Thursday, March 10, 2011

Type II and Type III Conversion Help

Hey there,

So, here is how the monster descriptions & stat-blocks look for the Vornheim City Kit (not the design, just the info provided):

Narcissus Peacock
Appears to be an ordinary peacock--until it spreads its fan...
HD: 2
AC: 9 or 11
Speed: as human
Intelligence: Animal
Attack: Upon seeing any creature, the peacock will spread its fan. Creatures seeing the fan must then save or stand immobile and transfixed. (Theories differ as to what, exactly, a victim sees when it gazes into its tailfeathers – when a PC is frozen, ask the player what s/he sees). The peacock will then begin to eat the victim, causing d4 damage per round. Victims may make another save every time they take damage. The effect ends if the beast is slain.


The current draft of the notes on how to use the stats in different versions of the game will say:

"If you are using a version of the game which requires more information than is provided in the statblocks, assume creatures attack as ordinary fighters of a level equal to the creatures' hit dice. Assume 5 hit points per die or roll d8 per HD. Assume smart monsters save as typical wizards/magic-users of a level equal to their hit dice, fast or sneaky monster save as rogues/thieves, and tough monsters as fighters/warriors."

So here's where I need your help:

I have never played Type II D&D and I have only played our own hacked and AD&D-ified version of Type III.5 D&D, so, I ask players of Type II and Type III (and 3.5) D&D: Is the information above enough for you to run a monster, or do you need something I left out?

3.5 people: Initiative bonus, right? Is there a simple way to do that? Equal to half HD (plus two for fast/sneaky monsters)? How's that? Addenda:...No, that's too high. 3.5 initiative modifiers = +1 for most monsters, + 2 for smart monsters, +3 for fast or sneaky monsters and and -1 for large, armored monsters.

Save difficulties for innate abilities are equal to 12 + creature's HD?


I figure DC +12 gives us a DC of 14 for this peacock--which seems fair since it's a relatively weak monster.

Also: in this particular product, almost nobody over 10 hd has anything you'd to save against, so the max save dc is 22, which seems like a decent "be-smart-or-get-screwed" price point for 7th level PCs--the highest level PCs who'd be tangling with these monsters.

So basically the DCs go from 14-22 and PCs go from levels 1-7.

3.5 people: please stop telling me how to hit and save bonuses are derived from stats in 3.5. I know that, everyone knows that already. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO REMIND ME WHAT THE RULES ARE. The question is, if I give you the bonuses and saves up front, why on earth would you need the stats? The bonuses are right there.

I appreciate your help.

p.s. If you're Scarius1337 then check it...


  1. Assuming that the two AC values refer to descending/old-school and ascending/new-school formats, then that looks like it would do the job in both 2e and 3.Xe.

  2. Do the peacocks automatically deal the 1d4 or do they attack per normal?

    I'm trying to think about the statblocks I use for my World of Darkness game, to convert it-- not that that is necessary, I'm just trying to universalize the question. & add that to what I remember of 2e & 3e. What does a monster need? Attack, Defense, Damage, Health...& a Gimmick. Right?

    To hit is taken care of by your note. I wonder if replacing "HD" with "Level" wouldn't be better-- thus making the more generic "note" referring to "to hit" & hit points & such more abstract?

    Heck, or just saying X+1, X-2, etc, where X is the average level of the I might be going off the rails, & failing to answer the question.

    I could run this, as it is. You have in the note "smart, sneaky, tough," & maybe that should be universalized into the statblock? "2 HD, Sneaky" or something?

  3. 1e and 2e AD&D are pretty much interchangeable in terms of stat block. If it would work for one, it'll work for the other.

    The only significant thing which is not listed would be an XP value, but I suspect that might be best left out actually. Get us lazy DMs off our butts and making us do some work. :)

  4. Let's see. 3/3.5 provides a bunch of stuff that you can use to precisely calculate all the various values...but I'm sure it can mostly be faked. There's Size/Face/Reach; that's good for people who use the tactical grids for combat. (Face/Reach are derived from Size except where the creature has long Reach due to long tentacles or something.) Of course, for this monster I'm sure someone could just look up the Size of a peacock (and in fact most of its other stats, too). And I don't know how many people go for the tactical grid kinda stuff...

    You might want to make note of special skills; like, "this monster climbs really well" or "swims like an otter".

  5. For 3.5 other stats (ie Str and Cha) influence to-hit rolls and how hard monster abilities are to resist. For this low level monster I'd tend to assume 10-11 and that would work out fine. For a higher level version though there could be a big difference in how challenging the monster is depending on the Charisma score.

    Is providing Str/Dex/Con/Int/Wis/Cha out of the question?

    With the six above stats and the advice in the current draft of notes I could derive to-hit bonuses, hit points, saving throw bonuses, initiative bonus and how powerful a special ability like magical-peacock-tail is supposed to be. I could fake it without them, but I'd just be guessing within a fairly wide range of possible values.

  6. @Michael

    I get your point about the Save DC--should add something for that, as for the rest of your concerns, I know how 3.5 works but I'm confused:

    to-hit is there
    hit points are there
    saves are there

    why do you need base numbers to derive them from?

  7. For to-hit you add Str bonus to get a final number, for hit points you add Con bonus per HD to get a final number and for saves you add Con for Fortitude, Dex for Reflex and Wis for Will to reach a final number.

  8. @michael

    yes, I know that, I own the books.

    What I'm saying is: if I just say "give the peacock the to-hit bonus you'd give a typical fighter with a level = the peacock's HD" then there's a to-hit bonus. Use that instead of using strength and calculating it from the ground up.

  9. Or, to put it another way
    "why do you need the book to provide the base numbers if it already gives you all the derived stats you need to run a combat"?

  10. Sorry, didn't mean to come off condescending or anything.

    I hadn't realized you were including stats when you said 'ordinary fighter.' That should be easy to do, and it will cover initiative bonuses as well.

    You could probably get the save DC from there as well, for something like this peacock I'd just use the Cha score from a Bard or Sorcerer of the same level.

  11. @Michael

    For save DCs I'd like to go with either 10+HD for all innate powers or 12+HD. Got an opinion?

  12. I'd go with 12, better people think you're too hardcore and they have to tone you down than the reverse. ;)

  13. Shouldn't it be written "Type III.V"?

  14. I have to agree with Michael: Stats are too central to 3E's unified mechanics. If you tell me to use a fighter's BAB, give me the monster's ability scores, and give me a guideline for ad-libbing skills I'd be comfortable winging it.

    Without that, my opinion is that your product isn't even remotely compatible with 3E. If nothiing else, consider ability score damage.

    Recommendation for skill guideline: Assume all skill checks using skills that seem appropriate for the creature have a base bonus equal to HD.

  15. @justin

    I don't get it.

    I get that you can build a "to hit" bonus if I give you stats. But why do you need the stats if I just give you the bonus to begin with?

    "Not remotely compatible" really? Really? I go back and forth from AD&D to 3 all the time?

  16. @Justin

    Don't worry about trying to calculate the attack bonus yourself, when Zak says 'as an ordinary fighter of the same level,' just go to the sample NPCs at the back of the DMG and copy.

  17. I know this is off topic, but can I say I like that peacock? The image of it slowly pecking a single adventurer to death is horrible.

  18. For monsters, 2e has almost no meaningful differences from 1e.

    In 3 and 3.5, the 6 stats are integral for monster saving throws, attack rolls and damage rolls.

    Also, 3e monsters have templates for base attack schemes and base saving throws (based on HD/level basically) which are more or less analogous to character classes. What I'm getting at is unlike monsters in older editions, monsters THACO (base attack bonus) varies by type as well as being modified by strength bonus (usually), not just HD like in old-school d&d. Also most monsters have several feats which effect how they fight.

  19. I figured this list might help anyone in the thread who doesn't have the books handy.
    A full 1st ed. AD&D listing from Monster Manual II:
    # appearing
    % in lair
    Treasure type
    # attacks
    special attacks
    special defenses
    Magic resistance
    Psionic ability
    Level/XP val

    2nd ed.:
    Activity cycle
    # appearing
    # attacks
    Special attacks
    Special defenses
    MAgic resistance
    XP value

    Since I only really run 2nd ed:
    # appearing is usually helpful, if only as a guide. If I think the encounters have been too easy, I'll beef up the number appearing. I was always under the impression it was calculated based off an average party that the creature should encounter, but don't know the algorithm. Of course, if I'm looking more for atmosphere or a mere distraction, I might drop the number appearing, but the printed stats work for a guideline.
    Size is really important to my game, because I run a horror-flavored adventure, and messing with the perception of threat level vs size is effective against my players. Also, activity cycle and diet are useful, if only because I'm the type to give a nocturnal animal rabies and make the ranger roll perception to see if s/he picks up on it.
    Habitat/Society/Ecology from the text is great for determining how to have the creatures act and what conditions they might encounter the players. Except flumphs. Fuck flumphs.
    What about immunity to magic, psionics, etc...the Monster Manuals usually list (from what I remember) either a percentage, or "nil." Also, uses of their body parts (a personal favorite), ecology and other flavoring text if you feel like it?
    And treasure found. Always gotta have treasure.

  20. @ravenconspiracy

    did you read any of the comments yet?

    I know all that.

    Again: if you are -actually running the game-, if I give you the bonuses and saves WHY would you need the stats they're derived from?

    What would you actually DO with them, if the bonuses and saves are already calculated.


    Since the only monsters in the kit are encountered in specific dungeons/situations, all that behavior/background stuff is superfluous in this adventure.

  21. Again: if you are -actually running the game-, if I give you the bonuses and saves WHY would you need the stats they're derived from?

    All of the weird-ass crap that your players think of that might reference it. Brain-grappling checks. Ability drains. Templating. Who knows? 3e has a lot of weird shit. Just putting the modifiers in a line should work, though. Of the stats, a monster's WIS is the first I would be looking at in-game to determine behaviour in reaction to something.

    caveat: i have not run 3e in a million years.

  22. Just found this blog, and I'm a 3.5 person, so maybe I can help. I had to read through the comments a few times to figure out how you were doing things. I have to admit the idea of using the pre-statted characters in the DMG is quite elegant -- it will capture all the stuff about stats and even magic items so that things scale right. I would have never thought of that.

    The two things I see that are missing are, potentially, CR and save DCs (as mentioned above).

    CR may not matter, or it may be essentially the same as HD.

    As to save DCs. My concern is that 10+HD would end up being too high at some point. In 3.5, at least, hit dice scale very quickly, so that a CR X monster tends to have more than X hit dice. On average, this isn’t too bad. Looking at some stats someone calculated, the average CR 10 monster has 13 HD and a save DC of 19.

    So, I’d suggest maybe 8+HD, with an optional +2 for particularly potent powers like a dragon’s breath weapon. YMMV, though – if you’re custom making monsters or adapting them from older iterations of D&D where HD are more modest, your 10+HD may work just fine.

    You may be aware of this, and apologies if you are, but the rule of thumb in 3.5 is save DC = 10 + ½ hit dice or level + relevant stat modifier. Monsters of low CR tend to have more modest stats, so I’d expect this peacock, if it were a typical monster, to have save DCs of 11-13 depending on its stats. The 8+HD formula is going to be a little weak at the lower end but more balanced towards the higher numbers.

    I hope that helps. If you like, I could try and give you a rough and ready rule of thumb more in line w/ 3.5’s ½ hit dice measure, but it would depend on how you expect the hit dice of your monsters to scale. If your players are mostly going to be fighting monsters of HD = PC level, then 8 or even 10-12+HD should work fine.

    Sorry for a long post.

  23. If you resolve your Saving Throws like in v3.5 (d20 + Ref/Fort/Will Bonus >= DC) then a "spell-like ability" like the peacock's fan should require a DC of 10+0.5*HD.

    Talking about Initiative, if stats (in your game) give the same bonuses as for v3.5 progression (+1 each 2 stat points above 11, -1 each 2 stat points below 10) and if a PC's Dex affects in the same way AC and Initiative Bonus, then you can extract it looking at how Size Change influences a creature's AC.

    Fine: +8
    Diminutive: +4
    Tiny: +2
    Small: +1
    Medium: +0
    Large: -1
    Huge: -2
    Gargantuan: -4
    Colossal: -8

    IMHO you can always drop -4 to -3 and -8 to -4 (in order to have not huge differences in Initiative) and/or adding a +1 shift to each value (so that a human-sized monster will have a +1 to Initiative) with no risks of a butterfly effect.

  24. To the extent that you're using 3.5's mechanics, like grapple, disarm, etc. huth has a point. Unless something exotic is going on, though, you can probably fudge it by just using the monster's melee attack bonus. The only problem I would expect is when your PCs use something like stat drain, but that might just not come up often enough to worry about.

  25. @huth

    I figure: AD&D GMs have to make up monster DEX on the fly, everybody else should be able to. Maybe that defeats the purpose of playing 3.5 but whatever--point is nothing in the stats -contradicts- 3.5.

    As for DCs, I figure DC +12 gives us a DC of 14 for this peacock--which seems fair since it's a relatively weak monster.

    Also: in this particular product, almost nobody over 10 hd has anything you'd to save against, so the max save dc is 22, which seems like a decent "be-smart-or-get-screwed" price point for 7th level PCs--the highest level PCs who'd be tangling with these monsters.

    So basically the DCs go from 14-22 and PCs go from levels 1-7.

    That's worth adding to the post, I think, come to think of it.

  26. Save DC for monsters- how about using *s next to the hit dice, like in BECMI? You got the same XP for a 4** HD monster as a 6 HD monster- it was sorta an oldeschool take on CR. Save DC for monster powers equals 10 plus HD plus 2 per star.

    Calculating monster's saves:

    Looking up save DCs for a X-level character is gonna be slow, so include the formula for that. Good saves are 2 + HD/2 + 1 per star; bad saves are HD/3 + 1 per star.

    Most monsters have good Fort saves, unless they look or sound wimpy. Smart monsters also have good Will saves; fast or sneaky monsters have good Reflex saves.

    Sometimes you'll need to be able to figure out the abilities, so add a mechanism for that just in case.

    Str = Damage bonus, so +0 or 10.

    Initiative modifier= Dex so +1 or 12.

    Bonus hit points = Con modifier, so +0 or 10 .

    Int uses the same ranges as the old 1E Monster Manual numbers; Wis and Cha are 10 or Int, whichever is greater.

    So HD 2*, Fort +3, Ref +1, Will +1, and a DC 14 Will save.

  27. Looks good to me as an AD&D person. Still, I haven't read my monster manual in a while, so I could be missing something.

    I'd also like to add a dissenting opinion that the ecology would be nice if I wanted to take the weird things in the kt and stick them in my setting with a minimum of effort (say, right before a session). One other thing: Is there any way to look up the creatures by habitat? It could be nice to have a list of all sewer-dwelling beasts, or everything that's kept as a pet.

  28. Whoops! HD 2*, Fort +3, Ref +2, Will +1, and a DC 14 Will save.

  29. Honestly? No I could pretty much wing it with that level of description in either 2 or 3(.5) BUT please make it clear that this is deliberate in the book's text and DM's SHOULD make up whatever numbers they require based on this description.

    Nothing like feeling like a bunch of stuff got axed and the book is just waiting for errata to be released to be playable.

  30. Zak, I love the simplicity you are trying to bring to THE GAME. I, like you, am a 3X/PF DM and player who has many homebrew elements (mostly some minor tweaks I stole from 4e when I was checking it out).

    It makes perfect sense: why do we need the stats when we have the mods? We just need AB, AC, Saves, and some skills.

    I am, depending on what happens with my job in the next few months, going to be getting back to my group after a long break. I am looking for any tools I can use to strip down my rules requirements so that I can add cool new stuff in without adding extra time to my games, while making DMing in a tentpole-sandbox a bit less administrative work for me, so that I can concentrate on the play of the game instead of the rules of the game.

  31. People like the microlite20 statblocks, right?

  32. @justin I don't get it. I get that you can build a "to hit" bonus if I give you stats. But why do you need the stats if I just give you the bonus to begin with?

    Well, like I said, resolving ability score damage is the most obvious and indisputable reason. But at a more pervasive level, ability scores are just widely used in D&D3. You say "just make it up", but that's just telling me that you never really wanted an answer to the question you asked. What do I need? I need ability scores and I need skills.

    More generally, having given this some more thought, I'm suggesting that if you give me ability scores you can simplify your guidelines considerably and skip any kind of chart look-up:

    Melee Attack: HD + Str mod
    Ranged Attack: HD + Dex mod
    Saving Throws: 1/2 HD + ability mod
    Skills: HD + ability mod
    Save DCS: HD + 12

    If I didn't need ability scores anyway, this wouldn't be my recommendation. But since I do, there you are.

  33. @Zak

    Jeez, bite my head off for trying to help (red text,really? ouch!) You did say you had never played straight 3e so I just wanted to cover my bases before bringing up monster templates.

    But fo reelz about stats - the other reason monsters might need stats is that in 3 and 3.5 there are relatively common "stat damaging" attacks.

    For example, some poisons negate con temporarily instead of doing normal damage, potentially PCs could get this and use it against a monster.

    Also it is common for some spells to drop a monster a few points of str or dex as a spell effect.

    -Also, I'm not saying you need to include stats, good DMs can always just make them up.

    Heck, I don't even play 3.5 anymore, largely because there are often too many things to keep track of (such as damage to monster stats).

  34. If you use the sample NPCs in the DMG for your 'ordinary fighter' attack bonus/saves/etc, you can just use his stats as well, no?

    And as far as ability damage/drain attacks by PC's, 2pts of Con is going to cost the monster 1hp/hd, 2pts of Dex is going to cost a point of AC, and so on. Unless you're worried about the monster actually dying (or becoming paralyzed) by hitting zero in a stat, the stat doesn't really matter.

  35. @Michael

    Converting stat drain to penalties is definately the best way to handle it and I'm sure most veteran 3-3.5 DMs won't have any problem winging it if the stats are not presented.

  36. I think if you add a line about assuming a trait bonus of +3 (or whatever you think works) I'd be able to extrapolate out stats in 3.5, Pathfinder, and D&D 4E. I don't think stat drain is too big of a deal. It is one of those things I always try to avoid using anyway.

    The only other thing that comes to mind would be how to pick skills and feats neither of which are particularly important for a monster.

  37. Converting stat drain to penalties is definately the best way to handle it and I'm sure most veteran 3-3.5 DMs won't have any problem winging it if the stats are not presented.

    Should 'veteran DMs' be assumed?

  38. @ huth

    I assume anybody who is buying a non-WOTC product for D&D--especially an LOTFP one, has a decent probability of being a veteran DM.

  39. For what it's worth, your proposed stat block seems fine to this 3.5 DM. Actually, your block is akin to a Castles & Crusades one. C&C uses a monster's hit dice for the basis for just about everything (you add it to the d20 for "to hit" rolls, you add it to the d20 for saves, etc.). It works fine and makes C&C very compatible with other editions. One nice thing they do to give a little variety is specify whether a creature's saves are good for "physical" or "mental" (or both).

  40. Might be a little late for my two cents here but I'll give 'em to you anyways. From a 3.5 perspective (and now that I'm pathfinder that too I guess), I could totally run this.
    The save DC for the abilities at 1/2 HD +2 seems alright to me. Perhaps I'm telling you things you don't need to know here, but typically if a monster has a special ability, they probably also have a decent stat the ability is derived from. In this example I'd treat this as a charisma based ability, and it's easy to assume that the thing would have a CHA of 14 or so, which would then result in the DC as you have it calculated here.

    What would really help us out is a creature type (here I would say Magical beast). Sometimes this is pretty easy to determine, but sometimes not. Like how a chaos beast is an outsider, even though it seems to be more of an ooze or an aberration. With creature type, size and a number of hit dice I can look in the back of my books and determine his attack bonus, save bonuses, what dice size dice to roll for his attacks, everything.

  41. When I was working on my Diminutive d20 rules I did some stats on 3E monsters and got this boil-down (note - Initiative was not something I could abstract easily):
    Ability Scores: If physical abilities are needed, assume Str, Dex, and Con scores of 10+HD for any creature.
    Special Attacks: Any special attacks without a listed DC should assume a difficulty class of 10+HD.
    Skill Checks: Spot and Listen checks can be made by rolling d20 + HD. Other skills are summarized below.
    Construct, Ooze, Plant: No skills.
    Elemental, Outsider: Spot/List HD+2.
    Undead: Spot/List HD+4, Hide/MSil HD+4.
    Fey, Shapech.: Spot/List HD+8, Hide/MSil HD+4+Size.
    Giant: Spot/List HD–6, Climb/Jump = HD.
    Animal, Vermin: Spot/List +6 fixed bonus. Vermin also get Hide +8+Size fixed bonus, Climb HD+6.