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Author Topic: n Observation; going from older style TSR D&D, to 3.0 Forward.  (Read 1275 times)

Jam The MF

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After creating a fresh Level 3 Multiclass 3.5 Edition Character this week;  I am stricken by the excitement I felt about all the cool things my PC could do, but then the disgust I felt at the thought of having that level of depth and detail to consider for everything in the game.  Who can reasonably remember all of that finite detail?  I play games to relax, not to obsess over.

I like it, and I don't like it.  I could never run it RAW.  I'd forget too many rules.
I need you to roll a perception check.

HappyDaze

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Re: n Observation; going from older style TSR D&D, to 3.0 Forward.
« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2021, 06:37:24 AM »
After creating a fresh Level 3 Multiclass 3.5 Edition Character this week;  I am stricken by the excitement I felt about all the cool things my PC could do, but then the disgust I felt at the thought of having that level of depth and detail to consider for everything in the game.  Who can reasonably remember all of that finite detail?  I play games to relax, not to obsess over.

I like it, and I don't like it.  I could never run it RAW.  I'd forget too many rules.
3e and on are player-focused and don't really consider how much increased workload they can heap on the GM. 3/3.5e are the worst for this, 4e dialed it back a lot (and was sometimes criticized for doing so), and 5e falls between them.

Kyle Aaron

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Re: n Observation; going from older style TSR D&D, to 3.0 Forward.
« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2021, 06:43:14 AM »
Take a few steps back, then. Return to earlier editions.

A character who you cannot fit on an index card, or who you cannot remember off by heart, has too much detail.

Reckall

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Re: n Observation; going from older style TSR D&D, to 3.0 Forward.
« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2021, 06:51:42 AM »
As a 3/3.5E fan, I can tell you this:

You don't need to "learn everything". RPGs are not a wargame like "Advanced Squad Leader". The core rules in 3/3.5E are surprisingly few. Check the rest only if you do something really unusual.

As a player, learn what you can do and be proactive. Ex. Don't wait for your DM to ask "Someone has the XY skill"? Be the first to say "I have the XY skill. Is it useful in this situation?" Or, maybe "I have this spell. Time to use it!" (BTW, keep track of things like your spells' duration). Not only you will lower the DM's burden: you will feel more in control of your character and, in passing, you will help your DM's creativity (because maybe he hadn't thought that the situation could have been considered from a different angle).

When in doubt (both as the player and the DM) do the most appropriate D20 check against the most appropriate difficulty - and then (when a pause comes) look for the rule.

3.5E combat is the worst. They tried to force the use of miniatures while shooting down the "mind theatre" style of combat. It required a bit of training but at the end we were able to retain our "mind theatre" battles (with the help of some pencil scrawlings) without ditching the rules.

I speak from experience. My current group came together in 1999 and the core players never changed. I then ran 2E and, after a few sessions, I realised how just everybody was constantly looking at me like a deer in the headlights. After a few months we went to a convention, we played together (with a very pleasant DM who was, actually, in awe when he found out that we were writers and artists for the comic book lines he followed  :D ) and I... dunno... showed how you can be the DM of your character, enjoy the game more, help the DM to be more focused, and, generally speaking, lay the groundwork for a more creative experience.

Maybe a demonstration of what a player can do sometimes is needed. And maybe a lot of choices is not something for everybody. Choices and quality of writing are the twin reasons as why 3/3.5E is my favourite edition ever, but I can understand why some people actually hate it. BECMI (via the "Rules Cyclopedia") will always remain a great alternative.
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HappyDaze

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Re: n Observation; going from older style TSR D&D, to 3.0 Forward.
« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2021, 07:10:06 AM »
Take a few steps back, then. Return to earlier editions.

A character who you cannot fit on an index card, or who you cannot remember off by heart, has too much detail.
Some new games, like C7's Soulbound, are very much about characters that can fit on an index card. Even experienced spellcasters could likely fit on a 5" x 8" card. The setting is a departure from Warhammer Fantasy, but I'm learning to like (not love) it and the system is slick (so long as you don't mind dice pools).

Philotomy Jurament

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Re: n Observation; going from older style TSR D&D, to 3.0 Forward.
« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2021, 08:10:29 AM »
When 3e came out I played it for a while. I was optimistic and enthusiastic, at first. Actual play over time quenched that enthusiasm, especially as levels increased. I had pretty much already concluded that it wasn't for me by the time 3.5 was released, and that was my cue to "get off the edition carousel." Ultimately, I returned to my favored editions and have been content with those ever since.
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Ghostmaker

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Re: n Observation; going from older style TSR D&D, to 3.0 Forward.
« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2021, 08:28:02 AM »
Your typical martial character (even in 3E) doesn't require much detail. As Kyle Aaron notes, you can probably fit your relevant info on a 3x5 index card unless you have some weird build or are using the Book of Weeaboo Fightan Magic Book of Nine Swords.

Spellcasters are where things get painful. When I played a PF sorcerer, my character sheet had a short, one line reference for every spell, plus a note for book and page number (I used a couple spells from Ultimate Magic). I also made a point to have a premade 'battle plan' -- plan out my first, second, third actions in combat (Round 1: Haste the party. Round 2: Slow or Fear on a group of enemies, or Finger of Death a single target. And so on).


VisionStorm

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Re: n Observation; going from older style TSR D&D, to 3.0 Forward.
« Reply #7 on: May 05, 2021, 08:45:07 AM »
Character detail is always a trade off with complexity. It's a matter of how much detail you're willing to deal with, as well as what kind of things you want to exist in the game. If you want to define various tasks and a character's talent in them (which I always do), for example, you have to deal with that level of complexity. There are ways to mitigate it, but not eliminate it completely. For example, if you want to have a focus on skills in a system, you could tone down class detail (or eliminate classes completely and just make it a straight skill-based game) to make it easier to keep track of skills and a character's level in them. Or you could keep class detail, but simplify skills (eliminate skill ranks/levels, and just make it a one-off thing, like proficiencies in 2e, 4e and 5e, where you either know a skill or don't).

The thing about 3e is that in some ways it throws the kitchen sink in levels of detail. It has complex classes with lots of level-based features (though, perhaps not as many as 5e), extensive skill lists (far more than I'd use, even as a fan of skills), skills that must be individually increased in rank at different rates depending on whether they're class skills or not, variable skill points based on which class you level and your Intelligence, badly designed feats that rely on feat-taxes, lots of game stats (like Attack Bonuses, Saves, Spell DC, Spell Resistance rolls, etc.) with completely different and inconsistent ways of figuring out your value in them, spells with arbitrary 9-level progressions and individual spell lists with HUNDREDS of spells for EACH class, etc. That's just too much crap to figure out and keep track off, even if you're into that level of detail.

Charon's Little Helper

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Re: n Observation; going from older style TSR D&D, to 3.0 Forward.
« Reply #8 on: May 05, 2021, 08:52:07 AM »
Your typical martial character (even in 3E) doesn't require much detail. As Kyle Aaron notes, you can probably fit your relevant info on a 3x5 index card unless you have some weird build or are using the Book of Weeaboo Fightan Magic Book of Nine Swords.

Spellcasters are where things get painful. When I played a PF sorcerer, my character sheet had a short, one line reference for every spell, plus a note for book and page number (I used a couple spells from Ultimate Magic). I also made a point to have a premade 'battle plan' -- plan out my first, second, third actions in combat (Round 1: Haste the party. Round 2: Slow or Fear on a group of enemies, or Finger of Death a single target. And so on).

Yeah, 3.x very much leverages the class/level system to gate off most of the game's complexity. At level 1-2, even a spellcaster isn't hard to play, so if you're starting a campaign at level 1, you get to use the training wheels for awhile.

IMO, that is one of the biggest advantages of having a class/level system. The gating of complexity allows the system to be crunchier without overwhelming newbies, and if the system is decently balanced (not 3.x past levels 6-8ish - which is when caster/martial issues rear up) then every character class should be able to pull their weight without GM interference.

This is as opposed to a pure point-buy system like Hero System, where you really need to learn pretty much the entire system before you can competently build a character. And even so, the GM likely needs to know the system even better to know when different builds are OP relative to others... (I've skimmed Hero System - but I've avoided it for just these reasons.)

Character detail is always a trade off with complexity. It's a matter of how much detail you're willing to deal with, as well as what kind of things you want to exist in the game. If you want to define various tasks and a character's talent in them (which I always do), for example, you have to deal with that level of complexity. There are ways to mitigate it, but not eliminate it completely.

The way I try to think of it is that depth is good, while complexity is bad. However, complexity is the currency used to purchase depth. Therefore, much of a designer's job is figuring out where to get the best bargains on depth (with minimal complexity) and only spend complexity on things that the system is actually aimed at. (An example of systems not doing that are super crunchy sub-systems which rarely come up.)
« Last Edit: May 05, 2021, 08:55:21 AM by Charon's Little Helper »

Pat

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Re: n Observation; going from older style TSR D&D, to 3.0 Forward.
« Reply #9 on: May 05, 2021, 09:58:56 AM »
A lot of the appeal of 3.X is the builds, but that's where all the complexity comes from as well. All those interacting bits multiply.

That said, 3.X is a direct lineal descendant of AD&D, and it wouldn't be hard to pare it back while keeping at least some of the fun parts of 3.X. Things like precisely allocating skill points would have to go, but it wouldn't be hard to keep stuff like prestige classes and feats. Saves and spells would probably have to be rethought a bit.

Pat

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Re: n Observation; going from older style TSR D&D, to 3.0 Forward.
« Reply #10 on: May 05, 2021, 10:09:21 AM »
Spellcasters are where things get painful.
Agreed. If the goal is simplifying spells, I think there are two approaches. The first is to shorten everything so it fits on a single character sheet. This means ruthlessly abbreviating spells so they can be completely summarized in a single line or three, and truncating the spells and spell-like abilities available to each caster or monster. I believe 4e took this approach (never played it).

The other option is more of the B/X approach, which is keeping the full spell lists, but being more sane about it. Shorten the spells, simplify their stats, and in general don't overcomplicate things.

Ghostmaker

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Re: n Observation; going from older style TSR D&D, to 3.0 Forward.
« Reply #11 on: May 05, 2021, 11:13:48 AM »
Spellcasters are where things get painful.
Agreed. If the goal is simplifying spells, I think there are two approaches. The first is to shorten everything so it fits on a single character sheet. This means ruthlessly abbreviating spells so they can be completely summarized in a single line or three, and truncating the spells and spell-like abilities available to each caster or monster. I believe 4e took this approach (never played it).

The other option is more of the B/X approach, which is keeping the full spell lists, but being more sane about it. Shorten the spells, simplify their stats, and in general don't overcomplicate things.
A good rule of thumb for me, when playing casters, has been:

Know what my role is (heavy artillery, buffs, etc).
Know generally what my popular spells do (I can literally recite the effects of PF Haste in my sleep: +1 to hit, +1 AC, +1 to Reflex saves, up to +30 movement, +1 attack on a full attack option).
And try to plan ahead for when my turn comes up. I had a fellow player who was absolutely atrocious about that -- would literally wait till it was her turn to figure out what she wanted to do. And had to consult her rulebooks regarding spells because she couldn't remember what most of them did!

By comparison, my PF sheet, would have for an example, in the level 3 spells:

Fireball: Rng: L, Save: Ref 1/2, SR: Yes, Effect: 20' radius detonation 10d6 fire damage, Core

This tells me that Fireball has a range of long (400' + 40'/caster level, which my PDF sheet auto-calculates), it allows for a Reflex save for half damage, it allows for spell resistance, and it creates a 10d6 explosion dealing fire damage in a 20' radius, and is found in the PF corebook.

On a side note, any player who can't calculate DC for their spells in a system with a fixed formula needs to be gently rerouted into a nonspellcaster class. The spell DC for PF is 10 + spellcasting stat modifier + spell level + any special modifiers (the last is rare, usually seen with the Spell Focus feat). The spell DC for 5E is 8 + spellcasting stat modifier + proficiency bonus + any other special modifiers (again, the last is rare). There's no excuse for not having this on the sheet.

(yeah, that's a special gripe of mine.)

Eric Diaz

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Re: n Observation; going from older style TSR D&D, to 3.0 Forward.
« Reply #12 on: May 05, 2021, 01:03:10 PM »
I tried every edition, and my favorites are OS/OSR stuff and 5e, although there is lot of stuff about 3e I love (the weapons, for example).

My advice is trying 5e. I thinking it is easier than 3ein most things, and a bit more balance (martial vs. casters).

I get the feeling I'm able to play a OSR-style game with 5e most (but not all) of the time.

(also, FWIW, I ended up writing a game combining Moldvay, 3e and 5e, so another advice is pick and choose what you like... it could result in strange games with wild imbalances, but I like this method).

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Jam The MF

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Re: n Observation; going from older style TSR D&D, to 3.0 Forward.
« Reply #13 on: May 05, 2021, 02:31:06 PM »
After creating a fresh Level 3 Multiclass 3.5 Edition Character this week;  I am stricken by the excitement I felt about all the cool things my PC could do, but then the disgust I felt at the thought of having that level of depth and detail to consider for everything in the game.  Who can reasonably remember all of that finite detail?  I play games to relax, not to obsess over.

I like it, and I don't like it.  I could never run it RAW.  I'd forget too many rules.
3e and on are player-focused and don't really consider how much increased workload they can heap on the GM. 3/3.5e are the worst for this, 4e dialed it back a lot (and was sometimes criticized for doing so), and 5e falls between them.


With all D&D style games, someone has to DM the experience.  Man, what a workload is placed upon the 3.5 DM; compared to say, OD&D.
I need you to roll a perception check.

Omega

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Re: n Observation; going from older style TSR D&D, to 3.0 Forward.
« Reply #14 on: May 05, 2021, 03:52:10 PM »
As a 3/3.5E fan, I can tell you this:

You don't need to "learn everything". RPGs are not a wargame like "Advanced Squad Leader". The core rules in 3/3.5E are surprisingly few. Check the rest only if you do something really unusual.


While not a fan of 3e I can very much back this sentiment up. And its a complaint that was leveled at AD&D and 2e as well and it falls flat vs them as well.

Core gameplay is pretty simple. 3e just expands on 2es kit complexity and monster kitbashing of prior editions.

And while I cant fit a 3e character on an index card. I can fit it on TWO index cards! nya-ha-ha-haaaa! 8)