log in or register to remove this ad

 

3E/3.5 Issues that might arise from a "core book only" 3.5 campaign and possible fixes?

Rocksome

First Post
Hi all,

I used to be a huge 3.5e player, before moving on to other editions and other games. Soon I'm going to be running some 3.5e games again (Eberron: Shadows of the Last War, Whispers of the Vampires Blade and Grasp of the Emerald Claw, plus I plan on running Red Hand of Doom for some new players).

I don't really have the time to convert these games to 5e which is mostly what we've been playing lately. Red Hand of Doom was also this very delicate difficulty balance that made everything absolutely grueling and helped lend an epic feel to the adventure. So I plan on going back to 3.5 to run them as printed.

The time we last played Red Hand of Doom, there were a tonne of splats available. As my players are relatively new I was going to restrict access to the core rules. This however leads me to my question...

Are there any splats that you would consider "essential" for fixing any issues in the 3.5 core rules? I've mostly forgot what problems 3.5 even has.

I'm thinking splats that might fix issues like mid-to-high level monk power or other problems. What about universally accepted house rule fixes?

Also I'm wondering about the opposite side of things... Are there any splats (prestige classes, feats, spells, races) that I should be extremely wary of allowing? My players are mostly RPing non-power games but I might still need to avoud them accidentally falling through some power loopholes.

I'm not particularly concerned about things that are a little over-powered or strong, but those few rare things that in your experience completely broke down the game.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Scrivener of Doom

Adventurer
A druid, cleric, or wizard is broken right out of the PHB so I wouldn't worry about anything else.

But make sure you ban Book of Exalted Deeds on principle. That really was crap with a capital K.

Personally, if I was going to run 3.5E again I would make a full attack into a standard action (so, yes, move then full attack), drop the -5 iterative penalty for multiple attacks, and make all saving throws good (and based on total character level) with those classes that previously got a "good" saving throw getting a simple non-stackable +2 bonus. That's probably the fastest way to bring things up to scratch without messing with the rest of the sheer brokenness of 3.5E (and I type that as someone who loves that edition :) ).
 

Dandu

First Post
Well, why don't you tell us what your players want to do and we'll talk about our options?

Offhand, The Expanded Psionics Handbook is a good substitute for Arcane casters, and the Tome of Battle "fixes" monks, fighters, and paladins. The PHB2 Shapeshfiter ACF for the Druid helps reign it in, and the Complete Divine's Favored Soul limits the Cleric.

Bards are fine as is, but allowing Inspire Courage boosts from other sources, like Song of the Heart from the Eberron Campaign Setting, Masterwork Instruments from the Complete Adventurer, Inspirational Boost from the Spell Compendium, etc, might be worwhile.
 
Last edited:

Rocksome

First Post
No idea yet.

We're still just finishing off our Out of the Abyss campaign. I'm more just getting a heads up on any 3.5 pitfalls I might have forgotten about.

Possibly considering using Pathfinder or 13th Age PCs.
 



Rocksome

First Post
I hope you saw my edits?

If so, do you have any questions you'd like to ask?
Yeah, I saw them. Thanks. No questions for now. I want to open up the books for players that are interested without fear of opening the flood gates. that's a good start.
 

Dandu

First Post
The vital thing to remember about Psionics is that there are occasionally broken powers, but it's largely more manageable. Also, you can't spend more PP on a power than your manifested level, unless you have an ability that explicitly allows you to do so.
 

You might also want to consider using alternate Turn Undead rules, allowing clerics to do damage to undead instead. I forgot what book this rule came from.
 

Are there any splats that you would consider "essential" for fixing any issues in the 3.5 core rules? I've mostly forgot what problems 3.5 even has.
The biggest issue is probably caster supremacy - the Wizard, Cleric, and Druid are vastly more powerful than everyone else (with the Sorcerer next, then the Bard). But the supplements don't fix this; they make it worse.

My first, and biggest fix, would be to ban item crafting, ban the purchase of magic items, and assign treasure strictly using the random treasure tables in the DMG. (One of the big issues is that the casters can craft cheap scrolls and wands, and thus bypass Vancian casting. Since that is pretty much the only thing keeping them in check, that's a major issue.)

Are there any splats (prestige classes, feats, spells, races) that I should be extremely wary of allowing?
Don't allow any Prestige Class that grants "+1 level of existing spellcasting class" at 1st level - any such class is almost guranteed to be overpowered. And don't allow any spell with a casting time of a Swift or Immediate action, for the same reason (it was fine to have a few such spells, but these proliferated massively, with the effect that high level casters were now routinely casting two spells per round).

In fact, more generally I'd say you can include almost anything aimed at martial characters but should ban just about everything aimed at spellcasters. (Except the "Book of Exalted Deeds". That should be banned for everyone.)
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Best D&D campaign I ever ran as 18 months long, Age of Worms from Dungeon Magazine. The three 3.5 core rulebooks only; nothing else allowed.
 

ccs

40th lv DM
Yeah, I saw them. Thanks. No questions for now. I want to open up the books for players that are interested without fear of opening the flood gates. that's a good start.
So you don't really want to run a 3.5 fore book only game ....
 

Rocksome

First Post
So you don't really want to run a 3.5 fore book only game ....

I have two types of players in my group. I have a couple of very experienced gamers who played lots of 3.5 years ago, but mostly noobs who are playing their second campaign ever and so far have only experienced 5e.

I wanted to run a "core only" game because I figured that a lot of the problem with 3.5 was the excessive number of splats and most of the guys are new to the system. However since a couple of the guys have played all the core classes a number of times in their career I wanted to open up a few options for them , maybe some PHB2 stuff. Maybe Tome of Battle which I remembered I loved.

Essentially looking for ways to play a "mostly core only" and the simplest way to open up several well balanced options.
 

Koloth

First Post
Make sure you obtain all of the errata and updates for whatever books you decide to allow. Some of the broken issues are fixed via errata/corrections.

If you are worried about magic tossing classes being over powered, consider implementing a one rest period per 24 hours house rule. Or give them a time limit to accomplish the mission. "You have 36 hours to rescue the sacrifice before the cultist summon the great being." When magic types have to ration spells due to limited recharging, it does impact class balance.
 

Celebrim

Legend
Are there any splats that you would consider "essential" for fixing any issues in the 3.5 core rules? I've mostly forgot what problems 3.5 even has.
No, in fact, in general splats tended to make the problem worse. The core rules have essentially one basic problem. At some point, generally around 7th-9th level, spell-casters start outshining non-casters, and above 11th level, the game is entirely geared around spending caster resources. While a few splats attempted to 'fix' this by ramping up the power of non-casters, none really did a good job of it and most at the same time broke spell-casters even worse.

Also I'm wondering about the opposite side of things... Are there any splats (prestige classes, feats, spells, races) that I should be extremely wary of allowing?
In my opinion, all of them. In fact, the first thing I'd do is ban all non-core spells and all prestige classes. Play core classes only, and in general look at the 3.0 and 3.5 version of each core spell and make the weaker of the two the one that prevails in the campaign. If you add anything to core at all, and I'm not suggesting you do so, the only thing you should be adding is fixes for the fighter in the form of more powerful feats and options for the fighter and similar classes to try to stem the tide of spellcaster power a little.

Understand in core your main brokenness is Cleric, Druid, and Wizard and that the more spells you add from outside sources the more broken they become. In particular, the problem with these classes isn't just the sheer brokenness of them, but that with open access to spells each new spell in the campaign gives them another class feature and another tool to solve problems they previously couldn't solve.

However, if you stick to core, the casters won't be excessively broken unless they start abusing shape-changing spells and summoning spells. (Watch in particular for Polymorph Other abuse and Planar Ally abuse.) They'll just be slightly broken at that point. Also, if you stick to the 3.0 versions of many spells, even that problem is mitigated somewhat.

I'm not particularly concerned about things that are a little over-powered or strong, but those few rare things that in your experience completely broke down the game.
So, if you are wanting to keep your ban list small, ban anything and everything that lets you get free metamagic or greatly increases effective caster level or spell DC. Ban Robilar's Gambit and Assault Trooper. Ban Natural Spell (which moved into core with 3.5 because 3.5 had to break everything). Ban Ur-Priest and Frenzied Berserker. Ban Psions, unless you ban Wizards and Psions are replacing wizards. Ban everything from BoED, BoVD. Ban Tome of Battle unless you ban all non-Tome of Battle non-spellcaster classes and just run a Tome of Battle centered campaign...

You know, seriously forget about it, your game will just be better core only. If it isn't going to be core only, then the best policy would be to ban part of core and use some replacement classes to achieve balance. However, IMO that runs into two problems. First, you tend to end up in a place where nothing is broken because everything is. And secondly, you tend to end up with parties well optimized for going supernova on opponents and most combats are effectively over by the middle of the first round, which was kinda what you were trying to avoid by putting bans into effect in the first place.
 

Celebrim

Legend
If you are worried about magic tossing classes being over powered, consider implementing a one rest period per 24 hours house rule. Or give them a time limit to accomplish the mission. "You have 36 hours to rescue the sacrifice before the cultist summon the great being." When magic types have to ration spells due to limited recharging, it does impact class balance.
The one house rule I implemented in my campaign that made the biggest difference in caster power was I removed the spell level from the calculation of saving throw DC. Without that, save or suck spells - which is usually the first order brokenness you see from players without high system mastery - are relatively balanced and won't vastly outshine non-casters. It's also a very easy change to implement, as it makes the rules more simple and not more complicated.
 

Dandu

First Post
I have to say that nerfing spellcasters, in and of itself, doesn't make some classes - let's use the monk as an example - better, since it has inherent flaws in its design.
 

Splat books are not a problem in and of themselves. Most of them have their fair mix of good, bad and broken items. And it sounds like from your own posts that your players are not going to go out of their way to break their characters or the game. Do you know what your players want to play? That may help the boards give you some more pointers.

Since you're running Red Hand of Doom, you're going to be progressing over several levels. At character creation and the first few levels just go with the PHB. Maybe later in the campaign allow each player to pick one other source book to augment their class/abilities? The first four Complete Books are the ones I typically allow in my games (Warrior, Divine, Arcane, and Adventurer).

Cleric, Wizard and Druid are the typical problem children. Putting the party against a clock is a good way to combat your PCs going nova and resting.

Finally, if you're just coming back to 3.5 I'd like to say this: Don't get bogged down in the minutia of the rules. If a PC wants to leap from the back of their wagon and tackle the riding horseman, just roll with it. Don't kill your player's creativity because they don't have a feat or there are no rules for what they want to do.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Some people ban the big tier 1 full casters and use later published ones from the splatbooks. I don't bother: even though our group contains guys fully capable of optimizing, they tend not to. They also tend not to nova, because no DM in our group is going to let you get a rest to recover just because you're out of spells.

That said, the last guy to run a 3.5Ed game allowed each player to use the PHB and his choice of any 2 splatbooks. Once chosen, selection could not be changed at a later point.
 

Rocksome

First Post
Thanks everyone,

I think I'll keep it simple and roll with "Core Only". It sounds like I shouldn't have any real problems that way. The campaign won't be going over 12th level so that should minimise caster supremacy. If anyone is really interested in using something non-core further down the track I'll address it on a case-by-case basis then.
 

NOW LIVE! 5 Plug-In Settlements for your 5E Game

Advertisement2

Advertisement4

Top