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March 02, 2009

2

Dungeon and Dragons. Third Edition.

Well, this is something I can not write about without a lot of emotions. This was my favourite RPG and the best version of it. And I DMed a lot of adventures in this system.

Let’s see. After years of being the kings of the RPGs and of Games in general, they loose so much fuel that a new company, Wizards of the Coast, bought them at the turn of the Century. The first RPG were eaten up by the company that started the craziness of Collectible Card Games. Under one roof D&D and Magic the Gathering.

Dungeons and Dragons Players Handbook.

This was the first Core Book in this new set of rules. A whole year of Dragon Magazine were preparing the fans and the players for the new version of their favourite RPG.

We are in August of 2000. This book came alone. No other book were published to shadow the basic set of rules. The next month they published the DM guide and in October they finished the basic rulebooks with the Monster Manual.

Looking the cover and back cover, we can see that this was a production of Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook and Skip Williams. And the code was TSR11550. The logo was the one of Wizards, but we can still read the name TSR in it. Not for very much longer.

I open this book again and find that it was a hell of concise rule book. In three pages they explain how to create a character. That is something, when the Advanced D&D was quite difficult. Then, the classic D&D character creation. Abilities included common house rules that everybody used but weren’t official. Races included everything you need several books in the last system. One thing. Dwarf women didn’t wear beards!

Classes are another thing. They even explain how to multiclass your character! Another house rule incorporated to the basic rules. The inevitable Skills section were reduced to a comprehensible chapter. I must say that this is the part of any RPG that I hate the most. They are so many and so complex that everything before this chapters were easy to understand and everything after them, the RPG becomes infinite and difficult. But in D&D 3rd edition the Skills chapter is transformed in a dense but accessible writing. A DM must know all of them, but a player can use common sense and that is more than enough. And the template of a character has printed all of them. That was something cool. And the skills list grew from the second edition.

Then the Feats. Another new stuff. They are like superpowers. And they were cool. The Feats need to accomplish several prerequisites but were easy to adjust to your basic staticstics. It could help you to flesh up your character from a series of numbers.

It follows with alignments (a classic that resisted to die) and equipment. But the combat section was the most important advance since Advace (sorry, an easy joke). THACO was something of the past. Now everything high was good and low bad. In older versions of D&D sometimes high was good but in THACO low was good. And that was something difficult for new players. Now hitting an enemy was an smooth system of rules. First the initiative was a number that you have at the begging, and the DM didn’t need to take notes every single encounter. To hit or not to hit were determined with your d20 plus your bonus and the damage were determined by the dice of your weapon plus bonus. That was all. In this simplified version, you can pay attention to cover, armor, movement, etc.

Magic has its part and spells occupied a lot of pages. This was so similar to older versions that sometimes I thought that they didn’t integrate this part of the game into the new set of rules.

The book ended with a glossary and that was all. Being this the first edition of this new set of rules and without the other core rulebooks available, they need to add a little something to let the players go for it and create their character and play an adventure. So they added a resume of DM helping guides and a set of monsters to fight them. And a Demo version of their Character Generator in a CD. This last pages and CD were removed from the next editions.

Dungeon Master’s Guide.

In September 2000, the second book appeared and has less pages than the Character generator and Player’s Handbook. Two pages of index of Tables means that this book has everything planed. If you throw a dice, the number you obtain means something. That’s for sure.

First things first. What means DMing? Everything is a case of balance. Running a game session means knowing the players, working with them and knowing the PCs, the NPCs and the adventure or setting. And they teach you how to cheat!

Then, the DM’s book mirrors the Player’s book. What means a skill, a feat, an ability.

Running the game and creating a setting started a second part of the book, were DMing was an art. After an adventure, you need to reward your player’s PC. And sometimes the Experience Points were not enough. The magic items list were as long as the Magic spells.

I must mention something that I didn’t said before. The creators though of something that really revolutionized the RPG market. They wrote a part of the book that were open content. Like a Linus/GNU. You only need to mention that you were basing your accessory in d20 system (as it was called) and that was all. And every new company and the other companies started publishing additions to the new D&D. A Great Move.

Monster Manual.

The book included a short rules set to explain how to carry a monster as a DM and how to confront them as a PC. Then follows the colourful pages of hundreds of monsters with their illustration and description.

The second volume came two years latter. Some of the monsters were though ones, with encounter level over 21, meaning they need PCs very advanced in Experience Points and levels in their classes. This book needed more rules to explain everything. This was what made me nervous. A second monster Manual was unnecessary, but it didn’t matter. But adding so much rules was a symptom that they were overwhelmed with so many accessories and books. The monster was the D&D 3rd itself.

2 comments:

Evil Preacher said...

¡Qué cosas! justamente hablé algo de RPGs en mi último post.
Yo a penas jugué a D&D, y más a otros como Rune Quest y la verdad es que el exceso de manuales, como el segundo de monstruos que mencionas, desanimaba a cualquiera.

Valentín VN said...

Ya me dí cuenta de tu entrada ayer, pero aún no he podido comentarla. Esta tarde. Por cierto, me encantó la fuerza con la que defiendes los RPG, las novelas originales tipo rayuela y los libros de Elige tu Propia Aventura. Tengo algo escrito de eso por aquí.
No jugé a Rune Quest, pero el master que teníamos de AD&D usaba la pantalla de RuneQues porque le resultaban senciallas las tablas, así que recuerdo los D&D de Segunda Edición con la pantalla feota del luchador tipo japonés sobre fondo vainilla.
Lo de los manuales quita las ganas a cualquiera, pero ya verás como yo fui uno de los compradores compulsivos. Aunque no los usaras, eran una estupenda lectura y me engancharon.

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