Revision Spotlight03/18/2003

The More Things Change,
the More They Stay the Same

This week we look at things that won't be changing from 3 to 3.5. In real terms, that's most of the game, but people still worry about their favorite features. Here are just a few important points of continuity between the new and the not-quite-as-new versions of D&D.

Q: Have there been any changes to alignment?

A: No.

Q: Skills?

A: No changes in the way they're used. Roll a d20, add your modifier, and compare to DC. Some of those DCs are changing, either up or down depending on specifics. Most DCs didn't need adjustment. We tried generally to provide more examples based on player feedback.

Q: Initiative?

A: No changes.

Q: Multiclassing?

A: No changes to the way it works, but some of the classes have been rebalanced to avoid front-loading of abilities. The ranger, for example, no longer gets all the best abilities at 1st level. The changes encourage multiclassing characters to gain more than one level in each class. That might make multiclassing less attractive to aggressive min-maxers, but then, that was the idea. It's still a great character option, but one with fewer opportunities for cherry picking.

Q: Greyhawk deities?

A: They're still the default pantheon.

Q: Page design?

A: There will be no significant change to the look of the books, aside from some new art, like the new blackguard illustration by Sam Wood, and of course, new covers.

Q: Philosophy?

A: Some people might consider this to be a minor or obvious point, but we think it's important to state it emphatically. The philosophy that forms the game's foundation hasn't changed in any way. What's being done is mostly clarifying things that weren't explained well and fixing things that didn't work well. Our philosophy hasn't changed, so neither has the game's. We've had three years and millions of hours of consumer use to identify where we could have done a better job of implementing that philosophy. If anything, the changes are designed to bring the game closer to our original philosophy in those areas where we didn't achieve our ideal, not to push it in some other direction.

Q: Is anything being done to half-orcs and half-elves?

A: Many of the races in the Player's Handbook received minor changes, but both half-orcs and half-elves are extremely popular as PCs. If we changed them significantly (particularly the half-orc, which is a very powerful and popular PC race) we would do a disservice to fans of those races and the revision.

Q: Have the core classes become any more flexible, or is that still the province of prestige classes, feats, and multiclassing?

A: That's an interesting question. I'd say the core classes have always been more flexible than the prestige classes, but those are becoming more flexible now, too. The monk and some of the other "narrow" core classes gain a few more choices. Having more feats to choose from also increases the opportunities for customization.

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