3rd Edition doesn’t really require multiple conversion examples. But The Mysterious Tower holds several distinctions that make it worth posting about. First off, it is in the original Dungeon Crawl Classics line of 3rd Edition adventures. Second, it was written by the Dark Master himself, Joseph Goodman. Third, it is one of the first adventures that I converted to DCC for my home table. As such, it may be illustrative of the types of “quick and dirty” conversions you may wish to use when publication is not an issue. For published examples of conversion from 3e, I direct you to Well of the Worm and Tower of the Black Pearl.
After running a DCC conversion of Death Frost Doom (which is the first adventure I converted to DCC!), the PCs had failed hard enough that they needed a second chance at the adventure. If you know Death Frost Doom, you are aware of the worst that can (and probably will) happen. It did. Most of the party died. I therefore ran Through the Cotillion of Hours to give them a chance to wish for that second chance at avoiding that ending. One party member, though, took the opportunity to wish for a game-breaking thousands of gold and platinum pieces. I used The Mysterious Tower to resolve that wish without actually handing over the gold, and without simply having the character cease to exist (as would otherwise happen in Through the Cotillion of Hours).
Instead of doing a full conversion document, I made a photocopy of the module, and then wrote notes in the margins.
My original “dream” handout survived, and it read:
In your dream, you see a strange tower rising above a wooded slope, its white marble walls shimmering with a bluish flame. You can hear what sound like the howling of wolves, or the screams of eagles, in the background.
You can hear a strange and mournful voice intone:
West along the mountain road a keep in ruin lies
Therein are gold and platinum coins for which you asked, and prize
Gathered long ago by one then trapped by greed and fear
Blue fire sparked from patron's lark left him moaning here.
If you tread this path of dread where humbler men once dwelled
Here thy bones may stay enthroned and bitter soul enspelled.
Naught in this cosmos is free,· all comes with cost and measure
So it is for god and man and fabled golden treasure.
The last image you have is of a tall man in a turban, with dark skin and startling blue eyes. He wears a blue vest, white pantaloons, and ornate golden slippers, and he sits atop a pile of gold and other treasure. His face looks as though he is normally good-natured, for his laugh-lines are deep, but he is serious as he speaks now.
"Please, friends, stay away from here," the man says. "I have no wish to harm you. Wait but another three hundred and two score years and seven, and you may have this without contest."
The dream fades, and you awaken.
Page 15, Area 28: Read-aloud text amended from “a shimmering blue force field” to “shimmering blue fire”.
Page 20, Area 31: “red-brown worms w/six feelers around mouth” next to rust monster statblock.
Page 20, Area 32: Read-aloud text amended from “the shimmering blue force field of the tower” to “the shimmering blue flames encircling the tower” and “three inches outside the force field” is amended to “three inches outside the flames”.
Page 22, Area 33: Columns 2, paragraph 3, is marked to remind me that I changed these contents. The page which showed the changes has been lost to time.
Page 22, Area 34: Force cages are changed to “cages made of blue fire”.
Page 24, Area 34: Note by quasit: “DC 12. 1d3 Str” reminding me of the poison’s effect I chose for this creature.
Page 24, Area 35: Read-aloud text again changed to make force cages into “cages of blue fire”.
Page 26, Area 36: Read-aloud text changed from “The room is literally piled high with gold – there must be thousands of gold pieces strewn about randomly. Various other glittering treasures can be seen peeking out of the piles of gold.” to “The room is literally piled high with gold and platinum – there must be thousands of gold pieces strewn about randomly. Various other glittering treasures can be seen peeking out of the piles of coin.”
Page 27, Area 36: Next to the djinni’s tactics, I wrote “Passages of the Moon”. I no longer remember what this referred to.
I also made several amendments to treasure:
- I added 2,000 platinum pieces to the coin total.
- For the potions, mage armor became just armor (+2 for 1d6 turns) and cure light wounds became curative (1 HD) (and also reduced to a single potion).
- The scroll of burning hands became flaming hands (cast at +3).
- Ring of Force Shield became Ring of Magic Shield (+5, wearer only, 3/day, 1d5 turns).
- I removed the +1 light crossbow, but left the daggers.
Things Not Captured In My Notes
My notes do not entirely capture my reworking of this adventure, but looking at them it is easy to see that conversions for play (as opposed to publication) do not necessarily require a lot of work. Because of my note on Page 22, Area 33, I believe that I probably also included some handwritten or printed pages that I can no longer locate. Some of the additional changes I can remember using include:
The idea of force field magic as almost a science is foreign to DCC, so I described the entire tower as writhed in blue flame. Mechanically, this changed nothing.
Instead of owlbears, I used hawkwolves. The only change in stats was to add a 30’ fly speed.
Some of the other monsters were reskinned to make them mysterious. A tall conical mass with three legs and three lashing tentacles is a lot scarier than a huge gelatinous cube, even if the statistics don’t change!
The takeaway here should be: If you are getting paid to do a conversion, pull out all of the bells and whistles. However, if you are doing a conversion for a home game, you don’t have to move mountains.
Next: D&D 4rd Edition: Keep on the Shadowfell