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Author Topic: Has anyone played OSR with modern D&D modules?  (Read 542 times)

theOutlander

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Has anyone played OSR with modern D&D modules?
« on: October 08, 2020, 03:59:57 PM »
I've heard about the opposite - people looking for ways to osr-ify 5e and run LotFP stuff with it. Frankly, after reading Death Frost Doom I'm not sure what's all the fuss about LotFP modules, but that's another topic I guess.

What got my interest is doing it the other way around. Coupling a streamlined and beautiful ruleset like, say, DCC, with the breath of the more modern adventure modules where there is wilderness, courtly intrigue, etc (the whole nine yards.. I mean 3 pillars).

One of the first questions I can think of is: are the modules convertible enough so to accommodate the lower power level of OSR without making Strahd a bitch?

S'mon

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Re: Has anyone played OSR with modern D&D modules?
« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2020, 04:03:56 PM »
I'll use 3e & Pathfinder stuff with anything! Works ok, you just kinda ignore the stat blocks...
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soundchaser

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Re: Has anyone played OSR with modern D&D modules?
« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2020, 08:05:48 PM »
I agree. I have shifted to Unisystem or Heroquest for my modern module play. OSR rules would work fine.

Nerzenjäger

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Re: Has anyone played OSR with modern D&D modules?
« Reply #3 on: October 09, 2020, 01:36:25 AM »
I've heard about the opposite - people looking for ways to osr-ify 5e and run LotFP stuff with it. Frankly, after reading Death Frost Doom I'm not sure what's all the fuss about LotFP modules, but that's another topic I guess.

What got my interest is doing it the other way around. Coupling a streamlined and beautiful ruleset like, say, DCC, with the breath of the more modern adventure modules where there is wilderness, courtly intrigue, etc (the whole nine yards.. I mean 3 pillars).

One of the first questions I can think of is: are the modules convertible enough so to accommodate the lower power level of OSR without making Strahd a bitch?

I'm somewhat baffled by your threads, TheOutlander. Piecing everything together, it doesn't seem you want to run an old school game at all, which is fine, but you constrain yourself  unnecessarily when you have issues with old school games and adventures to begin with.

That being out of the way: yes, absolutely. I do this all the time. More modern adventures tend to invest a little more time in the social interaction part of gameplay, but the dungeons often suck. What I will do, is remix those modules to merge the modern aesthetic with the open-ended nature of old modules.
If, for example, you fear Strahd becoming "a bitch", just run the original Castle Ravenloft and add in elements from Cruse of Strahd at your leisure.

Oh and heavily HD-reliant games like all variations and derivatives of old school D&D are very easy to scale on the fly. No need to worry about importing monsters fitting your player character's power level.
« Last Edit: October 09, 2020, 01:40:07 AM by Nerzenjäger »
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theOutlander

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Re: Has anyone played OSR with modern D&D modules?
« Reply #4 on: October 09, 2020, 03:36:53 AM »
I'm somewhat baffled by your threads, TheOutlander. Piecing everything together, it doesn't seem you want to run an old school game at all, which is fine, but you constrain yourself  unnecessarily when you have issues with old school games and adventures to begin with.

You got me there. My life is a lie. ;D

But seriously, I like having an "open" world and stuff going on in the background, but I'm lazy and don't have time to do sandboxes from scratch. I have access to 5e modules and like the way setting + campaign are bundled (esp. Curse of Strahd, Tomb of Annihilation, Out of the Abyss) and having more support than just the procedural dungeon content is really sweet. Besides, it's easier (presumably) to suggest playing in a contemporary D&D module and only switch the system (we don't do much OSR around these parts).

I've heard that there are 2e books which are bundled the same way, but I don't know much about them. Ravenloft seems to be the most notable.



Disclaimer: As the new guy here I'm mostly trying to start a conversation and politics isn't my forte, so I ask silly questions about rpgs.
« Last Edit: October 09, 2020, 03:50:23 AM by theOutlander »

S'mon

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Re: Has anyone played OSR with modern D&D modules?
« Reply #5 on: October 09, 2020, 03:56:48 AM »
But seriously, I like having an "open" world and stuff going on in the background, but I'm lazy and don't have time to do sandboxes from scratch. I have access to 5e modules and like the way setting + campaign are bundled (esp. Curse of Strahd, Tomb of Annihilation, Out of the Abyss) and having more support than just the procedural dungeon content is really sweet.

Do you find the 5e books easy to use? I'm running Princes of the Apocalypse and I find it's a good bit harder to use than my old 1e & Classic modules like Keep on the Borderlands. Although not as hard as using Paizo wall-of-text APs, which are also very linear; at least the 5e campaign adventures try to avoid railroading.

5e adventure presentation tends to be poor IME; I've used 3e and 5e Forge of Fury and the former was far easier to run, with legible maps and incorporated stat blocks.
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theOutlander

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Re: Has anyone played OSR with modern D&D modules?
« Reply #6 on: October 10, 2020, 08:21:57 PM »
I'd say the books are manageable, but I don't know much before WotC era, so can't really compare.

Usually I read a chapter ahead and make a cheat sheet, because the amount of stuff that gets mentioned and has to be tracked is too damn high. Don't get me wrong, I like very much the flavor and descriptions, it's just not very readable at the table.

I'd like to have a more flexible pre-made content available, but linearity has its merits in keeping the main story in sight. You know, a plot you can easily fall back to.
« Last Edit: October 10, 2020, 09:37:54 PM by theOutlander »

theOutlander

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Re: Has anyone played OSR with modern D&D modules?
« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2020, 06:17:24 PM »
Okay, just finished reading the new Rime of the Frostmaiden and it's weird. WotC tries to make a sandbox similar to Curse of Strahd, but I think the main plot is too loosely stitched and the sandbox doesn't have enough content (you're in a f-ing tundra after all, with ten bigger villages as points of light). There are smaller quests and things that happen in order to progress the story, but it seems you have to really push the PCs towards it. Like, it does have a final resolution and you somewhat have to follow the trail to get there, but the book doesn't really care if you ever will.

I like the flavor though, seems cool enough (no pun intended) and gets me nostalgic for the old pc games.

XxST0RMxX

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Re: Has anyone played OSR with modern D&D modules?
« Reply #8 on: October 13, 2020, 02:02:41 PM »
It seems like your biggest hurdle running 5e games with OSR systems will be ability checks & monsters. Luckily, most OSR games' abilities are more player-facing. DCC isn't, but in that case you could use their Difficulty checks almost as-is.

Saving Throws. Instead of resisting dragonbreath requiring a DC 18 Dexterity Saving Throw, the player references their own dragonbreath save (Or whatever you use). This makes converting saving throws on the fly from 5e > OSR easier than the reverse.

Ability Checks. 5e uses a lot of ability checks. Ability checks have a lot of variety amongst OSR games, but IME these are also more player-facing, so if you just know what type of check to use, this shouldn't be too difficult to convert since you usually won't worry about converting a target number.

Monsters. 5e numbers aren't actually too far off from most OSR games IF you remove the modifiers to any monster stats, for example:
5e Orc (Original). Armor Class: 13, Hit Points: 2d8+6 (15), Damage: 1d12+3 (9)
1e Orc. Armor Class: 14, Hit Points: 1d8 (4), Damage: 1d8 (4)
5e Orc (Revised). Armor Class: 13, Hit Points: 2d8 (9), Damage: 1d12 (6)

Under this system, the revised 5e orc still has more hit points and will usually deal more damage than its 1e equivalent, but it has worse Armor Class (Armor Classes are mostly lower in 5e), and your typicaly 5e encounter will feature waaay fewer creatures than your typical 1e encounter.

Just for fun, let's apply this to the Tarrasque:
5e Tarrasque (Original). Armor Class: 25, Hit Points: 33d20+330 (676), Damage: 4d6 + 8d8 +4d10 + 4d12+50 (148)
1e Tarrasque. Armor Class: 23, Hit Points: 300, Damage: 4d12 + 7d10 (64)
5e Tarrasque (Revised). Armor Class: 25, Hit Points: 33d20 (346), Damage: 4d6 + 8d8 + 4d10 + 4d12 (98)

Similar pattern, even under this system the Tarrasque is still tougher, but we bring the numbers down into "more useful" territory. Definitely not a perfect system, but if you need to convert very quickly. Honestly, the 1e Tarrasque could use a buff anyways. DCC player characters are pretty tough too once they've survived a funnel.

Modified as I incorrectly stated the 5e Tarrasque's revised hit points would be 446.
« Last Edit: October 13, 2020, 03:49:25 PM by XxST0RMxX »

S'mon

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Re: Has anyone played OSR with modern D&D modules?
« Reply #9 on: October 13, 2020, 03:12:18 PM »
5e Tarrasque (Original). Armor Class: 25, Hit Points: 33d20+330 (676), Damage: 4d6 + 8d8 +4d10 + 4d12+50 (148)
1e Tarrasque. Armor Class: 23, Hit Points: 300, Damage: 4d12 + 7d10 (64)
5e Tarrasque (Revised). Armor Class: 25, Hit Points: 33d20 (446), Damage: 4d6 + 8d8 + 4d10 + 4d12 (98)

Revised hp is 346 (33x10.5) not 446.
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XxST0RMxX

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Re: Has anyone played OSR with modern D&D modules?
« Reply #10 on: October 13, 2020, 03:24:56 PM »
Revised hp is 346 (33x10.5) not 446.

Ouch. Thanks for the correction. That actually works out a lot better than I thought.

Only other thing I'd add is in return for higher hp & damage, 5e creatures' special abilities also tend to be way weaker than 1e/osr equivalents. For example, the 1e Medusa instantly petrifies with its gaze, whereas the 5e Medusa can only do so if the target fails its saving throw by 5 or more. Demons might be able to summon another demon 1/day, whereas many 1e demons can infinitely attempt to summon more demons.

Slambo

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Re: Has anyone played OSR with modern D&D modules?
« Reply #11 on: October 13, 2020, 03:26:40 PM »
Luckily, most OSR games' abilities are more player-facing. DCC isn't, but in that case you could use their Difficulty.



What do you mean by player facing here?

XxST0RMxX

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Re: Has anyone played OSR with modern D&D modules?
« Reply #12 on: October 13, 2020, 03:46:14 PM »
Luckily, most OSR games' abilities are more player-facing. DCC isn't, but in that case you could use their Difficulty.


What do you mean by player facing here?

I'm just referring to how the player's ability to accomplish a task with their character, I.e. succeed a saving throw, pick a lock, etc. Is more dependent on the character's own ability, then the difficulty of the specific task.

LoTFP: skills are on a X in 6 system, where rolling X or lower on a 1d6 means you succeed the task.
AD&D2e: uses a roll-under-ability score system. If your strength is 10, and your GM calls for a strength check, you need to roll a 10 or lower on a 1d20 roll to succeed the check.
B/X, AD&D, LoTFP, many others: A character's chance to succeed a saving throw is inherent to the player character. A Fighter in AD&D1e has a save vs. breath of 19 at 1st level, meaning the fighter only succeeds on a 19 or higher on a d20 roll, but that same fighter at 10th level has a save vs. breath of 8.

How this mainly differs from games moreso based on 3e & beyond, is that the 3e+ model combines scaling character abilities, e.g. a reflex save of +2, with a difficulty check (DC) system that can be scaled by the DM, e.g. this adult dragon's breath is larger & more explosive than its babies, so instead of a DC of 12 to overcome, it has a DC of 18.

To modify the difficulty of player-facing skill/saving throw systems, you'd penalize the player's roll, rather than increase the difficulty of the task, as the target number the player is trying to overcome is inherent to their character.

I like the speed of player-facing checks/saves, as unless you assign a penalty the player always knows what number they need to succeed. Even when I run 5e games I set most player DCs at 15 to simulate this approach.

Eric Diaz

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Re: Has anyone played OSR with modern D&D modules?
« Reply #13 on: October 13, 2020, 06:13:36 PM »
Yes, running Tomb of Annihilation now with my OSR-ish system.

Been going great so far.

One potential problem might occur at levels 5, 11 and 16, because in 5e RAW these are huge power spikes, but I'll think of something when we get there.

EDIT: I'm pretty sure Curse of Strahd would be an easy adaptation, too, since it's aa bit lower-level.
« Last Edit: October 13, 2020, 06:16:38 PM by Eric Diaz »
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S'mon

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Re: Has anyone played OSR with modern D&D modules?
« Reply #14 on: October 14, 2020, 12:07:49 AM »
One potential problem might occur at levels 5, 11 and 16, because in 5e RAW these are huge power spikes, but I'll think of something when we get there.

With the lack of balance as a concern/issue in old school systems, I think this all comes out in the wash. MUs getting the level 3 spells is a huge thing in all D&D editions bar 4th. They actually reduced the jump in 5e due to a bit of spell nerfing, while giving other classes somewhat similar jumps.  Old School games don't care if your PCs are 4th or 5th level, the party is expected to adapt and survive (or not). The 4-5 Tier Break is a much bigger issue in 5e where it's easy for cocky level 4 PCs to Delve Too Deep. Unless you're running a very linear campaign, 5e level 4 can be almost as much of a Death Zone as level 1.

I've not seen any issues with 10-11, a nice power bump but nothing like 4-5. With 16-17 I've not really noticed anything; level 9 spells aren't even that much better than level 6. Though Meteor Swarm is finally good. :)
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