To conclude, let’s use the 5E System Resource Document (http://media.wizards.com/2016/downloads/DND/SRD-OGL_V5.1.pdf) to find a monster to convert. If you are going to do this and publish the converted monster, be very careful to adhere to the legal requirements of the OGL. I would like to do a Night Hag because witches are just too cool.
My Night Hag would look like this:
HD 9; AC 5; Atk Claws 3d8; Move 12; Save 3; CL/XP 12/2000; Special Magic Resistance, Immune to Charm, Spells (Detect Magic, Magic Missile, Sleep, Polymorph Self)
That’s not too far off from the version in Monstrosities. I took some liberties to make it look like a monster I would want, leaving off certain details that I find unnecessary. If you like this style of conversion, have fun with it. It takes me just a minute to grab a monster from a 5E book and put it in my Swords & Wizardry game using this method.
Once again, speed rears its ugly head. It isn’t a simple conversion. At best, a power function can give you a rough idea of where speed matches up between the two systems but there is too much of a variability mismatch. It’s better than PF to SW but it still isn’t clean.
As you’ll see, I fudge it a bit on the low and high sides of the fit line just to account for the typical speeds that are present in both systems. This table works for my game. Honestly, SW Move is more abstract anyway so it shouldn’t hurt anything when you’re at the table.
Just use the attack table that I used for the Pathfinder conversion. As before, there is no accurate way of doing this. This is quick conversion, not accurate conversion.
This one is just like for the Pathfinder conversion. You can’t do a simple correlation. There are too many factors controlling what makes AC. The other thing to consider is that SW AC is based on a different philosophy than 5E. Dexterity is not a major piece of AC in SW. When you try to run a Pearson correlation analysis, you get a moderate but unsatisfying r = 0.44. So, just build the AC from the table that I used before.
Challenge Level (CL)
This time, CL is a little more involved. The correlation coefficient is quite large, r = 0.82, but the trend is polynomial instead of linear. This adds to it some complexity in simple conversion because of the fact that there are so many features of monsters that add to CL.
You will need to build CL just like in the rulebook. Start with HD, then add modifiers to CL based on its features.
I’ve had several requests for quick conversions of 5th Edition to Swords & Wizardry after I finished Pathfinder. 5th Edition is similar in most respects to the PF to SW conversion.
Let’s start with 5e HP to SW HD:
A polynomial regression fit the data best even though that was mostly due entirely to the inclusion of Orcus. All hail, Orcus! If you wish to determine an exact HD for a given HP, you can plug it into the equation. A little algebra never hurt anyone. Of course, I’m eyeballing the trend line when I want to quickly convert.
It’s mostly linear but there is a lot of variability in the data. You will notice that some Hit Point ranges will be larger than others. That’s to account for the variability. Here is the chart that I use:
|5E Hit Points
I was thinking about the 5e proficiency dice mechanic that started in the playtest and I had a weird idea for OSR games. What if you rolled your d20 and damage dice at the same time? The damage dice could serve as both your modifier and your damage. That would completely change how AC works but it would speed up combat while giving players more of an ability to hit big targets.
Just a thought. It would completely change the balance of the game. Add chaos and fury. I’ll work on something as soon as my hectic schedule allows it.
Let’s try quick-converting a few monsters from Pathfinder into Swords & Wizardry. You’ll notice that the monsters won’t be exactly the same. But… it’ll be close enough for the game table. I picked a couple of weird ones that I haven’t used before: the Ant Lion and the Hound of Tindalos.
In Pathfinder, the Ant Lion has 67 HP. So using our table, it should have 6 HD in Swords & Wizardry. I just took the CR 6 and listed it as CL 6 too since it has a linear relationship. It’s BIG and has a hard shell so I add the “Plate” modifier and the “Taller” modifier to the base of 9 and get AC 17. I would give it a Move of 12 with a Burrow value of 3. It uses a Bite as its melee attack so I use 1d8 for its bite. I would also ask the victim to roll a saving throw or be grappled. In the description, we see that Ant Lions build traps so we can just use that as flavor rather than a mechanic. So how does it compare to the official conversion from Tome of Horrors Complete?
The official version has HD 8 rather than 6. No big deal but it will change the monster’s Saving Throw value. The AC is spot on. The regular Move speed is the same but the Burrow speed is faster in the official version. The big difference is the Bite damage. The official version uses 2d8. I use 1d8+Grapple. In the end, that isn’t a problem. It retains the flavor of the beast and just gives us a little variability in how it carries out an attack. In the case of the Ant Lion, I would have it grapple a PC and then use it to bludgeon the other characters. That’s too much fun!
Now, let’s try one that is more complex. I haven’t seen this one in any S&W books so this is completely built using my method. The Hound of Tindalos is a commonly occurring monster in the Cthulhu Mythos. It has some vicious bite and claw attacks but it can also teleport into other dimensions. In PF, it has HP 85, CR 7, AC 20, Speed 40, melee and magic. I would quickly convert it to HD 7, CL 7, AC 17 (+4 Stealth, +2 Pain Perception [it already looks dead], +2 Leather[y]), Move 15, and Attack Bite (1d6)/ 2 Claws (1d8). Now, I add the spells. Its primary magic is teleportation so I give it Teleport. It also gets Invisibility, Locate Object (MU), Haste, and Slow. I think he’s ready for the table. It cuts out a lot of the detail that the PF version has but it retains the flavor of a teleporting, otherworldly killing machine. Compared to a Blink Dog (CL 4), the Hound of Tindalos is much more terrifying.
I hope you enjoyed these posts. I’m thinking about doing another system next. Possibly 5e to SW. If you have a request, let me know. Happy converting!
Throughout this series, I have discussed the wide variability that you can get with some of the stats. When you are trying to take a monster from Pathfinder and convert its attack damage to Swords & Wizardry, you need to try to avoid using the stats from Pathfinder entirely. S&W has enough weird variability issues on its own to work around. Instead, focus on the Challenge Level of the monster in S&W.
I tried a number of things to pinpoint how damage is done. I settled on a method that works pretty well to retain the flavor of the monster. First, I took all of the monsters in the Complete book and correlated their CL to their minimum damage done on an attack round. Then, I did the same thing for the maximum damage. Then, I split the damage into three types. You’ll notice that many monsters have multiple attacks per round. I just verbalize those after I’ve rolled all of the damage dice rather than roll them separately using this method. Try this for monsters that only have one primary attack:
Since this is “quick converting” and not “accurate converting,” you may find that the damage dice are quite lethal for characters at the low end of each category. Be careful to avoid the dreaded TPK. I fudge my numbers a bit after I kill one PC.
We’ll wrap up this series by putting it all together and trying to convert a monster. Happy converting!