Discussion:Worst 10 of D&D 3rd edition

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The Worst 10 of D&D 3rd edition[edit]

Mkill 05:07, 19 August 2007 (MDT)[edit]

While everyone is checking what Wizard's is up to for the next edition, I'd like to take a look back and see what's been the worst in the last edition. All of this is my very personal opinion so feel free to discuss and disagree.

10. Races Inflation

A bit like the old FR kept creating yet another subrace of elves / gnomes / dwarves / whatever, there have been too many races published in some sourcebook or another. Anybody remember the hippie gnomes from RoS (or whatever their real name was), or the flimsy Spellscales? Or those strange anthropomorphic lizards with some scales left from Magic of Incarnum (the other stuff may have been good, but the races in there sucked). And then those iffy "we were human but we turned into something better" (even though nothing really beats a bonus feat). I'm looking at you, Illumians and Elans. Really, I wonder how often all those crappy races ever made it into play, especially since none of them have ever been properly placed in a campaign setting, so none of them had a proper history or even a reason to be there.

9. The Swashbuckler

The Swashbuckler stands here as one example for "great concept, sucky game design" that plagued some of the bonus classes scattered around many sourcebooks. Swashbucklers are especially notorious as they get a pretty good class feature at 3rd level, but nothing worth mentioning before or after that. So nobody ever went past 3rd level in that class.

While the Healer, the Marshall, the Spellthief, the CW Samurai and some others could have been mentioned here just as well, I chose the Swashbuckler because I really liked the concept, so I find it especially sad how it was screwed up.

8. Prestige Classes

Yes, it sounded like a great idea when DMG 3.0 came out, but Prestige Classes never delivered. I've never seen a character that was defined by a PrC in a way that basic classes and some individual description and personality couldn't have. From the 200+ prestige classes ever published by WotC alone, most were simply forgotten in obscurity, for they were just too strange or too limited. Anybody remember the Oozemage? Well, I just made that one up, but how many books do you have to check now to prove there has never been an Oozemage? Apart from the fact that the whole idea is repulsive enough nobody wants to play one.

The only PrCs that ever became famous were the one's that were useless (Virtuoso) and the one's that were hideously overpowered (Planar Shepherd).

The other thing I really hate about PrCs is how they take the character development focus away from creating a rounded up, multifaceted character to fulfilling stupid PrC requirements.

7. FAQ and Sage Advice

The official D&D rules columns have earned quite a reputation for wrong rules interpretations, often adding more to the confusion than solving. Nothing shows more that D&D3 had too many complicated rules details.

6. Splat Book Invasion

D&D3 saw tons of splat books in print, i.e. books that contain nothing but new character options and other goodies. In fact, until the ECS came out, there was no real decent campaign background material. A Greyhawk hardcover was never printed, which I don't mind but don't declare it standard background setting if you don't intend to publish the setting. The FR book was just a giant stat block in tiny font size, without any real flavor coming through.

But after all, it was the gamers' own fault, because all they would ever buy in hordes was new splat books.

5. Save the Fighter threads

At some point after 3.5 was out somebody decided that the Fighter was not good enough anymore, and the first "save the fighter" thread was born. Since then, the Internet has been regularly flooded by people with zero knowledge about good game design but a glorious mission to rewrite the fighter. 90% of those rewrites were crap. Most people already failed before they started, because they didn't understand what the real problem with the fighter was in the first place.

4. 3.5 edition

If look back and take the time to honestly compare 3.0 edition, the 3.5 edition PHB and some of the changes and additions that were published after that, you can't help but notice that 3.5 was rushed, too early, and too conservative. Some of the changes were good and useful, such as the rewritten ranger. But you don't need to rewrite the whole product line to change one class. A lot of the 3.5 changes required a lot of effort with limited game effects, such as checking that every monster had the correct number of feats. Who cares.

On the other hand, necessary simplifications to streamline the game were left for later editions, such as removing multiclassing penalties. I never understood why that crap was not removed for 3.5.

If 3.5 would have been done about 2 years later, it could have included later additions like swift and immediate actions, the polymorph nerf, action points, Eberron races, the Warlock or the artificer, and maybe even a maneuver system like ToB.

3.5 edition even had a bad effect on WotC sales, as nobody wanted the old 3.0 splatbooks anymore, and people were cautious about the new ones coming out.

3. Vancian Magic

I don't know why they finally manage to throw out that damn spell preparation, but it should have been gone in every edition since 3.0. Looks like they will still keep it for 4.0. Ahrg.

2. Level adjustment

While the idea of a system that allows you to use some of the mosters as PCs is very nifty, LA was awful. The rules were clunky and hard to understand. LA was frequently slapped on races where it was not necessary because they work fine without (Genasi, Hobgoblin, Blue). For a few notable exceptions, LA was much too low (Half-Ogre). And if you tried to play a monster with a high LA, you'd be way behind expectations because you don't hit anything and you hardly have any hit points. LA also screwed you if you tried a monster spellcaster.

1. Mialee

Hehe, I guess you didn't expect this one :) But face it: It was the iconic sexy elf chick that was drawing you to the hobby in the first place. Numerous fantasy games have used the hot elf chick to lure the nerdy, lonely fanbase.

But D&D3 refused to deliver. That anthropomorphic cricket they used for their elven wizard was just not what we wanted to fantasize about. There is no illustration of Mialee in any book where she doesn't look some kind of wrong.

Really, a game where the hottest chick is a Dread Necromancer ... hm, well, then on the other hand D&D is much cooler than I thought after all. Who cares for elves when there's Asian goth chicks. Hehe.

Sam Kay 05:14, 19 August 2007 (MDT)[edit]

1. Mialee

Mialee didn't bring me to the game; I wanted to play D&D because I thought it would be cool.

Sepsis 10:17, 19 August 2007 (MDT)[edit]

10. Races Inflation

So true the possibilities for the "core" races (Dwarf, Elf, Gnome, Halfling, Human, etc.) are near endless (with good roleplaying and a decent DM). Hopefully they spend more time on thier potential then including more pointless Races. And God please no Kobold (or other "Humanoid") races.

9. The Swashbuckler

Again, too true. Bonus Classes were a nice idea, but poorly implemented. If the Skill/Feat system allows most of these are superfulous anyway. I hope they disappear.

8. Prestige Classes

In agreement again, good idea, bad implementation. As above with "bonus classes" I hope these fade away.

7. FAQ and Sage Advice

No comment...you said it all.

6. Splat Book Invasion

I was a bigger fan of splat books then yourself. I would rather Wizards made more of those (at least ones with more Campaign Setting Style options and rules...less Character options) then wasting time and effort on pre-made Campaign Settings.

5. Save the Fighter threads

The Fighter has been (and always will be) one of my most favorite Classes. I never saw them as broken or nerfed in any way.

4. 3.5 edition

I'm not sure the transition from 3.0 to 3.5 was as hard a pill to swallow for most as the conversion to 4.0. The problem being too many folks feel they "just switched to 3.5" a few years ago, instead of seeing 3.0 and 3.5 as permutations of the same line.

3. Vancian Magic

I leave Magic to the spell casting Players. Never much liked their headaches so I must say "No Comment" on this one.

2. Level adjustment

As a DM who never really allowed "Monster Characters" this was seldomn an issue for me. As above with the Races, I'll restate that there is enough variety in what we have without trying to shoehorn in a ton of Races that really should be left to the realm of Player advisaries, just because Players want to play a evil Monster. I say, want to run a Monster? Fine your Human Character has a 2 Charisma...now your a MONSTER. <grin>

1. Mialee

As a fan of good fantasy art it's always a shame when a potentially "hot" fantasy chick gets the short end. Yes they should have given her some better PR.

Sam Kay 10:20, 19 August 2007 (MDT)[edit]

8 Not all presteige classes where rubbish

true necromacer was brilliant for creating a better necromancer (I like undead, so that one stuck in my mind) and Arachnomancer was cool (the spider thing rules, although they should have only had the underdark version: the Drow of the underdark one was not as good) On the hole, things such as the "Blindmage Sorcerer" (I made that one up on the spot) would never do well (most prestige classes out the window there) but the odd one or two in every few books where good, memorable prestige classes. For example, drow of the underdark should only include two or three: Arachnomancer, Spider Rider (that one is mine, but it will rule when it is finnished) and eye of lolth (that was cool). two or three heavily thought out and well implemented prestreige classes in the odd book might work better than six or more in every book. Good idea, and some good classes, but most where pointless. I don't wan't them to fade away, but become rarer and better.

Sledged-20070819155204

Sledged (talk)
2007 August 19 15:52 (MDT)
10. Races Inflation

... And then those iffy "we were human but we turned into something better" (even though nothing really beats a bonus feat). I'm looking at you, Illumians and Elans.

Actually, I've found a number of builds where Illumians work better than humans.

Elans... the only real benefit I've found is that they can take the feats Rapid Strike and Improved Rapid Strike.

true necromacer was brilliant for creating a better necromancer...

No. No it wasn't. True necro was not the best way to go for mastering undead. A single-classed cleric made a better undead master than a true necro. Dread necro is my favorite way to go. You should see the Necromancer's Handbook on the subject.

There's no better laugh than the one that you're ashamed to share with your mother.
Stephen Notley, creator of Bob the Angry Flower

Rakankou 17:07, 19 August 2007 (MDT)[edit]

10 Races Inflation

The Chaos Gnomes (hippie RoS gnomes) weren't very much different from regular gnomes, if you ask me; I agree with you, however. Most of the extra races were mediocre at best and only really useful for one role (if they were that lucky). As poorly developed as many were, few of my players ever picked out something truly unusual. Most everyone seems content to play something simple like an Elf or Half-Orc, and Humans are omnipresent in every good adventuring group. In stead of making countless separate races and subraces, I think a system of specializing the core races might have been a better idea, provided it wasn't too complicated; that would have allowed the more outlandish players to play monster characters to satisfy their exotic desires.

8 Prestige Classes

Actually, there was --more or less --an Oozemage. It wasn't a spellcasting PrC, but it delivered enough abilities to make you think it might have been. The Thrall of Jubilex (BoVD) delivered on that.

3 Vancian Magic

I couldn't agree with you more. Spell preparation just slows the whole game down and encourages the spellcasters to cheat, anyway (which is far too easy when the DM has six or more other players to watch at the same time). I don't know how many times a wizard in my group has erased a few things to exchange a Mass Invisibility for a twinned Fireball or somesuch --or maybe clerics switching out something for a well-timed Revivify. I can deal with the spell slots and all, but I have to agree that the system needs some work.

Mkill 21:27, 19 August 2007 (MDT)[edit]

@Sledged: I can't say whether Illumians were any good, rules-wise. I never bothered to read them, as I found the idea of a race with some glowing symbols around their head rather silly. That idea was better suited to some Prestige Class or Template or something. If they write a race, I want it to have a useful history, a place in the campaign world, a means of multiplying, their own lands, a reasonable way of economic survival etc. --Mkill 21:27, 19 August 2007 (MDT)

Sam Kay 03:01, 20 August 2007 (MDT)[edit]

I would say the worst of D&D 3.5 was D&D miniatures: they where poor quality, but worst of all they where randomised into boxes so you couldn't get the model you want without having to buy lots of boxes, and then you waste several times more money on the model than it was worth.

And the miniatures game was pretty pointless anyway: why play a game where you have no real choice to what models you use and no control of a real army, when there are others where you can get a huge army with full control of what you buy with other games?

I there is one thing that needs improving is the miniatures range if anyone is ever going to want to use them.

Mkill 07:04, 20 August 2007 (MDT)[edit]

Good point. I'd also like to add that D&D3 had too many rules that only made sense if you put miniatures on the table, such as AOOs for moving and 5ft. steps. The game was designed so you could only play it with miniatures. I know at least one Fantasy gaming system that has better core combat rules (the German "Arcane Codex"): it works fine without miniatures, it allows more maneuvers and it even takes up less pages. And you can do interesting stuff even without the right feat.

The main drawback of miniatures is that it takes away your imagination. When all you see is unmoving miniatures, it's hard to picture a lively fight in a three-dimensional environment in your mind. That is why some games like Feng Shui explicitely say you shouldn't use miniatures to play. --Mkill 07:04, 20 August 2007 (MDT)

Sam Kay 08:01, 20 August 2007 (MDT)[edit]

Miniatures work for me (I find it easier just to mark where anyone is) I just hate the miniature game and the miniatures they supply. On the WotC page they do preveiws (as I am sure you know) of miniatures and comment on how "cool" they are. I'm sorry. They are NOT cool. Compare the D&D spider swarm with the spider swarms you get with the spider queen in games workshop's LotR strategy battle game. Immediatly, the D&D version goes out the window.

I use miniatures, just not the D&D range. I use warhammer models. They are much easier to get hold of, better quality, cooler, I have the fun of making and painting them, I can choose what I buy and even meke them with a degree of creativity. I can be proud of my painting (though I am by no means a great miniatures painter). I can't do any of that with the D&D ones.

All D&D players should boycott (stop using) the D&D miniatures, and not buy them until they actually bother to create a better range.

I will also say that anyone who wants to play the D&D miniatures ghame should take up warhammer skirmish...

Compare WotC miniature with GW miniature. More expensive, but worth it! (bigger too...)

The randomisation thing works with TGCs such as magic:the gathering, but when you do the same with miniatures, its not so great (to put it simply).--Sam Kay 07:59, 20 August 2007 (MDT)

MorkaisChosen 04:52, 4 September 2007 (MDT)[edit]

I agree about the minis. The group I play with started off as a Warhammer club, so we usually all have some models we can bring in- my half-orc paladin was Gothmog, for example. The other advantage of using GW models if you play their games is that players will generally paint them a bit better than the cheap D&D minis. That doesn't help if you don't play the GW games, though, and the minis are hideously expensive.

I like the idea of prestige classes and, while there are definitely some that are sort of obsolete, I think there are definitely some good ones in there. Shadowdancer is a personal favourite for sheer downright coolness (and a pseudo-sneaky trick involving the Shadow Companion and the Rogue's Crippling Strike ability...)

Mkill 05:34, 5 September 2007 (MDT)[edit]

Shadowdancer is just useless. Lots of the abilities you'll get anyway as a rogue (Evasion, Uncanny Dodge etc.) The Shadow companion is too weak (CR 3) at 8th level (minimum entry) already. As for the other stuff, there's just a bit hidyness and the shadow jump. I'd be happier with boots of haste and a ring of invisibility. It's so not worth giving up sneak attacks.

Sam Kay  09:43, 5 September 2007 (MDT)[edit]

Perhaps we could make a new version of shadowdancer. You know, with sneak attack and shadow jump, but no shadow companion, etc. I still think it is cool. You just need to be careful when implementing a prestige class to make it worthwhile... Give it abilities that is worthwhile loosing levels in other classes to attain, and if it is designed to be built on top of a specific base class, make sure a character would not be loosing out.

Another problem is the multiclass penalty. It essentially means that one who wants to take a prestige classes suffers a -20% Xp penalty. What if you take a 3 level prestige class? You would be forever doomed to a -20% Xp penalty. I came up with a alternative Idea that I thought would be better: you suffer no penalty for multiclassing, but the number of classes you can take is limited (I think 2 or 3 is about right), one of which can be a prestige class, and you favoured class (i.e; fighter for a dwarf) is not included in this maximum. For example: a dwarf could have, for example (in which the limit is 2), in Cleric, Fighter and Dwarven defender (as fighter is his favoured class). Characters with an "Any" favoured class may choose their favoured class using this system.

WotC just need to put more thought into their prestige classes, and make them a lot rarer: no more than three in a book (with the exception of the DMG).

Sledged-20070905100032

Sledged (talk)
2007 September 5 10:00 (MDT)
Posted by Sam Kay

It essentially means that one who wants to take a prestige classes suffers a -20% Xp penalty.

For reference: "Taking a prestige class does not incur the experience point penalties normally associated with multiclassing." Though it's in the SRD, they mistakenly left that bit out of the DMG.

Another alternative to the multiclassing XP penalty is to require entry requirements for all base classes except your favored class, and the first class in which you take levels outside of your favored class (and NPC classes). It's a variant on which I've been working.

There's no better laugh than the one that you're ashamed to share with your mother.
Stephen Notley, creator of Bob the Angry Flower

Sam Kay 10:45, 5 September 2007 (MDT)[edit]

That sucks (that they left it out of the SRD). Well, you can't blame me for not knowing that. Still, I still think it is a good system; it works in theory... and it is flexible (by changing the limit)...


JayKay 15:33, 27 August 2008 (MDT) [edit]

(Anybody remember the Oozemage?) Nope...but I remember the Oozemaster...he was way cool, if underused.JayKay 15:35, 27 August 2008 (MDT)


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the cancer mage from BoVD is almost an ooze mage and i'm pretty sure i've seen one somewhere

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