Blue Path Series And Other Errata


Michael started playing dungeons and dragons in high school many years ago, and picked it back up four years ago where he introduced it to the family. We were living in the great state of Texas then, and although money was not in short supply we found our favorite pastime cost but pennies for a few sheets of paper, the initial cost of the coolest looking die and core rule books.

Michael started playing dungeons and dragons in high school many years ago, and picked it back up four years ago where he introduced it to the family. We were living in the great state of Texas then, and although money was not in short supply we found our favorite pastime cost but pennies for a few sheets of paper, the initial cost of the coolest looking die and core rule books.

It�s funny, how D & D is the same in some respects and different in others. Michael is one year shy of forty now, and if you are within three years of him either way, I am sure you can remember how easy it was to play during lunch time in junior high/high school. For those who were too young to remember, �Have character sheet, will travel.� Most kids had only pertinent character info copied straight from the �then players handbook� at the local Thrifty�s or Walgreen�s for a nickel. You were considered a force to be reckoned with if you actually owned a player�s handbook, and the Prince of Darkness if you owned more than one core rule book.

Nowadays the monumental task of setting up takes a family of four at least a half an hour just to pull the latest character sheets, cleric and wizard/sorcerer spell casting sheets, not to mention notes, find dice and of course locate the players, DM & monster guide, from their last known point of origin. Oh! Let�s not forget the adventure. Blue path series �WE MISS YOU!� I personally want to thank Bruce R. Cordell for the Good ole fashion butt whooping he gave my son and I in his �Heart of the Nightfang Spire.� Dude! What did you eat the night before you came up with the idea of putting in the Mooncalf? And just for the record, if I never encounter another Girallon it will be too soon.

I wished WOTC could have published more adventures like a red path series as well as blue. Hint hint to the masses out there with more creative juices in their baby finger than I have in both hands. Don�t get me wrong, campaigning is great and I prefer it to any d20 adventure, but I have to admit the blue path series adventures were user friendly and a great side dish to campaigning in the homebrew world my husband created for us.

Getting back on the subject of playing, who transformed their ranger to a fighter after rulebook one and then back into a ranger due to additions in the new v3.5? Is everyone clear on what stacks and what doesn�t? If I had to say anything bad at all about the new rulebooks, it would be the illustrations should have been different, period. From the player's handbook to the Monster Manual, I felt cheated with every volume due to the duplication in pictures. In fact, I hadn�t been this disappointed since the whole e-tools debacle. Okay, so the new Nymph is a hotty! Big deal. Dear Wizards of the Coast, don�t you know by now loyal and serious gaming consumers never throw their manuals away? You could have introduced new illustrations anywhere throughout any of the three v3.5 easily. With the amount of monsters, artifacts and magic items in the DM�s guide, there was so much potential without ever having to duplicate; your followers would have loved you for it. At the very least, some ingenuity should have been expended into making the new books look different on the outside. Us gamers can read and even if the covers had been completely different by design and color, we still would have been able to identify them as the new core rulebooks we had so anxiously awaited. If the majority wasn�t so anal about the collection of their core books, I highly doubt they would have sold like they did.

A positive note regarding the illustrations in the last two rulebooks is they're quite stylish and have come a long way since the very first manuals (which are a constant reminder that even video games like Pong are now in color). Boy, aren�t I the critic? What I like best about dungeons and dragons or role-playing games in general is: not only can girls play now, but your considered cool if you do. Back in the day, if you were a girl, you were lucky to be a spectator (assuming you kept your big mouth shut and of course, you couldn�t make any perfunctory noises that showed malice or satisfaction regarding any one characters misfortune or demise.)

D & D has characters befitting everyone and you can take them into any d20 homemade or store-bought adventure. If you love campaigning you have a game without end. Tip-of-the-day: if your games have lost their appeal or take the DM 20 minutes per character action because you�ve become too big for your breeches, generate new characters and become level one again. If you�ve been running the same character all the way to 15th level and become level one, you will find it more challenging than when you first started playing, I guarantee it. Close your eyes and imagine your same players back at first level. You're all standing around with empty pockets in front of a peddler who has something you need; your caption is �What do you mean we don�t have enough money to buy a healing potion.�

Yup. I remember those days. I used to draw dungeons in class and sell them at lunch for $0.50/each. Didn't do much for supplanting my allowance at the time, but it did help pay for those "extras" they served at lunch (ice cream, etc...) =)

Ahhh, the good ol' days. How we miss 'em.

So... what was this article about again?

I remember. My greatest criticism of the way D&D has developed, is that it has sacrificed simplicity for variety. In my opinion it has gone too far.

One bad aspect of the old days, was that virtually ALL the girls in the old days were girl-friends and bored out of their skulls at their boyfriends strange activities. I note with approval that the situation has improved.

I have yet to find a good reason from migrating from our home-brewed, tried-n-true 2nd Edition game style and rules for the overly marketed 3rd (and now 3.5? C'mon already! What's next, Beta Edition?) Edition. In our group's opinion, the only reason for the switch to a d20 system was to grab a larger share of the market, and to get then non-DND players to start playing DND. I certainly don't fault TSR/WotC/Hasbro for wanting to make more money-- hell, I want to do that, too.

Unfortunately for us, there aren't that many in our area (or our age group for that matter) that play 2nd Edition. Heck, some don't remember when it 2nd Edition came out.

It is just sad to see the game change in such a radical manner for, what seems to us, just marketing. For those of us who started way back in the late 70's (has it truly been that long?), it has been a looong road to where the game is today.

At least the rules changes from Basic to Advanced (and then 2nd Ed) weren't so radically different. It was easier to migrate then. How many remember that elves used to be a class instead of a race? How many tried to adapt an old Basic Edition elf character into an AD&D character? That was probably the extent to the difficulties, for many of the rules/structures were pretty much the same.

I don't mean this to be a rant on 3rd Edition. I know a lot of people enjoy the system, and it has done pretty well overall. I am just waxing nostalgic, as us old people are want to do...

As for girls....

...well, we didn't have any in our day either. Don't really know why that was. We weren't the stereotypical acne-laden nerd type gamers (which in and of itself is a horrible stereotype!). Maybe it was because us guys had a lot more time for letting our imaginations run amok, and the gals were doing the important stuff, like getting good grades and scholarships, etc... hey, if I could've gotten a gaming scholarship for DND, I would have had no problems!

I suppose it wasn't "cool" to be a gamer in the adolescent eyes of high school girls, and probably doubly (or trebly) un-cool to be dating one. Face it: not many of us gamers back then were jocks-- probably why we were playing DND and not football or that strange, new game called "lacrosse" (yes, I can remember not having a lacrosse team at my school).

However, I can say, that ladies are alive and well in DND. Several years ago (pre 3rd Ed), I used to belong to the RPGA, and I traveled to several conventions (including Origins in Ohio), and there were a good number of ladies enjoying the games.

I wonder how many of them used to date jocks?

Well, I for one, do not consider myself an old timer when it comes to gaming, I'm only 24 for Christ's sake, but I do remember when 2nd Ed was released. That was about the same time I started gaming but I must say that I did grow very tired of the rules set. I played other systems as well like Shadowrun which I got into at the same time as AD&D so I had a good system to compare it to. Eventually it was decided by myself and the rest of my gaming group that AD&D was no longer worth our time and frustration when there were so many better systems out there like Shadowrun, White Wolf, GURPS, anything that wasn't AD&D or Palladium, etc.

When 3rd Ed was released I studiously ignored it untill it was virtually forced on me and I discovered that I liked d20 and the new D&D.

My point is that I must politefully disagree with the sentiment that 2nd Ed was superior to the new d20 rules set. To go even further 1st Ed was worse than 2nd and the old red and blue book sets were neigh unplayable. Even at a young age I desired more than playing an elf, walking into a dungeon and killing a dragon.

So anyway, the old rules really sucked.

Well, score one for the youth movement! =)

I didn't mean to play favorites as to which system is better-- merely which system our group prefers. Sure, it is easier for some to accept the newer 3rd Edition DND rules because they are so similar to other D20 systems; that was one of the points of my original post.

Young ones have to keep in mind that when us old fogies played D&D (and then AD&D), that there wasn't really any other uniform game rules for anything like that back then. We all grew up on the old system. In our day, there was no Shadowrun, GURPS, etc...
Sure, the older DND sytem has it faults-- what systems don't-- but we managed to work around them as a group.

If all your youthful memories of the older style of gaming was to be an elf, walk into a dungeon, and kill a dragon, then I submit that the disappointment should be laid at the feet of the one running the game, not the system. I've had my share of incomprehensible dungeon crawls, too (you know, the ones with varying rooms full of critters randomly pulled from the back of the DM's Guide?), but once adventures actually meant something in the grander scheme of the DM's world, then it made them worth it.

The opinion of the old rules is noted. Us older folks could say the same about any of the music of the 90's (and I would, too), but this isn't the forum for debating the relative merits of game systems vs. generations of music.

It's good that a group can get together and agree on a system that works for them, and that they enjoy the game together. When you get older, and have less of an opportunity for that, you will appreciate what you had.

I'm with OldTimer. My D&D career started in 1975 before a lot of you were born, and I remember what a revelation it was. There was nothin on the market like it. You have to realise this to understand why we old-timers hold it in such affection. We did all those old adventures like 'the temple of elemental evil', or 'the halls of tizun thane', and we bought those archytypal campaigns like 'Greyhawk' and we had fun trying to keep throwaway characters alive using the Random overland tables in the DMGuide, and you can't convince us that newer systems have added in any way to the enjoyment of the game.

Now sure it had its problems, but what I liked about it was its simplicity. The more rules you add like 'Feats' the more pseudo-realism you get, but also, the longer it takes to do anything. Before feats existed, pcs still used to do all those feat type activities. It just wasn't defined, so the DM would estimate based on saving throw, or character background, or physical/mental attribute.

I fully supported the change from 1e to 2e, but in my opinion 3e goes too far towards complexity. This is personal taste. Some people like complexity.

Thanks, Mo! I don't feel quite so old now! =)

I totally agree with your statements about "feats". We'd use saving throws before non-weapon proficiencies came out (what a change that was!), and in spots where we couldn't agree on a save, the DM would just assign a percentage and the player would then have to decide if the chance was worth the risk.

To us, 3E got away from the adventuring and imagination of the game, and focused on the mechanics of it. I don't care if I have two critters flanking me, and about attacks of opportunity and all that... just have the DM tell me who I can hit, and who I can't hit, and let's roll initiative and get on with it. Although cumbersome at times, as Mo said, we liked the simplicity. Gygax wrote that the rules were merely a framework, and that the players (including the DM) had to fill in the rest-- and boy, did we!

Again, not stumping for which system is better; just which is better for us.

I'll have to throw in with the old guyz.

I've said it before on these posts, but I find 3rd edition to be too generic and I don't have enough free time to become well versed in all the options.

I actually agree that 3rd edition is probably better for people who are new to the RPG experience.

For older crowds, myself included, I don't see the reason to upgrade. If a guy wants to do a double-back-flip over a super-helmet dude and stab him in the eyes...well, we've already figured out what kind of rolls he needs to make to pull it off.

One benefit that 2nd edition has over 3rd is in terms of their monster products. While the art in 3rd is cool to look at, the details regarding the beasts in 2nd is better. 3rd does a good job at explaining how a girallon can blow crap up...but it doesn't tell you much about their habitat, ecology, reasons to live, how many giant weasles they have in their den, etc. Sure...3rd is free form and lets you supply those details as you wish...but, like I said, some of us don't have the time to sit around and think that stuff up.

In fact...a common failing I find with 3rd edition is that it spends a lot of time explains rules...adding new feats n' such...and not enough time telling me juicy tidbits about City X and Barbarian Z.


Interestingly enough, I completely agree with your assessment of 3rd edition, but I like it for exactly the same reasons that you dislike it.

3rd Edition is most certainly the tofu of RPGs. It has very little flavor to it. For people who don't want to spend time adding their own flavor, this can be a big problem. For me, though, I like making the details up from scratch, and 3rd edition gives me an excellenf framework to do so. Unlike 1st and 2nd edition, it's built from the ground up to be expandable. That's not to say that second edition couldn't be expanded, but doing so was a lot of guesswork.

If I want to add my own races, classes, special abilities, etc, it's easy. It's also nicely balanced in case one of my players wants to play a weremonkey or something equally odd; the rules for it are there, and they generally work quite well. For those of us who do have time to sit around and think stuff up, 3rd edition has been a boon.

Well I was about to say something but Legend said it for me.

The complexity in rules and lack of detail in setting is exactly what I like about it. With that freedom, as a player and as a DM, I can do whatever my twisted, little mind thinks up and I don't need to make rules to go along with it like I had to in 2nd Ed. So now when I buy a book I use allmost all of the material presented in it, unlike 2nd Ed when most of the book would be filled with setting, characters and plot hooks that I never took more than a passing glance at.

Now, I don't mean to try and pass off that d20 is a flawless system, because it isn't. There are much better systems out there but for what d20 and 3rd Ed is I think it is better than 2nd or 1st Ed or the old Basic Set. But that is just my opinion.

Above all, and this has been discussed at length on other threads, the point is to have fun. So if the simplicity inherint in the old rules is what you enjoy then by all mean play using the old rules.

And yes, 1975 was before I was born. 4 years to be exact.

And yes, 1975 was before I was born. 4 years to be exact.

Now I feel really old. And I remember all those wonderful (at least as I remember them) late 70's early 80's sytems. Each new system was like a shiny new christmas toy. Even theose I only played once were just fun to try. D&D, Chivalry and Sorcery, The Fantasy Trip, Tunnels and Trolls, Villians and Vigilantes, Champions, Boot Hill, Gamma World, Traveller, etc. Do any of the other old timers here remember the thrill of these new games coming out?

And as I sit here and recall fondly the games of my youth (flawed as the rules may have been) I wonder if it is not because they are games of my youth that I am so fond of them.

You're only young once, and now as an adult, I dont have the time to enjoy learning a new ruleset and playing a session or two with friends just to see what it feels like. There is just something magical about hanging with friends in High School that is hard to get back when your 40.


I haven't read a d20 rulebook and only have the (multitude) of bits and pieces available on the net to have a look at for now. Adding that to what I've been hearing "around the campfire", it's sounding like DnD 3 and 3.5 are getting as complex as Rolemaster.

Having said that, I moved to Rolemaster for a while a few years ago BECAUSE of it's complexity. I liked the nitty gritty and trusted that the GM knew the rules well enough to run the game while I learned them (he did and I eventually did).

There also seem to be a few "settings" coming out for DnD 3 e.g. Monte Cook's/Malhovoc Press' stuff.

Is 3rd edition as complex as it's sounding ? Is it really the "tofu of RPGs" with seasoning and flavour to be added by the GM ? Does this make it less "newbie" friendly ?

John said :

"And as I sit here and recall fondly the games of my youth (flawed as the rules may have been) I wonder if it is not because they are games of my youth that I am so fond of them. "

The fuzzy pink glasses of nostalgia strike again ! I look back at playing an Elf (the character class, not JUST a race) and thinking it was pretty cool. The games were great, not just because the whole realm of co-created and shared fantasy was so special, but because it was all so new ! I can play an elf and see in the dark ?!!! WOW !

Now I look back at my simplistic tastes and have a chuckle, but remember that it was a good time, regardless (-adjusting his fuzzy pink glasses-).

Rolemaster....... wow, it's been a while sense I played that one.
I remeber sitting around B.U.B.s and playing all the strange things that we kept finding in the back room or the newest crap that wound up on the shelves. But we'd sit around and play something just because it was new and we wanted to check it out. We played things like Batman RPG and Top Secret.

It was said to me just last week as we brought someone new into our current Mage game that he felt old. I don't know how old he was but he said it because he had a very loved copy of the 1st Ed Mage The Ascention that he had purchaced at a con when it was first released. Now, I remeber getting that book at B.U.B.s not too long after it's release and I bought it.

That's why I said before that I don't consider myself an old timer in gaming but apparently some would. I just want to point out that I wasn't trying to make anyone feel old.

I think I kinda lost where I was going with that train of thought.

I think it was sitting around and playing new and different, or old and strange, things just because we had just discovered them. That was alot of fun even if we weren't real sure what we were doing at any given time.

On March 11, 2004 11:36 AM, EaterOfTheDead said:

I think it was sitting around and playing new and different, or old and strange, things just because we had just discovered them. That was alot of fun even if we weren't real sure what we were doing at any given time.

That is exactly what I remember so fondly as well.

Hehehe, just read the article and saw "girallon." I recently terrorized my players' group with a trio of girallons. Needless to say, the ambush in the forest quickly turned to an intense, blood-soaked game of hide and seek. If played correctly, i believe the girallon may be the ulimate "ambush monster." Oh well, that's my two cents. And oh yes, i started playing 2nd Ed in '94, and i thought it was the cat's meow. Then i played Palladium, and thought that was some hot stuff. The new 3rd Ed rules (or 3.5, whateva) are almost like table-top gaming to me. You have facing and sides and flanking, and whatnot. In my games, i usually boil combat down and dismiss all but the most blatant AOO and flanking rules. It's a sacrifice i make to improve gameplay and the overall speed of the game. But, playing 3rd Ed does make me feel somewhat like an accountant, struggling to keep all the modifiers and stackable bonuses in check. Just gimme a THAC0, an AC, and let me go to town. Dangit. BTW, i was born in '79, so i'm a youngin' too.

Well, I'm throwing my hat in with OldTimer, Mohammed, and Rogue Githyanki. As far as personal preference go, 2nd Edition wins.
For me, it's kinda like my first love. Even though those times are long over, it will always hold a special place in my heart. I still try to keep up with it, but alas, no one in my area, that I know of, runs it anymore.
I started playing back in the Winter of 1992, and fell in love with it right away. I've played under various DMs, but my personal favorite DMs are those who grew up with it and were playing it back in the 70's and early 80's. I believe they had they greatest comprehension of the systems strength and weaknesses. As well as they're home-brewed rules that, in my opinion, were precursors to feats and such. Best of all, they're game ran for months on end.
They, of course, have moved on in life, whether by marriage or by religion (burning they're books in the process on the last, ick).
So now I feel a duty to continue their legacy in 3rd Edition for a new generation of players, and some from mine as well. Honoring the memory of the fallen as best I can.

I started playing 3E in 2001, at the tender age of 13. My friends and I, having no experience with RPG's without the words "Final" or "Fantasy" in their titles, found the rules to be rather complex, and while I had fun throwing various monsters at my players as they alternately tried to stab each other in the back and save each other, we quickly moved on to Ninja Burger, a much simpler game that lent itself to our particular brand of humor. However, once we did manage to wrap our minds around 3E, we liked it because although it was complex, it was also, as Legend said, very adaptable.

John said:

Now I feel really old. And I remember all those wonderful (at least as I remember them) late 70's early 80's sytems. Each new system was like a shiny new christmas toy. Even theose I only played once were just fun to try. D&D, Chivalry and Sorcery, The Fantasy Trip, Tunnels and Trolls, Villians and Vigilantes, Champions, Boot Hill, Gamma World, Traveller, etc. Do any of the other old timers here remember the thrill of these new games coming out?

Yes, John. I played Chivalry and Sorcery, Tunnels and Trolls, Villians and Vigilantes, Traveller, and Runequest.

Traveller was brilliant. I bought all the expansion books and designed a number of planets. I loved all the detail like getting into technology levels.

Villians and Vigilantes was fun for a while. I designed various evil organisations for the superheroes to battle. Real cliche stuff like techno bad guys and ninjas. My favorite bad guy was a renegade war robot called prowler PROGRAMMABLE ROBOTIC OBSERVER WITH LOGICAL ENEMY RESPONSE. Prowler had a robotic jet that delivered it to site, called Claws COMPLETE LOG AXIS WEAPONS SYSTEM.

I'm surprised anyone remembers Chivalry and Sorcery. It was such an arcane system. The only thing I ever used it for was for the jousting rules.

Happy days. And as the boxer Mohammed Ali said ' who knows, they may come back '.

uh .. the last post above was from me. I left out my name. Mo.

Hmmm... I still have my original Gamma World box set.

Wonder how much it'll go for on Ebay?

Complexity?! I have been playing DnD about as long as you Oldtimer. It takes about 3 hours to learn a basic knowledge of 3e and only a few sessions to gain a proficient mastery of it.

This is a far cry from 2e.

I agree that the system is more generic, but you can also customize it to suit any campaign that you'd like to run. Not that the system is flawless and I have my issues with certain bits of it, but my gaming group is in complete agreement. We'd never go back to 2e.

I also disagree with you about 3e being only a marketing scam. First off, it was under development before TSR collapsed. If you looks at the Player's Options books, then you'll find a lot of elements that went into 3e. Attacks of Opportunity are in Combat and Tactics, Metamagic in Spells and Powers, the skill system in Skills and Powers. Yes, they were rough compared to the current rules set, but 2e was already transitioning to 3e back in '95.

I still have my players from the old 2e days. I could not pay them to return to that system.

As long as you're having fun, then cool, but 3e was not a money ploy. They would not give the rules set away from free if it was.


I've just started using 3E. But I definitely find it a bit of a chore to keep track of the appropriate feats to use in any situation, whether or not the bonuses from different feats can be combined or not, whether attacks of opportunity should be allowed or are overridden by some feats etc.

You say that 3E is not complex in that it can be learnt in a few hours and profficiency gained in a few sessions. Thats not what I mean by complex. What I mean is, that for any individual combat element that takes place in 3E, there are more factors to consider than in 2E. Thats on average. Now that adds to realism, but it must also slow down combat. Now if you get really profficient and know the system inside out then maybe you don't feel this, but logically it must be so.

As to the money ploy thing, you may be right in that its not the only driver of change. But I assure you, that the D&D market has all the characteristics of a saturated market. Periodically a company must re-invent its product, offering new goods and services, or it will go under. They have to keep selling or go bust.

All this said, I'm still switching to 3E because the game I'm in now, the players have come to a majority decision that its time to change.

Mo said:
As to the money ploy thing, you may be right in that its not the only driver of change. But I assure you, that the D&D market has all the characteristics of a saturated market. Periodically a company must re-invent its product, offering new goods and services, or it will go under. They have to keep selling or go bust.

Thanks, Mo. That's was my point. Whether or not the changing rules were starting to come available as supplements doesn't detract from the almighty dollar as the driving force. I don't know that many players who begged for a change from existing rules to d20 rules, and it seemed to me that the reason for such a radical change in rule structure had to be because they wanted the d20 players that weren't playing DND to start, and therefore buy the product.

But as we've said in this and other posts, it's however you and your group enjoy the game that matters.

I agree with Mo's assessment on why 3rd Edition is complicated.

I've found that the more modifiers that are available, the slower a game becomes.

I tend not to run combat oriented games, so I may not gain as many benefits from 3rd Ed. as others might.

I've also been a proponent of fast action. The guys I play with have a horror story about a MERP game in which they spent 6 hours trying to kill 6 orcs. Why? Because they had to factor in tons of modifiers in order to figure out a singular attack.

Also, as a GM, I try to keep the involvement of rule as transparent as possible. My players have their stats in front of them, but none of them can tell you what's different between the 3 D&D editions.

I once spent 6 hours trying to kill 6 ghouls in a Dark Ages Vampire game once. But that bit of inneptitude had nothing to do with modifiers, it was just because we coudn't roll.

6 ghouls+3 vamps=6 hours
solve for we suck

once, once huh?
Jeez. Well, at least I only did it one time.

"At risk of sounding redundant, I'd have to say that was redundant."
-Department of Redundancy Department

I hate it when my gaming experience is soured by an accute case of "dingleberry dice"

I remember when I first found D&D... was in 1978 at a local mini-con. I just went there for the scifi, but I saw these people with pencils and paper and funny looking dice... and I said to myself "These are my people... I'm home!"

Twenty-five years later, I still play (when I get the chance) even though the game has changed considerably... and, not necessarily for the better. There are some good points about d20, but I think I still prefer 2nd Edition.

WotC proved, with their CCGs, that they are totally uninterested in what their players want. All they care about is their bottom line... rake in the dough, Clyde, no matter the consequences. The saddest part, though, is that they are actually doing better (financially) than TSR ever did... proof that the greedy business model is the way to go.

Will this stop me from playing? Probably not. But, it will be a cold day in hell before they get me to fork out the bucks for v3.5.

Okay, lots of good things said on all sides.

In the interest of disclosure: Been RPGing since about 1980. DM'd most of that time, until now. Longest running game is current AD&D 2.x edition (2nd + black books) at about 10 years real-time now. Have run multi-year campaigns of AD&D and Traveller before. Have played or own most 1975-1990 RPGs. (Yes, I did play Top Secret, Star Frontiers, Indianna Jones, Gamma World, Boot Hill, Thieves Guild, Gangbusters, Star Trek, Aftermath, Morrow Project, Traveller (5 versions), AD&D (3 versions), D&D, Rollmaster(*grin*), Harn, Spacemaster, GURPs, Champions, V&V, C&S, Stormbringer, T2K, etc. etc.)

So, having said that, my current campaign runs roughly off of 2nd ed AD&D plus skills and powers, spells and magic, and combat and tactics. I've avoided 3rd edition like the plague.

And yet, a gaming group I play in has recently started a 3.5e campaign. I find there are things I like about 3.5, things I hate and (surprise!!!!) a lot of things which are very close to my 2.x edition game (the miniatures aspect was well previewed in the players option books, as were some of the spellcasting and custom class creation aspects).

I'm not converting - there are some things I dislike. The game is very flexible (many feats, prestige classes, classes, races, etc). So it really is what you make it - you can take as much or as little as you want. But me not converting has as much to do with the fact I have 10 years worth of material in 2nd edition format.... it just isn't worth it. So, what do I do? Liberate the parts of 3e I like.

Here are some
- more rationalization in the weapon tables for damages, critical effects etc. (crits were in combat and tactics too, for the record, and nastier ones than 3e)
- multiclassing is not only easier, but more sensible - benefits of all classes stack, rather than having to do some funky averaging and guestimating of which abilities would work and which would not
- classes are fairly easy to create or find (similar to creating custom versions of a class in players options skills and powers rules)
- thieves abilities are now skills. This means other people can get hide and move silently, not only rogues. Yaaaaay!
- spell points are available (channeling rules from spells and magic were similar, but better IMO)
- miniatures gaming is used (we use it extensively with our 2.x game - it eliminates many many arguments)
- 3e lets any race be any class pretty much (HURRAY - I can actually have a dwarf paladin of moradin or an orc ranger) and it removes stupid level limit caps by race (yes, my 600 year old elf IS likely to be more dangerous than a 24 year old human....)
- 3e lets tinkerers build characters they enjoy
- 3e lets you play many monsters out of the monster manuals (bugbears, orcs, gnolls, half ogres, drow, etc) if that is your thing

It has a few things I dislike
- some of the detail of feats
- some of the complexity of the many magic systems (two edged sword - lots of choice, but a bit overwhelming for a new DM)
- lots of expensive books to buy if you want to go whole hog
- new feats and classes all the time (2.x didn't suffer from that - only 4 books!)
- magic items are more of a commodity item (don't really like that, but allow people to create them does make a bit of sense relative to the old game which could rarely justify the amount of magic in the world if each MI cost a mage a con point)
- don't like the emphasis on unarmed combatants and monks and wrestlers (people used swords for a reason - all things are NOT equal)
- don't really like the emphasis on ELs, CRs, CLs, etc. Seems like a mathematical (and hence illusory) idea of game balance for encounters etc.
- game seems to encourage tinkerers, min-maxers, efficiency oriented gamers, etc. (I don't think that's a good thing - I find games that don't require the players to know the rules are the best, they focus on playing the PC, not engineering him like a bioengineer)
- It means giving hasboro money
- They screwed up attacks of opportunity
- To easy to use 10' weapons in a dungeon (reach 2)

But I have to say this for it:

It isn't as revolutionary as people say, relative to the skills and powers books. It is evolutionary. It allows PCs lots of choice and GMs too (lots of new things to spring on the PCs). So it really is a wide playing field, and for those that like that, that's a plus. But if you want less, you have to be comfortable knowing what to chop out which seems to require experience. It also seems to encourage number crunchers and GMs and players with a numeric focus, rather than an RP focus.

It is like cleaned up 2.x with the black books - some of the idiotic things that we were stuck with in 2.x as legacy (the multi class/dual class dichotomy, the odd weapon damages, some of the spells, the restrictions of level and class by race, etc) were swept away and replaced by what common sense tells us should be there.

So if you ignore some of the jargon (don't let feats throw you - look at them as 'specializations' in a variety of areas, other than just weapon damage/attacks - more colour basically), the game did a lot of good things.

I could pass on the art, and I ignore the bits where I felt talked down to (the game is aimed at newbies too). I take what I want and leave the rest.

But if I was starting again, the system is *more coherent* than 2.x even, and it could easily be 'trimmed' and used wisely to present a very good game.

The system is only 25-40% of the game. The GM, the players, and the story are the majority. The rules serve sometimes as limiters or impediments, but if not, they should be of little account - what matters is the judgement and imagination involved.

Saying that, my vast 1.x and 2.x experience helps me know what I like and don't in 3e, though I'm finding due to the rewrite, I have to unlearn some lessons about higher level PCs (assumptions that no longer hold quite the same way).

In practical fact, I'm just going to loot the body and steal what I can into my 2.x game. Why? It's better and cleaner, no doubt about it. It has more options. But my 2.x is now a well honed machine, requiring no more than a few tweaks, and the players are used to it. So no need to go to 3.x. Just loot a few good ideas, and voila.

So, in short: Don't sell 3.x out until you've read the manual and thought about it. Ignore the jargon. Think of the options it offers and the game design decisions they made - they did some good stuff in reorging the game we all play. Take what you want, leave the rest.

And whatever you play, remember, the mechanics should not drive the game. They should facilitate. Whenver they fall short on that score, they need fixed or changed. That truism applies in any game system.

Man, oh man, I remeber those crit hit tables. Those were frigging cool. I used to use those all the time. Oh sorry, you just lost your left leg. Oh that head wound caused brain damage so take that 2 points of Int. Oh sorry, the Ginat just turned your head to soup, make a new character. That was great. I miss the weapon mastery too, that was pretty cool.

Spell points were dumb though. The number of spells suddenly available to mages was seriously unbalanceing, I never used the system. Just like Character points, I never used those either. I only had to see them badly abused once and said no way among my goup of mathmatician munchkins. They still do the mad number crunching in 3rd but at least it's consistent with the power level of the system. I kinda liked the Player's Option but as a whole it didn't fix the system enough for my taste.

The game I'm in now uses both CRIT & FUMBLE tables...

Luckily, so far the REAL bad stuff has only happened to the monsters we were fighting. I've also got this badass combat knife that increases my crit-range, AND I get to use smaller dice when rolling the crit affects (fyi: lower number have a more severe effect). So basically I crit more often and they're more detrimental to my opponent's health...


when I first played D&D at school, we did hit locations and permanent damage if you went to zero hit points in any location. It was pretty hack and slash, and within a few sessions we looked like a pack of refugees from a gory zombie film. We had missing eyes, scarred faces, lopped limbs, hacked fingers, limps, sliced ears and noses. Perhaps a little too realistic.

As to critical hit tables. They're the same. Fun, but I dislike the sudden death options found on some of them. Its a bit too realistic. Broken weapons, extra damage, and the occasional scar are fine.

I like the auto death options for that very reason. It makes it so mid to high level characters still need to worry when diving into combat.

"Oh sorry, that orc just killed your 16th level Samurai. Oh yeah, and the orc was only CR 2 so you guys don't get any experience."

Color me an old-timer in the world of role-playing. I started about the time the very first AD&D book (Monster Manual) was published, and remember the cool newness of the 1st-edition Players Handbook arriving on the scene.

I played Traveller, Top Secret, Metamorphosis Alpha, Villains & Vigilantes, the first Star Trek RPG, Fantasy Trip, Gamma World, etc., etc., ad nauseum. I hauled my game books with me everywhere, constantly dreaming up dungeon crawls. My algebra teacher tried to tell me I was spending too much time on those silly cavern games, but I failed to repent, and went on to spend several years writing for RPGs during the reign of AD&D 2E.

As a player, I still wax nostalgic for those carefree, primitive games of my youth. Heck, I've yet to sit down to a session of 3E, even though I own the core books. I don't think I've played D&D once since I stopped writing for it. But if I was writing for it still, 3E would be a dream come true.

Long before I quit writing for RPGs, I quit writing for D&D -- and I quit because of the grand old institution of house rules that most hard-core fans of the older editions seem so enamored of. Yes, you as DM could -- and can -- invent any rules you care for, to cover any situation that crops up. But writers of the source material don't share that luxury. Everything they write has to start with nothing but the well established rules of the game, then take time out to explain every invention and exception they make in careful detail when they should be focusing on plot, setting, and character.

AD&D 2E was an absolute beast for a writer to do anything creative with, because it was one huge amalgamation of house rules, each developed individually with little or no care for how everything fit together in the big picture. 2E was better than 1E in that respect, but still, there was no grand game plan to follow. Some TSR insider would introduce a silly pet concept, get it passed into law, and the rest of us would have to live with it ever after.

With 3E, D&D finally provides a common language for customization and expansion. It not only admits that there will be constant additions and refinements to the game, it invites players to make them and share them with one another without limitation. d20 source material is proliferating as much because of its coherent, adaptable framework as because of the open gaming license.

I may never write another RPG adventure. I may never play the d20 system even once. But I consider d20/3E a huge step forward, and I like knowing it's there.