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D&D 3E/3.5 Edition Experience - Did/Do you Play 3rd Edtion D&D? How Was/Is it?

How Did/Do You Feel About 3E/3.5E D&D?

  • I'm playing it right now; I'll have to let you know later.

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    333

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
Something about the 3.0 books just feels more right than the 3.5 books — like they have more "TSR DNA" in them, that got squeezed out with the juices in the 3.5 revision.
I think there's a lot of truth in this. There are instances of earlier editions of D&D that come through much more strongly in 3.0 than in 3.5.

The issue with that, however, is that a lot of those instances don't work as well with the d20 System engine that 3.0 operated on. For instance, find familiar was a spell in earlier editions of D&D, and it was a spell in 3.0 also...but that meant that it could be put on a scroll or in a wand quite easily via item creation feats, which could then be used by anyone with ranks in the Use Magic Device skill. Now, that's not as egregious as it sounds, since 3.0 had restricted skills, limiting UMD to rogues and bards. But even so, you still had rogues and bards with their own familiars now (along with anyone who level-dipped into those classes, or prestige classes that offered UMD, thanks to the new multiclassing system), along with subsequent developments that allowed for gaining access to restricted skills.

In 3.5, by contrast, getting a familiar was a class feature, rather than a spell, making it virtually impossible for characters that weren't sorcerers or wizards to get familiars as freebies.
 
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Jack Daniel

Legend
In 3.5, by contrast, getting a familiar was a class feature, rather than a spell, making it virtually impossible for characters that weren't sorcerers or wizards to get familiars as freebies.

That's interesting, but neither is there anything in the 2nd edition find familiar spell that stops a 2nd level bard (or a 10th level thief) from doing the same thing! :)
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
That's interesting, but neither is there anything in the 2nd edition find familiar spell that stops a 2nd level bard (or a 10th level thief) from doing the same thing! :)
A fair point, though not quite the same, given how making scrolls is tougher to begin with, and both classes have a flat percentage chance of failure (25% for thieves, 15% for bards) when reading scrolls; also, bards can't do that until they're 10th level either.
 


3/3.5e was the best edition for players but the worst edition to DM. It demands a high level of system mastery, especially if you are or play with optimizers. It's super easy as both a player and a DM to get lost among the myriad options. I DMed a TON of 3.5e and considered myself an expert back then, and even I found it difficult to DM characters much above 10th, 12th level.
 

I DMed a TON of 3.5e and considered myself an expert back then, and even I found it difficult to DM characters much above 10th, 12th level.

I really liked 3.x on the whole, but it was a disaster to DM at high levels. The diverging maths (save DCs vs save modifiers, and attack rolls vs AC) and the size of modifiers overwhelming dice rolls sucked much of the uncertainty out of high-level combat, it became a calculated exercise in who could get their killer combo off first. And in the absence of reliable VTT tools, dealing on the fly with things like ability damage, which required an on-the-fly recalculation of half its target's stats, was a nightmare. And really high-level stat blocks literally went on for pages for a single monster. I was running a group through the Savage Tide AP, and some of the later modules in the path were reduced to a plot-light series of telegrams, simply because the vast statblocks took up so much space. And that's WITHOUT the details of their 20-odd spell-like abilities.

I had a blast playing it, but i wish I'd never ventured above about 10th level when i was behind the GM screen. It just seemed like playtesting in this space was reeeeeal perfunctory.
 
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teitan

Legend
I think there's a lot of truth in this. There are instances of earlier editions of D&D that come through much more strongly in 3.0 than in 3.5.

The issue with that, however, is that a lot of those instances don't work as well with the d20 System engine that 3.0 operated on. For instance, find familiar was a spell in earlier editions of D&D, and it was a spell in 3.0 also...but that meant that it could be put on a scroll or in a wand quite easily via item creation feats, which could then be used by anyone with ranks in the Use Magic Device skill. Now, that's not as egregious as it sounds, since 3.0 had restricted skills, limiting UMD to rogues and bards. But even so, you still had rogues and bards with their own familiars now (along with anyone who level-dipped into those classes, or prestige classes that offered UMD, thanks to the new multiclassing system), along with subsequent developments that allowed for gaining access to restricted skills.

In 3.5, by contrast, getting a familiar was a class feature, rather than a spell, making it virtually impossible for characters that weren't sorcerers or wizards to get familiars as freebies.
Yeah but level dipping was hard in 3.0 because if your classes weren’t within two levels of each other you suffered experience penalties and you got hit with hard power curve issues around 8th level anyway without a good prestige class to compensate for the loss on both classes. If you were a monk or Paladin and took another class, RAI, you couldn’t take levels in monk or Paladin again.
 
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Lyxen

Great Old One
2. The old culture around D&D 3.5 is gone, and people who I am gaming with make builds for fun that are interesting or for story reasons, and not because they are min/maxing to hell and back;

I don't think it's that clear, the "guides" for class building were born at that time, and they are still very much alive today, and depending on the forums, there are heavy debates about DPRs, Builds, RAW, etc., with still an undertone of complaining about the fuzziness of the 5e rules. Also, the player-centricity and CaS attitude that started at the time has drifted into player agency, making things muddier in 5e and really depend on your group.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
3/3.5e was the best edition for players but the worst edition to DM. It demands a high level of system mastery, especially if you are or play with optimizers. It's super easy as both a player and a DM to get lost among the myriad options. I DMed a TON of 3.5e and considered myself an expert back then, and even I found it difficult to DM characters much above 10th, 12th level.

Indeed, one ruleslawyer at your table could grind down play to a complete stop, or pull out a really annoying rule that would make everything topple to the side. And I hated NPC/Monster Creation, took hours to make sure that all the things were computed in, so that the players could not complain about a +1 bonus not being at the right place. Played to level 20, but had to switch to a more freeform system to complete our major campaign (Multi-DMs, 10 years of play), because it was unmanageable.
 

AtomicPope

Adventurer
I played a lot of 3e, and liked it.

I didn't DM a lot of 3e, because I didn't like it.

The opposite is true of 4e and 5e. I play a lot less but DM all of the time, which is really my gripe. The characters were great in 3e, but it was terrible to DM for these CharOp builds. Both 4e and 5e are much better for DMs. I have a lot of fun with 5e now, and I'm not worried about making games that challenge every PC or let them shine. Even at 20th level we still have fun, challenging adventures and roleplaying.
 

2. The old culture around D&D 3.5 is gone, and people who I am gaming with make builds for fun that are interesting or for story reasons, and not because they are min/maxing to hell and back;
I've said it before, and I'll say it again.

Internet Forum culture was the weak point of D&D 3e.

You hear so many complaints about it. You know what, those complaints pretty much started online, and people complained about it online, and people complained about it in the real world because people complained about it online.

3e is a very well written, very well balanced game. . .that JUST HAPPENED to come out as internet message boards were becoming really, really popular.

If you played 3e with the same general mindset that I saw people play 2e with, it worked really, REALLY well.

Didn't help that WotC was heavily promoting their own message boards, which were a toxic cesspool for D&D culture, at the time. I remember going to Gen Con in the 3.5e era with WotC promoting their message boards just as heavily as any book they were trying to sell, trying to get everyone on there. . .when that place was a major source of the problem with the player culture of that edition.

From what I saw, if people weren't part of online forum culture related to D&D, they really enjoyed 3e and it played and ran vastly better than 1e or 2e. The problems came from people who read forum stuff and saw min-max/charop stuff on forums and wanted to do it in real life, or heard ideas like "you must do X to play a Y" etc, or how things that never happened at their table became things they'd complain about because they heard they were happening.
 


Lyxen

Great Old One
Internet Forum culture was the weak point of D&D 3e.

It was indeed, but it would not have been as bad with 4e (and I don't think it was), because 4e was very much controlled in reaction to the wild explosion of 3e.

3e is a very well written, very well balanced game. . .

If you play with only the core books, maybe, just maybe, but I am not sure that anyone actually did that. What I can tell you is that my Sor 6 / WiM 10 / Arm 5 was absolutely untouchable and extremely efficient (and fun to play), but that was at the expense of almost of every other characters who were not full casters. Caster Balance was really lousy, especially at level 10+.

This is why they hit the casters so much in 4e that they were not casters anymore, and tried something different with 5e which is actually not too bad, not perfect, but manageable at least, especially with Concentration, Limited High Leve Slots and Attunement.
 

Voadam

Legend
Yeah but level dipping was hard in 3.0 because if your classes weren’t within two levels of each other you suffered experience penalties and you got hit with hard power curve issues around 8th level anyway without a good prestige class to compensate for the loss on both classes. If you were a monk or Paladin and took another class, RAI, you couldn’t take levels in monk or Paladin again.
I feel level dipping was really easy in 3.0. If you are human you can have your main class and dip one or two levels into anything or as many classes as you want and be fine on xp. Non-humans can do the same if their main class is favored or they dip into their favored class.

Casters get hit hard on the power curve with spell level loss, but full BAB classes often do fine (an issue of super weak will saves while their fortitude sky rockets). Ranger was a fantastic dip if you wanted to two-weapon fight (at first level it gave the two feats without prerequisites, 10 hp, +1 BAB, good fortitude and reflex base save, ability to use ranger magic magic items, and twice as many first level skills as a fighter with a good list to choose from). Monk gave you wisdom to unarmored AC, evasion, all good saves, and a decent d6 punch all in one level.

Caster level was definitely the power though, and being down a spell level, having fewer spell slots, and not being up to APL on caster level for things like spell resistance was a big hit that only got bigger the more the level discrepancy thanks to quadratic wizardry.

It even made things like a druid dipping into monk for the wisdom bonus to AC when wildshaped a tough call.
 


TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Indeed, one ruleslawyer at your table could grind down play to a complete stop, or pull out a really annoying rule that would make everything topple to the side. And I hated NPC/Monster Creation, took hours to make sure that all the things were computed in, so that the players could not complain about a +1 bonus not being at the right place. Played to level 20, but had to switch to a more freeform system to complete our major campaign (Multi-DMs, 10 years of play), because it was unmanageable.
Oh absolutely, I couldn't have DMed 3e if I had kept to that "NPCs must be built like PCs" nonsense. I just gave NPCs whatever stats seemed feasible and explained it as a "Custom Template".
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
Oh absolutely, I couldn't have DMed 3e if I had kept to that "NPCs must be built like PCs" nonsense. I just gave NPCs whatever stats seemed feasible and explained it as a "Custom Template".

Good trick ! To be fair, in the end, I ended up doing the same and then realised considering the epic nature of the game, I could go almost totally freeform, so I really dropped that.
 

DarkCrisis

Adventurer
Loved most of it. Eventually it got way to bloated and far to crunchy.

It taught me that you only really need the 3 core books. The rest you read of reference a couple times and never touch which for me is wasted space and money. It's even more apparent now with the internet found info and pdfs.
 

I liked it when it came out... it is responsible for many changes to D&D and RPGs that I love... but you could not pay me enough to go back.

I started in 2e, and other then Thac0 I remember it as the best... I would go back (although using the 3e engine I have a retroclone too so there is that)

4e was my favorite edition, at even a hint of a game I would jump to go back.

5e is cool and what I currently play, although I wish a 6e was announced instead of the redone 5e for the anniversary (with 6e taking heavily from 2e and 4e to be honest).

by the time 4e was announced my group had all but given up on 3e, and with it D&D. We tried to hombrew our own fixes (warblade replace fighter, warlock, beguiler and warmage replace wizard and sorcerer, troll shape and others like it replace the generic polymorph) but it was too much. Too many number that went to high too easy.

my biggest gripe is it was possible to bring 2 newbie gamers in, have them pull from PHB and make fairly stereotypical fantasy characters and there be a MASSIVE power difference to the point where one might as well be a side kick. Even with experience it was possible to by mistake power build something that just made thematic sense and boom you were the problem power gamer.

Now all of these problems (and a bunch more) can be done with every edition, it was just easier and more likely in 3e/3.5
 

I really liked 3.x on the whole, but it was a disaster to DM at high levels. The diverging maths (save DCs vs save modifiers, and attack rolls vs AC) and the size of modifiers overwhelming dice rolls sucked much of the uncertainty out of high-level combat, it became a calculated exercise in who could get their killer combo off first. And in the absence of reliable VTT tools, dealing on the fly with things like ability damage, which required an on-the-fly recalculation of half its target's stats, was a nightmare. And really high-level stat blocks literally went on for pages for a single monster. I was running a group through the Savage Tide AP, and some of the later modules in the path were reduced to a plot-light series of telegrams, simply because the vast statblocks took up so much space. And that's WITHOUT the details of their 20-odd spell-like abilities.

I had a blast playing it, but i wish I'd never ventured above about 10th level when i was behind the GM screen. It just seemed like playtesting in this space was reeeeeal perfunctory.
I tried to run an epic game once... but only once.

(in 2e I regularly used "High level Campaigns" book, in 4e I ran into epic with almost every campaign although only once made it to 30, and in 5e there is so little support but I have still used epic boons three times)
 

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