Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Was it a Money Grab? Or Was There a Substantive Reason for the Relaunch?

A couple of days ago I ordered the Third Edition books - not the 3.5 books that I've always played with kids, but the actual, honest to God 3.0 books. When I first started playing Dungeons and Dragons the game had already switched over to 3.5 and the 3.0 books were long since gone from the store shelves. As a result I've never actually seen the edition as it was originally released.

Oh, I've heard lots of complaints both online and off about how the relaunch was nothing more than a power grab; that the original books were deeply flawed; that Wizards of the Coast had actually been staging orgies on top of the 3.0 books in order to bring a dark, elder being into this world who brought forth the relaunch. Yet I've never seen them. I've never read a good analysis of what went into the relaunch or why it was done. I've never seen anyone devote themselves to the game like you see to Holmes Basic or Original D&D.

Like so many things that I do on this blog the idea of actually researching the whole thing has a certain appeal to it that I have a hard time shaking. And they're so cheap right now that it was hard for me to not pick them up. Today I received the first of the core books: the Monster Manual. I'm kind of excited to see what changed between the two versions. And since no one but me actually has any interest in this edition here's some links so you can buy the books! (Sorry but the $1.47 Player's handbook doesn't have a cool link so you'll have to look it up on your own!)

XD

16 comments:

  1. I played 3.0.

    I never understood what all the fuss was about.

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  2. 3.0 was great. However, it was the edition which got wacked over the head by the fact that the whole "system mastery" "char op minigame" thing was ripe for exploitation in the D20 system. My understanding of how it went down was all through gossip and rumor (and I was in Seattle during all this) with only a few run-ins with people who had first-hand experience with the many distinct fixes/changes/clarifications that went into 3.5. My own personal experience was when I lost a character from spider climbing across a ceiling in a cavern....fell to my death. Why? The way 3.0's version of the spell read indicated that you gained the climbing skill of a spider, which meant my DM at the time said I had a climb skill of +12 per the MM, and that I needed to roll to succeed....using the rules by the book, that meant my odds of survival were pretty low.

    Bull's Strength and other attribute enhancers were big problems too, apparently (for other groups, not mine) since in 3.0 they lasted for many hours. And the prestige class rules for spell advancement were borked, as I recall....although I thought the way they worked was more a feature than a bug, but then Monte Cook came out on record as saying they weren't set up right so that was that, I guess.

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  3. Our group played 3.0 for years and never bought the 3.5 books, never had much of an issue.

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  4. Haste was also overpowered. But as with Mark's group, we never converted to 3.5 or 4; ww changed to Pathfinder instead.

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  5. Haste was also overpowered. But as with Mark's group, we never converted to 3.5 or 4; ww changed to Pathfinder instead.

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  6. I played a fair amount of 3.0, and switched over to 3.5 because that's what the DM wanted to do -- not sure if he was driven by problems at the table or just thought the rules were more elegant in 3.5, but I know he cared a lot about the rules being elegant (still does). I do remember being persuaded by the change to barbarian and maybe fighter class advancements that it looked better for non-spellcasters. We only had one player who would min-max stuff and I think he'd left the group (& country) by the time of 3.5. We did add some players who min-maxed under 3.5 though so I am not sure if 3.5 was really a fix or just introduced new stuff for those who cared to, to exploit. I'd imagine a lot depends on the DM and players. RAW/BtB fundamentalists can spoil any game IMO.

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  7. Most of thee 3.5 changes were pointless and fiddly to me. i do think wotc was trying to regain some control of the d20 pandoras box they had opened.
    I loathed things like a small longsword or a huge dagger. It's a fantasy game... would Pixie Brands and Ettin Dirks have been less evocative and fantastical?

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  8. Most of thee 3.5 changes were pointless and fiddly to me. i do think wotc was trying to regain some control of the d20 pandoras box they had opened.
    I loathed things like a small longsword or a huge dagger. It's a fantasy game... would Pixie Brands and Ettin Dirks have been less evocative and fantastical?

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  9. The Monster Manual changed very little... Almost not at all.

    Most of the major changes were to classes, feats and spells in the PHB. DMG wasn't really much different either. One could easily play 3.5 with the 3.0 Monster Manual and DMG.

    The 3.0 PHB probably could have been used with errata, but the errata was getting so big, I think that's why they chose to republish.

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    Replies
    1. Actually, from what I recall, WotC still made the errata available for free, so all those people bitchin' about buying new books didn't actually HAVE to buy the books if they downloaded and printed the errata.

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  10. It was a money grab, no doubt. But they were plenty of things that needed to be addressed with 3.0.

    As mentioned, some of the spells were pretty unbalancing. Like Harm, reducing any creature to 1d4 hit points (requiring a touch attack, but no saving throw, IIRC).
    There was something about if your halfling was made Tiny, he could be a "mini-mage" with a big bonus to AC.
    Some of the Monsters in the MM didn't quite equal the appropriate Challenge Rating.
    And nobody seemed to like how the Ranger turned out.

    Back then, my quibble was I felt like I just got familiar with 3.0 before 3.5e came out.

    Seems like ancient history now.

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    1. Harm has been around since AD&D 1st edition, where it was a 6th level Cleric spell. the reverse of Heal. Note that it was higher level than Slay Living (the reverse of Raise Dead) which required a touch, but did allow a saving throw. Using either was also considered an Evil act which placed some serious limitations on its use by players.

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    2. I don't really think it was a money grab. As I noted before, 3.5 could be played with the 3.0 books as long as you had the errata which was provided for free.

      There was no *actual* need to purchase new books other than fulfilling some kind of obsessive compulsive disorder.

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  11. There was a comic strip called "Order Of The Stick" that covers the 3.5 relaunch in a pretty humorous way. You probably find it online but if not, drop a note here and I'll dig up my roommate's copy of the collection & post the Name & Publisher

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  12. I still prefer 3.0 to 3.5 and Pathfinder. 3.5 and PF Core books are so bloated compared to 3.0. The 3.5 revision really ramped up the character build aspect of the game. Although not included in the Core rules, 3.5 added Swift and Immediate actions, making combat last longer. The damage reduction system was completely overhauled, making for the golf bag full of weapons a necessity. Lastly the most important change, and a bad one in my opinion: The grid was not a part of 3.0.

    Monte Cook had some interesting insight to 3.5
    https://web.archive.org/web/20030806073440/http://www.montecook.com/review.html

    Sean K. Reynolds as well
    http://www.seankreynolds.com/rpgfiles/opinions/3point5comments.html

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  13. The problem with 3.0 was that the designers had changed many of the fundamentals of the system without thinking through the consequences. For example, all classes started using the same XP table, but nobody realized that this meant you had to balance all the classes at each and every level, particularly when characters could now multiclass at any time. Some spells that had been balanced by significant costs in 2e (like Haste aging the target, polymorph spells requiring system shock checks to avoid death) were overpowered when used freely without those costs.

    Also, there were some problems with overcorrections to class balance. For example, bards were probably overpowered in 2e, so they became underpowered in 3.0. Conversely, druids were kind of meh in 2e, so they became godlike in 3.0. Unfortunately, WotC screwed up on this issue and decided druids needed more power in 3.5.

    tl;dr: There were problems with 3.0 that needed fixing, though 3.5 was inconsistent about actually fixing them.

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