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VoxRationis
2015-04-22, 02:29 PM
What do you do if you developed a setting for one edition but want to adapt it, for one reason or another, to a different one? The little details of mechanics can have big implications on a setting. A battle in your history which was written with one edition's spells in mind might be implausible when seen through the light of an edition where that spell was nerfed. Or, going from an early edition to 5e, you might see that low-level magic suddenly becomes automatic in high elf society—so certain things you built up for them might no longer apply.

malkarnivore
2015-04-22, 03:08 PM
What do you do if you developed a setting for one edition but want to adapt it, for one reason or another, to a different one? The little details of mechanics can have big implications on a setting. A battle in your history which was written with one edition's spells in mind might be implausible when seen through the light of an edition where that spell was nerfed. Or, going from an early edition to 5e, you might see that low-level magic suddenly becomes automatic in high elf society—so certain things you built up for them might no longer apply.

if it's your world?

New discoveries.

Suddenly the epoch age of magical starvation is ending, and the ancient structures of the elves are coming back to life, much to the rejoicing of the lucky near-immortals.

Cataclysm changes the landscape.

An artifact that has been devouring the magical power has been weakened/sated/destroyed.

Magical theorems that previously were believed to hold sway have been proven wrong.

Magic in the blood of sorcerers has abruptly shifted in conjunction with the alignment of the stars, and the mishaps which plague these poor souls for months is the only warning that things have changed.

JAL_1138
2015-04-22, 03:11 PM
"History Monks." Done.

Alternatively, retcon like crazy, and take the bones of the setting and rebuild around them so it's "always" been in that edition.

Alternatively again, time skip. "Centuries ago, Bards trained as Fighters, then as Thieves, and finally apprenticed themselves to Druids...over time, they abandoned the Divine--or were abandoned by it--and studied the arcane arts, until they learned how to manipulate arcane spells with the power of their songs alone..."

Freelance GM
2015-04-22, 03:29 PM
I generally just alter my world's fluff to justify the new mechanics.

Generally, a quick-and-dirty ret-con (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Retcon) saves too much of a headache, and also gives you a chance to replace older setting information that may not be as well-written as the newest stuff.

Game settings are special because they can get away with being inconsistent. Your setting only has to stay invariable for a single campaign. In between campaigns, you can make whatever changes to the lore you want.

Think about the Legend of Zelda. Every game has a different telling of Hyrule's history, and the geography is significantly different, but it's always recognizable as Hyrule because most of the landmarks are still there. The important thing is that the setting changes to accommodate the requirements of the game you're currently playing.

Mark Hall
2015-04-22, 03:40 PM
Generally, I think the Cataclysm-type solution is the worst. Sometimes, you can massage the fluff... I think most AD&D novels can be managed successfully with 4e, despite the vast differences between the two systems. But when you toss a full-on world-changing cataclysm to account for it, you wind up having a lot of ripples you have to smooth out.

malkarnivore
2015-04-22, 03:40 PM
I generally just alter my world's fluff to justify the new mechanics.


Just remember to warn your players when you do a retcon. Ugly surprises may occur otherwise.

Keltest
2015-04-22, 03:50 PM
Generally, I think the Cataclysm-type solution is the worst. Sometimes, you can massage the fluff... I think most AD&D novels can be managed successfully with 4e, despite the vast differences between the two systems. But when you toss a full-on world-changing cataclysm to account for it, you wind up having a lot of ripples you have to smooth out.

*cough Forgotten Realms cough*

Joe the Rat
2015-04-23, 08:06 AM
Setting is one of those things that can be very tangential to game mechanics - the rules are how the players interact with the world, not the laws upon which the world is built. This will depend a lot on what has changed, and when (or if) it comes into play. Unless your players have already interacted with it, a sprinkle of handwavium covers a lot of shifts.

If the issues are historical, then the facts are muddied. Maybe the spell didn't do what people said, or they thought it was one thing when it was another. Or it is a rare or lost work, or one only achievable by those super-wizards that keep popping up in setting backstories. Or it was a coincidence. Or its impact was over-rated. Or Divine Intervention. An effect can be achieved in backstory without having to have a spell by that name and effect in the books.

High elves all have a cantrip? It may be the rare elf that takes something other than Prestidigitation or Dancing Lights. Or it isn't all High Elves that can do it - just the exceptional ones (such as PCs). Or whatever it is that you built up is something they don't / can't do otherwise.

When you start dealing with things players have already interacted with, then you need to sit down and work things through. Or houserule something to work the way it used to, instead of following the writ of the new rules.


...Actually, do you have some concrete situations? It may be better to help find solutions to specific problems rather than talk philosophies.

Knaight
2015-04-23, 09:04 AM
Setting is one of those things that can be very tangential to game mechanics - the rules are how the players interact with the world, not the laws upon which the world is built. This will depend a lot on what has changed, and when (or if) it comes into play. Unless your players have already interacted with it, a sprinkle of handwavium covers a lot of shifts.

On the other hand, things like defined species features changing are a pretty major effect. Things like changed assumptions regarding the capabilities of grand heroes can also have a big effect. Changing a die mechanic around or some specific rules won't do much, but if the character options that directly map to setting elements are seriously affected then there's some work to be done with the setting.

Broken Twin
2015-04-23, 09:12 AM
Specifically regarding your setting's history: Keep in mind that the accuracy of our records is spotty even now. What the people in your setting know of the past is largely based on hearsay and biased records. Discrepancies between the story told and how the world actually works may not even be noticeable to the PCs, given that, in world, they don't know every detail of the mechanics that their world runs by. Hell, there's plenty of stories in the real world where the hero accomplishes things that viewed from a more informed angle were clearly not possible. Roll with it. Stories get grander with age.

As to the rest, aim for thematic similarity, not one-to-one rules conversion. Fiddly details don't matter, it's the feel of the world that you're aiming for.

VoxRationis
2015-04-23, 09:12 AM
Example: orcs. In 3.5, they have a penalty to every mental stat, including Charisma (I'll focus on this one because of its relevance to the setting). Interpreting Charisma as being analogous to social intelligence (and factoring in their chaotic reputation), I determined for one of my (currently unplayed) 3.5 settings that orcs natively have a lesser ability to coordinate groups than humans, and that their natural group number is somewhere around 50, rather than 150 like it is for humans. This has a number of consequences; I reckoned from this that the hordes of orcs we see sweeping across the landscape are not the default social state of the subspecies, and that they only do this when an outside force compels them to. But Fifth isn't fond of ability score penalties, so that analysis doesn't apply.

Or the unification of darkvision vs. low-light vision. (This is one of the aspects of 3.5 I felt should not have been discarded in favor of the traditional AD&D approach.) In the past, I fluffed elves as being adapted to crepuscular existence in deserts, based on their slender frames, long, pointed ears, and adaptations to low-light conditions. But seeing 60' or so clearly isn't as adaptive as seeing as well in moonlight as you would in daylight, at least not in a wide-open desert.

DireSickFish
2015-04-23, 10:19 AM
Example: orcs. In 3.5, they have a penalty to every mental stat, including Charisma (I'll focus on this one because of its relevance to the setting). Interpreting Charisma as being analogous to social intelligence (and factoring in their chaotic reputation), I determined for one of my (currently unplayed) 3.5 settings that orcs natively have a lesser ability to coordinate groups than humans, and that their natural group number is somewhere around 50, rather than 150 like it is for humans. This has a number of consequences; I reckoned from this that the hordes of orcs we see sweeping across the landscape are not the default social state of the subspecies, and that they only do this when an outside force compels them to. But Fifth isn't fond of ability score penalties, so that analysis doesn't apply.

Or the unification of darkvision vs. low-light vision. (This is one of the aspects of 3.5 I felt should not have been discarded in favor of the traditional AD&D approach.) In the past, I fluffed elves as being adapted to crepuscular existence in deserts, based on their slender frames, long, pointed ears, and adaptations to low-light conditions. But seeing 60' or so clearly isn't as adaptive as seeing as well in moonlight as you would in daylight, at least not in a wide-open desert.

I think your Orc reasoning still holds up. Where before you were extrapolating social conventions and ideas based on the rules(something 3.5 was very good at) now you will be applying social conventions independent of rules. The races available to PC's are not indicative of the whole race, and you can see that from the monster entries in the monster manual that some do indeed have stat negatives that would not be used if it was a PC race. Instead of orcs are bad at forming large groups due to there negative charisma which translates to poor leadership skills, orcs are bad at forming large groups due to poor leadership skills.

Your second example of elves is much harder to refluf and keep consistent with the rules. They still have the advantage of being slender and light in the desert but lose that twilight supremacy.

I have my own 3.5 generated world and am hesitating to use it because of the transition. I'm lucky in that much of it it still unexplored so I can use those parts, but I understand the difficulties. Perhaps you have to bend some rules to make them fit the setting instead of the other way around. As long as they don't break the system.

Introducing Dragonborn into my world is the big hurdle I see facing when using my setting in 5th ed. Dwarves, Halflings, Elves, and Gnomes each have there own creator god and Humans were imported in without any negatives. Many of the mosnter races are creations of a god that was angry at the others but they are not his chosen races so are forsaken and tainted by his rage making them monsters. Dragons were here before the gods came and I'd have to roll the Dragonborn into that ... somehow. I'm just uncertain on how to do it, or do I just ban Dragonborn.

VoxRationis
2015-04-23, 10:58 AM
I'd just ban dragonborn myself. Not only are they just a bone thrown to 4e fans, at my table (and I'm guessing a lot of other tables) trying to play one is going to devolve into a series of Skyrim references faster than you can say "Jack Robinson."

Mark Hall
2015-04-23, 11:34 AM
I'd just ban dragonborn myself. Not only are they just a bone thrown to 4e fans, at my table (and I'm guessing a lot of other tables) trying to play one is going to devolve into a series of Skyrim references faster than you can say "Jack Robinson."

We had a 4e game where a character named "Furious Rex" led to the development of the entire Rex family of Dragonborn, including the family patriarch, Oedipus. I made a joke about Colonus, and suddenly they were from the town of Colonoscopy...

malkarnivore
2015-04-23, 11:38 AM
We had a 4e game where a character named "Furious Rex" led to the development of the entire Rex family of Dragonborn, including the family patriarch, Oedipus. I made a joke about Colonus, and suddenly they were from the town of Colonoscopy...

Mark wins the conversation. Because this was exactly what was running through my head.

Quit reading my mind, you don't have clearance for this information.

JAL_1138
2015-04-23, 11:48 AM
Perhaps your elves are adapted to badlands or scrub desert rather than "sahara" type open desert. 60 feet isn't completely useless in canyon-mazes or mesquite bosque. Or houserule how low-light/darkvision work in your home campaign.

Milodiah
2015-04-23, 02:41 PM
Shadowrun has always been both kinda good and kinda bad about this. Each edition change has a timeskip of five years, and deliberately accounts for the intervening changes in technology, emergence of new metahuman types, development of the metaplot, etc. etc. However, the jump from 3e to 4e (the only jump I'm versed in) caused several types of character builds to change in viability, capability, etc.

I've told the story here of my friend's ultimate heal troll, which could regenerate any wounds it took in a matter of minutes, due to a quirk in 3e healing mechanics. It could also transfer another person's wounds to itself. Those two things combined made it one of the best doctors in the world.

Then 4e shows up and puts an arbitrary floor on healing times, exactly 24 hours. So now this troll (whose actual abilities also didn't transfer all that well) takes 24 hours to start healing any lasting damage to itself, be it a punch to the jaw or a cruise missile to the chest. This just happened one day, apparently. This build's regen abilities are only somewhat aided by magic, so you can't just handwave it by pointing out that we don't fully "get" magic.

Also, the 3e to 4e initiative pass changes means that a fully optimized street samurai could no longer actually machine-gun everyone at a dinner table before anyone has a chance to get up. Now the turns flowed more like other RPGs, and the street samurai doesn't just get multiple turns in a row from having an initiative dozens higher than others. So your ultra-badass operators inexplicably dropped to the level of other augmented humans overnight.

Just things like that tend to bother me unduly.

Jay R
2015-04-23, 07:45 PM
It depends on why you're using that setting. If your reasons are game-specific, don't adapt it; either close it or keep the old system. If you really want the new system, change what you haqve to, and recognize that history is often wrong, and that the old system represents the stories that are told, as opposed to the new system that was always the truth.

But mostly, when you change systems, change the world. Otherwise you are inventing headaches.