Ah, there’s the question. All this talk about a new Edition of D&D, and the one fundamental question hasn’t been addressed. Does it need to change? Do we need that new Edition?
On the one hand, we do. While 95% of the Core Rules work just great, the other 5% needs revision. The problem is that while Attacks of Opportunity, grappling and the like can easily be House Rule’d away, the kludge that is Challenge Ratings, Level Adjustments and ECL can’t so easily be swept under the carpet. Also, the way that the game is played has evolved over the last six or seven years. More people play online, and additional supplements (the Complete…. series, the Book of Nine Swords, etc) and new game worlds such as Eberron have added to the complexity and demands on the system.
Wizards of The Coast also needs to make a profit, and releasing a new Edition is one way to do just that. A new Edition of the Core Books will far outsell anything else WoTC have turned out in recent years.
It all makes sense, and a 4th Edition was pretty inevitable, all told.
3.5 Edition D&D is a darned fine system. Game designers might over-analyse and moan about “dead levels” and “game balance” and “optimal spells”, but us mere mortals just want a game that’s fun to play, and the current edition of D&D delivers that in spades. I like how there’s a shedload of supplements, monster manuals and adventures I can use right now. We’ve reached the sweet spot where it’s easy to pick and choose from thousands of pdfs and print books to create exactly the game you want.
Of course, 4th Edition won’t invalidate all that overnight (books don’t rust, remember), but it will also make a lot more work for folks after its release. A DM who wants to use a published adventure or a critter from a different Monster Manual will have to convert to the new system. Unless the changes are minimal, that’s going to add to the prep time, contrary to one of the stated goals of 4th Edition.
In a way, we have the same situation now too though. I can pick up any supplement from the last 30 years of D&D, and run with it.
In fact, I plan to do just that.
All of this talk about a new Edition of D&D has inspired me to pick up 3.5 Edition of D&D again, and go right back to my roots. I’m going to run through this:
The House Rules are my usual:
- All characters starts at 2nd level. Multi-classing is fine
- Any class or race from the PHB. Check with the DM for other classes/races
- Beginning stat array 10,12,13,14,15,16. Adjust for race
- Sorcerers gain Eschew Materials as a free feat at 1st level. Elves are far more likely to be Sorcerers than be Wizards.
- Wizards don’t get a Familiar at 1st level (but can gain one using a Feat slot at any time), but get a Wizard’s Staff that can be used to fire a bolt of magical force. It does damage and has a range equal to a Shortbow (1d6, 60’). Both ranged and melee attacks count as Magical, and it’s a Masterwork weapon (+1 to attack). Yep. Wizards are cool!
- All characters start with 900gp to spend on equipment. Pooling resources is fine. The Standard Adventurer’s Kit from PHB II is recommended for all characters and costs 15gp (Backpack, belt pouch, bedroll, Flint & Steel, 50’ hemp rope, 2 sunrods, 10 days’ trail rations, waterskin)
- Maximum Hit Points at 1st level, then Max HP-1 at 2nd level, modified by CON bonus. For example, a 2nd level Wizard with CON 12 will start with (4+3+1+1) 9hp.
This makes characters just a little more powerful than the norm, but not overly so – just enough to give them a chance to learn by their mistakes at low level. This module is purposely designed to be less risky than others (it is a beginner module, after all) with plenty of scope for customization. That gives me room to toss in a few unusual critters into the mix Expect horned orcs (orcotaurs), winged goblins (gobbats), gnome ninjas (no, really) and exploding skeletons (blastcaps). It’s going to be chock full of old school magic!
I mean, what’s not to love about this map?
Do we need a new Edition of D&D? No. But it’s sure going to be a fun and exciting time watching it happen