conversion systems | monsters
Designing A 100th-level Adventure | blessings
UPDATED 28th February 2007: To take into account new discoveries about Encounter Levels.
The following is an attempt to better understand the pitfalls of creating an epic/immortal adventure for 100th-level charaters for the 3rd Edition game.
But before we look forward, first lets take a look back at the biggest and baddest adventure of them all.
H4: Throne of Bloodstone (1988) by Douglas Niles and Michael Dobson
Lets be clear from the start, H4 is not a great adventure, in fact it probably isn't even a good adventure. Not to diservice the writers in question, their preceding installments in the series (which introduced the Battlesystem Rules for mass combat) were notably better. At first glance H4 seems to have very little thought behind it. Seemingly just adding monsters for fun. But it did contain the magic words..."For Character Levels 18-100".
Reference to 'Throne of Bloodstone' here is not done in the course of trade and is not intended as a challenge to any trademarks.
Problems with Designing A 100th-level Adventure for 3rd Edition
Problem One: 100th-level characters are not ten times as powerful as 10th-level characters..actually in 3rd Edition they are at least 1024 times as powerful. In fact, by my reckoning any individual with a CR less than 1/4 the PCs average Encounter Level is almost an irrelevance at epic levels (because of the immunities and defenses the more powerful characters will have). A 100th-level character (individually CR 66) will beat virtually an infinite number of 10th-level opponents. So for the most part, in this adventure (with a few exceptions perhaps) CR 25 (ECL 38) should be the minimum power level for any individual enemy in an adventure for 100th-level PCs...and those are for the rank and file cannon-fodder troops! You can use lesser opponents, but they are going to drop like water off a duck's back. So while they may exist, don't utilise them as anything meaningful.
If you only run one 100th-level PC through the adventure, then decrease all ELs by +4. If you run two then decrease the following ELs by +2. If you have three then decrease the ELs by +1. If you have six or seven PCs then increase the listed ELs by +1. If you have 8-11 PCs then increase the ELs by +2.
Some industrious players take pride in optimizing their characters using the rules to wring every conceivable bonus out of them. Now I am certainly not here to punish those players, such enthusiasm and industry is to be applauded in my opinion. However, if one or more of your players embrace this type of play then they could be punching +4 EL (or more) above their weight. If you have noted that from previous adventures your players are defeating the foes too easily, I suggest upping the effective challenges by +1 EL each adventure, until you arrive at a point where the players are once again threatened by the encounters.
Table 1-1: Spread of Encounters for 100th-level Characters, outlines what Challenge Ratings mean to a party of four or five 100th-level characters. Or ECL 100 characters, because remember a 60th-level Lesser God is also ECL 100.
e.g. A single CR 29 monster (such as a Hunefer) is Encounter Level -7 for a Group of Four 100th-level PCs. Roughly 15-22 of these monsters are Encounter Level +/-0 (easy encounter), for a group of Four 100th-level PCs. 32-47 Hunefers would be a 'Tough' encounter for the 100th-level party.
e.g. Any number of Balors (CR 20) would be totally irrelevant.
Problem Two: Logistics
Logistics, Logistics, Logistics! In a given world, the number of 30th-level PCs is going to be very few indeed. In fact when you take into account that CRs 22 and 30 are the average CRs for Hero-deities and Quasi-deities respectively, it puts designing a 100th-level adventure into perspective. Basically what we need here are Quasi-deity level opponents for our rank and file troops!
The Abyss itself, amongst the demons anyway, probably has:
What this means is that, in the opening chapter, Zhenghi, roughly equal to an Intermediate power herein, could have 6 Lesser Power majordomos, 60 Demipowers, 600 Quasi-deities and possibly 6000 Hero-deity equivalents (Balors and Mariliths) to draw upon. While he might well have tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of weaker troops
Problem Three: Monster Hunting.
There are relatively very few monsters for 100th-level epic characters to face, and most that are out there are relatively weak. The Epic Level Handbook has 7 monsters above CR 36 (Four Devastation Creatures, Two Dragons and the Hecatonchiere). Thats of course something I have tried to address with the Immortals Handbook: Epic Bestiary series but its still going to be a while before I get the second and third volumes finished. So while you may be okay for the first two or three epic adventures of this magnitude, you are going to be reusing monsters a lot after that.
The following is a list of potential monsters which could be advanced to a point (CR 25/ECL 37) where they could be useful in a 100th-level adventure. Those listed in italics have had their challenge ratings revised by me.
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