Sunday, April 12, 2009

Solving the High Level Game Issues in 3.x

What if we just combine in a modular fashion the various versions of different systems and make up our own game? I realized today that essentially with our house rules, that’s all we really did. We houseruled 3.0 back to as close to AD&D as we could do, within the d20 rules, and kept the Feats and Skills from 3.0. We didn’t consciously houserule it that way. I guess our sensibilities and gaming preferences just lead us that way. Also, I had been on the boards for a while before we hit high levels with our characters, and decided that in order to avoid a lot of the common high level problems, we ought to do some pre-emptive houseruling.

My question, what if we went all out and did this for real? Let’s say our group took the base AD&D rules, flat out. Then added the skills and feats from 3.x/Pathfinder, except for the ones that obviously wouldn’t work, like magic item creation, things that deal with attacks of opportunity, feats that give bonuses to saves would have to be changed, etc.

First, would such a system work? It brings back the old school flavor, and gives the classes some differentiation from each other, which is one thing my players say they like about 3.x---that fighters aren’t all the same. Heck, we can even use the d20 mechanic for combat and AC if need be, but it’s not a biggie because we were all fine with THACO.

My first thought is that this eliminates most of the problems associated with the high level game that people talk about.

• No more of the big 6 magic items, and no need for them, because the monsters aren’t scaled that way against you. The arms race is over. There is a definite limit to AC, and HP don’t get ridiculous.

• You’d use the old MM’s from AD&D for monsters, with their simpler stat blocks. Also the monsters aren’t classed, so monster and NPC generation is a breeze again, finally.

• No more long combats because attacks of opportunity don’t exist, and there are far less iterative attacks.

• Due to feats, fighters get a bump up as compared to magic users.

• Magic is rare in the game, due to the lack of magic item creation feats---you are back to the old rules of hunting down the cobweb of a phase spider, dropping 50000 gp and then likely failing the check to make the item.

• This brings back the need to adventure in order to acquire magic, which lends itself to an old school feel game where the players adventure for killin’ and lootin’, rather than to “save the world” kinda crap.

• The spells are generally simpler in description and thus allow the players more creative use of them, making for a more fun game.

Does this work to solve the high level problem? What are the drawbacks?

As a side note, It seems that this approach could be used for all types of games. You like the OD&D rules, but want the spells from Pathfinder? Go for it. Once you break a game down to its component parts, you can pick and choose between them at will to get a game that suits your style of play.


  1. The only downside I can see is that it would make some of the higher CR monsters even tougher. For example, without attacks of opportunity you lose the chance to disrupt a demon's summoning other demons or teleporting'd almost have to use the older versions of the monsters. But I like the general idea a lot.

  2. Isn't this what Basic Fantasy RPG is?

  3. I am a little late on this one but I think using AD&D + some feats would work fine.

    Stick to the feats that provide bonuses instead of those that give new abilities.

    There is no CR in AD&D so you don't have to worry about how it balances. If it makes the 8th level characters a bit tougher than usual, just throw tougher encounters at them.

    I have been thinking about using a 3.0 game without skills except for class skills - thieves skills, tracking for rangers, etc.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.