Friday, December 19, 2014

12 Games of X-Mas 10: "Ten Lords a Questing"

As I said yesterday, this is the home stretch and for it I'm hitting the big boys on the block.  With pathfinder out of the way it's time to start going down the list of the modern editions of Dungeons & Dragons.  To me this means the ones after Wizards of the Coast to the reins, 3rd through 5th Edition.  Today I'm with the obvious first in line... Dungeons and Dragons 3rd and 3.5 Editions.

The Good:

  • Bringing Life to the Dead
    • It's easy to forget that before 3rd edition D&D had been two separate games, Basic and Advanced.  This alone wasn't much of an issue, but between the fact that two separate versions of the "Core" book were in print players were being split.  That combined with the massive amount of books released of the lifespan of 2nd edition left very few game tables with the same rules and thus made hopping to new games as well as expanding the brand to new players much harder than it is today.  With TSR on the verge of bankruptcy Wizards picked up D&D and created a single rule set for all gamers t unite under with the D20 system.  This did more than bring D&D back to the forefront, but also allowed it as an open system for other publisher to make their own games and thus allowing for an explosion of new games onto the market.
  • Skills & Feats
    • Both skills and feats seem second nature to roll playing games at this point, but before 3rd Edition skills were just a supplemental rule and feats were never thought of.  I can't grant Wizards for inventing skills, that would be insane, but I can thank them for finally making them core to the D&D game-set.  As for Feats that is definitely something we can thank the gaming gods for.  Just about every long form table top game I've played since 2000 has used some version of feats and that's for good reason.  These little bumps and bonuses in character flexibility all but expected for character to feel unique by modern standards.  Allowing for class based systems to let players stretch their feat a bit past their chosen class without needing to worry about multiclassing rules or learning a who new play style for a new class.

The Bad

  • 3.5?
    • It might seem odd that while 4th and 5th editions will be getting their own rite ups that I'm combining 3rd and 3.5, but that's because in all honesty they are the same edition (hence not moving the 4th)  3rd Edition was just starting to let its legs grow and get its footing when only three years after it's release Wizards decided to update the rules.  Granted it's nice that they fixed many balancing problems associated with game balance in their first stab at D&D, but with literally hundreds of changes through every aspect of the rules it once again split the gaming community around D&D into two groups (those that were willing to upgrade and those that either couldn't afford it or weren't willing to).  IT is true Wizard released a free update to the rules to convert the core rules from 3rd to 3.5, but it still left most of the already many supplements mostly useless as anything that had roots in class progression no longer matched up with the new balancing.  This also was the omen of things to come from Wizards with the somewhat common re-releasing of newer editions leaving players with the expectation of reinvesting substantial sums of money into a new system that will just be ended a few years later.
  • More isn't Always Better
    • Another miss-step in the new design for D&D was the assumption of miniatures.  The new and much more in depth rules for combat required a much clearer visualization of space for characters and monsters.  While this did allow for much more accurate and tactical combat it also push the game much closer to the war games it hailed from.  Because of this, while not impossible, it made it incredibly difficult to run combats within the system without a grid map and miniatures for everything on the field.  Now I will say that I'm as much of a fan of owning and occasionally using minis as anyone else, but the need of forcing players to use them in a game that before ran just fine without them feels like a step backwards at best and a plan for merchandising at worst.

Final Thoughts:
It shouldn't be any surprise that I now longer run 3.5 D&D.  Personally it feels outdated and if I even need to scratch the itch for it Pathfinder is there as an improved version.  That said, this is where I really cut my teeth in gaming.  I had 2nd Edition, but it wasn't until 3rd that I had a regular group to game with.  It was the first game I ever ran for others and it will always hold a place in my heart.


  1. I don't see Feats as having been invented by WotC for D&D. Feats are just a variation on an existing RPG theme. Some games call them "Advantages", "Talents", "Powers", "Edges"... It's cool that WotC brought the concept into D&D, but they had already existed in other forms in different RPGs prior to 2000.

  2. Theyd existed in second ed, most groups had a homebrew system for it mostly using the dungineers survival guide as a reference point.