Why 3.5 Worked

Are there any examples of an rpg that is not broken?
i would argue that saying 3/3.5 is broken is only true for constructively/creatively lazy/impeded individuals/groups. Anyone/any group that puts the time and thought in to set up some table rules and norms completely avoids anything resembling "brokenness" in that edition. Its not a broken edition. Its just the edition that requires the most brain power to properly function. Some people classify that as "broken".

Furthermore, "unbalanced" is not "broken" any more than "balanced" is. Too much balance or lack of it is. A game is honestly only "unbroken" if there is balance but not too much balance. If its too balanced things become dry and fake feeling as well as stagnation and other problems. Brokeness happens when you dont hit the happy medium. But most people dont really see that.
 

hawkeyefan

Adventurer
i would argue that saying 3/3.5 is broken is only true for constructively/creatively lazy/impeded individuals/groups. Anyone/any group that puts the time and thought in to set up some table rules and norms completely avoids anything resembling "brokenness" in that edition. Its not a broken edition. Its just the edition that requires the most brain power to properly function. Some people classify that as "broken".
I don’t think that’s even remotely true. I enjoyed that edition quite a lot. I do think that the more that was added, the more difficult it became to run. Or perhaps, the more effort was required for the same end result.

I don’t have anything against complexity. I just want complex design to be rewarding. The increase in complexity for 3.X as it went along did not result in a corresponding increase in enjoyment.

It’s just a matter of preference. There’s no need to try and put people down for having a different view.
 
I don’t think that’s even remotely true. I enjoyed that edition quite a lot. I do think that the more that was added, the more difficult it became to run. Or perhaps, the more effort was required for the same end result.

I don’t have anything against complexity. I just want complex design to be rewarding. The increase in complexity for 3.X as it went along did not result in a corresponding increase in enjoyment.

It’s just a matter of preference. There’s no need to try and put people down for having a different view.
Not putting people down. Im outlining a simple truth. 3.x was never broken for those who took the time to draw lines on what they would or wouldnt include. If any of it was taken as an insult i assure that that is not how it is meant.

You have to put a lot of brain power in at the start of 3.x though to decide where your boundaries are.
 
...
Not putting people down. Im outlining a simple truth. 3.x was never broken for those who took the time to draw lines on what they would or wouldnt include.
Heh. "This shattered vase was never broken for those with the patience and cyanoacrylate to glue it together."

Or, to spin it the other way, "the point of a puzzle isn't to start in one seamless piece."
 

Celebrim

Legend
I don’t have anything against complexity. I just want complex design to be rewarding. The increase in complexity for 3.X as it went along did not result in a corresponding increase in enjoyment.
No, it didn't. Because it was the wrong sort of complexity. It didn't actually aid in telling any new stories or open up any new game play. Very little of it actually even provoked creativity. Because so much of it was tied to PrC's, it was highly inflexible and didn't offer up nearly as many choices as it could have in the same amount of space. A lot of it was redundant. You don't actually need 68 different direct damage spells each with slightly different fluff about how it is dealing it's damage. You don't actually need 7 PrC's focused around being a better archer, or sixteen different ways to boost caster level. You had a ton of different classes that all boosted different ways to damage things, but which generally didn't add any new archetypes to play or styles of gameplay.

The right sort of complexity allows you to play games that you couldn't have played without it, but which at the same time can be completely ignored if you aren't playing that game. So for example, a really good mass combat system allows you to have compelling game play around the PC's leading armies into battle, which is a story that might be difficult to support mechanically otherwise. The existence of a mass combat system adds a ton of complexity, but as long as you don't decide, "Hey, I want to run a session around mass combat.", you can avoid it completely. The same goes for good rules for handling vehicles, or good rules for running chase/evasion scenes, or good rules for running non-lethal contests, or good crafting rules, or on and on and one.

For all the hardback books that WotCpublished, they never actually added much gameplay to the game. It was more like a game I used to play years ago (back when it was deep and interesting) called 'World of Tanks', where most of the additions to game play were just new very slightly different tanks to drive (and grind, and grind, and grind) - because that didn't require many resources to create.

Pathfinder actually did a little bit better job of trying to explore that space, it's just a shame so few of the minigames it introduced to extend the game are well thought out and interesting (or even compatible, as it it tended to introduce a minigame per region or adventure path, and not a coherent hole for the whole setting).

D&D almost always spends the majority of its rules on spells. But it's really interesting how little game play the spells outside of core actually added. In fact, they tended on the whole to destroy more gameplay than they created. They either tended to either be more or less the same spell reskinned with different fluff, as in the case of the hundreds of different attack spells; or else, they tended to be simplistic win buttons that solved some problem that previously required a member of a different class. What they didn't do was generally provide any depth to magic or being a spellcaster or any world building or numinous or mythic feel.

In short, you can add complexity by making your game broad, or you can add complexity by making your game fiddly and redundant. The 3e designer went the fiddly and redundant route.
 
No, it didn't. Because it was the wrong sort of complexity. It didn't actually aid in telling any new stories or open up any new game play. Very little of it actually even provoked creativity. Because so much of it was tied to PrC's, it was highly inflexible and didn't offer up nearly as many choices as it could have in the same amount of space. A lot of it was redundant. You don't actually need 68 different direct damage spells each with slightly different fluff about how it is dealing it's damage. You don't actually need 7 PrC's focused around being a better archer, or sixteen different ways to boost caster level. You had a ton of different classes that all boosted different ways to damage things, but which generally didn't add any new archetypes to play or styles of gameplay.

The right sort of complexity allows you to play games that you couldn't have played without it, but which at the same time can be completely ignored if you aren't playing that game. So for example, a really good mass combat system allows you to have compelling game play around the PC's leading armies into battle, which is a story that might be difficult to support mechanically otherwise. The existence of a mass combat system adds a ton of complexity, but as long as you don't decide, "Hey, I want to run a session around mass combat.", you can avoid it completely. The same goes for good rules for handling vehicles, or good rules for running chase/evasion scenes, or good rules for running non-lethal contests, or good crafting rules, or on and on and one.

For all the hardback books that WotCpublished, they never actually added much gameplay to the game. It was more like a game I used to play years ago (back when it was deep and interesting) called 'World of Tanks', where most of the additions to game play were just new very slightly different tanks to drive (and grind, and grind, and grind) - because that didn't require many resources to create.

Pathfinder actually did a little bit better job of trying to explore that space, it's just a shame so few of the minigames it introduced to extend the game are well thought out and interesting (or even compatible, as it it tended to introduce a minigame per region or adventure path, and not a coherent hole for the whole setting).

D&D almost always spends the majority of its rules on spells. But it's really interesting how little game play the spells outside of core actually added. In fact, they tended on the whole to destroy more gameplay than they created. They either tended to either be more or less the same spell reskinned with different fluff, as in the case of the hundreds of different attack spells; or else, they tended to be simplistic win buttons that solved some problem that previously required a member of a different class. What they didn't do was generally provide any depth to magic or being a spellcaster or any world building or numinous or mythic feel.

In short, you can add complexity by making your game broad, or you can add complexity by making your game fiddly and redundant. The 3e designer went the fiddly and redundant route.
I agree that they went fiddly and redundant (as you put it) but the sum total broadness of late 2e through 3.5 was tge broadest the game got too. It was over shadowed by fiddly ness but i dont think it ever really got broader.
 

hawkeyefan

Adventurer
Not putting people down. Im outlining a simple truth. 3.x was never broken for those who took the time to draw lines on what they would or wouldnt include. If any of it was taken as an insult i assure that that is not how it is meant.

You have to put a lot of brain power in at the start of 3.x though to decide where your boundaries are.
Well, I’d say that in general, calling people “constructively/creatively lazy/impeded” is a bit of a put down. I don’t think such a term applies to anyone based on their edition preference.

I get your point about establishing limits on what content was allowed. I think that would solve or limit many of the flaws of the edition taken as a whole.

But that does not mean that from a design standpoint, the edition as a whole was not flawed. Your decision to limit what content was allowed is not a defense of the 3.X design.

I do agree with you that effort was needed to make the game work well. But I don’t know if the return on that effort was greater than what you’d get from a simpler system.

I also don’t know if I’d compare the brain power required to make an effective character build to the same kind we tend to use during play. Or maybe I should say, the kind we may use during play.

I’ve recently looked at Five Torches Deep. It’s a stripped down version of 5E. It has the four core classes, and then the other classes are all subclasses of those main four. It has fewer character options for players to select.

Looking at this streamlined version, I wonder how it will play. Haven’t had a chance to find out yet....but I feel like the shift in focus from character options and builds will result in more creative play.

So maybe it’s not a question of the amount of brain power a game requires, but in where that effort goes?

I don’t think there’s one answer to that, but I feel it’s a question to consider.
 
Well, I’d say that in general, calling people “constructively/creatively lazy/impeded” is a bit of a put down. I don’t think such a term applies to anyone based on their edition preference.

I get your point about establishing limits on what content was allowed. I think that would solve or limit many of the flaws of the edition taken as a whole.

But that does not mean that from a design standpoint, the edition as a whole was not flawed. Your decision to limit what content was allowed is not a defense of the 3.X design.

I do agree with you that effort was needed to make the game work well. But I don’t know if the return on that effort was greater than what you’d get from a simpler system.

I also don’t know if I’d compare the brain power required to make an effective character build to the same kind we tend to use during play. Or maybe I should say, the kind we may use during play.

I’ve recently looked at Five Torches Deep. It’s a stripped down version of 5E. It has the four core classes, and then the other classes are all subclasses of those main four. It has fewer character options for players to select.

Looking at this streamlined version, I wonder how it will play. Haven’t had a chance to find out yet....but I feel like the shift in focus from character options and builds will result in more creative play.

So maybe it’s not a question of the amount of brain power a game requires, but in where that effort goes?

I don’t think there’s one answer to that, but I feel it’s a question to consider.
Im saying that most problems with 3.x essentially reduce down to having chosen to be that way.

Im saying its a choice. Not a malady.

Of course i suppose saying people may have made choices is viewed by some as a put down.

I just view it as pointing out what i think actually went wrong. Because i dont think 3.x goes wrong without choosing one or multiple of those qualifiers.

At least ive never seen that to not be the case. And people have a natural tendancy to choose one of those qualifiers. So its a struggle against human nature.
 
Well, I’d say that in general, calling people “constructively/creatively lazy/impeded” is a bit of a put down. I don’t think such a term applies to anyone based on their edition preference.

I get your point about establishing limits on what content was allowed. I think that would solve or limit many of the flaws of the edition taken as a whole.

But that does not mean that from a design standpoint, the edition as a whole was not flawed. Your decision to limit what content was allowed is not a defense of the 3.X design.

I do agree with you that effort was needed to make the game work well. But I don’t know if the return on that effort was greater than what you’d get from a simpler system.

I also don’t know if I’d compare the brain power required to make an effective character build to the same kind we tend to use during play. Or maybe I should say, the kind we may use during play.

I’ve recently looked at Five Torches Deep. It’s a stripped down version of 5E. It has the four core classes, and then the other classes are all subclasses of those main four. It has fewer character options for players to select.

Looking at this streamlined version, I wonder how it will play. Haven’t had a chance to find out yet....but I feel like the shift in focus from character options and builds will result in more creative play.

So maybe it’s not a question of the amount of brain power a game requires, but in where that effort goes?

I don’t think there’s one answer to that, but I feel it’s a question to consider.
also im not saying people are naturally impeded or lack brain power. Im saying people seem to have a natural tendancy to not take these extra steps ahead of time.
 
I don’t think that’s even remotely true. I enjoyed that edition quite a lot. I do think that the more that was added, the more difficult it became to run. Or perhaps, the more effort was required for the same end result.

I don’t have anything against complexity. I just want complex design to be rewarding. The increase in complexity for 3.X as it went along did not result in a corresponding increase in enjoyment.

It’s just a matter of preference. There’s no need to try and put people down for having a different view.
this particular part makes the intent of my post clear:

"Anyone/any group that puts the time and thought in to set up some table rules and norms completely avoids anything resembling "brokenness" in that edition"

Im clearly talking about choices and prepping.
 

hawkeyefan

Adventurer
this particular part makes the intent of my post clear:

"Anyone/any group that puts the time and thought in to set up some table rules and norms completely avoids anything resembling "brokenness" in that edition"

Im clearly talking about choices and prepping.
Sure, I understand that. I agree that the game worked with effort. I played every iteration of 3.X for years. I’m not saying the game is not fun, or that it can't work.

You’re saying that any group of players has to decide what to allow in their game. This is reasonable, and likely very good advice for anyone who’s going to play the game.

What it’s not is a defense of the design choices made by the game’s creators. The design is the whole thing.

For me as a DM, my time would be better spent prepping for a game by making a map and some interesting NPCs and a few story hooks for the PCs, rather than having to brush up on the latest splatbook because the PCs have leveled and I need to know the new feats and spells they’re likely to take.

That’s the kind of trade off I’m talking about. The effort to make the game work, for me, was better spent elsewhere.
 
Sure, I understand that. I agree that the game worked with effort. I played every iteration of 3.X for years. I’m not saying the game is not fun, or that it can't work.

You’re saying that any group of players has to decide what to allow in their game. This is reasonable, and likely very good advice for anyone who’s going to play the game.

What it’s not is a defense of the design choices made by the game’s creators. The design is the whole thing.

For me as a DM, my time would be better spent prepping for a game by making a map and some interesting NPCs and a few story hooks for the PCs, rather than having to brush up on the latest splatbook because the PCs have leveled and I need to know the new feats and spells they’re likely to take.

That’s the kind of trade off I’m talking about. The effort to make the game work, for me, was better spent elsewhere.
Im saying it worked with low effort (gor years) though provided you took the time to put effort in ahead. It massively reduced how much effort you needed later. At least to the point that you didnt need anywhere near the amount people constantly complain about needing. Im saying i dont think so much is needed unless you go about it the wrong way. Which is to say, not just getting everything established ahead.

Ive never had to put much effort in on a regular basis because my group always just got that out of the way far in advance.

Thats the one thing about 3.x. If you want a low work load you simply must get things pre-established. This is all i mean.

And then it works for years. And it will be decades soon.
 

Mecheon

Explorer
Nope. "This vase won't shatter if I put padding around it and lacquer it to make it stronger." is what he is saying.
By the end of 3.5E's lifespan, you had to use more padding and lacquer than original vase.

I love 3.5e. But its balance was broken so hard right out of the gate that a fair bit of that love is for it being a glorious broken mess
 

Helldritch

Explorer
3.5ed broke down as more and more classes were added to it. The more you add to a game the more you risk it becoming broken.

What I hope is that 5ed does not fall into that pit trap too.
 
By the end of 3.5E's lifespan, you had to use more padding and lacquer than original vase.

I love 3.5e. But its balance was broken so hard right out of the gate that a fair bit of that love is for it being a glorious broken mess
The bugs are features just like TES I-V games (skyrim for instance)
 

amethal

Explorer
Im saying it worked with low effort (gor years) though provided you took the time to put effort in ahead. It massively reduced how much effort you needed later. At least to the point that you didnt need anywhere near the amount people constantly complain about needing. Im saying i dont think so much is needed unless you go about it the wrong way. Which is to say, not just getting everything established ahead.

Ive never had to put much effort in on a regular basis because my group always just got that out of the way far in advance.

Thats the one thing about 3.x. If you want a low work load you simply must get things pre-established. This is all i mean.

And then it works for years. And it will be decades soon.
For something like Pathfinder, where there is a ton of material available with a click of the mouse, I find it difficult to get "group buy-in" (for want of a better term) to the concept of restricting things.

Even restrictions that are self-evident to me have to be justified by argument, with occasional re-hashes when people randomly feel the urge to complain that I've banned Black Tentacles or whatever (3.5 version; I'm not a big fan of the Pathfinder version either, but it isn't quite so tedious in play).

The GM also needs to have some fun, and (for example) having every boss monster "exhausted" from the second round onwards of every combat just isn't fun for me, but its interpreted as me being mean to them.

PC sorcerer with insane initiative modifier goes first, targets monster with Ray of Exhaustion, monster makes Fortitude save and is fatigued when it gets to act, PC sorcerer repeats spell at start of second round, player insists that as per spell wording, fatigued monster is now exhausted with no save (-6 to strength and dexterity, forcing me to recalculate attacks, damage, AC and reflex saves, and the monster spends the rest of the combat as a punch bag and can only move at half speed.)
 
For something like Pathfinder, where there is a ton of material available with a click of the mouse, I find it difficult to get "group buy-in" (for want of a better term) to the concept of restricting things.

Even restrictions that are self-evident to me have to be justified by argument, with occasional re-hashes when people randomly feel the urge to complain that I've banned Black Tentacles or whatever (3.5 version; I'm not a big fan of the Pathfinder version either, but it isn't quite so tedious in play).

The GM also needs to have some fun, and (for example) having every boss monster "exhausted" from the second round onwards of every combat just isn't fun for me, but its interpreted as me being mean to them.

PC sorcerer with insane initiative modifier goes first, targets monster with Ray of Exhaustion, monster makes Fortitude save and is fatigued when it gets to act, PC sorcerer repeats spell at start of second round, player insists that as per spell wording, fatigued monster is now exhausted with no save (-6 to strength and dexterity, forcing me to recalculate attacks, damage, AC and reflex saves, and the monster spends the rest of the combat as a punch bag and can only move at half speed.)
In practice weve only restricted rules ahead of time that completely conflict with something (other rules, campaign world consistancy yada yada). You would have to do the same in any game that has enough content.
 

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