I know this is technically the wrong place to post this, as it doesn't specifically pertain to Greyhawk, but this tends to be where everyone on this board posts/lurks, and I'd really like input, so here goes. Powers that be, move or delete this thread if necessary.
I'm a diehard GH fan who cut his teeth on Basic rules, then made the shifts to AD&D and 2nd Edition. Out of laziness, spite, or both, I stopped there. I still subscribe to Dungeon and read Dragon as much as possible, but the stat blocks therein are monstrosities to me, that couldn't be much more confusing if they were written in Latin. However, I do own copies of the PH and DMG for V3.5, and I've been skimming them lately, looking for ideas.
I like some things that I'm seeing, and would like to incorporate them into 2nd Edition rules (or else incorporate some of the old 2E rules into V3.5). For example, I think Skills (including how they're gained and how they're checked) are a quantum leap over the old Proficiencies. However, (for example) the idea of leveling up so frequently is anathema to me. Dungeon's current mega-adventure boasts that it can take you from 1st level to 23rd (or whatever) level over the course of it. Yet when it's compiled, it doesn't seem to me like it will be any more epic than, say, Queen of Spiders was. You started that at what, 9th level, and ended up 14th or so? I'm old school enough that going from 8th to 9th level was reason to throw a fiesta, not just another notch on the belt. That just seems right to me, I don't really want to tinker with XP too much. I think I could have my cake and eat it to if I adjusted the pace at which skills were gained accordingly. Again, just one example.
All of this rambling brings me to my question - what do you guys like most about V3.5, and in what areas haven't they improved? Really respect the opinions of posters on this board, so any sincere feedback would be greatly appreciated...
The stats “system”. If a PC is “above average” in a stat score, it actually has an effect in the game! What a concept! The stepped increases for ability score bonuses are a basic improvement. Previously, stats had to be at least 15(for Dex & Con) or higher for other abilities to get a bonus of any kind. You had to be WAY above average. The ability to increase stats at incremental levels is also a good feature. It makes perfect sense for a fighter to work out, or a bard to learn new ways of enhancing their personal magnetism. A rogue might practice agility based skills to increase their Dexterity, or a cleric might seek further Wisdom through meditation or experience. The bonuses gained from this are not system breaking in any way.
The Skills system. It is a quantum leap beyond the 2e system, where a cleric by simply having a high wisdom score was a masterful horseman; whereas your average unwise fighter who lived in the saddle was barely adequate. That is simply lame, bad design and not the sole case of this oddity in the 2e system. The ability score used as the base check is the errant quality of the 2e system. In 3e/3.5e the ability score is a modifier to the base Skill level as it should be.
Feats: These personally remind me of the Ars Magica system of "Knacks" and other abilities. As Jonathan Tweet had a hand in writing AM, and was a principle for the writing of the 3e system I blame him (rightly or wrongly) for this feature(which I like ).
Together, Skills and Feats not only replace the 2e convention of weapon/non-weapon proficiencies, they improve and expand upon it.
The use of Difficulty Classes is another major improvement across the entire game system. This mechanic is not only used for Skills but for penetrating spell resistance, for dispelling magic, and many other things. A DM can simply rate any potential action on the part of a PC by determining how difficult it would be, what ability or Skill most aptly applies to the task, and make the appropriate DC check. Armor class can pretty much be viewed as a DC check also as it works the same way (roll d20 to hit, add all applicable bonuses; if you equal the AC of the target you hit). No charts necessary. Simple, functional, and brilliant. This has to be at least one of the best improvements, if not THE best improvement over the previous edition rules. This might not seem like a HUGE improvement for a veteran DM who has little trouble deciding such things or has worked out a system of their own to handle oddities in the game, but for anybody new to the game this has to be one of the most understandable and versatile features of the new rules.
Another thing that I like is how magical item effects are delineated by type, and that different types of bonuses add together but two of the same bonuses do not add together to determine a total. For example, a ring of protection provides a deflection bonus to AC, while a a barkskin spell adds an enhancement bonus to natural AC, so both bonuses add together for figuring total AC.
Most of the revised spell effects I like (most of them didn't change all that much), but a few are really skewed either to be too good, or not good enough. For instance Evard's Black Tentacles is truly a sick spell now as it unaffected by magic and the tentacles cannot be physically destroyed (only dispelled). They are also strong as heck. The spell also requires grapple checks every round for every affected creature to determine results, which can be time consuming when the spell is gripping lots of targets. Previously there were very few spells that were both too powerful AND annoying to work out in game.
On the upside, area spells are well delineated as to whether they are a cone, burst, spread, or a cloud effect and what these terms mean. The spell effect types/descriptions add an extra dimension to how spell effects work in the game, which I like.
What I do not like about 3/3.5e:
The XP system is much too convoluted. I would prefer a system like this:
1. Monsters are assigned an XP value as previously.
2. Add up the XP for an encounter.
3. Reference a single chart that lists the PC's average HD/level total next to which is a number that the total XP is divided by(the higher the party HD/level average, the higher the number). This is a simple two column chart.
4. The resulting number of XP is then divided among the number of PC's.
The higher the PC's average HD/level the less XP they get for defeating a critter. Really weak critters will give next to no XP to high level PC's, while nasty critters will give low level PC's a really good XP total. This system is much simpler than the current 3.5e one and still is representative of the challenge of an encounter respective of the PC's average HD/level.
The other thing (and most likely the main thing that I do not like is something else you mentioned: the rapid leveling built into the new system. I am pretty much doubling the 3.5e XP requirements and it is turning out to be about right. It at least has more of a 1e/2e feel of advancement and the players have a greater sense of accomplishment when they level up, just like they did in previous editions. _________________ - Moderator/Admin (in some areas)/Member -
Last edited by Cebrion on Wed Apr 26, 2006 1:07 am; edited 3 times in total
I played the Blue Box and progressed to AD&D then 2nd ed and so on. Since I have played all sorts of RPGs, each advancement of DND to its current form has been an improvement. I agree with all Cebrion's comment, including XP issues. I would also add as improvements for me anyways:
1.No humanocentric gaming:
A.No racial restrictions on class Any race may take unlimted advancement in any class
BEveryone may multiclass - It works kinda like AD&D dual classing except you can go back and forth between classes as you wish. (Paladins and Monks are the exception - leave and you cant go back)
From a rules standpoint this is fantastic and less restrictive to the type of game you play. If you like, you could homebrew and keep the old racial restrictions as your campaign.
2.Epic Level Handbook
This give game rules and mechanics for many of the beyond the pale stuff seen in some GH material. Yes, you can stat the Invoked Devastation and the Rain of Colorless Fire if you want as Epic Level Spells.
3.Deities and Demigods
Better rules to reconcile issues about killing deities and the "If it has stats, it can be killed" debate...plus avatars for Boccob, Lolth and others from the "Core" (GH) pantheon
All the Demon and Devil guys (Demogorgon, Jubilex, Asmodeus, etc) are statted out) and boy are they tough...
Uh, well, seeing as I don't want to get yelled at, I'll just say that 3.5e is "not my thing".
What I'd do first, is sit down with your players. Hand them each a level 5 character. Now run a combat between them and the baddies. The baddies consist of, say, 6 goblins, 2 dire wolfs, 1 goblin cleric (3rd level), an ogre slave and two summoned giant spiders. Have the fight take place in a 30'x40' room, 15' high ceiling, with the far 10' of the room being 5' higher than the floor, reachable by 5' wide steps along each wall. Two 5' diametre stone pillers in the middle of the room brace the ceiling.
Now, if it takes you 'only a few hours', and you and your group find yourself saying "Wow! I like that! That's pretty cool..." then start looking into playing 3.5e. If you look at the time and see that it's after 2am, and you've been running this encounter for more than 6 hours, and find yourself saying "Uh, WTF? That makes *no* sense at all..."...then put 3.5e back on the shelf and dig out your 1e/2e stuff (or pick up Hackmaster or something).
I summarize everything on my dm chart for pc's and monsters in the following order:
Initiative, ATT Bonus, AC, HP(left for last so I can mark damage off along the rest of the line of the page).
Things act in initiative order from high to low, with no need to reference any charts, etc. About the same as 1e/2e, except no charts. I don't know how this could take longer in 3.5e than it does in 1e/2e, other than the initiative order slowing things down a bit, but I like the latest initiative order compared to 1e(the pc's all go first or the monsters all go first, with the very occasional ties factoring in), or 2e which is somewhere in the middle of 1e and 3.5e. The 3.5e initiative order allows you to actually react to events as they unfold; there are no "statements of intent" guesses to be made so that part isn't used in 3.5e.
If it still takes you too long to conduct combats in 3.5e, well, I don't know what to say that wouldn't be construed as insulting. Played in 1e, the final conflict in the Temple of Elemental Evil took two sessions for us. It would be about the same in 3.5e for us. It all depends on how much into tactics your players are, how well equipped they are, and whether they just have their characters mechanically swing their arms and do damage to monsters that walk into range of their weapons. Rules familiarity is certainly always a factor. You can play 3.5 very simple, or you can take advantage of all the tactical options represented in the rules. It’s up to you to choose what best fits you and your player’s playing style.
I am a fan of the new edition, at least 3e. Also grew up with the origianl, moved to AD&D and then AD&D2 and finally D&D3e. 3.5 cleaned some things up, but I don't think it was worth a new edition. I only own the 3 basic 3.5 books for the rare LG gaming I do.
The stats “system”. If a PC is “above average” in a stat score, it actually has an effect in the game! What a concept! The stepped increases for ability score bonuses are a basic improvement.
This was also a feature of D&D, with the unified stat bonus chart. I like that the game returned to this mechanic.
In regeards to experience, I think it is a function of the audience Hasbro is marketing to. I believe their target is us 30-somethings who remember gaming in our formative years but don't have the same time for it anymore. A bi-weekly session is more my norm now, and I believe the same for most everyone who has a fairly steady job that supports the disposable income Hasbro expects us to invest. So, xp and levels are geared to that. 6-8 hours every two weeks to level from 1-20 in about a year equals the 3.x xp chart. This, vs. gaming 3-4 a week for a total of 12-20 hours with the same reward.
But, the kids still game this much, so.....
And Savage Tide is supposed to go from level 1 to level 20, the last level before epic. And it will take a year of real time, at least. How long did ToEE take for the level 1-8 journey? And with the giants/drow to get to ~14th?
Has anyone suggested Castles and Crusades as an alternative to d20 or AD&D? A one-line description could be "AD&D, simplified with the d20 task resolution mechanic, and a simplified version of the d20 skills system."
Best of both worlds, IMHO.
The downside for me is that my players prefer d20. The games open to me are d20. So I play d20.
Finally, once you get proficient with the d20 rules, and find a way to handle initiative (the hardest thing, frankly), combats are a breeze. The afore-mentioned 5th level combat would take me and my group about an hour, maybe an hour and a half to finish.
I started with 1E, was hesitant even to go to 2E, and really dubious about 3E...but after a few years using the system, I agree with Cebrion almost 100%.
I go the other route though, cutting the experience per encounter in half. That way my PCs can still use the XP charts in the PH to calculate when they'll advance.
I think 3.5E clarified a lot of rules discussions that had come up for us, and there are maybe 2 nitpicking things I liked better about 3E. Overall I'd recommend 3.5, but if you've already got the 3E books it probably wouldn't be worth your while to get 3.5 (especially if you're just using the rules piecemeal).
As for testing the waters with 5th level PCs...I converted the Star Cairns and ran my players through it with mid-level characters, as a way to try out the new rules. It was really difficult, because not only were we learning new rules, but we didn't get the chance to learn about new feats and spells as we went. At 1st level a human PC has 2 feats (ish), but by 5th level most classes have at least 4 (I'm counting class abilities as feats, only since we're talking about the learning curve). My players kept forgetting they even had feats while still trying to worry about new rules. I'd definitely recommend starting at first level for testing -- much less to worry about as you get used to the new system. _________________ ~basiliv
I didn't design the world,
I merely facilitated its creation
I agree - start at first level with each of the archetypes covered, so you get the gist of each of them. Many of the spells have changed in subtle ways (Web is amazingly overpowered in the right situation).
(Warning: pedantic advice follows)
Recordkeeping is of paramount importance, as many spells and effects last a limited number of rounds. I use initiative cards, like the ones from The Game Mechanics. When a spell is cast, record the number of rounds left, and mark them off as you pass the character's card.
At first, combat will take forever, but it will get faster as you get more comfortable with it. Try the non-standard combat maneuvers, like Trip, Sunder, and Disarm. Make sure you understand the difference between Delay and Ready, and how Attacks of Opportunity work. Find a good forum to ask questions on, and use it religiously. Don't be afraid to make your own decisions, but write down questions for later research.
I've been DMing d20 3.5 for two years now, and the slowest part of a combat is waiting for the players to decide what they're going to do. I've taken to using a 30 second egg timer when they get too indecisive. I also try to cut out the above-game tactical advice; you can't be that creative or communicative in the heat of battle.
But at first, let the players (and yourself) look up rules, discuss their maneuvers, try to maximize their tactics, etc.
As someone who has played/judged D&D 3.0/3.5 since its inception in 2000 I love it.
I also played in Living Greyhawk from day one (I got my 3.0 PH at GenCon 2000). I have been a Greyhawker since 1980 when I got my copy of the World of Greyhawk Gazetteer.
THINGS I LOVE ABOUT 3e D&D:
* Roll High = Good/Roll Low = Bad
* Unified XP chart
* Open Multiclassing
* Simplified Saves (Fort, Reflex, Will)
* Actions (Standard, Move, Free/Swift)
* SRD/OGL and the rise of 3rd Party content
* The Glossary in the PH (finally defining what things mean across the rules as whole)
* Cleric Domains (now you can customize your cleric)
* Prestige Classes (PrC) - Gawds how much better these are than "kits."
* Types for monsters/races
* Sorcerers (for those that want to play a mage but not be bothered with the extreme bookkeeping of a wizard)
* The battle grid
* CR/EL system for estimating encounter difficulty and XP.
* A magic item creation system that allows stuff to be created at 1st level and scales.
THINGS I DON'T LIKE ABOUT 3e:
* Grapple rules still suck.
* The pre-errata Polymorph spell chain (Alter Self, Polymorph, Shapechange). This has been fixed but still a work in progress.
* Missing definitions in Glossary. Um, what is a soul/life force in game terms (this becomes an issue with spells like Magic Jar).
* Wizards still set the pace of adventures, they run out of spells its time to rest. That can be at the end of the day or 1 hour into an adventure.
* SRD has fallen behind.
* XP is combat centric in core play. There is plenty of ways to give XP for killing/overcoming a monsters/traps but little guidelines for excellent role-playing or other non-combat stuff.
COMBAT & INITIATIVE
As for the complaints about the speed of combat, your test is flawed. Throwing people into 5th level combat without a ramping up period will make any combat drag. 5th level is a break point for a ton of abilities (feats, skills, spells) that change how combat works.
As for initiative, I find cards for each PC, elite NPC, and Mook groups (goblin skirmishers, zombies, etc.) plus an End of Round card works very well for tracking the order of combat.
I call out the current PC/Monster in the order and let the next in line know they are coming up. I expect people to figure out what they are going to do quickly as I give people 10-20 seconds to make a decision before I tell them they are holding their action until the next round. Trust me, when you do that once or twice people start paying attention.
The DM controls the pace of combat. You make or break it. If you are not organized and setting expectations of your players any combat will take hours. I will say, I can run combats quickly with an inexperience group because I have a deep understanding of the rules. If I have an experienced group at my table, combat is a snap.
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