How to Convert 3.5 stats into Pathfinder RPG

Here at AdventureAWeek, we produce high quality adventures in both the D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder formats.  Luckily for us, the two systems are very similar, so it’s easy to write for both systems.  However, there are just enough differences between the two that you can’t use a 3.5 character in PF as is and vice versa.  There need to be a few changes made.  One of my many jobs at AaW is to make sure that all of the monster stat blocks are converted correctly.  I’m going to give you a few times on how to do that.

The first thing you need to be able to do is to be able to recognize when something is in one format, but not the other.  The Listen skill is 3.5, whereas Vital Strike is a Pathfinder feat.  If you don’t have access to the 3.5 Player’s Handbook and the Pathfinder Core Rulebook, you can use the same tools we do, which are the D&D 3.5 Wiki ( and the D&D Hypertext ( and the Pathfinder System Reference Document (  These are invaluable resources.

Secondly, understand the formatting differences.  The two systems use largely different formats for their stat blocks, plus different terms in their blocks.  But I’ll get into the different terms as I go along.  I’m not going to get into the differences in formatting, as they should be fairly obvious.

The biggest differences between the two systems are Skills, Feats, and the CMB/CMD/Base Attack/Grapple systems.  Almost everything else stays the same.

Skills are the biggest change, because there are no more “cross-class skills” in Pathfinder.  There are now Class Skills and Non-Class Skills.  Instead of putting half-ranks into cross-class skills like in 3.5, in Pathfinder, you put in single points.  If you put one skill point into a class skill, for that first point, you get a +3 instead of +1.  If you put one skill point into a non-class skill, for that first point, you get +1.  Obviously, this doesn’t count in the ability modifier.  Also, you don’t multiply your skill points by four at 1st level.

The biggest difference in Skill between the two systems is that numerous D&D 3.5 skills that were folded into single skills in Pathfinder.  Hide and Move Silently became Stealth.  Listen, Search, and Spot became Perception.  Balance, Jump, and Tumble became Acrobatics.  Decipher Script, Forgery, and Speak Language became Linguistics.  Open Lock is now part of Disable Device.  Gather Information is now part of Diplomacy.  Use Rope is now part of the CMB/CMD system.  So, how do you convert them?

The most accurate way is to break down how many skills points this particular monster should have and go through and figure it out by hand.   For us, however, time is usually not something we have a lot of, so I’ve devised a way to do a quick and dirty conversion which, while not 100% accurate, is accurate enough for game play.  I’ve never seen one or two extra skill points break a game.

Going from 3.5 to Pathfinder, the easiest way is to simply keep the same score, but add the new skill name.  For example, if a monster had a +5 in each of Balance, Jump, and Tumble, change it to Acrobatics +5.  Going from Pathfinder to 3.5, it can be a little more difficult, but really, just look at the concept of your monster before deciding which skills to use.  If your monster has a Pounce attack, it should probably have Jump as opposed to Tumble.  If it’s an underwater monster, you might want to give it ranks in Listen instead of Spot.

On to Feats.  There are no feats that disappeared from 3.5, but quite a few changed due to the changes in skills.  The Stealthy feat gives a bonus to Stealth (PF) instead of Hide and Move Silently (3.5).  There are also quite a few new feats in Pathfinder  In the 3.5 Player’s Handbook, there are two pages of feats.  In the Pathfinder Core Rulebook, 3 ¾ pages of feats, so there’s a much greater variety to choose from.  When doing conversions, just like skills, understand the concept of the monster and the feats should be easy to figure out.

Lastly, the Base Attack/Grapple and Combat Maneuver Bonus/Combat Maneuver Defense mechanics.  All of the various combat maneuver mechanics in 3.5 have been replaced by the CMB score.  The CMB is pretty easy to figure out.  The Base Attack Bonus should given in the stat block.  The formula for Grapple is:

Base Attack Bonus + Strength Modifier + Size Modifier

In most cases, the CMB is the same as your Grapple score.  The formula for CMB is:

Base Attack Bonus + Strength Modifier + Size Modifier

You roll a d20, add your CMB to see if it beats your opponents CMD.  The defense from combat maneuvers in handled by the CMD score.  The formula for CMD is:

CMB + Dexterity Modifier

That’s it.  Just add the Dexterity modifier to your CMB and you’ve got your CMD.  Piece of cake.

Note: A creature can also add any circumstance, deflection, dodge, insight, luck, morale, profane, and sacred bonuses to AC to its CMD.


Those are the major difference in stat blocks between the two editions, other than formatting.  Just make sure you take your time and converting from one to the other should be easy.

1 thought on “How to Convert 3.5 stats into Pathfinder RPG”

  1. “If you put one skill point into a class skill, for that first point, you get a +3 instead of +1.”

    Actually that isn’t 100% correct. In Pathfinder when you put your first skill point in a class skill, you get a +3 bonus added. So it makes the total for that class skill 4+ability modifier, plus any other bonuses from feats etc.

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