# What is the consensus on which books should be banned due to either exploitability, lack of balance, or poor editing? [closed]

At first this may seem to be a largely opinion-based question, but the more that I read the more that there appears to be a consensus. For example, in something resembling decreasing order of the frequency that I've seen these claims, the following appear to be commonly believed:

To me, this list is evidence that some consensus exists on which books should be banned due to either exploitability, lack of balance, or poor editing. My question is this - aside from the examples listed above, what other consensuses exist and what is the reasoning behind them? To be clear, I'm only looking for information on what non-third party books should be banned entirely. I don't care too much for anything like "be careful what you use from Unearthed Arcana and Dragon Magazine", "the PHB has poor class balance", or "don't allow Domain Wizard". I just want to know what entire books are frequently forbidden and why.

• RE: "I just want to know what entire books are frequently forbidden and why." Because the site is predicated on marshaling the existing knowledge of experts, unless there's a dude who's taken a survey of contemporary 3.5 groups, there's no way to know this information. Is a personal account of what books have been banned in campaigns that an individual has participated in an acceptable answer? (Also, a more general but really carefully phrased question like What books should I ban for a more balanced 3.5 experience? might get you the information you want.) – Hey I Can Chan Jul 31 '19 at 15:56
• @HeyICanChan A sufficiently reasoned personal account from a sufficiently experienced player ought to be enough. Asking What books should I ban for a more balanced 3.5 experience? would be wise, but I suspect that could be even more opinion based. It's the difference between "what is usually done?" and "what ought to be done?". – J. Mini Jul 31 '19 at 15:59
• Consider also posing this question on one or more forums. I'm not sure that data presently exists, but you could start gathering it, then answer your own question. :-) While What books should I ban for a more balanced 3.5 experience? is opinion-based, the game's approaching 20 years old. Experts who can answer that question certainly have had time enough to be able to back up their opinions with experience! – Hey I Can Chan Jul 31 '19 at 16:06
• Voted to close because this is purely opinion based, lacking some documented survey or something. – mxyzplk Jul 31 '19 at 16:24

I don’t know how to quantify consensus; I certainly agree with everything you’ve said, and seen such sentiments echoed widely in D&D 3.5e discussions, but nonetheless, it’s very hard to accurately describe the broader population—especially since most don’t actually go online and talk about D&D so much, so their voices aren’t heard. And at least a couple of those—Expanded Psionics Handbook and Tome of Battle—have those who would vocally disagree, though I think (with bias, no doubt) that those who think those are great books are both more numerous (at least online), and also tend to be more educated in their opinion (since, in my judgment and that of many, those are some of the best-designed books in the game).

Also, most importantly, books are not homogenous. Serpent Kingdoms has a startlingly large amount of dangerously-broken material (and also its lore is extremely difficult to jibe with the existing Forgotten Realms canon up to that point), but it’s not as though everything in it is broken. In fact, most of it is crap—90% of everything is. It’s just the several things that are absurdly broken in that book that gives it a bad name.

Likewise, Tome of Battle is the most tightly-balanced book in 3.5e, in that the crusader, swordsage, and warblade are all extremely close to one another in power, and in that the three of them land pretty squarely in the middle of 3.5e’s overall power levels. But parts of the book are bad—you mention iron heart surge and White Raven tactics, but those are relatively small problems. The bigger ones are the “nine swords” themselves, which are based on the terrible rules from Weapons of Legacy—those are complete garbage and any game using them will immediately improve by removing them.

So no book in the game is completely without fault. Tome of Battle has the nine swords, Expanded Psionics Handbook has the soulknife, and arguably the wilder, and Magic of Incarnum has its atrocious editing and the soulborn.

Likewise, it’s almost impossible to say any book should be completely banned, insofar as there is almost certainly at least something in there that is inoffensive. I dislike large swaths of Book of Exalted Deeds, Savage Species, and Serpent Kingdoms, but there are things in each of those I’d be happy to include in a game. Likewise, I detest Complete Psionic—as do most people who like psionics, since it nerfed a number of popular powers for absolutely no reason, and had some truly terrible contradictions with existing lore—but there are things in there that are great (“ardent, Practiced Manifester, and soulbow” is my go-to list of examples).

So really, the only example I can think of here is one I have already mentioned: Weapons of Legacy really has no redeeming qualities of any kind. I looked pretty hard for anything worthwhile, and there just wasn’t anything. Even there, HeyICanChan points out monster of legacy as something useful for a DM, even if there is nothing useful to players in what was nominally a player-focused book.

• Brokenness may often be non-homogeneous, but I tend to find that poor editing is. For example, even with the absurdly broken stuff banned, I can't see Serpent Kingdoms being included in a game without it causing rulings debates. – J. Mini Jul 31 '19 at 16:24
• Even Weapons of Legacy has the template monster of legacy (215–16), a quick-to-apply template that can be used to give monsters a little something extra if the DM needs to surprise his jaded players. (And jibe means agree; jive is what the nun in Airplane speaks.) – Hey I Can Chan Jul 31 '19 at 16:25