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OD&D to 3E conversion of characters

by Andrew Theisen

For myself, this is the conversion I follow for the human classes:

OD&D Level D&D 3.x Level
1-15 1-15
16-17 16
18-19 17
20-21 18
22-23 19
24-25 20
26-27 21
28-29 22
30-31 23
32-33 24
34-35 25
36 26

The rationale was one that came up during discussions on the 3E conversion project (when I was still involved with it). The argument was something like- levels 1-14 map out to the Basic and Expert sets, levels 16-25 were the Companions set, and 26-36 were the Masters set (Masters set being sort of equivalent to the Epic levels of 3E, under this argument).

Now, I think the 3E guys officially adopted a 2-1 conversion from 15th level onwards (leaving 35-36th level equal to level 25 Epic). Again, this was a topic of much discussion, and the argument in favour of the way I did it (which I eventually decided seemed cool to me) is that- a, 26-36 thus map out to Epic levels, and it gives a 36th level PC (who is the most powerful) a little "boost" for having that extra level.

Of course, these are just guidelines, and certain NPCs I've converted don't match up exactly (for instance, Barimoor, IMO, is much higher than 26th level- he is one of the highest level NPCs on the planet of Mystara, IMO, along with Haptuthep, the Nithian/Thothian Lich of the IoD).

As for the demihumans, these are the conversions I use:


1 2
2 3
3 4
4 5/6
5 7
6 8
7 9
8 10/11
9 12
10 13
D 14
E 15/16
F 17
G 18
H 19
I 20/21
J 22
K 23
L 24/25
M 26

Now, the elf (to me) is pretty straightforward. Yes, experience point wise the Atk Rank M elf is only equal to a 33rd level fighter or so, or a 28th level wizard, but it has the spellcasting of a 10th level wizard and the fighting ability of a 25-27th level fighter, so it seems roughly equal (and a 1st level elf in OD&D definitely has the abilities roughly equal to a second level character, IMO). Anyway, the overall goal with my conversion (and the chief argument that won me over in the 3E discussion) was the idea of keeping things level- ignoring XP (otherwise the wizard is the guy that gets screwed, mathematically, or else supremely boosted, depending how you look at it), and- especially where the demihumans are concerned, making sure that they are roughly equal across the board- if you do an XP conversion or just a level to level conversion, the demihumans at their maximum attack ranks will end up slightly below the humans.

Hence my dwarves and halflings. The dwarves are roughly equal to fighters across the board, but they max out at attack rank M with less experience than a 36th level fighter. It was rough for me to make an attack rank M dwarf equal to a level 26 fighter in 3E terms, but in the interest (again) of evening things out for everyone, I went ahead and did this conversion.


OD&D Level 3E Level
1-12 1-12
D 13
E 14
F 15/16
G 17
H 18/19
I 20
J 21/22
K 23
L 24/25
M 26

The halfling is just as much of a tough call, but in the end I opted for the conversion above. An alternate conversion for these two might consist of continuing their Attack Rank progression (bringing the Halflings to L and M, and stretching out their conversion progression; and adding N, O, P, and Q to the Dwarves, and bringing their conversion to a 1-1).


OD&D Level 3E Level
1-8 1-8
B 9
C 10/11
D 12/13
E 14/15
F 16/17
G 18/19
H 20/21

J 24/25
K 26

Another alternative is to use the 36 level XP progression charts from the Cyclopedia, p. 266, and just using the human conversion charts, but then you have to do some recalculating of a lot of NPCs in OD&D terms (King Doriath is what level elf on these charts?).