Recently, a Pathfinder game I was partaking in was ending for various reasons. Someone else in the group decided to take on the mantle of DM, but decided to run 5e instead again for unimportant reasons. We decided to re-create our characters or create new characters at level 1. I decided to convert my character. However, the staple of my character was necrografts. These are essentially undead body parts to replace someone’s limbs.

I had decided to replace my arm with that of a ghoul's, thus gaining a claw attack with ghoulish effects, at the cost of some other penalties because undead limb.

A necrograft host has a necrosis score equal to half the number of necrografts implants in his body (minimum 1). A necrograft host gains DR against nonlethal damage (excluding nonlethal damage from starvation or exertion) and a racial bonus on saving throws against paralysis, poison, and sleep effects equal to his necrosis score, but takes an equal penalty on saving throws against disease and negative energy effects. A necrograft also reduces the host’s morale bonuses and the magical healing he receives by an amount equal to his necrosis score, as the necrotic energies blunt his emotions and ties to the natural cycle of life and death.

Now in Pathfinder this is a 1d6+str attack, with a save DC of 10+½hd+CHA for ghouls/ghasts (presumably con for living creatures since cha is undead con). Failed save applied a 2-5 round paralysis with no further save. This provided a certain measure of scaling to remain effective as I leveled up and could use my wizard spells to supplement and raise my DC and essentially be a close up threat. (At level 7 I had lower than average to-hit chance [about 35–60% chance to hit average enemies], and generally a DC 17 on my attack [average 50-60% chance to paralyze if hit] for a total of about 25% chance to paralyze an average enemy and a 75% chance to just suck.)

Now, moving to 5e. Ghouls have a claws attack that’s listed at 2d4 for 2 claws. So presumably I will now do 1d4. Not much loss in terms of damage (ignoring the lack of coup de grace anyway). However, ghouls and ghasts both have the same DC of 10 with a save every round. No scaling for higher level ghouls. That means no scaling for me. From what I understand, while 5e has lower DCs, 10 is still incredibly low. On top of that they get a save every round.

I am not familiar enough with 5e to understand balance on a grand scale, but it doesn’t sound like this will stay relevant for long.

What would be a good way to balance this that would allow me to stay a moderate threat as a close up character as the game progresses into higher levels? I am headed towards a necromacy wizard / Eldrich Knight fighter multi-class.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 23, 2018 at 20:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Erudaki Have you considered the posibility that the concept just doesn't translate very well? Given that the two systems are not totally compatible, there are often going to be things that just plain work differently. \$\endgroup\$
    – YogoZuno
    Commented May 24, 2018 at 0:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes I have considered that. But as I am largely unfamiliar with 5e. I was hoping to get some more experienced voices explaining if it is or isnt, and why. \$\endgroup\$
    – Erudaki
    Commented May 24, 2018 at 3:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Erudkai You are asking about a fairly niche bit of gear...AND you're also using a customised version of the Pathfinder gear (as far as I can see, there isn't a Ghoul paralysis arm option...), and trying to convert it to a system that no longer really uses large amounts of gear for characters. \$\endgroup\$
    – YogoZuno
    Commented May 24, 2018 at 3:10

2 Answers 2


Scaling is possible.

I agree with @DavidCoffron for the most part on balance. This is a rather over-powered ability to have at lower levels and might be insigificant at higher levels.

The downsides from your link would likely translate to disadvantage (at least doing things that required that hand or both hands) rather than a -2 but that would be in your DM's wheelhouse as well. Those penalties are also non-combat related for the most part so they don't necessarily offer much in the way of offset in my opinion. But keeping these as penalties likely won't hurt anything, as there are Rings and Cloaks of Protection as well as partial cover and so on. Just be aware that you are breaking away from the core tenets of the 5E system by doing it.

I didn't stick with PF long enough to get into the idea of these Necrograft things.

However, if scaling is a must it is important to note that Saving Throws are calculated the same way for NPCs/Monsters as they are for PCs. Might not be stated explicitly but it is implicit in the design.

So to deconstruct the Save we proceed as follows:

Template is 8 + Proficiency Bonus + Ability Modifier

Base 8 + 2 (CR 1 Creature) + 0 (Likely Constitution as it is doesn't fit for Wisdom on this ability which is the ghoul's only other +0).

You could therefore work with your DM to apply your proficiency bonus and your Constitution modifier. This might, however, go against the premise on the Necrografts though.

To potential down-votes I know there is nothing explicit that says this is how it work, that I remember, but it is intuitive to work this way.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I had been mulling over something similar in terms of DC. Essentially the same as what you suggested without the proficiency bonus. One thing I havent thought of a good way to translate over well are the penalties having a necrograft imply. Which could also help bring balance in line. Not as concerned about super low levels as I have already begun talking to DM about it not being dc 10 to start and have way to tie it into character lore and story. In the end I still only have 3 days of research worth of balance knowledge on this topic. Hearing the varied opinions are nice. \$\endgroup\$
    – Erudaki
    Commented May 23, 2018 at 19:50

pending clarification for balance as is

Increasing the DC or removing the turn-by-turn save would heavily affect balance for your ported necrograft

In 5th edition, the number of creatures involved in combat has a much greater impact on encounter difficulty than in pathfinder due to the principle of bounded accuracy. Additionally, in my experience, a normal fight can last as little as 2-4 rounds if you follow the encounter design rules in the Dungeon Master's Guide.

Therefore, a true port would remove a character from a fight through paralysis and significantly decrease the difficulty, often to a trivial level. This is why many effects like a ghoul's paralysis now have repeated saves and a lower DC.

  • \$\begingroup\$ @Slagmoth That is what i often got when following the rules for combat design in the DMG. I don't do my encounters like that anymore and mine currently last longer. I'll clarify \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 23, 2018 at 19:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you saying that as is it is currently balanced for PC use? Can you expand upon this some? As a wizard as a 2nd level spell I get hold person. Same effects as a ghoul claw, but with a much higher DC. DC15-17 @ 10th level. At that point it doesnt seem like the claw is a viable option. Its not much damage, nor does the DC seem relevant compared to other class options. \$\endgroup\$
    – Erudaki
    Commented May 23, 2018 at 19:13
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Erudaki As a 1st level character (if I read that correctly) having essentially Hold Person at will with no concentration requirement (even if at melee range) is a bit over-powered as it is, even with a DC 10. That is my opinion based on experience in the system. Now if your DM has a way to balance it that might be different at their table obviously. \$\endgroup\$
    – Slagmoth
    Commented May 23, 2018 at 19:21
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ While i dont disagree with you on that, ( old campaign I came in at lv 6 ) I am not asking solely about lv 1 balance. Im asking about balance as the game progresses and these options become available. Also keep in mind its not just a DC10. Its a melee hit (which can miss) followed by a DC 10. while not a complete solution, still much less reliable. I updated my question to reflect the desire to want it to remain relevant at higher levels. \$\endgroup\$
    – Erudaki
    Commented May 23, 2018 at 19:25
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Erudaki I'll expand on it in a moment. Seems I misunderstood your question (I thought you had already figured the ghoul attack was okay). Keep in mind that hold person can be broken by attacking the caster while ghoul paralysis cannot. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 23, 2018 at 19:29

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