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The Original S1-Tomb of Horrors


morganm
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After rolling up a few characters, using suggested levels, stats, and gear in the module, I think they have a much better chance :) However I wonder if I should adjust the characters. It seems to me that v3.5 characters are more amped up compared to their 2nd Edition counterparts. Perhaps this is one reason why the revised v3.5 adventure had lower level character suggestions? Now a lot of the traps really aren't dependent on a level; you mess up, you die, no save, don't care what level, or how many hit points. However with the characters I just rolled up it seems anything they actually have to roll for will be easily beaten.

 

The original adventure suggests level 10 to 14 characters (despite in the back where it lists characters you can use which range from level 6 to 18!). The revised v3.5 suggests 9th level characters. What do you think; really make this a challenge and go with 9th level characters or ease their suffering and give them lvl 14 characters? Also keep in mind I typically use 'wealth by level' in the DMG and trick out characters using the Magic Item Compendium within their budget; also the suggested stats for these characters in the module are epic compared to what I'm used to (the first 5 have nothing below a 10 with lots of 16 - 18s!)

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I read that 3.5e conversion and IMHO combats are just challenging enough for a 9th-level party.

 

Well, in my experience, to survive this mod, wits of players are far much important than their characters' level. As you have pointed out, some traps just kill PCs if they mess it. The key to survive this dungeon is, not to mess them. Like using divinations such as Augury to avoid no-clue-dead-end or to let summoned creatures (or slaves, if they are evil) walk the corridor before they actually go. So IMHO bumping up PC levels does not help much. They may get access to higher level divinations and it can be a little help, though.

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Is it just me or is this thing poorly organized? It reads more like a brain dump than a published module. Maybe I've just been getting too spoiled with the formatting, editing, and layout of more modern modules. Encounter descriptions and stats are all intermingled so you have to pick apart what information PCs know and what is behind the scenes.

 

To answer this part, adventure modules went through many different formats over the years, and often there was no standardization other than stat blocks, even among modules in the same series. Often any standardization came from the fact that the same author might be responsible for any two modules.

 

In my experience, this sort of "brain dump" (as you put it) style was especially prevelant among those modules that had originally been designed for tournament play. You'd think those would be formatted more easily for on-the-fly playing. However, since I was a kid I've had the feeling they were made as stark and block-heavy as they were to sort of separate the men from the boys. In other words, only serious gamers would come to the con, and if you were a serious gamer, you'd get it.

 

But that's just my feeling.

 

Anyway, formats changed over time, and some of the stuff became standardized for easy play, such as the highlighting or separating of description read to the players. But really, I don't remember any one overall format that stuck. At least not for a long time.

 

Things have to evolve from somewhere. We all have our own formats that work for us, I think, and most of us learn what works through trial and error.

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Well here's how we are going about it.

 

Level 14 characters, two per player, and that is it. Once all characters are dead then the adventure is over. Characters sheets will be placed face down and chosen by players at random before the adventure begins. However players can trade amongst themselves; say someone's 2nd character dies but someone else still has an extra one then they may let the other person play it or if someone absolutely doesn't want to play a certain class then they can trade with someone else.

 

I'm trying to only change minimally the original adventure. I have the original adventure now fully converted into a Word document and cleaned up. Now I'm going through and separating player knowledge from DM knowledge (this really helps me DM; I like to keep in game and meta game data separate on paper which makes it easier to keep it separate in my mind :). Traps, monsters, and other 'game mechanics' are being updated to v3.5 while retaining the difficulty and feel of the original adventure. For example if it says in the original adventure there's no way of finding something then there's no way; I don't care what a character's skill ranks are, what magic item they have, or which spell they use. Same with saves; if the original adventure says there's no saving throw or way to save yourself then that's it and I'm not going to add in a special Reflex or Fortitude save. Now if the adventure gives some explanation on a way something can be avoided or a saving throw then I will update it to v3.5 mechanics because frankly the way some of the stuff is explained and calculated in this adventure is so convoluted that it's really silly. Reading through the WotC official v3.5 update to this adventure and reading the original 2nd Edition adventure you can clearly see where they totally wussed out on things and made them way easier. I'll be sticking as close to the original as possible while streamlining the mechanics to be easier to use and compatible with v3.5.

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4-16 could be 4d4. Or I guess 1d4+1d10+2.

 

4-16 is 4d4. That's just the most elegant solution. I didn't know 3E dumbed this down, but I'm used to such things. Unless you are adding some kicker (such as 1d4+1 to get 2-5), the first number is a hint to the number of dice rolled, and the second number divided by the first one is typically how large the dice are, since that is total damage.

 

2-16 is 2d8, 2-15 is a typo.

 

It just became second nature to understand this, and we could easily see what the numerical spread was (and have an idea of the distribution, since there was a a page or so in the DMB that explained this, it wasn't anything in-depth or complex at all). I guess in 3x you know what dice to roll, but don't know the spread?

 

It makes perfect sense to me, but I guess WotC doesn't want to scare away any buyers, such a kid who might freak when he even thought he saw math, while TSR was happy to court to geeks among us. The again, I think THAC0 is simplicity. If I need a 15 to hot AC 0, and I roll a 13, that's 2 worse than 15. What's 2 AC worse than 0? 2, in the old rules, so I hit anything up to AC 2 with that swing. If I rolled an 18, that's 3 better than 15, so what is 3 better than AC 0? -3, so an 18 hits AC -3. The monster either has an AC that good or better, or I am rolling for damage. How is that complex?

 

Now, if you really want to experience over-the-top death with old school feel, try the HackMaster version of that module!

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I really think it's just easier when you see what dice to roll and have to calculate the spread instead of seeing the spread and having to calculate the dice. When you list it as 2d4, or 3d10 you know right away what dice to roll (which is probably what you were looking fore in the first place) and if you want to know the spread you simply multiply the last number by the first. Just having the spread requires more figuring.

 

THAC0 was just over complicated and counter intuitive. It's not that it was too hard to figure out but rather it didn't need to be as complicated as it was. The basics of THAC0 wasn't hard to figure it's when you get, say, a +2 weapon you have to .... subtract ... the bonus. Wait; subtract the bonus? Then you get into negative ACs, magic weapons with subtracted bonuses, and it gets ugly. Plus every class had a different THAC0 progression table and a different AC progression table. The system was counter intuitive and didn't need to be that complicated in order for it to work. With v3.5 they seriously streamlined this entire system.

 

Here's another example of over complicated math used in 2nd Edition.

 

Those who step upon a pit lid will have a base 100% of falling, modified downwards by 1 % per point of dexterity through 12, and 2% for each point above 12, Le. dexterity of 13 = 14% chance of not falling into a pit, dexterity of 14 = 16%. 15 = 18%, 16 =20%. 17 = 22%, and 18 dexterity = 24% chance of not going in.

 

All of that can be replaced by a simple Reflex save DC and a roll against it.

 

I'll admit it; I'm not a numbers guy. Math just doesn't click for me. So much of the d20 system is easier for me to read and understand where as 2nd edition stuff I'd read, think, read it again, try the math, read it again, and eventually figure it out. I want to play D&D not Number Munchers. I don't like combat or encounters getting bogged down with trying to figure out some convoluted mathematical formula. I loved 2nd Edition but not for it's mathematical mechanics. I love the world of Forgotten Realms, the races, the classes, high adventure, magic, treasure, a good plot, a scary dungeon, heroes, and villains. The d20 system lets me enjoy those things much more :) I don't mind the game being complicated with intricate rules explaining how things function but that doesn't mean it has to be counter intuitive or have overly complicated math equations to do simple things.

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So what are you saying here, morganm? That you don't think 3e was an attempt to write a popular ruleset in which even the dumb kids can feel special? That the elimination of THAC0 is not somehow some indicator of the decline of intelligence of America? That somehow, some way, Gary Gygax was not the be-all of RPG design?

 

 

It makes perfect sense to me, but I guess WotC doesn't want to scare away any buyers, such a kid who might freak when he even thought he saw math, while TSR was happy to court to geeks among us.

 

Inner geek? I guess if you're a math nerd. Personally, my inner geek is stroked by range penetration data of anti-tank weapons. Or the problem of feudalism...

 

Damon.

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Somewhere on one of these sites I frequent... is it WoTC? One of the subscribers has a sig that says something along the lines of "anyody who thinks THAC0 is difficult (subtracting a small number from another small number) probably ought not to admit it in public."

 

Or something like that. :devil:

 

I admit that even in 1981, when I was 11, I thought it seemed counter-intuitive. But it never did end a game or cause anybody I knew to run away or refuse to play. We discussed it on occasion. Even complained. The 3.0 model was in no way a new idea. Other systems went that way over the years and pretty much all serious gamers at least struck on the idea from time to time.

 

I think you have to put D&D in its proper context: Gary and Dave were wargamers who had played multiple sets of sometimes archaic rules over the years, and had created just as many on the fly and over long nights in dark basements. It was a time of evolution and experimentation. I'm sure in that context and at that time this all made sense.

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This mod plays well under any set of rules you choose to use.. AS does S2- White Plume mountain. and S4 Lost caverns of Tjoscanth. S3 Barrier peaks is a bit of a stretch.

 

The rules dont matter in these games. AS its not what makes the game great.. Its the story that makes it great..an yes S1 is a death fest.. but what do you expect you are entering an intelligent creatures lair.

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I think you have to put D&D in its proper context: Gary and Dave were wargamers who had played multiple sets of sometimes archaic rules over the years, and had created just as many on the fly and over long nights in dark basements. It was a time of evolution and experimentation. I'm sure in that context and at that time this all made sense.

IIRC, the first versions of AD&D didn't have THAC0, but these large to hit charts to reference - THAC0 wound up being the underlying formula that for most people became easier to compute themselves rather than constantly looking up stuff on the charts. At the time, it was a far better solution than the stupid charts.

 

Still, it wasn't the most polished of solutions, but at least it was better than the original Traveller combat mechanics.

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I really think it's just easier when you see what dice to roll and have to calculate the spread instead of seeing the spread and having to calculate the dice.

 

No argument there, I was simply pointing out what the designers were trying to acomplish. These guys were pretty smart, and they assumed everybody else (at least those wh wanted to play the game) was also pretty snart, so they skipped a step that they could do in their head.

 

 

"THAC0 was just over complicated and counter intuitive."

 

Baloney. I have covered it again and again and again. See my sig. It's a big improvement over looking it up on charts in terms of speed. If 3E has come up with an even better way, then good for them, but it was good at the time.

 

 

 

It's not that it was too hard to figure out but rather it didn't need to be as complicated as it was. The basics of THAC0 wasn't hard to figure it's when you get, say, a +2 weapon you have to .... subtract ... the bonus. Wait; subtract the bonus?

 

+2 is 2 better. It means you have to roll 2 less than you normally would. Need a 13? Great, now you only need an 11. I just picture a number line in my head, and moving closer to negative means harder to hit. It's harder to explain than to understand.

 

 

Those who step upon a pit lid will have a base 100% of falling, modified downwards by 1 % per point of dexterity through 12, and 2% for each point above 12, Le. dexterity of 13 = 14% chance of not falling into a pit, dexterity of 14 = 16%. 15 = 18%, 16 =20%. 17 = 22%, and 18 dexterity = 24% chance of not going in.

 

Agreed, not the simplest math, but they basically give you a chart for the most common dex scores, so no big deal.

 

 

I'll admit it; I'm not a numbers guy. Math just doesn't click for me.

 

I'm not a math guy either, but I do like science, so a few formulas with nothing but basic arithmetic are nothing to run screaming from, and THAC0 is the kind of addition and subtraction to move across a number line that we all learn around 3rd grade. It's a shame we don't have better science education in the US - I guess we are content to let people from other countries with better math and science programs in primary school engineer everything for us. Not exactly a good way to maintain superpower status, but it's the easy way out.

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THAC0 was just over complicated and counter intuitive.

 

Baloney. I have covered it again and again and again. See my sig. It's a big improvement over looking it up on charts in terms of speed. If 3E has come up with an even better way, then good for them, but it was good at the time.

 

Being 'a big improvement over looking up charts' does not disprove that THAC0 is unnecessarily complicated or counter intuitive. Sure, it was an improvement. Now we have even better improvements to choose over THAC0.

 

It's not that it was too hard to figure out but rather it didn't need to be as complicated as it was. The basics of THAC0 wasn't hard to figure it's when you get, say, a +2 weapon you have to .... subtract ... the bonus. Wait; subtract the bonus?

 

+2 is 2 better. It means you have to roll 2 less than you normally would. Need a 13? Great, now you only need an 11. I just picture a number line in my head, and moving closer to negative means harder to hit. It's harder to explain than to understand.

 

This doesn't dispute the fact that you subtract a bonus which is counter intuitive. When you see a + sign and the number after it is referred to as a bonus then you intuitively think that you add it to something. Thus the system is counter intuitive.

 

 

Those who step upon a pit lid will have a base 100% of falling, modified downwards by 1 % per point of dexterity through 12, and 2% for each point above 12, Le. dexterity of 13 = 14% chance of not falling into a pit, dexterity of 14 = 16%. 15 = 18%, 16 =20%. 17 = 22%, and 18 dexterity = 24% chance of not going in.

 

Agreed, not the simplest math, but they basically give you a chart for the most common dex scores, so no big deal.

 

Nothing about D&D is really a big deal. As you noted that THAC0 was an improvement vs. looking up charts; yet here we are with some arbitrary chart that you have to reference every players Dex to. That chart was replaced by a simple Reflex Save which is faster.

 

 

 

I'll admit it; I'm not a numbers guy. Math just doesn't click for me.

 

I'm not a math guy either, but I do like science, so a few formulas with nothing but basic arithmetic are nothing to run screaming from, and THAC0 is the kind of addition and subtraction to move across a number line that we all learn around 3rd grade. It's a shame we don't have better science education in the US - I guess we are content to let people from other countries with better math and science programs in primary school engineer everything for us. Not exactly a good way to maintain superpower status, but it's the easy way out.

 

Not sure why we had to go all geopolitical here... None of the math, or science, behind D&D is complicated. As you pointed out it's mostly grade school stuff. That's not the point and I already noted that before; its not that it's "too hard". It's that the mechanics of the game should be intuitive, easy to learn, and flow so that we can focus on playing the game and not get bogged down with overly complicated formulas and counter intuitive math. I've found that the mechanics of 3.5 are an improvement; just as THAC0 was vs. chart hunting. Maybe if the American education system was better I would still use THAC0 =P

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