Sunday, March 16, 2014

Converting NPCs from Classic D&D to GURPS

Let’s face it. We like to use D&D material for GURPS Dungeon Fantasy games. That’s some of the point behind Dungeon Fantasy: running a D&D-esque game with our favorite game system.

Now, often, we make NPCs with the idea of having them do something in the background or as part of a story, and those are easy. Other times, our characters are down in the dungeon and we roll on a table from an old D&D book (the old Fiend Folio, in my case) or some retroclone and up comes “NPC party.” We wince at this line, since what does it mean in GURPS that the murder-hoboes now meet a third-level cleric, a fifth-level fighting man, a fourth-level thief and a second-level magic-user?

This guide is for that time.

There already is some help for this built into GURPS Dungeon Fantasy, albeit in an unlikely book: GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 1: Mirror of the Fire Demon. From pages 42 to 45, there are 11 NPCs that we can turn into others down in the dungeon, and we are going to do that. For spellcasters, we also shall turn to GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 8: Treasure Tables, where there are tables on which we can roll for spells for magic-users. Cleric and druids will get their spells from the lists in GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 1: Adventurers and GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 3: The Next Level

Fighters, Thieves, Dwarves, Halflings

We’ll deal with these classes first. I do my rolling on the D30 DM Companion, which takes most of its cues from the Moldvay Basic D&D and Cook Expert D&D sets, so I’m handling dwarves and halflings as those books have them, which is as classes unto themselves. The original Dungeons & Dragons game, the Holmes Basic D&D set, and Advanced Dungeons & Dragons and its offspring to nowadays have races and classes as two unalike things. You can handle this by mixing and matching racial templates.

The basic ideas behind all of this are:

  • The templates in Mirror of the Fire Demon are first-level characters.
  • For higher level characters, divide level by two, round down, and add that to all skills.
  • For every four levels, rounded down, raise each attribute that is higher than 10 on the template by one. Do not raise skills to show this.
  • For every eight levels, rounded down, raise each attribute that is not higher than 10 on the template by one. Do not raise skills to show this.
  • Tweak his skills to let him use whatever equipment you roll that he has if you do not want to use the equipment in the Mirror of the Fire Demon NPCs.

Now, class-by-class:

  • A fighter is a Basic Warrior. You can have him be a Basic Barbarian or a Basic Archer if that fits your needs better.
  • A thief is a Basic Thief.
  • A dwarf is a Basic Dwarf Warrior.
  • A halfling is a Basic Warrior, but add the halfling template and give him Camouflage at IQ, Sling at DX+2 (this has his Halfling Marksmanship talent), and Stealth at DX. And even though they do not have ST better than 10, we still raise their ST by 1 for every four levels they have.

Let’s do some rolling and make the character. Level 3 of the dungeon, rolling twice on the table in the D30 DM Companion gives 21 and 6, which 1d2 champions: 7th level fighters. (Level titles, oh yeah, what a way to make things so clear!) I roll a 1 on 1d2, so we only have one of them, but that doesn’t matter as they would be the same unless we chose two templates to handle them. Since he’s 7th level, we add 3 to all his skills, and 1 to his ST, DX, HT and secondary characteristics that come from them.

For his equipment, I’ll roll on the Quick Character Inventory on p. 9 first, getting a 23 on a d30, which is the die I’m rolling unless I say otherwise. That means he has a broadsword, no shield, and wears plate armor. (I’ll call that “mail and plate” from GURPS Low-Tech: Instant Armor, and make its stats threefold the Torso armor to handle a whole suit.) To see if he has a second weapon, I get nothing (he has a 50/50 chance, and I roll 92 on d%), so I’ll move to the tables on p. 21 to see if he has more. He has a 5% chance for each level he has to own a magic item, which is 15% since I’m rolling on the 3rd level table, and I roll an 11 on d%, so he does. I roll a 26 the magic item and get 1d3+3 lightning javelins (I roll and get 5 of them), which I treat as a crackling javelin (see Adventurers, p. 30), which means they do a follow-up 2 electrical damage as well as their normal damage.

So, a 7th level fighter:

ST: 14 HP: 14 Speed: 6.75
DX: 14 Will: 10 Move: 4
IQ: 10 Per: 10 SM: 0
HT: 13 HP: 13 DR: 5/4
Dodge: 8 Parry: 13 Block: 12

Broadsword (18): 2d+1 cutting or 1d+1 crushing. Reach 1.
Javelin (16): 1d+1 impaling. Range 21/35. Their crackling javelins do a follow-up 2 electrical damage.
Punch (17): 1d crushing. Reach C.

Traits: Combat Reflexes; High Pain Threshold.
Skills: Brawling-17; Broadsword-18; Shield-17; Thrown Weapon (Spear)-16.
Class: Mundane.
Notes: DR against crushing is 4. He has the Shield skill, but can’t Block unless he picks up a shield. Notable gear includes:
  • Broadsword, $500, 3 lbs.
  • Crackling Javelin (5), $15,330, 2 lbs.
  • Mail and Plates Suit (covering all locations except the face), $3,000, 60 lbs.

Yeah, he’s boring, but you can come up with a name and personality yourself. Deem that beyond the scope of all this.

Clerics, Elves, Magic-Users

These guys have the same basic ideas as the others, but have spells. Class-by-class:

  • Clerics are Support Clerics with True Faith (Turning) if they’re Lawful or Neutral, or Terror if they’re Chaotic. They also have the skill Diagnosis at IQ. See below for Power Investiture.
  • Magic-Users are Artillery Mages. See below for Energy Reserve and Magery.
  • Elves are Basic Archers with the Wood Elf racial template. Even though they do not have IQ better than 10, we still raise their IQ by 1 for every four levels they have.

For Energy Reserve, Magery, and Power Investiture, we’re going to handle this a little different than on the templates. A first-level cleric has Power Investiture 1; a first-level magic-user has Magery 1; a first-level elf has Magery 0. These go up like attributes, so at 4th level, they get another level of Power Investiture or Magery. Magic-users get Energy Reserve (Magical) 1 at 1st level, which goes up like a skill.

Now, we have spells. Clerics get two spells for each level they have. Roll them at random, which might be odd since you have something like 32 spells of Power Investiture 1 or other such spell tallies. Roll at the highest level of Power Investiture he would have at the level of experience, so a 9th level cleric has six rolls on Power Investiture 1, eight rolls on Power Investiture 2, and four rolls on Power Investiture 3. Always give him Minor Healing for free. He will have the the spell at a skill of IQ+Power Investiture-2 (or -3 if it is Very Hard), but if you roll the same spell more than once, add one to his skill each time.

Magic-users and elves get one roll on the Enchantment Type Table in GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 8: Treasure Tables for each level he has. From there, roll on the table it gives, and reroll results that give a spell not on the Wizard spell list from Pyramid #3/60: Dungeon Fantasy III and for which he lacks the Magery. Give him all the prerequisites spells for each spell he has. If you’re in a hurry, don’t worry about the prerequisites unless he needs one to blast his foes. He will have the spell at a skill of IQ+Magery-2 (or -3 if it is Very Hard), but if you roll the same spell more than once, add one to his skill each time. Magic-users should also get Lend Energy and Recover Energy.

Alternately, you can pick from the spell lists in Mirror of the Fire Demon, but you need to keep the Magery prerequisites in mind, since these templates have Magery 3 or so by default.

So, also on the 3rd level of the dungeon, I roll a 16 and an 11, which is 2d6 elves. Elves, like dwarves and halflings, don’t go up in level as you go down further in the dungeon, but we’ll call this 1d4+1 5th level elves to make them like the evil curates (5th level clerics) to make this more interesting. I’ll write for a lone elf to be clear.

Since they’re 5th level, we raise all his attributes and their secondary characteristics by 1, his Magery by 1, and his skills by 2. We have five rolls for spells. I get Clouds, which isn’t on the list, so it doesn’t count, Shape Water, Wall of Light, Charm, Shade, Rotting Death, which doesn’t count since he doesn’t have Magery 2, Power, which doesn’t count, and Destroy Water. I’ll put the prerequisites in the list too.

Rolling for equipment is a 14, which is a shortsword, mail armor, no shield. Since they’re elves, they have a 50/50 chance at a missile weapon, which we’ll give them anyways since GURPS elves are archery munchkins, calling a crossbow a regular bow since I rolled a 24. They have no magic items and no leader.

Our 5th level elf:

ST: 12 HP: 12 Speed: 6.00
DX: 15 Will: 11 Move: 4
IQ: 11 Per: 11 SM: 0
HT: 12 HP: 12 DR: 4/2*
Dodge: 8 Parry: 11 Block: 11

Punch (16): 1d-1 crushing. Reach C.
Regular Bow (20): 1d+1 impaling. Range 195/260. Bodkin arrows do 1d+1(2) piercing instead.
Shortsword (17): 2d-1 cutting. Reach 1.

Traits: Acute Vision 2; Appearance (Attractive); Forest Guardian 2; Magery 0; Night Vision 2; Sense of Duty (Nature); Striking ST 1 (ST 13).
Skills: Bow-20; Brawling-16; Fast-Draw (Arrow)-19; Shield-17; Shortsword-17.
Spells: Alertness-9; Bravery-10; Charm-10; Continual Light-10; Create Water-10; Destroy Water-10; Dull Hearing-10; Dull Vision-10; Fear-10; Light-10; Loyalty-10; Keen Hearing-10; Keen Vision-10; Purify Water-10; Seek Water-10; Sense Emotion-10; Sense Foes-10; Shape Water-10; Wall of Light-10.
Class: Mundane.
Notes: DR against crushing is 2. He has the Shield skill, but can't Block unless he picks up a shield. Notable gear includes:
  • Fine Mail Armor (covering all locations except the face), $2,700, 45 lbs.
  • Regular Bow, $100, 2 lbs.
  • Shortsword, $400, 2 lbs.


  1. Fantastic conversion rules. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I am in the process of converting X1 Curse of Xanathon to GURPS not-quite-Dungeon-Fantasy, and this page has been an immense help. So far I've only converted a few guards, but this is going to free up a lot of brain power to let me do other things, like figure out why everyone won't freak out after the PCs wipe out the Ducal Guard, and the church clergy, and lord knows who else!

    If this works out, I have a list of D&D and AD&D 1st and 2nd Edition modules I'm going to work on.

    So thanks for working this out!

  3. I'm not clear on how to decide how many spells of what PI level to get. In your example, I understand why there are 18 total spells, but I'm not seeing why you roll 4 times on PI3, 8 on PI2, and 6 on PI1. Would you mind explaining it?

    Everything else is brilliant and crystal clear. I'm having loads of fun with this.

    1. I don't quite recall how I got that, though I think I thought that since he went up in PI at 2nd level, he only got one level's worth of 1st level spell rolls. I know the OD&D cleric spell tables are weird, which might have let me have license to make odd counts as well.

    2. I actually sorted it out soon after asking. I decided that yeah, he would acquire 2 spells per level 1 through 3, then immediately start in on 2nd level spells and never look back. I didn't like the unevenness of it, so I'm including Lend Energy and Minor Healing in the PI1 spells, giving it to them for free, and calling it 8 per level.

      I basically am using Dungeon Fantasy on the Cheap at 150 points for the PCs, and using your conversion to work on the modules, though I'm getting my monsters from a number of sources.