3.Y: Rolling Back 3.0 to Play More Like AD&D (in a Free 14 Page Supplement)

3.Y Cover imageBlacky the Blackball, author of Dark Dungeons, Darker Dungeons, etc., has released a new game 3.Y. Actually, 3.Y is a fourteen page supplement to the 3.0 SRD (of the world’s most popular tabletop fantasy RPG). Yes, you read that right: 14 pages and the 3.0 SRD. 3.Y is based on a “what if” scenario:

Once upon a time, there was an RPG that went through a number of editions with one company before that company collapsed and was bought by a second company. The game had been incredibly popular once, but by the time the second company bought the first one its popularity had waned terribly.

This second company produced a new version of the game – a third edition of the game. This was (and continues to be) a fine game, but there was a fundamental mismatch in its design. You see, the designers and play-testers were fans of the older editions of the game, so they played the game in the style of those older edition. But when this new third edition of the game was released it acquired a big new audience. Suddenly it had lots of new players that hadn’t played the older editions and didn’t know the style in which the game was “supposed” to be played. Instead they read the rules and talked to each other online and a new style was born.

That second company then embraced that new style of play and came out with an updated (3.5) edition that took that new style of play and ran with it. 3.Y assumes this scenario (which may or may not be true in reality) is true and asks what if instead of adopting the new style in the 3.5 edition of the game, the authors of 3.5 rejected much of the new style and rewrote the rules to try to push things back to the old style. 3.Y is Blacky the Blackball’s version of what these rules changes might have been.

3.Y postulates the following changes to the 3.0 SRD rules:

According to Blackie, the rules changes it contains are:

  • Ability scores are rolled once for the whole party, using the “Bingo” rolling method, rather than separately for each character.
  • Elves have Psion as a favored class rather than Wizard.
  • 3e style multi-classing has been replaced by AD&D-style multi-classing, where you have the full abilities of two classes but are a level or two behind single class characters.
  • Prestige classes have been removed.
  • Psi-crystals are larger.
  • When any character makes a standard attack, they get all their iterative and off-hand attacks.
  • When martial characters make a full attack, their iterative attacks are all made at their full attack bonus.
  • All hit points are re-rolled each level, but each level’s total can’t be less than the previous level’s.
  • It includes my 3e conversion of the 3.5 “Soulknife” class.
  • The “Concentration” skill can no longer be used for defensive casting. All spell casting provokes opportunity attacks.
  • The “Diplomacy” skill description has been replaced by Rich Burlew’s version from his GITP website.
  • Caster level no longer adds to the Save DC of spells.
  • Spells now take much longer to prepare.
  • Characters can only cast a maximum of one quickened and one normal spell per round, even if hasted.
  • Experience is only gained for money spent, rather than for money gained or monsters killed.
  • Magic items cost more money to make, but their sale price is closer to their purchase price.

The 3.Y supplement goes into more detail about each of those changes (and the reasoning behind them in some cases). The end result appears to be a game that would play much more like second edition AD&D. I’d probably make some additional changes (like rewriting some of the combat rules to speed up combat), but I think 3.Y is a great example of how just a few simple changes to the 3.0 rules can make it much more likely that games played with those rules will be more like those of previous editions.

You can find out more information and download a free PDF copy of the 3.Y supplement at the Gratis Games website. 3.Y is entirely open game content under the OGL. Just remember that’s 3.Y is designed for use with the 3.0 rules. As far as I can tell, 3.Y is designed around the core 3.0 rules plus the 3.0 psionics rules. None of the other 3.0 supplements are used.

I may play with this a bit and see what I can add to it to make 3.0 even more like something I would actually enjoy playing and running. However, this will probably not be a very high priority project as I have Microlite81 to work on and a group of players who would likely not be interested in giving up our current Microlite74/Microlite81 campaign for the complexity of 3.0 — even if it is done AD&D style.

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3 Responses

  1. Hamel™ says:

    Surely this bi-classing model is better than the 3.0's option.

  2. James Kight says:

    Since the gratis games website is down, is there an alternate way to get ahold of this 3Y file?