On Reader Mail, 3e to 5e Conversion

Happy post-Gencon Monday morning everyone. Congratulations to the strength of the independent press, with Contessa and A Red and Pleasant land winning multiple times! Also, congratulations to Jolly Blackburn and our community, for pulling together to turn the Knights of the Dinner Table Live Action Series Kickstarter into a success at Gencon! My heart soars.

However, gaming season is upon us, and it is time to get back to work (and play). We'll start light with some reader mail.

John writes:

I was referred to your blog today as possibly having a reference that would help convert 3.5 characters to 5e.  I perused your blog indices for the better part of 30 minutes, but I could not find what I was looking for.  I have a mothballed campaign that I would like to start up again, using 5e instead of 3.5, and I would like to keep the players' old characters but create 5e versions of them to move on.  Is there anything on your site that would provide a little guidance in this vein?
Barring that, then just one piece of advice:  the 3.5 characters are levels 5 and 6.  I am still absorbing the 5e PHB info, but my general impression at this point is that 1st level 5e characters are about as powerful as 3rd level v3.5 characters, and quick and dirty I was thinking I could basically just back everyone up about 2 levels and go from there, if there are not any more substantive conversion charts or discussions available.  What is your opinion on this idea? 

Excellent question! This is both very simple and very complicated.

My last 3rd edition character was a lazer warlock. They way he worked is, he took six levels in warlock, then switched over to hellfire warlock for the bonus damage, then would find/craft a lesser chasuble of fell power to boost his damage further, finally taking a splash into the Binder class for 2 levels so I could pick up a bond with Dahlver-Nar to make me immune to the Constitution drain from the hellfire blast.

I might have played some 3rd edition at some point. I can't say I miss it.

If your character's are like those above, full of dips into classes and prestige classes to create crazy builds, well then, I think your best bet is to allow your players to recreate their 5e classes using the new rules. If they were going for some kind of special effect or build, creating a subclass power (like the many classes available here on this blog) would be how I would implement that.

If, instead, however, they just made some characters to have fun and then go adventuring, then conversion should be pretty easy. I'd say that your comment about power levels isn't 100% correct. 1st level 5th edition characters start off about as weak as any other edition, but they rapidly rise in power and competence. I'd say 3rd level in 5th edition dungeons and dragons is about equivalent to 5th level 3rd edition players, or 1st level 4th edition characters.  There's another large leap in power around 5th level for characters in 5th edition, making them equivalent to much more difficult challenges.

So in your situation, I'd let players pick a class and then be third level!

Thanks for the question. Comments are always welcome, and you can feel free to ask your own questions, about anything—REALLY ANYTHING AT ALL— at my email, campbell atsymbol oook dot cz


Hack & Slash 

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