Saturday, February 15, 2014

Day 15: The first edition of D&D I didn't enjoy was 3e/3.5e.

4e may have been the last straw, but I was almost ready to drop 3.5e all together back in 2005. Stat blocks were killing my creativity, along with a number of other things.

3e/3.5e is fun when you're the player--you've got lots of options to build your character. But it can be a chore to run as a DM, who has to keep track of all of those options. 

High level games made me tired because encounters took forever as players waded through all of their skills and powers. Then, in turn, I had to figure our what my own monsters and NPCs were going to do. If you didn't get that right combination of feats and powers in, they could be a pushover.

After 2005, I ran other systems for a short time, such as Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, AD&D 1e, or  Castles & Crusades. But my players didn't like those.

So I ran 3.5e. To reduce prep-time, I based my campaigns around published adventures. I photocopied stat-blocks and NPC from other sources. I used the stat-cards that came with the D&D Miniatures line. Anything to keep me away from creating a stat block.

It didn't completely solve the problem--there were still all of those rules for everything to manage. The Rules Compendium, published in 2007, helped a little--but it also introduced more rules.

When 4e came along in 2008, I thought it was a solution at first. I bought the core books and tried running a campaign for three months. The end result: neither I, nor my players, liked 4e.

So I went back to running 3.5e, until 2011, because that's what my players would play. After that, I took a long break from DMing until I figured out what system I would run next.


  1. I had a similar experience. For me though I trace my angst with D&D to 3.0 era "grid" based gaming. It just isn't my cup o' tea. I do not like how pulling out the grid in my experience completely kills the RP. It turns the game into a tactical minis game and players are focused on min-max power combat abilities almost exclusively. Players are reluctant to run off or go back and fight in a previous room, etc. because it is just such a hassle for the GM to move the mat around, etc. etc. I've had some really fun times with 3.0-4e era D&D but generally I almost always have more fun with 1st-2nd ed. style fantasy RPGs.

    Again it is easy to spark a "version" war argument when people point out their individual preference with D&D. But I think a big part of OSR is just a reaction against the grid (many other things as well) and what it brings to the table.

    1. You make good point with the reaction against the grid. I also think that players are reluctant to retreat, in part, because encounters are supposed to be "balanced."

      And yes, it was a bit of hassle for the DM to change the battlemat--especially if they've used Dungeon Tiles.

  2. Hmm, 3.x was the first edition of D&D which I did enjoy! But I agree that as a DM the stat blocks are super hefty. My current group will pretty much only play 3.x/Pathfinder but then that's because we love the many options for PCs. Oddly we never gave 4E a fair shake because a couple members hated it just from reading the rules. I doubt we'll ever play Next.

    1. I'm glad you enjoy 3.x/Pathfinder. I'm not sure if I'll ever play D&D next, either. Not necessarily because of 4e, but because what I've seen in the playtest packets hasn't interested me.


      I really don't want to get back on gaming cycle of keeping up with the latest edition again... only to have the edition "cycle-out" after a few years.


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