Dungeon Master Assistance

A place to share thoughts and ideas about Dungeons and Dragons

3.5 – Lite

D&D Lite Cover
Cover page for D&D Lite

Below is a link to a document containing House Rules. In this document are alternatives to the normal Dungeons & Dragons v3.5 d20 rules.

UPDATE: The 5th edition of Dungeons and Dragons corrected most of the issues I had with the 4th edition, I strongly recommend you using it instead of this. I will leave this post for those of you who want it, but it is no longer supported and there will be no more revisions or updates.

I have been playing Dungeons and Dragons since it came out in the late 1970’s. I eagerly awaited each new release of the game and embraced all of the new rules. With each new release it got better. When 3.0 was released I saw it as a re-visioning of the original game with more logical and consistent rules. It was soon followed by 3.5 which corrected some of 3.0s failings. I had great expectations for the 4.0 release, but I was greatly disappointed. Instead of streamlining and simplifying the rules, it was a whole new game. I’m not saying that it is a bad game, it simply isn’t one that I choose to play. Others felt the way that I do and other companies have tried to “fix” D&D v3.5. The Pathfinder RPG is an attempt to improve on 3.5. While Pathfinder is an improvement over 3.5 they didn’t go far enough, in my opinion, to simplify the 3.5 rules. There are also some rules-light game systems based on the d20 SRD v3.5 such as Basic Fantasy and others but after reviewing them  I found most of them to be too light on the rules for my taste.  So, instead of throwing it all out and starting over, I decided to simply make the changes that I felt v3.5 needed to make it easier and faster to play.

Overview

I have developed a set of “House Rules” designed to meet the following criteria:

1. Character creation and promotion should be simple, fast and easy.

2. The rule set should be fully compatible with other v3.5 stuff (adventures, sourcebooks, etc).

3. Complicated rules should be simplified to the point where you can play 90% of the time without having to look up a rule.

The intention is to simplify and speed up play, bringing back a lot the feel of the original D&D game while preserving most of the enhancements that the d20 game provides.

To accomplish this we use the Players Handbook v3.5 (abbreviated here as PHB), with some modifications. The major changes are:

No Multiclass characters. You will be playing iconic D&D characters. These are the 11 core classes, without regard to race or sex, with each class being the “typical” stereotype character for that class.

No Feats. Each character class has its own set of special abilities; additional abilities are added as the character advances in level.

No selection and distribution of Skill Points. You get a set of core skills by class. These increase as you increase in level.

No Proficiencies. You can use the weapons and armor you start with and can quickly learn to use others in-campaign.

No Alignment. Or, more accurately, there are no alignment related game rules and effects. Character alignment is optional.  We will substitute “Unholy” for “Evil” in most Clerical spells and effects.

No separate rules for Bull rush, Disarm, Overrun, Sunder or Trip. These are replaced with one simple “heroic actions” mechanic.

No Attacks of Opportunity. Characters are required to make an ability check (a “heroic action”) to attempt to pass through a threatened square, or perform non-attack actions within a threatened square. This eliminates the need for Attacks of Opportunity.

Rules for Grapple, Turn Undead, nonlethal damage and Counterspells have all been simplified.

The house rules included in the PDF file linked to below are  not intended to replace the Players Hhandbook (PHB), but to supplement it. Many of the rules from the PHB have been repeated here for convince. Wherever something is mentioned for which I haven’t provided adequate information (Darkvision for instance) refer to the PHB.

You can download a free copy of these house rules in a PDF file here: Dungeon-n-Dragon-Lite

The above file contains a Character Record Sheet, but here it is as a seperate PDF file: Character Sheet

Here are some Fast-Play Character Sheets.

Hare is an Animal Companion / Familiar Character Sheet.

Corrections and changes are  posted in this addendum.

As always, I would greatly appreciate any comments or suggestions.

5 responses to “3.5 – Lite

  1. Pingback: Plans for 2015 | Dungeon Master Assistance

  2. Mike February 4, 2016 at 6:42 am

    Hi Ronny,

    I am thinking of dusting-off some d&d 3e rule books I have in my library plus some 3e adventure paths. I played 3e around 2003 as an inexperienced dm (no other to lead:) and it was quite fun!
    I checked your 3.5e -Lite and I think it will be quite practical for running linking adventures (as I plan to do). I’d like to have your oppinion regarding the two close versions of the game, 3 and 3.5 :
    Which version do you think is better*? * by better I mean more fun and more simple (quicker)

    Before you answer plz bear in mind that, besides money, if I am going on a quest to gather the 3.5e rule books (probalby in pdf), do you think I’ll have to “translate” all the adventures I have gathered for 3e or there is too much trouble for doing so ?

    Let me pass a last 3d question to an experienced player, especially to the d&d 3&3.5 editions:
    there are some good 3.5 adventures out there (eg. Tomb of Horrors-revised to3.5)
    can any of these be played by the 3edition or do you think the mechaniks wll be totally wrong?

    Thanks for your time in answering my 3 questions
    as well as publishing some good stuff (like the 3.5-Lite).

    Play on !

    PS. Plz don’t compare to the 5e books (can’t afford for now) and leave the simplistic minion-oriented 4th edition out of the question (if people started to put ideas to better games than money in pockets..)

    • Ronny February 4, 2016 at 9:25 am

      Hi Mike,
      3.5 “fixed” a few problems that 3.0 had. So I would definitely use 3.5 rules. Neither version is more “fun”, but 3.5 is “better”, in my opinion. My 3.5 Lite rules are based on 3.5 and simplified. In doing so I had to restrict PCs to only play the traditional iconic versions of the standard classes. [5.0 fixed most of what I felt was wrong with 3.5 so I play that now, however that was not your question.]
      You can use any 3.0 adventure using 3.5 rules with almost no changes. Most of the changes from 3.0 to 3.5 have to do with PCs and combat rules. Some spells were also changed. When I played 3.0 adventures using 3.5 rules I often didn’t change anything at all. You can find where people have published conversion notes for converting monsters from 3.0 to 3.5, but I simply used the 3.5 version of official monsters and played any other monsters as written in the module. It is often difficult to tell if a module was written for 3.0 or 3.5. The good news is that there are a lot more 3.5 adventures published than 3.0.
      Conversely, I assume that most 3.5 adventures could be played using 3.0 rules with little or no conversion, but as I said, of the two versions I recommend using 3.5.

      I also don’t care for 4th edition.

      Now. I know that you expressly requested that I not compare to 5e, but, I strongly recommend you consider it. You can download a free legal copy of the basic rules here:
      http://dnd.wizards.com/articles/features/basicrules?x=dnd/basicrules
      These include both a basic version of the Player’s Handbook and the Dungeon Master’s Guide – which includes 47 pages of monsters. There is everything there that you need to run a game. It is quite easy to convert 3.0 or 3.5 modules to 5.0. It consists of mainly converting – or replacing – the monsters and cutting down on magical treasure.
      5e does to 3.5 what I attempted to do with my “Lite” rules, but with the complicate re-write they did a much better job of it. It is almost as if 4e never existed. The 5e Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide and Monster Manuel are all excellent books, but you can wait on getting them. The Player’s Handbook adds a few more Races and Classes. The DM Guide has a lot of tips on creating worlds and creating your own adventures. And the Monster Manuel has a lot more monsters. You don’t need any of them to play the game. There are also some free 5e adventures you can download.

      Whatever you decide to do, welcome back!

      • mike February 16, 2016 at 1:39 pm

        Hey Ronny,
        thanks for your tenuous(!) response. You did help me into comparing 3.0 and 3.5 in actual play by passing down to me experience you allready gathed playing both editions. I realise, after reading your message and others as well (eg. http://rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/1133/how-compatible-are-books-for-dd-3-0-and-dd-3-5) that somehow I have to get the 3.5e rulebooks to my library or even “worse” advance directly to 5e and play all the material I have gathered (about 15 mods: half 3 – half 3.5/just bought) with the new (simplified: as you have persuaded me) rules along other suggestions regarding encounters & treasure. The fact that 5e suits for an experienced DM that wrote a paper in “lightening” 3.5 (in rules complexity as well as in explanations) means a lot! Plz let me ask a couple more things reagarding the transition to 3.5 edition:
        (which I really hope will be usefull to anyone passing by or following your blog)

        1) Incase I stick to 3.5e, should I go for the premium re-printed edition (2012) or an earlier one with some web-errata would fit as well? (maybe errata can’t be fully incorporated in “mechanics”)

        2) Do you think I will be able to use any of my 3.0 “class books” (Masters of the Wild) in 3.5e (not dare to say 5e!) or I must consider letting them behind and buying smth “newer” like the “Complete” book series ? And what about more general books like “Arms & Equipment”, “Enemies & Allies” which seem to be above editions and should fit nicely to a 3.5e (or even 5e) campaign setting ?

        3) Do you think any supplementary product (dm tiles, pymapper, e-tools…) proved to be must-have in playing 3.5e (better hear your personal experience than check what’s around in the market!)

        Thanks again for the time spent
        in providing a guiding lite… eeh.. I ment light!

        PS. I am glad that, in correlation to 3&3.5, you put a note about 5e as well🙂

      • Ronny February 17, 2016 at 8:15 am

        Mike,
        1) As best I can remember, the premium re-printed edition didn’t have any new information that you couldn’t find in the original release with all of the published errata.
        2) I don’t think that I had “Masters of the Wild” when I was playing, but I it is my understanding that most of the prestige classes were reintroduced in the 3.5 supplemental sourcebook “Complete Divine”. It may be easier to get a copy of that than it would be to convert the 3.0 class books. I was never a big fan of prestige classes but I do understand their appeal. (5e doesn’t have prestige classes – yet – but you should be able to use one out of these books as a guide in creating a player character that looks and behaves the same way, with the same motivations and most of the same abilities.)
        A lot of the general books, like “Arms & Equipment” or “Enemies & Allies” should work just fine with any version of the rules. Just make sure that any magical items that duplicate spells, use the new spell descriptions. Books like these are best user for “flavor”. You can normally use them as-is without any modification unless the item, or character, is going to take on a major role in your campaign. In that case, you may want to take the time to convert them to the newer rules.
        3) I am a big fan of any supplemental material that can add interest and and fun at the table. I can’t thing of a single thing you “must have” other than something with a 1 inch grid to mark on, something to represent the characters and the monsters that can be moved around on the grid, dice, a rule book, and eager players. (With 5e you could even do away with the grid if you wanted to). I like to make a lot of my rolls in secret and a DM Screen is good for that.
        I am always on the lookout for simple (cheep) visual aids. For example, when the PCs encounter a pirate ship I may bring out a toy one to help then visualize what their character’s are seeing. I once brought in a 6″ diameter Styrofoam ball so the players would have a good idea of the size of a crystal ball they found.

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