Converting AD&D Modules for Torchbearer

I am generally loathe to give WotC my money, but I’ve been tempted by their recent re-releases of old AD&D modules. I haven’t yet finished the PDF, but I was wondering if anyone had advice on converting these modules for TB. I’m less concerned with converting stats and more with things like how to handle mapping (when TB discourages it), how to introduce twists that reflect the dungeon, etc.

Don’t be loathe to give DriveThruStuff your money. They (or just “he”… not sure how many people are behind DTS) are the good people behind, iirc. I forget the guy’s name, but I met a guy from DTS at this year’s PAX East, who was manning the Games on Demand booth directly across from BWHQ. He was an incredibly friendly and helpful person, and I would not hesitate to give him money for PDFs of classic D&D content.

I’m still processing all of this myself, but I’d mostly just go through the “adventure creation” guidelines, and anywhere that I had to answer a question, I’d use what was in the module if available, otherwise, make it up as usual.

Also note that the players shouldn’t be mapping, but it’s perfectly legitimate for the adventure to have a map for the GM (see the example adventure in the book as an… example).

Let’s see… what else? Depending on how difficult things are supposed to be, you might need to group “rooms” in you dungeon into broad “problem areas” so that you don’t nickel-and-dime the PCs to death. I guess you might need to go through and figure out what most of the NPCs/monsters want, so that they’ll be “RP-able” and not just bags of fight.

That’s all I’ve got.

I ran Lost Isle of Castanamir as a playtest. It worked with minimal conversion for the stat lines. I read the boxed text and gave directions and everything.

The only problem with it (and many AD&D modules) was that it was too fucking big. In TB, you can really squeeze a lot of actions out of a few rooms.

I did the same with Caverns of Thracia in an earlier playtest. It worked just fine, but it really could have been a campaign all on its own. The players were hollow eyed with a thousand-yard stare after escaping that dungeon.

After that adventure our party had some great beliefs when it came down to Dralic’s leadership. I believe Beren’s was “Never trust Dralic’s decisions underground”. I mean, he really earned them, one not simply walks into Caverns of Thracia, charges two Lamias and ends up losing with “left for dead” as a result. I believe it was one of the first conflicts we had.

When I ran some playtest sessions I used maps from D&D / AD&D modules and build my own stuff around them.

I finished the PDF earlier today, and yeah, this is one of the issues I would run into. Would you discourage me from trying to run a megadungeon with TB?

It really depends on what the setup is and how you approach it. If the characters are based in a town and are making short, directed expeditions (like in Dwimmermount) before returning home, it works fine. I think it could be a lot of fun. The trouble comes in when they make long, extended expeditions and find themselves in a situation where it’s difficult to get out. For instance, in the Lost Isle of Castanamir (which isn’t a megadungeon), you’re trapped. There’s no going back to town until you’ve figured out what’s going on. This eats through characters’ supplies and grinds characters down until there’s nothing left.

The first room has a way to “skip” around to the other floors/room, so there are certainly ways to aid players from having to slog the whole thing on foot.

Thanks for all the advice thus far! I am super excited to play this game. Can’t wait to see the physical book.

What about shorter adventures where the characters are prevented from going back to town until some condition is met/an exit is found/etc.? Would you consider that a sort of advanced adventure, because they’re going to have to be smarter about how they handle things?

It’s ok to have such adventures, they’ll just be hard! In general, the harder it is to go back to town, the more difficult the adventure. But that holds less weight in an adventure with fewer areas/problems, as the characters should finish things up before they start getting really ground down.

As a gauge, the example adventure in the book, Under the House of the Three Squires, is actually very difficult. Most groups that playtested it took three or four sessions to get through it and they were pretty haggard by the end.

I wonder if any of Jim Raggi’s LotFP adventures would be any good? His stuff looks rock hard anyway. In Torchbearer I imagine it’d be overkill.

Running modules with this is quite tempting due to the increase in mileage, so to speak. I often find groups blowing through these things in 1-2 sessions in other games due to the nature of the rules. It seems like the “Against the Slave Lords” could be an entire campaign arc (~20 sessions or so), which is great.

As far as LotFP goes, yes, it may be overkill. Those are already pretty brutal.

I think Tower of the Stargazer could actually play pretty well without much modification! Death Frost Doom is cool, though it would get really hairy once folks awaken the dead. When I ran DFD in LotFP, the players really enjoyed it at first, but got pretty bored of the repetitive nature of the catacombs in a hurry. It became a tedious mapping exercise. I’d be tempted to cut all the sub-level crypts.

One thing I’ve started doing for my players in other games is being the map maker while being the GM. It’s up to them to embellish the details, but in terms of providing the basic layout, I’m happy to scribble those down since I know it anyway.

I’m wondering if you could somehow tie their cartography rolls into this. IE, if they outright fail they get no map or the one you draw is wrong. I can definitely see doing things like taking the map away should all of their light sources disappear. Might be too much work though.

Either way, for larger dungeons, DMs should always be the mapper IMO.

Mapping works differently in Torchbearer, so that’s not really an issue. When it comes to D&D though, I disagree. In basic D&D anyway, mapping is the core activity of the game IMO.

I would agree with that, but I just find most players can’t be bothered. Given the option between the torture of mapping or just running blind they’d rather just play something else. This of course, reflects my group(s) more than anything.

That’s fair. We definitely found that some players in our group enjoyed the process more than others. We had an interesting procedure though: We had one caller and two mappers (out of six or so players). The positions rotated, so you were caller one out of every six sessions, etc. That sometimes made our maps…interesting.

One thought I have on some larger dungeons is to simplify them. If there are large numbers of goblin caverns, just make that one area in Torch Bearer. You can decide what effect if any the original map’s having multiple locations is (could be something the players could take tactical advantage of like the chimney in the sample dungeon), and certainly an inspiration for a twist.


Yeah, it’s been my sense that areas in Torchbearer are meant to be more than the standard 10’x10’ room anyway. In fact, I want to put an area into a cave system that’s called “A Maze of Tunnels” or some such–just a bunch of confusing tunnels branching all over the place and make it really easy to get lost. It’s not a single tunnel.