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  1. Jonathan Tweet

    3E/3.5 Andrew Finch’s Monsters by Level

    One unsung hero of D&D game design is Andrew Finch. He had a lot of roles at Wizards over the years, and he was involved in D&D playtesting and design as early as I was. To my mind, his biggest single advance was his table of monster stats by level. The table went against our general design...
  2. Jonathan Tweet

    3E/3.5 Monsters in the Miniatures Handbook

    The other day, I was looking up the nothic in the Miniatures Handbook (2003), and I was happy to be reminded of all the other worthwhile monsters we put in that book. Whereas the core three rulebooks were mostly devoted to translating traditional content into the new edition, the MH was a chance...
  3. Jonathan Tweet

    General Alignment in D&D

    Alignment is, on some level, the beating heart of Dungeons & Dragons. On the other hand, it’s sort of a stupid rule. It’s like the hit point rules in that it makes for a good game experience, especially if you don’t think about it too hard. Just as Magic: the Gathering has the five colors that...
  4. Jonathan Tweet

    3E/3.5 Multiclassing in D&D 3rd Edition

    My best friend Rob Heinsoo was the lead designer on 4th Ed, and one of his jobs was to fix things that 3rd Ed hadn’t fixed. Multiclassing was on that list of systems that needed work. At one point when playing 3rd Ed, Rob was running a 3rd level barbarian-fighter-ranger. Given the way...
  5. Jonathan Tweet

    3E/3.5 Jonathan Tweet: Third Edition and Per-Day Spells

    On the Third Edition design team, we were tasked with rationalizing the game system, but there were some big elements of the system that we didn’t question. We inherited a system in which spellcasters get better in three ways at a time as they level up; they get more spells per day, higher-level...
  6. Jonathan Tweet

    3E/3.5 D&D 3E Design: The Unbalanced Cleric

    What do you call a D&D cleric who can’t heal? A 1st-level 1970s cleric. The original first-level cleric could turn undead but had no spells. Skip Williams says that the original conception of the cleric was sort of a Van Helsing figure, someone who bought the wolvesbane, belladonna, and garlic...
  7. Jonathan Tweet

    3E/3.5 Diversity in D&D Third Edition

    With 3rd Ed, our main goal was to return D&D to its roots, such as with Greyhawk deities and the return of half-orcs. By staying true to the feel of D&D, we helped the gaming audience accept the sweeping changes that we made to the rules system. One way we diverged from the D&D heritage...
  8. Jonathan Tweet

    3E/3.5 3E and the Feel of D&D

    For 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons, the big picture was to return the game to its roots, reversing the direction that 2nd Edition had taken in making the game more generic. The plan was to strongly support the idea that the characters were D&D characters in a D&D world. We emphasized adventuring...
  9. Jonathan Tweet

    3E/3.5 Jonathan Tweet: Streamlining Third Edition

    The D&D 3rd Ed project was part big-picture vision and part a collection of individual decisions about rules, terms, and characters. In terms of rules, a lot of what we did amounted to streamlining. We removed absolute limits in favor of consequences, removed unnecessary distinctions in favor of...
  10. Jonathan Tweet

    Jonathan Tweet: Legacy of Ars Magica

    Ars Magica had an obscure origin, but it had long-lasting effects. We did a number of influential support products that influenced 1990s game design, and it launched the careers of five of us who were part of the Ars Magica crew. Over the years, I had bought a ton of roleplaying games, and I...
  11. Jonathan Tweet

    Jonathan Tweet: On The Origins of Ars Magica

    By the time I started college in 1987, I was a die-hard Chaosium fan, and I taught my new college friends RuneQuest and Call of Cthulhu. These friends and I talked a lot about roleplaying games and game design, and we tried to figure out how to create the best possible games. I had already been...
  12. Jonathan Tweet

    3E/3.5 Jonathan Tweet: My Life with the Open Gaming License

    In 1978 at age 12, I bought my second roleplaying game, Metamorphosis Alpha (MA) by Jim Ward. That’s the day I became a fan of the Open Gaming License and the d20 logo. Or at least I would have been a fan if someone had gone back in time and told me about them. The rules in MA described a...
  13. Jonathan Tweet

    3E/3.5 Jonathan Tweet: Prologue to Third Edition

    The story of Third Edition D&D starts, perhaps, with Peter Adkison reading 2nd Edition AD&D (1989) and being sorely disappointed. For one thing, he felt the new system left several underlying problems in place, so players didn’t get much benefit from the effort it took to switch to a new system...
  14. Jonathan Tweet

    Kickstarter Grande Temple of Jing on Kickstarter

    Looking for a dungeon that really makes the most of the dungeoneering approach to D&D? Check out The Grande Temple of Jing by my buddy, Danny O'Neill! I contributed to it, as did Monte Cook, Skip Williams, Chris Pramas, and more. Fun stuff from Hammerdog Games​, now on Kickstarter...
  15. Jonathan Tweet

    Vampire's new "three-round combat" rule

    The new Vampire RPG reportedly has a rule for often limiting combat to three rounds. That rule sure feels like something my buddy Ken Hite would have written, and I have been toying with a similar idea myself. I've played out plenty of long combats where the last rounds were a grind (hello, 4E)...
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