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Roll for initiative !

This is a toolset to make our DC Heroes RPG statting for D&D characters coherent.

At this point, it is 98% intended for statting Baldur’s Gate (“BG”) characters and monsters. Which means in turn that by “D&D”, we mean the second edition of the game, or something using comparable scales and assumptions.

So, old-school D&D. Because that’s what we need for the current project.

It’s work in progress. But then what isn’t.

It’s also certainly meant to be *emulation* of D&D. If one feels like playing D&D, one should play D&D, yes ?


Table of Contents — second document

Vance-Arneson-Gygax magic
VGA Spells
The Sorcery (VGA) Power

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Genre Rulings

Killing Combat: Yes
Dice Action: 1
Last Ditch: 1
Desperation: 20
Pushing: 2 APs
Expenditure: 2 APs plus plusses (see below)
Recovery: 16 APs

  • Anti-Devastation: No Devastating Attacks.
  • Killing Allowed.
  • Modified tables with one-AP lines and columns: recommended. In fact we recommend going double-scale.
  • Iron-free fists: unarmed attacks automatically have the Limited Penetration Limitation, without any reduction in cost. This doesn’t apply to those who have the Unfettered Fist schtick.

Plus plusses

The “Plus Plusses” modifier to the Dice Action Expenditure limit means that each relevant plus on a piece of D&D equipment allows for a further AP of expenditure cap. For instance :

  1. Atemporal Anna attacks with a glaive-guisarme +3. Her expenditure cap on AV and EV for that attack is 2 + 3 = 5 APs.
  2. Bob the Ballroomist is under fire ! But he’s wearing a Ring of Protection +1 and clad in Splint Mail +2. His expenditure cap on OV and RV against that attack is 2 + 1 + 2 = 5 APs.

Core scale discussion

D&D isn’t a “setting”. But having a ruleset it has an observable power scale, much like the Star Wars setting.

With our work on low-tech weapons and low-tech body armour, DC Heroes has a similar power scale. Mating the two is doable.

But it *does* result in a distortion, where a well-equipped low-level character is more powerful than they would be in D&D.

STR scale

4 to 7 01
8 to 15 02
16 to 18/50 03
18/51 to 18/99 04
18/00 or 19 05

EV scale

In the writeups.org approach to melee weapons, most everything will increase EV by one (small weapon) or two (larger weapon) APs over these values.

Typical EV thus have us at EV 03 for a guy with a club (1d4 or 1d6 in old-school D&D), EV 04 for a guy with a sword (1d8 in D&D), and EV 05 for a tough guy with a sword (1d8+2 in D&D). Things tend to cap out at EV 06, for hulking fighters with elite weapons.

Space appears upscale when Martial Artist (EV), coupled with weapons use, is brought in. It corresponds to the *concept* of weapon specialisations — BG 1 already had double specs — and multiple attacks.

And to some cases such as backstabs, though these have further Limitations to when Martial Artist can be used.

Martial Artist (EV) should be limited to specific weapon types for that D&D feel. Here’s a list of types aping the Second Edition :

  • Hand axes and battle axes.
  • Bows.
  • Crossbows.
  • Daggers and knives.
  • Slashing-capable polearms (glaive, halberd, ranseur…).
  • Spears (incl. harpoon, trident, javelin…).
  • One-handed swords.
  • Larger swords.
  • Slings.
  • Maces and hammers.
  • Flails.

Martial Artist (EV, w/weapon type) capping

It should also be capped by Fighter or Monk level, to represent the huge importance of levels in D&D.

D&D level DCH MA (EV) cap
1-4 04
5-8 05
8-11 06
12-14 07
15+ 08

Thus, a proficient low-level fighter will have EV 06 in most cases (4 +2).

BODY scale

Now that we have benchmarks for how EV scale, we need RV values.

Most classes 02
d8 or d10 hit die 03
d10 or d12 hit die and CON 16+ 04

RV scale

Likewise, low-tech armour with the writeups.org system will end up raising RV by one (light) or two (heavier) in most cases.

So a typical “rogue” will have RV 03 (d6 hit die, light armour) and a typical “fighter” will have RV 05 (d10 hit die, heavier armour).

This makes well-armoured low-level people more resilient than they are in most D&D games. At least when facing mid-STR, no Martial Artist (EV) opposition.

Or if you prefer, it makes not wearing armour a more severe issue.

AV and OV scale

In D&D these are an unholy mix of class level, ability bonuses, hit points (which represent evasive abilities as well as take-it-on-the-chin abilities), small magical items such as rings, magical weapons with plusses, special class abilities…

But class level (with its THAC0 and saving throw numbers, and the accrued hit points) is the big one.

As it happens, it’s not a large numerical space. See our Hand-to-hand combat scale article for more discussion of such. So we naturally end up with something like the following.

Physical AV/OV scale

02 Non-combatants, including most mages.
03 Level 0 fighters, low-level priests and thieves.
04 Low level fighters.
05 Level 5+ fighters.
06 Level 10+ fighters.
07 Level 15+ fighters.
08 Level 20+ fighters.

Priests and thieves would be one AP under fighters, and mages three APs behind. As a rule of thumb.

Implementation of the AV/OV scale

Plain old DEX can do most of the lifting, especially at low level.

As values rise, the Weaponry Skill and the Evasion Skill come into play to provide the boost needed to achieve the target value. Use similar Subskill groupings as with EV.

Higher AVs also correspond to multiple attacks/round and overwhelming fighter attacks against low-HD creatures.

Hero Points scale

Since you’re clever ones, you’ve noticed that in this Genre, Dice Action AP boosts and Last Ditch Defenses are both set at a minimal 1. This means that Hero Points are powerful.

This number suggests an action-heavy, wild and wooly Genre where those who dare win. Which doesn’t match vintage D&D. Particularly at low levels where level 1 magic users get killed fighting a house cat (the mage started it, or so the cat’s lawyer insisted).

This is because we use Hero Points as another way to suggest levels. In this setup, the Player Characters have a set HP pool (see our Hero Points article about fixed HP pools), which is 4 HPs per D&D level. So a level 1 character has 4 HPs, and a level 7 veteran has 28.

Thus, even if you only use your Hero Points for LDD, a one-level difference means that you can LDD away 4 more RAPs. Which is likely more than your BODY score !

Adjusting this

You can of course adjust this scale based on the level band that interest you.

For instance, in old-school D&D some people started characters at, say, level 3 because lower levels were too fragile. Likewise, in many games I ran back then, there were very few people with levels in the double digits, and a level 7 or 8 guy was real tough. These were low fantasy environments.

Four Hero Points per level assumes that levels from 0 to 20 are used in the game world. For campaigns where levels in the 20s are a thing, or where almost nobody is over 12, etc. you may want to adjust the number of HPs per level to have a good distribution.

Our Hero Points article also has a discussion of what Hero Point levels mean in term of “heroic strength”. That should help set a scale depending on your views about the distribution and power of D&D levels.


This Hero Points scale is explicitly meant for Player Characters. NPCs, monsters, animals, etc. aren’t expected to be on the same scale. They’ll usually have markedly fewers Hero Points, and animals likely won’t have any.

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Assumptions about levels

In many cases, writeups.org profiles assume that character levels are holographic. That is, they are the illusion of another dimension, not a concrete reality.

This is discussed in our video game FAQs. Since this is usually the product of levels being used as a formulaic (but effective) gameplay device.

The situation in D&D is different. Levels aren’t so much a convenient device as the core worldview  .

The material often assumes that levels do reflect facts in these worlds. There are indeed strict hierarchies from mediocrity to epicness. And this ladder is usually scaled through dedication, hardship, deadly risks and constant struggle.

So the scales in this article do treat levels as a physical fact. The limits are less rigid than in D&D games, but the hierarchies are still more marked than in standard DCH.

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Secondary scale discussions


  1. Attributes play but a small role in early (A)D&D editions.
  2. Bonuses (and penalties) only appear for extremely high and extremely low scores.
  3. Attributes are largely static. A level 1 character can easily have better attributes than a level 20 character.

Therefore, our suggestion is to :

  • Mostly ignore the Attributes on the D&D character sheet.
  • Lowball DCH scores for most Attributes for low-level characters, and become more generous as levels rise.
  • Base DCH Attributes ‘pon what the character is *actually* doing in universe. A paladin may have a huge CHA and never use it, whereas a rogue with okay-but-not-huge CHA may be constantly talking to people and influencing them via good role-playing.

Thus, to evoke a D&D character in DCH terms it’ll probably be better to lowball Mental and Mystical scores and let them grow as the Character gain levels. Pay more attention to the character concept and performance than his on-paper abilities. As always – primary sources first, and what happens in-universe before what’s written about it.

Later editions have more elaborate skill systems, so their character sheets are of more use. But that wasn’t the case with the old material we’re focusing on for now.


The simplest is to list a character’s alignment in lieu of their Motivation. It serves roughly the same purpose.

Furthermore alignment does have concrete consequences in early D&D worlds (say, Protection from Evil spells and the like). So having it listed is necessary.

Thieving skills

In old editions and in BG, these are still expressed as a percentage, ranging from 0% to 95%. 20% is likely the floor for skill levels, especially for player characters who will likely have high Dexterity.

Thus, a good rule of thumb is (Skill %-10)/10, rounded to the nearest (up for a x5), as AP. A 50% score would thus indicate a seasoned professional with 4 APs.

Average Move Silently and Hide in Shadows to estimate the Thief (Stealth) score. And yes, find/remove traps is Thief (Security Systems) – or rather the low-tech version thereof.

If the character has a special emphasis on Detect Noises, it becomes an Accuracy Skill if the D&D percentage produces a score above the character’s DCH INT APs. Or even an AP of Extended Hearing if there’s a big emphasis on that.

The DCH rules for Blindside Attacks are already sufficient for backstab. Though higher-level thieves could consider the Blindside Adept Schtick as well and/or Martial Artist (EV, only with daggers, only when Blindsiding).


Equipment with plusses (such as a short sword +2 or a cloak of protection +1) are a traditional part of D&D. In our little bit of emulation, they allow to spend more HPs. See the Genre Rulings section at the beginning.

Magical equipment is usually just found, but some games may need to compute their value in Hero Points. And it is possible for Player Characters to create magical items even in old D&D.

Two rules of thumb :

  1. For each plus, the BODY of the item must be one AP higher than that of an equivalent non-magical item. GMs should consider not having this apply to shields, as they could quickly become too powerful.
  2. Each plus is worth five points, as a Misc. Advantage (lower the costs if the plus is against specific targets, like a club +1, +3 vs. bards).

A basic dagger is [BODY 03, Enhance (EV): 01 (cap is 05), Descriptor: Piercing]. So a +1 dagger would be [BODY 04, Enhance (EV): 01 (cap is 05), Descriptor: Piercing, Advantage: +1]. Though it could have more BODY.

Weapons with a +2 bonus or better could also be considered for having their Enhance APs and cap one AP higher than that of a standard weapon. +3 or more almost certainly mean a +1 AP and cap to Enhance.

Mundane weapons immunity

D&D also traditionally has monsters who can only be harmed by weapons that are at least +1, +2, etc..

A rule of thumb would be 5 APs of Skin Armour, with a Limitation that these do not apply against suitable weapons. This assumes that their immunity isn’t an absolute, but still high enough to feel like invulnerability to opponents with low EVs.

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Fantastic Species

In DCH terms, species are straightforward packages. The main point of this section is to provide a quick and coherent reference.


  • Iron Will: 02, Thermal vision: 02
  • Iron Will is limited to sleep and charm magical effects.
  • Iron Will and Thermal Vision are Form Function.
  • Slowed Ageing (Doubled longevity).

Aaannnd… as it turns out that’s all we need for the canon BG1 party, actually. Huh.

Writeups.org writer avatar Sébastien Andrivet

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Helper(s): Pufnstuff.