Saturday, June 30, 2018

Converting Pathfinder and D&D Monsters to the Cypher System

Okay, I can't hide it: I am loving the Cypher System. This is a modern system that manages to capture an incredibly easy feel and design to it which is something I just don't see in a lot of contemporary systems, even while being a robust ruleset with lots of stuff for players to mess with. Despite having lots of monsters and three bestiaries out (for The Strange and Numenera), it's still weak on fantasy monsters for Cypher System Fantasy Gaming, so I thought I'd try out making conversion guidelines for converting Pathfinder Monsters over to Cypher System. These rules could easily work for D&D 5E as well, and I'll provide notes for such below. I'll be testing this system out with some monsters in the Saturday game. 

Converting Pathfinder Monsters to the Cypher System

The simplest expression for the Cypher System is the monster level. Luckily it aligns fairly well with hit dice/level in D20 system games with some modification. I find this process below to get the best comparable results, but you might want to fudge it if the result feels over or under powered. 

Simplest conversion for this is to simply take the creature’s hit dice, and divide by 2. After level 8 move to 3 Pathfinder HD or levels per 1 Cypher level. At level 21, you might use your best judgement or the suggested chart below:

Pathfinder Hit Dice (or level)     Cypher System Level              Target Number
1-2                                                               1                                       3
3-4                                                               2                                       6
5-6                                                               3                                       9
7-8                                                               4                                       12
9-11                                                             5                                       15
12-14                                                           6                                       18
15-17                                                           7                                       21
18-20                                                           8                                       24
21-30                                                           9                                       27                                                  
31+                                                              10                                     30
Use this same process for converting HD/level in D&D 5E to Cypher System.

Health should normally equal the target number, but a creature with a large health bonus should be X4, and a huge or larger creature should have X5-X6 or greater as fits the type.

Quick Conversion: damage equals level determined above, as per Cypher System default rules. Use the other system's description of the attack to determine how it deals the damage, but use the damage set by level as default. If the creature deals a lot more damage than normal, or less, adjust up or down a point or two accordingly.

Detailed Conversions of damage can probably be done, but it's tough because the damage/health mechanic in Cypher System does not correlate closely to how D20 mechanics deal damage. My suggestion is as follows:

Most Pathfinder creatures can fit damage expressions in to Cypher’s 2/4/6 structure neatly by eyeballing whether the attacks sounds light, medium or heavy, but special attacks may do 2 or more extra damage. A suggested conversion is: determine average damage from a primary common attack, and set it at 2 damage for every 8 points the creature deals from the average of a single strike. Attacks that do 32 or more in a single strike should have a damage bonus of 2 or more for every 20 extra points that triggers on a potentially avoidable secondary effect.
D&D 5E monsters often do considerably more damage, so it's best to use damage appropriate to the weapon type, or do 2 damage for every 15 points on average. 

EDIT: an alternative I was thinking about is to set the level determined earlier as the base damage. Now, that value X3 is the maximum damage dealt in a combat round. If the damage dealt in Pathfinder or D&D exceeds that value, then add 1 damage for every full 12 points of extra damage dealt in PF/D&D. Example: the Gashodokuro breath attack deals like 12D6 or up to 72 damage, which when compared to its level damage of 8 means you could increase this to 12 damage for the effect if you wanted the attack to be deadlier.

Save Effects
You can divide Pathfinder Saves by 3 and round down to determine the level for an appropriate defense roll; more often than not these will match the actual level of the creature. In D&D 5E you can do the same, but creatures will have lower average saves, so use either the level you determined by HD or this result, whichever is better.

Special Abilities
Most special abilities will be hard effects that trigger similar results in Cypher System, substituting the appropriate mechanical result. Effects which clearly deal mental or psychic damage should deal damage to Intellect first. Special abilities which only pop once could work as GM Intrusions, instead.

Armor Class makes a creature harder to hit, so should reflect a greater (or lesser) modifier to the Level generated target number for attacks. Take the AC and subtract 10. If the remaining AC is greater than the hit dice, it means the calculated level should be 1 higher for defense purposes for every 10 points of AC over the hit dice. If the AC is lower than the hit dice by more than 5, then the defense level is lower by 1 point for every ten points under. Example: the Gashadokuro has 19 HD and AC 28. It would be Level 8 but Level 9 for its defense against attacks.
D&D 5E AC expressions are much lower; do as above, but lower or raise Defense level for every 5 points of difference between the AC (after subtracting 10) and the HD.

Damage Resistance
Damage resistance is a different story. Any DR at all adds 1 point of armor. DR of 11+ should add 2 points of armor. This armor should be noted as bypassable if an appropriate attack type is used (if indicated). For tougher creatures, add 1 point of armor per 5 points of DR.
D&D 5E only has Damage Resistance. This can be converted straight over as reducing damage dealt by 1/2 of the appropriate closest type, or you can assume armor of 1 against that type, or armor 2 if level 10+, or higher if abilities support it.

This is easy....if you need to be within 5 feet to make the thing happen, it's immediate range. Anything from 10 feet to 50 is short range in Cypher System, and anything from 50-100 feet is long range; use the specified distance if its farther than that.

GM Intrusions for Creatures
Creatures with especially distinct or one-use abilities might be suited treating this unique ability as an intrusion.

Example Conversions: 
These are all from the Pathfinder Bestiaries, but I'll try 5E monsters out soon as well.

Gashodokuro (B4, 121) Level 8 (24)
This is a huge 30 foot tall undead being formed from the fused skeletons of hundreds of starvation victims that continues to suffer in unlife, hunting the living.
Health: 24
Defense: Level 8 (24) against attacks.
Armor: With its impressive damage resistance it gains armor points of 2.
Attack: giant pounding fists for 6 points.
Starvation Aura (Level 8): This is a long range aura in radius and all in the area, on the start of their turns, roll against Brawn or suffer 2 damage.
Corpse Breath (Level 8): a short range cone of bone shards, dealing 8 damage, dealt once every 3 rounds.
Corpse Consumption: A slain foe will be devoured by the gashodokuro which will regain health equal to the unmodified Might Pool of the creature before death. This does not give more health than the creature started with.
GM Intrusion: the gashodokuro immediately unleashes its corpse breath, even if has not regenerated yet.

Hellcat (B2, 153) Level 5 (15)
Voracious and intelligent predators from hell!
Health: 15
Defense: Level 5 (15) but see it's invisibility below..
Armor: The hellcat has armor of 1 point and 2 points from fire and heat attacks, but creatures of a good nature can bypass this (angels, magic weapons and cyphers of a certain moral alignment, etc.).
Damage: bite and claws for 5 points.
Invisible in Light (Level 5): Hellcats also are invisible when in full light. In dim light they become partially visible, and in darkness fully visible with their hellish flames. A test to spot them in full light is level 5 (15) to succeed. An inivisble hellcat in daylight is level 7 on its attacks and defenses, level 6 in dim light, and normal (level 5) in total darkness when its flames of hell are visible.
Silent but Intelligent: Hellcats understand the infernal language but cannot speak. They can communicate with intelligent creatures nearby telepathically.
GM Intrusion: The next attack is a Pounce and Rake attack (Level 5) immediately dealing 6 damage and knocking the enemy prone if successful.
Catfolk (B3, 47) Level 1 (3)
Tribal hunter gatherers of the woods who are in harmony with nature (at times).
Health: 3 but a warrior catfolk may be level 2 (6) and health 6 or greater.
Defense: fast and nimble, they are level 2 for defense.
Armor: none but warriors may wear light leather armor for 1 point of protection.
Damage: 1 point claws, but also typically a longsword or longbow (4 points), but catfolk specialize in hunting magical beasts and may do +2 damage as a GM Intrusion to beings of a magical nature they attack.
Cat’s Luck: once per encounter the catfolk can call upon this ability for an attack or defense. The PC must roll twice and take the lower of the two results.
Sprinter: catfolk are fast and can take a move and regular action in one round.

GM Intrusion: The catfolk gains an edge due to its speed and the PC must make a Level 4 (12) intellect test or lose track of the catfolk, which either disappears or may make a stealth attack (at level 4) on its next round.


Catfolk as a Decriptor for Characters

I’m using catfolk in my Ensaria campaign, as a race of wild southern tribal groups who migrated into the Zankani woods centuries ago, and lived in harmony with the men of Ensaria for centuries until invaders from the west disrupted the region, leading to decades of civil war. The catfolk are attuned to nature, worship the deity Susuram the Lord of the Golden Lotus in a quasi-shinto system of belief with deeply animistic roots, and are extremely tribal.
Swift: +2 to your Speed Pool
Cat’s Luck: Once per day you may call upon cat’s luck to roll two D20s and pick the best of the two (costs 1 Intellect point).
Swift: You are trained in Nature tasks related to agriculture, herbalism, animal husbandry and game hunting.
Skill: you are practiced in using bows and swords.
Skill: you are trained in hunting and tracking and can use your enhanced sense of smell for such.
Slender Build: when you fail a Might roll to avoid damage, you take 1 extra damage.
Equipment: you may choose a longsword or longbow (4 point weapons, medium).
Suggested Links to the Starting Adventure:
1.       You met the party while out hunting a local beast and aided them in a skirmish.
2.       You are on a quest to determine your status and purpose for the clan and have decided to take the wanderer’s path.
3.       You owe a debt to one of your companions who saved your life while you visited the human city.
4.       In a vision revealed by the Golden Lotus the god Susuram showed that you must complete a great quest to attain the fame and prosperity you desire.

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