The material here is fan created and is non-canon.

Related material: GURPS magic systems in D&D and Building D&D Magic Items in GURPS

D&D is arguably the most popular of the pen and paper RPGs and there many ways to do something similar in GURPS. GURPS Dungeon Fantasy emulates the early days of D&D where you found lots of monsters, killed them, and took their treasure. Concepts like logic, culture, and social-political dynamics are minimal if not absent entirely.

The downside to such an emulation is that it doesn't show GURPS' major asset - flexibility. It also emulates a version of D&D that for the most part time has passed by. This conversion page tries to bridge the gap between D&D and GURPS and make having adventures outside of the standard pseudo medieval-early Renaissance setting (such as "City Beyond the Gate" or "Masque of the Red Death") far easier.

Understanding GURPS[edit | edit source]

GURPS is as much a toolkit as it is a game system. This means that in many cases the GM has more control over what goes into the setting. If the GM wants the game to be grittier, over the top totally cinematic, or something in-between there is an guideline for it. Similarly, if the base Magic system isn't to the GM's liking there are alternatives including one, if they want to put in the time, where they can build their own system or simulate one from a show or novel.

In D&D terms Characters is roughly the Player's handbook while Campaigns is roughly the Dungeon Masters Guide. It is roughly because they are all part of the same rule set but it was easier to have them as two books with the first part more Player focused while the second part is more GM focused.

D&D Classes and Levels vs. GURPS Point Totals[edit | edit source]

Because of the flexibility in GURPS there is simply no way to convert a class level combo into a point total especially given that D&D has effectively five versions: OD&D, 1/2,[note 1] 3x, 4e,[note 2] and 5 . It is better to convert concepts than actual raw power.

That said there are some guidelines from the Basic Set regarding Point Power Level. Note that DX and IQ are the most expensive base attributes in GURPS and doing a 1 to 1 conversion will "burn through" points like crazy and so it is best to look to things like advantages and Talents to simulate really high attributes.

3d6 System[edit | edit source]

GURPS uses d6s for everything and 3d6 for attribute and skill checks.

The Hypertext d20 SDR goes over the implications of changing from a d20 to a 3d6. However the main difference between GURPS' 3d6 System and that of the D&D 3d6 variant is one rolls low to succeed in GURPS. This results in this table:

3d6 3-4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
Number of combinations 4 6 10 15 21 25 27 27 25 21 15 10 6 3 1
Single % 1.9 2.8 4.6 6.9 9.7 11.6 12.5 12.5 11.6 9.7 6.9 4.6 2.8 1.4 0.5
Cumulative % 1.9 4.6 9.3 16.2 25.9 37.5 50.0 62.5 74.1 83.8 90.7 95.4 98.1 99.5 100
d20 20 20 19 17 15 12 10 8 5 3 2 1 1 1 1

Another difference is GURPS has a sliding scale where critical successes and failures for the Success rollare based on effective skill. A roll of 17 and 18 always fails and only defense rolls can be tried on with an effectively skill below 3 (spells that can be dodged or blocked) Since D&D is a highly cinematic it is suggested that you extend the Critical Success section with this wildcard method:

  • Open-Ended Criticals: The standard progression doesn’t stop. Success by 10+ is always a critical success: 3-7 at effective skill 17, 3-8 at skill 18, and so on. Barring special modifiers this hits the point of demising returns at 25.
2 or less NR* NR* NR* NR*
3 3-4 13-18 20 1-4
4 3-4 14-18 20 1-3
5 3-4 15-18 20 1-2
6 3-4 16-18 20 1
7-14 3-4 17-18 20 1
15 3-5 17-18 20 1
16+ 3-6 18 19-20 1

* If a non defense roll is attempted it is an automatic failure though the roll tells it is a normal or critical failure. For defense of 1 a critical failure is 11 and 2 is 12. This works out to be 8 and 5 respectively on a d20.

Attributes[edit | edit source]

One aspect of D&D attributes that makes them hard to convert is that in addition to adjusting skills most of them confer what in GURPS terms would be called advantages (or if they are low enough disadvantages). Another factor is D&D attributes model things that are done by different attributes in GURPS. This table is a very rough equivalency:

D&D Attribute Equivalent
Basic Attribute
Secondary Attribute
Strength ST Basic Lift
Lifting ST
Striking ST
Dexterity DX Basic Speed: (HT+DX)/4
Basic Move
Combat Reflexes
Certain Talents
Constitution HT Basic Speed: (HT+DX)/4
(Extra) Hit Points (bonus)
Fatigue Points
Fit, Very Fit/Unfit
Intelligence IQ Per Acute Senses
Eidetic Memory
Certain Talents
Wisdom None Will; Per (adj) Acute Senses (adj)
Charisma None[note 3] Charisma, Appearance,
can be "faked" with certain skills.[note 4]

Important Notes[edit | edit source]

  • While Constitution in D&D determines Hit Points they are determined by ST in 4e GURPS but Strength has no effect on Hit Points in D&D. This is why D&D Constitution (its bonus) rather then D&D Strength relates to GURPS 4e's Extra Hit Points. So a Str 16 Con bonus +2 in D&D is HP 16 (base) + 2 (Con bonus) or HP 18 in GURPS 4e.
  • Remember these are very rough equivalents that cover four versions of D&D. Not everything will line up with how the ability functions.
  • D&D 1st and 2nd editions had exceptional Strength (18/xx). Thankfully there was a conversion guide from these editions to D&D 3e; simply covert to D&D3e and use that. For reference 18/00 is 23 and D&D 1st and 2nd edition 25 is 27.
  • Comeliness (Com) is a D&D 1st and 2nd edition attribute formally introduced with the Unearthed Arcana. It was meant to model characters whose leadership ability didn't line up with their physical appearance but didn't see much use. It equates to Appearance maxing out out to Very Handsome (or Very Beautiful) for most races. Extremely high or low Comeliness may also require use of Terror with always on limiation.

Talents[edit | edit source]

Talents deserve special mention. At their core the represent a natural aptitude for a set of closely related skills. They can serve as a way to have high skill without having high attributes. Some classes have talents as an option at logically people with those talent would gravitate to those professions.

Templates and Lenses (Races and Classes)[edit | edit source]

Because GURPS is so detailed and flexible it is easy to become overwhelmed by the choices. To help deal with this problem GURPS provides an option called Templates and a way to create common variations called lenses. Templates come in several forms (another name for them is Meta-Traits):

  • Racial: a package of advantages, disadvantages, and skills a particular race has
  • Character/Occupational: serves a function similar to character classes in D&D
  • Lenses: specialized templates that create an emphasis ie the Paladin and Ranger can be done as lenses of the Fighter template.

Racial Templates[edit | edit source]

Between the two of them the Basic Set and Fantasy provide 18 race templates and undead lenses.[1] including the "classics" of Elf and Dwarf. If one wants an even grander list of races and lenses take a look at List of Creatures by Book. Since nearly anything can become a racal template or lens, the only limitations are what the GM allows the Players to use. There are fan versions of various races available. A resourceful GURPS GM could even create an “Anti-Dungeon” ala War for the Overworld where the players are playing brave monsters trying to defend their home from evil adventurers! It should be noted that as the variations show there is no "right" way to build races and lenses and so its not like a player can pull out a Monster Manual and have a good handle on what the stats of what he is facing are.

Occupational Templates[edit | edit source]

Occupational Templates (also known as Character Templates) in GURPS generally include everything: Attributes primary and secondary, advantages, disadvantages, and skills. However in this conversion the Attribute section of such Templates has been taken care of so we are left with advantages, disadvantages, and skills. However, unlike D&D, GURPS skills can default to other skills, so you do not need to know as many skills as it may first appear.

This is especially true of the Melee weapon skills which don't fit D&D’s weapon categories of simple, martial, and exotic. Also skills the classes logically should have are missing (Clerics for example do not have theology). For these reasons and to simplify the conversion while adding some flexibility the D&D class templates have been modified to bring them more in line with their Medieval-Renaissance inspirations as well as adding advantages and skills better suited to role-playing. The point totals are the minimum needed to get the template.

The noted exception is the Monk as there is a huge variation in the martial styles that are available. While GURPS Martial Arts makes this far easier styles can be created with just the basic set. Unless noted otherwise the Fantasy templates referenced are 75 points each.

Skill values are based on only 1 point in the skill (green row) and ignores any talents. Wildcard skills are Very Hard skills that are 3x as expensive but cover all of that subject. The default section is a quick rule of thumb if a skill has an attribute default; it is always best to check as not only are there exceptions but some skills also default from other skills.

Point Easy Average Hard Very Hard
0 (Default) Attribute-4 Attribute-5 Attribute-6 Attribute-6 or None
1 Attribute Attribute-1 Attribute-2 Attribute-3
2 Attribute+1 Attribute Attribute-1 Attribute-2
4 Attribute+2 Attribute+1 Attribute Attribute-1
Each +4 +1 +1 +1 +1

Cleric[edit | edit source]

Base cost: 20 points; Alternative: Holy Man[2]

Advantages Clerical Investment [5], Blessed or Power Investiture [10], True Faith [15] [30]
Disadvantages Duty (Church/Order 12-) [-10], Vow (varies) [-10] [-20]
Skills Crossbow (E)-DX, First Aid/TL (E)-IQ, Theology (H)-(IQ-2), Melee Weapons (Axe/Mace (A)-(DX-1), Knife (E)-DX, and Spear (A)-(DX-1)), Occultism (A)-(IQ-1), Shield (E)-DX, Throwing (A)-(DX-1), Ritual Magic (skill) (VH)-(IQ-3) [10]
Optional Advantages Legal Immunity (w/ Diplomatic pouch); Talents (Close to Heaven; Close to Hell; Devotion; Healer)
Optional Skills Diagnosis/TL (H) -(IQ-2), Esoteric Medicine (H)-(Per-2), Hidden Lore (A)-(IQ-1), History (H)-(IQ-2), Literature (H)-(IQ-2), Naturalist (H)-(IQ-2), Physician/TL (H)-(IQ-2), Survival (A)-(IQ-1)
Optional Wildcard Skills Cleric!, Theurgy!

Fighter[edit | edit source]

Base cost: 14 points; Alternative: Warrior [101][3]

Skills Armoury/TL (A)-(IQ-1), Bow (A)-(DX-1), Brawling (E)-DX, Crossbow (E)-DX, Melee Weapons (Axe/Mace (A)-(DX-1), Flail (H)-(DX-2), Knife (E)-DX, Polearm (A)-(DX-1), Spear (A)-(DX-1), Shortsword (A)-(DX-1), Two handed Axe/Mace (A)-(DX-1), and Two-handed sword (A)-(DX-1), Shield (E)-DX, Throwing (A)-(DX-1) [14]
Optional advantages Enhanced Defenses; Trained By A Master; Weapon Master; Military Talents;
Optional Wildcard Skills Blade!, Knight!, Stick!, Sword!, Whip!

Bard[edit | edit source]

Base cost: 17 points; Alternative: Bard[5]

Advantages Magery 0 [5] [5]
Skills Armoury/TL (A)-(IQ-1), Bow (A)-(DX-1), Crossbow (E)-DX, Literature (H)-(IQ-2), Melee Weapons (Axe/Mace (A)-(DX-1), Knife (E)-DX, Spear (A)-(DX-1)), Musical Instrument (H)-(IQ-2), Poetry (A)-(IQ-1), Public Speaking (A)-(IQ-1), Shield (E)-DX, Singing (E)-HT, Throwing (A)-(DX-1) [12]
Optional Advantages Legal Immunity (Bardic), Talents (Musical Ability; Bard)
Optional Wildcard Skills Bard!

Monk[edit | edit source]

[9+ points]; Alternative: Wardancer[6]

Rogue[edit | edit source]

Base cost: 13 points; Alternative: Thief[7]

Skills Acrobatics (H)-(DX-2), Brawling (E)-DX, Bow (A)-(DX-1), Climbing (A)-(DX-1), Crossbow (E)-DX, Escape (H)-(DX-2), Lockpicking/TL (A)-(IQ-2), Melee Weapon (Knife (E)-DX), Pickpocket (H)-(DX-2), Stealth (A)-(DX-1), Streetwise (A)-(IQ-1), Throwing (A)-(DX-1), Traps/TL (A)-(IQ-1) [13]
Optional Wildcard Skills Thief!

Sorcerer/Warlock/Wizard[edit | edit source]

Base cost: 11 points; Alternatives: Battle Wizard (125 pts)[8], Hedge Wizard[9], Spellcaster[10]

Advantage Magery/Magery (Ritual) 0 [5] [5]
Optional Advantages Wildcard Magery; Magery (enhancement and limitation)
Skills Alchemy/TL (VH)-(IQ-3), Innate Attack (Beam/Breath/Projectile, all (E)-DX), Melee Weapons (Axe/Mace (A)-(DX-1), Knife (E)-DX, Spear (A)-(DX-1), and Staff (A)-(DX-1 ), Thaumatology (VH)-(DX-2) [6]
Optional Skills Hidden Lore
Optional Wildcard Skills Wizard!, Magic!/Wizardry!/College!

D&D Hit points[edit | edit source]

AD&D1 itself pointed out that "These hit points represent how much damage (actual or potential) the character can withstand before being killed. A certain amount of these hit points represent the actual physical punishment which can be sustained. The remainder, a significant portion of hit points at higher levels, stands for skill, luck, and/or magical factors."[11] Elsewhere it is flat out stated "As has been detailed, hit points are not actually a measure of physical damage, by and large, as far as characters (and some other creatures as well) are concerned"[12]

So D&D Hit points do not represent the ability to actually take insane amounts of damage but a complex matrix of mundane advantages (like Serendipity), Cinematic advantages, and cinematic rules as well as things like Destiny and Impulse Buys.

The higher D&D Hit points are the more cinematic the character is and the more of these types of abilities they will have.

Social Traits, Background, and Differences[edit | edit source]

  • Alignment doesn't exist in GURPS and therefor doesn't limit professions.
  • Classes don't exist and so prerequisites for multiclassing don't exist.
  • Control Ratings and Legality Classes are excellent tools for controlling potential bothersome spells and items; most D&D governments will be in the CR3-5 range with the occasional CR6.
  • Languages: The default in GURPS is that a character knows how to speak as well as read and write one language natively. The cost of additional languages is based on how well they are known in both spoken and written form. D&D tends toward characters being literate.
  • Wealth: Wealth is always a problem - characters either have too little of it or too much. Written for Classic edition Incanus Color of Money provides some ideas on how to deal with wealth from a point prospective.

Converting Skills and Feats[edit | edit source]

While skills convert reasonably their expertise is a little hazier. The best solution to note what skills the character has and figure out their base level based on the information in the “Choosing Your Skill Levels” box[13]. If you still think you need to send your skill level past 20 look at Techniques as a way improve what the character can do rather than sending the skill level into orbit.

Feats are a little harder to equate as many are a mixture of built-in GURPS rules, advantages, skills, and techniques. For example, 5e feats like Heavy Armor Master, Lightly Armored, and Moderately Armored are effectively built in to the GURPS rules. The best option here to look at what the Feat does and choose the closest "fit" in GURPS terms. For example, Alert can be modeled with Combat Reflexes; Crossbow Expert can simply be high Crossbow and-or Fast-Draw skill, Healer is First Aid, and ritual caster is simply the Ritual Magic or Thaumatology skill.

With so many choices a few advantages and skills deserve mentioning:

Affliction, Binding, Innate Attack advantages and Innate Attack skill[edit | edit source]

One of these GURPS advantages and the Innate Attack skill is going to be your most used combination in converting D&D monsters because so many have it whether it be the crushing mandibles of a giant ant (Innate Attack), the web of a giant spider (Binding), the gaze of a medusa (Innate Attack and Affliction), or the breath weapon of a dragon (Innate Attack). The advantage is the attack itself while the Innate Attack skill is hitting something with it. The Innate Attack skill is also used for certain spells.

Alchemy/TL[edit | edit source]

Also see Alchemical Items

Alchemy is the skill that is used to make elixirs (potions, powders, pastilles, and ointments) as well as alchemic magic items. It also helps in identifying elixirs.

Spells[edit | edit source]

The spell systems GURPS allows are detailed enough that they are dealt with separately in a GURPS magic systems in D&D page. The general advice here is to compare how spells function effect wise rather then focusing on individual spells. For example the D&D spell Leomund’s Secret Chest is roughly equivalent to the GURPS spell Hideaway.

Trained By A Master and Weapon Master[edit | edit source]

These two advantages are similar in that they reduce the penalties for Rapid Strike and multiple parries and are the prerequisites for a host of cinematic skills. However they differ in several key areas. Trained by a Master has a larger skill list while Weapon Master not only allows more fine tuning (from one weapon all the way up to every muscle powered weapon in the game) but it reduces skill defaults for muscle power weapons and at high skill level actually adds to damage. Usually a character will have either Trained by a Master (most cinematic Kung Ku characters) or Weapon Master (Conan, Thundarr, and Zorro) though there are a few that have both like Scorpion of Five Deadly Venoms and Xena.

Unkillable[edit | edit source]

Nearly every high level Undead monster and many demons in D&D will have this advantage. Unkillable 1 allows the monster to remain fighting all the way to -10*HP without a single HT roll and Unkillable 2 and 3 allow the thing to come back! Dracula in the Hammer horror films had Unkillable 3 with the Achilles Heel (wood, running water), Hindrance (wood, frozen water), Trigger (blood) limitations.

Combat[edit | edit source]

Combat in GURPS is fast in terms of game time (a turn is a second). A D&D 3.0+ combat round is 6 seconds long (6 GURPS turns) and an AD&D 1-2 combat round is about a minute (60 GURPS turns). Also a lot of things in GURPS that are separate actions (Dodge, Parry, and Block) or Maneuver are built-in to D&D combat.

For example, human with 10s in everything has a Dodge 9 which, barring a critical success with an attack, succeeds 37.5% of the time. An adjusted weapon 16 can ''potentially'' hit 98.1% of the time with a 9.3% chance a critical hit. So the 88.8% of the time that the attack can be dodged it will hit only 33% of the time on any one GURPS turn. While this may seem pathetic remember that an D&D combat turn is at least 6 GURPS turns long with everything abstracted so the odds are actually a lot better.

GURPS Combat Systems[edit | edit source]

  • Very Basic Melee Combat: A very fast system from Roleplayer #23 (May 1991) that is in many respects is very similar to most of D&D's system (D&D 4e is the exception)
  • Combat Lite: The simplest version of the GURPS combat system provided in the Basic Set.[14]
  • Combat (Core Rules): The default combat system of GURPS.[15] It is basically Combat Lite with more details.
  • Tactical Combat: Combat using counters or figures on a hexagonal grid. It assumes you have already mastered the default combat system.[16]
  • Special Combat Situations: Effectively the Advanced Combat options for Tactical Combat[17][note 5]

Magic[edit | edit source]

GURPS has so many ways to do mage that this material is handled on its own page: GURPS magic systems in D&D.

On a side note. There is conflicting information regarding the enchantment of items in GURPS Dungeon Fantasy - Dungeon Fantasy 1 specifically refers one to the Basic Set's version of the "default" GURPS Magic system of enchantment but Sean "Dr. Kromm" Punch has stated "We're saying that in books labeled "Dungeon Fantasy," Enchantment spells are off-limits because they aren't how magic items are created in GURPS Dungeon Fantasy. That genre treatment assumes that most magic items worth owning are forgotten artifacts made by lost races, ancient relics from an age when magic worked differently, gifts from gods, oddities from other dimensions, etc. The low-end ones available in shops are mass-produced by non-adventuring guilds using methods that don't closely resemble Enchantment spells. GURPS Thaumatology is full of likely candidates for the latter."

The World, Universe, and Everything Else[edit | edit source]

The World[edit | edit source]

Converting the world itself can be in many respects the hardest part. As noted on B493 you only need to do the PC treatment of major NPCs; everybody else can pretty much be made on the spot so NPC conversion is not a problem. However world conversion can be especially difficult when modules are involved.

This is where GURPS Fantasy and GURPS Thaumatology become very useful as it will give the tools to better convert an existing fantasy world (as well as build one from scratch). There are race templates for many races and a few unique mythological characters such as Lilth and Tiamat. However before going head long into GURPS Thaumatology and GURPS Fantasy it is still best to start with the Basic Set. However, GURPS Fantasy also has an entire chapter devoted to a setting, Roma Arcana, which is a version of 3rd century century Rome where magic works and some dinosaurs exist. Here arcane and divine magic are at odds with one another.

Chapters 17-19[18] are definitely a must and here again GURPS goes into far more detail than D&D does.

A GM should have a good handle on how common magic (especially spell magic) will be in the setting for unlike D&D GURPS Magic has a lot of "utility" spells - spells that are not that far down the "college tree" but are farther reaching then their D&D counterparts.

Note: the fanwork GURPS Historical Folks makes drafting up NPCs one might encounter much easier.

Converting Modules[edit | edit source]

Modules are a very special case as they are designed with the D&D system of the time in mind. Some GURPS mechanics can totally "break" a module. For example, there are many places in the original Tomb of Horrors where certain skills (Traps), abilities (Magery's innate magic item detection), and spells (Detect Magic and Dispel Illusion) can short circuit key parts of module.

The Universe[edit | edit source]

See also When The Moral Compass Goes Haywire: The Trouble With D&D Alignments and D&D Mechanics - Is Alignment Dead

Ironically in GURPS the Outer Planes are Inner Spirit Worlds and their structure in D&D is tied directly to the alignment system and is likely the main reason the system survives in 5e.

With alignment gone the Outer Plane cosmology doesn't really have a reason to exist. Thankfully, all the tools and concepts for building a new cosmology are in Classic: Religion which even provides six examples: T'si'kami; Flatliners; the Kalm of Sequan; Disciplines of Change; Dhala, Destroyer of Worlds; and the Gods of Bethany.

Dungeon Fantasy[edit | edit source]

There are at least two blogs on the progress on covering D&D to Dungeon Fantasy which is strongly based on GURPS thought it has setting specific alterations.

Additional Material[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. The Classic version of Dai Blackthorn serves as an example of why this doesn't work using AD&D1 as the baseline
  2. This page effectively ignores D&D 4e; it is just too much of its own thing (as well as being a major migraine to play never mind convert).
  3. Charisma is not a requirement for being in a particular "class" (Profession template) in GURPS.
  4. Of the examples given in the DMG1 (Julius Caesar, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Adolf Hitler) only the first two actually has Charisma as GURPS defines it. Adolf Hitler by contrast used the skills Performance, Psychology, and Public Speaking to simulate Charisma.
  5. Despite all the detail it is a thousand times faster than D&D 4e combat.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. GURPS Fantasy pg 112-3
  2. GURPS Fantasy 120
  3. Basic Set p. 449
  4. GURPS Fantasy pg 116
  5. GURPS Fantasy pg 117
  6. GURPS Fantasy 126
  7. GURPS Fantasy 124
  8. GURPS Fantasy 118
  9. GURPS Fantasy 118-119
  10. GURPS Fantasy 124
  11. AD&D1 Player's Handbook pg 34
  12. AD&D1 Dungeon Master's Guide pg 61
  13. Basic Set pg 172
  14. Basic SetBasic Set p. 324-328
  15. Basic Set p. 362-383
  16. Basic Set p. 384-392
  17. Basic Set p. 393-417
  18. Basic Set 462-522
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