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(D&D 3.5) Could use some advice with Homebrew

milk ducksmilk ducks Registered User regular
edited March 2010 in Critical Failures
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.

milk ducks on


  • ArcanisTheImpotentArcanisTheImpotent Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    hmmm.. it sounds like you're wanting a more cinematic game experience in general. have you given any thought to finding a different game that's more suited to your tastes out of the box? a game like Savage Worlds or E6 might save you a lot of work trying to reinvent the wheel yourself.

  • milk ducksmilk ducks Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    hmmm.. it sounds like you're wanting a more cinematic game experience in general. have you given any thought to finding a different game that's more suited to your tastes out of the box? a game like Savage Worlds or E6 might save you a lot of work trying to reinvent the wheel yourself.

    Honestly? I'd be all for it. The issue primarily is that my group wouldn't read new books if you paid them, lol. I'd love to play some other games with them, like Shadowrun for example; I just know it'd be easier (on them) to just do the legwork myself to make 3.5 more cinematic in general.

  • ArcanisTheImpotentArcanisTheImpotent Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    hrm, well, it might not hurt to see if they would be willing to give Savage Worlds a try

    the core book is small (160 pages) and cheap (10$) and the game is much much breezier and cinematic than 3.x. however, if you're really hellbent on going with 3.x, why not do Pathfinder?

  • ArcanisTheImpotentArcanisTheImpotent Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    and if they're still not keen on the idea, my personal recommendations for cinematic 3.x:

    - Action Points! instead of reducing AC to DR, instead implement a pool of Action Points similar to Star Wars Saga Edition. i recommend 1/2 heroic level (rounded down) + 5 at each level. they allow you to add 1d6 to a d20 roll (skill check, saving throw, attack roll, etc). At level 8 this goes to 2d6, at level 14 this goes to 3d6. the cool thing about action points is not only do they provide fuel for more ballsy maneuvers, is you can use them as rewards as well. fighter tries some errol flynn shit? he gets an action point for being awesome!

    - Instead of giving them feats right out of the box, don't take that decision away from them. give each class an extra feat at even levels, even fighters. rogues may not necessarily want weapon finesse, so why just throw a feat at them? give em a choice.

    - Simplified Grappling! again, another Saga-ism. remove grappling from the game as-written, introduce this:

    * Simple Grabs - When you want to grab, make an unarmed attack. if it hits, the target is considered grabbed and cannot move, can only use natural or light weapons, and takes a -2 penalty to attack rolls. you may only grab a creature up to one size larger and only one at a time. The grabbed creature may spend a standard action to clear one grabber per CL.

    true grappling can only be attained with the new grapple feats below. Grappling works the same as grabbing, except when you hit with the unarmed attack you make opposed grapples (BAB + Str or Dex Mod (whichever is higher) + size modifier) and if you win you get to use a grapple feat.

    * Grapple Feats - when someone wants to be a wrestler, there are new feats: Pin, Crush, Trip, and Throw.

    Prereqs: BAB +1
    When you make a grapple you may deal unarmed damage or claw damage.

    Prereqs: BAB +1
    When you win a grapple you may pin the target; they become flat footed and cannot take any actions until they clear the pin.
    You may use Pin with Crush.

    Prereqs: Trip, BAB +1
    When you win a grapple you may throw the target up to one square away where they land prone and take unarmed damage. The target is no longer grappled.

    Prereqs: BAB +1
    When you win a grapple the target falls prone and is no longer considered grappled.

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