D&D has been around for a heck of a long time and over the years there has been a ton of great material published. Unfortunately the rules keep changing, not just as new editions of the game are released, but also as each edition evolves.
This means that material can quickly become outdated to the rules. So what do you do if you have a lot of older books laying around with cool stories that you loved but which you can’t play under the current system?
One option is to take the plunge and completely update the adventure to the new system. This can be great fun and very rewarding but it takes a lot of time and a lot of effort. It is a great way to learn the rules of a new system, but it just isn’t always practical. If you play regularly you probably won’t have time to make this kind of a huge switch.
Another option that you may want to try is to keep the story the same and make some shortcuts.
1) Only flesh out the key NPC’s. The boss and key people the players need to talk to will require full-blown stats.
2) Turn all of the other encounters into generic encounters appropriate for the level you are playing. Orcs don’t play the same in 1st edition as they do in 3rd or 4th edition, so you may just want to pull them out altogether and drop in kobolds or goblins. The players will not know the difference. Even building and using a random encounter deck as suggested in the Dungeon Master’s guide can substitute for a lot of manual re-tooling of encounters.
3)You may have to wing it with traps. There were a lot of strange traps and devices in older editions. Leave them in but change the damage to something that makes sense in the current edition. Especially with the old “save or die” challenges you will want to make it a damage appropriate challenge instead. Generally this can be done at the table during game-time rather than pouring through tons of books. Just make a note Attk +8 2d6 damage or something to that effect.
4)Curses and special effects. 4th edition is much more player friendly than earlier editions so things like cursed weapons and objects have pretty much disappeared. This means that if you are updating an old adventure will will probably just have to drop them altogether. In the old days it was common to pick up a sword and be turned into a troll or have your ears grow long and droop to your knees. This isn’t expected to happen in the new game so unless your players understand that it might be coming it will be viewed as unfair to keep these surprises in.
These points can turn a month-long overhaul into a few hours of preparation and still keep a great old story.
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