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The Premise:

D&D 3.5 is my favorite TTRPG.

It's also a huge mess:

The Question:

How did the 3.5 system come to be this way?


When answering this question, please bear in mind the StackExchange guidelines laid out in the Good Subjective, Bad Subjective post, especially the Back It Up! Principle. Good answers to this question might cite:

  • Interviews with game designers in which they reveal details of the design process that could have led to problems like the ones I laid out above.
  • Mechanics in 3.5 that were inherited from earlier editions, or even from the tabletop wargame genre that preceded D&D, that led to messiness down the road.
  • Blog posts or articles from the design process for later editions of D&D in which there's discussion of mistakes made and lessons learned during the development of 3.0/3.5.
  • Personal stories from those with insider knowledge of the D&D design process (though if a publicly available citation is available for these things, that's obviously preferable).

I have my own opinions and impressions of how 3.5 likely came to be the way it is, but what I'm really interested in here is learning something new about the game's design process.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I strongly suspect the data necessary to answer this question doesn’t exist. I want to remind all would-be answerers that this is no excuse for providing an improper answer. Speculation, assumptions, and guesses are not welcome here (and if they were, this question would be closed with prejudice), even if they are the only things anyone can offer. Let the question go unanswered if you do not have a good answer to it. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jan 10 '17 at 20:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ This is “would take a book to answer” levels of too broad, unfortunately. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jan 10 '17 at 20:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie But there's probably a really interesting book in there, too. Get crackin'! \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Jan 10 '17 at 21:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan I would buy it in a heartbeat! Write it, though… \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jan 10 '17 at 21:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ Do not answer in comments, even on an on hold question. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk - SE stop being evil Jan 11 '17 at 14:02