Level Up (A5E) Xethreau's Unofficial A5e Backward Compatibility Guide

Xethreau

Josh Gentry - Author, Minister in Training
This is a guide for porting in O5e rules and characters for use with A5e.

When we talk about Level Up: Advanced Fifth Edition (A5e) and "compatibility" with original Fifth Edition (O5e), there has been a considerable amount of confusion. What is advertised about A5e is that it is "fully backward compatible," which means something very specific. That means O5e material can be ported into the A5e ruleset, and that characters built using O5e rules can be grandfathered in alongside the rest of the party. It also means that the vast amount of O5e material (adventures, monsters, spells, magic items) can be used with A5e with no conversion whatsoever.

(The opposite process—-accomodating the A5e rule for use with O5e—is not the topic of this guide or this thread.)

This guide will be divided into two major sections: Player-Facing Content and Narrator-Facing Content. (Narrator-Facing is coming soon!) Most of this advice should provide most folks with all they need to know about porting in O5e material for use with A5e. For the rest, I will update this guide periodically, with the goal of eventually adding specific conversion/accommodation advice.

If you have conversion requests or feedback on this guide, please feel free to comment!

Player-Facing Content

  • Race. A5e splits race into Heritage and Culture. Thus, what O5e calls a race might cover both categories or just one. There are two main options on how to deploy this content. In either case, the O5e race is not eligible for any "heritage gifts" because that is a mechanic for A5e heritages. If you want a Paragon Gift upon reaching level 10 like the A5e heritages, you will need to brew it yourself with Narrator approval.
    • Option 1: Race in place of Heritage. Certain races (including newer content post-Tasha's) such as the harengon race and others only fill the design space of Heritage; in this case, use the race in place of heritage, do not provide the ASI or Language per the race entry, and obtain an A5e culture and background with full benefits.
    • Option 2: Race in place of Heritage and Culture. Older content (PHB, Eberron, etc,) tends to fill the design space of both Heritage and Culture, so use that Race as a replacement to both; because this race provides ability score increases, also ignore the ability score increases provided by your A5e background.
  • Background. O5e Backgrounds require nearly no conversion for use with A5e. If otherwise using a5e origin options, just a +1 to two different ability scores. Also, choose a contact and an heirloom (these might even be suggested in the O5e personality trait section).
  • Full O5e origins. Using a race and background from O5e is balanced against the A5e heritage + culture + background. Just add a Destiny.

  • New Classes. A new character class can be used with A5e as-is. Just keep in mind the difference between "starting equipment" (O5e) and "starting gold" (a5e).
  • Old Classes. O5e classes have parity in combat with a5e classes, which means O5e classes are viable at the same game table. Just don't multiclass between two versions of the same class (for example herald/paladin or warlock/warlock).
  • Archetypes.O5e archetypes are designed to generally fit right in for use with the A5e version of the class. For example, if there is a Divine Domain you want to use, you can use it as your archetype for your A5e cleric. Some archetypes specifically tailored to O5e versions of the classes need some accommodation.
    • Adept (Monk). Abilities fueled by ki use exertion instead.
    • Druid. Features that spend Wild Shape should be re-evaluated since Wild Shape is now a daily resource. For example, the Circle of Spores druid's Symbiotic Entity spends a Wild Shape uses and lasts for 10 minutes. Work with your Narrator to find an appropriate way to rebalance this feature, such as increasing its duration to 30 mins.
    • Fighter. A5e fighters don't have Action Surge. Archetype features based on "When you use Action Surge" should instead be "Once between rests when you use a combat maneuver. At 17th level, this improves to twice between rests."
    • Ranger. See spellcasting sidebar

  • Equipment. Adventuring gear besides weapons and armor can be used in A5e as-is.
  • Weapons & Armor. A character using O5e versions of weapons and armor should be considered to have a special "O5e rules bubble" surrounding them since some of the weapons work in fundamentally different ways and have fundamentally different interactions. Most other new weapons and armor besides those in the PHB can be imported as-is. Keep in mind that the "light" weapon property has been changed to "dual-wielding" but it means much the same thing.
  • Spells. Most spells are a5e compatible outright, although specific rules interaction differences may apply. Most of these differences can be solved by translating terms (exhaustion to fatigue, etc.).
  • Feats. Most feats are a5e compatible outright, although specific rules interaction differences may apply. As with the weapons and armor, some of these may require an "O5e rules bubble" around that character.
  • Magic Items. Most magic items are a5e compatible outright. It may be desired to give these items a gold price and/or crafting components.

Narrator-Facing Content
  • Coming Soon!
 
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Kinematics

Adventurer
In either case, the A5e race is not eligible for any "heritage gifts" because that is a mechanic for A5e heritages.
I think the first A5e is supposed to be O5e?
Just keep in mind the difference between "starting equipment" (O5e) and "starting gold" (a5e).
a5e -> A5e
Most spells are a5e compatible outright, although specific rules interaction differences may apply.
a5e -> A5e
Most feats are a5e compatible outright, although specific rules interaction differences may apply.
a5e -> A5e
Most magic items are a5e compatible outright.
a5e -> A5e
 


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