Monday, January 15, 2024

Emirikol and 3E

 Since this project is in part about reclaiming the honor of 3.0, it’s worth looking at 3.0 for this game.

·       Lots of ‘problems’ with 3E came from violations of the table contract, with players trying to locate loopholes in the game’s expansive rules framework. Since I only had to deal with these 4 players who were all adults this wasn’t a concern.

·       Since the players all signed on for a Swashbuckling of lesser nobility having adventures and defending the republic from Chaos, I didn’t have to rule out Barbarians, Druids, Monks, and Rangers as not being great fits because the players had already signed on.

·       3E did get bloated for spellcasting PCs at higher levels. This this was initially a year of play to 6th level PCs that wasn’t an issue. While we got to 9th level the fact that we only had a sorcerer and a bard rather than the expansive spell list classes also kept this known issue in check.

·       A key job as DM is controlling what was in the game world; 3E players assumption that every item from every supplement was fair game was lethal. If I knew that some of the adventures I seeded about would become less interesting if the PCs had water breathing, I just didn’t put any water breathing potions in the game. Could the sorcerer have taken Water Breathing as a spell? Sure, and she would have been rewarded for that if they ever tackled those adventures, but would she have ever spent one of her precious spell choices on that? Nope.


So what worked really well?

·       Giving the players a list of every skill with combat effects (and adding some combat effects to others that felt Fencing-y, usually having to do with AC to counter the lack of heavy armor) let players make meaningful decisions for minor distinctive effects in fencing style.

·       Likewise, feats lent themself to style differentiation. I added several ideas culled from supplements or earlier editions gave easy differentiation without special class powers.

·       The Multi-classing system (and beefing up Aristocrat to be a PC class) captured PC concepts in the core classes. Other versions of D&D end up feeling too restrictive, either listing things you can’t do or proscribing class paths; 3E is so modular this was never an issue.

·       The prestige class system being designed to be campaign idiosyncratic from the jump was another wonder: making the paladins a prestige class gave Tom goal from session 1, gave Bec & and Jim a character goals as we went into the mid-levels of the game, and fleshed out the world.


What worked less well?

·       I’m not enamored with the point spend attribute system, since I don’t want to feed into Design at Start over Design in Play, but it’s a minor quibble. While none of my players are the min-max sort – the sorcerer and bard both started with Cha 16, not 18 – Jim having two 8’s to get three 14s and a 16, and Tom having no stats at 10 did rankle a little.

·       System mastery mattering as much as it did was also a possible concern. Tom just understood how 3E worked better than anyone else, and I know he designed parts of the PC around the system: he used high initiative ‘sneak attack’ style because he was a rogue, but he was a rogue because he wanted the 40 skill points at 1st level. Still, it wasn’t a dominating factor.

·       Likewise at certain points Bec and Dave just threw up their hands and asked me to make the choices to get their PC to X place because there were too many options. The same breadth of options I liked came with a FOMO.

·       None of the players fell into the “I have to make every choice right to join this prestige class at the earliest level”, instead finding ones that looked interesting and ambling towards them, which is how I wanted the system to work. Still, I understand why some players fell into that pattern. Like letting in bad magic items, the DM has to control what’s in the world for the PCs to strive for.

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