Renovating 3.5


3.5/d20/OGL


So, right before the 4th ed announcement arrived, a bunch of my buddies and I got together and were talking about some of the annoyances we have with 3.5. None of use are too excited about the next edition, and probably won't buy it unless it's bloody astounding. So, we were thinking that if we weren't blown away by 4th ed, we would craft our own that fixed some of the problems we felt that 3.5 has.

One thing that all my players get up in arms about is how magic seems somewhat underpowered in certain aspects. Basically the part in which the baddies almost always seem to save against almost everything the players throw at them, unless the players are specialized in a very certain school of magic.

I, of course, advocate using spells that don't allow much for saves. However, I do somewhat agree that it's slightly disappointing that once you get past a certain point a good many of the magic spells seem somewhat useless.

Also in relation to wizards and their ilk is how my players dislike the wizardly lack of anything to do after they run out of spells.

Well, I'm out of time for writing at the moment, so I'll cover more of this later and get to my point.

As DMs, or players, what sorts of ways have you found to lessen, or possibly eradicate these 'problems' in your games? What sorts of rules re-writes do you think would help? I'll post some of my thoughts on the subjects and some of the groups other problems with the system tomorrow.


A friend of mine (Lord Hyrax on these boards) and I have been considering revising 3.5 heavily (sort of combining the best aspects of 3.5 and 2e and mabye smoothing out some rough spots in the rules, such as grappling).
On the spell save DC thing I've been considering making the following modifications in my own game because I've noticed the same problem, especially in the higher levels.

A spell's save would now be set by a special d20 roll (1d20+1/2 Caster Level+key ability modifier). This would determine the spells save DC. Effects like that granted by Spell Focus would still increase the DC.
What do you think? Underpowered? Overpowered?

I've also been toying with making the key ability modifier for Spellcraft variable, so that the key ability is whatever is most important for that class.


Arctaris wrote:

A friend of mine (Lord Hyrax on these boards) and I have been considering revising 3.5 heavily (sort of combining the best aspects of 3.5 and 2e and mabye smoothing out some rough spots in the rules, such as grappling).

On the spell save DC thing I've been considering making the following modifications in my own game because I've noticed the same problem, especially in the higher levels.

A spell's save would now be set by a special d20 roll (1d20+1/2 Caster Level+key ability modifier). This would determine the spells save DC. Effects like that granted by Spell Focus would still increase the DC.
What do you think? Underpowered? Overpowered?

I've also been toying with making the key ability modifier for Spellcraft variable, so that the key ability is whatever is most important for that class.

Most people I know have altered the current spellcasting system to some degree, usually calling for caster level checks or spellcraft checks to determine overall success long before any saves are rolled(and in some cases to determine what the save DC is, like a bard special ability). Spellcraft checks give magic the feel of a skill(again, like a bard special abilities) and caster level checks make magic more of a question of raw power. It's all a matter of the tone you're trying to set.


I was JUST thinking about how I would change 3.5 inlieu of adopting 4e if push came to shove. The changes are too many to list...I wonder if they would be captured in 4e?

By the way, I feel fairly confident in a hunch that I have that 4e is going to take many good aspects from the latest Star Wars Saga Edition and apply them to the fantasy world of D&D.


Arctaris wrote:

A spell's save would now be set by a special d20 roll (1d20+1/2 Caster Level+key ability modifier). This would determine the spells save DC. Effects like that granted by Spell Focus would still increase the DC.

What do you think? Underpowered? Overpowered?

A few points on this (none of which are meant to suggest it is a bad idea):

1) It makes it very similar to Psionics. Maybe that's good, maybe it's bad. You will need to decide yourself.

2) Mathematically, it isn't a large deviation from standard rules. 1/2 Caster level is very close to Spell Level, so all you are doing, really, is changing the base 10 of the DC to a d20 roll. EDIT:: I just realized, the 1/2 Caster Level scales with the character... Hmm... I'd have to study the spells more, but the "benchmark" 1st level spells wouldn't be affected. I'd have to look at the higher level spells to make an informed opinion on this aspect.

3) It has as much chance of hurting the caster, as it does helping. In this regard, I do not think it makes it overpowered.

4) It is another die roll. I am not saying that this is bad... But the general trend I am seeing is the opinion that there are too many die rolls already. I mean, 2 rolls for the initiator and the target of a grapple is considered too clunky... 1 for the caster and the target of a spell (at least) is almost there.


Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

I've tried replacing the bonus to save DC from the spell level with the caster level: at low levels the difference is not so big, but when the characters are growing up... And it reverberates also on low-level spells.

Another thing I'm considering eliminating in the "revised" 3.5ed is attacks of opportunity. They just mess up with the initiative order, and make no one moving around the place once melee has begun, since no one (PC and monsters) wants to give AoO or lose an action. So I'm just getting rid of them.


Aidan wrote:


Another thing I'm considering eliminating in the "revised" 3.5ed is attacks of opportunity. They just mess up with the initiative order, and make no one moving around the place once melee has begun, since no one (PC and monsters) wants to give AoO or lose an action. So I'm just getting rid of them.

I don't recommend that.

I find my PCs will take calculated risks fairly often in this regards but its true that they tend to lay off somewhat most of the truly outrageous activities like strolling around a dragon to get flanking for example.

Without AoO your really nerfing the Rogues, Monks and Swashbuckler types with their high tumbling. Light combatants like Scouts have abilities that allow them to move around the battlefield as part of their schtick. If you give these abilities to the fighter and the barbarian for free your making these classes less appealing by eliminating some of their most interesting capabilities.

Your making it extremely easy for players to simply ignore all the mooks in the room, walk between them and head straight for the mage as if they were not there. At my table the players work on tactics to pull this sort of maneuver off, usually this involves the Ninja going invisible and makeing a be line for the enemy spell caster while the rest of the players work their behinds off to make sure that the Ninja is not caught out beyond the rest of the parties support for long.

Your also nerfing many of the major advantages of larger creatures and all reach weapons since it no longer matters that one has to go through a threatened square to reach them.

This probably hurts the players more then it hurts the monsters. The players depend on the front line combatants to keep the bad guys away from the mage. But if AoOs does not exist then the DM should simply have the monsters walk around the fighter and the cleric and pummel the mage.

Speaking of the mage - your hurting the mages abilities as a battlefield support by making things like dimension door much less important. A good mage can get the fighter where s/he needs to be in order to maximize the effectiveness of the party - thats the mages job, help everyone else get it done.

I get the impression that your doing this to try and make combat more mobile and exciting but I think that the net result is the opposite. AoOs create a tactical situation on the game map, players contemplate the current tactical situation and devise ways to over come the problems presented by it while at the same time utilizing the situation to defend the party members that should never be involved in combat. Eliminating this really dumbs the game down - it makes the ability to move cheap to the point of irrelevancy and removes much of the tactical finesse from combat.

Without the tactical finesse found in the current game the players strategy becomes straight forward to the point of being actually boring.

Characters should always concentrate on glass cannon type characters first - usually that means an enemy spell caster. After this you concentrate on one monster at a time ignoring the other monsters. This is because its always better to kill one monster and face a second one at full hps then it is to damage two monsters. In the first case one of the monsters is dead and therefore can't attack in the next round while in the second case both monsters will attack in the next round.

Two examples of how AoOs improve the game, both from my last session.

Example #1: Players are fighting a leveled Hill Giant and a Death Knight. Hill Giant has been wailing on the players for a ton of damage but they have done more then 100 hps to it as well and feel its about to go down. My martial Lizard Folk Players turn comes up - so far this combat its been his job to keep the Death Knight occupied (and away from the mage). Death Knight does OK damage but mainly it just has AC out the wazoo. The players call upon the Lizard Folk fighter to ignore the Death Knight this round and help out with the Half-Giant so that they can finish it off and then they'll all mob the Death Knight. Lizard Folk player can't figure out how he's supposed to break contact with the Death Knight and move through the Hill Giants reach in order to try and hit it. Just does not seem worth it to potentially take two hits in order to pull off one that might or might not take the Hill Giant down. The solution the players come up with after some consideration is to have the Lizard Folk player take a 5 foot step away from the Death Knight, drop his sword, pull out a javlin and throw it at the Hill Giant. An interesting option that sees the fighter use a weapon that he rarely utilizes - javlins are generally much less effective then his Adamantite Great Sword, but here the tactical situation called for a switch to a range weapon.

Exzmple #2: The players have been jumping through towers with teleporters in them. They emerge from a one way teleporter and are quickly hemmed in by 6 Greater Shadows. After a round of combat the players are freaking out. Greater Shadows do a d8 strength damage with a touch attack - they can't seem to miss. The strongest player in the group - the parties beefy cleric has been dropped to 7 strength and it seems probable that at least one of the players will end up dead - and transformed into a Shadow if they don't get out of this situation right now. The players can see another teleporter across the room, they don't know where it goes but anywhere is better then here right know. They discuss having the mage just teleport them away but they don't know where the tower is located - they could be on the other side of the continent. If they pick a location outside of the range of the mages spell it will fail and they'll be screwed. The players rather ingenious solution - every one delays until after the mage goes. He casts teleport and touches the players conveniently arranged around him. They teleport 20 feet ahead of them just past the Greater Shadows. The mage then uses his move action to walk through the teleporter. The rest of the players take standard actions to shoot at the Greater Shadows and then use their move actions to follow the mage through the teleporter.

In both cases the existence of AoOs made it imperative that the players think outside the box in order to most effectively deal with the tactical situation confronting them.

Liberty's Edge

I am also irked by the fact that a 20th level archmage and a first level wizards cast almost identical (to resist by save) burning hands... damage goes up, caster stat probably goes up, might pick up spell focus along the way, but really between level 1 and level 20 save DC goes up by 4.... oooh

Not to say I have fixed it yet...

DC 10 + Spell Level + Casting Stat Bonus + (Undetermined Level Based Bonus) seems right...

Caster Level / 4 gives:
+0 Level 1-3
+1 Level 4-7
+2 Level 8-11
+3 Level 12-15
+4 Level 16-19
+5 Level 20

But should higher level spells get the same bonus as low level one... "I just learned wish, I have mastered burning hands" is what I am looking for...

Dark Archive

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Dragonmann wrote:

I am also irked by the fact that a 20th level archmage and a first level wizards cast almost identical (to resist by save) burning hands... damage goes up, caster stat probably goes up, might pick up spell focus along the way, but really between level 1 and level 20 save DC goes up by 4.... oooh

Not to say I have fixed it yet...

DC 10 + Spell Level + Casting Stat Bonus + (Undetermined Level Based Bonus) seems right...

Caster Level / 4 gives:
+0 Level 1-3
+1 Level 4-7
+2 Level 8-11
+3 Level 12-15
+4 Level 16-19
+5 Level 20

But should higher level spells get the same bonus as low level one... "I just learned wish, I have mastered burning hands" is what I am looking for...

I like it, but don't you already get that progression by boosting ability scores every 4 levels (assuming you keep boosting INT/WIS/CHA)?

What about a feat similar to a Fighter's Weapon Specialization? Maybe:

Spell Specialization
PreReq: Caster Level 4, Spell Focus
Bonus: Add half your caster level to the DC for resisting your spells of a specified school of magic. This bonus stacks with that granted by Spell Focus. This feat can be taken multiple times, with each time applying to a different school of magic.

This could lead to other feats to continue to boost it.

What do you think?


My personal thoughts on spell DCs were something a bit different. I had thought about using three or four different 'levels' of spell saves, where the save depended on the actual potency of the spell.

Low-Powered: Things that while effective, generally didn't do that much in combat, or had a very limited use. Examples: Daze, Glitterdust, Bane, Scare. These would have incredibly high saves.

Normal-Powered: Most damage spells fall in this range, as do other spells that have an influence on combat but still don't end it imediately on round one. Examples: Grease, Fireball, Telekinesis. More average saves for this group.

High-Powered: These are the one-round enders. Things that knock an enemy completely out of a fight, or otherwise have a heavy effect on combat. Examples: Finger of Death, Sleep, Disintigrate. Saves would probably be closer to current 3.5 ranges, possibly a bit lower.


Hammith wrote:
As DMs, or players, what sorts of ways have you found to lessen, or possibly eradicate these 'problems' in your games? What sorts of rules re-writes do you think would help? I'll post some of my thoughts on the subjects and some of the groups other problems with the system tomorrow.

Well as for 3rd edition d&d, there's not much to do at high other than to not bother with any 'save for none' spells at high levels. The problem with any real save DC "fixes" is that raising high level DCs makes save-or-die spells a lot more attractive. Hence, character, monster and NPC death comes a lot easier and more often.

Now if you're inventing your own spell system, you have a lot more flexibility. If you establish standard "levels effected" caps for all the save-or-die and save-or-suck spells, you can design save DCs and saving throws so that one doesn't gain headway over the other as the game rises in power level.

Edit: I like this idea of yours. What would the DC formulas be for each of the three categories?

Hope that helps,
TS

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

Hmm, I'm looking at using the Hamanaptra Ranger and Sorcerer.

Cloistered Cleric and war cleric.

Battle Sorcerer

My Arcane Legionary gish class

As for your increasing Spell DC Ideas...

How about making that variable (Max Spell level - Cast spell level)

So our 18th level wizard tossing burning hands (assuming 20 Int) 10 + 1(Spell level) + 5 (Stat bonus) + 8 (9th level spell - 1st spell) = DC 24. His Meteor Swarm OTOH is a 10 + 9(Spell level) + 5 (Stat bonus) + 0 (9th level spell - 9st spell) = DC 24.

Hmm, no, don't quite like that.

As an aside, when I saw levels up to 30, the idea of racial levels, variable class abilities, changes to spell casting my first thought was "WotC? Monte Cook called, he'd like Arcana Unearthed back."


Tequila Sunrise wrote:


Edit: I like this idea of yours. What would the DC formulas be for each of the three categories?

Hope that helps,
TS

I was thinking something along the lines of 18-20ish for the low-powered, 13-17ish for the average, and 8-12ish for the high-powered. It'll take a large amount of playtesting to get the numbers exactly right. I'm not entirely sure what they would work best with the spells, and the largest problem is tiering all of the available spells...I mean that is seriously a lot of spells.


I think the spell DCs were based on a few other assumptions by the designer. First, that spell casters would use the new added at the time attribute bonus every four levels to increase there spell casting sttribute. Second, that if using the wealth by level chart "properly" a spell caster will be getting magic items to enhance their spellcasting attribute. And last that spellcasters hav a certain level of knowledge about the creatures they fight so they use the appropriate spells with the correct save type vs creature who have a low save bonus vs that type of save. Yep that's a lot of assumptions. Is it metagaming? Yeah probably, but they wrote the rules with metagaming in mind and tried to curb it where they could. Have I seen a wizard do just fine by having a good varity of spells and using them on the appropriate creatures? Yep, it can be done but does require a bit of work. Is the system broken? No, but its not the best. I haven't found it to be enough of an issue that I needed to change it but ymmv.

As far as wizards having something to do when they run out of spells, well that can be a problem. They tried to fix it with Reserve Feats which does an ok job of it. I also am a firm believer in the fact that if someone focuses all the feats and skills only on spell casting then yeah when you run out of spells your useless. I personally like spellcasters with Point Blnak and Precise Shot so that they can still do ranged combat when they are low on spells, plus it helps with ray spells.

Liberty's Edge

Assuming anything is ill advised, so look at the naked Wizard..

Assuming the wisard starts at INT 17, and puts all 5 of his stat advances into INT, and takes Spell Focus, and Greater Spell focus

He goes from having DC 10+1+3=14 first level spells to DC 10+1+6+2=18 first level spells...

+4 DC over 20 levels, and using 2 feats doesn't seem that great... tack on wealth/level and you might be looking at another 2 or 3 (+6 INT gear is expensive)

what to do about it... shrug

The Exchange

Enough on spells already.

I am perturbed by multiple attacks. It appears to me that high level and multi-weapon attacks could be done with one roll. Maybe something like 2H wpns do good damage (Base Weapon Damage x 1.5 x 1/2 BAB (Min 1)), Regular weapons do normal damage (Base Weapon Damage x 1/2 BAB (Min 1) and Multiple Weapons get -2 to hit and good damage (Base Weapon Damage x 1.5 x 1/2 BAB (Min 1)). You would also have to multiple incremental weapon damage (Flaming, Shock, etc) by 1/2 BAB (Min 1).

I have not thought this out statistically, but has some one figured a better way to do it? Someone out there must do statistics for fun.


Duncan Clyborne wrote:

I am perturbed by multiple attacks. It appears to me that high level and multi-weapon attacks could be done with one roll. Maybe something like 2H wpns do the the good damage (Base Weapon Damage x 1.5 x 1/2 BAB (Min 1)), Regular weapons do normal damage (Base Weapon Damage x 1/2 BAB (Min 1) and Multiple Weapons get -2 to hit and good damage (Base Weapon Damage x 1.5 x 1/2 BAB (Min 1)). You would also have to multiple incremental weapon damage (Flaming, Shock, etc) by 1/2 BAB (Min 1).

What exactly are your problems with multiple attacks? The way that you're building it up would cause larger amounts of damage, although it would only be on one die roll (thus causing more risk of missing for the whole round). If you were to do it at 1/5 BAB, it would follow the original rules for damage. Also, how does that system work for multiple weapons with different damages? If it adds the rolls together, then there's no reason to use a single one handed weapon at all with that system.

One easy way to reduce rolls (which may or may not be your problem with the system), is to have players roll multiple dice at once. Each of a different color and coresponding to a certain attack, of course.

The Exchange

Duncan Clyborne wrote:
I am perturbed by multiple attacks.
Hammith wrote:


What exactly are your problems with multiple attacks? The way that you're building it up would cause larger amounts of damage, although it would only be on one die roll (thus causing more risk of missing for the whole round). ...
One easy way to reduce rolls (which may or may not be your problem with the system), is to have players roll multiple dice at once. Each of a different color and corresponding to a certain attack, of course.

I should have explained my grudge. I find it slows play and distracts from the fun. We use multiple different color dice already.

When I played as a kid it was fun to watch someone else roll and see the results. We have lost the feeling of; "Yea! I rolled well." Now the play is; "I hit, I missed, I hit, I missed, what was the AC again, I hit, I missed, I missed, oh, I forgot about the Bless Spell,(pause), I still hit three times, and now for damage...." The feeling now is; "Hurry up and pre-roll and tell us the result."

The increased 'massive hit-total miss' problem can be overcome with the right math. And it can be viewed as exciting if done right. Maybe something like saving throws where it is half damage. (I don't like that idea. I am just thinking out loud.)

I did not think I was alone on this. I thought it was ID'd as a weakness for SW and 4th Edition. I asked for someone else's solution since I know mine was weak.


You realize that what this thread amounts to is a place to list all the house rules one can think of, right? And that much, if not most, of this entire messageboard is already devoted to that exact same purpose, right? The fact that the Paizo boards, or any other for that matter, has failed to come up with a "Perfect System" by now seems rather indicative to me; further, if any such system existed, we would be playing that at the moment, rather than the (admittedly) flawed rules of 3.x (which cause so many threads like those found on this site to arise in the first place).

Just making some observations.


Can't argue with that Saern. But I can add to it.

Wizards release of 4e is, in some cases, nothing more than a series of house rules that are making their way into the new edition. The only difference: these were house rules used by game designers, or those used by 3.5 players at conventions and/or message boards.

Therefore, I wonder, why do some people have a hard time with house rules in the first place?

I for one can say with great conviction that I will likely DM a game again, and when I do, I will not be afraid to make wholesale changes to the RAW. Of course the real trick is to find a group of players willing to play the butchered version of the game I have created. :)

Liberty's Edge

For the most part I have DM'd since high school, and for the the most part my players tend to be a little ignorant of the rules--they know enough to play well, and they tend, with 3.5, to know a lot regarding their individual characters (my shadowdancer knows all the rules regarding his character), but they don't bother with all the other details...I can make it up as I go, is what I really mean, and as long as I adhere the the very fundametals, no-one has ever said a word to me...

Then again, if 4e is so different that conversion is nigh impossible, it might be something else altogether. I think I dislike the most the idea that books I just bought, like the Spell Compendium and, just today, the Magic Item Compendium, are going to be good for descriptions and inspirational art only. Needs be, I'll update myself as soon as I get a handle on the new system, I updated Desert of Desolation to 3.5 and it was a little time consuming, but not impossible!


Hammith wrote:
Tequila Sunrise wrote:


Edit: I like this idea of yours. What would the DC formulas be for each of the three categories?

Hope that helps,
TS

I was thinking something along the lines of 18-20ish for the low-powered, 13-17ish for the average, and 8-12ish for the high-powered. It'll take a large amount of playtesting to get the numbers exactly right. I'm not entirely sure what they would work best with the spells, and the largest problem is tiering all of the available spells...I mean that is seriously a lot of spells.

I mean, what formulas will you use to arrive at these DCs? Perhaps:

Low Powered: 10 + 1/2 caster level + casting stat
Medium: 10 + 1/4 caster level + casting stat
High Powered: 10 + casting stat

or maybe:

Low Powered: standard (10 + spell level + casting stat)
Medium: 5 + spell level + casting stat
High Powered: 0 + spell level + casting stat

To be sure, this will be a lot of work for you.


Duncan Clyborne wrote:
I have not thought this out statistically, but has some one figured a better way to do it? Someone out there must do statistics for fun.

Well I don't know if mine is better, but I'll share it anyway. Instead of imposing the cumulative -5 penalty to consecutive attacks, I impose a -2 on all attacks per consecutive attack. So a 20th level fighter's BAB, instead of +20/+15/+10/+5, would be +14/+14/+14/+14. Alternatively, the fighter could choose to only take one, two or three attacks and have his penalties reduced appropriately.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

Andrew Turner wrote:
Needs be, I'll update myself as soon as I get a handle on the new system, I updated Desert of Desolation to 3.5 and it was a little time consuming, but not impossible!

You don't happen to have that update as a file do you? DoD was always one of my favourite series, and I've never gotten around to fixing it.

We're staying 3.5 in our group. It's a matter of age and money.


Hmmm... What would I do to 'fix' 3.5... I have a list, of sorts, that I've already implimented in my own games (and even convinced one of the other DMs to adopt) as house rules.

Eliminate the distinction between Class skills and Cross Class skills. All CC skills end up doing is to pigeonhole someone. The fighter can't be the group's negotiator, or move with stealth, or have a real knack for history. Let characters choose skill sets that fit their concepts; at worst, you're going to end up with some interesting (strange?) PrC combinations, and those PrCs who have some really lenient skill requirements (because it's supposedly a cross class skill) can have those requirements boosted a bit. This also has the added benefit of eliminating some feats - namely, those feats that make various skills class skills.

Get rid of bonus feat restrictions. Players are going to take feats that fit their role and concept anyway, so limiting bonus feats to a specific list is pretty well redundant. And, all it did was force a need to create caveats. Wizards can only take metamagic or item creation feats, BUT NOW they have reserve feats! Fighters started out with a small list of feats they could take, so every subsequent feat that the fighter could take required extra print to make it an exception to that list. You eliminate a lot of necessary print as a bonus.

Sorcerer gets bonus feats like the Wizard does - honestly, there's no reason it shouldn't have had them.

Death and resurrection imposes a negative level that's removed when the character achieves their next level.

Some things I'd like to change but haven't yet:

I'd really like to see spellcasters overhauled so they don't use the vancian system and aren't limited to some set spells per day, but I don't know how to do that without needing to rework all the classes (which 4th ed is doing anyway). But failing that...

Get rid of that stupid Sorcerer Spells Known chart. Just give the sorcerers a flat 2 spells from any level they can cast each level, like the wizards get. Only, they can't learn more spells without spending feats. I'd probably also change sorcerers so at odd levels they get 0 spells of the next level, allowing them to choose and cast spells of that level so long as they get bonus spells for it (like the bard).

Do the same for Bards... though they might get 1 per level, or 3 per 2 levels.

To 'fix' the multiple attacks issue, I figured I'd institute something called 'Focused Attack', in which for each iterative attack you give up, you get a +2 to hit and damage rolls (So a 16th level fighter would get +6 to hit and +6 to damage). I'd put this in as a combat option so everyone could take advantage of it, and I'd make it a standard action so it's more likely to be used in place of iterative attacks. Extra attacks from other sources would be handled normally (Offhand attacks, rapid shot, etc).


Xellan wrote:

To 'fix' the multiple attacks issue, I figured I'd institute something called 'Focused Attack', in which for each iterative attack you give up, you get a +2 to hit and damage rolls (So a 16th level fighter would get +6 to hit and +6 to damage). I'd put this in as a combat option so everyone could take advantage of it, and I'd make it a standard action so it's more likely to be used in place of iterative attacks.

I think this will be included in 4.0 like you predict as well. I was considering adding a FEAT to my game called "Swing For The Fences", where a fighter just reached back and made one big swing, foregoing his extra attacks for more damage. Obviously I was not alone in this line of thinking....

I like all of your ideas, and I think that many of them will end up being incorporated into 4.0. Also, I think 4.0 will use talent trees, feats and skills similar to Star Wars Saga. Also from SW Saga:
PCs get double the max Hit Points at first level
PCs will get level dependant (or base attack bonus-related) defense, while armor will limit this defense but absorb damage
Monsters will get overhauled - mooks become easier to kill, BBEG special abilities (gaze, etc.) become simplified

You know, there is a precarious balance between simplicity and complexity, fun and boring, especially if WotC assumes its players (in the meantime) will continue to use paper and pencil.

Dark Archive

Our group has also been tossing around the idea of improvements to 3.5. Here are some of the suggestions I'm proposing:

Iterative attacks - after the first attack or two, I think these basically become worthless. I would rather see some type of increased damage scaling rather than additional attacks that have little or no chance to hit. I think this would also make the fighter-types more viable as compared to the spellcasters at higher levels.

Grappling - basically impossible for characters to beat large or larger creatures. Plus what you can or cannot do is always a question that requires looking it up in the PHB and slowing down the game. Not sure how to improve - maybe just dump?? Give monsters with improved grab a replacement ability.

Skills - (a) 4e looks to be moving towards a trimmer skills set, combining Move Silently and Hide into Stealth and Spot/Search/Listen into Perception. This makes sense to me - often times you're asked to make multiple skill checks (Spot & Listen or Hide & Move Silently) - what does one success & one fail mean? or two successes? Seems more intuitive to have one check in these cases - either pass or fail. (b) base skills more on race, at least as far as skill points gained. It also appears 4e is going to address this as well. My thoughts were to have skills available at new levels based on class but have points gained based on race (for example, regardless of class Humans gain 8 skill pts each level, half-orcs gain 2 pts, elves & dwarves maybe 4 or 6). Again, this more closely matches the approa ch for monsters in the MM. It would also allow some different archetypes - the stealthy human fighter (taking stealth skills cross-class) and the scholarly human wizard (more points to spend on Knowledge skills).

Turn Undead - both the RAW (undead cower) and the optional rule (I believe from Complete Divine - 1d6 dmg per cleric lvl) do not appeal to me. Not sure what I'd do to fix it, but there has to be a better way.

Actions - I have not been a big fan of the swift/immediate actions since they came into existence. To me they are unbalanced, as they generally favor spellcasters granting them the ability to do more than the fighter-types. Plus it's additional bookkeeping to track. I would prefer a simpler system of having a set number of actions per round (2 or 3) and limiting casters to one spellcasting action per round (though a caster could cast a spell and use a magic item in the same round). This would also be a good replacement system for the iterative attacks - fighter types can attack once per action, so if we go two actions they could double attack - two attacks at their base attack bonus.


I've always thought that feats and skills should come from the same pool of points at every level. Give the player the choice to spend X amount of points on a feat or a given skill (within a predetermined limit).

This would effectively get rid of the "soft" feats, like Negotiator, Alertness, etc., but it fits nicely with the Compl. Scoundrel idea of tricks -- basically a middle tier of ability boost between a feat and a skill.

The Exchange

Xellan wrote:
Death and resurrection imposes a negative level that's removed when the character achieves their next level.

I kind of like this. I am the DM and I just had a character die for the third time in three game nights. I am thinking 'people would learn something from dying.' I also feel sorry for the guy.

Maybe you gain experience at double rate until your next level. Or maybe a special death related feat. +1 to Reflex Savings Throw against Fire spells if you die from a Fireball. -1 to attack and +1 Defensive bonus to AC if your Wizard dies in melee combat. Maybe select an Unearthed Arcana character trait that could be related to your death. (Character traits have both good and bad affects.)


Xellan wrote:


I'd really like to see spellcasters overhauled so they don't use the vancian system and aren't limited to some set spells per day, but I don't know how to do that without needing to rework all the classes (which 4th ed is doing anyway). But failing that...

By the way (sorry to threadjack for a minute here) does anyone know the origin of the term Vancian for Vancian spellcasting-early in 1st was there someone named Vance who developed the magic system or was it called Vancian for some other reason?


Steven Purcell wrote:
By the way (sorry to threadjack for a minute here) does anyone know the origin of the term Vancian for Vancian spellcasting-early in 1st was there someone named Vance who developed the magic system or was it called Vancian for some other reason?

Jack Vance, the author. Not a game developer/designer, as far as I know.


Lilith wrote:
Steven Purcell wrote:
By the way (sorry to threadjack for a minute here) does anyone know the origin of the term Vancian for Vancian spellcasting-early in 1st was there someone named Vance who developed the magic system or was it called Vancian for some other reason?
Jack Vance, the author. Not a game developer/designer, as far as I know.

Thanks Lilith! ;-)


Duncan Clyborne wrote:

I kind of like this. I am the DM and I just had a character die for the third time in three game nights. I am thinking 'people would learn something from dying.' I also feel sorry for the guy.

Thanks, but I can't take credit for the idea. Kolja Raven Liquette is the one I got the idea from, and I've linked his name to his website. He's done a number of things for 3.5 I'm very fond of (and a few things I'm rather ambivalent about).


Michael Cummings wrote:
Skills - (a) 4e looks to be moving towards a trimmer skills set, combining Move Silently and Hide into Stealth and Spot/Search/Listen into Perception. This makes sense to me - often times you're asked to make multiple skill checks (Spot & Listen or Hide & Move Silently) - what does one success & one fail mean? or two successes? Seems more intuitive to have one check in these cases - either pass or fail.

I'm currently discussing this with my players (the Stealth + Perception skills). One argument against this is that it benefits those with these skills as class skills immensely, since they are also the classes who already have the highest number of skill points available.

Any ideas/arguments/suggestions concerning this?


GentleGiant wrote:

I'm currently discussing this with my players (the Stealth + Perception skills). One argument against this is that it benefits those with these skills as class skills immensely, since they are also the classes who already have the highest number of skill points available.

Any ideas/arguments/suggestions concerning this?

Well, I'll reiterate eliminating the distinction between cross and class skills. Doing so would get rid of a lot of problems and pigeon-holing, including the 'problem' with this; that way, /everyone/ would get more bang for their skill points if they're inclined to take those skills.


I really enjoy the idea of eliminating cross-class skills, it would add a great bit of variety in the game, or maybe go with something like the generic classes out of Unearthed Arcana. You get a certain number of class skills that you choose when you take your first level of the class. I am going to be doing that with the saves, you get a number of 'good' saves for your class (ex: 1 for fighter, 2 for cleric, all for monk), and get to choose which are your good ones.

I'm actually thinking of changing wizard and sorceror around a bit, and having wizards get reserve feat sort of abilities while sorcerors get more combat survivabilty stuff and more weapon proficiencies. Basically making it so wizards don't 'run out' of spells while sorcerors have abilities other than their spells.


Hammith wrote:
I'm actually thinking of changing wizard and sorceror around a bit, and having wizards get reserve feat sort of abilities while sorcerors get more combat survivabilty stuff and more weapon proficiencies. Basically making it so wizards don't 'run out' of spells while sorcerors have abilities other than their spells.

Hey! Outta my head!

I was considering giving one or both of them an ability similar to Innate Spell, except they'd receive it earlier than they could take the feat, they wouldn't need to meet the prerequisites, and the lower level abilities would become supernatural abilties over time.

Scarab Sages

Hammith wrote:
I really enjoy the idea of eliminating cross-class skills, it would add a great bit of variety in the game...

An idea from the Conan D20 game is to still have class/cross-class skills; but the distinction only applies to the skill points actually gained for one's class.

Bonus skill points, such as for Intelligence or being human, reflect hobbies over and above one's 'day-job', and as such, may be spent freely, on a 1-for-1 basis, up to the normal level cap.

I like this, as it provides a middle ground.
It rewards players who allocate a higher stat to Int, while not allowing a total free-for-all. Dumb mooks are still dumb mooks, as per the current rules.

Scarab Sages

A 3E gripe:

Why are NPC classes so rubbish? The Commoner is the worst example, being inferior to every other class in the game, in any measurable way.

I believe all classes should be viable alternatives. Obviously, the focus of a character should mean not every class should be good as an adventuring choice, but if so, the class should have alternative features to compensate. Skill focus, extra skill points, skill tricks, increased 'yield' from crops and livestock, etc.

If one wishes to have entire villages of incompetents, then surely this is best achieved by having all the NPCs be low-level, not by stripping any class features from every level in the progression.

This imbalance just does not make sense, since the higher levels of such a class would simply not exist. For example, if a Level 1 Commoner were to amass 1000xp (quite a task, considering his lack of any abilities), then why would he pick Commoner as his second level?
Assuming he had earned those xp by defending his farm against goblin raiders or some such, then surely, he would be eligible for a level of Fighter(etc.) instead?


Xellan wrote:
GentleGiant wrote:

I'm currently discussing this with my players (the Stealth + Perception skills). One argument against this is that it benefits those with these skills as class skills immensely, since they are also the classes who already have the highest number of skill points available.

Any ideas/arguments/suggestions concerning this?
Well, I'll reiterate eliminating the distinction between cross and class skills. Doing so would get rid of a lot of problems and pigeon-holing, including the 'problem' with this; that way, /everyone/ would get more bang for their skill points if they're inclined to take those skills.

That seems to be the way I'm leaning too, with one slight modification. All skills that can be used untrained are no longer cross class skills for anyone, while those that can only be trained are still cross class skills for those who don't have them in their original skill list. That gives a slight edge to those classes who really should be "masters" of a given skill.

Liberty's Edge

I had the idea of splitting skills into simple and normal skills, as well as class and cross class skills.

Normal skills work exactly as they do now.

Simple skills get 2 ranks for 1 skill point (or 1 rank for 1 skill point if the skill is cross class)

Also, simple skills have level +3 for a limit if the are cross class, and no limit if they are class skills.

Then I divvyed out the skills based on the amount of practice/training necessary as well as the utility of the skill for play. Craft: bookbinding is just not as useful as spellcraft, so it has some balance to it.

Spot and listen are simple skills, so even a dullard fighter can pick them up, and actually be a competent guard.

---

As for iterative attacks, I cast another vote for all attacks at the same modifier. Not sure if -2 per is correct, but it is probably close. This way you can roll to hit all at once, then roll damage for each success.

---

Fixing grapple is fairly easy, just reduce the steps:

1: Initiating a grapple provokes an AoO, easy enough.

2: Opposed grapple check. (replaces touch attack), winner of the check can start a grapple or not.

3: Grapple takes place on initiative 0, one opposed check, whoever wins can perform one action.

No more opposed check for each attack of an iterative attack, no more opposed checks on both sides turns, just a simple list of 5 or 6 actions, and done.

possible actions:

Squeeze - grapple damage
Attack - attack with a light weapon
Draw - pull an item out
Cast - cast a spell
Escape - leave the grapple
Pin - pins foe, they cannot squeeze, attack, draw or pin, and cannot cast spells with somantic components

---

As for spells, I think I am getting close with a save DC = 10 + caster level/2 + casting stat bonus - spell level

This way as a caster advances they develop a mastery of low level spells, while making their higher level, mostly save or die, magics less reliable. Also it penalizes people for wandering too far from full spell progression.


Dragonmann wrote:
Also it penalizes people for wandering too far from full spell progression.

I don't think there is really any further need for this. That is already built into the system.

As for the spell save DC, I am not a fan of making lower level spells have a higher DC than higher level spells. It doesn't feel right for me.

But if that is the way you want to go, lets look toward the end of your progression:

17 level Wizard gets his first access to 9th level spells.

The DCs would be (assuming rounding down):
0th: 18+Int Mod
1st: 17+Int Mod
2nd: 16+Int Mod
etc...
9th: 9+Int Mod

That makes high level spells an almost certain save for any opponents at that level.

And of course, you get the ever weird effect of using Wish to duplicate a spell with a lower save DC... And it eliminates the usefulness of Heighten Spell. It might have to be replaced with Reduce Spell...

If that is what you are going for, you succeeded. But don't expect me to want to play a caster in your games. ;-) (But man, I could build one hell of a mage slayer in that system.)

Liberty's Edge

Like I said, close, not there yet. I am really trying to get mastery of low level magic, without breaking high level magic... it ain't easy


Hey, to each their own.

But if you want my advice (and I know you didn't ask for it), don't do it.

That doesn't even come from my general dislike of the idea either.

First, you are making the system more complicated. If that is what you want, that is fine. But complicating the system really should have a benefit. Complicating for complications sake is just wasteful.

Next, good or bad, your plan runs almost opposite of the general mechanics of the game.

Finally, among everything else, this sets up a system where it benefits a caster even more for staying full progression. While that is fine, it sets casters even further apart from martial characters.
Even if you work out what you want, where high level magic is close to as powerful as it is now, and low level magic is on par with - if not better than - high level magic, what kind of boosts are the martial characters getting to keep the power level difference from growing any further?

I get that you aren't liking the current magic system. But changing it at such a fundamental level interferes with the rest of the game. Like ripples in a pond.

Don't take this as criticism against your idea. I am not bashing it. If you and your players don't mind the faults I have pointed out, then go for it.

Bottom line is your enjoyment of the game. Not my feelings of your changes.

Liberty's Edge

I don't know, the fighter's first level ability, 'hit things with sword', tends to scale with level pretty directly.

Meanwhile first level spell slots are a damn waste at high level, if they allow a save.

Now I agree, a 9th level spell should be damn hard to resist, but with the possibility of years of training and experience, I think a wizard who hasn't made burning hands much harder to avoid is a slacker.

Also, most special abilities on creatures are 10 + 1/2 HD + stat mod for save DC, so all I am adding is a spell level modifier, and using caster level instead of HD, which both make sense to me.

For sake of discussion, assume a 20th level caster, with a 22 int (which is reasonable with stat boost and gear)

Currently:
Save DC = 16 + spell level (16-25)

My way:
Save DC = 26 - spell level (17-26) where lower level spells are rewarded.

At 20th level, your foes have good odds of making a save of 20 (I use 10 +1/2 CR as a baseline estimate, assuming you are hitting a weak save)

Also, no feats, specializations, etc etc are included here.

Also, as you pointed out, high level magic is already very powerful, reining it in a bit, and makeing a wizard use more reliable spells, and maintaining the trepidation when you pull out your biggest baddest spell that it may not work may be fun.

Although, it would probably break the heighten spell feat...


For changing spell DCs, I was considering using a stackable epic feat in my campaigns (not that I've ever had a campaign reach epic levels. Bah).

Master Caster [Epic] -- Name tenative
You've mastered normal spells to such a degree that they become harder to resist as you grow in power.

Benefit: When you first take this feat, the save DCs for your 7th through 9th level spells becomes 10 + 1/2 your caster level + your casting modifier. So a 30th level wizard casting a 7th, 8th, or 9th level spell and a INT modifier of +10 will have a save DC of 35 (10 + 15 + 10).

Special: You can take this feat two additional times. The second time you take it, the increase to spell save DCs applies to 4th through 9th level spells. The third time you take it, all your spells use the above save DC increase.

Community / Forums / Gamer Life / Gaming / D&D / 3.5/d20/OGL / Renovating 3.5 All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.
Recent threads in 3.5/d20/OGL