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Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 Reviewed 125

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the rules-updates-or-cash-cow? dept.
WorselWorsel writes "The new edition of the seminal Dungeons & Dragons paper-RPG comes out this Friday and d20zines.com has this review. This is the first new edition of D&D since Hasbro acquired Wizards of the Coast. The last edition came out almost two years ago, and this time around the prices of three core books are up by $10 each. Since these are partially incompatible with older 3rd edition books, WotC is printing/making downloadable a short booklet explaining some changes." In addition to being a product review, it's a good overview of what's changed since 3rd edition, and really helps one decide if the changes are important enough to rebuy the core rulebooks.
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Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 Reviewed

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  • by DoctorTuba (688153) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @01:37PM (#6401405)
    After ditching AD&D 20 years ago and working through a dozen homebrew variants we hit upon GURPS. It let us get to the role playing without having to be lawyer/accountants. And it translated well to any genre we wanted...
  • by Blitzshlag (685207) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @02:03PM (#6401580)
    You're still getting more entertainment time for the buck playing paper D&D in a regular group than virtually anything else out there.
  • by JosefWells (17775) * on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @02:52PM (#6402020)
    So just download the free update from their website. It details the differnces between 3e and 3.5e.

    3e books + update (think of it as errata) = 3.5 game

    3.5e books = 3.5 game

    Really, you are getting a better deal since the 3e books were cheaper and the update is free.

    Or just play 3e.. and houserule to your hearts content.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @02:54PM (#6402039)
    The problem with D&D's d20-based system is that it's random. I mean random in a bad way. The odds of rolling a 1 are the same as rolling a 10 are the same as rolling a 20.

    GURPS's 3d6-based system produces results in the range of 3-18... but it does it along a normal distribution. (Think "bell curve.")

    So to roll hit effectiveness in GURPS, for example, you roll 3d6 and compare to a chart. If you get somewhere in the middle (say, 9-12), you score normal damage. If you get slightly outside the middle (6-8, 13-15) you score slightly lower or slightly higher than normal damage. If you get outside that (4-5, 16-17) you score significantly lower or higher damage. If you get an 18, you lopped off the bad guy's head or sense cluster or whatever and killed him instantly. If you get a 3, you lost your balance, fell down, and broke your wrist.

    You can't do that kind of thing in a d20-based system. The math doesn't allow for it.

    Plus, to play GURPS all you need is six-sided dice. You don't have to special order your dice, or be seen going into one of those freak shops. And if anybody sees you with your dice, you can just claim that you like to gamble in alleyways. No one is the wiser.
  • by bellings (137948) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @03:00PM (#6402081)
    I'm a rich geek. I'll buy them all from my local game store, at full price, just because I like having a local game store.
  • by jtkauff (552147) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @03:37PM (#6402385)

    You've got some good points, though I can't really relate to the discipline point since I don't play Vampire (being a Werewolf junky myself). I have to agree with you on point about powerful characters falling too easily to bad rolls. I still think that, although both have issues, White Wolf is a simpler system. d20 is very structured, and I find myself looking up what combinations I'm supposed to roll or what modifiers/saving throws/etc/etc/etc more often than I do with White Wolf's games, since so few of the Storyteller rolls require anything specific at all (Disciplines, Gifts, etc. seem to be about the only things that do). Plus, talking about Disciplines, I saw a lot more spells and feats being looked up in books during D&D games than I ever have in a White Wolf game...

    Storyteller just has a lot fewer rules than d20. Both systems have quirks, both good and bad, but when it comes down to simplicity (which was what the original comment was about), I think that Storyteller wins hands-down.

  • by Golias (176380) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @04:49PM (#6402984)
    I love GURPS, but you are exaggerating the importance of the bell curve. Rolling a 3 is a critical failure, rolling an 18 is a critical success... the odds for each of these is, what? About 3.5%? (I don't feel like calculating it at the moment). With the d20 system, 1 is a critical failure, and 20 is a critical success. Chance for each of those rolls? 5%. Slightly higher, but not enough to completely destroy the game balance.

    The d20 system was carefully weighted so that you have about a 50% chance of doing almost everything. As your "combat modifier" goes up, so does the AC of the monsters you face. It actually works fairly well.

    Where GURPS really kicks ass all over d20 is the character point system, complete with advantages and disadvantages. In D&D 3, there are a lot of skills (tracking) which are classified as "feats," with little rhyme or reason beyond the desire to shoe-horn the old D&D class models into their new system. It's still not quite as nice as the skills & advantages model of GURPS.

    When 3rd Edition first came out, one reviewer praised it for "finally dragging D&D, kicking and screaming, into the 1980s." That was probably the best summary of d20 I've heard to date.

  • Am I the only one? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ae0nflx (679000) <bjberg@@@pacbell...net> on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @05:35PM (#6403324)
    No one is forcing anyone to upgrade. If you want to buy the darn things do so. I personally still play with 2nd edition books and I haven't upgraded for years. I mean, If I were to still play, I'd use 2nd edition....Not that I play D&D anymore...No. Never.

    Just stick with your old books and don't upgrade. It's that simple. Yea, it sucks that they raised the price. Even more reason not to buy it. It may show them that people won't buy at those prices.
  • Re:Special Ed. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Golias (176380) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @07:33PM (#6404066)
    or that the darn bard is a spellcaster, not a front-line fighter?

    Yes, I do realize that the bard is a spellcaster. He's not a very effective one, but he is a spell-caster.

    ut of the sorceror's seven class skills in 3.0, three are used in spellcasting (Concentration, Scry, Spellcraft), two are general skills (Craft & Profession), and two are "all magic-users get these" (Knowledge (arcana) and Alchemy.)

    In other words, skills that would require intellectual rigor and study to master, which were not supposed to be what a sorcerer is all about. Researching ancient tomes, studying history, and struggling to comprehend the very nature of magic itself is what wizzards do. The Sorcerer in D&D summons magic from his own essence, "blood of dragons" and all that. They are charisma-based spell casters, without the jack-of-all-trades inquisitiveness found in bards. Doesn't it make sense that their skills would reflect, not a life of booklearnin' (knowledge skills, spellcraft, alchemy) but a life of relying on force of personality? Skills such as diplomacy make much more sense. The king-maker sorcerer is something you can build an interesting campaign around. With the current skill-set, sorcerers do pretty much the same things as wizards, only not as well (because they are not likely to be as intelligent).

    A 3e Paladin with the 2e minimum stats has a better save bonus mechanic, can lay on hands for more hp each day, gets spellcasting five levels earlier, and has a shiney new Smite Evil ability.

    Comparing the Pally to the 2nd Ed version is not really all that valid. Almost all of the characters from second edition have been munchkined up, stat-wise. But compare a level 12 paladin to a level 12 fighter, and the problem becomes obvious. Yes, the paladin can heal a little, turn undead a little, do some priest stuff, and has that fancy Smite ability... but stack it up against the 7 additional feats that the fighter of the same level will have acquired at that point, and the paladin benefits are no longer much of an edge. Paladins have that code of honor which under a strict DM makes them "first to the field" in a crisis while fighters have more latitude about choosing how and wen to fight; avoiding sneaky tactics, when fighters will gladly raid that cove of sleeping brigands; giving a lot of their wealth away while the fighters shop for better armor and weapons. These restrictions should be rewarded with a knight who is the epitome of excellence, not a weaker fighter who also casts a few spells.

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