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3.5 to Pathfinder

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Wildfire:
3.5 to Pathfinder

As most of you know, I’ve been researching the Pathfinder Game System. It’s D20 based and is the next evolutionary step of 3.5 if Wizards of the Coast had continued to carry that torch.

I’ve decided to loose the Pathfinder arrow and put it into effect. For those familiar with 3.5 I have no doubt that you’ll appreciate the differences. For those less familiar with 3.5 it’ll be an opportunity to expand your toolbox. For those that know virtually nothing about any of it, it may present an opportunity to fondly relive your first days of ever playing.

So what exactly does this mean?

It means you’ll need to retool your 3.5 characters a bit to comply with the Pathfinder system. Now, before anyone twists their knickers about this let me say that this will be a nearly seamless conversion. The game system mechanics are pretty much the same. It will also mean some research. It does not mean you’ll have to buy new books. All of the Pathfinder information is on www.d20PFSRD.com and accounts for all of the information in the Pathfinder books. Since 3.5 is so very similar to Pathfinder the material developed for 3.5 is available for use in character creation and evolution but does not override Pathfinder. While the 3.5 material is not available on the specified site, it’s certainly available online and, of course, in books you already own.

In this conversion you have an opportunity to retool your character(s) if you’d like. I’m not talking about changing races and classes just in case you were wondering. I’m thinking more like feats, skills, skill ranks (which change a little bit in Pathfinder as noted below), etc. If your character wasn’t what you thought they’d be or there are other additions to the game that you prefer, have at it.

Races

Races have changed only slightly from the base statistics in 3.5. That said, Pathfinder offers several variants to each race that allow you to depart from the base stats.

Classes

I encourage you to review the classes in Pathfinder as there are some changes from 3.5.

To touch lightly on some of the changes:

Class Features- These change in some ways but not in others. Please review the class of your characters in Pathfinder to note the differences. Naturally there are variant options in the supplemental books and these are also listed on the noted website.

Experience Point Progression- Pathfinder offers 3 different tracks of level progression: slow, medium, and fast. For purposes of existing campaigns we’ll be taking the fast track. It aligns most closely to the 3.5 advancement. Now, when converting your character take the better of the two between level and actual experience points. For example, let’s say in 3.5 you’re 3rd Level (which requires 3000 xp) with 3100 xp. In Pathfinder you need 3300xp to be 3rd level. When you convert your character to Pathfinder you’re still 3rd Level but with the minimum amount of xp’s to qualify. Now let’s change your 3.5 xp’s to 4500. In Pathfinder you’re still 3rd level but you keep the xp’s you have since they are more than what is required to be that level.

After looking at the difference in the experience needed for level advancement (level 8 is the big shocker and where it really changes) you may wonder “WTF? How will this work?” Pathfinder calculates xp’s a bit differently than 3.5. It reverts back to the old flat rate of experience for creatures rather than the sliding scale of 3.5 and is far more generous in regards to the point at which high level characters stop getting experience for creatures weaker than the PC’s.

Favored Class- Each character gets a favored class. You’re not bound by predetermined favored classes like in 3.5. Rather, you get to choose your favored class (“I want my favored class to be Science…”)! One caveat, Prestige Classes are not to be taken as a favored class. That’s a no-no. So what’s the bonus of a Favored Class? The bonus is, every time you level up in that class you can gain either 1 hit point or 1 skill rank. There are variants of favored class bonuses per race and class listed also if you wish to explore these options as alternatives to the normal bonus to hit points or skill ranks and all are interchangeable.

Feat Progression

These are now every other level rather than every three…hip-hip-hooray! The list of feats is vast. Some are broad in application others narrow. Many, if not most, feats in 3.5 are also in Pathfinder and Pathfinder has added many of their own. The number of feats can be intimidating at first glance. Breath deep and try to focus.

Skills

Some skills have been combined into one skill (ex. Hide + Move Silent = Stealth). So if you don’t see skills that you know are in 3.5 then odds are they’re not gone but they’ve got a new face and name. Also, your skill ranks are no more than your level (but you get all manner of bonuses by ability modifier, feats, race, etc). For class skills that you have ranks in you gain a +3 bonus. If you are not trained in a skill you can still make a skill check (provided you can use the skill untrained, see the skills list) but you do not receive the +3 bonus.

Bass Defense Bonus

This is a concept that was introduced in 4e and it’s one I like a great deal but it will be a slight bit different in this application.

The basic concept behind this idea is that as you increase in level, so does your armor class. As the game is currently designed, your armor class doesn’t scale with your level but the difference is compensated for in the way of magic items. What if you don’t have a campaign world that operates that way? What if magic items are a rare thing and your Armor Class, even at higher levels, is the consistency of Jell-O? That means that a Glabrezu Demon who is +20 to hit (and has multiple attacks) is going to be roasting the party’s chestnuts on an open fire even if their levels claim them as an even match. Not entirely fair methinks.

As you, hopefully, know every class gets an increase in it’s base attack bonus at specified levels. In 3.5 and Pathfinder these are broken down into slow, medium, and fast. Martial based classes are on the fast track, martial / support hybrid style classes are medium, and non-martial classes are slower. Well, pay attention to that bonus because that’s the bonus you get towards your Armor Class.

By virtue of experience in fighting you learn how to attack but you also learn to defend. So why wouldn’t your AC increase? It only makes sense to me. So not only do you get a Base Attack Bonus (BAB) you also get a Base Defense Bonus (BDB). This is not noted on any pre-made character sheets so you have to figure this bonus probably in the Miscellaneous Modifier box of your AC equation. You may notice that a class eventually gets multiple attacks. Only the first number applies to your AC. If you multiclass, add the two BDB up and apply it.

Hero Points

I don’t know which game first came up with the concept but it offers players a little extra oompapa to perform heroic deeds…with success.

I was first introduced to Hero Points in the original Star Wars RPG only there they were called Force Points (naturally). What Hero Points allow a player to do is bump the pinball machine a little.

Need a reroll? Use a Hero Point. Need a bonus to your roll? Use a Hero Point. Need your character to cheat death? Use two Hero Points. Need to act before your turn? You guessed it. Stuck in an adventure rut and need a clue to get you back on the trail of the villain? Definitely use a Hero Point. Basically you can use Hero Points to accomplish something impossible…or so far beyond the normal capacity of characters that game mechanics allow. It’s tantamount to the Blues Brothers being able to save their own asses because they were “On a Mission from God”.

Hero Points are awarded for various reasons and there are even feats that operate from them.

This is something I like and I’m certainly willing to put in place but I want your feedback on it. Not everyone may like this idea. In order for them to be used, the majority of folks has to want them in the game. Be warned, there are no downsides to having them except the suspension of disbelief in a gaming environment.

Questions

If you have questions about any of the aforementioned information please, please, please ask. I’m here to help make this easy for you. I know it’s been a while playing this system for some of you and all of this information must be daunting to take in. I get it…I really do. Ask for help or advice if you need it. You can ask here or send me a PM.

Johan:
Just my two cents, because I know that some initial reactions are "...ugh...character conversion...ugh..."

This is translated from the Indian, naturally.

In the case of Jarmok I did a lot of looking at the PF ranger and variants. As we've mentioned a few times, Jarmok ain't your typical ranger in the 3.5 system. I didn't like the Favored Class feature, so I used a variant from the Unearthed Arcana: "Favored Terrain". I didn't want him to be casting spells, so I negotiated a variant for him that he could use "Wild Shape" per the druid ability. I didn't like the two options on "Combat Style", so I traded out for "Fast Movement".

There are other variants that I built into Jarmok too...like his race.

Now, as I move towards PF, I see that the PF ranger has in its level progression both Favored Enemies and Favored Terrain. I still don't like the Favored Enemy...I always forget it!

In any event, the bottom line for me was that I prefer Jarmok built the way that he is, and there was nothing in the PF ranger (or scout...Jarmok is also multi-classing at the moment) that truly appealed to me...at least, not in preference to what he's already got.

Thus, to update Jarmok, all that I need to do is adjust his feats ('cause he would have gotten an extra one in the PF rules), change his skills (because skill points are handled slightly differently), and slightly modify his attack / defense stats.

For Jarmok, it's really not a big deal. I had to do most of this anyway, since he just leveled up.

I'm not saying that it's entirely painless in this case, but I am saying that it's nowhere near as painful as 2.0 to 3.5 was. I expect that not every character would be as easy as Jarmok, but it doesn't have to be something that will make you consider gouging out your eyes.

From what I've seen, most classes have what I would consider to be real improvements in them. I've specifically been looking at the Rogue (which is much awesomer), the sorcerer (lots of betterments), and the wizard (which is a significant enhancement to the 3.5 version). The ranger isn't significantly different, in my opinion (which means, I assume, that they got it pretty close to right in 3.5), and I didn't take so much as a glance at most of the other classes.

BUT, the transition shouldn't be bad at all, and the mechanics seem to be largely identical to 3.5.

Griznuq:
Laren was a pretty simply change. It's just a vanilla rogue for the most part anyway. Only special things about him is the ring, the eye (which I don't even know the capabilities of) and the blood hook.

Course, when I got the PDF sheets from WF (which are downloadable at bigpointyteeth.net) I tossed that sheet anyway, intending to fill out a specialized sheet for him... so I'll be doing it all again anyway.

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