If it had been ME in charge of designing 3E I would've . . .
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Post Posted: Fri Dec 01, 2006 11:33 am 
 

Well the other thread I made on 3E has been fun, so I thought I'd try another one.  The year is 1998-99 and YOU are charge of the direction and design 3rd edition D&D rules will follow.  AD&D has fallen on hard times . . . something new is needed to regain interest in the game (and make a profit as well).  What would you have done?



. . . . of course, from a financial standpoint, the current d20 system seems to have succeeded, but there are doubtless other ways the game could have been revived.  How would you have changed the game?  It is not enough to say I'd have reverted back to 1st edition either!  You have a lot of new power in your position, but you have to bring the game in a new direction, not revert to a previous system.  Sure, you could go back to similar AD&D or OD&D concepts . . . whatever . . . but there would have to be some new elements.

I realize this is a complicated question - I'm not even sure what my own answer is yet.  It's not like I expect someone to write up a whole new rules system.  But, if you had to sum up in a couple of paragraphs (or less) how you envision 3E D&D, what would you say?  Would you drop all the 2nd edition kits and go back to the more conventional system of 1E?  How would combat be changed?  Would the "combat round" be reduced to 10 seconds instead of a minute?  Would you use a skill and point based system instead of a level based system?   What are the major changes?  How do you make 3E true to your idea of role-playing, but still come out with a new and different edition?

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Post Posted: Fri Dec 01, 2006 11:39 am 
 

I know what I would do.  I would call E Gary Gygax and get him into the fold as soon as possible, no matter the cost. :)   From there, I would start contacting a lot of those folks who worked for the old TSR before the Blumes ruined it(Mentzer, Kuntz, Lenkofka, Moldvay, etc.) that were no longer there and found out if they were interested in coming back.  I would put EGG fully in charge as President and allow him to proceed on creating the vision that he had for 2nd edition AD&D which would be 3rd edition now instead.  I would look at the current staff and find those who I thought were the most gifted and allowed them to stay and for the trolls who were there just collecting paychecks or just flat out sucked to go find another job. That is at least where I would start.


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Post Posted: Fri Dec 01, 2006 11:55 am 
 

bclarkie wrote:I know what I would do.  I would call E Gary Gygax and get him into the fold as soon as possible, no matter the cost. ...  I would put EGG fully in charge as President and allow him to proceed on creating the vision that he had for 2nd edition AD&D which would be 3rd edition now instead.  


Bravo!

There's a lot to like about 3rd ed, but at the end of the day, it's a bit videogamey. I think the DMG II has quite a few optional rules for scaling back the power settings, but it'd be nice if they were the baseline rules.

I remember back in the early 80s, feeling that EGG was a bit...ah... arrogant. His prose, his insistence that if you weren't playing his rules 100% you weren't playing AD&D, etc...

And now -- after the passage of years -- I just wish he could get back on board and create: AD&D, 4th Edition. Hey! Retro is IN. Take the best of the new, best of the old.

  

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Post Posted: Fri Dec 01, 2006 12:48 pm 
 

Beyondthebreach wrote:Well the other thread I made on 3E has been fun, so I thought I'd try another one.  The year is 1998-99 and YOU are charge of the direction and design 3rd edition D&D rules will follow.  AD&D has fallen on hard times . . . something new is needed to regain interest in the game (and make a profit as well).  What would you have done?



. . . . of course, from a financial standpoint, the current d20 system seems to have succeeded, but there are doubtless other ways the game could have been revived.  How would you have changed the game?  It is not enough to say I'd have reverted back to 1st edition either!  You have a lot of new power in your position, but you have to bring the game in a new direction, not revert to a previous system.  Sure, you could go back to similar AD&D or OD&D concepts . . . whatever . . . but there would have to be some new elements.

I realize this is a complicated question - I'm not even sure what my own answer is yet.  It's not like I expect someone to write up a whole new rules system.  But, if you had to sum up in a couple of paragraphs (or less) how you envision 3E D&D, what would you say?  Would you drop all the 2nd edition kits and go back to the more conventional system of 1E?  How would combat be changed?  Would the "combat round" be reduced to 10 seconds instead of a minute?  Would you use a skill and point based system instead of a level based system?   What are the major changes?  How do you make 3E true to your idea of role-playing, but still come out with a new and different edition?

:?:


My first rule of thumb would be to sit everyone on my creative team down in a room and say RULE #1 is that I want you to create a game that ANY D&D PLAYER FROM ANY ERA can sit down and play with only a few minutes of prep, but also something that would appeal to someone who has never played D&D before.  For example, I can pick up the new 6th edition Call of Cthulhu game and still run a classic adventure from 1982 through with only a few tweaks here and there.   I would want the same customizing to be possible with the new 3rd edition....using the 3rd edition rules you could run L1 Bone Hill, Ruins of Undermountain, or Forge of Fury with just a bit of fiddling with stats and magic items and such.  I would want to both appeal to a large new audience and yet not entirely alienate the hard core fans that have helped carry the game through 25+ years of viability.  
 In many ways the new game could stay the same, with the new funky artwork, a lot of the skills and feats, some prestige classes, the new AC ratings, no levels on demi humans, expanded spells, etc.  Just not compartmentalize it so much that someone who last played in say 1986 couldn't pick up dice, roll up a character and begin with a 3rd level campaign in about an hour.  You couldn't have "gone back" to something like 1st edition and made any money; likewise, you wouldn't have been able to just add a few tweaks to 2nd edition.  Realistically some kind of large seismic shift had to occur; however, I would have tried to make it as painless as possible for those old timers who wanted to come along for the ride.
 A lot of what went into the AD&D players/DM options books, as well as the Complete Book of Druids/Bards/Fighters series, would have made it into 3rd edition. If you ever read the Options books, this is pretty much a  rough draft for what 3rd edition became anyway, and yet it's compatible with 2nd edition. I probably would have cut the skill/prestige class/specialty character crap in half. The entire "You can make any character you want now" mantra is far, far over-rated and just adds to game bloat. Look, 20 years ago we could "create any character we ever wanted" and didnt' have to add thirty three books of new rules and spells to do so.  You didn't have to "cover every single contingency"....which besides, we already DID cover every single contingency because the DUNGEON MASTER did that or he was a crappy DM and didn't make it...
 Outside of the "core" rulebooks, which would have kept the old timers happy, I would have created a set of "options" much like Monte Cook did with Arcana Unearthed.  In other worlds "Here is the core 3rd edition, you can also use it with 2nd and 1st edition product, however if you are a little more on the edge and alittle more out there and want to roleplay a Yuan Ti,  here are the books that tell you to do that".  It wouldn't have been part of the core rulebook, but would keep those happy that wanted a change...
 I love the OGL, and would have kept the OGL, with one difference: The only OFFICIAL character classes, spells, monsters, feats, skills, races, etc would come through WOTC.  I would try somehow to bring some sort of quality control where you didn't have some of the absolute pieces of shit that now sit in $1 bins all across America, the lousy adventures, the really badly edited stuff, the absolute worthless modules and settings that are now used as landfill.  I think in a way it really ended up cheapening the game because when 3rd edition first started, a lot of the modules being released were so bad they degraded your product.  Personally, a lot of the first modules I read were so godawful it did make me form a negative impression in my mind of the entire game as a whole.
     As BC said I would have tried to bring as many of the EGG, Mentzer, Kuntz, Lakofka, Arneson crowd on board.  However, I would NOT have given them any presidential/upper level powers.  I would have put him and the rest into CREATIVE endeavors and leave the paperwork and paychecks to the money crunchers and suits. You would divide up the creative guys into say Old School (basically World of Greyhawk/1st edition influenced), Forgotten Realms (which for better or worse was the face of 2nd edition), and New School (essentially new campaign worlds like Eberron, Freeport, Kalamar).  Tell EGG to get Castle Greyhawk underway, have Kuntz on Maure castle, Arneson on Blackmoor, etc. Let's face it all Gary's greatest stuff was before he got so bogged down in the daily grind of running a company...let him and the old school guys have a project, and have someone who can clean the stuff up and convert it to 3rd edition if the old guys don't want to (Erik Mona?).   Guys like Ed Greenwood, Eric Boyd, I would give the Forgotten Realms project, have them churn out the FR stuff for 3rd edition. I would also lock up guys like Monte Cook, Sean Reynolds, Bruce Cordell, and others and give them the task of creating the New School/New World stuff and leave the bulk of whatever new world (Eberron?) creating and implementing to them.  One of the things TSR did correctly was bring in 2nd edition with Forgotten Realms (actually, FR was here a couple of years before 2nd ed) and make that the face of their product. I would have had something like Eberron ready to go at the dawn of 3rd edition instead of trying to retrofit Greyhawk somehow into 3rd edition which merely ended up alienating a lot of older fans.  
  I think one thing I would implement is campaign consistency. For example, suddenly with 3rd edition you had half dragon sorcerors on Greyhawk, Dwarven mage/barbarians on Faerun, etc.  I would say "The worlds of Greyhawk and Forgotten Realms are set; inother words, they don't have Halfling Thief/bard/paladins.  If you really want to play a half dragon/priest/monk, he exists on New School World."  Then the new campaign world I would have made to coincide with third edition would have all the new funky classes that now exists in 3rd edition.  New classes, races and character combos would be campaign specific and you wouldn't have to retrofit crazy stuff like Tiefling/Warrior/Bard/Clerics onto the World of Greyhawk.  That way, the old schoolers still have their sandbox to play in, while the new schoolers have all the brand new shiny toys to play with also.  Of course any DM could do whatever he wanted in his own campaign, while the "official" word would be none of that in Greyhawk.   An old schooler could pick up something like Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil and reasonably expect to run it without a lot of trouble, and not having to deal with new and confusing terms/monsters/races/character classes. However, someone picking up say the New School line of modules might be fighting Chuuls and Half/Elementals or whatever but that's cool because it's established they are on that world.
  Anyway just a few things off the top of my head....

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Post Posted: Fri Dec 01, 2006 1:02 pm 
 

Beyondthebreach wrote:If it had been ME in charge of designing 3E I would've . . .

... found a new art director. The endless series of brownish-colored, jewel-encusted rulebooks is an incredible turnoff. Yes, I get it, WotC: they are supposed to look like "tomes" or "spellbooks" or whatever. But they all end up looking alike, which is to say they look like jewel-encrusted pieces of poo-poo.*

I can spot a 1e copy of the DMG, PHB, etc., at a distance and instantly know what it is; 3e rulebooks are indistinguishable from any distance.

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Post Posted: Fri Dec 01, 2006 1:11 pm 
 

Badmike wrote:      As BC said I would have tried to bring as many of the EGG, Mentzer, Kuntz, Lakofka, Arneson crowd on board.  However, I would NOT have given them any presidential/upper level powers.


Thats why I would have assigned him as President of the Creative Group, not the CEO or CFO. :wink:


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Post Posted: Fri Dec 01, 2006 1:32 pm 
 

Xaxaxe wrote:... found a new art director. The endless series of brownish-colored, jewel-encusted rulebooks is an incredible turnoff. Yes, I get it, WotC: they are supposed to look like "tomes" or "spellbooks" or whatever. But they all end up looking alike, which is to say they look like jewel-encrusted pieces of poo-poo.*

I can spot a 1e copy of the DMG, PHB, etc., at a distance and instantly know what it is; 3e rulebooks are indistinguishable from any distance.

+++++

*This is a technical term for "ca-ca."


Yes, a new art director right away.  I can't stand the look of the books with the jewel-encrusted rocks on them.  They look tacky and indistinguishable from each other at a distance.  Bring back Otus, Roslof and Holloway to complement the Broms and Lockwoods.

  


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Post Posted: Fri Dec 01, 2006 1:52 pm 
 

Might seem trivial, but I would prioritize keeping the dice in the game.  I mean everything in addition to the d20.  I find it incredibly boring to roll the damned d20 for everthing.  Remember the fun of rolling the percentiles for "hide in shadows", or rolling 3d6 for dexterity checks, and things like that?


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Post Posted: Fri Dec 01, 2006 7:53 pm 
 

VermilionFire wrote:
Yes, a new art director right away.  I can't stand the look of the books with the jewel-encrusted rocks on them.  They look tacky and indistinguishable from each other at a distance.  Bring back Otus, Roslof and Holloway to complement the Broms and Lockwoods.


I would have kept the Otus, Roslof, Dee and Holloway on the Old School products division...have each type of campaign setting it's own artist and looks, with very little crossover.

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Post Posted: Fri Dec 01, 2006 8:50 pm 
 

1. Bring back simplicity. As stated, I also hate the neverending assembly line of game supplements and accessories. Who on earth has time to read all that garbage. Second edition started it, and it has only gotten worse.

2. Go back and consolidate and refine two or three campaign settings and dump the rest. Greyhawk, FR, and one or two more. That is it. It is critical to create a campaign world that is a foundation for your game.

3. Review all the character classes and probably add a few subclasses. Expand the levels attainable by demi-humans. Give MUs more spells, etc.

4. Go back and find all those great 1e artists. Like it or not, they gave the game a visual personality. By leaving that behind, TSR and WoTC completely changed the "feel" of the game. The AD&D brand was altered (for the worse by garbage art) and that is not a good thing.

5. Produce more modules. Not supplements. Not accessories. MODULES. MODULES. MODULES.

6. Run major tournaments that can actually be reproduced as adventure modules. Ever notice how that all went to hell in the mid to late 80s. The official AD&D tournaments after around 1985 were complete crap. It is critical to maintain synergy - and great convention tournaments are a good way to keep your buyers in step.

7. Release a major product at Gencon each year. Whether it is a hyped module or a campaign setting expansion, it does not matter.

8. Get rid of psionics. Monsters that use them can be redesigned and a "mind" based system specifically for them can be created.

9. Create more weapons and options for them.

10. Adjust weapons specialization a bit.

11. Destroy any and all references to anything in the Fiend Folio.

12. Add skills (something similar to what is in the 3e system is fine).

13. Do something to expand on humanoids. Nothing like 3e. Just some tinkering to give them a little more diversity.

14. Fix Dragons so they are truly nightmarish at higher levels.

15. In short, maintain the AD&D brand from 1e. There is no reason to change saving throws, combat (other than minor modifications/additions) or spell casting. No it is not perfect, but it is AD&D and that was fine for most of us for years...


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Post Posted: Fri Dec 01, 2006 10:01 pm 
 

If it were 1998 all over again and we had the chance to make d20 Fantasy?

The easy answer for me would have been to say, make the game like Castles & Crusades.  However, that doesn't really answer the question.  Not to mention it's a bit of a cop out because Castles & Crusades doesn't appeal to the crowd that WotC was trying to capture.

The first thing that I would have done if I had the chance to make third edition would be to not ignore Gary's input when it came to making the damn game.  WotC went and destroyed the archetypes in d20 Fantasy, so our hypothetical d20 Fantasy game should focus on the archetypes.  For the archetypes are what truly make the game feel like Dungeons & Dragons.

I would have eliminated any discussion centering around making sure everything was balanced against everything else.  The archetypes by their very nature are internally balanced, but not balanced against each other.  This is deliberate, and sets apart one archetype from another.  This change has far reaching ramifications in that monsters are not balanced against other monsters or the players.

I would have insisted upon using a unified mechanic. Older editions of the game had very quirky rules at times, and a unified mechanic is a good thing.

Attributes would use the revised bonuses, as shown in the current d20 Fantasy.  Exceptional Strength is gone.

I would have replaced the old save system with something newer and streamlined, like the Fort, Reflex, will save system, or Castles & Crusades save system based on the attributes.

For each class, I would provide a skill tree, with skills related to that class.  The player gets a core set of skills related to his class, but can select an additional skill for every point of the prime requisite over a specific amount.  The player starts off with a specific rating in each skill and can improve each skill with an increase in level.  (This is a lot like Runequest character advancement, and that's actually deliberate, since a lot of Runequest actually was used in d20 Fantasy.)

The classes that are in d20 Fantasy now all would be carried over into this "new" d20 Fantasy.

The races that are in d20 Fantasy now all would be carried over into this "new" d20 Fantasy.

The equipment that is in d20 Fantasy now is perfectly fine (and in fact was used with very little change in my "Proto AD&D" book).

All the negative effects of casting spells (wishes aging the caster five years for example) would need to remain in the game as it makes the player actually decide whether it really is worth it to cast that spell.  At the same time, this means that system shock and resurrection rolls would need to be returned to the game, though updated to conform to the unified game mechanic.

Combat in many ways would be similar to the existing d20 Fantasy, except revised to account for facing (the biggest problem with d20 Fantasy combat).  This would also eliminate the desire to "fix" creatures like the beholder that have a clearly defined front and back, and whose abilities require having a front and a back.  Attacks of Opportunity would be eliminated to streamline combat, though this is something that could be worked on to make the entire thing workable.

Monsters as presented in d20 Fantasy are ok, except they have too many hit points, and feats screw everything up.  Since there will be no feats in this "d20 Fantasy" the monsters will not be screwed up.  Monsters will have skills, just like player characters.  The new write-ups for monsters will be derived from 1st Edition AD&D versions of the monsters.  1st Edition hit dice numbers would be used, but with variable hit dice types based on creature size (this was a rule that was going to be implemented in AD&D, never done due to time constraints, and only hinted at in OD&D).

Magic items are fine as they are, though if they had a negative effect in AD&D, they should retain that negative effect in our hypothetical new d20 Fantasy.

A section on role playing should be presented, one that focuses on utilizing the imagination, and reinforcing the concept that this d20 Fantasy allows for a great deal of flexibility.  If nothing else, rule zero should be reworded to emphasize the fact that the rules are only guidelines, and that the referee has the final say in everything.

A bi-directional conversion system will also be provided, to allow for converting between systems as necessary (Half of this section would focus on converting to d20, with such things as adjusting attribute bonues for characters including guidelines to convert exceptional strength to the d20 format, providing those characters with skills, and converting things not in the core rules, such as character classes and monsters.  The other half would focus on converting various things such as the aforementioned sections from d20 to older editions.)

Finally, unlike badmike, I don't have a major problem with the OGL itself.  The d20 license on the other hand I would seek to revise.  I'd ensure that there was a mechanism for truly high quality control, by requiring a pre-publication copy of the book be presented to Wizards of the Coast for approval.  The revised d20 license would make it clear that the only official rule books are the Player's Handbook, Dungeon Master's Guide, the Monster Manual, and future Monster Manuals from Wizards of the Coast; any other book from Wizards of the Coast or a third party being unofficial.



  

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Post Posted: Sat Dec 02, 2006 1:26 am 
 

...........published the custom game system I use now.


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Post Posted: Sat Dec 02, 2006 1:34 pm 
 

Traveller wrote:Finally, unlike badmike, I don't have a major problem with the OGL itself.  The d20 license on the other hand I would seek to revise.  I'd ensure that there was a mechanism for truly high quality control, by requiring a pre-publication copy of the book be presented to Wizards of the Coast for approval.  The revised d20 license would make it clear that the only official rule books are the Player's Handbook, Dungeon Master's Guide, the Monster Manual, and future Monster Manuals from Wizards of the Coast; any other book from Wizards of the Coast or a third party being unofficial.


This is actually what I meant to say; you just said it better... :)

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Post Posted: Sat Dec 02, 2006 10:14 pm 
 

Deadlord39 wrote:...........published the custom game system I use now.

I started with this goal in mind in 1994.  It ended up essentially being a 1E campaign setting, though.  (The full version still isn't finished, but if anybody wants to see the first "Gazetteer" installment, send me a PM.)

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Post Posted: Sat Dec 23, 2006 12:39 pm 
 

Had I been in charge in 1998:

(1)  Gygax, Arneson et al would be back.  Format would be similar to 1e with the best (??) of 2e melded in.
(2)  I would have made a special series, similar what would be done [in 1999] with the Silver Anniversary collection:  Take all of the series that were coded (A, B, AC, etc.) plus the related supermodules, put them into their own boxed sets . . . then added a NEW module or accessory (in the AC set, for example) or two to the box sets.  Something like the "return to . . ." series of modules, or an "epilogue" series (what happened afterward), or even a new adventure[s].
EXAMPLE: Take all of the B series (B1, B2, B3, . . . , B10, etc.)), plus the supermodule B1-9/BA1-9, and put them all in one box set . . . and add one or two new B-series modules.

(3)  Clean up the inconsistency between the super modules and the originals (I.E. the problems with maps and scales between T1, T1-4 and Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil).
(4)  More modules and bring back the module codes.
---->    HOWEVER, let each world (Greyhawk, Mystara, Dragonlance, etc.) have its own code, then give each module a code (I.E. the current B2 The Keep on the Borderlands would become (G) B2 (indicating Greyhawk setting).  
---->     OR, allow each setting after Greyhawk to keep the same style cover while having a module code.   Thus, a B2 in Greyhawk would have the covers we all know, while a DragonLance B2 module would have its own DragonLance style cover but be a different B2, an Eberron B2 has an Eberron-style cover, etc.
---->     (Understand, I am NOT saying have B2 The Keep on the Borderlands in each setting; the modules would be designated B2 but would not be re-hashes of the original Greyhawk B2.)
(5)  Eliminate at least half of the extra books written for 2e in the new version.
(6)  Have the new rule books, etc. available for computer usage or downloads.  After all, a computer can be a great aid even for just keeping track of experience, treasure, etc.--take advantage of it!
(7)  Bring back the old AC set-up--what was wrong in starting with AC10 (no armor or clothes) and going to AC-10 (magic plate armor or equivalent))?  To me, anyone who was AC1, AC0, AC-1, etc. was always a challenge--what does AC30 (in the 3.5e rules) mean?[/b]

  

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Post Posted: Sun Dec 24, 2006 4:00 am 
 

In the 3.5 rules, AC 30 means that a giant is likely to hit with his first swing but has much less chance with his second or third tries.

This means that the giant is likely to get more from swinging at his full attack bonuses rather than trying to flatten the PC in question with a two-handed power attack.

The 3.5 rules give monsters the full benefit of their statistics, so a giant's two-handed sword hits more often and hurts more when it hits.  A cloud giant, for instance...sword fodder for a 12th level AD&D character...is a serious one-on-one rival for a 12th level 3.5 character.

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