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I'm writing a module that has hopes of being as edition-neutral as possible. However, new monsters are presented so I'm left with the very hard task of making it accessible to older and newer editions alike. (I'd settle for 2E, 3.5E and 5E.)

Some things I just can't figure how to state in a single entry. For example: Armor Class. If you've only played 2E and earlier, a very high AC doesn't make any sense. The opposite would be true for someone who's only played 5E.

I really don't like the idea of having 3+ stat blocks for each monster.

Is there a tried-and-true way to do this?

Are there any published adventures that do something like this?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you using a single set of stats? or do you have stats for each edition and you just need a way to format them for presentation? Maybe include an example of what you currently have? \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin Mar 7 at 21:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @linksassin I'm still fleshing out the stats... I still don't have an example precisely because I don't know how to present them (or if it's worth the effort and I'd better off just choosing an edition). \$\endgroup\$ – Roflo Mar 7 at 22:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Roflo I added the monsters tag. I also added the conversion tag, not because you explicitly asked about conversion but because it will help people with experience to find/notice your question. If you disagree with this change, please roll it back or let me know. (Alternatively, edition-comparison might be helpful to attract those with experience.) \$\endgroup\$ – Bloodcinder Mar 8 at 12:30
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Reskin as much as possible

The way that worked for me when I was preparing adventures for 3.5 / Pathfinder was to take monster most similar to what I had in mind, and use its stats with any description I needed. Small mechanical changes are far easier to apply cross-version than entire stat blocks.

For example:

  • If I wanted an Imp, I said it was Imp.
  • If I wanted a pack of dire dogs, I said something like "Use stats for Wolf, adjust numbers to make it Very Difficult encounter." For small number of system versions, it may be feasible to precalculate that number.
  • For "Storm Fairy" it would be a reskinned Nymph, with Diplomacy swapped for Intimidate - change easy to make independent on system version.

Most of the time, when I wanted a custom monster in adventure, all I needed was custom look, feel and player experience. Custom game mechanics was hardly ever needed - so I refrained from using it. And players never seemed to mind it.


For stats, unbounded accuracy of 3.5, bounded accuracy of 5e, and 18/51-75 strength found in 2e could make the same stat too high in 5e, too low in 3.5, and simply not in line with 2. For saves, 2e has five of them, 3.5e has three, 5e has six. And these are totally different from edition to edition, so to cover all, you have to give all 14 in your stat block.

Sorry, no way around it, if you want to give stat blocks, having one block per edition will take up the same space than cramping all version into one stat block, and will be more readable.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ On your last paragraph, I think there is something 5e could learn from 2e's "inline" statblocks. \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Mar 8 at 11:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nitsua60 to be honest, my 2e experience is limited at best. Never had my own set of books, and I can't recall details any longer :( \$\endgroup\$ – Mołot Mar 8 at 11:26
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Pick an edition and provide a conversion guide

The easiest way to do this is to pick a single edition and write the module for it. Use the standard stats blocks for that edition. This will make balancing encounters, assessing level range and calculating XP much simpler.

At the back of the module provide a 'conversion guide' under a title of 'Playing in other editions'. Provide 1 or 2 examples of how to convert one of your stat block for the other edition. Then if people want to play in that edition they can do the conversion themselves without too much effort.

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