D&D 3E/3.5 [3.0] Why did they do a 3.5 version?


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Weird Dave

Explorer
From a purely DM standpoint, the change from 3.0 to 3.5 fixed the math around a lot of monsters. Most of the outsiders (demons and devils specifically) in 3.0 were glass cannons that just couldn't stand up due to their absolute pitiful hit point total. 3.0 MM gave the mighty pit fiend 123 hp! 3.5 bumped up the match to 225 hp along with an increase in CR. The 3.5 MM also had alternate monster stats that were helpful, especially in higher level games. For example, the Nessian warhound was an upgraded hell hound.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
I considered putting fixed in quotes too. They never shied away from officially revising it though. My favorite shape change rules ended up being the variant druid wild shape in Player's Handbook II late in the 3e lifecycle.
I think the last time was in 2006, when they put out a round of errata so that other form-changing powers (e.g. the druid's wildshape, monster with the "change shape" quality, etc.) stopped referencing polymorph.
 

Grazzt

Demon Lord
From Monte Cook (way back a long time ago):


A few weeks ago, in an interview at gamingreport.com I said that 3.5 was motivated by financial need rather than by design need -- in short, to make money rather than because the game really needed an update. I said that I had this information from a reliable source.

That source was me. I was there.

See, I'm going to let you in on a little secret, which might make you mad: 3.5 was planned from the beginning.
 

From Monte Cook (way back a long time ago):


A few weeks ago, in an interview at gamingreport.com I said that 3.5 was motivated by financial need rather than by design need -- in short, to make money rather than because the game really needed an update. I said that I had this information from a reliable source.

That source was me. I was there.

See, I'm going to let you in on a little secret, which might make you mad: 3.5 was planned from the beginning.

A slightly less cynical way to say the same thing is that upper management at WotC and Hasbro were actively involved in what is commonly known as Product Lifecycle Management. And they still are. We're fortunate that the current edition seems to be in a kind of "evergreen" phase, but that type of success rarely happens accidentally.
 
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teitan

Legend
Unplayably bad Ranger, Paladin, Bard and Monk classes, for starters.

3.5 only fixed two of the above though ...
The ranger was fine if you played 3.0 as intended, a continuation and clean up of AD&D. All of them were fine in that context. SOme skill tweaks here and there sure.
 

teitan

Legend
I'll add that 3.5 gave us the prestige classes that patched multiclassing. You won't find the mystic theurge, eldritch knight, or arcane trickster in 3.0, because it wasn't until after the game released that people realized just how badly multiclassing hurt spellcasting classes, and that a wizard 10/cleric 10 was nowhere near as good as a wizard 20 or cleric 20.
I believe these "patches" existed before. Aside from that 3.0 didn't end at level 20, the epic level handbook patched a lot of that so a multiclass character was ehhhh on par with a similar character in earlier editions. The only race that it affected in a noncomparable way was the Human but even then dual classing allowed a human to switch classes but they had to forego their previous class until they reached the same level in their new class/es. Now it did break the CR system but for an old school DM that was a guideline as an experienced DM knows what a group of characters can handle based on his players. It wasn't so good for new DMs though.
 

teitan

Legend
Here's a fun little confluence of 3.0-isms:

  • 3.0, unlike 3.5, had restricted skills. Whereas class skills were cost 1 skill point per rank and were limited to (level +3) ranks, and cross-class skills cost 2 skill points per rank and were limited to [(level +3)/2] ranks, restricted skills were skills that a particular class were not allowed to purchase. Use Magic Device, for example, could only be taken by bards or rogues; if you were, say, a fighter who wanted to purchase that skill, your only option was to multiclass.

THis is inline with previous editions of the game where certain skills were a classes niche, like Use Magic Device was literally a Thief skill. It had a chance of failure. It was a legacy thing.

  • While wizards' and sorcerers' ability to gain a familiar was a class ability right from the get-go, 3.0 hearkened back to earlier editions by requiring druids and rangers to cast a spell, animal friendship, in order to gain animal companions. Notice the plural there; in 3.0, that spell earned you a number of Hit Dice of animal companions equal to your caster level - or double your caster level if you didn't subject them to "the demands of adventuring" - which could be divided up among any number of animals, none of whom gained increased stats as you gained levels.

meh

  • The previous two bullet points led to an unintended consequence when combined with how standardized magic item creation had become. It was now possible to make a scroll or a wand of animal friendship and have a character with ranks in Use Magic Device - a bard, rogue, or anyone who'd level-dipped into those classes - use the magic item and gain animal companions of their own! As such, it was no surprise that 3.5 moved animal companions to being class abilities for druids and rangers, limiting them to one animal whose stats leveled up along with the character, and eliminated the animal friendship spell entirely.

I don't see any issue with that because that was the intent of the Use Magic Device ability, to use magical items that were otherwise class restricted while having a chance of failure. It was a legacy thing.
 

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