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Sad times for 3/3.5

 Post subject: Sad times for 3/3.5
PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2008 9:13 pm 
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For those that were unaware, I work at a bookstore currently (though hopefully this will be my last week there; I've applied at nearly 30 places in two weeks, and have my third interview...the first two were bunk, but I'll spare you the details as to why...coming up on Thursday), and we do have a small-ish RPG section. Of course, it's dominated by D&D (the only relevant one to this post), but we carry some other smaller (but not "unheard of") RPGs like White Wolf's line, the Star Wars RPG from Wizards, etc.

Anyway, whenever we have too many books or the few we have aren't selling, we send them back. Tonight I had to scan the "Adventure Games" section (company's euphemism for RPGs), I pulled nearly ALL of the old 3/3.5 stuff for D&D! While it makes sense for the company to do so, it's sad times for those holdouts who aren't making the switch to D&D.

The point of this post? None, really...I'm just bored and lamenting that Wizards had to give all of those people who spent a mint on 3 and 3.5 books the finger by invalidating all of those previous books. Guess that means that said holdouts will pay more for the ones I plan to put up on eBay later. :lol:


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 12, 2008 7:22 am 
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All the used bookstores have mountain of 3e books for sale. Most I've never heard of, the rest are Eberron. I don't think any 3e players will have a shortage of books any time soon.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 12, 2008 8:13 am 
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My gaming group decided to give Wizards the finger and are staying with the 3.5 for our games.

It was bad enough with Magic that a new set came out every other month and then they would ban an older set from game play.

But it is the only way they will make money. At least in their mind anyway.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 12, 2008 9:41 am 
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wfwhite59 wrote:
My gaming group decided to give Wizards the finger and are staying with the 3.5 for our games.

It was bad enough with Magic that a new set came out every other month and then they would ban an older set from game play.

But it is the only way they will make money. At least in their mind anyway.


Hmm, that business model sounds similar to another interest relevant to this forum... :P I know more people like you and your group, though, which I hope Wizards will take to heart should this new edition not land them with as much $$$ as they were counting on.

@Akkala: Very true. I just happen to work at a "new" bookstore, so my experience was more from the viewpoint of "places that don't carry overstock or older/used materials are going to be poor places for non-4th edition players to shop." Obviously places like eBay and Amazon are going to work better than a used bookstore, less the ability to be able to peruse the book before buying it (unless, say, the stores operate like many hobby stores I know and SEAL the books to prevent reading before buying!), which is crucial to those of us that don't buy everything under the sun. :lol:


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 12, 2008 12:27 pm 
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Given the staggering number of 3.5 books that were published, and how many of them are now making their way into the used book market, I don't think there will be any shortage any time soon.

Does releasing a new version of a game mean that the publisher is giving fans "the finger"? Hardly. D&D 3.5 still used fundamentally the same primative game mechanics and horrible clunky game balance as the original D&D. You know, the original RPG. Written back when nobody knew how to make an RPG because it hadn't been done before. Playing D&D 3.5 is like buying a Model T Ford and adding seat belts, a stereo and a GPS. My point is simply this: In addition to selling more books (which publishers do certainly like) revising the game also allows the rules to get better. And D&D is very badly in need of better rules.
My group has adopted 4th Edition because it's substantially better than 3.5. It's a better game, and I don't mind paying for the upgrade. Did WotC screw their players by fixing some of the game's more glaring flaws? I really don't see how.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 12, 2008 12:35 pm 
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I have to say that we didn't even look at the new 4.0 version. The group decided since we had invested a lot of money into 3.0 and 3.5 books that we were going to stay with it. We have two guys that buy everything. I think they are nuts, but to each his own.
So when 4.0 was annouced the group took a vote and it was decided that we stay with 3.5.
The group does have a few guys that wanted to get the 4.0 version and they still might.
But right now if I want to play every week it is 3.5, so that is what I play.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 12, 2008 5:43 pm 
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What is the biggest most glaring flaw of 3.5 that got fixed in 4? And is there flaws that you think should have been addressed but are still present in 4?

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 12, 2008 7:07 pm 
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Opinions differ of course on what the worst feature of classic D&D is. But my personal vote is: The Vancian Magic System. You know... spell casters are just a collection of pre-defined spells that are used up during the course of the day, until the character is empty and mostly helpless. And since the only injury rules represent the character as a big sack of generic hit points which can be refilled from those batteries of spells, the entire party (spellcasters and otherwise) has a limited endurance determined by the spell magazines.

The game balance model that was adopted in 3.0 and 3.5 was that a typical fight should use up 25% of a party's resources and a party should have about 4 encounters per day. But what really happened was that the first one to three fights were easy because you could always pile on more spell power to overcome your foes, and then there probably wouldn't be any further encounters at all, because the spell gas tank was dangerously low.

MANY times in my own D&D gaming, the party would wake up in the morning, eat breakfast, have one or two fights before lunch and conclude that they were too spent to go on... and make camp for the night at 8 AM. Presumably the party would sit around and play bridge, swap stories from the Orc Wars or polish their armor for the remaining 10 hours of daylight.

Progressing in this fashion, it could take literally months of game time to work your way through a big dungeon (Temple of Elemental Evil, for example) and it was a completely ridiculous excuse for heroic fantasy. Good riddance.

4th Edition gives spells and special abilities a frequency based on their power and usefulness.
- Fairly low-powered basic abilities like Magic Missile are At-Will and you can use them all the time and never run out.
- More powerful Encounter abilities can be used once per fight, whether you have one encounter per day or a dozen. Ray of Enfeeblement and Lightning Bolt are Encounter powers.
- The really good stuff which you save for special occaissions are Daily abilities. Examples would include Disintegrate or Fly.
- There is also a fourth category called Rituals which you can perform as often as desired, but they must be performed out of combat and they cost money to perform. Magic Mouth and Brew Potion are rituals.

Of course all of these abilities have level requirements too. Meteor Swarm is a Daily spell, and so is (Melf's) Acid Arrow, but one is 1st level and the other is 29th.


Are there still problems that D&D has carried with it from the old days. Yes, quite a few. At some point you must ask yourself, if they fixed all the problems, would it stil be D&D? For example, I think classes and levels are horrible game mechanics that superior games outgrew decades ago. But D&D4 still has them and they are more rigid and limiting than ever. For example, it is impossible to multiclass or change classes in 4th edition. They do have a "multiclass" game mechanic but it really just makes you a very minor dabbler in exchange for giving up some feats and powers from your own class.


4th Edition isn't all good. They stripped out some of the customization that made characters more fun. They also spread out advancement to 30 levels and made a lot of things unavailable to low level characters.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 12, 2008 11:26 pm 
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McCragge wrote:
What is the biggest most glaring flaw of 3.5 that got fixed in 4? And is there flaws that you think should have been addressed but are still present in 4?

I can give you one they added into 4. They took too many strides towards the MMO model of "RPGing" (in quotes because no current MMO is even close to an RPG due to unintelligent automated NPCs) and lost an awful lot of the good stuff in doing so.

The magic change is the one really good thing they did pull mind you.

Then again, what do I know? I normally play RPGs like 7th Sea, GW's Judge Dredd, Deadlands, WFRP, World of Necroscope and Call of Cthuhlu. So I'm clearly stuck in the past.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 13, 2008 3:17 am 
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fen wrote:
They took too many strides towards the MMO model of "RPGing" (in quotes because no current MMO is even close to an RPG due to unintelligent automated NPCs) and lost an awful lot of the good stuff in doing so.
When D&D4 was still mostly rumours and heresay, the idea that the classes were divided into MMORPG-like roles was widely talked out. People assumed that game play would be radically different because of these "alien" concepts being added.
Well, that wasn't true at all. The group roles that exist in most MMORPGs evolved directly from the group roles that have always been present in D&D. Clerics were healing and buffing, Theives were backstabbing for massive damage and Wizards were doing crowd control long before MMORPGs even existed.

What WotC did do is stick labels on the classes to point out their intended roles. Clerics are "Leaders", Rogues are "Strikers", Wizards are "Controllers", etc. This might have been a useful thing to do if they had really created classes that were actually focused on their roles, which they didn't do. You can still make a Wizard who tosses around Magic Missiles and Lightning Bolts and doesn't know or care the first thing about crowd control. Indeed, the Player's Handbook even offers suggested builds for these characters that ignore their class role.

The only thing that I would really say is borrowed from MMOs and represents a change to D&D is the taunt powers they gave to Fighters and Paladins. These seem to be intended to allow Defenders to "hold aggro" in the MMO sense. As far as what they actually do... the marked (taunted) target suffers a -2 to-hit and some extra damage if he ignores the Defender and attacks other targets. Since many opponents are perfectly happy attacking the closest target, these abilities are often useless. If your target really is determined to go after one of your allies instead, he'll usually accept the small debuff and damage and do it anyway.

fen wrote:
They took too many strides towards the MMO model of "RPGing" (in quotes because no current MMO is even close to an RPG due to unintelligent automated NPCs) and lost an awful lot of the good stuff in doing so.
Roleplaying in an MMORPG is a bit like playing a live pen and paper game with a really bad GM. You know, that guy who just reads off the boxed descriptions and NPC dialog, but who can't improvise and has no flair for acting. This is a limitation to be sure, but it doesn't prevent you from roleplaying with your fellow party members. I have some MMO characters that are a lot of fun to roleplay with, and there are whole guilds and servers dedicated to roleplaying in MMORPGs.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 13, 2008 6:05 am 
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wfwhite59 wrote:
I have to say that we didn't even look at the new 4.0 version. The group decided since we had invested a lot of money into 3.0 and 3.5 books that we were going to stay with it. We have two guys that buy everything. I think they are nuts, but to each his own.
So when 4.0 was annouced the group took a vote and it was decided that we stay with 3.5.
The group does have a few guys that wanted to get the 4.0 version and they still might.
But right now if I want to play every week it is 3.5, so that is what I play.


Ven, this would be how I feel WotC "gave players the finger." I'm not debating that the new rules rock or suck, since the only part of the new rulebook I peeked at was the Alignment section (which I hate, btw). They churned out zillions of books anywhere from $20-50 and players (stupidly, it would seem in hindsight) ate it up...and now they're all useless. Well, maybe not 100% useless, but unless WotC plans to release something like an FAQ for each book (defined here as supplemental books, like Weapons of Legacy, not the core books), I find it to be very cruel to do to your very loyal fanbase.

We've had a similar debate about 40K's new edition, which I'll begrudgingly admit isn't as bad as I thought it'd be (not that I'm playing any version of 40K anyway :lol: ). Difference is, the new edition of the 40K rules doesn't invalidate all of the codex books or "expansions" since GW was "kind" enough to release FAQs on their website to bring them up to speed (though it does require players to maybe change tactics and buy new models, but it's not like people weren't buying new models anyway). While this may be an unrealistic solution to something infinitely more complicated like D&D, that's just my feeling on the matter.

Plus, you know it's a cold day when I'm making GW look like the good guy. :lol:


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 13, 2008 9:39 am 
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The origins of MMO classes from D&D isn't really my issue.

WotC had a chance to revise things away from the horrible model of classes and levels but instead they took further steps towards it. Moving towards the MMO model in any way for a PnP RPG is a huge mistake as eventually you reach a point where there's no point playing it on PnP.

So sure MMOs probably got their class ideas from D&D; but D&D should move away from them itself.

Oh and the shafting that multiclasses took ment that the only way I'll ever play D&D now is 3.5 in the world's largest dungeon. I adore multiclassing as it's the only way I can feel like I'm breaking out of the awful templates they attempt to force on players.

Plus I miss bards.

fen, busy living in the "good" old days.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 13, 2008 9:55 am 
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"Oh and the shafting that multiclasses took ment that the only way I'll ever play D&D now is 3.5 in the world's largest dungeon. I adore multiclassing as it's the only way I can feel like I'm breaking out of the awful templates they attempt to force on players. "

Here, Here... I'll drink to that.

I have also read that with the new 4.0 they will have a website were all the monthly updates will be, FAQ area, etc... But that has a fee attached to it, free the first year then you have to pay it, something like that. I also read somewhere that WofC plans to print all these updates and publish them in a book ever year that we can buy in bookstores.

I read these things on some of the blogs that were linked here. But I don't know how true any of them are.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 13, 2008 10:01 am 
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@Fen: Despite what its detractors might say, your point on multi-classing is why I'm quite fond of the Dark Heresy system. While it's easy to keep the characters limited to their careers/party roles, it's always cool to see how different each character can be, and I'm not even including the career path branches (like a Guardsman's choice to be a Commander, Sniper, or Storm Trooper) or what choices of combat/weaponry you choose when I talk about this.

Take, for example, the Arbitrator career path. It has two finite endings (Justicar, the "I don't care if you rule the planet, your ass is mine" character, and the Lord Marshal, the "tough-as-nails, in-your-face, on-the-front lines, fond-of-hyphens" type of character), but within each one you can get quite a bit of variety based solely on what skills and traits you take. I can have a Justicar that's great at investigation but utterly lacks any tact, or I can have a Justicar that's great at undercover work. While that doesn't seem like a whole helluva lot of difference, it's cool knowing that I can give my characters quirky traits and skills as well (like Performer: Singer) just for kicks and see what they can do with it.

The Serenity RPG is very similar in this, except like White Wolf games, you can take drawbacks in order to (a) get more points towards skills and such and (b) truly create a real character. The game itself lacks any "classes"...your role is however you and the GM define it, but most people tend to emulate the crew of Serenity. Anyway, the system itself can help you create a combat monster (which is a bit cheesy/beardy), but if you had to become a compulsive gambler or a klepto in order to be able to shoot the wings off of a fly at 1000 yards, it'll certainly make for an interesting experience during the actual roleplaying.

I think that a combination of these two systems would ultimately benefit the tabletop RPG experience since, like you pointed out, the class system can already be done on MMOs...and why would I want to play something on a tabletop with a limited group of people at a certain time (whenever we can all manage to get together) when I could hop online and play with EVERYONE whenever I feel like it?

Short answer: I agree with your assessment. My long answer was to back up my short answer and to fill time before I have to leave. :lol:


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 13, 2008 7:42 am 
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I'll be damned if I ever make the switch to 4th Ed. I currently own 31 different 3.5 D&D books. If I bought any more from scratch, my wallet, my shelves, and myself, would all cry. :-o

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