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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As a player I was partial to the round to round active choice/tradeoff recharges of the psionic focus and psychic strike mechanics from the Expanded Psionics Handbook.

I also liked a bunch of options from Unearthed Arcana such as Gestalt, Recharge Magic, and Spontaneous Divine Casting.
Yeah, some of those ideas were born out of abortive attempts at breaking the 'cookie cutter' left over from 'Skills and Powers' that never quite worked.
 

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Arilyn

Hero
Hold up... I was one of those old thieves... I lived to the ripe old age of 105 (1/2 Elf) and retired as a guild master. You just had to think like a member of the canting crew not a fighter with a utility belt. lol
I tip my hat to you and your half-elf and am especially pleased your thief was not a halfling. Like really really happy to hear that! 😊
 

I tip my hat to you and your half-elf and am especially pleased your thief was not a halfling. Like really really happy to hear that! 😊
Believe it or not, there were a very large contingent of players in the early to mid 80s who did not play the 'carbon copy' characters. One of the reasons when 3e 'first' dropped a lot of players dissed the 'race/class' power gaming curve that was touted in some of the early presentations by WotC.
That changed very early on, WotC realized that was probably not the tack they wanted to take. So no harm no foul and kudos. But power gamers have ALWAYS tried to say you MUST play this and that. Play a Dwarven Magic-User and watch a power gamer have a coronary event. lol. And thank you for the compliment. ;)
 

Voadam

Legend
I tip my hat to you and your half-elf and am especially pleased your thief was not a halfling. Like really really happy to hear that! 😊
My experience was that various demi-human thieves were common throughout AD&D.

Partially because all demi-humans could be them, compared with paladins or illusionists, partially because you could multiclass with them to beef up an MU/Thief or add skills to a Fighter/Thief, and partially because they were generally the only class open to demi-humans that had unlimited level advancement. I played a dwarven thief and an elven wizard thief in 2e and did not feel I was breaking a mold. I rarely saw halflings in B/X or AD&D though.

It was 3e and on where halfling thieves started to show up as a particularly popular combo that synergized race and class well.
 

Akrasia

Procrastinator
After a decade away from D&D (and relatively little in the way of other RPG activity during that time, despite frequent visits to gaming shops), 3rd edition lured me back in 2001. But by 2004 I had DM’ed two campaigns with 3rd edition D&D and had come to find it rather tedious. Once the characters reached 6th or 7th level the game simply became a joyless chore (as DM).
 

balthanon

Explorer
After a decade away from D&D (and relatively little in the way of other RPG activity during that time, despite frequent visits to gaming shops), 3rd edition lured me back in 2001. But by 2004 I had DM’ed two campaigns with 3rd edition D&D and had come to find it rather tedious. Once the characters reached 6th or 7th level the game simply became a joyless chore (as DM).

Personally, I preferred higher level campaigns because it gave me more leeway in what I could throw at the characters and reasonably expect them not to die without unbelievable levels of fudging. :) (Given that I almost always pushed the bounds a bit, there was at least a bit of fudging required in many encounters that I underestimated.) More "get out of death free" cards in their character builds means you get to start getting creative with the enemies.
 

Orius

Hero
As a player I was partial to the round to round active choice/tradeoff recharges of the psionic focus and psychic strike mechanics from the Expanded Psionics Handbook.

I also liked a bunch of options from Unearthed Arcana such as Gestalt, Recharge Magic, and Spontaneous Divine Casting.

UA has a lot of stuff that looks interesting but also could be terribly broken. Definitely one of the parts of 3e that needs a lot of DM curation.

Gestalts are probably one of the biggest examples of this. The book warns that it's a powerful option which I read as "pretty damn broken". But I think limited gestalts might help to recapture some of the feel of AD&D multiclassing. In particular, I'd mostly limit it to the most iconic class combinations of the past. Also, I think this could be the real niche for the half-elf, since they had the best multiclassing options. I'd definitely have to tone something down about it first though.

Recharge magic looks like an interesting option on the surface, but I suspect it powers up casters. Also it seems like it would increase bookkeeping. So I wouldn't use it.

No opinion on spontaneous divine casting.
 

UA has a lot of stuff that looks interesting but also could be terribly broken. Definitely one of the parts of 3e that needs a lot of DM curation.
UA was meant to be a toolkits for DM's to customize their games, not a buffet for players looking for cool new tricks.

Also, UA dumped a LOT of ideas into open game content since almost the whole book was OGC (and the only WotC book to do so), which was cool because it let others use ideas like Wound/Vitality.
 

Voadam

Legend
UA has a lot of stuff that looks interesting but also could be terribly broken. Definitely one of the parts of 3e that needs a lot of DM curation.

Gestalts are probably one of the biggest examples of this. The book warns that it's a powerful option which I read as "pretty damn broken". But I think limited gestalts might help to recapture some of the feel of AD&D multiclassing. In particular, I'd mostly limit it to the most iconic class combinations of the past. Also, I think this could be the real niche for the half-elf, since they had the best multiclassing options. I'd definitely have to tone something down about it first though.

Recharge magic looks like an interesting option on the surface, but I suspect it powers up casters. Also it seems like it would increase bookkeeping. So I wouldn't use it.

No opinion on spontaneous divine casting.

Gestalt was for tuning a campaign to have PCs be broadly more competent for their level without adding on increased HD, BAB, spell level, and gear that goes with just bumping up levels. It was a great way to bump up a group with fewer characters so they could handle things closer to baseline challenges for their level and cover more of the normal character role bases. I generally used it as an option costing character stat point buy along with an option for LA to cost point buy as well to try to offer more options to fit a variety of build preferences in a balanced way.

Recharge meant less daily tracking of spell resource management and more consistent combat to combat magical resources. The resource of using one spell per spell level every fight versus a daily allotment with multiples at each spell level created a tradeoff of consistent use of a single top level spells in a fight versus losing the ability to nova spectacularly. This is a playstyle preference option, whether you prefer vancian daily resource management and 15 minute workday incentives or predictable magic powers being brought to bear against challenges. I dislike a lot of daily resource management and prefer the choice of which of these three options do I use this round in this situation. As a DM I prefer the predictability of setting challenges against a more consistent PC baseline. There were some issues with spell durations though.

For spontaneous divine casters I preferred having casters be generally specialized in their spells known and the flexibility of total spell list casting coming from scrolls and not automatic full range daily preparation choice. 5e went the full everybody casts their prepared spells as a 3e sorcerer applying slots instead of full vancian casting, but in 3e it was generally either this option or specific classes having baseline sorcerer type casting if you didn't want full Vancian casting.
 

Voadam

Legend
UA was meant to be a toolkits for DM's to customize their games, not a buffet for players looking for cool new tricks.

Also, UA dumped a LOT of ideas into open game content since almost the whole book was OGC (and the only WotC book to do so), which was cool because it let others use ideas like Wound/Vitality.

In addition to the majority of the PH, DMG, and MM, a lot of the 3.0 Psionics Handbook, Deities and Demigods, and Epic Level Handbook were turned into OGC (with ELH using 3.5 mechanics), and for 3.5 the Expanded Psionics Handbook was added to the PH, DMG, and MM. D20 Modern had a fantastic SRD OGC selection from the Core Book, the Arcana one, the Menace Manual, and d20 Future.

It was the best of times for WotC releasing their stuff as OGC.

Paizo topped them with Pathfinder putting out their corebook, five full bestiaries, and a bunch of crunch heavy hardcovers as SRD OGC. It was a part of me using Pathfinder for a long time in the no-OGC 4e era.

5e had a very barebones SRD and then eventually filled it out so that things like Warlocks had baseline core abilities like eldritch blast as OGC, but it is not to the level of the d20 golden age.
 

In addition to the majority of the PH, DMG, and MM, a lot of the 3.0 Psionics Handbook, Deities and Demigods, and Epic Level Handbook were turned into OGC (with ELH using 3.5 mechanics), and for 3.5 the Expanded Psionics Handbook was added to the PH, DMG, and MM. D20 Modern had a fantastic SRD OGC selection from the Core Book, the Arcana one, the Menace Manual, and d20 Future.
With the PHB, DMG and MM for 3.0 and 3.5, the 3.0 and 3.5 Psionics books, Deities & Demigods, and the ELH, those were all made OGC via a SRD release, not via the book themselves.

Same with d20 Modern, Urban Arcana, the Menace Manual and d20 Future.

Look in UA, it has a declaration of open game content like any 3rd party book would have, it's the only book WotC did that I'm aware of that had such a declaration and released things to OGC that way.
 

Voadam

Legend
With the PHB, DMG and MM for 3.0 and 3.5, the 3.0 and 3.5 Psionics books, Deities & Demigods, and the ELH, those were all made OGC via a SRD release, not via the book themselves.

Same with d20 Modern, Urban Arcana, the Menace Manual and d20 Future.

Look in UA, it has a declaration of open game content like any 3rd party book would have, it's the only book WotC did that I'm aware of that had such a declaration and released things to OGC that way.
Gotcha.

And that is correct. The SRD contains the same rules as the ones I listed but was a separate release from the books and nothing in the books themselves was OGC.

The 3.0 Monster Manual 2 has two OGC monsters in the back with the OGL printed there, though they did not actually fully comply with the OGL as they did not include the copyright notice of the Creature Collection the OGC monsters were from.
 

Orius

Hero
UA was meant to be a toolkits for DM's to customize their games, not a buffet for players looking for cool new tricks.

Not like charopers are going any attention to that idea.

Anyway, I'm firmly in the DM authority camp, so I definitely feel stuff should be kept controlled.

Gestalt was for tuning a campaign to have PCs be broadly more competent for their level without adding on increased HD, BAB, spell level, and gear that goes with just bumping up levels. It was a great way to bump up a group with fewer characters so they could handle things closer to baseline challenges for their level and cover more of the normal character role bases.

Yeah, that's what the book says, it's generally there for smaller groups. But I think the base idea could still be useful for recapturing an aspect or feel of AD&D that was lost in 3e.

Recharge meant less daily tracking of spell resource management and more consistent combat to combat magical resources. The resource of using one spell per spell level every fight versus a daily allotment with multiples at each spell level created a tradeoff of consistent use of a single top level spells in a fight versus losing the ability to nova spectacularly. This is a playstyle preference option, whether you prefer vancian daily resource management and 15 minute workday incentives or predictable magic powers being brought to bear against challenges. I dislike a lot of daily resource management and prefer the choice of which of these three options do I use this round in this situation. As a DM I prefer the predictability of setting challenges against a more consistent PC baseline. There were some issues with spell durations though.

Well, I don't really have a big problem with the Vancian system anyway. The idea behind recharge magic doesn't look bad, but I'm not a fan of the idea of casters being able to use their most powerful spells on a more regular basis. It's kind of similar to the reasons Gary didn't like spell points, though there are a few differences. Having to track recharge times for each individual spell does look like it would add more bookkeeping, though that could just be my impression of looking at it without using it. Still, it seems like something that gives casters at least a moderate boost, and 3e already makes casters pretty powerful.

For spontaneous divine casters I preferred having casters be generally specialized in their spells known and the flexibility of total spell list casting coming from scrolls and not automatic full range daily preparation choice. 5e went the full everybody casts their prepared spells as a 3e sorcerer applying slots instead of full vancian casting, but in 3e it was generally either this option or specific classes having baseline sorcerer type casting if you didn't want full Vancian casting.

Well, that's the big issue with divine spells, that a cleric or druid can prepare anything on the spell list. Now in the old days, that wasn't a big deal. Look at the classic D&D game, where clerics only have 8 spells per level, and druids add 4 more and that's not really a lot. I don't remember offhand how many spells they had in 1e. 2e restricted things by sphere, but there were a good number of priest spells at the end of 2e, enough that the first volume of the Priest's Spell Compendium strongly advises DMs to exercise caution when introducing new spells to the game. Now with 3e, theoretically there's no limit and that can be a problem. My approach falls along the lines of PHB only for all characters, and anything outside generally is only known to certain cleric orders or druid circles. Certainly I'm not about to allow divine casters to pick anything at will from the PHB, SC, and whatever other splats they dig through.

The spontaneous casting option could be a useful method to rein things in too I suppose, but putting spontaneous casting on clerics and druids might sort of conflict with the classes from Complete Divine. I'm not sure about that though.
 

haakon1

Adventurer
My approach falls along the lines of PHB only for all characters
That’s my approach to everything. I DM Core rules 3.5e, with rare extra rules allowed from UA, Net Book of Feats, splatbooks, and modified to power down from PF1. I did the same in AD&D 1e, and as a player that was the approach to groups I played 2e, 4e, and 5e.

Not into crunch and builds, but stories and character.
 

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