D&D 3E/3.5 Retro-cloning D&D 3.0


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Orius

Legend
It doesn't matter to me if material I'm banning is from 3.0 or 3.5. There's just enough compatibility for me to ban anyway if I feel it's going to be a problem in the game.

Players who don't get the idea of a ban list need to refresh themselves with Rule 0.
 


Alzrius

The EN World kitten
Fifteen or twenty years ago topics like, "What do you ban (in 3e)?" provided as much acrimony as an edition war.
This is unfortunately true. While I like a lot of what 3E did, it had the unintended consequences of elevating RAW to a level that I don't think any of its designers ever intended, and the unified mechanics were seen by a lot of people as being an engine (where you risked the entire thing falling apart if you started modifying or removing pieces) rather than a toolbox (where not everything was meant to be used in a given circumstance).
 

Celebrim

Legend
This is unfortunately true. While I like a lot of what 3E did, it had the unintended consequences of elevating RAW to a level that I don't think any of its designers ever intended, and the unified mechanics were seen by a lot of people as being an engine (where you risked the entire thing falling apart if you started modifying or removing pieces) rather than a toolbox (where not everything was meant to be used in a given circumstance).

Since I'm not an insider I have a hard time knowing exactly what the 3.X designers intended, and I think it's important to note that the designers of 3.0 and 3.5 intended different things. But certainly by 3.5e my impression was that the designers had intended the game to evolve from being a game where DMs bought stacks of books and players just needed a PH, to a game where everyone would buy stacks of books. And among other emotional consequences of that was that players having invested a bunch of money in the game came to view hardcovers as expansion packs that they had bought for the game and now had a right to use - almost like a player buying a DLC for a video game.

And that was on top of the players that insist on trying to get from an RPG the same sort of experience they would get from say Nethack or Slay the Spire, where the goal of the game is leverage your understanding of the rules to achieve victory. And while I can see that as being an aesthetic of play, when they insist on that being the whole of the game I really want to tell them, "Play a video game and let it validate you, and stop insisting I do it."
 

Johnathan Tweet, Monte Cook, and Sean Reynolds, at one time or another, have touched on their approach to designing 3e. They seemed sincere in wanting to provide for the best D&D experience possible for all the participants at the table. I do think however they underestimated how some segments of the community would take certain passages and phrases as a green light to behave badly. Ultimately, Mearls(?) is on record for stating that, with 5E, they walked back the attitude of protecting the players from bad DMs with the rules but the "validation by rules" and "rules solving" currents aren't going anywhere, an unfortunate circumstance really.
 

Bestbake

Villager
I've been using 3.0 to run my players through the Castle of the Mad Archmage (the pathfinder version which I back port to 3.0 on the fly) and it's been a blast, though I have implemented a lot of house rules.

I've halved the amount of bonus/negative hit points from a high Con score, this is more a personal issue than anything else, though maybe it ties into the DR change. The gelugon has 30 less HP and 10 more DR in 3.0 than 3.5. I prefer this lack of hit points over a hit point bloat, fights that drag on are the worst.

Armours don't reduce movement speed, I just use encumbrance values, and similarly to Yora, dwarves can carry heavier burdens easier.

I've increased base saving throw progressions, for a total of +15 for a good save and +10 for a bad. Though seeing comments here is making me think that I may be approaching this problem from the wrong end. Maybe I will try out lowering the DC of spells/abilities instead.

I've removed skill points. Characters instead get a bonus equal to half their level +1 to all skill on their skill list. They then pick a number of skills equal to their usual skill points per level + Int mod to get a larger bonus in. Giving everyone more skills has been fine, though I'm unsure how I'll handle multi classing at this point.

Feats are something that I've been tackling on a case by case basis, mostly larger numbers, rerolls. or combining feats together, like dodge + mobility.

Special combat actions like bull rushing and disarming do not provoke an attack of opportunity. Players have fun using these options.
All characters can also cleave as if they had the feat.

I've made made item creation a thing everyone can do, meeting prerequisites, just like granting the feats to all characters. I doubt this will ever become an issue with my table, though I can imagine some folk wouldn't like this :p

One big change that I've made is adjusting experience. I've added an "energy tithe" to spell casters, which is an experience tax. These taxed points go into a "pool" that the spell caster can use when casting spells that require an experience point cost and when making magic items. It forces the spell casters to engage with those spells/systems and keeps them at a lower level. I do not believe that magic by it's nature can be balanced, but I do think that altering experience/level progression is the best way to attempt something like balance. The numbers in AD&D may not have been perfect, but the concept is good. The tax is highest for spell casters who get up to 9th level spells, and doesn't exist for paladins/rangers.

We've also been using the 3.0 psionic handbook and it's been a blast. I adore the concept of using each ability score for its own special power. I haven't found a need to change anything about it yet, though I am applying a (smaller than usual) experience tax on the party's Psion. He'll just have to ink up some psionic tattoos.

I've told my players to not worry about PrCs. I do and don't allow them... I believe putting them in the DMG was correct, putting them in player targeted supplements was the wrong move. I've decided to remove all prerequisites for entry to PrCs, its completely up to the story/game as to when a character can enter.
I also have allowed players to take a PrC at 1st level. One was a drunken master and it was rad. I gave them some armour proficiencies and an improved unarmed attack to make it work. I think there are a lot of cool, but specific, ideas in many PrCs and playing around with that is fun.
 

Not a bad rule regarding hit points, Bestbake. I've been considering what to do about HPs myself as I do think the inflation between 2e and 3e (even 3.0) was considerable. My own take was to use Constitution as a base and remove Constitution modifiers from the equation entirely.
 

Celebrim

Legend
Not a bad rule regarding hit points, Bestbake. I've been considering what to do about HPs myself as I do think the inflation between 2e and 3e (even 3.0) was considerable. My own take was to use Constitution as a base and remove Constitution modifiers from the equation entirely.

I've actually gone slightly differently and inflated hit points in an odd way.

You see in 1e I had a problem where a large leveled up party with good gear especially post UA could drop a 16HD creature in a round at most. Yet in that same game at 1st/2nd level most characters were one hit away from death. So I appreciated 3e's "everything has CON" as a rule, because it mirrored "everything has a DEX score" that I'd already adopted as a 1e house rule. It kept monsters from going down as hard. Because IMO, the idea duration of a combat was 3-5 rounds, and the 1-2 rounds of 1e/3e made going first too important and didn't involve enough time for movement choices (tactics).

So I gave everything a third source of hit points - a fixed bonus to your hit points based on your size class. And I'm really happy with that. Low level characters are a bit more tanky without inflating the hit points of high-level characters a ton. Small size now has a meaningful drawback. Large herbivores don't require tons of HD to explain their beefiness. House cats can't one shot their owners, and so forth.

I am playing 3e so I don't have anything near like the HD inflation of 3.5e when they realized lots of monsters were too fragile for their CR, but I also have everything is just a little harder to kill without being more dangerous aside from taking longer to kill.

But of course, this all assumes you want to have 3-5 rounds of combat and that skirmishing is core to your aesthetic.
 


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