Star Wars Wednesday - Adapting Adventures

Adventures are obviously central to any role-playing game. Creating rules, and characters from those rules, can and should be entertaining and fun, but up until game time, they are simply creating the role for you to play. While many Gamemasters and game designers enjoy the adventure creation process, but it is not for everyone. Some have the desire, but not the time while others may have the desire but feel they lack the skills to create a story appropriate for their campaigns. Note, I don't say they lack the creativity (although they might think so). They might not feel comfortable writing a particular story type, or feel they don't have the rules knowledge to create a level-appropriate encounter.

Using published adventures, as well as well crafted fan-made ones, helps any GM overcome these obstacles. However, it is uncommon for any pregenerated adventure to mesh completely with an established campaign. Therefore, almost every adventure has some level of adaptation. Sometimes it's minimal-swapping out a name here or there and replacing it with a character from the campaign, adjusting some equipment, and so on. Sometimes a GM simply takes the encounters they want and arranges it in their own narrative. When working with adventures of the same edition as the game you're playing, these changes are relatively straightforward.

However,with around of five major editions of the Star Wars RPG released since 1987, there is a lot of material out there that probably doesn't match the edition you're currently playing. No matter if you're trying to use WEG d6 material in your Saga campaign, or run newer adventures in your d20 or d6 games, you're getting into the art of adaptation at a higher level. While the actual story and basics convert between editions relatively well, such as common equipment, droids and starships, things get trickier with unique Gamemaster characters and items and areas customized in the original adventure.

Gamemasters can simply create new stat blocks and rules for these situations. However, time and experience can factor greatly into this. Fortunately, there are some shortcuts. They may not produce exact results, but they are usually close enough, especially for an opponent that won't last more than an encounter or two.

There are several conversion documents available for adapting between editions:

  • d20 Revised Core Rules (RCR) to d20 Saga Edition - Originally created by Gary Sarli and can be found here.
  • d20 Core Rules (OCR) to d20 Revised Core Rules (RCR) - These editions are close, but not exactly  the same. You can get an idea for what changed by referring to the What's New section of each chapter in the RCR.
  • WEG d6 (any edition) to d20 Core Rules (OCR) - See the Conversion Guidelines in the back of the OCR book. If you use a lot of WEG material in your d20 or even Saga games (or vice versa), it might be worth tracking a copy of this book down simply for these few pages. It's particularly helpful in trying to figure out what d20 level a d6 character might be. It's a good start, but for the time involved (especially for simple characters), you might be better off just creating new stats.

 There are also a number of websites that host converted characters, ships and equipment - sometimes for specific published adventures. Before you start converting, try a few internet searches under the product name and see what comes up.

For example, Saga Edition freelancer Patrick Stutzman hosts Star Wars: The Forgotten Tales site with d20 conversions of WEG products, like the DarkStryder Campaign, as well as Saga Edition material. Another option is the SWRPGNetwork, though it's acting a bit strange lately, so your mileage will vary. If you're really into system comparison, I ran across this odd document comparing the stats of many different RPG systems.

Sometimes, you just don't have the time or desire to fiddle with stat blocks. Often, you can just swap in a similar character, droid or ship and just roll with it. If you're extremely familiar with the Saga Edition books, it makes ones of an appropriate CL much easier to find. Or try the online index.

For example, last week someone asked for my opinion on adapting my old Talnar's Rescue adventure from d20 RCR to Saga. It turns out, some GMs running the Dawn of Defiance Campaign are using it between adventures 3 and 4 (out of the adventure's original timeline, but easily adaptable to DoD). I originally wrote the adventure for Star Wars Gamer Magazine (#5) and the OCR rules. Wizards updated the adventure for the RCR and released it as a free PDF at that time. So, anyone looking for an example of OCR to RCR changes might find something useful there. Anyway, I'd thought about updating Talnar for Saga, but never got around to it, and probably won't now. But here are my recommendations:

I've treated these stat blocks as though they were for the original level 3-4 player characters, but should still work reasonably well at 6th level for Dawn of Defiance, as the later enemies are higher level anyway. Still, they may need to be bumped up here or there, especially the guards at Prit's.

Most of the vehicles are unique to this adventure, outside of the standard Imperial speeder bikes and a couple of other notable exceptions. Suggested replacements follow.

The PX-7 troop transport usually doesn't come into play - most players don't attract that much attention. Armored Groundcar stats (Force Unleashed 110) as a tracked vehicle and a single blaster cannon turret (drop the x2 damage).

Oquan Lt. - Pirate (Threats to the Galaxy 66) with a jetpack
Oquan members - Mercenary Scout (Threats to the Galaxy 55) with a jetpack

LLS-3 landspeeder - Arrow 23 landspeeder (Force Unleashed 110) minus the grenade launcher, reduce laser cannon damage to 3d10, open cockpit with +5 cover (not total).
QL-2a landspeeder - A-A5 speeder truck (Force Unleashed 113), reduce size to Gargantuan, but it could work at colossal size if you don't want to take the time. Make it an open top, Cover is +5, not total, Add laser cannon with 3d10 damage.
Cotan - Information Broker (Threats to the Galaxy 41), consider reducing a level or compensating for the higher level if it causes trouble for the heroes.

Prit's Guards - Security Personnel (Threats to the Galaxy 76), maybe add a few Security Specialists - they should be able to toss the players out, so just about any soldier type will do, especially those that can grapple...actually they will need the Trip and Throw feats.

Nir Rinit - ISB Field Agent (Force Unleashed 181)
Rinit's thugs - just about any CL 4 heroic or nonheroic thug will do
Rinit's ship - just about any similarly equipped stock light freighter can stand in for this.

Combat Automata Protector Series droid - use the stats for the Crab Droid Scout (SE 201), Replace Crush and Pin feats with Rapid Shot and Double Attack, add SR 10 and drop stability special quality.

Rel Acoi - Bounty Hunter (SE 283), Increase Intelligence to 16, add Pilot, Persuasion and Stealth as trained skills, add jetpack, treat laser gauntlet as blaster pistol, add Bocce and one other language. Of all of the characters in this adventure, this is the one I'd consider remaking from scratch. Also note that even though I've already suggested reducing his level here by using a CL 7 character, you may want to watch how things go in play, as he is quite a bit higher level than the PCs. That's because the droids should go after him. He should definitely threaten the PCs and even take shots at them, but be careful. 

Oquan hunters - pretty much 4th level scouts, Mercenary Soldier or Scouts (Threats of the Galaxy 55) should work.

Talnar - Slicer (Threats of the Galaxy 86), swap Pilot for Knowledge (galactic lore) skill

There are a lot of great storylines out there just waiting for use in your game. Don't let conversions deter you or your GM from a entertaining game.