D&D 3.

5e to 4e Conversion Methodology

Since there are not many Eberron adventures in 4e and no plans that I know of to make any additional ones by WotC, I have decided I want to convert 3.5e adventures that I could easily find on Amazon.com or ebay.com to 4e. After analyzing what it will take, I thought I would document the process in case anyone else is interested. Ok, so let’s talk conversion. I am assuming that your characters are already converted and am not going to consider character conversion as part of the scope. Basically, what is in scope are the conversion of monsters and traps. Conversion of treasure should be relatively straightforward and will also not be discussed extensively unless others feel it is warranted. So what do we need to be concerned with? First, experience points. Experience points differ significantly from 3.5e to 4e. What else? 3.5e generally has fewer monsters per encounter than 4e—so I usually supplement the encounters with some additional minion type monsters. First, let’s discuss how to convert an arbitrary level adventure in 3.5e to 4e. Second, we will discuss an actual example. To walk through the example, you need to understand that 3.5e used the concept of “Challenge Ratings” or CRs to denote difficulty of encounters. 4e uses “Encounter Levels” or ELs. The first graphic below shows examples of how it was done in 3.5e, the second in 4e:

That is. That concept does not exist in 4e.5e is that there is a sliding scale for XP rewards based on the level of the PCs. but is important to keep in mind when doing the conversion. A PC of level 10 would only get 375.What you will notice about 3. .000 XP for defeating a monster with a CR of 4. a 5th level player character (PC) would get 1.

let’s take a look at the XPs required for each level based on each version. . next is shown the 4e values.5e. Shown first is the XP per level in version 3.Next.

each one is about 10% of the total. For example. the next ten to 6th level. I think the most important thing that you can do when starting a conversion is to assume the level of the PCs that are going to be playing an encounter. In some cases. if the adventure has 10 encounters that move you from 4th to 5th level. you are pretty safe to assume that the first ten encounters should get your characters to 5th level. it might be 5% . but we’ll use the law of proportions to do the conversion. and by the end of the adventure you should be at the 7th level. With this in mind. if you have an adventure that is for 4th to 6th level PCs and has 30 encounters. it should be pretty easy to do the conversion.As you can see the values are very different. The other good rule of thumb to abide by is that an average encounter should get you 10% closer to your next level. That is.

000 XPs each = 25.250 XP for the group for each encounter One more time. That is. Let’s assume that the first 10 encounters are designed for 5th level characters.000 XP per encounter.550 XP for the group for each encounter You get the hang of it. That is each of the 5 PCs should be able to gain 5.000 XP. Since most parties are 5 characters. but it is rarely more than 15%. First let’s say that we have an adventure that is for 5th to 8th level characters and there are 35 – 45 encounters in the adventure.5e 5th – 9th level adventure. Thus. If we were to do the same calculations for the 6th level PCs that need to get to 7th level in an additional 10 encounters.000 XP) * (5 PCs) / (10 encounters) = 6. With 5 PCs. So let’s take a not too specific example and then we’ll actually do a real conversion. The important thing to notice is that the ratio at 5th level for 3. When we look at 3.500 XP) * (5 PCs) / (10 encounters) = 1. For 12th level going to 13th level: 3.000 XP) * (5 PCs) / (10 encounters) = 3. that means they have to gain 10.5e: (6.500 XP per encounter.25% of the entire XPs needed for that level. .5e.5e: (13. you should seriously think about redesigning the encounter unless you want to kill everyone.5e to 4e is about 5:2. so hence my previous remark: assume the level of the PCs that are going to be playing an encounter Enough about the fundamentals.000 XP for the group for each encounter 4e: (2. we get the following 3.000 XP to move from 5th level to 6th level in 4e. For 6th level it is 12:5 and for 12th level it is 130:71. let’s look at the 4e rules.and some it may be 15%. The example is for “The Eyes of the Lich Queen” a 3.500 XP for the group for each encounter 4e: (7. Let’s do an actual conversion using my method below. We see that it should take 2. we would calculate that a standard 5 PC group should gain about 2. Using our 10% of the total experience for a level per encounter. we see that it takes 5. the ratio is different at every level.000 total XPs.000 XP so that everyone can level up after 10 encounters. Next. If you have an encounter that is worth 20% . We’ll keep this in mind. you should assume that the first 10 encounters should have about 25.000 XP) * (5 PCs) / (10 encounters) = 3.000 XP to move from 5th level to 6th level. we need to have 1.

so 800 XP is a little easy). Ok.The first encounter has 2 monsters of level CR2. Since these are lizardfolk and lizardfolk are in both editions. the 10% rule of thumb let us know that 1.000 XP is an average difficulty for 4e.500 XP. let’s find some monsters to fill up our 800 XP budget.000 XP. and one monster of CR4. Thus this first encounter is a little on the easy side.000 XP) = 2.5e to 4e at 5th level was 5:2. Let’s use the following table as a reference: . Since the ratio we calculated for 3. this would equate to: (2 * 500 XP) + (1 * 1. I chose 2 Greenscale Darters (200 XP each) and 1 Blackscale Bruiser (250 XP) to start with. As we calculated before an average difficulty encounter for 3. Now that we have that parameter. let’s find the right type of 4e lizardfolk. the amount of experience we need to have in 4e is: 2. I still can make this “easy” encounter a little more challenging and not totally blow the budget if I add some minions. now that the math is over. That’s 750 XP.000 * 2 / 5 = 800 XP (once again.5e at 5th level is 2. let’s calculate how many XP we will need in 4e to make an equivalent difficulty encounter. Using our chart.

who ever has just one minion? I’ll pick 2. I’ve decided that I wanted to free the monster and make the battle a little more interesting. or I could have one of the monsters open the cage at the beginning of battle. So let’s count up all that . I have two options: have the other monsters not free the caged one and let the characters decide whether to leave it in its cage. Let’s look at encounter A4: “Blackscale Huts”. because I thought it was way too difficult if one of the monsters broke out. I could pick one of these to flesh out the encounter and be at 800 XP exactly. free it. Pretty simple. huh? Let’s do it one more time. or kill it. a Greenscale Darter minion would be worth 50 XP.5e encounter assuming the characters are 5th level and there are 5 of them.Because a Greenscale Darter is a 5th level monster. and raise the encounter’s total XP worth to 850 XP. However. I had a hard time with this encounter. This encounter should be pretty close to the difficulty of the 3.

References: All graphics are from the Core Rulebooks published by Wizards of the Coast. I ended up picking a Macetail Behemoth which is a Level 7 Soldier worth 300 XP. If I use the same monsters as before for the CR3s (Blackscale Bruisers). so I can either make one or pick a substitute. .250 XP. Now I need to find a monster for the CR6 one. Running the numbers that’s: (4 * 750 XP) + (1 * 2. I’ve chosen to pick a substitute.000 XP since a 0 XP monster would put me at 1. Have fun.000 would put me at 2.000 than 2. Let’s make it a little easier and make sure to not go over that 20% mark. that will provide me with 1.3.000 XP total and 1.000 XP. That’s it!! You can use the same method for any level for any adventure.250 XP) = 5.000 XP) I need to find a monster of 0 XP to 1. and this is really early in the adventure. There are 4 CR3s and 1 CR6 in this encounter.5e experience. I’ll write more once I tackle converting traps. Since I am a nice DM.000.000 XP total for the encounter. I could even add a couple more minions if I want to add a little more of a challenge. I’m going to aim closer to 1. There is no “Grillon” defined in 4e (which is what is in the cage of the original adventure). Holy moley!! That’s more than 20% of the entire experience you need to progress a level all in one encounter. Since I want the encounter to be in the 10% 20% of total XP for the level (and 10% equates to 1.

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