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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
The internet, but also the objective of having a player-centric edition in 3e was a real catastrophe. It took 2 editions to put the reigns firmly in the DM's hands where they belong (by going through a "referee" first approach in 4e), and even now, we still have players in 5e coming to tables or forums with a "but the rules say ... so my DM is a bad DM"... sigh
I agree there is a saying
"You go to war with the army ready for the last war" or something like that... each edition seems to be trying to undo things from the one before, and in 3e case they wanted MORE player agency for good or ill...
 

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Thunderfoot

Adventurer
"You go to war with army to face the enemy you anticipated, not the one you actually are fighting."

It got updated a couple decades back after the first sandbox. US Army 89-97.
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
The internet, but also the objective of having a player-centric edition in 3e was a real catastrophe. It took 2 editions to put the reigns firmly in the DM's hands where they belong (by going through a "referee" first approach in 4e), and even now, we still have players in 5e coming to tables or forums with a "but the rules say ... so my DM is a bad DM"... sigh
I'm firmly in the camp that correct place for any table authority is in the overall social contract. The natural constraint of a DM's authority is whatever the players will tolerate.
 

Thunderfoot

Adventurer
I'm firmly in the camp that correct place for any table authority is in the overall social contract. The natural constraint of a DM's authority is whatever the players will tolerate.
That sounds like new-age player BS heresy. (j/k I'm old and that was one of the arguments against 3e)
 

Arilyn

Hero
The internet, but also the objective of having a player-centric edition in 3e was a real catastrophe. It took 2 editions to put the reigns firmly in the DM's hands where they belong (by going through a "referee" first approach in 4e), and even now, we still have players in 5e coming to tables or forums with a "but the rules say ... so my DM is a bad DM"... sigh
The edition also brought in a lot of players who didn't care for all the fiddly rules that hampered creativity, like strict alignment rules, race and class restrictions, horribly ineffictive thieves and very killable and boring low level magic users.

3e, with all its flaws, was the first D&D game that I liked. Yes, it's now too fiddly for my tastes, but I never encountered an abundance of rules lawyering and power gaming in my circles. I'm not doubting they were out there, and I can see how 3e can be abused, but at last I could make my elf druid and halfling bard. At last my character's alignment could shift logically without losing exp. And rogues were fun and could actually do their job. 😁
 

Thunderfoot

Adventurer
The edition also brought in a lot of players who didn't care for all the fiddly rules that hampered creativity, like strict alignment rules, race and class restrictions, horribly ineffictive thieves and very killable and boring low level magic users.

3e, with all its flaws, was the first D&D game that I liked. Yes, it's now too fiddly for my tastes, but I never encountered an abundance of rules lawyering and power gaming in my circles. I'm not doubting they were out there, and I can see how 3e can be abused, but at last I could make my elf druid and halfling bard. At last my character's alignment could shift logically without losing exp. And rogues were fun and could actually do their job. 😁
And all of that was true. Except the rules lawyers... Cons were full of people you wanted to throttle by Thursday night.
 




ART!

Hero
My memories of 3E itself are pretty vague (it felt like D&D and there was a computer character-builder), but so many good things for the hobby came out of the OGL that that's what I remember. We played a lot of Mutants & Masterminds, for instance.
 



payn

Legend
I have never played at a con or store, so I have never had to deal with this. I can see how 3e could get annoying with rules lawyers hovering over every decision. 😒
I didnt have to attend cons and stores to see this behavior. 3E focus on rules over rulings really encouraged it.
 

Greg K

Hero
If you play with only the core books, maybe, just maybe, but I am not sure that anyone actually did that.
When it came to WOTC material, I pretty much ran with the core books. I brought in a few optional rules and variants from the 3.0 DMG and 3.5 Unearthed Arcana. Otherwise, with the exception of a few spells, feats, and domains, I pretty much banned most WOTC supplements in general. However, I did add both some third party material including player material (e.g. Green Ronin's Psychic, Shaman, and Witch Handbooks).
 

Greg K

Hero
If you played 3e with the same general mindset that I saw people play 2e with, it worked really, REALLY well.
I agree. At least to around 12th level (I had no interest in testing the game beyond that point so I can't speak how it played beyond that point).
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.
And about half-way through 3.5 is when they went from telling the DM pick and choose what is best/appropriate to their campaign to allow anything from WOTC's books that your players might want to play (whether it was good/appropriate for your campaign ).
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.
I never experienced the min-max/char op stuff among my players. If I did, I would have set the player straight if they wanted to play (more likely I would caught that player in casual interview before they came to the table) or had them find another.
However, I know some DMs had issues. I knew one new DM that had only been gaming a few months when his DM quit and he had taken over the group. He was having issues with the players min-maxing and abusing the rules. He was shocked to learn that he could set limits (and, moreso that he could back it up with text in the DMG).
I also gave similar advice regarding setting limits to people online complaining about similar disruptive players, but would be met either "I don't won't to have to confront the players" or "The players would quit and I would have no game". At which point, I would shrug my shoulders, because they did not want to take steps to address the issue.
 

Thunderfoot

Adventurer
I found the best way to get rid of min/maxing was.....wait for it....fluff text. Being a member of an ancient order of protectors is sooooo much cooler than Ftr/Wiz/Rog/Rng/Sor/Bar/Asn/King Slayer/Camel Jockey/Exterminator/Pastry Chef...
 

I really really liked 3e. It was the edition, where I started DMing, since our old DM refused to switch.
The unifying d20 mechanic was a natural evolution from the skills and powers type skills.
 

Scars Unseen

Adventurer
3E, in my opinion, was an edition that, errata aside, got worse and worse as it grew. When it first came out, feats and skills were a reasonable evolution of 2E's non-weapon proficiencies, the combat resolution mechanic was a logical change from THAC0, and prestige classes were a tool for the DM to use to create campaign specific classes to facilitate world building and role playing.

By the time 4E rolled around, feats were a toolkit of ways to see how close to breaking the game you could get, skills were both more limited and more stratifying (through discrepancy between low and high skilled characters) than ability score checks, the resolution mechanic was mired with a thousand different ways to add bonuses to make predictable power curves difficult if not outright impossible, and prestige classes were almost never used for their original purpose and were instead just another way to build mechanical power advantages without any real connection to the fluff (at least that was my experience with multiple gaming groups).

Granted, nearly all of that could be mitigated by a DM willing to say "no," but I also found those in lower supply in 3E as well.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
The edition also brought in a lot of players who didn't care for all the fiddly rules that hampered creativity, like strict alignment rules, race and class restrictions, horribly ineffictive thieves and very killable and boring low level magic users.

Never saw that effect myself. I had lots of beginners in every edition, although 5e is the easiest for me as it has the logic of 3e/4e and the simplicity of BECMI if you keep the options simple.

3e, with all its flaws, was the first D&D game that I liked. Yes, it's now too fiddly for my tastes, but I never encountered an abundance of rules lawyering and power gaming in my circles. I'm not doubting they were out there, and I can see how 3e can be abused, but at last I could make my elf druid and halfling bard. At last my character's alignment could shift logically without losing exp. And rogues were fun and could actually do their job. 😁

Never had these problems before, honestly. All the AD&D games that I did over 20 years were heavily customised by house rules, and a lot of the optional Gygaxian options in particular in the DMG were never looked at. Level and class limits were mostly ignored or wished away. As for thieves, they were great and they received a lot of love (in particular magic items). I was actually annoyed by 3e turning them into DPS machines that had to do their damage each round, and I still regret the real thief who had to be clever to do his sneak attack only when absolutely sure and with good preparation, but who could at least bring down the boss (especially very dangerous enemy MUs) in one strike if lucky, or at least inconvenience him enough so that he fled or changed tactics: "No matter how subtle the wizard, a knife between the shoulder blades will seriously cramp his style." (if you have not read Steven Brust' Jhereg series, do it now, it's incredible in particular for a high level D&D feel, including great ways to deal with resurrection and teleportation).
 

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'd disagree that it was the best edition for players. It was the best edition for a certain type of high system mastery player. Low system mastery players can get characters that are at least as evocative without anything like the effort or required system mastery required. And high system mastery players who want to win in play rather than in character creation have the more tactical 4e with similar levels of character choice but almost no "I win" buttons.
 

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