The Snake’s Heart and 5e

This weekend I had an opportunity to possibly run The Snake’s Heart for my home gaming group as a D&D 5e session. Though I have played 5e two or three times (with my kids and some friends of the family), it’s been a while. This gave me an opportunity to dust off the Player’s Handbook, Monster Manual, and Dungeon Master’s Guide.

dmg-5e-coverArmed with these weapons of choice, I took the OSR (Swords & Wizardry White Box) stats in the adventure and honestly had no idea where to start. Even back when I was GMing regularly, translating stats from one system to another was something I hardly ever did.

So I took a different tack. I took the easy road.

The MM offers ready-made stat blocks for quite a few NPC types at the back. I quickly found guards, bandits, priests, and cultists I could change slightly – a different AC here, a different weapon there, and voila… stat blocks.

What I quickly grew annoyed with was the index. I had to find a snake – a giant snake to be specific – and it didn’t show up in the index anywhere. Flipping through I eventually found an entire section filled with regular animals and abnormal ones (i.e. snake vs. giant snake) that I could use to my advantage. But none of them showed up in the index. Go figure.

Within about an hour, I had a few pages of notes ready to go despite the index snafu.

Unfortunately, gaming didn’t happen that night. Fortunately, I’ve been discussing running these adventures with another group in smaller sessions – plus I chatted with the owner at my FLGS while I was there for International TableTop Day about potentially bringing them in for some playtests over the summer. These stats will be used. Eventually.

But while I’m talking about this, let’s look at a very simple example – the Bandits in the very first encounter. (Spoilers: There are bandits in this adventure! haha)

On page 343 of the Monster Manual, there just happens to be a “Bandit” listed. Go figure! (It’s also listed in the Hoard of the Dragon Queen Online Supplement on page 6 available at Wizards of the Coast’s site. You can grab the PDF here unless they change the link.)

Bandits in my encounter are a little different in that they use a long sword and a long bow instead of a scimitar and a light crossbow.

So I changed the “Actions” slightly to be:

  • Long Sword, Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d8 + 1) slashing damage. (Versatile – use 2 hands for 1d10+1 (6) slashing damage.)
  • Longbow, Ranged Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, range 150/600 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d8 + 1) piercing damage.

And that was it. It’s awesome when you have pre-generated stats for some basic monster/combatant types . It simplified my life greatly.

I’m sure there are more complicated ways to pull this transition off, but this was the simplest.

The only other thing I had to do was transition a few of the skill checks over to 5e terms. For instance, at one point a “Hide in Shadows” check is listed in the adventure text. This simply becomes:

  • Hide check (PHB p. 192) – Make a Dexterity (Stealth) check in an attempt to Hide. The opponents then can use their Passive Perception scores if they’re not actively patrolling, or actual Perception checks if they are.

At another point, the PCs have to pick a lock with a difficult DC.

  • Pick Locks (PHB p. 177) – Make  Dexterity (Stealth) check in an attempt to pick the lock. This is a hard lock to crack with a DC of 20 (DMG p 238).

Not too hard. Pretty similar to 4e and not far off what I would have done back in “the day” playing AD&D in junior high school.

So I guess we’re in good shape here. I like it when a plan comes together. Even if it wasn’t for THIS weekend, I’ll use it eventually. 🙂

(Interested in picking up a copy of The Snake’s Heart – A Lost Age Adventure? Check out the bottom of this page for links to where it’s currently available!)

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