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3E/3.5 Comparison to 3.5e

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
I play a weekly pathfinder game, and I dearly wished it was in 5e (even though it might cripple my character). The amount of minutia, fiddling and tracking required is ridiculous. We have one new ish player who's bad at math, and one who's mental acuity has declined a bit with age (great guy though), and they are both struggling with pathfinder. 5e is far less "in the way" of adventuring.

I also see people talk about the far greater choices that 3.x/pathfinder offer... but many of these choices are traps. The difference between an optimal character and a shoddily designed one are immense. In 5e, almost every choice is valid - some are a little better than others, but even a casually made character will be pretty decent. In fact, you have to really work at it to make a bad character.
 

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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Fourth Edition was not a Bad Game, it just was not D&D...
Mod note:
Please...

"... for me." Even better - "...does not scratch the D&D itch for me". Not a single person here has the position to declare it not-D&D overall. And yes, the qualifier does matter on this one, due to history. There are far too many people more than willing to take edition warring potshots at each other to this day, that if you don't add the qualifier, you will look like one of those to someone, and arguments will start. Just don't state the position as if it were absolute, please.
 

Horwath

Adventurer
Fourth Edition was not a Bad Game, it just was not D&D, it did not really evolve from earlier editions. Proficiency slots, feats, and even backgrounds have precedents that go all the way back to AD&D, 4E made unprecedented changes, practically starting from scratch. It was just too big a change...
4th edition did a lot of good changes, but it was mixed with lots of bad ones, so in general it was viewed as a bad game overall.

But 5E should have taken more from 4E, they took some things and make them better or worse:

At-will cantrips/powers, better in 5E than in 4E.

Healing surges in 4E are better mechanics than HDs in 5E.

5min recharge encounter powers are better that 1hr long short rest (1hr is NOT a short rest).

return to 3E-like spells and spells slots is far better than dull, bland "Daily" powers/spells in 4E.

+1/2 level bonus on EVERYTHING, no matter what, is the worst mechanics I have ever seen in any D&D game, 5E's +2 -> +6 proficiency is biggest improvement over 4E and 3.5E B.A.B. and skill ranks.

Not to mention HORRIBLE art work in 4E PHB. 5E is still not on 3E level, but still much better than 4E.
 

Samloyal23

Adventurer
Do not argue with or otherwise try to justify yourself in-thread. If you need to discuss, take it up in private message with a member of the moderating staff..
Mod note:
Please...

"... for me." Even better - "...does not scratch the D&D itch for me". Not a single person here has the position to declare it not-D&D overall. And yes, the qualifier does matter on this one, due to history. There are far too many people more than willing to take edition warring potshots at each other to this day, that if you don't add the qualifier, you will look like one of those to someone, and arguments will start. Just don't state the position as if it were absolute, please.
My only point was that it was so drastically different from previous editions it was essentially a different game. You can see the arc of development that led to 3E. 4E jumped off that track. It was like they started from scratch. A lot of people just could not relate it to what they were used to playing. New gamers who had not experienced earlier editions generally liked it. There were definitely good ideas in the game. My only issue with the game was the restrictions in character generation at level 1.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
My only point ...
Mod Note:

From the Terms and Rules: "If you really, really disagree with a moderator's position on a moderating issue, please don't argue about it on the boards. "

Using a moderator's post to get one last shot in at an edition does very little to convince us that you aren't an edition warrior yourself. You probably want to let it drop now. Really.

We expect that any further discussion of the moderation will go to Private Message with a member of the staff. Thanks.
 


Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
Not to mention HORRIBLE art work in 4E PHB. 5E is still not on 3E level, but still much better than 4E
I don't share that opinion. I would agree though that the artwork in the 4e Players Strategy Guide departed away from the rest of the 4e style; and that I was not appreciative of that.
 


As a 3.5 player and DM, my bias is obviously skewed towards 3rd edition. However, I can honestly see positives in both systems. 5e has less number crunch, but I happen to like number crunch. It has less character options, skills, feats and magic items, but I really like that stuff. 5e does away with the +1, +2, +3, but I like that stacking powers can lead to a bigger bonus, rather than a flat advantage. I also love how deadly and unexpected combat can be in 3.5. However, I really like how 5e added a wider use for many spells, and their legendary actions and lair actions rules for creating boss battles. I will be sticking with 3.5 because of the stuff I just mentioned, and because of the treasure trove of material. The OGL just offers so much compatibility with stuff like Pathfinder. But I will borrow stuff from 5e from time to time. It definitely is the easiest edition to get into D&D, if you are just starting.
 

Orius

Adventurer
I feel that 5e is kind of limited compared to 3e as well, but I think it's a fine edition to introduce people to the game.

As a DM, 3e has a lot of tools to work with for me. It's like how when I was a kid, I much preferred that box of 64 crayons to 8 or 16 because it gave me more to work with. Now, I am aware that 3e does have its problems, but I'm not even going to try to work with material from 20+ different splats at once. I'd rather start with basic core, and add stuff as needed, and ban stuff that's more blatantly broken. With 5e, it seems I'd have to build my own archetypes from scratch, and I really don't want to do that work.
 

delphonso

Explorer
Restating what has mostly been said, but want to weigh in with considerable 3.5 player and DM experience and a lot of DM (but far less player) experience in 5e.

3.5 was my first system and will still have a special place in my heart, but if someone said they were starting a new campaign in 3.5 I'd probably opt out.

3.5 had excellent character customization - with the wealth of options, feats, and prestige classes, by a high level, your character was a mangled collection of curses, deformities, divine boons, and good old fashioned grit forced into (mostly) humanoid form. I had a single character get lycanthropy, possessed, cursed with a rage-inducing gem, and attain lichdom...in a good campaign. They were on their third multi-class, too - which is honestly low for 3.5. Unfortunately, the wealth of choice (namely edition bloat) often left me feeling overwhelmed when I got a level. I almost dreaded leveling up instead of looking forward to it. So many things had to change on the character sheet, I made a new one each time (no longer an issue since online resources are probably very available). I prefer the streamlined options in 5e, and find it much easier to imagine cool concepts and feel confident that I did it right - while 3.5 felt like I had always forgotten something.

5e has a much flatter curve between classes. 3.5 Wizards don't survive to level 5. If they do, they outpace everyone else by level 10. A 1st level sorcerer is useful in 5e, where they were more like a Ming vase your melee characters protected in 3.5.

As far as theater of the mind goes, I think that is up to DM's choice and player's willingness to not worry about very specific movement rules. Remember that 3.5 was released along side a miniatures campaign by WotC, so emphasis on the grid was good business sense. I ran entirely theater of the mind campaigns and I don't think they suffered much. Generally, the tactical rules favored enemies more than players.

The bonuses (+2 from here, +4 from this feat, -2 for this...) in 3.5 are fun and satisfying, but also a slog. I think they had a great value, but their absence isn't missed in 5e.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
So this is a pathfinder example, but I know that it would be near identical in 3.5. My character wants to attack a foe. Should be simple right?

Well, my character is an alchemist, so his BAB is +5, +2 for dex, +1 for the train firebug and +1 for the feat throw anything, for a total of +9, and it's vs touch AC. This is a slightly complicated calculation, but you only have to do it once per level, so it's good right? weeeeeeelllllll

I have drunk the mutagen, which gives me +4 to dex, which means +2 to hit. I've also cast reduce, which increases my attack by 1 and gives me 2 more dex so another +1. The foe is 25 feet away so point-blank shot kicks in, giving me another +1, BUT there is a -2 range penalty. The bard is signing that's +5 right? (our bards is *awesome) - nope the bard is more than 30 feet away from me, reducing the bonus to +3. I'm also firing into melee (-4) and there is some cover (-2) so that's not great... but wait I'm hasted by the sorcerer, so I get another +1! So now it 9 +4 +1 +1 +1 -2 +3 -4 -2 + 1= +12 (... I think).

And this will change every round - did I take just take dex damage, or been hit by a debuff? did range changes, is cover less (or more), did a buffing spell expire, the bard stopped signing, etc etc etc.

(this is not a fictional example. This is how our game goes, and this is my character).

I roll poorly - a 3 - and I hit touch AC 15. Does this hit, I ask the GM? Easy question right?

But no, we're not done - the monster's AC may be changing every round!!! The monster may have cast some protective spells - which may or may not apply, and and may or may not have been dispelled by the party. Furthermore, other players may have put a number of debuffs on the foe, some which stack and some which do not.
All this work for a single attack...

Edit: I'm not saying that this is "wrong". Some people enjoy this kind of crunch and mental gymnastics. But as I grow older, it's not so much fun anymore. I can handle it just fine, but it slows the game down, combat takes much more time than other games (you should see troika!) and it's difficult for a number of players. I didn't know until a few years ago how difficult for some people this kind of math is.

(edit: and it's even worse now because of the pandemic, we can't play face to face)
 


BookBarbarian

Expert Long Rester
Seen one 5E Paladin, seen them all.
If every 5e paladin looks like my Half-Orc Oath of the Ancients Paladin riding a Find Steed worg, dropping moonbeams, and restraining bad guys with magical vines then good for them because he is awesome! He feels more like a Shaman than a Paladin.
 

I have drunk the mutagen, which gives me +4 to dex, which means +2 to hit. I've also cast reduce, which increases my attack by 1 and gives me 2 more dex so another +1. The foe is 25 feet away so point-blank shot kicks in, giving me another +1, BUT there is a -2 range penalty. The bard is signing that's +5 right? (our bards is *awesome) - nope the bard is more than 30 feet away from me, reducing the bonus to +3. I'm also firing into melee (-4) and there is some cover (-2) so that's not great... but wait I'm hasted by the sorcerer, so I get another +1! So now it 9 +4 +1 +1 +1 -2 +3 -4 -2 + 1= +12 (... I think).
This is a bit of an exaggeration. Like with any system, you write down your total attack bonus, so you only calculate it once. Range penalties very rarely occur. And the monster's cover bonus and the penalty for firing into melee are not things you as a player have to worry about. Your DM should take that into account, it does not affect your attack bonus one bit.

Its only when you start factoring the bonuses of spell effects, that it gets a little bit more complicated, but this is mostly at higher levels. Most parties settle into a routine, and then just write down what their usual bonus is.

In your example, +20 and -2 for the range penalty is all you need to remember. So a +18.
Also, the DM raises the monster's AC by +6.
 
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As a 3.5 player and DM, my bias is obviously skewed towards 3rd edition. However, I can honestly see positives in both systems. 5e has less number crunch, but I happen to like number crunch.
To expand on this a little, everybody talks about numbers and math when it comes to 3.x. And they're right. But it's not the whole picture. So much of the crunch in 3.x come from the tightly defined mechanics and the world behind the numbers. The definitions for things like "line of effect" vs "line of sight" and "spread" vs "emanation". The myriad of combat actions, the different names of modifiers. The character builds with prestige classes, feat trees, and custom abilities.

And when it all comes together properly, that crunch is soooo satisfying. The 3.x rules built a world that is complete from top to bottom, with so many consistencies and well defined reactions that it just feels fulfilling.

I've been getting into 5e for the first time this year, and I openly enjoy it. It's barrier to entry is trivial compared to 3.x. It's faster, it's easier for the DM (not me). Combat moves fast. But it feels so darned fluffy all the time. So many things are "open" and "left to the DMs call" . When you get down to it, a bunch of the rules are just plain missing. It's looking like 5e is going to become my default system, but no matter how many books come out I doubt it will ever feel like a complete rules set to me.
 

I've been getting into 5e for the first time this year, and I openly enjoy it. It's barrier to entry is trivial compared to 3.x. It's faster, it's easier for the DM (not me). Combat moves fast. But it feels so darned fluffy all the time. So many things are "open" and "left to the DMs call" . When you get down to it, a bunch of the rules are just plain missing. It's looking like 5e is going to become my default system, but no matter how many books come out I doubt it will ever feel like a complete rules set to me.
This is true. While I love how more flexible some of the spells are in 5e, we have seen numerous times on this forum that players were unclear how to rule on a particular spell. And often we would then quote the same spell from 3.5 to see what the intention of the designers (probably) was. 3.5 spelled it out a lot clearer, which obviously then also limits the spell, but sometimes detailed rules are what you want.

Of course there can also be a downside to this. There are some spells in 3.5 that have such long spell descriptions, that I find myself rereading the text multiple times to fully grasp what is being said. Dispel Magic is a good example of that. Way too wordy. There are pros and cons to both systems. As you said, to summarize 3.5 as just being "a lot of math and number crunch" does not do the system justice. A cohesive and detailed system can be very fulfilling to play.
 

Orius

Adventurer
I think part of the design philosophy of 3e was to clearly define things to rein in both power tripping DMs and rules lawyers.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
This is a bit of an exaggeration. Like with any system, you write down your total attack bonus, so you only calculate it once. Range penalties very rarely occur. And the monster's cover bonus and the penalty for firing into melee are not things you as a player have to worry about. Your DM should take that into account, it does not affect your attack bonus one bit.

Its only when you start factoring the bonuses of spell effects, that it gets a little bit more complicated, but this is mostly at higher levels. Most parties settle into a routine, and then just write down what their usual bonus is.

In your example, +20 and -2 for the range penalty is all you need to remember. So a +18.
Also, the DM raises the monster's AC by +6.
You clearly didn't read the example. The first step, that resulted in "a total of +9", that's the static bonus! Everything else is in flux

Range penalties, firing into melee, cover penalties, happens in almost every fight (edit: in our pathfinder game at least). This was in by no means an exaggeration. This is a real pathfinder fight, and they happen like this more often than not. This example was from last game! And we aren't "high level", these are 7th level characters.
 
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