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Creature Conversion Guide

Creature Conversion Guide

Version 2.3

by sowhereaminow (Brett C)

Over the past year I've been converting monsters and NPCs from the third and a half version of the world's most popular role playing game to the Pathfinder system.  I've run into a few nuggets of wisdom(?) which might be useful to anyone doing similar conversions.  This information, along with a few tidbits of advice, is presented in categories, starting with some general information, then specific creature type, and by class. 

This is a living document, so expect updates regularly.

I.  General

A.  Challenge Rating (CR)

1.  Creatures WITH racial hit dice:  

Racial HD and Levels Examples

Examples:  A fire giant is normally a CR 10. Giving him two fighter levels raises him to CR 12. A second fire giant receives two sorcerer levels, raising him to CR 11.  Finally, a third fire giant gains a whopping 15 levels of sorcerer.  The first ten sorcerer levels raise his CR by five (two levels for one CR) but the last five are one for one – giving him a final CR of 20!

Many such creatures will have the same CR level as they had in the past once they are fully converted.  However, adding class levels to a racial hit dice creature can get complicated. The monster creation rules in the Pathfinder Bestiary (Appendix 2, page 296) address this well.  In general, if a class adds directly to the power and capabilities of the racial HD monster (say a fire giant gaining two fighter levels), then each level adds one to the creature’s CR.  If the class doesn't add directly to the creature's strengths (a fire giant gaining two sorcerer levels), then every two levels adds one to the creature's CR, until the number of levels equals the creature's original CR.  At this point, the level to CR ratio becomes one to one.

2.   Creatures WITHOUT racial hit dice: 

CR and Class Levels

Example: A 10th level human enchanter in 3.5 was a CR 10. In Pathfinder, the same 10th level enchanter is only a CR 9!
In 3.5, such creatures had a CR equal to their class level.  In Pathfinder, creatures without racial hit dice but with class levels have a CR of their player class level minus 1, or minus 2 for the NPC classes (Adept, Aristocrat, Commoner, Expert, Warrior). Based in this, you may have to increase the class level of such creatures by one to keep the CR level the same as its original presentation.        

B.   Armor Class

1.   Medium and heavy armor have had their armor bonuses increased by one, so adjust regular and flat-foot AC accordingly.

2.   The Dodge feat now gives a constant dodge bonus to regular and touch AC.

C.  Hit Dice/Hit Points

1.   Favored class bonus: Creatures with class levels can gain a bonus hit point or skill point for each level of one of the classes they possess. Barring a few exceptions, hit points are probably the way to go.

2.  Maximum hit points at first level:  Creatures with levels in one of the 17 player classes (Fighter, Oracle, Wizard, etc.) gain maximum hit points for the first level of one class.  Creatures with NPC classes (adept, aristocrat, expert, commoner, and warrior) do NOT gain this bonus.

D.  Attacks

1.   Mixing weapons and natural attacks: If the creature with natural attacks is using weapons, it replaces attacks one for one (claw for sword). If the creature will still be using any natural attacks from a non-weapon wielding limb (say a bite or tail attack) any natural attacks used will have a -5 to hit and half strength modifier to damage.

2.   Natural attacks:

Teritiary Attack Example

Example:  A medium creature with a BAB of +10 and STR modifier of +5 has 2 claws (primary), a bite (secondary), and a tail slam (tertiary) as its attack routine.  Both the bite and 2 claws attacks would be made at +15 (+10 BAB, +5 STR) and would use the full +5 STR for damage.  The tail slap would be made at +10 (+10 BAB, +5 STR, -5 tertiary) and only use +2 from STR for damage.
Primary and secondary attacks are now made at full attack and strength bonuses.  Tertiary or subsequent attacks have a -5 to hit and only received half strength modifier for damage.         

E.   Spells and Spell-like Abilities

1.   When listing Caster Level (CL) and concentration, take a look at spells listed. If any of them are ranged touch or touch attacks, list that at the beginning as well. It's not part of the format requirements, but it's helpful.

F.   Tactics

1.   If you don't list a full set of tactics, at least list any spell effects that are already included in the creature's statistics such as mage armor, cat's grace, divine favor, etc.

G. Ability Scores

1. Creatures with racial hit dice only: In general, use the ability scores as listed in the prior edition. You can safely assume level bonuses to ability scores have been incorporated by the original author.

2. Creatures with racial hit dice and class levels:

a. If the base creature has been already converted to Pathfinder, use those ability scores. If not, use the ability score of the base unconverted creature.

b. Apply the elite array (+4,+4, +2, +2, +0, -2) to the starting ability scores, arranged to suit the creature's strengths. All racial HD creatures with class levels get this adjustment.

c. Apply adjustments from templates being applied, if any.

d. When you add class levels, increase one ability score by +1 as the total HD equals meets or exceeds a multiple of four. Ex. A 11 HD creature gains two fighter levels for a total of 13 HD. Increase one ability score by +1 because 12 HD was exceeded.

3. Creatures with class levels only: 

a. Use the NPC base statistics 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, and 8, arranged to suit the class(es).

b. Apply the elite array (+4,+4, +2, +2, +0, -2) to the starting ability scores, arranged to suit the class. Alternatively, use the elite NPC array (15, 14, 13, 12, 10, and 8).

c. Apply the creature's racial ability modifiers.

d. For every four full levels, increase one ability score by +1.

H.  Combat Maneuver Bonus and Defense (CMB/CMD)

1.   Grab: Creatures with a grab attack built into their attack routine gain a +4 to CMB checks made to grapple or maintain a grapple.

2.   Legless Creatures: Such as oozes and worm-like creatures, cannot be tripped.

3.   Three Legged (or more) Creatures: Gain a natural +2 to CMD versus trip attacks for each leg they have more than two. (Ex. Quadrepeds have a +4 bonus.)

I.  Feats

1.   Creatures in Pathfinder get feats every odd hit dice as opposed every three hit dice in the previous system.  See the attached chart.


HD    Feats
1        1
2        1
3        2
4        2
5        3
6        3
7        4
8        4
9        5
10      5
11      6
12      6
13      7
14      7
15      8
16      8
17      9
18      9
19    10
20    10
21    11
22    11
23    12
24    12
25    13
26    13
27    14
28    14
29    15
30    15
31    16
32    16
33    17
34    17
35    18
36    18
37    19
38    19
39    20
40    20

  See below for feat recommendations.

            a.   General Recommended:  Improved Initiative and Toughness. 

            b.   Large sized creature (or bigger) with a high strength:  Vital Strike chain or the new Critical Feats.

            c.  Primary Supernatural Attack (i.e. Mummy Rot):  Ability Focus

            d.   Spellcaster:  Combat Casting, Eschew Materials, Improved Spell Focus, Spell Focus

2.   Changed Feats:

            a.   Improved Trip (and other CMB feats) have been effectively divided into two feats as a matter of balance. You may need to add the Greater version of the feat to maintain the same functionality.

            b.   Multiattack is no longer useful for a creature with a simple bite and claw attack routine. This may free up another feat.

            c.   Skill Feats:  Now double their bonus when 10 ranks have been placed in the appropriate skill.

3.   Dead feats: Tracking is no longer a feat, opening up another slot. If you are still concerned about a creature's ability to track, add Skill Focus (survival) to his repertoire.

4.   Replacement feats:

            a.   Alertness should be replaced with Skill Focus (Perception).

J.    Skills

1.  Base Skill Points:  Skill points are no longer multiplied by 4 at first level.  Consequently, you will need to recalculate and distribute points fresh to your conversion for this lower total.  Try to keep skill ranks similar to their old ranks.  Keep in mind that class skills and cross-class skills are treated differently. (see below) 

2.  Class Skills:  Class skills (regardless of source or time gained) receive an automatic +3.  This is to replace the old multiplier at first level.  This bonus applies immediately when the skill becomes a class skill.

3.  Consolidated skills: Several skills have been merged into a single skill. Hide and Move Silently are now Stealth. Listen, Search, and Spot are now simply Perception.

4.  Cross Class Skills:  Now only cost one point per rank.  They are now capped at one per HD.

5.  Dead Skills: The Concentration skill has been removed from the game and replaced by a new mechanic. The Use Rope skill has suffered a similar fate.

6.  Extra Skill Points:  Due to skill consolidations and eliminations, some creatures may have additional skill points available for assignment.  In these cases, maximize the creatures' existing skills (one rank per hit die).  Thereafter, fill in the creatures other class skills by creature type or class.  Try to stay logical and true to the creature's description - just because an abberation has access to the Swim skill doesn't mean it should!  If the class or creature type skills don't seem to work, default extra points to Perception, Stealth, Climb, Survival, and Swim, keeping in mind the rank cap (one per HD).

7.  Fly:  Creatures that can Fly (or use a Fly spell) will need this new skill to perform complex maneuvers.

8.  Intelligence Bonus:  Additional ranks gained from increases to Intelligence now apply retroactively back to 1st HD.

9.  Max Ranks:  The max ranks for a skill, either class or cross-class is one per HD. 

K.    Equipment

1.   Staff: Magical staves now only have 10 charges, but can now be recharged.

II.   Changes by Creature Type

A.  Core Rulebook Races:  All PC races have revised racial ability score adjustments.

1.   Humans and half-elves have a +2 adjustment to any one ability score, usually benefiting there primary class.

B.   Constructs: In Pathfinder, constructs now use a full BAB progression.

C.  Dragons: In 3.5 dragons had good reflex and will saves, and extra good fortitude saves (good +1). In Pathfinder, all of their saves are merely good.

D.  Elementals:  Are no longer a full creature type.  All elementals are now outsiders with the elemental subtype.  Convert as an outsider.

E.  Giants:  Giants are no longer a full creature type. All giants are now humanoids with the giant subtype.

F.   Monstrous humanoids: Increase Hit Dice from d8 to d10.

G.   Oozes: Reduce Hit Dice from d10 to d8.

H.  Outsiders:

1.   Raise HD from d8 to d10.

2.   Reduce one save from good to bad, your choice.  Try to base on the type of role it plays (spellcaster types with bad Fortitude saves).  This is good place to spend one of those extra feats for outsiders might be on a save bonus that's suddenly lower than it used to be...

3.   BAB progression is now full for all outsiders, regardless of subtype.

I.  Undead

1.   Reduce HD from d12 to d8.

2.   Use the undead creatures CHA modifier to calculate bonus hp instead of CON.   Any intelligent undead should have their Charisma raised to 10 if it is naturally less, unless the undead is supposed to be particularly fragile. Consequently, many undead now have far more hit points than they previously did. You may want to adjust the undead creature's CR up by 1 to account for this if the creature's new hit point total is significantly greater than before (say an increase of 50%, like going from 80 hp to 120 hp).

3.   Undead receive a bonus to their Fortitude save equal to their Charisma modifier.

III. Classes

A.  Barbarian

1.   Barbarian rage is now a round based mechanic (4 + Con modifier rounds at first level, +2/level thereafter).  Note the total rounds of rage in the Special Attacks section of Offense.

2.   Barbarians gain Rage Powers on every even level.  Recommended defensive rage powers are Clear Mind, Increased DR, and Superstition.  Recommended offensive Rage Powers are Mighty Swing, No Escape, and Powerful Blow!

3.   Barbarian Damage Reduction (DR) now starts at level 7.

4.  Assume barbarians are raging when presenting their statistics.  Note unraged statistics in an entry in the Special Abilities section.

B.   Bard

1.   Bards have gone from d6 HD to d8 HD, raising their average hp/level by 1.

2.   Bardic Music has been renamed Bardic Performance, and is now a round based mechanic (4 + Con modifier rounds at first level, +2/level thereafter).  Note the total rounds of Bardic Performance in the Special Attacks section of Offense.

            a.   Bardic Performance takes a move action at 7th level and a swift action at 13th level.

            b.   Bards have new Performance abilities at varying levels.  Read the class description carefully to account for these new abilities.

3.  The bardic spell table has changed.  Bards now gain 1st level spells at first character level.

4.   Spells known of 0th level can be cast at will.

5.   The new bardic ability Versatile Performance gives bards effective free ranks in various skills equal to their perform skill. Add any such skills to the skill section listing, but mark them with an asterisk.

6.   Bardic knowledge no longer has a separate mechanic.  Bards add have their bard level (min 1) to all Knowledge skills.  Note this bonus in the SQ section.

C.  Cleric

1.   Clerics no longer have access to heavy armor without a feat!

2.   Clerics can no longer Rebuke Undead or Turn Undead without a feat. They now have an ability called Channel Energy which can heal living creatures OR damage undead (if positive) or vice-versa (if negative).

3.   Memorized spells of 0th level can be cast at will.

4.   Cleric domain abilities have changed significantly.  Read the domain descriptions carefully.

D.  Druid

1.   Wild Shape has changed dramatically.  Druids no longer use the ability score of the animal whose shape they assume, but their own ability scores modified by static bonuses and penalties.  Read this ability carefully!

2.   Memorized spells of 0th level can be cast at will.

3.   Animal companions work differently as well.  See the ability description.  Put the statistics for the animal companion in the Special Abilities section.

E.   Fighter

1.   Fighters gain an ability called Bravery at 2nd level which gives them a bonus to fear saves (+1 at 2nd, +1/every 4 levels thereafter).

2.   A 3rd level fighter can move at normal speed while wearing medium armor.  A 7th level fighter can move at normal speed while wearing heavy armor.

3.   At 3rd level, the fighter maximum Dex bonus in armor increase by 1, +1 additional per 4 levels there after (7th, 11th, 15th, 19th).

4.   At 5th level, fighters gain an ability called Weapon Training, granting a +1 to hit and damage with a related group of weapons.  This should be the creature’s primary weapon. 

            a.   Every four levels thereafter (9th, 13th, 17th), this bonus increase by +1.

            b.   At 9th, 13th, and 17th levels the fighter chooses an additional weapon group to gain a +1 bonus to hit and damage.

            c.   A fighter's weapon training bonus is added as a bonus to CMB when using the weapon in a combat maneuver. The same bonus is added to CMD versus sunder and disarm.

5.   At 3rd level, the fighter’s armor check penalty decreases by 1 (min 0), -1 additional per 4 levels there after (7th, 11th, 15th, 19th).

F.   Monk

1.   When using flurry of blows, the monks BAB is now full BAB, with Two Weapon Fighting feat applied.  At 8th level this becomes Improved Two Weapon Fighting, and at 15th level this becomes Greater Two Weapon Fighting.  They still use ¾ BAB with regular attacks.

2.   At 3rd level, the monk level is used to calculate CMB instead of BAB.

3.   At 4th level, monks gain a Ki Pool, allowing them to perform various special abilities a few times per day.  This pool has points equal to half his monk level plus his WIS modifier.  Note this in the SQ section.

4.   At 5th level, the monk gains a bonus equal to his monk level for Acrobatics checks for jumping only.  This should be noted as part of the Acrobatics entry in the skill section.  (i.e.; Acrobatics +10 (+15 when jumping))

G.  Paladin

1.   Paladins now have several new auras besides the traditional good and courage. Faith, justice, resolve, and righteousness may need to be listed depending on the paladin's level.

2.   Lay on Hands uses new mechanics.  The ability can be used a number of times per day equal to 1/2 her paladin level plus her Charisma modifier.  The amount healed is 1d6/two paladin levels.  Additionally, Lay on Hands gain effects called Mercies (at 3rd level, 1/3 levels thereafter) which can remove various effects.  Note the mercies the paladin can access with their Lay on Hands ability in the SQ section.

3.   Paladins no longer can Turn Undead without a feat.  They gain the ability to Channel Positive Energy like a cleric at 4th level. Using this ability burns two Lay on Hands uses for the day.

H.  Ranger

1.  Rangers have gone from d8 HD to d10 HD, raising their average hp/level by 1.

2.   Rangers gain a bonus equal to half their ranger level to Survival when tracking. List it in parenthesis after the Survival skill. For example: Survival +6 (+7 when tracking).

3.   Rangers do not have to take an Animal Companion, instead they may gain the ability Hunter’s Bond, which allows them to give their Favored Enemy bonus to their companions.

4.   Animal companions work differently.  See the ability description.  Put the statistics for the animal companion in the Special Abilities section.

5.   At 3rd level, a ranger gain a new ability called Favored Terrain.  The ranger may select a type of terrain from the Favored Terrains table. The ranger gains a +2 bonus on initiative checks and Knowledge (geography), Perception, Stealth, and Survival skill checks when he is in this terrain.  Additional terrains are selected at 8th, 13th, and 18th levels.  Note the initiative bonus in the initiative section, and the skill bonuses in the individual skill entries.

I.    Rogue

1.   Rogues have gone from d6 HD to d8 HD, raising their average hp/level by 1.

2.   At every even rogue level, rogues now gain a new ability called Rogue Talent.   Barring a few exceptions, the first two selected should be Finesse Rogue (effectively Weapon Finesse) and Combat Trick (any one Combat feat).

3.   Trapfinding now adds a bonus of half the rogues level (min 1) to Perception and Disable Device checks to find and disarm traps, respectively.  Note bonus this in the SQ section.  (i.e.; Trapfinding +4)

J.    Sorcerer

1.   Sorcerers have gone from d4 HD to d6 HD, raising their average hp/level by 1

2.   Sorcerers now select a Bloodline at 1st level which grants special abilities, extra spells, bonus feats, and new skill choices. 

Arcane Bloodline

Class Skill: Knowledge (any one).

Bonus Spells: identify (3rd), invisibility (5th), dispel magic (7th), dimension door (9th), overland f light (11th), true seeing (13th), greater teleport (15th), power word stun (17th), wish (19th).

Bonus Feats: Combat Casting, Improved Counterspell, Improved Initiative, Iron Will, Scribe Scroll, Skill Focus (Knowledge [arcana]), Spell Focus, Still Spell.

Bloodline Arcana: Whenever you apply a metamagic feat to a spell that increases the slot used by at least one level, increase the spell’s DC by +1.

Bloodline Powers:

Arcane Bond (Su): At 1st level, you gain an arcane bond, as a wizard equal to your sorcerer level. Your sorcerer levels stack with any wizard levels you possess when determining the powers of your familiar or bonded object. This ability does not allow you to have both a familiar and a bonded item.

Metamagic Adept (Ex): At 3rd level, you can apply any one metamagic feat you know to a spell you are about to cast without increasing the casting time. You must still expend a higher-level spell slot to cast this spell. You can use this ability once per day at 3rd level and one additional time per day for every four sorcerer levels you possess beyond 3rd, up to five times per day at 19th level. At 20th level, this ability is replaced by arcane apotheosis.

New Arcana (Ex): At 9th, 13th, and 17th levels, you can add any one spell from the sorcerer/wizard spell list to your list of spells known. This spell must be of a level that you are capable of casting.

School Power (Ex): At 15th level, pick one school of magic. The DC for any spells you cast from that school increases by +2. This bonus stacks with the bonus granted by Spell Focus. 

Arcane Apotheosis (Ex): At 20th level, your body surges with arcane power. You can add any metamagic feats that you know to your spells without increasing their casting time, although you must still expend higher-level spell slots. Whenever you use magic items that require charges, you can instead expend spell slots to power the item.  For every three levels of spell slots that you expend, you consume one less charge when using a magic item that expends charges.

Unless something looks appropriate, use the Arcane bloodline for converted sorcerers since it duplicates the old Sorcerer abilities.  This bloodline is summarized to the right.

3.   Sorcerers now gain bonus spells known based on their chosen bloodline.

4.   Spells known of 0th level can be cast at will.

5.  The sorcerer’s bloodline grants a supernatural ability called Bloodline Arcana at first level.  Later levels add abilites called Bloodline Powers.  See the individual bloodline entry for additional information.

6.   Sorcerers now gain bonus feats at 6th, 13th, and 19th level based on their bloodline. The bloodline entry lists the feats they can select.

7.   Sorcerers gain an additional class skill based on their bloodline.

K.  Wizard

1.   Wizards have gone from d4 HD to d6 HD, raising their average hp/level by 1.

2.   Memorized spells of 0th level can be cast at will.

3.   Wizards gain various special abilities based on their school specialization or lack thereof.  See the individual school entries for information on these abilities.

4.   Wizards now gain an ability called Arcane Bond.  This can take the form of a familiar or bonded item.  If no the wizard you are converting has no familiar, give the wizard a bonded item instead.

5.   List the familiar’s statistics in the Special Abilities section.