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D&D 3E/3.5 Fixing 3.5

dazzlerdal

Explorer
Let me just state that i love 3.5 edition DND, however the more i played and the further a campaign progressed the more the game mechanics broke down and made the game unplayable so the only thing to do was abandon the campaign and start again.

The following are the steps i have taken to fix the broken mechanics for 3.5.

1 - Use Pathfinder
By this i mean use the classes, feats, etc as they are much more potent, a fighter or wizard will be just as good as a sorcerer or barbarian and just as interesting.

2 - Remove Level Based Bonuses
By this i mean remove any level based progression such as BAB and the saving throw progressions, and any monster ability or DC calculation that adds 1/2 HD or class level. This might seem scary at first but as long as its applied uniformly then it all balances and fundamentally fixes the most broken aspects of 3.5.
It does create slight problems with AC, and multiple attacks but these can be corrected as follows.

3 - Reduce AC
This is necessary to balance the loss of BAB, but is easily done using a suggestion in Unearthed Arcana.
Reduce AC from armour by 1/2 and turn it into DR instead (so full plate gives +4 AC and DR 4/-)
Reduce natural armour by 1/5, or 1/4, or 1/3, or 1/2 and add that as DR /- whatever is your preference, its only real impact is for high CR monsters and so it depends on how invincible you like your monsters such as dragons (personally i like them hard to kill).

4 - Correct Full Attacks
The current system is difficult to track and complex, plus doesnt work well with my fixes. So the suggestions are as follows.
For PCs
Every attack after the first incurs a cumulative -2 penalty to attack, so PCs must declare how many attacks they are making before they roll.
For every +5 attack bonus the PC can make an extra attack (but with the cumulative -2 penalty), this attack bonus includes permanent and temporary bonuses (such as spells, rage, etc).
Wielding an extra weapon allows an additional attack with that weapon (but with the cumulative -2 penalty). Only a feat may grant an additional attack with a secondary weapon (again with the cumulative -2 penalty).
So for example a fighter with 2 weapons and 20 Str can have 3 attacks but each only has a +1 attack bonus.
For Monsters
Every attack mode used after the first incurs a -2 cumulative penalty to attack. So a lion with 2 claw attacks makes them all at his attack bonus but using 2 claws and a bite incurs a -2 penalty to all attacks that round.
I personally make no distinction between primary and secondary attacks as it seems ad hoc based on the monster and who was designing it, but feel free to do so if you want

5- Standardise Damage Reduction
I do this because damage reduction at the moment is all over the place and can be simplified quite easily.
Make all DR on monsters etc untyped and use the highest in existence.
So DR/magic, DR/silver all becomes DR/-.
Any special DR (such as DR/silver or DR/cold iron, or DR/piercing now give that creature a vulnerability to that attack mode with the usual 150% damage to that (so DR/silver gives the monster vulnerability to silver). You can make vulnerability bypass DR if you wish.

6 - Reform Skill Mechanics
The current skill mechanic is unwieldy and broken.
Simplify it by removing the skill points. Instead class skills denote a skill which the player can take the Skill Training feat in. Skill Training grants a +5 bonus on all skill checks with that skill and obviously makes the user trained in that skill. (Skill Specialisation and Mastery also exist but grant a +10 and +15 bonus and are available at level 5 and 10 respectively).

Then since it makes no sense to have a skill action exclusive to only one skill i suggest merging skills and creating new ones.
So merge Climb, Jump, Balance etc into a new skill Acrobatics (Dex)
Merge Climb, Jump, Swim, etc into a new skill Athletics (Str).
Merge Spellcraft, Use Magic Device, Decipher Script, etc into a new skill Arcana (Int) and also include Knowledge (Arcane).
Do the same for a new skill Religion (Wis), and Psionics (Cha) with the corresponding knowledge skill.
Merge Concentration, Control Shape, and anything to do with gaining Psionic focus into a new skill Discipline (Cha).
Merge Bluff and Forgery etc into Bluff (Cha)
Merge Listen, Search, Spot etc into Perception (Wis)
Merge Hide, Move SIlently etc into Stealth (Dex)
Merge pickpocket, open locks, escape artist etc into Thievery (Dex)
Merge Handle Animal, Spellcraft, Survival, etc into Nature (Cha)
Merge Language and Decipher Script into Linguistics (Int)
Basically any skill action or skill that can be merged into a new one do so as long as it does not restrict a PC because his primary attribute is different. So for instance a rogue and fighter should both be able to accomplish similar thinks but one through strengh and one through dexterity hence why Acrobatics and Athletics exist and are similar. Its a similar reason for the spellcasting skills.

7 - Minor Changes
Anything from this point is minor and just for personal preference rather than fixing anything fundamentally broken.
Templates
Consider using a Minion Template which reduces all attributes by -2 and hit points by half (allows you to use harder monsters more often without killing everyone). An Elite Template which increases attributes by +2 and max hit points. And a Solo Template which increases attributes by +5 and double max hit points (for bosses).
Hit Points
Make the Constituion bonus for hit points a one time only bonus (at first level) which will speed up combat considerably and make the Toughnes feat more desirable
Death Saves
Consider taking a leaf out of 4th editions book and make it 3 death saves and you are dead (you may have to add a damage roll to some existing death save abilities.
Summoning + Polymorph
Currently unusable because you can summon or polymorph into anything. Instead i use a list of summon monsters equal to the primary spellcasting attribute bonus +1 for each summon spell. The monster that can be selected for a list to be summoned (or polymorphed into) is based on CR.
I also make all summoned monsters have the Minion Template to prevent them outclassing the other PCs but allow the summoned creatures to advance in HD (if they can) and be equipped with items if the PC has the means to meet a creature on its home plane.

THE END
Anyway these are just my suggestions to correct certain flaws in an otherwise wonderful ruleset and allow you to play longer and hopefully more fun campaigns (it certainly worked for our group).

If anyone has any questions about the suggestions or even any suggestions themselves to help simplify and improve 3.5 then by all means say, im always looking for new ideas.
 

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Crothian

First Post
These threads are not that uncommon and they all make the same mistake. They never talk about what the problems are that are being fixed. I've played 3.5 since it came out and talked to hundreds of gamers on the strengths and weaknesses of the game and they don't all agree on what needs fixed to make the game better. I find talking about what needs fixed before you fix it helps the discussion as people can actually tell you if you have fixed the problems you identified.
 

Roadie

First Post
Step 1: Use Fantasy Craft instead. :p

(Really, though, it's about the closest to a "D&D 4.0" you'll see that built from the legacy of 3.X in progressive and interesting way without ditching large parts of the structure altogether.)
 

irdeggman

First Post
These threads are not that uncommon and they all make the same mistake. They never talk about what the problems are that are being fixed. I've played 3.5 since it came out and talked to hundreds of gamers on the strengths and weaknesses of the game and they don't all agree on what needs fixed to make the game better. I find talking about what needs fixed before you fix it helps the discussion as people can actually tell you if you have fixed the problems you identified.

I love this answer. Pure and simple.

Did you fix what you wanted to?
 

irdeggman

First Post
2 & 4 - so wizards and fighters get the same number of attacks and the only difference in bonuses is due to the Str Bonus (+1 for every 2 levels)?

5 - this will make DR more powerful and yet not touch SR. Se previous comment, it appears that you are ending up making wizards much more powerful than fighters.

See above in reference to your minor fix concerning hit points and removing the Con bonus. Again this favors non-warrior types.

6 - this, on the surface, ends up lessoning the reason for not becoming a one stat wonder. The current system has a a built in reason for characters to increase all ability scores, fighters can't ignore Int and wizards run into a great risk if they ignore Str (the carrying capacity effects alone will cripple them)

As Crothian pointed out - what are you trying to fix?
 

Empirate

First Post
[MENTION=6695391]dazzlerdal[/MENTION]: first off, welcome to ENWorld!

Secondly, although in principle I find attempts at game design to be a unique and interesting thing to do with one's free time, and love to read about other people's thoughts and results, you're not giving us much information about what you want to accomplish. Not only do you not state what aspects of 3.5 'need' 'fixing' in your opinion - we're even left in the dark as to what the purpose of your post is in the first place. Are you hoping for applause, criticism, a heated debate or what? And on what aspects of your post?

That said, I'll go out on a limb and presume you want criticism. I'll try.

You implicitly seem to want better game balance. This not only is what most 'fixes' are about (who invented that holy cow, btw?), it is also implied in statements such as "a fighter or wizard will be just as good as a sorcerer or barbarian...".
You do not accomplish that in the slightest with your proposed 'fix', since what (potentially) breaks the game is a combination of strategic versatility (ability to pick your battles/problems), tactical versatility (ability to pick modes of attack/coping well suited to the specific battle/problem at hand), and 'narrative' versatility (ability to render story-changing aspects of the game moot with mechanical means, such as avoiding overland travel through instant transportation, being immune to surprises, generating goodwill in NPCs, being independent of social/legal constraints, providing basic much-needed resources yourself etc.).
All of these are available in the game through magic to a high degree. Very few of these are available through application of numerical benefits (attack bonuses, skill bonuses etc.). You adress the latter, but fail to take the former into account.

You're also interested in making the game more fun, and more interesting. What is fun and what is interesting varies hugely among different players and groups. Changing certain mechanics may appeal to some, but not to others. To avoid a long, abstract argument like above, I'll just say the fun provided by your 'fix' is in no way better than the fun provided by regular 3.5. It's different. To me personally, your 'fix' does almost nothing to make the game 'better' in any way (the skill merging, which is basic Pathfinder stuff, is good, but it's also very minor).
 

xigbar

First Post
Let me just state that i love 3.5 edition DND, however the more i played and the further a campaign progressed the more the game mechanics broke down and made the game unplayable so the only thing to do was abandon the campaign and start again.

The following are the steps i have taken to fix the broken mechanics for 3.5.

1 - Use Pathfinder
By this i mean use the classes, feats, etc as they are much more potent, a fighter or wizard will be just as good as a sorcerer or barbarian and just as interesting.
Errr, no. The wizard/sorcerer still has too many ways they can simply get become immune to the enemy fighter. The wizard doesn't have to spend ANY money countering what the fighter can, where the fighter has to spend money to find a way to fly and see invisible and hit ethereal and break through walls of iron. That has changed relatively little from Pathfinder.

2 - Remove Level Based Bonuses
By this i mean remove any level based progression such as BAB and the saving throw progressions, and any monster ability or DC calculation that adds 1/2 HD or class level. This might seem scary at first but as long as its applied uniformly then it all balances and fundamentally fixes the most broken aspects of 3.5.
It does create slight problems with AC, and multiple attacks but these can be corrected as follows.
I....don't think Ac and saves are a reason casters are much better than melee classes. The problems is in fact that casters have so many ways they can harm melee classes without targetting AC and saves.

3 - Reduce AC
This is necessary to balance the loss of BAB, but is easily done using a suggestion in Unearthed Arcana.
Reduce AC from armour by 1/2 and turn it into DR instead (so full plate gives +4 AC and DR 4/-)
Reduce natural armour by 1/5, or 1/4, or 1/3, or 1/2 and add that as DR /- whatever is your preference, its only real impact is for high CR monsters and so it depends on how invincible you like your monsters such as dragons (personally i like them hard to kill).
This actually makes secondary combatants weaker. Your dual dagger wielding rogue may theoretically have a damage output around my Spiked Chain fighter's, but the DR takes a bite out of each of your weaker swings. Also, continues the assumption that AC is a problem, and that I would target a dragon's AC.

4 - Correct Full Attacks
The current system is difficult to track and complex, plus doesnt work well with my fixes. So the suggestions are as follows.
For PCs
Every attack after the first incurs a cumulative -2 penalty to attack, so PCs must declare how many attacks they are making before they roll.
For every +5 attack bonus the PC can make an extra attack (but with the cumulative -2 penalty), this attack bonus includes permanent and temporary bonuses (such as spells, rage, etc).
Wielding an extra weapon allows an additional attack with that weapon (but with the cumulative -2 penalty). Only a feat may grant an additional attack with a secondary weapon (again with the cumulative -2 penalty).
So for example a fighter with 2 weapons and 20 Str can have 3 attacks but each only has a +1 attack bonus.
Where are PCs getting +5 Attack Bonus for extra attacks, if you've eliminated base attack bonus? This needs to be explained more, and to me makes it sound like you want it to be harder to hit enemies...which is a bad idea, as melee needs all the help they can get in that department.

For Monsters
Every attack mode used after the first incurs a -2 cumulative penalty to attack. So a lion with 2 claw attacks makes them all at his attack bonus but using 2 claws and a bite incurs a -2 penalty to all attacks that round.
I personally make no distinction between primary and secondary attacks as it seems ad hoc based on the monster and who was designing it, but feel free to do so if you want.
This would actually be an interesting houserule; However, read the Monster Manual entry for Hydra or Giant Squid, and tell me if you still think this is balanced.

5- Standardise Damage Reduction
I do this because damage reduction at the moment is all over the place and can be simplified quite easily.
Make all DR on monsters etc untyped and use the highest in existence.
So DR/magic, DR/silver all becomes DR/-.
Any special DR (such as DR/silver or DR/cold iron, or DR/piercing now give that creature a vulnerability to that attack mode with the usual 150% damage to that (so DR/silver gives the monster vulnerability to silver). You can make vulnerability bypass DR if you wish.
DR is neither something I or any of my players have ever had any trouble following. Maybe for some people, but, more importantly, numerical damage is still not an issue that needs fixing.

6 - Reform Skill Mechanics
The current skill mechanic is unwieldy and broken.
Simplify it by removing the skill points. Instead class skills denote a skill which the player can take the Skill Training feat in. Skill Training grants a +5 bonus on all skill checks with that skill and obviously makes the user trained in that skill. (Skill Specialisation and Mastery also exist but grant a +10 and +15 bonus and are available at level 5 and 10 respectively).
NO. I'm not going to make the classes most badly in neat of feats waste them simply to use a skill. Additionally, most skills are not broken in their own right, except, occasionally, Diplomacy, and, in the case of Incantatrix, Spellcraft.

Then since it makes no sense to have a skill action exclusive to only one skill i suggest merging skills and creating new ones.
So merge Climb, Jump, Balance etc into a new skill Acrobatics (Dex)
Merge Climb, Jump, Swim, etc into a new skill Athletics (Str).
Merge Spellcraft, Use Magic Device, Decipher Script, etc into a new skill Arcana (Int) and also include Knowledge (Arcane).
Do the same for a new skill Religion (Wis), and Psionics (Cha) with the corresponding knowledge skill.
Merge Concentration, Control Shape, and anything to do with gaining Psionic focus into a new skill Discipline (Cha).
Merge Bluff and Forgery etc into Bluff (Cha)
Merge Listen, Search, Spot etc into Perception (Wis)
Merge Hide, Move SIlently etc into Stealth (Dex)
Merge pickpocket, open locks, escape artist etc into Thievery (Dex)
Merge Handle Animal, Spellcraft, Survival, etc into Nature (Cha)
Merge Language and Decipher Script into Linguistics (Int)
Basically any skill action or skill that can be merged into a new one do so as long as it does not restrict a PC because his primary attribute is different. So for instance a rogue and fighter should both be able to accomplish similar thinks but one through strengh and one through dexterity hence why Acrobatics and Athletics exist and are similar. Its a similar reason for the spellcasting skills.
That's fine.

7 - Minor Changes
Anything from this point is minor and just for personal preference rather than fixing anything fundamentally broken.
Templates
Consider using a Minion Template which reduces all attributes by -2 and hit points by half (allows you to use harder monsters more often without killing everyone). An Elite Template which increases attributes by +2 and max hit points. And a Solo Template which increases attributes by +5 and double max hit points (for bosses).
Hit Points
Make the Constituion bonus for hit points a one time only bonus (at first level) which will speed up combat considerably and make the Toughnes feat more desirable
Death Saves
Consider taking a leaf out of 4th editions book and make it 3 death saves and you are dead (you may have to add a damage roll to some existing death save abilities.
Fine.

Summoning + Polymorph
Currently unusable because you can summon or polymorph into anything. Instead i use a list of summon monsters equal to the primary spellcasting attribute bonus +1 for each summon spell. The monster that can be selected for a list to be summoned (or polymorphed into) is based on CR.
I also make all summoned monsters have the Minion Template to prevent them outclassing the other PCs but allow the summoned creatures to advance in HD (if they can) and be equipped with items if the PC has the means to meet a creature on its home plane.
This is a step in the right direction. A simpler solution would be to out right ban Gate, Lesser/Planar Ally, Polymorph and Shapechange. It doesn't address all of the buff spells and battlefield control casters can use to simply be unkillable, and teleportation spells to be anywhere, anytime.
 

kitsune9

First Post
I thought 3.5 had some issues, but I never thought those issues needed fixes. Once, you got into "fixing" one problem, then you realize you had to address another problem (w.g. eliminating BAB means working on AC too, then work on scaling math, then deal with DR, etc., etc.). When prepping my adventures, then I'd have to look at every mechanic and stat block that my houserules affect and convert them. Too much work for me I guess when I can just play Pathfinder or some game and just accept it warts and all.
 


Chalice

First Post
The most elegant and compelling collection of changes I have seen for 3.5 is Trailblazer. I plan to implement some of them, soon. If you want to run 3.5, with fixes, and without totally gutting the system in the process, you could give that a look.

Other than that, I use the Tome of Battle: Book of Nine Swords so that hand to hand fighting types are viable in the long term, a few little changes from Unearthed Arcana, and some minor house rules that make things a little smoother and more balanced (in my opinion).

The most significant thing that keeps everything in check, I think, is not using any other "splatbooks". I've heard about many of them, but my players have access to literally none of them, other than the forementioned Tome of Battle.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Personally, no version of 3.X is any better than any other...or the original.

My "improved" version of 3.5Ed would yoink things from Arcana Unearthed/Evolved, Pathfinder, Midnight 2Ed, True20 and others, plus some tweaks of my own. However, the amount of work it would take me to make the various elements I like work together would be daunting.








(And, FWIW, I don't use ToB.)
 



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