Sunless Citadel 4e style

So I get it into my head to run the Sunless Citadel in 4th Edition (bet you didn’t guess that from the title, didya?!). After all, it’s the classic 3e 1st-level adventure; it’s simple, straightforward, fun and perfect for introducing new players to the game. Can we use the word “classic” and “3e” in the same sentence now? Can we?

All I need to do is convert it. I know there’s conversions out there already, but decided to see how far I could go without resorting to them using only the Core Books. I also wanted to see just how quick it is to convert from 3e to 4e; the new edition is definitely more GM friendly, so in theory conversion should be easier than, say, converting an AD&D scenario to 3rd Edition.

I mean, how hard could it be?

Firstly, I jot down all the monsters used in the adventure and find equivalents in the Monster Manual. That’s made easier thanks to the Sunless Citadel providing collated statblocks at the back. Yay for good layout! I note down the page numbers, type and level of each monster; this’ll make encounter building easier down the line. Here’s my notes, exactly as I wrote ’em:

Bugbear – MM135 Bugbear Brute-5
Cave Rat – MM219 Giant Rat Minion-1
Dire Rat – MM219 Dire Rat Brute-1
Goblin – MM136 Goblins Minion-1, Lurker-1, Skirmisher-1, Artillery-2
Hobgoblin – MM138 Hobgoblin Minion-3
Kobold – MM167 Kobold Minion-1, Skirmisher-1, Artillery-1, Soldier-2
Shadow – ???
Skeleton – MM234  Skeleton Minion-1, Soldier-3
Thoqqua – ???
Twig Blight – ???
Water Mephit – ???

That leaves four to sort. I decide the Deathlock Wight (MM262) would make a great replacement for the Shadow, and I’ll worry about the Twig Blight, Thoqqua and Water Mephit later. Never liked the Thoqqua and Water Mephit encounters anyhow, so I’m happy to replace them.

Total time so far: 5 minutes

Next, the named critters:

Balsag the Hunter – Bugbear MM135 Brute-5
Belak the Outcast Human Druid-4 – MM163 Human Mage Artillery-4
Calcryx – MM84 Young White Dragon Solo Brute-3
Dragonpriest Troll – MM254 Troll Brute-9 down to Brute-5; -4 to-hit & defences, -2 damage; -40HP
Durnn Goblin chief – MM138 Goblin Underboss Elite Controller-4
Erky Timbers Gnome Fighter-1/Cleric-1  – MM134 Elite Gnome Skulk Lurker-2/Cleric: +2 saves, +2 Will, +8+CON HP, Religion, Healing Word, Priest’s Shield/w, Wrathful Thunder/e, Avenging Flame/d
Grenl Goblin Cleric – MM137 Goblin Hexer Controller-3
Gulthias Tree Gargantuan plant – PLOT ELEMENT
Guthash Dire Rat – MM219 Brute-1
Jot Quasit – MM63 Imp Lurker-3
Kulket Giant Tree Frog – GONE
Sharwyn Human Wizard-1 – MM162 Elite Human Bandit Skirmisher-2/Wizard: +2 saves, +2 Will, +12+CON HP, Arcana, Cantrips, Ray of Frost/w, Chill Strike/e, Freezing Cloud/d
Sir Barford Human Paladin-1 – MM162 Elite Human Bandit Skirmisher-2/Paladin: +3 saves, +8+CON HP, Religion, Lay on Hands, Holy Strike/w, Radiant Smite/e, Radiant Delerium/d
Yusdrayl Kobold Sorcerer – MM167 Kobold Wyrmpriest Artillery-3

Wow. That was easy. I de-powered a Troll and made three NPCs with classes in minutes. In Third Edition just changing the CR of a Troll would leave me needing a darkened room for a few hours. I decided the Gulthias Tree didn’t need stats at all, and the Giant Tree Frog deserved to be put out to pasture. If frogs lived in pastures, that is. I considered de-powering Calcryx, but want to see how the players will handle an iconic, by the book, Dragon. So it stays.

Total time so far: 15 minutes

Time to view the competition for pointers. This conversion suggests replacing the Thoqqua encounter with a nest of Kruthik which makes little plot sense (but then, neither did the Thoqqua), and provides the following stats for the Twig Blights.

Twig Blight Level 1 Skirmisher Small natural animate (plant) XP 100
Initiative +3 Senses Perception +1; low-light vision
HP 28; Bloodied 14, AC 15; Fortitude 13, Reflex 13, Will 13, Speed 6
m Claw (standard; at-will) ? Poison +6 vs. AC; 1d6 + 3 damage, and ongoing 2 poison damage (save ends).
Stealth +7; Str 8, Con 12, Dex 14, Int 5, Wis 12, Cha 5

All that’s left is to re-build the encounters using the 4e-converted monsters and scatter 10 treasure parcels around (including replacing Shatterspike with something appropriate, most likely a Vicious Longsword +1). But that’s a blogpost for another time.

So far, it’s taken about 20 minutes to get the monsters prepped, and I’d expect another 10-20 minutes’ work to throw together the encounters and place the treasure. Compared to the length of time it would take in 3e just to rebuild a single NPC from an earlier, that’s bloody brilliant! :D .

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9 Responses

  1. Donny_the_DM says:

    THIS is why I switched…no more pills, no more booze. I can be FREE AGAIN!

    It takes a wee bit of getting used to, but is SO worth it. Be sure to let us know how it plays out!

    Donny_the_DMs last blog post..SO here she is…The Weeping Womb!

  2. Questing GM says:

    Great work! I might yoink this, with your permission of course. It’ll be interesting to see how the conversion plays out in the end.

    Questing GMs last blog post..Questing GM Ready to Roll Initiative!

  3. Scott says:

    Heh… I was thinking of doing something similar with some of my old 1e modules. I haven’t run the T series in a while, or the A series, or GDQ…

    Scotts last blog post..Incoming Barbarians

  4. Greywulf says:

    @Questing GM (and anyone else) Yoink away :D I’m almost done – just the treasure parcels to allocate now.

    I’m impressed by how smoothly 4e handles conversion. Might do the Temple of Elemental Evil next. Bwahahahaha. Etc.

  5. Please note that the number of encounters gets Tedious fast!

    I suggest that you group together all kobolds and Goblins encounters as 2 groups each. Each one spread over a Battlemap including numerous rooms.

    Go crazy with minions.

    Keep the special encounters as discrete encouters, like Meepo and the Dragon.

    Hack the room layout, make them larger, add features to them.

    Don’t just adapt, make better!

    :)

  6. Greywulf says:

    That’s exactly what I plan do to. See my next post – I talk about doing exactly that :D

    Great minds, etc.

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