I run a game of Rise of the Rune Lords and we converted from Pathfinder to 5th edition D&D. I've kept the player characters at the same suggested level as in the book. My 4 players are well equipped and we have played RPGs for 4-5 years together.

The problem: the adventure seems so difficult at PC level 9 (2 at lvl 8 due to level drain).
For example: a recent encounter with two stone giants in the Hook Mountains. One player has gone down and then they decided to take a full rest before venturing to the clanhold. They are afraid of more than two ogres.
I'ts my first time running a campaign at that level, but 5th edition chars seems to be more powerful than in Pathfinder.
Did I do something wrong?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Could you elaborate what sort of trouble did they have with the Stone giants? Did they have problems more with the offense or defense? \$\endgroup\$
    – kviiri
    Commented Mar 14, 2017 at 9:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ You say that the encounters are too difficult, AND the player characters are too strong. Are you just converting the encounters as they are in Pathfinder? 2 Giants in Pathfinder will be of different strength than 2 Giants in 5e. \$\endgroup\$
    – Patta
    Commented Mar 14, 2017 at 9:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ Ok. And what does "5th ed chars seems to be more powerful than in Pathfinder" have to do with it? It seems contraray to what you are saying in the actual question. \$\endgroup\$
    – Patta
    Commented Mar 14, 2017 at 10:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Patta He has a problem with chars from Pathfinder seeming too weak and assumes 5th ed chars are more powerful. \$\endgroup\$
    – JollyJoker
    Commented Mar 14, 2017 at 12:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ This question appears to ask if he did something wrong with the conversion. Is that what you are asking: if you did something wrong in the adventure conversion? Also, please clarify: are you characters built by D&D 5e rules (to include adding ASI/feats on the way up to 9th level) or are they Pathfinder PC classes? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 14, 2017 at 12:35

2 Answers 2


Although the CR / encounter XP / difficulty numbers in the DMG are not infallible, they are useful as general guidlines. Lets take a look at the giant encounter!

Stone giants (MM 156) are CR 7 / 2900xp alone. Looking at DMG 82 (all information here is from that page) we see that if you have more than one monster in a fight, there is an xp multiplier, in this case of two giants *1.5. Thus this fight is "worth" 2900*2*1.5=8700 xp. For a party of 2 level 8 and 2 level 9 PCs the xp thresholds are:

  1. Easy = 2000
  2. Medium = 4000
  3. Hard = 6000
  4. Deadly = 9000

Based on this that was a Hard encounter:

A hard encounter could go badly for the adventurers. Weaker characters might get taken out of the fight, and there's a slim chance that one or more characters might die.

So it is not surprising that a PC fell unconscious.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Hard and very nearly deadly, at 8700xp. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 14, 2017 at 10:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ This encounter almost hit Deadly! Things like that should be reserved for boss battles and similar stuff. It's no wonder that they had a hard time. \$\endgroup\$
    – T. Sar
    Commented Mar 14, 2017 at 11:24

The adjusted encounter difficulty for two stone giants is 8700 XP (2 * 2900XP * 1.5). The experience threshold for a Hard encounter is 6000XP for a party of two level 9 and two level 8 adventurers and Deadly is at 9000XP.

If you pit your players against Hard (and almost Deadly, in this case) encounters, especially without maxed hit points and full spell slots, it is not uncommon for squishier characters to get knocked out. It can also happen if the players try to over-conserve their resources like spell slots. Having weaker characters knocked out is especially true for creatures like Stone Giants, who have a strong ranged attack. This is not a cause for alarm - characters occasionally do get knocked out but there's plenty of rescue options available for the usual party to prevent character deaths.


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