D&D General Some Thoughts on Historical Edition Changes, and What that Portends for OneD&D


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TwoSix

Uncomfortably diegetic
Sure, and with D&D Beyond you don't need to. You can drop $2 for the character stuff and never look at the module. And people think microtransactions aren't already part of D&D. Ha.
D&D Beyond is simply a non-starter. The majority of my characters are heavily homebrewed.
 

Clint_L

Hero
D&D Beyond is simply a non-starter. The majority of my characters are heavily homebrewed.
It's easy to do home-brew characters in D&D Beyond; they let you integrate home-brew stuff right into it. I have tons of home-brew creatures and magic items, and I know that lots of people have home-brew character classes on there.
 

Levistus's_Leviathan

5e Freelancer
It's easy to do home-brew characters in D&D Beyond; they let you integrate home-brew stuff right into it. I have tons of home-brew creatures and magic items, and I know that lots of people have home-brew character classes on there.
However, the homebrewing system (which is what the staff of D&D Beyond use to add new official content to the site's character builder) is a complicated mess that takes forever to get any sort of mastery over. And is heavily restrictive in the kinds of things it allows.
 




EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
Still trying to come up with a better alternative. I love a good spinach quiche and a woman made of pipe cleaners.
Perhaps, then, we should dig into the recipe. For a ".5 edition," I mean.

3.5e did not change the design ethos or goals of 3e. Indeed, it was specifically intended to preserve them by correcting mistakes in the implementation thereof. It's why Savage Species will always be dubiously applicable to 3.5e, because the ethos remains, but the (even weaker...) 3.0 rules make it hard to preserve. Similarly, Pathfinder has often been called a "3.75e" (that is, if we think of "3.5" as being halfway between 3.0 and 4.0, then PF is a half of the remaining half, a "3.5.5" if you will.) By most posters' own admission, Essentials was intended to change or adapt the design ethos of 4e, accomodating something that had not been present before. By those lights, it more resembles things like Skills & Powers (which some think of as "2.5e," but most do not), or even the Book of Nine Swords, which almost no one considers a "half edition within the half edition." So, on this axis, it seems strange to classify Essentials as a "4.5e," when the goal of the exemplars of the ".5" update has consistently been to preserve and repair an edition that already exists rather than to expand and diversify an edition that exists.

3.5e was, pretty much intentionally if we believe folks like Monte Cook, set up for "you have to buy the core books anew." Many folks slammed Wizards at the time for this fairly obvious "buy core books again just a few years later" approach, especially because the changes were relatively minor. PF also required buying new books, but was welcomed due to the "we're saving the game" presentation. Essentials and Skills & Powers, meanwhile...had nothing to do with the original core books. S&P as I understand it would not have functioned as a standalone game. Essentials did, and that was intentional, but it was an alternate, equally-valid starting point, rather than an actual replacement of the original. So, on this front as well, Essentials is unlike 3.5e and much closer to just being another supplemental book (or pair of books in this case.)

Even the claimed reason for its origin doesn't match up. 3.5e came into being because the designers had concerns and wanted them addressed. Essentials, as we have been told more than once, was in part an effort to make more "old school" fans feel more included in 4e. It was a response to player concerns, not a designer-driven do-over like 3.5e. Again, the comparison fails.

Now, perhaps I am cherry-picking without realizing it. I am, after all, trying to advance the position that Essentials is little to nothing like 3.5e other than "it has new books" (which I consider a pretty much worthless standard, given that that would mean we'd already be on like 5.875e by now.) I'm willing to consider what criteria by which you would judge Essentials to be structurally a ".5 edition."

Putting my cards on the table, I won't think very much of any argument which hinges on denying any of the above points. Nor one based on time elapsed or other factors that are not relevant to the function the rules perform relative to their claimed edition. As noted, and as you agree IIRC, Essentials at most put a chunk of errata into an official print publication (RC) and offered an alternate starting point that was not a replacement starting point. (That is, PHB1 remained a perfectly valid starting point long after Essentials launched. I would know. An OSR-leaning DM who decided to check out 4e after the hubbub ended permitted me to join his game and it was one of the best games I've ever played. He enforced a strict "PHB1-2 only" rule, at least to start off, so he could get his bearings in the game.)

So. What were the relevant factors that made 3.5e a ".5 edition" to you? Which among them applied to Essentials, and how/why?
 


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