Monday, April 22, 2024

Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 Player's Handbook

 Well, that wasn't as much of an ordeal as I originally feared. Though the Player's Handbook is a dry read, even under the best of circumstances, the impact was blunted by the knowledge of my imminent completion of another blog milestone.

I can't say for sure what exactly I was expecting to gain from the experience of reading this book, so soon (a mere 16 months!) after the 3.0 PHB, but I can say that I feel fully prepared to run a D&D 3.5 campaign. The rules, already familiar due to decades worth of adaptations, revisions, and deconstructions, are now etched ever so slightly deeper into my brain. It's a shame, then, that I only have, like, 20% of a desire to actually play the game.

I suppose I could take the opportunity here to just shut my yap for once, limit my remarks to "okay, so this is approximately 90% similar to a book I already read, and though there are noticeable improvements to various niche issues (rangers get 6 skill points per level now, crit-fishing builds have been nerfed by making keen effects non-stackable, spells are better organized and easier to reference) the fundamental flaws of the edition as a whole remain." 

And you know what? I think I will do that (this paragraph acknowledging my plan for uncharacteristic brevity notwithstanding). The 3.5 Players Handbook did actually inspire me to take notes and write commentary, but almost all of that commentary could have applied to the original PHB as well (like, why is the monk's Slow Fall ability so fucking useless - they're deliberately making it worse than an extremely niche 1st level spell). If I didn't say it the first time round, is it really necessary to say it on my second chance? Am I really so in love with the sound of my own voice that I need to write nearly identical commentary on nearly identical books?

Um, let's not think too hard about the answer to that question. I've still got two more of these core books to go.

Ukss Contribution: Monks get an ability called Tongue of the Sun and Moon that has an unusually simple natural language description - "A monk of 17th level or higher can speak with any living creature." 

That's literally all of the rules guidance we're given. For an ability with absolutely staggering philosophical implications. Apparently, there's just a random Nobilis-style power tucked away where no one will ever encounter it, as a high level class feature of a single-class monk. It's such an un-3.5 detail to include, particularly in a class that very conspicuously doesn't get access to Feather Fall.

As a fantasy element, I love it. Refined mystics who can communicate with animals and plants and every human or nonhuman culture. They won't necessarily be martial artists in Ukss, but they will have a monastery.


  1. What about the undead? Do monks have any special ability to speak with them, or does becoming a vampire/lich/revenant slam that metaphysical door shut? (Not unreasonable, if the state of undeath is a distinctly sinful affront against nature and the circle of life, I guess.)

    1. I think, by strict reading of the power, you'd have to say that they have no special ability to speak with the undead, though, presumably, they would still be able to use their known languages. I'm not entirely sure of the metaphysical implications, though.