I just inherited a bunch of old school adventures for AD&D 2nd Edition, which I'm going to adapt for Pathfinder.

At the beginning of many of these old adventures it lists what levels characters should be for the game to be challenging but not unbeatable. Basically, it just says what it's recommended level is.

So, I'd like to know, in AD&D 2nd Edition, what is the maximum level characters can be. I'd also like to find out if a 2nd Edition says a game is best suited for characters of Level X, would the same level work for characters using Pathfinder? Or, should adjustments be made.

I feel that if the maximum level overall is 10th, then clearly a 5th level character in that game would be much more powerful than a 5th level character in Pathfinder. I feel this would be the case since level 5 is 50% of the maximum level in AD&D, but is only 25% of the maximum level in Pathfinder.

If anyone wants to shed some light on this, I would appreciate it.

If it makes any difference, I'm going to start using the adventures found in "Ravenloft Chilling Tales" to bring my players into their this new campaign setting.

Thanks a lot! I know some of you can help me out here!


4 Answers 4


You're asking the wrong question, "maximum level" is irrelevant. It assumes a max level 2e character is calibrated with a max level Pathfinder character, which they're not, and that there is a maximum level, which there's not - see 2e DMG Chapter 3, "Above 20th Level," there is no cap in 2e.

Your real question is "What level Pathfinder PCs are appropriately challenged by a AD&D Second Edition adventure designed for PCs of level X?" The answer to that is "X-3."

The reasoning is an extension of the answer here about running 3e and 3.5e adventures for Pathfinder. In general, power creep across editions means that a Pathfinder character of level 3 is the equivalent in raw kill-power of a 3.5e character of level 4, a 3e character of level 5, and a 2e character of level 6. I would feel comfortable piping a 3rd or 4th level Pathfinder party into a 2e module "for levels 5-7." This differential would reduce depending on how much conversion you do - if you actually drop in all the Pathfinder equivalent monsters and retool all the NPCs, then it could come up to par.

As a point of comparison, obviously a Pathfinder ogre could potentially match 2 2e ogres - 10 more hp, more damage (+1), more AC (+2), feats. And PCs have lots more random powerz on top of the raw numerical inflation.


in AD&D 2nd Edition, what is the maximum level characters can be.

In AD&D, 3rd edition, and PF, the normal maximum level was 20. (Though all editions had optional rules to continue after that point.)

That in no way means that the recommended level in AD&D will translate to PF, though! :) The rate of power increase of both players and monsters will differ greatly.

I'd also like to find out if a 2nd Edition says a game is best suited for characters of Level X, would the same level work for characters using Pathfinder

I'd recommend:

  • take the key encounters, and translate them into pathfinder
  • assess the CR of these encounters with the new pathfinder stats
  • figure out what overall level would make sense to target
  • if any supposedly challenging encounters now seem too easy, add additional monsters, or templates/levels to existing monsters
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Here's my thoughts on how I'm going to "convert" these. 1. Read through the adventures so I can begin preparing to run it for my group 2. Forget about the suggested levels altogether as well as the CRs of the enemies and NPCs 3. Go into HeroLab and remake all the enemies/NPCs by hand, set for the level that my group is 4. Use the adventure as an adventure, and use the new enemies I've created for their encounters 5. Adventure theme and idea stays pretty much the same. But the encounters will be rewritten to fit my current group. Sound reasonable? \$\endgroup\$
    – Ev-
    Commented Apr 26, 2014 at 7:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @evan that is probably a separate good question to ask. In general you should ask about your actual problem here, it helps people get you the answer you actually need. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Apr 26, 2014 at 15:20


So, I'd like to know, in AD&D 2nd Edition, what is the maximum level characters can be.

AD&D has no maximum level.

  • The AD&D 2E Player's Handbook covers to level 20. Some classes can be handled procedurally past that (Fighter, Thief).
  • The AD&D 2E Campaign Option: High Level Campaigns extends AD&D 2E to level 30 or higher.
  • The AD&D 1E Player's Handbook covers Clerics and Wizards to level 29, Druids to level 14, Illusionists to 26, thief to level 17, assassins to level 15, monks to level 17, paladins to level 20, rangers to level 17, and fighters procedurally to no limit. Monks, assassins, and druids have hard level limits; the others simply run out of table but can continue to climb in level indefinitely.
  • Dragonlance has a hard level limit of 18th level. At 19th, the Gods remove you from Krynn. (Dragonlance Adventures for AD&D 1E)
  • Dark Sun (for AD&D 2E) has classes to level 20; Dragon Kings runs to level 30, and does not need the High Level Campaigns book. The setting has a hard limit of 30 for spell casters, as they become dragons.

D&D Basic/Expert/etc

The BXCMI D&D system has a limit of 36th level for all classes, with some limited to lower (Halfling 10, Elf 12, Dwarf 12, Mystic 15)


Officially, no maximum level exists. The core rules cover only to level 20. Hit dice stop at 20 hit dice. In the Epic Level Handbook, tables for higher level casting ability are provided, since caster levels stack.


The DMG provides changes in classes at level 20; spell casting does not improve past class level 20, but skills continue to climb, and level-based ability limits continue to climb. A number of changes in progression happen when the character hits character level 20.


In 2nd edition, it sort of depended on the setting, but generally, there was no max level. In Forgotten Realms, the max was set at 40th lvl, however. Generally, people only played up to 20th (and many people stopped before 20 and restarted a new campaign. Lots of people had a certain favorite range of levels and played through those a lot.)

I kept the Forgotten Realms standard of 40 levels, but the highest level character that naturally built from level 1 was level 13. We still play very infrequently, but it took her a good 4 years to get there. 2nd edition leveled slowly, but the power between levels might have been a bit more in 2nd.

If you're looking to convert things (and I've done this a lot... I've ran games since '95, when I was just a kid and then rode through all the editions up until now), the best way to do it is actually use the CR's of the updated monsters in Pathfinder and see how they fit. You may want to add a few or drop a few to keep the EL where you want it. You'll also want to update the treasure for your Pathfinder game, because in 2nd, a Longsword +whatever seems a lot better than what it would in Pathfinder (with all the special abilities).

In all cases though, you want your Pathfinder rules to take precedence over the 2nd edition version. Back then, in 2nd edition, hp were lower, there were fewer spells, magic items were rarer, ect. Moving forward, all these things got inflated, but then some things were softened to make up for it. Negative levels in 3rd and beyond could be taken off with a fortitude save... In 2nd, you get hit by a wight or a wraith and you immediately lost levels. No saves.... The only spell to fix it was Restoration, which was 7th level and you had to have 18 WIS in order to cast 7th level spells and be at least 14th level cleric to ever even have it. It was much different. That's a big reason why you want to look up CR's first, because some monsters became stronger and some became weaker after the d20 system... They're all AROUND the same range, but not exactly. You could even replace some monsters with something with the same flavor, but not exactly the same, just to beef up the challenge. There are a LOT of monsters in 2nd edition that were easy to kill, but would MESS you up if they even touched you. It made them scary LOL!

Anyways, the 2nd edition PHB takes characters up to 20th, just like most others in the genre. Power levels really depended on class... The classes that got the most out of leveling leveled slower than those who gained fewer benefits. In the end, it was supposed to balance it out. You can say that the levels in 2nd were equatable to the levels in Pathfinder, as long as you recognize the differences and check those CR's and EL's. All the inflation and nerfing combined kind of made it the same in later editions. When they beefed up PC hp and number of spells per day, ect., the monsters also got the same treatment. All they did was make it so that it was less likely to completely kill you off by bad luck in 2 rounds. 2nd was very gritty and 3rd and up created a buffer, while keeping essentially the same challenge.

If it were me, I would use the listed level as an actual guideline and then delve in and look at the specific encounters themselves. Most will fit the same level in Pathfinder, but you'll want to make sure one doesn't wildly swing away from the rest in power level... An easy encounter is fine, but a TPK is never fun LOL!

  • \$\begingroup\$ Certain races had maximum levels for certain classes - everyone couldn't be a level 20+ something or other. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ruut
    Commented Oct 5, 2015 at 2:09

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .