Pathfinder Second Edition Conversion Guide
The first edition of Pathfinder is a robust game that puts 10 years of rules and options at your disposal and gives you a deep catalog of ancestries, classes, feats, spells, magic items, and creatures to draw from when creating characters and stories for the new edition of the game. While converting some of the most common character choices and creatures for use in Second Edition is relatively simple, converting some of the options will require ingenuity, a good understanding of the new rules, and a little imagination.
Pathfinder Second Edition draws from the same inspirations as First Edition and attempts to keep many of the basic game conventions the same, but many of its rules are a significant departure from those in First Edition. Unifying proficiencies under one formula, for example, means that the many disparate formulas from First Edition, such as saving throws and attack bonuses, aren’t as simple to convert. That said, the structure of Second Edition is intended to arrive at roughly similar results to provide you with a familiar play experience.
This guide provides advice on how to convert rules for your game. Most of these conversions rely on judgment and comparison, and as such you should work with your group to ensure that whatever you come up with is agreed upon by all. You might want to reserve this process for only the most important parts of your campaign, substituting existing Second Edition rules content whenever possible. Of course, the game is yours—add and subtract whatever you need to tell your tale.
What This Guide Is Not
The differences between the first and second editions of Pathfinder are significant enough that you can’t convert from one to the other by changing a few numbers and updating a few terms, so a straightforward conversion formula is impossible. Instead, the goal of this guide is helping you understand how best to recreate the elements you need to continue your story.
Converting Player Characters
Depending on the character you’re converting, this process can be relatively simple. If your character’s class is represented in the Second Edition Core Rulebook, you can simply rebuild the character using the new rules, selecting whatever feats and class features get you closest to your original concept. Unless you’re also converting feats and other options, you might need to build a slightly altered version of your character until more player material becomes available.
The rules for archetypes (found at the end of Chapter 3) might very well help you to realize a number of different character concepts. Better still, they can allow you to explore a character concept in a variety of ways. Take the idea of a ferocious, shapechanging druid who prefers to fight with tooth and claw rather than spend much time casting spells. You could easily build this character as a druid of the wild order, but you could take it a step further by starting out as a barbarian with the animal instinct, then picking up the druid archetype for just a bit of druid flavor.
Converting a character whose class isn’t in the Core Rulebook is more challenging. Unless your GM wants to do serious conversion work, you best bet is to emulate the character’s features and abilities using those of other classes and archetypes. Table 1 lists every class from Pathfinder First Edition that isn’t in the Second Edition Core Rulebook, and gives suggestions for how you might recreate some of their most iconic abilities. Those classes marked with an asterisk (*) are very difficult to convert using the rules that are currently available, so it might be better to find a different way entirely to express these characters for now.
Table 1: Converting Classes
|Arcanist||Sorcerer with the arcane evolution feat, wizard with the spell substitution thesis|
|Bloodrager||Barbarian with the sorcerer archetype, sorcerer with the barbarian archetype|
|Brawler||Monk with the fighter archetype, fighter with the monk archetype|
|Cavalier||Champion with the steed divine ally, fighter with the cavalier archetype|
|Gunslinger*||Ranger with the precision hunter’s edge and a focus on ranged weapons|
|Hunter||Ranger with the druid archetype, druid with the ranger archetype|
|Inquisitor||Warpriest cleric with the rogue archetype, liberator champion with the rogue archetype|
|Investigator*||Rogue with the alchemist archetype|
|Kineticist||Sorcerer with the elemental bloodline|
|Magus||Wizard with the fighter archetype, fighter with the wizard archetype, both with the Bespell Weapon feat|
|Medium*||Bard with the cleric archetype and the ability to swap archetype dedications once per day (with GM’s permission)|
|Mesmerist||Bard with the rogue archetype|
|Occultist*||Bard with the wizard archetype|
|Oracle||Sorcerer with a bloodline that grants the divine spell list|
|Psychic||Bard, sorcerer with a bloodline that grants the occult spell list|
|Shaman*||Druid with the sorcerer archetype, or with the cleric archetype and domains that change once per day (with GMs permission)|
|Shifter||Barbarian with the animal instinct, druid with the wild order|
|Skald||Barbarian with the bard archetype, bard with the barbarian archetype|
|Slayer||Rogue with the ranger archetype, ranger with the rogue archetype|
|Spiritualist*||Cleric with the bard archetype, druid with the animal order|
|Summoner*||Sorcerer with the ranger archetype and an animal companion, druid with the animal order|
|Swashbuckler||Rogue with the fighter archetype, rogue with the thief racket, fighter with feats to fight with a free hand|
|Vigilante||Rogue with the wizard archetype, fighter with the rogue archetype|
|Warpriest||Cleric with the warpriest doctrine|
|Witch||Wizard with a familiar, sorcerer with the hag bloodline|
Pathfinder First Edition has a broad array of races for you to choose from, but in Second Edition, your choice of ancestry comes with additional choices to determine what abilities and training you receive from your parentage. If your choice of ancestry is not present in the Core Rulebook (or the Lost Omens Character Guide, due to release in October 2019), you’re going to need to do a bit of work to use it in Pathfinder Second Edition.
First off, the ability score bonuses and penalties of a First Edition race translate into boosts and flaws (although no more than one boost or flaw for any one ability score, even if the race gave a bonus or penalty greater than 2). The Hit Points an ancestry grants are generally determined by the heartiness of the ancestry, with 8 being the average. Most other traits granted by a race in First Edition are translated into one of two choices in Second Edition. If the trait’s inherently physical and something you would be born with, it’s a heritage choice that you select at 1st level. If it involves cultural training or something you might learn, it instead becomes a feat. Work with your GM to determine if any of these should be reserved for a higher-level ancestry feat, using the existing ancestries as a guide.
Archetypes are an important rules component in Pathfinder Second Edition, and while the Core Rulebook has rules for only the 12 multiclass archetypes, there is plenty of room for additional archetypes in the future.
For now, there are two approaches you might take when converting a First Edition archetype. If it’s deeply tied to the class, you might consider creating a class feat or two that emblematic of the archetype’s theme—making those feats available to the class is a simple way to add their flavor back into the game. This is by far the simplest method for your game, and what we recommend.
If the archetype is a truly important part of your story, however, you can build it as a Second Edition archetype with a list of feats, similar to the ones found in the Core Rulebook or other sources like the Lost Omens World Guide. This is a challenging endeavor and should be approached with care, as an archetype can truly unbalance a character. All archetypes should start with a dedication feat, which prevents the character from taking feats from another archetype until they take a minimum number of other feats from the first archetype (usually three). Any alternate class abilities from the First Edition archetype should be evaluated and converted into feats, using the level at which a character would have gotten a new ability as a rough guide to determine the corresponding feat’s level. All feats after the dedication are at least 4th level and always an even-numbered level. Look to related feats from other classes for good examples to draw upon, and consider simply copying them into your archetype at the existing level.
Feats and Spells
Simply put, converting First Edition feats and spells to Pathfinder Second Edition is more of an art than a science, as there are no hard and fast rules about how these rules elements fit into the game. Unless absolutely vital to a concept or story, you should try and find replacements for these elements within the published Second Edition material instead of trying to convert them from First Edition. But if conversion is the only option, here are some guidelines you can follow.
Most of the First Edition feats that grant combat abilities are now a part of a class, with only the simplest options becoming general feats. If such First Edition feats require a chain of other feats to access them (and therefore usually impart more powerful abilities), they have almost always been made into higher-level feats in Second Edition. In any case, you can check the actual balance of a feat by comparing it to other feats of a similar level. If you would always select the new feat in favor of any of the existing options, that means the feat should probably be 1 or 2 levels higher (repeat this analysis until the feat is no longer the best option).
As for spells, the level of a First Edition spell should be set to the highest level that it has among all the class spell lists in First Edition. If the spell was originally for only paladins or rangers, consider making it a focus spell granted by a feat instead. Note that almost all spells that grant a bonus to a statistic in First Edition have had those bonuses scaled back a bit, and the bonuses are now almost always of the same type (status bonus). Spells like heroism and glibness are great examples of how these have changed. Finally, familiarize yourself with the four essences of magic to determine what lists a spell should be on and ensure that it’s balanced against the other spells of its level on those lists. As with feats, if a spell is better than all the other options at its level, its level should probably be higher.
One additional note on spells is that any scaling that a spell has in First Edition should be represented via heightening in Second Edition, with the spell having a greater effect only if it’s cast at a higher level. This is also true of improved versions of spells—these are now almost always added as a heightened version of the base spell. For example, the First Edition spells cure light wounds, cure moderate wounds, and the like were all combined into the Second Edition spell heal, which scales up at every level.
Many magic items from First Edition require a significant amount of redesign to fit in seamlessly with the others in Pathfinder Second Edition, and so GMs should take care and convert only those that are critical to the campaign.
You can decide an item’s level by determining the average level at which a PC in First Edition might acquire the item. This is usually no earlier than the level when the value of the item is worth about 25% of the character’s total wealth (see Table 2 on page 4 for a quick breakdown). You should then compare this level to other items of a similar type and level in Second Edition to see if they match up.
If the item is a weapon or suit of armor, you’ll need to change its bonus to be in line with the new system, reducing the value and adding a version of the striking or resilient rune as appropriate (see Table 2 for guidance). Other properties can be relatively easily converted, but the limit on runes may impact what you can do with the item.
If the item is one that gives a skill bonus, the maximum item bonus granted by the Second Edition version should be in line with other items in the new edition, which give out bonuses at a slower pace (again, see Table 2 for guidance). Also, such items should always include a special ongoing effect or an ability that can be activated to ensure they’re giving more than just a numerical bump.
You might have noticed that some items are very limited or even don’t exist in Pathfinder Second Edition. Mostly these items are ones that did nothing else but add to a creature’s ability scores, armor class, and saving throws. In the case of ability score boosts, they should almost certainly be removed or made similar to other high-level apex items. In the case of other bonuses, you should probably remove them and replace them with something more interesting to use during the game.
For example, let’s say you had a ring that granted a bonus to Fortitude saves in First Edition and that ring was vital to your game. In Second Edition, instead of just granting a bonus, that item might allow the wearer to activate it once per day to turn a critical failure at a Fortitude saving throw into an ordinary failure, allowing the wearer to avoid some truly nasty effects.
Table 2: Item Conversion
|First Edition Approx. Price||Second Edition Level||Second Edition Approx. Price||Second Edition Skill Bonus||Second Edition Weapon Bonus and Striking Rune||Second Edition Armor Bonus and Resilient Rune|
|100 gp||1||15 gp||—||—||—|
|500 gp||2||30 gp||—||+1||—|
|750 gp||3||55 gp||+1||+1||—|
|1,500 gp||4||90 gp||+1||+1 striking||—|
|2,625 gp||5||150 gp||+1||+1 striking||+1|
|4,000 gp||6||230 gp||+1||+1 striking||+1|
|5,875 gp||7||340 gp||+1||+1 striking||+1|
|8,250 gp||8||475 gp||+1||+1 striking||+1 resilient|
|11,500 gp||9||650 gp||+2||+1 striking||+1 resilient|
|15,500 gp||10||950 gp||+2||+2 striking||+1 resilient|
|20,500 gp||11||1,300 gp||+2||+2 striking||+2 resilient|
|27,000 gp||12||1,900 gp||+2||+2 greater striking||+2 resilient|
|35,000 gp||13||2,800 gp||+2||+2 greater striking||+2 resilient|
|46,000 gp||14||4,200 gp||+2||+2 greater striking||+2 greater resilient|
|60,000 gp||15||6,100 gp||+2||+2 greater striking||+2 greater resilient|
|80,000 gp||16||9,300 gp||+2||+3 greater striking||+2 greater resilient|
|100,000 gp||17||14,000 gp||+3||+3 greater striking||+2 greater resilient|
|130,000 gp||18||22,000 gp||+3||+3 greater striking||+3 greater resilient|
|170,000 gp||19||36,000 gp||+3||+3 major striking||+3 greater resilient|
|220,000 gp||20||64,000 gp||+3||+3 major striking||+3 major resilient|
The setting for Pathfinder Second Edition is fundamentally the same as for First Edition, save that the date has moved forward and additional events have occurred. This makes converting most adventures relatively simple. First, replace the creatures and traps with the corresponding creature stat blocks found in the Pathfinder Bestiary and trap stat blocks found in the Core Rulebook. Next, go through the adventure to make sure that any skill or saving throw DCs match those found in the Core Rulebook, using Table 10–4 for most skill DCs and Table 10–5 for DCs for spells and traps. (Both tables can be found on page 503 of the Core Rulebook.) Finally, ensure any rewards are replaced with magic items and treasure from Second Edition. Once you’re familiar enough with the game, most of this work can be done at the table, during play.
However, there are a few more complicated tasks that the GM might need to undertake to completely convert an adventure, depending entirely upon how much it relies on unusual content. While many of these are covered above, there are a few that apply specifically to GMs.
Creating Creatures and NPCs
The rules for creating creatures and NPCs are slated to become available in the Gamemastery Guide, releasing in early 2020. Until then, there are a number of ways you can convert an existing creature or NPC for use in your game.
The first step is finding an existing creature with a level equal to the CR of the creature or NPC you’re trying to emulate. It will greatly help if you can find a creature that fights in a similar style to the creature you’re trying to create. Next, take the statistics from that creature and copy them over to your new creation. You can adjust these numbers by 1 or 2 without affecting the overall play balance too much, but you should compare against other Second Edition creatures of the same level to make sure you have not created something too weak or too strong.
You can add or subtract various statistics, such as movement speeds, resistances, weaknesses, and immunities, as needed to make the creature feel similar to its First Edition version. Note that creatures in Second Edition rarely have large lists of immunities, resistances, and weaknesses, though, so make sure to add only those that are truly connected to the creature or NPC’s story. Generally, if you want the creature to be tough, add more Hit Points, not more defensive abilities.
Finally, you need to convert the creature’s or NPC’s special abilities. As a general rule, most creatures and NPCs should have special actions they can use that speak to their role in the game. If a creature or NPC is designed to be fought by themself, they should have abilities that allow them to attack an area or multiple player characters at once. If they’re meant to be fought as part of a group of foes, abilities that give them an edge with allies are a fun way to emphasize that role. If they’re a spellcaster, they should have spells and abilities comparable to those of a PC of a similar level, but you can usually skip giving them low-level spells as these will rarely come up in play. Only if such spells are important to their story might you need to include them in your conversion.
Alternatively, you can build NPCs using the rules for creating player characters, but this can be time consuming. Save such work for truly important characters or major villains.
To help better illustrate this process, let’s say that your game heavily features mountain trolls, and while the troll king stat block found in the Bestiary is close, it doesn’t quite do what you need it to. First, you might look for another creature around 14th level that fills a similar niche in the game. The closest entry is probably the 13th-level storm giant. Applying the elite adjustments to its statistics gets it to a 14th-level creature with ease. Next, you can change the storm giant’s greatsword and fist attacks to be bite and claw attacks, removing the storm giant’s electricity damage but increasing the overall damage per hit to compensate, probably to something close to 4d8+16 for the bite and maybe 3d8+16 with the claws (the claws should also be agile). You can then give the troll king abilities from other trolls, like Rend and regeneration, and also add earth spells, since the creature had these in First Edition (earthquake is powerful, but still appropriate if the troll can use it only once per day). Finally, you might want to consider giving it an ability similar to its First Edition ability stubborn, which lets it reroll some Will saves, but you might also consider giving it an ability that lets it hit a few foes at once so it’s a better threat against multiple foes.
Traps and Hazards
Again, the rules for creating traps will appear in the Gamemastery Guide, but until its release, your best option is to look at the traps in the Core Rulebook, which start on page 522, and find one of a similar level to give you an idea of the bonuses and damage range of the trap you’re trying to convert. Often, you can just change the details of a trap to make it work for what you’re trying to accomplish. For example, if you take the spear launcher trap on page 523 and change it into a swinging axe trap with basically the exact same statistics, it’ll function just fine as a 2nd-level hazard in your game.
Pathfinder Second Edition is a whole new game, but it owes much of its inspiration to the game that came before. Though converting rules can be a challenge, by examining the way that other rules have changed, you can get an idea of the direction to take when making your own rules. In the coming months and years, many of the rules and game elements that you once had to convert from First Edition will find their way into new Second Edition books. Check to see how your conversions compare and use whichever version is right for you and your game. Remember that this game is here to help you tell your stories and to shape your adventures.