters for building encounters and I may need to bump that even to 11th level.  Of course I do have to manage the top level challenge rating of what they encounter and watch closely to make sure there is not an ability they cannot handle as 8th characters, especially with a max of 4th level spells.

Experience point calculations because of this bumping up of challenge are not a problem, I do not experience points for this campaign.  After what feels like the appropriate amount of time I let them level up.  The players are fine with this and it eliminates some overhead to managing/tracking the game.
So far this is all working out fine.  The limited use items are largely gone now, mostly consumed during dangerous moments as the players learned their characters in the early sessions after conversion.  It turned out to be a good safety net, and now its gone.  I can now operate in a more magic stingy environment better suited to the new 5E rules and the transition did not feel forced.

As a side note - I do not recommend creating this problem.  Knowing what I know now about 5E I would definitely done the legendary weapons differently but they were created in a different time and place.  The campaign survives and thrives, and that is what is important.

The dice never lie.

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