Thursday, February 17, 2011

Kicking it Olde Schoole v3.5

The boy and I had a pretty busy weekend. We went to a micro anime convention at a local library, talked Labyrinth Lord over dinner with a old 4e friend, and attended the kick-off meeting for brand new Old School D&D Group in North Texas.

I've attended - and run - quite a few rpg-centric greet and meet-ups, ranging in focus from D&D 4e, Star Wars Saga Edition, and Shadowrun.  Really, the best formula seems to be shaking hands, reminiscing about the old days for half and hour, than taking out the dice and getting to business.  This new group did not disappoint, as the organizer guessed that to be the proper course of action.

The one thing that I didn't realize is that the organizer considered D&D 3.5 to be old school.

That was . . . okay.  Not what I was hankering for, exactly.  I had never player 3.5, but am willing to give anything a shot.  I took my pre-gen's backstory and ran with it, playing an cleric who had been told by his deity to meet up with the group.  I played up the creepy stalker guy who 'talks to God' aspect.

The boy was bored stiff.  He was playing an elf ranger.  Plink plink plink.

While he has some attention problems in day to day life, a good game usually snaps him into focus.  This was not one of those games.

I too wasn't incredibly impressed. The DM and the 'theory' behind adventure were fine.  But the actual fights took forever.  I once thought that 4e fights could be painfully long.  I had no idea.  And at first level even.

I don't really know all that much about 3.5.  I'm sure that some experts could have banged out the fights in half the time.  But these guys we were playing with seemed to know what they were doing - yet it still took freaking forever - and the time was mostly spent on the mechanical details - not in anything that I consider particularly fun.

3.5 seems to be pretty damn fiddly.  There is all sorts of math and bizarre rules slapped willy nilly on everything you might want to do.  4e is much more cut because of what appears to be a rules consolidation and simplification from 3.5.  0e and 1e is much more clear cut cause THE DM JUST MAKES UP RULES ON THE SPOT AND NO ONE FUSSES ABOUT IT SO THERE.

The DM and players were all nice people and fun to be around.  My new buddy 3.5 - well - I don't know if I'll call him back for a second date.  I'm just not that into him.

That gives me some worries about Pathfinder.  I was thinking about taking a look at it - now I'm wondering if D&D 3.75 will do it for me.  How different is it?

I should probably give 3.5 another try - but - hmmm.  Yeah.

Talking to my son about it, he said he didn't like it much.  I asked him what he thought the biggest problem was.  He told me in no uncertain terms - it didn't have and POWERS.  All he could do was plink plink plink.

Ah.  I'm noticing a pattern here.  Options makes the game.  For my son, at least.

- Ark


  1. I think Pathfinder is worth a try: it gives more options, but it's more stream-lined than 3.5. (In which, I agree, it's very important to run things so that fights do not drag. Did the DM narrate the fight at all?) 3.5 as old school is pretty shows it's all a matter of perspective.

  2. To play devil's advocate to Theodric, I have played Pathfinder and found it to be more or less the same as 3.5 -- yes, some things are streamlined, and it is a slight improvement, but it is still too "fiddly" for my tastes, and combat still takes FOREVER.

  3. Pathfinder is streamlined but it still works in a very similar vein to 3.5, combats and things can certainly be pretty fiddly. To make the most of the rules you gotta use a battle grid and that really slows things down. I make all my own counters though by hand and enjoy that part though.

  4. @All - Thanks for the input. Whenever I see the Pathfinder Core Rules I go . . . OOOH SHINY! and want to buy it, but then I look at the price and have to think about it for a second.

    I suppose I should go play it before I pass any sort of judgment on it.

    @Pierce - yeah - yanno - with 4e, I loved the minis and actually have sculpted and/or assembled a lot on my own and really enjoy that part of the hobby. But those little minis take so much time out of the game that I could be using for stuff I'd prefer to be doing. It was a tough call - but after several years I'm leaning back to the 'no minis' bench.

    - Ark

  5. If you want to give Pathfinder a try, all the rules are available for free here:

    We used this site in the beginning before we committed to the switch from 4E. The paizo site should also have a few free pdf modules you can download. Try these:

    It is in fact a fiddly game, though, with a pretty steep learning curve. Although I'm surprised to hear combat took longer than 4E, considering players start with about 75% less hp than they do in 4E.

    Your son might like a sorcerer or alchemist if he likes to have a lot of different things to do.

    It may not be the right game for you guys, but our group enjoys it very much, and paizo is a great company that I love to give all my money to. I'd say it's worth an honest shot.

    OSR games are a lot of fun too though. It just depends on what kind of game you most enjoy. Good luck!

  6. @Aplus - Thanks for the links, I think I'll give Pathfinder a try for kicks - there are some groups around. I'd like to know more about the mechanics.

    I don't know why the 3.5 game took so long. I didn't quite understand why 4e took so long, even after months of playing. In the middle of it, you are doing tactics and calculations and whatnot in your head, and you are just - busy - so time doesn't seem to be dragging. Maybe not knowing all of the mechanics causes the game to drag more.

    Dunno - gonna think on that. :)

    - Ark