A friend of mine approached me recently; said he wanted to play some D&D. The last time our group got together, it was for a couple sessions of D&D 4th Edition. We had fun, but I think the general consensus was that we didn't really care for 4th Edition (little too much of a "strategy boardgame" feel for our taste, your mileage may vary), so this time around, it was suggested we try 3.5 again. Each of us has mixed feelings about playing that edition again, so as the de facto GM, I told them I'd sit down and try to Homebrew up some stuff that would make it more interesting and fast-paced.
I know I'd like to work with the alternate rules that convert AC into Damage Reduction. It may make things a little more complicated at first, but having lower ACs in general should make combat run a little faster in the long run (and nobody likes to spend their whole turn missing - at least this way, they'll connect with more blows but probably not do as much damage per hit).
I'd also like to try and eliminate some of the "Feat Taxes" that players feel they have to work with. There are a lot of feats that are pretty much must-haves for certain classes, so I figure I could just make those feats baseline so the players can branch out a bit more. As an example, I'm talking about Barbarians automatically starting with Power Attack and Cleave, and Rogues automatically having Weapon Finesse and such. This way, players can spend their early levels trying different things, instead of just "wasting" their first few feats on the really obvious stuff.
Good idea? Bad idea?
I'm pretty certain I also want to increase the effectiveness of shields, pretty much across the board. As it stands, Bucklers and Light Shields give I think +1 AC, while Heavy Shields give +2. From my experience, D&D 3.5 HEAVILLY favours 2-handed all-offense builds; I think that's because there's a higher damage potential, of course, but also because the bonus for using a shield is too small. I'm thinking Bucklers stay at +1, Light Shields boost up to +2, and Heavy Shields grow to +3. I also like that in 4th edition, you could apply your Shield bonus to your Reflex save. I'm thinking I'd like to use that as well, but is it going overboard? Will it help alleviate 2-handed dominance?
Good idea? Bad idea?
I'm considering allowing all the classes access to Improved Unarmed Combat, just because I'm so sick and tired of seeing our Barb strike someone with his axe when he really WANTS to headbutt them, but it's just not worth the effort.
I'd also like to incentivize the use of abilities like Bull Rush, Sunder, Trip, etc. Nobody ever uses them, because again, it's just not worth the hassle. It always ends up like, "Ok, I wanna try to push that guy off the cliff ... wait, he gets an attack of opportunity and we have to do an opposed check and blah blah blah? Fuck it, I'll just hit him." I wanna get away from all that. I want the players to feel like they can do cinematic maneuvers without being penalized for it. I'm thinking of giving Fighters Improved Bull Rush and Improved Sunder for free, because they're supposed to be technical fighters and I feel like it's a good fit. I'd give it to Barbarians as well, but I figure they're built to front-load offense, and it "feels" more bararian-like to run in and take an attack of opportunity as your bull rush somebody over. Barbs have the HP to take the hit, Fighters would probably try to be more tactical about it.
Also, I'm considering giving both Fighters and Barbarians a bonus for using abilities like Bull Rush. For example, maybe Fighters and Barbs both get a +1 bonus to attack and damage against a foe for each square they pushed them the round after a successful Bull Rush. That way, the player has incentive for using the ability, aside from the forced movement.
Good ideas? Bad ideas?
Tell me what you guys think? And if you've got any suggestions for ways to improve other classes or races, please let me know.