Critique of Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition

By Angelo on December 31, 2007

With 4th edition just around the corner, I thought I’d give my impression of 3rd Edition and the d20 system.

Good Ideas

The d20 system has several good ideas that make it easier to understand and more easy to play.

  • Positive AC. A larger AC being better than a smaller AC makes more sense.
  • Magic. I like the idea of the effectiveness of saving throws being based on spell level. This makes more powerful magic inherently harder to avoid than less powerful magic, and it makes a lot of sense. I never liked the way a sixth level spell like Death could be simply shrugged off by a Save vs Death Ray, the easiest saving throw to make.
  • Saving Throws. Having saving throws based on “reflex” or other descriptions of how a character may actually avoid a situation is clearer.

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Fighter Combat Skills

By Angelo on July 12, 2002

Let’s face it, playing a Fighter level after level can get a little boring. A good DM will include some pretty interesting magical items, but aside from that it’s likely that your strategy in battle tends to be “attack the nearest enemy.” A few things have been tried in the history of D&D to make the Fighter a little more interesting and give players something to look forward to.

The Cyclopedia’s Fighter Combat Options seem to have been a combined attempt at codifying the kinds of maneuvers that characters can make in a board game-like battle, and to give fighters a couple of extra moves so they can do something besides roll 1d20 in a fight.

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Half-orc

By Michael Wallace on November 23, 2001

  • Prime Requisite: Strength. Other Requirements: Constitution 9, or better.
  • Experience Bonus: 5% for Strength 13-15; 10% for Strength 16-18.
  • Hit Dice: 1d8 per level up to 9th level. Starting with 10th level, +2 hp per level and Constitution adjustments no longer apply.
  • Maximum Level: 12 (36, if optional rules are used.)
  • Armor: Any; shields permitted.
  • Weapons: Any.
  • Special Abilities: Fighter Maneuvers (Lance Attack and Set Spear vs. Charge maneuvers at 1st level; at 660,000 XP, Fighter Combat Options); extra languages (Orc and player’s choice of: Ogre or Goblin); infravision; Hear Noise; Detect by Smell

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The Isle of Dread

By Jeff Q on May 30, 2001

by BAHUMUTH

Duch Year: 982

The huge saber crashed against the center of the iron sword, throwing its holder back a few steps, and then again in an overhand strike. The tall, plate-mailed knight brought down his steel broadsword down with all his might. The muscular, dark-skinned island-man threw his crude sword to parry, catching the broadsword at its hilt.

The Kikapa island-man, although naked, was very seasoned with his hilt less sword. Comparatively, the knight, mailed in white satin-draped field plate, definitely held the advantage. The Kikapa allowed the knight to come in at him and then fell back against the weight of the knight, causing the knight to lose his balance. He then used this advantage by stopping the collapse of the armor on himself with his leg and then swiped his sword hard against the knight’s head.

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Handling Poison

By Angelo on May 3, 2001

The purpose of this document is to provide the DM with a system for handling poisons that can be as complicated or as simple as desired. Different ways of handling poisons range from instant death (as found in the Dungeons and Dragons game) and the simple 1 point of damage per round (as found in video games like the Ultima series). These are both very simple, but not realistic ways of handling ALL poisons. Some games have cumbersome charts that still have their limitations. And even with a chart, poisons shouldn’t be completely random. So hopefully this document will help the DM come up with a satisfactory method of handling poisons. This is by no means a scientific analysis of poison or any attempt for reality. This is merely for game play. See the rest of this entry…

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Character Class Variations

By Angelo on June 8, 2000

This is based on the idea that players and the DM will build characters for a story line, not just to suit their gaming needs. In other words, characters should have some panache or style of their own. This means the items below are not rules but rather suggestions on how one might play his own character. The player should be able to freely choose to do this, these are not rule changes. The DM may want to offer “rewards” (some are described below, if you look closely). These rewards are not experience rewards, etc. but instead take the form of some sort of reward in the story, or “good luck.” For example, one reward for being an elf and not using your power to the fullest potential (as a ranger) is that you always seem to find food in the wilderness, you are able to befriend animals more easily (not attacked by bears), and you have a faithful pet (such as a dire wolf). And such rewards can increase as you go up level, because it’s one thing to start out as a “ranger” and then not keep up with it, but someone who has been a ranger for 9 levels should at least have a dire wolf to help him. Again, this is not a rule change.

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Dungeon Master Tips from the Astral Plane

By Angelo on September 8, 1999

This is just a list of guidelines I made for myself as a young gamer. Most of these should be obvious, but maybe we need a reminder from time to time.

  • Concentrate on role-playing monsters, think less of numbers
  • Create characters with different personalities
  • Create strong villains who fight intelligently
  • Don’t let all monsters always fight to the death
  • Don’t tell the players everything
  • Don’t give the players suggestions
  • Don’t let the players be in control, be fair, and don’t go ahead until you’re ready
  • Keep game rythm in mind and have encounters as neccessary
  • Keep monster menu, not a chart, and choose from this
  • KISMIF (keep it simple, make it fun) – see Dragon Magazine issue no. 175
  • Action is more fun than architecture
  • People are more interesting than buildings
  • Don’t create lengthy battles with unworthy adversaries

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Optional Rules for Classic Games

By Angelo on September 6, 1999

Written by Angelo and Jeff

Here are some optional rules that you may want to adopt in a more basic type campaign (which I find more fun). When deciding on a rule, go for whatever is more fun or will make a better story-line in the game.

Attributes

Even though it may not be fair to my old players, I think I might adopt this system also. Just roll 9d6 for each phsyical (STR, DEX, CON) and mental (INT, WIS, CHA) attributes and then let the players choose where they want to put them. Allow players to trade 2 for 1 between the 2 categories. If you want, you might consider just rolling 10d6 for each category to give a better chance of getting good scores. Also, don’t roll ability checks much, if at all. Too much rolling dice makes the game too random and not enough story. If you can’t base it on a saving throw, you probably shouldn’t roll it. How creatures react to players should be based on how the players have acted, not on a charisma check. See the rest of this entry…

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