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3e Adventure Journal

May 13, 2000

I've spent some time this week (in the midst of trying to cut 10,000 words from my last project, and work on two others) converting some of my friends' characters from Second Edition. My plan to introduce them all to the new D&D is this: The next time we all get together for a D&D game (I'm talking about gathering people from Toronto, Durham, New York, and Ithaca... not just pulling together a regular game!), I'll hand them their favorite characters from our long-running Imperium Romanum campaign, converted and updated. I figure that they'll get a better grasp of what's new and exciting if they can see right away how the new rules affect characters they're well familiar with.

The best character for this task is my friend Mark's bard, Denis (before and after). He's a 4th-level bard, chaotic neutral. A couple of adventures ago, Denis died in an adventure Paul was running. Wally and I (Evric and Jannes) brought his body down to Alexandria, where the high priestess of Isis was able to raise him from the dead... at the price of a magical sword Denis had won in an earlier adventure. The cool thing is, Mark played it very well——his character is now devoted to Isis. Mark even wrote a hymn in her honor! (He's a professional singer...)

And then we bump up hard against Second Edition limitations. Denis wanted to become chaotic good——not allowed. He was thinking about dual-classing into a priest class——too restrictive. So I had quite a field day converting his character!

When Mark got married last summer, I ran a big adventure for his "bachelor party," in which Isis called in a favor from Denis. I never got around to awarding experience for that adventure; there was enough XP involved that Denis would have reached fifth level. So I made him a bard 4/cleric 1 [Isis], and changed his alignment to chaotic good (now allowed to bards).

Converting Paul's enchanter, Chala, was surprisingly straightforward. I think I'm going to have to have Paul pick out his own feats——for many characters, there's simply nothing to convert from (sometimes feats leap to mind, though——I gave Celsus, my fighter/mage gladiator, Improved Initiative, Blind-fighting, and Combat Casting, since he specializes in touch attack spells he can use in hand-to-hand combat... delivered via cestus!). It will be up to Paul to decide whether he wants Chala to focus on metamagic feats or item creation feats.

Macarus was a little tricky, because he was created with a kit from The Complete Bard's Handbook——one of those kits that's really a new class. The jongleur is better at proficiencies like Jumping, Juggling, Tumbling, and Tightrope Walking. He also gets abilities like Dodge, which helps him avoid spell effects, and the ability to deflect arrows. I briefly considered making Macarus a monk, for those two abilities, but the alignment is all wrong. He may yet end up a rogue——I don't remember him as a spellcaster anyway. Who knows, maybe a rogue/bard!

Converting Jannes, for my own edification, has been sort of an ongoing process since the day I received the Player's Handbook draft. He's tricky, too, because he dual-classed in the Second Edition rules (we agreed to waive the ability score requirements). In 2e, when you dual-class you start in your new class as a first-level character. Which means you just soar up levels in your new class, really. You're a first-level character with a party of higher-level companions and the hit points of a 5th-level character... those XPs come in much faster than they did the first time you were 1st level. So Jannes quickly became a thief 5//illusionist 6. When I first converted him, I blindly made him a rogue 5/illusionist 6——an 11th level character! Well, after I got to Wizards I got my hands on the draft conversion document, and realized that that wasn't the way to convert him. He's now a rogue 5/illusionist 2, which is a little disappointing (taking the hit in spellcasting ability). I guess technically I'm allowed to swap rogue levels for illusionist levels in the conversion... I'll have to give that option some thought.

Celsus has a 21 Strength now——that's pretty cool.

So that's my conversion thoughts, joys and woes.

August 6, 2000

After GenCon, I'm heading to my parents' house in Ithaca, New York for a week of much-needed vacation. On Saturday the 19th, I'm planning to run an adventure for my gaming friends there——the same one I'm hoping to run in the D&D Room. I'll be bringing some Player's Handbooks home (taking orders now), handing out converted copies of Hal, Nakelan, Raz, Denis, and Rakh, and sending this fourth-level party against some pretty nasty orcs... More later.

August 22, 2000

Last Saturday, home in Ithaca on vacation, I got six friends together for the first Imperium Romanum adventure in 14 months. Hal, Nakelan, Raz, Denis, Herbie, and Rakh got to face "The Altar of Sacrifice," an adventure I'm going to propose to Dungeon. As planned, I handed everyone the 3e conversion of their old character at the start of the game. There were a few things that caused some confusion——no ranged weapons have improved rate of fire any more, for example, so Hal the halfling dart specialist was a little disappointed——but overall I think everyone really enjoyed the game and liked the new system. I came from GenCon with six Player's Handbooks in my suitcase!

I hope in the next few days to get all those Imperium Romanum characters posted.

August 27, 2000

I finally managed to get the Imperium Romanum characters from "The Altar of Sacrifice" up! Here they are:

  • Denis, Human Bard 4/Cleric 1 (played by Mark Lawrence)
  • Raz, Human Sorcerer 4 (played by Amy Wyatt)
  • Hal, Deep Halfling Fighter 4 (played by Paul Gries)
  • Nakelan, Deep Dwarf Fighter 1/Cleric 3 (played by Petra Hall)
  • Rakh, Halforc Rogue 4 (played by David Lieb—and, briefly, by my nephew, Simon Wyatt)
  • Herbie, Elf Ranger 4 (played by Dan Napolitano)

Herbie (who wants to be a dentist, natch) was the only character to go up a level, since he started at third. Everyone received 3000 XP——three quarters of the way there for a fourth level character. I planned the adventure for no more than five characters, so there was a little less experience to go around...

December 29, 2000

And now I'm home (Ithaca, NY) on vacation, and this morning I got to play D&D with The Old Group.

Last night, we——this group of friends from way back, now including 5 children (2 born within the last 3 months)——observed our 11-year-old tradition of Chranukah, a party and gift exchange. I organized the gift exchange and rigged it so that I was to give a gift to my friend Paul, the one member of the group who's almost as serious about D&D as I am. He didn't have a new Monster Manual yet, so I figured I'd get him one using my product points in our product room. Except that the product room was sold out of Monster Manuals, right up until Friday. So I ended up pulling my work copy off my shelf for him. But it already had my name in it! I figured the only solution was to get as many other names in it as I could, and I got everyone who was still around on Friday afternoon to sign it for Paul. It was a pretty cool gift, if I do say so...

So then we played this morning. I managed to persuade Paul to DM, running an adventure that I wrote for a retail play program. We returned to the good old Imperium Romanum campaign, with most of the same characters that we played with when I was here in August: Raz, Denis, Nakelan, Rakh, and the addition of Celsus and Kunte. We were driven by a sandstorm to take shelter in a ruined tower. We avoided getting blasted by the lightning-trapped doors and defeated a gargoyle. Kunte found the trap door to the basement quite by accident, which almost killed him. Rakh discovered the green slime, which almost killed him. Con damage hurts! We handled the wights pretty easily (though Nakelan got a negative level which he soon shrugged off), and even managed to take out the wraith, thanks in large part to Raz's magic missiles. I still do, and probably always will, refer to sorcerers as "magic missile machines." She just never ran out of those things. Though she made good use of web on two separate occasions. Rakh took 2 points of Con drain from the wraith, though, adding insult to injury.

We rested the night in the tower basement, while Kunte puzzled over a scroll we'd discovered that described how an ancient group of wizards had imprisoned a dragon. Carefully examining the map, Nakelan finally figured out that the dragon had been imprisoned underneath Kunte's home town of Tanis! In the morning (two lesser restoration spells later), we tried to leave the basement only to find that our rope was gone. We were soon taunted by a deep, gutteral voice from above, and then blasted with a gout of flame that took Kunte out. Raz used web to great effect for the second time, covering the whole upstairs area in a web and catching the beastie inside. Rakh, to his lasting regret, soon discovered that even a creature entangled in a web can still hit you if you're close enough, and he came tumbling back down... ouch! Then Denis used a sound burst to stun the creature for a round, and Celsus used that time to clamber up the rope and poke it with his trident. Rakh followed quickly behind (a quick cure spell later) and used a pretty devastating sneak attack on the half-dragon/half-ogre. Celsus finished it off next round. Whew!

End of adventure... we'll have to see, maybe on my next visit home, what we can do about the fate of Tanis.

January 1, 2001

The photograph at right is from our game in August: I was fresh from GenCon, carrying a half-dozen new Player's Handbooks in my suitcase, introducing the old gaming group to the new D&D. That's me, standing behind the DM screen in the blue Wizards of the Coast shirt (my GenCon uniform). At my right is my wife Amy, playing Raz the amazon sorcerer. Beside her is David Lieb, who hadn't played with us in a very long time, back and playing Rakh the half-orc rogue. With his back to the camera is Mark Lawrence, playing Denis the half-elf bard. On Mark's right is Petra Hall, playing Nakelan the deep dwarf fighter/cleric. [Her daughter, Sage, was born in September.] Her husband Paul Gries is beside her, playing Hal the halfling fighter (gladiator). Invisible (between Mark and David) is Dan Napolitano, playing Herbie the elf dent... I mean, ranger. The place is my parents' dining room in Ithaca, New York.

When we played again last week, the group was the same, minus Dan and plus Matt Lewkowicz, playing Kunte the human transmuter. Paul ran the adventure, and I played Celsus the half-elf fighter/wizard.