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3E/3.5 Comparison to 3.5e

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
I read it just fine. Like I said, the DM can take care of range penalties, firing-into-melee penalties, and cover penalties. These are not things you as a player have to track yourself. All you have to know, is your attack bonus, and thats it. If you're shooting outside your weapon's range, tell the DM and let him take care of it.

Range penalties only occur if you have to shoot outside the range increment of your ranged weapon.

For a throwing axe this is 10ft.
For a Dart, light hammer or a spear this is 20 ft.
For a sling or hand crossbow, this is 30 ft.
For a shortbow or javelin this is 60 ft.
For a light crossbow, this is 80 ft.
For a heavy crossbow this is 120 ft.

So I think its fair to say that most ranged weapons in 3.5 are anywhere between 30 ft. and 80 ft. That is a long distance. In any given dungeon, I rarely see fights where you have to cover more than 30 ft. of range. Also, if you have to bring a ranged weapon in 3.5, you'll usually bring some kind of bow. Almost all of these have a range of over 60ft., which is more than you need for most fights in 3.5.

I'm currently running a pirate campaign that adds flintlock firearms into the mix. Most basic flintlocks in my campaign have an accurate range of about 50ft., and yet still the range increment rule barely comes up. And that is in a campaign where most opponents have firearms.
 
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FaerieGodfather

Aberrant Druid
Supporter
Still, I'm facing the desire of a regular to try 3.5 again. How have players of older editions found 5e in comparison? Positive? Better Worse, broken? Too Restrictive?
For background, I got my start with AD&D (First Edition) in 1993 and didn't really switch over to Second Edition until 1997-1998. I went in for Player's Option as hard as possible-- most of my friends did not care for it-- and still have a tremendous fondness for the Player's Option rules that sadly does not extend to the AD&D rules underneath. Switched to 3.0 and 3.5 on their respective launch dates-- literally bought the first copies of the PHB sold at my bookstore and ran sessions those nights; burned out on 3.X and switched to non-D&D games (for professional reasons) around 2006 or 2007. Skipped 4e almost entirely-- one session total, during the 5e playtests-- but talked my friends into buying me the 5e core books for a game I ran for... over a year and a half.

I'm going to try to stick to value-neutral objective facts and my feelings about those objective facts-- I'm not interested in defending my position, and I'm even less interested in trying to tell someone they're wrong about having fun-- but I really honestly hate Fifth Edition in a way I've never hated any version of Dungeons & Dragons before, and I've only ever hated a couple of other games the same way.

Also, for perspective... until recently I would have said that AD&D Player's Option was my absolute favorite version of D&D, with Pathfinder being a reasonably close second with the right third-party/homebrew fixes. I've recently lost my taste for the AD&D mechanics... so I would say that my ideal form of D&D would be Classic (or a clone) with the Player's Option and/or Pathfinder supplements attached. I am designing my own personal "clone"/heartbreaker to this effect.

Starting with the negatives-- so that I can finish with the positives-- these are my complaints:

Multiclassing: This is almost exactly the same system as 3.X, except that it doesn't have any of the years of support that 3.5 put into patching it-- there is no Mystic Theurge, the Eldritch Knight and Arcane Trickster are less-than-half spellcaster archetypes for Fighter and Rogue, and there are no Feats for stacking class features. Spellcasting levels now partially stack in a way that doesn't address the multiclassing problem in 3.X, while Extra Attack no longer stacks at all.

Proficiency Bonus: There is no difference in attack rolls between Fighters and Wizards, which I might be okay with. Proficient Saving Throws advance at the same rate... but non-proficient Saving Throws do not advance at all. 3.X characters get worse at their saving throws-- over time-- relative to level-appropriate threats... which I consider a problem, and which 5e made entirely worse. (Failing Saves is less disastrous than it is in 3.X, but the assumption is that you'll usually fail and fail more often at higher levels, and that doesn't work for me.) Skills are either Untrained, Trained, or Expertise... and intentionally, an Untrained character with a high ability score is capable of performing all of the same tasks as someone with Expertise, even if they are somewhat less likely to succeed.

Bounded Accuracy: You have Ability Score Increases, like in 3.X/4e, but your Ability Scores are capped at 20 regardless of Race. Once you get your main ability scores up to 20, that's when you start trading in your ASIs for Feats. If Feats are allowed. This makes characters feel kinda samey and, combined with the skill problem, makes higher-level characters feel like, despite their advanced class features, they're not really more powerful or more competent than lower-level characters.

Subraces: I've always hated subraces, dating back to the original Night of the Living Elves (AD&D, high school, nine players, eight and a half elves) and then some. In the 3.X era they became little more than a cheap excuse to always be able to play an Elf with a +2 bonus to the main ability score for your class. In 5e, despite still being supposedly representative of discrete subpopulations within the larger race... they are literally nothing more than racial variants optimized for different clases. (And Drow, of course.)

Attack Cantrips: Don't get me wrong, I love the fact that spellcasters can do more magical stuff... and I maybe kinda like the flavor of casting a spell each and every round, instead of throwing darts until it's time for a showstopper. (I'm divided on this.) But the way cantrip damage scales, your at-will, unlimited ranged attacks-- regardless of class-- do more damage than either melee or ranged basic attacks from a character who doesn't have major damage-boosting class features.

I could go on, but these round out my major complaints. On a more positive note:

Advantage/Disadvantage: Replacing all of the fiddly little +1/2 bonuses with the binary Advantage and Disadvantage makes gameplay much quicker and easier to make rulings on the fly... and making it so they do not stack, to prevent people from hunting down every possible source of Advantage or Disadvantage is legitimately the only part of 5e I would describe as a stroke of genius.

Spellcasting: Using higher-level spell slots to cast more powerful versions of lower level spells is great, and it means classes don't have to be as picky about knowing or preparing so many spells of a certain level. Differentiating between classes that prepare spells versus classes that know spells is great... the way this interacts with Cleric Domains and Paladin Oaths is great. 4e did Ritual Magic better... but 5e still does it, unlike 3.X.

Natural Healing: The use of Hit Dice, clearly derived from 4e's Healing Surges, is great for natural healing and overall resilience.

General Warrior Buffs: You can take all of your attacks at your full attack bonus while moving. The penalty for climbing or jumping while wearing heavy armor is gone, and the penalty for sneaking in heavy armor is much more reasonable.

General Spellcaster Nerfs: Concentration. No spell scaling unless you use higher slots. I know I already bitched about the Saving Throw thing... but the greatly reduced efficacy of Save-or-Die or Save-or-Suck spells compared to blasting or buffing your party.

But 5E should have taken more from 4E, they took some things and make them better or worse:
I can't claim to be a big fan of 4e, but I will say that it had some solid ideas and that 5e generally picked the rights ones to keep-- but I wished they'd kept them instead of grinding them up and putting them in a can of cat food so the grognards didn't notice.

At-will cantrips/powers, better in 5E than in 4E.
Hard disagree. Class-specific at-wills for every class was a much better design, and the way at-will powers worked/scaled was much more sensibile in 4th.

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.
100%.

+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.
And maybe +1/2 level to everything isn't great... but it's a hell of a lot better than +12 being the very best in the world and 20th level characters running around with honest-to-god +0 to anything. Of the three systems on display, 5e is easily and most obnoxiously the worst.
 

Horwath

Adventurer
And maybe +1/2 level to everything isn't great... but it's a hell of a lot better than +12 being the very best in the world and 20th level characters running around with honest-to-god +0 to anything. Of the three systems on display, 5e is easily and most obnoxiously the worst.
I have no problem with 20th level characters having +0 in some areas that they didn't use or practiced.

personally, I would go for skills with levels of training.

0 Training: +0
1st level training: +4, min d20 roll 5(1-4 is counted as 5)
2nd lvl training: +3(total +7), min d20 roll 8
3rd lvl training: +2(total +9), mid d20 roll 10
4th lvl training: +1(total +10), min d20 roll 12
 

FaerieGodfather

Aberrant Druid
Supporter
I have no problem with 20th level characters having +0 in some areas that they didn't use or practiced.
I do. There are some things a character shouldn't be able to attempt untrained, but otherwise a 10th level character should be better at everything than they were at 1st level-- generally better at everything, and specifically better at more things. I am also altogether unfond of ability scores being capped at 20 and the lack of any automatic "+1 all" progression for these reasons-- though, I acknowledge the latter wasn't part of 3.X, either. I was using the Mongoose Conan version before I stopped running 3.X.


personally, I would go for skills with levels of training.

0 Training: +0
1st level training: +4, min d20 roll 5(1-4 is counted as 5)
2nd lvl training: +3(total +7), min d20 roll 8
3rd lvl training: +2(total +9), mid d20 roll 10
4th lvl training: +1(total +10), min d20 roll 12
Not gonna lie, I think having higher minimum results is more important than having higher maximum results... but I really think, in a bounded system, the most important thing is that higher level/higher rank characters need to be able to do more with their existing skill bonus... numbers go up isn't really the key thing here. The Skill Unlock system from Pathfinder Unchained would be ideal here.
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
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)
This mirrors my experience as well. Another factor that I think you haven't mentioned is typed bonuses, since they usually didn't stack. If you received a new buff, you had to go through your list of buffs and verify that they were different bonus types, since otherwise they (usually) wouldn't stack.

It wasn't that we couldn't do it, but rather that it simply felt so tedious to me and the rest of my table. Several of us would write out lengthy spreadsheets of different, common combinations of bonuses, because it was time consuming to try to figure it out at the table. That didn't work for everything however (ability score damage) and it was a PITA to maintain the spreadsheet.

Similarly, when I would DM, prepping for game (particularly creating monsters) felt like such a chore, and was incredibly time consuming for me. I've heard that a lot of people just eyeballed the numbers to save time, but I wasn't nearly as experienced back then so I naturally followed the procedures laid out in the DMG.

Don't get me wrong, when 3e came out I absolutely loved the game, and for years thereafter. I still think it had a lot of brilliant innovations for the time, and page through my books on occasion for inspiration. It's simply that when I burned out on it, I burned out hard. So much so that it's the only edition of D&D that I have zero interest in playing again.
 

Voadam

Adventurer
I read it just fine. Like I said, the DM can take care of range penalties, firing-into-melee penalties, and cover penalties. These are not things you as a player have to track yourself. All you have to know, is your attack bonus, and thats it. If you're shooting outside your weapon's range, tell the DM and let him take care of it.

Range penalties only occur if you have to shoot outside the range increment of your ranged weapon.

For a throwing axe this is 10ft.
For a Dart, light hammer or a spear this is 20 ft.
For a sling or hand crossbow, this is 30 ft.
For a shortbow or javelin this is 60 ft.
For a light crossbow, this is 80 ft.
For a heavy crossbow this is 120 ft.

So I think its fair to say that most ranged weapons in 3.5 are anywhere between 30 ft. and 80 ft. That is a long distance. In any given dungeon, I rarely see fights where you have to cover more than 30 ft. of range. Also, if you have to bring a ranged weapon in 3.5, you'll usually bring some kind of bow. Almost all of these have a range of over 60ft., which is more than you need for most fights in 3.5.

I'm currently running a pirate campaign that adds flintlock firearms into the mix. Most basic flintlocks in my campaign have an accurate range of about 50ft., and yet still the range increment rule barely comes up. And that is in a campaign where most opponents have firearms.
Why would you not include factors you know that affect your attack roll, like firing into melee and range, into your attack roll calculation? Firing into melee is a -4 on your attack roll. The DM has enough to keep track of in the fight with the factors on the NPC side and environment side. Everything that is in the PH and knowable at the table that affects a PC's attack roll should preferably be handled by the players IMO.

Also you forgot the 10 foot range for daggers and alchemical weapons and the 20 foot range for alchemist bombs in Pathfinder that are fairly common ranged weapons and can reasonably come up in many combats.
 

Horwath

Adventurer
but otherwise a 10th level character should be better at everything than they were at 1st level-- generally better at everything,
why?

In between various schools, military, courses and working years, I have more than 30 years of various learning/training, and I can tell you that my skill at operating nuclear submarine didn't improved one bit from the starting zero.
 

Why would you not include factors you know that affect your attack roll, like firing into melee and range, into your attack roll calculation?
What I mean is that first and foremost it shouldn't affect your usual total attack bonus score, as in the number that is on your sheet. Substracting those two numbers on the spot, isn't such a big deal as you make it out to be.

But since a DM can't see what numbers you did or did not add, it is much easier to not add them at all, and simply let the DM do that for you (or you can mention that those penalties have not been applied yet, and then give him the final tally).

For example, when we play through Roll20, we first roll our normal attack roll plus our usual bonuses. We then tell our DM that we are shooting beyond our range, and that we are shooting in melee. And tell him the final number. This just keeps things much more simple: One number, minus two numbers. It also keeps the numbers more transparent to the DM, since he can make sure that players do not forget those penalties.

When a monster is in cover, that should absolutely not affect your attack roll. Cover gives a monster more AC, it doesn't give you a lower attack bonus.

Also you forgot the 10 foot range for daggers and alchemical weapons and the 20 foot range for alchemist bombs in Pathfinder that are fairly common ranged weapons and can reasonably come up in many combats.
The point was not to list every ranged weapon in the game, nor every ranged weapon in every other 3.5 compatible game. The point was to point out that most ranged combat in D&D 3.5 is resolved over distances of 30ft. or less; a distance that most ranged weapons in 3.5 can reach without penalties. In all my years of playing D&D 3.5, I can count the number of times a range penalty was added on one hand. It is that rare (for me). Then again, we don't use daggers and alchemical weapons very much.
 
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FaerieGodfather

Aberrant Druid
Supporter
In between various schools, military, courses and working years, I have more than 30 years of various learning/training, and I can tell you that my skill at operating nuclear submarine didn't improved one bit from the starting zero.
Well, one, I would easily concede that operating a nuclear submarine is a trained-only skill. And two, neither you nor anyone else alive on this earth is a 10th level character.
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
And maybe +1/2 level to everything isn't great... but it's a hell of a lot better than +12 being the very best in the world and 20th level characters running around with honest-to-god +0 to anything. Of the three systems on display, 5e is easily and most obnoxiously the worst.
I disagree that either is the worst. They just cater to different tastes.

That said, it isn't strictly necessary in 5e because bounded accuracy means that the gap between a proficient character and one that isn't proficient isn't insurmountable. In 3e a high level character could have +30 while another could have +0. In 5e, those same characters might have +11 and +0, respectively. There are some outliers, like expertise or 3e skill feats, that push those boundaries a bit, but these are typical numbers for those systems. The range of the 3e characters is much larger than the range of a d20, whereas the range of the 5e characters is significantly smaller than the range of a d20.

A simple option to prevent high level characters from having a +0 would be to allow 1/3rd of your proficiency bonus to apply to untrained checks (a slightly worse version of the bard's jack of all trades ability). Just a thought.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
I read it just fine. Like I said, the DM can take care of range penalties, firing-into-melee penalties, and cover penalties. These are not things you as a player have to track yourself. All you have to know, is your attack bonus, and thats it. If you're shooting outside your weapon's range, tell the DM and let him take care of it.

Range penalties only occur if you have to shoot outside the range increment of your ranged weapon.

For a throwing axe this is 10ft.
For a Dart, light hammer or a spear this is 20 ft.
For a sling or hand crossbow, this is 30 ft.
For a shortbow or javelin this is 60 ft.
For a light crossbow, this is 80 ft.
For a heavy crossbow this is 120 ft.

So I think its fair to say that most ranged weapons in 3.5 are anywhere between 30 ft. and 80 ft. That is a long distance. In any given dungeon, I rarely see fights where you have to cover more than 30 ft. of range. Also, if you have to bring a ranged weapon in 3.5, you'll usually bring some kind of bow. Almost all of these have a range of over 60ft., which is more than you need for most fights in 3.5.

I'm currently running a pirate campaign that adds flintlock firearms into the mix. Most basic flintlocks in my campaign have an accurate range of about 50ft., and yet still the range increment rule barely comes up. And that is in a campaign where most opponents have firearms.
Our GM is pretty busy running the game, so if we can do a bit of the work for him, that's great.

I'm an alchemist, so my range is 20 feet. We are doing the kingmaker campaign, so most battles are outside, not in the narrow confines of a dungeon.

I'm astounded that a nautical campaign has such close ranges however. Line of sight on the sea, from top of the mast, is 14 miles. Does no one open fire before ships are ramming each other?
 

I'm astounded that a nautical campaign has such close ranges however. Line of sight on the sea, from top of the mast, is 14 miles. Does no one open fire before ships are ramming each other?
Siege Weapons can open fire before the ships are close, but ships maneuvre in ways to limit this. Rifles can be used to take shots at the other ships, but the enemy crew is smart enough to take cover in time. Firearms from that era are pretty inaccurate, and 3.5 naval combat has a strong focus on bringing naval battles to a boarding action as fast as possible. This is why the range of a lot of these firearms is pretty poor.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
Siege Weapons can open fire before the ships are close, but ships maneuvre in ways to limit this. Rifles can be used to take shots at the other ships, but the enemy crew is smart enough to take cover in time. Firearms from that era are pretty inaccurate, and 3.5 naval combat has a strong focus on bringing naval battles to a boarding action as fast as possible. This is why the range of a lot of these firearms is pretty poor.
We are getting off topic here, but I am intrigued.

What "tech level" are you using for your ships? What era of sailing are you trying to duplicate?
How do spells come into this?
 

We are getting off topic here, but I am intrigued.

What "tech level" are you using for your ships? What era of sailing are you trying to duplicate?
How do spells come into this?
I emulate a tech level of around the 16th/17th century; The age of sail. My campaign is a mix of normal D&D swords & sorcery, but with firearms, flamethrowers, airships and even primitive gramophones and early film. Not all nations in our setting make the step towards firearms at the same time. Some choose to focus on magic instead, and combine this with early weapons (such as catapults and ballistas) to terrorise the seas. The tech level varies wildly from nation to nation.

Because magic is a reality in this setting, all ships see the need to have a dedicated mage on board to defend themselves from magic at sea. Magic can be used to set ships on fire, or to change the weather. Magical projectiles can be used to launch undead onto a ship, or to raise the dead onboard a ship and turn their own dead crew against them. I even have a tribe of necromancer pirates, who are feared by all. Magic can also be used to imbue ammo with spells, wether that ammo is arrows, bolts, bullets or canonballs.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
SO! The Pathfinder game has switched (2 gms that alertnate) and we are now playing Zeitgeist.

I'm playing a level 9 Magus. His normal attack is +14/+9 (+6 BAB, + 5 dex (finess weapon), +3 (magical sword), for a damage of 1d6+8. In 5e this damage would be decent, but by pathfinder standards this is pretty low.

We were ambushed (not a spoiler - you get ambushed in Zeitgeist all the time lol). My Magus spent round 1 casting daylight and powering up, so not too complicated there. But here is his second round ( when enemies foolishly surrounded him)... things got complicated.

Thankfully, this is a party with less buffing than the previous one, and range, cover consideration are not a concern for this character.

Free action, activate boots of speed, I am now hasted (+1 to attack). The previous round he spent a swift action activating his sword with his arcane pool, it is now +1 to hit/damage, keen and 1d6 cold damage. As a free action, his black blade also activated, giving him another +3 to damage. However I am using spell combat, giving me -2 to hit The new numbers are +14/+9 and 1d6+12+1d6 (keen)

What spell am I using? Frostbite, for another 1d6+9 points of damage. Ok I'm doing a ton of damage, so what?

weeeeelllll..... See Frostbite is also a debuffing spell. it does fatigue (- 2 dex, -2 strenght, no run or charge). And I have magical lineage and Rime Spell, so the foe now is entangled: half speed, no run or charge, - 2 to attack, - 4 dex and needs oncentration to cast. AND I have enforcer and bruising intellect so I'm also doing an intimidate check. Given my +16 intimidate check, almost every foe hit is now shaken, a further -2 to attack, saves, skill and ability checks.

And let's not get started on the very likely critical hit. Or that I'm attacking 4 times a round....
 

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