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D&D 3E/3.5 Attempt at Conversion doc to convert 3.5 edition and Pathfinder monsters to D&D Next - on the fly

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Converting Pathfinder or 3.5 Monsters to D&D Next on the fly.

Introduction. 1
Step 1: Subtract CR from AC. 1
Step 2: Attack bonus for all attacks is CR/2+2. 1
Step 3: Leave Damage as is. Leave Multiattacks at full attack bonus from Step 2. 2
Step 4: Save DC; take the listed monster ability DC, halve the part above 10, and add it back to 10. 2
Step 5: Hit Points, leave as is. 2
Step 6: Ability Stat Scores, STR,DEX, etc, (you don’t need them, see Step 7). 2
Step 7: For monster Saving Throws, and Ability Checks, use the Fort/Ref/Will save bonuses divided by two. 2
Step 8: For skills use half the Fort/Ref/Will save bonus as the base ability, add +5 for being trained. 3
Step 9: Initiative bonus, leave as is. 3
Step 10: Last remaining bits. 3
Experience Points. 4

[h=1]Introduction[/h]So this isn’t perfect, but it should get you very close to being able to use any Pathfinder or 3.5 monsters in D&D Next. It should even allow you to run a 3.5 or Pathfinder adventure on the fly, including NPC’s. This document tries to keep it to a very small amount of adjustments, which you can mentally do and pencil in. For all the calculations in here; round down.
I went and got the entire database of Pathfinder monsters from the web. I grouped them by Challenge Rating and calculated Median Hit Points, Median Damage, Median AC etc. When doing that, you will arrive at exactly the table replicated here http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/monsters/monsterCreation.html
You should be able to go to www.d20srd.org or www.d20pfsrd.com and get monsters. You can try on your own by downloading the raw data of all of Pathfinder’s monsters here: http://www.d20pfsrd.com/bestiary/monster-filter
[h=2]Step 1: Subtract CR from AC[/h]Subtract the CR (Challenge Rating) from the Armor Class to get the D&D Next appropriate AC.
For example: An “Iron Golem” has an AC of 30 and a Challenge Rating of 13. Its D&D Next AC should be 30-13 = AC:17
Note: Pathfinder has an Iron Golem’s AC as 28, while the 3.5 system has the AC at 30.
[h=2]Step 2: Attack bonus for all attacks is CR/2+3[/h]To figure out a monster’s Attack Bonus for melee and ranged attacks vs AC. Cut the Challenge Rating in half and add 3 to that number. Usually you should round down, but if the monster has an extremely high Strength score you may want to round up or even add 1.
For example: A CR:7 Flesh Golem should have a melee attack that is +6 vs AC. That’s half of 7(rounded down) +3.
[h=2]Step 3: Keep Damage as is. Make Multiattacks at full attack bonus from Step 2.[/h]Leave the damage just as listed on the stat block. If a monster gets multiple attacks with declining attack bonuses, keep them all at the same Attack Bonus calculated in Step 2 above, with the damage as listed.
For example: The Challenge Rating:20 Balor attack line says:
+1 vorpal unholy longsword +31/+26/+21/+16 (2d6+13),
+1 vorpal flaming whip +30/+25/+20 (1d4+7 plus 1d6 fire and entangle)
This would be 4 longsword attacks at +13 vs AC for 2d6+13 damage each, plus 3 attacks with the flaming whip at +13 vs AC for 1d4+7+1d6 damage. That’s an average damage of 119 per round.
That’s a good target for a CR:20 D&D Next creature. You’ll notice it’s a little higher than the Balor in the D&D Next Bestiary, but that’s because this is CR:20 and the Bestiary has the Balor at Level 16. We aren’t making level adjustments. If you are converting a Pathfinder adventure that calls for a DC:20 Balor, we want to make sure it stays as challenging as the adventure calls for, not how D&D Next thinks it should be in the Pantheon.
Allow monsters to keep their extended Crit Ranges, but make critical hits do max damage for monsters instead of double. Don’t roll to confirm critical hits, assume they always confirm.
If you want to double the damage, and make fewer attacks, feel free to do so. For instance you could make 2 longsword attacks, each for double damage. It’s tough to do that if you have a monster that makes an odd number of attacks.
[h=2]Step 4: Save DC’s; take the listed monster ability DC, halve the part above 10, and add it back to 10.[/h]To figure out what the characters need to roll to make a saving throw against something the monster does to them; Take the Save DC’s of monster attacks or trap that is listed, subtract 10 from it, divide that number in half, and add it back to 10. For example: An Adult Silver Dragon has a breath weapon that requires a DC:23 saving throw. Take 23-10 = 13. Divide the 13 in half to become 6, and add that back to 10, so the saving throw DC becomes 16.
[h=2]Step 5: Hit Points, leave as is.[/h]Note: Yes, these monsters will have more HP than the ones in the Bestiary. A major complaint I’ve been seeing on the forums is monsters die too easily. If you graph damage output of the players for D&D Next side by side with Pathfinder it is spot on at higher levels.
I also checked for differences in Hit Points between the 3.5srd and d20srd, and surprisingly the Medians for HP are all the same! Pathfinder only shifted things, like increasing Outsiders to a d10 Hit Die from a d8, but they reduced Ooze Hit Die down to d8 from d10. All the adjustments must have been in parallel. For every Hit Die size Pathfinder increased over 3.5srd, they must have decreased another one.
[h=2]Step 6: Ability Stat Scores, STR,DEX, etc, (you don’t need them, see Step 7)[/h]If you use half the Fort, Ref, Will save bonuses for everything it will save a LOT of calculation.
[h=2]Step 7: For monster Saving Throws, and Ability Checks, use the Fort/Ref/Will save bonuses divided by two.[/h]
For example: A CR:6 Girallon has Fort+9, Ref+8, Will+5. If it has to make a DEX saving throw it would get half the Ref save of +4. If it had to make a STR check to escape being grabbed, it would use half the Fort save of +4.​
Even if D&D Next calls for STR or a CON save, you can use half the listed Fortitude save bonus for both. If the creature has a negative save, don’t divide it in two, leave it as a negative.
You may think this cheats the players a bit. If you start to dig you’ll notice a few things.
  • There are no spells that call for an INT saving throw.
  • It’s also extremely rare for a monster to ever need to make an INT check.
  • Anything that calls for DEX saving throw, simply use half the listed Reflex save bonus.
  • There are no spells that call for a STR saving throw. STR usually only comes into play when grappling, escaping, disarming or other maneuvers. Usually STR and CON are either both high or both low, so it’s ok to use half the Fortitude save bonus for both, even resisting maneuvers or escaping. There are very rare cases of extremely low STR combined with high CON; those are all incorporeal, swarms, or formless creatures and players won’t be disarming or grappling with them anyway.
  • There are only a tiny handful of spells that require a Charisma saving throw. These are mostly charm spells, or banishing spells. I think it's ok to lump Charisma and Wisdom saves together into Will save.
  • Also use half the Will save bonus to detect hidden creatures, to detect lies etc.
[h=2]Step 8: For skills, use half the Fort/Ref/Will save bonus as the base ability, add +5 for being trained.[/h]If a monster needs to use a skill, simply use half the relevant Fort, Ref, or Will save as the base ability modifier, and if the monster has the skill listed in their stat block give them a +5 for being trained. For example: A Cloaker has Fort+6, Ref+5, Will+7 and has the skills listed of Disguise, Perception, Stealth. If it needs to make a Disguise Check, use half the Will save bonus of +7/2=+3 and add +5 for being trained. So a total of 3+5 = +8 for Disguise checks.
[h=2]Step 9: Initiative bonus, leave as is.[/h]Most of the initiative bonuses are very small in Pathfinder, the ones that aren’t are usually because the monster has the Improved Initiative feat. This is normally because going first is important to the monster and helps define how the monster plays.
[h=2]Step 10: Last remaining bits, try to keep things feeling like D&D Next.[/h]

  • Monsters that can Sneak Attack, can get Advantage if any of their allies is adjacent to the target, and then give up the Advantage to take a Sneak Attack (just like a Rogue). They also have Advantage on anyone they beat in Initiative, and when hidden, target is prone, etc.
  • Depending on your knowledge of feats, you could allow monsters with Spring Attack to be able to move 10 ft. without provoking an opportunity attack. You should give out other general feat abilities like that, but don’t worry about feats too much, ignore most of them.
  • Level Drain: -5 to max HP, -1 to all d20 rolls, -1 to Spell DC's
  • Ability Damage:Keep the same dice (i.e. a Shadow does 1d6 STR damage) Each number gets translated straight to the below. 1d6 hours duration.
    STR dmg: penalty to damage rolls - skill checks/Saves
    CON dmg: penalty to max HP - skill checks/Saves
    DEX dmg: penalty to AC, and skill checks/Saves
    INT dmg: penalty to Spell DCs skill checks/Saves
    WIS dmg: penalty to Spell DCs and Skill Checks/Saves
    CHA dmg: penalty to Spell DCs and Skill Checks/Saves
  • For any paralyze/stun/frighten effect a player can make a saving throw if they spend an Action to do so.
  • If a creature has Magic Resistance, simply let them roll twice on all Saving Throws vs. Spells.
  • If a creature has Damage Reduction, simply let them take half damage from that source: “Resistance” as it’s called in D&D Next terms.
  • Any duration’s that are listed in 1d4+3 rounds or some such, simply change to 1 minute. Also, give all players and monster the ability to get another Saving Throw if they spend an Action to do so.
  • Breath Weapon, says it recharges every 1d4 rounds, simply roll a d6 every round and recharge on 5 or a 6, the same as 4th edition recharges.
  • Any Petrify, is restrained for the first round, and if they don’t spend an Action to save against, it becomes Petrified.
  • Any “Save-or-Die” simply does Caster Level*d8 in damage, save for half.
  • Any Charmed or Dominated person gets another saving throw if they take any damage, or if they are forced to do something that would cause themselves harm.
  • Most Poison you can change into flat damage, instead of Ability Damage.
  • Any damage to equipment, such as Black Pudding damaging armor and weapons, simply stack -1 penalties to damage or AC.
  • grab = whenever you see an attack that "grabs" the target must make a DC of (1/2 monster's Fort save) STR check or become "grabbed". The monster would get Advantage on all future attacks vs that target. The grabbed target must spend an Action to make STR or DEX check to escape.
  • If a creature has “constrict” then they immediately do that extra damage listed when the grab succeeds. They also get to automatically inflict the constrict damage every round when they act.
  • rend = if both hit, do an extra X damage (it’s listed)
  • trip = simply make a quick opposed STR or DEX check, player’s choice, or be knocked prone.
  • pounce = as an Action the creature can move its speed and make a full attack. This means they can Move, and then spend an Action to Move and Attack, essentially double moving (like a charge).
  • rake = consider this free automatic damage that happens to grabbed foes at the start of creatures turn.
  • Try your best on spells, some work just the same.

[h=1]Encounter Building Guidelines – (Challenge Ratings)[/h]In older editions of D&D (before 4E) a “standard” encounter was targeted to be 50% of the party’s strength. If you had a party of six players with a total of 18 class levels between them all, a standard encounter would be around 9 total Hit Dice of monsters. A “Tough” encounter could be 100% of the party’s strength, and a super-duper hard could even be up to 200%. (Source: Frank Mentzer Dragon#101)
The following is Speculation: ----What they did with Challenge Rating is say: a monster with this “Challenge Rating” is a “standard” difficulty encounter for a party of 4 players of a level equal to that Challenge Rating. Remember, “standard” difficulty means: 50% of the strength of 4 players. What does that tell you? That means that a monster of a given Challenge Rating is roughly equal to 2 players. I should say that again, because if it’s true, it makes thinking of creating encounters very easy! A monster of a given Challenge Rating is roughly equal to 2 players.
Pick any single monster of a Challenge Rating, and it is equal to 50% of the strength of 4 players of that level. It will have the Hit Points and damage output of 2 players. So this was my “Eureka” moment. Say you want to figure out what the damage output and HP of a single player is expected to be. If you divide the HP and damage output of a monster in half, you will get the average expected damage and hit points of a single character of the level equal to its Challenge Rating. Don’t assume Fighter is the baseline; Fighters have immense advantages to damage and HP. These numbers are meant to be the average of the party where Fighters do a lot of damage, Cleric’s swing their 1d8 mace, Thieves don’t get Dex bonus to damage, wizards do 1d6+0 most rounds. Also, these numbers represent the average ho-hum party, not the super optimized, all 18’s in their primary stats, type party.
One more Challenge Rating fact to remember: if you ever combine 2 monsters of the same Challenge Rating, the Challenge Rating of the entire encounter becomes 2 higher. Combining 2 monsters of 50% difficulty creates an encounter of 100% difficulty. Therefore if you ever see a Challenge Rating 2 higher, it means this encounter is 100% of the strength of the party.

[h=2]Experience Points (using packet 10/14/13)[/h]This assumes what they call a Standard encounter is 50% of the party’s strength, and a Tough Encounter is 100% of the party’s strength and that Challenge Rating is roughly 2 lower than the equivalent D&D Next Level.
Challenge RatingD&D Next XP

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the Jester

Just at a first glance, I'd say you absolutely do need ability scores for the monsters. What if I want to, for example, engage in a debate with a sphinx (Intelligence or Charisma contest)? What if I want to arm wrestle a rastapede (opposed Str contest)?

Also, your can easily formulae generate attack boni that are way too high at high levels. A CR 14 monster will be at +10 to hit- that's better than most anything in the playtest material. A monster with a breath weapon that requires a DC 30 save comes out at DC 20 by your system- again, that seems too high to me.

Anyway, I think you're off to a good start despite my criticism. :)

I am trying to offer something that can be used on the fly. Those corner cases of debating with Sphinx's and arm wrestling, would be sort of rare. It seems like a DM could make up the DC's for those on the spot. If you use half the Saving Throw bonuses, you get very close to the majority of what you would need, Will to resist being lied to and detect hidden things, Fort to resist being pushed around, Ref to avoid fireballs etc.

For the saving throw DCs:
Pathfinder and 3.5 contain some extreme numbers, like a DC:30 save for a 25 Hit Die Red Dragon's Breath (that's one of the highest ratio of DC to Challenge Rating there is). By making adjustments to those extreme numbers, some of the extremeness will remain in.
An alternative would be to create a table of numbers, but looking up numbers in a table would be more work than the quick on the fly adjustments listed above.
Also, that Red Dragon is CR:19, which would probably translate into a Level 21 D&D Next creature, higher than Asmodeus, and Asmodeus has DC:20 on his spells.

On Attack Bonuses:
A different way you could adjust attack bonuses vs. AC would be to simply take the highest attack bonus listed on the monster stat block and subtract the Challenge Rating from it. The problem is Pathfinder has huge ranges of attack bonuses. A CR:9 creature can vary from +21 for an Air Elemental to +10 for a Spirit Naga. Also that gives the low level monsters very low attack scores, the first playtesters complained when kobolds had a +1 to hit.

I recently found out the DC's of Dragons are purposely printed as too low, so that when faced they seem extremely strong for the DC target picked. So when a DM picks a DC 14 dragon to face the party, they are going to feel ultra beat up like it was a DC 16 Dragon.
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Great stuff! Thanks for sharing. Will have to bookmark it for future reference.

Anyone know if anything similar exists for converting 4e monsters to Next?

Yeah I have tested this a bunch. It works great, but... What I noticed is that how much in D&D Next; Hit Points and Damage Output are the two biggest defining characteristics of difficulty.

Long Story Short, if you wanted something to be a threat in Pathfinder(3.5) you could choose something 2 Challenge Ratings Higher, because it has higher defenses, higher HP, higher damage output, and higher hit chances. In D&D Next, to make something that same threat, since you are flattening all that to-hit and defenses, what you have to do is increase HP and Damage even more.

So if you are making your own adventure in D&D Next, to choose a boss/solo, it's got to be 4 to 5 levels higher than the party.

If you are translating an existing Pathfinder adventure, and the boss is just 2 CR higher, it's not going to have enough HP and Damage to be a threat. You've got to double or triple its HP, and damage output to keep it a threat.

[My quick fix, until they come up with "Solo" rules: This is extremely basic: is to double the HP, and then since the players have lots of ways to impose Disadvantage on a single attack, it's almost always better to let the boss make more attacks instead of increasing the damage of each of its attacks. Double the number of attacks it can make.] A Solo is also vulnerable to action-denial type spells such as Stinking Cloud, Cause Fear, Command etc. Plus a lot of those spells allow you to take an Action to save against them. So in my opinion you've got to also give the solo more actions as well, not just more attacks. So like that Legendary Black Dragon Mike Mearls made, I think you've got to give out at least 4 Action Points to the solo also.

If you imagine a Pathfinder(3.5) monster. If you increase the Challenge Rating, you are increasing 4 levers of difficulty.

  • Its defenses (AC and Saving Throws)
  • its Hit Points
  • its Damage Output
  • its "to-hit" chance

A +1 "to-hit" actually just translates into 10% more damage. (You hit 50% of time, increase to 55%, that is 10% increase)
A +1 to defenses, just translates into the monster being able to take 10% more damage.

So when you increase all 4 levers by

  • Its defenses +1 (AC and Saving Throws) = 10% more difficult
  • its Hit Points by 10%-15%
  • its Damage Output by 10%-20%
  • its "to-hit" chance +1 = 10% more difficult
The grand total is 50% more difficulty, for a 1 Challenge Rating Increase.

Do that twice and you get a 100% increase in difficulty.

In D&D Next you are not usually increasing "to-hit" or AC, so you have to increase HP and Damage by twice as much.
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I was just noticing that Constructs and Oozes all have ridiculously low saving throws. They specifically have lower ones than everything else. They also have no CON scores, so they get no bonuses to Fort. So if you try to use half of a Golem's Fort save as it's Strength or Constitution score, you'll have a number that's way too low.

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