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D&D 3E/3.5 What was the original intended function of the 3rd edition phb classes?

Voadam

Legend
Andy Collins had discussed a campaign of his own on his website in which characters could not take back to back levels in a spellcasting class (I don't recall if it was the same caster class or any caster class).
It is a fairly elegant way to cut the PC caster power, it just means you lose out on the upper level spells as players entirely and the casters go from quadratically strong to fairly underpowered for their level except for some specific builds. Dipping into a caster class can get you the use of wands for instance at the cost of 1 BAB or a level back on the sneak attack accumulation. It also calls for adjudictions of whether bards and spellcasting paladins or rangers count as spellcasters.
 

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Zardnaar

Legend
It is a fairly elegant way to cut the PC caster power, it just means you lose out on the upper level spells as players entirely and the casters go from quadratically strong to fairly underpowered for their level except for some specific builds. Dipping into a caster class can get you the use of wands for instance at the cost of 1 BAB or a level back on the sneak attack accumulation. It also calls for adjudictions of whether bards and spellcasting paladins or rangers count as spellcasters.

When they were playtesting I don't think they were buying buckets of wands etc.

Wand if CLW for example was "discovered" on the forums. They didn't know how good they were for the price.

Casual players of 3E didn't really play like the meta assumptions on the forums. But it only took that one player.

Most of the builds if 3E were mostly theoretical imho.

1. Mist players don't play like the forums assumed.

2. Most players lacked the knowledge on the power builds.

3. Mist players lacked the required books.

4. Then as now most games didn't make it to the higher levels.
 

Orius

Hero
A few things:

My earlier comments on the origns of the classes was that 3e was mostly updating legacy classes that had already long been a part of D&D. It wasn't like 3.5's base classes that were specifically designed to fill what were perceived gaps in the game. Needless to say, in any future 3e games I run, the vast majority of those base classes will be firmly banned.

Voadam was pretty much right on saves. Pre 3e had a save chart with 5 columns for each save category. If there was a save applicable to multiple columns the left most column took priority. It's harder for me to judge how the classes compared on saves in 2e vs 3e without making a chart since they started with different numbers and advanced at different rates. D&D had a very similar system to AD&D but there were some small differences; however the two systems more or less worked the same way. Another big difference was that Pre-3e saves tend to be pretty specific while 3e's saves are more generalized. That makes it easier for a DM to assign saves in unique cases. Before 3e, it was pretty clear which save applied in the standard circumstances, but if you tried to do something unusual it could be harder to figure out what the appropriate save should be.

Wizards definitely got stronger as the leveled before 3e, but there's a few more things to take into account. First, the older rules weren't concerned about balance in single unconnected encounters. Balance was about the campaign as a whole. Sure the wizard got stronger, but that's the reward for starting frail with the slowest XP progression. Characters also got followers at name level, and that was when becoming a ruler, commanding armies and such came into play. The fighter got a small army at level 9 when he established a stronghold and it was expected that he'd use that as the core of a larger army. Other classes got followers, but usually less. The wizard for example might get a handful of apprentices at name level and not all editions gave them to the wizard. If the wizard wanted an army, he'd raise the whole thing with cash, he didn't get a core body of loyal followers like the fighter. When this aspect of the game fell out of play, it indirectly nerfed the fighter.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
Wand if CLW for example was "discovered" on the forums. They didn't know how good they were for the price.
I still argue that the wand gets unfairly blamed for just how intensely garbage healing was without it.

The cleric blows their turn to heal less than the average your opponent is dishing each round? No wonder it's a better option for them to build for CoDzilla.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
I still argue that the wand gets unfairly blamed for just how intensely garbage healing was without it.

The cleric blows their turn to heal less than the average your opponent is dishing each round? No wonder it's a better option for them to build for CoDzilla.

Damage numbers and ac scaling changed from 2E. They more or less converted hit dice as is but added in ability scores.

Fighters comparatively rocked in 2E ACs mattered more and saves went up.

I had a 3E era fighter player use a Myrmidon (2E fighter kit) in 2012. He was shocked how good he was relative to 3E.

Despite having no feats or the ability to buy magic items.
 

Staffan

Legend
I still argue that the wand gets unfairly blamed for just how intensely garbage healing was without it.

The cleric blows their turn to heal less than the average your opponent is dishing each round? No wonder it's a better option for them to build for CoDzilla.
The idea was, I think, that the cleric would spend their turns in combat either buffing or bashing away with a mace, and use spells to heal outside of combat.

The larger-scale idea was that one adventuring day would consist of four encounters with EL approximately equal to average party level, each of which would sap some resources from the party (resources primarily meaning hit points and prepared spells and other X/day abilities). So the first three encounters would mainly be "sandbags" whom the party would overcome fairly easily but at some cost, and then you finish off with a "boss" encounter with EL equal to party level +1 or +2, which the party would normally win against fairly easily, but now that they're worn down it's kind of fair.

One problem with that design is that the wand of CLW breaks it completely. Hit points entirely become a per-encounter resource, and healers don't need to expend daily resources to heal, but can instead focus on offense. Another problem is that it's boring design. Three encounters out of four are basically only preparation for the major encounter, where the point is to wear you down to where the final encounter becomes exciting. That's the same kind of thinking that gets you the scoring in Britannia*, and that's no way to run a game.

*
Britannia is a board game about the invasions of various tribes and cultures of historical Great Britain, starting with the Romans and ending with the Normans. It's intended for four players, where you'll play different tribes throughout the game. Thing is, the player who starts with the Romans will rack up an enormous score at the beginning of the game, and then do almost nothing of consequence for the rest of the game until the final turns when they play the Norwegians. So their lead in the early game may be entirely illusory.
 

Blue Orange

Adventurer
Certainly they did. They also had more limiters on their power, and had to deal with targets having very reliable saving throws.

While high level Magic-Users in AD&D got extremely powerful, between their low HP and the prevalence of great saving throws and sometimes magic resistance from high level foes, said M-Us were not quite as out of hand as 3.x ones would get to be.

Perhaps geometric rather than quadratic. ;)

I'm beating a metaphor to death, but spell slot progression in 1/2e was more logarithmic than anything else (# of spells increased less often at a given level as you went up in level), so it was more 'N log N' rather than 'N^2'. Still, fighters' damage output was much slower to increase--opponent ACs went down (got better) with time so it was just strength-boosting items and magic weapons.

'Logarithmic warriors N log N wizards' doesn't have nearly the same ring to it though. ;)
 

Staffan

Legend
I'm beating a metaphor to death, but spell slot progression in 1/2e was more logarithmic than anything else (# of spells increased less often at a given level as you went up in level), so it was more 'N log N' rather than 'N^2'. Still, fighters' damage output was much slower to increase--opponent ACs went down (got better) with time so it was just strength-boosting items and magic weapons.
Also extra attacks gained at (IIRC) level 7 and 13, going from 1 attack to 3/2 attacks (2 attacks on alternating rounds) to 2 attacks. Weapon specialization and later Weapon Mastery with Combat & Tactics added even more. But the basic 1e fighter was pretty dull.
 

Voadam

Legend
Wand if CLW for example was "discovered" on the forums. They didn't know how good they were for the price.
I think the value of 3e Cure Light Wound wands was pretty self evident from the books and approaching it from a critical/analytical/actual use perspective in thinking about the game and in actual play.

Anyone who played pre 3e D&D generally knew the use and importance of healing in D&D.

In 3e a new big not obscure thing was you could buy magic items commonly. AD&D had selling items for gp, but the 1e DMG stressed buying items was a big not common deal. 3e changed that at least for low powered items. A first level wand of a common spell was designed to be easy to get. 50 cure light wound spells on hand is awesome for a D&D adventurer so buying them when you see that is a relatively cheap and common option is an obvious, but fantastic idea.

Playing as you did in 2e naturally led to looking at 3e with the same ideas which meant those who looked at 2e mechanical options with anal analytical eyes looked at 3e's mechanical options the same.

No internet required.

Casual players who did not go deep into the mechanical options did not see them on their own in pre 3e games. I see the same today with casual 5e players. Most of the people I have played face to face D&D with have never been on a D&D forum. D&D forums have their own self-selecting community that is geared to those more into discussions of D&D stuff so there will be more discussion of and transmission of insights, but it is not necessary. Analytical people who play D&D exist outside of the forums.

Forums make it easier to see these ideas and discussions, but not necessary. All it takes is someone to look for mechanical options critically or to have someone in your group who does who wants to discuss them.
 

GMforPowergamers

Adventurer
I would disagree. Area of effects doing d6 per 2 levels on a save are still more than comparable level fighter martials could dish out in a round. Magic Missiles auto hitting for the same amount could often be thrown a lot. Spells like Web and Wall of Ice were very effective at battlefield control. Summon Monster spells were an option that did not interact with saves. There were lots of core options for high level bad guy wizards to effectively throw at PCs.

Save or Die/Save or Suck was not the only way for NPC wizards to go.

In 3e these save or suck spells hit high level characters and monsters frequently and were often one shot combat ending for the target.

In 3e this was a big issue for both PCs and monsters.
someone termed the phrase rocket tag... who goes first launched the biggest SoD/SoS to see if they can 1 shot the encounter...
 

GMforPowergamers

Adventurer
When they were playtesting I don't think they were buying buckets of wands etc.

Wand if CLW for example was "discovered" on the forums. They didn't know how good they were for the price.
the first few campaigns we played in 3.0 had clerics serving as our main healing with potions as a back up... in our group it was someone who read on the form and took craft wand (was that 3rd or 5th?) and started to make wands to heal out of combat and our games got gonzo...

one of the funniest complaints i heard about 4e/54 was "every fight/every day" you are at full hp, but we were doing that for 5ish years in 3e
 

GMforPowergamers

Adventurer
Damage numbers and ac scaling changed from 2E. They more or less converted hit dice as is but added in ability scores.

Fighters comparatively rocked in 2E ACs mattered more and saves went up.

I had a 3E era fighter player use a Myrmidon (2E fighter kit) in 2012. He was shocked how good he was relative to 3E.

Despite having no feats or the ability to buy magic items.
I was a fighter player 90% of the time in the 90's if I was playing a caster it was a multi classed one... from 3e and now 5e (skipping 4e where I loved to have non casters back) I played casters... too many options and powers are spell only...
 

I was a fighter player 90% of the time in the 90's if I was playing a caster it was a multi classed one... from 3e and now 5e (skipping 4e where I loved to have non casters back) I played casters... too many options and powers are spell only...
There was essentially no reason to ever be a magic-user instead of a magic-user/thief in AD&D. The cost was being not much more than 1 level behind since the XP to gain a level roughly doubles with each level in AD&D. In exchange, you got better HP from both the larger hit die and shorter levels. You got the ability to use some weapons and armor if you were out of spells. You got better saves and better attack routines. And you got all the thief skills. Unless your table used the non-human racial level limits -- which, in my experience, anybody who said they did at character creation changed their mind when you got to the level cap -- there was just no reason to be single class if you were not human. And the only reason to be human were the classes that required it. Further, if you DID use the level limits, then being a single class non-human just got you to the cap that much faster! All the more reason to multiclass!

Sure, fighter/mage has better equipment draw, saves, and HP, but a lot of the benefits you can't use at the same time. You could always get some elven chain and then you're doing great as a fighter/mage, but that's a gamble.
 

Stormonu

Legend
I don't know if this was the experience of others, but in 1E/2E, the cleric primarily loaded cure spells, and short of the occasional healing potion, they were the only thing that could heal the PCs in the game.

As I recall, 3E tried to change things so the cleric didn't have to do the heavy lifting healing the party, so they could do "more interesting things" with their spell list ... but it backfired with the rise of CoDzilla. After all, who needs to heal the party if the enemy is dead before they can attack or rendered ineffective in the first place? Things like the increase and reliance on magic items just made the situation worse.
 

I don't know if this was the experience of others, but in 1E/2E, the cleric primarily loaded cure spells, and short of the occasional healing potion, they were the only thing that could heal the PCs in the game.

As I recall, 3E tried to change things so the cleric didn't have to do the heavy lifting healing the party, so they could do "more interesting things" with their spell list ... but it backfired with the rise of CoDzilla. After all, who needs to heal the party if the enemy is dead before they can attack or rendered ineffective in the first place? Things like the increase and reliance on magic items just made the situation worse.
TBF, in 1E and 2E there only WERE "cure HP" spells at 1st, 4th, and 5th level, but yeah, a lot of groups expected the Cleric to load up on cures where they could. It kind of depended on the culture of the group, though. In practice some Clerics would mix in a few other practical spells on those levels, and load up on max cures on downtime days when the party was beat up.

3E introduced more Cures (at each level, as I recall), and introduced Domain spells so Clerics could always cast a Domain spell in place of a prepared spell of the same level, with the idea that you'd always have the option of a cure or something else with any given slot on any given day. But they kept healing spells as basically always being your Standard Action for the round. They hoped that the buffing spells & added offensive capabilities clerics got in this edition (there was a big increase in offense spells available) would offset the rounds they had to "take off" to heal allies, but as you say, in practice a lot of players just spent slots self-buffing to be all offense all the time and heal after the fact.
 


If you reread my prior statements you might see that I agree that high level pre 3e characters and monsters are more likely to make saves than fail them.

I thought the fact that I was responding to your claim that save or suck spells did not happen until higher levels was clear from the fact I quoted you saying they would not happen until higher levels. :)
except it all goes togather... you can't break up her argument into little bites and try to disprove one or two little bits and say that disproves the overall argument...
 



Voadam

Legend
except it all goes togather...

Nonsense. :)

The erroneous nature of your assertion that pre-3e save or suck spells only came into play when fighters were good at saving against them can be addressed on its own merits.
you can't break up her argument into little bites and try to disprove one or two little bits and say that disproves the overall argument...
My assertion that pre-3e low level saves were tough to make was not an attempt to disprove that high level pre-3e saves were easier to make than 3e high level saves.

Pre-3e low level characters often missed on attack rolls, saving throws, and level based abilities like thief skills. They got significantly better at mid to high levels with high level pre-3e fighters in particular often hitting and making saving throws.
 
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