Running Caves of Chaos using Packet 2

So are we supposed to run Caves of Chaos as-is, but replace all the monsters with the new ones in the Bestiary? I can see a party facing 40 kobolds. But facing 30 Orcs is now a big difference right?

They made some big changes. Mainly, Orcs, Bugbears, Hobgoblins, and Gnolls all got a huge level up and do more damage. It seems to me those guys aren't meant to be used in groups of 30 anymore, like in Packet 1.

It seems like the original grand total of XP points for the entire Caves of Chaos by my calculations was 45,590XP. If you divide this by 5, it means an individual player could earn a total of 9,118. They'd be level 3 and on their way to level 4.

original packet   
2000    XP got you to 2nd level
6000    XP got you to 3rd level
14000    XP to get to 4th level (estimated)

new packet
650    XP gets you to 2nd level
1825    XP gets you to 3rd level
3525    XP gets you to 4th level
7975    XP gets you to 5th level
17935    XP to get to 6th level (estimated)


If you replace every kobold or goblin, the XP total for each of their caves comes out almost exactly the same. When you get to the Orcs, what was once a total for Orc Cave B of 5,425, becomes 19,530. 19,530 is way too high for a day's target, if you divide it out by five: 3,906 XP, that cave alone would level people up to level 3.
It seems to me, it might make sense to leave all the numbers the same, except for those rooms with over 10 monsters. Like the room with 30 orcs, or 16 Gnolls. Either halve them, or cut those rooms by a third. Of course, one would not do this for kobolds and goblins.

I could also see an easy fix would be to cut the number of all Orcs, Hobgoblins, Gnoll, Bugbear, Skeletons, and Zombies all in half. It all comes down to the question: is each cave meant to be its own "day" according to the DM Guidelines of what a party can handle in a day. Or do two caves add up to one day.

I can also see not changing any of the numbers at all. Now the bugbear caves are meant to be a level 6 challenge, when before they were meant to be level 3. The players just have to deal with it and be careful, since now they can level up to 5. The players start level 1 with fewer Hit Points, but at level 4 and 5 they have more Hit Points than 3rd level players could get in Packet 1.

Could a level 3 group could handle 9 hobgoblins? Can a level 4 group could handle 10 bugbears? Can a level 5 group handle 7 Gnolls and their leader? We'll only know by trying.
I don't know really, the 30 Orcs in one room mightn't be intended to be used as a block encounter, but rather have the Orcs do various things throughout the day using those numbers. Such as controlling the terriorty outside the cave, using it to raid other clans and so fourth. In my version, I am likely going to have them attempt to captalise on the adventurers victory, which in turn draws more Orcs to the area as they attempt to establish a bastion in this area of land.

For example, the Goblins were recently wiped out, Orge included, so assuming nothing else radically changes, there will probably be a sortee by about 12 plus the leader to either claim the cave (possibly creating a situation where the PC's have to fight their way out and perhaps have a minor antagonist.) or on the Hobgoblin caves to try and wipe out one of the major rivals in the area/take hostages/slaves for food. If anything, I just feel like it is a bit of leeway to have them populate the sarrounding area. Primative fortifications around the cave to make it look big and bold to it's Gnoll and Dark Cultist rivals.

That being said, best way to find out would be to just put them through it and exercise cerution. Perhaps run the party through yourself breifly to determine whether they can hold their own in that kind of fight.
I broke out the original Keep on the Borderlands which had the Caves of Chaos. I never noticed before, but the number of monsters in each cave of the Playtest is exactly equal to the original module. That gives me a clue that I am wasting my time trying to recalculate or adjust the number of monsters. When I run it, I will not make any adjustment to the number of monsters.


There's several types of games: there's the type of game that only allows you to go to areas where you can handle every threat, there's the type of game that adjusts each threat up or down to your level. Then there's the type of game where the land is a dangerous place and it doesn't scale or change, there is a dragon over yonder in the cave and it will destroy you at level 1, there is a medusa over in that valley, if you go there as a wipper-snapper you will become the newest statue in her garden. If you experience a threat that is too strong, it is best to flee, then return later when you are stronger, or think up a different way to handle it, such as causing an avalanche. It seems Caves of Chaos is the that last type.

A fireball is going to take out a huge mass of orcs given that they are in the same room. It makes little difference if there are 20 vs 40.

It means they gave barely any thought to so called "balanced" encounters in the 4E sense. The whole adventure is using Gygax's old method of "There's danger out there, even a mass of monsters strong enough to kill you, it's up to the players to figure out how to manage and overcome the danger, by any means necessary". It works in a site-based adventure. Not so much in a linear story-driven adventure.

I wonder how Gygax made adventures. Was he like a chef grabbing handfuls of this, pinches of that, when it came to monsters. Or did he use some sort of XP total or Hit Dice total for each cave? Maybe there is some limit such as "No more than a total Hit Dice of 30 in a single cave"
Reading packet 2, I was bothered by the seemingly low experience needed to level up.  But maybe this is just so playtest characters quickly advance and get to try the higher levels soon, ideal for playtest.  Perhaps the experience required will be more in the finished produce/later playtests?
Regarding the large numbers of monsters in CoC, i use them as wanderers, or out of the caves hunting/raiding or whatever.  Then they can repopulate cleared areas if desired.
It means they gave barely any thought to so called "balanced" encounters in the 4E sense. The whole adventure is using Gygax's old method of "There's danger out there, even a mass of monsters strong enough to kill you, it's up to the players to figure out how to manage and overcome the danger, by any means necessary". It works in a site-based adventure. Not so much in a linear story-driven adventure.

And thus we get the fifteen minute adventuring day.

That having been said, most of the early modules I remember were site-based instead of plot-based. You could run the Desert of Desolation series as a bunch of discrete dungeon crawls with no real attention to the final plot, and it'd work fairly well. B1 was just an empty site, which the DM had to populate with monsters and treasures. Same with the Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun, Expedition to the Barrier Peaks, and Lost Caverns of Tsjocanth; the plot only existed to get the PCs into the dungeon.

I wonder how Gygax made adventures. Was he like a chef grabbing handfuls of this, pinches of that, when it came to monsters. Or did he use some sort of XP total or Hit Dice total for each cave? Maybe there is some limit such as "No more than a total Hit Dice of 30 in a single cave"

I think it was more a case of "There's danger in them thar caves!" and a few guidelines about how the monsters in various caves would defend each other or not.
Yeah, I kind of like the non-linear approach to the world that Next seems to be bringing back, but it will certainly be an adjustment process for my players coming off of 4E where everything was tightly controlled.

Like Cousen and others, those chambers with "up to x" number of creatures I pared down by having a good chunk of them out doing various tasks for the clan (raiding, food gathering, patrolling, whatever).  It made those encounters a little more bearable.

Again, though, part of the process is just allowing players to come to the realization that not every battle is there to be won at their level.  If they come across some information that says there's a Hydra in that fog shrouded valley, it should be a warning against going there, not inspiration to try to get some big loot.
After a brief look at the exp scheme for leveling, I would guess you can play from 1- 3 level through the whole module with the first packet and go all the way 1-5 with packet 2.  We started with packet 1 and moving into 2 level with packet 2.  I'm going to run the module as is, using the new stats for the monsters from packet 2.  I'll let everyone know how it goes in my "The DnD next Experience on Maui"
Sign In to post comments