Converting other RPGs to Savage Worlds

Savage Worlds is an amazing RPG system, in that the rules are relatively simple to learn and play, yet are infinitely flexible and able to be adapted easily to other settings. But what if you want to run adventures originally written for a different ruleset? Wouldn’t it be great to be able to use a classic module with Savage Worlds as well?

It’s actually not that hard to do rough & ready conversion on the fly, so in this article I will give some suggestions as to how to do this. Please note that none of this is going to give you a perfect conversion, that’s really not possible, but it will get you close enough to make it playable, and allow you to tweak what you need to fit your own game.

In this article you’ll find ways to convert adventure modules from d20 RPGs like D&D and Pathfinder, d100 RPGs like Call of Cthulhu, Runequest, and Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, and Open D6 RPGs such as West End’s Star Wars into relatively playable Savage Worlds stats.

Have fun, and do let me know if you find it useful!


d20 Systems

There are literally thousands of modules available for d20 based games such as D&D and its clones and derivations, such as Pathfinder, Dungeon Crawl Classics, Mutants & Masterminds, Beyond the Wall etc.

It’s important to note that the d20 ruleset is in many ways pretty illogical and overly complex, so converting modules to Savage Worlds format is not simple, but luckily most of the heavy lifting required can be done automatically using Zadmar’s online conversion tools:

I strongly recommend that you use those tools, it’s a lot quicker and easier than doing it by hand.

Zadmar also has an excellent database of previously converted d20 monsters that you can drop into your own campaigns.

For very quick manual conversion, note that d20 characters have Attributes that go from 1–20. To convert these to Savage Worlds simply divide the character’s Attribute score by 2 and round up to the nearest die type. So, for example, if a character has an Attribute score of 14, half that = 7, rounded up becomes a d8.

Attributes

  • Agility = DEX/2, rounded up to nearest die type
  • Smarts = INT/2, rounded up to nearest die type
  • Strength = STR/2, rounded up to nearest die type
  • Spirit = WIS or CHA/2 (pick highest), rounded up to nearest die type
  • Vigor = CON/2, rounded up to nearest die type

From this derive the other basic Savage Worlds stats for Toughness etc. as normal. For CHA scores below 8, add the Ugly (Minor) Hindrance. For CHA scores above 14, add the Attractive Edge.

Skills

In most cases the easiest thing to do is just apply rule of thumb. If your PCs are low level, and they are up against NPC mooks, give the NPCs d6s in everything, light armor and some basic weapon like a spear or short sword, and keep playing. If an NPC boss has a name, give them a Wild Die and 3 Wounds. If they should be a low level but tough fighter, give them d8 or d10 in Fighting plus Chain (+3) or Plate (+4) armor. If they should be mid to high level, give them a higher combat skill die and add some combat edges to make them more powerful and interesting, like First Strike, Counter Attack, Sweep etc. At high levels give them magical items and weapons too — but remember that a little goes a long way in Savage Worlds!

The main thing is to keep it Fast, Furious, and Fun. Remember that in Savage Worlds NPCs don’t have to be built according to the same rules as PCs, so just give them whatever seems to make sense for the plot. However if you really want to go a bit more granular, use Zadmar’s conversion tools, or use the following:

D&D 5th Edition
To get a character’s Fighting skill, take their highest Proficiency Bonus with a melee weapon and multiply by 2 to get the Savage Worlds die type. So, for example, if a character has a Proficiency Bonus of +3, 3x2 = Fighting d6.

For Shooting, use the same calculation with the highest ranged weapon Proficiency Bonus.

Older d20 Systems
For older versions of d20 systems, Fighting and Shooting skill can be roughly estimated by dividing the character’s Base Attack Bonus by 2, rounding up, and adding 2. So for a BAB of +3: (3/2)+2 = d4

Other Skills
All characters in Savage Worlds start with the following Skills at d4:

  • Athletics
  • Common Knowledge
  • Notice
  • Persuasion
  • Stealth

If a D&D character has proficiency in any skill like these increase it one die type per skill (e.g. Listen would increase the Notice skill to d6). For each other D&D skill add the appropriate Savage Worlds skill at d4, or raise it another die type.

Prices

There’s no exact conversion from d20 prices to Savage Worlds, but as a rough rule of thumb:

  • 5 silver pieces = $1
  • 1 gold piece = $20

d100 Systems

There are many great RPGS based on the d100 Basic Role Playing system, and include classic RPGs like Call of Cthulhu, Runequest, Stormbringer, FASA Star Trek, OpenQuest, Magic World etc. Modules written for these systems are relatively easy to convert on the fly. To convert NPCs and monsters use the following guide:

Basic Role Playing games use Attribute scores similar to d20 systems i.e. from 1–20. To convert to Savage Worlds divide the character’s Attribute score by 2 and round up to the nearest die type. For example, if a character has an Attribute score of 14: half that = 7, rounded up becomes a d8. The only exception to this rule is use CON + SIZ divided by 4, rounded up, to get the Vigor die.

Attributes

  • Agility = AGI or DEX/2 (pick the highest), rounded up to nearest die type
  • Smarts = INT/2, rounded up to nearest die type
  • Strength = STR/2, rounded up to nearest die type
  • Spirit = POW/2, rounded up to nearest die type
  • Vigor = (CON+SIZ)/4, rounded up to nearest die type

For CHA scores below 8, add the Ugly (Minor) Hindrance. For CHA scores above 14, add the Attractive Edge.

[Note: the recent Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition uses a modified Attribute system. The above is valid for all editions up to and including CoC 6th Edition.]

Skills

BRP systems use a very granular percentage-based skill system, but this is quite easy to convert to SW. Simply divide the skill score by 10 and round up to the nearest die type as before:

  • Less than 10% = Unskilled
  • 10 — 40% = d4
  • 41% — 60% = d6
  • 61% — 80% = d8
  • 81% — 100% = d10
  • 100%+ = d12

d100 games tend to have a plethora of skills and skill names, but it’s usually fairly easy to map each one on to an appropriate skill in Savage Worlds. However some Savage World skills are broken down into various different skills in d100, so to convert properly you’ll need to combine the d100 scores. For example:

  • Add the percentages for Parry and Dodge together to get the Athletics score (minimum d4).
  • Add the percentages for Insight, Listen, Sense, and Search together to get the Notice score (minimum d4).
  • Add Bargain, Fast Talk, and Oratory together to get Persuasion (minimum d4).
  • Add Stealth, Hide, and Move Quietly to get Stealth (minimum d4).
  • Add all Ranged Weapon skills together to get Shooting.
  • Add all Melee Weapons skills, Shield, Brawl, and Martial Arts together to get Fighting.

Basic Role Playing games also have percentage-based spellcasting and superpowers. If the character you are converting has Powers or Spells, just give them the appropriate Arcane Background and the basic Savage World Powers that seem most closest to their original spell list — most should be easily compatible. Then add the percentages of their known spell skills together, divide by 10, and round up to the nearest die type to get the Savage Worlds Spellcasting die type.


Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (1st & 2nd Editions)

There are some tremendous adventures and campaign books available for the early editions of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, which uses a heavily modified d100 system. To convert to Savage Worlds is even easier than with Basic Role Playing. Just use the following system:

  • Agility = Ag
  • Smarts = Int
  • Strength = S
  • Spirit = WP
  • Vigor = T
  • Fighting = WS
  • Shooting = BS

For each of the above scores, simply take the first digit and double it to find the Savage Worlds die type:

  • Less than 20% = Unskilled
  • 20 — 29% = d4
  • 30% — 39% = d6
  • 40% — 49% = d8
  • 50% — 59% = d10
  • 60%+ = d12

Apply Savage Worlds derived stats as appropriate. Note that this will probably give you slightly overpowered characters in Savage Worlds, but that’s fine, the Warhammer universe is supposed to be brutal.

For Spellcasting or Faith skills, give the character one die type for each point of Mag e.g. if a character has Mag +2, then that would translate into a Savage Worlds die type of d6.

For other skills, use the percentage system as above. Add similar skills together, take the first digit and double it to find the Savage Worlds die type (e.g. add Concealment, Silent Move, and Shadowing together to get Stealth)


Open D6 Systems

D6 Roleplaying was first invented by West End Games for the Ghostbusters RPG, and achieved fame in their legendary Star Wars series. It’s a great system that is also fairly easy to convert to Savage Worlds. To convert simply multiply the number of d6s in a characteristic by 2. Ignore any extra bonuses that a character may have to their dice score. For example, if a character has 3D+2 in a characteristic, that would convert to d6 in Savage Worlds.

  • Agility = Dexterity x2
  • Smarts = Knowledge x2
  • Strength = Strength x2
  • Spirit = d6 if it’s a normal person, d8 if a Sith, Jedi or Rebel hero
  • Vigor = Strength x2,
  • Fighting = take the highest melee skill x2
  • Shooting = take the highest ranged weapon skill x2
  • Notice = Perception x2

Apply Savage Worlds derived stats as appropriate.

For other skills, just take the highest skill that’s closest to the appropriate Savage Worlds skill and apply the same formula. For a setting like Star Wars that has lots of technical skills you will probably have to create some Savage Worlds Knowledge skills as appropriate. The Science Fiction Companion will also be really useful in this case.