|Remember when this needed a whole book?|
I’ve flipped back and forth between 3.5 and 4th edition for quite a while now, and I have to say I’ve settled somewhere in the middle. They’re both excellent, but I can see the problems with both.
Some people find 4th edition to be both over-powered when compared the more dangerous world of 3.5. Now, given that the only character I have ever played which died was in 4th edition, I have to say that this is simply not the case. 4th edition certainly gives characters more power at an earlier level, which I don’t view as a bad thing. Playing any 1st level character in 3.5 is usually a rather tedious endeavour, particularly for wizards. Now, everyone always has something to contribute right from the start. If players aren’t being challenged by the adventure, then that is a problem for the DM to solve, not the system. There is another complaint that all of this power makes the characters seem less human. That I can see is a more valid concern. A first level fighter should not be able to kill that efficiently. Or should they? I mean, that’s kind of the point of having a PC class, isn’t it? A first level fighter isn’t someone who has just picked up a sword and is out to see how much damage they can do with it. They have already spent years training to get to that level, working out daily and training their swordsmanship techniques, learning special moves taught to them by their trainer. They may have spent some time in the city guard or whathaveyou, effectively as a minion. Only now do they feel competent enough to act on their own or in a small group to take on even the smallest band of kobolds. Still pretty human to me.
So 4th edition is pretty good, as far as I’m concerned. But 3.5 isn’t any worse because of this. What makes 3.5 edition stand out is its complexity and depth. 4th edition was largely created to meet the demand of a simpler system, because of the stereotypical image of the 3.5 game: endless flipping through rulebooks to find just the right rule. Grapple checks are particularly notorious.
What 3.5 edition had though, that 4th edition sadly got rid of, was a massive spell list. Wizards, sorcerers and clerics had an amazing variety of spells they could draw upon, to tool themselves to be incredible in different fields. You could be an illusionist, a necromancer, all of the things I mentioned on Day 4. It is simply fantastic. And yes it takes you ages to look through all the rules that the game has, but only because in the game system you can really do just about anything.
Overall, I love them both. If 4th edition had kept the spell list though, it might have edged ahead.