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    Default Updating/downgrading ongoing campaigns to new/older version

    So the campaign you've been playing for years in (pick system) has a new system version come out and everyone wants to try the new system, or maybe you start a campaign in the new system and everyone likes the old system better *cough* D&D 4.0 *cough*.
    How do you handle it? Start characters from scratch at same level with similar items? Use sytem upgrade rules? Wing the transfer and come up with something?

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    Default Re: Updating/downgrading ongoing campaigns to new/older version

    We were playing original D&D, and I was playing a Bard from the article in The Strategic Review (predecessor of The Dragon). It was a somewhat over-powered class, using wizard spells. The class had a much larger set of followers than most, starting much earlier. At 1,000 xps, when the Fighters and Magic Users were still first level, Gwydion was 2nd level with 2 first level Fighter followers. The class also had an extremely powerful ability - to identify magic items 10% x level of the time.

    Then the DM started to convert to AD&D 1e. At the experience level we had reached, my bard would be about the same level, but the switch from wizard spells to druid spells was going to be a huge difference - and of course, he would lose all his followers, and the ability to identify most items.

    I would never have started to play a bard in 1e. As we were converting the characters, the game ended.

    ----------

    We then began a 2e game with a different DM. I had the only multi-classed character, a elf thief/wizard.

    At (more-or-less) 12th level, the DM decided to take the game from 2e to 3.5e. It was his idea that we just design the same character at twelfth level.

    I had no desire to play a 6th level wizard / sixth level thief while the rest were single-classed twelfth levels.

    The DM moved away, and the game ended before it happened.

    ----------

    So actually, I've done the character design for the process twice, but never played in the new game. But both times, my character, well-designed for the game we were playing, would have become far less interesting, and far less powerful, in the new game.

    My advice is to be very careful about this, and let people who don't like the new version of their characters design a new one from scratch.

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    Default Re: Updating/downgrading ongoing campaigns to new/older version

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post

    We then began a 2e game with a different DM. I had the only multi-classed character, a elf thief/wizard.

    At (more-or-less) 12th level, the DM decided to take the game from 2e to 3.5e. It was his idea that we just design the same character at twelfth level.

    I had no desire to play a 6th level wizard / sixth level thief while the rest were single-classed twelfth levels.

    The DM moved away, and the game ended before it happened.
    FWIW, that was not how the AD&D to 3e conversion document suggested you do it (largely because a 2e 12/12 was more like a 3e 14, not a 6/6)
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    Default Re: Updating/downgrading ongoing campaigns to new/older version

    Quote Originally Posted by Calthropstu View Post
    So the campaign you've been playing for years in (pick system) has a new system version come out and everyone wants to try the new system, or maybe you start a campaign in the new system and everyone likes the old system better *cough* D&D 4.0 *cough*.
    How do you handle it? Start characters from scratch at same level with similar items? Use sytem upgrade rules? Wing the transfer and come up with something?
    I don't think I've ever been in a group that did something so foolish as to try to switch horses mid-stream. Short of running a "Time of Troubles" (or equivalent) game, it seems to me that, if you start in X, you should continue in X.

    That having been said, I have personally done something arguably more foolish, and allowed players to play characters from different editions at the same table. A little conversion of verbiage (THAC0 vs BAB, for example), and it worked fine.

    But, if it did ever come up, I expect we'd sit down and discuss it like mature adults petulant children.

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    Default Re: Updating/downgrading ongoing campaigns to new/older version

    It depends on how well they translate without resorting to twisting logic. 1st edition to 2nd edition is easy. How about going from 1st edition to Chivalry and Sorcery? Or Harn?

    IMO, if they want new rules, start a new game with new characters. Less work from a specific point of view. Plus, if they want to go back, they have their old characters to play.

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    Default Re: Updating/downgrading ongoing campaigns to new/older version

    If for some reason we were playing 3.0, I would consider trying to convert the character to 3.5 directly, and other changes of that order of magnitude with other systems. Else, I would mostly try to avoid changing systems - in the second instance, people are gonna find it odd when their characters can no longer do something they used to be capable of, unless there's an IC reason for the shift (Belt of Genre Changing, anyone?).
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    Default Re: Updating/downgrading ongoing campaigns to new/older version

    Yup, done it several times now:
    1. Basic and Expert sets to BECMI series (there was an updated version of the Expert set published to line it up with the material in the Companion set, and the Masters set added a whole lot of optional rules we decided to apply to the existing campaign).
    2. BECM to D&D 3rd ed - probably the biggest change. Yes, I'd been running essentially the same campaign setting since the mid-80s, and yes it was worth converting it to 3rd ed.
    3. 3rd to 3.5 (hardly worth mentioning)
    4. 3.5 to Pathfinder (more changes than between 3rd and 3.5, actually)
    5. Pathfinder to my homebrewed hack of E6 for PF
    6. Hacked E6 PF to my own d20 system


    Over those years, lots of features of the game setting have changed as we've grown up, and our understanding of story telling has matured. Players have dropped out, joined, moved away, I've moved away a few times... but it's still the same game that I started against Bargle the Infamous in the Grand Duchy of Karameikos - even if I don't use those names any more.
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    Default Re: Updating/downgrading ongoing campaigns to new/older version

    The changes that have happened between D&D editions in the last 20 years basically make each one a completely different game. So whether you decide to make a similar character at the same level or start over completely, it amounts to the same thing. The game won't play similarly at all, the character abilities are completely different, the numbers are all different. All your enemies and monsters likewise will be completely different. It's like you're "converting" from football to baseball, the only thing the same is the names on the jerseys.

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    Default Re: Updating/downgrading ongoing campaigns to new/older version

    Quote Originally Posted by Thrudd View Post
    The changes that have happened between D&D editions in the last 20 years basically make each one a completely different game. So whether you decide to make a similar character at the same level or start over completely, it amounts to the same thing. The game won't play similarly at all, the character abilities are completely different, the numbers are all different. All your enemies and monsters likewise will be completely different. It's like you're "converting" from football to baseball, the only thing the same is the names on the jerseys.
    I'm afraid I have to strongly disagree.

    That would be the case if D&D (and RPGs in general) were just a collection of rules, and games sessions were like matches - but they're not. We play out stories, with characters who are more than just their abilities and powers, in a more or less consistent setting.

    The geography and politics and story of the setting is usually only trivially affected by the game rules. Characters' personality and behaviour can and should shine through some level of change in their abilities - otherwise what would you say happens to that character when they level up?

    If you suddenly started using Toon or Ghostbusters as your rules instead of A Song of Ice And Fire RPG, then yes you would have a point - but changing from one version of D&D to another? Not at all.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    It is overly convoluted. It adds complexity without clarity. Its effects are not clearly understood. It is intended to solve a problem that is not well defined.
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    Default Re: Updating/downgrading ongoing campaigns to new/older version

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    That having been said, I have personally done something arguably more foolish, and allowed players to play characters from different editions at the same table. A little conversion of verbiage (THAC0 vs BAB, for example), and it worked fine.
    I have wanted to do something like this sooo badly (and exacerbate things by allowing different systems to play together - each player picks a system and builds a character, and I adjudicate things with a meta-system [Mythic GM Simulator, for those curious]).

    As to system-switching, as a player or GM Id be down for it. Probably using a catastrophe to symbolize the rules shift, which would allow players to make new characters if they wanted to or rebuild their old characters with some in-world justification for the changes in their powers.
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    Default Re: Updating/downgrading ongoing campaigns to new/older version

    Quote Originally Posted by Altair_the_Vexed View Post
    We play out stories, with characters who are more than just their abilities and powers, in a more or less consistent setting.
    Yes, our characters are more than their abilities and powers. But they do include their abilities and powers, and that's the part that can't be duplicated.

    I listed two examples above - trying to translate an original D&D bard to a 1e AD&D bard, and trying to translate a 2e AD&D Thief 10 / Wizard 10 to 3.5e. I can certainly use their characterization, and motivations in the new game, but there is a lot I cannot use.

    For instance, I can't use their backstories in the new game. Gwydion had not spent many adventures as a Fighter followed by many adventures as a Thief, like a 1e bard needed to do. And there's no 3.5e character with 10th level wizard spells and tenth level Thief abilities, who is on a power level that makes it possible to work in an 11th level party.

    Please explain in detail how these problems can be handled within the rules for the new game - or acknowledge that, in at least some ways, Thrudd was right, and each one is a different game.

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    Default Re: Updating/downgrading ongoing campaigns to new/older version

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    Yes, our characters are more than their abilities and powers. But they do include their abilities and powers, and that's the part that can't be duplicated.
    Building on (and in agreement with) this, it's quite hard to update the game without the setting changing massivly due to NPC power as much as anything - for example, by 3.5 standards, 5e wizards aren't wizards, they're adepts on an ego trip. On that basis, it's not quite as easy to justify 3.5-style magocracies in a world where spellcasters really can be stopped by inserting pointy metal, nor is it possible to justify a fair few of the other facts of a setting which are artifacts of the way that 3.5 magic works (as an extreme example, if your campaign was set in the Tippyverse, you'd end up losing a lot of the setting's credibility because it's based on specific examples of what 3.5 wizards can do).
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    Default Re: Updating/downgrading ongoing campaigns to new/older version

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    Yes, our characters are more than their abilities and powers. But they do include their abilities and powers, and that's the part that can't be duplicated.

    I listed two examples above - trying to translate an original D&D bard to a 1e AD&D bard, and trying to translate a 2e AD&D Thief 10 / Wizard 10 to 3.5e. I can certainly use their characterization, and motivations in the new game, but there is a lot I cannot use.

    For instance, I can't use their backstories in the new game. Gwydion had not spent many adventures as a Fighter followed by many adventures as a Thief, like a 1e bard needed to do. And there's no 3.5e character with 10th level wizard spells and tenth level Thief abilities, who is on a power level that makes it possible to work in an 11th level party.

    Please explain in detail how these problems can be handled within the rules for the new game - or acknowledge that, in at least some ways, Thrudd was right, and each one is a different game.
    This is a false equivalence: OD&D and AD&D 1e bards were not balanced with parties of the same level. Dual classing was not balanced against characters of the same nominal level either. In earlier editions of D&D, because classes progressed on different XP tracks, there was little to no attempt or intent to make characters of different classes balanced by level, they were balanced by XP total.

    So if you have a character whose backstory is that they had adventured for years as a fighter, then a thief, then learned magical powers, then the best way to portray that in 3e+ is to multi-class.
    And if that means you end up with a character who is higher level than the rest of the party in order to have all the abilities they had in the old edition, then it sounds to me like you already had a character who way out of balance, you just didn't know it. Old edition bards are famous for exactly this. Old editions are famous for not balancing by level.
    Last edited by Altair_the_Vexed; 2017-12-02 at 07:27 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    It is overly convoluted. It adds complexity without clarity. Its effects are not clearly understood. It is intended to solve a problem that is not well defined.
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    Default Re: Updating/downgrading ongoing campaigns to new/older version

    Quote Originally Posted by Altair_the_Vexed View Post
    This is a false equivalence:
    It is not an "equivalence" at all. It's an example. You said that "Characters' personality and behaviour can and should shine through some level of change in their abilities." I have provided examples of characters that can work well in one system and can't work at all in another version.

    Now if you are claiming that a oD&D bard and a 1e bard are not equivalent characters, then I agree completely, and that's what I was trying to show you. That's the proof that Thrudd's statement ("The changes that have happened between D&D editions in the last 20 years basically make each one a completely different game. So whether you decide to make a similar character at the same level or start over completely, it amounts to the same thing. The game won't play similarly at all, the character abilities are completely different, the numbers are all different. ") is true.

    Quote Originally Posted by Altair_the_Vexed View Post
    OD&D and AD&D 1e bards were not balanced with parties of the same level. Dual classing was not balanced against characters of the same nominal level either. In earlier editions of D&D, because classes progressed on different XP tracks, there was little to no attempt or intent to make characters of different classes balanced by level, they were balanced by XP total.
    Agreed. But since my examples were based on parties with roughly the same XP total, this is irrelevant to these examples.

    The oD&D 12th level bard was not overpowered for a 300,000 xp character. [The class is over-powered at lower levels.] He had wizard spells up to 3rd level. But a 1e bard with the same level of experience points would be a fighter 7 /thief 8 /bard 11, with druid spells up to 4th level.

    It's not about power level; he's a very different character.

    Quote Originally Posted by Altair_the_Vexed View Post
    So if you have a character whose backstory is that they had adventured for years as a fighter, then a thief, then learned magical powers, then the best way to portray that in 3e+ is to multi-class.
    You've got it backwards. I had an original D&D bard. This is a character who was a bard from his first day adventuring. But a 1e bard has an adventuring path (not a backstory) as a fighter, and then a thief, and then finally becomes a 1st level bard 140,000 xps later.

    Quote Originally Posted by Altair_the_Vexed View Post
    And if that means you end up with a character who is higher level than the rest of the party in order to have all the abilities they had in the old edition, then it sounds to me like you already had a character who way out of balance, you just didn't know it.
    What you're missing is the abilities and hit points aren't coordinated the same way. To get the same abilities in another addition you have to get other things as well, that the original character did not have.
    • A 2e 9/9 has the average of 9d6 and 9d4 hit points. But a 3e 99/9 has the sum of 9d6 and 9d4 hit points.
    • A 2e 9th level thief/9th level wizard has the better of a 9th level wizard saving throw and a 9th level thief saving throw. But the 3e "equivalent" has a saving throw enhanced by both of them.
    • The 2e 9/9 is roughly equivalent to a 10th-11th level character. The 3e 9/9 is unambiguously an 18th level character.
    • If the 2e 9/9 is simulated by somebody who matches up to the same party level, like a wizard 5/Rogue 5, then this character is a badly designed, under-powered character, which the 2e version was not.


    Multiclass in 2e works well in 2e. Multi-class in 3e works well in 3e. But a multiclass in 2e is not designed like one in 3e, and cannot be reasonably translated. You may phrase this as a "false equivalence" if you like, but that's agreeing with my point that a character from one game can't necessarily be translated to another - just like Thrudd said.

    A 9th level wizard / 9th level thief is an 18th level character, with hit points and saving throws far beyond the same party of a 10th level wizard, 9th level Ranger, and 9th level Paladin.

    This is clear example of a party that cannot be translated from 2e to 3e.

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    Default Re: Updating/downgrading ongoing campaigns to new/older version

    Well you can prove anything with facts!

    My experience with AD&D is limited - I never liked it, thought it was a messy and unnecessary over-complication. 2e I have even less experience of. So these examples may well be right, and that's sad and, I think, needlessly restrictive - but then prescriptive rules and less improvisation was part of Gygax's design philosophy.

    But I still believe that there is a compromise path between strict adherence to the rules of each edition such that we can't port characters from one to the other, and seamless movement between systems.

    In all my cases, there was usually some judicious houseruling to allow approximately the same character to move between systems. All rules systems expect you to houserule your RPGs - that's effectively where AD&D came from in the first place: Gygax's houserules.
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    Default Re: Updating/downgrading ongoing campaigns to new/older version

    Quote Originally Posted by Altair_the_Vexed View Post
    Well you can prove anything with facts!

    My experience with AD&D is limited - I never liked it, thought it was a messy and unnecessary over-complication. 2e I have even less experience of. So these examples may well be right, and that's sad and, I think, needlessly restrictive - but then prescriptive rules and less improvisation was part of Gygax's design philosophy.

    But I still believe that there is a compromise path between strict adherence to the rules of each edition such that we can't port characters from one to the other, and seamless movement between systems.

    In all my cases, there was usually some judicious houseruling to allow approximately the same character to move between systems. All rules systems expect you to houserule your RPGs - that's effectively where AD&D came from in the first place: Gygax's houserules.
    Oh, well said!

    I don't think we're too far apart. I was talking about the rules, and about two specific cases I was in where translation would not have worked.

    I certainly agree that in most cases, a good DM will find a way, whatever game you play. But there are some characters that are fundamentally rooted in the structure they were created in, and that's what I was talking about.

    It's really nice (and rare) when an internet discussion brings people together, rather than merely over-emphasizing differences.

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    Default Re: Updating/downgrading ongoing campaigns to new/older version

    I have never switched systems mid-campaign, and really never plan to. I'd rather start something fresh in any new system, which explicitly plays to its strengths.

    While I had previously switched on every new D&D edition (and started a new campaign after its release) we declined to change our game to 5e and have stuck with 4e, which we vastly prefer.

    After our current 3-year D&D campaign wraps, our plan is to try out a few other new, non-D&D systems that have come out in the past few years. (That's where all the best innovation is happening right now, anyway ) We'll work our way back to 4e eventually, I expect, but I'm excited to try out some new stuff.
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    Default Re: Updating/downgrading ongoing campaigns to new/older version

    The (very) late 1970's to mid 1980's "D&D" games that I played were such a mish mash of '77 Holmes "Basic", oD&D, 1e AD&D, Arduin, All the World's Monster's, articles from The Dragon and Different World's, even bits of RuneQuest that there was no clear delineation between systems, but somehow it was made to work, I suspect because in the end is was really DM fiat and "winging it".

    Really it was only when I first DM'd (using the '77 "bluebook"), that much effort was made towards adhering to RAW, once I became a player in a oD&D plus whatever was at hand game my attitude towards RAW switched and everything became more improv.

    Some attempt was made to do AD&D RAW, but it was short lived and we quickly fell back on old habits.

    Under improv and fiat conditions most any character was possible, but that doesn't seem to fit how most WD&D is played, especially 3.x.

    I'm doubtful that I'll ever DM using complete 3.x rules as there looks to be far too much studying to do.
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