I've played D&D on and off for a number of years and I thought that it would finally be time to try my hand at DM'ing.

A little while ago, a friend bought me the Shackled City Adventure Path and I'd like to base my campaign around that. However, what I'd like to do is convert it for use with 4th Edition - possibly even the Neverwinter campaign setting.

The drawback, I have absolutely no idea what I should do or where I should start with making it viable as a 4e campaign.

I'd really appreciate being pointed in the right direction.


1 Answer 1


Don't sweat the details. Don't try to exactly convert everything one-for-one. There's really no point.

Figure out how fast progression should be. One of the reasonably nice things about the adventure paths is they're designed for a steady and even level progression, and 4e excels at that. In each section see what the expected level entry points and exit points are for the section, and then figure out generally how many encounters you're going to need.


Don't even bother with equating XP to levelling: focus on the interesting encounters, build those, and use the narrative flow to level the PCs instead. (That is, the adventure path says that "at the end of this section the players should be about Lvl 4"... use those comments to map out how the PCs should level as they go through the adventure, and forget about XPs.)

Find the cool magic items. Be careful to notice where the magic items get handed out in the 3.x AP, and then figure out where those items should go (which PC), and which items you should hand out in 4e terms. Notice that items in 4e are much more stratified and tied to the general experience level going on in the adventure than in previous editions. I have found in my own experience that magic item planning is the hardest part of the conversion. Luckily, the 4e path to building encounters give you decent guidelines on how much treasure and items you should be kicking out to the players.

Don't forget about rituals. Rituals are much more central to 4e than previous editions, and you should consider them a cross between cool encounters and magic items; when/how will you kick out rituals to PCs, and require that they use them to solve a problem. See if you can identify points in the 3.x adventure path where a ritual might be needed or used to good effect.

Forget skill challenges. Your mileage my vary but we never really thought that skill challenges worked, especially if you're levelling your PCs narratively rather than by XP counting. Instead, when a situation arises that is a complex problem to solve (convince the local baron to lend you guards for your raid on the bandit cave) focus on going around the table, asking people how they're going to contribute. If few PC fail with their contributions than succeed, that's an indication they've succeeded, but pay more attention to what they say about how they're contributing than what their rolls are. Lean heavily on "helping out" rules: success against DC10 adds +2 to the lead character's roll.

I ran portions of Rise of the Runelords and Second Darkenss with 4e, with two different groups, followed these general guidelines, and things worked out for me.

  • \$\begingroup\$ How about "Or consider using inherent bonuses" in your "magic items" section? This means that the treasure problem can be massively simplified to only giving out story-type magic items. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 21, 2013 at 20:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ Also - you didn't mention how to deal with converting the monsters. I'd assume something like "For Monsters, reuse, relevel, or reskin existing monsters from the DDI monster builder..." \$\endgroup\$ Feb 21, 2013 at 21:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ Paizo tends to be a bit more adventuresome with novel Monsters in places than most. But I stuck this firmly into the "Don't sweat the details" category. Amongst all the 4e Monster Manuals there is plenty of choice: choose the closest match and build encounters that make sense for the challenge you want to throw at the PCs. I did not bother at all to directly convert monsters: in some cases, I built my own, but I nearly always started with a close match and customized them a bit, rather than attempt a pure conversion. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 22, 2013 at 13:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Which is all a roundabout way of saying, when approaching monster "conversion", use three operative principles: look for theme and story, choose something that's close from the 4e canon, and tailor appropriate to the PC's level in 4e -- don't attempt to do careful power-level balancing in your conversions. It just doesn't matter. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 22, 2013 at 13:19

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