When a new D&D edition comes out, every gaming forum gets flooded by "oh noes I need to buy all my books again". The passage from D&D 3e to 3.5e is somewhat special in this regard because most core things that aren't in the 3.5 SRD have not been changed too much (or at all) from the previous books. (While some others like psions have heavily changed and some variant rules did not even exist in 3.0, so I'll be talking about the three core books only.)

If a DM and his players owning 3.0 core books wished to play 3.5 and replaced the crunch in the books with the crunch in the 3.5 SRD they won't be playing 3.5e yet for some things wuold still differ.
E.g. the 3.5e Mind Flayer is not statted in the SRD and the wannabe 3.5 DM using the 3.0 one would be using a different monster (the same is true for a list of D&D-specific monsters: beholders, gauths, carrion crawlers, displacer beasts, githyanki, githzerai, kuo-toas, slaadi, umber hulks, and yuan-tis.)

What crunch will I completely miss (e.g. the cosmology chapter) or get it wrong when playing 3.5e with every 3.5e book but 3.0e three core books instead of 3.5e ones?

You can and should include the monster list so that the answer is useful to everyone without referencing the question. Any reference to 3.5 material that's in the core books now like the cosmology chapter will be great

  • \$\begingroup\$ You are looking for what exactly? \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Apr 5, 2013 at 2:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk a (limited) list of 3.0 core manuals crunch things (I'm editing the question right now) that have been changed in 3.5 but have not been published on the 3.5 SRD (e.g. if I own the 3.0 books is it safe to use the 3.0 XP tables in a 3.5 game or did they change?) \$\endgroup\$
    – Zachiel
    Apr 5, 2013 at 8:38

1 Answer 1


(Note: If anyone wants to add specifics on crunch to my answer, or copy-paste my answer to use as the basis for a better answer, please do so. I don't know enough to be helpful!)

I presume your approach is this: You want to try to combine the 3.0 core rulebooks with the 3.5 SRD, presumably because you want to use the 3.0 books for source material and advice but the SRD for stat blocks and an authoritative system of rules. You want to know what will you miss, meaning what could trip you up because you missed the difference between 3.0 and 3.5. I'm going to explain from a GM's perspective, that is, that you'll be planning a campaign, and that you've familiarized yourself with 3.5 already.

In short, as long as you remember to always treat the SRD as the only source for crunch, you won't miss much. A very small amount of mechanical data is missing from the 3.5 SRD (such as the stat blocks for the few monsters that Wizards kept out of the SRD, and the PHB's XP table). You can use the old versions safely, when necessary, provided you're mindful of systemic differences (such as the change to Damage Reduction). It'll be easy to know when to be careful, though, because you'll be looking at a book instead of a website.

Let me dig in to each core rulebook for specifics.

Player's Handbook. Honestly, just tell the players not to trust the 3.0 PHB and you'll be fine. Everything that isn't crunch is common cultural knowledge at this point, such as knowing that fantasy dwarves are good miners and like to use axes. The XP table is all that's missing, I believe, and it didn't change.

Dungeon Master's Guide. I actually own the 3.0 DMG but not the 3.5 DMG, even though I haven't GMed 3.0 in years. In fact, I reference it all the time for my Pathfinder game, for its general tools and advice on how to GM. So I think you'll do very well without the 3.5 DMG and your players will never notice a difference, provided you always use the SRD for actual game mechanics similar material such as the magic item chapter. But, say, the table of 100 plot ideas will never be out of date, you know?

Monster Manual. Effectively you'll be ignoring it wholesale except for, e.g., reading the colorful monster descriptions aloud to the players, and that's safe since they didn't redesign any monsters in terms of concept (that I know of). There is the matter of the non-SRD monsters, but again, you'll know to be careful when using them, so you'll be fine.

  • \$\begingroup\$ @Zachiel Hmm, I don't remember the differences between the non-SRD material well enough to be anything like comprehensive, but hopefully a little wiki-like community spirit will help us out. \$\endgroup\$
    – tex
    Apr 5, 2013 at 13:48
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ One other thing that's not on the SRD is the starting random money for level 1 characters of any class. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zachiel
    Oct 10, 2013 at 10:35

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