D&D 3E/3.5 The 4E We Didnt Get.


So in the main D&D section I started a thread about an alternative reality 3E which was AD&D 3E.

This is for an alternative reality where they made a 4E more in line with 3.X expectations.

Note we did actually get a 3.75 hybrid with Star Wars Saga Edition.

So the big take away/want for me with an alternative 4E was toning down the numbers bloat. The 4E engine as used in SWSE would have been acceptable at the time but do would a 5E type engine with smaller numbers.

I don't even mind AEDU type stuff a'la SWSE just not universal across all classes eg it's opt in. Think a 3.5 fighter spending a feat to get a daily or encounter power that's fine. New class using AEDU eg AE only or something close is also fine.

Thoughts what would you have wanted in a different hypothetical multiverse successor to 3.5?

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I never even made it to 3.5e. I forked into what I think of as 3.25e and felt my own fork was superior to what 3.5e did so aside from a few revised spells I stuck with 3e.

Key changes:

a) Spell level and Monster HD no longer add bonuses to the DC of saves. This means saving throws are more like 1e where the higher level you got the more likely you were to pass a saving throw.
b) Clerics get one fewer spell slot per spell level at most levels, taking longer to reach their maximum and only able to cast a domain spell when they first have the ability to cast a spell. They also have a list of known spells and do not automatically have access to every divine spell.
c) Druids went away as a separate class and are a build of a more configurable and probably less powerful "Shaman" class.
d) Paladin went away as a separate class and are a build of a more configurable "Champion" class.
e) PrCs were eliminated from the game and a number of changes were made to ensure there was no mechanical reason for them.
f) There were some minor restrictions on dump stating and multiclassing put in place via mechanics similar to 1e AD&D's minimum attribute requirements.
g) Size class grants bonus hit points separate from CON or HD. This makes low level stuff a lot less squishy which I find generally a good trade. It also eliminated problems 3e had with things like Undead not having CON and made the rules for constructs and oozes more elegant.
h) Lots of spells received minor nerfs.
i) Most classes received minor changes.
j) Divine wands were removed. Some major revisions were made to the cost of making "always on" or at will magic items.
k) As with Pathfinder, I had added additional combat maneuvers.

Numbers bloat is still a problem, but it's mostly a problem at levels above where I normally play, so it hasn't been a problem. There is a downside to reducing number bloat and you see it in 5e, and that is that if you don't reward players for doing things then they have no need to do things. Fifth edition's advantage system means that as soon as you can achieve some advantage by the easiest means possible, there is no need to work for more advantage and that is a big trade off to me. Fourth edition in that sense was numbers bloaty on purpose because tactically maneuvering for advantages was what that game wanted you to be always doing so I didn't see a huge advantage there.


I would have like 4e better had it been more like SWSE. I still thought 4e was good, but I do remember being disappointed that it didn't follow the feats and talents of swse.


Huh, I guess because of Pathfinder I never had to think about it...

The first thing that comes to mind is D&D Essentials since one of the design goals was to reimagine a 4E that was more palatable to older fans.

Second is Fantasy Craft. I've never played it myself, but heard it was a huge improvement of the 3E rule set.


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There were racial feats you could take at level 1 iirc. Players Guide to Faerun.

I kinda miss prestige classes in some ways. Conceptually anyway.
I meant like the ones where your ancestry gave you significant powers & abilities, like the Celestial sorcerer’s lance, a Draconic breath weapon, or spell-like abilities. They were very flavorful, and- while powerful- were usually less powerful than playing a nonstandard race of the same origins.

Of course, since they were part of feat trees, they had high incremental/opportunity costs, which prevented some players from trying them. While I understood that position, I personally found the added flavor and “wildcard” nature of the granted abilities made up for their costs.


I think Trailblazer from Bad Axe Games was a fair attempt at a "revised 3.5e". It made attempts at fixing monster math, and revamped all the classes. It also provided the ability to recover a significant amount of resources with shorter rests (5-15 minutes IIRC).
I particularly liked the Trailblazer phantom attack bonuses for rogues and monks at levels they did not get a BAB so their attacks were comparable to warrior one and not flurries of misses (but also without as many iteratives as warriors). I felt it made them closer to combat equals to the full BAB classes. I added that as a house rule after I saw the concept.

A house rule I also added was that rangers got their favored enemy bonus flat out, not just on specific types. This gave them a 4e striker roll with consistent high damage but still lower AC that was a decent counterpart to the tank Plate Mail fighters and paladins. I gave a few more benefits to favored enemy like having the bonus be on knowledge checks for the chosen types.

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