Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Reflections on editions and changes over the years - D&D Third Edition

When 3E was announced I had a very strong “sure, whatever” attitude as while we had a 2E campaign running I was pretty sure it was petering out and we were headed for other things. However a funny thing happened over the course of 1999 – 2000. Each month Dragon had an article about some aspect of the new system and each one I read made more and more sense to me. By the time it was released I was ready to fire up a new game and go! Once again, careful and consistent communication wins over a skeptical customer! After reading those previews it felt like they really undertook a serious analysis of what had come before and changed all it all for the better! The unified d20 mechanic made a lot of sense and felt like the game was keeping up with innovations made over the last 10 years. Ascending AC was so obvious – why didn’t we think of that before? Unlimited multi classing! A logical arrangement for saving throws! So many little changes that made the game fresh and fun to play again!

Third Edition quickly became our dominant game once again and stayed there – I was still playing 3E (well, 3.5) in 2009 and I know plenty of people who are still playing it. Now over years of playing a certain system you will find some rough edges and with things moving into the established internet age those edges get uncovered a lot faster than they did in the 80’s. So sure, we got 3.5 in 2003. I can tell you we pretty much ignored and only incorporated it in our ongoing campaigns as players picked up the books and asked to use parts of them. I know some people got pretty agitated about the changes and the timing, but we never really ran into the issues that it solved as we tended to run at lower levels and my guys aren’t really powergamers or trying to break the system. As a result, we never treated it as a mandatory upgrade and that made the whole thing a lot less stressful for everyone.

Campaigns rolled forward and gave us some of the best characters and adventures we had ever had. Our games were both all-new (Scarred Lands!) and retro (Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil, White Plume Mountain, The Monastery) and between the regular stream of supplements and the contents of Dragon and Dungeon we had more material, especially adventures, than we were ever able to play. Thank you Goodman Games! Thank you Necromancer Games! Thanks Green Ronin for Freeport! Thanks Paizo for your stewardship of the magazines and the first few adventure paths! Thanks Monte for Arcana Evolved! So much good stuff! So much good stuff still unplayed! Nonetheless, all good things as they say. Maybe there's room for one last 3.5 campaign in my future somewhere...

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