Our DM has recently made the decision to make the transition from Pathfinder to Savage Worlds and for most of the party the transition has been relatively smooth. As a Wizard though the change has been a little more troublesome. Coming from Pathfinder that has spells for almost any ocasion imaginable to Savage Worlds which invites you to be creative with it's existing powers has been a little bit of a problem for me.

I then discovered Zadmar's Savage Spellbook, an incredible resource which had a number of powers that were very familiar. Unfortunately as the author points out in the introduction the list is fairly short, not even covering the complete list of powers in the Savage Worlds Deluxe Edition. I was wondering if there is anything else like this out there, a list of powers with trappings that resemble 3.5/Pathfinder spells?


3 Answers 3


Short Answer

Having been part of the Savage Worlds community for years, I have not seen a more complete list of powers with Pathfinder-like trappings than Zadmar's Savage Spellbook. This is because in general Savage Worlds favors a "the player and GM agree on the trappings" attitude, which is different than the D&D / Pathfinder "every spell has explicitly defined trappings" attitude. The idea is that by having a short list of spells you can customize with your own trappings, players can pick what they want and then fine tune it much more quickly, allowing for more Fast! Furious! Fun! gameplay.

Put another way, Savage Worlds is "pick the trapping, then build the power around it". D&D is "pick the power that includes the trapping." If you're converting from Pathfinder to Savage Worlds, you'll also have to change your mindset about how spells are defined because both systems make different assumptions.

Long Answer

There are no comprehensive lists of trappings, official or fanmade, for Savage Worlds powers because not only is there a different mindset for how powers work, but it's easy enough to just add your own trappings to fit whatever concept you want. If you want "classic D&D trappings", you can do that. If you want "crazy archetype-inverting fantasy trappings", you can do that. But the moral of the story is that it's easy to do it yourself; you don't need a giant list. Here are some guidelines for how to do it:

Some D&D Spells Are SWD Powers with an Elemental Trapping

Savage Worlds Deluxe introduced several elemental trappings with example effects. For instance, an attack with the Acid: Corrosion trapping can ruin armor. Just take bolt and slap on that trapping and you have Melf's Acid Arrow. Use the Fire: Flammable trapping instead and you have Scorching Ray.

This is pretty much what Zadmar's Savage Spellbook did. You'll notice that each of the entries has a note at the bottom saying which trappings they used; they pretty much just picked a trapping, made any logical extrapolations from it (e.g. a sound-based trappings are bad during stealth missions), and fudged any numbers that they felt were appropriate to balance any added effects.

For combat spells, you can get pretty far by just doing this. Again, there is a paradigm shift in that players are expected to make up their own trappings, with the agreement of the GM.

It's Not That Hard to Create Your Own Trappings

Say that Magic Missile is an important part of your D&D character, especially the fact that he never misses with it. Having bolt automatically hit, regardless of cover and wound penalties, is far too powerful for Savage Worlds, but you can invent several similar trappings to replicate the idea of it not missing its mark. Here are a few possibilities I came up with:

  • Magic Missile is bolt, but you can automatically aim if you don't move (basically the Marksman Edge applied to this power)
  • Magic Missile is bolt, but you ignore one level of cover (i.e. Heavy becomes Medium, Medium becomes Light, Light becomes none)
  • Magic Missile is bolt, but you ignore up to two points of Called Shot penalties

As long as your GM is okay with what you're making, you can pretty much do whatever you want. Again, that's a different mindset than Pathfinder, where you're encouraged to stay in the bounds of the listed powers, rather than encouraged to create something and find a way to make it work.

Sidenote: What About All The Non-Combat Spells?

One complaint I've heard about Savage Worlds is that there aren't many non-combat powers. I think many people miss that there is a paradigm shift: In D&D, you have a spell for just about every arcane trick you can pull off. If you don't have the spell, you can't do it. In Savage Worlds, you have a spell if it is important enough to be used in a matter of life or death, generally because they have a combat effect. If you don't have the spell, it either means it's not noteworthy enough to list it on your character sheet or your character just didn't care to learn it (perhaps their training was in destructive spells, but not so much conjuration or illusion spells).

Some Spells Don't Belong, Because a Wizard Can Just Do It

Minor D&D spells such as Cantrips, Read Magic, Mage Hand, Mending, and so forth don't exist because they're considered so basic and inconsequential that it's not important to track them on the character sheet, so wizards can just do them so long as the GM and player agree. You just make a Spellcasting roll (or whatever arcane skill you are using) to create fireworks, look over a scroll, pick up a potato with your mind, or fix a torn garment. Any wizard worth his salt can do it, so long as it makes sense for the character (if they never bothered learning illusion, they can't conjure up a ghostly image when telling a story to children).

Also, recall that the New Power Edge takes an entire advance, so all the Powers available are ones that are deemed to be useful enough to be equivalent to an Edge. A few third party settings break this rule and Savage Worlds fans tend to dislike it. There's one out there that that adds over a hundred new Powers (more than double what's in SWD), with one being a power to make wet things dry and dry things wet. Not really on par with bolt is it?

Some Spells Can Be Rolled in With Other Mechanics or Spells

One thing I've seen is that when a player wants to use magic to do something with a more consequential effect, the GM tries to roll it in with another rule in Savage Worlds. Say that the wizard wants to create a Ghost Sound to distract an enemy. That's pretty much a Smarts trick, although the GM might choose to make it Spellcasting vs. Smarts instead of Smarts vs. Smarts. Calm Emotions is pretty much an out of combat Performance vs. Spirit. Again, a spellcaster can generally just do it, so long as it fits thematically that they can.

Also, some D&D spells are really just more specific applications of Savage Worlds spells. Knock is probably just boost trait applied to the Lockpicking skill. Rage is warrior's gift granting the Berserk Edge. Feeblemind is lower trait applied to Smarts. In reality, you already have many of these powers already.

Final Thoughts

There are 390 spells in the Pathfinder core book for wizards/sorcerers alone with 50 in Savage Worlds Deluxe. There is not a one to one conversion between the two, and that's because there are different underlying philosophies for what sort of spells should be on the character sheet and how much player involvement there should be. A few lists are out there of well defined trappings, but they are generally efforts to convert a D&D mindset into a Savage Worlds mindset, so they are rare.

My suggestion is just to embrace the Savage Worlds mindset and invent trappings of your own to match the powers that your Pathfinder character had. It'll save you a lot of time, and you might like it!

  • \$\begingroup\$ Regarding your notes on Magic Missile: Savage Spellbook has some "indirect" Bolt variants which hit automatically, but only do half damage if they would have otherwise missed (assuming they're cast successfully, of course). \$\endgroup\$ Feb 14, 2014 at 11:42

In addition to Thunderforge's excellent answer, one other option in Savage Worlds is to apply magical trappings to your Skills or Edges to get your spells rather than buying the spells as Powers.

For example, rather than Boost Trait, Knock could instead be modeled using the Lockpicking skill with "Knock spell" as its trapping, in which case you might have to spend 1 PP to use it instead of needing to have a set of picks. Or maybe there's no PP cost, but you have to speak loudly to cast the spell, making it useless when you're trying to avoid being noticed.

The key, of course, is to balance the advantages and drawbacks of each trapping, regardless of whether it's applied to a Power, a Skill, an Edge, or something else.


The magic system described in the Savage Worlds core rules is heavily geared towards combat; even the few utility spells and non-combat buffs have a very limited range and duration, making most of them unsuitable for non-combat situations. Take teleport for example: in D&D you can teleport 100 miles per level, while in Savage Worlds you can teleport 10-15" per 3 PP.

You can use trappings to capture the approximate feel of many of the spells, but it can start to feel like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole; the two magic systems have a very different design philosophy, as Thunderforge pointed out. Even the Arcane Backgrounds are designed very differently, giving spellcasters access to a tiny number of broad spells rather than a huge number of specific spells.

However that doesn't mean Savage Worlds can't capture the feel of Pathfinder/3.5 spells - just that it doesn't by default. Savage Worlds is a core system, specifically designed to be paired with a setting that includes its own rule changes, so it makes sense to change the magic system if the setting calls for it.

Hellfrost, Shaintar, Necessary Evil, East Texas University, etc, each include their own variant magic rules, tailored to their individual settings. Likewise, you could use Savage Vancian Magic for a setting based around Pathfinder/3.5-style magic.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Zadmar makes excellent points. I would add, too, that through the use of Rituals from the Horror Companion, one could expand the usefulness and strength of powers including utility powers such as teleport. The Dramatic Task approach to Rituals works fairly well for utility powers as they are typically conducted out of combat anyway. You'd likely need to soften the consequences for failure as they are written to suit the horror genre in which magic is extremely dangerous. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kristian
    Jul 15, 2015 at 13:59

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