Monday, January 14, 2013

Recollections of 3.0 and Roman Names

Recollections of 3rd Edition

The type of thing I did just recently, may be one of the better things I have chanced upon: I feel much better about getting rid of things after I've enumerated reasons I should, and I feel better about keeping things if I'm more familiar with them. For now, I'm looking at my 3.0 books, since they've been mostly superseded by 3.5 and Pathfinder.

Player's Handbook

by Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, and Skip Williams

This wasn't my first exposure to D&D (I got started from a 3.0 boxed-set), but it was close to it. It's well-used and held together with masking tape these days.
  • The first printings of the core rules (2000) were priced at $20 ea. I don't know if WotC planned to take a hit on the core rules and get it back in the extras (like consoles), or if they were genuinely cheaper, but I've ever since felt slightly betrayed by $40+ rulebooks.
  • The PHB was the first of the three core books to be printed. As such, my printing has a "2000 Survival Kit" in the back, containing basic monsters and magic items, and rules for DMing and designing a dungeon, as well as a sort of quick-start dungeon. I always felt that the other two core books were somewhat extraneous after these 16 pages.
  • It came with a CD. I don't know what was on the CD, but I think it was a version of Character Gen, which is now a nifty open-source program.

Dungeon Master's Guide

by Monte Cook, Skip Williams and Jonathan Tweet

So far as I know this book is largely unchanged in 3.5 anyway. The only thing I've found is that the NPC generation section is a bit better than in 3.5.

Monster Manual

by Skip Williams, Jonathan Tweet, and Monte Cook

The most important part of this book is the pictures, and those didn't change in the move to 3.5. Also, I think 3.5 has a few extras.

Psionics Handbook

by Bruce R. Cordell

This was the book that introduced me to psionics.
  • The system it uses is notoriously a mess. Some of these things were fixed in 3.5, and some of them were fixed by Dreamscarred Press, and some of them are fundamental, but the concepts are still awesome.
  • Soulknife is only a prestige class in this edition, although in 3.5 it becomes a base class.
  • This is the book where the Gith* d├ębut in 3.0.

Tome and Blood

by Bruce R. Cordell and Skip Williams

  • A paperback rulebook at the same price as my PHB, it's was a bit flimsy, but still feels quality.
  • Has a lot of good information on how to play an arcane spellcaster (e.g. "Fun with Prestidigitation" and "Researching a New Spell").
  • Has a lot of good fluff that I don't think made it to Complete Arcane: setting-neutral arcane organizations, wizard's hideouts, that type of thing.
  • I have a memory of an article detailing the design process of the Candle Caster prestige class, but it isn't here and I can't find it for the life of me.

Living Greyhawk Gazetteer

by Gary Holian, Erik Mona, et al.

I have nothing against Greyhawk, but this is far too in-depth for me. It details the political positioning and affiliations of every little piece of the continent. I've got a little ~16-page pamphlet with a quick summary, some maps, and some adventures and dungeons, and that's enough for me.

Treasure Quests

by James M. Ward

A lot of third-party products from this time are hit-and-miss. This is one of those "misses", generally speaking. It would appear the authors were well-meaning but sloppy, and it frequently refers to WotC's product identity.
  • The binding is wire-ring, which is nice. It lays flat on the table.
  • Each two-page spread has a map with a few rooms, some npcs and some treasure. Despite the blurb's claims, there isn't really much to link each map, or even each room, but they're not entirely unrealistic either.
  • There are recurring references to a wizard NPC named "Ren". Unfortunately these are never explained anywhere.

Green Races

by Timothy Brown

A campaign setting made entirely of monstrous races seemed like a neat idea, but suffers from similar problems to Treasure Quests.
  • Each region details the predominant inhabitants, the structure and tactics of their military, usually some sort of ruin in each territory, and a prestige class.
  • The only crunch in the book are those prestige classes.
  • The picture quality is low, and the backgrounds grey, giving the whole book a sort of photocopied feel.
  • There are further sections for "Non-Aligned Combatants" and "Dungeons, Ruins, Caverns, and Lairs". These are actually not bad; they've got some good original content.

The Book of Eldritch Might

by Monte Cook

I think this was the first third-party supplement I bought, and I don't regret it.
  • Really nice feats, spells, prestige classes, and items, although I don't much care for magic constructs.
  • Appendix I is "Random Rune Description Tables", which I had forgotten about. I'll have to remember these in the future.

If Thoughts Could Kill

by Bruce R. Cordell

A pretty mediocre adventure with some good ideas and some mediocre extras to show off a system with serious flaws (See above: Psionics Handbook).
  • One of the endings is pretty cool: letting one of the players re-architect the psionics system.
  • I feel like any non-psionic PCs would start to feel left out. Sure it has the option of letting an NPC be the psionic one, but I don't feel like that would be any better.
  • Interestingly, the psionic lich appears in this book, and also in 3.5 psionics. I wonder how the stats compare.

AEG "Adventure Boosters"

These include "Servants of the Blood Moon" by Ree Soesbee, "The Last Gods" by Kevin Wilson, and "Princes, Thieves, & Goblins" by Marcelo & Kat Figueroa.
  • These are a good form-factor and price: $2.50 for a 16-page "hot-dog folded" adventure. The last two pages of each are new material (monsters and items mostly)
  • The adventures themselves are somewhat bland and uninspiring. "Princes Thieves & Goblins" makes the mistake of devoting the whole first page to a history lesson, and "The Last Gods" is full of creatures that "cannot be harmed and are completely immune to magic" and the like.
  • Oddly the 3.5 series of similar adventures was very well-written IIRC, and much more sandbox-y.

Penumbra Adventures

These include "Lean & Hungry" by Chad Brouillard, "The Tide of Years" by Michelle A. Brown Nephew, "Three Days to Kill" by John Tynes, and "Maiden Voyage" by Chad Brouillard. These are all good; even the ones with boring premises manage to be exciting.

Roman Names

Just as the Great Khan has seen fit to extend the contest deadline, so have I seen fit to procrastinate further. I have taken a list of Roman names found here, and truncated and padded it until it makes a neat table:

Roman Names

A half-dozen samples:
  • Publia Hortensia Rulla (F)
  • Quinta Claudia Planca (F)
  • Publia Sicinia Longa (F)
  • Gnaea Acilia Dento (F)
  • Titus Horatius Stolo (M)
  • Marca Livia Barba (F)
In general the name has three parts:
Praenomen - This is like the first name. There's not so many of them, and I have the table set up to (very) roughly weigh them by frequency.
Nomen - This is a sort of family name. The female form can be made by replacing the "-us" ending with "-a". To roll a d120, roll a d10 for the ones place and a d12 for the tens and hundreds places. Treat a "12" as leading zeros unless the d10 rolls a "0".
Cognomen - This specifies which branch of the family one comes from. A d200 is rolled like a d120 except using a d20 in place of a d12.

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