Sea Change: The New (Old?) and (Hopefully) Improved Keep on the Borderlands

We haven’t actually played my Keep on the Borderlands campaign for a few weeks now, but I have high hopes for next weekend. Of course I have high hopes every weekend though, so we shall see. When we do finally get together again, I have some big changes in mind.

When I started running this game, I wanted to use the 3.5 rules because I was intrigued by the E6 rules and wanted to give them a try. I decided to run Keep on the Borderlands because all of my players are new to the game and I’m just nostalgic like that I guess. But ever since I began this endeavor, I’ve felt a lot like I was pounding the proverbial square peg into a round hole. The next time we play, I’m going to try and pound a hexagon into a round hole instead.

I’ve decided that before the next session I’m going to sit down with my players and convert their characters over to Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea characters. For those of you who don’t know, AS&SH is a reto-clone that is basically a streamlined hybrid of B/X and 1st Edition rules. The only real hurdle here is that, as written, AS&SH is a human-centric system, and I haven’t decided whether I should house rule demi-humans into the mix or inform the dwarf and halfling in my party that they are about to undergo an abrupt species change. Another option might be to let them roll up new characters. We’ll see what happens.

In my mind, the benefits of switching systems will outweigh the demi-human problem. If I decide to ditch demi-humans all together I don’t see it affecting The Keep on the Borderlands or my future plans in any meaningful way. As for the upside, I will be able to stop awkwardly flipping back and forth between the module and my conversion notes and just run the adventure straight from the page. Also, I plan on dovetailing this module with The Temple of Elemental Evil and I really wasn’t looking forward to overhauling that monster to make it 3.5 compatible.

On another note, the AS&SH rules just feel like they should be used for the type of dungeon crawling that we are doing. The rules are closer in spirit to the ones that shaped The Keep on the Borderlands, and I feel like this will have a positive impact in-game. Of course, this may be an unmitigated disaster that shatters what little verisimilitude has been established thus far, irrevocably destroying my entire campaign and leaving my players even more confused about the rules.

We’ll see what happens.

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