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Updated 10 February 2015 (added link to Monster Traits and Actions)

Similar to my previous conversion document (Next to 5E), I created the below guidelines by
comparing the 5E versions of monsters from the Monster Manual with their 3.5 counterparts.
And like my previous document, I have to include two warnings:
1. If you test these guidelines on the 3.5 versions of the monsters yourself, the 5E
versions will likely be slightly off. This is partly because Wizards changed some
monsters in other ways (like the Doppelganger) and partly because I was going for an
approximation, so it would be easy to use.
2. I am fallible, and I may have made some mistakes. If you find any glaring errors,
please let me know.
At the end of this document, I have also included guidelines for adjusting the below guidelines to
work for 3.5s major cousins, 3E and Pathfinder.
You will need access to at least the D&D Basic Rules and the Monster Manual to make full use
of this. The Dungeon Masters Guide, while not strictly required, is highly recommended for its
monster creation guidelines (pages 273-283).
Thanks to the people in this ENWorld thread for general help, and Carson McNatt and Greg
Lecea for their input on Languages.

Challenge Rating
Before you get started, you should choose an initial Challenge Rating for the creature. This is an
estimate of the monsters CR, which you can use to guide the rest of your conversion. There are
two ways to do this:

Use the CR of a similar 5E creature.


Use the CR Estimator in Appendix 1 to convert its D&D 3.5 CR.

When you are finished converting your monster to 5E, you may wish to adjust this initial CR for
a better fit. The best way to do this is to use the rules for determining CR in the DMG, but if
youre pressed for time, you can just compare it to similar 5E creatures once again.

Size

There are six creature sizes in 5E: Tiny, Small, Medium, Large, Huge, and Gargantuan.
Any creatures smaller than Tiny (i.e. Fine or Diminutive) should be treated as Tiny creatures,
and any larger than Gargantuan (i.e. Colossal) should be treated as Gargantuan creatures.
Whether you actually want to rescale them to those sizes is up to you.

Type
5E keeps most of the 3.5 creature types. The exceptions are the following:
Animal and Vermin were folded into Beast.
Magical Beast and Monstrous Humanoid were folded into Monstrosity.
Outsider has been split up.
Elemental planes: Probably Elemental.
Predominantly chaotic planes: Probably Aberration.
Predominantly lawful planes: Probably Construct.
Good planes: Celestial.
Evil planes: Fiend.
Further details on 5Es creature types are detailed in the Basic Rules PDF.
Special rules for creature types (such as senses or immunities) are described in the 5E stat
block, rather than being something youre expected to memorize - so if you want to keep those
qualities, make sure you include notes on such traits along with your conversion, for reference.
(A handy guide to the 3.5 types can be found here.)
Note, however, that no creature appears to be immune to critical hits or sneak attacks, and
many of the other default special qualities seem to be absent in 5E. Check similar monsters in
5E before you add too many of the 3.5 rules.

Tags
These have replaced the 3.5 creature subtypes, but unlike subtypes, tags only appear to be
descriptive. (There are also fewer of them.) As with creature types, any game rules associated
with a 3.5 subtype should be explained in the 5E stat block.
Shapechangers do not appear to have the fixed rules seen in 3.5, and appear to change
depending on the specific creature - look at the Doppelganger, Imp, Quasit, Vampire, and YuanTi Malison for several examples. We also have new rules for incorporeal (see Wraith), which is
no longer a subtype or tag at all. It is likely new rules will be established for other former
subtypes as well, but we dont have them yet.
Alignment
Generally, keep this the same. However, creatures in 5E may also be unaligned, meaning they
operate on instinct, so you may want to change neutral to unaligned for some creatures.

Armor Class
Its easiest to recalculate AC from scratch, based on their Dexterity bonus and any armor worn.
(Make sure to check the rules for determining AC in the Basic Rules PDF.)
If a creature had natural armor before, give them a +2 bonus to their new AC. Other types of AC
adjustments from 3.5, most notably size adjustments, no longer appear to be a factor.
Dragons definitely appear to have stronger natural armor, but with only one example, I cant
give you a good method. Shaving a few points off of their 3.5 natural armor, then adding it to
their new AC, would probably work.

Hit Dice
In 5E, the type of hit die is determined by a creatures size. Tiny creatures use d4 hit dice.
Small creatures use d6 hit dice. Medium creatures use d8 hit dice. Large creatures use d10 hit
dice. Huge creatures use d12 hit dice. Gargantuan creatures use d20 hit dice.

Tiny creatures should keep the same number of hit dice as they had in 3.5.
Small or Medium creatures should add one hit die. For example, 1d6 should become 2d6.
Large creatures should add two hit dice. For example, 3d10 should become 5d10.
Huge and Gargantuan creatures should be treated the same as Large creatures at this time.
Average hit points for creatures should be recalculated as follows:
Xd4 - Multiply X by 2.5 (round down), then add their Constitution bonus, times X.
Xd6 - Multiply X by 3.5 (round down), then add their Constitution bonus, times X.
Xd8 - Multiply X by 4.5 (round down), then add their Constitution bonus, times X.
Xd10 - Multiply X by 5.5 (round down), then add their Constitution bonus, times X.
Xd12 - Multiply X by 6.5 (round down), then add their Constitution bonus, times X.
Xd20 - Multiply X by 10.5 (round down), then add their Constitution bonus, times X.
Example: A monster has 3d8 HD and a Constitution of 14 (+2 bonus). So their average hit
points are 4.5 times 3, rounded down: 13. Then you multiply their Con bonus by their HD, for a
total of +6. 13+6 = 19.
Two exceptions:
Oozes should probably keep their current hit dice.
Dragons changed a lot between 3.5 and 5E, and simply treating them like the other monsters
will create a weaker dragon than it should be. But until we have more examples, I can only
advise treating them like other creatures of their size.

Speed
Speed can pretty much be used as is. Dragons seem to have had their flight speed cut down by
more than half, so you may want to halve any other especially high flight speeds.

Ability Scores
These can be used as is. Most 5E monsters have at least minor ability adjustments from their
3.5 counterparts, but the differences are pretty small, so you shouldnt sweat it.

Note that 5E does not allow creatures to have non-existent ability scores. My recommendations
for replacing a missing score:
Strength should probably be below 10 for creatures without it. The single
example we have of such, the wraith, has a Strength of 6.
Constitution never seems to be lower than 10. You can probably get away with
a Constitution score anywhere from 10 to 15 or 16, based on your guess as to how
tough the creature should be.
Intelligence should also be below 10 for creatures without it. Creatures working
on instinct usually have at least 2 Intelligence.
I have no guidelines to offer on Dexterity, Wisdom, or Charisma. I would probably aim for at
least a score of 2 in such cases.

Saving Throws
You can ignore the 3.5 save bonuses, as 5E uses saves associated with each of the six ability
scores. So assume most creatures just use their ability bonus for saves.
Some monsters apply their proficiency bonus to their saves - the young green dragon has a
+3 to four saves, and the zombie has a +2 to one. You may wish to do the same for your
converted creature, if it seems appropriate. (For example, if the creature had the feats Great
Fortitude, Iron Will, or Lightning Reflexes.)
In most cases, though, you should probably pass on giving your creature proficiency, as its
much easier without it.

Skills
For many creatures, particularly more instinct-driven ones, you wont need to give them any
skills. If a creature does have skills, it will usually have proficiency with only a few, generally the
equivalents of the ones they had higher ranks in during 3.5.

If you want to translate a creatures more notable skills or feats into equivalent 5E skill
proficiencies, they can be translated as follows:
3.5 Skill

3.5 Feat

5E Skill Proficiency

Climb, Swim

Athletic

Athletics (Strength)

Balance, Jump, Tumble

Acrobatic, Agile

Acrobatics (Dexterity)

Sleight of Hand

Deft Hands, Nimble Fingers

Sleight of Hand (Dexterity)

Hide, Move Silently

Stealthy

Stealth (Dexterity)

Knowledge (arcana, the


planes), Spellcraft

Magical Aptitude

Arcana (Intelligence)

Knowledge (history, local,


nobility and royalty)
Gather Information, Search

History (Intelligence)
Investigator

Investigation (Intelligence)

Knowledge (geography,
nature)

Nature (Intelligence)

Knowledge (religion)

Religion (Intelligence)

Handle Animal, Ride

Animal Handling

Animal Handling (Wisdom)

Sense Motive

Negotiator

Insight (Wisdom)

Heal

Self-Sufficient

Medicine (Wisdom)

Listen, Spot

Alertness

Perception (Wisdom)

Survival

Self-Sufficient, Track

Survival (Wisdom)

Bluff, Disguise

Deceitful

Deception (Charisma)

Intimidate

Persuasive

Intimidation (Charisma)

Perform

Performance (Charisma)

Diplomacy

Negotiator, Persuasive

Persuasion (Charisma)

Appraise, Concentration,
Craft, Decipher Script,
Disable Device, Escape
Artist, Forgery, Knowledge
(other fields), Open Lock,
Profession, Speak Language,
Use Magic Device, Use Rope

Diligent

No 5E skill equivalent. Many


of these are now generic
ability checks, exclusive class
features, or background
elements.

If a creature has proficiency in a skill, their bonus with that skill is equal to the relevant ability
bonus, plus their proficiency bonus.
Example: A monster has a Dexterity of 15 (+2 bonus) and proficiency in Stealth. This means
that they should have a +4 bonus with Stealth (Dexterity) checks. If they are a more powerful
creature, they may have a +5 bonus instead.
Some creatures seem to have a higher proficiency in one skill than the others, typically double
their normal proficiency bonus (+4 or +6). For example, doppelgangers have a +4 on Deception
(Charisma) checks. You may wish to do the same with a creatures signature skill.

Vulnerabilities, Resistances, Immunities


Vulnerabilities, resistances (such as damage reduction), and immunities are something you
either have or not in 5E. So when you import these from 3.5, you simply list them under the
appropriate category: Damage Vulnerabilities, Damage Resistances, or Damage
Immunities.
In the case of 3.5 damage reduction that can be bypassed by certain types of weapon (such as
DR 5/silver), they are usually described as follows under Resistances:

bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from (magical or nonmagical or [blank]) weapons (that
arent silvered or adamantine or etc. or [blank])
You should also note Condition Immunities, which may overlap with resistances or damage
immunities. For example, a creature immune to poison damage should also note that they are
immune to the poisoned condition.
You should also make sure to list any vulnerabilities, resistances, or immunities that were innate
to a creature type in 3.5 in the appropriate sections, with the following exceptions.

The innate immunities of undead in 5E are:


Damage Immunities: poison
Condition Immunities: poisoned
Only add other immunities to an undead creature if they are separate from its undead nature.

Incorporeal creatures should probably have the following resistances and immunities:
Damage Resistances: acid, cold, fire, lightning, thunder; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing
from nonmagical weapons
Damage Immunities: poison
Condition Immunities: grappled, paralyzed, petrified, poisoned, prone, restrained

Magic resistance (spell resistance) has been simplified, and is now listed as a trait - see the
flameskull for an example.

Senses
There are only four senses established in 5E at this point: blindsight, darkvision,
tremorsense, and truesight. 3.5s low-light vision appears to have been folded into
darkvision. Any other senses should be used as is.
Also, all creatures have a passive Perception score. This is equal to 10 plus their total bonus to
Perception (Wisdom) checks.

Languages
Generally, these stay the same. There were a few changes, however:
Dwarven is now called Dwarvish. Likewise, Elven is now Elvish, and Gnome is
now Gnomish.
Mind flayers and beholders now speak Deep Speech; you may decide other
monsters should speak it as well.

Traits
Most of the 3.5 Special Qualities not described earlier in the stat block should be described
here, along with special creature type rules (like Shapechanger). When possible, you should
replace any 3.5 traits with their 5E equivalents, as described in the Monster Manual. When this
is not possible, try to use the Manuals creatures as examples to follow, or simply use the 3.5
rules as is.
A list of the known Traits in 5E can be found here.

A few further notes:


Fast healing does not appear to be part of the 5E rules.
Spellcasting is more complicated to convert than the others. In addition to being used for 3.5
monsters with spellcasting class levels, lists of spell-like abilities from 3.5 also tend to be
translated as a Spellcasting trait. (The exception is any spell-like abilities that seem to be
signature powers, in which case theyre usually listed as Innate Spellcasting or broken out as
their own trait, action, or reaction.)
The caster level for Spellcasting should probably stay the same (unless its above 20, in which
case go with 20). However, keep in mind that you will need to follow the rules for spellcasting in
5E, which differ from the ones in 3.5; refer to the Basic Rules for more details. (For Innate
Spellcasting, the spellcasting ability is typically Wisdom or Charisma.)

Actions with an Attack Roll


These are converted from 3.5 Attacks or Special Attacks. You need to convert three things to
make these into 5E actions - the to hit bonus, the damage inflicted by elements of the attack,
and any saving throws required.
A list of the known Actions in 5E can be found here.

To Hit
Like AC, this should probably be recalculated from scratch. In general, the to hit for an action
is based on the proficiency bonus. This is combined with the relevant ability bonus (usually
Strength or Dexterity).
Note that most natural attacks (claw, bite, etc.) appear to be finesse attacks, meaning they can
use either Strength or Dexterity with attack rolls. Unless you think your creature should be a
weak melee combatant, you should choose the highest of either Strength or Dexterity for to hit
with natural attacks.

Unusual attacks like the wraiths Life Drain appear to either have a higher bonus, or are using
something other than Strength or Dexterity. I dont have any specific recommendations for this
right now, but feel free to experiment with other ability scores (like Constitution or Charisma) if
that seems appropriate. Youre probably safer avoiding that, however.

Damage
For attacks that use a weapon, refer to the damage listed in the Basic Rules PDF. If the
creature is large, increase the weapons damage die by one (i.e. 1d6 becomes 2d6). If the
creature is huge, increase the weapons damage die by two (i.e. 1d6 becomes 3d6).
Some especially huge creatures, and gargantuan creatures, may increase the damage die by
three (i.e. 1d6 becomes 4d6), but you may be safer sticking with adding two.
For natural attacks by tiny or small creatures, you should probably leave the damage dice
alone. However, the minimum damage die appears to be 1d4, so any weaker attacks should
probably upgrade to that. (The same goes for damage dice below 1d4 for other creatures.)

For natural attacks by medium or larger creatures, use the following table:
3.5 Damage Dice

5E Damage Dice

1d4

1d6 (or 2d4)

1d6

1d8 (or 2d6)

1d8

1d10 (or 2d8)

1d10

1d12 (or 2d10)

1d12

2d8 (or 2d12)

If an attack inflicts more than one die of damage, increase the 5E damage die by that number.
For example, 2d4 should become 2d6 (or 3d4).
Some creatures strongest natural attacks seem to add both one die of damage and increase
the die type by one - for example, 1d6 becoming 2d8. This should be used carefully, however,
and shouldnt be used on more than one attack.
Dont forget to add the monsters Strength bonus to melee damage and Dexterity bonus to
ranged damage. You can calculate average damage through the method above under Hit Dice.
Some creatures inflict additional damage on a hit, such as acid or poison - convert this the same
as the above.
Other types of damaging attacks (like the flameskulls fire ray) seem to be treated much like the
strongest natural attacks above, but there arent many examples yet. Still, that guideline may
work for now. Dragon breath weapons are upgraded much more than that, but until we have
more dragons, Im reluctant to recommend any guidelines there.
Saving Throws for Actions
In general, Fortitude saves should be converted to Constitution saves, Reflex saves should
be converted to Dexterity saves, and Will saves should be converted to Wisdom saves.
The average Difficulty Class (DC) for saves is lower in 5E than they were in 3.5. The usual
way to calculate this in 5E is 8 + proficiency bonus + the ability bonus of the creature for the
relevant save. For example, a CR 2 creature with Constitution 13 (+1 bonus) that inflicts a
Constitution save effect should require a DC of 11 (8+2+1).
The DMG also includes typical DCs for creatures of a given CR - you may use this instead.
Also, actions that drained Constitution in 3.5 appear to inflict hit point damage instead. The
number of Con points drained should be turned into the same number of hit points of damage

(i.e. 1d4 Con becomes 1d4 damage), then converted using the guidelines under Actions with
an Attack Roll above. If an attack inflicted both hit point and Constitution damage, combine
those together as best you can before converting the total damage.

Recharge
Some actions also have a recharge, which is explained in the Monster Manual.
Recharge seems to be limited to strong effects that, in 3.5, could only be used a limited number
of times per day, or required a number of rounds between uses.
My recommendation is to use Recharge 5-6 for most limited-use actions, and keep X per day
for especially strong attacks that should only be used once in a battle.

Actions without an Attack Roll


Many 5E creatures - such as the doppelganger, flameskull, grick, nothic, owlbear, and young
green dragon - have Multiattack, allowing them to take more than one action per turn. If your
3.5 monster could attack more than once, you should consider giving them Multiattack in 5E.
Note that most creatures can only make two attacks - the only exception is the young green
dragon, which can make three.
There are also a few creatures that can take actions not requiring an attack roll or saving throw.
If your monster could do this in 3.5, you can probably use them verbatim in 5E.

Reactions
Any special quality or attack in 3.5 that required some sort of trigger should be a Reaction.
Otherwise, treat it just the same as any other Action.
A list of the known Reactions in 5E can be found here.

Final Notes
Everything not mentioned above should probably be dropped in 5E. Of course, if you feel its
very important to the creatures concept, feel free to port it over anyway.

Also, in general, 5E monsters seem to have slightly fewer attack choices than many of their 3.5
counterparts, so you should feel free to drop any monster abilities that dont seem essential to
its concept. (This will also speed your conversion up, of course.)

Appendix 1: CR Estimator
The below conversion follows a very broad comparison of the Challenge Ratings for the same
creatures in 3.5 and 5E. Its not perfect, but it works as a rough starting point.
5E CR

3.5 CR

or less

or

+1

+1

Basically, you subtract one from the 3.5 CR. For amounts less than 1, round it down to the
nearest 5E CR, then reduce it by one step. (For example, (3.5) reduces to (5E), and then
drops one CR down (0).)

Appendix 2: 3E
Converting 3E creatures will generally be the same as 3.5. There are only two notable
differences:
3E has two creature types dropped in 3.5: Beast and Shapechanger. Creatures
of the former type should become Beasts in 5E, of course, while any Shapechanger
should probably become a Monstrosity (unless you decide they better fit under another
type).
Damage reduction in 3E was broken down by weapon bonus (+1, +2, etc.). This
should all be folded into a resistance to nonmagical weapons in 5E.
Also, 3E has some notable skills that were dropped or merged in 3.5:
3E Skill

5E Skill Proficiency

Pick Pocket

Sleight of Hand (Dexterity)

Read Lips

Perception (Wisdom)

Intuit Direction, Wilderness Lore

Survival (Wisdom)

Innuendo

Deception (Charisma)

Alchemy, Animal Empathy, Scry

No 5E skill equivalent. Many of these are now


generic ability checks, exclusive class
features, or background elements.

If you want more details on the differences between 3E and 3.5, check out the official guidelines
from Wizards of the Coast here: http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/dnd/20030718a

Appendix 3: Pathfinder
Converting from Pathfinder will generally be the same as converting from 3.5, even more so
than 3E. Most adjustments are minor, and do not change any of the guidelines used for 3.5.
Pathfinder did restore flat XP awards for monsters, but it also retained 3.5s Challenge Rating
system, so that conversion should be the same.
Lastly, Pathfinder did consolidate some of 3.5s skills, which can be converted as follows:
Pathfinder Skill

5E Skill Proficiency

Acrobatics

Acrobatics (Dexterity)

Stealth

Stealth (Dexterity)

Perception

Perception (Wisdom)

Linguistics

No 5E skill equivalent. This is usually a


background element.

If you want more details on the changes between 3.5 and Pathfinder, you can find the official
conversion guidelines here: http://paizo.com/products/btpy89m6?Pathfinder-Roleplaying-GameConversion-Guide