How Hard Would it be to Convert 5E to S&W?

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1970
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How Hard Would it be to Convert 5E to S&W?

Post by 1970 »

I've got a healthy little collection of Midgard books, but I currently can only see myself playing the Swords & Wizardry version. How hard would it be to use 5th Edition (or even 13th Age) stats to S&W? I think I can do it on my own, but definitely would like to hear others' experiences of doing this, assuming anyone has. Thanks.
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Re: How Hard Would it be to Convert 5E to S&W?

Post by Tim Baker »

It's generally not too hard to go from a more mechanically complex system to a less complex one. If you understand the general ranges for the stats in both systems, then you get a feel for how to translate to your destination system. It's as much an art as a science, though. Practice and experimentation will make it easier over time.

So if you know that D&D 5e has 20 levels, and that they start relatively weak and increase in power across four tiers, that's a good starting point. Knowing that a monster is approximately a challenge for four PCs at the level of its CR gives you at least a ballpark to work within. So one CR 4 monster should be a challenge for four 4th-level PCs.

In 13th Age, there are only 10 levels spanning three tiers. But 1st level is roughly as heroic as a 4th level D&D 5e character and that's somewhere in the ballpark of a 5th level S&W character (although you'd be better off comparing to an XP value, since the levels are uneven in S&W). A monster's level in 13th Age is approximately a one-to-one challenge for a single PC of that level (a bit weaker than the PC, though). So a four 4th-level monsters should be a challenge for four 4th-level PCs.

Once you have some sense of which HD range a 5e or 13th Age monster would map to, you can find something that has similar traits in S&W or another retroclone. By "similar traits," I'm referring to dumb brutes vs. spellcasting monsters vs. ambushers, and so on. Figure out what makes the monster iconic in the source system. There's generally one or two abilities that really make the monster different. Convert those one or two abilities to S&W. Apply them to the base monster you found, removing other abilities as necessary to keep it simple to run as the GM.

13th Age is going to make it easier to identify that "one unique thing" for the monster, because the monster stat blocks are already fairly simple. Most monsters have a melee and ranged attack, perhaps a nastier special, and then something special that they do based on the natural d20 roll.

5e, on the other hand, has two massive bestiaries from Kobold Press. So there are scores more monsters for the system. But then again, not all of these are what I could consider iconic Midgard creatures. So that may not be an issue, depending on the tone of your game.

I hope that gives you some points to think about. Let me know if anything I said isn't clear enough or if you have follow-up questions.

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Re: How Hard Would it be to Convert 5E to S&W?

Post by 1970 »

Thanks for your response. It really does help.

Despite having the actual Midgard Sourcebook for S&W, I think I'd get more out of this translation with Castles & Crusades, mainly since I can use the nine-level spell spread for both wizard and cleric spells (at least I think I can, as I remember it most of the spells were tied to specific character builds) and is generally more heroic. And yes, the two huge bestiaries for 5E is what initially turned me on to the setting in the first place. The rest just kind of followed.
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Re: How Hard Would it be to Convert 5E to S&W?

Post by Tim Baker »

Castles & Crusades makes a nice "Rosetta Stone" between d20-based systems and old-school systems. With its ascending armor class and d20-based mechanics, it fits the overall pattern of 5e or 13th Age core mechanics. But from a simplicity and power/grit-level, it's closer to the OSR side of the spectrum. If you have the 5e monster books and the S&W sourcebook, you should be off to a good start. The Midgard Worldbook has way more detail than that lightweight S&W book, so if you really dig the setting, that would be a good purchase. It's mostly system agnostic, with a bit of 5e and PF in the appendices.

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Re: How Hard Would it be to Convert 5E to S&W?

Post by 1970 »

Yeah, I bought the Worldbook and the Heroes Handbook a couple of years ago after I was impressed with the Tome of Monsters and the Creature Codex. That was back when I thought I was going to run 5E, which never happened. I'm more comfortable with the OSR anyway, hence my desire to convert what I have to a system I'm more experienced with.
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Re: How Hard Would it be to Convert 5E to S&W?

Post by Tim Baker »

Then you should be good to go. Let me know how the C&C conversion goes.

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