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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.

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    333

Arilyn

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.

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.



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).
I had some fun with basic but when I moved away from my original group the only games I could find were AD&D, and it was a slog of crawling down dungeon corridors poking things with poles and spending large amounts of time discussing how to get around traps and across ravines (like 40 - 50 minutes because no one would agree on a course of action.) And being told no to all my character ideas. Drove me out of the hobby for a while.

I agree that current rogues don't feel quite right, but those original thieves died a lot. And were so bad at their jobs, it's a wonder any of them actually stayed alive or out of prison long enough to go adventuring.
 
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Lyxen

Great Old One
I had some fun with basic but when I moved away from my original group the only games I could find were AD&D, and it was a slog of crawling down dungeon corridors poking things with poles and spending large amounts of time discussing how to get around traps and across ravines (like 40 - 50 minutes because no one would agree on a course of action.) And being told no to all my character ideas. Drove me out of the hobby for a while.

I can understand that, we honestly did not play the game that way, especially in France, but I hear it was fairly common in other places.

I agree that current rogues don't feel quite right, but those original thieves died a lot. And we're so bad at their jobs, it's a wonder any of them actually stayed alive or out of prison long enough to go adventuring.

Agreed, but then, with the experience of other TTRPG, our DMs were usually clever enough to allow bonuses for inventiveness and circumstances even though the percentages were supposed to be straight. Overall, as usual, it depends a lot on the DM and table, skills and expectations.
 

I agree that current rogues don't feel quite right, but those original thieves died a lot. And we're so bad at their jobs, it's a wonder any of them actually stayed alive or out of prison long enough to go adventuring.
I knew a player who has since moved far from us who would not name or pick out any information like backstory or anything for wizards and thieves until 5th level... because he had prior DMs who would kill characters wholesale...
 

Voadam

Legend
I knew a player who has since moved far from us who would not name or pick out any information like backstory or anything for wizards and thieves until 5th level... because he had prior DMs who would kill characters wholesale...
I generally like to roleplay first person in character so I find it tough to roleplay with someone who is playing but has not yet picked a name for their character.

Saturday one of the players who had missed the first game of the new campaign was designing his character on the spot and trying to absorb a ton of new homebrew system and new world and specific adventure details, in addition to the details on the rest of the six person party and did not come up with a name for his gladiator the whole night although I was making backstory connections between my werewolf paladin and his character and he was getting into the plot. It became more than a little bit awkward to not refer to his character by name.
 

Arilyn

Hero
I knew a player who has since moved far from us who would not name or pick out any information like backstory or anything for wizards and thieves until 5th level... because he had prior DMs who would kill characters wholesale...
I've heard stories like this. And bringing binders full of backup characters.
 

I generally like to roleplay first person in character so I find it tough to roleplay with someone who is playing but has not yet picked a name for their character.

Saturday one of the players who had missed the first game of the new campaign was designing his character on the spot and trying to absorb a ton of new homebrew system and new world and specific adventure details, in addition to the details on the rest of the six person party and did not come up with a name for his gladiator the whole night although I was making backstory connections between my werewolf paladin and his character and he was getting into the plot. It became more than a little bit awkward to not refer to his character by name.
yeah same, we broke Jon of that after a time. Once he realized that not every trap was save or die, not every encounter that rolled initiative was a potential TPK... it got easer.

Now that is not to say we didn't have more deaths at 1st-5rh level of 2e and 3e then we did for the entire run of 4e and 5e, it was still a deadly game back then... but we never went into a campaign expecting multi PC deaths per night.
 

Orius

Hero
1) I sat to play a 2e (they called it 3e, combat and tactics, skills and power and a bunch of other option books) in mid 90s. The game had a binder of house rules... some where basic, some was a new homebrew class (heck I stole some of there ideas for years) and I skimmed them... then I asked why a few times, I was told "Because of ART!!" I didn't know Arthur yet though... SO I sat and rolled my stats and got really good ones, and thought I would try a fighter/mage/theif... so I asked "Can I be a half elf?" and got 3 players and the DM all stop and scream no... what BS are you trying for... then the DM calmed down and asked "What kind of half elf?" I didn't understand... until "Because ART" A few years earlier Art had said "Gonna make a half elf" and the DM said OKAY, but then Art made a half drow half deep dragon with a bunch of books... made her a necromancer and took necromancer boons from another book... and then claimed "You said I could not my fault you didn't ask more"

A vanilla triple class half-elf in 2e shouldn't be a significant problem. Of course making one half drow and then doing questionable things with half- dragons will probably mess that up. Then letting the player have unrestrained access to what was presumably the Complete Book of Necromancers doesn't help. And if that's being mixed with uncontrolled Player's Option, then you're going to get a mess.

2) that DM sat to play at my table... His character sheet (he had made before game at home I might add) was all covered in bad writting... I knew something was the matter he never scibbled this bad. I got down to the notes and it was such a mess I asked "What is this?" His answer was "That's elven" I just sighed and kept going assuming he meant the character knew elven... first fight he pulls out a Vorpal Long sword... and explains he wrote in elven (tolkeen not even D&D) vorpral sword and I was stuck cause I couldn't take back approval of a sheet... then he got mad when I laughed and said "Sure I can"

that whole group (and others I meet) didn't have any good faith, they were full of trouble players I have long since learned to avoid... and none of them were on a TSR website I promise...

Well then, in this case he deserved Art.

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
They all forgot Rule 0. As a DM, I'm not afraid to say no. 3e requires a DM who's comfortable with the system and isn't afraid to wield his authority. There's a lot of people out there who don't want to DM 3e because it can get pretty complicated. And the players and DM need to be able to trust each other, the players need to trust the DM not to be a deliberate killer, and the DM needs to trust the players not to break the game.

The only rules lawyer problem I had in 3e was a guy back in 3.0 who tried to fast talk me into using the weapon like spells rule from Tome and Blood to get crits with magic missile. I shot that right down since the rule involves spells that require attack rolls and magic missile is auto hit. I told him firmly that wouldn't work but he was free to use it with appropriate spells.

Player: Damn, that worked with my other DM.
Me: I'm not your other DM.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
They all forgot Rule 0. As a DM, I'm not afraid to say no. 3e requires a DM who's comfortable with the system and isn't afraid to wield his authority. There's a lot of people out there who don't want to DM 3e because it can get pretty complicated. And the players and DM need to be able to trust each other, the players need to trust the DM not to be a deliberate killer, and the DM needs to trust the players not to break the game.

I completely agree, when trust is there, it works wonder, the main problem is that 3e in a way did everything it could to entitle the players to master the rules, build their own view of their character and what it could do, etc. In itself, it's not a bad goal, but they indeed forgot about rule 0 and the fact that characters should not be designed to work in a vacuum. Because that's the problem that was generated by the attitude above and the internet, people designing builds and ideas completely centered around one character, in complete isolation of other characters, the setting, and the views of the other players and in particular the DM.

As a result, it had a tendency to build very high expectations about what a character could and should do, which did not always work out with the views of the others, and the DM was the only one who could step in. But he was then hampered by the complexity and imbrication of the rules, and the fact that players had access to everything meant that they also had the tools to ruleslawyer ad vitam aeternam if unchecked.

I agree that with table trust and a strong DM, most things could be sorted out, but situations are not always that ideal, and some players really abused situations.

The only rules lawyer problem I had in 3e was a guy back in 3.0 who tried to fast talk me into using the weapon like spells rule from Tome and Blood to get crits with magic missile. I shot that right down since the rule involves spells that require attack rolls and magic missile is auto hit. I told him firmly that wouldn't work but he was free to use it with appropriate spells.

Player: Damn, that worked with my other DM.
Me: I'm not your other DM.

That's fine, but in a sense you were lucky because that one was really a fast talk on very shaky ground for the player, but the rules were imprecise enough and often contradictory enough that good ruleslawyers could easily find cracks, especially when supported by the internet.

This is why 4e created a much more closed system, with stronger core rules and much less interaction between segments of the rules. It was a step in a given direction, with a number of consequences, and some people really liked it. As for myself, I prefer the step taken in a completely different direction with 5e, which is much closer to BECMI/AD&D in principle and which simply restores the DM's authority without closing the system in terms of possibility, but to each his own.
 

Orius

Hero
Let's face it, how much rules lawyering involves shaky ground in the first place?

Anyway, a lot of the bad compatibility and contradictions in late 3e are partially the result of the sheer volume of material, which is a good argument for letting the DM have a strong say in what's allowed. 3.5 kind of weakened that by not stressing DM authority like I said a while back upthread. I understand why the game slowly went more player focused, but it also contributed to the player entitlement problem. Part of the reason a DM needs to be able to ban things is to maintain a proper game balance and ensure everyone is enjoying the game. And not everything published is good material either some stuff is just badly written instead of the DM being bad because he wants to avoid that stuff.

TBH, a lot of 3e's problems seem to be things that were problems before 3e in a general sense. There are differences of course, but they tend to be in the details. I think it's just that 3e was the first edition to really get discussed heavily online and the flaws became much more apparent. I mean, yeah there was at least 2e discussion on Usenet way back in the day, but it didn't have the volume message boards got in 3e's heyday.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
Let's face it, how much rules lawyering involves shaky ground in the first place?

That's true, and one can hardly claim that the AD&D rules were anything else than shaky in multiple places. However, since the system remained relatively simple (lots of tables, but few interconnecting principles), it was not as bad as with 3e in which the system got harmonised (which was a good thing) but also created links between places in the rules that had previously been totally disconnected from each other (e.g. attacks / saves / skills).

Anyway, a lot of the bad compatibility and contradictions in late 3e are partially the result of the sheer volume of material, which is a good argument for letting the DM have a strong say in what's allowed. 3.5 kind of weakened that by not stressing DM authority like I said a while back upthread.

We agree there, it's just that it was hard for the DM not to use the shiny new material, lots of which being of high quality and very attractive, and to deny its use to players, if only to please them.

I understand why the game slowly went more player focused, but it also contributed to the player entitlement problem. Part of the reason a DM needs to be able to ban things is to maintain a proper game balance and ensure everyone is enjoying the game. And not everything published is good material either some stuff is just badly written instead of the DM being bad because he wants to avoid that stuff.

It was indeed one of the problems, the solution for us was that we took decisions collectively between all the DMs in the shared campaign, so there was a unified front.

TBH, a lot of 3e's problems seem to be things that were problems before 3e in a general sense. There are differences of course, but they tend to be in the details. I think it's just that 3e was the first edition to really get discussed heavily online and the flaws became much more apparent. I mean, yeah there was at least 2e discussion on Usenet way back in the day, but it didn't have the volume message boards got in 3e's heyday.

See above, there is certainly the nature of the internet, but the sprawling nature of a unified game played its part as well, I think.
 

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.
Lol, you took the Toughness feat, didn't you?
 

Lol, you took the Toughness feat, didn't you?
Mind rewording that, friend? That sounds mightily on the line of instigating.

As for high system mastery players, I'm still out to lunch on that. I've had recent experiences where very high level (14+) players were mostly neutralized because they neither had a means to fly or didn't invest in ranged attacks. I think a lot of people are drawn because some combination of mechanics sound very cool away from the table only to be disproven in an actual game.
 
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