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D&D 3E/3.5 Why 3.5 Worked

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.
But... pit traps are so classic! ;)
The core book already had the Wizard and Cleric classes.
I assume you're referring to 3.5 and it's Tier 1 classes being right in the PH1, most notoriously, the core-only CoDzilla.
Though, obviously, 5e also has the Wizard & Cleric - and Druid - and it's really adding spells that might open up broken combos or be easily abused by neo-Vancian casting mechanics, rather than adding classes, that's the danger. Especially as the multi-classing that made new classes & PrCs contribute to broken combos are as optional as the new classes, themselves, this time around.

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Let's say that the party mage loves throwing fireballs. The DM could just design every encounter where there is a counter for fireball (such as a mage who readies an action to counter spell it).

You should be more subtle and have the opponents include an iron golem or something else that is healed by fire.

I may have mentioned it upthread, but Pit Fiend + Iron Golems is a very nasty encounter with the PF casting Meteor Swarm, simultaneously damaging the PCs and healing the golems.


3e has long been my favorite edition. While I have an extensive library for 2e, its rules can be a mess and there's a lot of problems and contradictions. I largely attribute the problems to a lack of central vision which 1e had with Gary, a lack of playtesting, too much emphasis on campaign settings which had their own unique rules, and an over reliance on freelancers who had different ideas of what was properly balanced. To use 2e, I'd need to do some extensive house ruling to get all that stuff to work together properly. 3e by contrast would require less house ruling on my part to work the way I want.

That's not to say it's a perfect edition. The biggest single problem for me is the 3.0/3.5 split. I've never been fond of 3.5; I've always viewed it as a cash grab. I didn't like how it wasn't just a collection of errata to fix 3.0's issues, but actually added more material to core and changed things that were fine enough which pretty much necessitated replacing the 3.0 books no matter what WotC said about it. It doesn't help that some of the worst broken and cheesy aspects of 3e were part of 3.5 either. Another big problem is the madness to which charoping can sink, but that at least can be mitigated somewhat by a DM with a firm hand.

Some people have aid 3e works better with a group of players coming from AD&D and applying its assumptions to 3e. That's probably my experience; I went into 3e after 6 years of 2e and ran it with with the sensibilities of AD&D. And I enjoyed DMing 3e more than 2e. At the very least 3e tends to be clear and concise while 2e is often maddeningly vague.